Friday, January 31, 2020

Rav Kook's Ein Ayah: Can Any Man Possess the Torah?

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 9:113-115)

Gemara: [The Satan was looking for the place on earth in which Hashem had put the Torah and searched in vain among different elements of the world. Finally, Hashem told the Satan:] Go to the son of Amram (Moshe). He went to Moshe and said to him: “Where is the Torah that Hashem gave you?” [Moshe] said to him: “What am I that Hashem should give me the Torah?” Hashem said to Moshe: “Moshe, you are a falsehood teller.”

Ein Ayah: Throughout the world, there are fundamental elements that hold back the Torah from being firmly entrenched with its full spiritual glow in those places. The dominion of the powers of nature and the life that is dependent upon them are the most powerful preventers of the Torah, which is the source of freedom and the storehouse of kindness, sanctity, and purity, from taking root fully.

However, from the outset, Hashem prepared a savior for the world, with the type of soul that prepared the whole land to discard the pollution of flesh and coarseness, and leave dependency on the powers of nature to reach the heights of divine freedom. Moshe was predestined with a nature that enabled him to accomplish this and be the source of goodness in the world. He was thus able to reveal the freedom of everything in the world to elevate itself to the level of the word of Hashem, which is the source of good fortune, justice, freedom, and grandeur. That is why Hashem told the Satan to find the Torah by Moshe.

The Satan, which represents evil, could not understand, with all its wisdom, the internal purity and special characteristics that put Moshe above the limiting rules of nature. How could Moshe rise above the lowness of evil that is connected to the animalistic tendencies of man? How could he break through the natural boundaries of physicality and human spirituality? How was he able to become divine to some internal extent and become able to connect the land with its rules to the life that flows from the good will of the Creator?

Evil cannot recognize a way for a man to be so special that he can hold the Torah in his soul and connect the storehouse of sanctity with the dwellers of the land. Therefore, the Satan asked in wonder: “Where is the Torah that Hashem gave you?” “How could the glow of Hashem’s ideals be within you, Moshe, and how could you bring it to the land?”

Moshe himself, though, was not able to see how unique and independent he was. It is true that he had a treasure of divine sanctity within him, which he could use to raise people from their low points to their divine origin. But viewing his greatness as not qualitatively unique was part of the characteristic of pure humility that was engrained in his nature, as a lofty soul with a special glow. Therefore, Moshe went along with the assumptions that the Satan had and declared that he too could not understand how the Torah could possibly be within him.

Leave My Land Alone

So Benny Netanyahu and Benny Gantz (its all about the Benjamins), went to Pharaoh Trump and demanded in the name of God of Israel, leave My Land alone… Or, did they?

God has a sense of humor. He’s throwing this at Israel, at a time when Jews around the world have been reading in the weekly Torah portions, about Moshe and Aaron going to Pharaoh, demanding Pharaoh release the Jews to serve Him. Of course as everybody knows, Pharaoh refuses.

Last week the plagues started, this week, more of the same. Pharaoh continues to dig into his position, till the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn. Completely broken, Pharaoh finally blinks and caves in.

Has Trump caved in with his “peace plan?” Did Netanyahu tell Trump, “we’re going to worship the God of Israel, in ALL of Eretz Yisrael, the Land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, exclusively?”

Moshe told the elders of Israel, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb…” When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the door frame and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.”

Moshe continued, “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this service. When your children ask you, ‘What does this service mean to you?’ tell them, ‘It is the Korban Pesach (Passover offering) to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Children of Israel in Egypt and spared our homes, when he struck down the Egyptians,’” (Exodus 12:21-27).

Pharaoh, all his officials, and all the Egyptians got up during the night, because there was a great outcry throughout Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. During the night, Pharaoh summoned Moshe and Aaron [ran through the streets terrified, looking for them – Ramban] and said, “Get up! Leave my people, you and the Children of Israel. Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your sheep and cattle, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.” The Egyptians strongly urged the Jews to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” (Exodus 12:30-33).

American elections are coming, the impeachment trial knocks on the door, Trump’s campaign will get into full swing soon. He want’s to put his Middle East Real Estate Project in order, get it out of the way, and maybe get that blessing too…

But will he?

While Israel has waited 70 years for peace, the Jews in Egypt, waited 210 years, to get out of slavery and leave Egypt. Yet, instead of fleeing right away, Moshe (a known extremist and true Jewish leader, who killed an Egyptian earlier), tells Pharaoh, “What are we thieves, that we should leave at night? We will leave when we’re good and ready, with heads held high, in broad daylight, in full view of all Egypt,” (Mekhilta).

That’s a Kiddush HaShem, the world sees, the God of Israel’s Power and Majesty to free His people.

In the morning, Moshe instructed the Jews to ask the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold, and for clothing. God made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for… (Exodus 12:35-36).

Pity Netanyahu and Gantz weren’t “tough” like Moshe and Aaron, telling Trump, lay off our land, and watch us apply sovereignty to all of it, in front of the eyes of the whole world. And, you’re going to recognize it. There’s no such thing as “Palestinians,” and there will never be a “Palestinian State.”

Maybe they would have been granted, all they demanded from Trump, like in Egypt? God just gave Netanyahu and Gantz, their chance at eternal greatness, and they blew it.

Instead, the peace deal that’s been announced, is a historic tragedy for the Jewish people, and a Chillul HaShem (slap in the face to the God of Israel, who gave it back to us in 1967).

How could any Jewish leader agree to compromise on God’s Land?

Meanwhile, some Temple Mount activists, working for freedom of Jewish worship and prayer on the Temple Mount, welcomed Trump’s plan. Officially called, “Vision for Peace, Prosperity, and a Brighter Future for Israel and the Palestinian People,” the plan calls for Jerusalem’s holy sites, to “remain open and available for peaceful worshippers and tourists of all faiths.”

Instead of recognizing the Jewish people's exclusive rights to the Temple Mount, it keeps the status quo.

The plan says, “People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.”

Some Temple Mount activists claim that “the prayers of the Jews on the Temple Mount are now officially recognized by the United States,” and this recognition “advances the People of Israel in a major step toward fulfilling Jewish destiny at the site of the Temple.”

The activists plan to test this clause, by making an official request soon, to “allow every Jew to offer the Passover sacrifice on the Temple Mount, the most important commandment in the Torah,” this Pesach (Passover).

So, we will soon see the limits of the “peace plan,” who has gained “rights” and who has lost out...

For those religious Jews, who might object, really, there’s no good reason not to bring the Korban Pesach in our time. The Rambam (Maimonides), ruled that a Jew is obligated to offer the Passover sacrifice even when the Temple has not yet been built, even in ritual impurity, and even by today’s Kohanim (priests). Most of the halachic (Jewish Law) issues have been solved in the last couple hundred years, at least since the time of the Chatam Sofer, and particularly in our generation. Halacha is not the barrier. Go check it out. Also, see my article, “Getting Ready For Korban Pesach This Year.”

Although at first it was floated that sovereignty would be applied to the Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria by next week, now Kushner and others are saying to hold off until after the next elections. And what excuse will be made after that?

At this point, all that’s occurred, is that the United States has officially recognized Palestinian national aspirations for an independent state, and Netanyahu as head of the State of Israel, has praised that. He glowingly told a Fox interviewer, “It gives the Palestinians national dignity.”

Whose Prime Minister is he?

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “It’s the first time the Israelis have ever conceded to a map, that actually lays down real outlines of what this will look like and what this means, and it provides a clear pathway for a Palestinian state.”

A far cry from Moshe and Aaron and true Jewish leadership...

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) 2020/5780 Pasko

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Palestinians: Abbas Chooses Hamas Over Peace with Israel

by Khaled Abu Toameh
  • Hamas and Iran have no plans to boost the economy in the Gaza Strip. They also have no intention of creating jobs for thousands of unemployed Palestinians.
  • "After years of no progress, the donor community is fatigued and reluctant to make additional investments so long as the governance structure in Gaza is run by terrorists who provoke confrontations that lead to more destruction and suffering." — From the "Peace to Prosperity" plan.
  • In fact, the wording of Trump's plan is quite compatible with the position of Abbas and his PA officials in the West Bank.
  • By forging an alliance with Hamas, a terror group that does not recognize Israel's right to exist, Abbas is already signaling his readiness to join forces with those who oppose any peace process with Israel. Such an alliance effectively places Abbas on the side of Iran and its Hamas and PIJ proxies.
  • Abbas and Hamas may renew their relations in the near future, but it will be the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip who will suffer, condemned by their leaders to poverty and misery.
  • In their response to the "Peace to Prosperity" plan, Palestinian leaders have once again succeeded in what they do best: taking any hope for the wellbeing of their people and driving it straight into the ground.

Instead of welcoming President Donald Trump's peace plan, designed to give the Palestinians a prosperous future, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected and denounced it as the "deal of shame" and "slap of the century." Pictured: Abbas denouncing the peace plan in Ramallah on January 28, 2020. (Photo by Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump's "Peace to Prosperity" plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians offers hope to the two million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, which has been ruled by Hamas for more than a decade.

Instead of welcoming the plan, designed to give the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip a prosperous future, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected and denounced it as the "deal of shame" and "slap of the century."

Worse, Abbas has chosen to renew his ties with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the two Iranian-backed groups that are opposed to his policies and have regularly condemned his policies and decisions.

Abbas, in other words, is acting not only against the interests of his people in the Gaza Strip, but also against himself by engaging the same groups that have long been seeking to undermine his rule.

Continue Reading Article

To Serve with Joy: Is your life ‘out of service’?

by Rabbi David Aaron

“And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh; and he said unto them: ‘Go, serve the LORD your G-d; but who are they that shall go?’

And Moses said: ‘We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds we will go; because the holiday of G-d is for us.’”

— Exodus 10:8-9

The King of Egypt must have been quite surprised by Moses answer. To serve G-d is not like serving you. It is not about degrading back-breaking slavery rather a joyful celebration for the whole family. To serve G-d is a holiday for us.

The Secret to Service
Most people think that a mitzvah is a “demand” meant to deprive or diminish our godly self worth. But that is incorrect. A mitzvah is a “command” enabling us to co- operate, associate, identify and thereby consciously bond with G-d and experience His love. This is the meaning of the blessing said prior to doing a mitzvah: “That you have made us holy through your commandments.” As it says in the Torah: “You shall be holy for I am holy.” [1] In other words, when we bond with G-d, the Holy One, we too become holy.

The Midrash [2] states:

“For what great nation is there, that has G-d so close to them?” [3] Hence the popular saying: “The King’s servant is a king; cleave to heat and it will warm you.”
Each day we are challenged with feelings of our nothingness. When we see ourselves relative to this enormous and overwhelming universe, we realize that we are not even the size of a speck of dust. And yet, even though everything from without seems to tell us that we are nothing, something within stubbornly insists that we are something. It is the very nature of humanity to try and overcome this threat of nothingness. We all do it. But the question is: can we really transcend the limitations of our beings? Can we beat our mortality and eventual return to dust?

It is human nature to want to identify with greatness in order to experience and partake of it. This is the psychology of patriotism; through commitment and devotion to my country, which I perceive as great, I will go beyond myself and my limitations, to partake in the great, sharing its glory and its eternity. Human beings often seek to be servants of the greater, whether it is a king, country or cause. In fact, this devotion may even lead to an individual giving his or her life for some important principle. This might sound like a gross nullification of self. However, it is this kind of commitment and self-sacrifice that gives people unusual strength and an even greater sense of self- worth. These benefits are all achieved through our devoted service to and identification with something which transcends our limited selves. All the hard work and personal sacrifice inspired by our passionate devotion actually leads to the ultimate in self- gratification. All is gained when you give of yourself to the beyond yourself.

When you serve your country or selflessly dedicate yourself to a great cause you do not feel self-effaced, nor do you experience your service as a degrading and depriving form of slavery. You actually feel just the opposite. Through service, you go beyond yourself, identifying and bonding with larger forces, eternal values and ideals. You become one with the great and share in its splendor. A mitzvah is G-d’s gift to humanity, the opportunity to serve and bond with G-d; Who is the Greatest. Our humble service to G-d through the mitzvahs actually empowers us. We achieve greatness and transcendence when we identify and bond with G-d and thereby partake of His splendor and eternity.

Mitzvah – Redemption from Nothingness
The very concept of mitzvah is truly marvelous. How is it that G-d has any expectations of us at all? What can we do for G-d, who is almighty and complete? Am I so important that He would want my service? This question is expressed eloquently in the Psalms: [4]

When I behold Your heavens, the works of Your fingers, the moon and the stars that You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him? The son of a man that You appoint him? And yet, You have made him just a little less than EL OHIM. You crown him with glory and honor.

The fact that I can do something for G-d is truly wondrous, because it redeems me from my apparent nothingness. When I live selfishly, caring only about myself, that’s when I really feel like nothing. Only through serving G-d and devoting myself to the Divine values and ideals, accomplished through mitzvahs, can I truly redeem myself of my nothingness. King Solomon’s dismal introduction to Ecclesiastes is the inevitable truth of life lived without mitzvahs: “Futility of futilities said Kohellet, futility of futilities, all is futile.” [5]

The entire book of Ecclesiastes questions the significance of man and his few days on earth:

“What profit has man of all his labor under the sun? … One generation passes away and another generation comes, but the earth abides forever. There is nothing new under the sun. There is no remembrance of the earlier generations, nor will there be remembrance of the later generations by those who come after them.”

King Solomon however concludes:

“In sum, after all has been heard, revere EL OHIM and keep His commandments; for this is the all of humanity.” [6]

The fear that mitzvahs rob humanity of our independent worth and power, is totally unwarranted. Rather, mitzvahs are Divine gifts that empower us and lead us to ultimate worth. mitzvahs only challenge our illusions of existing as a self-contained unit, independent of G-d’s oneness. Although mitzvahs challenge our sense of independence in one way, they also offer a real path to self-fulfillment. We achieve a genuine and eternal being through service to, and identification with, G-d. [7]

The mitzvahs are not an expression of G-d’s desire to diminish us or make us subservient to Him, rather they are expressions of G-d’s love and His desire to elevate us by offering us ways to consciously bond with Him. The mitzvahs offer us the opportunity to realize G-d’s all-embracing oneness through doing for G-d and experiencing love.

Mitzvahs and Love
When you give of yourself to another person, investing time and effort in him or her, you bond with that person and thereby feel love. The ecstasy of love is experiencing the bond and identification you forge with another person by giving of yourself to him or her in action.

Parents feel a profound and intimate connection with, and love for, their children through all their hard work in providing and caring for them. However, the children do not always reciprocate that same intense identification; they do not always feel love for their parent because of all that they have received. Why is that? Because the act of giving leads to a far greater identification and love than that accomplished through the act of receiving.

According to Judaism there is no greater happiness or joy other than doing a mitzvah. Each mitzvah is a taste of the eternal. Each mitzvah is a rung in the ladder of human ascension to godliness. Every time you do amitzvah, you provide the ultimate service to G- d, which is to crown Him as the King. Through doing a mitzvah you bond with G-d and enjoy the ecstasy of loving G-d. The Talmud teaches that the reward of a mitzvah is the mitzvah — the reward of love is love. A transgression, however, severs us from G-d. To sin means to break our bond with G-d and betray the love. The real punishment for a transgression is the transgression. We punish ourselves by alienating ourselves from the ground, root and context of our lives — G-d. We punish ourselves by forfeiting the opportunity to experience being in love.

When we follow the mitzvahs and serve G-d, we bond with G-d and enjoy the ultimate in self-worth and personal fulfillment. However, when we transgress the will of G-d, seeking to only fulfill our desires and serve ourselves, then we feel like nothing. We have severed ourselves from G-d, Who is the only true source of eternal being and self-worth.

The choice of love and life is whether we choose to serve or to sever. The mitzvahs are an opportunity to serve G-d. They are G-d’s gift to us. They are the gift of giving ourselves to G-d, becoming godly and feeling and expressing love. To serve is joyful celebration for the whole family.

What is the power of a hug? Sometimes it’s all about the context…

by Rav Binny Freedman
Recently, someone sent me a story regarding a fellow named Yankel, who was a survivor of Auschwitz. Sharing his story, he recalled his journey when he was loaded onto a cattle car and sent to Auschwitz, in the winter of 1944. In an effort to efficiently ensure the transports arrived at the camp to be immediately processed trains were often held en-route until the crematoria schedule was ready for them. As such, the cattle cars would often sit on the tracks in stations overnight and even for days on end with no food and of course no blankets or supplies for the frozen and desperate Jews inside.

That first night in the cattle car it was bitterly cold and the Jews locked in the cattle car were shivering, with no blankets and no way to keep warm. Yankel was a teenager, freezing along with all the other townspeople that bitter night, when he noticed an elderly Jew he recognized from his town. The elderly man was violently shivering from the cold and looked like he was in a state of agony, so Yankel wrapped his arms around the man and began rubbing his arms and legs to try and keep him warm. Yankel was freezing himself, his fingers were numb and the exhaustion was beyond description but it was clear this older man would not make it without some help so he kept rubbing the man’s body hour after hour, begging him to hang on; not to close his eyes.

Finally, the long night passed and as the sun rose, sunlight came through the two small windows high up and began to slightly warm the air. Yankel looked around and in horror, realized he was surrounded by frozen bodies; the only two people who had made it through the night were him and that old man; the car was filled with a deathly silence; everyone else had died.

Only two men had survived. The old man had survived because someone kept him warm, and Yankel had survived because he was warming the old man.

The greatest gifts we have in life are what we give to others…

This week we read the portion of Bo, one of the most significant portions in the entire Torah: with the tenth and final plague of the First Born, the Jews will finally leave Egypt; they will finally be free. And the Torah carries a powerful description of this exodus in all of its drama concluding with a verse that says it all:

“And it was on this day: Hashem took the Children of Israel from the land of Egypt in their Legions.” (Shemot(Exodus) 12:51)

One would have expected this to be the concluding verse of our portion, but Bo continues with one additional short chapter (ibid. 13:1-16) which seems to be out of context, with very little relationship to the actual story of the Exodus. Indeed, next week in the portion of Beshalach we will read the final chapter of the Exodus as the Jews who have already left Egypt are pursued by the mighty Egyptian Chariots ending in the dramatic miracle of the splitting of the sea. So, what is this chapter doing here?

Interestingly, this chapter contains the first two (of four) chapters contained within the Tefillin, and, even more interesting, it is the first time we actually encounter the mitzvah of Tefillin (Phylacteries) as we are enjoined to have them as a “…sign on our hands, and a memory or adornment between our eyes…” (ibid. 13:9; 16).

What is the Mitzvah of Tefillin doing here?

To be sure, there are many questions here but perhaps first and foremost we need to understand what Tefillin are all about before we can consider the context of their appearing here, of all places.

The Maharsha (Rav Shmuel Eliezer Halevi Eidels; 16th century Poland), in his commentary on tractate Brachot (6a), suggests that the secret of Tefillin is that in binding the Tefillin to our bodies, we are attempting to demonstrate that we wish to bind ourselves to Hashem (G-d). Tefillin, it seems is all about D’veikut: connecting with Hashem.

The obvious question though, is how does a person connect with G-d? What does it even mean, to bind ourselves to Hashem?

Perhaps it might be easier to consider how we connect with anyone?

Imagine I’m on a trip and I realize our daughter’s birthday is coming up, so I find a big store and look around to look for what might be a nice birthday present she would like. Normally, if I was traveling I would look for something nice and small that would also be easy to pack. But then something catches my eye and, getting excited, even though it is expensive and will be quite cumbersome to carry, I decide it’s worth buying it.

Upon arriving home, I can’t wait to see my daughter’s face when she opens this big beautifully wrapped gift, because that look will say it all. So, I give her the big box and watch with anticipation as she unwraps this big box and opens up her brand new…

Leather NBA-approved Michael Jordan personally autographed leather basketball.

Needless to say the confused look I get is the not the look I was hoping for, because my daughter does not play basketball, has no interest in basketball and most probably is wondering who this strange man is that just showed up thinking she wants a basketball!

In fact, getting her a basketball would not only not make us closer, it would probably distance me from my daughter, because it would mean I had no idea who she is and what she really wants and even needs from …

Showing up with a new book on Obstetrics, or the cycles of birth, on the other hand, would probably get me a big hug as she just finished Medical School and is looking forward to her internship in Obgyn….

We connect with people when we understand what they want and even need of us, and we become distant from them when we are doing exactly what they don’t want of us…

And the same is true regarding our relationship with Hashem. When we figure out what Hashem actually wants of us, we allow ourselves to connect with, and to become closer to Hashem.

Now, obviously G-d does not need anything from us, but Hashem does want certain things from us (though they are really for us).

Hashem obviously created us for a purpose, and when we are fulfilling that purpose and doing whatever it is Hashem put us here to do, we inevitably become more connected to and with Hashem. Which of course begs the question: How do we know what Hashem wants of us? Obviously, Hashem has to tell us; has to reveal what our purpose is here in this world.

(That is why every religion or at least every Monotheistic religion, has to have a revelation of sorts.)

This we call Torah and Mitzvoth; in the Torah Hashem reveals to us what we are doing here; what our purpose is.

Of course, that’s a lot to take in; 52 portions; 613 mitzvoth…? So Hashem gave us a mini-Torah and put it in our Tefillin, and when we bind them to our arms (signifying all we do) and to our heads (signifying all that we think and feel and plan…) we have a chance to consider what it is Hashem really wants of us: in what we do and say and in what we think and plan…

Perhaps that is why these two paragraphs of our Tefillin appear here, just as we finally leave Egypt and slavery behind, hopefully forever.

Because in Judaism freedom was never the goal, it is just a vehicle; the real question is what we choose to do with our freedom, and the gift of time we finally, as a people, could reclaim.

And that is a question, particularly given the incredible gifts bestowed upon us in this generation, we need to think about every single day.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.

“The Deal of the Century” – a Middle East perspective

by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

US policy:

*The Deal of the Century (DoC) demonstrates the US independence of diplomatic action rather than subordinating its interests to the whims of the UN, Europe and the 3rd World.

*The DoC proves that the US is not trapped in the fallacy of moral equivalence and distorting neutrality, which misrepresent reality, undermining US interests.

*The DoC may reveal that the US has realized that the Palestinian issue is not a core cause of Middle East turbulence, is not a crown jewel of Arab regimes, nor the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

*The DoC confirms that the US recognizes Israel as a unique ally, a battle-tested laboratory for the US armed forces and defense industries, and a force multiplier in the face of the threats posed by Islamic Sunni terrorism and Iran’s Ayatollahs’ ballistic, nuclear and terrorist capabilities.

*All prior US peace plans crashed against the rocks of the Middle East. Is the DoC consistent with the ruthlessly uncontrollable and unpredictable Middle East?

Middle East reality:

*In pursuing the DoC, one should be aware that Western values – including democracy, negotiation, adherence to agreements and peaceful coexistence - do not apply to the Arab/Muslim Middle East, which is characterized by the following 14-century-old intra-Muslim features: no intra-Muslim peaceful coexistence, unpredictability, instability, religious and ethnic fragmentation, violent intolerance, terrorism and subversion, Islam-driven goals and values (including the unacceptance of an “infidel” entity in the “abode of Islam”).

*Middle East regimes are tenuous as are their policies and accords.

*Accords with the “infidel” are non-binding ceasefires (sulh, hudna) until the opportunity arises to overcome the “infidel.” “Believers” are advised to dissimulate (Taqiyya) in order to mislead and overcome “infidels.”

*In the Middle East – where on words one does not pay custom – realistic policies and accords should be based on the bad/worst case scenario, not on a Western-driven good/best case scenario.

*Most of the Middle East is not driven by a desire to improve standard of living, but by religious/ideological visions.

*Concession, appeasement and gestures to rogue elements have added fuel – not water – to the fire of aggression and terrorism.

*Ensuring national security in the tectonic Middle East, requires extra precaution and tangible security, which would withstand future violation of agreements and volcanic eruptions.

Palestinian state (minus):

*The assumption that a Palestinian state could be effectively demilitarized and de-terrorized should be assessed against the track record of the Palestinians. Thus, the 1993 Oslo Accord and the 2005 Gaza Disengagement were supposed to demilitarize and de-terrorize the Palestinians in return for dramatically enhanced political and economic benefits. Instead, both events intensified terrorism in a dramatic manner.

*A direct correlation exists between the degree of Palestinian sovereignty and the level of Palestinian terrorism. For example, in 1968-70, Jordan provided the Palestinians with an unprecedented platform of operation. Consequently, they triggered a civil war, attempting to topple the pro-US Hashemite regime. During the 1970s, they initiated a series of civil wars in Lebanon. In August 1990, the Palestinians collaborated with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of their host county (Kuwait), which triggered the 1991 and 2003 Gulf Wars.

*The Middle East erratic reality, on the one hand, and the assumption that a Palestinian entity could be demilitarized and de-terrorized, on the other hand, constitute a classic oxymoron.

*The Palestinians have been agitated by the existence – not the size – of the Jewish State, as documented by the Palestinian education curriculum and the 1959 and 1964 covenants of the Fatah and PLO, which supersede the Palestinian Authority. They call for the “liberation” of the pre-1967 area of Israel.

*Arabs shower the Palestinians with generous talk, but no effective walk, due to their terrorist track record in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Kuwait.

*In October 1994 Jordan’s military commanders advised their Israeli counterparts: “That which the Palestinians sign in the morning they tend to violate by the evening.” They added that “A Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would doom the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the River.”

*Former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak (1981-2011): “Jordan’s King Hussein does not want a Palestinian state; Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are not concerned about the Palestinians….”
Former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (1970-1981): “Do I want a Palestinian state? Why should I want another Soviet base and another member of the Rejectionist Front?”
(“No More War”, Israel’s first Ambassador to Cairo, Elihu Ben Elissar, 1995, pp. 196, 207, 209).

Israeli policy:

*In 1948/49, Israel’s first Prime Minister, Ben Gurion, unilaterally applied sovereignty to West Jerusalem and large parts of the Negev and the Galilee, in spite of US and global opposition. Ben Gurion’s defiance established the foundation for the most capable, reliable and systematic strategic ally of the US.

*In the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, Israel’s Prime Minister Eshkol united the city of Jerusalem, notwithstanding rough US and global opposition.

*In December 1981, Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin asserted the Israeli law in the Golan Heights despite brutal pressure by the US, including the suspension of a major strategic pact. Begin’s decisive action bolstered the national security of the pro-US Hashemite regime of Jordan, which was lethally threatened by the pro-USSR Syria.

*In June 1981, Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor, notwithstanding brutal US opposition. Begin’s unilateral action spared the US a nuclear confrontation in January 1991.

*Israel must maintain independent national security action. A unilateral application of Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, and additional parts of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, would reinforce Israel’s posture of deterrence. It would, therefore, enhance Israel’s position as a major force-multiplier for the US and the most reliable “life insurance agent” of all pro-US Arab regimes, who face the lethal threats of Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS. Such a step does not have to be part of a package, which includes a Palestinian state.

The Deal

by Victor Rosenthal

First, divest yourself from the idea that this plan is just a trick to divert attention from Trump’s impeachment or Bibi’s indictment. The document describing it is 181 pages long. It is not a diversion. I am not interested in the question of whether its release now will help Trump (I suspect it won’t matter) or Bibi (it’s unclear). Also, if you are one of my readers who hates Trump – if I still have any, after proposing that he get the Nobel Peace Prize – please put that aside. This paragraph is the last one in this post that will mention him. I want to focus on the proposal itself.

I will not pretend to have read all 181 pages yet. But the broad outline of the proposal, including maps, is contained in the first 40-odd pages. It is a thoughtful attempt to arrive at a solution, and it takes into account the failure of previous efforts. There is a huge amount of material here, and I could write essays about the presuppositions and the implications of every page, but I will try to limit myself to describing the proposal in general terms and discussing its significance in the long and depressing saga of the “peace process.” In recent years, proposals have centered around the ideas first expressed in the Clinton parameters of 2000-1, which envision most of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza as a Palestinian entity, with swaps to allow the large settlement blocs to continue to exist. The new proposal diverges sharply from these plans.

Summary of the plan
The plan (the official name is “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People”) is a two-state solution which preserves the original intention of UN Security Council Resolution 242, in which Israel withdraws from some of the territory taken in 1967, while keeping secure boundaries. The Palestinian “state” here is more like Rabin’s vision of something “less than a state,” because Palestine will be demilitarized, and its borders and airspace will be controlled by Israel for an unlimited time.

The plan is intended as a statement of concepts, although it is a pretty detailed one. It calls for an Israeli-Palestinian negotiation whose product will be a final “peace agreement” with all the details worked out. During the period of negotiations, Israel will freeze construction or expansion of settlements (for a maximum of four years) in those areas that are defined as Palestinian in the plan.

The agreement would create a “state” of Palestine that encompasses most of today’s Areas A and B and some of Area C. Israel will receive most of Area C, including the Jordan Valley. 97% of Palestinians will find themselves in Palestine and 97% of Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria will be in Israel. The remainder will be in Palestinian enclaves in Israel, or Israeli enclaves in Palestine. Enclaves will be under civil control of their respective governments, but Israel will be responsible for security in both cases. Israel will provide land swaps (attached to Gaza along the border with Egypt) which will give Palestine roughly the same area as the pre-1967 “West Bank” and Gaza. There will be a high-speed rail link (on the map it is shown as a tunnel) between the eastern part of Palestine and Gaza, and special roads across the Jordan Valley to the Allenby Bridge with Jordan. Infrastructure will be built to ensure that Israeli and Palestinian enclaves are not isolated. It’s possible that some Israeli Arab communities in the “Arab Triangle” near Umm al-Fahm might be included in Palestine.

In no case will any Jews or Arabs be required to move from their homes, a principle that diverges significantly from previous plans which included the removal of Jewish settlements.

I’ve included the two “conceptual maps” from the proposal at the end of this post. They show the borders and other features envisioned by the proposal.

Jerusalem will continue to be the capital of Israel, and Israel will continue to provide security for the holy sites of all the religions. The city will not be re-divided along the 1949 armistice line, but the areas east and north of the existing security barrier (“including Kafr Aqab, the eastern part of Shuafat and Abu Dis”) will become the capital of the State of Palestine, and may be renamed “Al Quds” or whatever the Palestinians decide. Arabs living in Jerusalem inside the security barrier will have the option to become citizens of Israel or Palestine, or retain the status of Permanent Resident of Israel (most Jerusalem Arabs chose this status after 1967 rather than becoming citizens).

The “Vision” provides for an economic plan to provide for a viable Palestinian state rather than one that relies on international donors. I won’t discuss this here.

Overall security for both states will be Israel’s responsibility from Day One, “with the aspiration that the Palestinians will be responsible for as much of their internal security as possible, subject to the provisions of this Vision.”

Israel will retain control of airspace and electromagnetic spectrum from the river to the sea. Special arrangements will be made to protect Ben-Gurion airport from nearby Palestinian areas.

The State of Palestine will be expected to take serious measures to prevent terrorism, which should be evaluated in terms “no less stringent” than those applied to Jordan or Egypt.

The Israeli Navy will be able to block the import of “prohibited weapons and weapon-making materials” to Palestine, including of course Gaza. Palestine will be demilitarized, and Israel will have the right to destroy any Palestinian facility used for hostile purposes. There is a list of weapons and systems that the Palestinians are forbidden to procure. Palestine will not be allowed to make agreements with any state or organization that threatens Israel’s security. Any expansion of Palestinian security capabilities will require Israel’s permission. Israel retains the right to “engage in necessary security measures” to maintain demilitarization and fight terrorism, including incursions into Palestinian territory. There will be “early warning stations” manned by Israeli security personnel in Palestine.

Gaza has always been problematic, and with the Hamas takeover in 2007, it became a hostile enclave which has caused several small wars. The plan explicitly calls for the removal of Hamas, saying that Israel will not be required to meet any of its obligations under the agreement unless the Palestinian Authority is in control of Gaza, Hamas and other terrorist factions are disarmed, and Gaza is demilitarized. If Hamas will “play any role” in the government of Palestine, it must first agree to “explicitly recognizing the State of Israel, committing to nonviolence, and accepting previous agreements and obligations between the parties, including the disarming of all terrorist groups.”

The plan calls for Israel to release Palestinian (not Israeli Arab) prisoners held in Israeli jails, except those convicted of murder or conspiracy to commit murder.

There will be no “right of return” to Israel for people with Palestinian refugee status. Those registered as refugees with UNRWA will have the option of absorption into the State of Palestine or their present host countries, or to a limited extent, to other Organization of Islamic Cooperation states that agree to take them. Once the agreement is signed, Palestinian refugee status and UNRWA will cease to exist.

The Palestinian state will not necessarily be created upon the signing of the agreement; the transition from the Palestinian Authority to the State of Palestine will occur only after the Palestinians have created a Western-style democracy and legal and banking systems, and have stopped incitement and education for hatred in its schools and other institutions. Palestinians will be required to “create a culture of peace” which will not glorify terrorism or martyrdom, and will not deny the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.

The agreement will include mutual recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and Palestine as the nation state of the Palestinian people. It will end all claims between the two, and this will be proposed as Security Council and General Assembly resolutions in the UN.

During the period of negotiations or for a maximum of four years, Israel will commit not to build or expand settlements in those areas of Judea and Samaria that are proposed to become part of Palestine. This “settlement freeze” does not apply to settlements in the Jordan Valley, eastern Jerusalem inside the security barrier, or other areas that are expected to become part of Israel. It does apply to Israeli enclaves in Palestinian areas. This is different from previous “freezes” which were applied to the entire area across the Green Line.

At the same time, Palestinians will agree not to join international organizations without permission from Israel, will end its legal actions (e.g., in the International Criminal Court) against Israel, and end the “pay-to-slay” program.

The US will agree to reopen the PLO mission in Washington and provide various kinds of aid.

What do the Palestinians think?
Of course they vehemently reject it. They couldn’t possibly accept the plan without almost as many caveats are there are items in it. The proposed Palestinian “state” is no more a state than Vatican City. The requirements to end what we consider incitement (and they consider education in the fundamental principles of the Palestinian Movement) will be unacceptable to them. Pay-to-slay is inviolable. The “right of return” has always been sacrosanct. Hamas will never disarm. And Palestinians have never been prepared to admit that Israel belongs to the Jewish people, not one inch of it.

What does the Left think?
Leftist organizations in Israel and the US oppose the agreement because of the small size of the proposed Palestinian state and the limitations on its sovereignty, and – in the case of the American Left – because they hate the president and have to oppose anything he does.

What does the Right think?
Many members of the Israeli Right oppose any Palestinian state, because they believe that the restrictions on sovereignty and militarization ultimately aren’t maintainable, and the result of allowing its creation would be another terror entity on our border. They also disagree in principle with any concession of territory that’s part of the Land of Israel. But some think it’s worth the gamble in order to restart building in at least part of Judea and Samaria, and to obtain sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and other parts of Area C.

What do I think?
The plan can’t possibly be translated into an agreement that the Palestinians would agree with, even as a pretense. It pays lip service to the idea that Palestinians want normal lives in a well-run, economically flourishing state. Certainly there are those that do want this, but the leadership and what Barry Rubin, z”l, used to refer to as “the young men with guns” who determine what happens on the street do not feel this way. In Palestinian politics and culture, nothing overrides the prime objective, which is the removal of the Jewish presence from the land that Palestinians believe belongs to them alone. Anyone who says different may be held accountable by the young men with guns. To accept the plan would be to betray their Palestinian identity and their Islamic religion in return for an attenuated, emasculated “state” that would be dependent on the hated Jews.

Having said that, I think the authors of the plan understand Palestinian political culture, and what they want to do is help the West to stop appeasing it. The proposal breaks the sterile consensus that has developed since Oslo, in which the conflict is seen as entirely Israel’s fault, nothing is expected from the Palestinians, and “solutions” are just different approaches to forcing Israel to make concessions. One example of this is that for the first time since 2000, the proposal rejects the holiness of the 1949 armistice lines, and calls for secure borders instead. In my opinion, the paradigm shift embodied in the proposal is its most important and worthwhile feature.

The objection that a Palestinian state, once created, would not remain benign and demilitarized is definitely a concern, but it will not become relevant for some time. Judging by the conditions placed on the Palestinians before they will be granted whatever bit of sovereignty they will have, it’s hard to imagine that it will actually come into being. Accepting the deal now would allow to Israel to take actions immediately, like building in areas that are expected to be part of Israel, annexing the Jordan Valley, and applying Israeli law to existing Jewish communities.

The significance of the deal, therefore, is not that it will ever be fully implemented. It is that it will change people’s thinking about the conflict, and free Israel from the chains of the Oslo/Clinton paradigm.

Israelis, therefore, should welcome the change in direction and take the opportunities offered, even if they have problems with specific parts of the program.

The PM promised to bring the program to the Cabinet for approval on Sunday, and I will be happy to see this.

How the proposal views the final configurations of Israel and Palestine:

Rabbi Ari Kahn on Parashat Bo: Seeing The Future

Rejecting those who come bearing gifts

Parashat Bo 5780
by HaRav Nachman Kahana

Last week’s visit of many heads of European states to Yerushalayim on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp is indeed an unprecedented historical event, but more so because it resolves a seeming contradiction between two of our sources.

In parashat Vayishlach (book of Bereishiet) at the most dramatic moment of the meeting between the two brothers, Aisav (Esau) comes rushing at Yaakov (Jacob) with the intent to murder, but at the last-minute falls upon his brother with hugs and kisses. So deep down Aisav is not such a bad guy-goy.

However, the Gemara (Pesachim 118b) relates that when the Mashiach will be revealed, HaShem will determine from which of the world’s nations will the Mashiach be permitted to receive gifts.

עתידה מצרים שתביא דורון למשיח, כסבור אינו מקבל מהם, אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא למשיח: קבל מהם, אכסניא עשו לבניי במצרים, מיד יאתיו חשמנים מני מצרים. נשאה כוש קל וחומר בעצמה: ומה הללו שנשתעבדו בהן – כך, אני שלא נשתעבדתי בהן – לא כל שכן? אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא: קבל מהם, מיד כוש תריץ ידיו לאלהים. נשאה מלכות ]רומי[ הרשעה קל וחומר בעצמה: ומה הללו שאין אחיהן – כך, אנו שאנו אחיהן – לא כל שכן? אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא לגבריאל: גער חית קנה… דכתיב יכרסמנה חזיר מיער וגו’.

The Gemara is telling us that the Mashiach will be permitted to receive homage from Egypt despite their poor track record with the Jewish nation; so too will he be permitted to receive gifts from the land of Kush (a nation bordering on Egypt). But when Rome, a euphemism for the nations of Europe descended from Aisav, will wish to pay homage, HaShem will prohibit any and all advances of Aisav to the Mashiach, even comparing Rome to a wild boar of the pig family.

From here we learn that Aisav is not such a nice guy-goy from his total rejection by HaShem from any contact with the Jewish nation, even being compared to a treif pig – a mammal of the Suidae family.

So, what is it – Aisav the sensitive loving caring brother or Aisav the treif swine? And why is Aisav compared to a wild boar.

I submit: It was apparent that the European dignitaries who gathered at Yad Vashem were moved by the overwhelming ambiance of the occasion, and several even wept. When Aisav met his brother after 20 years of hatred, he too was very moved. However, when Aisav departed for the land of Edom he reverted to being the immoral Jew hating anti-Semite he was from the time of his bar mitzva day.

The European dignitaries who shed a tear for the one and a half million Jews murdered at the Auschwitz camp returned home and when the magic of the moment passed, their antisemitic DNA honed and sharpened by the teachings of Christianity (Catholic, Protestant and eastern Christian sects) took over.

Even as the US president Donald Trump was delivering the essentials of his plan these European Union leaders were contriving to make the plan fail.

A boar and a pig have one of the two signature characteristics of a kosher animal, they have split hooves but do not chew their cud. When a pig lays down to rest, he by nature stretches out his feet as if to say “Look, I’m kosher” when he is not. A pig is the symbol of hypocrisy. Aisav and Europe as a whole cannot be trusted. They are as boars and pigs who attempt to demonstrate that they are what they are not. The tears they shed at Yad Vashem are the treif feet of a wild boar.

The plan of the century
The prophet Yeshayahu chapter 19,2 states:

וסכסכתי מצרים במצרים ונלחמו איש באחיו ואיש ברעהו עיר בעיר ממלכה בממלכה

I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian, brother will fight against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom.

The Midrash Shocher Tov relates that the first born of the Egyptians believed what Moshe predicted that the last plague will be their death. They appealed to their elders to free the Jews. When the elders refused the first born began a civil war and many, many Egyptians were killed. That is what the prophet was referring to when he predicted that in the future the Egyptians, and indeed all the Arabs who wish to destroy the Jewish state, will embark on a bloody civil war that will erase them from being a threat to the Jewish state.

Mr. Trump, with all his affinity to the Jewish state, has put forward a plan which includes severing a great part of land from our control and presenting it to the Arabs. Any Jew who loves the holy land will reflexively reject it. However, I do see a good side of the plan. It will by necessity produce a civil war among the Arabs who accept the plan and those who reject it.

The results of the civil war would bring all the areas west of the Jordan River under the sovereignty of the Jewish state.

In any event we all have 20-20 hindsight (especially this year) it’s the foresight which is a bit dull. But at the end of the day, HaShem as the greatest “playwright” will lead they Jewish nation on the course of our destiny in the most magnificent manner.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5780/2020 Nachman Kahana

Answering the Ben Rasha

by Rabbi Mordechai Willig


"You must tell your son on that day saying 'It is because of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt'" (Shmos 13:8). Rashi adds, "Here [the Torah] hints at the answer to the wicked son by saying 'Hashem did for me', i.e. for me but not for you, for had you been there you would not have been worthy of being redeemed". Rashi thus highlights that this passuk is the response to the wicked son, whose question (12:26) "What is this service to you?", he cites earlier (13:5).

A different version is found in the Haggadah: "Because he has removed himself from the klal, he has denied the essential (kafar b'ikar), therefore you should blunt his teeth and tell him 'Because of this Hashem did for me when I left Egypt' i.e. for me and not for him; had he been there he would not have been redeemed."

The differences between these two versions are significant. Rashi's version mentions neither the wicked son removing himself from the klal nor blunting his teeth. In addition, Rashi's answer is in the second person - "For me but not for you" - while the Haggadah instructs us to speak in third person - "For me and not for him". Finally, Rashi concludes "you would not be worthy of being redeemed", implying that perhaps he would be redeemed even if unworthy. By contrast, the Haggadah concludes starkly and definitively, "he would not have been redeemed".

Perhaps the two versions refer to two different types of sons, even though the word rasha - wicked is found in both. The question, "What is this service to you?" is disrespectful to be sure, but still ambiguous. Rashi understands that a dialogue is still possible, and thus the father responds "for me and not for you." One who disrespects the Torah's laws is not worthy of being redeemed. However, if the son accepts his father's rebuke he may become worthy. In addition, since he is still part of Klal Yisrael he may possibly be redeemed even if he personally is unworthy.

The rasha discussed in the Haggadah has already removed himself from Klal Yisrael and has denied the ikar, Hashem Himself and His Torah. No dialogue is possible, and he would not have been redeemed. The father therefore only speaks to his other children so that they will not be influenced by their brother's heresy. The rasha is, therefore, referred to in third person, "for me and not for him" (Haggadah of the Gra, and Bais Halevi 13:8-10). "Emor lo" must be rendered "say about him" (See Rashi 14:3).


The Bais Halevi (ibid) questions the use of the word chuka (13:10) in the context of the korban Pesach which has an obvious reason (12:27), i.e. that Hashem saved us by passing over our homes when He killed the Egyptian firstborn. If the son is unaware of this reason, as implied by the response that Hashem took me out of Egypt, he is not wicked but ignorant and it is the father's fault.

The Bais Halevi answers that the son is aware of the mitzvos and the historical reason, but he feels that the mitzvos do not apply to him. This son argues that they applied when needed as a necessary antidote to idolatry (see Rashi 12:6, Ramban Vayikra 1:9), but today the civilized world is monotheistic and therefore the korban has no purpose and the mitzva no longer applies. He argues "What is the use of this service to you, in our modern era?-"

The Torah, following this question, states, "You shall say it is a korban Pesach to Hashem for He passed over the houses of B'nei Yisrael in Egypt when He killed the Egyptians and saved our houses" (Shemos 12:27.) This is not a response to the rasha, rather it's an affirmation of faith so that the words of the rasha should not affect us at all.

The Bais Halevi explains "Because of this Hashem did for me when I left Egypt" as follows: It is not because I left Egypt that I perform the mitzvah, rather it is because of the mitzva that I left Egypt. The Torah predates Creation, and its mitzvos were performed by our forefathers before we left Egypt (see Rashi Breishis 19:3, 27:9).

In this sense, even the korban Pesach is a chok. As it says (12:43), "This is the chok of the Pesach." It must be offered even if the perceived reason no longer applies. For this reason, as the Bais Halevi (12:43) explains, the Midrash Rabbah compares the korban Pesach to the Para Aduma, the paradigmatic chok. In both essays the Bais Halevi refers to reformers and deniers of Torah in his time (the late nineteenth century) as the pasuk continues to state that a ben-neichar (one whose actions are foreign to Hashem, i.e. a denier, see Rashi and Pesachim 96a) may not eat the korban Pesach.

This yields an additional dimension to the rasha's question. Why is this service for you, all those who eat the korban, but not for me? Why am I excluded? The answer is that you took yourself out of the klal, denied Hashem, and therefore you would not have been redeemed. Therefore, you may not partake.


Unfortunately, denial of the truth of the Torah, the mitzvos, and even Hashem Himself, have increased exponentially since the time of the Bais Halevi. However, as the Bais Halevi himself notes, one who is not taught is not wicked but ignorant. Today, in most cases, it is the fault of the previous generation. Most Jews are not observant and, recently, even intermarried, having never been taught otherwise.

Even amongst more observant Jews, there are cases which parallel the Bais Halevi's description. In his words, "some claim that a particular mitzva has an outdated rationale, and conclude that it no longer is binding" (translation of R.Y.I. Herczeg, 1991, p. 57). We must reaffirm our faith in the immutability of Torah and mitzvos, and convey this idea, clearly and unapologetically, to the next generation.

The pervasive ignorance of today places nearly all of the questioners in Rashi's version, rather them the Haggadah's version. As such, dialogue is possible and, in fact, has created many ba'alei teshuvah in recent decades.

The aforementioned passuk (12:27) concludes, "the people bowed their heads." Rashi comments that the Jews bowed upon the tidings of the redemption, coming into Eretz Yisrael, and the tidings of the sons that they would have. The Artscroll commentary (Stone edition p. 357) notes: "Commentators have noted that the Jews bowed in gratitude for the news that they would have children, even though the child just described to them is wicked. To parents, every child is a blessing and it is up to them to cope with his rebellion and turn him to the good."

The Chasan Sofer notes that the passuk (12:26) begins, "when your sons say to you", indicating that he can't be judged as a rasha since he turns only to his father. Even though he harbors a heretical sprit, he does not entice his siblings to abandon faith and observance. Therefore, there is a still hope that his father can return him to the proper path, and the people were correct in thanking Hashem for the tidings of this son.

Only the incorrigible son, the rasha of the Haggadah who threatens the spiritual wellbeing of his siblings, despite being taught properly, has removed himself from the klal and denied the essential. In that case dialogue is not possible, and the father must reaffirm his faith and protect his other children. In most cases, however, as Rashi teaches, dialogue is possible. Parents facing these challenges are encouraged to exercise patience and wisdom in the fundamental responsibility of passing faith and observance to the next generation.

The Yishai Fleisher Show: Zeal of the Century

Those who have been zealous for holding onto the land of Israel - the so-called "settlers" - saw their self-sacrifice rewarded by the American President's recognition of Jewish rights in Judea. But is the Plan really going to bring regional prosperity? Alex Traiman, JNS Jerusalem Bureau Chief, joins Rabbi Yishai Fleisher to discuss. Then, Malkah Fleisher on Palestinian and Pharaoh's rejectionism.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

"With Bitter Herbs They shall eat It"

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

And on this night, they shall eat the flesh, roasted over the fire, and unleavened cakes; with bitter herbs they shall eat it. (Shemos 12:8)

“WHAT DOES THIS service mean to you?” the Evil Son asks. Evil? After all, he IS at the Seder Table and participating. Evil? He’s probably barely 15 or 16 years of age, and he’s already evil? Even a Ben Sorrer U’Moreh—Rebellious Son—is killed only because of what he WILL become, not because of what he is ALREADY.

And even if he is being contentious, questioning the importance of something as central as the Korban Pesach, what happened with pushing away with the left hand while bringing close with the right hand? This guy needs kiruv, not a “smack” across his teeth, no?

And how did he become this way in the first place? Bad education? Faulty parenting? Terrible influences? A tough soul? Didn’t Shlomo HaMelech tell us to teach each child according to his or her particular way? Why are we so quick to throw this son out?

What if though, the four sons are not just four types of children, but actually four stages of life that ALL of us go through? What if the Haggadah is not really speaking about an actual child per se, but about the potential for all of us to be an “evil son” from time-to-time in life?

For example, when a person is born, they are a “simple” child, a “tam.” They’re new to the world, and know little about it. They are mostly fascinated by whatever catches their attention, and whatever they do for “good” or “bad” is done with such innocence that they are beyond any reproach. We get angry at ourselves, instead, for making it easy for the child to get into “trouble.”

Then we grow up a bit and move past the “Tam” stage. We can be mischievous, and get into trouble for it. We may be fascinated by many things that catch our attention, but not necessarily enough to ask about them. Whatever we do right, it is because we have been trained to do it that way, and we still want to please the authority figures we love and respect…or just out of fear.

Then comes the “Chacham” period. We’re smart enough to ask questions and even answer many of them. You see kids become Bas Mitzvah or Bar Mitzvah, and there is a surge to excel at learning. There is even competition to become the next Torah leaders of the generation, many years down the road. That is their entire world at that time, and for years, many thrive in it.

Eventually some start to wake up to the world beyond their world. They become exposed to other ways of thinking, and other pleasures in life. Their belief system becomes tested, which can continue into marriage, and maybe even more so after it. The pressures of raising a family also force people to have to make decisions, and often compromises, that previously may have seemed out of the question.

That’s when they can start adjusting their approach to God and Divine Providence. When you’re young and single, it is easier to be “loyal” to your principles, i.e., God. But the pressures of life, including material success, and the battles of the yetzer hara can be overwhelming, and a person either has to fight for the truth, or weaken their connection to it.

But the yetzer tov, a person’s good inclination, has a difficult time living without PURE truth. It nags a person to “get with the program” or suffer the consequences: CONSCIENCE. Day after day it pleads with the person to make the necessary changes, or else…

Some people do teshuvah, and stick with God and Torah despite the pressures not to. Others instead rationalize the falsehoods they encounter, making things that are important to God, like prayer for example, unimportant to themselves. Without even knowing it, they are asking, “What does this service mean to you?”

To YOU, and not to GOD.

All of a sudden, the “Rasha” is not such a distant reality, at least not as distant as we’d LIKE to believe. When WE think of an evil person, we think of someone REALLY bad, and we’ve had plenty of THEM, going all the way back to Pharaoh, and even earlier.

“Us? Like them? Not even close.”

True as that may be, “rasha” has many levels to it. Moshe Rabbeinu called Dasan and Aviram “evil” because they raised fists to one another. There are many times the term is applied to people that we ourselves might have simply put up with saying, “Ah, they’re not so bad.”

Hopefully we’re all right, meaning we are okay, and right about that. We ARE basically good people, perhaps even VERY good people. But as we see in daily life, we don’t always maintain the same spiritual level from moment-to-moment. We lose our temper. We can speak loshon hara. We can be mean…or dishonest.

The main thing is that we can notice our shortcomings, and not simply write them off and move on. Maybe we can’t change our bad traits, or misguided thinking at the moment, or that of others. But at the very least, we have to stay true to the truth. We have to see right as right and wrong as wrong. Somewhere inside, we have to accept the pain, of not being consistent with what we know to be the right way.

Using an earlier example, though it may be difficult to put yourself into prayer, or every time, at least admit to yourself that you can pray better. If you gave charity without caring, at least you can realize it, and tell yourself to do better next time. Or if you see others doing things you know are not the way God meant it to be, don’t rationalize away their actions just to make peace.

You may have to smile on the outside, but don’t do it on the inside. God takes note of that. He understands the struggles a person has to face when reacting to others, and takes the difficulty into account. But there is no reason to minimize the importance of a mitzvah or sin on the inside, just to avoid having to feel the pain of spiritual inconsistency.

It’s a slippery spiritual slope to the front door of the “Evil Son” when we allow ourselves to undermine Torah values and principles. There can be a lot of people walking around who think they’re good by God, and be sorely mistaken about it. But if a person continues down the path of the Chacham, they will always be in God’s good book.

The Shamrak Report: Holocaust Commemoration - the Good and the Ugly

by David M. Halbfinger
World leaders, who came to commemorate the Holocaust, were urged to fight Deadly Cancer ! The extraordinary meeting, on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, heard warnings about the present-day rise in anti-Jewish violence.
The gathering in Jerusalem was orchestrated to focus even more on the present day, with anti-Jewish violence and rhetoric spreading across Europe and North America.
King Felipe VI of Spain - whose inherited titles include the Crusader-era King of Jerusalem - urged other world leaders to show an unyielding commitment to fighting the ignorant intolerance, hatred and the total lack of human empathy that permitted and gave birth to the Holocaust.
The actual anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where 1.1 million people were slaughtered, most of them Jews, was observed in Poland on Monday at the site of the infamous death camp near the town of Oswiecim.
President Reuven Rivlin, in remarks as host of the dinner, urged that the point of the Holocaust forum not be lost in the noise of nationalist-tinged disputes (b/w Poland and Russia). The role of political leaders is to shape the future, he said. Leave history for the historians.
I hope and pray that from this room, the message will go out to every country on earth: that the leaders of the world will stand united, will stand united together in the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and extremism, Mr. Rivlin said In defending democracy and democratic values. This is the call of our time.
Anti-Semitic Idiots and Political Prostitutes
Must not be allowed in Israel!
French President Emmanuel Macron has been involved in an altercation with Israeli security officers in Jerusalem's Old City. He shouted at Israeli security officers on a stop at a church in the Old City that France considers its sovereign territory, recalling a similar tussle in Jerusalem involving his predecessor Jacques Chirac in 1996. (The Church belongs to France, but this is the Jewish sovereign stateEven while vising Israel during Holocaust remembrance, Macron couldn't help himself and met Abbas in Ramallah ahead of Holocaust remembrance forumHe is not the only one who met the Holocaust denier, Abbas, during this visit. Other international Anti-Semites, like Prince Charles, also could not resist temptation to snub the Jewish state!)
Welcome to Shamrak Report!
We need unity of Jewish people and true Jewish leadership 
to achieve Jewish National Goal
The right of Jewish people to live in peace
 on all Jewish Ancestral Land!
Zionism is Jewish National Independence Movement!
I began publishing this editorial at the end of 2001.
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Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak
Israel has too many narcissistic, opportunistic and even idiotic political 'jesters', but hardly any real Zionist leaders, who are actually care about the future of Israel and the Jewish people!
The International Criminal Court (ICC) will delay its debate into whether it has the jurisdiction to probe alleged Israeli war crimes in Palestinian Authority-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem. (UN involvement is never good for Israel! International Anti-Semites love to smear Israel for as long as possible with fake accusations, dropping the charges quietly laterIt has been done many times before.)
Three Arabs terrorists infiltrate from Gaza and attack soldiers, sparking a firefight which ended in the deaths of the terrorists. (Tolerance must have its limit!)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday presented four options aimed at boosting the protection of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, from sending UN rights monitors and unarmed observers to deploying a military or police force under UN mandate. (UN military units were protecting Hezbollah from Israel's retaliation in Southern Lebanon, and now he wants to facilitate attacks from Gaza.)
Ateret Cohanim organization succeeded in having a Palestinian family evicted from the neighborhood of Silwan, at the southern end of the Temple Mount near the Dung Gate in Jerusalem, on the grounds that the land was owned by Jews before 1948. The Jerusalem neighborhood originally housed Yemenite Jews who arrived in Jerusalem in the late 1800's. The Jewish residents were forced out of the neighborhood and their homes were razed in 1938 by British authorities, (after the British instigated) dangerous Arab revolts in the area. The ruling could set a precedent for the eviction of another 700 Palestinian residents living in Silwan. (Hopefully, more Jewish land will be reclaimed soon!)
Jerusalem will soon become the capital of a global caliphate, a Palestinian preacher has told a crowd of Muslim worshipers at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, before calling on them to seek martyrdom. He told the enthusiastic crowd that three prophecies would soon be fulfilled: that a rightly-guided caliphate will be established, that Jerusalem will be liberated and established as its capital, and that Islam will throw its neighbors to the ground and achieve world domination. The real task of the Muslim faithful is to wage Jihad for the sake of Allah, and make the word of the infidels inferior to the word of Allah, he said, before calling upon them to become martyrs for Allah. (When will the Western BDS supporters and Anti-Semitic idiots realise that after Jews they are next in the list of advancing Islamism ?)
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, ministers and senior officials from 34 countries, members of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), published a statement condemning distortion of the Holocaust and historical revisionism. In recent years, Poland enacted a law that prohibited implicating it in Nazi crimes. Hungary was accused of attempting to obscure its responsibility for the extermination of Jews and Lithuania was accused of clearing the name of a Nazi criminal recognized as a national hero. ( By restricting Jewish immigration from Europe, international Anti-Semites deliberately facilitated the Holocaust, even before the WW2 began! During the war they did nothing to stop or hinder the Nazi genocidal system!)
Jordan s parliament on Sunday approved a draft law banning the import of Israeli natural gas. The motion was passed unanimously by all 130 lawmakers. Earlier this month, Israel began pumping gas to Jordan from its offshore Leviathan gas field. Most Jordanians still view Israel as the enemy, despite a peace treaty between the countries. Israel gives Jordan 50,000,000 cubic meters of water each year, and also agreed to help Jordan use desalination technology in order to find additional water. So, when it comes to water, the Jordanians aren t rejecting the Zionist offering!
Israel s internal security agency, Shin Bet, says it has thwarted over 560 significant terror plots in 2019, including suicide 10 suicide plots, 4 abductions and over 300 shooting attacks. Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman said the attacks were aimed against Israeli civilians and infrastructure. ( No other country would tolerate this security threat! Why does the inapt Israeli leadership is?)
The Palestinian Authority s daily newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida (The New Life) called for murders in Jerusalem to halt the upcoming diplomatic event marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz to be attended by more than 40 world leaders. The opinion piece said: One shot will disrupt the ceremony and one body will cancel the ceremony. Hamas may see this event as a unique chance for an earth-shattering rocket attack on the unprecedented concentration of world leaders in Jerusalem. (Israel must change the ugly status quo, with or without help from the PA! Quiet and Ceasefires do not workRemoval of Israel-hating enemy population from Jewish land is the only optionLet them have New Life somewhere else!)
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Thursday that his nation had not fully learned the lessons of the Holocaust, as Jew-hatred was still growing. Steinmeier vowed to combat anti-Semitism, as well as the poison that is nationalism. He promised to protect Jewish life in Germany and to stand with the State of Israel. ( Words are cheapGermany has been allowing act of Antisemitism to be committed by neo-Nazis, leftists and Muslims. It is one of the main Western 'partners' of Iran.)
Israel s state-owned electric company said Wednesday it was ending power cuts to the West Bank after the Palestinian Authority paid over half of its outstanding debt. of the West Bank over the NIS 1.7 billion ($500 million) debt owed by the main Palestinian power distributor in Judea and Samaria. ( Hospitals and many other bills are still not paid by the PA. Israel must start deducting funds from the PA's taxes, it collects.)
Quote of the Week:
"Have you noticed that all the nations who virtually left the Jewish people in Israel to be slaughtered by Muslims states in 1948, are now being overrun by Muslims who are living off their welfare, gang raping their girls, causing havoc, crime and murders and creating almost dessert like places wherever they populate! Has Israel gone mad, surely to take the enemy behind Israeli lines is straight murder for the Jewish people? It is bad enough that governments are brain dead enough to bring them to the West, but to take them into Israel is unbelievable!" a comment from a Christian friend.
by Dov Trachtman
For the past 19 years, the south has been battered by terrorism from Gaza that has the sole aim of taking human life, and when are the decision-makers going to actually do something to help us?
&The question is not where one of the bomb balloons (or rockets) sent from Gaza will explode, but rather when and how many casualties it will cause. Will our decision-makers only wake up when there are dead and wounded? The State of Israel is suffering from chronic procrastination that is affecting everyone's daily lives, especially those of us living in the south.
It started with mortars and rocket fire, and over the last two years new mechanisms of death such as incendiary kites and bomb balloons have been added to the roster.
It is pure luck that there have not been any victims of these new types of terrorism, but since when have we relied on luck instead of addressing the root of the problem?
Each time, the State of Israel finds another excuse to postpone dealing with the problem.
Sometimes it's the Iranians at the gates, sometimes it's Hezbollah in their tunnels and sometimes its efforts to reach a deal with Hamas.
Sometimes it's because of the right-wing government, sometimes because of the left-wing government and sometimes because of the interim government.
This is what Israeli procrastination looks like: Explosive balloons are delivered to our children in the morning, incendiary kites are dispatched to our farmers at noon and rockets are fired at us all at night.
A sovereign and strong state is not supposed to simply
accept such ugly surreal reality!
Peace Can Only be Made with Defeated Enemies!
...It is the hope of every generation that there will be peace here, but the classic diplomatic paradigm of Israel giving up territories has failed before our eyes time and again. So we have to change our tactics and seek to quell the other side, for peace can only be made with defeated enemies.