Friday, June 30, 2017

From Death to Eternity: The Red Heifer Connection

By Moshe Feiglin

The commandment of the Red Heifer is one of those Divine directives that is beyond the scope of our understanding. Nevertheless, there are facets of this mitzvah that we can understand:

The ashes of the red heifer were a tool used to purify the highest degree of ritual impurity: death. Why would anyone have to purify himself after coming into contact with death? One simple reason: So that he may enter the Holy Temple.

The Creator is the source of life. He chose the Holy Temple on the Temple Mount as His dwelling place in this world. The source of ritual impurity is death. The closer we get to G-d’s Divine Presence, the more that we must distance ourselves from death and get closer to life; distance ourselves from ritual impurity and be pure. That is why first degree ritual impurity is death, followed by lesser degrees of ritual impurity that stem from the cutting off of life on one level or another.

Immersion in a mikveh, a ritual pool, purifies from ritual impurities but not from the impurity of death. To be purified from that first degree impurity, special ritual waters are needed. These waters contain the ashes of the red heifer. This is why it is permissible to enter the Temple Mount after ritual immersion, but it is forbidden to enter the area where the Temple once stood; we do not have the ashes of the red heifer with which to purify ourselves. (This does not include entering where the Temple once stood within the framework of conquest).

When we make all the required preparations, immerse according to Jewish law and soberly ascend to the Temple Mount with non-leather shoes, as directed by halacha – we are at the closest possible point to the source of life. We carefully encircle the place where the Holy Temple once stood, leaving a wide berth of extra space to ensure that we do not step into any forbidden areas – and reach the eastern point opposite the heichal (sanctuary) of the Temple: the heichal that was and the heichal that will be.

From this point, we can view both the place where the Temple stood and the place where the priest who burned the red heifer stood, on the Mount of Olives. The priest who burned the red heifer had to retain eye contact with the Holy of Holies, because that is the place of the Foundation Stone, upon which the world is founded. If you open a map and draw a straight line from the Foundation Stone in the Holy of Holies straight eastward, you can identify the place where the red heifer was burned. Today, that place is in the courtyard of the Greek Orthodox Church on the Mount of Olives. In the courtyard lie the foundations of a mound upon which the priest stood and burned the red heifer.

The priest looked at the Shushan Gate (near today’s Gate of Rachamim) at the eastern wall of the Temple Mount. From there his gaze continued past the eastern gate of the Women’s Section that was wide open, and on to the Nikanor Gate. From there the priest continued to look on through the Israelite Section, where he saw the smoke from the sacrifices rising straight up from the altar, the priests in their service and the Levites singing their praises. From there his gaze entered the gates of the Sanctuary, itself. (All the gates were open and were in a straight line).

Inside the Sanctuary, the gaze of the priest went past the Altar of the Incense, past the Showbread Table and the Menorah and reached the Parochet that covered the entrance to the Holy of Holies.

With G-d’s help, we will speedily build our Temple – and return to life.

Shabbat Shalom.

The Kotel Conflict is Strictly Political

By Moshe Feiglin 

The public battle currently being waged over the Kotel is political, not faith based. The groups are slugging it out over who will merit religious legitimacy. But both sides are fighting over a water-less pool. While it is true that the Kotel is full of religious sentiment, it is no holier than the Jerusalem Convention Center, for example.

The truly holy place – the place chosen by G-d – is the Temple Mount. Both the Haredim and Reform Jews are united in their estrangement from it. Religion was created on the day that the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed – as a tool for preserving Jewish identity in the exile. Longing for the Temple Mount is the continuation of the Return to Zion. It stems from the will to restore Judaism from the religious dimension to the cultural dimension – in which G-d dwells among us with no intermediaries. In other words, the Temple Mount threatens religion and its institutions no less than it threatens secularism. And that is why the Reform and Haredi are united in their estrangement from the Temple Mount.

The Gaza Elephant in the Room

By Moshe Feiglin

Hamas is still digging tunnels in Gaza at breakneck speed. It plans to use those tunnels to attack Israel. This is an Israeli fiasco. The tunnels are bad enough, but what is worse is that the government and the IDF sent soldiers to fight in Gaza for the purpose of not winning.


There is an elephant in the room. Nobody dares to say that Israel’s 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza was not a war to defend Tel Aviv. Operation Protective Edge was - first and foremost – a war to defend the Hamas rule in Gaza.


The decision makers – both in the government and the army – were more concerned that the Hamas would collapse than that a Hamas missile would explode in Tel Aviv. With this background, we can safely say that no change in the decision making process would have resulted in a better outcome for Israel.

A government is not supposed to understand much about attack tunnels. That is fine. The government fiasco is in the fact that it did not define a military goal for the army in Operation Protective Edge. It dictated instead a political goal.

For its part, the IDF failed when it accepted the political goal for the operation. That is why, during the war, the Chief of Staff was stumped when I asked him who the enemy was.

The army’s job is to eliminate the Hamas – not to restrain it. A Chief of Staff who receives an order to ‘restrain’ the enemy should explain that it is the police who do restraining – not the army. If he is left with no choice, he should submit his resignation. This is a better option than sending thousands of soldiers into the alleys and tunnels of Gaza as a fig leaf for an erroneous and failed political concept.

Since Israel signed the Oslo Accords, it has sacrificed hundreds of soldiers in pointless rounds of fighting – in order to keep Oslo alive. Operation Protective Edge was really the War to Protect Oslo. (Oslo began with the Israeli retreat from ‘Gaza First’. The elimination of the Hamas will be the elimination of Oslo).

Israel’s political and military leadership must make room for new leadership – leadership that is not influenced by the Oslo mentality. If that does not happen, no fancy F-35s, no brand new submarines and no improvement of the decision making process will change anything. The results of the previous military operations will repeat themselves once again in the upcoming rounds of fighting.

Chukat: the Hatred and Propaganda of Amalek

By Rav Yehuda HaKohen

“The Canaanite king of Arad, who dwelled in the south, heard that Israel had come by the route of the spies, and he warred against Israel and took a captive from it. Israel made a vow to HaShem and said, ‘If You will deliver this people into my hand, I will consecrate their cities.’ HaShem heard the voice of Israel, and He delivered the Canaanite, and it consecrated them and their cities. It named the place Ḥormah.” (BAMIDBAR 21:1-3)

Rashi teaches that the captive abducted from Israel was actually a female slave taken from the Canaanites during a previous battle. That the entire Hebrew Nation mobilized to rescue the captive indicates the appropriate response to even the slightest provocation. By permitting an enemy to take even a slave girl, Israel would be displaying weakness and inviting further aggression. But by responding with maximum force, the Hebrews sent a clear message strong enough to discourage future attacks.

Rashi further clarifies that the king of Arad was actually not an ethnic Canaanite. Rather, he and his soldiers were descendants of Amalek – a people committed to eternal war against Israel. The Amalekites disguised themselves by speaking in a Canaanite tongue, revealing a central feature of Amalekite propaganda.

While the Amalekite hatred of Israel is an ideological hatred that aspires to genocide and is not dependent on any external factor, the Canaanite animosity towards Israel was different. The Hebrew tribes were coming to conquer a country that had at that time been ruled by a confederation of Canaanite warlords. Therefore, the Canaanite problem with Israel was based on a dispute over territory while the Amalekite problem with Israel stems from a compulsion to remove all Hebrews from the world. By speaking in the language of Canaanites, Amalek hoped to give the impression that its war was based on a territorial dispute rather than on a desire to eradicate the Children of Israel.

In order to neutralize such effective propaganda, Israel requires strong and articulate leaders who possess an unbreakable faith in the justice of Hebrew rights, as well as an appreciation for the necessity of presenting those rights in a clear voice. While the Jewish people might have an unrivaled moral claim to self-determination between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River, our official representatives have on the whole proven incapable of successfully communicating this claim. While dedicated activists who firmly believe in the justice of our rights have largely disdained advocating those rights to the outside world as a sign of inner weakness, those who understand the importance of advocacy are for the most part apprehensive about championing our people’s actual aspirations and instead opt for flimsy talking points aimed at branding Israel as a westernized American client state seeking to win gentile approval through a professed willingness to surrender the cradle of our civilization. But Israel requires leaders who both appreciate the importance of public relations and are unwilling to compromise on Jewish national rights. Leaders internally connected to our people’s deepest yearnings yet capable of communicating those aspirations in a language comprehensible to the outside world.

While situations might exist in which diplomacy is inappropriate, there is generally great value in properly communicating the justice of Jewish national rights. And far from being a symptom of weakness, giving voice to the Hebrew Nation’s deepest aspirations can often serve to strengthen Israel’s position on the battlefield. In fact, some of Jewish history’s most valiant warriors provide us with clear examples of proper Israel advocacy.

In ḤUKAT’s Haftara, Yiftaḥ defends Israel’s right to territory east of the Jordan River that the Hebrews had won from the Amorites (BAMIDBAR 21:23-26) against claims by the king of Ammon that those lands rightfully belong to Moav (who had previously lost the territory to the Amorites). 

“Yiftaḥ sent emissaries to the king of the children of Ammon saying, ‘What is unto you and unto me that you have come to me to make war in my land?’

The king of the children of Ammon said to Yiftaḥ’s emissaries, ‘Because Israel took my land when it ascended from Egypt, from Arnon until the Yabbok until the Jordan, so now return them in peace.’

And Yiftaḥ once again sent emissaries to the king of the children of Ammon.

He said to him, ‘Thus said Yiftaḥ: Israel did not take the land of Moav and the land of the children of Ammon… It went through the wilderness, and went around the land of Edom and the land of Moav and came to the eastern side of the land of Moav where they encamped across the Arnon; but they did not enter the border of Moav, for Arnon is the border of Moav. Then Israel sent emissaries to Siḥon king of the Amorite, king of Ḥeshbon, and Israel said to him, ‘Let us please pass through your land until my place.’ But Siḥon did not trust Israel to pass through his border, rather Siḥon assembled all his people and they encamped in Yahatz; and he made war against Israel. Then HaShem, G-D of Israel, delivered Siḥon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and He struck them; and Israel took possession of the entire land of the Amorite, the inhabitant of that land.’

‘They took of the entire border of the Amorite, from Arnon to the Yabbok, and from the wilderness to the Jordan. And now HaShem, G-d of Israel, has driven out the Amorite from before His people Israel, and you would possess it? Do you not take into your possession that which your god Kemosh bequeaths to you? – that may you possess; but all that HaShem our G-D drives out from before us, we shall take possession of it. And now, are you much better than Balak son of Tzipor, king of Moav? – did he ever strive against Israel? – Did he ever do battle with them? When Israel dwelled in Ḥeshbon and its villages and in Aroer and its villages and in all the cities that are alongside Arnon for three hundred years, why did you not recover them during that time? I have not sinned against you; but you do me wrong to make war against me; may HaShem the Judge judge today between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.’” (SHOFTIM 11:12-27)

Without betraying Israel’s national rights or values, Yiftaḥ made the effort to explain his position and offer peace to Ammon while simultaneously expressing confidence and a willingness to fight for the disputed lands. The Ammonite king refused to heed Yiftaḥ’s warning.

“Then Yiftaḥ passed through to the children of Ammon to do battle against them, and HaShem delivered them into his hand. And he struck them from Aroer until you come to Minit, twenty cities, until the Plain of Kramim, a very great slaughter; and the children of Ammon were subdued before the Children of Israel.” (SHOFTIM 11:32-33)

A similar approach was taken by the Hasmonean leader Shimon HaTasi – last surviving son of the Adon Matityahu – when the Seleucid Greek King Antiokhus VIII Grypus attempted to pressure Israel into surrendering territory.

“He (Antiokhus) sent Athenobius, one of his friends, to him (Shimon) to deal with him, saying, ‘You have in your possession Jaffa and Gezer and the citadel in Jerusalem, cities of my kingdom. You have laid waste their borders, and played great havoc in the land. You have taken possession of many places in my kingdom. Now, then, hand over these cities that you have taken, and the tribute of the places outside the borders of Judea that you have appropriated. If you refuse, then give me instead five hundred talents of silver; for the damage that you have done and for the tribute of the cities, another five hundred talents. Unless you do this, we will come and make war on you.’” (MACCABEES I 15:28-31)

“Shimon replied, ‘We have neither taken foreign land, nor do we hold dominion over other people’s territory, but only over the inheritance of our fathers, from which we were unjustly banished by our enemies. And now we have seized the opportunity to return and hold the inheritance of our fathers.’” (MACCABEES I 15:33-34)

The Seleucid Greek military subsequently invaded the Land of Israel but was defeated by Judean fighters led by Shimon’s courageous sons. The Hasmonean leader’s firm response to the threats of Antiokhus not only clarified Israel’s position to the enemy but also inspired Hebrew fighters with a conscious awareness and unbreakable certainty in the justice of our cause. Proper advocacy therefore not only serves to present our case to the nations but also strengthens us internally with inner fortitude and a willingness to fight.

To refrain from educating the outside world to the justice of our cause is not only a transgression against historic Jewish aspirations but also a disservice to all of the righteous gentiles who genuinely care about indigenous rights, support authentic liberation movements and would likely champion our cause if given the chance to recognize the inherent justice of our struggle.

A central mission of the Jewish people in this world is to bring all Creation to the awareness of HaShem as the one and only absolute Reality that creates, sustains and affectionately empowers all that exists. And a primary step in achieving this lofty goal is connecting people to the story of the Hebrew Nation. As the national expression of G-D’s Ideal in this world, Israel is the leading protagonist of human history and the more we succeed in connecting people to our story the more we actually bring them closer to the Kadosh Barukh Hu. By helping mankind to recognize and identify with Israel’s national aspirations and with the challenges we still face on the road to full redemption, we are actively participating in the goal of Creation by means of leading mankind to a state of higher consciousness and bringing all existence to ultimate perfection.

With Love of Israel,
Shabbat Shalom,
Yehuda HaKohen.

The West: Too Tired to Defend Freedom?

By Giulio Meotti

  • "We are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society" — UK Liberal Democrats party leader Tim Farron, who resigned after giving "politically incorrect" answers on homosexual sex and abortion.
  • Wherever he went, Jeremy Corbyn seemed as if he were a voluntary collaborator with an Iranian regime that executes gays. But Corbyn was never questioned about this affiliation the way the media obsessively questioned Farron.
  • Muslim supremacists murder gays in Orlando? Instead of being proud of an open society, defending it from Islamic jihadists, and accepting the freedom to be homosexual as a positive difference between the West and Islam, our liberals make it a case for more "inclusion".
Liberal Democrats party leader Tim Farron saw his political career sacrificed because the British media found it unacceptable that, in his Christian conscience, he could have considered homosexual sex a sin. (Image source: Liberal Democrats/Flickr)
After the recent terror attacks in Britain, The Spectator wrote: "After five centuries, religious war has returned to England". The reference is to 1535, when Thomas More was executed for his Catholic beliefs. Tim Farron, a British MP and party leader of the Liberal Democrats who, after refusing for several days to state whether he considers homosexual sex a sin, and gave ambiguous answers on abortion, was not brought to the Tower of London for a public execution. However, almost 500 years after More, Farron saw his political career sacrificed on an almost identical ideological altar as More.
Farron resigned his position as party leader with a dramatic speech. The Daily Mail condemned the "liberal fascism" of the "moral pygmies". The progressive New Statesman headlined its story on Farron's resignation as the "decline of liberalism". Farron said: "We are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society".

American "Fear of Sharia" Is Anything but "Silly"

By A. Z. Mohamed

  • To allay fears inspired in Americans by what he called a "right-wing caricature" of Islamic jurisprudence, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf claimed, falsely, that it "does not presume to replace American law. It agrees with its underlying values and promotes them." In fact, both founders of political Islam, Sayyed Qutb and Hassan al-Banna, openly explained that Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments.
  • A new problem seems to have sprung up: some disembodied entity at Google apparently decided, with a few swipes of a bear-paw, to censor all the contents from these historically accurate think-tank postings. What is Google trying to keep you from knowing? Material that would be more dangerous for you to know or more dangerous for you not to know? How considerate of Google to have made this decision for you!
  • American fear of sharia is anything but "silly." It comes not a minute too soon.
Both founders of political Islam, Sayyed Qutb (right) and Hassan al-Banna (left), openly explained that Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments. (Images source: Wikimedia Commons)
In a recent op-ed in the New York Daily News, Kuwaiti American Sufi cleric and activist Feisal Abdul Rauf -- who served more than 25 years as the imam of the Masjid al-Farah Mosque in New York City -- argued that nobody in the United States should be worried about the incorporation of Islamic law, sharia, into the legal system or should be protesting it. To allay fears inspired in Americans by what he called a "right-wing caricature" of Islamic jurisprudence, Rauf claimed, falsely, that sharia "does not presume to replace American law. It agrees with its underlying values and promotes them." In fact, both founders of political Islam, Sayyed Qutb[1] and Hassan al-Banna, openly explained that Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments.

Parashat Hukat: Déjà vu – all over again?

By Rabbi Ari Kahn

It seems like déjà vu: a lack of resources leads to complaints, which brings about Divine intercession - and so it goes, again and again. But this time is different. This time, instead of the people suffering for their impatience and insolence, it is Moshe and Aharon who are punished. Remarkably, they are accused of a lack of faith in God:

God said to Moshe and Aharon, 'You did not have enough faith in Me to sanctify Me in the presence of the Israelites! Therefore, you shall not bring this assembly to the land that I have given you.' (20:12)

The punishment is sudden and shocking, but what was the transgression that brought the leadership of Moshe and Aharon to an end? How could they, of all people who ever lived, be accused of not believing in God? 

By this point in the narrative, we are accustomed to the complaints - the lovely food they had in Egypt[1], the wisdom of having gone off to die in the desert rather than staying put in Egypt, where there were ample graveyards.[2] The complaints were taken to a new level by Datan and Aviram, who accused Moshe of having taken them FROM a land that flowed with milk and honey![3]Moshe reacts to this latest round of complaining in much the same way as he did when the people first began their complaints years before. [4]  The two instances seem so similar to us that we are not surprised when Moshe once again strikes the rock to draw out water, this time adding a verbal rebuke for good measure:

'Listen now, you rebels!' shouted Moshe. 'Shall we produce water for you from this rock?' (20:10)

In what seems to be an expression of frustration with the cumulative corpus of complaints and criticism, Moshe lumps the latest example of the peoples’ dissatisfaction together with all the previous episodes, calling them rebels. And yet, despite the general sense that this litany of complaints has been heard over and over, there is something different in this particular case.

The people did not have any water, so they began demonstrating against Moshe and Aharon. The people quarreled with Moshe. 'We wish that we had died together with our brothers before God!' they declared. 'Why did you bring God's congregation to this desert? So that we and our livestock should die? Why did you take us out of Egypt and bring us to this terrible place? It is an area where there are no plants, figs, grapes or pomegranates. [Now] there is not even any water to drink!' (20:2-5)

When we look at their words carefully and compare them to the earlier water crisis, a few significant but subtle differences come to our attention. In both cases, the perfunctory “Why did you take us out of Egypt and bring us to this terrible place?” is there, but other elements of their complaints are radically different: Now, the frame of reference has shifted. Rather than longing for the zucchini and watermelons of Egypt,[5] the people bemoan the lack of “figs, grapes and pomegranates” – the fruits of the Land of Israel. In other words, rather than demanding to return to Egypt, as they had in the past, they are complaining that they are not in the Land of Israel. Moreover, their complaint reveals a deep-seated God-consciousness: “'We wish that we had died together with our brothers before God!'” and, “'Why did you bring God's congregation to this desert?”

This is a new generation, and they have made great forward strides. Whereas their fathers lamented ever having left the security and familiarity of Egypt, the generation of the children laments the fact that they have not yet arrived in the Promised Land. Whereas the previous generation had the audacity to question whether or not God was in their midst, this new generation is acutely aware of God’s presence, and of their own unique status as a covenantal community. This is not the same complaint that we have heard time and time again -  yet Moshe fails to hear the difference between what they are saying and what their parents said. He fails to appreciate the nuances, and responds as if they are murmuring the same complaints. He accuses them of being “rebels” without pausing to consider the validity of this accusation: To be sure, they were unhappy with their lot, dissatisfied with life in the desert – but is this not as it should be? Should not every Jew who finds himself outside of the Land of Israel feel unsettled, dissatisfied, incomplete?  

When we read their complaints carefully, a new picture emerges: These people were not looking back with fond nostalgia, they were pining for the future. Far from attempting to shirk the destiny that awaited them, they were over-eager to embrace it. Rather than complaining about the demands that their peoplehood placed upon them, they sought out God’s presence. If they were to die, they preferred to die “in front of God.” These people thirsted for holiness – the holiness of the Land of Israel, and of proximity to God. 

Moshe suffered from pre-conceived notions of what the people wanted. Rather than listening to what they actually said, he heard echoes of the past. It was Moshe who was looking backward, mistakenly attributing the mindset of the previous generation to the people who now stood before him. Moshe’s sin was one of missed opportunity. By responding to what he thought they had said, and not to what they actually said, he failed to sanctify God in the eyes of this new generation. 

Part of belief in God is belief in the Jewish People; Moshe expresses a lack of faith in the new generation when he calls them rebels, and is therefore guilty of a lack of faith in God Himself. God reprimands him: The Jewish People - this new generation that stands before Moshe and demands holiness, the generation that expresses deep yearning for the Land of Israel and awareness of God’s involvement in their lives - has faith. It is Moshe, and not the young nation, who has failed to move ahead. Moshe hears the complaints of the past; in a very real sense, both he and Aharon are a part of the previous generation – the generation that would not merit the Land of Israel. Therefore, Moshe and Aharon were sentenced to stay behind with their own generation, while this new generation would make their way to the Land for which they longed, the land of their dreams.

The UNRWA Problem

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made headlines in June when he told visiting US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) should be disbanded.

“I regret that UNRWA, to a large degree, by its very existence, perpetuates – and does not solve – the Palestinian refugee problem,” he said.

“Therefore, the time has come to disband UNRWA and integrate it into the UNHCR [the UN body responsible for all other refugees].”

While it’s true that any such move is extremely unlikely given that it would require approval by the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu’s concerns about the organisation are well justified and the US should take his lead to push for an intensive review and top-down reform of the body.

Netanyahu’s call represents a change in Israeli policy – successive Israeli governments have generally avoided calling for UNRWA’s abolition, despite the group’s negative influences, because they also valued the health, education and welfare services it provided to Palestinians.

UNRWA, created in the aftermath of Israel’s existential victory in the 1948 war, was formed with modest and sensible goals. Simply stated, those goals were to provide emergency aid to all needy refugees of that war with an eye to gradually decreasing the need for aid to the participants through job creation, resettlement and regional cooperation.

The organisation didn’t discriminate, and it may come as a surprise for some to learn that in the early days of UNRWA, it operated inside Israel, and aid recipients included Jewish refugees of the war who had previously lived in areas conquered by Jordan and Egypt.

That period didn’t last long. Israel quickly absorbed its internally displaced Arab and Jewish refugees, taking them off UNRWA’s rolls, while UNRWA increasingly entrenched itself in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

In a 2009 policy paper, Attorney James G. Lindsay, General Counsel for UNRWA from 2002-2007, succinctly described the organisation’s transformation as follows:

“Gradually, UNRWA segued from an organisation that supplied only emergency relief to one that provided governmental and developmental services in areas such as education, health, welfare, microfinance, and urban planning. Along with the obvious changes in function, several other processes or ‘themes’ stand out in UNRWA’s history: the incomplete shift from status based aid to need-based aid… the gradual assumption of a mission to enhance the political and humanitarian rights for refugees and Palestinians in general; and the immense increase in the number of persons considered refugees entitled to UNRWA services.”

Lindsay’s last two points have special significance, and they are related. UNRWA became an advocacy organisation for the political goals of Palestinian Arabs and, at the same time, expanded its definition of Palestinian refugee identity to include all the descendants of the original refugees, be it second, third or fourth generation.

The organisation that originally served, according to its own estimates, 760,000 needy and stateless Palestinian Arab refugees today considers five million Palestinians to be under its mandate, regardless of means-tested needs or even the fact many of these “refugees” hold citizenship elsewhere, like Jordan. Meanwhile, UNRWA’s mandate to resettle these refugees was removed in 1965, formalising a perpetual state of Palestinian dependency on the organisation.

Today’s UNRWA is not only invested in the political narrative of Palestinians in their conflict with Israel, but to Palestinian intransigence and rejectionism in its most virulent forms, especially in regard to the so-called Palestinian “right of return” to pre-state Israel, which is taught as part of UNRWA’s curriculum in its schools.

Any two-state peace outcome will require compromise on this issue, but UNRWA, through its barely-veiled advocacy for the “right of return”, makes it harder for Palestinian leaders to develop the popular support to do so.

UNRWA employs over 30,000 people, almost all of them local Palestinians, and derives its income largely from Western governments, especially the US and EU. Yet the group lacks independent oversight to ensure it is not being exploited by Palestinian militant groups as cover for their operations, particularly in Gaza.

This blurring of lines has led to several public embarrassments for UNRWA, including the discovery of Hamas weapon caches in UNRWA schools twice during the 2014 Gaza War, and attack tunnels under an UNRWA school this June.

In February, two senior UNRWA employees were elected to Hamas’ highest leadership body in Gaza. UNRWA distanced itself from them only after a group monitoring Palestinian terror groups publicised this news.

In the West Bank and elsewhere, teachers in UNRWA schools have been exposed spreading vicious pro-violence and antisemitic propaganda on Facebook and Twitter in a pattern that has become routine.

When it comes to the activities of UNRWA, the adage applies: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. UNRWA’s institutionalised perpetuation of Palestinian refugee camps and culture in all its trappings and manifestations makes peacemaking more difficult and deprives generations of Palestinians who were not refugees themselves but were unlucky enough to have been born into the conflict the right of all other refugees everywhere to choose their own destiny. It does so at an unsustainable level for the mostly Western countries that financially support the organisation, and, crucially, at the political expense of Palestinian moderates.

UNRWA is part of the problem – not just for Israel, but for all those who genuinely seek to improve the lives of Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s comments about UNRWA take place under the backdrop of small yet encouraging developments at the UN. Under US pressure, and under new UN leadership, the UN has this year begun to show some willingness to address some of the anti-Israel bias pervasive in UN institutions. While it’s a good start, changes to UNRWA must be an important part of that necessary and long overdue overall reform process.

Yishai Fleisher: The Platypus of Torah Portions

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Let each man encourage his neighbor

By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

 “The Canaanite king attacked Israel and took some captives” (Numbers 21:1). 

Rashi explains, “He captured only one maidservant.” 

What was the people’s reaction to the capture of the Israelite maidservant? They vowed to wage all-out war against the Canaanites, and that is what occurred. 

For the sake of one maidservant does one have to go to war? Here the Jewish People displayed their solidarity and unity, all of them as one man, with one heart. They had a strong awareness that someone who hurts one Jew hurts them all. They related to each individual Jew as an inseparable part of the aggregate. The pain and sorrow of each individual were not a private matter, but a problem demanding the responsibility and concern of the whole nation G-d had so lovingly selected. Such was the spirit that lived in the people. 

The call of the hour is to strengthen our nation’s solidarity. It is only natural that every single Jew in Israel and throughout the world should feel responsibility and concern and pain over the plight of every other Jew, wherever he may be. This is especially so regarding those Jews who face daily danger that their blood will be spilt like water, in our settlements, in the streets of our cities, and in the dark cellars where they are being held captive by Lebanese terrorists. A Jew must feel that when someone hurts a Jew, we and our whole nation are being hurt. In order to strengthen solidarity, it is not enough to feel. We must also do. We must visit the settlers and help them, adopting them and hosting them and their children. 

Let each man encourage his neighbor, and through this will be fulfilled the blessing, “Blessed are You, O L-rd, who smashes our enemies and defeats the wicked.” 

Looking forward to complete salvation, 
Shabbat Shalom.

Ben Gurion's feedback to the Reform Movement 47 years ago was prophetic

By David Bedein

In 1970, during my first months in Israel, I lived with two fellows who were learning at HUC, the Hebrew Union College.

They very much wanted to live in Israel.

Yet they and their fellow Reform rabbinic students were concerned about their status in the Jewish state.

A prominent Reform rabbi, Ezra Spicehandler, arranged for HUC students to meet and express their concerns to David Ben Gurion, the first Israeli prime minister, by then an elder statesman, having just retired from the Knesset.

After hearing the concerns of the HUC students, Ben Gurion responded with a message of reality.

BG answered their concerns that if American Reform rabbis want recognition, they should bring 300,000 Reform Jews.

Ben Gurion’s response envisioned the dilemma that non-Othodox Jews cope with in Israel today.

An estimated 20,000 Jews are active in 64 Reform, Conservative and Reconstuctionist synagogues around Israel, ​as compared with 1970, when you could count the amount of non-Orthodox synagogues on your fingertips.

Yet these numbers do not compare in numbers to the estimated two million Orthodox Jews in Israel — of all stripes — who hold at least 40 seats in the current Israeli Knesset, both in religious parties and in parties that do not define themselves as religious.

Today, when an Israeli prime minister considers vital decisions, a constituency of two million outweighs a community of 20,000, regardless of how many ​supporters reside in the Diaspora.

Had Reform Jews brought 300,000 Jews in 1970, their sheer numbers would have catapulted them into a position where they could have shaken the balance of Jewish religious power today.

Decisions are made by leaders who live in the Jewish state, not by those who support Israel from afar.

Ben Gurion’s observations were prophetic.​

‘Whitewashed’: The Sordid Story of UK Labour Party Antisemitism Laid Bare (video)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

It’s time to let go

Parashat Chukat 5777
By HaRav Nachman Kahana

A small, but meaningful, incident in the lives of John and Mary Smith. The happy couple was out driving in the family car; John was behind the wheel and Mary sat near the window. Mary calls out to her loving husband, “John, when we were first married, we sat so close. Now look at us.” And John replied, “I didn’t move.”

Government Decisions Affecting Reform and Conservative Movements

The Reform and other breakaway splinter groups (no matter their numbers) are clamoring for Israeli recognition of their betrayal of the Torah, and 3300 years of Jewish history, as HaShem’s chosen people. The reason for this has nothing to do with God or with spirituality, but just real “down to earth” American values – money.

Assimilation has reached uncontrollable proportions. With over 70% of non-orthodox intermarrying, reform temple attendance decreases, and accordingly the financial contributions which are the life-blood of their movement. These breakaway movements grasp at any straw that might give them a raison d’etre, including any kind of recognition by official Israel. As the adage goes, “It’s the money st…d – the money”.

Inside Temple Emanu-El of New York, the largest Reform synagogue in the world

Two decisions made this week by the Israeli government will affect the unaffiliated, Conservative and Reform Jewish Americans (as apart from American Jews) who have discarded our 3300-year Torah life in order to be accepted by their gentile friends. Several years ago, I read a study made among Reform “rabbis”. It concluded that the vast majority don’t believe that there is a God – and forget about revelation at Sinai and the 613 mitzvot.

The first decision preserves the status quo at the Kotel, where there is one praying area for men and the other for women, with no specified area for any form of mixed gender services.

The other decision retains responsibility for conversions solely in the authority of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, eliminating any legal and official recognition of private conversions. The individual will not be registered as a Jew in the rabbinical registry, nor by the Ministry of the Interior in terms of Israeli citizenship according to the Law of Return which grants immediate citizenship on any Jew who requests it.

Critics of the government’s decisions claim that they will create a schism between the Jews in the galut and us in Eretz Yisrael.

They are correct. The children of a gentile mother, even if the father is Jewish, will have to undergo conversion in Israel or by a rabbi abroad who is recognized by our Chief Rabbinate, where the initial condition is the acceptance of the Halacha in one’s private life. This is a non-starter for the millions of non-Orthodox Jews.

As a Jew who is committed until death to the 3300-year-old Jewish religion, I view our relationship with the Reform and others as part of a larger picture.

For 32 years, I was the rabbi of the Chazon Yechezkel Bet Knesset in the so-called “Moslem Quarter” of the Old City. The bet knesset was situated on the corner of Via Dolorosa and Guy street that leads from the Kotel plaza to the Damascus Gate. Guy street is totally Moslem regarding residents, aroma, decorations, etc. The Via Dolorosa, on the other hand, is totally Christian. How symbolic that our bet knesset, which represents authentic monotheistic Judaism, gave rise to the two false movements of Islam and Christianity. It can be likened to a powerfully flowing river that produces secondary streams destined to dry up and disappear, while historical Torah Judaism as the central unstoppable flow of God’s chosen people has given forth over the centuries peripheral pseudo-religious movements which do their damage and leave a temporary scar on the Jewish people.

The unaffiliated, the Reform and the Conservative movements, are not spiritual movements but rather foreign, intrusive elements in the healthy organism of historic, sanctified Judaism, which will be expelled from its midst by our sanctified immune system.

Where are the Eirev Rav today?

A great heap of wood shavings mixed together with steel shavings. You are required to separate the two by utilizing three methods: A powerful wind that removes the lighter wood, a fire that burns the wood leaving only the steel bits, and a magnet that draws out the steel.

The Mechilta (Midrash halacha on the book of Shemot) on parshat Bo records a discussion regarding the number of “Eirev Rav” (mixed multitude) that went out of Egypt with the Jewish people. Rabbi Yishmael claimed there were 1,200,000 and Rabbi Akiva claimed the number was twice that at 2,400,000. These numbers are staggering when taking into account that the number of male Jews from age twenty to sixty numbered only 603,550.

Where are the Eiruv Rav today?

Unfortunately, they are not identifiable, but they continue to misguide the inherently holy Jewish nation to compromise and pervert the Torah in word and spirit.

From the time that Moshe Rabbeinu permitted the Eirev Rav to accompany the Jewish nation at the exodus, the three processes of wind, fire and magnet have been in effect. The strong winds of assimilation have removed countless numbers of Eirev Rav, far more numerous than those who were murdered for being Jews. This process is being accelerated in our time through the Conservative and Reform movements.

During the darkest times in world history, the second process of fire was used by Christians and Moslems to decimate millions of Jews. And even though many pure and righteous tzaddikim were also murdered, the Gemara in Tractate Bava Kama states that when the heavenly decree is implemented in a specific place, all those who are there – righteous or not – fall victims.

The third method of the magnet powerfully attracts the authentic Jewish soul to return to Eretz Yisrael to live, while leaving the others to disappear over time in the galut.

Medinat Yisrael does not have the ability to decrease the huge percentage of intermarriage, which today is 70% and will reach 90% among the non-Orthodox in the galut. It is part of the natural process of weeding out negative elements from our nation.

We have to reach out to those Orthodox Jews in the galut who are victims of misguided teachers who claim that only the Mashiach can bring about the final redemption.

Our responsibility to members of the Reform and Conservative movements are likened to A who weighs 120 kilograms and is attempting suicide by jumping off the roof, while he is being held up from falling by B who weighs only 50 kilograms. If B continues to hold A, they will both go over the ledge. In order to survive, B has to let go.

By entertaining these breakaway groups in the name of egalitarianism, the State of Israel will find itself on a slippery slope where all Jewish values will be denied; and without Jewish values, the State will not be able to exist.

Shabbat Shalom
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5777/2017 Nachman Kahana

It’s Not About the Kotel

Recently the government decided not to create a new egalitarian section at the Kotel. As a result the Reform movement said it was a “slap in the face” and David Horovitz of the Times of Israel said it sends the message that “we don’t really want you.” Defense Minister Liberman said it was a “severe blow” to Jewish unity. Sharansky warned some Diaspora Jews are rethinking ties with Israel over the Western Wall decision.

A lot of people are upset and offended, but honestly I don’t understand why. There is no demand in Israel for an egalitarian section at the Kotel. If there was, there would be one already. The last time I checked there was no Reform party in the Knesset. However, there are Haredi parties and Haredi members of Knesset that represent a large portion of Israeli citizens. This is simply a non-issue for Israelis. I’ve never seen protests on the streets demanding an egalitarian section like what we saw in the past demanding lower housing and food prices.

The Reform and other non-Orthodox Jews threaten that they will no longer support Israel if there’s no egalitarian section. What support? This the same group that the majority voted for Obama twice, supported Obama’s Iran deal, supports the Palestinians, supports J Street, intermarries at 80% and does not visit Israel. How would building an egalitarian section at the Kotel change that? Christian Zionists are great supporters of Israel these days. Should the government build a Christian section at the Kotel to make them feel comfortable?

Why is democracy important only when it supports liberal American Jewish values? Israeli citizens get one vote, once every three or four years and consistently vote for right-wing, conservative parties not just because of security, but because they represent their views. An egalitarian section at the Kotel has never been an election issue. In part that’s because Israeli citizens who identify as Reform are 0.05% of the Jewish population. Why should non-citizens who don’t even live in Israel be considered?

The Reform movement and Women of the Wall demand that Netanyahu keep his word, but only when is in line with their views. When he keeps his word and builds a new settlement, they’re aghast.

Over 60% of Jewish Israelis are from Muslim countries. How many egalitarian sections were there in Iraq or Morocco? How many are there in Sephardi synagogues in Israel? It’s not an issue for Sephardi Jews.

Where were the protests from the Reform movement in 1967 to create an egalitarian section at the Kotel? How about 1977 or 1987 or 1997? The Reform movement officially did not support the state of Israel in 1948. It was anti-Zionist. They only officially changed their stance in 1997.

The head of the Reform movement proudly claims that he represents the largest stream of Judaism in America, representing millions of Jews. So, where are they? If they love Israel so much, and care so much, make Aliyah and make a difference. Two million Reform immigrants would change the face of the entire country. Forget Aliyah, they hardly even visit.

I’m waiting to see 500,000 Reform Jews (a fraction of the millions) come together and protest at the Kotel. Prove that it’s so important to you. The Haredim have proved how much it means to them. Instead liberal Jews shout from abroad to accommodate them because they “feel uncomfortable” at the Kotel.

What about the tens of thousands of people that come each day to the Kotel? Have you considered how uncomfortable they would feel to have an egalitarian section at the Kotel or remove the mechitzah (separation barrier) entirely? The big difference being that the Haredim have political power in Israel and liberal Jews do not.

On top of all this there is already an egalitarian section at the Kotel and has been for years. It’s run by the same authority that maintains the Kotel. There are Torah scrolls available.

This is not about the Kotel. Creating an egalitarian section there won’t change anything. Most liberal Jews won’t start voting for pro-Israel presidents, they won’t stop intermarrying, they won’t visit Israel more often or make Aliyah.

For the Reform movement the Kotel is a symbol of the future. The future of the Jewish people is clearly in the state of Israel. Once Israel was the junior partner and American Jews the senior partner, but the situation has reversed itself since 1948. American Jews understand that if their version of Judaism is not accepted by the state of Israel, they have no future. They know that the trend of intermarriage and Jewish apathy is unstoppable.

The egalitarian section at the Kotel is a symbol of the Reform movement being accepted in Israel. When the government rejects expanding the egalitarian section, it’s not about the Kotel, it’s about the failure of the Reform movement to secure a future in the state of Israel and secure a strong Jewish future for themselves.

The Shamrak Report: Perpetual Negotiations Must End and more......

Kushner arrived in Israel last Wednesday as a part of the new US administration's push to begin mapping out a pathway to the resumption of direct negotiations between Israelis and PA. The US delegation then travelled to Ramallah to meet with members the Palestinian Authority.
The meeting, which included Jared Kushner and US envoy Jason Greenblatt, was tense and not successful. The American delegation came to the meeting and presented Israeli demands but there was no dialogue about restarting bilateral negotiations or the possibility of a joint-summit between Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump.
Another issue discussed in the meeting was the subject of incitement by the Palestinian Authority, as one of the demands brought forward by Israel was that the PA stops paying salaries to terrorists’ families. Abbas refused American requests to stop the payment, asserting that it is an “internal Palestinian issue.”
Abbas allegedly tried to present the way in which Palestinians envision a future Palestinian state emerging in the region but them Americans kept reverting back to the issue of payment for terrorist families by the PA. The American delegation reportedly would not discuss the topic of a two-state solution, a flagship issue for the PA!
Abbas reportedly also demanded an end to Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank, claiming that it is the source of violence and tension as it prevents the Palestinians from aspiring towards the creation of a sovereign state.
The sources said that the American delegation sympathized more with the Israeli side!
Kushner and Abbas agree ‘peace will take time’. The White House said in a statement that the meeting, which was also attended by Trump’s peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, was “productive” and that both Abbas and Kushner “reaffirmed their commitment to advancing President Trump’s goal of a genuine and lasting peace” between Israel and the Palestinians. (Another ‘productive’ BS in progress!)
According to a senior Palestinian official, US Pres. advisor Kushner said that Trump will decide whether parties ready for peace process or whether initiative should be cancelled based on Kushner's assessment.
FOOD for THOUGHT by Steven Shamrak
Fake Palestinians and even Arab states or Iran are not the main threat to Israel! The lack of will to behave as the proud leaders of an independent state and take decisive actions against enemies to secure the future of Jewish people by all consecutive governments of Israel is the main problem! Please, read - The Sinai Option: Road to Permanent Peace!

Via PayPal $10,  $18,  $36,  $72,  $100,  $180,  $260
Yoram Cohen, former director of the Israeli Security Agency (a.k.a. Shabak or Shin Bet), said that, in his view, “reaching an agreement with the Palestinian Authority is a national Israeli interest and should be sought,” however, “In light of sizeable gaps, lack of trust, and an absence of readiness for serious compromises from the Palestinian side, and the fact the Palestinian Authority is unable to provide an effective response to terror threats, it is difficult for me to envision the possibility of reaching a political agreement in the coming years.” (Not all ‘dreams’ are perfect and attainable – Israel must take control of its future!)
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that the next war with Israel could see thousands of Shia militia fighters join forces with Hezbollah to fight Israel. “This could open the way for thousands, even hundreds of thousands of fighters from all over the Arab and Islamic world to participate – from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said in a speech broadcast on television. (Step Two – remove Hamas and enemies population from Gaza! It is not a matter of “If”, but Israel must be ready to do it when enemies wage next war against Israel.)

UN is Blind to Hezbollah Activities

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations said that UN turning a blind eye to Hezbollah. “It is unfortunate that UNIFIL has chosen to look the other way as Hezbollah continues to operate in the region,” Danny Danon said. He denounced the “dangerous provocation” and called on the council to demand the Lebanese government dismantle the Hezbollah outposts, as required by UN resolution. (The ‘Ugly Nazi’ has been an anti-Israel body from its conception. It will do nothing to stop enemies of Israel!)

Neither the Jerusalem Municipality nor Housing Ministry confirmed or denied a report claiming that the government has ordered a de facto construction freeze for 6,000 housing units in Jerusalem. According to Army Radio, 2,200 units will be halted in the contested neighborhoods of Gilo, several thousand in Har Homa, and hundreds more Pisgat Zeev.
Israel has been regularly supplying Syrian rebels near its border with cash as well as food, fuel and medical supplies for years, conducting a secret engagement in the civil war aimed at carving out a buffer zone populated by friendly forces. “Israel stood by our side in a heroic way,” Moatasem al-Golani, spokesman for Fursan al-Joulan (Knights of the Golan). “We wouldn’t have survived without Israel’s assistance.” Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the report, claiming Israel provides financial aid to rebel groups in Syria. “We do not interfere in this terribly bloody conflict. We do, however, provide humanitarian aid...”

Drone Dome Laser Weapon System

A Drone Dome - the system detects, tracks and neutralizes hostile drones using smart sensors and electronic jamming equipment. The system, which operates in all weather with a 360-degree circular coverage, has a range of several kilometers and uses an electro-optical/infrared sensor and radar to detect a threat.

Red Cross Facilitating Terror

The Palestinian Authority is using the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to pay salaries to PA terrorists in Israeli prisons. (As usual, the anti-Semitic Red Cross pretends that it does not know about it – like it did not know about Holocaust and atrocities committed by Nazis)

Knesset Members belonging to the Joint Arab List are violating the law by encouraging and assisting an organization that incites Druze youth not to enlist in the IDF. According to Section 109 of Israel’s Penal Code, a person is subject to five years’ imprisonment if they “incited or induced a person obligated to service in the armed forces not to serve or not to report for enlistment.” 
Quote of the Week:
"I would rather have a strong Israel that the world hates than an Auschwitz that the world loves" - Rabbi Meir Kahane - And they did love it!
by Jonathan S. Tobin
As expected, the ‘peace process’ is still an anti-Israel scam. 
Time to look for alternative solutions!
...During testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson let drop a bombshell. When asked about the Palestinian Authority’s payment of salaries to imprisoned terrorists and their families, the secretary announced the problem had already been solved. “They have changed that policy,” Tillerson assured Idaho Sen. James Risch.
If true, that would be quite a feather in Tillerson’s cap. But the claim was false. A day later, when speaking to the House Foreign Relations Committee, he was forced to backtrack and admit that instead there was only an “active discussion” about the issue. But, later in his testimony, Tillerson insisted he still believed the assurances he got from PA leader Mahmoud Abbas during President Trump’s visit to the region...
As it turns out, the Palestinians are a more reliable source of information than the State Department. Within hours of Tillerson’s statement, members of Abbas’ government announced payments to terrorists hadn’t stopped and there were no plans to stop them. Indeed, they considered the entire discussion a form of “aggression” against the Palestinian people...
The problem is not just that the PA uses the massive aid it gets from both the European Union and the United States to pay for terrorism — in just the last four years, they have doled out more than $1.1 billion to those who seek to kill Jews, Israelis and Americans. But by going public about this outrage, Trump and Tillerson have staked their reputations on ending it...
What Tillerson doesn’t understand is that anti-Jewish violence is an essential element of the Palestinian national narrative. Ending support for terror is essential to peace, but it’s also an impossible ask for Abbas, who is rightly worried about losing support to his Hamas rivals...
And by announcing that the PA had already stopped them, Tillerson gambled American credibility on getting Abbas to make a promise he can’t keep. Indeed, Tillerson set back Trump’s own negotiating position because now that the Palestinians have revealed the truth, the White House can’t plausibly claim it can get the Palestinians to stop the practice.
All of which means Trump’s peace initiative is likely over even before it starts!

Rav Kook on Parashat Chukat: The Book of God's Wars

The Torah reading concludes with an obscure reference to the “Book of God’s Wars,” describing the Arnon canyon near the border between the Land of Israel and Moab. The verses are cryptic, and the Talmud (Berachot 54a-b) fills in the details with the following story:

Just before the Israelites were to enter the Land of Israel, the Amorites (one of the Canaanite nations) laid a trap for them. They chipped away at the rock, creating hiding places along a narrow pass in the Arnon canyon. There the Amorite soldiers hid, waiting for the Israelites to pass through, when they could attack them with great advantage.

What the Amorites didn’t know was that the Holy Ark would smooth the way for the Jewish people in their travels through the desert. When the Ark arrived at the Arnon Pass, the mountains on each side crushed together, killing the Amorite soldiers. The Israelites traveled through the pass, blissfully unaware of their deliverance. But at the end of the Jewish camp were two lepers, named Et and Vehav. The last ones to cross through, it was they who noticed the riverbed turned crimson from the crushed enemy soldiers. They realized that a miracle had taken place, and reported it to the rest of the Israelites. The entire nation sang a song of thanks, namely, the poetic verses that the Torah quotes from the “Book of God’s Wars.”

Challenges to the Torah

The Talmud clearly understands that this was a historical event, and even prescribes a blessing to be recited upon seeing the Arnon Pass. Rav Kook, however, interpreted the story in an allegorical fashion. What are “God’s Wars"? These are the ideological battles of the Torah against paganism and other nefarious views. Sometimes the battle is out in the open, a clear conflict between opposing cultures and lifestyles. And sometimes the danger lurks in crevices, waiting for the opportune moment to emerge and attack the foundations of the Torah.

Often it is precisely those who are on the fringes, like the lepers at the edge of the camp, who are most aware of the philosophical and ideological battles that the Torah wages. These two lepers represent two types of conflict between the Torah and foreign cultures. And the Holy Ark, containing the two stone tablets from Sinai, is a metaphor for the Torah itself.

The names of the two lepers were Et and Vahav. What do these peculiar names mean?

The word Et in Hebrew is an auxiliary word, with no meaning of its own. However, it contains the first and last letters of the word emet, ‘truth.’ Et represents those challenges that stem from new ideas in science and knowledge. Et is related to absolute truth; but without the middle letter, it is only auxiliary to the truth, lacking its substance.

The word Vahav comes from the work ahava, meaning ‘love’ (its Hebrew letters have the same numerical value). The mixing up of the letters indicates that this an uncontrolled form of love and passion. Vahav represents the struggle between the Torah and wild, unbridled living, the contest between instant gratification and eternal values.

When these two adversaries — new scientific viewpoints (Et) and unrestrained hedonism (Vahav) — come together, we find ourselves trapped with no escape, like the Israelites in the Arnon Pass. Only the light of the Torah (as represented by the Ark) can illuminate the way, crushing the mountains together and defeating the hidden foes. These enemies may be unnoticed by those immersed in the inner sanctum of Torah. But those at the edge, whose connection to Torah and the Jewish people is tenuous and superficial, are acutely aware of these struggles, and more likely to witness the victory of the Torah.

The crushing of the hidden adversaries by the Ark, as the Israelites entered into the Land of Israel in the time of Moses, is a sign for the future victory of the Torah over its ideological and cultural adversaries in the time of the return to Zion in our days.