Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Always — and Especially Now — the Jews!

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign is aimed not so much at Israel as the West and its religious traditions as a whole.


Aha! A topic — and these don’t come easily these days — with Donald Trump nowhere near the center. Or maybe just the periphery. We’ll see. This one bears talking about, even so.

The topic, superficially, is the international campaign to delegitimize Israel: the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which last week the U.S. House — Nancy Pelosi’s House — slammed and condemned by an overwhelming margin.

Here, I guess, the president peeks slyly through the curtain. There might not have been a House vote at all but for the sudden hullabaloo, duly encouraged by the president, over the way-out politics of the four female House members known as “the Squad.” Two of the Squad’s members are Muslim; none of the four has anything complimentary to say about Israel. House leaders, at this fraught moment, found it necessary — or, at the very least, useful — to come out against BDS and its suspicious odor of anti-Semitism.

Boycotting Israel, selling off shares in companies that trade with Israel, applying economic or political sanctions to Israel — what’s the point here? Superficially, to reintroduce the word, the point is to kick the Israelis out of the West Bank, grant Palestinians full citizenship rights in Israel itself, and welcome back all who claim to have been dispossessed of their homes and land by the formation of Israel in 1948 — all of which, duly enacted, would finish off Israel as a nation. In the name of what? Justice? Fairness? The healing of open sores and wounds?

That would the rhetorical side of it, the noise to cover the real agenda — which, as seems obvious and painful, is to give the West, and its ancient civilization, a swift kick in the pants.

The world (much of it) is impatient to be rid of the West, with its ideals of reason, tolerance, liberty under law, and, not least, supernatural religion of the sort that binds together all the foregoing principles. Get rid of the West and, one fine day, we can go back to stomping on each other with no God watching or caring — certainly not intervening.

The boycott-divestment campaign has about it, yes, the taint of anti-Semitism, meaning hatred of or contempt for Jews. But what is the meaning of that hatred, that contempt? It seems more than discrete hatred of a discrete people. It resembles the wish to be rid of the God they serve. Secular Judaism — indifferent, if not hostile, to the Law and the Prophets — is hard to get one’s arms around. It cannot, in any case, conceal, hard as secular Jews may try, the history of the people God led into the Promised Land under Abraham and then delivered from bondage in Egypt under Moses.

The foundation stones of Greece, Rome, and, yes — forever — ancient Israel bear the impressive weight of the beliefs and customs and practices we know as Western. From the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob proceed our earliest lessons in the blessings of justice, mercy, honor, and human dignity. Not to wish the Jews to prosper — even such Jews as fail to understand their Jewishness — is to wish the West no good.

This, by the way, is the root problem here. Too many Western spokesmen for Enlightened Opinion sympathize strongly with the West’s critics and foes. They don’t awaken without feeling guilty for our culture’s imputed sins: racism, sexism, colonialism, you name it. We’re awful! We ought, apparently, to turn over the business of modern life to nations that wouldn’t know the 10 Commandments from a grocery list, far less the Lord’s Prayer or the Eucharistic canon.

Thus, the Jews — and secondarily, the Christians — catch it in the neck as representatives of selfishness and oppression — servants of a dated deity with a marginal connection to modern life. We really up-to-date folks, with our “woke” consciences — we don’t want the idea going any further that burning bushes and desert prophets have relevance to human challenges of the sort foretold by Genesis. Aren’t we our own religion; our own prophets; our own, in a sense, gods?

The Jews won’t ever make it with those who prefer Facebook’s outlook to the Torah’s. At least for now, they’ve still got their country.

The Shamrak Report: Unity Needed to Fight the anti-Zionist Left

by David Israel
Ayelet Shaked, chairman of the New Right party, and Rabbi Rafi Peretz, chairman of Habayit Hayehudi, spoke about the prospects of unifying all the right-wing parties, including Otzma Yehudit. The two agreed to meet in the coming days for further coordination.
Shaked said at the end of the meeting: “The responsibility for unity rests on our shoulders, it is the order of the day. I intend to do everything to make it happen.”
Peretz, too, sounded optimistic: “Habayit Hayehudi has always connected and united, and this time, too, we will do so.”
Recently, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to block Ayelet Shaked from leading a unified right, telling Peretz that it was impossible to know whom the former justice minister would recommend for prime minister...
Netanyahu claimed that Shaked would not add any additional seats to the envisioned, new slate. Netanyahu’s wife Sarah met with Rafi Peretz’s wife and asked her personally to prevent a partnership between her husband and Ayelet Shaked... (Anything goes!)
The New Right chairwoman invited everyone right-of-center to join the unified right (name pending): “I call my partners here – true, there are disagreements between us, but in the face of the challenges before us, they are meaningless.” (Netanyahu would do everything possible, and he has done plenty, to stay in power! Unfortunately, he has been spending more energy fighting, denigrating and pushing aside pro-Zionist leaders and members of his own party, not many left by now in Likud, than Leftist anti-Zionists!)

Zionism is Jewish National Independence Movement!
Presented by
Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak
The Palestine mandate partition plan of 1947, United Nations resolution 181, was an attempt by international political anti-Semites to commit ‘Holocaust-2’, final solution, using Arabs/Muslims to kill Jews and destroy the Jewish state at its infancy. The plan is still in play thank to the continuous international anti-Israel bashing and unprecedented support for fake Palestinians!
Barak-Meretz the political platform of the Democratic Camp union with Ehud Barak and Stav Shafir was criticized, by 'true believers' because it does not mention the term “Two States for Two Peoples,” referring instead to a general commitment to striving for a political settlement. (No integrityAnti-Zionist Left would do anything to deceive gullible Israeli voters!)
House Democrats are fighting among themselves over a single word in a resolution to reaffirm support for a two-state solution in the Middle East, a dispute that threatens to further inflame tensions within the caucus over Israel. The resolution states that “only” a two-state accord can end the long-running conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Some of the caucus’ staunchest pro-Israel supporters have declined to support the resolution, arguing that Democrats should not limit themselves to supporting a single outcome.
Turkish President continues to criticize Israel, told members of his party “Whoever is on the side of Israel, let everyone know that we are against them.” (Is it because of anti-Semites of Europe?)
The Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system has performed a very successful series of experiments in Alaska. The tests were conducted by the Israel Aerospace Industries, the defense ministry, and the Israeli air force.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinians will no longer abide by previous agreements made with Israel. Israel has in the past warned that a scrapping of agreements could lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. (The Oslo Accords expired a long time ago. Now is the best time to move enemies to Sinai and end the ambiguity of perpetual conflict!)
A Dutch Christian missionary group has been caught targeting children in the southern Israeli port city of Ashdod, which has the highest number of immigrants in the state. The so-called “Beit Hillel” Center missionaries were seen handing out gift boxes to children in the local parks. (Missionary activity is illegal in the State of Israel, but the government does nothing to stop it!)
Despite systemic political bias, UN continues to buy more from Israel. Despite the United Nations’ continued hostility toward Israel, various UN agencies acquired $256 million worth of Israeli goods and services. UN acquisitions included communications and logistics services; medical and water desalination technology; and security and defense technology for the UN peacekeeping forces.
Quote of the Week:
"Refugees and migrants all over the world are being sent back home by Western countries enforcing their laws, but somehow deportation from Israel is portrayed as an atrocity akin to those perpetrated by the Nazis." Ben-Dror Yemini - An anti-Semite will find any excuse to unjustly discredit Israel/Jews and white-wash atrocities that have been committed by Nazis, with the help of European and other Jew-haters!
The United States have blocked an attempt by Kuwait, Indonesia and South Africa to get the United Nations Security Council to condemn Israel’s demolition of illegal Palestinian Arab homes on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Once again proving what a joke the United Nations is, the organization’s Economic and Social Council voted this week to condemn Israel as the only country in the world that violates women’s rights. Even more laughable is that among the 54 nations that sit on the council are Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, China, and Pakistan.
A report, produced at the request of the UN Security Council, shames the Jewish state for the deaths of Palestinian children at the hands of Israeli forces and a Saudi-led military coalition for killing at least 729 children in Yemen. Although, “In Afghanistan, the number of child casualties remained the highest such number in the present report (3,062) and children accounted for 28 per cent of all civilian casualties..." the report said. (Anything goes just to discredit Israel! This is the only consistent UN policy!)

Meeting the Mashiach Face-to-Face

Parashat Masai 5779
by HaRav Nachman Kahana

Bamidbar 33,1-2:

(א) אלה מסעי בני ישראל אשר יצאו מארץ מצרים לצבאתם ביד משה ואהרן:
(ב) ויכתב משה את מוצאיהם למסעיהם על פי ה’ ואלה מסעיהם למוצאיהם:

1. These are the journeys of the Children of Israel when they departed from Egypt united under the leadership of Moshe and Aharon. 
2. At HaShem’s command, Moshe recorded their departures and journeys; and these are their journeys and departures.

Question: In the initial part of verse 2 Moshe writes “departures and journeys”, in the latter part of the verse the order is reversed “journeys and departures”. Why?

The answer to this question encapsulates the entire desert experience, and why it took four decades.

When first leaving Egypt, the newly emancipated Jews nostalgically identified with the land they were departing, even threatening Moshe several times to return to Egypt; with the concerns of what awaits them in their upcoming journeys contributing much to their feelings of uncertainty regarding their destiny in the ominous desert.

However, under Moshe Rabbeinu’s tutelage during the 40-year desert experience as HaShem’s chosen people, the emphasis in their lives changed dramatically, with the nation anxiously anticipating completing the journey to Eretz Yisrael, while growing less nostalgic over the galut place they had departed from.

It was Moshe’s task to reverse the national consciousness from that of downtrodden slaves, scrounging for a potato peel in the lands of their departure, to a nation chosen by HaShem over all other peoples, to serve as His emissaries in this world, to become effective with the nation’s liberation of Eretz Yisrael at journey’s end.

Where can you meet the Mashiach face-to-face?

The demonic head of Jew-hating is again appearing unchecked in Western Europe, infecting ever wider swabs of degenerates there. It is a good thing, yet also a bad one. It’s good because the idea of aliya is being brought out from the closet to be considered by many Jews in Madrid, Paris, London, Berlin, Rome, Amsterdam, Antwerp, etc., but not so good because a Jew should return home not for fear of the goy, but for love of HaShem who declared in His Torah that a Jew must reside in the holy land.

The contagious lethal virus of anti-Semitism is taking hold also in the United States. The statistics of anti-Semitic attacks show an uncomfortable increase in acts of hate against individual Jews and Jewish institutions. There is fertile ground for anti-Semitism in the US., which includes white supremacists, blacks who blame the Jews for slavery and exploitation, and Moslems who drink it with their mother’s milk, and just plain folks who visit church regularly and wear a cross around their neck so they don’t forget that the Jews crucified their god.

America is a great land, but unfortunately it is home to hundreds of thousands of Jews who are incarcerated with no means of escape. But this incarceration is not imposed by law enforcement agencies. It is a self-imposed incarceration. And the bizarre fact is that it is the emancipator himself who is the incarcerator, bar none, who is imprisoning many of these good Jewish souls. It is none other than the Mashiach himself!

Many chareidi leaders in the Chassidic movement as well as in yeshiva circles, preach that it is prohibited to go up to the holy land until the Mashiach calls for them with a limo and whisks them over land and sea to the mansions awaiting them here.

When, God forbid, mass anti-Semitism breaks out in the USA, no doubt the followers of these leaders will be told that their suffering is a “kiddush HaShem”.

It is told that a certain rabbi from the States called upon Harav HaGaon Shlomo Zalman Auerbach z”l to discuss if aliya is a required mitzva in our time. He brought with him reams of notes quoting poskim who said that it is not a mitzva or it is not a required one. To every point the guest brought up, the Gaon said “nisht vichtig” (irrelevant). Point after point the Gaon pushed aside with the reply that it’s not relevant.

The guest was perturbed at the Gaon’s replies and asked for an explanation. The Gaon said, “put down all these writings and open a plain Chumash. Every parasha screams out Eretz Yisrael”. The Torah lives, breathes and shines only here in HaShem’s holy land.

I truly feel sorry for the Jews who will have to remain under the torment of anti-Semitism because their rabbi said not go to the holy land until the Mashiach rolls out the red carpet. How sad that so many well-meaning God-fearing Jews are incarcerated by the false teachings and interpretations of leaders who are blood and flesh, with not one meriting a message from the Shamayim (the heavens). I realize rabbis, and I am one of them, make errors. We too are human.

The anti-Eretz Yisrael phenomena of pre-World War Two has returned to haunt us. Without mentioning names, how many religious leaders held back their adherents from coming on aliya even when the face of the Satan was upon them. Many told their followers in Hungary and other places not to worry, for Hitler will not enter our land. And hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews went to heaven through the fires of the crematoria.

To tell a Jew not to come to Eretz Yisrael is an unpardonable sin, tantamount to convincing a husband to leave his beloved wife, or children to part with their devoted parents. And it does not matter who says it, because the emet (TRUTH) is bigger than all of us.

My suggestion to the chareidim of the USA is to approach their rabbis and say, “We love you and your erudition, but in times like this it’s every man for himself. And you dear Rabbi, I will come to the airport to greet you when you make aliya, if indeed you get out in time”.

Remember the lessons of our parasha. Do not cling to the lands of your departure but begin now your journey home to HaShem’s promised land, BECAUSE IT IS HERE AND ONLY HERE WHERE YOU WILL MEET THE MASHIACH FACE TO FACE.

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

"The Lord will not cast off His People, nor will He forsake His Inheritance."

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

“If you do not drive out the land’s inhabitants before you, those who remain shall be barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, causing you troubles in the land that you settle” (Numbers 33:55).

Rashi explains that those nations will be like “pins which prick out your eyes,” forcing Israel to hide behind fences such that can no one can leave or enter, and our enemies will torment us.

What is the idea behind metaphors in which the eyes are threatened? It is known that the eyes symbolize wisdom and understanding. Therefore, the leaders and wise men of the people are called “the eyes of the people” (see Numbers 15:24).

From here we learn that if we leave a foreign people in our land, our leaders’ eyes will be “pricked out,” i.e., they will lose their wisdom and understanding...

Ohr HaChaim adds, “Not only will your enemies take hold of part of the Land, but even in the part that you have settled, ‘your enemies will cause you trouble,’ saying, ‘Get up and leave the Land!’”

The Crystal clear words of our holy Torah and the unequivocal explanations of Rashi and Ohr HaChaim regarding the harsh results of a foreign people ruling over part of our land require us to wake up and to open the eyes of our leaders and of the Jewish masses. We must rise as one man with one heart against the counsel of our enemies who wish to banish us from our land, and from Jerusalem the nation’s heart. Then we will be living fulfillment of Numbers 34:2: “This land shall fall to you as your inheritance, the Land of Canaan to its borders.” Rashi explains, “G-d cast down from heaven the angelic princes of the seven nations of Canaan and placed them in fetters before Moses.

G-d said to Moses, ‘See, there is no more strength in them.’” We shall see with our own eyes how “there are many devices in a man’s heart, but it is G-d’s counsel that shall endure” (Proverbs 19:21), for “the L-rd has chosen Zion, He desired it for His habitation” (Psalm 132:13). Moreover, “The L-rd will not cast off His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance” (Psalm 94:14).

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom,
Chodesh Tov.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Matot: Great is Vengeance Because It Appears Between Two Names of God

Anger, hatred, vengeance, killing and bloodshed, are generally looked down upon, even forbidden in Judaism, and not the behavior of an elevated individual, as it says in Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take revenge...”

But, we see the inverse concept, on the national level, for the sake of Am Yisrael. Think about that next time the PalestiNazis lob rockets from Gaza, into innocent Israeli towns.

This week’s Torah reading, Matot, (Book of Numbers 31:1-3), describes the battle against Midian, after what they did to the Jewish people, “HaShem spoke to Moshe saying: Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Children of Israel. After that, you will be gathered to your people [you will die]. So Moses said to the people: Arm some of your men to go to war against the Midianites so that they may carry out the Lord’s Vengeance on them.”

The rabbis of the midrash (Tanchuma Matot 3) ask: HaShem say’s ‘the Children of Israel’s vengeance,’ and yet Moshe tells the Israelites, ‘HaShem’s Vengeance?’ They explain that Moshe, then said to God: “if we were uncircumcised idol worshippers, they wouldn’t hate us, but because you gave us Your Torah they hate us,” and the rabbis conclude by teaching, the vengeance of Am Yisrael, to eliminate a Chillul HaShem (a dishonor to God), is God’s Vengeance, and a Kiddush HaShem (a sanctification of His Name in the world).

Moshe could have stalled for time, to live longer. But he was filled with Kedushah (Holy Energy), he lusted to see vengeance carried out on the Midianites (Kiddush HaShem), to avenge Israel’s, i.e. God’s Honor and rushed to carry out HaShem’s command, (Numbers Rabbah 22:2).

And who led the IDF to victory against Midian, in avenging Israel’s and God’s Honor?

The same Pinchas, who we’ve met in the last two Torah readings. He staved off a plague, by killing the prince of the tribe of Shimon, fornicating with a Midianite woman. So enraged was Pinchas (Aaron’s grandson) because of the Chillul HaShem, that he killed both of them, ending the plague that had broken out in the camp and had already killed 24,000 (Numbers 25:1-7, see also Sanhedrin 106a).

The same is true for King David, who responded to Goliath’s taunting of Saul’s army by taking him on and defeating him. David angrily shouted, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” David saw this as a Chillul HaShem (an emptying of God’s Presence in the world), by the way Goliath degraded the Jewish people, thus desecrating God’s Name.

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head...and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands,” After David killed Goliath, the Israeli army routed the PalestiNazis of their time, that day. (1 Samuel Chapter 17).

As the Rabbis tell us, “He who taunts Israel, taunts God.” Any war against the Jewish people, is a war against the God of the Jews and is a Milchemet Mitzvah, an obligatory war, to eliminate the Chillul HaShem as quickly as possible.

So while individual Jews who are attacked and killed in hate crimes, terror attacks, the Holocaust, all died Al Kiddush HaShem; for the nation of Israel as a nation, its a Chillul HaShem, and needs to be avenged. To avenge the Jewish people’s honor, is to avenge God’s Honor in this world.

As the rabbis said (Berakhot 33a), “Great is vengeance because it appears between two names of God,” as it is written, “God of Vengeance, Lord,God of Vengeance shine forth” (Psalms 94:1).

To see the punishment of the wicked, brings Kiddush HaShem into the world. Then and only then, do the nations really know there is a God of Israel, as Midian learned, the hard way.

Last week, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced, “the leadership’s decision to stop implementing the agreements signed with the Israeli side,” and the establishment of a committee to implement the decision of the PLO Central Council.

“We will never surrender or agree to live with the occupation, nor will we bargain for the ‘deal of the century,’ because Palestine and Al-Quds are not for sale or bargaining, and they are not real estate transactions. There will be no peace, security and stability in the region and the world if the Palestinian people does not fully realize their rights,” said the PA chairman.

The thieves are complaining…

We might be watching the beginning of the collapse of the PA, B’Ezrat HaShem, God Willing.

Let’s hope that the current Israeli government will learn and then teach this important lesson on vengeance and Kiddush HaShem, to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, Hezbollah, the Syrians and Iranians, ISIS and all the Jewish people’s sworn enemies today, as great Jewish leaders did in the past!

Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Have the Laws of Kashrut Changed?

by HaRav Eliezer Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Har Bracha

Many studies have proven beyond doubt that metal and glass utensils do not absorb flavors, which raises a question about the halakha of kashering utensils based on the assumption that utensils absorb and emit them * The halakha does not change, and the metal utensils have not changed, but it seems that the invention of soap changed reality * From the poskim it has been proven that absorption of flavors stemmed from the layer of grime accumulated on the utensils, but today the widespread use of soap prevents this * In light of this, all the foundations of hilchot keilim remain in place, and only in laws that actually depend on absorption of flavor, has the law changed

The Basis of the Mitzvah of Kashering Utensils

Three years ago, I shared with the readers the explanation of an important and complex halachic issue that arose in the past generation, and now I will briefly summarize it with its main halachic conclusions.

After Israel defeated Midian and captured their spoils, they were commanded to kasher the vessels as they were used – “k’bolo kach polto” (in the same manner a utensil absorbs, it also releases what it has absorbed). In other words, utensils used for cooking – their kashering is done by hagalah (immersing in boiling water), and utensils used for roasting or baking – by way of libun (kashering with direct fire until the vessels becomes red-hot), as the Torah says: ” This is the rule that God commanded Moses: As far as the gold, silver, copper, iron, tin and lead are concerned, whatever was used over fire must be brought over fire and purged… that which was not used over fire need only be immersed in a mikveh” (Numbers 31: 21-23).

At the basis of the mitzvah, our Sages explained that the taste of a food cooked in a utensil is absorbed in its walls, and if after cooking a treif (non-kosher) food in a pot, kosher food is cooked, the treif flavor is released from the walls and is absorbed in the kosher food. And our Sages instructed that since we do not know how much taste is absorbed and stuck to the walls, and what strength it has, the walls must be considered as if they are filled with the prohibition. Since the pot contents are almost always not sixty times the thickness of the walls, it follows that whenever a dish is cooked in a pot that has absorbed a forbidden taste, everything that is cooked in the pot will be prohibited. The same applies to a pot in which milk was cooked and then meat, that since in the meat dish there are not sixty times the thickness of the walls that absorbed milk, the meat dish is forbidden. In order to be able to cook in a treif pot, it must be kashered as it is used – “k’bolo kach polto” (Avodah Zarah 74b; 76b).

The halakha goes according to Rabbi Shimon, that if the treif pot had not been used for twenty-four hours, be’di’avad (after the fact), the dish cooked in it is not forbidden, because after a period of twenty-four hours the taste absorbed in the utensil is pagum (defective), and a taam pagum (defective taste) does not make the dish forbidden. But l’chatchila (ideally), it is forbidden to use the utensil without kashering it (S. A., Y. D. 122:2).

The Big Question Nowadays

In recent generations, it has become evident beyond any doubt, according to the experience of many people who have examined it in their home kitchen, as well as scientific research, that metal vessels, similar to glassware, do not absorb flavors and consequently, also do not emit them. In other words, if milk is cooked in a pot, and afterward the pot is thoroughly cleaned, and then meat is cooked in it, the meat will not have any taste of milk. And if treif meat was cooked and then the pot was cleaned well, and immediately afterward a vegetable dish was cooked in it, the vegetables will not have any taste from the treif meat.

Ostensibly, since the obligation to kasher a utensil is to remove the flavors that have been absorbed in it, after it has become apparent that metal and glass utensils do not absorb flavors – the Torah’s commandment to kasher them after treif has been cooked in them, is null and void. On the other hand, however, we have learned explicitly in the Torah that it is a mitzvah to kasher metal utensils?

Have Metals Changed?

At first, I speculated: perhaps metals have changed and in the past, they were less solid and impervious and therefore absorbed flavors, similar to earthenware and wood utensils. However, it turns out that metals of various types are common substances known not to have changed, and unlike clay and wood that have pores through which taste-bearing materials can penetrate into the thickness of the utensil, flavors cannot penetrate metal-bearing materials because the taste molecules are far larger than the spaces between the particles from which metals are made.

If so, the question remains: How is it possible that our Sages said that metal utensils emit flavors from the previous dish cooked in them, but today we do not taste it at all?

The Change Comes From the Invention of Soap

After further study, I discovered that the change that has taken place in recent generations is in our ability to clean utensils. Only a little over two hundred years ago (1790), Nicolas Leblanc, a French chemist, discovered the method used to make detergent, the basic substance of soap, which can dissolve and remove fats and grime. In a gradual process, the use of soap became common, until about 100 years ago, liquid soap, which in time was used worldwide, also began to be produced in Germany.

In other words, in the past, although utensils were washed well, and materials such as ash and burr which work similarly to soap were used, almost always particles of food cooked in utensils remained stuck to their sides. These tastes were called “absorbed flavors” since they became one with the sides, and secondary to them. In addition, metal surfaces are covered with tiny cracks (which can be seen with a microscope) and taste-bearing materials can enter them, and may be considered as actually absorbed in the metal, even though they do not penetrate into its thickness. In earlier times, metal utensils were often coarser, and the holes in their walls were larger.

Nevertheless, as long as soap was not used, even after serious cleaning, there was almost always a thin layer of residue food leftover on the side of the utensil which transferred tastes. And because the liquids in this layer evaporated, the taste-bearing materials remained there in a high concentration, to the point where our Sages hypothesized according to experience that sometimes their taste was equal to that of the thickness of the walls. And since it is a thin layer exposed to air, an accelerated biochemical processes of decay would have occurred, to the point where our Sages hypothesized that if the utensil was not ben yomo (over 24 hours had passed), it was already clear that the taste that stuck to, and absorbed in its walls, were pagum.

Evidence from the Poskim

After understanding this, with the help of Rabbi Maor Cayam shlita, I found that in essence, this is what emerges from the words of the Rishonim, who explicitly wrote that at the time utensils undergo hagalah, the filth and grime emitted from the utensils into the water becomes very thick. Thus, they were speaking about the fats that were stuck to the sides of the utensils which the boiling water had melted until they mixed-in with the water. Consequently, Rabbi Aharon Halevi (Ra’ah) wrote that many utensils should not be immersed in the same water, for fear that “there will be a lot of zohama (filth), and consequently, the power of the water (to extract the tastes) is nullified, and the water changes its form…” (Bedik HaBayit 4: 4); and thus wrote Ran, that many utensils should not undergo hagalah “to the point where the water changes its form due to emitted material from the utensils, for it is as if one immersed a utensil in sauce…” (Chulin 44a, in dapaei Rif), and as explained by many other Rishonim. Today, the water does not change form because utensils are cleaned with soap.

The Obligation to Kasher Remains

In light of this, the obligation to kasher metal utensils used with treif remains in place, since even in the past, metals did not actually absorb tastes within them; thus, the obligation to kasher them is because when they were used with treif, the tastes stuck to their sides. And just as it is obligatory to kasher treif utensils after twenty-four hours have passed, even though the taste-bearing material stuck to them is already considered pagum and not prohibited, similarly, it is also obligatory to kasher utensils after removing all the remnants of food with soap.

If we delve deeper into the words of the Rishonim, we find they differed whether the obligation to kasher after cleansing, similar to the obligation to kasher a treif utensil after 24 hours passed, is from the Torah or of rabbinical ordinance. According to those poskim who believe that “ta’am k’ikar d’Rabanan” (‘a taste is like the entity itself’ is of rabbinical ordinance) (Ramban, Rambam, Ra’ah, Ran, Nimukei Yosef, Ritva, and others), since the tastes that were absorbed and stuck to the utensils are not prohibited by the Torah, thus, the obligation to kasher utensils from the Torah also applies to tastes that became pagum or were removed, or as Ramban wrote that the kashering of utensils is for “a virtuous reason,” similar to the mitzvah of immersing utensils that a Jew bought or received from a non-Jew in a mikveh (Ra’ah, Bedek HaBayit 4: 1). And in the opinion of those poskim who believe that “ta’am k’ikar D’oreita” (‘a taste is like the entity itself’ is from the Torah)” (Bahag, Tosafot, Rabbeinu Tam, Terumah, Ra’zah, Raavad, Rosh, and others), after the taste is removed or is pagum, the obligation to kasher is of Rabbinical ordinance.

The Halakha in Laws Dependent on Taste

According to this explanation, all the fundamentals of the laws of kashering utensils remain in place, and only in laws that actually depend on taste, has the law changed. For example, if one made a mistake and cooked kosher food in a treif pot, just as if 24 hours had passed since the treif was cooked in the pot the food cooked in it is kosher, similarly, if the pot was cleaned with soap, even though 24 hours had not passed since the treif was cooked – the food cooked in it is kosher.

However, if it was done be’zadon (maliciously), in other words, one knew that the pot required kashering, and nevertheless he cooked kosher food in it, from Divrei Chachamim (Rabbinical ordinance), the food cooked is forbidden for anyone who it was cooked for, even though in practice, the pot did not emit forbidden tastes into the cooked food. There are, however, some later poskim who were lenient even for someone who cooked it be’zadon (Tiferet Le’Moshe, Maharam Shick, Iggrot Moshe, and others), but in practice, one should be machmir (act stringently), as many Rishonim and Acharonim wrote (among them, Rashba, Ritva, Radbaz, Knesset HaGedolah, Pri Migadim, Beit Shlomo, Zivchei Tzedek).

Cooking Parve Food in a Basari Utensil (Nat-Bar-Nat)

As well known, the Rishonim differed on the question of whether it is permitted to cook parve food in a basari (meat) pot in order to eat it with chalav (dairy), or vice versa (this law in Hebrew is called “nat-bar-nat d’hetera“). In accordance with the words of the Rishonim, three minhagim (customs) was established: 1) the minhag of some Sephardic Jews, who hold that l’chatchila (ideally), one is permitted to cook in a ben yomo basari pot (a pot that 24 hours have not passed since meat was cooked in it) a parve food in order to eat it with chalav. 2) The minhag of most Sephardi Jews is that, l’chatchila, one should not cook parve food in a basari pot to be eaten with chalav, but if the basari pot is not ben yomo, one can cook a parve dish in it, in order to eat it with chalav. 3) For the minhag of Ashkenazic Jews, even b’shaat ha’tzorech (time of need), parve food cooked in a basari pot that is ben yomo cannot be eaten with chalav, and only be’di’avad (after the fact), if it got mixed in, it may be eaten. And if the basari pot is not ben yomo, b’shaat ha’tzorech it may be eaten with chalav.

According to what we have learned, all this is intended for earthenware utensils that absorb flavors, or metal utensils that have not been thoroughly cleansed with soap. However, in a metal utensil that has been cleansed with soap, members of all ethnic groups can act according to the lenient method.

The Law Concerning Charif

Similarly, the Rishonim differed as to charif (sharp, or spicy) food. Some poskim are of the opinion that the spiciness of the food enhances taste, therefore, if one cooks or cuts a charif food in a basari pot, the cooked dish becomes basari, and the minhag is to take into consideration their opinion (S. A. 91: 1). However today, when pots and pans are cleaned with soap, the lenient opinion should be followed, namely, if one cooked or cut a charif parve food in a clean basari utensil made of metal or glass – the food remains parve, and may be eaten with chalav, or vice versa.

Unlearning the Lessons of the Diaspora

by Victor Rosenthal

If you won’t eliminate the Diaspora – the Diaspora will eliminate you. Ze’ev Jabotinsky, 1936

For Jewish individuals and communities, life in the Diaspora can be fraught. They must be vigilant for attacks from all sides. Even today, in a free and tolerant country like the US, there are Jew-haters under every rock: extremist Muslim Imams, obsessed neo-Nazis, black admirers of Louis Farrakhan, even anti-Jewish Catholic cults. Violent attacks on Jews are on the rise on the European continent, in Britain, and in the Jewish neighborhoods of Brooklyn, New York. Some of the anti-Jewish prejudice stems from the worldwide campaign against the Jewish state, exemplified by the BDS movement. The rise of identity politics in the West also tends to amplify anti-Jewish phenomena. Despite attempts at education since the Holocaust, belief in antisemitic stereotypes is widespread throughout the world.

Nevertheless, the situation of Diaspora Jews has been much worse in the past. From the time of the Roman destruction of the Second Temple until founding of the State of Israel, the welfare of Jewish communities in both the Christian and Muslim worlds was almost always dependent on the attitudes of the particular ruler, and could become intolerable overnight. Even in the best of times, Jews were treated as second-class citizens, often taxed heavily and restricted in where they could live, how they could earn their living, whether they could obtain higher education, whether they could own land, and so forth. Sometimes the local citizens would take it into their minds to attack Jews, beating, raping, and murdering them, and of course stealing their property. Often the authorities would cast a blind eye to such outbreaks, or even encourage them for political reasons.

Naturally, Jews developed strategies for survival in such hostile environments. Some of them are assimilation, hiding, appeasement, suffering in silence, and collaboration. Assimilation can protect an individual, although since its mass adoption leads to the extinction of the community, it is in a larger sense self-defeating. And as is well-known, it’s ineffective when the basis of Jew-hatred is “racial,” as it was for the Nazis. Hiding is hard to pull off, and can become indistinguishable from assimilation. Appeasement – paying the jizya or ransoming captives – is giving into blackmail, which leads to greater and greater demands, which ultimately become unbearable. Collaboration with the antisemitic enemy may work for a few individuals for a time, but in addition to its immorality, it only accelerates the destruction of the community.

After millennia of diasporic compromise and the need to rely on others for our defense, it became possible for the Jewish people to contemplate – and even actualize – the return to their historical homeland and establishment of a Jewish state, which would put an end to the need to choose between these distasteful options. The existence of the state also makes true Jewish self-defense possible. There is a meme that was popular a few years ago, a picture of IAF aircraft with the caption ”Jews: not so easy to f— with any more.” And that is, or at least ought to be, true.

But unfortunately, the aforementioned diasporic millennia accustomed the Jewish people to ways of behaving that may have helped them survive in that unnatural and unhealthy environment, but which actually work against their survival in a world in which there is a sovereign Jewish state. These attitudes are found both in the diaspora and in Israel herself.

In the Diaspora today, there are Jews whose diasporic adaptations only affect them and their communities, such as the assimilators. These are usually acting as individuals, but it can also be argued that the Reform Movement in America, by accepting – almost encouraging – intermarriage, and at the same time transforming traditional Judaism into a politically-oriented “Tikkunism,” is actually bringing about mass assimilation in fact if not in name. More serious are the collaborators, whose actions affect the entire Jewish people. They are Jews whose identification with the enemies of the Jewish people take the form of extreme anti-Zionism, or Misoziony. This would include Jewish supporters of the BDS movement, Jewish members of organizations like “A Jewish Voice for Peace” or “If Not Now,” and so on. Just as dangerous or more is the phony “pro-Israel” group J Street(see also here). While pretending to responsibly support dovish solutions to Israel’s regional conflict, J Street received funds from Arab, Iranian, and extreme left-wing sources, and consistently acts against Israel’s interests.

In Israel, we find the collective guilt complex toward the Palestinian Arabs, which makes some Israelis feel the need to compensate them for the nakba, the mass exodus of several hundred thousand Arabs from what would become the Jewish state before and during the war that accompanied its birth. There is also a tendency to appeasement, as is exemplified by various schemes to stop terrorism emanating from the Gaza Strip by helping Hamas build facilities like a port that would improve the economy, or by allowing aid money from Qatar to flow into it.

There is also the policy that a certain amount of terrorism – a few stabbings in Jerusalem, a few rocks thrown through car windshields (which have caused death on several occasions) on the roads, a few thousand acres of farmland, nature preserve, and forest burned – is an acceptable level. Better that than war, think the decision-makers. Meanwhile, the terrorists grow bolder and the incidents more frequent. But we wouldn’t want to make them angry, would we? Is it diaspora thinking or battered woman syndrome?

Today’s newspaper has a headline story about a program being pushed by Yisrael Katz, the supposedly “right-wing” Foreign Minister who has just taken over the position from PM Netanyahu, to encourage governments to move their embassies to Jerusalem. A wonderful idea, but the article notes that there is a budget of 50 million shekels (about $14 million) in aid for countries who do so. So we will bribe them to recognize our capital!

There are also the activities of the extreme Israeli Left, who are actively assisting Israel’s enemies in their efforts to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state. Even the important Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz has several writers that contribute to this campaign on a daily basis. Nobody is saying that we shouldn’t have a free press, but Gideon Levy, for example, long ago crossed the line from social/political criticism to foaming-at-the-mouth loathing for the homeland that gave his parents refuge from the Nazis in 1939. This is a sign of a psychological disorder, and it’s a disorder that is common enough to be considered a social pathology.

Assimilation, appeasement, collaboration, and acquiescence to humiliation or even to terrorism. They are all social pathologies of the Jewish people, in the diaspora and even in the Jewish state, that are vestigial remnants of diasporic survival strategies.

It’s time for us to overcome them. In a world containing a thriving, powerful, Jewish state, they are as useful to the Jewish people as an inflamed appendix is to the human organism.

The Three Weeks, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib: Mourning Or Redemption?

Has the Israeli government lost it’s mind? Do we have not one drop of national pride left?

Recently, after introducing a pro-BDS resolution in the US House, IslamoFascist Ilhan Omar (D-MN), told reporters that she and PalestiNazi Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) intended to go to visit Israel and the “Palestinian territories” in a few weeks.

Ilhan “Its all about the Benjamins” Omar, said that the “Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories will be the main point of the trip. Everything that I hear, points to both sides feeling like there is still an occupation.”

The next day, Israel’s Ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, announced, “Out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel.” So, the government decided to let them enter Israel.

After having spewd their JudeoPathic venom on Jews and Israel since their election, from their congressional soapboxes…?

Now I know we’ve entered the “Bein HaMetzarim – The Three Weeks,” a period that mourns the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash (both Holy Temples and Jerusalem), culminating in the fast of Tisha B’Av, and why we still mourn!

A people that can be spat upon, kicked, and punched in the face, and respond, “I’m sorry...” certainly needs deep therapy!

Maybe Shock Treatment!

And to let it’s abusers come to visit your home as well? What can you say, but...

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

Do you feel the churban yet?

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

Do you feel the churban yet?

Did you notice Omar and Tlaib are planning to come right around Tisha B’Av? Reenacting the sin of the spies,“Vayotziu Dibat HaAretz,” they brought an evil report about the land, (Numbers 13:32).

Omar and Tlaib plan to spew their JudeoPathic venom in our home now, what an insult to Jews, Israel, and to God.

By refusing them entry, Israel needn’t worry about the American response, those who support Israel will understand. And by the way, those same people, including Trump, have their own fights with “the squad,” Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib, and Pressley.

The Jew haters and anti-Israel, pro-BDS people, like “the squad,” and others, who cares what they think!

The negative news cycle that would follow the announcement that Omar and Tlaib won’t be allowed into Israel, pales in comparison to the serious and long term damage to the State of Israel’s image, that a public relations coup would reap for them if they were allowed in. American, Israeli and international press will cover their trip. It would catapult them from being freshman Democratic congresswomen, into international Leftist political stardom!

If Israel doesn’t let them in, at least they will have been denied the propaganda victory of reporting on how the Israelis “oppress” the Palestinians, and the photo ops they’re looking for, a much greater value.

Then, around the same time, the Palestinian Authority warned that, “Among the extremist Jews, today is a Talmudic holiday considered the beginning of ‘the most dangerous season of Judaization,’ its what is called, the fast of Tammuz, and is a prelude to the anniversary of what is called ‘the destruction of the alleged Temple.’” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 21, 2019]

So much for history and truth...

“But you can still redeem yourselves, there’s still time. Throw those foxes off the Mount, don’t let them back this time, and announce to the world its your Holy Place, exclusively. And, don’t let them enter your home, your country. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you. No power on earth can oppose you when you choose to worship Me, My special treasure, My people Israel,” saith the L-rd God of Israel.

“I loved your fathers and your mothers, your prophets and kings, your scholars and wise men with a love not of this world. And, I love you that way too. I only ask for the same from you, My prized possession from all the peoples of the earth,” saith the L-rd God of Israel.

Do you feel the redemption yet?

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

“I only ask, that you carry out justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God,” Micha 6:8.

Do you feel the redemption yet?

Israel stand strong, remember your Jewish Pride and your responsibility to God. Let’s turn the Three Weeks, into a countdown towards the Complete Redemption this year instead!

Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
(c) 2019/5779 Pasko

Falling Down

by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

Do you remember when the great Willie Mays fell down chasing a fly ball during the 1973 World Series? Here was Mays, one of the most graceful and agile athletes ever to play center field, author of some of the most remarkable fielding plays in baseball history, and now 42 years old, playing for the Mets in the last days of his outstanding career – and tripping over his own feet. It was a sad end to a distinguished career.

I couldn’t help thinking of the “Say Hey Kid” while watching Robert Mueller’s rambling, awkward, uncomfortable and disjointed testimony before two Congressional committees. It was clear that he was out of his element, unfamiliar with much of the report that bears his name that he clearly did not write and arguably did not read. He seemed to be suffering some of the natural effects of aging – and suffering even more (as I have seen with other distinguished people), from shady handlers and manipulators hiding behind Mueller’s reputation for probity to carry out the nefarious schemes of the Resistance.

Mueller responded, well over 200 times, with some variation of “I cannot respond,” “that is beyond the purview of the investigation,””I don’t remember,” “I don’t recall,” “If it’s in the report, it is accurate,” “I can’t get into that,” “can you repeat the question?” and the like. He erred in identifying the name of the president…who appointed him a United States Attorney. He fumbled for words, obvious words. He was surrounded by handlers who seemed to prop him up and feed him lines, not a principal in the process but a figurehead.

And that makes the composition of his investigative team so suspicious. Did he really not know the politics of his staff attorneys and investigators? Was he unaware that all supported Hillary Clinton and a half dozen contributed money to her campaign? Did he even ask?

Had Hillary Clinton been a defendant in a criminal case (or Donald Trump, for that matter), and these attorneys had been questioned about their fitness to serve on a jury, all of them would have been barred for potential bias. It is an obvious conflict, and an obvious question that should have been asked of each of them: did you contribute to or actively participate in either campaign? That it was not is a clear indication of Mueller’s manipulation.

As was this: the unethical and un-judicial standard of a potential defendant not being exonerated. Such a thing is unknown in our – or any – fair-minded judicial system. The presumption of innocence is sacred, for several reasons including the impossibility of ever proving one’s innocence of anything. After all, there might be no evidence of criminality now but who’s to say such evidence won’t appear in a month, year or decade from now? That is why prosecutions require the foundation of probable cause that a crime was committed (a standard that was not even met in this case) and conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

That such deference was not granted to Donald Trump is outrageous.

As was this: the only evidence of collusion between a candidate and a campaign was not investigated by Mueller. That was the Clinton’s campaign’s solicitation of and payment for the salacious and unverified Steele dossier published in Russia that was used to facilitate spying on American citizens. (Unmentioned were the tens of millions of funneled by foreign entities to the Clinton Foundation, which mysteriously has packed up its tent and disappeared.) “Beyond the purview of my investigation”? That was supposed to be the essence of his investigation. Mueller should have just admitted that the purview of his investigation was to dig up any material on Trump, and present it without the right of cross-examination or any substantive challenge.

The horrors of Russian interference that purportedly disrupted and corrupted American democracy has still not quite been explained. What did they do? Meet with campaign officials? I assume that the campaigns on both sides met with foreigners representing several dozen countries. I myself greet several Russians every week. Is that collusion?

Apparently they purchased ads on the Facebook that influenced…who exactly? As the joke (by now, old) goes: did the Russians convince Hillary not to campaign in Wisconsin? Even Bill thought that was a big mistake. What did the Russians do that influenced the election? And note that the conflation of “Russians” and “Russian government” is not at all warranted without further evidence.

Politicians are almost always duplicitous and labor to sound pious and sincere, but let’s be frank: do foreign governments take an interest in American elections? Of course they do. That is because most countries’ interests will be furthered by one side winning and hindered by another side winning. It is why the US routinely interferes in Israel’s elections, with the Obama State Department even being censured by Congress for spending American money to try to defeat PM Netanyahu in 2013. The British, French, Germans, Italians, Australians and Israelis all have an interest in who the American president is. As do the Russians, Iraqis, Iranians and Pakistanis. Sometimes countries will overtly favor one person, other times they will covertly support one over the other, and some countries – usually adversaries – will try to acquire dirt on both parties to hedge their bets and use the information to their advantage in future relations. That has been a Russian tactic for decades – and one of a nation’s most common uses of its intelligence agencies (and even diplomatic corps) is to gather information on candidates and positions, predict outcomes, and try to reach out to any and all campaigns. I doubt that the Russians are atypical, as I don’t doubt that the US does the exact same thing in other countries. (See the histories of Chile, the Philippines and Iran for just a few examples.)

The whole process has been a bizarre farce since the beginning and has corrupted the American legal establishment in ways that will reverberate for quite a while. The tendentiousness is blatant. The misstatements by so many Dem representatives were reprehensible. It is clear that collusion (if it did occur) is not a crime. Period. So, can a person obstruct justice to impede an investigation into a non-crime? That seems more like obstruction of injustice. Does one obstruct justice by asking an investigator, prosecutor, or judge to go easy on someone? If so, that type of “obstruction” occurs every day, and I have probably violated it hundreds of times. But that is not obstruction. Nor is ranting in private about the injustice of it all, nor is calling a political witch hunt a political witch hunt.

There were repeated references to Michael Cohen pleading guilty and going to prison for “campaign violations.” Well, that is an obvious falsehood. Cohen was prosecuted for tax evasion and fraud having nothing to do with Trump – and admitted to a host of other violations simply at the behest of prosecutors who would not otherwise have accepted a deal. Just because he pleaded guilty to a campaign violation does not even mean that there was a campaign violation, as anyone who has ever pleaded guilty to a seat belt violation instead of a moving violation can attest.

How Trump won remains a mystery only to elitists who know little about the country in which they reside but pontificate about all the time. It seems pretty apparent that the Dems hope to perpetuate these investigations through 2020, hoping that the country tires of Trump and the whole tumult. But the danger to the country is enormous – not just the indifference of politicians to the real problems the country faces but also the harm to its international reputation, the invitation to even more insidious interference in the future, the corruption of the legal process, and the nightmare of an agency with limitless power focusing its enmity and unlimited resources on a political target. That is the stuff of banana republics.

When the Torah taught us “Justice, justice, you shall pursue”(Devarim 16:20), the Kotzker Rebbe explained the redundancy by averring that justice must be pursued only through means that are just. Justice is distorted when the means to attain it are perverse.

Let Mueller rest and retire. He had his Willie Mays moment today and it is sad to end a distinguished career on such a depressing note. But, had I been on the committee, I would have closed with this statement:

Mr. Mueller: “There is compelling evidence that your staff was biased against Trump from the beginning and that you purposely omitted or ignored exculpatory evidence. You may not be guilty of prosecutorial misconduct – but nor have you been exonerated of it.”

Unfortunately, those who think that will be the last word on this matter will be sorely disappointed. And Jews – and Jewish organizations – that fail to appreciate this President’s pro-Israel and pro-Jewish policies, and can never find a good word to say about him, are both foolish and ungrateful, and will yet be called to account by the Jewish community and all right-thinking people.

To Speak or Not to Speak

by HaRav Zalmen Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

Dedicated to the memory of R. Avraham Ben David

Not Just Anyone
Parshat Matot opens with the laws of vows and oaths. In the midrash, our Sages (of Blessed Memory) include a lengthy discussion regarding such declarations: "'And Moshe spoke to the tribal heads, saying: One who takes a vow to God’. Elsewhere it is written, ‘You swore, says Hashem, in truth, justice and righteousness.’ The Holy One, Blessed be he said to Israel: ‘Do not think that you have been permitted to swear in My name even truthfully, unless you have all of the following qualities: 1) ‘You should fear the Lord your God.’ You must behave similar to those who are known as the ‘fearers of God,’ - Avraham, Job and Yosef..’ 2) And you should serve Him’ - you should make yourself available to engage in Torah and the performance of mitzvot; 3) 'And you shall cleave to Him’. Can a person truly cleave to the Divine Presence? Does it not already say, ‘The Lord Your God is an all-consuming fire?’ Rather, the meaning of this verse is that one must marry off his daughter to a Torah scholar who learns Chumash (Bible), Mishna, and one should engage in business deals to financially benefit the Torah scholar. This is what the Torah is referring to by the commandment to ‘Cleave to Him.’ If you have all of these personal attributes, then you are permitted to swear, and if not, you are forbidden to do so." (Bamidbar Rabba 22).

With Complete Faith
A person’s ability to have his words virtually create "kedusha", or holiness, to link his words to Heaven, is contingent on his complete faith that he has the ability to fulfill those words. This kind of trust and faith exists only in a person who has successfully cleaved to God, in a person who is totally at one with God and who possesses the fear of Heaven. Such a person has complete faith that he can and will fulfill his words; he does not risk offending "Shem Shamayim" - "Heaven's name." It follows that one who is not on this level is forbidden to swear. His oath is liable to be destructive - as elucidated in the midrash. It recounts how King Yannai, who ruled over two thousand cities, all of which were destroyed as a result of true oaths . In the end, there was no affront to the name of Heaven. Yannai stood by his every word, and even so, the oaths brought with them a certain degree of danger of the desecration of God’s name. There was no certainty that the words of King Yannai would be fulfilled. As a result, the cities over which he ruled were destroyed.

Man's Creative Energies
We should stress, however, that our sages did not have a completely negative attitude towards oaths: "And you should take an oath, says God." The Holy One, Blessed be He is interested in having a Jewish person attain the level of perfection that will enable him to sanctify his speech and to direct his words towards Heaven.

In the parsha (portion) dealing with oaths, the Torah introduces the concept of man being able to infuse his reality with holiness through the power of speech. Such a power stems from the principle elucidated in Tehilim (Psalms): "By the word of God were the Heavens fashioned." This same power, of shaping reality through speech, characterizes the Children of Israel, whose power also lies in speech. Our forefather Yitzchak recognized this quality prior to issuing the blessing to Ya'akov: Hearing Ya'akov speak, Yitzchak exclaimed:"The voice is the voice of Ya’akov"...

In fact, according to Jewish sources, the entire world is sustained by the merit of the Torah learning, by prayer uttered by the Jewish people, and by virtue of the breath of young children learning Torah in their rabbi’s classroom. (Talmud, Shabbat 119b)

The parsha of nedarim (vows) teaches us the power of speech, that one’s words are able to create realities. With our words, we can transform a mundane head of cattle into a "korban" or holy sacrifice. According to Maimonedes, if someone were to come thereafter and affix this animal to a plough along with an animal that is not in the category of "hekdesh" (Temple property) - he would be transgressing the prohibition of "Kila’im" (forbidden combinations) - having bound a non-Hekdesh animal with one dedicated to Hekdesh).

Perception Deceptive
Despite the fact that our words can create realities, these changes are not always perceptible. Nevertheless, we must not say that no change has been effected - simply because we cannot appreciate it with our senses! Science has revealed many new realities and facts, forces that have a tremendous impact on our world, phenomena that simply cannot be "absorbed" by our five senses. In fact, It often the most impressive, powerful forces that cannot be absorbed by the senses because of the limitations of the latter.

Our sages maintain that evil gossip is equivalent, on its own, to the three cardinal sins of murder, idolatry and sexual immorality. (Talmud, Arachin 15b) The reason for this is that speech has a real, substantive impact on the world. Evil talk brings about destruction in the world, just as do the three cardinal sins. From the parsha of vows we learn - from one perspective - the need to refrain from forbidden talk; even though we don’t sense it, it has the potential to bring great harm to the world. From another perspective, we learn about the power of holy speech, that words that have the ability to positively affect the world, to fill it with blessing.

They Would Grab for Themselves

by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli, ZT"L

The midrash (Bamidbar Rabba 22:7) notes that there are three valuable presents – wisdom, strength, and wealth – that can be a part of a person’s downfall. The examples, one Jewish and one non-Jewish, were: for wisdom, Achitofel and Bilam; for strength, Shimshon and Goliath; and for wealth, Korach and Haman. The midrash continues that the tribes of Gad and Reuven were blessed with great flocks but because they loved their money so much that they settled outside Eretz Yisrael, away from their brethren, they were the first to be exiled.

It is not enough to receive a present, whether it be wisdom, strength, or riches; one needs to use it properly, starting with understanding its divine origin and purpose. One who grabs it for himself and not to be used for good, causes tragedy.

We are now in a time when Eretz Yisrael is flowing with blood ("The Arab Revolt") and the Diaspora is in flames, and no one knows to where to escape. Have we no guilt? What can those, who had the money to purchase land in Eretz Yisrael and now their money is frozen or lost, say for themselves?

The Sultan needed money, and Herzl tried to harness Jewish wealth and arrange the establishment of a Jewish state. He didn’t realize that the Jewish wealthy would grab their money for themselves and not see the "return on their investment" in building Eretz Yisrael. After the Balfour Declaration, if all those who could have helped would have, we would not possess the present 5% of Mandatory land but 50%. Instead of having 300,000 Jewish residents, we could have 1.3 million. Then we would not have to read daily about young lives being taken and women’s dreams for their children being shattered. The Land could be blossoming like Eden, and we could be helping world Jewry spiritually and financially. World Jewry would know they have a nation and Land, and the haughty nations would have to reckon with us. But people thought their money was safer in their native lands and unfortunately they have lost all – starting with money, and with people lacking a place of refuge. We are like the tribes of Gad and Reuven who preferred their money to Eretz Yisrael.

Maybe someone thinks that this is a fault of the Jews of the Diaspora and not of Jews of Eretz Yisrael. But they are wrong! Living here does not exempt us from other obligations! We think that only Jews of the Diaspora have to donate. There are so many Jewish institutions of charity and chesed abroad … and so few here. It is not just money. We need to be sensitive to our neighbors, lend a helping hand, and provide advice and empathy. If a person’s farmland is for him alone, that is also grabbing for himself. We too have baseless hatred, which causes destruction. That hatred comes from wanting everything for oneself.

Another thing that causes destruction is not blessing over the Torah (Bava Metzia 85b). We think we are "too busy to learn Torah." Even if we were correct in regard to weekdays, why can’t we find an hour or two on Shabbat to acquire knowledge to lead our lives? Even for people like us, the Torah is not at the forefront of our lives as it should be.

These are the lessons. Even though it is a little late, it is better now than not at all. During the Three Weeks, let us start to fix things and merit a speedy liberation!