Sunday, June 30, 2019

Rav Kook on Parashat Korach: The Lesson of Ma'aser

Levies for Levites

After the Korach rebellion, challenging the special status of the Levites and the kohanim, God enumerated the various ways the Jewish people support the tribe of Levi. The Levites were engaged in the Temple service and teaching the nation, yet received no inheritance in the Land of Israel.

“To the descendants of Levi, I am now giving all the tithes (ma’aser) in Israel as an inheritance. This is exchange for their work, the service that they perform in the Communion Tent.” (Num. 18:21-22)

It is interesting to note that produce does not always need to be tithed. For example, we need not set aside ma’aser when snacking on fruit while it is still in the orchard. Unless the produce has entered the home, it does not require tithing.

At what exact point does one need to set aside a tenth for the Levites?

The Sages disagreed on this matter. Rabbi Yanai said that the fruit must cross the entrance of the house. According to Rabbi Yochanan, it is enough to enter the courtyard (Berachot 36a).

Why should tithing only be obligatory after the fruit has entered our property? And why did the Sages disagree whether it is the entrance to the house or the courtyard that determines this obligation?

Conquering Avarice

In addition to supporting the Levites, tithing fulfills an important function for the farmer donating his produce. People are naturally possessive of their property and money. Tithing provides us with the opportunity to rise above these selfish feelings of possessiveness, and contribute towards the spiritual aspirations of the community. Instead of merely satisfying our own personal pleasure, our produce acquires an elevated purpose, supporting the Temple service and the education of the nation.

We can distinguish between two levels of possession of property: de facto and emotional .

De facto possession is when an object clearly belongs to us. It is under our complete control and inside our domain.

Emotional possession is when we feel that an object belongs to us. However, it is not fully in our domain or jurisdiction, and it may be difficult to assert our ownership.

Rabbi Yanai spoke of the house-entrance as the moment at which one is obligated to tithe. He referred to the first form of ownership, de facto possession. The house is clearly one’s private domain, where his property is under his de facto control. According to Rabbi Yanai, the mitzvah of ma’aser teaches us to overcome and free ourselves from the self-centered sentiments of possessiveness when we are in complete, de facto control.

Rabbi Yochanan, on the other hand, pointed to the courtyard as the determining factor. The courtyard is a legal gray area. It is a place where the general public has access; yet, it also has characteristics of a private domain. Here we have a sense of ownership, even though it may not always be easy to enforce that sentiment. According to Rabbi Yochanan, even this weaker sense of possessiveness must be refined, so that we can completely elevate our private desires to universal, spiritual goals.

(Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. II, p. 175)

Two Levels of Gd

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

Korach the son of Itzhar, the son of Kohas, the son of Levi took [himself to one side]…
(Bamidbar 13:2)

THE LAST MISHNAH in Tractate Sotah, speaking about the End-of-Days, mentions that chutzpah will increase. The truth is, when has chutzpah NEVER been rampant? Nevertheless, chutzpah will be even MORE noticeably common in advance of Moshiach’s arrival.

What does this mean? The Talmud gives examples, such as young people not showing adequate respect to their elders, etc. The GR”A however has a different explanation, and it is VERY eye-opening.

It’s part of another discussion about love of God triggering redemption. Both the Ramchal and the GR”A speak about different levels of love of God, and in this respect, there are two. There are “chassidim,” Jews who love God and Torah and do whatever they can do to do “good” and avoid “bad.”

But there is a higher level. This is a love of God that drives a person to “Tikun Shechinah,” the rectification of the Shechinah. On this level, living by Torah is not enough to spiritually satiate a person, as long as the Shechinah remains in exile.

Think about it for a moment. Many people enjoy life today because it is going well for them, thank God. They learn Torah and can freely perform mitzvos. They have homes and many of the niceties that once-upon-a-time were considered to be complete luxuries. They live in wonderful communities that support a Torah way of life, allowing their children to grow up in peace and comfort. How can it not feel very geulah-like for them?

Consider the following hard facts. There is no Temple in which the Shechinah can reside, and it has been replaced by a mosque, and that is surrounded by churches. Assimilation is higher than 80 percent, and intermarriage occurs quite freely. Even within the Torah community, there are serious poverty issues, health complications, among other debilitating problems. The situation is VERY far from perfect.

All of it results in terrible Chillul Hashem—profanation of God’s Name. People don’t know why God is justified in allowing all of this to happen to His people. So they just assume He isn’t there, or doesn’t care, which is a terrible Chillul Hashem.

Furthermore, the nation is still divided regarding the Land of Israel. Some love the Land, and others not so much. Some say it is our God-given land while others say we have no right to it, or at least all of it. All of that is also a Chillul Hashem.

The amazing thing is how easy it is to be “frum” and not take note of this, or care much about it. As long as a person is personally untouched by these problems, they can blissfully pursue a life of God and even earn the title, “lover of God” and “chassid,” a VERY high level.

But there is a higher one. It is a love of God that drives a person to do whatever he can to rectify the Shechinah, the Divine Presence. Such a person doesn’t learn Torah only for himself, or perform mitzvos only to avoid punishment, get to the World-to-Come, or be more respected. They do ALL of it to contribute to the rectification of the Shechinah, to bring it back to the Temple, and to restore the nation to its land.

So the GR”A says, when the Talmud warns about chutzpah increasing at the End-of-Days, it does not refer to the very insolent, non-God-fearing people. That’s always been here, since man was first expelled from Paradise. Rather, the Talmud refers to the “chassidim” who no longer learn Torah for the sake of “Tikun Shechinah,” but only for their own PERSONAL reasons.

So when a person learns this mishnah or sees the same warning later in the Talmud about increasing chutzpah at the end of history, just before Moshiach comes, and thinks to himself, “Well, this doesn’t apply to me. I’m FRUM. I LEARN Torah. I LOVE God.” He needs to ask himself one more question: Do I learn Torah and do my mitzvos to rectify the Shechinah?

If the answer to this question is yes, then great. If the answer is no, then they should worry about whether THEY are precisely who the Talmud is talking about. Then they should find a way to change that, and focus instead on rectifying the Divine Presence.

And lest one think to himself, “Well, at least I LOVE God. At least I’m a chassid!” they should read this week’s parsha more carefully. Because the difference between the two levels can be the difference between Korach and Moshe Rabbeinu. Korach, believing himself a “chassid” of God attacked Moshe Rabbeinu’s authority, ultimately destroying himself and so many others along the way down.

Moshe Rabbeinu was called by God Himself, the most reliable person in God’s House. Reliable in what sense? In the sense that everything he did was for the sake of Tikun Shechinah. It was his operating principle, the standard by which Moshe measured the worthiness of whatever he did. It didn’t have to make sense to him, as it did to Korach, to be important to do. If God said it was the best way to rectify the Shechinah, then that is what he did.

This is very important. How a person looks at life determines how they understand it. A person’s worldview is the framework into which they weave the everyday details of their lives. Change the framework and you change the picture. If the framework is correct according to God, a person will see what God wants them to see. If it is wrong, then they will see the wrong thing.

It’s that simple, and that complicated. Building a framework is relatively straightforward. Build an incorrect one, and you will be deluded the rest of your life. You will misread situations. You will see good where there is bad and bad where there is good. In some cases it might be too subtle to notice at first, but down the line the mistake becomes obvious once it is out-of-hand and beyond repair.

This is worth thinking about. There are two levels of love of God. Which one are we on? Learning from Korach, it is advisable to make a point of reaching the higher one, and do EVERYTHING for the sake of Tikun Shechinah.

The last thing Israel needs is Ehud Barak in a leadership role

(Ed.note: yep, copy that. But in all fairness, he plays a helluva classical piano.)

by Dr. Aaron Lerner

Ehud Barak was clueless on strategic matters and careless in decision making.

The last thing Israel needs is a return of Ehud Barak to a leadership position.

Here are just a few examples of his past failures:

#1. Barak clueless of need for subs or second strike capability:

Excerpts from “A strategic navy in a nuclear Middle East” By Reuven Pedatzur – Ha’aretz 5 November 2000 (written when Israel took delivery of the last of the first three German made submarines specially fitted with launch tubes that could accommodate Jericho missiles)

But the story behind the submarine project is to a large extent cause for concern. On the eve of the Gulf War, a decision to scuttle the project was taken at the IDF General Staff: that is, to leave the navy without any submarines at all. Only the stricken conscience of Helmut Kohl, the German chancellor, after the extent of German aid to the Iraqis became known, led to the decision to fund the submarines. Thus, it was German money that saved the submarine project.

The General Staff’s decision is cause for concern because all those who took part in the discussion knew very well, based on intelligence estimates, that within a small number of years Israel would be threatened by nuclear weapons. It is difficult to fathom how those who are supposed to be familiar with and to understand strategic thinking in the modern era decided to give up the strategic potential inherent in submarines. There is no alternative but to question the judgment of the top brass, and this question deserves an answer. It is an interesting fact that the person who led the opposition to building the submarines in that discussion, and the person whose position prevailed in the end, was none other than the person who served at the time as deputy chief of staff, Ehud Barak.

#2. Gaza Coast Drilling Right Debacle: The 1993 Oslo accords assigned the Palestinians a 20-by-20-mile swath of sea for limited ”fishing, recreation, and economic activity,” but said nothing about resources beneath the Mediterranean. As prime minister, Ehud Barak unilaterally and without the receipt of any Palestinian concessions, effectively handed over exploitation rights for the Gaza coastal area to the Palestinian Authority, with the British BG Group signing an agreement with the PA on natural gas development off Gaza.

#3. Barak clueless of consequences of South Lebanon Retreat: It would be bad enough that Ehud Barak’s hasty 2000 retreat was a planning fiasco with no provisions for the allied SLA forces and heavy weapons and other military equipment abandoned in Lebanon. More critical is that Barak failed to back up his warning that Israel would have zero tolerance for any cross border violations from Lebanon in the wake of the retreat. Barak responded to the daily rock throwing and periodic fire bomb throwing by quipping that “a stone throne at a farmer in Metulah or a soldier does not justify a sharp response by the IDF that might heat up the area again.” (YNET – 11 August, 2000) which was followed by more serious attacks that also failed to get a serious response.

But that’s not the biggest problem with the retreat.

The top problem is that after the retreat Ehud Barak continues to confuse Hezbollah PATIENCE with Israeli DETERRENCE.

Hezbollah has patiently built up its first strike capability, now possessing over a hundred thousand rockets.

And now Hezbollah is patiently upgrading its missiles by attaching guidance kits flown into Beirut Airport.

Again: this is Hezbollah PATIENCE not to attack until it is ready – not Israeli DETERRENCE.

And this is critical to understand because this confusion can drive to dangerously wrong policy decisions.

Kashrut: Meat and Dairy – How to Separate

by HaRav Eliezer Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Har Bracha

It is advisable to use separate sinks for meat and dairy, but when necessary, one may use one sink and one marble kitchen countertop * It is permissible to use one dishwasher with one tray for meat and dairy, but without washing them together * One may use the same stovetop grate for meat and dairy, as well as electric and ceramic cooktops * Food that falls on the surface under the stovetop grates is forbidden to eat, unless the surface is clean * If using a single-compartment oven – it must be kashered between meat and dairy * How to use the same microwave for meat and dairy

Unity of Religious Zionism for the Sake of the Nation

From the outset, I thought to continue my custom of not expressing a position in favor of a particular party, believing that as a rabbi with students belonging to different parties – all of them with good intentions – not to limit myself by supporting a particular party, and not to disassociate anyone who prefers a different one.

In a way, as a continuation of that position, the best thing today is for all parties identifying with religious Zionism to unite in one list, thus expressing the variety of values this dear and idealistic public encompasses, from all of its sides.

Such a position will benefit the entire right-wing and traditional public, and indirectly, Israeli society at large, for religious Zionists, in all their diversities, encompass all the important ideals: loyalty to Torah and investment of vast time and resources in its study, clarification, and imparting in educational systems for future generations; observance of mitzvot with great devotion, even under difficult conditions of a secular environment; loyalty to the values ​​of Derech Eretz and human morality; love of the Nation and the Land; taking the lead in yishuv ha’aretz (the settlement of the Land); dedication to Israel’s security; volunteering in immigrant absorption; volunteering in helping others; engaging in science at a high level contributing to the prosperity of the State of Israel, and to a great extent, even to the advancement of humanity; participation in all fields of employment in the economy for the benefit of society and the economic prosperity of the State of Israel; and appreciation for all sectors of culture and art. All these values ​​are common to all religious Zionists; differences only arise concerning the extent and centrality of each value, but this is precisely the virtue of the religious Zionist sector – that in its entirety, it gives expression to all values.

Must a Kosher Kitchen have Two Sinks?

Ideally, there should be two sinks in a kitchen, one for meat and one for dairy, in order to fortify the separation between milk and meat, in keeping with the objective of our Sages, reflected in the enactment of takanot (Rabbinic institutions) they instituted regarding distancing between meat and milk.

However, b’shaat ha’tzorech (in time of need), one sink and one marble countertop may be used for both meat and milk, provided that one makes sure the sink and the marble countertop are cleaned of leftover food. This was the practice in the majority of Jewish homes a few generations ago when connecting houses to running water through pipes began, and due to high costs, only one sink was installed in many kitchens. There are still old houses in Jerusalem in which righteous and God-fearing people lived, with only one sink in the kitchen.

Indeed, one posek was machmir (stringent) in this issue, out of concern about a distant speculation that the pouring of boiling water could bring forth tastes absorbed in a utensil, and insert it into another (Minchat Yitzchak 2: 100). Another posek required the use of separate racks for meat and milk, in order to create a separation between the sink basin and utensils (Iggrot Moshe, Y.D. 1:42). However, according to halachic rules, and according to the consensus of the majority of poskim, as long as the sink is cleaned between the use of dairy and meat, it is permissible to use one sink (see, S. A., Y. D. 95:3; Y.O., Vol. 10, Y.D. 10; Ohr L’Tzion, Vol.3, 10:11).


Some people are careful to buy two trays, one for meat dishes and another for dairy, in order to safeguard the customary practice of separation between meat and dairy utensils. Some people even make a point of designating the dishwasher as being either meat or dairy. On the other hand, some people are lenient mei’ikar ha’din (according to the law, strictly speaking) to wash meat and dairy dishes together, because the dishwashing soap pogem (ruins, or spoils) the remnants of meat and dairy food (Y. O., Vol. 10, Y. D., according to S. A., Y. D. 95: 4).

In practice, one should not act leniently and wash meat and dairy dishes together in a dishwasher, since the soap does not always spoil the tastes before they are mixed together. But it is permissible l’chatchila (from the outset) to wash dishes in the same dishwasher and on the same tray, one time meat dishes, and another time dairy, but not together. However, when based on prior experience one knows that after washing very dirty dishes particles of food and oily or greasy substances remain in the dishwasher, after washing dishes, one should make sure to run the dishwasher once again on the highest temperature, in order to clean it thoroughly before washing the other type of dishes.

Some people are mehadrin (meticulously observant) to remove the remnants of food from the filters, out of concern their taste is not sufficiently spoiled, and remnants of meat and milk will accumulate in the filter. In practice, however, one should not be concerned that remnants of food in the filter have not been spoiled.

Stovetop Grate, Electric and Ceramic

One is permitted to use the same stovetop grate for meat and dairy, because even if a little meat or dairy sauce spilled onto the grate, the fire of the gas burner burns and spoils what has been spilled.

The same is true for electric and ceramic cooktops, namely, one is permitted to place on the same surface one time a meat pot, and another time a dairy pot, since the heat of the cooktop burns what sometimes spills from them.

When meat and dairy pots are cooked at the same time, one should make sure there is room between them, so that one pot does not spill-over onto the side of the other pot.

The Surface under the Grate

One should be machmir (stringent) not to eat food that fell on the metal surface under the grate, because sometimes there are remnants of meat and dairy foods. If a thick piece of food fell, one can cut and throw-out a 2 cm-thick section from the side that touched the surface, and eat the rest. However, if it is known the surface had been cleaned well, and remained clean, one is permitted to eat what fell on it, since the concern is only the oily grease on it, but one should not be concerned that it absorbed taste that will emit afterwards. Also, if dairy food fell there, and one knows that since the last cleaning meat was not cooked, the dairy food that fell there is kosher.

Induction Cooktop

On an induction cooktop, the surface on which the pots are placed is sealed. However, unlike ceramic cooktops where the heat originates in the ceramic surface, on an induction cooktop, the heat source is from the pot heated by an electromagnetic field, and from the pot the heat expands to the dish and the surface on which it is placed. Thus, these cooktops do not burn what spills over from the pots.

According to the letter of the law, if one makes sure to always clean the cooktop from food spilled on it, on those same areas it is permissible at one time to heat a meat pot, and at another time to heat a dairy pot, since the glass surface of such cooktops do not absorb, and also, all contact there is from one utensil to another.

Those wishing to le’hadare (to be meticulously observant), designate one side for cooking meat, and the other side for dairy. B’shaat ha’tzorech, one may thoroughly clean the surface, and then cook a meat pot on the dairy side, and vice versa.

Baking Oven

A person who wants to use the same compartment once for meat, and once for dairy may do so, provided he has a special baking pan for meat, and another for dairy, and makes sure to kasher the oven between the two by heating it for half an hour at the highest temperature.

However, it is Jewish custom to make a separation between meat and milk, and accordingly, many people are customary le’hadare and purchase an oven with two compartments and designate one for meat and one for dairy, or to buy an oven with one compartment and designate it only for meat, or only for dairy.

However, even those who are mehadrim not to use the same compartment in the oven once for meat and once for dairy, b’shaat ha’tzorech may heat it on the highest temperature for half an hour, and thus kasher it for the other type of food.

If one erred and cooked a dairy dish in the meat compartment without kashering it, be’di’avad (ex post facto) the dairy food is kosher, since in practice, no actual taste of meat has entered the dairy food, and at most, the steam may give an odor of meat in the dairy food, however, be’di’avd, odor does not prohibit.

Baking of Parve Challot in a Meat Compartment of an Oven

Q: What should be done when there is an oven compartment in which meat or dairy food was baked, and one wants to bake in it parve challot, namely, challot that can be eaten with either meat or milk?

A: It is the custom of many people le’hadare, and first to heat the oven on the highest temperature in order to make it parve. However, me’tzad ha’din (according to the letter of the law), one may bake a parve pastry in an oven in which a meat or milk dish was baked beforehand without kashering it, since it is clear there is absolutely no possibility it will have the taste of meat or milk.


The same microwave can be used for dairy and meat foods if a separation is made between them. In separating, two things should be noted: first – not to place dairy or meat foods directly on the same plate; second – that a lot of vapor from the microwave cavity should not enter the food being heated.

Therefore, one should be careful not to place foods directly on the permanent plate of the microwave, rather, dairy foods should be placed on a dairy plate, and meat dishes on a meat plate, and these plates should be placed on the microwave plate. In addition, a plastic lid should be designated for dairy foods, and another lid for meat foods. And although vapors escape through the small openings in the plastic lid designed for microwaves, the vapors emitting from them do not have the power to accumulate on the walls and the roof of the microwave and transfer taste, kal v’chomer (all the more so), they lack the power to extract a taste that may have been absorbed into the microwave walls, and insert it into the heated food.

Additionally, one may determine the normal state of the microwave is dairy, and if someone wants to heat a meat dish, he should place an additional plate or other surface on the microwave’s permanent plate, and cover the meat dishes with a plastic lid or box, or wrap it in a bag. L’chatchila, this is the correct way to act when one wants to heat parve food to be eaten with meat dishes.

Kashering a Microwave
A microwave that was made treif (non-kosher), should be kashered in three stages: 1) Clean the remaining food that may have been leftover due to spilling. 2) Immerse the rotating plate in boiling water. 3) Place a bowl of water with soap in the microwave, and heat it for about ten minutes on the highest temperature, thus kashering it from the steam and “perspiration” that it absorbed while heating the treif food.

Be’di’avad, when it is difficult to kasher the microwave, such as in a place of work or when there is no time to kasher it, one can heat foods by putting them on an additional plate, and put it in a bag or box that will wrap it on all sides, even if openings are left for steam to escape. This is because in practice, since vapors from the microwave will not enter the food, even though the microwave is treif, the food remains kosher l’mehedrin (strictly kosher). Nevertheless, one should not leave a treif microwave oven in the house, rather, it should be kashered without delay, lest one forgets and heats food without a separation between the microwave and the food.

They ... Descended Alive to the Pit

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

There is a very strange phenomenon in our parsha. Moshe Rabbeinu loved Am Yisrael deeply, and beseeched on their behalf many times, even to the point of foregoing his share in Olam Haba at the sin of the golden calf -- "If not, erase me now from Your book that You have written" (Shemot 32:32), which the Zohar explains as Olam Haba. Why was he so extreme in his punishment of Korach, seeking for him a death that did not exist before? "If Hashem will create a new creation, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them and all that is theirs, and they will descend alive to the pit -- then you shall know that these men have provoked Hashem." (Bamidbar 16:30) If Moshe had said that a snake should bite them, or that a fire should come forth from heaven and burn them, this would have provided the same proof that G-d sent him and that they are the disproven!

Rav Goren zt"l provides a novel interpretation of this strange phenomenon. The families of Kehat were appointed over the vessels of the Mishkan. "Their charge was the Ark, the Table, the Menorah, the Altars and the sacred utensils." (3:31) Midrash Tanchuma teaches that Korach was among the bearers of the Ark, and there was a special prohibition not to cause them death, "Do not let the tribe of the Kehati families be cut off from among the Levites. Thus you shall do for them so that they shall live and not die: when they approach the Holy of Holies..." (4:18-19) It says about this in the Midrash (Bamidbar Rabbah 5:1):

This is what it says, "Behold the eye of Hashem is on those who fear Him ... to rescue them from death." (Tehillim 33:18:19) This is the tribe of Levi.

R. Elazar b. Pedat says: From what death are they saved? If from death of the world -- there is no being that doesn't die. Rather, from the death of the Ark. How so? At the time when Israel would travel, two sparks of fire would come out from the two poles of the Ark to strike the enemies ... and when the sparks would come out, the fire would knock those who bear the Ark and they would be burned and their numbers reduced ... Each and every one would run. This one would take the Table; this one would take the Menorah; this one would take the Altars; but they would avoid the Ark, since it would harm them...

G-d said to Moshe and to Aharon: Do something for the children of Kehat so that they will not be cut off from the world: "Thus you shall do for them so that they shall live and not die." (4:19)

Thus, Moshe and Aharon were especially commanded to look out for the lives of the descendents of Kehat, and were warned in this regard with a positive and negative commandment: "Do not let the tribe of the Kehati families be cut off from among the Levites;" "Thus shall you do for them so that they shall live and not die."

Accordingly, Moshe was forbidden to ask for the death of the children of Korach, the bearers of the Ark, in any form, because then he would violate the special commandment, "so that they shall ... not die." There was no death with which to kill them, because Moshe and Aharon were commanded to look out for their lives. Therefore there was a special request, "the earth opens its mouth and swallows them and all that is theirs, and they will descend alive to the pit," without dying.

This is, indeed, what happened. "The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them ... They and all that was theirs descended alive to the pit; the earth covered them over and they were lost from among the congregation." (16:32-33) The goal was not that they should die, but that they should be lost from the congregation. Therefore the Torah emphasizes, "The sons of Korach did not die." (26:11)

The Chassidic Masters say that Moshe asked that they should go down alive out of his mercy, so that during their fall they would have the opportunity to repent. This, indeed, is what happened: "They contemplated Teshuva in their hearts, and therefore a place was fortified for them in Gehenom and they sat on it and sang." (Sanhedrin 110a)

Korach and Motives

by Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (Ramban) is of the general opinion that events, as recorded in the Torah, occurred in a linear timeline. This is in spite of the maxim that there is no late or early in the Torah. He limits that rule to certain halachic instances as they appear in the Talmud. Thus the story of Korach and his contest against Moshe that forms the central part of this week’s parsha occurred after the tragedy of the spies and their negative report about the Land of Israel.

As I have commented before, the negative report of the spies was motivated, according to rabbinic opinion, by personal interests having no objective value as to the issue of the Land of Israel itself. So too, this uprising against Moshe led by Korach is also not an issue of justice or objective benefit to the people, but rather it is motivated purely by the personal issues and jealousies of Korach and his followers.

Both Korach and the spies masked their own personal drives for power and position with high-sounding principles of public good, social justice and great concern for the future of the people of Israel. The very shrillness of their concern for the good of society itself calls attention to their true motives – they protested too much!

Pious disclaimers of any self-interest seem to always accompany those that clamor for social betterment and a more just society. But it is often personal ambition and the drive to acquire power over others that is the true face of these movements and individuals. All of the dictators of the past and present centuries promised great improvements for their peoples and countries and yet all, without exception, eventually only pursued their own personal gain and power. Always beware of those who speak in the name of the people. Most of the time they are only imitations of Korach.

This is perhaps an insight as to why Moshe took such a strong stand against Korach and demanded an exemplary punishment from Heaven. It is extremely difficult for humans to judge the true motives of others in their declarations and policies. Only Heaven, so to speak, can do so. Moshe’s plea to Heaven is directed not only against the current Korach that he faces, but it is also against the constant recurrences of other Korachs throughout Jewish and world history.

Only a shocking miracle of the earth swallowing Korach and his followers and of a fire consuming those who dared to offer incense in place of Aharon, would impress the historical psyche of Israel, as to be wary of Korach’s imitators through the ages.

There is an adage in Jewish life that one should always respect others but also be wary of their true motives. Only regarding Moshe does the Torah testify that as the true servant of God, he is above criticism and suspicion. But ordinary mortals have ordinary failings and self-interest is one of those failings. Moshe is true and his Torah is true. After that, no matter how fetching the slogan or how glorious the promise, caution and wariness about the person and cause being advocated are the proper attitudes to embrace.

Korach's Fatal Error

by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

Dedicated to the memory of R. Avraham ben-tziyon ben shabtai

The Challenge
Korach challenges Moshe and Aharon with the following words: "The entire community is holy, why do you pretend that you are superior to the congregation of God?" In other words, "why shouldn’t we all be treated as if we are Kohanim, (priests)?" Why do the Jewish people have to be pigeon-holed into various classes? The Torah was emphatic in telling us that providing Yosef with preferential treatment relative to his brothers prompted a litany of problems, dissension and slander. Isn't equality, then, the key to unity?

Korach’s demands are even more understandable nowadays, when the pursuit of democracy, equality for all - the value of everybody living his life in absolute freedom - is the main theme of modern society. Western civilization views government as the entity that will ensure that citizens don’t infringe on the freedom of their fellow man. In this light, the Talmud in Tractate Avoda Zara says that if it were not for the fear of the kingdom (authorities) each man would "swallow up his neighbor." In democracies, the function of the government is simply to see to it that friction and clashes between citizens are prevented. Western democracies, however, play no significant role in the promotion of positive values and projects. (It is of course true that when the majority of citizens want the government to behave in a particular manner, the government implements the will of that majority; however, here, too, the government is not initiating the positive action, the citizenry is.) This demand for equality was characteristic of Communism as well. That political camp maintained that no one person has greater value than his fellow man.

Individualism and the freedom of the individual, the belief that nobody should interfere with my life, is an approach that in the long run is liable to lead to a certain apathy between neighbors, a lack of mutual concern. This is the warped perspective that has its roots in democracy. It is a point of view that stems from the desire for "simple peace and quiet".

Our Approach to Peace
The view of the Torah, however, is sharply different. For the Torah Jew, democracy does not bring peace. The word "peace" - "Shalom" - is derived from the term "Sheleimut" - or wholeness, completeness, perfection. Completeness means the merging of various parts, each part of which is not whole in and of itself. This wholeness is characterized by a nucleus that connects all the sundry parts, that binds all components of the nation together into one. This dynamic brings sheleimut, Shalom.

It is this Jewish concept with which Korach took issue. Korach erred when he failed to understand the need for one focal point that unites the nation. This nucleus stands above everybody, like a spine, that unites all of the different limbs of the body. This was the job of the Kohen Gadol, who performed his holy service on behalf of the Jewish people.

The great sage Hillel instructs us to be the students of Aharon, who was "a lover of peace a pursuer of peace; he loved people and brought them closer to Torah." Aharon pursued peace not only because this world is one of great divisions and we are each bidden by God to overcome our evil inclinations to make peace. But essentially, says the Maharal of Prague, we should pursue peace because we understand that peace is the world’s natural, ideal state. Thus, Rabbi Hillel does not simply say that we should "pursue peace" but that we should be "of the students of Aharon".

When this kind of oneness permeates all factions of the nation, everyone will come to understand the concept of Hashem’s Oneness, and it will no longer be necessary to "publicize" it. The very appearance of the Jewish people as "One nation in the Land" will drive home the message of "You are One and Your name is One".

Torah Scholars: the True "Peace Camp"
Our sages taught us that "Torah scholars increase peace in the world." On occasion, we may actually doubt the veracity of this statement. It’s enough to just read the announcements and stories signed by great Torah scholars - directed at people whom do not exactly go on their path - to prompt the question: Is it true that Torah scholars really increase peace in the world?

Looking at the matter more deeply, however, we come to realize that it is really the Torah scholars who are bringing peace to the world. Each scholar introduces his own unique part in the wholeness of the Torah, adds his own special quality to the fabric. This is how "sheleimut" increases in the world...

Indeed, when we merit the re-establishment of the Sanhedrin (High Jewish Court), all disagreements will be resolved, but it seems that even at that time, there will be room for an array of perspectives - regarding the intentions associated with various mitzvah actions and customs. It’s not for nothing that the Children of Israel were divided into 12 tribes... Everyone makes his contribution to the building of the nation...

As we have already mentioned, the sin of Korach derived from the failure to understand that there is a nucleus to which all other entities are connected - that there is a root, from which all of the branches grow. One who recognizes the unique level of the Kohen Gadol, in all of his holiness, understands something of the nation of Israel’s holiness, that only from the midst of the nation of Israel could such a holy person be found.

Closeness Engenders Strife
You may have noticed that there are more disagreements and debates between Jews in the Land of Israel than between Jews in the Diaspora. Within Israel, there is more tension within Jerusalem than in Tel Aviv. And in Jerusalem, there are sometimes very harsh exchanges between Jews; it almost seems that this is a city of conflict, not of peace.

A deeper look indicates that the foundation of disagreements lies in friction, and friction is generally found between two similar entities, while between entities that are more dissimilar, this is not the case; in the latter instance, an almost lack of concern is the rule of thumb. Arguments, then, testify to the presence of concern for the fate of one’s fellow man - a striving to correct his behavior. The closer people are to each other, the sharper the disagreements, since the differences between the sides are so insignificant, there is a greater need to sharpen those differences. When we hear accusations like, "There is an element of heresy in his words" - we understand that in the majority of cases, the two sides are close; the harshness just comes to highlight the gap in the case at hand.

Jerusalem is the center of the world, the place in which the perfection of the nation is to be revealed. It is therefore there that each view must be clarified and be permitted its unique quality. In this way only, each approach can play its part in the building the state of perfection of the nation in Jerusalem...

Torah scholars discussing a particular issue at first argue with each other quite harshly - but in the end, "they become beloved to one another." Even if at times it may initially seem that their relationship is distant, fraught with disagreement - in reality, a solid common interest unites them: clarification of the truth.

This is also incidentally true for relationships within the family. Brothers argue, and often the tone of argument is fairly intense. However, not too many arguments develop between people who are not close to each other. The reason: you don’t care as much about a stranger as you do a brother; thus, you feel less of a need to reprove him or argue with him. One who has discussed a particular topic with his brother, becomes quite impatient with him. Since the two men are so close, one expects the other to "understand him." When this doesn’t materialize, the brother trying to explain himself gets angry.

The external manifestation of this problem of course must be dealt with - namely, the prevention of disagreements and strife, so that the unity between the various elements of the nation will be complete. The author of Sefer Haredim notes that love of one’s fellow Jew is a branch of the mitzvah of loving God. A flaw in the mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael is consequently a poor reflection on God’s oneness, namely, the manifestation of God’s Oneness in this world.

The task of Torah scholars is to unite the nation, to be of the students of Aharon. The difficulty in this role lies in the fact that from one angle, a scholar must be determined to stand up for the correctness of his approach; on the other hand, he must make sure that he does not remain in a state of strife with others. In this regard, we should all learn from our leader Moshe, who in his efforts to avoid strife, invested his time in appeasing Korach’s allies, Datan and Aviram.

A House Full of Sefarim and a Fully Blue Garment

by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli, ZT"L

Korach came with two claims against Moshe (Bamidbar Rabba 18:3): Could a house full of holy books require a mezuza? Could a garment that was fully techelet (a shade of blue used in the strings of tzitzit) require tzitzit? Indeed there are two types of complaints that we have been dealing with, generation after generation, and they have broken Israel into splinters and caused discord.

The house full of sefarim is referring to great G-d-fearing Torah scholars, for whom Torah is everywhere they turn and do not go anywhere without being in its proximity. These "holy houses," because of their great connection to Torah, may not feel the value that a little parchment could have, when in truth its great contribution comes from its position at the entrance and exit of the house. These guard Israel at the time they are involved in important affairs. This is a metaphor for the little hints of Torah values, which are found everywhere: in a religious school, in a religious agricultural settlement, in a kibbutz, in classes for youth, in a place where responsible sports are being played without desecrating Shabbat. Each one may be a small thing, but just like a physical mezuza, their location gives them surprisingly great value.

There is also an opposite mistake. People think that a "garment of techelet" can do fine without tzitzit. This can refer to the productiveness and pleasures of life. One is tempted to think that it is enough to infuse simple things with significant content. Indeed, the Chatam Sofer (Sukka 36a) said that working the land in Eretz Yisrael is equal to putting on tefillin because the mundane that is connected to sanctity can be holy itself. Is it so, then, that if the whole garment is techelet, you do not need extra tzitzit (i.e., specifically religious activities)? And if you attach tzitzit, you certainly should not require techelet in the tzitzit! The excitement with the content of the garment (i.e., the totality of life in Israel) takes away from the excitement with specific religious acts.

This too is a mistake. For example, even if the whole nation is holy, Aharon is the "holy of holies" (see Divrei Hayamim I, 23:13). If work in Israel is holy, then activities that would be holy outside Eretz Yisrael are holy of holies in Eretz Yisrael. If plowing is like wearing tefillin, then putting on tefillin is certainly like putting on tefillin! The relative difference between the mundane and holy activities remains the same, just that everything is elevated in Israel. If one does not sense this, then he is like a person who approaches the Temple and desecrates its sanctity (see Bamidbar 17:28).

Friday, June 28, 2019

In Praise of Eretz Yisrael

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

Parshat Shelach is the parsha of Eretz Yisrael. In these days, when the media reports seem to lead to the conclusion that the vision of a "complete Eretz Yisrael" is totally lost, and the nation has turned its back to its source, there is a special need to emphasize the connection of our parsha to all generations.

Maran Beit Yosef, in his book "Magid Meisharim" (in which he wrote the words of his heavenly "Magid"), deals with the contradiction between Parshat Shelach and Parshat Devarim. In our Parsha, it says that G-d commanded Moshe to send the spies, whereas in Parshat Devarim it says, "All of you [Bnei Yisrael] approached me." (Devarim 1:22) Furthermore, why was there a need to check if the land was fertile or lean, since Hashem had already promised them that it is good and spacious?

The Magid explained to him that Bnei Yisrael in that generation were not worthy of entering the land after all the trials that they tested G-d. Yet, G-d, in His mercy, planted in their minds to ask to send spies so that they would appreciate it and tell its praise, and that would be the merit that would allow them to enter the land. The two parshas are, thus, two sides of the same coin: G-d caused them to ask to send spies, and, in fact, Yisrael did ask. However, the princes of the tribes did not stand up to the test, and didn't tell its praise.

From that time, it is incumbent upon the leaders of Yisrael to tell the praise of Eretz Yisrael, to rectify in this way that which they sinned when they disgraced it.

In Midrash Eichah (1:23) it says on the pasuk, "The entire assembly raised up and issued its voice; the people wept that night" (Bamidbar 14:1), that the Hebrew word "raised up" (va'tisa) has the connotation of a debt; that is, a bad debt that they will have to repay throughout the generations, as it says, "When you make your fellow a loan (tasheh)." (Devarim 24:10) "The entire assembly raised up," the entire assembly became obligated to pay this debt.

The sefer "Eim Habanim Semeichah" writes about this:

In vain we pray in all the synagogues and batei midrash, "Our Father, our King, erase in Your great mercy all of our notes of indebtedness," so long as the debt of despising the coveted land still exists on us ... How can we pray that He erase this debt from us, since we are obligated to pay and we have the ability to rectify this?!

We find in the history of our nation that there was severe punishment for our foreign attitude towards the land. In the Sefer Rokeach (by R. Eliezer of Worms) it says:

Ezra the scribe sent letters to all the cities of the Diaspora that they should go up to Eretz Yisrael. This letter also came to the country of Ashkenaz (Germany) to the city of Worms, and they responded to him, "You live in the big Yerushalayim; we will live in the little Yerushalayim," because they were very important in the eyes of the officers and the non-Jews, and were very rich and dwelled there in peace and tranquility, Therefore great and harsh decrees are more frequent in the land of Ashkenaz than in other communities."

We, more than any other generation, feel to what extent these words were fulfilled!

Only through strengthening the love and yearning for Eretz Yisrael can we rectify the sin of the spies, as R. Yehuda Halevi writes in the conclusion of the Kuzari: Yerushalayim will, indeed, be built [only] when Bnei Yisrael will desire it with the greatest desire until they cherish its stones and dirt!

Rav Kook's Ein Ayah: Removing the Light to Keep it Pure

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:44)

Gemara: Moshe broke the luchot(Tablets) based on the following derivation, using a kal vachomer: If regarding the Korban Pesach, which is only one of the 613 mitzvot, the Torah says, “No one [whose actions have] removed [him] from the nationmay eat from it” (Shemot 12:43), regarding the entire Torah and Israel are [considered like] apostates, all the more so.

Ein Ayah: When a source of great light is given divinely to one who is not fitting for it, it ruins him and ruins the world. This is because, in the process, the light source itself loses some of its greatness and is polluted by being connected to something which is out of synch with the sequential orderof the world.

There is also an “order” in the world that includes sporadic jumps, in regard to which it is not as important to separate between great things and problematic ones. However, even for a lofty matter of “jumping,” there are requirements that need to be met in order for it to be correct to be connected. Such a matter is Pesach, which is related to the skipping and jumping that Hashem did in Egypt [from house to house].

The great surprise that occurred in Egypt, as Hashem revealed his Divine Presence and took a nation out from the midst of a nation, was unprecedented in the world (see Devarim 4:34) and forever stands as a miracle in which matters jumped out of their ordinary ways. [Despite its exceptional nature,] it left an impression on those connected to it, which provides the basis for limited human life to have values that are well balanced. That is the reason that the Korban Pesach, even though its related events were so out of the ordinary, is still off limits to one who has become an apostate.

Realize that as being a single mitzvawithin the 613, Korban Pesach does not absorb the full element of order and sequence, which are part of the manner in which the world is built, internally and externally, in regard to people and the heavenly world. It follows that when people mix up what is divine and break from the principles of faith, even if it appears to be by means of actions and feelings and one does not actuallydecideto reject Hashem, still this status causes a contradiction if the person were to want to be connected to holiness. This is all the more a problem if people with these severe problems try to associate with the Torah as a whole, as it is all encompassing. As such, one cannot remove from it the requirement of sequential values, as this would be a great danger to the world, to Israel, and to the revelation of the Torah.

It would be a tragedy to connect the Torah [as represented by the Tablets] to the drastic deterioration that occurred as a result of the sin of the Golden Calf. Therefore, it was necessary to hide the light, lessen it, and break the vessel (the luchot)that connects the holiness of the Torah to the actual world. Only this could save the nation, the world, and the lofty light itself. Hiding the light is what led the way to its future revelation at the End of the Days so that it will never disappear or be diminished. “Hashem will be for you an eternal light, and your G-d will be your glory. Your sun will never again set, and your moon will never cease to come, for Hashem will be your light eternally and the days of your mourning are complete. Your nation are all righteous people, they will forever inherit the land, the scion of My plantings, the work of My hand in which to see glory” (Yeshayahu 60:19-21).

Living in the Shadow of the Next War

War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over. - William Tecumseh Sherman

The recent tension between the US and Iran is being watched very closely here in Israel, because it could well be the trigger for our next war.

I am convinced, to my very great sorrow, that this war is unavoidable. The 130,000 rockets and longer-range missiles under Iranian control in Lebanon will not be left to rust away, nor will those in Gaza. Our enemies – Iran and its proxies, as well as Hamas and the PLO – are not interested in peace.

Iran has spent billions and struggled for decades in its attempt to become a nuclear power, and to establish regional hegemony. We are not only a bone in the throat of their Islamic sensibility, we are physically in their way. They won’t give up without a fight, and they believe they can win.

US President Trump thinks he can break them with sanctions. But the Iranian regime doesn’t care what happens to its civilian population. If they are willing to shoot their people down in the streets (and they have demonstrated this), they will let them suffer. At some point they will be on the verge of going nuclear, and when that happens, someone will have to stop them. It is not a question of if there will be war. It is a question of when – and of precisely what will set it off. And once it starts, no matter who starts it, Israel will be in the thick of it.

It will almost certainly be a multi-front war. Iran has its proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. The Palestinian Arabs in Gaza and Judea/Samaria have demonstrated, over and over, that they do not want a state of their own. They want our state, without us. No amount of money will persuade them to become other than who they are. By themselves they do not have the strength to challenge us, but in the context of a general conflagration, they will take the opportunity to cause as much damage as possible.

Numerous experts have predicted that this will be a terrible war, for our soldiers, for our home front, and for our enemies. Indeed, the home front has been mostly spared since our War of Independence in 1948. This time, our enemies – understanding our lack of strategic depth and believing that they can break both our spirit and the support system of the IDF – will concentrate on bringing the war to us, with rockets and ground invasions.

Hezbollah has the ability to launch thousands of rockets per day, far more than can be intercepted by Iron Dome or our other antimissile systems. In 2006, when they had far fewer and less sophisticated rockets, they threw the northern part of the country into a panic. Degrading their launch capability will take time, and in the meantime rockets will be exploding into our homes. Those who have safe rooms or access to nearby shelters are lucky, but many Israelis – like my daughter – live in older buildings which do not have such facilities. Large-payload missiles may bring down whole buildings, in which case safe rooms will be little help. Missiles that can hit densely populated urban areas will create mass casualties.

We know that both Hamas and Hezbollah plan cross-border incursions to kill and kidnap Israelis, maybe even to capture smaller communities. IDF ground forces will be spread thin, and they will have to worry about terrorist “operations” by Arabs from Judea and Samaria as well.

The sheer inevitability of this war weighs on us. We know it will happen; we are expecting it from week to week. Although people here don’t talk about it often, it’s never far from their consciousness. We know that some of our friends and neighbors, maybe even ourselves, will not survive. Others will lose their homes and all their possessions. We know too that numerous young soldiers and some older reservists will not come home alive to their families.

There will be funerals, and horrendous wounds. As is often said, in Israel all the soldiers are everyone’s children. It will tear us apart. It will make us angry. It won’t however, cause us to flee the country, as our enemies hope.

Will we prevail? We’d better. Otherwise Israel, and ultimately the Jewish people, will disappear. Losing the war would be a disaster on the scale of the one in the year 70 CE, and I doubt that the conditions exist for our people to survive another two-millennium diaspora.

I think the outcome will depend primarily on one thing: leadership. In 2006, we could not defeat Hezbollah, because the team of Ehud Olmert, Amir Peretz, Tzipi Livni, and Dan Halutz was incompetent from top to bottom. Do we have the leaders that we need today? Do we have a Churchill to stiffen the home front against a blitz, or officers who will take the initiative like Arik Sharon did when he crossed the Suez Canal in 1973? We’ll find out.

We have the desperation – and advantage – of having no place else to go. Our enemies cannot imagine how much firepower is available to the IDF, and if it is unleashed they will not be able to stand against us. In its recent operations, the IDF has gone out of its way to minimize enemy civilian casualties. This next war might begin that way, but at some point Hamas and Hezbollah’s use of civilian infrastructure as a shield will leave us no other option but to put that concern aside.

When relatively accurate rockets with large payloads start striking industrial targets and big cities, for example, the launchers in Lebanon will have to go – regardless of what they are built next to or inside of. It’s pretty certain that most of southern Lebanon will end up a slag heap, and parts of the Gaza strip will meet the same fate.

If thousands die in Israel, tens of thousands will lose their lives in Lebanon and Gaza, or anywhere else from which our enemies fight. If the Arabs of Judea and Samaria rise up, their communities, too, will be razed, and they’ll find themselves homeless, another nakba.

War, it’s well-known, is hell. This one will be, too. But we must ensure that it will be a bigger hell for our enemies than for us.

Sometimes it takes a war to change things that otherwise would be frozen forever. WWI changed the face of Europe and the Middle East, brought down the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Czarist empires, gave freedom to some peoples and a new kind of slavery to some others. WWII facilitated the destruction of Europe’s Jews, the creation and use of atomic weapons, and the establishment of a Soviet empire in Eastern Europe – but also ushered in the United Nations (not an unmixed blessing), the American civil rights movement, the end of the British Empire, and the creation of the State of Israel.

Maybe, in addition to a new regime in Iran, the next war will bring about the end of Hamas and the PLO, and even the creation of the long awaited Palestinian state – in Jordan, where it belongs.

The Yishai Fleisher Show: A Prayer for Prosperity in Bahrain

At Bahrain's "Peace to Prosperity Workshop" world experts, including Jews and Arabs, gathered to talk about bettering the regional economy, especially between Israel and her neighbors. But the PA and progressive orgs boycotted the event because they believe they have a monopoly on hope. Rav Mike Feuer joins Rabbi Yishai to discuss the gathering and talk about the Torah portion of the anti-Moses rebellion of Korach. Then, Malkah Fleisher on neo-Nazi beer ban and Jewish Prayer in Bahrain.

Rabbi Ari Kahn on Parashat Korach: Perpetual Victims

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Donald Trump’s Father was so Dedicated to Israel Causes, People Thought he was Jewish

by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz

“Thus said Hashem to Cyrus, His anointed one— Whose right hand He has grasped, Treading down nations before him, Ungirding the loins of kings, Opening doors before him And letting no gate stay shut.” Isaiah 45:1 (The Israel Bible™)

Donald Trump (r) with his father, Fred Trump. (PBS Youtube screenshot)

Donald Trump is arguably the most pro-Israel president in U.S. history and it could be that the roots of this beneficence towards the Jewish state go deep into the president’s family history.

Donald Trump is not Jewish nor does he have Jewish ancestry. His father, Fred, was a Lutheran and his Scottish-born mother a Presbyterian. In his book, The Art of the Deal, Trump, inaccurately claimed that he was of Swedish ancestry. Trump’s grandfather, Freidrich, was born in Kallstadt, which was, at the time, in Bavaria, but is now part of Germany. Trump’s cousin and family historian John Walter told The New York Times, that Donald knowingly continued this ruse at the request of his realtor father, Fred, who was a landlord and real estate investor in New York. Fred felt the claim to be Swedish would be more palatable to his Jewish tenants and business associates. This concern seemed reasonable in the period following World War II.

Whether to win favor with his Jewish tenants or not, Fred was a noted philanthropist who gave generously to Jewish causes including the Long Island Jewish Hospital. In The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a Presidential Candidateit was noted that “[Fred] Trump was so active in Jewish and Israeli causes that some believed that he belonged to the Jewish faith.”

This suspicion was bolstered about 50 years ago when Fred Trump donated the land for the Talmud Torah of the Beach Haven Jewish Center in Flatbush, New York.

This Trump family tradition of donating to Jewish causes took on a decidedly political twist in the 1980’s when Donald Trump donated heavily to help build new infrastructure for the Israelis removed from the northern Sinai as part of the peace agreement with Egypt. Again, in 2005, Trump generously helped resettle the Jews expelled from Gush Katif. At about the same time, Trump also donated $10,000 to American Friends of Beit El Institutions, a fund for religious institutions in Samaria.

It is well-known that Donald Trump has been a long-time friend of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Though this is clearly a manifestation of the strong political alliance between the two countries, it has its roots in the president’s family. Fred Trump, the president’s father, became friends with Netanyahu while he was the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations in Manhattan.

This affinity for Jews was also espoused by Fred Trump Jr., Donald Trump’s older brother, who joined a Jewish fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu, while attending Lehigh University, even though he was not Jewish. In a strange note, several of the fraternity brothers have been quoted as saying that while in university, Fred Jr. claimed that his father was Jewish. This was incongruous as his middle name was Christ and there were no similar claims from anyone else in the Trump clan.

Though Fred Jr.’s claim to be Jewish has never been taken seriously, the president does have a family connection to Judaism. His daughter, Ivanka converted to Judaism in 2009 before marrying Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew. Ivanka (her Hebrew name is Yael) has said that her father supported her decision to convert “from day one”, adding that he has “tremendous respect” for the Jewish religion. Trump is blessed with three Jewish grandchildren. His respect for Judaism was so great that he made a special request from his daughter in the heat of the presidential campaign: pray for him in the synagogue during the Jewish high-holidays in order to “cover all of the bases.”

Trump’s first visit to the Holy land was in May 2017 when he became the first sitting U.S. President to visit the Western Wall. But this was not supposed to be his first visit. In 1989, Moshe Arad, Israel’s ambassador to Washington at the time, formally invited the prominent businessman for a visit in the name of Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir. Trump wanted to come to Israel because he was considering several business deals, including building a casino in Eilat and purchasing the country’s national airline, El Al. Extensive preparations were made but whether or not the visit ever actually took place is the source of debate.

Mark Zell, chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel, acknowledges this history of Trump connection to the Jews but does not believe that the president’s policies have a much obvious source.

“Trump grew up in New York which is heavily Jewish and it is clear that he had a lot of Jewish friends and associates,” Zell told Breaking Israel News. “He grew up in this environment. He has been unfairly criticized by the left-wing for being anti-Semitic which is complete sophistry. Tragically, many people in the American Jewish community have serious identity problems which lead them to criticize the president despite how pro-Israel policies.”

“It isn’t necessary to dig in order to find some personal or vested interest for the president to be pro-Jewish and pro-Israel,” Zell said. “It is sad that this is the case, that this is what people try to do. Most politicians, especially Jewish, are cautious in their support of Israel. Donald Trump is not. He is not cautious in the least. He is true to his beliefs and his world view, part of which is that Israel is, from an objective point of view, an important ally and an asset to the security of the United States. It is clear to him that the Jewish people are entitled to a secure state. That recognition from a president is unprecedented. But what is more amazing is that he acts on this belief, unabashedly and unequivocally.”

A Letter to HaShem

Parashat Korach 5779
by HaRav Nachman Kahana

From my forthcoming book “Reflections From Yerushalayim”

It’s that time of year HaShem (the approach of Roah Hashana), when Your children withdraw a bit from the distractions of this life in order to introspect on what they have or have not done properly in the past year.

I will skip the formalities of asking how You are, because You are total perfection.

The following is my yearly e-mail (Elokim Mail) to report on the state of Your people as perceived from this virtual world, which of course is quite different from what is perceived from Your world of absolute truth.

There are two points I humbly wish to raise; but since You know my thoughts even before I, You know that they are in fact one point.

It is a time when seeing a few more white hairs in the mirror does more than just effect a shrug of the shoulders. It’s that time of year when we realize our frailty as we await the heavenly judgments that will be meted out in a few short days. Who shall live in this world and who will be taken away to another dimension; who will rise and who will fall; who will smile and who will weep?

It is a time when life is not taken for granted, and the “I” of each person becomes the most essential thing for us who are insecure in the knowledge that our futures are being determined by forces over which we have no control.

But, Father in Heaven, there are people who, in addition to their pains and longings, are very much aware that You, as the Judge of all things, are not exempt from pain. Of course, You put up an impressive show of strength and glory before the myriad of angels and other creatures ever present in the seven heavens.

However, we know all about that very secret room called “mistarin” (hidden) into which You enter every day alone to cry for the glory of Am Yisrael and Your glory, which was lost to the goyim, and the glory of the Bet Hamikdash, which You had to destroy. Don’t be surprised that we know about Your secret room. In fact, it’s right there in Masechet Chagiga 5a for all to see.

At this time, I have to confess to an ongoing sin, which I was unable to get rid of until a little light of understanding flickered within me. How can I explain? Upon following the events of human history, I thought that if anyone would run their business the way You run the world, he would quickly go bankrupt.

You created Adam and Chava and placed them in the Garden of Eden – the most perfect setting imaginable. Within the first three hours of their lives, they sinned, were sentenced to die and were driven out of the Garden. The next generation was even worse. Kayin killed his brother Hevel. Ten generations down the line, You destroyed all living things except for a small remnant enclosed in a floating pea pod.

You then destroyed the five cultural centers of the world: Sodom, Amora, Adma, Tzivoyim and Tzoar.

Indeed, it took 1948 years for the first person to be born who was capable of acknowledging You, our forefather Avraham.

However, as time goes by, I have come to get an inkling of Your infinite “business sense”. You made the “best deal” ever where You always win and never lose!

Starting from Adam, the goyim were never intended to be a profit-making endeavor. The first 2000 years of history was the time needed to set up the business when one always loses. The real “sechora” (merchandise) began with Avraham and Sarah. From that time on, Your capital and interest have soared to heavenly heights.

No matter what You bring upon Your chosen people, Am Yisrael, we always come back for more. Our loyalty to You is not dependent on Your actions towards us. The destruction of two Temples, 2000 years of Galut, inquisitions, crusades, pogroms, concentration camps and unceasing world anti-Semitism have never been able to extinguish the flame. Who else is capable of making such a perfect business choice?!

On the one hand, I can understand Your need to retire to the “room” in anguish over our suffering – as a parent does when the children are not well. On the other hand, You have every reason to be proud of Your loyal children who are the source of Your joy.

Just observe us at any given moment. We have returned to Your holy soil from which the world was created. Your children in Eretz Yisrael cling to every available meter of land, building and restoring it to its former glory, before it was devastated by the now extinct Romans.

Your children are bringing the voice of Torah to all parts of the land, and indeed to the world. There have not been so many yeshivot and batei knesset in the land since the time of Hillel and Shamai. The agricultural mitzvot, for which Your servant Moshe so much wanted to enter the land, have come alive: shmita, truma, ma’aser, etc.

Tzahal, the holy army of the future Mashiach, brings the call of Torah every day to the air and under the waves – places where they never had been before. The brave soldiers of King David protect Your holy people as has never been done in the last 2000 years. The youngest boys in boot camp to the highest officers are all imbued with the feeling that they are Your messengers in establishing Your new-old kingdom in Yerushalayim and in all of Eretz Yisrael – from the River Prat to the “great river of Egypt”.

The knowledge that we are surrounded by hundreds of millions of enemies does not deter Your children from fulfilling Your wish that the Holy Land be rebuilt as the spiritual center of the world.

In the fleeting second of my existence in this world, and the limitations You have imposed on my ability to comprehend, I can still discern the wondrous qualities of the people You have chosen.

Father in Heaven, You have every reason in the universe to be delighted with Your choice of the children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. We, in Eretz Yisrael, will be eternally loyal to You, no matter what You in Your infinite wisdom deem proper and necessary to mete out to us. If there are signs of weakness or frailty in parts of our nation, it can be blamed on the difficult nature of our existence and not on their desire to rebel against Your kingship.

I know that this coming year will be critical for the history of Your world. I am thankful that the problems of terrorism, Iran, Islam, etc. are Your problems and not ours, because You have revealed to the prophets (Yoel 3:5 and Ovadya 1:17) that “there shall be refuge in Yerushalayim and Tzion.”

So, this Rosh Hashana, when You open the books of our lives, remember what the Gemara in Ketuvot declares, “Whoever resides in Eretz Yisrael is in a state of non-sinning (sharuy belo avon).”

While trying to be as impartial as possible, I can say in all frankness that You have every justification before the many prosecutors of Am Yisrael in the Shamayim:
  • To forgive our wrong-doings
  • To ignore our shortcomings in light of the love we feel for You and our mesirat nefesh (self-sacrifice).
  • To inscribe Your children in Eretz Yisrael, and those not yet here, in the Book of Life.
  • To bless us with feelings of inadequacy so that we should constantly strive for perfection in the performance of Your Torah.
  • To open our hearts and eyes to see the positive qualities in every person, as stated by the great Hillel, as being the essence of the Torah.
So, our omnipotent Father and King in Heaven, have a great Eternity.


Nachman, son of Harav Yechezkel Shraga HaKohen of Tzfat and Sarah Chana of D’vinsk, zichronam livracha, presently unemployed (as a kohen) but optimistically and anxiously awaiting the rebuilding of Your Bet HaMikdash.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5779/2019 Nachman Kahana

The US mindset on Israel

by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

The US mindset on Israel – unlike the US attitude toward other countries – is a bottom-top phenomenon: a derivative of the US public worldview, which feeds legislators in the House and Senate and policy-makers in the White House.

The US mindset on Israel draws its strength from the religious, ethical, moral and cultural roots of the US society, which were planted in 1620 and thereafter upon the arrival of the Early Pilgrims, and bolstered by the Founding Fathers, who authored the US Constitution in 1787.

For example, the Early Pilgrims referred to their 6-8 week sail in the Atlantic Ocean as the “Modern Day Exodus” and “Parting of the Sea.” Their destination was “the Modern Day Promised Land.” Hence, the hundreds of US towns, cities, parks and deserts bearing Biblical names such as Zion, Jerusalem, Salem, Bethel, Shilo, Bethlehem, Dothan, Hebron, Gilead, Carmel, Rehoboth, Boaz, Moab, etc.

Furthermore, the Philadelphia Liberty Bell, which represents the Founding Fathers’ concept of liberty, features an inscription from Leviticus, 25:10, which presents the Biblical core of liberty – the Jubilee: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and all the inhabitants thereof.” Moreover, Yale University’s seal is inscribed in Hebrew letters: אורים ותומים, which was the power of the High Priest during the Exodus from Egypt. And, the seal of Columbia University features the four Hebrew letters of God: יהוה (Jehovah) and one of God’s Angels: אוריאל (Uriel – Divine Light in Hebrew). The battle against slavery was based on Biblical values and themes, such as “Let My People Go,” and a key leader in that battle, Harriet Tubman, earned the name “Mama Moses.”

In spite of the erosion of these roots and core values – as a result of demographic and ideological transformations in the US – their impact has been deeper than shifting national security interests, and more effective than the worldview of short-term serving policy-makers.

In fact, these long-term core values (and the larger geo-strategic, regional and global context) have moderated occasional short-term confrontations between the leaders of the US and Israel.

While the US Jewish community has provided tailwinds to the 400-year old unique US mindset on the concept of a Jewish State, it was not the Jewish community that laid the foundations of such a unique public mindset toward the Jewish State.

The potency of the core American values – which are defined as Judeo-Christian values in the US, which is the most religious Western democracy – is reflected by the 69% favorability of Israel, according to the February 2019 annual Gallup poll (compared with 21% Palestinian favorability) in defiance of significant odds, which do not challenge any other ally of the US: a systematic criticism by the “elite” US media and many in the US academia; the entrenched hostility of the State Department’s movers and shakers, who opposed Israel’s establishment in 1948, and have brutally criticized Israel ever since; and a pressure by all US presidents from Truman through Obama.

However, contrary to presidential pressure on Israel, the Jewish State has enjoyed systematic support by the co-equal and co-determining Legislature, which has been the most authentic representative of the (largely pro-Israel) American public and, therefore, is most attentive to public mindset and concerns. The Legislature is well aware of the awesome public muscle, which is displayed every two years during the election cycles for the (full) House and (one third) Senate, which have highlighted the electorate battle cry: “We shall remember in November.”

Ignoring the electorate’s core values amounts to political suicide by Members of the House and the Senate, and could transform presidents into “lame ducks.”

Among the core values of the US electorate are the bust of Moses facing the Speaker in the Chamber of the House of Representatives; the statue of Moses and the Ten Commandments on the ceiling of the US Supreme Court above the seats of the nine Supreme Court Justices; the Ten Commandments monuments on the ground of the State Capitols in Austin, TX, Oklahoma City, OK and Little Rock, AR, and in scores of additional towns in the US; the statues of Joshua, King David and Judah the Maccabee among the “Nine Worthies” at the West Point Military Academy Administration Building; the January, 2001 welcoming address by Senator Mitch McConnell of the newly-elected President George W. Bush: “We trust that you shall lead us in the best tradition of Joshua and Caleb”; etc.

Thus, the inception and perpetuation of the unique US public mindset on the Jewish State – since the 1620 docking of the “Mayflower” – has been a derivative of the assumption made by most Americans that the Jewish State is not a generic foreign entity, but rather an integral part of cardinal Judeo-Christian values, which have shaped the US history, morality and culture.

“We must go forth and occupy the land. We can do it!”

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

At first, the spies were important people, as it says, “All the men were leaders of the Israelites” (Numbers 13:3). Yet when Moses sent them to spy out the Land, they were transformed, as it says, “They departed and they came back” (13:26) – just as their arrival had been with bad intentions, so too, their departure (Rashi). From men who were supposed to exude a lofty spirit and strong faith in our right to Eretz Yisrael and our ability to conquer it, they became another type of people, people who only see the negative, libelers of Eretz Yisrael:

“‘We cannot go forward against those people!’ replied the men who had gone with him. ‘They are too strong for us!’ They began to speak badly about the land that they had explored. They told the Israelites, ‘The land that we crossed to explore is a land that consumes its inhabitants. All the men we saw there were huge! While we were there, we saw the titans. They were sons of the giant, who descended from the original titans. We felt like tiny grasshoppers! That's all that we were in their eyes.” (13:31-33).

Only Joshua bin Nun and Calev ben Yefune were steeped in faith and trust in G-d, and although they were in the minority, they ultimately succeeded in leading the Jewish People to the conquest of the Land and its settlement.

The spies “changed their skins,” altering their views as far as Eretz Yisrael. Rather than strengthening and encouraging the people, they frightened and demoralized them. Just so, in our own day, some of our prime ministers who have taken up the reins of leadership, have changed, altering their political world view despite their having been elected on the basis of their promise to the voters that they would be faithful to Eretz Yisrael and to settling every part of it.

When they were asked for an explanation of their extreme turnaround, they would answer, “What you see from you don’t see from there.” Yet actually that is just an excuse. They followed the path of the spies, whose faith in our right to Eretz Yisrael and in our ability to rule over it and to settle all of it dwindled to nothing.

This weakness stems from a lack of faith, a lack of spirit, and from moral deterioration. These in turn derive from their having distanced themselves from Jewish tradition, and their having never imbibed from our Jewish sources. It is from those sources that from time immemorial we have drawn our faith and trust in the Eternal One of Israel, and in our right to all of Eretz Yisrael. We believe in G-d’s having a goal of fulfilling the destiny of the Jewish People in Eretz Yisrael, towards the enlightenment and betterment of all mankind.

Our leaders suffer a lack of self-confidence, and an inability to provide security to the citizens of our country. They hesitate, agonize and zigzag, and the price is paid by our country’s citizens. We saw this both with the recent Lebanese war, and daily in Sderot and the adjoining settlements.

The call of the hour is to change the leadership of our beloved country, to elect leaders full of faith and trust in G-d, people with a vision and great, benevolent spirit. We need people of integrity who set an example by their own lives. We need brave people, who are truly faithful to the people, Torah and land of Israel, such as Joshua bin Nun and Calev ben Yefune.

By such means, we will see the speedy fulfillment of Calev’s words: “We must go forth and occupy the land. We can do it!” (Numbers 13:30). Amen.

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

The Shamrak Report: Oslo is Dead - Why Keep It Alive? and more...

by Mordechai Sones
As far back as 1996, various commentators have pointed out that no matter how many violations of Oslo occur, no matter how many times Oslo is declared dead, Oslo itself is never nullified, and the “peace process” goes on. The Palestinian Authority and its control of “areas A and B” - and their takeover of Area C - continues no matter how many violations it commits.
Apparently, diplomats call Oslo an “agreement,” but use it as a smokescreen for the inexorable transfer of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza to PA control, notwithstanding continuous PA violations that would have invalidated any real treaty years ago.
This is because Oslo is not a treaty to be enforced, but a diplomatic mask for a policy of abandonment of Biblical Israel to the Palestinian Authority. People keep saying Oslo is dead, but what they have not yet realized is that Oslo as a treaty was never alive, Oslo was a cosmetic for a policy of abandonment. And abandonment continues today.
With Oslo “dead,” American and Israeli diplomats continue to invent one new “peace process” activity after another at an ever-faster pace to mask the abandonment policy: Once it was the Mitchell Report, the Tenet Plan, and George Bush’s speech supporting Palestinian statehood. Shimon Peres energetically manufactured the appearance of a “peace process” by meeting Arafat, pretending he could deliver a signature that might protect Israel.
Today it is President Donald Trump's Deal of the Century that a Saudi official today said "leads to Palestinian statehood"... (If true, this is another betrayal of Jews! This plan, as many before it, will lead nowhere!)
Thus, the significant numbers of people who still cling to the peace process provide political cover for an abandonment process that they would revolt against if they really understood what was taking place...
Judea and Samaria's willingness to expose bureaucratic masks for abandonment is Yesha's key to survival at this point. By exposing covert eviction preparations, such as the Oslo-mandated and Israel-agreed-upon presence of Palestinian Authority armored vehicles in the vicinity of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, Yesha can sweep away the threat of eviction with the public exposure and subsequent political outcry.
If Judea and Samaria don't draw this line, there are no more lines for Israel to draw.

Zionism is Jewish National Independence Movement!
So far, during Year 2019 we have received 2 donations = $54
Presented by
Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak
The Oslo Accord was about giving a limited autonomy to fake Palestinians, but it became the process of gradual chipping off and destruction of the only Jewish state – Israel!

Please, read and forward this article!
President Reuven Rivlin earned loud applause accompanied by cheers when he said, addressing Conference on Combating Antisemitism and the BDS, that it was legitimate for Diaspora Jews who have a dispute with the government of Israel to have their say “loud and clear.”
Deal is the Deal - Egypt Must Pay!
Egypt will pay a $500 million fine to Israel for backing out of an agreement to provide natural gas. Under the deal, Egypt will pay the fine over eight and a half years to the state-owned Israel Electric Corporation. The fine was cut from $1.7 billion in a settlement agreement reached.
On Shabbat, June 8, the eve of Shavuot, 60 students of the Armenian Church attacked two young Jews who were walking on the Armenian Patriarchate Street in the Old City of Jerusalem and severely beat them “until the priests, who led the students, began to instruct them to stop the lynching.”(Surprising is that it was done by Armenians - usually nice Christians! No surprise that Israeli police has done nothing to punish the perpetrators.)
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has secretly transferred NIS 25 million to Israel as payment for medical bills this month, after publicly announcing it would cease to use Israel medical services as a form of boycott. (What about water and electricity bills? No payment - no service!)
The White House has decided not to invite Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon or other Israeli government representatives to a conference in Bahrain on June 25, when the economic part of US President Donald Trump's peace plan will be presented. It was said that inviting Israel could harm the conference's purpose. (Presence of Jews and their existence is always problematic for anti-Semites and enemies of IsraelGreat start for the "Deal of the Century" - another one dead before arrival!)
Understanding of Progress - Hamas Perspective
Hamas officials said the understandings with Israel have reached an advanced stage. They reported improvements in supplies of electricity and clean water, an expanded flow of imports and exports and a good start on projects for creating jobs along with the arrival in the enclave of Qatari envoy to Gaza Muhamad Al-Emadi to deliver a large sum in aid, estimated at $25 million. (In exchange for more fires, rocket attacks, and even rape! When will the government of Israel say ENOUGH?)
Netanyahu asking for 6th delay in evacuation of an illegal PA shantytown! Khan al-Ahmar is an illegal shantytown erected by the Palestinian Authority with help from the European Union. Israeli plans for construction in E1 were initially conceived by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. These plans have been frozen since at least 2009, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began his second stint at the helm.
Torah scrolls that were stolen from a synagogue in Bnei Brak, Israel, were found hidden in an Arab-owned animal pen in a village near Jerusalem. The synagogue was vandalized and looted two week ago. (Just imaging what the anti-Semitic international outcry would be if Jews would do it to a Quran!)
Quote of the Week:
“We reject the ‘deal of the century’ and all its dimensions, the economic, the political and the security dimensions. The issue of our Palestinian people is a nationalistic issue, it is the issue of a people who are seeking to be free from occupation (read: destruction of Israel). Palestine isn’t for sale and it is not an issue for bargaining. Palestine is a sacred land and there is no option for the occupation except to leave, (read: no room for Jews) Hamas official Ismail Rudwan – Why would they suggest the same idiotic ‘peace’ plan again, knowing that it will never work?
"The economic situation should not be discussed before the political one. As long as there is no political solution, we do not deal with any economic solution." - Mahmoud Abbas, PA President – Enemies of Israel are not interested in peace! It has been proven so many times. Only by removing all enemies from Jewish land peace will come to Israel!

“Road to Nowhere” - Business as Usual

by Steven Shamrak (05.05.2003)
PHASE-1: ENDING TERROR AND VIOLENCE, NORMALIZING PALESTINIAN LIFE, AND BUILDING PALESTINIAN INSTITUTIONS. The plan calls for: An unequivocal statement reiterating Israel's right to exist in peace and security; Immediate and unconditional cease-fire; End all armed activity and acts of violence against Israelis anywhere; End of incitement against Israel. Visible efforts on the ground to arrest disrupt and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis must be taken. Has it ever happened before? Is it going to happen now?
An old formula of two-state solution is offered again. Did you notice a relative silence after the “Road Map” was publicly disclosed? Even the Tenet plan created some excitement for a week. The great minds of UN, US, EU and Russia worked on this plan! It had been promoted as the solution to the Arab-Israel conflict. It is a shame that so much energy and time was wasted on recycling of unworkable ideas.
For many years, plans based on the same faulty premise, did not work! It is a common practice in science and engineering – if something does not work – a different approach ought to be considered. It’s called lateral thinking. But nobody is even interested in hearing alternative ideas!
There is already an Arab-Palestinian state, Jordan, where 70% of the population is “Palestinians”. It occupies 77% of the territory once called “Palestine”. The population relocation plan was presented to the League of Nations over 90 years ago. It was successfully implemented by several countries. It works! It is a proven, practical and moral solution!
Arabs have never seriously considered performing those “comprehensive security moves”. They have never abandoned the idea of total destruction of Israel and use the peace process as a tactical political maneuvering. Israel, for them, is a test ground of terror tactics now implemented worldwide.
I do not know any precedent when the creation of an utterly new country is declared (PHASE-2) prior to agreement on borders (PHASE-3).
It is written in The Book that Jews are the Chosen people, but not stupid!
It is “business as usual”. Israel again will be under pressure to make concessions, in spite of continuation of terror! The World community is unwilling to step out of the same useless frame of mind in search of a solution for the Arab-Israel conflict. Why would they think that the same stale and pointless ideas will bring a “happy marriage” now?
PS: One can still find and view PLO/PA’s a map of the intended state at (Please, look at a top-center-right map – all Israel is covered by ‘Green’!)