Monday, July 31, 2017

Erdoğan Exploits the Temple Mount Crisis to Foment Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

By Dr. Efrat Aviv

Palestinian Muslim reading the Koran in Al-Aqsa Mosque, Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Israel, image by Mustafa Bader via Wikipedia
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 544
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Turkey continues to insert itself more and more into the ongoing clashes on the Temple Mount, almost as if it legally represents the Palestinians in the dispute. Turkey’s anti-Israel agitation, which garners wide support among Palestinians in both Gaza and the PA, is hardly new. But its patronage of the Palestinians hides more than religious sentiment. Turkish anti-Zionism, which aligns directly with anti-Semitism, is being expressed once again through the current friction.

Watch: Hundreds march in Jerusalem on Tisha B'Av

Jews from around the country participate in Women in Green's march in Jerusalem

The Women in Green movement on Monday night, the night of Tisha B'Av, held the traditional march around the walls of Jerusalem. Monday marked the 23rd year that this march has taken place.

The event began with a joint reading of the Book of Eicha (Lamentations) in Independence Park in central Jerusalem. Immediately afterwards, the march took place, and concluded with a rally near the Lions' Gate.

“Sometimes we take things for granted,” Nadia Matar of Women in Green told Arutz Sheva. “People have started asking, ‘Why should we fast on Tisha B’Av? We have Jerusalem. What’s the point?’ And this year, we got a terrible reminder that we are not yet sovereign as we need to be, in Jerusalem and in Israel. The Arabs murdered two policemen, the Arabs butchered three members of the Salomon family, all of a sudden we couldn’t go to the Temple Mount or Jerusalem without being attacked, and all of a sudden we realized there’s still a lot to do.”

“Therefore, the march this year after the terrible two weeks in which our Jewish pride was trampled, walking around the Old City in what is called ‘east Jerusalem’ is very moving and we finally understand how important this walk is,” she added.

George Soros: The ‘Anti-Fascist’ Fascist

The so-called “antifascist” movement in America today bears a strange resemblance to the very fascism it purports to combat. When we see masked Antifa protesters in black, carrying weapons, disrupting public events and blocking speakers from campus, this looks more like fascism than its opposite. The close relationship between self-styled antifascism and fascism itself can be seen in some little-known aspects of one of Antifa’s main financial sponsors, George Soros.

The Hungarian-born Soros became a billionaire through shrewd global investments and currency manipulation; his Quantum Fund is one of the world’s first private hedge funds. Soros is the main funder of some 200 leftist groups, including Planned Parenthood,, and Black Lives Matter.

Soros also backs self-proclaimed antifascist groups—this year the Soros-backed group Alliance for Global Justice gave $50,000 to the militant thugs associated with the group Refuse Fascism.

Soros doesn’t merely fund activism; he also funds disruptive violence. Essentially his costumed baton-wielding squadrons amount to a private army: he has created a militia of paid thugs similar to the Italian Blackshirts and the Nazi Brownshirts. Soros’ strategy is to launch dozens, even hundreds, of groups and then see which ones deliver the goods. Borrowing from the field of venture capitalism, my term for what Soros does is venture thuggery, operating through paid protesters.

The paid protester is something of a new phenomenon in American politics. In the 1960s we had protesters on the left, even violent ones, but they weren’t being rented out by the hour. Soros’ groups, by contrast, advertise for disrupters and looters. On one ad I saw on Craigslist, protesters are promised $15 an hour to cause trouble. This way leftists can not only indulge their violent streaks in the fantasy they are fighting Hitler; they can also be paid for their Brownshirt thuggery.

It may seem crude, even insensitive, for me to use such language in talking about Soros, who is Jewish and who was after all a refugee from Nazism. Soros loves to play the Nazi card, as when in the aftermath of 9/11 he flayed President Bush’s attorney general John Ashcroft for questioning the patriotism of its critics—a tactic that Soros likened to the Nazis. “It reminded me of Germany under the Nazis,” Soros said. “It was the kind of talk that Goebbels used to use to line the Germans up. I remember, I was thirteen or fourteen. It was the same kind of propaganda.”

This reference to his youth makes the transcript of a 1998 CBS Sixty Minutes interview with Soros especially revealing. Here is what Soros told interviewer Steve Kroft about those fateful days in Hitler’s Germany.

Kroft: You’re a Hungarian Jew.

Soros: Mm-hmm.

Kroft: …who escaped the Holocaust.

Soros: Mm-hmm.

Kroft: …by—by posing as a Christian.

Soros: Right.

Kroft: And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps.

Soros: Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that’s when my character was made.

Kroft: In what way?

Soros: That one should think ahead. One should understand and anticipate events when one is threatened. It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean—it was a very personal experience of evil.

Kroft: My understanding is that you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.

Soros: Yes. Yes.

Kroft: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.

Soros: Yes. That’s right. Yes.

Kroft: I mean, that’s—that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?

Soros: Not—not at all. Maybe as a child you don’t—you don’t see the connection. But it was—it created no, no problem at all.

Kroft: No feeling of guilt.

Soros: No.

Kroft: For example, that “I’m Jewish and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be there. I should be there.’ None of that?

Soros: Well, of course I, I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was not sense that I shouldn’t be there, because that was—well, actually in a funny way, it’s just like in markets—that if I weren’t there, of course I wasn’t doing it, but somebody else would—would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the—whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the—I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.

What interests me here is not what young Soros did—I’m not going to attach much weight to the moral conduct of a 14-year-old—but rather how the mature Soros retroactively interprets his previous actions as a collection boy for Hitler. Evidently, Soros believes that accompanying an official from a fascist government that is collaborating with the Nazis for the purpose of serving confiscation notices to Jews to steal their property and possessions is not something to feel guilt or regret about.

Why? Because just like a market transaction, the outcome would have happened anyway. Soros’ comment reminds me of the incident involving the notorious Nazi doctor at Auschwitz, Josef Mengele. Mengele’s son Rolf visited him in South America after the war and confronted Mengele with his crimes.

Mengele insisted he did nothing wrong. He was not responsible for what happened at Auschwitz, he said, because the captives there had already been marked for death. So here we have Soros mounting what may be termed the Mengele Defense, and getting away with it.

Soros reflects the type of base amoralism that is more characteristic of fascism and Nazism than of the forces that defeated fascism and Nazism. His anti-fascist pose camouflages deep affinities between Soros and the Nazis, in the same way that antifascist groups today closely resemble the Blackshirts of fascist Italy and the Brownshirts of Nazi Germany. Soros and the left’s self-styled antifascism is a fraud because there are no fascists they are fighting. The only fascism that is recognizable in their actions is their own.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

What Natural Living Is

By HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

Our parasha contains central themes that are thrust together in a curious manner. "Do not add on to that which I am commanding you and do not detract from it ... Your eyes have seen that which Hashem has done with Ba’al Peor, for all who followed Ba’al Peor, Hashem has destroyed from before you. You are those who have clung to Hashem, your G-d, you are all alive today" (Devarim 4:2-4). The contrast is too great between Ba’al Peor, one of the lowliest forms of idol worship, in which one defecates on the idol, and those who cling to Hashem. Would we have thought that we could compare the two? Is something as subtle as not adding on or subtracting from the Torah comparable or even contrastable with Ba’al Peor? It is also hard to understand how Bilam, who, when all is said and done, was a prophet, could suggest to interest Bnei Yisrael with such a lowly type of idolatry?

There was a famous discussion between a philosopher and Rabbi Hoshaya regarding why Hashem had to command the Jewish People to perform mila if He could have just made sure that we were all created correctly (Bereishit Rabba 11:6). Rabbi Hoshaya explained that everything in the world was created so that it would need to be fixed. In general there is a question of how one should deal with the inclinations he is born with or naturally develops. Should he fight them, or should he accept the inclinations as things that Hashem wants us to have? Is it even possible to defy that which is natural and change oneself?

The Jewish outlook is that we should not rely on nature to lead us to the correct path and that it is possible to overcome our apparent tendencies. As a matter of fact, we believe that there is a natural side of us that is more internal, which actually opposes the liberties that the more externally noticeable inclinations encourage us to take.

The idea of Peor was to do whatever it is you do (including defecation) and that is the service of this idol. "Be what you are, without being embarrassed, and don’t try to be what you are not." Based on this outlook, Bilam, while knowing his Maker, purposely rebelled against Him in the following manner. His philosophy was that Hashem is indeed perfect but we are not and we need not try to be closer to perfection. He said: "Let my soul die the death of the straight" (Bamidbar 23:10). Only at the time of death, when the body ceases to work anyway, was he interested in being straight, but during life, he wanted to be "natural."

The Torah has an exact recipe for proceeding morally and spiritually through the mitzvot of the Torah. For that reason, we are commanded not to add on or subtract. It is, by means of example, like a healthy, balanced diet. When you have the balance, then you have harmony between the different elements and stability. That’s why the Torah stresses the matter of Ba’al Peor. It shows what happens to those who want to just accept nature as is and do not want to accept the Torah’s blueprint for our spiritually healthy living. "You are all alive today." It stresses "today" because it is every day that we need to follow the words of Hashem and every day should be like the day the Torah was received. We are not like the followers of soccer stars and movie stars, who grow old and lose their appeal. We believe in the youth being imbued with attributes of the old and the old remaining youthful. "All are alive today!"

Appreciating the Merit of Entering The Land of Israel

By Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

The ability to somehow subsume one’s own personal disappointments and even tragedies into the general picture of positive Jewish life and mission is vividly illustrated in Moshe’s response to God’s refusal to allow him to enter into the Land of Israel. Moshe does not accept the decree in a stoic, ‘what is the use’ manner but he instead uses it to impress upon the Jewish people the special good fortune that they possess in being able to enter and inhabit the Land of Israel.

Perhaps only someone who has been denied a special favor, gift or talent can truly appreciate the uniqueness of someone who possesses that favor, gift or talent. (For instance, I appreciate and love to hear great chazanim and baalei tefila though I cannot carry a tune. But I digress.)

Jews who currently have the ability to visit and even more importantly to dwell in our ancient homeland are pretty much blasé’ about the whole matter. We have become so comfortable and accustomed to this gift granted to us that we are even willing to forego it and some Jews even have the temerity to vilify it and claim that gift and opportunity was and is a "mistake!"

Moshe certainly would not have thought so. He breaks down the heavenly gates of prayer, so to speak, in order to gain entry into the Land of Israel. He is willing to forego his lofty office and enter the land just as plain Mr. Moshe but all to no avail.

But instead of bewailing his fate bitterly he uses the experience to encourage his people and steel them for the task and mission that life in the Land of Israel always and automatically entails.

The Jewish soul’s desire to live in the Land of Israel, a desire not diminished by thousands of years of exile and separation, is an extension of the attitude and spirit of Moshe himself. All defeats in Jewish life, no matter how expensive and devastating they may be, are still in the long run only temporary setbacks.

That is the reality of the message of this Shabat Nachamu - that comfort, consolation and triumph eventually await us. Perhaps it is this knowledge of God’s commitment to our survival and success that allows Moshe to move past his own personal disappointments and defeats. Moshe sees the future and spans the generations and is aware of the eternity of Israel and its never ending attachment to the Land of Israel.

And he knows that the eventual destiny of the people of Israel is inextricably bound up with the Land of Israel. And therefore in the midst of his tears over his own unfulfilled hopes and wishes he states words of encouragement and steadfast blessing to his beloved people.

It is part of the character greatness of Moshe that the people he serves always take precedence over his own personal pursuits and desires. As such, he is the model of what a Jewish religious leader should be. Even though there has never been another Moshe, his example still instructs and guides us.

Israel caught in a Trap of its own making

By Barry Shaw, JPOST

Have you ever seen how a jackal kills its prey? Usually, it doesn’t kill it with one blow or bite. It surrounds it, it challenges it, it probes for points of weakness. It then gets its jaws around the neck of its prey and won’t let go. Whenever the animal struggles it makes itself weaker.

This is what we have been seeing from Israel. We are caught, like an animal, unable to shake off the obsessive hunger of those who have their claws into us and want to destroy us. Like a wounded animal, we didn’t assess the threat, or appreciate the real danger. In nature, the targeted animal often appears to be so powerful it could easily resist the deadly jackals. They thought their strong and non-offensive posture would appease the hungry killers into not attacking.

Like the wounded beast, Israel finds itself caught in a trap of its own making. Like that animal, Israel is caught in the jaws of those that want to destroy us.

How did we get to the point that a strong Jewish state is strategically so meek that we have too readily surrendered Judaism’s most holy site to a comparatively weak adversary? It’s down to a failed policy of playing nice.

The thrilling historic announcement, exactly 50 years ago, that “The Temple Mount is in our hands” was true – for a few days. Playing nice began half a century ago when Gen. Moshe Dayan countermanded Motta Gur by saying about the Temple Mount, “What is this? The Vatican?” and handed the administration to the Muslim Council. The battle then was not against Palestinians. Israel was fighting a defensive war against invading Arab armies bent on our destruction.

The baying Palestinian protesters recently shouted that the Temple Mount is for “Muslims and Palestinians only.” Jews and Christians throw away your bibles. The Israeli government has failed you. Through a fear of being disliked, we have adopted an assimilated-Jew psychosis, of trying to appear nice or appeasing the goyim and the Muslims, yet we still fail to win friends or influence people. It is we that are being influenced to surrender all too often and too easily.

We can feel the claws of our enemy embedded in our flesh. Like wounded animals we are either frozen into inaction or, worse still, make decisions that tighten their deadly lock on our carcass.

We may pretend that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of the Jewish state but there are parts of Jerusalem where the municipality fears to tread, places where obsessive Jew hatred and a desire to see the end of Israel is growing. People are not aware that in this part of our “undivided capital” football cubs play under the auspices of the Palestinian Football Association and their champion team supervises soccer tournaments honoring killers of Israelis without any response from our government against this incitement to terrorism being practiced in Jerusalem. The government won’t stamp this out because they don’t want to upset anyone.

We have lost not only our courage but our moral compass.

We are in a battle for survival that can only be won by victory over those trying to destroy us bite by bite.

Recently, NGOs came together to form the Israel Victory Caucus.

The Israeli government must open up to a serious dose of strategic reality therapy. We are on the path to our own destruction. It is time to go on the offensive with courage and commitment. No other remedy can result in permanent peace.

Germany and Japan surrendered only after being brought to their knees. Only when the Palestinians have been brought to the point that they admit defeat, give up on their obsessive Jewish hatred, their feverish martyrdom complex and an overarching ambition to destroy us can any form of peace take hold.

They are the ones, not us, who need to make painful concessions.

As Daniel Pipes of Middle East Forum wrote in January, “True peacemaking means finding ways to coerce Palestinian to undergo a change of heart, give up rejectionism, accept Jews, Zionism, and Israel. Defeat compels them to come to terms with their irredentist fantasies and empty the rhetoric of revolution.”

To achieve that, Israel has to extract itself from the psychological and strategic trap it has set for itself.

The author is the senior associate for public diplomacy at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. He is the author of Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism, and the best-seller 1917, From Palestine to the Land of Israel.

The Yishai Fleisher Show- Jewish Rage?

As Israel braces for yet more Palestinian rage, Yishai and Malkah ask where is the Jewish rage? Was it not Israeli police and an Israeli family who were murdered in this latest round of tension? And why is Jordan fanning the flames of hate? The Nine Days are indeed upon us...

Palestinians: The Metal Detector Scam

By Khadija Khan

  • Metal detectors and are commonplace at most prominent mosques in the Middle East, and more than 5,000 surveillance cameras (and 100,000 security guards) monitor pilgrims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia during the annual Hajj.
  • While the Palestinian terrorist was being treated for his wounds in an Israeli hospital, the Palestinian Authority celebrated his actions and set in motion the mechanism according to which he will receive a salary of more than $3,000 per month for his attempt to become a "martyr" through murdering Jews.
  • It is time for the international community to stop enabling radicals to use the Palestinian people as pawns in their greater agenda, transparent to everyone, including all Muslims: to obliterate Israel through delegitimization.

Palestinians near Jerusalem's Old City protest Israel's installation of metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount, although the metal detectors had already been removed days before, on July 28, 2017. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
After massive pressure from the Muslim world and international community, Israel removed all metal detectors and surveillance-camera infrastructure from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the location of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Possibly to obfuscate the reason that the metal detectors were installed in the first place -- a terrorist attack on July 14, in which three Israeli Arab citizens killed two Israeli Druze police officers with weapons they had hidden inside the mosque -- the Palestinian Authority (PA) called on Muslims to boycott the site and launch "days of rage" against the Jewish state.
Palestinians, claiming that the metal detectors were a "desecration" of the mosque -- which is actually located on the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam - entered into violent clashes with Israeli security forces. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced Israel and called on Muslims to "protect" Jerusalem.

The Temple - top of the Agenda

By HaRav Eliezer Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshivat Har Bracha

I: The Three Holy Jews

The story of Yosef Tzvi Salomon HY”D and his family, his daughter Chaya Esther and his son Elad z”l * As the son of Holocaust survivors, Yosef Tzvi worked diligently to settle the Land of Israel, cleaving to the Torah until the final day of his life. 

Yosef Tzvi Salomon, who was murdered along with his daughter Chaya Esther and his son Elad, was one of the first pioneers to settle the heart of our holy Land. He grew up in Transylvania, Romania, in a community of Holocaust survivors in the town of Dej, near Cluj. As children, he and his brothers were beaten and humiliated by their anti-Semitic neighbors. About a year before reaching the age of Bar Mitzvah (13 years old) in the year 1958, the gates of emigration from Romania opened, and his parents immigrated to Israel and settled in Be’er Sheva.

For many years, Yosef Tzvi was the chief sergeant of the medical warehouse of the I.D.F. After early retirement from the army, he worked as a department manager in the Talpiyot College, a post-secondary academic institution dedicated to providing education for Jewish women in an authentic Torah environment. Accordingly, he encouraged his three daughters to study there, and thanks to that, they eventually became teachers in Israel’s educational system.

As the son of Holocaust survivors who endured the camps in Transnistria (his father) and Auschwitz (his mother), the commandment to settle the Land of Israel was extremely important to him. To this end, about thirty-five years ago, he moved with his family from Be’er Sheva to Neve Tzuf (Halamish) in Binyamin. He even tried to enlist his younger brother Ben-Zion who consequently changed his plans to build his home together with his friends in Meitar, and instead, joined the ‘garin‘ (nucleus) that established the community of Elkana in Samaria.

His daughter Racheli married Ron Manzali, a student from our yeshiva, and establishing a beautiful family in the community of Har Bracha. Yosef Tzvi was glad they were continuing to settle the Land on the front lines of Jewish settlement, and every time he visited Har Bracha on Shabbat, he would diligently participate in Torah classes and the Shabbat sermon with his son-in-law. As a result, we were also fortunate to have Elad HY”D study in our yeshiva in his first year before enlisting in the Armored Corps of the I.D.F.

Yosef Tzvi HY”D meticulously attended all the funerals of Judea and Samaria residents who were killed ‘al Kiddush Hashem’ (sanctifying the name of God), in order to pay homage to the holy heroes who, due to their exalted standing of being killed in the sanctification of the Torah, the nation, and the Land, occupy such an exalted position in the next world, that they are unapproachable. After the funerals he would remain silent. Who could have known then that one day, he, his daughter, and his son would reach that exalted level.

After retiring, he made great efforts to travel to the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem every day to attend Torah classes at the ‘Kollel for Pensioners’. In the last year at the age of seventy, after experiencing a fall and losing consciousness, he became very weak, and from that time on, walked slowly and hunched over, due pains in his back. Consequently, he travelled to Jerusalem only three days a week, and the rest of the time, he participated in the pensioner’s kollel he helped establish in Neve Tzuf.

He was a man of action, spoke little, and had a good heart – to the point where his brother testified that it was impossible to argue with him – he personified the verse “surely goodness and unfailing love”. He deeply wanted his family to be happy at all times, and occasionally when they argued about various matters, he would raise his voice and request they change the subject, in order to maintain a pleasant atmosphere.

He would rise early in the morning for the first ‘minyan‘ (prayer quorum) at 5:50 A.M. Even after nights of guard duty, he scrupulously attended his regular, early minyan. For decades, he served as the ‘gabbai’ (sexton) in the Neve Tzuf synagogue, thus following in his father’s footsteps, for he had been the illustrious ‘gabbai’ for thirty years at the ‘Auschwitz Martyrs’ Synagogue’ in Be’er Sheva, many of whose worshipers were Holocaust survivors.

For the last twenty years Yosef Tzvi served as the ‘gabbai‘ in the first ‘minyan‘ on Shabbat in Neve Tzuf, taking care of all needs, including arriving early to the synagogue in order to arrange the tables and prayer books before services. After prayers, he would arrange a ‘kiddush‘ for the members of the congregation at his own expense to bring them joy, and to attract people to the first ‘minyan‘. When there were other congregants who had happy occasions, they would supplement his ‘kiddush‘ with their own food and drinks.

Yosef Tzvi would look forward and count the days before joyous occasions – especially weddings in the family. He would arrive early to each wedding in order to be one of the first guests to greet the hosts. To add joy, he would walk among the guests with a bottle of scotch or whiskey, and pour them all a drink. During the dancing, he made sure to dance in front of the groom, and even at an advanced age, would dance like a young person. Recently, just two weeks ago, at the wedding of the Klingel family from Neve Tzuf, he tried to dance as usual, however, his strength failed him, and he had to withdraw in sorrow.

On the 28th of Tamuz, 5777, on the evening of the holy Shabbat, after the occasion of ‘kiddush‘ when Israel adorns itself with three sanctity’s, evoking God the Creator of the entire Universe who took us out of Egypt, drawing holiness and blessing into the world, while the Salomon family was about to celebrate the ‘shalom zachor’ in honor of their newborn grandson – a bestial terrorist set out in the name of Islam to cancel the sanctity and the blessing.

Our faith, however, is deeper and greater than any evil, and the three murdered family members have risen from their private status, to the status of three sacred Jews conveying the holiness of Israel, adorned with three sanctities.

And all the holy Jews of the Holocaust murdered on foreign soil were there to greet and honor the holy Jews who ealize the dangers but nevertheless choose to settle the Land, and are even willing to sacrifice their lives in the sanctification of God, fulfilling the words of the Torah and Prophets regarding the redemption of the Land of Israel.

II: The Problems in the defense and political upper echelons

For years, we have felt that the moral state ​​of affairs in the highest echelons of the army and the Shin Bet security service and most of the political leadership, is appalling. Their policies are void of meaning, they fail to understand the significance of the People of Israel and our vision, and consequently, fail to understand the Arabs and Islam. They accept the positions of the liberal left as if they were ‘Torah from Sinai’, and just as Obama and Kerry led the Middle East to chaos and bloodshed with such beliefs, so too, they walk blindly without understanding the profound processes that drive people, religions, and nations.

They think that it is possible to achieve peace with the Arabs, and as a result, at every important juncture choose the road of humiliating concession, which supposedly advances towards peace. They supported the Oslo Accords, and withdrawal from Lebanon and Gaza. If it were up to them, we would have withdrawn long ago from the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria, and given into all the Bedouins’ demands in the Negev, failing to understand that any withdrawal or concession besides weakening us, also increases the motivation of our enemies to initiate additional wars.

Today’s ‘Sin of the Spies’

This is today’s ‘Sin of the Spies’ – when leadership weakens the nation, and conversely, the nation weeps and weakens the leadership, thus creating a circle of impotence, submission, and humiliation. Who asked Moshe Dayan to concede the Temple Mount? The leadership weakened the people with false claims, and now declare that the people are unwilling to fight valiantly for their sacred ideals and values, and those who are willing to fight for the sanctity of the nation and the Land, are accused by senior officers of nationalism reminiscent of the Nazis!

By the grace of God, thanks to the loyalty of ordinary citizens and of the army to their normal feelings towards national honor and sacred values, and the evil and wickedness of our enemies, in spite of our weak and tired leadership, we are able to endure, and even advance in the settlement of the Land.

III: The Temple: The Focal Point of ‘Tikkun‘

The immense test facing us is strengthening our sovereignty over the Temple Mount, and placing our aspiration of establishing the Temple, speedily in our days, at the top of the national agenda. For many generations, our forefathers and mothers suffered the terrible agonies of exile in order to preserve the embers of faith in the redemption of Israel and the building of the Temple, so we could fulfill the words of the prophet: “In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall go and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths’. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:2-3).

The Struggle over the Temple Mount

Our weak political and defense leadership does not understand why the Arabs accuse us of wanting to change the disgraceful situation on the Temple Mount. They forgot our oath to Jerusalem and the Temple, but the Jewish people’s entire existence expresses this oath. Our enemies understand this, and as a result, they fight against any trace of Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount.

The Arabs and Muslims don’t care about the sanctity of the Temple Mount. For hundreds of years, when Jews did not attempt to ascend the Temple Mount, they neglected the mountain. They built their grand and magnificent mosques in other places. Even during the 19 years of Jordanian rule on the Temple Mount, the masses did not come to pray there.

Because they know that the Temple Mount is the site of Israel’s Temple, they have begun in recent years to take control of the Temple Mount, and turn it into a hotbed of hostility towards the people of Israel.

The Sanctity of the ‘Clal‘ and the Holy Temple

The Holy Temple reveals the sanctity of the ‘clal‘ (the entire physical and spiritual community of Israel, past, present, and future), the vision of connecting Heaven and Earth, and the revelation of Divine values ​​in all spheres of life. Adjacent to the Temple sat the Sanhedrin, which established Torah law in Israel, and sanctified the times and the festivals.

It is forbidden to think of the Temple as a building designed to uplift the lives of private individuals. Consequently, it is forbidden for private individuals to initiate its’ construction with their own money, and even a public ‘korban‘ (sacrifice) is forbidden to be purchased with the money of a private individual.

The Holy Temple is the place of revelation of the Divine Presence, and the holiness of ‘Clal Yisrael’. Without the clear aspiration for the establishment of the Temple, all the virtues of the Torah and mitzvot are annulled, since the Torah and mitzvot were given to ‘Clal Yisrael’ in order to perfect the entire world, and not to righteous individuals. Therefore, all of Israel’s prayers are directed towards the building of the Temple. Even the ‘melakhot’ of Shabbat (productive work of the type prohibited on Shabbat) were deduced from the work of the ‘Mishkan‘ (Tabernacle) and the ‘Mikdash’ (Temple), because the source of the revelation of ‘kodesh‘ (holiness) emanates from the Holy Temple.

Therefore, the preparations for the building of the Holy Temple are preparations for the building of the holiness of ‘Clal Yisrael’: spiritually – through the study of Torah, in order to illuminate and perfect the nation and the world in all spheres of life, and to assign a respectable place in Israeli society for the values ​​of the ‘kodesh‘ (holiness) and ‘mussar’ (morality). And in practical terms – the strengthening of our sovereignty over the Temple Mount, and placing the challenge of building the Temple speedily in our days at the top of the national agenda.

This is what one should contemplate during these days, when we mourn and fast for the destruction of the Temple.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Israel Must Stop Confessing to Crimes It Didn’t Commit

By David Sidman

Gaza, September 30, 2000. Amidst large scale rioting throughout Judea and Samaria, Jamal al-Durrah and his 12-year-old son, Muhammad, were filmed by Talal Abu Rahma, an Arab cameraman freelancing for France 2 Television. After getting caught in a crossfire between Palestinian security forces and Israeli soldiers, the father and son took cover behind a concrete barrier. The footage, whose duration lasts just under a minute, shows the two gripping each other while the boy weeps and the father waves for help. A burst of gunfire and dust is followed by young Muhammad collapsing onto his father’s lap. The iconic video of Muhammad Al Dura’s death spread like wildfire throughout major news outlets. Following an emotional funeral, Al Dura was hailed throughout the Arab world as a martyr. Without any official investigation, the IDF accepted responsibility and apologized for the boy’s passing. The death of Al Dura quickly became a PR casus belli for the Palestinian cause, intensifying the second intifada dramatically.

There’s just one catch: it never happened. It was later revealed that France 2 cut the last few seconds which showed a ‘lifeless’ Muhammad who appeared to lift his hand from his face. This footage, had it not been omitted, would have exonerated Israel. But Israel didn’t even need to recover the footage to prove the video was a complete hoax. A simple analysis of the footage reveals that there were no traces of blood drawn from the body of the boy who was just allegedly shot to death. Upon realizing that the event was staged, Israel retracted its apology. But it was too late. The damage was done and the footage was so far reaching that it was even blamed for the eventual lynching of two IDF reservists in Ramallah. Israel’s PR policy of apologizing before investigating is nothing short of peculiar. Perhaps Israel’s attempt at rejecting the most basic principle of international public relations which is to never ever apologize (and certainly not to a hostile press) was a bold maneuver. It cost them dearly and worst of all, Israel didn’t learn from its mistake.

Fast forward to 2006. Eight Gazan Arabs were killed and at least thirty others maimed in an explosion in Gaza’s Beit Lahiya beach. The aftermath of the incident was caught on video and showed a troubled eleven-year-old girl named Huda Ghaliya, grieving at the loss of her family members who were killed in the attack. The footage of Ghaliya, which received massive media attention, was shown on news networks throughout the world, transforming her into yet another icon of Palestinian suffering. Again, the Israeli Army and Israeli officials took responsibility before investigating only to later discover that the explosion was not caused by IDF artillery fire at all. Defense Minister Amir Peretz proudly announced: “We have gotten our hands on enough evidence to prove that as we suspected, the attempt to label this incident as an Israeli incident was simply false.” Again, it was too late. The damage was done and any exoneration of Israel’s role in the explosion was yesterday’s news.

On July 17, 2014, during the IDF’s operation Defensive Edge, a blast killed four teenagers who were allegedly playing hide and seek on the beach. Again, the images of the aftermath were plastered amongst top international media outlets making them the latest iconic sacrifices of Israel’s most recent battle. Again, before the IDF completed its official investigation, (wait for it…) Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Col. Peter Lerner went on ABC’s 7:30 program and apologized from the hip explaining that “we should have been able to determine who was on the beach.” Trying to understand what exactly it will take for the IDF’s Spokespersons Unit to end its preposterous policy of ‘apologize first, ask questions later’ boggles the mind. One would think that after all the staged and self-inflicted deaths produced and directed by Pallywood, the IDF spokespersons unit would maintain a policy of innocence until proven guilty (or at least until Israel completes its investigation). Israel’s culpability in Palestinian deaths ought to be yesterday’s news, not the opposite. Until then, Israel should deny its role in any and all deaths publicized by the manipulative Palestinian PR machine while reminding the interviewing journalist of the countless instances of Arab deaths that were either staged or self-inflicted and were initially blamed on Israel. Otherwise, the Israeli government would be better off refusing to speak to the media altogether.

Do You Feel the Churban Yet?

“I gave you The City and the Holy Mount in ‘67 and you spurned them and returned the keys to Mine enemies, the Waqf, and their ilk. Do you feel the churban – destruction - yet, My wayward son, My firstborn? Riots and murder take the place of your prayers, and the sacrifice of your elders and children on the alters of your enemies, instead of the sweet aroma of the offerings in My house that you never built for me, because of your pride,’’ saith the L-rd God of Israel.

After two Israeli police officers were shot to death near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, it was only normal for the government to increase security, to prevent the smuggling of weapons onto the Temple Mount, by placing metal detectors and more video cameras.

Chairman Avi Dichter of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee said afterward, ‘’Israel is the sovereign on the Temple Mount, period. The fact that the Waqf (Muslim Trust) became a sovereign on the Temple Mount, ended last Friday.’’ Israelis seemed to agree, according to a Channel 2 TV poll, 68% of Israeli’s felt it was right to put up the metal detectors.

Interviewed by Israeli radio, Dicther, the former head of the Shabak - Israel Security Agency - said, "In the past they tried the ‘Al-Aqsa is in danger’ campaign, and now they have moved to a new campaign that says ‘The Temple Mount is equal to Al-Aqsa.’ They are trying to make it a problem for Jews to go up to the Temple Mount…Just as no non-Muslim can enter Mecca and Medina, they want to do so on the Temple Mount, but the mount will be under the control of the Israel Police."

But, Arabs refused to ascend the mount for Muslim prayers, for almost two weeks, because of the “occupation’s metal detectors,” and many confused Israeli politicians, journalists and the artsy-craftsy-elitist class, cried over the Arabs refusal, calling on the government to remove the new security arrangements. Meanwhile, the Arabs called for “Days of Rage” and went on a killing spree, stabbing to death, a grandfather and his adult son and daughter in Halamish during their Sabbath dinner, and carrying out numerous other violent attacks throughout Israel.

Do you feel the churban yet?

“Your fast day is coming. I so wanted to turn it into a day of rejoicing, Our wedding feast relived, but you stubbornly ignored My pleas, My hints, the miracles I did for you and your fathers. You chose the enemy within your borders, instead of Me. Fear of the gentile, and worries on how to placate him, filled your minds, while scorning Me and Our relationship, my beloved. How could you turn your backs on your history, your destiny, when I gave you everything you dreamed of for almost 2,000 years?” saith the L-rd God of Israel.

While the EU, UN, and White House all quickly condemned the terrorist attack on the Israeli police officers, and that in Halamish, the Pope was more morally noncommittal calling for, “moderation and dialogue”. As could be expected, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the Arab League, Turkey, and many others condemned Israel for it’s handling of the events. Then after several days of Arab rioting and violence, Trump sent Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman – sounds like a Jewish law firm – to pressure Netanyahu to remove the metal detectors and other security enhancements, which he and his cabinet agreed to do. Talk about giving into evil…

Do you feel the churban yet?

But Israelis aren’t totally lost yet, according to that poll, 77% of Israelis felt that the removal of the metal detectors signaled Israel’s surrender and were against it. In spite of the violence from the Arabs, Am Yisrael – the Jewish people – are stronger than their leaders. They await leadership worthy of them.

“You can still redeem yourselves, there’s still time. Throw those foxes off the Mount and don’t let them back this time. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you. No power on earth can oppose you when you choose to worship Me, My special treasure, My people Israel,” saith the L-rd God of Israel.
“I loved your fathers and your mothers, your prophets and kings, your scholars and wise men with a love not of this world. And, I love you that way too. I only ask for the same from you, My prized possession from all the peoples of the earth,” saith the L-rd God of Israel.

Do you feel the redemption yet?

“I will be there with you every step of the way, I never abandoned you, and you must believe Me. Fear nothing or no one, for I am with you. I give you the power and strength to do what must be done, My people Israel,” saith the L-rd God of Israel.

“I only ask, that you carry out justice (don’t let evil run wild), love kindness (protect the innocent), and walk humbly with your God,” Micha 6:8.

Do you feel the redemption yet?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Tribal Order

By Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

The nation of Israel was not formed as one bloc but rather divided into twelve different tribes with a common mandate and destiny. Such was noticed by the heathen prophet Bil’am who lifted his eyes “and saw Israel dwelling according to their tribes” (Bamidbar 24:2). It impressed him so much that he uttered words that accompany our daily entry in shul: “How good are your tents, Yaakov, and your sanctuaries, Israel.” What exactly did Bil’am see in our tents that was so “good”?

Rashi comments that Bil’am saw Israel dwelling according to our tribal formation, and he perceived that “each tribe [was] living by itself and not commingling, and that the entrances to their tents were not aligned so one person could not look into the home of his neighbor.” Such a nation he deemed worthy of having the Divine presence rest on it.

A few verses later, Rashi reiterates that Bil’am noticed that our tent entrances were not aligned, and perhaps there are two different points being made. One response was engendered by the tribal formation and the other by our tents. The entrances to the tents were not aligned for purposes of modesty and privacy. Too often people are tempted to find out what’s going on in someone else’s house; thus, this safeguard was enacted. Jewish law prescribes where we are allowed to build doors, windows, balconies and the like so as not to encroach on the privacy rights of others. We let others invite us in; we don’t intrude or insert ourselves where we do not belong. That is the definition of the “good tent.”

But Bil’am also saw us dwelling according to our tribes, each tribe to itself, and each entrance staggered so we don’t peer into the next tent. This is not modesty but propriety and broadmindedness. To peer into someone else’s tent means to scrutinize their conduct, to search for the slightest non-conformity, to seek out and highlight the differences, especially the failures or departures from the norm, that very often and improperly agitate and perturb us a little too much. The point is that all Jews are not the same. We were not formed as a linear, one-dimensional nation. If we were, then we wouldn’t dwell in tribes, and we would have our “entrances aligned,” all Jewish homes would look alike, sound alike and act alike. And that is not so and has never been so. We are a nation of tribes.

Among the most hollow, vacuous and pointless expressions we hear again and again is the call for unity. It sounds good – but unity occurred only happened at Sinai when we received the Torah. Indeed, if we were meant to have an imposed unity on the Jewish people, we would not have been divided into twelve tribes, nor would it be praiseworthy that Bil’am “saw that all the tribes lived apart and did not mingle.” We would all have to live together, do the same things in the same way, and never deviate. But each tribe has its own path and we glorify our own path and dismiss others out of ignorance. In effect, there are twelve paths to G-d, and each tribe represents a different one. I cannot emphasize enough that I am not referring to halacha here. The opposite is true. Every legitimate path – bar none – has to be faithful to Jewish law. But to think that there is only one way, or even that my way is necessarily better, holier or closer to G-d’s will, is a mistake. And so we are told not to “peer into the tent of our neighbors.”

This requires further explanation, so here is an example. In Israel today, there is a revolution taking place in the Charedi world, what is being called the rise of the “Charedi middle class.” There always were wealthy Charedim who subsidized most of the rest – but now there is a middle class that today has its own organizations, culture, websites and publications. They are more at home in general society even while not fully partaking of it. There is a multi-million dollar industry of advertising to the Charedi community, now that there are Charedi consumers who work (more than 50% of Charedi men of working age now work) and spend their earnings as they wish. Communities evolve.

I recently read an article on this phenomenon, and the author noted that when R. Simcha Elberg (longtime editor of Hapardes) visited Bnai Brak for the first time in the 1960’s, he dubbed it the “olam hachumros,” the world of stringencies. He did not mean it pejoratively as some people might take it, but descriptively, a world that chooses the most stringent interpretations of halacha in every aspect of life because they choose to limit their interactions with the rest of society. But he notes that traditional Jewry was never like that; it is something unique.

Is that approach wrong or a distortion of the true Torah? No; it’s just different. That’s a tribe, even if it’s not my particular tribe. We have room for a tribe of machmirim who deserve our respect even if others choose a different way – and as long as they also realize there are different ways within halacha (and, again, I am not at all referring to the neo-Cons who proclaim themselves Orthodox but deviate from Orthodoxy in law, practice and ideology because of their absorption of modernist and non-Jewish trends). It is not better to be stringent, just like it is not better to be lenient. Halacha is case and fact sensitive, but even more importantly each religious grouping is just a different tribe.

It has been noted frequently that Mizrachi communities always studied Torah differently than in Ashkenazi communities, and halachic norms and emphases were also different. The Israeli Charedi is markedly different from the American Charedi, just as the American ModO increasingly has less and less in common with the Israeli dati leumi. These are all tribes of Israel.

One thing that we have learned over the course of history is that the religious eco-system is very finely balanced. You pull a little too much here and something unravels there, which is part of the Lakewood problem we are dealing with these days. If the only goal is Torah study, then you might tend to cut corners somewhere else in order to sustain it. If a college or higher education is deemed evil and unacceptable, thereby impairing one’s earning potential, money for self-sustenance will have to be acquired in some other fashion. On the other hand, if Torah study is not a primary value at all, then there is a tendency to cut corners somewhere else and our minds become littered with Western, non-Torah values that we talk ourselves into thinking are Torah values. And when college or higher education is perceived as a value in its own right, and not simply as a means to earning a living or gaining a broader perspective on life, there is no shortage of Jewish souls that have been lost treading that path. College attendance poses risks if you go and if you don’t go, unless you remain in a Yeshiva environment and that too is not a panacea.

Similarly, Lakewood may possess one set of problems but it is unlikely their rabbis are often asked, for example, about the propriety of attending intermarriages or same-sex marriages, a phenomenon to which some ModO rabbis, to their discredit, are increasingly amenable. That, too, is a price paid for indulging the modern culture and ethos.

Since there is no perfect system, we all have to learn from each other. Jews who mock the foibles of any group are really mocking themselves, a most distasteful, self-defeating and even masochistic tendency. Each tribe, like each individual, is a different composite of virtues and vices, of mitzvot and aveirot. No one is perfect – and that is why it is wrong and frivolous, even arrogant, to peer into someone else’s tent and demand that he conform to my standard, my stringency or my leniency. We are twelve tribes. There are tribes that emphasize Torah study, prayer, acts of kindness, modesty, public service, settlement, military service or the like, and historically it was always like this. Some people need stringencies to survive spiritually while others would be crushed by them, just like there are some who could benefit from a stringency or two but don’t embrace them because they are too comfortable in their spiritual skins, are at peace with their flaws, or often assume incorrectly that what they perceive as a “stringency” is actually the essential law.

To say that everyone has to be like me or like us is as foolish as saying there’s nothing we can learn from any other tribe. All are wrong. Each person must dwell under the banner of his tribe but all the tribes have to reflect fidelity to Torah. Our entrances are not aligned so that if we peer into someone else’s tent, our perspective is necessarily skewed. One comment of Rashi refers to modesty in our interpersonal relations but the other refers to the mutual respect and tolerance that all Torah Jews in all our different groupings – Ashkenaz and Mizrachi, Yeshivish and non-Yeshivish – and, indeed, all Jews, must have so we can grow together, learn from each other and strengthen each other.

And of our brothers and sisters who have rejected Torah and Mitzvot and created ideologies that rationalize their non-observance and, these days, defend even intermarriage, assimilation and opposition to Jewish rights in the land of Israel? Those who are still halachic Jews are part of the Jewish people but I fear for their future. Their numbers are dwindling even as their proclamations and threats become shriller. Are they, too, a tribe? I think not; it would be awkward to define a tribe of Israel as non-observant deniers of Torah, Mesorah and sometimes even G-d’s existence. But they are certainly part of the existing tribes, albeit less faithful and committed. They must find the leadership and the inner will that bring them back to Torah observance and full participation in Jewish life, and perceive themselves as valued members of the great odyssey of the Jewish people rather than as a bridgehead for the reformation of Judaism according to Western and secular values. That has undeniably been a road to oblivion. Witnessing it should evoke in us tears of anguish and openness to outreach and acceptance.

It is not unity that the Jewish people require but rather love – love of each other because of our diversity and not despite it, love of each other as individuals and as one nation that transcends our differences and even our flaws. Sin’at Chinam (baseless hatred), the Netziv wrote, is hatred for another because he is slightly different than you. Such hatred destroyed the Beit Hamikdash and has prolonged our exile. Ahavat Yisrael is the cure for all that ails us.

In so doing, the world will again look at us and admire our tents, our diversity and our common objective of bringing glory to G-d and His Torah and we will usher the world itself into the era of complete redemption.

The Shamrak Report: The Conflict – Is it Really Complex?

Why is it that every single person who says "Its complex" when talking about the Middle East, is almost always openly anti-Israel or one of those faux pro Israel people?
It’s not really complex at all! One side is an indigenous people, who returned home after the longest exile in history to join their brothers, and who never left physically and spiritually. The other side is descended from violent colonizers, who colonised the entire Middle East in the 7th century.
One side has tried to make peace, accepted unjust "compromises" and continuously offered land for peace. The other side has consistently refused every offer and demands concessions just to come to the negotiating table.
One side builds playgrounds in bomb shelters. The other side shelters bombs under playgrounds.
One side has equality for women, gay rights and religious freedom. The other side oppresses women, throws gays off roofs and allows no religious freedoms whatsoever.
One side wins Nobel prizes (26% of laureates) and contributes wonderful things to the world. The other side teaches children how to be better terrorists and contributed nothing else.
One side is called imperialists and colonisers, despite the fact that they control less than 1 percent of the land mass and number less than 12 million worldwide, and they are actually indigenous to the land they claim. The other side are members of an ethnicity and religion that at one point controlled 60 percent of the Middle Eastern land mass and now controls 99% of the middle eastern land mass and number almost 390 million world-wide.
One side just wants to live on their ancestral lands in peace. The other side wants to control the entire world under their religion of peace.
When you look at it in an unbiased and simple way you realize that the answer is pretty simple!
CULTURE of HATE can't be Broken by Negotiation!
Watch: Interview With Halamish Terrorist’s Parents: “I Am Proud of My Son” (Click here)
An incident at the Israeli embassy in Amman Sunday, July 23, left two Jordanians shot dead and an Israeli stabbed and in serious condition. This followed a long confrontation overnight between the Jordanian and Israeli governments, most likely at the highest level. Amman demands the Israeli guard surrendered for the investigation (in violation of and international law) into the incident. Israel refuses on the grounds that he has diplomatic immunity. (So much for being a friendly neighbor!)
Jordanian Police Forbid Jewish Tourists from Praying on Penalty of Imprisonment.

During Shabbat dinner a 19-year-old Palestinian terrorist stabbed four Israelis, killing three and wounding one. They were eating Shabbat dinner! Three Jews were killed and another was seriously wounded in a stabbing attack in the Israeli settlement of Halamish in Samaria on Fridaynight. But the UN Secretary General condemned Israel for killing 3 jihadists in self defense and kept silent about 3 innocent Jews killed by Palestinian terrorists!
FOOD for THOUGHT by Steven Shamrak
Temple Mount is closed to Jews and non-Muslims on and off again! No surprise here – it was predicted! Instead of seizing an opportunity the weak, self-serving and corrupt leadership of Israel has no interest in doing anything that would remotely resembles progress in direction of achieving true Zionist goals – reclaiming Jewish sovereign right over the Temple Mount!
PM Netanyahu and the security cabinet made a surprising decision - The police explicitly recommended that the metal detectors are needed for security, and Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevi said they can manage any expected Muslim violence around Jerusalem, the metal detectors should remain at the Temple Mount entrances. PM Netanyahu reversed himself, and decided that he is cancelling his recent decision to once again allow MKs to visit the Temple Mount. The other week he had decided that he would allow MKs to go up again. (With the ‘decisive’ leader as Netanyahu, no wonder that enemies of Israel are so bold!)
Israel has stopped pumping water groundwater out of two sites in the Negev, after raw sewage dumped from the Gaza Strip into a river which flows into Israel seeped into aquifers inside of Israel. Due to disputes between the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the PLO-governed Palestinian Authority, the supply of electricity to Gaza has been reduced over the past month, leading Hamas officials to shut down a waste treatment plant built with some $100 million in foreign aid.
The IDF has played a significant role in aiding Syrians afflicted by a civil war. The IDF revealed the extent of its humanitarian aid efforts, which include half a million liters of diesel fuel, 77 tons of clothing and shoes, 360 tons of food and a large amount of generators and water systems
Quote of the Week:
“In his book ‘The Art of War’, Sun Tzu speaks of putting an army on "death ground" as a way to ensure that they will fight until total victory has been achieved. What the world repeatedly fails to realize is that Israel is death ground for the Jewish people. It is the place where we stand as a people and say this far and no further.”– FaceBook message
Israel has Green Light from Republicans
The GOP unanimously approved a pro-Israel platform at their convention in July 2016 which stipulated:
“The US seeks to assist in the establishment of comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, to be negotiated among those living in the region,”
David Friedman and Jason Greenberg, representing Donald Trump, participated in the drafting and were in complete agreement with the final text.
Gone was any reference to the Palestinian people or to a two-state solution. In addition, the platform included the words “We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier.” If not an “occupier,” then presumably Israel is a sovereign. (Since Donald Trump became president of the United States, the White House stopped a routine ‘condemnation’ practice of the construction Jewish homes in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem!)
A bill that would criminalize boycotts against Israel has been signed by 45 US Senators and 237 Congressman. The so-called “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” would impose fines of up to $250,000 on any US citizen “engaged in interstate or foreign commerce” who supports a boycott of Israeli goods and services. (Will it become the law?)

Does God love or hate you?

Parashat Devarim 5777
By HaRav Nachman Kahana

The book of Devarim begins with Moshe Rabbeinu’s farewell address to the nation, that began on Rosh Chodesh Shevat and terminated 37 days later with Moshe’s demise on the 7th of Adar.

Moshe stood before the nation 40 years after HaShem had commanded him to lead a ragtag assortment of millions of freed slaves, whose only connection was their common ancestry to those who had descended hundreds of years earlier to Egypt from the land of Canaan.

Now, the descendants of those slaves stood before Moshe as God’s chosen people. Twelve tribes hallowed by HaShem at Sinai and sanctified by the forty years of Torah study and fulfillment of mitzvot under Moshe’s tutelage.

Moshe peered out over the Jewish encampment that extended as far as he could see. In the center stood the holy Mishkan. To the north were the tribes of Dan, Naftali and Asher; to the south were Re’uven, Shimon and Gad; to the east the tribes of Yehuda, Yissachar and Zevulun; and to the west Efrayim, Menashe and Binyamin.

Immediately surrounding the Mishkan to the north, south and west encamped the families of the tribe of Levi. To the east, near the entrance to the Mishkan, were Moshe, Aharon and their immediate families.

Moshe begins by reviewing their major experiences over the last 40 years. He reminds the nation of the terrible spiritual decline of their parents’ generation: from pure belief in HaShem to the depths of rebellion, and says (Devarim 1,27):
ותרגנו באהליכם ותאמרו בשנאת ה’ אתנו הוציאנו מארץ מצרים לתת אתנו ביד האמרי להשמידנו
You complained in your tents and said, “HaShem hates us; so, he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us”.

The episode of the Meraglim (scouts) is degrading enough, but how could they have thought that HaShem “hates” Jews?

Can HaShem who called the Jewish nation בני בכורי ישראל – my first born son, hate his own son? There are many sources that reiterate HaShem’s love for His people, including the blessing we say at the Arvit (evening) prayer: ברוך את ה’ אוהב עמו ישראל- Blessed are You HaShem who loves his nation Yisrael!

Truth can be ugly

A man once traversed the land in search of absolute truth. He ventured into a faraway town, and as was his habit, asked if anyone there knew the truth of life? A townsman replied that there is rumor that on the nearby mountain there lives a woman who knows the truth. The man ascended the mountain where he saw the ugliest person he had ever seen. Her age could have easily been 100 or 120. Any beauty which might have been hers was long ago lost, and she was a pitiful sight. He asked her if she is the woman who knows the truth? She replied that she is the personification of truth in the world. The young man stayed with her several months enraptured by her wisdom and revelations in every subject. After several months, he informed the woman that he must return to civilization. She understood, and requested a favor of the young man, “tell the world that I am young and beautiful”.

The lesson here is that truth is often too ugly, stringent and biting for people to accept, and we prefer to relate to it only when it is enshrouded with a cosmetic veneer.

This was the fate of the illustrious Babylonian Amora Rabbah Bar Bar Chana at his initial meeting with the illustrious Eretz Yisrael Amora Raish Lakish after crossing the Jordan River into Eretz Yisrael, as stated in the Gemara (Yoma 9b):
ריש לקיש הוי סחי בירדנא, אתא רבה בר בר חנה יהב ליה ידא. אמר ליה: אלהא! סנינא לכו, דכתיב אם חומה היא נבנה עליה טירת כסף ואם דלת היא נצור עליה לוח ארז, אם עשיתם עצמכם כחומה ועליתם כולכם בימי עזרא – נמשלתם ככסף, שאין רקב שולט בו, עכשיו שעליתם כדלתות נמשלתם כארז שהרקב שולט בו.
Resh Lakish was swimming in the Jordan. Rabbah Bar Bar Hana came from Babylon and offered him his hand. Resh Lakish refused and said: to him: “God hates you. For it is written: “If it is a wall, we will build upon her a turret of silver; if it is a door, we will enclose it with boards of cedar” (meaning) – Had you (your ancestors who were exiled to Babylon) made yourself like a (permanent) wall and had all come up in the days of Ezra, you would have been compared to silver, which no rottenness can ever affect (the Second Temple would not have been destroyed). However, since they come up like doors (which swing open and close with no permanency) you are like cedarwood, which rottenness prevails over (and the Second Temple was destroyed).

Raish Lakish did not mince words. The ugly, stringent and biting truth came out without a politically correct, cosmetic and polite veneer. There are Jews whom HaShem does not love, to put it mildly. They are the Jews who steadfastly refuse to return home to be part of HaShem’s master plan for the world, that begins with the Jews in Eretz Yisrael.

A holy nation

Moshe was aware that he was a partner with HaShem in forging the most far-reaching, ambitious revolution ever devised by the Creator. Every nation has individual greats who rose through the mundane and egotistical ranks of society to etch a name for themselves in the annals of that nation. However, HaShem’s agenda for the Jewish nation was far different.

Moshe Rabbeinu descended from Mount Sinai with the revolutionary message that HaShem intends to create…
ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש
A priestly kingdom and a holy nation

Not a nation that gives rise to an individual luminary once every 200 years, but a nation where all its people – men, women and children alike – are righteous and holy.

This unique nation could evolve only in the land that HaShem had designated for this ideal, and blessed it with immense dimensions of spirituality not found in any other place of the world.

It had to be the Torah of HaShem, fulfilled by the nation chosen of HaShem, in the land blessed by HaShem.

Being loved by HaShem

HaShem in His wisdom created a six-thousand-year tug-of-war between the Jews and gentiles, each pulling at Eretz Yisrael. The Jewish nation pulls the land towards themselves, while the gentile nations make every attempt to rend it violently from the Jews.

The Jews who are in the holy land provide strength to HaShem’s side, the Jews who prefer to stay in gentile lands strengthen the anti-HaShem side. Only those who contribute to furthering HaShem’s agenda are loved by the Creator.

The prophet Zecharia 2:5-17:
(ה) ואשא עיני וארא והנה איש ובידו חבל מדה:
(ו) ואמר אנה אתה הלך ויאמר אלי למד את ירושלם לראות כמה רחבה וכמה ארכה:
(ז) והנה המלאך הדבר בי יצא ומלאך אחר יצא לקראתו:
(ח) ויאמר אלו רץ דבר אל הנער הלז לאמר פרזות תשב ירושלם מרב אדם ובהמה בתוכה:
(ט) ואני אהיה לה נאם ה’ חומת אש סביב ולכבוד אהיה בתוכה: פ
(י) הוי הוי ונסו מארץ צפון נאם ה’ כי כארבע רוחות השמים פרשתי אתכם נאם ה’:
(יא) הוי ציון המלטי יושבת בת בבל: ס
(יב) כי כה אמר ה’ צבאות אחר כבוד שלחני אל הגוים השללים אתכם כי הנגע בכם נגע בבבת עינו:
(יג) כי הנני מניף את ידי עליהם והיו שלל לעבדיהם וידעתם כי ה’ צבאות שלחני: ס
(יד) רני ושמחי בת ציון כי הנני בא ושכנתי בתוכך נאם ה’:
(טו) ונלוו גוים רבים אל ה’ ביום ההוא והיו לי לעם ושכנתי בתוכך וידעת כי ה’ צבאות שלחני אליך:
(טז) ונחל ה’ את יהודה חלקו על אדמת הקדש ובחר עוד בירושלם:
(יז) הס כל בשר מפני ה’ כי נעור ממעון קדשו: ס
And I (Zecharia) looked up, and there before me was an (angel in the form of a) man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?”
He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is.”
While the angel who was speaking to me was leaving, another angel came to meet him, and said to him: “Run, tell that young man (Zecharia, that you have erred because), ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls (and will not be measured) because of the great number of people and animals in it. And I myself (HaShem) will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’
“Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north,” declares the Lord, “for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven (lands of our exile),” declares the Lord.
“Come, Zion! Escape, you who live in Daughter Babylon! (a metaphor for all the lands of our exile). And Zecharia continues. For this is what the Lord Almighty says: “After the Glorious One has sent me (Zecharia to give prophecy) against the nations that have plundered you for whoever touches you (Yisrael) touches (destroys) the apple of his eye. I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves (the Moslem infiltrators) will plunder them. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me.
“Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. 11 “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. (however) I will live (only) among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. 12 The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. 13 (enemies of Israel) Be still before the Lord (out of fear) so too all mankind, because He has roused himself from his holy dwelling.”

Zecharia was sent by HaShem to inform the nation that HaShem dwells only with His people in Eretz Yisrael.

One cannot escape the centrality of Torah in Eretz Yisrael as HaShem’s reason for creating the world. Whosoever wishes to be loved by our Father-in-Heaven has no choice but to be in His promised land, as Moshe Rabbeinu so much longed to be.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5777/2017 Nachman Kahana

Living in the Present

By Rabbi Ari Kahn

Tisha Bav is upon us once again. For some, the three-week period from the Seventeenth of Tamuz through the Ninth of Av is a time of angst; for others, it is just a part of the summer months. Either way, we would all do well to use this time as an opportunity to ask ourselves some hard questions, as individuals and as a society: How are we doing? How far have we come? Are we there yet?

For over two thousand years, our ancestors dreamed of Jerusalem – not a theoretical or mythical Shangri-La but a city of stone and light that both encapsulates and symbolizes our peoplehood, our sovereignty, our shared history and aspirations. Today, there are those who wonder – justifiably - why we continue to mourn the destruction of the first and second Jewish Commonwealths. The Jewish People have returned to the Land of Israel, and today Jerusalem is a beautiful, vibrant, growing city, home to a unique mixture of religious and secular life, at once ancient and modern, young and old. And yet, although so much of our reality reads like the fulfillment of biblical prophecy - Jewish sovereignty, the ingathering of the exiles, the reawakening of the land, the resurgence of Israel as an international power - we cannot deny that the “finish line” still lies far beyond our grasp.

In so many ways, we have made no progress at all: The malady that brought about the loss of our sovereignty and the dispersion of our nation continues to ravage our newly-rebuilt commonwealth. We are not only a divided People, we are a divisive People. The tragic stories we read in the Talmud of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza – who may well have been a father and son locked in a dysfunctional family dynamic - pale in comparison with some of the sectarian battles that rage among us today. Although we have many sophisticated and enlightened tools and terms to describe the factors that break us apart - nature, nurture, culture, psychology, psychosis, personality, and of course religious beliefs – we have made very little progress over the thousands of years of “time out” to which we were banished. We are ideologically schizophrenic; distancing ourselves from the “other,” yet in times of need we rise above the pettiness, and become almost absurdly generous with our time, emotions and resources. Some of our rabbis seem to suffer from cognitive dissonance: They regularly rule that soldiers and police officers may violate the laws of Shabbat to fulfill their holy task of saving Jewish lives, yet they spearhead protests that condemn these same courageous lifesavers and those who support them, and call them names that Jews should never use.

We label ourselves: At first, Orthodox and secular were sufficient, but now we need ever-more limiting categories of division: Secular, religious, traditional, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, open orthodox. Among religious Zionists alone there are at least three groups who tend not to see eye to eye: Hardalim, “mainstream” and “Dati-lite,” not to mention the warring factions among the Hassidic and Lita’i communities. In a feat of self-righteous self-justification that is absolutely breathtaking, each faction see itself as the true students of Hillel – and considers those to the right (wherever that may be) as adherents of Shammai’s intolerant and closed brand of Judaism; those to the left are simply dismissed as illegitimate, lacking religious conviction.

Some of the issues we debate are very important, but many are not. While many take issue with Mota Gur’s famous proclamation, “Har HaBayit be’yadeinu” (“The Temple Mount is in our hands”), pointing out that we do not exercise sovereignty over the holiest sites in Jerusalem, for better or worse (something which is itself hotly debated) we do not have control of the Mount. Moreover, the holy areas we do control have become the source of an unholy “tug of war” that is nothing short of a desecration of God’s Name. Anyone familiar with the history and geography of the Old City of Jerusalem knows that the area people are fighting over is never mentioned in the Talmud, and may have no innate holiness whatsoever.

Some of our most firmly-held beliefs have been formed by our attempts to distance ourselves from those we don’t want to be, rather than well thought-out definitions of who we are. Far too often, we back ourselves into intransigent positions simply to differentiate between “us” and “them.” We have so many reasons to believe that we are right, that we have found (or have been born with) the “truth,” and we have every reason to believe that others are wrong – yet the lines of division we draw are often so subtle and insignificant that they are indiscernible to outside observers. Will even the most sensitive and talented historians or anthropologists of the not-too-distant future be able to make sense of the divisions we have created?

This is not only true of the situation in Israel or the Jewish community (which, in our hubris, we refer to as the “Jewish world” – failing to realize that in respect to the larger real world we are at most a small neighborhood). The climate in the United States is as divisive as I can remember, and national political divisions have become a major fault-line within society. Each side sees the other as dangerous, sinister, evil. The fact that citizens of the United States see their President and his supporters in such a polarized fashion makes governance impossible, and threatens the very foundations of civil society. Salena Zito, in an insightful comment that appeared in The Atlantic on Sept. 23, 2016, explained that “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” Here, too, factionalism overrides shared interest. The lines have been drawn, and reality is interpreted through the prism of these divisions. Each faction believes that it is the sole owner of truth and the sole guardian of public welfare.

There are many people whom we like. We take them seriously. We often sub-consciously forgive their mistakes and missteps, because they’re “one of us.” There are others we dislike. We do not take them seriously; we do not believe they have anything of value to say and we judge them for every perceived indiscretion because they are not “one of us.”

How can we stop this cycle? How can we change what we see when we look at “the other side” of the lines we ourselves have drawn? How can we learn to appreciate the sincerity of those with whom we disagree?

Let me offer three suggestions: First, we should preface our analysis of the opinions of others with an honest attempt to see the sincerity and even the holiness of their position. Taking others seriously - and not as a grotesque caricature - is the first step.

Second, don’t live in the past. Stop fighting yesterday’s war. Stop looking at the current situation through the lens of history. Remember that the lines of division are porous; we prove that in times of crisis, and should be able to remember it when no imminent threat hangs overhead. Remember that sometimes the most bitter disagreements indicate that the two sides have become far closer to one another than they were in the past. A prime example is the fact that today’s Reform movement has any interest at all in Israel and the Western Wall. In the not-too-distant past, voices in the Reform movement expressed opinions not only against the return of Jews to Zion, but against any mention of Zion or the Temple in its liturgy. Today’s Reform Movement is looking for a place to pray in Israel; it is in search of proximity to the heart and soul of Jewish holiness. Yesterday’s war against, is no longer relevant.

The third suggestion is that we shift from a “zero-sum game” to a “non-zero sum game.” The conflicts within our community cannot be about “winners” and “losers.” The success of others does not necessarily have a negative impact one’s own success or happiness. Very often, all that is required is a shift in attitude. If we learn to take pleasure in the happiness of the “other,” acting less like adversaries and more like members of a family, we can create a win-win situation. Although emotions and dynamics within a family are often fraught, challenging, complex – and at times infuriating, within the family we generally are more apt to forgive, to take pleasure in one another’s happiness, to take one another seriously, and not always literally. As a family, our shared past can inspire and motivate us, as we build a greater future – in which the great prophetic vision of our personal and national destiny is fulfilled.