Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Women's Candle Power

by Ben Tzion Spitz

We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine. -Dwight L. Moody

Among the Ten Commandments, the fourth is to remember the Sabbath. Every week of the year, from sunset on Friday afternoon until nightfall Saturday night, Jews are prohibited from performing a host of labors and activities, including direct use of any electronic device, traveling and more. The disconnection from the daily grind, the electronic maelstrom, the bombardment of media and messages and madness allows for a rare and life-rejuvenating ability to rediscover tranquility, family and community. It affirms sanity, re-energizes life-force and gives us the power to successfully conquer another week of our lives. The Sabbath is always welcomed first and foremost by the woman of the house lighting Shabbat candles.

When God presents the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel at Mount Sinai, He introduces the subject with an unusual phraseology. He addresses Moses and commands: “Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob and declare to the children of Israel.”

Rabbeinu Bechaye on Exodus 19:3 (Yitro) explains that “the house of Jacob” (Beit Yaakov) refers to the women, while “the children of Israel” (Bnei Yisrael) refers to the men. God addresses the women before the men. He elaborates that it was important, even vital for the women to be spoken to first at this momentous, historic revelation of God.

He focuses on the mother’s role in nurturing her children. He states that a mother is the initial cause and motivation for her child to study Torah and therefore, when she lights the Shabbat candles on Friday eve, a command that is reserved for the woman, she has a special power to pray at that moment, to request and to receive children who will brighten the world with their Torah; for the moment of performing a commandment is propitious for having such requests fulfilled.

Rabbeinu Bechaye elaborates that for the merit of lighting the Shabbat candles and creating light, the woman will merit to have children, masters of Torah, which is also called light, as King Solomon stated in Proverbs: “For the candle is a commandment (Mitzvah) and the Torah, light. The sages echoed this sentiment with the statement that whoever is careful with lighting Shabbat candles will merit having children who will become Torah scholars.

May we each brighten the world in our own way and may we merit having and seeing children whose light will both burn brightly as well as kindle the light of others.

Shabbat Shalom.

Towards Nationhood

by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El


The sages have divided the history of the world into three eras: Two thousand years of "Chaos," two thousand years of "Torah," and two thousand years of "Redemption." The Torah portion of Yitro represents a transitional segment coming between the two thousand years of "Chaos" and the era of "Torah." Our sages teach that the Torah preceded the world by a thousand years. And yet, the Torah did not actually appear in the world until the two thousand years of "Chaos" had ended. This must mean that the world had to undergo a major period of development in order for it to be ready for the 2,000 years of Torah. It is may thus be instructive to examine the period of "chaos" - and to understand how it paved the way for the next era - the 2,000 years of Torah.

"Olam Chesed Yibaneh" - "Acts of kindness are the building blocks of the World." The world is built upon every individual correcting and perfecting his or her personality traits - in keeping with the principle of "Derech Eretz Kadma L'Torah." - that is: ethical behavior precedes the learning of Torah. The foundation of all ethical development involves nurturing the attribute of showing kindness to others. In fact, the Torah records how the world was indeed built by figures who held a deep appreciation of this value. The world, on its continuous path towards perfection, produced an Avraham Avinu; his whole essence consisted of kindness, a desire to indiscriminately help others. It was an approach that stemmed from his recognition of the Creator of the Universe and his zeal to convey this message to others...

After much effort, Avraham and Sarah give birth to their son, Yitzchak. During his lifetime, Yitzchak manages to perfect his own "Avodat Hashem" - personal service of God; the pinnacle of this dedication comes with his willingness at the "Akeida" to literally sacrifice himself and to negate his own personal interests in favor of God's will. Yitzchak, too, fathers a son, Ya'akov, who channels all of his energies into self-perfection, and in turn, "Tikkun Olam" - the rectification of the world.

Ya’akov's accomplishments go beyond what his father and grandfather achieved; whereas Yitzchak also fathered the wicked Esav, and Avraham -Yishmael, all of Ya'akov's children are Tzaddikim, righteous individuals. The twelve tribes of Israel maintained and cultivated the spiritual treasure bequeathed them by their father...

The family of Ya'akov Avinu was destined from the outset to be the seeds of a nation. To that end, at the conclusion of the Book of Bereishit, the family arrives in Egypt, and eventually settles into Egyptian society. This is the framework in which the people will eventually be "purified" in the "blast furnace" known as Egypt. Just as metal exposed to intense heat ultimately becomes more solid as a result, so too, the nation of Israel was subsequently able to resist the various pressures that sought to weaken and even destroy it: "As they [the Egyptians] oppressed [the nation of Israel] [the nation] grew in numbers and expanded".

Israel was bidden by God to recognize its connection to the Creator of the World, and to understand the extent of Hashem's absolute providence over the world. To foster this awareness, Hashem strikes Egypt with the ten plagues. This was a process that revealed to the Children of Israel and to the entire world that reality is governed by "Hashgacha Pratit" - Divine Providence. It was this very force that was instrumental in freeing the Jews from Egyptian bondage.

At the opening of this week's portion, the Torah tells us: "And Yitro heard..." As a result of the report that reaches Yitro - father-in-law of Moshe Rabeinu and former Midianite High Priest - Yitro decides to convert,to link his fate to that of the redeemed Jewish nation.

"What specific details of the redemption did Yitro hear that prompted him to come?" ask our sages. Their answer: "He heard of the splitting of the Red Sea and the war against Amalek." With the splitting of the sea, Hashem's oneness in the world becomes obvious to all; the entirety of reality, it was learned, is geared towards the sanctification of God's name and the revelation of His dominion over the world. The splitting of the sea had a huge impact on Yitro, filling him with the joy of the redemption, trepidation of the manifestation of God's majesty over the world, and with a complete recognition of His unity. All of these emotions are, say our sages, hinted at in the words, "And Yitro rejoiced..." The Hebrew term used in the verse has a double meaning, indicating that he both rejoiced and that he experienced a severe case of "goosebumps" upon hearing the story of the exodus.

In order for Israel to fully grasp that their God will, even in the future, rescue them from any misfortune - and they must therefore place their complete trust in Him at all times, the nation had to undergo various and sundry hardships: a lengthy enslavement in Egypt, a war with Amalek, lack of water and food, moments of nearly complete resignation, etc. In the desert, as a final step before the giving of the Torah, God feeds the nation a new food called manna, a divine, spiritual food, that purifies the body and feeds all 248 of the body's limbs, without producing human waste. Its color is a compound of many different colors, and its taste - comprised of many different tastes. Manna was given to purify the souls of the people, to lay the groundwork for the crucial moment of "Matan Torah".

Our sages explain that in a place called "Refidim" the Children of Israel's hands "slipped away from Torah." (Refidim is understood as containing a compound word - "Rafu Yedehem" - literally: "their hands slipped away.") In order to receive the Torah, they had to extricate themselves from this weakened spiritual state of "Refidim"... Thus, before they reach Mt. Sinai, the Jews must "depart from Refidim.

The Torah was given in the desert. As a place not subject much to human intervention and manipulation, the desert is the most fitting place for man to humble himself before the greatness of Hashem - a mindset essential for the full acceptance of the Torah. With this worldview guiding them, the Jews reach the ideal state referred to by the verse: "And Israel encamped next to the mountain" - "As one man with one heart. (Rashi)

As mentioned above, the splitting of the sea and the war with Amalek are the events that inspire Yitro to accept the God of Israel as his God, too. What aspects of these events contributed to Yitro's decision?

The Zohar teaches that what makes the splitting of the sea so extraordinary relative to the other plagues is that, when the sea split, two opposite goals were achieved: the redemption of the Jewish people, and the destruction of Pharaoh and his army. Aside from the mighty vision of Hashem’s Hand overtaking nature and subjugating it - Yitro understands that, at the very same moment, God can accomplish two opposite results: the destruction of the wicked and the salvation of the righteous. The event also serves as a model for God's interaction with the world as a whole, in which both good and evil are crucial elements in the Divine plan. Yitro's rejoicing and trepidation are a product of his appreciation of the Divine unity revealed by the splitting of the sea.

Regarding the verse: "And Amalek came and warred with Israel at Refidim," the rabbis explain: (as mentioned above) that the hands of the Jewish people slipped away from the Torah at Refidim. This opened the door for the Amalek-initiated attack. One may ask: How could it be that Israel, a nation that had merited such a high level of prophecy a short time before (The sages said that a maidservant saw more at the splitting of the sea that Ezekiel saw in his vision of the chariot) could plummet from this peak so quickly?

One approach to this question lies in the fact that, even within the "fall" represented by the crisis represented by their battle with Amalek, the Children of Israel were in fact progressing! Amalek is the source of evil in the world. There is no doubt that Hashem would have not permitted this war to develop had He not been certain that the nation could overcome Amalek. If so, the war itself, and the eventual victory over Amalek represents Israel's ability to now truly battle. to eradicate the source of evil in the world.

Thus, Yitro comes to a belief in the God of Israel in response to two events: The splitting of the sea, and the war with Amalek. From the latter, Yitro learns that there is not, and never will be any force that can block the path on which the nation of Israel is headed. With the defeat of Amalek - the nation that most represents forces antagonistic to the redemption of Israel - Yitro comes to the desert, and converts, filled with a renewed confidence in Israel's mission and destiny...

Torah - the basis of Human Existence

by Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

The basis for all civic morality and personal piety lies in the words of revelation granted to Israel at Mount Sinai and recorded for us in the Torah in this week’s parsha. It is difficult to imagine any sort of human progress or civilization absent the Ten Commandments and its value system. Monotheism, respect for parents and authority, protection of person and property, the importance of a day of rest and spiritual serenity, truthfulness and justice, are all the bases of human existence and progress. We are aware even today millennia later that these necessary ideas for human achievement are still not universally accepted. Crime, murder, and immorality of all sorts still rule much of human society. Perhaps that is one understanding of the dire statement of the rabbis in Avot that there is a heavenly voice that emanates daily from Sinai that states: "Woe to My creatures due to their abuse and insult of Torah!" These basic rules of life that are so clearly and logically self-evident in their wisdom and essential essence are nevertheless observed more in their breach than in their true observance. One look at any daily newspaper anywhere in the world will confirm this sad assessment of human affairs in our current world. We are a long way from assimilating the ideas of Sinai into our lives even after thirty three hundred years of their existence as the basic building blocks of human civilization. Sadly, the evil nature of humans remains somehow paramount in our society.

But the Torah bids us to combat this inherent individual evil nature within us. We have to begin with ourselves. It is related that a great sage once stated in his elderly years: "When I was young I attempted to rectify everything that was wrong in the world. As I grew older I realized that this task was beyond my abilities, so I concentrated on my community. After time I realized that this was also beyond my abilities, so I now concentrated on my family and my descendants. Sadly, I realized that this was also not given to me rectify easily. So now I have decided to concentrate on myself - my own self-discipline and improvement." The Torah always speaks to us in personal terms, as individuals who are held responsible for our actions and omissions. The Ten Commandments are therefore written to us directly, in second person, and not merely as nice moral generalities. They are commandments and not advice that can be accepted or rejected. The Talmud and Halacha have defined for us each of these commandments in a legal and technical manner. Jewish tradition, customs and mores have expanded on these legal details and fleshed out for us a moral code for daily practical human behavior. It is only in this broader moral context that we can understand the commandment "not to covet." It may be unenforceable legally in a court of law by itself unless one has actually stolen because of it but the moral implications of the commandment should be clear to all. Fortunate are we to whom such a Torah and moral value system was given.

The Power of Unity

by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

The midrash (Bamidbar Rabba 15:18) connects the pasuk "Assemble for me seventy men" (Bamidbar 11:16) to the pasuk in Amos (9:6): "He builds upper chambers in the heavens, and His aguda (binding together) He founded on the earth." The midrash takes this to mean that, kav’yachol, Hashem’s throne in the heavens is only firm if Israel is bound together in unity. Another powerful midrash along this line says that even when the Northern Kingdom of Israel was guilty of idol worship, Hashem left them intact because they were connected to each other (Bereishit Rabba 38:6). What is so positive about the unity between sinners?

On the pasuk describing Bnei Yisrael’s preparations to receive the Torah, "They stood at the bottom of the mountain" (Shemot 19:17), Chazal say that Hashem held the mountain over them to make sure they accept it (Shabbat 88a). A midrash (Shemot Rabba 42:8) says that Bnei Yisrael’s statement "We shall do and hear" lacked full conviction. How could that be considering that Bnei Yisrael were so praised and rewarded for these words (see gemara ibid.).

Bnei Yisrael made it to the point of accepting the Torah by jumping through a great number of levels from the bottom spiritual rung (49th level of impurity) to the highest levels. How did this happen? They were aided by miracles and revelations, in line with Chazal’s comment that maidservants saw more divinity at the splitting of the sea than Yechezkel saw in his prophecies (Mechilta, Beshalach 3). These revelations left no room for doubt about Hashem, and when there is no doubt, what choice does one have but to accept the Torah that Hashem is giving you? This is the holding of the mountain over their head. While Bnei Yisrael did not mean "We shall do and hear" insincerely, still it was the result of a rare level of amazement. Since the commitment they naturally made did not have a chance to penetrate their consciousness, Chazal viewed it as equivalent to an incomplete acceptance.

But still how did they make it to this exalted level? It is by encamping at Sinai in a manner of unity that made them fit to be described in the singular (see Rashi, Shemot 19:2). The logic is as follows. Every Jew has two special powers: the innate character of greatness (segula); the power to act properly. That which we say, "Even though a Jew has sinned, he is still a Jew" (Sanhedrin 44a) emanates from the power of segula. The national power of segula is linked to the unity within the nation, making them a distinct nation. Then, the combination of the segulot of each part of the nation enables the practical power of Israel to be revealed.

It is for this reason that responsibility for the private actions of other Jews begins only after they crossed the Jordan together – the time that the nation truly worked as one unit. Then, when one organ malfunctions, it affects the whole body. Inversely, when things are working properly, the innate levels sparkle brilliantly, and the Torah can be followed in a complete manner. This is the idea of the binding together that is created by the unity on the earth.

The Treasured Nation

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

Two fundamental values of Judaism are expressed in the Parsha: the giving of the Torah and the selection of Am Yisrael as the chosen nation, "You shall be to Me the most beloved treasure of all peoples." (Shemot 19:5) The question arises, was God's choice of Yisrael a result of their acceptance of the Torah, "Na'aseh venishma - We will do and we will listen," as opposed to the other nations who rejected the Torah? Or, just the opposite, was Hashem's choice of Yisrael the foundation for their receiving the Torah? The text that Chazal established for the bracha on the Torah shows that Yisrael was chosen first, and the selection is not contingent on our initiative or actions. We bless God, "Who selected us from all the peoples, and," -- as a result -- "gave us His Torah." Similarly, we say in Shacharit, "Blessed is He, our God, Who created us for His glory, separated us from those who stray, and," -- as such -- "gave us the Torah of truth."

This idea is explicit in Tana D'vei Eliyahu:

He said to me: Rebbe, "There are two things in this world which I love completely, and they are the Torah and Yisrael, but I do not know which one to prefer." I said to him: My son, generally people say that the Torah is first, as it says, "Hashem made me [the Torah] as the beginning of His way." (Mishlei 8:22) But I say Yisrael is first, as it says, "Israel is holy to Hashem, the first of His crop." (Yirmiya 2:3)

This perspective is the foundation of the maxim of Chazal, "A Jew, even when he sins, is still a Jew." If the selection of Yisrael were to depend on their deeds, then when one sins, he would remove himself from the holiness of Israel. But, since the selection of Bnei Yisrael does not depend on their deeds, it remains even if a Jew sins. Conversely, when a gentile performs mitzvot, he does not acquire the status of Yisrael, as his actions are merely insignificant movements, since he is lacking the inherent, special nature of Yisrael.

This same concept applies to Klal Yisrael as a whole. "Hashem has distinguished you today to be for Him a treasured people." (Devarim 26:18) The Ohr Hachaim explains that Hashem declared Yisrael to be the chosen nation, so that even if another nation improves its deeds, and attempts to join with the Shechina (Divine Presence), they will not achieve the status of Yisrael. Conversely, even if there will be a time that Yisrael angers the Creator, Hashem will not replace them with another nation.

This concept is reflected in the Tanach, as well, as Rabah b. Rav Huna comments (Yalkut Shimoni II:312): This is the distinction between Yisrael and non-Jews. Regarding Yisrael it says, "I will be a God to them, and they will be a people to Me" (Yechezkel 37:27), whereas regarding non-Jews, it says, "For who then would embolden his heart to approach Me ... You will be a people unto Me, and I will be a God unto you." (Yirmiya 30:21?22) The Maharal explains (Netzach Yisrael, ch. 11) that Hashem chose Yisrael for their essence and not for their good deeds, and naturally seeks after them. But, regarding non-Jews, it first says, "You will be a people unto Me," that when their deeds will be good, then Hashem will bring them close to Him.

The same idea is alluded to in the pasuk, "He perceived ("hibit") no iniquity in Yaakov and saw ("ra'ah") no perversity in Yisrael." (Bamidbar 23:21) The Netziv explains: The name, "Yisrael," connotes the great people of the nation, where sin is not found even with an external look (ra'ah). However, regarding "Yaakov," the common Jew, even though exterior flaws are sometimes evident, after looking deeper (hibit) into their essence, iniquity is not perceived.

We, who follow the ways of Hashem, must not search for the sins of others, but rather we must look deeply to seek merits and positive traits. The Chazon Ish (Yoreh De'ah 12), writes about the wicked people of our generation that the law of "moridim" (that certain sinners are eliminated by Beit Din) only applies when Divine Providence is evident to all, through miracles and Bat Kol (Heavenly voice). When Hashem's Presence is more hidden, though, and faith in Hashem is not present among the general public, this law does not apply. Our responsibility is to draw Am Yisrael to the light of Torah with chains of love to the best of our ability.

The Jewish People -- As One Man and Of One Mind

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

It says, “Israel camped opposite the mountain” (Exodus 19:2). Rashi explains, “As one man and of one mind, but all their other encampments were made in a spirit of resentment and dissension.” The precondition for Israel’s being ready for the Sinai Revelation was their all being as one man and of one mind, without resentment or dissension.

We can derive a lesson from precise analysis of Rashi’s wording: “As one man.” Every individual has numerous limbs and organs and diverse attributes. Yet they all add up to one person, with each limb and organ and every attribute supplementing what is lacking in the others. It is the same with the Jewish People. Every Jew is different, “for neither in mind or appearance do they resemble one another” (Berachot 58). All the same, we are one people marching up through history to our divine destiny, to serve as a light unto the nations.

Why was it necessary for Rashi to add “and of one mind”? Rashi was hinting that it is not enough that the Jewish people possess one “body,” one national framework. That national framework needs a heart -- a human heart -- a center in which the whole Jewish People can be united and draw strength. Indeed, from time immemorial the Jewish People have always had one center, one heart. In the Desert, the Mishkan [tabernacle] was that heart, and in the Land, it was the First and Second Temples. They were the source from which the nation drew its psychological and spiritual strength. When we went into exile for two thousand years, the synagogues and study houses constituted a miniature Temple, and from them the nation drew strength to survive the dark exile.

Now, on our return to our land and to Jerusalem our capital, on the way to building the Third Temple -- may it be soon in our day -- the centrality of the State of Israel for the Jewish People and for all of mankind is being revealed more and more. Eretz Yisrael and Jerusalem are becoming the center of Torah on earth, leading to fulfillment of Isaiah’s words: “For out of Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).

Right now, despite all of the political struggles, we must remember and imbue in our hearts that when all is said and done, we are one nation -- as one man, of one mind -- whose purpose is to publicize that the L-rd G-d of Israel is One and His kingdom rules over all.

Longing forward to complete redemption,
Shabbat Shalom.

Pigs Fly, Hell Freezes Over, Part II: HBO Host Bill Maher Praises US President Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

HBO host Bill Maher. Photo: Screenshot.

On the “Real Time” show on HBO on Friday, host Bill Maher praised US President Donald Trump’s decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“I hate to agree with Donald Trump, and it doesn’t happen often, but I do. I don’t know why Israel — it has been their capital since 1949, it is where their government is. They’ve won all the wars thrown against them. I don’t understand why they don’t get to have their capital where they want,” Maher said.

Watch a video of Maher’s comments below:

Rav Kook's Ein Ayah: The Turning of the Shoe and the Fall of the Spirit

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 6:8-10)

Gemara: What is the background behind the prohibition on a shoe called sandal hamesumar? Shmuel said: there was a decree [made by enemies], and people were hiding in caves. The people in the caves agreed: “Whoever comes in, comes in; and whoever leaves, leaves.” The shoe of one of them was turned around, so that they thought that one of them left and was seen by the enemies who were now attacking. They started pushing each other and killed more of each other than the enemies killed of them.

Ein Ayah: The source of falling is the collapse of the spirit, as the intellect leaves him and his imagination sinks. It is as the pasuk says: “Israel abandoned goodness; the enemy will pursue” (Hoshea 8:3). The imagination lowers a person and the nation as a whole to a ditch, i.e., into dense materialism and its ugly and lowly tendencies. It is not the external perceptions that is dominant in its midst, as the pasuk says: “To the action of Hashem they did not look, and they did not see the work of His Hand” (Yeshaya 5:12). External imprints have their impact according to their natural ability to give light. They do not extend to revive the spirit and to spread light to the intellect and one’s personal attributes. [This is what the gemara means by that which comes in, comes in, and that which leaves leaves.] The results are similar to what one would expect. There is a lowliness of the spirit, fear of the enemy, hiding in a cave, and a lowly decision based on continual decline, due to fear of the enemy.

Imagination, which is from the outset the factor that causes people to abandon Hashem and the paths of straightness, itself becomes the medium through which punishment comes. It deepens the feelings of evil and increases the weakness of the spirit to the greatest degree. When something changes even in the slightest, it causes the whole world to turn around for him. Imagination is not like intellect, which can handle each new situation and conception throughout physical and spiritual life and use its strength to lead one in the proper and righteous path. In contrast, imagination is spoiled by a small wind; one murky idea can summon up many bad feelings and consequences. Thus, when one shoe was turned around, frightening and desperate decisions were made, and they believed that the enemies discovered them and were attacking.

Not only does the decision one comes to based on imagination tend toward bad, decline, and despair, but it actually causes the ruin of the person with the imagination. It does not allow the individual and the community to notice their situation and return to a higher level by using the intellect and morality to elevate them over the situation of lowliness and fight off the situation of difficulty. Rather imagination increases commotion and inner enmity and ends the glimmer of hope that the powers can be summoned to survive. This is the horrible tragedy of a person who causes more destruction to himself than any enemy. It all starts when he is removed from the light of the pure intellect and the lofty aura, the light of the G-d of truth. It causes him to embrace fleeting mistruths and improper personal attributes that stem from a bad imagination. It concretizes the bad thoughts with thick mud and with irremovable nails. “Your evil shall oppress you, and your iniquity will rebuke you; you shall know and see that it is bad and bitter that you left Hashem your G-d, and My fear is not upon you” (Yirmiya 2:19). Instead of a thought-out fear of Hashem, which puts the mind at ease and fixes every group that lost its moral content, the bad imagination creates extreme, purposeless fear. This pollutes the mind and increases commotion and self-destruction beyond what any enemy could accomplish.

Rav Kook on Parashat Yitro: The Date of Matan Torah

On what day was the Torah revealed to Israel?

The majority opinion is that the Torah was given on the sixth day of Sivan. Rabbi Yossi, however, disagreed, arguing that the Torah was given on the seventh of Sivan (Shabbat 86b).

What is the essence of this disagreement? What is the significance of the date of Matan Torah?

Perfecting Creation

Rav Kook explained that the Sages were debating the fundamental goal of the Torah. The sixth and seventh of Sivan correspond to the very first sixth and seventh days in history - the sixth and seventh day of Creation.

Most of the Sages associated the Siniatic revelation with the sixth day of Creation, the day that mankind was created. This connection indicates that the primary objective of the Torah is to complete that act of Creation - the birth of humanity. The goal of Torah is to perfect humanity, to recreate it in a holier, purer form.

Rabbi Yossi, on the other hand, wanted to stress an even higher goal of the Torah. For after the Torah has made its mark on mankind and its ideals have been internalized in the human heart, it will then take root into the innermost soul of the world, uplifting and refining the entire universe.

In terms of this ultimate goal of the Torah, it is fitting that the Torah be revealed to the world on the seventh day, the concluding day of Creation. Through the seventh day, the Torah is linked to the true culmination of Creation - the Sabbath, the day of ultimate perfection and rest.

(Silver from the Land of Israel (now available in paperback). Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. IV on Shabbat 86b (9:17).)

The Shamrak Report: Pence Delivered a Zionist Speech, Ghetto Mentality Diplomacy and more....

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked praised the speech delivered by the US Vice President Mike Pence at the Knesset plenum Monday afternoon, hailing it as a "moral speech of the first order".
"Pence made a one-of-a-kind historic speech," Shaked exclaimed on Twitter and added, "Vice President, I thank you for a consummately Zionist speech, a moral speech of the first order."
"You expressed the simple truth: The Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people and Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for 3,000 years and will remain so forever," Shaked noted.
The Justice Minister also addressed Pence's embassy promise that the US mission to Israel be transferred to Jerusalem by the end of next year: "I'm waiting together with all Israeli citizens for the transfer of the American embassy to the capital of Israel by the end of 2019."
Science Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) said after the speech, "This is the greatest and most important Zionist speech ever delivered by a foreign leader at the Knesset plenum.
"This represents not only courageous friendship between the two countries; it is the zenith of US-Israeli relations since 1948, most of all, of course, the announcement of the Jerusalem embassy transfer. On the issue of 'two states', there remain differences," Akunis added...
Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak 
Some Jews oppose true Zionism by saying “you can’t change the legal reality on the ground”. They refuse to understand that we are creators of our current reality! By surrendering to enemy, we allow them to create their own inspired reality! Just look how Arabs/Muslims and the leftist anti-Semitic supporters have been successful in changing international perception of Jews/Israel legal rights since the War of independence! Jews must remember: "Our future does not depend on what the Goyim (non-Jews) will say. It depends on what the Jews will do!" - David Ben Gurion.
Shamrak Report - independent weekly editorial.
Eretz-Israel, Land of Israel, is still occupied by enemies of Jews!
Zionism is Jewish National independence movement!
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The New Israel Fund (NIF) has admitted it is acting against the Israeli government's decision to return illegal infiltrators to their countries of origin or to transfer them to other countries... “The NIF family has issued a series of emergency grants to Israeli NGOs that are lobbying against this move..." (NIF) has admitted it is acting against the Israeli government's decision to return illegal infiltrators to their countries of origin or to transfer them to other countries..." (‘Ghetto-mentality’ Jews are unable and unwilling to understand the reason for removal of illegal migrants from Israel!)
Support for armed struggle has almost doubled among Palestinians in the last six months, while Israeli Jews backing for a decisive military offensive to end the conflict increased during the same period by almost 60 percent. (As long as they occupy any part of Jewish land hope for the destruction of the Jewish state will remain! Please, read “The Sinai Option” below.)
American Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley blasted Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, saying that the PA appeared to be unprepared to pursue peace, adding that the US was not interested in ‘chasing after’ PA leaders in a bid to reboot talks between the PA and Israel.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit let it be known that the police had no case for bringing the prime minister to trial for bribery. For more than two years, police investigators had been assembling this case against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu around his custom of accepting lavish gifts from tycoons. Not a day went by without police leaks to a flock of “investigative reporters!” Mandelblit also warned that if the prosecution tried to bring the case to court, it would be dismissed for lack of evidence. (There is still heavy infestation, by leftist bureaucrats, of the Israeli government - especially in police and legal departments! In the past, for many years they conducted politically motivated blackmail style 'investigations’ of Sharon and his son. As result, Sharon gave up his Zionist principles and facilitated forceful transfer of 8,500 Jews from Gaza! Will Bibi be able resist the pressure and, as the international situation is changing in favour of Israel, remove enemy population from the Jewish land?)
Polish anti-Semites in Denial!
Israeli leaders angrily criticized pending legislation in Poland that would outlaw blaming Poles for the crimes of the Holocaust, with some accusing the Polish government of outright denial. “One cannot change history, and the Holocaust cannot be denied,” he said. (As well as, the role the Polish people played in facilitating the Holocaust!)
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz attacked the Joint List Knesset members who interrupted US Vice President Mike Pence's speech at the Knesset, saying: "They and Hamas share the same goals. They behaved in a way that Hamas thought praiseworthy." "Hamas, that extremist organization that denies the existence of the State of Israel, praises those who sit in the Israeli parliament and enjoy… but they must go to Gaza and represent the Palestinian parliament of Hamas, as they believe in the same goals; they do not recognize Israel as a Jewish and democratic state."
For the first time, new recruits at the Foreign Ministry are to learn about Judaism before representing the Jewish State to the world. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) met with the newest cadets of the Foreign Ministry's recruitment program. This year's cadets' course will include classes about the streams of Judaism, rituals and customs. (It should be made as a compulsory study and knowledge for all Israeli diplomats a blong time ago!)
More than 100 international film directors, producers, actors and industry workers have signed an open letter to a French film festival to protest against its decision to highlight Israeli films. They expressed "deep concern" at the festival's decision "to associate with the Israeli government as it is intensifying occupation, settlement policy and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people." (It is quite surprising, as those events mainly focus on anti-Israel, bordering anti-Semitic, movies made by Arabs or self-hating leftist Jews!)
Members of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee are set to discuss next week two controversial bills proposing a limit on the use of loudspeakers for religious purposes. The initiative, which is seen as an attempt to muffle the Muslim call to prayer, sparked condemnation in the Arab world when it cleared its first hurdle last March. (Israel is too tolerant toward its enemies, who have complete disrespect for the country they live in! Some Islamic states, like Jordan when it occupied East Jerusalem, do not allow Churches to ring their bells! Some, like Saudi Arabia, do not even have any other religions' places of worship.)
The Knesset delegation to the European Union's Council of Europe, a key human rights assembly, managed to get the body to pass a resolution condemning the Palestinian Authority (PA) for paying salaries to terrorists jailed in Israeli prisons. Although, it was added to a PA drafted resolution condemning President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The terrorist salaries paid out by the Palestinian Authority during 2017 make up more than 7% of the PA's budget, more than NIS 550 million. (European anti-Semites will never stop funding anti-Israel terrorists!)
The fossil of a part of a mouth and accompanying teeth are estimated to be up to 194,000 years old. They were discovered during an excavation at Mount Carmel, Israel. Stone tools were also recovered at the site. Earlier findings suggested that modern humans migrated from Africa roughly 120,000 years ago. (In an interview, I saw last week on the subject, Lebanon, Jordan and Sinai were mentioned but not Israel. Middle Eastern archaeology and paleo-anthropology are the most anti-Semitic branches of science!) 
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has purchased a new high-end private plane at a cost of $50 million. For the record, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - and for that matter, in the history of the State of Israel, no prime minister - has ever purchased a private plane with government funds.
QUOTE of the WEEK:
“That money is not going to them (the PA) unless they sit down and negotiate peace, because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace, and they’re going to have to want to make peace too, or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer.” - US President Donald Trump said the press at the World Economic Forum in Davos – Even then it will be waste of time and taxpayers money!
by Daniel Krygier
In the Middle East, where respect is everything, Israel’s submissive diplomacy puts it at a disadvantage, while mediocre PR efforts seriously erode its international standing
Israel’s relationship with Jordan and Jerusalem’s recent apology for the embassy crisis in Amman, exemplifies the reborn Jewish state’s contradictory nature: a successful powerhouse with a dhimmi style diplomacy. Reborn Israel might have left exile 70 years ago, but the exile mentality has still not left Israeli diplomacy.
On May 10, 1948, four days before Israel’s rebirth, Israel’s future Prime Minister Golda Meir secretly met king Abdullah of Transjordan in Amman. The purpose of Mrs. Meir’s travel was to plead with the king to refrain from joining the impending Arab attack on the embryonic Jewish state. This kind of diplomacy made sense when Israel was weak and fragile. It makes no sense today when the Jewish state is a technological and economic powerhouse with one of the strongest defense forces in the world...
Jordan is not doing Israel any favors by having official ties with Jerusalem. Israel provides Jordan with water and numerous technologies...
The strained relations between Turkey and Israel are mainly a result of the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s aggressive neo-Ottoman and anti-Semitic policies. However, Israel’s meek diplomacy has only made the situation worse.
Israeli officials admit that it was a mistake to apologize to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara flotilla crises in 2010. Nine Turkish extremists were killed after attacking Israeli naval forces with knives and iron bars. Turkey should have apologized to Israel. Jerusalem’s apology and financial compensation to Turkey rewarded Erdogan’s extremism.
When Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian-Turkish border, Moscow immediately put the Turkish leader Erdogan in place who was forced to apologize to Russia... (That is how a self-respectful country behaves!)
The main goal of the Jewish national liberation Zionist movement was the return of the Jewish people to its ancestral homeland Israel. However, another important goal was the transformation of the Jewish people from an insecure Diaspora nation to a confident and independent nation...
Instead of proactively changing the international conversation and the misconceptions regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israeli officials have tried to gain international sympathies by stressing Israel’s thriving culture, tolerance for gays and minorities, cutting-edge technology and many international relief efforts. While all this is true, failure to properly debunk the myth of Israel as the “villain” in the Middle East, has seriously eroded Israel’s position in the public debate in global media and on Western university campuses. Israel is strong and does not need to beg for sympathy. Instead, Israel needs to gain respect by starting to respect itself in the diplomatic world!

Arab Historian Admits there is No Palestinian People

When the Ottoman rule ended, there was no Palestinian national identity or political borders. It was all made up later. Arabs themselves say so, but the west isn’t listening.
The founding of Tel Aviv, 1909
by Judith Bergman

One of the biggest, most stubborn and costliest untruths of our time is the notion that the jihad waged by Arabs in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Gaza against Jews in Israel is a national struggle of an indigenous people for independence.

No matter the facts, the lie persists to the tune of billions of dollars in international aid and political prestige, which makes it increasingly difficult for anyone involved to admit that the whole thing is nothing more than a propaganda stunt.

Unlike the fairy tale of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, everyone pretends to be blind and deaf when it is pointed out that the emperor is naked. In fact, if the emperor himself were to stand up and yell, ‘I am naked folks, go home!’ the crowd would go on complimenting his non-existent garments.

Last week the naked emperor did just that:

“Before the Balfour Promise, when the Ottoman rule [1517-1917] ended, Palestine’s political borders as we know them today did not exist, and there was nothing called a Palestinian people with a political identity as we know today”, historian Abd Al-Ghani admitted on official PA TV on November 1.

“Since Palestine’s lines of administrative division stretched from east to west and included Jordan and southern Lebanon, and like all peoples of the region [the Palestinians] were liberated from the Turkish rule and immediately moved to colonial rule, without forming a Palestinian people’s political identity.”

In 1917, says this Arab historian on official PA TV, there was no such thing as a Palestinian people. This statement amounts to saying that the whole narrative of an ‘indigenous Palestinian people’ was made up at a later point in time.

As Hamas Minister of the Interior and of National Security Fathi Hammad speakingon Al-Hekma TV said in March 2012: “Brothers, half of the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half are Saudis. Who are the Palestinians? We have many families called Al-Masri, whose roots are Egyptian. Egyptian! They may be from Alexandria, from Cairo, from Dumietta, from the North, from Aswan, from Upper Egypt. We are Egyptians…”

There is a reason, why the “Palestinian National Museum” is empty of historical artifacts.

The Arab historian’s admission corroborates the observations of 19th century travelers to the region, who notably had no specific political agenda when they visited, unlike so many visitors to Israel today:

”Outside the gates of Jerusalem, we saw indeed no living object, heard no living sound”, wrote French poet Alphonse de Lamartine about his visit in 1835.

”The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population.” wrote British Consul James Finn in his 1857 description of the Holy Land.

”Palestine sits in a sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that withered its fields and fettered its energies. …Palestine is desolate and unlovely….It is a hopeless dreary, heartbroken land.” wrote American author Mark Twain in his description of his visit in 1867.

Nevertheless, the Arab propaganda machine gets away with publishing fantastic falsehoods, such as this one on the Palestinian Authority’s tourism website: “With a history that envelops more than one million years, Palestine has played an important role in human civilization. The crucible of prehistoric cultures, it is where settled society, the alphabet, religion, and literature developed, and would become a meeting place for diverse cultures and ideas that shaped the world we know today”.

The international community not only approves of these falsehoods, it happily pays for them.

Historian Abd Al-Ghani’s declaration on PA TV was a historic, highly newsworthy admission that ought to have made the headlines everywhere, considering the importance the issue is given by political leaders, diplomats, the media and other establishment figures all over the world.

After all, if the Arabs themselves admit that the ‘Palestinian people’ is an invented entity, should not the consequence be that the countless UN projects, billions of dollars in international aid, and the endless campaigns against Israel cease and be used for more noble purposes?

The answer is yes, but no one is paying attention.

We live in a post-factual world. Facts no longer have any currency, unlike feelings and ideological posturing. The truth has been reduced to a troublesome inconvenience and if it happens to stare you in the face, nothing could be easier than closing your eyes or simply looking away.

UNRWA: The UN Agency that Creates Palestinian Refugees

by Pierre Rehov

  • According to the UN's own definition, the status of "refugee" cannot be passed from generation to generation -- as it conveniently has been for the Palestinians. A Palestinian with a European, American or Jordanian passport has no reason to be considered a refugee. Except by UNRWA.
  • "Since the UN took them over, the Palestinians started burying their dead at night, without declaring them, in order to share their rations. As a result, for nearly 20 years, the official death rate in the camps was close to zero. In addition, there was a lot of movement between the camps. But these displacements were rarely recorded, so that a Palestinian could appear in several camps at the same time..." — Said Aburish, Palestinian Refugee and biographer of the late Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat.
  • UNRWA is not just a humanitarian agency. Its political stance is evident at all levels of the organization. A report from the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education, says that the 2016-2017 curriculum for elementary schools in PA, partly funded by UNRWA, "teaches students to be martyrs, to demonize and deny the existence of Israel, and to focus on a 'return' to an exclusively Palestinian country."
Ann Dismorr (right), the Director of UNRWA in Lebanon, poses with a map that erases the State of Israel and presents all of it as "Palestine." (Image source: Palestinian Authority TV via Palestinian Media Watch)
In the context of announced budget cuts, the US administration recently announced that it will drastically reduce its financial support of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees). US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley wanted the outright cancellation of the $364 million allocated each year to the UN agency, as long as it did not implement reforms and transparency, but US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was for the time being content to halve the first tranche of aid, originally set at $125 million.
At the heart of this case is the desire of US President Donald Trump to stop financing any agency or international organization that does not reflect American interests. There is also, however, a 180-degree turn on the US position in the Arab-Israeli conflict by the new administration. It seems determined not to make the same mistakes -- and fall into the same traps -- as previous administrations.
First, what is UNRWA?

Friday, January 26, 2018

"There was only one Avraham" - A video tribute to HaRav Avraham Shapira, zt"l

This event took place on the tenth yahrzeit of HaRav Shapira, zt"l.

Four Parts of Faith

by Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz

In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t. -Blaise Pascal

The nation of Israel is born when they are redeemed from the slavery of Egypt. They have witnessed the ten plagues that God brought down upon the Egyptians while sparing the Jewish nation. Pharaoh and his people beg the Israelites to leave. They leave on the night of Pesach (Passover) which would henceforth be eternally commemorated by the Jewish people. However, Pharaoh changes his mind. He pursues the freed slaves. His powerful chariot army has them trapped, with their back against the sea. God intervenes once again. He keeps the sides separated by a pillar of cloud and fire. He directs Moses to lift his hand and split the sea. The sea splits, the Jews cross over on dry land. The Egyptians are allowed to follow, only to be completely drowned. The entire armed forces of the Egyptian empire are obliterated in one fell swoop. Moses lowers his hand and he and the people of Israel break into song, the Song of the Sea.

The Torah declares that at that point the nation “believed in God and in Moses His servant.” Rabbeinu Bechaye on Exodus 14:31 quotes Rabbeinu Chananel who explains that proper Jewish faith can actually be split into four distinct elements:

1. Belief in God;
2. Belief in the truth and validity of our Prophets;
3. Belief in an afterlife that will include rewards for the righteous;
4. Belief in the coming of the Redeemer.

The reward for sustaining these beliefs is that one will enjoy them when the time comes. The punishment for lack of belief is somewhat self-fulfilling. The unbelievers will not live to experience the afterlife that they don’t believe in. Seems appropriate. Somehow, the conscious beliefs that we sustain and develop actually create our spiritual reality and fate. By denying God, prophetic truth, reward and punishment, an afterlife or the coming of the Messiah, we cut our very souls off from the future, eternity and destiny of the Jewish people. When we affirm our beliefs in the above, we link ourselves, our destiny, to the unbroken chain of tradition of the eternal people. Our beliefs shape our souls and our souls are intertwined, that is, until we reverse our default ancestral settings and take ourselves out of the communal belief system and the spiritual community itself.

Maimonides famously elaborated and articulated the above basic belief system into the popular 13 Principles of Faith. In some synagogues and communities they are read on a daily basis and can be found in the back of many prayer books. They are worth reviewing regularly. May our faith be strong and our souls ever linked to our nation and community.

Shabbat Shalom.

The Borders of the Land of Israel

by HaRav Eliezer Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Har Bracha

Whenever we talk about the borders of the Land of Israel, we must pay attention to two types of borders: the borders of the entire Land, and the borders of ‘olei Mitzrayim’ (the Jews who came into the Land from Egypt, led by Yehoshua). The first is the border of the entire Land, as the Lord promised Abraham our father, as it is written: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the Egyptian River as far as the great river, the Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18), and there are the limited boundaries presented in the Torah portion ‘Masei’ (Numbers 34) that ‘olei Mitzrayim’ were commanded to conquer. And why were they not commanded to conquer the entire Land? Because their numbers were insufficient to settle the entire Land, and therefore the commandment was to settle first in the primary parts of the Land, on the western side of the Jordan River, and gradually spread to all parts of the country. After the sons of Reuven and Gad asked to receive their inheritance on the eastern side of the Jordan River, Moshe agreed to them ‘bedi’avad’ (less than ideally), however, the result was that the other tribes lacked the strength to fulfill the entire command, and conquer all the territories of the borders mentioned in the Torah portion ‘Masei’.
The Southern Borders of the Entire Land
The southwestern boundary of the entire Land of Israel is ‘Nachal Mitzrayim’ (“River of Egypt”). It is agreed that ‘Nachal Mitzrayim’ is the eastern branch of the Nile, which is in the area of ​​the Suez Canal today. Regarding the southern border, it is said: “I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the Philistine Sea” (Exodus 23:31). In other words, the whole of the Sinai Peninsula on the Israeli border, given that the Red Sea surrounds it, is set as the southern border.

It should be noted that there are commentators that Rambam (Maimonides), who lived in ancient Cairo in the eastern part of the Nile, considered himself as living within the borders of the Land of Israel, as Maharikash [Rabbi Yaakov Costaro (1525-1610]) wrote.

The Southern Border of ‘Olei Mitzrayim’
However, the ‘olei Mitzrayim’ were commanded to conquer the border route which begins south of the Dead Sea to the ‘Nachal Mitzrayim’, as explained in the Torah portion ‘Masei’ (Numbers 34: 5), and only after they settled the primary part of the Land properly, would they spread to all borders of the Land. The poskim (Jewish law arbiters) disagreed in regards to the southern boundary that the ‘olei Mitzrayim’ were commanded to conquer, and the dispute depends on identifying the places mentioned in the Torah portion ‘Masei’ from the southern Dead Sea to ‘Nachal Mitzrayim’. Some say that the border curves slightly south of the Dead Sea, including Yerucham and S’de Boker, and curves again north to the River of Egypt (Tevuot HaAretz); others say that it extends farther south to Ein Yahav in the Arava and Mizpe Ramon in the Negev, and from there it continues to ‘Nachal Mitzrayim’ (Admat Kodesh); and others say the border is even further south till Eilat, and from there continues to ‘Nahal Mitzrayim’ (Rabbi Tikochinsky, according to Rav Saadiah Gaon.

The poskim were also in disagreement about ‘Nachal Mitzrayim’. According to the majority of ‘Rishonim’ and some “Achronim’ “Nachal Mitzrayim’ is identical to the “River of Egypt,” which is the eastern tributary of the Nile (Targum Yonatan and Yerushalmi, Rashi, Rambam, Tosafot, Rokeach, Radak, Gaon of Vilna), while many “Achronim’ according to some of the ‘Rishonim’, say that ‘Nachal Mitzrayim’ is Wadi al-Arish (Rav Saadiah Gaon, Kaftor ve’Perach, Radbaz).

It should be noted that according to all opinions, the Gaza Strip and the area of Yamit are also included in the borders that ‘olei Mitzrayim’ were commanded to conquer, and they were in the inheritance of Judah, as it is written: “And Gaza with its surrounding towns and settlements, as far as ‘Nachal Mitzrayim’ and the border at the Mediterranean Sea” (Joshua 15:47).

The significance of the discussion as to where the border of ‘olei Mitzrayim’ is, is twofold: 1) The obligation to settle the Land there, whether it is of higher priority as the borders of the Torah portion ‘Masei’, or of lesser priority as the other borders of the Promised Land; 2) The obligation of the ‘mitzvot teluyot b’aretz’ (mitzvot dependent on the Land) when they are not under Israeli sovereignty. Nevertheless, a place that is under Israeli sovereignty and is within the borders of the entire Land, in any case is bound by the ‘mitzvoth teluyot b’aretz’, as the border of ‘olei Bavel’.

The Southern Borders – Mount Hor (Hor HaHar)

The northern boundary of the Torah portion ‘Masei’ begins in the west, from the sea, in the place adjacent to Hor HaHar, as it is written: “This shall be your northern boundary. From the Mediterranean Sea, draw a line to Hor Mountain” (Numbers 34: 7). The question is: where is ‘Hor HaHar’, and whether it is the northern border of the entire Land of Israel, or only the northern border of ‘olei Mitzrayim’, who, once strengthened, conquered further on, till the Euphrates River.

There are five opinions:

  • According to Targum Yonaton (Bamidbar, 34:7), Mount Hor is the place called Tavrus Umnus, north of the 36th latitude line.
  • According to “Kaftor Ve’Perach,” it is the place called Akra, located on the 36th latitude line.
  • According to the Rambam, the northern border is the 35th latitude line (Laws of Kiddush HaChodesh,11:17), beginning from the western side in the place called Banyas (see Teshuvot HaRambam
  • 137, where he wrote that according to Chazal, it is called Amnas or Samnus. It is clear that his intention is not to the place we call the “Banyas” today, which is located at the bottom of the Hermon).
  • According to the Radbaz (Sect. 4: 30) and Rabbi S. Serlio, Mount Hor is located slightly south of Tripoli, at the place called Batrun.
  • According to ‘Admat Kodesh’ (Chapter 1) it is near Beirut on the eastern side, on a mountain today known as Hamna.

Seemingly, according to the fourth and fifth opinions, Hor HaHar is the border that ‘olei Mitzrayim’ were commanded to occupy and divide among the tribes; however, it is difficult to say that in their view it is the border of the entire Land, because it is impossible to draw a natural border between the Euphrates River and Hor HaHar according to their opinion. Therefore, it seems that in their view the border of the entire Land is similar to that of the first or second opinion.

On the other hand, according to the first opinion, Hor HaHar is indeed the border of the entire Land, and it is possible to stretch a natural border of about 180 kilometers to the Euphrates River, but what Israel was commanded to conquer in the Torah portion of ‘Masei’ apparently includes only the Lebanese mountains. Thus, there is no great dispute over the northern border, because the minimalist views deal with the border of the Torah portion of ‘Masei’, whereas the maximalist opinion deals with the border of the entire Land. And it seems to me that the border of the Torah portion ‘Masei’ is similar to the fifth opinion, and the border of the entire Land is similar to the first opinion. And it seems that the fact that Israel was unsuccessful in conquering the whole area of ​​Transjordan to the end of the northern boundary of the Torah portion ‘Masei’ Is because two and a half tribes settled on the eastern side of the Jordan, and therefore could not take passion of the Lebanese mountains.

The Northern Borders

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting, informative, and thought-provoking articles by Rabbi Melamed can be found at:

Forward! A Torah Thought for Parashat B’Shalach

by Moshe Feiglin

And the Children of Israel walked on the dry land in the sea and the water was a wall for them on their right and on their left. (From this week’s Torah portion, B’shalach, Exodus 14:29)

The splitting of the Red Sea, with walls of water standing upright and not drowning the Children of Israel is certainly a great miracle. But a major part of the miracle was the fact that the Children of Israel recognized the event as a miracle in real time.

The existence of the Nation of Israel is not natural. Frederick the Great of Prussia asked a Lutheran minister for proof of G-d. “The Jews,” replied the minister, “the Jews.” This non-Jew wisely saw the walls of water to the right and to the left of the Nation of Israel throughout the millennia and came to the conclusion that most people arrive at only when seeing a miracle with their own eyes.

Today, the walls of water still stand to our right and to our left. As in the time of the Exodus, the only path open to us remains the same: “And G-d said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Children of Israel and let them go forward’.”

Shabbat Shalom.

Yes, the Chief of Staff Should Resign

by Moshe Feiglin

This is not politically correct, but we have to put the truth on the table. After all, we are the liberated children of G-d. There is truth and we must speak the truth.

Last week, Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, called upon the Chief of Staff to resign for his promotion of mixed-gender combat units. I agree. Do you know why? Because he cannot identify the enemy. During the Protective Edge campaign, I asked General Eizenkott, who was then the Deputy Chief of Staff, who the enemy is. He could not answer me.

Why couldn’t he identify the enemy? He gave us the answer during the Elor Azaryiah saga, when he said that killing the enemy before he can strike is not a value of the IDF. There is no way for the IDF to win without this value. Killing the enemy before he can kill you is a basic military strategy the world over. The answer to the question, “Who is the enemy?” is “Whoever tries to kill you”. If the person who tries to kill you is not your enemy, then who is the enemy? The tunnel? the rocket? In that case, there is no enemy at all. In this respect, the Chief of Staff has failed.

As opposed to his recent predecessors, Chief of Staff Eizenkott has been working very hard to prepare the IDF for the next war instead of for the previous war. The impression that we have is that the IDF, particularly the Air Force, have the capabilities to give leadership that can identify the enemy and give us the ability to win. Apparently, the IDF already has the answer for a missile attack on numerous targets simultaneously. I do not want to go into detail, but the basic impression is that the Chief of Staff is preparing the IDF for the developing threats in a highly professional manner.

We must understand, however, that the ability of an army to carry out its defined objectives is more than just technological and quantitative. It is a combination of training, technological and quantitative capabilities and - the right fighting spirit. And that is what the Chief of Staff is missing. I would even say that he projects just the opposite.

That is why he should resign. Because it doesn’t matter how much you have prepared the army and how professional and well-trained the army is. (The truth is that there are islands of professionalism in the army, but as a whole, it is not as professional as we would like it to be). But the commander of the most sophisticated fighter plane and the commander of the most sophisticated submarine cannot defeat a young Arab girl who knows who she is, can identify her enemy – and intends to win. And that is where the Chief of Staff is.

When you surrender to the politically correct, when your first goal is to find favor in the eyes of the foolishness of feminism and the radical Left, when you ignore the most fundamental facts of life, and you are willing to pay for those ideas with Israel’s security, then winning is not your goal. Why doesn’t Israel send mixedgender basketball teams to international competitions? Why only men? Why is it that what is so clear in sports, which is nothing more than games, is not clear to the Chief of Staff in war, which is about life and death? What is so complicated about that? If you have to bring a bench for the woman soldier to climb up on so that she can jump over the wall and you allow her to remove weights, then Israel’s security is not your chief concern.

Let me ask another question. What will happen if the enemy captures one of those woman combat soldiers, G-d forbid? How much are we willing to sacrifice in order to find favor in the eyes of some politically correct blather? Why can’t we take action to prevent these things from happening instead of reacting after they happen? Why do we have to live the most fearsome nightmares before we say, “Just a minute; didn’t we see this coming down the road?” Just because the politicians and the leaders were embarrassed to tell the truth?

There are many non-combat units where women soldiers can do excellent work. So why push them into the tanks? If the Chief of Staff cannot focus on his main goal – Israel’s triumph – in the face of all the other agendas and politics, then he shouldn’t be there.