Friday, September 29, 2017

Within Our Reach: A Yom Kippur Message

By Moshe Feiglin

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

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

I wish all of our friends, readers and supporters a gmar chatimah tovah. May our deeds and prayers find favor in G-d’s eyes.

May we merit to sanctify His Name and to make our will, His will. May we restore the honor of Israel this year by actualizing our sovereignty over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and by making Israel a moral lighthouse for all the peoples of the world.

Gmar Chatimah Tovah,
Shabbat Shalom.

Forgive Me, Eretz Yisrael

By Shmuel Sackett

Yom Kippur is just a few days away and we must be ready – on that great and awesome day – to beg forgiveness from the Almighty. Our holy Rabbis have taught us that while our Father in Heaven wants to forgive and accept our genuine repentance, He only does that for sins between Man and G-d. For sins incurred between Man and Man, we must first apologize and beg forgiveness from the people we hurt. Only after receiving their forgiveness, will Hashem forgive us as well. I would like to add a third group of sins; those committed between Man and Eretz Yisrael. It is my firm belief that we need to add these sins to our long list and make sure we verbally confess them to our Father, our King, on Yom Kippur.

As you know, when our ancestors were in the desert, they were far from perfect. The Torah relates many, many episodes where the Children of Israel complained and sinned. The Torah also lists their punishments – sometimes in graphic detail – and the number of Jews killed as a result. Yet, as bad as those sins were, they were confined to the specific time period of the 40 years in the desert. Hashem even forgave the horrible, unthinkable sin of the Golden Calf, where originally, Hashem said to Moshe; “Do not try to stop me when I unleash My wrath against them to destroy them” (Exodus 32:10) – yet, even that sin was forgiven – just 4 verses later; “G-d refrained from doing the evil that He planned for His people”. (32:14) Yes, many Jews were killed but as bad as it was, the punishment was focused and limited to only those directly involved. It did not extend beyond the time in the desert.

There was only one sin that was committed in the desert, whose punishment lasts until this very day; The Sin of the Spies. I have always felt that one reason we don’t take that sin so seriously is because of that name… it sounds like a James Bond movie. Really, that sin – which gave us the yearly Tisha B’av and all the destruction that came with it - should be called, The Gossip of the Land of Israel. That’s correct. We have been punished for the last 3,329 years because 10 people spoke poorly of Eretz Yisrael.

Forgiven for idol worship but not forgiven for talking negative about Israel… that’s simply incredible! When I focused on that for a while my head started spinning. How many Jews have died throughout the years? How much suffering, how much pain, how many Tisha B’avs? And why? Because a few Jews said bad things about Israel! Based on this, I came to the conclusion that we are still being punished for these sins because we never did Teshuva for them! Actually, the more I thought about it, the worse it got. We not only never did Teshuva… we are constantly repeating that same sin over and over again! I therefore decided that the reason for this is because we never realized that these sins are in their own category! In addition to the sins between Man and G-d, and between Man and his fellow Man, there’s actually a third group of sins between Man and Eretz Yisrael. Here is my list:

Forgive us Hashem for speaking poorly of Your wonderful Land.

Forgive us Hashem for thinking that You can only help us make a living in New York or Toronto but not in Netanya or Ashdod.

Forgive us Hashem for bashing the Israeli religious school system even though its graduates know more Tanach than any kid coming out of the finest Yeshiva in America and England.

Forgive us Hashem for running to Florida, Arizona and even Aruba on Pesach and not spending the holiday in Your holy city of Jerusalem.

Forgive us Hashem for giving millions of dollars to elect pro-Israel candidates in America, Australia and Canada but not giving even 1% of that money to elect strong candidates in Israel who would turn this country into a strong and proud Jewish state!

Forgive us Hashem for looking at Israel as someone who visits a museum – seeing only the past, but not the present and future.

Forgive us Hashem for sending our children to learn Torah in Israel for a year – and sometimes two – but would never let them live there.

Forgive us Hashem for not knowing Hebrew; the language of Eretz Yisrael and of our Nation.

Forgive us Hashem for lying to You when we say each Shabbat, during Mussaf; “Bring us up in gladness to our land and plant us within our boundaries” because we really don’t mean it.

Forgive us Hashem for not defending Your land, choosing to send us sons to university rather than the IDF.

Forgive us Hashem for not recognizing Your miracle and not thanking You by not saying Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut nor even the prayer for the State of Israel on Shabbat.

And finally, forgive us Hashem for preferring to live outside Your Holy Land, making up all sorts of excuses. Yes, we are princes and princesses and You are our King – the King of Kings – who has personally invited us to come inside the palace, but we ignore Your pleas and remain outside. Please, Hashem, forgive us for that… and this year bring us inside. Bring us home to Eretz Yisrael and forgive all the negative things we ever said about Your beautiful and special land.

Why is Israel Selling Weapons to Myanamar?

By Moshe Feiglin

Israel’s High Court will soon be hearing the petition of human rights activists against export of Israeli-made arms to the murderous regime in Myanamar. While the US and other liberty-based nations have implemented an arms embargo against the reigning junta, which burns villages and horrifically abuses their residents, these criminals are warmly received and honored in Israel. They purchase sophisticated weapons here, from the state that was born out of the furnaces of Auschwitz.

The monetary gain from the sales of these arms to the murderous gangs is relatively minor. Israel’s weapons industry has more than enough legitimate customers.

Apparently, this has more to do with profits for those close to the powers that be than profit for the State.

The corruption in Israel’s military system has corrupted us all.

This petition should have been submitted by yeshiva heads and Torah scholars.

Luckily, we have a few more remaining leftists who, at least in this case, remind us that we are a Jewish State.

G-d will atone for the entire congregation

By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

Yom Kippur is the day of purification.

As Rabbi Akiva said: “How fortunate you are, O Israel! Before whom are you being purified? Who is purifying you? Your Father in Heaven! As it says, ‘I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you will be clean’ (Ezekiel 35:25). And it also says, ‘The Lord is the mikveh [hope, or ritual bath] of Israel’ (Jeremiah 17:14). Just as a ritual bath purifies the impure, so does G-d purify Israel.” (Yoma 85b).

All this is particularly relevant on Yom Kippur. As Rambam wrote: “Yom Kippur is a time of repentance for all, for the individual and for the public. It results in forgiveness for Israel” (Hilchot Teshuva 2:7).

Now it is true that the very essence of Yom Kippur atones, as it says, “This is because on this day you shall have all your sins atoned, so that you will be cleansed. Before G-d you will be cleansed of all your sins” (Leviticus 16:30). Yet G-d simultaneously issues us a command. As Rambam wrote: “Everyone is obligated to repent and to confess sin on Yom Kippur” (Rambam, ibid.).

And just as to be purified in a ritual bath we have to do a physical deed, to enter the mikveh, so, too, on Yom Kippur we are commanded to confess, and by such means we merit purification, with G-d’s help. The wording of the confession is entirely in the plural:

“May it be G-d’s will … that You should forgive us for all our sins and pardon us for all our iniquity and atone for us for all our wrongdoings.” We then go on to specify our sins, using a formula organized according to the Hebrew alphabet.

When we confess, we have to have in mind not just to confess on our own behalf, but on behalf of everyone. All of Israel are like one body, with one heart. When someone sins, it’s not just him! It’s also me, for all of us are one people, one soul.

We must learn this lesson from the great rabbis of Israel down through the generations from our inception as a people until this day. This is a point that the entire Jewish People, and every individual member of it, always bore in their hearts. It is like the High Priest on Yom Kippur, who would confess for the sins of all Israel: “Aaron shall press both his hands on the live goat's head, and he shall confess on it all the Israelites' sins, rebellious acts and inadvertent misdeeds" (Leviticus 16:21). And because he felt the pain of the people in the aggregate, and of every individual, and he poured out his heart and prayed to G-d, he was successful, and “he atoned for the entire people” (verse 24).

The day is not far off when we will be privileged to see the building of the Third Temple and to see kohanim, levi’im and Yisraelim each performing his task in the Temple service. Leading them all will be the kohen gadol, the high priest, in the Holy of Holies, praying and atoning for all his people Israel, and blessing them with love.

Looking forward to complete salvation,
With blessings that you be signed and sealed for a good year,
Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Rabbi Ari Kahn video: Yom Kippur Transcendent Purity

The Yishai Fleisher Show: Yom Kippur Keeper

The Shamrak Report: Supporting Israel is a Duty of the Left and more....

By Fred Maroun (Fred Maroun is a Canadian Arab)
Left-wing people who are anti-Zionist are either fools or anti-Semites. To put it more politely, they are either taking a position on an issue that they do not understand or they are deliberately siding with haters. 
It is not hard to see why many naïve people on the left are anti-Israel. Israel is successful and strong while the Palestinians are needy and weak...
The conflict is not and has never been between Israel and the Palestinians. The conflict started between the whole Arab world and Israel when the Arab world decided that the Jews, who have a continuous history in the Middle East of 3000 years, should not have their own independent state. This placed the Arab world, 50 times the population of Israel and 600 times its land mass, against the tiny Jewish state…
At the UN, most countries consistently and blindly support any anti-Israel resolution no matter how one-sided and ridiculous. As Abba Eban, Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1966 to 1974, said, “If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions”…
The absurd myth that Israel is an all-powerful force that can do what it wants when it wants is not far from the anti-Semitic myth that Jews control the world’s media and finances. It is nowhere close to reality, as every Jewish person knows.
The reality is that Israel has survived and thrived only because of very hard work by very determined and creative Jews, and a little bit of luck (or help from God). None of the victories that Israel won, on the battlefield or elsewhere, was a foregone conclusion, and anybody who understands the current situation knows that Israel is still under tremendous threat to its very existence.
As a left-wing person, my political beliefs leave me no choice but to support Israel. Since even before Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, Israel’s enemies have been trying to achieve what they call “justice for the Palestinians” at the expense of the national project of the badly outnumbered Jewish people. Any reasonable, knowledgeable, and non-anti-Semitic left-wing person cannot accept this…
FOOD for THOUGHT by Steven Shamrak
Population transfer is a legitimate approach for conflict resolution! In 1922 two guys received the Noble Prize for this idea, after almost 2 million were transferred b/w Greece and Turkey. In 1947 12 million were transferred b/w India and Pakistan. In 1949 the 4th Geneva Convention was adopted to stop Israel from doing the same to its hostile Arab population, who remained in Israel after the War of Independence. Since then only Israel is forced to abide by it! Jews need to stop being 'holier than the Pope' and regain our self-respect!
Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah are quietly trying to mediate reconciliation between Syria and Hamas, after the two had a falling out over the Syrian civil war. Hamas with Iran and the Shiite group Hezbollah, always touted themselves as the "Axis of Resistance" to oppose Israel. 
No infiltrations from the Sinai Peninsula were recorded over the past 12 months, Population and Immigration Authority says. More than 2,400 illegal migrants were deported from Israel during the same period. Some 38,000 African migrants are still living in Israel illegally. (Something Europe can learn from Israel!)
US Vice President Mike Pence said that the UN's Human Rights Council "...A clear majority of the Human Rights Council’s members fail to meet even the most basic human rights standards." "When the council passes more than 70 resolutions against Israel, a country with a strong human rights record, and just seven resolutions against Iran, a country with an abysmal human rights record, you know something is seriously wrong.”
Iran successfully tests its new Khoramshahr missile - which can reach Israel and carry several warheads - in defiance of US President Donald Trump's threat to scrap the nuclear agreement over the issue. Previous Iranian missile launches have triggered US sanctions and accusations that they violate the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.
US President Donald Trump tweeted “Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea (on nuclear weapon and rocket programs). Not much of an agreement we have!” Trump has threatened several times to scrap and/or amend the agreement in recent months.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put Israel at odds with nearly every other major player in the Middle East. Mr. Netanyahu, who endorsed not only the referendum but also the establishment of a Kurdish state, had ample strategic reason: A breakaway Kurdistan could prove valuable to Israel against Iran, which has oppressed its own Kurdish population. (Up to 35 million Kurds have the right to re-establish their homeland, unlike the fake Palestinians!)
Arabs from Judea, Negev steal sheep and vehicles from Jewish towns. Three are being charged with stealing lambs from three towns in northern Israel: 36 from the town of Beit Yosef, and 122 from the towns of Alma and Rehov. They are also being charged with breaking into homes and stealing vehicles from the town of Prazon in northern Israel, and stealing a truck from the southern town of Kiryat Gat.
Israeli jets reportedly strike weapons depot outside Damascus. According to reports and a monitoring group, the three separate strikes were carried out near the Damascus International Airport, an area known to be a stronghold of the Iranian-backed terrorist group. (Have they, Hezbollah and Iran, got the message?)
France’s President Emmanuel Macron declared Wednesday that the Iran nuclear deal is no longer a sufficient safeguard against the growing power that Tehran wields in its region. “We need the 2015 accord,” he said of the agreement. “Is this accord enough? It is not, given the growing pressure that Iran is applying in the region.” (It didn’t take long, in a best French tradition, to change the tune!)
Speaking at the 61st General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Zeev Snir, head of Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) said "...the Arab Group continues to abuse this professional, technical forum in order to attack Israel politically... I call upon my Arab colleagues to join forces with us to address the common challenges related to nuclear security (against Iran) in our region..."
A spokesperson for the leading Fatah faction of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority government has bluntly saying that Fatah has “certainly not” ever recognized the State of Israel. “We in the Fatah Movement have not changed our position... We said that the armed resistance, popular resistance, and everything is also legitimate, but we chose popular resistance as the means that we see as the most effective under the present circumstances.” (He does not need to work hard to convince Hamas!)
The US army inaugurated the first American military base on Israeli soil. The base, located within the grounds of the IDF's Mashabei Sadeh aerial defense school in the southern region, will permanently house dozens of American soldiers operating the large radar, a joint US-Israel device. (The US has just officially changed the status of a long-running mutually beneficial operation!)
In its decision to dismantle Gaza’s administrative committee, Hamas has moved the ball into Abbas’s court. Since he began imposing sanctions on the Gaza Strip five months ago, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly declared that dismantling the Gaza Strip’s administrative committee would be the only way to end the sanctions and ease the pressure on Hamas. A refusal to lift all the sanctions would portray Abbas as a rejectionist and place him in a very negative light. (A demand for an election to challenge Abbas’s legitimacy will be next!)
Home Front Command delegation includes 71 soldiers, officers specializing in construction and engineering to Mexico after earthquake. The IDF's rescue unit - nicknamed "Kol Shofar Lamerhak" ("The sound of the Shofar carries afar"). Its primary mission is assisting in mapping and scanning buildings hit by the quake to ascertain whether they should be demolished or may still be habitable.
Two years after the nuclear deal was signed by Iran and world powers, the Islamic Republic is reported to have boosted its financial support to Hezbollah to $800 million a year, a dramatic increase from the $200m. (Thanks to Obama!)
Quote of the Week:
"There can be no voluntary agreement between us and the Palestine Arabs.  Not now, nor in the prospective future.  I say this with such conviction, not because I want to hurt the moderate Zionists.  I do not believe that they will be hurt. Except for those who were born blind, they realised long ago that it is utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestine Arabs for converting "Palestine" from an Arab country into a country with a Jewish majority... It is incredible what political simpletons Jews are. They shut their eyes to one of the most elementary rules of life, that you must not 'meet halfway' those who do not want to meet you." - Zev Zabotinsky, in 1941, "THE ETHICS OF THE IRON WALL"
Merkava - The Top-Secret Tank
To this day, the Merkava tank is one of Israel’s most top-secret projects. It is said to be one of the most lethal and protected tanks in the world, and its construction started out of pure necessity - the United Kingdom and other countries refused to sell Israel tanks. So in the 1970s, it started to build its own.
The newest model - known as the Merkava Mk-4 - is the most impressive. It can reach speeds of 40 mph and comes with a new modular armor kit, meaning that the tank can be fitted with the armor it needs based on the specific mission it is heading into.
An area, for example, known to be full of anti-tank missile squads requires heavy armor, while an operation without the threat of anti-tank missiles means less. 
This also allows tank crews to replace damaged pieces of armor on the battlefield without having to bring the full tank back to a repair shop inside Israel.
In 2012, the Merkava underwent its biggest change yet when a new system - called Trophy - was installed on the tank. 
Trophy is an active-protection system, basically a personal missile defense system for an individual tank.
Trophy uses miniature radar to detect incoming anti-tank missiles and then fires a cloud of countermeasures - basically metal pellets - to intercept them. The radar also interfaces with the tank’s battle management system. 
This means that once a missile launch is detected, the coordinates of the enemy squad that fired the missile are immediately obtained, allowing the tank to retaliate quickly and accurately.

Rav Kook on Yom Kippur: Healing the Universe

The Sages made a surprising claim about the power of teshuvah:

“Great is repentance, for it brings healing to the world... When an individual repents, he is forgiven, and the entire world with him.” (Yoma 86b)

We understand that one who repents should be forgiven - but why should the entire world also be forgiven? In what way does teshuvah bring healing to the world?

Responsibility for the World

There are deep, powerful ties that connect each individual soul to the rest of the universe. Not only are we influenced by the world, we also influence it. In Orot HaKodesh (vol. II, p. 351), Rav Kook described this connection as a “powerful underlying influence.” This is not merely mankind’s industrial and technological impact on the world, as we utilize fire, water, electricity, and other forces of nature to do our bidding.

“That is only a partial and superficial aspect of our impact on the world. The Kabbalists taught that the world’s essence, in all of its wholeness and scope, is bound to us with ties of subordination, accepting our influence. This understanding indicates that there is a fundamental integration between the nishmatiut [soul-quality] that operates in the world and our own nishmatiut.”

This inner connection and influence on the rest of the universe implies a heavy moral responsibility:

“How wonderful is the moral perspective that arises from this great responsibility - a responsibility for all of existence, for all worlds. We have the power to bring favor and light, life, joy, and honor in these worlds. This occurs when we follow the straight path, when we strengthen and gird ourselves with a pure fortitude and conquer paths of life that are good and admired, when we advance and go from strength to strength.

“Yet it is also in our power to bring pain to every good portion, when we debase our souls and corrupt our ways, when we darken our spiritual light and suspend our moral purity.”
(Orot HaKodesh vol. III, p. 63)

Given our great responsibility for our actions, the Talmudic statement becomes clearer. Those who correct their ways repair not only the flaws in their own souls but also those aspects of the universe that they damaged. Their teshuvah truly “brings healing to the world.”

The Ne'ilah Prayer

This dual responsibility - for the purity of our souls as well as the spiritual state of the entire universe - is hinted at in the final prayer of Yom Kippur. The Ne'ilah prayer, recited as Yom Kippur’s gates of forgiveness are closed, concludes with a special passage, אַתָּה נוֹתֵן יָד לַפּושְׁעִים (“You extend Your hand to transgressors”). In this prayer we confess that:

“There is no end to the fire-offerings required of us, and countless are our guilt-offerings.”

What is the difference between these two phrases: “the fire-offerings required of us” (ishei-chovoteinu) and “our guilt-offerings” (nichochei-ashmateinu)?

Restoring the Soul’s Purity

Our moral defects and lapses have a detrimental effect on the soul, sullying it with the imprints of failure and sin. We seek to cleanse these stains and restore the soul to its previous state of purity.

To repair the damage we have caused to our own soul, we offer an olah-offering before God. It is for this reason that the Torah commands us to bring an offering even if we have sinned unintentionally.1

This Ne'ilah prayer refers to these offerings as nichochei ashmateinu, “guilt-offerings.” This term indicates that our actions have tarnished the soul, as it says, “And the soul that was guilty (ashmah)” (Num. 5:6). These offerings are nichochim since they produce a “pleasing fragrance” as they cleanse the soul and enable it to once again draw close to God.

Repairing the World

There is, however, a second aspect to our spiritual failures. In addition to defiling the soul, our sins also debase and pollute the universe. Even private failings have a negative impact on the moral and spiritual state of the universe. For this reason the Sages categorized the wicked as those “who destroy the world” (Avot 5:1).

The universe demands that we repair that which we have damaged. This repair is accomplished through teshuvah and offering a chatat offering. The Ne'ilah prayer refers to these offerings as ishei chovoteinu, “our required fire-offerings,” since they reflect our duty and obligation to correct that which we have damaged in the universe.

(Silver from the Land of Israel (now available in paperback). Adapted from Olat Re’iyah vol. II, p. 364)


1 So explained the Ramban in his commentary to Lev. 4:2:
“The reason that one who sinned unintentionally brings an offering (korban) is because all transgressions bring disgrace to the soul, tainting it.... Therefore a soul that erred brings an offering, so that it may merit to become close (le-korvah) to its Creator.”

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Hidden Moon

A well known Torah teacher in Israel, Rav Eliezer Kashtiel, asks a familiar question. We generally celebrate our holidays at the full moon, in the middle of the month. Succot, Pesach, and Purim are all full moon holidays. Not only is Rosh Hashana different, but we highlight that difference: “Sound the shofar in the concealment of our festival day.” Which festival occurs when the moon is concealed? That would be Rosh Hashana (Masechet Rosh Hashana 34a). But why must the festival coincide with the moon hidden from sight? And why is our attention called to it?

There is a famous dispute between the Gaon of Vilna and the holy ARI on a sensitive question: is it permissible to cry on Rosh Hashana? The Gaon ruled that one is not allowed to cry, for at the beginning of the second Temple era, Nechemia admonished the people who had come to the Temple for the first time on Rosh Hashana to “go home, eat, drink, for this day is holy to G-d, and don’t be sad, for delight in G-d is your strength” (Nechemia 8:10). Thus, the GRA said, the prohibition against sadness precludes crying.

The ARI disagreed, as recorded by R. Chaim Vital and the Ba’er Heiteiv (Orach Chaim 584:3). The ARI would cry on Rosh Hashana and even said that whoever didn’t cry, it is a sign that his soul is not healthy. That’s the paradox of Rosh Hashana: on the one hand, it’s a happy and joyous day; while on the other hand, it’s a day of solemnity and judgment. Which is primary?

There are several answers that synchronize the opinions of the GRA and the ARI, but here is one. There are different types of crying. There are tears of sadness and there are tears of joy. Sometimes they are commingled, and sometimes they are distinct. And we all know the difference. Rosh Hashana is the only holiday that is celebrated at the New Moon, the beginning of the month, because, like the new moon every month, it symbolizes a fresh start, a rebirth. On Rosh Hashana, we are all children again. We are reborn. We still hear the cantor of our youth that shapes the way we absorb and understand the davening throughout our lives. We still see the sights and inhale the aromas of the homes in which we were raised. We are children again, full of hope and excitement.

What is the sound of the shofar? The whole year we talk to G-d, with words. On Rosh Hashana, we employ the wordless sounds of the shofar, the cry of the infant who can’t say anything or do anything. He just cries. It’s not a cry of sadness or of pain; it’s not the cry of longing for or regret for the past; that will come. It is the cry of the child who yearns for mother and father, for the security and comfort of home; it is our cry to our Father in Heaven that we have returned after being abroad for too long. Please let us in. We cry in joy over the future – like at all beginnings, births and weddings – not over the past. We cry over the journey that took us to distant places, but now we have come home.

There is no moon. The past is the past. We are born again. We just need to be delivered into the new world of the New Year.

The Torah tells us that the two great women, midwives, who ushered in the redemption from Egypt and the founding of our nation, were named Shifra and Pu’ah. In the understanding of our Sages, these noble women were Yocheved and Miriam, respectively the mother and sister of Moshe. So why were they called Shifra and Pu’ah? The Gemara (Sota 11b) says that one was called Shifra because her role was to straighten out (meshaperet) the limbs of the newborn, and the other was called Pu’ah because she cried out (po’ah) to the child to bring her forth into the world.

Shifra and Pu’ah. Those names should ring a phonetic bell in our minds. Pu’ah - crying, cooing. The hundred sounds of the shofar that we blow correspond to the hundred cries (pe’ayot) of Sisera’s mother. And Pu’ah’s mother was Shifra, a word like the shofar itself. The Baal Hatanya wrote that the sounds of the shofar accompany our rebirth. It calls out to us plaintively and seeks our improvement; it urges us to straighten ourselves out. It asks us to renew ourselves, that we cry not tears of sadness - “do not be sad because the delight in G-d is our strength” – but tears of joy (even if that too recollects what is missing), tears of hope and anticipation, tears of the newborn, of a reborn soul.

The Slonimer quotes the Toldot Yaakov Yosef who reinterpreted the Gemara (Rosh Hashana 16b) that discusses the three books that are open on Rosh Hashana – the books of the righteous, the wicked and the intermediates. The books are open, but we get to inscribe ourselves. We get to choose the book in which we want to be written. What are our true aspirations? Those who crown G-d as King over themselves – every limb, every deed, and every thought – have chosen the book of life. Those who cannot make that commitment are choosing a different book.

If the moon is concealed on Rosh Hashana, it is only to remind us that a new beginning awaits us, if only we want it, if only we are ready for it. May we embark on that new beginning wisely and choose the book of life thoughtfully, and may G-d show us favor and seal us in that book for a year of meaningful life and good health, of prosperity and happiness, and grace our people with renewal as well – to an end to fear and trepidation, and to the beginning of complete redemption.

Shana Tova to all!

Yom Kippur 5778: Photos on my wall

Yom Kippur 5778
By HaRav Nachman Kahana

On the wall in front of my desk there are several photos.

One of my father Z”L pondering over a Gemara. Another of my beautiful Mother at the age of 16 in the city of Dvinsk Latvia where her father was a renowned Torah scholar. A photo of our youngest son who is today a general in the IDF, receiving a citation for successfully completing a daring mission behind enemy lines by the general of the northern command.

A picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe giving me two dollars in return for two books I had authored and presented to the Rebbe.

And two more photos. One of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, with three Israeli F-16 war planes flying above. There is a big story behind that flight. It was about 10-15 years ago that Israel and Poland agreed that planes could fly over the camps. The pilots who were chosen were sons of parents who survived those death camps. As they were approaching, the planes swooped down over the camps in a symbolic sign of reverence. The Polish authorities immediately called our Ministry of Defense and complained that the deal was that the planes would not fly under 30,000 feet. Our ministry made contact with the commander of the flight. He replied that the last time Jews took orders from the Poles was 60 years ago.

The other is a frame with two pictures. One is the well-known photo of the little boy in Warsaw with his hands up and German soldiers aiming their rifles at him. Next to it is a photo of Israeli soldiers with talit and tefilin sitting atop a tank.

The caption under the picture of the little boy reads “Good Jewish boy”; the caption under the picture of the soldier reads: “Bad Jewish boy”.

When Jews are pursued, persecuted, and murdered, gentiles called us “good Jewish boys and girls”, but when we survived them, established our own independent state and defended our right to live, we became in their eyes “bad Jewish boys and girls”.

What distinguishes the three pilots and the tank soldier from the little Jewish boy in Warsaw are two words – Jewish Pride.

For 2000 years the gentles deprived us of our innate pride at being God’s chosen people. This lack of pride has resulted in the present-day assimilation of millions of our people who are unable to see or feel their elite status as sons of God’s chosen people.

Lack of Jewish pride fuels the disastrous assimilation among the Jews in the galut. In the U.S., in seven out of every 10 weddings involving a non-orthodox Jew, the spouse is gentile!

But that should not surprise anyone, because the absence of Jewish education and mitzvot arouses the question, why remain a Jew? After which the path to assimilation is smooth and comfortable.

Genuine, sincere pride is needed

At the most dramatic moment in the “Unetana tokef” liturgy (prayer chanted prior to the Kedushah prayer on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur declaring that we shall ascribe holiness to this day), we declare:
ותשובה ותפילה וצדקה מעבירין את רוע הגזירה
Repentance, Prayer and Charity have within their power to negate a negative decree.

Teshuva (repentance) refers to the sinner’s relationship with himself, as he experiences deep remorse through — introspection in order to escape the torment of his conscience.

Tefila (prayer) refers to the sinner’s relationship with HaShem.

Tzedaka (charity) is his relationship with his fellow man.

Despite the differences, they are all predicated on one single quality – genuine, sincere pride in being Jewish.

There is no pride in being Jewish in the galut where the Jew is a tolerated minority. Only in Eretz Yisrael where we are a majority, is a Jew free to feel his essence, his elitist status, as one of God’s chosen people. Here his desire for teshuva and to draw close to the Creator can find expression. A Jew who divides his allegiance between HaShem and citizenship in a gentile society cannot feel what it means to be a member of the chosen people.

Disgracing the Holy Name

A Jew on Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur in the galut can be compared to one who is in a cesspool up to his neck while holding a bar of soap; or as in the words of Chazal טובל ושרץ בידו one who is immersed in a mikvah while holding a dead tamei (impure) rodent.

Rambam, based on the Gemara Yoma, explains that not all sins are of the same severity. Some are resolved by a mere desire or statement of teshuva, while others require the passing of Yom Kippur day, and the more severe sins require Yom Kippur day in addition to having to face great difficulties in life.

However, any sin, severe or light, that also creates a “chilul HaShem” (disgracing the holy name of HaShem) can be atoned for only by the death of the sinner.

Prayers recited by Jews in the galut for teshuva and forgiveness are less than meaningless; they are a derogation of the holy name. It makes no difference if the prayers are held in a modern Orthodox synagogue (where the rabbi is orthodox and the congregation is modern), or in the packed batei midrashim of the Grand Rabbis or leading yeshivot; one cannot entertain the ideas of teshuva in the galut.

The reader would be justified in challenging my words in the face of so many spiritual giants in the galut, were it not for the words of the Prophet Yechezkel in chapter 36:
ויהי דבר ה’ אלי לאמר:
בן אדם בית ישראל ישבים על אדמתם ויטמאו אותה בדרכם ובעלילותם כטמאת הנדה היתה דרכם לפני:
ואשפך חמתי עליהם על הדם אשר שפכו על הארץ ובגלוליהם טמאוה:
ואפיץ אתם בגוים ויזרו בארצות כדרכם וכעלילותם שפטתים:
ויבוא אל הגוים אשר באו שם ויחללו את שם קדשי באמר להם עם ה’ אלה ומארצו יצאו:
ואחמל על שם קדשי אשר חללוהו בית ישראל בגוים אשר באו שמה:
לכן אמר לבית ישראל כה אמר א-דני ה’ לא למענכם אני עשה בית ישראל כי אם לשם קדשי אשר חללתם בגוים אשר באתם שם:
וקדשתי את שמי הגדול המחלל בגוים אשר חללתם בתוכם וידעו הגוים כי אני ה’ נאם א-דני ה’ בהקדשי בכם לעיניהם:

“Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions….
So, I poured out my wrath on them because they had shed blood in the land and because they had defiled it with their idols.
I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered through the countries; I judged them according to their conduct and their actions.
And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, ‘These are the LORD’s people, and yet they had to leave his land.’
I had concern for my holy name, which the people of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone.
Therefore, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone.
I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes’.”

In verse 20 the prophet says:
And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, ‘These are the LORD’s people, and yet they had to leave his land.’

The very presence of a Jew in chutz la’aretz (outside the land of Israel) is per se a chillul HaShem.
Every shul, yeshiva and shtiebel there cries out “chillul HaShem.”

What can we do with the millions of Jews yet in the galut?

My answer is: do nothing!

For like a precious work of art, Eretz Yisrael is a matter of love. Just as a person cannot be persuaded to love a painting or a piece of music if it does not speak to one’s soul, so too, one who is attached to the galut cannot be convinced to leave and continue his life in HaShem’s holy land if love of authentic historic Judaism does not pulsate strongly in his soul.

We today in the holy land are living the words of Yechezkel:

אמר א-דני ה’ ביום טהרי אתכם מכל עונותיכם והושבתי את הערים ונבנו החרבות:
והארץ הנשמה תעבד תחת אשר היתה שממה לעיני כל עובר:
ואמרו הארץ הלזו הנשמה היתה כגן עדן והערים החרבות והנשמות והנהרסות בצורות ישבו:
וידעו הגוים אשר ישארו סביבותיכם כי אני ה’ בניתי הנהרסות נטעתי הנשמה אני ה’ דברתי ועשיתי:
כה אמר אדני ה’ עוד זאת אדרש לבית ישראל לעשות להם ארבה אתם כצאן אדם:
כצאן קדשים כצאן ירושלם במועדיה כן תהיינה הערים החרבות מלאות צאן אדם וידעו כי אני ה’:

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt.
The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it.’
They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.”
Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.”

Gemar chatima tova,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5778/2017 Nachman Kahana

Monday, September 25, 2017

Yom Kippur - A Day of Liberty

By HaRav Eliezer Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Yeshivat Har Bracha

Teshuva Liberates One from the Shackles of the Yetzer
Through the process of teshuva (repentance) a person is liberated from the shackles entangling him, and his soul is able to reveal itself freely, for teshuva is the desire for Divine freedom, devoid of the least bit of enslavement (Orot HaTeshuva 5:5; 7:4).

Customarily, a person is drawn after his ‘yetzer’av ha’ra’im’ (evil inclinations), such as greed and pride, anger, envy, laziness and conceit – because they offer him quick gratification; once drawn to them, however, one becomes enslaved. And although a person’s inner self still longs for truth and goodness, he finds it exceedingly difficult to realize his good intentions because he has become addicted to having his urges satisfied, and his soul remains confined and tormented in its shackles.

By means of teshuva, man is liberated, and is able to reveal his true will. His soul is released from the bonds of his ‘yetzer‘, begins to illuminate his path, and empowers the life-force within him. This is the meaning of our Sages statement: "For man is never more free than when he occupies himself with the study of Torah" (Avot 6:2), because the Torah instructs a person in the path of truth and goodness, through which one can fulfill all of his good aspirations.

Yom Kippur is a Day of Liberty; Yovel and Yom Kippur
We can learn a similar lesson from the mitzvah of Yovel (Jubilee). Customarily, as a result of laziness, greed or other troubles, from time to time people were forced to sell their fields, and sometimes, even had to sell themselves into slavery. In His great mercy for them – and in particular, their families – God determined the mitzvah ofYovel, that on the Yom Kippur of the fiftieth year, all slaves are freed and all fields return to their original owners, as it is written, "Then, on the tenth day of the seventh month, on Yom-Kippur, you are to sound a blast on the shofar; you are to sound the shofar all through your land; and you are to consecrate the fiftieth year, proclaiming freedom throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It will be a yovel for you; you will return everyone to the land he owns, and everyone is to return to his family" (Leviticus, 25:9-10).

The Order of Liberation in the Yovel Year
The day set by the Torah in which slaves are freed and fields return to their original owners is Yom Kippur. As the Rambam wrote: "FromRosh HaShanah until Yom Kippur, servants would not be released to their homes, nor would they be subjugated to their masters, nor would the fields return to their original owners. Instead, the servants would eat, drink, and rejoice, with crowns on their heads. When Yom Kippur arrives and the shofar is sounded in the court, the servants are released to their homes and the fields are returned to their owners" (Laws of Shmitta and Yovel 10:14).

Blowing the Shofar at the Close of Yom Kippur to Remind Us of Yovel
Rav Hai Gaon wrote that the custom of blowing the shofar at the conclusion of Yom Kippur comes to remind us of the blowing of theshofar for Yovel. And though the basis of this shofar blowing is merely a minhag (custom), it symbolizes the culmination of Yom Kippur, for on Yom Kippur the Jewish nation merits release from enslavement to freedom, resembling the Yovel.

Freedom from enslavement to evil inclinations is analogous to the emancipation of slaves to freedom, and the return of the body to the soul parallels the field returning to its owner. For when a person is drawn after his physical inclinations, his body disconnects from his soul and becomes enslaved to foreign desires, thus handing over his powers sinfully to foreign forces. But by means of teshuva on Yom Kippur, the body returns to the soul, rejoicing together with it in the joy of a mitzvah, and reveals God’s intention in the world. In this manner, a person merits a good life, filled with blessing.

The Main Service is in the Holy of Holies
The basis of teshuva is rooted in the most exalted reality, and consequently, the main service of Yom Kippur is performed in theKodesh HaKodeshim (Holy of Holies). The Holy Temple is the place where all Divine values are revealed, and from it, they flow to the entire world. In the ‘heichal‘ (sanctuary) termed ‘Kodesh‘, rests the ‘menorah‘ symbolizing all categories of wisdom; the ‘shulchan‘ (the Golden Table) signifies parnasah (livelihood); and the Mizbayach Haketoret (incense altar) denoting prayer and the longing for closeness to God. On a higher level in the Kodesh HaKodeshim, the foundations of Israel’s beliefs and teachings were revealed. Therefore, in the Kodesh HaKodeshim rested the Ark containing the Tablets and the Torah, and above it, two Cherubim which symbolized the bond of ‘brit‘ (covenant) and love between God and Israel. Out from the Kodesh HaKodeshim flowed life to the entire world, hence its’ supreme importance, to the point where anyone who entered it is deserving of death by Heaven, and only the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) entered it on Yom Kippur on behalf of all Israel, so as to connect the entire world to its source, and draw atonement, forgiveness, and life to the whole world.

Since the destruction of the Holy Temple and the exile, the sanctity of the Kodesh HaKodeshim is revealed in the world through the Jewish nation’s desires and yearnings that "God’s name be sanctified on His people Israel, and on Jerusalem His city, and on Mt. Zion the abode of His majesty, and on the kingdom of David His chosen one, on His site and sanctuary, and that God reigns alone over all His works." This is the essence of our prayers on Yom Kippur.

Awakening to the Study of Torah
As a continuation of the service in the Kodesh HaKodeshim on Yom Kippur, it would be appropriate for every man and woman, elderly and young, to accept upon themselves on Yom Kippur in preparation for the New Year, to increase and deepen their study of Torah. This is especially worthy for people engaged in yishuv’o shel olam(settlement of the world), and the fitting time for additional study is on Shabbat. Thereby, we will merit drawing insight from the Kodesh HaKodeshim into our daily lives. And this should not be taken this lightly, for the perfection of the world (tikun olam) and its redemption depends on it.

Establishing Blessed Jewish Families
When the Beit HaMikdash existed, at the conclusion of the service of the Kohen HaGadol in the Temple, the daughters of Jerusalem would dance in the orchards, in this way, find their future husbands. Seemingly, one could ask: how, on the sacred and awesome Day of Atonement, could they engage in matters of finding their spouse? However, the creation of Jewish families is connected to the Holy of Holies, as our Sages said about a husband and wife who are worthy of being faithful to one another, that the Divine Presence abides among them (Sotah 17a). And by means of such a relationship, divine unity is revealed in the world; consequently God commanded his name be erased in order that peace is made between husband and wife (Nedarim 66b). Similarly, the Ari HaKadosh said that the mitzvahto "love thy neighbor as thyself" (Leviticus 19:18), concerning which Rabbi Akiva said "it is a great rule in the Torah" (Safra, ibid.), is fulfilled in its entirety between spouses.

Moreover, the connection and union between a couple is symbolic to the higher bond between God and Israel, as it is written, "and God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom with his bride" (Isaiah 62:5). Therefore, ‘Shir HaShirim‘ (the Song of Songs) is considered kodesh kodeshim (holy of holies) (Tanhuma Tetzaveh 5). We also find that the form of the Cherubs placed on the Ark in the Holy of Holies was in the shape of a man and woman fulfilling the mitzvah of conjugal relations. This teaches us that holiness does not diminish life, but rather, empowers it. And when Israel ceased to do the will of God, the Cherubs separated from each other, turning their faces outwards (Bava Batra 99 a).

Think and Pray about Matchmaking
Today, indeed, we do not engage in matchmaking on Yom Kippur. Perhaps the reason is that currently we are not worthy of doing so when the Temple is destroyed. In any case, seeing as the sanctity ofYom Kippur is connected to that of the Jewish family, it is appropriate for all single men and women to think and pray about finding their partner. Often, the negative character traits of pride and greed prevent a person from finding a suitable match. On Yom Kippur when one’s pure soul is revealed, one can consider more accurately the aspirations in his life and about a truly suitable match, someone with whom he can fulfill the Torah and mitzvoth, and together, increase joy and life.

Teshuva and Prayers of Married Couples
Married couples should also do teshuva on Yom Kippur over not having properly loved and made each other happy, and pray they merit reuniting with love and joy, that the shechina (holy Presence) dwell among them, and that they merit raising sons and daughters engaged in Torah and mitzvoth.

Palestinian 'Reconciliation': Jihad is Calling!

By Bassam Tawil

  • Leaders of Hamas maintain that under no circumstances will they agree to lay down their weapons. Hamas is, in fact, continuing full-speed-ahead digging tunnels under the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Hamas is planning to use the tunnels to smuggle armed terrorists into Israel.
  • The accord with Hamas requires Mahmoud Abbas to lift the sanctions he recently imposed on the Gaza Strip, such as refusing to pay Israel for the electricity it supplies to Gaza. It also requires Abbas to resume payment of salaries to thousands of Palestinians who served time in Israeli prison for terror-related offenses.
  • Above all, Hamas wants to use the agreement to be removed from the U.S. State Department List of Foreign Terror Organizations.
  • The Russians are closing their ears to what Hamas itself declares day after day: that its true goal is to eliminate Israel and that it has no intention of abandoning its murderous, genocidal agenda.
Pictured: On October 17, 2013, then U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro visited a tunnel penetrating Israel from Gaza, which had been discovered by the Israeli army. Shapiro said: "I was shocked from what I saw in the tunnel. It is clear that this tunnel has only one purpose: to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers." (Image source: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv)
The Palestinian terror group Hamas has once again made clear that its true intention is to pursue the fight against Israel until the "liberation of Palestine, from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea." Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, says that despite the latest "reconciliation" agreement reached with the Palestinian Authority (PA) under the auspices of the Egyptian government, it will continue to prepare for war with Israel.
While some Western analysts have misinterpreted the agreement as a sign that Hamas is moving towards moderation and pragmatism, leaders of the Islamist movement maintain that under no circumstances will they agree to lay down their weapons. Hamas is, in fact, continuing full-speed-ahead digging tunnels under the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Hamas is planning to use the tunnels to smuggle armed terrorists into Israel.

The Merit of Yom Kippur

By Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

Yom Kippur is the most uniquely Jewish day of the calendar year. By this I mean that all of our other wonderful holidays have been copied, adapted and sometimes just plain co-opted by other faiths. New Year, freedom festivals, Pentecost, Easter, Mardi Gras, etc. are all well known in other faiths and celebrated in secular society as well. But a day of holiness, of abstinence, of spirituality, of communion with one’s self and one’s Creator, wholly devoted to lofty ideas and the realm of the spirit is to my knowledge unknown outside of Judaism. Even though the Torah calls the prohibitions imposed upon us by the day of Yom Kippur, such as fasting, not washing, etc., as being "afflictions," Rambam changes the whole tone of the matter in his wondrous work "Mishneh Torah." There he entitles the section on Yom Kippur as being "Shevitat Assor" - the great day of rest that occurs on the tenth day of Tishrei. It is not so much that we are "afflicted" on the day of Yom Kippur as that we are at rest for a day from all worldly needs such as eating, washing, etc. Yom Kippur is not a day of pain and sadness, which are the hallmarks of Tisha B’av, but rather a day of serenity and inner yearning for the better part of us to assert itself. One of the great lessons of Yom Kippur is that inner serenity is achievable only by a degree of separation from the worldly pursuits that press constantly upon us. To truly live well in this world, one must always distance one’s self, no matter how slightly, from that very same world.

Another powerful but really very obvious lesson of Yom Kippur is the blessed consequences of the ability to repent and forgive. All of this is easier said than done. Personal hurts done to us by others leave deep and painful scars. So forgiveness, in the truest sense of the word, becomes painful and emotionally wrenching. Nevertheless, forgiving others is really the chief means at our disposal of cleansing our souls and our inner selves. It removes the corroding bitterness that changes for the worse our personalities and nature. Brooding over past hurts only intensifies the pain that those hurts originally caused. Forgiveness allows one to move on in life and not dwell on past events and constantly relive pain and embarrassment. We are not "a turn the other cheek" people and there are certainly circumstances that do not warrant forgiveness. But in the main, forgiveness is a positive step in helping build our spiritual self and in ennobling our character. Repentance is also a difficult concept to actualize. To say that "I was wrong" or that "I am truly sorry" are difficult words to get out of our mouths. And paradoxically enough these words are far easier to say to God, so to speak, than they are to a fellow human being. In fact, the closer we are to the person - a relative, a friend, partner, business associate, employer, employee - who was wronged by our words or deeds, the more difficult the apology becomes. Yet, God’s forgiveness of us, so to speak, hinges upon our ability to forgive others as well. A person who is unforgiving and overly exacting in interpersonal relationships will be treated by Heaven in the same fashion. So Yom Kippur demands of us contriteness, a lowering of ego and a serenity of spirit that can encompass all around us as well.

"Bring us back to You"

By HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

Dedicated in honor of R' Meir b"r Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld

Repentance: Failure's Complete Course
Hosea the Prophet reveals an underlying motive of repentance: "Return...for you have stumbled in your iniquity" (Hosea 14:2). Superficial thinking causes one to imagine that sin brings in its wake liberation and freedom. The truth is, though, that the sin itself serves to awaken the sinner to repentance.

"There you will serve gods that men have made out of wood and stone... Then you will begin to seek God your Lord, and if you seek him with your heart and soul, you will eventually find him" (Deuteronomy 4:28,29). It is precisely via the contemptible act of worshipping gods of wood and stone that one manages to return to God. This can be compared to the drawing of a straight line from a point on the face of a ball. The line seems to distance itself from the original point. Yet, once the halfway point has been passed the line once again approaches its starting point.

"Wood and stone." These are two types of idolatry that continue to exist even today. Wood grows and expands; it represents the modern idolatry of labor-worship. Stone represents an idolatry whose aim it is to remove from the human heart all semblance of lovingkindness and benevolence. Our own Jewish brethren have, in this era, practiced these two forms of idolatry. That of wood, here in the Land of Israel; that of stone, in Soviet Russia. So much energy has been invested towards these false-god ideals; their followers have invested, and continue to invest, the best of the capacities of their youth. Today, though, an awakening is making itself felt even in Israel. This can be seen in those who lead the call for repentance, and in those who are returning from "foreign camps." It can be seen in Russia as well. After twenty years of attempting to erase all trace of the name of Israel, to destroy Jewish unity, and to dispose of all holy books, the wall has fallen. We can hear our fellow Jews crying out to us, and they cry out in the tongue of the Prophets: "I will not die but live." From where does their great vigor spring forth? Have not larger and stronger peoples been destroyed? And from where their adamant faith that justice is bound to triumph, if not from Judaism? Religious awakening, self-examination, "O Israel," "Return" - "for you have stumbled." The old ideologies proved to be misleading, and it therefore becomes necessary to abandon these precarious values.

Yet, to where does one return? All agree that there is a need to return, but where to? The failure, then, has not run its complete course.

More Dangerous than No Faith at All
And what about our own camp? We stand on a firm foundation of faith. Because we recognize the need for repentance, there is no question about where to return to. Yet, for us, the concept of repentance itself is not clear enough. One, unfortunately, does not find the sort of awakening among us that one ought to.

We possess a sickness that is particular to us alone. And this sickness, when it takes hold, can be even more dangerous than no faith at all. Isaiah the Prophet long ago cried out about this phenomena, saying: "And God said: Since this people draw near and honor me with their mouth and with their lips but have greatly distanced their heart from me, and their fear toward me is a commandment of men learned by rote, therefore, behold, I will proceed to do marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid" (Isaiah 29:13-14). It was not toward the irreligious that Isaiah aimed all his bitter reprimand. We are not dealing here with people who have thrown off the yoke of Torah, but with those who stand in the House of God and offer up lengthy prayers. This is really unbelievable. Furthermore, we find here punishment that the Sages termed more "difficult than the ninety-eight curses" that appear in chapter twenty-seven of Deuteronomy. Yet what is so bad about a commandment "learned by rote?" Is it not necessary to learn to fear God? Is man born with a built-in fear of Heaven? Certainly one must learn. If so, what is wrong with learning "by rote?"

True, one finds in the Torah an obligation to learn to fear God: "In order that you learn to fear" (Deuteronomy 14:23); "... who will learn to fear" (Ibid. 4:10); even regarding the king: "In order that you learn to fear" (Ibid. 17:19). The difference is in the fact that the proper way to learn fear of God is: "This scroll must always be with him, and he shall read from it all the days of his life" (Ibid.), i.e., a course lasting an entire lifetime. "Learned by rote," though, implies completion and perfection. No longer "learning," but "learned." Fear of God becomes something that no longer evolves, which can not be added to - clear and known. It follows that there is no need to dedicate time to this pursuit, there is no need for further discussion or further study. In stead of study "all the days of his life," one suffices with a childish fear that was learned in grammar school. While a person continued to develop in all other areas of life, his religious world remained childish. What's more, this sort of person believes that this is all there is to it. The words, "for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish..." become that much more understandable. For, one who already knows all, will not be ready to receive any new knowledge. This sort of person will no longer be willing to receive criticism or guidance. This is a terrible situation because even repentance itself is not seen as an option. It, too, has been learned by rote. It is possible to pound away at the heart of such an individual all day and night without results. "Tear your hearts, not your clothing," says Joel the Prophet.

The Days of Repentance confront us with the challenge to "renew your actions in the first month" (VaYikra Rabba 29). Renewal, self-examination, and reestablishment of values. Sowing the seeds and sorting the grain anew. This is part of repentance. This is a necessary introduction to repentance. To shake of the "rote." To make a fresh start. To understand what one is reciting in prayer, to feel the words.

"No, it's yours"
In the Midrash, we find an interesting and difficult-to-understand argument between the People of Israel and the Almighty: "Bring us back to You, God, and we shall return, renew our days as of old" (Lamentations 5:25). The Assembly of Israel said to the Almighty: "Bring us back" is Yours (i.e., our repentance depends upon You). He said to them: No, its yours, for it is written: "Thus says God, Return to Me and I will return to you" (Zechariah 3:7). They replied: No, its Yours, for it is written: "Bring us back to You, God of our salvation" (Psalm 85:5). Therefore it is written, 'Bring us back to You, God, and we shall return."

The whole argument is truly puzzling. All the same, when we search for the factor that impedes us on the road to repentance, we find it in the Sages' explanation of the command, "There shall be no foreign god inside of you." What sort of foreign god, ask the Sages, is inside of man's body? The Evil Impulse. Take a look at a person in whom anger, pride, and other undesirable traits dwell. A "foreign god" has taken control of him to the point where he believes that it is he himself. What we are dealing with here is repentance from undesirable character traits. Rambam says that such repentance is much more important than repentance from corrupt deeds because it is more difficult; it is a war against a foreign god inside of man. Seeing all of man's ugliness, all of his corrupt thoughts all day long, one says: "Bring us back to You, God." We are not capable on our own. We are full of evil ambitions. We are base and degraded. Our repentance is in God's hands alone. God, though, reveals to us that in this we are mistaken. For not only is it in our hands, it is not in His hands at all - as the Sages of the Talmud teach: "All is in the hands of Heaven except for the fear of Heaven." This is what is meant by man's being created in God's image. Man is completely free to do as he pleases. After all that befalls an individual, after all rewards and punishments have been bestowed by the Almighty, the ultimate choice still rests in man's hand. "Evil people refuse to repent even at the gates of Hell." Therefore, God says: "Return to me." Yet even after hearing these words from God, even when man feels that everything is in his hands, we are all the same lacking some force to push - if not to force us to act. This, then is the request: "Return us, O God of our salvation." Yes, we will return, but we want the salvation of God, Heavenly assistance. We desire an "awakening from above" to rouse us down below. This is what we pray for, and this is what we request. "Bring us back" - "And we shall return." Bring us back to You so that we may return. Assist us.

For this reason, God gave us the Ten Days of Repentance.

The Shamrak Report: Be a Proud Sovereign Nation and more.......

By Steven Shamrak
Israel must stop looking for approval from international anti-Semites and so-called friends. It will never get it! Since 1948 they have been undermining Israel’s independence and even its existence. Only by exercising self-respect and determination to remove enemy terror threats and reunite Jewish ancestral land will the Jewish people be able to live peacefully in Eretz-Israel!
Why is Israel constantly seeking approval and searching for unattainable high moral ground? No matter how hard Jews have been trying it - this is futile exercise; we have never received any respect, understanding and appreciation of our aspirations and humane efforts in dealing with enemies from international anti-Semites. 
Contraire, Israel is denigrated by the endless successive resolutions eagerly adopted by the vicious attacks from numerous anti-Israel organisations, as well as by Arab appeasing states - like the EU and BDS supporters, Oxfam, Amnesty International, the Red Cross and innumerable others!
Why does Israel have to prove its "right to exist"? No other country has this pathological need – this is a strategy for losers!
Always on the defence, Israel behaves as if it's done something wrong, by allowing others to accuse it of crimes it has never committed. Israel’s leadership is persistently unable to make a psychological transition from the historic scars of anti-Semitic persecution. It needs to shake off the shtetl mentality and start acting as a proud nation!
The Jewish leadership is unwilling and incapable of recognizing that Israel is a modern, highly developed sovereign state with a powerful and capable military. Does Israel have an overriding sense of a viable political and military strategy or clearly defined direction for deal with its adversaries? This absence of clearly articulated and identified national goals and lack of self-respect has robbed Israel of decisive victory in its last five conflicts in Lebanon and Gaza.
While engaging in endless military conflicts, Israel proudly announced that it trucks supplies to the enemy during the conflicts – adding and abetting the enemy! Israeli military gave advance notice to enemies in Gaza of its next military action, and even provides details about immanent targets. It is irrational behaviour – no army in the world acts like this during a military conflict!
Israel provides medical treatment to enemy population, including the extended families of Abbas, and Khalid Meshal and Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, all of whom have openly declared genocidal intent towards Israel and Jews. This behaviour also deifies any rational logic and comprehension!
Wars are not won by winning the high moral ground, which international anti-Semites will not allow Israel to attain anyway - they are won on the ground, by decisively defeating enemies and not having to replicate the same conflict over and over, and over! It is well known that Israel’s enemies, Arab and Muslim states, respect only strength and have contempt for display of weakness – that how they perceive Israel’s behaviour! 
The most insane of all, was bringing the exiled PLO terrorists into our backyard, legitimizing them and laying the foundation for yet another Arab State on Jewish ancestral land. 
By giving up Sinai, three times, ceding the Temple Mount, unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza, and most catastrophically signing the Oslo Accords for a delusion of peace, and many more so-called confidence building jesters Israel validates Albert Einstein famous quote: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 
By these bizarre displays of weakness, Israel only gives its enemies the hope and expectations that they will eventually be triumphant in destroying the Jewish state. This behaviour only encourages their perpetuating aggressions against Israel.
Jews are considered, even by their enemies, as smart people – this is not intelligent behaviour that one expects of an advanced military and industrial state! Jews need to change our shtetl mentality and stand as a proud nation and get rid of this incessant need for approval from others!

Leshana Tovah Tikatev V’tichatem!
Wish you a Happy and Sweet New Year!
FOOD for THOUGHT by Steven Shamrak
The Israeli justice system is traditionally heavily infested by leftist - anti-Zionist personnel. It has systematically been harassing Zionist activists, religious and secular, and has been ‘blackmailing’ politicians and members of their families by legal investigations and threats of persecution, which usually run endlessly for many years!
Chabad Rabbi on Trial for Incitement - Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpo, who has been indicted for inciting soldiers to disobey orders to evacuate settlements in the Land of Israel. His trial has been going on for more than three years. Rabbi Wolpo was active in the protest movement of 2005 that fought the “disengagement” from Gaza. Following the failure of that campaign he organized a rabbinical conference entitled “We shall never forget and we shall never forgive.” 
A new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, revealed large numbers of Palestinian Arab girls forced into child marriages, rampant beatings of children, and forced labor. According to the UNICEF report, "2% of all Palestinian women aged 15 to 49 years married before the age of 15." In addition, the report noted that nearly one quarter of Palestinian Arab women "marry" before the age of 18. "In the State of Palestine, 70 per cent of students are exposed to violence at school. A staggering 92 per cent of children aged 1 to 14 years experienced violent disciplining at home..." (Society built on lies is the ugly one!)
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon has begun his term as Vice President of the UN General Assembly. The Israeli ambassador was elected to the position as a representative of the Western European and Others (WEOG) regional group. (Israel is still not in Asia!)
After the High Court slaps 60-day limit on detention of illegal migrants, justice minister and interior minister convene a meeting to promote legal measures, including altering existing law and agreements with other African countries, to facilitate deportations without consent; ‘minor adjustments are required to the agreements... for the deportations to be carried out,' says Shaked.
Netanyahu expressed his outrage at how the high population of African infiltrators has impacted the lives of the residents of south Tel Aviv. Israel was the first country in the world to physically block the entry of infiltrators and at the time when 20,000 were entering the country per year. Netanyahu said he is creating a ministerial team to advance solutions to the problem. African nations are willing to absorb Infiltrators from Israel. Some 20,000 infiltrators have already been removed.
Israel at War with the PA Terrorism
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu praised Israel's Shin Bet, internal security service, reporting that the service had foiled 70 terror attacks in the months of July and August alone against Israeli civilians and servicemen and women. (There is no chance for the peace with the enemies – the fake negotiation process only encourages more terror attacks and loss of Jewish lives!)
Jews in the Swedish city of Gothenburg were bracing for a neo-Nazi march scheduled to pass near the city’s main synagogue on Yom Kippur. Swedish Jews face anti-Semitism both from the nationalist far right as well as the far left, whose strong criticism of Israel sometimes veers into anti-Semitism.
Quote of the Week:
“Most people feel comfortable to express opinions which are in line with media reports. It is socially safe - that is all that is important! Stories are selected carefully; many truly horrendous events have never seen the light of day. Right now, glorifying all things Muslim has become a new PC, so they can do no wrong! They are always portrayed as victims in need of sympathy and help, regardless of what they have done. The terrible pattern of sexual abuse carried out by Muslims worldwide and disproportional crime rate committed by them is always hidden.” – Ruth Cohen Harif, a Facebook posting.
Pre-emptive Self-Defence!
- via Chris Moore (FaceBook posting)
Many people are asking the questions: Why must Israel take out Hezbollah and Iran's nuclear facilities and why the US must take out the North Korean threat?
I have never understood why a country has to wait till it is attacked before it can retaliate. YOUR ENEMIES DON'T HAVE TO WAIT! Your enemies aren't bound by such rules of engagement. Why should we be? (They are patiently have been looking for most advantageous time to strike)
A threat from a hostile enemy is enough reason to take action. 
Take North Korean military buildup for example or Iran's numerous threats to destroy Israel. 

These two countries haven't yet attacked, but they would have if and they will, when they become stronger. The question for me is a simple one:
Why wait until your enemy builds enough weapons to attack your country?
We all know what would happen if Israel or America was the weaker side. Both Iran and North Korea would have already attacked. That would be the end of both Israel and millions would have died in the United States.
If you have someone actively trying to plan a war against you, it is beyond stupid to allow that enemy to build up its strength to the point that you have to build up more deterrence and more weapons in order to keep up-to-date.
There are other risks involved with playing a waiting game, too many to list here. Let me give you a few great examples:
The threat from Hezbollah and Iran is one glaring example. Look at what has transpired since the last war in 2006. Had Israel taken them out completely, or taken action around 2007 when reports at that time indicated they were rearming, and then Israel wouldn’t be facing 150,000 missiles from Lebanon today. And now Iran has troops in Syria. 
You see, it's self-defeating to delay and procrastinate. Iran has continued it program and Israel is now in a situation that should Iran complete their program, it could face a nuclear armed Iran. Imagine that nightmare. (Iran has already installed Russian supplied S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile system, and has developed its own version!)
Think also what would have happened had Israel not taken a pre-emptive attack against Iraq's nuclear program and Syria's? 
In 1967, Israel had to act or face a total and resounding defeat. And look what took place in 1973, when Israel did not take a pre-emptive action against Syria and Egypt? They lost a lot of men unnecessarily and almost lost the war! That would have meant the end of the country and the slaughter of nearly every Jew living there.
You see, Israel cannot gamble or second guess what your enemy is planning or thinking. When they make such threats, eliminate that threat and do not procrastinate or delay. Delay only strengthens your opponent and only puts you at a disadvantage. Delay could very well imperil your very existence!