Sunday, June 28, 2020
I’m not sure that the God of Israel agrees, we’ll see.
But, that does seem to be the conventional wisdom of the modern era. Democracy rules. There have been some failed attempts at other forms of governing, but it’s never turned out good for most of the people under that type of authoritarian regime.
Yet we find today, in the CoronaVirus pandemic era, China has been pushing its model of governance, with one party rule, as more responsive to the crisis. They are claiming to meet the true needs of the people (public health), over what governments in the democratic west, are capable of providing their citizens.
With a second wave of infections growing, the lockdowns, forced business closures, contact tracing, drone and robotic patrolling, facial recognition technology used, immunity certificates, and other invasive methods used or being discussed to use by democratic governments, to control the outbreaks, we find elements of China’s governance model spreading like the virus itself, from east to west, eating away at citizen’s privacy and civil rights.
Citizens in western democratic countries, might awaken soon, to find themselves in many ways, living in countries, with surveillance and restrictions, much closer to China’s regime, than the democracy they lived in, before the pandemic, with its potential for lawless protesters and rioters.
That said, in the Book of Exodus, we find The God of Israel, just before the revelation at Mount Sinai, commanding Moses, to tell the people of Israel, “You shall be to me a kingdom of priests [teachers of spirituality and morality-leaders to bring the world to God] and a holy [separated and elevated] nation [because of their special mission]...” (Exodus 19:6).
In last week’s Torah reading, Parshat Korah, we find a rebellion brewing against Moses and Aaron’s leadership, instigated by Korah, their cousin. Korah comes to Moses and Aaron with a mob of 250 community leaders and puts forth the pro-democracy argument, that they’ve taken too much power for themselves, “Why do you think you’re so much better than everyone else? We’re all part of the God’s holy people, and he’s with all of us. What makes you think you’re the only ones who should be in charge?” (Numbers 16:3).
What’s really bothering Korah?
Commentators discuss that. Both the Ibn Ezra and the Ramban, agree it took place about a year after leaving Egypt.
The Ibn Ezra argues that the rebellion took place, right after the inauguration of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), when Aaron and his sons were designated a Divinely created Aristocracy, to replace the firstborn, as the ones to perform the sacrificial service. Korah, a firstborn (Exodus 6:21), was embittered by this, and the 250 leaders with him, were also firstborn. Korah easily stirred them up.
Nachmanides, the Ramban, says that the rebellion took place right after the failed spying affair, described in Parshat Shlach. People resented the decree to stay in the desert [isolation?] and die off for another thirty nine years, and that only then, the next generation (of under twenty year olds) would enter the Holy Land. Again, easy pickings for Korah’s “democratic” rhetoric.
A series of proofs that Moses and Aaron were indeed the divinely chosen leaders now ensues.
Moses claiming everything he said and did was God’s will, declares that to prove it, the earth should open and swallow Korah and others with him, and it does. Then a fire from God breaks out and consumes the 250 community leaders. But that only postpones the rebellion.
The next day, the mob still inspired by Korah’s democratic vision, protests to Moses and Aaron saying, “You have killed the people of God.” God tells Moses to get away from them and He’ll destroy the rebels. But Moses and Aaron instead, pray for mercy. Then, Moses tells Aaron to run and get the incense pans for atonement, as a plague [like the CoronaVirus] breaks out. By the time Aaron stands between the living and the dead, and the plague is quelled, 14,700 democratic activists have died (Numbers 16:28-17:15).
Note the huge spike in infections in America and elsewhere, and yet they protest injustice and for Democracy...
God now orders Moses to tell the remaining 12 tribal leaders, to take bare almond staffs and place them in the Tent of Meeting, along with the staff of Aaron. The next day when Moses goes into the Tent, and removes them to show the leaders, their staffs are still just sticks, but Aaron’s has blossomed, sprouted buds, and grown ripe almonds. God then tells Moses to put Aaron’s staff back into the Tent and keep it as eternal proof of Aaron’s legitimate priestly line.
The people are frightened and complain to Moses, “We are lost. Everyone who comes close to the Mishkan will die. Will we ever stop perishing? [when will these draconian regulations and the pandemic end?]” (Numbers 17:16-28).
As if to rub salt into an open wound (of the democrats), or maybe better put, God re-enforces the lesson of Aaron’s legitimate priesthood and divinely chosen aristocracy, and that He, God, is in charge, not the mob of democratic activists. God now talks to Aaron about him, and his descendants service in the Mishkan, and later at the Temples in Jerusalem. He then describes the gifts the people will need to bring to the Kohanim (priests), and the tithes given to the Levites. Then God tells Moses about the tithes that Levites will give the Kohanim (Numbers 18:1-32).
These gifts and tithes, are a tax, to provide a salary for the priests and Levites national service, at the Mishkan, and Temples, in lieu of not receiving any portion in the Land, like the other tribes will, when they enter Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel).
So, a “democratic” rebellion was forcefully put down, and the primacy of divine aristocracy, through the Kohanim and Levites was preserved, and Moses continued as leader. But was Korah really a democrat? Did he really worry about “all the Holy People,” or was he a demagogue out for self-interest and self-aggrandizement, parading as a democrat?
In, The Republic, (Book VIII), Plato discusses five types of regimes. These five regimes progressively decline from Plato’s Ideals. Starting from Aristocracy at the top, his ideal, which is lead by a philosopher-king, to the lowest form, Tyranny led by a demagogue-dictator.
For Plato, the ruling class in Aristocracy, is made up of the philosophers-kings, with the aid of the soldiers and others in the government administration, whose job it is to force onto the majority of the people, the order established by the philosophers. What Plato calls, the Good. They are forbidden from owning property, in order to preclude, that the policies they undertake be tainted by personal interests.
The majority of the people are allowed to own property and produce goods for themselves, but are also obliged to sustain their rulers through contributions, i.e. taxes.
According to Plato, the aristocratic mindset of a just ruler, can be achieved through an intensive educational training, designed to produce intellectuals that are selfless and upright, aware of the absolute Good, by learning the Truth, based on the Platonic Ideas. Wealth, fame, and power are just shadows of the Good, not the True Good, therefore, the philosopher, who learns metaphysical contemplation, is not tempted to abuse his power in his pursuit of material goods, and his state policies are dedicated to establishing only the Good in the state, not his personal interests.
This sounds very similar to what we’ve just read in the Torah. The Torah promotes the idea that the Kohanim (also a teaching class), Levites, and later in Israel, a king and his administration, are to guide, and if necessary even force, the Jewish people into observing the Mitzvot (Commandments) of the Torah, to achieve God’s ideals. This was the system God was setting up, through Moses and Aaron’s leadership.
Maimonides, the Rambam, writes in his Mishneh Torah, Book of Kings And Their Wars 11:4, about the future Messiah (ideal Jewish leader), “If a king will arise from the House of David, who diligently contemplates the Torah and observes its Mitzvot, as prescribed by the Written Law and Oral Law, as David his ancestor did, will compel all of Israel to walk in the ways of the Torah, rectify the breaches to its observance, and fight the wars of God, we consider him possibly the Mashiach.”
About Democracy, Plato says, it is where freedom is now the highest value (not the Good), and the lowest classes grow bigger. The poor become the winners. People are free to do what they want and live how they want. The democratic man, in Plato’s scheme, takes great interest in all the things he can buy with his money. Modern international consumer culture.
Plato believes that democratic leaders are more concerned with money and power, than how one can help the people. We certainly see that today, among politicians. Democratic man does whatever he wants, whenever he wants to do it. His life has no order or priority.
Then finally at the bottom, Plato descibes Tyranny, where no one has discipline and society exists in chaos. Democracy is taken over by the longing for freedom, to the extent that people break the law regularly if they so choose. This appears to be very similar to anarchy, and what we’ve been seeing in America and around the world recently, with the Black Lives Matter-led “George Floyd” protests and riots.
We’ve all seen this recently in the US, where radical leftists have promoted the idea to “Defund the Police.” They’ve created police-free “democratically led” autonomous zones, like the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), later renamed Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) in Seattle. Threats of setting up these autonomous zones, have occurred in several cities.
According to Plato, power ultimately must be seized by a strong man, to maintain order, which will cause them to become tyrants. We’ve seen this happen in CHAZ/CHOP, with un-elected gun-toting leaders roaming around.
They have also been running around, tearing down statues and wiping out American history.
Interestingly, the Torah reading starts off, “And Korah took...” (Numbers 16:1).
What did he take? He took himself and his “democratic activists” aside, to separate themselves from the community (shades of CHAZ/CHOP), to fight against the system, the Divine Aristocracy, and against Moses and Aaron. Korah took advantage of the chaotic moment after the spying affair, to attempt to seize power.
Plato explains, the tyrannical mindset creates the worst form of man, due to his being the most unjust and thus the furthest removed from any joy of the true kind, the Good. He is consumed by desires, which cause him to do terrible things such as murder and plunder, there is complete lawlessness. The tyrant becomes a law unto himself.
At least four people have been shot and one killed in dystopian CHAZ/CHOP. There have been shakedowns on local businesses, extorting money from shopkeepers in CHAZ/CHOP and the abuse of its own “citizens.” And, during the Black Lives Matter-led “George Floyd” protests and riots (although protesting supposedly for equality, democracy, and against police abuse); there have been many reports of specifically anti-Semitic epithets, graffiti, violence, and destruction being done. See my last article, “BLM and Black Nazis are Evil Like White Nazis.”
Korah too, like BLM, wants mob rule in the name of “democracy.” He was a demagogue, willing to sacrifice everyone else to achieve his power grab, as BLM and the far Left are doing in America today.
As democracy degenerates, you either get a Chinese model of authoritarian governance, or the whimsical chaos, violence and tyranny of the far left. What did Korah really have in mind?
Yet, the God of Israel said, “You shall be to me a kingdom of priests [teachers of spirituality and morality-leaders to bring the world to God] and a holy [separated and elevated] nation [because of their special mission]...” (Exodus 19:6).
God wants to create a Holy Society in Israel, led by a Divine Aristocracy, not a democracy, with the Kohanim and Levites teaching and serving in the Temple. And, the Jewish king, who eschews all self-aggrandizement, writes for himself two Torah scrolls, one of which, he keeps with himself at all times to, “...read all the days of his life, so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees, and not consider himself better than his brothers, and turn away from Mitzvah observance…” (Deuteronomy 17:16-20). A model society, to influence mankind, and bring them to a meaningful relationship with God.
The Rambam continues, about the future Messiah (ideal Jewish leader), “If he succeeds in all the above, builds the Temple in its place, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, he is definitely the Mashiach. He will then improve the entire world, motivating all the nations to serve God together, as Zephaniah 3:9 states: ‘I will transform the peoples to a purer language that they all will call upon the name of God and serve Him with one purpose.’”
In a sense to achieve Plato’s idea of the True Good, which Plato must have gotten from the Torah.
God wants a Divine Aristocracy for Israel, not a Democracy.
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
Dedicated to the memory of R. Avraham Ben David
Prophecy No Guarantee of Greatness
King David testifies regarding himself: "My heart was not haughty and I did not look down on others." Our sages, with an eye to clarifying the difference between the "students of Bilam" and those of Avraham Avinu, say:
"Anyone who possesses these three qualities is considered to be the of the students of Avraham Avinu; anyone, however, who possesses three other qualities is the student of Bilam: "One with a kind eye, a humble spirit and one with a nefesh shefeila - is of the students of Avraham Avinu; one with an envious eye, a haughty spirit and a nefesh rechava : of the students of the wicked Bilam".
Bilam was a prophet with great spiritual powers; our Sages recognized this greatness: "There was no prophet in Israel who reached the level of Moshe," they note, citing the Torah. " In Israel there was no prophet like Moshe , but amongst the non-Jewish nations there was. Why [was the gentile world provided with a great prophet]? So the non-Jews would not have the opportunity to claim, 'if we would have been led by a prophet on the level of Moshe, we would have served God, too. What prophet were they led by who reached the level of Moshe? Bilam the son of Be’or".
Although he had, as we noted, great spiritual powers, he was held back by his poor moral and personal qualities. A person like this ends up channeling his spiritual energies negatively. In contrast, good moral conduct and personal qualities are key elements in the essence of the Jew, and are entrenched deep within his soul.
A 'kind eye' is a quality that refers to a positive approach to everything created in the world. A humble spirit is, as the term states, the quality of modesty and humility, whereas a nefesh shefeila is possessed by someone who does not pursue material luxuries. Bilam’s haughtiness is quite evident through the verses in this week's Torah portion. So is his pursuit of material pleasures.
Bilam claims, in response to the requests of Balak's messengers, that "God will not permit me to go with you ." Rashi, following the lead of the midrash, notes Bilam's intention: "With you, he will not let me go, but He will permit me to go with more important people than you." Bilam seeks honor.
After that, he says: "If [Balak] provides me a house full of silver and of gold [I will not transgress the word of God ..." From here, we learn that Bilam is actually interested in silver and gold, but refrains from taking such gifts - in response to the Divine command forbidding him to do so.
The Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin lists those people considered by halacha to have forfeited their share in the world-to-come. It spends an inordinate amount of time describing Bilam’s behavior. The moral flaw of Bilam was internal - it seriously blemished all of his great personal powers.
The Power of Speech
"And God opened the mouth of the donkey." This aspect of the story hints that even for Bilam, the great prophet, for whom speech was his main asset - the power of speech derives from Hashem, and is, in the end, a function of His will. Because God is ultimately in control, the otherwise great "speaker" can be made speechless, and the donkey, which doesn’t know how to speech, can have its mouth opened.
Nowhere to Move
As the events unfold, the Torah describes how, after the donkey travels in a open area, with plenty of room on all sides, it ultimately finds itself unable to maneuver from side to side. Finally, it cannot budge left or right. Obviously, this part of the story contains some deeper meaning that must be elucidated. This is how our sages explained it:
"What were these signs? If Bilam was about to attempt to curse the children of Avraham, he would find, from both sides, the sons of Yishma’el and the sons of Ketura; if he were to try to curse the sons of Yitzchak, he would find among them the sons of Esav; in an effort to curse the sons of Ya’akov, he would be unsuccessful, because he would not find any weak point at which he could smite them. Therefore, regarding the third maneuver by the donkey the Torah says: ‘[it stood] in a narrow place.’ This is a reference to Ya’akov.’ There was nowhere to move, neither right nor left - since he could not find a blemish in any one of Ya’akov’s children." (Bamidbar Rabba 20, 14)
Bilam tried to hit at the root of the Jewish nation, at its forefathers. When he sought to strike at the children of Avraham, there was ‘room’ for him to do so, since many of Avraham’s seed was far from perfect: the sons of Yishma’el and the sons of Ketura. Moreover, when he sought to strike at Yitzchak, there was ‘room’ to do this also, vis-a-vis Esav, a son of Yitzchak. However, when he sought to harm the sons of Ya’akov , he literally had "nowhere to go." He had no other way to proceed except to bless them, since Ya’akov Avinu’s children - B’nai Yisrael - possess no intrinsic spiritual flaws...
Rav, Mitzpeh Yericho
The Weird Worship of Peor
"There was once a gentile woman who was very ill. She vowed: 'If I recover from my illness, I will go and worship every idol in the world.' She recovered, and proceeded to worship every idol in the world. When she came to Peor, she asked its priests, 'How is this one worshipped?' They told her, 'One eats greens and drinks strong drink, and then defecates before the idol.' The woman responded, 'I'd rather become ill again than worship an idol in such a [revolting] manner.'"
"Sabta, a townsman of Avlas, once hired out a donkey to a gentile woman. When she came to Peor, she said to him, 'Wait till I enter and come out again.' When she came out, he told her, 'Now you wait for me until I go in and come out.' 'But are you not a Jew?' she asked. 'What does it concern you?' he replied. He then entered, uncovered himself before it, and wiped himself on the idol's nose. The acolytes praised him, saying, 'No one has ever served this idol so consummately!'"
Exposing the True Nature of Idolatry
What was the point of this most odious idolatrous practice? In truth, Peor was not an aberrant form of idolatry. On the contrary, Peor was the epitome of idolatry! Other forms of idolatry are more aesthetic, but they just cover up the true ugliness of idolatry. The Golden Calf was the opposite extreme, a beautiful, elegant form of idol worship. But Peor, as its name indicates, exposes the true nature of idolatry. All other forms of idolatry are just branches of Peor, with their inner vileness concealed to various extents.
The repulsive service of Peor contains the key for abolishing idolatry. When the prophet Elijah fought against the idolatry of Baal, he taunted the people: 'If Baal is God, then follow him.' The people, in fact, were already worshippers of Baal. What was Elijah telling them?
Elijah's point was that Baal is just a sanitized version of Peor. If Baal is God, then go all the way. You should worship the source of this form of worship — Peor. Elijah's exposure of Baal as just a cleaner version of Peor convinced the people. They were truly revolted by the scatological practices of Peor, and instinctively responded, 'Hashem is God! Hashem is God!' (I Kings 18:39)
Historically, the uprooting of idolatry will take place in stages. The allure of Peor, the purest form of idolatry, was shattered after Moses rooted out those who worshipped Peor at Shittim. That purge gave strength to the men of the Great Assembly who subdued the temptation of idolatry in the time of Ezra (Sanhedrin 64a). The final eradication of idolatry's last vestiges will take place in the end of days, through the spiritual power of Moses, whose burial place faces Beit Peor. This obliteration will occur as idolatry's innate foulness is exposed to all.
Why is idolatry so intrinsically vile?
The source of idolatry's appeal is in fact a holy one — an impassioned yearning for closeness to God. Ignorance and moral turpitude, however, prevent this closeness, blocking the divine light from the soul. The overwhelming desire for divine closeness, despite one's moral failings, leads to idol worship. Instead of correcting one's flaws, these spiritual yearnings are distorted into cravings for idolatry. The unholy alliance of spiritual yearnings together with immoral and decadent behavior produces the intrinsic foulness of idolatry. Instead of trying to elevate humanity and refine our desires, idolatry endeavors to debase our most refined aspirations to our coarsest physical aspects. This is the ultimate message of Peor's scatological practices.
True Victory over Idolatry
The Great Assembly in Ezra's time conquered the temptation of idolatry by generally diminishing spiritual yearnings in the world. They did not truly defeat idolatry; rather, they subdued its enticement. In the words of the Midrash, they cast the temptation of idolatry into a metal cauldron and sealed it with lead, "so that its call may not be heard." Thus we find that the Talmud (Sanhedrin 102b) records a dream of Rav Ashi, the fifth century Talmudic sage. In his dream, Rav Ashi asked the idolatrous King Menasseh, 'Since you are so wise, why did you worship idols?' To which Menasseh replied, 'Were you there, you would have lifted up the hems of your garment and sped after me.'
The true cure for this perilous attraction, however, is through greatness of Torah. The highest goal of Torah is the appearance of inner light in the human soul, as divine wisdom is applied to all the spheres that the soul is capable of assimilating — be it in thought, emotion, desires, and character traits.
Even nowadays, poverty in Torah knowledge results in a weakness of spirit, similar to the spiritual darkness caused by idolatry. The world awaits redemption through greatness of Torah. Then idolatry will be truly defeated, and not merely subdued in a sealed metal cauldron.
(Gold from the Land of Israel, pp. 271-273. Adapted from Shemonah Kevatzim VIII: 132; IV: 56)
There is an eternal debate amongst philosophers and criminologists as to whether the mob boss or the actual hit man is most culpable in the murder of a rival gang leader. Though both are certainly morally guilty, the question as to which one bears the legal onus for the crime, absent statutory law on the matter, is an issue of discussion and differing opinions.
In Judaism there is a concept "that there is no excuse of agency present when a sin or crime is being committed." This means that the hit man who pulled the trigger or planted the explosive is certainly the more guilty party, in such a scenario of an ordered murder. In the words of the Talmud "regarding the instructions from the Master and contrary instructions from the student – who should one listen to?!"
Thus in this week’s parsha, even though it is the malevolent Balak who engages Bilaam in the nefarious scheme to curse the Jewish people, it is Bilaam who actually intends and agrees to do the cursing. He and not Balak emerges as the ultimate villain of the event. There is much discussion in the Talmud and in rabbinic sources as to whether any of the laws of agency, and this law in particular, exists outside of Jewish society generally.
If there is no agency outside of Jewish society, it appears that, generally speaking, there would be liability on both the instigator and the agent as well in such circumstances. In any event, it certainly is inherently wrong to engage an agent to perform an illegal or sinful (they are no longer the same today) act whether in Jewish or general society, whatever the technical legal liabilities may be.
The instigator of a crime is deemed in today’s society to be as guilty as the criminal who perpetrated the crime. Osama bin Laden was the guilty party in the World Trade Center assassinations as much as were the murderous suicide-pilots he sent forth to do the deed. Balak is responsible for Bilaam’s curses. Heaven, in its exquisite way, administers justice to all concerned in as it pleases and in its own time frame.
Balak will pay the penalty for his unwarranted hatred and enmity of Israel just as Bilaam does. The rabbis of the Talmud even extended the penalties for wrongful and criminal acts committed to include those who remained silent when they should have spoken out against evil and cruelty. Bilaam’s donkey is commended while his associates are undoubtedly condemned and eventually punished – hence the plethora of laws in our world and statutes about conspiracy to commit crimes and criminal negligence.
In fact, the actual perpetrator oftentimes attempts to hide behind the façade that one was only following orders. Judaism does not recognize that excuse and yet the one who issued the orders is also deemed guilty of the crime. Balak and Bilaam are the forerunners of Hitler and Mengele, Stalin and the NKVD. All are to be condemned not only in Heaven’s good time but also by all of us mortals on earth as well.
Rosh HaYeshiva, Mercaz HaRav
Rosh Kollel, Eretz Hemda
Chaver, Beit Din HaGadol Yerushalaim
An entire parasha is dedicated to the story of Bilam and his blessings. What is the reason that Hashem decided it is so important to us?
It is possible that it comes from the desire to show Bnei Yisrael’s level at that time, which made them fit for such blessings. This, in turn, sheds light on the events that occurred in the desert. If we read the previous parshiyot, describing the people’s complaints and quarrels, we might conclude that this was a lowly stage in our nation and that we did not really deserve to receive the Torah. However, Chazal laud this generation as the "dor de’ah (the generation of knowledge)" (Vayikra Rabba 9:1). The Torah thus shows how the brilliant enemy of the Jews, Bilam, looked for blemishes to throw at us and was unable to find them. He was left with no choice but to make such declarations as "How good are your tents, oh Jacob?" (Bamidbar 24:5).
Indeed, from the non-Jewish perspective, i.e., in comparison to what Bilam knew of the rest of the world, Bnei Yisrael’s level was indeed unprecedentedly high. The reason that the Torah contains harsh criticism of the nation is because they are not judged like anyone else. It is not enough to be relatively good. It is Bnei Yisrael’s responsibility to elevate themselves and, in the process, raise other nations along with them.
The above idea finds expression in the pasuk: "… for as a man disciplines his son Hashem disciplines you" (Devarim 8:5). We find two different kinds of strict discipline for the purpose of educating: a father who strikes his son and a teacher who strikes his student. There is a difference between the two phenomena. A (fair) teacher will only resort to strict discipline if his student is not performing reasonably. If he is doing most of what he is supposed to and especially if he is doing a good job, he will be left alone. After all, he will be as good as or better than his peers. A father is different. He doesn’t care if other children are better or worse. He wants perfection from his son and the fulfillment of his potential.
That is what the Torah says about Israel. Why should they be punished if they are better than Yishmael and Edom, Put, Luv, and Canaan? The Torah says that this is a mistake, as we are disciplined as a father disciplines his son. We are not at all compared to other nations.
Rosh Kollel, Eretz Hemda Dayanut
Who (or what) was Bilam really? The commentaries have always dealt with this thorny issue.
On the pasuk, "Another prophet like Moshe never arose in Israel, whom Hashem knew face to face" (Devarim 34:10), Chazal (Sifrei , V’zot Haberacha 357:10) derived an extremely positive appraisal: "While in Israel there was not as great as Moshe, among the nations there was Bilam." The difference is that Moshe did not know Who was speaking to him, and Bilam did know; Moshe did not know when Hashem would speak to him and Bilam did know. To put things in perspective, they explained that Bilam knew so much, just like a royal chef knows about the ins and outs of the goings on of the king’s kitchen – without being an important officer. In this vein, Moshe is uniquely described as, "in My house, he is trusted" (Bamidbar 12:7).
Bilam earned, in Rabbinic parlance, the title Bilam Harasha (the wicked). "Whoever has these three qualities is a disciple of Bilam Harasha: a bad eye (looks negatively on others), a high spirit (haughtiness), and a broad spirit (desires great pleasures) (Avot 5:19). They accuse him of involvement in immoral acts such as bestiality with his donkey (Avoda Zara 4b). On the pasuk, "Vayiker Elokim el Bilam …," the midrash sees the first word as a reference to impurity.
The most direct description used in Tanach against Bilam is found in Yehoshua (13:22) – "Bilam the son of Be’or the sorcerer (hakosem), Bnei Yisrael killed by sword." What does a kosem mean? In our "rational" world, this is a reference to one who uses sleight of hand. However, throughout history, this has referred to people who steeped themselves in an impure world of occult powers. Therefore, magic was connected to the source of impurity – to the dead. Indeed, the Torah forbids interaction with secrets from the world of the dead (Devarim 18:10-11).
Bilam increased the impurity by involving himself and those around him in promiscuity. While on the one hand he praised Bnei Yisrael for the modesty of their homes (Bamidbar 24:5), his plan succeeded in causing many in Bnei Yisrael to sin with Moavite women (see Micha 6:5). Chazal asked how he could be called a kosem if he was a prophet, and answered that he was originally a prophet, but later on was a kosem (Sanhedrin 106a).
Hashem sent His trusted servant Moshe to save His people, Bnei Yisrael, from Egyptian bondage, bring them to Sinai to accept the Torah, and then bring them into the Land to establish a moral society that could serve as a light to the nations. Hashem gave the non-Jewish world a prophet on an equally high level, Bilam. This man decided to leave the path of prophecy and purity and cling to sorcery and impurity. After choosing this path, he fell to the 50th level of impurity. After Balak invited him to curse Bnei Yisrael, he saw the purity in Bnei Yisrael and realized that the only way to "return Bnei Yisrael to Egypt" was to make them sin. That is why Bnei Yisrael had no choice but to fight Midian and kill "Bilam ben Be’or the sorcerer."
On March 28-30, 2020, the US-Israel air forces conducted a joint F-35 jet training exercise over southern Israel. It took place while most US joint military maneuvers with allied forces were suspended due to the Covid19 pandemic.
The exercise highlighted the blossoming, mutually-beneficial US-Israel strategic cooperation, which is driven by mutual threats and challenges, such as Iran’s Ayatollahs, Turkey’s Erdogan, ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the need to maintain global technological edge, militarily and commercially. These threats and challenges significantly transcend the Palestinian issue, which has played a minor role in shaping the Middle East.
While Israel benefits from the unprecedented, multiple capabilities of the US air force, the latter leverages the unique operational experience of the Israeli air force. The Israeli military, in general, and Israel’s air force, in particular, have emerged as the most cost-effective, battle-tested laboratory for the US defense industries (e.g., aircraft manufacturers) and armed forces (e.g., the US air force).
In fact, Israel’s air force battle experience and technological capabilities contributed to the development of the F-35, systematically enhancing its capabilities, by sharing with the US manufacturer operational, maintenance and repair lessons. This flow of Israeli experience (related to the litany of US military systems employed by Israel) has spared the US defense industries many years of costly research and development, and has advanced US competitiveness in the global market, increasing US exports and expanding the US employment base.
Moreover, the unique combat experience of the Israeli pilots – who always fly within the range of enemies’ radar and missiles – has yielded more daring and innovative battle tactics, which are regularly shared with the US air force.
Israel’s role as a major force-multiplier for the US, is highlighted against the backdrop of European vacillation, the growing ineffectiveness of NATO (No Action Talk Only?) and the intensifying vulnerabilities of all pro-US Arab regimes.
However, Israel was not always perceived as a value-producing, strategic ally, as documented by the following milestones:
*In 1947/48 the State Department, Pentagon and the CIA, along with the NY Times and Washington Post, opposed the establishment of the Jewish State, misperceiving it a burden on US interests. Secretaries George Marshall (State) and James Forrestal (Defense) and the “Wise Men” of Foggy Bottom contended that supporting the establishment of a Jewish State would mean “buying a pig in a poke.” They alleged that a Jewish State would be pro-USSR, overwhelmed militarily by the Arabs, undermine US-Arab relations and jeopardize US access to Persian Gulf oil. They dismissed presidential advisor, Clark Clifford, who asserted that a Jewish State would be a loyal and effective strategic ally of the US. In July 1950, following Israel’s victory in its War of Independence, the national security establishment rejected a recommendation by General Omar Bradley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to consider Israel a favored strategic partner in the vein of Turkey and Iran: “The Israeli army would be the most effective force south of Turkey, which could be utilized for delaying action [in case of a Soviet invasion]….”
*The assessment of Israel as a strategically non-viable entity was accentuated in 1954-1956, when the US and Britain conceived the Operation Alpha Israel-Arab peace plan, which was based on land sacrifice by Israel, while extending inducements to the Arabs. Accordingly, President Eisenhower, Secretary of State Dulles and Special Presidential Envoy Robert Anderson proposed an Israeli withdrawal from parts of the Negev, creating a territorial link between Egypt and Jordan, a resettlement in Israel of 75,000 Arab refugees, evasive and illusory US security guarantees and trade benefits to Israel, and the establishment of non-belligerence between Israel and Arab countries. The plan was rejected by both Israel and the Arabs.
*The June 1967 War transformed Israel into a most effective power-projecting US beachhead in the Middle East and beyond, extending the strategic hand of the US with no need for additional US troops on the ground. The resounding Israeli victory obliterated the military posture of then radical, pro-Soviet Egypt, aborting an Egyptian drive to become the effective pan-Arab leader (e.g., 70,000 Egyptian soldiers in Yemen, aiming to topple the pro-US Saudi regime), while toppling all pro-US Arab regimes. In 1967, the US was heavily dependent upon the importation of Persian Gulf oil, and the Israeli victory spared the US an economic calamity, while denying the USSR a game-changing regional and global geo-strategic bonus. The battle-tested-laboratory feature of Israel was emphasized by a team of 25 US military experts, who spent three months in Israel, studying Israel’s battle tactics and scrutinizing Soviet military systems captured by Israel.
*In September 1970, Israel’s posture of deterrence – through Israeli troops on the Golan Heights, at the trilateral border of Israel, Syria and Jordan – forced a rollback of a pro-Soviet Syrian invasion of pro-US and militarily inferior Jordan. The aim of the invasion – while the US was preoccupied with the war in Vietnam - was to topple the Hashemite regime in Amman and to activate an anti-US geo-strategic avalanche, consuming the pro-US regimes in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf region.
*Following the October 1973 War, 50 US military experts, headed by General Donn Starry, spent six months studying Israeli battle tactics and scrutinizing captured Soviet military systems. Their lessons upgraded US battle doctrines, tilted the global balance of power in favor of the US, bolstered the US defense of Europe during the Cold War, and improved the competitiveness of the US defense industries.
*The July 4, 1976 Entebbe Operation, spotlighted Israel as a role-model in combatting Islamic terrorism and the unique Israeli counter-terrorism experience, which has been systematically shared with the US special operations forces.
*The 1979 toppling of the Shah of Iran and the rise of Iran’s Ayatollahs, transformed Iran from “the US policeman in the Persian Gulf” to the lead enemy of the US. It has accentuated the role of Israel as the most reliable and effective US outpost in the Middle East and the globe. The 2003 rise of Erdogan to power in Turkey – which used to be a leading strategic ally of the US - further underlined Israel’s unique contributions to US national security.
*The June 7, 1981 Israeli destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor was brutally condemned by the US Administration, but it spared the US and the world the option of a nuclear confrontation in the 1991 First Gulf War. The destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor also snatched the pro-US Saudis from the jaws of the pro-Soviet Saddam Hussein. In March 2007, Israel destroyed the Syria-North Korea-Iran nuclear reactor, sparing humanity the trauma of a nuclearized civil war in Syria.
*The 1990 disintegration of the USSR transformed the globe from bipolar to multipolar with a proliferation of rogue regimes. While Israel assisted the US during the Cold War, its added-value has grown exponentially in the face of the post-USSR proliferation of rogue Islamic regimes.
*The 2010 eruption of the Arab Tsunami, which is still traumatizing every Arab regime, has stressed Israel’s position as the only stable democratic, militarily and technologically, effective Middle East entity, which shares with the US mutual threats, challenges and values dating back to 1620.
According to Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO Supreme Commander: “…. Our best military partner in the [Middle East], by far, is Israel…. The US would be well served to more fully develop its partnership with the Israel Defense Forces…. Having the US Special Operations Command constantly operating with Israeli commandos would be of enormous benefit to both forces…. It truly is a case of two nations that are unarguably stronger together…”
Parashat Chukat 5780
by HaRav Nachman Kahana
The classic example of a Torah Chok (a mitzva whose rationale was not disclosed) is Para Aduma – the red heifer whose ashes are critical to restoring ritual purity to one who has come into contact with a corpse.
Notwithstanding the importance of every chok, this one is insignificant when compared to the ultimate one regarding the creation of the world and people in the first place.
One thing we Jews can be sure of. HaShem is goal orientated and unceasingly active for our benefit, as stated by David Hamelech (Tehilim 121):
הנה לא ינום ולא יישן שומר ישראל:
Indeed, the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps
It’s a Chok!
The universe, in its entirety, comprises space and time and their contents. It includes two trillion galaxies consisting of planets, stars, black holes, and all forms of matter and energy. The actual size of the spatial universe is unknown, but the size of the observable universe is currently estimated at 93 billion light-years in diameter. The distance of a light-year is about 9.46 trillion kilometers (5.88 trillion miles). Therefore, the size of the observable universe is 9.46 trillion kilometers times 93 billion. There are theories hypothesizing that our universe is only one of many disconnected universes belonging to a larger multi-universe, which comprises all of space and time and its contents.
So, the question under consideration is why did HaShem create such a huge and complex entity? We know next to nothing about the inner workings of the Creator. We can only conclude that the functional result of what we see is that we must think big when dealing with HaShem and spiritual ideas. HaShem has little patience for small talk and small thoughts.
Let’s return to our tiny and comfortable planet Earth and to Am Yisrael – its most respected resident. Our great and multi-faceted nation can be divided into many different categories, but the one I am referring to is the range of its spiritual world outlook.
Most Chareidi people cannot – or choose not to – see further than their immediate shtiebel or bet midrash, with the shtiebel next door light years away.
Most Chassidim escape into the warm and comfortable surroundings of their rebbe. They view all other Chassidic groups as irrelevant and not even potential marriage partners for their children.
There are others who are capable of contemplating a larger Jewish community, such as the Jews of England or France. However, very few can view the entire nation of Yisrael as a unified, indivisible nation under HaShem. To do so, one must intellectually and emotionally include every Jew – even the unrepentant heretic.
The master of this treatise is HaShem Himself, when He commanded Moshe to declare in His name (Shemot 4,22):
ואמרת אל פרעה כה אמר ה’ בני בכרי ישראל:
And you shall say to Pharoah, ‘Thus says HaShem my first born (nation of) Yisrael’
In our time, it was the venerable Harav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, first Chief Rabbi of the yishuv, who taught us how to think in terms of Am Yisrael as comprising all who are born to a Jewish mother or underwent halachic conversion. He was close to the non-observant and even to the anti-Halacha chalutzim (pioneers). He encouraged them to continue their challenging efforts to restore life to the parched earth of Eretz Yisrael.
In terms of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael in the last 72 years since the establishment of the Medina, we have witnessed some of the most miraculous feats a nation can perform. Unbelievable military victories, the July 4th 3276 kilometer surprise incursion on the airport in Entebbe, Uganda to rescue kidnapped Jews, the liberation of the Temple Mount and our sovereignty over all of Yerushalayim for the first time in over 2000 years, and so much more.
Am Yisrael is prepared for the next stage as HaShem guides us to the geula shelayma (total redemption). If until now the thrust of HaShem’s miracles was the survival of the Jewish nation and settling the land, the next miraculous acts will deal with the people who presently reside in the land. There will be a major population exchange of immense proportions. Millions of gentiles will leave and will be replaced by millions of Jews.
There are close to 400,000 gentiles from the former Soviet Union who arrived here by virtue of having at least one Jewish grandparent. Their purpose was to find a better life than what they had had in the Soviet Union. They have no inherent feelings to the land and no desire nor inclination to convert to Judaism, which requires total acceptance of the Halacha.
There are over 80,000 illegal Africans who infiltrated by way of Egypt. They have taken over southern Tel Aviv and drive away the Israelis. They bring many children into the world, assuming that these children will be the gateway to obtaining permanent residence.
Arabs in Israel number about 1.9 million or 21% of the population. There are another 2 million in Yehuda and Shomron and 2 million in the Gaza area. These 6 million Arabs demonstrate their hostility in varying degrees from putting a knife in a Jew’s back to plotting a full-scale uprising against the Medina.
They will all have to go.
The Medina, with its limited resources and precarious international standing, will not expel these people. Therefore, it is up to HaShem to do as He did at the time of Yehoshua bin Nun.
The miracle will continue when HaShem brings about the conditions that will force the Jews in galut to come here.
When will it happen and how will it happen?
That is a CHOK!
So, remember the three Bs:
B careful, B healthy and B here
Copyright © 5780/2020 Nachman Kahana
THEY COULD NICKNAME Sefer Bamidbar, the “Book of Complaints.” Parsha after parsha the Jewish people complain to Moshe about one thing or another. True, in real life the events themselves didn’t follow one day after the other. But the Torah presents them this way to make a point about what underlies them all: a sense of entitlement.
We have all felt a sense of entitlement at some time or another, that feeling that something “belongs” to us. If we happen to get what we want, then we feel justice has been served. If we don’t, then we feel as if the entire universe has been wronged.
It is obvious that such a feeling flies in the face of being happy with one’s portion. You cannot be happy with your portion if you think someone else has illicitly taken a part of it. And you certainly can’t feel love of God if you feel that He hasn’t protected your portion, and saved you from loss and injustice.
The more entitled a person feels, the more this is going to be true. A person will constantly be upset over perceived losses and injustices. Or they will try to take what they believe is theirs, which will not leave them on favorable terms either with God or with the people they are robbing.
Obviously, a person has to protect what they truly own. We’re not obligated to take injustices lying down. There are laws in “Choshen Mishpat” that specifically instruct a person to protect what is legally theirs, and how to go about doing so. Taking one’s property for granted is also a grave mistake.
This is not about that. This is about the things in life that WE believe should belong to us, and God disagrees. If He didn’t disagree, we’d have the things already. Never confuse the means for the end. People and things may stand in our way of success, but all of them only work for God in the end, and as mentioned in the previous chapter, for OUR own good.
From where does this belief come, that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment?
An entitled person has a higher sense of belief in their own importance than the equality of all individuals involved or society as a whole. Their focus is not on what is fair to everyone, just on what is not fair to them.
The operating term here is “self-belief.” What one thinks about themself determines whether they will feel entitled in a given situation or not. Humble people do not feel entitled. Arrogant people do. The rest of us may lean in the direction of one or the other, depending upon what we think about ourselves, and the situation we are in at the time.
For example, someone who considers themself smart might be offended and feel left out if their opinion is not sought when among people they deem to be equals or inferiors. But the same person will happily go unnoticed when among people they view as geniuses and superiors.
It is every human’s struggle. Too much self-belief leads to arrogance and often embarrassing, if not dangerous results. Too little self-belief leads to insecurity and debilitation. A meaningful and productive life lies somewhere between these two extremes, and life is the process of finding that point, even creating it. Historically, there have not been a lot of people who have successfully done so.
Everyone is “entitled” to self-belief; it says so right here:
God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (Bereishis 1:26)
The “our,” as Rashi explains, is really “mine,” as in God’s image and likeness. This means that EVERY human EVER created, no matter how handsome or how ugly, how talented or how inept, has been made in the “image of God.” And though there is a lot of discussion as to exactly what this means, one thing is for certain: every human being bears some aspect of divine perfection.
Once Rebi Elazar, son of Rebi Shimon was coming from Migdal Gedor, from the house of his teacher. He rode along the riverside on his donkey, and was feeling happy and elated because he had studied much Torah. He happened to meet a very ugly man, who greeted him, “Peace be upon you, my master!”
Rebi Elazar did not return his greeting but instead said to him, “How ugly this person is! Are all the people of your city as ugly as you?”
“I do not know,” the man said. “But go to the craftsman who made me, and tell him: ‘How ugly is the vessel which you have made!’”
Realizing that he had been wrong, Rebi Elazar dismounted from his donkey, prostrated himself before the man, and said to him, "You are right. Forgive me!” (Ta’anis 20a)
How easy it is to forget that every living creature, especially a person, is God’s handiwork. Even a great Torah scholar such as Rebi Elazar ben Rebi Shimon did so, and treated the man he encountered virtually as a sub-human. But the man wisely rebuked him by reminding him of his divine origin, and within seconds, Rebi Elazar was instead humbled before him, begging for forgiveness.
There is a similar story that gets to the soul of the matter:
The daughter of the emperor said to Rebi Yehoshua ben Chananya, “Too bad that glorious wisdom [like yours is] in [such] an ugly vessel!”
So he asked her, “Does your father keep his wine in simple clay vessels?”
She answered: “In what then should he keep it?”
He said, “Important people like you should put it in gold and silver containers!”
[So the Emperor] summoned him and asked him: “Why did you say this to her?”
[Rebi Yehoshua ben Chananya] told him: “As she spoke to me, so I spoke to her [to show her that fine material is best preserved in the least of vessels].”
[But the emperor asked him:] “But there are handsome people who are learned?”
[Rebi Yehoshua replied:] “Had they been ugly, they would have been even more learned.” (Ta’anis 7a)
Rebi Yehoshua and the emperor’s daughter had been discussing wisdom, but it could have just as easily been a discussion about the soul. In fact, they really are one and the same thing, wisdom and the soul, the former flowing from the latter. The soul tends to be better in a simpler “vessel.”
It is no coincidence that the more “beautiful” the generation becomes, the more entitled people seem to become as well. No one is saying that there is anything wrong with being attractive, or wealthy, or being careful to dress nicely. Judging by the natural beauty of the world, there is something godly about that too. We’re just saying that those specific physical attributes often complicate matters when it comes to the ability of the soul to do what it was sent here to do: tikun—rectification.
This is why we are impressed when we meet someone who is both handsome, beautiful, rich, etc., AND humble. We know that they are not a likely combination. People are drawn to success because they want it for themselves, and tend idolize those people who appear to have achieved it. This makes it hard for them to keep their own egos at bay.
In a yetzer hara run society, it is the only way. Emphasis on material success and pleasures makes it difficult for spiritual values to have much of a say. All attention is shifted towards Society’s idea of success.
The only problem is that physically we’re not all equal. In fact, there are HUGE discrepancies when it comes to physical attributes such appearance and wealth, making life very cliquey, and jealousy incredibly likely. Equality is demanded where it cannot exist, resulting in a tremendous sense of entitlement but few ways to achieve it.
There can only be backlash in the end.
Some people, because of their material “shortcomings,” have either left the system or never had a chance to enter it. It may not have been their intention, and perhaps they were envious at first of others who had the “credentials” they lacked. But they nevertheless chose instead to go against the flow of Society.
And while going that way, they tend to find other traits and values that, lo and behold, are FAR more valuable. Values like humility, wisdom, kindness, modesty, etc. Perhaps they notice, perhaps they don’t, but in the process they tend to become really fine people. They develop a great sense of appreciation and little sense of entitlement. They are the builders of society, not the ones who destroy it.
I have dedicated this week’s “Perceptions” in honor of the eighth yarzheit of my father, Yisroel Ya’akov ben Tzvi, z”l (Jack Winston). He was my mentor in so many wonderful ways, and one of the most important was to never feel a sense of entitlement, but to work hard for what I wanted in life. He certainly did. I certainly try. May the learning of these pages of Torah be a great merit for his Neshamah, which should constantly ascend.
Rosh HaYeshiva, Har Bracha
In Rav Kook’s yeshiva, it was clear that no Jews, including the Reformers and Conservatives, should be boycotted * Precisely the Great Sages of the last generation who lived in the U.S. and were very familiar with those communities, maintained relations of respect and cooperation with them * Testimony from the son of the Rishon Le’Tzion, HaRav Yitzhak Nissim ztz”l , about his attitude toward the various streams of Judaism
For the past two weeks, I have explained that it is forbidden to impose boycotts on the leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements, and this prohibition involves collective pikuach nefesh, as the Netziv said: “Like swords to the body and existence of the nation.” On the other hand, the mitzvah of Ahavat Yisrael applies to all Jews, and indeed because we have a fundamental debate on the foundations of faith and Torah with them – we must balance the reproach with public expressions of brotherhood. For too long we have not met. Oceans separated us. The longing intensified. Thank God, we now are able to meet. In opposition to my view, some argued that all the Gedolei Ha-Dor, the leading sages of the previous generation – including Rav Soloveitchik, the Chief Rabbis, and Rav Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook – instructed to boycott them, i.e., not to meet with them publicly, and with dignity. This is simply false. Since these issues touch on two existential foundations – Ahavat Yisrael and its unity, and the truthful ways of studying Torah – I will make an effort to explain things properly.
Rav Eliezer Waldman shlita, the head and founder of Yeshiva Kiryat Arba and one of Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook’s prominent students, read what I had written and the responses of my critics, and told me he was deeply shocked by the latter, and wished to support me and my position. He said that he was occasionally invited to speak with Reform communities and participate in panels with Reform rabbis, and he asked Rav Kook whether or not to attend. Rav Kook replied that if they wished to listen I must certainly speak with them, and even added that after the Holocaust and the establishment of the State, the Reformers had begun a positive process of coming closer to the values of the nation and the land and the restoration of Zion and Jerusalem to prayers. Years after Rav Kook passed away, Rav Waldman once again consulted with Rav Avraham Shapira ztz”l and also the Rishon Le’Tzion Chief Rabbi, HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu ztz”l, and they both thought it appropriate to attend public meetings with them.
The position of the great rabbis of America is especially important, as they were personally familiar with the Reform communities and delved into this issue. In his usual manner, Rav Soloveitchik divided between brit yi’ud, (covenant of destiny) in which partners are those faithful to Torah observance, and brit goral, (covenant of fate), in which all Jews are partners, including the Reformers. Therefore, in his opinion, issues of halakha should not be discussed with the Reformers, but on issues broadly agreed upon and related to all Jews – it is desirable and even obligatory to cooperate with them (Ish Al Ha’eidah, pp. 180–183). Not only did he meet with them publicly and respectfully, but for decades until his passing, he was a key partner in the umbrella organization of Jewish congregations in America, the Synagogue Council of America (SCA) founded in 1926, which was comprised of two Orthodox organizations, two Conservative, and two Reform. The Orthodox organizations were the UOJCA (The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, later referred to as the OU) and the RCA (Rabbinical Council of America). Rav Soloveitchik was the head of the RCA halachic committee, and many of the other participants in the organizations were his students from Yeshiva University. These two organizations remained within the umbrella grouping even after the opposition of Rav Feinstein and Rav Kotler (in 1956), and this continued until after the passing of Rav Soloveitchik.
An enlightening educational fact is Rav Soloveitchik’s friendship with Conservative Rabbi Joseph Shubow, whom he appreciated for his spiritual work as a Conservative community leader, and did not avoid calling him Rabbi. As part of their friendship, Rav Soloveitchik was invited to sponsor and participate in an event honoring Joseph Shubow at the Conservative Temple Bnai Moshe. His letter of reply to the invitation is instructive and worthy of study, and as he wrote, it was written after much thought to accurately express his complex position, which contains deep wisdom, derech eretz, precision, good heartedness, and humility. Thus he wrote to Philip Fleischer, President of Temple Bnai Moshe:
“I cherish my long association with Rabbi Shubow and I consider him a dear and distinguished friend whom I hold in great esteem because of his many talents and fine qualities. It is self-evident that if the dinner were being given only in honor of Rabbi and Mrs. Shubow I would consider it a privilege to serve as one of the sponsors.
“On the other hand, however, this reception, to my regret, will also serve as an occasion to celebrate the completion and dedication of the new temple. Let me say unequivocally that I do recognize the importance of this new house of worship for the Jewish population of Brighton as a means of communal organization and unification. I also appreciate the unselfish efforts on the part of the members and leaders which make such an undertaking possible. Their pride in having attained their goal is fully warranted. You in particular have manifested a strong sense of community awareness and devotion for Jewish causes for which you should be congratulated.
“Yet, all this does not justify my serving as a sponsor of a dinner at which the dedication of this temple will be celebrated since the latter will, in all probability, have a mixed seating arrangement which is in my opinion not in consonance with our time-honored Law. The requirement for separate seating is almost a truism in our religious code and I have neither the right nor the desire to sanction either by word or by silence a departure from this tradition. My presence at the celebration or the appearance of my name as a sponsor would be tantamount to a tacit approval of mixed seating (in the synagogue), a thing which would greatly disturb by conscience. Therefore, after I had given the matter considerable thought I arrived at the unavoidable conclusion that my role in connection with this affair would prove to be absurd, so I respectfully decline.
“I wish to impress upon you that my words are not to be interpreted in the sense of criticism or censure. I am not a preacher by nature and I have never tried to convert others who are committed to a different philosophy to my viewpoint. I write this letter with a sense of deep humility explaining to you my feelings on the matter. I hope that you realize and fully understand my position and appreciate my hesitance in accepting an honor which would be in direct opposition to my inner convictions… Please convey my best wishes to Rabbi Shubow and his wife, and wish them many years of joy and happiness” (Ish Al Ha’eida, pp. 165-16). This letter was written in 1954, when Rav Soloveitchik was already considered one of the leaders of Zionist Orthodoxy in America, and the rabbi and teacher of hundreds of rabbis who served in the Rabbinate.
There is further evidence of Rav Yisrael Porath ztz”l (1886-1974). This verification is important as it represents the yeshiva of Maran Rav Kook ztz”l, as Rabbi Porath was one of the great Torah sages of Jerusalem, a friend of Rav Charlap and Rav Frank, and one of the most distinguished disciples of Rav Kook. In 1922 he was called to serve as a Rabbi overseas. When he took leave of Rav Kook, given that the Rav viewed him as a great and faithful talmid chacham, he asked him to write an introduction to Talmudic tractates, as part of the fulfillment of the vision of Torah study as cited in “Hartza’at HaRav.” Rav Porath fulfilled Rav Kook’s exhortation, and wrote seven volumes of introductions to the Talmudic tractates, called “Mavo’ ha’Talmud.” His great-grandson, Rav Yaacov Idels shlita, lives in our community of Har Bracha. He brought me the book about Rabbi Porath, ‘Mishkenotecha Yisrael,’ and I will quote from it, facts of his leadership in relation to the Reformers (pp. 82-85).
“The path Rav Porath chose was not a path of war or disrespect. In his usual manner, Rav Porath acted with an extraordinary combination of firmness and moderation. Thus, a year after his arrival in Cleveland, he delivered a series of lessons on the difference between Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox. In a newspaper publication about the planned lessons, it was written that Rabbi Porath states that the lessons will not be critical, but will deal with the question of the true difference between the different streams…..”
Thus, when Abraham Friedland, perhaps the most important educational figure in non-Orthodox Cleveland Jewry died, Rav Porath was among the eulogists.
Admittedly, rabbis from the ultra-Orthodox Telz Yeshiva, despite respecting Rav Porath as the Rav of the city, did not view his good relationship with the Reformers favorably. Once, after Rav Porath attended a conference with a representative of the Reform community, one of the ultra-Orthodox rabbis phoned him. “The Rebbetzin, who heard that the voice from the other side of the line was talking angrily, and that Rav Porath seemed uncomfortable, asked him at the end of the conversation whether everything was okay. Rav Porath answered: ‘This is a conventional war, not a nuclear one.’”
“A special relationship developed between Rav Porath and Abba Hillel Silver, perhaps the most important Reform rabbi in Cleveland and one of the most important in America in his generation … The relationship formed was a bond of friendship, founded on the two rabbis’ being zealous Zionists, and perhaps the relatively conservative-religious roots of Abba Hillel Silver, also contributed to the relationship.
“In addition, Abba Hillel Silver donated about $500 toward the expenditures of the Talmudic books ‘Mavo’ ha’Talmud’, and even sat on the book’s donation committee.
“In 1958, when the Jewish National Fund decided to plant a forest in honor of Rav Porath, Abba Hillel Silver was the keynote speaker at the ceremony … Rav Porath along with the Rebbetzin attended the funeral of Abba Hillel Silver.
“The good relations and great appreciation the Reform community had for Rabbi Porath led them to consult with him at times on matters of halakha…” and in the book, examples are even given of their consideration for him.
The Rishon Le’Tzion, Chief Rabbi HaRav Yitzhak Nissim
This was also the position of the first Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, HaRav Yitzchak Nissim ztz”l, who was especially appreciated by Rav Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook. His son, Mr. Moshe Nissim, former Minister of Finance and Justice, read my remarks and requested to voice his support for my position. He affirmed that his father, as Chief Rabbi, occasionally held meetings with representatives of all streams of Judaism. Along with his staunch position that completely rejected the Reform, he was of the opinion that no group of Am Yisrael should be boycotted. He added that every Shabbat in his father’s house an open kiddush was held, in which Conservative and Reform leaders (and, of course, even distinguished personalities and groups from Israel and abroad) regularly participated. He mentioned, for example, Professor Moshe Davis, founder of the Institute of Contemporary Judaism at the Hebrew University. In conclusion, he said his father “believed that no Jewish representatives should be boycotted.” “This is the truth, and the truth must be made public.”
Friday, June 26, 2020
Ein Ayah: Rahav represents that a person at first is elevated in a manner that he recognizes his importance. It can be a confidence of sanctity, as the pasuk describes: “He raised his heart in the paths of Hashem” (Divrei Hayamim II, 17:6). But then he becomes even more elevated, and he reaches the level that is represented by “on the mountain,” referring to the mountain upon which “Hashem desired to dwell” (Sinai (see Tehillim 68:17)). Sinai was a low mountain, from which we learn that Hashem is with the downtrodden. This is the reading from the inside, which has precedence over that which is read from the outside.
We now analyze saru and varas. The intellectual information in all elements of conception that Hashem opened up for man begins with the tendency toward doubt. The next stage is to reach a supposition of truth, which is related to the idea of deciding something based on a majority, as the pasuk says: “Follow the majority in your decisions” (Shemot 23:2). While it does not create a certainty, it is a step in that direction, which the spirit can follow after leaning toward the holy content of truth which becomes ever brighter within him.
These progressions are hinted at by the acronyms of “saru” and “varus.” Saru stands for safek (doubt), rov (majority), vaday (certainty). However, that is only the order if you read it from the outside, in which a person thinks that he will progress to knowledge and remain at that point. However, the reading from the inside is based on the higher light of humility. A piece of knowledge, when it becomes more revealed, turns into something that one only knows in a means of supposition based on probability of truth. Then one gets to the highest level and realizes that the most important things in life are known only on the level of doubt. A person then decides with a light of “I am a silly person and do not know; I was like an animal in relation to You” (Tehillim 73:22).
The Award for Originality
(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 12:11)
Gemara: The rabbis said to Reish Lakish: Youngsters came in now to the study hall and said things the likes of which were not even said in the times of Yehoshua bin Nun.
Ein Ayah: Displays of spirituality can come in different measures, both big and small. However, they can all be divided into the categories of original ideas and things that developed from a previous matter. It is possible that something that developed will have greater value than something that is original, but even in that case, the fact that it is original gives it a special importance. Moshe’s face was like the face of the sun, from which light emanates, and Yehoshua’s face was like the face of the moon, which reflects the sun’s light (Bava Batra 75a). Therefore, all the great elements of sanctity at the time of Yehoshua were developments from a previous source. But the youths in the study hall, although they did not receive a full measure of wisdom from their teachers, had talent in originality. They were thereby able to arrive at ideas, which while not of great importance (word “games”) compared to that which Yehoshua taught, exceeded things in Yehoshua’s time in regard to originality.
Jealousy, that dragon which slays love under the pretence of keeping it alive.
In this week’s Torah portion Korach, a member of Moses’ tribe the Levites and other communal leaders challenge Moses’s leadership and the appointment of priesthood to Moses’ brother Aaron. Motivated by envy toward Moses and Aaron they argue for equality. We are all holy. How can there be a hierarchy in holiness within Israel?
They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?
Moses responded to Korach:
Now listen, you Levites! Isn’t it enough for you that the G-d of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near Himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near Himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. . .
Spiritual Journey or Ego trip
Life is a divine mission. If Korach would have understood this, then he would have realized that no one has a better or more important mission.
It is ridiculous to ever be envious of another person’s lot. Don’t ever think that the president of the United States is any more important than a waiter in a restaurant. If G-d is with us in our mission, then one person’s mission cannot be more important than another’s, because everyone’s mission is actually G-d’s mission.
Real success does not depend on how much we accomplish on earth. And it does not have anything to do with how much attention the accomplishment gains in the public eye. What really matters is your intention and the quality of your deeds. Did you put your soul into your mission and live your life for G-d’s sake, seeking to grow, striving to become better, concerned about improving yourself and the world?
The great Torah sages taught: I am a creation and my friend (even one who is uneducated) is a creation. Just as he is not an expert in what I do, I am not an expert in what he does. Do not think that I do more and he does less. That is incorrect. It does not matter whether he accomplishes seemingly big deeds or little ones. What really matters is whether his intentions are for the sake of heaven.
This lesson does not make any apparent sense. These great sages made historic contributions to human spiritual and ethical development. Their names will be remembered forever. How could they have possibly compared themselves to simple people who were unlearned, whose deeds could never have earned them world recognition, and who will surely be forgotten in the annals of history? How could they say that what really matters is the purity of one’s intentions and the power of one’s commitment to act on behalf of G-d?
These sages understood that each and every one of us has a mission in life—a calling. The thing you must always remember is who is calling. G-d is calling you to be His agent on earth, and the mission He is asking you to fulfill is not only your mission but G-d’s mission.
If we are all working for G-d, then there is no such thing as a small mission. How could one divine mission be less than another divine mission? Can either one ever be any less than the ultimate?
If we would internalize this truth, we would free ourselves of the foolish habit of comparing ourselves with others. We would heal ourselves of a debilitating disease that rots our bones—jealousy.
The Talmud tells a story about a fellow who got a glimpse of the afterlife. He was surprised to see that the next world was upside down. He saw some people who during their lives on earth were very respected and famous, but in the next world they were nobody. Although these people were once recognized as significant members of the upper echelons of society, they were now considered part of the lower class. He also saw people who in their lifetimes were simple workers but now were prominent members of the highest order. It was a shock to him.
Imagine you are a world-renowned actor and wherever you go people look at you in great awe and admiration. Then the curtain falls on your life, and you find yourself in a new world—the afterlife. To your surprise, in this world nobody even notices you. Suddenly you see a familiar face, and it is your maid surrounded by a crowd of angelic fans. In the afterlife she may be the celebrity and you the shlepper. How is this possible? It all depends on the quality of your deeds and your attitude. Did you invite G-d into your work? Did you work with the intention of being G-d’s agent—serving to perform a divine mission — or was it just an ego trip?
Then on the back of the T shirt it added: ‘So you give and I’ll receive! ’
We live in a culture that seems to carry this mantra almost as its raison d’être.
Years ago, we spent three years in the States where our children had the chance to study in American yeshivot and develop close friendships with their American peers.
Our eldest daughter in particular had the chance to befriend some very special girls in her age group with whom she was able to keep connection years after we came back to Israel.
When she was a senior in High School here, she, along with all of her Israeli friends, were navigating their options for the year post-High School and debating their choices: Army?; National Service? ; Seminary studies and then army or National Service?
At the same time all her friends from the States were equally engaged with their post-High School plans: should they attend College directly or spend a year in what has become a rite of passage for US Yeshiva HS kids: the gap year. And if a gap year, which seminary would be best for them? Our daughter kept getting e-mails from her friends asking her to recommend which seminary she thought they could get the most out of the next year.
One day, at our Shabbat table, our daughter shared a thought that has remained with me : ‘You know, I just figured out a big difference between growing up in America and growing up in Israel : All my friends in America are trying to figure out where they will get the most, while all of us in Israel are trying to figure out where we will be able to give the most. ‘
Now, mind you, these American friends of hers were and are quality girls, who grew up in homes that were all about giving. And obviously the American Jewish community is notable for its culture of giving. Just walk into any hospital, nursing home, or school in America and that much is clear.
And yet, there is something here that should give us pause.
This issue is actually the precise topic of this week’s portion, Korach, which describes Korach’s ill-fated rebellion against Moshe and Aaron. There is much discussion regarding the exact nature of this rebellion, yet one thing is clear: Korach was a taker; that seems to have been his biggest issue.
Indeed, our portion begins with the words: “Va’Yikach Korach”, “And Korach took….”(Bamidbar 16:1) however, the verse never explains exactly what it was that Korach actually took, and we are left without the end of the sentence, because it isn’t important. Korach, says the Torah, was a taker. And in the end, the only cause Korach was fighting for was Korach.
Equally interesting is the topic with which the Torah chooses to conclude the portion of Korach: the laws of tithes and contributions to and by the tribe of Levi. Considering that part of the rebellion of Korach and his followers (really two separate rebellions as witness two separate groups punished in two distinct fashions : an earthquake and fire ….) was against the tribe of Levi, the Torah discusses the role of the Levites and the gifts and tithes they are due. Even the Levites themselves must give a tithe to the priests. And the Priest is not allowed to barter favors in return for receiving these tithes and other contributions as it would cheapen the gift; a Jew should give purely in order to give.
So if Judaism places such an emphasis on giving, how do we end up with a Korach who was depicted as such a Taker? Jewish tradition suggests that what fueled Korach’s fire and for that matter all of his followers, was pure envy. Korach was jealous of Moshe and Aaron’s position and wanted the same stature. And the Reubenites were jealous as they felt they deserved a lead role, considering they were descendants of Yaakov’s eldest son Reuven.
Maimonides (Hilchot Deot; Laws of character development 2:7) quoting the Mishna in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers 4:21) points out that: “Jealousy, Desire, and Honor remove a person from this world”.
These three character flaws: Jealousy, Desire for physical self-gratification, and the unhealthy pursuit of Honor prevent a person from living life in the world as it is meant to be. Obviously if we are consumed with the desire for people to give us respect, we will become jealous when others are accorded more respect than we are. And the desire to have and to own material things will inevitably lead us to pay attention when others have the things we crave and yet have not acquired.
So what is jealousy all about? And why is it so problematic? And most important how can we avoid it in order to live a balanced life?
Think about it: If I want what you have, it means that I think I should have it. And yet, Hashem has not given it to me, so why do I think I should have it? If Hashem created me, then whatever I have is what I obviously need, and more important, what Hashem seems to think I should have, in this moment. So jealousy inevitably must mean I am not really respecting what Hashem has decided in the world, at least right now.
This is not to say we should not be motivated to accomplish and succeed in life, but it challenges us to consider why we want to succeed and accomplish, which is every bit as important as what we want to do.
There are three questions a person must ask him or herself, in any and every given moment:
What do I want?
Why do I want it?
Do I think Hashem (G-d) really wants me to want this for that reason?
Maimonides suggests that the root of all our imbalances are that we think the world is all about us, and whenever it’s all about me, it will end up a mess.
We get angry, because we think we deserve better, and we become arrogant because we are too much at the center of our universe. But if it’s always about something bigger than us, then we are living in a different and better world.
As an example, for over 100 years we have been in conflict with the Arabs around us, and the root of the issue may well be simple, base jealousy. The Jewish people, with Hashem’s help, have built a remarkable Start up Nation sending satellites to space and creating technology that has changed the world, while some of our neighbors are still ploughing fields with donkeys. And as long as their question remains ‘how do we get more’, we will never be able to give them enough. Rather, when we all are focused on how we can make the world a better place to be, inevitably it is more easily accomplished together.
And the same principle holds true for our own youth: we need to inspire a culture of giving in every sphere.
As an example, the cohort with the greatest potential for Jewish leadership may well be the young post- High School students who arrive in Israel every year for ten months of intense Jewish programming and study, most of them after 12 years of Jewish education. We have given them so much, when they take their next step into the larger Jewish community; it is high time they start giving back. Here in Israel that is exactly what they do, in the Israeli army and in social services projects all over the country.
And as students embark on their Jewish lives post programs and schools, the measure of our success in educating them is actually how much they value giving back, as well as how much and how they actually do just that. By focusing on what we all have to share and give, the taking of Korach does indeed get swallowed up into the dust where it belongs.
Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.
Thursday, June 25, 2020
by Yochanan Visser
A Palestinian Arab whistleblower handed over hundreds of secret files documenting widespread corruption at the top in the PA and shared them with the Belgian government and the European Union.
The man, Yasser Jadalah, the former head of the political department of the PA, said that money donated to the PA by the European Union and Arab countries disappears in secret bank accounts belonging to the grandchildren of Abbas. (Yasser Arafat did the same!)
The new scandal erupted at the same time that Hamas in Gaza was exposed as a bunch of liars over the narrative that the population in the coastal enclave is starving because of what is falsely portrayed as an Israeli blockade...
To cover up these criminal actions Abbas ordered all office accounts to be destroyed for security reasons every six months but in reality, this happens virtually every day...
The Palestinian Authority has been caught previously conducting illicit activities, such as the smuggling of thousands of smartphones. It also continues the controversial practice of paying monthly stipends to terrorists jailed in Israel and to the families of so-called martyrs terrorists who died while carrying out terror attacks against Israelis.
It remains to be seen if the EU will act against the PA after receiving the evidence that European taxpayer money is used for enriching Abbas family even further...
The organization of European countries (blinded by their traditional Antifeminism) is too much obsessed with supposed Palestinian suffering at the hands of the Israeli military to have a moral compass, learn the true facts and to put an end to the misuse of funds provided by the EU and other countries to the PA...
Then there is Hamas in Gaza that does everything in its power to hold-up the narrative of suffering and poverty due to an alleged Israeli blockade of the enclave in Israel s south, while in reality, Israel only prevents weapons from entering the area and ensures adequate supplies of all other products...
There is, it seems, another story to tell about the situation in Gaza where Hamas just received $50 million of Qatari aid that is supposed to support poor families. Hamas, however, is controlling the cash hand-outs and in this case as well, money is siphoned off and then diverted to the Izz-a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas...
Every few weeks a new mall, hotel, restaurant or a fancy clothes store is opened in Gaza where mostly Hamas members are spending time as well as other Palestinian Arabs. (The world Europeans, Arabs, the US, etc know about this ongoing corruption and lies, but they do not care! They would do anything to see the demise of the only Jewish state!)
Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak
Demographic scare-mongering has been used against Jewish Zionist vision of recreating Eretz-Israel for too long! One-state is Jewish state solution it will work fine, as long as Israel-hating, enemy population will be moved and returned back to countries of their origin!
A new IDF drone unit was inaugurated this week under the 9900 Intelligence Division. The new unit will create a significant improvement in the 9900 Division's ability to provide geo-visual intelligence. Drones can collect accurate and high resolution intelligence in a variety of conditions, and they are relatively cheap and readily available tools.
Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates minister of state for foreign affairs, warned that Israel s planned application of sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria could lead Arab states to call for one-state solution. He added that ultimately, I personally believe that if we are going where we are going today, and we lose the possibility of really implementing a two-state solution, we will really be talking about equal rights and one state. (This sounds like a new tune, as Arabs states are adjusting their position toward Israel!)
The European Union has cancelled a grant to a Palestinian non-profit organization after it refused to sign an anti-terrorism clause obliging it to guarantee that none of the funds would be transferred to members of terrorist organizations. The Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residence and Refugee Rights has obtained more than $1.9 million for a project called "Mobilizing for Justice in Jerusalem," which aims to expose alleged Israeli human rights violations and "international crimes" in the holy city. (This is one small step in the right direction! There are still many to make. The EU has been systematically funding anti-Israel NGOs - Palestinians and Jewish anti-Zionist ones!)
The Finance Ministry announced that it is cancelling its plan to grant a tax exemption on fuel to government-recognized "international aid NGOs" operating in the Palestinian Authority. Likud MK Nir Barkat who also led the opposition to the measure, stated: "Organizations that support terrorism and work against the state will receive fines rather than rewards."
Dozens of Israeli-Arab residents of Haifa issued calls to kidnap IDF soldiers and attack the Shin Bet during an anti-Israel protest. "If these ungrateful protesters hate Israel so much, then they should go move to Syria, Lebanon or Egypt. They won't be missed," said Tom Nisani, head of Im Tirtzu's Arab Desk of a Zionist watchdog group.
The YESHA Council published a "sovereignty map" showing what settlements in Judea and Samaria need, and preventing the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state. The map creates a continuum of sovereignty for the settlements, preventing towns from becoming isolated. it also ensures that all the roads remain under Israeli sovereignty, and allows for future development. "The current map is very dangerous for the State of Israel and for the settlements, and leads to the creation of a Palestinian state," the Council warned.
In 2016, Russia was willing to block former US President Barack Obama's anti-Israel resolution in the United Nations (UN) Security Council. The decision would have forced Israel to create a Palestinian state along the 1948 armistice lines. A year and a half ago, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that he asked "a friend of mine, the leader of a world power (Putin), who has veto rights in the Security Council and who I have a very good relationship with" to oppose the resolution, "and he stopped it."
Arava region in southern Israel from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea - gets 100% of its daytime electricity from solar power for a whole month. Yes, that includes Eilat, all the hotels, factories, homes, businesses, kibbutzim and air conditioning - 100%! And by 2025, the sun will power all nighttime electricity needs as well.
Quote of the Week:
"It is a real tragedy that Black Lives Matter - which has done so much good in raising awareness of police abuses - has now moved away from its central mission and has declared war against the nation state of the Jewish people. In a recently issued platform , more than 60 groups that form the core of the Black Lives Matter movement went out of their way to single out one foreign nation to accuse of genocide and apartheid. - Alan Dershowitz is former Professor of Law, Harvard University - Black Lives Matter was started by Jew-haters and has had anti-Semitism as one of the original items in its manifesto.
Imagine it is America
by Steven Shamrak
In 1964 a "Mexican Liberation Organization for Independence of the South-West states of the USA" - MLO - was created with the help of the Mexican Government.
In 1972 the MLO murdered the members of the US wrestling team at the Munich Olympic Games.
Since then, the citizens of the United States have been subjected to random acts of terror by the members of various factions of the MLO.
1993: Mexican and US representatives met in Oslo and signed a breakthrough agreement of mutual recognition between the USA and the MLO Organization, which began the US-Mexican peace process.
The chain of agreements that followed, were facilitated by Israel - Wye River Memorandum, Camp David, summit at Sharm El Sheikh, Tenet Plan, the Road Map.
During all this time the MLO organization continued terrorist activity against the USA and ignored all agreements it had signed.
The UN and EU observed the suicide bombings, kidnappings and homemade rockets fired across the border by the MLO, but financially, politically and morally supported the MLO and the Mexican Government s struggle against the USA.
Ten months ago, the US government announced its decision to withdraw from New Mexico and transferred full control of the territory to the MLO.
Six months ago, the US government ignored the protest of its people and deported the non-Mexican population from New Mexico, hoping to save lives and reduce the cost of the conflict.
The MLO responded with an escalation of the terror. Katusha rockets landed on the soil of the United States. Suicide bombings and kidnappings never stopped.
A week ago. MLO members used a tunnel to attack a US military border post. Two US soldiers were killed, 4 wounded and one kidnapped.
The MLO made a demand to release Mexican terrorists from US jails.
The US army in order to free the kidnapped solder and punish the MLO entered New Mexico. A Power station, bridges and the Interior ministry building was bombed.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman called for restraint and advised that diplomacy is a viable option.
The President of Mexico asked the United Nations for help in freeing the MLO members. The UN special envoy for the Middle East, Alvaro de Soto, says he will discuss the issue with the US government.
The US's four-day military offensive in New Mexico prompted recriminations during a UN Security Council debate sought by Spanish speaking countries.
For how long would the United States tolerate this? At least the Mexican people have a legitimate historical right to claim the south-west of the USA Arabs and others, who call themselves Palestinians, have none!
Only Israel is denied the right of self-defense by the US governments and other international anti-Semites. The biggest problem is that Israel has been submissive to these pressures! ( This article was written 14 years ago, after 8,500 Jews were forcefully transferred by Israeli government from Gaza! I hope you understood the irony!)