Friday, October 28, 2016

Separation is the Key to Creation

A Torah Thought for Parashat Breisheet         
By Moshe Feiglin

“And the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (From this week’s Torah portion, Genesis 1:2)                                   
“And G-d separated between the light and the dark” (ibid 4)          
 “And G-d said, ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide…’ (ibid 6)                              
“And G-d made the firmament and He divided…” (ibid 7)                 
“And G-d said: ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night” (ibid 14)                                           
“…and to separate between the light and the dark” (ibid 18)              

Before the world was created, before life was poured into its mold, everything was mixed together. It was unformed and void. The secret of the Creation, the secret of life – can be found in one word: Separation. The separation between light and darkness, between the sea and dry land, between animal and plant.  When we look through a microscope and see the beginnings of life forming, we see how the cells separate again and again. Life is created through separation.  

The state of void and unformed is death. It is the natural state to which all creation is drawn. In order to preserve life we must constantly invest energy – to separate. Without separation, all living organisms would revert to their unformed state. Without investing energy, all substances on earth would mix together once again. Without investing energy, the house will revert to its former, messy state. On the other hand, a tidy home testifies to the presence of its dwellers.                                                                                    

The Creator sees us – humans – as partners in the building and safeguarding of the world. The Creator allowed Man to decide the names of all the animals.  As opposed to the animals, Man was graced with creative talent. He is appointed to work and safeguard the land.                                                                                              

This constant investment of energy to safeguard the separation, to safeguard life and the world is the participation of man in the act of creation. But just as nature will always attempt to return to void – to death, so the aspiration to die constantly exists within man.        

Imagine a world with no separations, John Lennon sang. No heaven, no hell. No states, no nations, no identity. No national identity, no territorial identity, no familial identity, no gender identity. Even human identity that separates mankind from animals is being rapidly eroded.                                                                      

Will we be wise enough to preserve the separation? To preserve our identity? To preserve our lives?                                                          

Man’s creative talent turns him into a creator; on the surface, just like G-d. Animals form things, as well. A spider spins a web that no man can spin. And a bird’s nest can be amazingly complex. But it is not creation. G-d implanted the nest in the bird’s brain, and that is all that it is capable of doing. It cannot imagine and create a triangular nest, for example. A spider will not suddenly decide to weave a psychedelic web.                                                                

And man said, ‘Let there be a fork’ and there was a fork. ‘Let there be a jet-plane’.  And there was a jet-plane. ‘Let there be an iPhone 7’ …  

Man creates in a manner similar to G-d. That is why it is so easy for him to forget G-d and to begin to think that he, himself is G-d.        

That is why the Creator commanded us to keep the Shabbat. It is one day in the week in which we do not create. We rest from creating, because that is what G-d commanded us to do. We take a break from creating and remember and testify that there is a Creator in the world. We are His witnesses, we are His children.                  

We have a G-d.

Shabbat Shalom.

Surging overseas investment in Israel defy global downtrend

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

1. According to KPMG, one of the four largest global auditing firms, Israel has become a leading hothouse for FinTech companies. 9 out of 100 globally-promising FinTech companies are from Israel, an improvement from 8/100 in 2015.

2. In defiance of the global financial downtrend – but as a derivative of Israel’s cutting-edge technologies - Israeli hightech companies raised $1.19BN during Q3 2016, the second highest quarterly amount in ten years. During the first nine months of 2016, Israeli hightech companies raised $4BN, 27% above the $3.15BN raised during the first nine months of 2015.

3. Boston Scientifics acquired Israel’s EndoChoice for $210MN (Globes, September 28).

4. The Lexington, MA and Dublin, Ireland-based, Shire, a biopharmaceuticals giant, extends its strategic partnership with Israel’s plasma-derived protein therapeutics company, Kamada, which is expected to yield a minimum of $237MN in revenues during 2017-2020 (Globes, Oct. 7).

5. According to Forbes, September 22 issue: “Since 2011, there has been a 50% year-on-year growth of Chinese investment in Israel….” For example, Li-Ka-Shing, the Hong-Kong-based tycoon, has invested – privately and via his venture capital fund, Horizon Ventures – in 30 Israeli companies.

Please click for the full document.

Which Candidate is Better for Israel?

By Moshe Feiglin, Chairman of Zehut

So who is better for Israel? Trump or Clinton?

The truth is that whoever is elected can be good or bad for Israel. It all depends on Israel.

For example:

Ronald Reagan, who opposed Israel’s bombing of the nuclear reactor in Iraq: Was he good for Israel? Probably. Why? Because Menachem Begin bombed the reactor despite America’s dissent. Begin based the US-Israel relationship on partnership more than on dependence and the US President was ultimately considered a good president for Israel.

Was Barack Obama, who opposed Israel’s bombing of the Iranian nuclear installations, good for Israel? It doesn’t look that way. Why not? Because PM Binyamin Netanyahu surrendered to American pressure, did not bomb Iran and based the US-Israel relationship on dependence.

The US reneged on its support for the Partition Plan, pressured Ben Gurion not to declare Israel a state and placed an embargo on weapons shipments (which were helpful mainly to the Jews) to the Middle East. From then until the Six Day War, American ‘aid’ to Israel was negligible.

So was Truman good for Israel or bad for Israel? The answer is that he was good because Ben Gurion ignored his opposition –and declared Israel a state nonetheless.

In 1956, the US forced Israel to retreat from Sinai, which had been captured by the IDF in response to the terror attacks perpetrated against Israel under Egyptian auspices. The US gave Israel its guarantee that if Egypt would ever block the strategic Straits of Tiran, the US Navy would intervene.

So was Eisenhower good for Israel or bad for Israel? The answer is that he was bad for Israel because Israel retreated.

When Egyptian President Naaser blockaded the Straits of Tiran prior to the Six Day War, Israeli PM Levi Eshkol called President Lyndon Johnson and reminded him of the American commitment to come to Israel’s aid. “I can’t find my copy,” the US president responded. So was Johnson good or bad for Israel?

He was good for Israel because Israel went to war and re-conquered the entire Sinai. It also ‘mistakenly’ bombed the US spy ship, Liberty, which was eavesdropping on Israel’s military communications. If Johnson had fulfilled the US commitment, Israel would have remained an inconsequential banana republic – the complete opposite of the status it merited when it was forced to defend itself.

Israel fought the Six Day War with French Mirage jets. When did all of that change? When Israel destroyed all of its enemies and conquered the Sinai, the Golan Heights, Jerusalem and all Israeli territory west of the Jordan River. Then Israel metamorphosed from a burden to a strategic partner and American weapons and military and civilian aid began to flow.

So the question is not which candidate will be good for Israel, but which candidate will be good for the US and the entire free world.

The answer is that a president who will restore the original American message of liberty to the US and American society will be better.

And any US president who will meet Israeli leadership that is good for Israel – will also be good for Israel.

Tzelem Elokim

By Rabbi Hershel Schachter

The Torah tells us that man was created b'zelem elokim. The Rambam (in Moreh Nevuchim) points out that this clearly cannot mean that man has the same physical features as Hashem since Hashem has no body at all. The Meshech Chochma interprets this to mean that human beings have bechira chofshis[1]. Many psychologists do not believe in bechira chofshis. They think that when a baby is born his mind is already set regarding what type of a life he will live, what type of a person he will marry, and what type of an occupation he will pursue. This opinion is contrary to our religion. We believe that just as Hashem is an original thinker and is creative, so too every normal person was given bechira chofshish, i.e. the ability to decide on his own which route to pursue in life.

The Rambam points out that if without bechira chofshish there would be no room for sechar v'onesh. The righteous only deserve to be rewarded and the sinners only deserve to be punished if they could really choose between different options. The Gemarah tells us that when every baby is born the angel who is "in charge of babies" determines whether that particular child will be intelligent, wealthy, or strong; but no decision is made by the angel whether the child will be a tzaddik or a rosha. When people make decisions in life, there are always conflicting considerations taken into account. While some people have tendencies in one direction or another, all healthy and normal individuals still have bechira chofshish to choose to ignore those tendencies and some of the considerations and be a tzaddik. This is why the novi (Yirmiyahu 9:22-23) tells us that a wealthy person should not brag about his wealth and a strong person has nothing to brag about with respect to his strength and a smart person should not brag about how bright he is. The only thing a person deserves praise for is his decision to be a tzaddik because that decision was made solely by him. The strength, the wealth and the brains were decided by the angel.

The Gemarah (Berachos 33b) tells us that all aspects of human life are determined from heaven with the sole exception of yiras shomayim. The Rambam takes the term "yiras shomayim" to refer to all human activities where one exercises his bechira chofshish.

The Torah instructs us to go in the ways of Hashem in order to preserve the tzelem Elokim that was implanted within us at birth. Included in that mitzvah is that we should make decisions for ourselves. Many resha'im feel that they are exercising their bechirah chofshish to a greater extent than the tzadikim because they are daring enough to be so original as to go against the wishes of Hashem. This is clearly a misjudgment. Years ago this story used to be told about a couple that had their neighbors in their home to play a card game. The wife, who always dominated her husband, instructed when the bell rang, "Max, go answer the door". When the company sat down to play their game, the wife instructed her husband, "Max, bring in some drinks". Every two minutes she was giving her husband instructions and he was following all of her orders. In the middle of the card game, the wife wanted to show the company how obedient her husband is so she instructed him, "Max, go climb under the table and sit on the floor". Max followed orders once again. After several minutes the wife said to the husband, "Max you can come out from under the table and sit on your chair". The husband did not budge and after another two minutes she said, "Max, you can come up now". Max did not budge but stuck his finger out from under the table and said, "Tillie, I will not come out! I will show you who is boss." and he continued to sit on the floor under the table!

We all have bechira chofshish and are the "ba'alim" over our lives. Yes, we can decide with impunity to violate Hashem's mitzvos, and thereby have the feeling as if we are exercising our bechira to a greater extent than the tzadikim; but this type of showing "who is boss" is like Max's ridiculous decision to continue to sit on the floor under the table with all the company present. Yes, he showed his wife who was the "boss", but he did so in a very silly inappropriate way.

We should all imitate the ways of Hashem by exercising our bechirah chofshis in a most positive, constructive and creative fashion.

After the Holidays

Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

There always is an emotional and even physical letdown that people experience immediately after the departure of the glorious holiday-laden month of Tishrei. Here in Israel the daylight hours become shorter, especially with the change of the clock to wintertime. The blessing of the rainy season begins to manifest itself, and it is time for flu shots and other such joys. And since this year of 5774 is a leap year, the winter season will be a month longer than it has been for the past two years.

When I was a student in the yeshiva long ago, my beloved teachers and mentors would encourage us by reminding us that we now had an extra month to our winter semester and could and should therefore accomplish so much more in our Torah learning. The truth be said, not all of us budding scholars took the matter and encouragement to heart.

But our teachers did realize that after the month of holidays we all did need a kick start to really get going. The memories of the holidays, the inspiration and meaning of the prayer services, the sense of family and well being, all are the fuel to help us get going. But the recharging of our batteries for a successful winter is an individual project that requires will and devotion, focus and stamina. The task is not beyond our capabilities. However it does require strength of mind and purpose and an optimistic outlook.

It is a well-known psychological phenomenon that weather; the amount of sunlight present, rain, clouds and other such factors definitely influence human mood and attitude. I always found it interesting that the Torah has very little to say about weather. It mentions that our father Avraham sat outside his tent in the heat of the day but it does not record for us generally how hot the Middle East is much of the year.

It does not recognize nor seem willing to accommodate the human mood swings that the change of seasons brings on. Humans are the most adaptable of all creatures, living all over the globe, in frost and heat, rain forest and desert. No other living creature can do so. It is part of God’s blessing to humans to fill the earth and conquer it. Humankind has fulfilled that blessing and challenge admirably over the millennia of our existence.

It is one of the myriad wonders of creation that are part of our daily existence. The Talmud does deal with one weather condition, though mainly in relationship to the rainy season in Israel and the necessity and efficacy of prayers to ward off the scourge of drought from our blessed but arid country. Pretty much the Jewish view was and is that weather is up to Heaven and therefore prayer and perseverance are the only weapons that we humans possess in dealing with it.

Since the Land of Israeli lies on a geological fault line, earthquake tremors are often felt here. In the Bible we read of a large-scale earthquake that occurred in First Temple times, and in the early nineteenth century the city of Safed was leveled by a major earthquake. But no worries my friends, this year is going to be a great and serene one.

I am traveling to Brazil and the United States for most of this month. The pressure of fund-raising for Destiny Foundation is a constant and worrisome one for me but I am fairly well accustomed to it by now. Destiny has in place a number of Conversation programs for the forthcoming good and healthy winter months. They include conversations in Israel with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Rabbi Nosson Scherman and Professor Robert Aumann among others. This month there is also a conversation program in New York with Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D. of the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue, Rabbi Paysach Krohn and me. The secret of overcoming after-holiday blues is to keep busy with constructive projects and productive works.

That really is basically the secret of life itself, for it was for these purposes that we were created. There are many distractions in life and pettiness abounds everywhere. We should not be frustrated and depressed by these. The distance between where we were spiritually in the month of Tishrei and where we are spiritually today may be significant. Yet we should never despair of our abilities to improve and succeed in every facet of human living. The goodness that we harvested during Tishrei will stand us in good stead all year long. Onward and upward!

The Shamrak Report: Please Boycott This - Made in Israel

by Michael Ordman
(A guide how to be a good BDS anti-Semites)
Step-1. First remove all Intel Pentium and Celeron computer processor chips from personal computers (desktops, laptops and notebooks) as these were either developed or manufactured in Israel.
Step-2. Any computers that still work need to have their anti-virus software and personal firewalls removed as this technology originated in Israel. The organization’s firewall will also need to be switched off. Staff should no longer open external emails as most of these will be infected with viruses. No outgoing emails can be sent. The algorithm (code) that’s used today for sending e-mails, was made by an Israeli who worked at the Ben-Gurion University in Be’er-Sheva in 1980.
Step-3. Discard all mobile phones, as this technology was developed in Israel, where the first mobile phones were manufactured. Mobile chip technology from a single Israeli company has now been installed in over 100 million devices. Only top-level staff may retain mobile phones for emergency situations. However the use of SMS (Texting) is expressly forbidden as this facility was developed in Israel. No 4G devices can be used, as the chipset is Israeli.
Step-4. Turn off your voice-mail service and delete any recorded messages. Israeli companies invented the voice-mail system. If someone you do not know answers your phone-call then hang up. Israeli call-centres and call-centre technology is in widespread operation in the UK.
Step-5. Before accepting any printed material, check that the supplier has not used the Israeli device that might have saved up to 50% of the ink used.
Step-6. At home, do not use Facebook as many in-built and add-on applications are Israeli-developed. Do not watch videos on the Internet as the platform used to upload them may be from AOL and hence from an Israeli company. Do not use the Internet to search for answers to your questions as this may involve use of an Israeli-developed search engine. Better to remain unenlightened.
Step-7. On your TV or home entertainment centre, do not use Video On Demand (VOD) to watch movies as you may inadvertently see an advert displayed using Israeli software. Do not purchase any games devices as these are likely to use Israeli technology.
Step-8. Do not read books using an e-book as this may contain Israeli technology. Do not use data storage as it may have been developed at Israel’s storage technology R&D center.
Step-9. Do not buy an electric car as it is likely to be powered with an Israeli battery or use Israeli developed charging mats. Continue to sit in traffic knowing that you are polluting the environment and financing oil-rich despotic regimes. (for more instructions please click here)
Food for Thought by Steven Shamrak
There is a rumour that Saudi Arabia had offered to Egypt $83 billion for Sinai Peninsula as the alternative homeland for Palestinians. It is in line with the plan which I wrote about several years ago - the Sinai Option: Road to Permanent Peace! Just imagine, there will be no conflict between Israel and so-called Palestinians, if this project receives the world’s political and financial support - all billions of dollars given to the PA as international aid each year and wasted, combined with help from oil rich Arab ‘brothers’, as well as some help from Israel would help them initially! Sound like a good workable plan, isn’t it?
PA leaders have welcomed a decision by the United Nations cultural agency which formally adopted a resolution on occupied East Jerusalem that sharply criticises Israeli policies around the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, while Israel says it ignores Jewish ties to the key holy site. The text, which touches on Israel's management of Palestinian religious sites, refers throughout to the al-Aqsa mosque compound site in occupied East Jerusalem's Old City only by its Muslim names: al-Aqsa and al-Haram al-Sharif.
Israel is preparing for a series of large-scale projects with Egypt after many years of absence of economic cooperation between the two countries. There is an urgent need for improved infrastructure in Egypt, given the severe economic crisis that threatens the political stability of the country. 
The US expressed its support for Israeli far-left wing anti-Zionist organization B'tselem once again during a special session at the UN Security Council as the council discussed the situation in the Middle East.
Egypt, which is experiencing a deep economic crisis, has been purchasing the world’s most expensive weapons systems. Only recently, the Egyptian navy received the second Mistral-class helicopter carrier - a particularly expensive French system. The assault helicopters on the carriers were purchased by the Egyptians in Russia at full price. The Egyptian navy also purchased four new submarines from Germany and is currently negotiating the purchase of two additional advanced submarines. The Russians are also selling Egypt S-400 antiaircraft systems. And the Egyptians are buying entire squadrons of SA-17 and SA-22 anti-aircraft missiles. (Under the cloud of wars in Iraq and Syria, Egypt is getting ready for the next war with Israel)
An Austrian government committee has backtracked on demolishing the house in which Adolf Hitler was born, and now instead says the building will be remodeled. The three-story structure contains an apartment where Hitler was born is used by Nazi sympathizers as a pilgrimage every year on Hitler’s birthday.
Peace Thinking is not Allowed by the PA
Four Arab visitors to a Sukkah of Peace spent several days in PA jail after expressing a desire for good relations with Jewish neighbours. The Arab visitors paid a visit on Wednesday to the Sukkah of Peace, an annual celebration of the Jewish Festival of Sukkot – the Feast of Tabernacles – in Gush Etzion, Judea. (How many Jews, pro-peace activists at any cost, would Israel have to arrest? There were no protests from any so-called human rights groups!) 
Quote of the Week:
“Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.” - George Bernard Shaw – For how long is Israel going to pretend that Arabs and so-called Palestinians want peace and tolerate terror, as well as international humiliation? The Jewish state needs to decisively reunite Jewish ancestral land – only then will Eretz-Israel gain due respect from international bigots!
Scolding and the Biblical Law.
by Steven Shamrak (written Jan 2005).
Real Zionists are often criticized for their strong, uncompromising points of view. Israel is criticized for not doing enough for peace, too. But the same people are able to find any inconceivable justification for the horrendous actions of Jewish enemies. Many critics are Jewish and, in their strange way, they do care about the Jewish state. Regrettably, a well designed and executed propaganda campaign, supported by terror acts does affect people on a deep psychological level. Therefore even decent members of the public, who have been exposed to and brainwashed by anti-Israel propaganda for a long time, are unable to evaluate the reality and the facts behind the news.
Even committed Zionists have become indifferent and cynical, due to self-destructive policies and inaction by successive Israel governments. There is an atmosphere of despair among many staunch Zionists and supporters of the state of Israel. Even they began to use ‘politically correct’ terminology and self-limiting ideas. This creates the perception of hopelessness and facilitates an inability to follow through the realisation of the Jewish national goal. I would like to address the most commonly expressed scoldings:
“We can’t have everything” – We do not want ‘everything’! It is ‘others’ have been ‘acquiring’ all they could for centuries. And now, they are imposing limitations on Jews, so we wouldn’t even try to return what is rightfully ours!
“One must be pragmatic and realistic” – The reality is perceived illusion. It is created by action. Why should we accept ‘sh***y’ reality imposed on us by our ‘friends’ and enemies? Only by setting the ‘Big’ goals can anything great can be achieved!
“What about 3 million Arabs living in Israel and territories” – What about them? Most of them came to Palestine after Zionists started reclaiming Jewish land. The goal of their masters, Arab and British, was to prevent the creation of the state of Israel. There are 22 Arab countries. It is time for them to return home. The message must be clear: Their sinister plan has failed!
“They will not allow us…” – Those mysterious ‘They’ again: ‘They’ were silent and did not want Jews to survive the Holocaust, ‘They’ did everything possible to prevent creation of the only Jewish state. ‘They’ have been doing nothing to stop Arab terror against Israel. Must we care what ‘They’ think? We must do what is right for us. Nobody else will. This is the only way!
It is written in Torah that if a thief is trying to tunnel into your house at night, you are allowed to kill him (The reasoning is that your life is without a doubt endangered). Arabs have continually said that they want to remove all Jews from Palestine. Only recently, they actually spent 4 months digging a 730 meter long tunnel and killed 5 Israelis. For two thousand years Jews let robbery and killings go unpunished. We closed our eyes on too many ‘tunnels’. The time has come to invoke the biblical law!

The Funeral of the Oslo Accords

By Guy Millière

  • Despite the unceasing waves of murdering innocent Israeli civilians, Western politicians speak as if Israel were not under attack. The politicians are not interested in hearing what Palestinian leaders say when they call for the ethnic cleansing of Jews.
  • These Western leaders can well imagine what those consequences would be if the Arabs had their way: genocide. One can only assume they are pleased with that.
  • In private, some people say that the burial of Shimon Peres was also the burial of the Oslo Accords and of a never-ending "peace process" that brought only war.
  • Understanding that the economic relations between Israel and Europe could deteriorate, Netanyahu set about negotiating free trade agreements with China, India, South Korea and Japan, and he signed economic and military cooperation agreements with seven African countries also threatened by Islamic terrorism.
  • Against all odds, Israel is now in a much stronger position than it was even a few years ago.
At the funeral of Shimon Peres in Jerusalem, standing before representatives from 75 countries, Barack Obama delivered a speech that could have resembled a mark of heartwarming friendship, until he evoked the "the unfinished business of peace talks," followed by a harsh and negative portrayal of Israel.
The death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres led to a wave of almost unanimous tributes. Representatives from 75 countries came to Jerusalem to attend the funeral. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas even left Ramallah for a few hours to show up.
Such a consensus could seem to be a sign of support for Israel, but it was something else entirely.
Those who honored the memory of Shimon Peres put aside the years he dedicated to creating Israel's defense industry and to negotiating key arms deals with France, Germany and the United States. Those who honored the memory of Peres spoke only of the man who signed the Oslo Accords and who embodied the "peace process." They then used the occasion to accuse Israel.

Mulling Bid for Senate, Former Legendary Red Sox Pitcher Curt Schilling Challenges CNN Host: How Can Jews Back Democratic Party?

By Ruthie Blum

A legendary baseball player mulling a run for the US Senate on the Republican ticket asked his interviewer on Friday why Jews support Democrats, CNN reported.

During an appearance on CNN’s “The Lead,” former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling posed this question to host Jake Tapper, who is Jewish, after being questioned about his support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, in spite of the candidate’s purportedly offensive comments about women.

Instead of responding to Tapper’s query, Schilling, who announced plans to contend against incumbent democratic Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren in 2018, said,

I would like to ask you something as a person who is practicing the Jewish faith and has since you were young. I don’t understand — and maybe this is the amateur non-politician in me — I don’t understand how people of Jewish faith can back the Democratic Party which over the last 50 years has been so clearly anti-Israel, so clearly anti-Jewish Israel. I don’t know what else would need to be done, said or happen for people to understand that… the Democratic [party] is only aligned with Israel because we have agreements in place that make them have to be.

Tapper replied that though he does “not speak for the Jews,” he “would imagine… that one of the reasons many Jews are Democrats has more to do with Democrat support for social welfare programs and that sort of thing than it does for Israel. And I know that a lot of Jews who are strong supporters of Israel do support the Republican Party.”

Watch the exchange below:

Palestinians: "We Are Proud of You. You Killed Jews!"

By Bassam Tawil

  • Musbah Abu Sbeih is now the latest "hero" of many Palestinians and not only his family. He is being hailed as a "brave" man and a "hero" because he woke up in the morning, grabbed an M-16 assault rifle and set out on a mission to kill as many Jews as possible.
  • These calls have come not only from Hamas and Islamic Jihad extremists, but also from "moderate" leaders such as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction.
  • "We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every martyr will reach Paradise and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah." – Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian leader.
  • As holders of Israeli ID cards, they were even entitled to drive cars with Israeli plates, which is what Abu Sbeih took advantage of to carry out his attack in Jerusalem. His family owns at least two homes in the city and are considered middle-class. Still, this did not stop Abu Sbeih from setting out on his deadly mission. And it did not stop his family members from celebrating the attack.
  • This is the inevitable result -- as in the Spanish Inquisition, the French Revolution, the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians, Rwanda, Darfur, or Nazi Germany -- of the poisoning of a people.
Musbah Abu Sbeih (right) is the latest "hero" of many Palestinians, because he murdered two Jews this week, acting on the incitement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left).
The family of Musbah Abu Sbeih say they are "very proud" of what their 40-year-old son did. So are many Palestinians representing all walks of life in Palestinian society. Members of his family, including his parents and daughter, have appeared on too may TV stations to keep track of to commend Abu Sbeih. They have even gone out onto the streets to hand out sweets in jubilation over the terror attack that he carried out in Jerusalem this week, which resulted in the death of a 60-year-old grandmother and a 29-year-old police officer.
Abu Sbeih is now the latest "hero" of many Palestinians, and not only by his family. He is being hailed as a "brave" man and a "hero" because he woke up in the morning, grabbed an M-16 assault rifle and set out to kill as many Jews as possible. His mission was "successful": he managed to shoot and kill two Jews before he himself was eliminated by policemen.

Refugees or an Occupation Army?

By Maria Polizoidou

  • "Allah requires from the believers to be masters of the land where they live, and only they can have property, and only we will be able to own the land." — Muslim migrants in Crete, Greece.
  • The migrants were ready to wage jihad because they believed a rumor about an event for which, even had it been true, the Greek State and its inhabitants had no responsibility.
  • The establishment in Greece is a miniature of the American establishment: politicians and institutions of government corrupted to the bones.
  • We Greeks have already been crushed by Islam, by the twentieth century genocide in Turkey and the more recent Turkish occupation of Cyprus, again with the world's complicity.
  • What is happening in Greece, as in much of Europe, is actually a massive replacement of its population, its values and its way of life.
  • The mainstream political parties obey the self-destructive EU policies on immigration that could eventually cause the end of the Hellenic-Judeo-Christian values of Europe, such as individual freedom, critical thinking and dispassionate inquiry.
Archbishop Hieronymus of Athens and All Greece is pictured distributing food to migrants at the Port of Piraeus. The Archbishop removed his cross from his vestments during the visit to Piraeus, in order, he said, not to "offend" the Muslim migrants. (Image source: HellasNewsTv video screenshot)
What does an occupation army do when it is installed in a country? It occupies the land, forcing residents to follow its own way of life. It implements measures against the country's inhabitants, it propagandizes its beliefs and uses force to have them imposed.
This, sadly, is what has been happening in Greece from the migrants who seem to "forget" that they are hosted in Greece and force the Greeks to feel like guests in their own country.
If someone is a war refugee or his life is in danger in his homeland, it would seem appropriate, when he arrives in the country which offers him asylum, to be grateful to this country, respect its history, its people its values and its laws. The same would hold true for an immigrant who wants to go to a country where he hopes he will find a better future.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Within Our Reach: A Yom Kippur Message

By Moshe Feiglin

May You be King, Hashem, our G-d, over all of Your creations, speedily, on Mount Zion, the dwelling place of Your glory and in Jerusalem, the city of Your Temple. (From the Yom Kippur prayers).                                                                                               

One of the climaxes of the Rosh Hashanah prayers is when we fully prostrate ourselves before the Creator in the Aleinu prayer. This year I also put my towel on the floor and when we got to the words of the prayer I bowed down as did all the others around me. But the prostration left me empty. I was anticipating the sense of exaltation that is borne of feeling as nothing before G-d. But all that I could think of was the feeling that encompassed me when I prostrated myself in G-d’s courtyard, on the Temple Mount just a few years ago. There, with nothing between me and the Creator, in the royal palace. 

And suddenly, the prostration that had always been a climax, tasted bland. A faint reminder of the genuine experience that we can already touch. If we choose to.  
I wish all of our friends, readers and supporters a gmar chatimah tovah. 

May our deeds and prayers find favor in G-d’s eyes. 

May we merit to sanctify His Name and to make our will His will. 

May we restore the honor of Israel this year by actualizing our sovereignty over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and by making Israel a moral lighthouse for all the peoples of the world.

Gmar Chatimah Tovah,
Shabbat Shalom.

Yom Kippur

By Rabbi Dov Berel Wein
The holiest day of the year is almost upon us. The time of atonement and forgiveness, of introspection and self-analysis has again arrived. The unique quality of the day of Yom Kippur is that it is a day of cleansing. Just as our refraining from food and drink on that day helps cleanse us physically so too does our participation in prayer, serious thought, recognition of personal faults and a new commitment to do better in the future cleanse our personalities and souls. We are all well aware that the buildup of plaque in one's arteries is dangerous to health and surgical and medicinal intervention is necessary. Unfortunately, during the year a great deal of plaque has been built up in the mental, emotional and spiritual arteries of our being. We should therefore look at Yom Kippur as being an opportunity to cleanse ourselves of that plaque buildup and focus our attention on staying healthy both physically and spiritually. There is no easy way or shortcut to accomplish this goal. There is opinion in the Talmud recorded for us in the name of the great Rabi Meir that merely passing through the day of Yom Kippur itself can accomplish this end without our active participation. However, Jewish law and tradition did not accept Rabi Meir’s opinion as being binding and instead demanded the sensation of human repentance to be present in order for the cleansing process of Yom Kippur to be effective. Yom Kippur therefore is not to be viewed as a passive day of restraint and refraining but rather as a day of active participation in the process of cleansing our souls and purifying our emotions.

Because of this requirement of the necessity for our conscious and active effort of repentance to be present, Yom Kippur is transferred from being purely a day of rest into a day of wrenching emotional and spiritual activity. It is possible to sleep away the entire day and thereby technically not violate any of the prohibitions of Yom Kippur. But it is unimaginable that if one does so that one has really experienced Yom Kippur. The most difficult part of the day is not, in my opinion, hunger or thirst or physical fatigue - it is the necessity to be honest with ourselves and face up to our weaknesses and to the areas in our life and in our relations to others that need attention and improvement. We are all born with the gift of denial. Original man in the Garden of Eden when confronted by God with the enormity of his sin does not readily admit that he was at fault at all. He casts about to put the blame on others and the others in turn also lay their guilt upon still others. The ability to admit error is one of the most difficult psychological and emotional traits to be encountered in life. Yet without that ability and by remaining in constant denial of one's shortcomings there is little hope for improvement and for achieving a more balanced and productive life. Yom Kippur can cleanse us and create us anew. But it cannot do so unless we are willing to face our own shortcomings and cleanse ourselves from them.

When the Temple stood in Jerusalem and the High Priest of Israel performed the public rituals of Yom Kippur, forgiveness, cleansing and personal improvement were somehow meant to be easier to obtain. However, even then with such optimal circumstances present, the Jewish people did not truly exploit the opportunity of repentance, improvement and cleansing. Therefore both Temples were destroyed. In a strange way, Yom Kippur, over the almost two millennia since the disruption of the Second Temple, has become even more of a spiritual and emotional day. Since we can no longer rely on the Temple services or on the intercession of the High Priest on our behalf, we have become well aware that much depends upon us and only upon us. The removal of denial is the first step towards becoming a better person, building a stronger family, creating a more just and righteous community and strengthening our nascent state here in the Land of Israel. We should therefore make a great effort not to allow Yom Kippur to slip away from us merely as a day of rest and restraint. The gift of Yom Kippur is that for at least one day in the year we can be honest with ourselves and truly unite with our inner self and soul. Whether we do so or not is completely dependent upon each and every one of us solely and upon our attitude, thoughts, behavior and commitment on that holiest day of the year.

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Yom Kippur: A Jew Can Never Cease Being a Jew

Yom Kippur 5777
A Jew Can Never Cease Being a Jew

The Tanach in Melachim 1 chapter 20 relates a very telling incident in the life of Achav, King of the ten northern tribes of Israel.

Achav, to be sure, was far from a tzadik. He, Yeravam ben Nevat and Menashe were the three kings who, according to the Mishna in Sanhedrin, lost their inherent places in Gan Eden.

Ben Hadad King of Aram (today’s Syria), threatened Achav with war if he did not deliver to him his gold and silver, his wives and children. Achav was forced to capitulate and sent to Ben Hadad all that he demanded.

The following day, Ben Hadad sent anther demand to Achav. This time Achav was to deliver to him “machmad ay’necha” - that which is the most precious in your eyes.  Achav and all his ministers rejected the demand and agreed unanimously to go to war.

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 102b) asks, that after relinquishing his gold, silver, wives and children, what was left that could be described as the “most precious thing” in Achav’s eyes? And surprisingly, the Gemara answers “a Sefer Torah”.

Why would Achav who totally rejected the Torah, choose to go to war over a Torah scroll?  I believe that despite Achav’s rejection of its spiritual message, the Torah in Achav’s eyes was the universally recognized symbol of the Jewish nation. For him to relinquish the royal Torah scroll to an enemy was tantamount to eliminating the national soul that bound all Jews together. Achav was prepared to die in battle rather than to commit an act of betrayal against the nation and against his own personal “Jewishness”.

This incident defines Achav's inner character and thoughts. Despite his glaring faults and weaknesses, he can serve as the leading teacher in two areas:

1- There is an immutable connection between every individual Jew to the collective Am Yisrael, even one who is so far from Torah observance. We learn from Achav that the skeletal-infrastructure of every Jew is the undeniable fact that the Creator brought his unique soul to this world when born to a Jewish mother, or converts who were born with a Jewish soul and for some unknown reason had to be born to a seemingly gentile mother. It is for this reason that, halachically a Jew can never cease being a Jew no matter what he does, because one cannot erase his essence.

2- We learn from Achav the great pride there is in being a Jew. He relinquished everything of value - family and wealth - but was willing to die before infringing on his and on his nation’s Jewishness.

A Third Type of Tshuva

The Rambam in his laws of Tshuva discusses two motives for one’s decision to do Tshuva - love of HaShem or fear of divine retribution.

I would like to submit a third motive, one which is unfortunately grossly lacking in the education of Jews in the galut and in some non-observant schools in Israel.

It is tshuva not purely out of love for HaShem - which is in the realm of a few learned and highly spiritually developed individuals.

It is not tshuva out of fear of punishment - which is a product of an egotistical mind that is not even close to the spiritual ideal of a “Priestly kingdom and a sanctified nation”.

This third tshuva is out of pride in being a member of the small, elite group of people who the Creator appointed to be His chosen nation. Pride in being the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov. A descendant of the people who crossed the Red Sea and saw HaShem’s miracle, and stood at the foot of Mount Sinai while receiving the Torah from the Creator Himself.

Children of a nation 3500 years old whose blessings to humanity have no equal.  It is the pride of being a Jew that echoes in one’s soul proclaiming:
I am a prince, a son of HaShem. How can I betray the love and confidence HaShem has lavished upon me, by committing a sin?

How can I betray the 150 generations of my family beginning with the revelation at Mount Sinai, who sacrificed so much that I should be born a Jew today?

It is beneath my dignity as a Jew to act immorally or not in good faith with my fellow man, or to infringe on any of HaShem’s mitzvoth.

It is beyond my conception as a Jew to deny or minimize the great miracles HaShem has performed for His people in the last 67 years in Eretz Yisrael.

The Holy Land acts as a magnet for me to return home to be part of HaShem’s master plan for the world and the universe.

The prophet Yeshayahu says (40,15):
הן גוים כמר מדלי וכשחק מאזנים נחשבו הן איים כדק יטול:
Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
and as dust on the scales;
he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.

HaShem revealed to the prophet that the eight billion gentiles in the world pale in comparison to the numerically minuscule Jewish nation.

How can we not burst with pride at the knowledge that we are Jews, in whose veins flow the blood of the righteous of the world - that we are the Jewish nation that was presented by HaShem with the promise of eternal life in the next world and the holy land of Israel in this world!

Jewish Pride

When I still lived in the galut and had not yet made Aliyah, I recall every time I would recite the morning blessing about HaShem not making me a gentile, it would come to my mind that He did not have to make us gentiles. He left it to us to do the job.

We spoke their language and were steeped in their culture. Life was centered around sports, with the great sportsmen our heroes and not the heroes of Jewish history. Entertainment, food, vacations, career - I and my fellow yeshiva students were very much a part of the gentile scene in whose land (unknown then to us) we were considered as non-Christian, unwanted guests, while we felt that we were home.

We were devoid of any Jewish pride!

There were many moments in my life when I felt proud, but the one which has left the greatest impression was at the IDF induction center, when I saw myself in the mirror dressed in the uniform of Tsahal.

I was now a true son of Eretz Yisrael, prepared to even give my life in the defense of the Jewish people, who with the compassion of HaShem have returned home.

Gmar Chatima Tova & Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5776/2015 Nachman Kahana

I will Surely Conceal My Face

By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

I will surely conceal ('haster astir') My face on that day." (Devarim 31:18) The Ba'al Shem Tov would often say, "I am very afraid of this concealment that is called 'haster astir,' more than of the concealment itself." That is, when a person suffers, but knows that G-d is hiding, he seeks after Him. However, when the person is not even aware of the concealment, he is not worried and doesn't submit, because he considers himself completely righteous, and therefore doesn't repent.

The Ba'al Shem Tov writes a parable about this, for it seems very strange, how could G-d hide His face from Israel? Rather, it is comparable to a king who made numerous illusionary obstacles before his palace, so that it would be impossible to reach him, and hid there. He made walls, and fire, and rivers -- all illusions -- before his children. The one who thought about this wisely said, "How could it be that a merciful father would not be willing to show his face to his children, his friends?" It must be that this is all an illusion, that the father wants to test if the child will attempt to come to him, and he really is not hiding. Immediately, when he plunged into the "river," the illusion was exposed and he crossed it, and so, too, all the other obstacles, until he came to the Royal Chamber. The fool was afraid even to begin to cross the barriers, and another crossed the water successfully, but went back because of the walls and the fire. The meaning of the parable is obvious.

"I shall descend with you to Egypt, and I shall also surely bring you up" (Bereishit 46:4), was said to Yaakov when he went down to Egypt. The Ba'al Shem Tov explains (Parshat Vayigash):

When you contemplate, that even in descent there is also, "I" -- that is, that the concealment that I will conceal Myself from you is also for your benefit, then -- "I shall surely bring you up," that is, that you will merit a lofty level, and this is, "surely bring you up." The Toldot Yaakov Yosef (the brother-in-law of the Ba'al Shem Tov) gives another parable about this. It is comparable to a king that sent one of his servants to test his subjects, and told him to pretend as if he were leading a rebellion against the king. Some said: "If you are the king, we are your servants," and they submitted to him. Some went out to war against him. Some said: "How could a lowly servant rebel against his master? Rather, he must certainly be doing the will of his master," and told him that they would make peace with him.

All of a person's desires, evil thoughts, and acts led by his inclination, are in order to arouse him. Some surrender to their inclination, some fight and break their inclination, and some make peace -- they take these abilities and use them for the service of G-d. "With all your heart" -- with your two inclinations.

Whenever a person feels something restraining him, this is a sign that he is being tested specifically there, and that G-d is hiding there. G-d's name is Y-H. However, the yu"d has a crown which points upwards, and this alludes to the aleph, the Unique King of the world. When we examine the words "Hstr AstYr" we find that in the double concealment hide the letters A, Y-H. This teaches that G-d is a "hiding G-d," and the "I" is hidden within the double concealment.

Repentance of Public Figures

By HaRav Yisrael Rosen 
Dean of the Zomet Institute

(1) “Wisdom was asked, what is the punishment of a sinner? And it replied, ‘Sinners will be pursued by evil’ [Mishlei 13:21].Prophecy was asked, what is the punishment of a sinner? And it replied, ‘A soul which commits a sin must die’ [Yechezkel 18:4]. The Torah was asked, what is the punishment of a sinner? And it replied, let them bring an Asham Sacrifice for atonement. The Holy One, Blessed be He, was asked, what is the punishment of a sinner? And He replied, let him repent and he will be forgiven.” [Pesikta D’Rav Kahane Shuva, 24].

(2) “Seven items were created before the world... Repentance... as is written, ‘Before the mountains were born... And You said, let the people return’ [Tehillim 90:2].” [Pesachim 54a].

(3) “The act (the sin of Batsheva and Uriyah) was not appropriate for David, and the act (the sin of the Golden Calf) was not appropriate for Yisrael... Why did they take place? It is to tell you that an individual who sins is told to learn from an individual (David) and a community which sins is told to learn from a community. This is the declaration of David Ben Yishai, who established the standard for repentance.” [Avoda Zara 4b].

Teshuva – Repentance: Is it Irrational?

The concept of teshuva is unique to the Jewish faith, as a kindness of the Holy One, Blessed be He. Only He puts His hand out to accept those who repent, as opposed to wisdom, prophecy, and the Torah (quote 1, above). The Torah proposes a path of atonement: “Let them bring an Asham Sacrifice for atonement.” This is a sacrifice which accompanies an act of repentance with a symbolic act of sprinkling the blood of an animal and burning its flesh. Only the Holy One, Blessed be He, is satisfied with repentance alone, on condition that it is an act of truth, performed with honesty and from the depths of the heart. “Wisdom” and “prophecy” (that is, the intellect and the emotions), as opposed to the Torah, demand strict judgement for violating the sins: “Sinners will be pursued by evil... A soul which commits a sin must die.”

In modern terms, we can add other figures of “authority” which are involved with the question of “what to do with a soul which commits a sin.” These modern systems do not recognize the realm of repentance either. For example, the justice system gives only marginal recognition to the concept of repentance, in the framework of extenuating circumstances when setting a sentence. However, “the law is the law,” and misdemeanors and crimes are forbidden. And there is no mechanism to erase the record of sin.

One realm that is even more stringent is the “media,” especially of the inferior sort, which does not recognize any possibility of forgiveness. This is especially true in a case of sins by a public figure. The press makes its living from a lack of mercy, by pulling out past sins and quoting them from forgotten sources or collecting them from the “cloud” of the internet. There is absolutely no room in this system for repentance!

An Injunction to Forbid Publication

When King David admitted “I have sinned” [Shmuel II 12:13] after the affair of Batsheva and Uriyah, he became a symbol of the act of repentance (quote 2, above). And it may surprise us to see that he too encountered a hostile press! According to our tradition (see below), David made two requests: “That my iniquity will not be recorded.” That is, to “delete” the report of his sin. The reply of the Holy One, Blessed be He, was: “That cannot be done!” His second request was that “the rabbis shall not discuss my sins (in the Beit Midrash).” And to this, the Holy One, Blessed be He, replied: I agree! In modern terms: nothing will be erased from the secret protocols, but there is an injunction that prohibits discussing the matter in public!

Here is the full quote of this discussion from the Talmud:

“David said to the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the world: You know very well that if they would tear my flesh no blood would flow. Moreover, when they discussed the matter of the four types of death punishment, they stopped their studies and turned to me, saying, What is the punishment of one who lies with a married woman? I replied to them: One who lies with a married woman is killed by choking, and he still maintains his portion in the world to come, but whoever makes his colleague’s face go white with shame in public has no portion in the world to come. David said to the Holy One, Blessed be He: “Who can understand mistakes” [Tehillim 19:13]. And G-d replied, I accept that (that is, okay!)... Do not let the rabbis discuss my sins. And G-d replied, okay. That my sin should not be recorded. And He replied, ‘That cannot be done.’” [Sanhedrin 107a].

And that indeed is the accepted halacha: “The affairs of David and Amnon are not read in public and are not translated” [Mishna Megillah 4:10].

G-d “hears the sound of His People Israel’s shofar blowing with mercy.”

By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

Rosh Hashanah has the aspect of being the start of the entire year. As Rabbi Shneur Zalmen of Liadi explained, just as a person has a head and a brain that influence and sustain the entire body, so is Rosh Hashanah a sort of brain for the year, influencing the entire year. And just as one’s head, brain and heart have to be pure and righteous, so must we on Rosh Hashanah purify ourselves by way of repentance and good deeds, good thoughts and good speech. Through this, we influence the entire year, making it good and sweet. Especially important is the mitzvah of hearing the Shofar (whose very name recalls “improvement” [shipur]). The Shofar hints and teaches us how we must relate properly and constructively to the Day of Judgment and to Strict Judgment. 

And how is that? The shofar blasts fall into three categories, alluding to divine kindness, strict judgment and mercy. The first blast, the teki’ah, alludes to kindness. It is a simple sound, and where kindness exists, all is simple. In the middle comes the teruah, consisting of broken blasts, the sound of loud sobbing, and sighing, weeping and wailing. These allude to strict judgment and to life’s hardships. In the end comes another tekiah, a simple blast alluding to mercy and love. We hear how the blasts are joined together until one can hear the kindness within strict judgment, the light within the darkness, the sweet within the bitter. We get a sense of how G-d really is “good to all, with His mercy governing all His works” (Psalm 145:9). Pondering and listening to the sweet, remarkable shofar blasts arouses and strengthens within us the belief that despite everything, when all is said and done, “One higher than the high is watching over us” (Ecclesiastes 5:7), and there is no one else but Him. The L-rd G-d of Israel is King, and His monarchy rules over all. By such means, a Jew purifies his mind and heart on Rosh Hashanah, and this day shines upon the entire year. 

Today, let the old year and its curses end, and let the new year and its blessings begin. This year has been hard and painful for the Jewish People. The sound of the “teruah”, the sound of weeping and sighing, the pain and suffering, doubts and worries were the lot of many Jews, who felt the enormity of the pain. On Rosh Hashanah, we have to arouse ourselves and grow stronger through the shofar blasts. We have to hear the teki’ot preceding and following the teruah. We have to recognize that G-d, who hears our prayers, mercifully hears the sound of the teruah, as we note in the Rosh Hashanah Shemoneh Esreh: “Blessed be G-d… who hears the sound of the teruah of His people Israel, with mercy.”

With blessings for a good, sweet year.
G'mar Chatima Tova,
Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Why the World Cried for Shimon Peres

By Shmuel Sackett, Zehut International Director

A main part of the Rosh Ha’Shana holiday, which just finished, was the blowing of the shofar. As you know, each day we heard 100 shofar blasts. Did you ever ask yourself where that number came from? Why 100? What is the source?

The answer lies in the masterpiece sefer, Aruch, written by Rabbi Natan ben Yechiel (1030-1106). Rabbi Natan was a big Rav in Italy and we are familiar with him today because of two main reasons: His sefer mentioned above, Aruch, and also for his number one student; Rabbenu Tam. In his sefer, Rabbi Natan writes the reason for 100 shofar blasts: “It corresponds to the 100 sobs that were sobbed by Sisera’s mother”.

To remind you, Sisera was the general of the army that persecuted the Nation of Israel. According to Judges, chapter 4; “The Children of Israel cried out to Hashem, for Sisera had 900 iron chariots and he oppressed the Children of Israel forcefully for 20 years”. Israel was judged at that time by the prophetess, Devorah, who – together with her general, Barak – went to war to fight Sisera and his army. The main battle was held by Mount Tabor and, baruch Hashem, the Nation of Israel emerged victorious; “…the entire camp of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword, not even one was left”. As is common with Jewish enemies, Sisera left his men to die on the battlefield as he high-tailed it out of there! “Sisera fled on his feet and came to the tent of Yael…” According to the commentaries, Sisera then slept with Yael – who sacrificed herself for Israel by giving him warm milk and allowing this terrible act to take place. Immediately afterwards, Sisera fell into a nice cozy sleep and Yael then drove the tent peg through his temple. When General Barak passed her tent, Yael came out and said; “Come and I will show you the man whom you seek. He came to her and behold – Sisera was dead with the peg in his temple”. This event was so incredible that Devorah wrote an amazing poem (Shoftim, chapter 5) which we say each year as the Haftorah for parshat Shelach.

OK, now that we remember that, how can it possibly be that we blast the shofar 100 times because of Sisera’s mother? Sisera was evil and, had he won the war against Devorah and Barak, he would have killed every Jewish man, woman and child. His mommy cried when he didn’t return from that battle? Boo-hoo… Who cares?? It was either him or us! And the great Rabbi Natan ben Yechiel writes that we blast the shofar 100 times because of this Jew-hater’s mother’s cries?? Something doesn’t make sense.

Thankfully, I found the answer to this very puzzling question. Every week, I receive an email d’var Torah from Rabbi Pinches Friedman and he explained exactly what was going on – in a very deep and meaningful way. Rabbi Friedman quoted the Chassidic master, Rav Tzaddok HaKohen (1823-1900) in his sefer Risisei Layla, as saying that Sisera’s mother wailed 100 times because somehow she knew that Yael became pregnant from her son’s rape and that eventually, many generations later, the great Rabbi Akiva would be born from this line. In other words, she wasn’t crying over her son’s death… she was crying - because on that very night - her son gave life!

If you think this is crazy, quickly get a copy of the Talmud and turn to 96b in Sanhedrin. It says right there that “the descendants of Sisera learned Torah in Jerusalem”. Rabbi Friedman brilliantly proves his point by bringing the Dikdukei Sofrim which says, “the descendants of Sisera learned Torah in Jerusalem, namely Rabbi Akiva!”

How Sisera’s mother knew this, I don’t know, but maybe – to increase her pain – Hashem gave her a little “ruach Ha’Kodesh” so she could get some “nachas” and see what happened to her wonderful son. Not only did he miserably lose the war against the Jews – with every soldier of his dying in battle – he ran away like a chicken, stopping only to rape a Jewish woman… the wrong Jewish woman (as far as he was concerned!) because she bravely drove a tent peg into his head! But the story doesn’t end there. This night did not result in the end of the Jewish nation, as Sisera had planned.It was actually the reason for the continuation of our nation with the birth of Rabbi Akiva (many years later). After the destruction of the second Temple and the fall of Bar Kochba, it was Rabbi Akiva who gave semicha to 5 students (the most famous of whom are Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and Rabbi Meir Ba’al Ha’ness) who continued the Torah, as we know it. Had there been no Rabbi Akiva, there – quite possibly – would not be a Torah world today. Believe it or not – all that started with Sisera… and his mother knew it!

Therefore, when she cried 100 times, it was like the cries of a mother giving birth because Am Yisrael didn’t end that night… we were – in some way – actually born that night! That was something Sisera’s mother couldn’t deal with, so she cried and cried and cried…

This wonderful explanation of Rabbi Friedman actually solved a major puzzle in my mind that I couldn’t figure out. What was the reason – and I mean the real reason – why the world cried over the passing of Shimon Peres? Did they really love him? 70 world leaders came to Israel to cry over the death of a 93 year old man who hadn’t been in the Knesset for almost 10 years? Yes, he was president of Israel after the Knesset but that is not a position of power, so why the mourning, the grief and the tremendous outpouring of support?

My friend, Ben Packer, the Director of Jerusalem’s Heritage House, said it best in an article he wrote last week: “The world loved Shimon Peres because they thought he was the best chance they had at getting rid of or weakening the Jewish presence in Israel. And they are truly sad because that hope just died.”

I agree with Ben and would like to expand on it a bit. Think of what I just wrote about Sisera’s mother and why she cried. She cried for the same reason why Obama, Clinton, Kerry and the other world leaders cried – not because of death – but because of “Am Yisrael Chai”!!! They cried because they thought that Shimon Peres’ dream of “A New Middle East” (the name of his book) would come to fruition but now they saw that “The Old Middle East” is alive and well. The Jewish nation is thriving, building, growing and connecting to authentic Torah values. All studies in Israel show that the youth are more connected to Jewish tradition than ever before and more Jews will fast this Yom Kippur than ever in history!

We are alive and we are here to stay. The old Zionist leadership – of which Peres was the last man standing – which dreamed of a Hebrew speaking Singapore is out of style. Yes, Lapid is now trying to take the place of those leaders but he will fail. Am Yisrael is stronger than ever and there is nothing that Sisera’s mother or 70 world leaders can do about it… except cry… as we blow the shofar.