Friday, December 28, 2018

"The Children of Israel were disgusting to them"

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

However, though they afflicted them, they [nevertheless] increased and grew, and the Children of Israel were disgusting to them. (Shemos 1:12)

LET’S SAY YOU’RE 60 years old, and you’re able to go back in time to your 10th birthday. What would it be like? Would you be able to relate to who you were, or to anyone from that era? It’s one thing to look at pictures from a previous period of life, but something altogether different to actually be back there.

What about the people from 100 years ago, or 200 years ago? Wouldn’t you feel like an alien compared to them? If you wanted to stay back then, wouldn’t you have to re-orient yourself and learn their ways, as if you went to live in another country altogether? It probably would not take much time before you’d become “homesick.”

When you look at a picture from the past, you view it with your mind, not your emotions, especially if you weren’t there at the time, or even if you were. In order to understand the picture, your mind will use its own data base to create a relationship to the image, which amounts to INACCURATELY superimposing current experience onto past events.

People mistakenly think that if they can still remember something from years ago, then they can still feel what they did at the time. It’s possible, but only if the person was really aware at the time of what they were feeling, and it is still close enough in time to access the emotional memory. Otherwise, once we move on, we move on for good.

When we moved to a street behind the shul in which I had gone to Cheder as child, I tried to see the area as I had as that child. I thoroughly remembered it, but though little had changed since that time, I could not recover the emotional memory. I could “see” it in my mind’s eye, but I could not experience it, as hard as I tried, as I once had.

And yet, we read about history from thousands of years ago as if it just happened last year. We assume that what we feel about it is accurate enough, and continue reading as if we’re getting it. We take for granted, or possibly don’t even consider, how monstrous the gap is between what we are learning and what we are feeling about it, and how inaccurate that gap makes our overall perception.

The Seder tries to change that a little. Unlike the weekly reading of the parsha that can cover hundreds of years in just 20 minutes using an emotion-less narrative, the Haggadah tries to put us back into Egyptian slavery—a little. But, we’re usually too busy enjoying the fun and freedom to notice or complete the mission.

Sympathy is a POWERFUL ability, but empathy is MORE powerful, a LOT more powerful. Sympathy never really changed anyone that much, but empathy does. Sympathy doesn’t mean you necessarily relate to an experience beyond your own. It just means that you can recognize what someone else is feeling, and pick a supportive response. Empathy means that you are THEM as they go through what they go through.

That’s life changing.

Actually, it’s MORE than that. A LOT more.

Because, one of the faultiest assumptions we live with is that “today” is so very different from “yesterday.” Of course in many ways it is, but in some VERY fundamental ways it’s not, and the assumptions we have made are the reason why we have not only made tragic historic mistakes over the millennia, but the SAME ONES.

And we’re doing it again today.

We’re beginning, with this week’s parsha, our descent into the worst slavery ever known to mankind. Yet, at the same time, this was the place where we became a nation for the first time. We didn’t multiply much back in Canaan like we did in Egypt, which only increased the more the enemy tried to stop it, thanks to Divine Providence.

That’s right, DIVINE PROVIDENCE. But, if God was with us all that time, through all that torturous slavery that last 116 years in total, why did He not step in and end it much earlier? We see what He EVENTUALLY did to Pharaoh and Egypt. Why didn’t He just do it a lot earlier? We started off on such a high with Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov. Why did we have to reach such a low before getting back there again?

This is not a question that SYMPATHY can answer. It’s not something you can relate to by standing emotionally in 2018 and looking back in time to Egyptian slavery. It’s a question that only EMPATHY can answer, by transporting us back in time EMOTIONALLY, while fulfilling the Haggadah’s direction of looking at ourselves as if we too left Egypt. If we don’t, then we’re not going to have a good time leaving exile again, today, one last time on our way to Yemos HaMoshiach.

This is the time to think about it. The next six weeks are called “Shovevim,” a word comprised of the first letters of the names of the next six parshios, from “Shemos” to “Mishpatim,” in order. The word itself means “wayward people,” turning this period into a special one of teshuvah. But the teshuvah of this time is not the Yom Kippur type, but another kind of teshuvah. And THAT will be the theme of PERCEPTIONS over the next six weeks, b”H.

Darkest Hour

by Moshe Feiglin

About half a year ago, I stopped all the work in our Zehut Headquarters and in the middle of the day, took the entire Zehut staff to the movies.

The movie we went to see was ‘Darkest Hour’, about Winston Churchill.

Europe had been conquered by the Nazi storm. The British army had been caught in Dunkirk and for all practical purposes, was no longer existent. Roosevelt persisted with his separatism and refused to send even one bullet to England. (Why waste two cents?)

And inside England, all the small politicians scorned Churchill, ridiculed him, humiliated him and planned his downfall.

And to surrender to Hitler.

And they had what to laugh about.

Churchill had failed at everything he had done until then. He was chock-full of human shortcomings. The absolute opposite of the heroic figure. An aging, rotund gent who ceaselessly imbibed and smoked, slept in the middle of the day and had difficulty concentrating.

But from within all the darkness, a unique characteristic that would save the world from destruction shone forth. From within all the general chaos, the fear, the pressure, the anger, the fear-mongering and the ceaseless attempts to force him to face reality and surrender…From within all this madness, Churchill managed to filter out all the background noise and not allow the trees to hide the forest in his sights. Churchill understood the significance of the historical hour. He was not in the present. He was in the future, with his descendants in 200 years. He understood that what he would do now would shape the world for generations.

And with that historical consciousness, he skipped over the here and now. He ignored all the advisors and all the strategists, all the politicians and all the Lilliputian hacks. He turned directly to his nation, courageously and straightforwardly explaining the true significance of the hour and the price that they would have to pay. And he saved the free world.

His actions then, saved us now.

When we left the movie, I said to our staff, “Keep the feeling that you have now, leaving the movie, in your hearts. I have a feeling that we are going to be there”.

All the forces that had abandoned any semblance of vision long ago, any semblance of purpose, any sort of whole greater than the sum of its parts, all those separate pieces that scattered in all directions, whose spice of life is who they are not and not who they are…All those who want just one more day of going to bed satiated and we’ll see what happens tomorrow. All of them – all of them – are going to unite against us now. They will do everything they can so that we will despair and give up.

Because we are preventing them from surrender.

They will hate us because we will not let them surrender.

But we cannot afford the luxury of surrender.

Because the defeat that we suffered in Gaza is just the promo for the great defeat waiting for us next, with the same leaders and the same generals.

We are going to win these elections because we already understand the historic significance of the hour.

We know that we have to be there in the darkest hour.

And thus we know that we do not have any choice

Other than to win.

Striving for Incompletion

by Rabbi Ben-Tzion Spitz

Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence. -Vince Lombardi

It is probably one of the more mistranslated phrases in the Bible. When Moses meets God for the first time, at the Burning Bush, God informs Moses that Moses will be The Redeemer, the one who will take the young Israelite nation out of the slavery of Egypt and on to the journey towards The Promised Land.

At that historic encounter of Man and God, Moses asks how he should describe God to the Israelite slaves. God answers cryptically that he is “Eheye Asher Eheye” which is classically mistranslated as “I am that I am,” but really means “I shall be what I shall be.” The understanding of what tense God is talking about somehow got lost in translation. God in this verse is in the future tense. (Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks has an entire outstanding book on the concept, appropriately named “Future Tense”).

The Berdichever expands on the encounter of Moses and God and on the verse of “Eheye Asher Eheye” and teaches what may seem like a counter-intuitive lesson.

He describes the Tzadik, the righteous person, who must know that every time he reaches some divine accomplishment, some gain in his spiritual service, that there is an even greater accomplishment ahead that he has not reached. He has not reached completion. And when he reaches the next spiritual accomplishment, again, he becomes conscious of the next challenge, the accomplishment that lays ahead, and again, how he has reached another level of incompletion. It is infinite.

Man can never reach completion. He can never reach perfection. Nonetheless, man is enjoined to ever climb higher and higher. Not only God, but man, and specifically a Tzadik, somehow emulating God, is defined not merely by what he is, but rather by what he will be. And what he will be is something that is constantly growing, climbing, achieving. “I shall be what I shall be.”

The Berdichever relates to a verse from Psalms where King David asks for “just one thing…to gaze upon the pleasantness of God.” He explains that King David is articulating the prayer of the Tzadik, the righteous one, that only wants to gaze at God. He wants to keep his eye on God. In today’s vernacular we would say that he wants to “keep his on the ball.” That ball being God, divine service, dedication to a spiritually rich and meaningful life.

The Tzadik, whenever he reaches some higher level, some spiritual accomplishment, doesn’t want to forget for a moment that there’s more, that he’s incomplete, that there are infinite levels of progress that remain to a human. He doesn’t want to let God budge from his sights. He prays to God for help with that focus, with that dedication, with that constant attachment to God as our source of life, mission and purpose

May we indeed constantly climb higher, never losing our focus.

Shabbat Shalom.

The Yishai Fleisher Show: The Most Perfect Imperfect Man

Rabbi Ari Kahn on Parashat Shemot: The Beginning of the Redemption

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The War Inside and Outside

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

There are two ways that the nations of the world fight against Israel. One way is through physical might, by attempting to destroy and annihilate them. The second is through religious and cultural conflict. The Rambam discusses this in his "Iggeret Teiman," and declares that the nations' attempts will not succeed! He interprets in this vein the pasuk in Yeshaya (54:17), "Any weapon sharpened against you will not succeed, and any tongue that will rise against you in judgment, you will condemn," which mentions both the war of the weapon and the word of the tongue. The war of the sword may cause many casualties, but, at least, its intentions are clear and overt. However, the second type of war is fought with a hidden agenda, and since its insidious impact is not immediately noticeable, it can have a more devastating effect, much like the venom of a snake.

The exile began when Yosef was thrown into a pit that had no water in it, "but had snakes and scorpions in it." (Shabbat 22a) A snake bites with intention to damage, as opposed to a scorpion which stings with its tail, without intention. On the other hand, a snakebite is limited because the snake has less venom after it bites, and cannot immediately continue its attack, whereas a scorpion can continuously sting. These reflect the two dangers of exile. The scorpion's sting is much more dangerous, because it operates in an indirect and protracted manner and is harder to take precautions against. This corresponds to the poisonous cultural influences that affect us throughout our stay in galut.

Still, the worst affliction of exile is the "sinat chinam" (baseless hatred) among us, which is the cause for the continuation of our exile. This is what Moshe noted when he saw that there were informers among the Jews: "Indeed, the matter is known!" (Shemot 2:14) I now know the matter that I had wondered about. In what way did Yisrael sin more than other nations to be afflicted with such hard work? Now I see that they deserve it! (Rashi ibid., quoting Midrash)

There are some that believe that in order to lessen the sting of external hatred of Yisrael, we should not express our differences, but should highlight our similarities with the nations. Already in Egypt Bnei Yisrael tried to remove the fence between themselves and the Egyptians by neglecting the mitzvah of Brit Mila, but the outcome was the opposite of their intention, as it says, "He turned their hearts to hate His nation." (Tehillim 105:25) The Netziv comments on the pasuk, "Behold, it is a nation that will dwell in solitude and not be reckoned among the nations" (Bamidbar 23:9), that the ideal situation for Am Yisrael is "to dwell in solitude," and through this separation, security will come. However, if Yisrael attempts to mingle with the nations, they will "not be reckoned among the nations" -- Hashem will cause them to be hated. The Gemara says in Sanhedrin (104a): G-d said, 'Thus Israel shall dwell secure, solitary,'" that their solitude will lead to security. But now -- when Yisrael tries to mingle with the nations - "Alas -- she sits in solitude" (Eicha 1:1), against their will they will sit solitary in exile. Therefore, Yaakov and Yosef wanted to settle their family in the land of Goshen, apart from their neighbors, in order to remain free from outside influence.

In order to overcome the afflictions of galut, we must protect our distinct national character and counteract sinat chinam. Yisrael is compared in Tanach to fire, and the nations to water, as the pasuk in Shir Hashirim (8:7) says, "Much water can not extinguish the love [of G-d and Israel]." Water impacts on the fire and extinguishes it, but only when they come into direct contact. If there is a separation between them, however, such as a pot of water on the fire, the opposite occurs -- the fire impacts the water and warms it. Only direct contact between Israel and the nations causes us harm. To counteract the affliction of sinat chinam, we should increase ahavat chinam. The Netziv comments on the phrase, "he shepherded the stone of Israel" (49:4), that Yisrael in exile is compared to dust, and the nations are compared to water which washes away the dust. However, when the individual pieces of dust consolidate to become stone, the water has no affect on it.

"In the merit of four things Bnei Yisrael were redeemed from Egypt: they didn't change their names; they didn't change their language; they didn't speak "lashon hara"; and they did not commit acts of immorality." (Vayikra Rabbah 32:5) In these ways they were careful about loving their fellow Jews, by not speaking lashon hara, and they kept their national character, by not changing their names and language, so as to maintain their distance from the Egyptians.

The Nation of Israel is called, "Beit Yaakov," the House of Yaakov. There are two functions of a house-- to unite the family within it, and to protect the family from outside dangers. When Bnei Yisrael went down to Egypt, "Each man and his household came." (Shemot 1:1) The preparation for exile requires "building houses" -- that is, keeping out the influences of foreign nations, and uniting the family within. Ultimately, in the future, everyone will recognize the value of the house and will say, "Come, let us go up to the Mountain of Hashem, to the House of the G-d of Yaakov, and He will teach us of His ways and we will walk in His paths." (Yeshaya 2:3)

Endorsements for Zehut: Marketing Expert Senia Waldberg

Excerpts from a Facebook post by marketing expert Senia Waldberg. Translation from Hebrew by Zehut’s Lisa Liel.

My assessment of the elections, and my recommendation of who to vote for.

So far, I haven't been wrong in my assessments about elections. For Trump at the time, for Bibi, and for the municipal elections.

But I always write them at least a month after the campaign is already intense and I feel how things are going. So right now I have no solid opinion on the results.

What I will do is throw out some quick insights here:

Unlike in previous elections, I actually expect surprises. Not because the people are fed up with Bibi, but because a large part of the people are fed up with *all* the players in the market.

Bottom line: I don't know who will be prime minister in the end, but in my opinion the situation isn't going to be any simpler than with the previous Knesset.

Facebook talkbacks are very misleading, because the biggest fanatics of all the parties are very active. The impression is that they are larger than they actually are.

In practice people are open to hearing, because they are hurting. 60% of the families in Israel are overdrawn on their bank accounts? 65%? Maybe 70%? I don't know. But we're hurting and it's hard for us, and not because the country is poor and there is no abundance.

On the other hand, there is the issue of security, which for a large part of the people is a decisive factor in how they will vote.

The discourse that many of the leaders of the major parties will try to create will be "us or them," precisely so that they vote "to the left or to the right." In practice, from the Zionist camp to Bennett and Shas, you will get more or less the same fodder, including Benny Gantz by the way, who will probably announce his candidacy soon.

Tamar Zandberg is correct that the real left is Meretz, and that a real right does not really exist right now. On the economic side, everyone is left-wing -- Lieberman and Bennett try to disguise themselves as right-wing, but you know it's a bluff.

Avi Gabbai has already raised the banner of "It's Between Me and Bibi". Just like Connor McGregor, but less British. In my opinion, he will do worse than he did than in the previous elections.

The Zionist camp is another socialist party, but mainly impotent and very easy to attack and delegitimize. Mainly because they have no internal discipline. Although the situation has improved somewhat in terms of discipline since Gabbai came, he does not know how to grab the public, especially when he speaks in "best in the house" style slogans.

I doubt that there's anyone who isn't a member of the Labor Party who believes that Gabbai will be prime minister. There aren't just two personalities here; there are 8. The people are very divided into groups, and it couldn't have been otherwise.

Kahlon will try to emphasize his achievements (he lost about half of his power in my opinion). Bennett will try to show his strength and say that he is a "real and strong right." Lieberman will build on the Russians, and Yair Lapid will pray that Gantz will get a stroke and not run. Lapid is going to crash. Not prime minister material.

In my opinion, Benny Gantz will be popular in the polls until he opens his mouth. Right now he's mostly a fantasy, and nothing more. But if he runs, Gabbai and Lapid will be eating a lot of straw!

"To conquer the world mounted on a horse is easy, to control it is harder."
--Genghis Khan, on the supporters of Ganz.

The public is frustrated because it is finally beginning to really understand how rotten politics are. We've lost our innocence, and Bibi's war, the media, and the left have been decisive factors.

Until a month ago, I just got confused about everyone and thought I didn't really care who I should campaign for. Whoever pays the most money wins. After all, we live in a socialist and corrupt country (corrupt because it is socialist and those closest to the trough get to enjoy it - chances are it is not you), and no one will change it.

"Social welfare", "social politician", and other slogans that you are going to hear are a figleaf for socialism and regulations, some of which constitute bandages at best. The market isn't free. Israel ranks 72nd in the world in terms of ease of starting a business.


Because you have to bribe all standard regulatory advisors, regulators and other zeros who live in villas because they are close to the trough.

The market here isn't free. It's strangled. The situation won't improve by the way. It'll get worse. Because it can't be otherwise.

I even told Masha that we had to start talking about going abroad, and my friends from abroad started trying to persuade me to leave the Jewish state.

"Inside of two years here, you'll be a millionaire" they promised, because they succeeded there.

I thought all this until... I ran into Moshe Feiglin's activists. The truth is that at first, because he's religious and supports the idea of ​​the Greater Land of Israel, I thought he was just another delusional politician with ideas that in the end wouldn't materialize. A kind of Bennett, just more educated and without the conflict with Lior Schlein.

Then I saw some videos of him and realized that he had exactly what I was looking for personally. That's how I initially decided to vote for him.

But very quickly that led to offering to manage his digital strategy. Although the budget will not be as high as the others, I will enjoy it more because I believe in the product. I will know that I am on the right side of the story, and not on the money-eaters side, under the leadership of He Who Is Too Often Named.

So why Feiglin and the Zehut Party?

1) He's a capitalist. Friends, so long as we do not become a capitalist country, don't expect the economic situation here to improve. It just won't happen. The corruption you cry about is precisely due to the centralized socialism that exists here. The market here is closed! The only area open in Israel is high-tech, so it blooms!

Note that almost no major company can enter any market here if it's not high-tech. You need someone with local ties to the trough to get in.

Want competition in banking? Forget it!

Want a free real estate market without the state controlling every grain of sand? Forget it!

Want cheap electricity? Forget it!

Import food products? Forget it!

Cars without 103% tax? Forget it!

Do you know why 1,500 Israeli businessmen fled to Monaco? Because it's impossible to do business here.

Why does Teva own factories in Eastern Europe? Because the taxes here are so high!

Why does Lieberman himself fly to his tax havens in Cyprus every month? Because he also understands that business doesn't work in Israel.

But hey, they still haven't gotten their hands on the start-ups, so meanwhile everything's good.

Except for those who flee to the United States.

2) Legalization. Enough fighting against plants. Set an age limit, educate yourself about the risks of overuse, and let the population be free.

This time it's not a party like Alei Yarok, whose behavior is a joke. Instead it's being offered by a serious party that has a program for everything.

3) A creative security solution. In the Likud, the slogan "Managing the conflict, no solution" has long been etched on their forehead.

It's true that "Greater Israel" sounds daunting for many of you, especially if you are from the left. But wait a minute... listen carefully. The solution that Zehut presents isn't bad, and it can work. Even if it doesn't work 100%, it can solve some of the problem, and that's progress. After all, none of the clowns in power at the moment are going to change the situation, because with these solutions the situation isn't under their control.

The situation is perpetuated, incidentally, by the UN. Trump was right that "refugee status is the problem," because as long as the Palestinians receive money for this status, they have no interest in changing anything. We just haven't managed to move it from the table. Feiglin passes it on the right, and passes it completely: he does not change their status, but gives them a golden way out.

4) Separation of religion and state. This time it's a religious guy saying that. The integration of religion with the state is another annoying socialist principle that has long since become a type of mafia with a by-the-book protection racket. I'm an atheist. I don't believe in God, but I do keep Jewish tradition on holidays.

I'm glad I'm a Jew and I really have no problem with religion as long as it doesn't come into my house by force.

That's exactly what they understand in Zehut. Don't force the secular to do anything, and we will stop getting mad at religion.

5) I call it "the Singapore model". Singapore is a special country. Their method of building themselves up was simple:

* Learn from each country what it does best (from Israel they learned about the army, for example).
* Do it as well.

The method works. Singapore, a country with medium to low-level human capital, has become one of the most prosperous countries in the world.

What's beautiful about Zehut is that they see successful models in other countries and understand that they need to be implemented here.

How simple!

But it's not so simple if this model harms corruption, and that's why our politicians now don't do it and mainly make excuses.
"The Haredim, the Palestinians, the global warming, the Bibi, the blu, the left," blah blah blah. Nothing but excuses. Enough! If Singapore can do it, then the elite of all European and Arab countries - the Jews, the chosen people (!) - can do it too.

6) We have a problem in our direction and our identity. What is it to be Israeli today? Look at us. We are completely divided and hate each other.

Understand one important thing: multiculturalism does not work. If it worked, there would have been no wars. What does work is to unite people around an idea so that everyone has at least one thing in common. Zehut offers to do just that. That's why the name of the party, Zehut (identity), sounds exactly right to me.

Once we had a common idea: the establishment of the state.

Today the state is established. It's stronger than its enemies, there's no danger to its existence, and it functions. So we started to fight because we don't have a common goal and everyone cares only about his group. Our identity isn't really clear. Abroad we're Israelis, but who are we here?

Feiglin's ideas can begin this unification process, and one of the reasons they can succeed is precisely this: separating religion from state, and focusing on our identity as free Jews. Once there's no coercion, this struggle between the secular and the ultra-Orthodox will end. Let's start from there.

True, there are quite a few people close to the trough (labor unions, the Chief Rabbinate, IEC employees, employees of inefficient government ministries, yeshiva students, etc.) who won't want capitalism here and will fight tooth and nail against change. That's exactly why you should fight back. Because they are fighting for your money. Your money that comes to your pocket!

And I promise you, I'll give you a good fight in the campaign. Even if you disagree with me. Despite my disappointment with the country so far, I live here and care about this place. I want it to be better here. I want to be really free here.

So for me, the next few months are going to be a battle.

If only 50% of my ideas are implemented, you are going to enjoy a much better performance than in the Ashdod elections. Those who are less corrupt and disgusting will benefit.

The first step is homework.

"You win a war before you enter it" --Genghis Khan, on those who prepare well for battle.

Achieving Physical and Spiritual Wholeness

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

“The king of Egypt spoke to the chief Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shifra and Puah” (Exodus 1:15).

Rashi explains: “‘Shifra’ -- This is Yocheved, called Shifra because she would put the newborn into good physical condition [meshaperet]. ‘Puah’ -- This is Miriam, called Puah because she would call aloud [po’ah] and speak and croon to the newborn just as women do when soothing a crying baby.”

In other words, Shifra would tend to the newborn’s physician needs, and Puah would tend to the newborn’s spirit, ensuring that it receive warmth and love.

Not just infants need both their physical and spiritual needs to be met. Rather, all people, just because they are human beings, need to watch their health and simultaneously to illuminate their souls and to strengthen their spirits -- a healthy spirit in a healthy body.

Today, not just the individual must strengthen his body and spirit, but the whole Jewish People. It is true that in our generation, with the ingathering of the exiles and national rebirth, the main preoccupation of the generation has been on “rebuilding the national body,” i.e., a state that is economically and militarily strong. Even so, let us not neglect the nation’s spiritual side. Surely it was through that spiritual side that our nation survived for thousands of years, through hard times when there seemed to be no hope, and surely it is through its spiritual side that our nation will survive forever. Thus, education towards Jewish values must be strengthened on both the individual and the national level, so that all can benefit from those timeless axioms of the Torah which were passed down through the generations. Likewise, we are duty-bound to increase love and faith, for these as well are essential to our flourishing.

Through these efforts, we shall merit to see with out own eyes the realization of Ezekiel’s word (36:25-26): “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean.... A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.”

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

The Shamrak Report: The Hypocrisy of Anti-Semitism and more...

by Steven Shamrak
Since the inception of Christianity and Islam, both religions have been claiming that their spiritual doctrines originated in Judaism. At the same time, their followers aren't really interested, and their leaders have actually discouraged them from studying the spiritual source of Christianity – the Torah and Jewish teachings! Instead of showing a gratitude to Jews, many Jewish spiritual books, like Kabbalah and Talmud, were forbidden to study by the Church for many centuries, and Jews were subjected to many centuries of cruel persecution!
Religious leaders and political elite of both Christian and Muslim, worlds have been using Jew-hatred as an effective tool of control over their population. No wonder that anti-Semitism is prevalent among Muslims and Christians as anti-Jewish propaganda is still widely practiced, with the use of the media, and a new term has emerged – “anti-Zionism” – as a politically correct substitution to the ‘good old’ “anti-Semitism”!
Buddhism, Hinduism and Shinto do not have this problem!
Non-theological reasons of Anti-Semitism were set around the 5th century, when priests started forbidding Christian members to visit synagogues during high Jewish holidays, as there were no Christian holidays then, where Christians were giving donations, and as the result Churches were deprived of revenue!
Anti-Semitism is not a new invention! For many centuries, Churches, Christian and Muslim rulers loved to extort exuberant taxes from the Jewish population, confiscated properties that belonged to Jews, and canceled debts to Jewish lenders. Even now, as part of its Anti-Semitic nature, the Church is unwilling to pay taxes to the Jewish state, Israel!
Anti-Semitism has always been used to take control over population as a tool of wilding political power. The Church introduced it after spreading its influence over the Roman Empire, using some existing animosity toward Judaea and Jewish religion. Through history, Anti-Semitism was used in Christian and Muslim worlds to redirect anger of their subjects about internal issues toward Jews. Communists and Fascists have done the same to consolidate their control over masses! Now, the political left does the same in the US and Europe, and Muslim/Islamic states are not far behind, skillfully using the United Nation against Israel!
The actual term "anti-Semitism" was created not long ago, in 1879, exclusively as a “hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious or racial groupby 'native' Christian/European populations toward Jews. Recently, international anti-Semites have been trying to reduce its potency and meaning by extending it to Arab population, disregarding strong anti-Semitic tendency among Arabs and Muslims in general. Arabs and Muslims have and are able to use a recently created term - “Islamophobia”! Unfortunately, most of the time, it is well-deserved, considering number of terror acts committed by them against the Western countries and Israel. Anti-Semitism has a completely different origin and history!
It has been proven so many times that international anti-Semites only respect Israel and Jews when they are strong! Israel was respected, even by anti-Semites, after the War of Independence, when Jews surprised them by defeating seven well-armed advancing Arab/Muslim states. After the Sinai war in 1956, and especially after the Six Day war of 1967 and the Yom Kippur war even Ukrainian Jew-haters had respect for Jews for a short while! It did not last long because Israel squandered its success and did nothing to consolidate its victory. International anti-Semites realised that even having their own country Israel is still behaving as a ‘Ghetto Jew’ – weak and who can be pushed around! As a result, Israel is under continuous international pressure to cede the Jewish land to non-existing fake nation, so-called Palestinians, as part of the destruction of the Jewish state plan!
Israel must decisively defeat its enemies and remove them from Jewish land! This is the only way to end the hypocrisy of the anti-Semantically inspired so-called peace process and end the conflict! Most likely, we will not get love from our enemies – but at least we can get respect, which is long over-due!
Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak
The Catholic Church asked Israel to cancel the law that defines Israel as a "Jewish nation". Does it mean that Vatican is no longer a Catholic only city-state? Will it allow opening a synagogue there? The hypocrisy of the anti-Semites of the Jew-hating church has no limits!
Please, read and distribute!
In July 2013, after serving two years as the chief of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) under President Barack Obama, retired Marine Corps General James Mattis said “We have got to find a way to make the two-state solution that Democrat and Republican administrations have supported. We’ve got to get there, and the chances for it are starting to ebb because of the settlements, and where they’re at, they’re going to make it impossible to maintain the two-state option.” In other words, when it came to the peace process, there was no daylight between the views of General Mattis and say, Peace Now or Meretz party...
Israeli-Made Drone Dome at Gatwick Airport
The anti-drone Drone Dome system developed by Israel was deployed at Gatwick airport to end its 36-hour disruption by rogue drones. The system provides 360-degree protection against drones at ranges of 3-5km, blocks the broadcasts of the threatening drone and in effect cuts communications between the drone and its operator. The British army bought 6 Drone Domes in August for $20m.
The United Nations Security Council refused to condemn the Hezbollah terrorist organization for its outright, repeated violations of the world body’s own Resolution 1701, passed in 2006 to end the Second Lebanon War. Even verification of the existence of the cross-border attack tunnels, confirmed by UNIFIL, was insufficient. (In the case of Israel, the 'Ugly Nazi' is always predictable!)
A Hamas-affiliated TV station which had its studios destroyed in an Israeli airstrike last month said it would go off air indefinitely over a lack of funds. On November 12, the station’s main office and studio was bombed by Israel. Following the airstrikes, the channel briefly went off the air, but soon resumed broadcasting from another location. (Most likely, the station is seeking donors among Arab states and European 'friends' of Israel!)
The United States approved the sale of $3.5 billion in missiles to Turkey, offering an ultimatum after US outrage over the NATO ally’s plans to buy S-400 system from Russia. The sell package includes 80 Patriot missiles, and 60 PAC-3 missile interceptors and related equipment. State Department said that sale will increase Turkish defensive capabilities, to guard against hostile aggression and shield NATO allies. (Against whom? Turkey has never been a real ally - just a user! For many years it has been moving toward Islamic dictatorship. It would definitely make it an enemy of NATO!)
The Palestinian Authority has allocated more than $319 million for payments related to security prisoners and so-called “martyrs” - terrorists - in its 2018 budget. The amount includes salaries for 5,000 families of prisoners, funds for commissary purchases of 6,000 prisoners, stipends for 5,500 released prisoners, grants for 1,500 prisoners upon their release... (Plus millions will be siphoned to pockets of the PA elite. It is not a problem for international anti-Semites, who have subsidised enemies of Israel for over 70 years already!)
The European Union and Russia have warned US President Donald Trump that any Israeli-Palestinian peace plan not based on the pre-1967 borders and a two-state solution will not succeed. Ambassadors from eight EU member states issued the warning in a joint statement at the UN headquarters in New York. (Idiotic idea of creating another Islamic Arab state on Jewish land was a joke and has been treated as a joke by all parties involved – it hasn’t worked for 50 years!)
The IsraAID team in Central Sulawesi includes WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), mental health support and disaster response management experts in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, for an entire community of more than 300 families – over 1,400 people. (This is not reported by any anti-Semitic press outlet!)
Dozens of civil rights groups,32, called on Facebook to purge Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg from its board for blunders including “weaponizing anti-Semitism.” (Facebook has been systematically putting pro-Israel members in 'jail' and restricting their posting - using "Pavlov dogs" method to modify the behaviour of supporters of Israel and Zionism!)
Terror group's leader Ismail Haniyeh would triumph over Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in both Gaza and the West Bank, if elections were held today. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would win with 49 percent to Abbas’ 42 percent.(Election in 'democratic' PA is long overdue and nobody cares!)
The national conference of Australia’s Labor Party (ALP) on Tuesday passed a resolution calling on the next Labor government to proceed with recognition of “Palestine”. (They are against recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but happy to recognise the non-existent state of FAKE people!)
Sudanese, Eritreans commit 50% of all foreigners’ crimes! In 2017 the police filed 4.3 times more cases against Eritreans and Sudanese for sex crimes than their relative share of the general population; 3.5 times for violent offenses that did not cause death; and 3.1 times for property offenses. (Illegal migrants should have been deported from Israel a long time ago!)
The European Union announced it would commit a further 20 million euros ($23 million) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in 2019. This will bring the EU’s contribution to 153 million euros. (They are still trying to exterminate Jews!)
Quote of the Week:
“Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.” -Thomas Mann 
by Lauretta Brown
As UN Ambassador Nikki Haley prepares to leave her position later this month, she gave one last impassioned address to the UN Security Council.
Haley said that the UN has “shown itself to be hopelessly biased” against Israel. She cited the UN General Assembly’s recent failure to condemn Hamas’s terrorist actions against Israel.
She then discussed the prospects for a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians and what was at stake for both parties.
“Israel will not make a peace agreement at just any price, and it shouldn’t,” she said. “No UN resolutions, anti-Semitic boycotts, or terrorist threats will ever change that. Throughout its existence, and even today, Israel has been surrounded by threats to its security. It would be foolish for it to make a deal that weakened its security.”
“And yet, even in the face of constant threats, Israel has become one of the leading nations in the world,” she emphasized. “Israel wants a peace agreement, but it doesn’t need one.”
“It is time we faced a hard truth: both sides would benefit greatly from a peace agreement, but the Palestinians would benefit more, and the Israelis would risk more,” she concluded.
...She said the new U.S. peace plan “recognizes the realities on the ground in the Middle East have changed – and changed in very powerful and important ways” and “embraces the reality, that things can be done today that were previously unthinkable.”
“The world must know that America will remain steadfast in our support of Israel, its people, and its security,” she concluded. “That is an unshakeable bond between our two peoples. And it is that bond – more than anything else – that makes peace possible.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Facebook Post: Leftist Voting for Moshe Feiglin

This Facebook post was written by Ron Tzafrir, who recently met with Moshe Feiglin:

Tzafrir, what is your connection with Feiglin?


So what do I think about Moshe Feiglin?

I am a leftist from years back. I sat in the HQ of Loba Eliav, I was an activist in Uri Avneri’s Olam Hazeh. Yes, as a young boy, but with solid opinions. I am a leftist. I live and breathe Left.

My Left is much more than love for Arabs, the label that the warmongers like to stick on my forehead. For me, Left is love of the human because he is human. Left for me is ‘live and let live’ and to believe that we are not evil from the day we are born. We learned to be like that at a later stage of life.

Because I am a leftist who loves life, I went to meet Feiglin.

For years now, Feiglin has been fighting for my life. For years he has raised the flag of personal liberty, of freedom and it is clear to me that without legalization, that is impossible.

Soon I will sit down to read Feiglin’s platform. Where he intends to take the Zehut party that he established. I am sure that I will not agree with 99% of the things written there.

Today, I am leaving the differences aside and am focusing on the single percent that we have in common: Cannabis and its release, the sanctity of life.

It is not easy for me to put years of differences aside, differences that are much more than an ideological gap.

When 80,000 Israelis like me are waiting for somebody to step up to the plate and channel all of our anger and fury in the direction of the decision makers, I couldn’t care less about ideological gaps. We will triumph and I don’t care if that success comes with a political price tag.

Feiglin will be elected and I will get to live. What’s wrong with that?

I know that Feiglin benefits from the connection between us. That on the list of plusses and minuses we will be the red carpet that will lead him to the Knesset. And if you break out in a rash from the connection between us – it’s fine if you itch a bit. When I finish saving my life, I will come to help you with the itching.

Feiglin does not have to prove to me that he keeps his word as a politician. He sacrificed his Knesset seat last time for the principles in which he believes.

Now he is promising that he will not enter a coalition that will not declare legalization, that will not free cannabis for us all. I hope I will not have to eat my hat.

I also don’t care that he wants to rebuild the Beit Hamikdash, even though I don’t agree with him on the location, and certainly not on the animal sacrifices. The Jewish Temple has to be located in a different place and it has to be a vegetarian Beit Mikdash. Instead of animals, they should throw all types of cannabis flowers on the altar.

The Levites and God will thank you. No more droughts here.

And seriously:

Feiglin has what to say on the topic.

His analysis of the situation is fresh.

Medical cannabis is not only a task for him. It is also part of his routine at home. He knows the suffering, he goes through the trepidation like all of us – that perhaps the medical authorization will not be renewed.

The public should know what we heard today and judge for itself. I would write the main points, but Feiglin will do it much better than me.

Feiglin, you are welcome to write the details.

From Zehut’s platform on medical cannabis:

Removing Restrictions on Medical Cannabis Treatment

Many studies have shown that cannabis may be useful in treating severe symptoms such as pain, depression and loss of appetite. Many patients treated with cannabis indicate improvement in symptom relief and quality of life. Other drugs do not help some patients to the same extent, or cause them serious side effects. However, there are exceptional limitations on the medical use of cannabis in Israel. Unlike other drugs, which can be prescribed at the discretion of the attending physician, the license to use cannabis can only be given by the Medical Cannabis Unit at the Health Ministry – the MCU. The MCU can reduce the dose recommended by the physician, or simply deny the request. In addition, there is a very limited list of diseases and health phenomena for which treatment with medical cannabis is authorized. These extraordinary restrictions have nothing to do with medicine – they exist only to prevent leakage of the drug into the private market.

Zehut will eliminate the Medical Cannabis Unit and the list of diseases authorized for treatment with medical cannabis. The license to use medical cannabis will be given by the physician at his sole discretion. The decision regarding medical cannabis therapy shall consider only the medical needs of the patient, and not considerations of enforcement or other extraneous considerations.

Allowing export of medical cannabis

In Israel, there are companies that grow medical cannabis, known worldwide for their unique knowledge and skills. If growing companies are permitted to export their product, they will be able to compete successfully in the international market. The export will create profits for the growing companies that will allow them to invest in research and development, generate tax revenues for the State of Israel, and respond to the medical needs of millions of patients worldwide.

Zehut will enable growers to export cannabis for medical purposes, according to the law in the target countries and the international conventions signed by Israel.

The View From Above

by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

"And these are the names." Rabbi Abahu said: "Any time the Torah uses the term, 'these are' - it intends, in the passage that follows, to draw a line of separation between it and that which preceded it. However, when the Torah uses the phrase, 'And these are,' the personalities or subject matter next mentioned represents a continuation of, and actually an improvement on, the subject mentioned before".

In line with this principle, the verse in the Torah’s account of creation - "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth" - represents a break from the state of chaos that preceded that verse. But when it says in the Torah, "And these are the names," (at the start of the book of Shmot) the Torah is offering additional praise of the seventy souls of Ya'akov's family mentioned earlier, noting that all of them were "Tzadikim" - righteous people.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook notes that our forefathers are referred to in several places as "yesharim" - literally: "straight" or "upright" - people, and notes that the status of the "yesharim" is higher that the status of "tzadikim." This superiority is evident in the verse (elsewhere) that says: "A light is sewn for the Tzadik - and those of an upright heart are joyous." Rav Kook explains that Tzadikim regularly find themselves engaged in internal moral battles in which they struggle with, and eventually overcome, the pull, or inclination, to do the wrong thing. Through this process, Tzadikim succeed in ultimately performing God's will. For the Tzadik, the light is "sewn." This means that, just as a seed planted in the ground, through a path of slow growth, successive victories over tugs in the opposite direction permit the Tzadik to continually improve himself...

The lives of "Tzadikim" are thus fundamentally different than that of the "yesharim"; the latter are blessed with the ability to serve God in response to their strong natural internal desire to do good; they are people who have succeeded in turning their evil inclinations into good ones, who serve the Creator with their good and evil inclinations simultaneously. They have "arrived" in a sense, having already achieved their goal of reaching the state of joy referred to in the verse above. If, then, our forefathers were in fact "yesharim," what more can be said of them? Why must the Torah say, "And these are the names..." and thereby indicate that they were also Tzadikim?

Rav Kook explains: Although it is true that the yesharim serve the Creator out of complete, absolute cleaving and devotion, and that this is a wondrous and complete type of service of God - such people paradoxically perhaps, suffer from a lacking; that is, they lack the experience of undergoing spiritual struggles. Put another way, they have little contact with the privilege of serving God through overcoming obstacles. Thus, the Tzadik's service of God has its own special, revered, status: "And these are the names..."

Rav Kook adds that Moshe and Aharon possessed a synthesis of these two qualities - knowledge of God, which is characteristic of the yesharim, and the proper exercise of free choice, which characterizes the Tzadikim. Aharon, for instance, was a Tzadik. The symbol of this quality came in the form of his wearing the "Choshen Mishpat" on his chest; this garment represents the "dayan," the judge, who must possess the ability to properly apply his personal judgement to rule on a particular case. Moshe and Aharon were fit to be the leaders that would help redeem the Jewish people, who would serve as a bridge between the forefathers who were on the level of "knowing" God - as yesharim - and the children, who regularly, as Tzadikim, had to resolve matters through the appropriate use of their free will.

The midrash also notes: "'And these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt, with Ya'akov, everyone came with his household...' Israel is comparable to the heavenly hosts: The verse at the opening of Shmot refers to 'names'; 'names' is a term used in reference to the stars, as well, as it says: 'He counts the stars by number, and gives them each a name.' So too, when the Jews descended to Egypt, the Holy One Blessed Be He counted them by number, and like the stars,called them each by name..."

Stars constitute a world unto themselves; each star is a massive entity. To us, from such a great distance, the star looks rather tiny, but in reality, each star is a giant world. The Jewish people are comparable to the stars. In our eyes, we sometimes look at a Jew and, because we are not particularly impressed by his behavior, ask: "Is he really a Jew?" But the soul of each Jew is so lofty, so profound, that when we look at him, we are really looking at him from a "great distance." As such, each Jew may look rather small, though he is really greater than an entire world. Because of the distance between our ability to perceive and the actual essence of his soul, the soul merely appears less significant...

When our sages compared the Children of Israel to the stars, they were understating their case, by making use of a comparison that is within human perception - the vastness and greatness of the stars; in truth, however, the sages mean to say that the Jewish people are at least as great as the stars. The greatness of Israel, must be measured on a completely different scale, however: We, unlike the stars, possess great spiritual powers.

Just as the stars have names, "He counts the stars by number, each one he gives a name," so too, each Jew has a name: "And these are the names of the Children of Israel..."

Rav Kook points out that in one point in the Torah, the verse states: "He accounts for the hosts by number, and calls them all by a name." The stars have one name that unites them all. Elsewhere, the Torah says: "He calls them all by names." This means that they have many names - each star boasts its own name. Rav Kook explains that the same is true for the Children of Israel: from one angle, the Jews are all part of one nation; it is for this reason that there is one name for all of the Jewish people. From another perspective, though, each tribe, and each individual, has its own independent identity...

Our portion's opening verse literally reads: "And these are the names of the Children of Israel who came to Egypt, with Ya'akov, each came with his household." Regarding this (underlined) phrase, the Zohar asks: "Since it says that the Jews arrived, it did not have to add that they came with Ya'akov, since he is part and parcel - and the leader of - the Children of Israel." The Zohar answers that the Torah is not talking about the Jewish people in the physical sense of the word, but is rather relating to the spiritual aspect of the tribes. The names of the tribes express their common roots, that the souls of their members are connected to the heavenly hosts, to the lofty Divine chariot. When the Jewish people begins its period of enslavement in Egypt, the Shechina (Divine Presence) descends there with them. God's dedication to the Children of Israel parallels his promise to their father, Ya'akov: "I will descend with you to Egypt, and I will ascend from there with you..."

The Shechina accompanies the Jewish people everywhere, in every situation. Even in the most difficult of times, when it seems that God is not with them, He is. Even when the Egyptians are busy drowning Jewish babies, and sealing them into the walls of buildings; when terrible national traumas, even holocausts. befall us - still, and perhaps most intensely then - the Shechina is with us.

The Zohar asks: Why did the prophet Yechezkel reveal everything that he saw in his grand prophecy of the Divine Chariot? The secrets of the Divine chariot are not something that should be made available to everyone!

The Zohar responds by noting that the exile of the Jews to Babylonia was more difficult than their descent to Egypt. Life was difficult before the Egyptian exile - in fact, life in Ya'akov's home was by no means simple: He first had to deal with Lavan, then Shechem, etc. Ya'akov seems to continuously be embroiled in conflicts and struggles!

As a result, the Jews began the Egyptian exile with a wealth of experience in what it means to face challenge and conflict. In contrast, the Babylonian exile began after an extended uplifting Jewish stay in the Land of Israel, a life that surrounded the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) - where the reality of an ongoing set of ten miracles was accepted as a matter of routine! Divine Providence clearly manifested itself through the fire on the altar never waned, the continuous burning of the Ner Tamid, the eternal light. Consequently, the descent into the subsequent Babylonian exile was especially shocking and unsettling for our people.

God thus appears to Yechezkel, making him aware that He is with him in his exile - even though He seemed "hidden." Had the prophet stated that he saw a chariot, without giving details as to what he exactly saw, his words would not have been compelling, and the Jewish people would not have been sufficiently strengthened and encouraged by the prophecy. Thus, says the Zohar, it was imperative that the prophet become privy to - and report on - all the grand images that he witnessed. In a similar way that He relates to the stars - on both the "macro" and "micro" levels - God has tied His destiny to the Jewish people as a whole and to each and every Jew in particular, accompanying us through all the crises and difficulties that each individual must face.

Names by the Jewish People

by Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

The Torah emphasizes the names of the family of Yaakov in this week’s parsha as it did in even greater detail in last week’s parsha of Vayechi. There may be many varied reasons for this concentration of interest in the names of the tribes of Israel. But whatever the reasons are the Torah obviously feels it to be of great importance. In fact throughout the Torah the names of the tribes are repeated many times. After all, we might ask, what is in a name? But the names of our ancestors are drummed into us by the Torah to provide us with a sense of continuity and tradition. The Jewish people are about to experience centuries of exile and eventual slavery in Egypt. They are certainly in danger of being destroyed both physically and spiritually. The rabbis have taught us that by not forgetting their original names, by not completely becoming Egyptian in name and deed, the hope of the Jewish people to be redeemed and freed never died out. The names of their ancestors reminded them of their past and of the commitment of God to redeem them from their bondage and afflictions. This experience of Egyptian exile imbedded within the Jewish world the importance of remembering our original names. For it was the existence and use of those names that prevented their extinction as a special and eternal people. Thus the introduction to the book of Shmot, the book of bondage and redemption, is the list of names of the sons of Yaakov, the eternal reminder of who the Jewish people really are.

Over the centuries, the Jewish people have continually struggled to retain their identity and sense of continuity through their names. In the Ashkenazic world it became customary to name children after deceased ancestors. This became a deeply emotional bond in families ultimately leading to children being given multiple names to commemorate more than one ancestor. In the Sephardic tradition names are given to honor living grandparents and relatives. But there also the sense of continuity and purpose is stressed in the granting of those names. In more modern times Jews were given secular names as well to be used in general society. However, over the last few decades the use of exclusively Jewish or Hebrew names as the sole name of a person has returned to be in vogue. So apparently there is a great deal involved in a name. Even in the non-Jewish world the use of biblical names remains quite popular and widespread. People hunger for a connection to their past and such traditional, biblical, family names seem to provide a sense of immortality and continuity that flashy "cool" names cannot provide. Names can therefore be an anchor to one’s own self-worth and purpose in life. The Torah’s insistence on recording the names of the sons of Yaakov - the eventual tribes of Israel - highlights this important fact of life and family to us. Perhaps this is what Midrash meant when it taught us that one pf the causes of the redemption of Israel from Egyptian bondage was "that they [the Jewish people] did not change their names [from Hebrew ones to Egyptian ones.]"

The Less Understandable Request

by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

Egypt. Hashem told them to tell Paroh that they want to travel for three days into the desert and bring sacrifices to Hashem (Shemot 5:3). Was there a need for Hashem to hide the fact that they were to be leaving permanently and not just bringing sacrifices and returning? Certainly Hashem was capable of getting Paroh to agree to anything. In fact, he even had to harden Paroh’s heart so that he would not agree earlier.

Perhaps the idea was not to use this approach as a way to get Paroh to agree but to teach a lesson. It was important that Bnei Yisrael should be liberated not just as an ethnic group of slaves being freed but that they were being freed as the Nation of Hashem. They also needed to know that Hashem is the one who runs His world. The idea was to break the Egyptian conception of how things are supposed to work. The Egyptian standard of success and their confidence in their civilization had to be broken. Their deities had to be slaughtered as sacrifices to the true G-d. They had to recognize that Hashem’s demands of them were just and that they were prepared to agree to His will. Even Paroh would have to acquiesce to the dictates of the King of kings.

Had Bnei Yisrael just asked for freedom from slavery, it is possible that Paroh would more easily have found the humanitarian appeal to have logic and merit. Maybe he would have found the moral basis to be gracious. Then there would not have been a theological element to the struggle between Bnei Yisrael and Egypt. It was specifically the theological basis of the conflict that needed to be the driving force in the emergence of the Nation of Israel. The world had to see that Paroh had given in to Hashem in this struggle.

Perhaps the above explains what Moshe meant when he said, amidst a bad start to his mission of freeing the nation: "From the time I came to speak in Your name, the situation for this nation has deteriorated" (Shemot 5:23). Moshe felt that the things he said, invoking Hashem, made things worse. Perhaps asking for freedom on humanitarian grounds would have been better. Paroh cannot accept, "Send My nation and they will serve Me," as this is a contradiction to what he presumed one would view as liberty.

Hashem answered Moshe: "With a strong hand, he will send them" (ibid. 6:1). It is not up to Paroh’s desires; he will be forced. Thus, the less the process of liberation makes sense, the more desirable it is.

Rav Kook's Ein Ayah

[The gemara continues to look at various Aramaic words, seeing them as (informal) contractions of two words.]

Lest a House Function Like a Hut
(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 8:19)

Gemara: Bikta (a hut) represents bei akta (a house of overcrowding).

Ein Ayah: When one creates a place where people join together to spend time in privacy, the goal is to make the special characteristic of the family stand out in a pure spirit of Hashem. This is a source of good fortune that gives light to a multitude of nations and people, and shines the path of life to individuals and families.

Gathering in a home is good when it is done in a healthy manner. However, when it is done in an overly restrictive manner, it is viewed as seclusion that is based on hatred of others and concern for the lowly needs of one’s own flesh and self. This is the source of all despair, for the individual and for the masses.

A hut is not considered having the social value of a house. In truth, even a physically spacious house, if it has the mindset of a hut, i.e., its inhabitants do not call others inside to create internal ties, it is treated like a hut. After all, a house has the potential to be a meeting place which brings blessing and spreads the pleasantness of life and the light of earnestness to many groups. In contrast, a hut mentality, which is the source of narrowness and a hateful heart, exists when the evil of a man is from within the man, and the problems of the world stem from him. This is a house of overcrowding.

Building Blocks of the Success of Future Generations
(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 8:21)

Gemara: Livnei (bricks) represents livnei bani (for sons of sons).

Ein Ayah: There are two types of love of life in people. One is the love one has for himself. In this regard, whatever applies to others and not him, even if for his future generations, is of secondary interest in comparison to his own needs.

The second love is one’s concern for future generations that relate to him. A great person, even when he is focused on himself, can still provide for those who follow him because, as a good person, he takes his obligations seriously. This is as it says, “They will leave that which is left over for the children” (Tehillim 17:14).

However, when one is of a lower level and his limited interests are on his animalistic needs, he can totally forget his future generations, and his resources will be used up in his generation. Divine wisdom saw to it that there would be an increase in the nature of the person pushing him toward concern for his future offspring [even when the person is generally concerned primarily with himself]. When the post-flood generations moved and arrived in the Land of Shinar, they started working with bricks. Using stones, which are all ready for use, does not show as much concern as when using bricks, even though even the former lasts for generations. When there are not enough stones and one has a choice between weak but readily available and stronger but harder-to-come-by building blocks, if he cares about the stronger, such as bricks, he shows that he cares about his children. This is something that does not necessarily depend on a high spiritual level, but on a natural concern for his offspring. In this way, bricks are related to sons of sons.

Rav Kook on Parashat Shemot: True Humility

“God’s angel appeared to Moses in the heart of a fire, in the midst of a thornbush.” (Ex. 3:2)

Why did God choose to reveal Himself to Moses in a sneh, a thornbush?

Talmudic Cure for Fever

The Talmud (Shabbat 67a) prescribes a peculiar procedure for people suffering from a high fever. The patient is advised to take a thornbush, and each day make a cut in the bush using an iron knife. When cutting the bush, one should trim it near the ground, and say:

“Thornbush, thornbush! God did not let His Presence reside in you because you are the greatest of all trees, but because you are the lowliest.”

What do thornbushes have to do with fevers? What is the purpose of this strange procedure?

Circumstantial Humility and True Humility

Rav Kook wrote that there are two forms of humility. The first type could be called “circumstantial humility.” Due to infirmity, poverty, or some lack of talent, intelligence, social standing, and so on, a person may feel vulnerable and insignificant.

However, this is not genuine humility. Should circumstances change, newly-found strength or wealth or prestige may very well delude us into believing in our own prominence and self-importance.

True humility comes from a different, more objective source: awareness of our place in the universe. This sense of humility is independent of the vagaries of life’s circumstances. It is based on recognition of our true worth, on insight into the essence of the soul, and a clear understanding of the nature of reality.

Unfortunately, the fickle nature of the human mind allows us to be easily deluded into ignoring anything beyond our own egocentric world. How can we escape such delusions?

This trap may be avoided by recognizing the transitory nature of circumstances. Poverty, sickness, and so on, have the power to make us aware of our intrinsic vulnerability. Awareness of our inherent potential for weakness can help us properly evaluate our true worth, and thus attain genuine humility.

The Lesson of the Thornbush

By all criteria, the thornbush is a lowly and unimportant plant. It grows in barren locations, providing neither food nor shade for others. It even rejects interaction with other living things by means of its prickly thorns.

Yet, precisely because of its isolation, the thornbush may deceive itself into believing in its own greatness. Therefore, the Sages counseled that we trim the bush down to its very roots. We prune away all the superficial aspects, leaving only the bush’s essential worth: its roots, its connections to the rest of the universe. God rested His Divine Presence on the sneh not because of its sense of self-importance, but because of its innate lowliness - the spirit of true humility which remains after the bush has been trimmed to the ground.

The thornbush procedure recommended by the Talmud enables the suffering individual to recognize the purpose of his illness: attainment of sincere humility. This trait is the remedy for all strange fevers and delusions.

(Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. IV, p. 121)