Thursday, March 31, 2022

The Kedusha Within

by Rav Meir Goldvicht

Our parasha opens with the laws of a yoledet (a woman who gives birth). As we go through the section discussing these laws, we find a passuk that commands us to perform the mitzvah of brit milah on the eighth day, from which Chazal learn that the brit milah must be performed by day, not by night, and that it is performed even if the eighth day falls on Shabbat. This raises the following question, asked by both the Chizkuni and the Ohr HaChaim: Why does the Torah interrupt the halachot of yoledet with a passuk discussing brit milah? This passuk seemingly belongs in parashat Lech Lecha with the rest of the halachot of brit milah, not here in the middle of the halachot of yoledet!

The Chizkuni and Ohr HaChaim suggest that we might have mistakenly thought that brit milah was performed on Shabbat only before kabbalat haTorah, but now that we have the mitzvah of Shabbat, the brit milah would be pushed to Sunday if the eighth day was Shabbat. This passuk therefore teaches us that even after kabbalat haTorah, brit milah on the eighth day trumps Shabbat. Although the answer of the Chizkuni and the Ohr HaChaim explains the necessity of this passuk, it doesn't seem to explain its seemingly incongruous placement in the middle of the section discussing yoledet! This, then, is our first question: What is the passuk of brit milah doing here in the middle of the parasha of yoledet?

The Torah goes on to obligate the yoledet to bring a korban chatat (a sin-offering). What exactly was the sin of the yoledet? The gemara in Niddah (31b) explains that the chatat is brought in order to atone for the woman's oath during childbirth never to give birth again because of the intense pain involved. The gemara's explanation is difficult to understand, however, because certainly not every yoledet, even with the great pain of childbirth, takes an oath to never again give birth! Yet the Torah obligates every yoledet to bring a korban chatat, not just those who take this oath. Our second question is: What sin did the yoledet commit that obligates her to bring a korban chatat?

To answer these questions we turn to the Ramban on sefer Bereishit. When HaKadosh Baruch Hu created the world, He regarded every aspect of the Creation as "ki tov, That it was good." The Ramban explains that ki tov means that Hashem desired that His handiwork last forever. The only thing HaKadosh Baruch Hu does not regard as ki tov at the time of its creation was Man. When HaKadosh Baruch Hu created Adam HaRishon, the Torah says, "vayyitzer, And He created," with two yuds. Rashi explains that one yud represents a yetzirah for this world and one yud represents a yetzirah for olam haba. In other words, when a person is born, it is unclear whether his creation was a good thing. As Iyov puts it, Man is born a wild animal" (11:12). Man is born a wild animal but must ripen into an Adam. If a person works on himself to be spiritually reborn, then he can be described as ki tov, for at that point HaKadosh Baruch Hu certainly desires that His handiwork last forever.

How does one achieve spiritual rebirth? The only way to accomplish this is to bring oneself to live a life of kedushah and taharah. Tumah comes into being wherever there is a termination of life or of the potential to create life. One who touches a live animal does not become tamei, but one who touches a dead animal does. Similarly, one who touches a live person does not become tamei, but one who comes into contact with a dead person does. This is also one of the explanations for tumat niddah—since potential for new life existed within the niddah, when this potential is terminated, tumah is created. In contrast, a pregnant woman does not have tumat niddah since she is actively involved in the creation of life.

In general, tumah arrives after a state of taharah or vice versa. Only at one time do tumah and taharah appear simultaneously—at the moment of birth. On the one hand, the baby represents taharah and new life. On the other hand, at that very moment the yoledet becomes t'meiah. The reason for this is that the baby has already begun to die, as it is one moment closer to its predestined time. (This is why Chazal refer to the womb as "קבר, grave" since it is not only the source of life, but the source of death as well.) The Ba'al HaTurim explains that this is in fact the reason the brit milah is on the eighth day of the child's life, since we must wait for the seven days of aveilut for the child to pass, as it were.

All of this is because of the sin of our great-grandmother, Chava, who ate from the eitz hada'at. This, then, is the reason why the yoledet brings a korban chatat—together all of the chata'ot will atone for the sin that brought death to the world and bring us back to eternal life. The way to fix the sin of our great-grandparents Adam and Chava is to strive for lives of kedushah and taharah.

This also explains why the mitzvah of brit milah appears in the middle of the parasha of yoledet—the brit milah reminds one of the kedushah within, through which we merit the ability to transform every nega (plague) into oneg (delight) and every tzara’at (leprosy) to atzeret (holiday). This ability comes about through the middah of anavah. The gemara in Erchin (16a) says that tzara'at afflicts a person because of ga'avah, lashon hara, and tzarut ayin (stinginess), all of which reflect the opposite of humility. The more we work on achieving anavah, the more we bring kedushah and taharah into our lives, and the closer we come to the fulfillment of the words of the navi, "And I will sprinkle pure waters upon you and purify you from all of your impurities..." (Yechezkel 36:25).

This Shabbat, which is both Shabbat HaChodesh and Shabbat Mevorchim for the month of Nissan, is a unique opportunity to begin our spiritual lives anew, imbuing our lives with kedushah and taharah, and preparing ourselves to receive the light of the Geulah.

Why is a war being waged and what will it lead to?

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

From the dawn of Jewish history until our own times, the various enemies of Israel have been fighting against us. These enemies of Israel are enemies of G-d. The Torah says, “Arise, O L-rd, and scatter Your enemies! Let Your foes flee before You!” (Bamidbar 10:35), and Rashi comments, “These are those who hate Israel, for whoever hates Israel, hates ‘Him Whose word brought the world into existence.” The wars of Israel are wars fought by the children of darkness against the children of light, by those who wish to bring darkness to the world by extinguishing the light of the universe, the Jewish People. The Jewish People have illuminated the world with divine light down through the generations, by means of their noble souls and the divine Torah stored in them. That Torah is revealed generally through the way they lead their lives, specifically in Eretz Yisrael and Jerusalem, the heart of the universe.

Today, the war against us is no coincidence. Moreover, it is not being waged merely over national interests involving lands, economic interests, etc. Rather, it is a war of the Arabs and the nations of the world “against the L-rd and against His anointed one” (Tehilim 2:2), who are being revealed in the guise of the Jewish People rising up to rebirth in their land. Our enemies will never truly make peace with us until we utterly defeat them.

Only after Avraham defeated Chedorlaomer and the kings with him, did they arrive at “Emek Shaveh [Level Valley], now King’s Valley” (Bereisheet 14:17). Rashi comments, “It was the valley where all the nations unanimously agreed [hushvu] in appointing Abraham as prince and leader over them” (Beresheet Rabbah 43). Only because Abraham had defeated them did they honor him and appoint him king and supreme commander. Moreover, they recognized that the G-d of Israel is the G-d of the universe and that G-d’s kingdom has sovereignty overall. In the future as well, only through a resounding defeat of our enemies will we see with our own eyes how “they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers have dwelt. They shall dwell there, they, their children,... and their children’s children forever. My servant Dovid shall be their prince forever. Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them.... I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself. I will make Myself known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the L-rd” (Yechezkeil 37:25; 38:23).

Looking forward to salvation.
With Love of Israel,
Shabbat Shalom,
Chodesh Tov.

Yeshivat Machon Meir: Parshat Tazria - The building of a Family - Korban Yoledet

How to Survive in the Middle East

by Victor Rosenthal

Last week, after a terrorist attack in Beer Sheva that took four lives, I (rhetorically) asked our leadership if they had a plan to deal with Arab terrorism, something more long-range than beefing up the police presence over Ramadan. Since then, there have been two more attacks, one in Hadera and one in Bnei Brak, bringing the total number of murder victims to eleven in one week.

The Beer Sheva terrorist was a Bedouin Arab, a citizen of Israel. The Hadera murderers were also Israeli citizens, from Umm al Fahm in the “Arab triangle” east of that city, who identified with the Islamic State. The terrorist who murdered five on Tuesday in Bnai Brak was from the Jenin area in the Palestinian Authority. He was in Israel illegally, working on a construction project. Some reports say that he was associated with Fatah, the party of PLO/PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. Diversity in terrorism.

Three of the murdered and one of the seriously injured victims were policemen. And of those, one was a Druze and another was a Christian Arab.

These terror attacks are the tip of an iceberg. Part of the rest of it showed itself last May, when during a war that was provoked by Hamas rocket attacks, we experienced a murderous uprising by Arab citizens:

In little more than a week, Arab rioters set 10 synagogues and 112 Jewish residences on fire, looted 386 Jewish homes and damaged another 673, and set 849 Jewish cars on fire. There were also 5,018 recorded instances of Jews being stoned. Three Jews were murdered and more than 600 were hurt. Over 300 police officers were injured in disturbances in over 90 locations across the country.

That wasn’t a peaceful demonstration. It wasn’t even a riot. It was a rebellion, an attempt to open a second front during a war. And it wasn’t “clashes between Arabs and Jews”:

By contrast, although some commentators have push [sic] the ‘both sides’ line, no mosques were damaged, one Arab home was firebombed (by Arabs that mistook it for a Jewish home), 13 Arab homes and cars were damaged, and 41 Arab bystanders were hurt by hurled stones. There were also two attacks by Jewish extremists against Arab bystanders, in Bat Yam and Herzliya. Bat Yam saw a large and violent demonstration by far-right Jews.

More of the iceberg, which has been growing for years while Israelis and their leaders have kept their eyes shut, has recently become visible. That is the astonishing fact that a great deal of the Negev and the Galilee have become no-go zones, controlled by Bedouin crime gangs:

Residents of the Negev (and parts of the Galilee) have felt, for years, that the government has abandoned them to the violence and crime of the Bedouin community. According to some estimates, some 100,000 acres of Israeli land have been ceded to the Bedouin—security forces will not or cannot exercise control in those areas, and the Bedouin have, some say, created a state within a state. … today the amount of weapons that the Bedouins in the Negev have right now … they have more weapons than two divisions of the IDF right now in the middle of the Negev. They smuggle weapons and drugs of more than 4 billion shekels a year between the Negev and Egypt …

Israel has very strict firearms laws. An Israeli citizen generally cannot possess a rifle, and must demonstrate a need (living in a dangerous area, a job as a security guard, etc.) to obtain a permit for a pistol. The amount of ammunition one can have is also limited. Yet the Bedouins and the criminal gangs in Israeli Arab towns are armed to the teeth with weapons stolen from the IDF, smuggled from Egypt or Lebanon, or even homemade. The murder rate among Israeli Arabs reflects this, being 12 times greater than that of Israeli Jews. Possibly the next time there is an uprising like the one last May, these guns will be turned against the Jews.

The trends are not encouraging. Our Muslim Arab citizens increasingly believe that the State of Israel is illegitimate, built on land “stolen” from them, and is a temporary edifice that will soon be liberated and replaced by an Arab state. Although it is true that only a small minority would engage in terrorism,

According to statistics published by Professor Sammy Smooha of Haifa University, 77.1 per cent of Israeli Arabs view Zionism as a colonial and racist movement, and demand that Israel be replaced with a binational state. 70.5 per cent of Israeli Arabs demand the right of return of Palestinian refugees, a move that would turn Israeli Jews into a minority. According to a 2017 study carried out by Smooha, Arab-Jewish relations have deteriorated since the previous survey done in 2015. In 2017, only 58.7 per cent of Israeli Arabs recognized Israel’s right to exist, as opposed to 65.8 per cent in 2015. In 2017, 44.6 per cent accepted Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state as opposed to 60.3 per cent in 2015. The acceptance of Israel retaining a Jewish majority declined from 42.7 per cent in 2015 to 36.2 per cent in 2017. …

The perpetrators of … violence operate in a society that is to a large extent sympathetic or supportive of their goals, if not always their methods.

The above is true not only of the “Arab in the street,” but especially so of their representatives in the Knesset and their academic intellectuals.

This situation has arisen because of a basic misperception of who we are – or rather, who we must be – in order to survive as a Jewish nation in the Middle East. The same misperception also weakens us in our relations with other nations, both our “friends” in Europe and North America, and our enemies. Israel cannot continue to survive as a “villa in the jungle,” in the words of Ehud Barak. We cannot establish a Scandinavian country here. Israel is part of the Middle East. We must put limits on who can live here and who can have political power.

In the Middle East, religion and ethnicity, tribal characteristics, are of great – no, overwhelming – importance. The idea that these can be ignored and a democratic and egalitarian state maintained here, given the demographic reality of today’s Israel, is delusional.

As everyone knows, in a non-totalitarian state, most people don’t obey laws because of fear of the police. They do so because they accept the principle that laws exist for the common good, and the legitimacy of the state that enforces them. If this were not the case, there would need to be almost as many police as citizens (as was close to the truth in communist East Germany). But most members of the Muslim Arab minority in Israel do not accept these propositions. Although we need to act with greater harshness against terrorism – a good start would be a death penalty for terrorist murder – we would need to become a police state like East Germany before we could suppress what is a genuine popular movement among one-fifth of the population. And keep in mind that this popular movement also has a great deal of external support (as well as help from the masochistic, autoantisemitic Left within the country).

We will not convince the acolytes of the Palestinian Movement to turn around and support the Jewish state. No amount of money or benefits to this segment of the population, or the participation of their representatives in the government will help (indeed, they have had the opposite effect). The only way to defeat this movement is to remove its supporters from the country. It would be good if this could be a gradual, nonviolent process effected by incentives, as suggested by Martin Sherman. But if that is impossible, then we must force them to leave.

Either we will face these facts and deal with them head-on, or we will not survive in the region.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

On the Background of Conflict: The Difference between Russia’s Putin and Am Yisrael

Parashat Tazria 5782
by HaRav Nachman Kahana

Several Introductions:

1- Tehillim 119:89
מכל מלמדי השכלתי כי עדותיך שיחה לי
I have gained wisdom from many teachers, and they have taught me to meditate on Your statutes.

Simply put, King David acquired the wisdom to comprehend HaShem from every available source.

Question: From a contemporary Jewish-Israel viewpoint what can we learn from Mr. Putin, aside from “Do not murder”?

2- Excerpt from my upcoming autobiography:
One of my earliest recollections of childhood, when I was 7 or perhaps 8 years old, was an episode where I was together with my Abba (father z”l) in his study. He opened a desk drawer and inside I noticed a small bag with Hebrew writing on it. I asked, “what is in the bag?”, and Abba said that I was not to touch it because it contained holy soil from Eretz Yisrael. Father was a great psychologist, because from that time on, I wanted only to hold the little bag! Sometime later, when again in the study, Abba asked me if I wanted to hold the bag. He placed it in my hand and several small grains fell from it onto my palm. When I left the room, I swallowed the grains so that Eretz Yisrael would be a part of me!

My parents were deeply involved in contemporary issues of Jewish life. Abba was a member of the Revisionist Movement, founded by Ze’ev Jabotinsky. In opposition to the official policy of the Jewish Agency of Havlagah (self-restraint), the Revisionists demanded an aggressive militant response in the face of Arab atrocities in Eretz Yisrael. This movement was also the political wing of the underground Irgun Zvai Le’umi military organization, commanded at the time by Menachem Begin.

In 1947, when I was nine years old, Abba gave permission for Betar (the youth group of the Revisionist Movement) to maintain a branch in his synagogue. I enrolled as a member of the younger division of Betar. This was at the time when the United States, after voting for the establishment of a Jewish State in “Palestine”, ordered an embargo of all military material to Palestine, knowing full well that the British were supplying the Arabs with abundant military equipment. This was a treacherous act instigated by the US State Department, which opposed the creation of the Jewish State. They understood the consequences of six hundred thousand unarmed Jews who were soon to be attacked by seven standing Arab armies, but they had undoubtedly neglected to read up on their Bible, as good Protestants should have done.

At the time, the duties of Betar included raising money for the purchase of weapons to be sent clandestinely to the Etzel (Etzel is the Hebrew acronym for Irgun Zvai Leumi), as well as maintaining a military training camp for volunteers who were sent to Palestine. Unknown to our parents, Meir completed the training camp, but was not sent. The Hashomer Hatzair (youth group of the radical socialist Mapam party) also maintained a training camp. Once they were practicing night landings from the sea, when a boat capsized, drowning two of the young men. Word of this tragedy reverberated within all the Zionist organizations, including Betar, and we mourned deeply for them, despite the emotionally charged ideological differences between Betar and the secular, Hashomer Hatzair.

One of my tasks was to collect money. With my parent’s permission, I would disappear for hours, into the subway system, which I knew perfectly, in order to solicit funds for the Etzel. At every station, the train would stop for approximately twelve seconds. I would stand at the head of the car and make a speech of how the Jews were fighting for their lives in Palestine and begged the commuters to help. My greatest fear was the police, who could have confiscated my daily “take” (which at times reached several hundred dollars) because the law prohibited the solicitation of funds by anyone under fourteen years of age. One day when I came home, the atmosphere was one of gloom and doom. The FBI had confiscated a large arms cache destined for Palestine. The arms had been hidden on the roof of 770 Eastern Parkway.

It was at this time that I witnessed a sight which will probably not be repeated until the days of the Mashiach. The Betar drove two trucks to Pitkin Avenue, in the then heavily Jewish populated section of east New York. We disembarked from the trucks, and every four boys held the corners of very large “Jewish” flags. Loudspeakers began sounding “Jewish” music and the results were swift in coming. Masses of people fought their way to get close to the flags in order to donate their money. I saw people put their hands in their pockets and, without even looking at what they drew out, throw it all into the flags.

I am sure that my teachers at the Yeshiva of Flatbush had no inkling of why I was drowsy on certain mornings.

Upon being accepted to Betar, every member received a pin with a picture of Biblical-Historic Eretz Yisrael on both sides of the Jordan river. On the foreground was a hand holding a rifle with the words:

רק כך
“JUST THIS”, meaning we will settle for nothing less!

One of the Betar songs was composed by its founder Ze’ev Jabotinsky in 1929. It consisted of 4 stanzas each ending in the chorus:

שתי גדות לירדן זו שלנו זו גם כן
Two banks to the Jordan river: this one is ours and so is the other.

Back to this later.

3- Declarations & Treaties
On November 2, 1917, Lord Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, sent a letter to Lionel Walter Rothschild, scion of the Rothschild family, a prominent Zionist and a friend of Chaim Weizmann, stating: “His Majesty’s Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object”.

According to the mandate system created by the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, the San-Remo (Italy) international conference of the major allied nations who fought in World War One in 1920 entrusted Great Britain with the mandate to implement the establishment of a Jewish National home in Palestine. This was confirmed again in 1922 by the League of Nations. The future Jewish national home was to span both sides of the Jordan River. The eastern side measured 89,342 square kilometers (34,495 sq. miles); the western side 22,145 (8,630 sq. miles); together 111,487 sq. km (43,125 sq. miles) equal to the size of Egypt or to the state of South Dakota.

Indeed, a sizeable piece of holy real-estate, although a lot less than what Hashem declared as the holy land for Am Yisrael. In any event, in 1922 the League of Nations accepted England’s request to remove the eastern side of the Jordan from any and all commitments made by the League of Nations towards the Jewish people. Thus, in one fell swoop three quarters of our land was severed, to create the political entity today called Jordan.

4- Understanding Putin
When analyzing a complex issue, it is best to approach it with the 4W’s and 1H formula: who, where, when, why, and how.

If we apply this to the Russian invasion of Ukraine we conclude:

Who? President Putin of Russia, formerly The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

Where? On the land area known as Ukraine.

When? Now.

Why? Ukraine was part of Russia for the better part of the last 800-1000 years. The population of Ukraine voted overwhelmingly for independence from the Soviet Union in the referendum of December 1, 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union. Putin dreams of restoring to Russia its world power status by getting back its former lands.

How? Militarily, invading the now independent country of Ukraine.

Now to the essence…

I understand President Putin’s desire to enhance his beloved mother Russia with greatness and glory. However, if he would have asked me, I would have taken out a bottle of real Israeli vodka and tried to work out a federal system with the former USSR nations to avoid spilling so much blood unnecessarily. But that’s not the topic of this essay.

As stated above, one should collect wisdom from every available source, even from Aisav.

The British tore asunder three quarters of our hallowed biblical and historic homeland on both sides of the Jordan River; including the area where the incomparable Moshe Rabbeinu rests in peace.

The area which Am YIsrael was promised by HaShem after we would have the courage to wage a war of self-defense against the unmatched Og, king of Bashan and Sichon, king of Emori. The area that was settled by two and a half tribes of Israel – Reuven, Gad and half of Menashe, until they were exiled by the Assyrians in the time of Kings Achaz and Chizkiyau of Yehuda in the 7th century BCE, after residing in Trans Jordan for about 600 years.

The organized nations of the world recognized the full expanse of the Jewish national home as regarding the Jordan River (there is a lot more area that goes up to the Euphrates and down to the Nile). However, the British, who were always known to be perfidious, managed to unload their obligations as a mandate country regarding the Jewish people.

We should learn and even emulate not the acts of Putin, but his dedication to the greatness of his country. It is this that we have forgotten.

Is the reunification of historic Israel taught in any of the schools here, aside from some religious Zionist ones?

It is a fact of life that opportunities present themselves in public, national and private lives, but if we don’t prepare ourselves to leap at the occasion they will pass and perhaps not reappear for generations.

The same applies to our large gentile minority here in Eretz Yisrael; there are opportunities, but the nation had to be prepared to grasp them when they came.

It is possible to explain the difference between Putin of Russia and Am Yisrael on the background of the conflict between our father Yitzchak and our mother Rivka regarding who should be the progenitor of the future Am Yisrael.

I believe that there were no secrets between this holy couple, Yitzchak preferred that Eisav should be the progenitor of God’s chosen people, while Rivka preferred the scholarly yeshiva student Yaakov.

Theirs was an ideologic conflict based on their sons’ innate nature.

In their younger years, Ya’akov and Eisav while still under the influence of their parents, were God-fearing and mitzva observant; with one dramatic difference. Eisav was by nature extreme and fanatical. In his religious world there was no place for weakness, fineness or fragility; the end justifies the means in the worship of the Creator. There was no room in his worship of the Ultimate for the words of King Shlomo (Mishlei 3:17):

דְּרָכֶיהָ דַרְכֵי-נֹעַם; וְכָל-נְתִיבוֹתֶיהָ שָׁלוֹם.
Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.

Ya’akov by nature shaped the image of his future great grandson, Aharon the Kohen Gadol, regarding whom the illustrious Hillel said (Pirkei Avot 1:12):

הֱוֵי מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן, אוֹהֵב שָׁלוֹם וְרוֹדֵף שָׁלוֹם, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת, וּמְקָרְבָן לַתּוֹרָה
Be as of the disciples of Aaron: Love peace, pursue peace, love humanity and draw them close to Torah.

Yitzchak and Rivka agreed on the future challenges of a G-d chosen people living within a world of 70 basic races which were impervious to spirituality. They both knew in theory that there was a price to be paid for the status of G-d’s chosen people.

Yitzchak claimed that to represent the ultimate sanctity, their children would suffer thousands of years of exile and all that comes with it. So, in name of self-preservation of HaShem’s chosen nation we have to acquire the strength, vigor, determination and at times the cruelty of an Eisav. Rivka claimed but at what price? That Judaism would be like Isis or religious Nazis?

Putin has the skin of an Eisav; Am YIsrael has the light of Ya’akov and Aharon. Thanks to our mother Rivka!

Several matters to remember and not forget:

Destruction of Amalek
The sanctity of all Promised Land
JLMM – Jewish Lives Matter Most

Shabbat Shalom
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5782/2022 Nachman Kahana

Will Biden Fund ISIS in Israel to Aid the 'Palestinians'?

The Biden administration blames Israeli “violence” while supporting Islamic terror.

by Daniel Greenfield

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.

"In the name of Allah, the merciful and compassionate," Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority leader, said, "we would like to welcome Secretary Clinton."

"Blinken," someone corrected him.

"Sorry, Blinken," the 86-year-old Islamic terrorist leader said.

Secretary of State Blinken had to travel thousands of miles away to find a leader even more unpopular and out of it than the one he had left behind at the White House.

That was last year. This year, Abbas got Blinken’s name right and not much else.

After 17 years (and just one election), Abbas has seen a lot of secretaries of state come and go to get their pictures taken with him and then send him a few hundred million dollars.

Last year, Abbas told Blinken that he had "postponed the elections" because of Israel and that the moment he gets his paws on Jerusalem, "we will hold them immediately and without any delay, because ultimately what we’re interested in is to establish democracy throughout Palestine." This year they can’t be held either because Abbas still doesn’t have Jerusalem.

The last Palestinian Authority presidential election was in 2005. Abbas won. The last parliamentary election was in 2006. Hamas won. The presidential and parliamentary elections have been postponed since then but are expected to resume any time now. If not, blame Israel.

Since elections won't be happening anytime soon, a recent poll reveals that 73% of the "Palestinians" occupying the West Bank and Gaza want Abbas to resign.

If elections were somehow held today the Hamas presidential candidate would win 54% of the vote while Abbas would only get 38%. So you can see why there will be no elections.

61% want to tear up all agreements with Israel (since they haven't kept them, that would be a technicality), 70% don’t want to negotiate with Israel, and 64% don’t even want to negotiate with Biden. 58% oppose the “two-state solution” that is the touchstone of the entire peace process.

73% believes that the Koran predicts that Israel will be destroyed, but only 32% believe it will happen in 2022.

Under these circumstances, the last thing the Biden administration wants is democracy for the quarreling foreign Jihadist tribes who invaded Israel over the last few centuries and were rebranded by the name of the European colonists known as the Philistines.

Blinken is fine with Abbas postponing the elections forever because otherwise the terror clans will do what they did the last time that Bush naively allowed elections and vote for Hamas.

And that would be inconvenient because Hamas won’t pretend that they aren’t terrorists.

Four Israelis were murdered last week by a Muslim terrorist attack at a mall in Beersheba.

Despite the terrorist's ISIS membership, a Hamas spokesman praised "the executor of the heroic operation" and promised more "heroic operations: stabbings, ramming and shooting” like the car and stabbing spree that killed a Rabbi who ran a soup kitchen and two mothers of three children. So much for the claim that Hamas will inhibit the rise of the “extremists” of ISIS.

Palestinian Authority media also hailed Mohammad Ghaleb Abu al-Qi’an, the ISIS terrorist shot and killed by an Israeli bus driver who chased him down on foot, as a "martyr". If the PA follows its usual “Pay to Slay” policy in this case, it won’t just be financially supporting the usual stable of PLO, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad families, but also an ISIS terrorist’s family.

And that will mean American taxpayers will end up subsidizing ISIS terrorism in Israel as the Biden administration explores ways to bypass the Taylor Force Act’s ban on terror funding.

At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Bennett, Blinken gave a speech mostly blaming Israel for future violence during Passover and Ramadan. That speech was followed by another ISIS attack in which two heavily armed terrorists opened fire on a bus. The Islamic terrorists were taken down by cops who had been eating nearby, but not before they killed two people.

Hamas celebrated the "valor and courage" of the ISIS terrorists as did Islamic Jihad.

Hezbollah, backed by Iran, praised the ISIS attack as an “important and most effective practical response to the infamous and treacherous normalization meetings that some Arab regimes are carrying out with the enemy entity” referring to the anti-Iran summit in Israel with the foreign ministers of Bahrain, UAE, Morocco and Egypt. Iran's pro-IRGC outlet praised it as a “martyrdom operation”. When it comes to Israel, Iran and ISIS are on the same side. Much as Al Qaeda and Iran were on the same side when it came to the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Blinken meanwhile used the visit to pitch Israelis on a Biden plan to remove the IRGC, Iran’s terror hub, from the list of foreign terrorist organizations, claiming it would be “symbolic”.

He failed to condemn the terrorist attack as an ISIS attack, calling it “senseless” violence.

At his joint press conference with Abbas, Blinken also failed to condemn terrorism or to note that ISIS, with the tacit support of his PLO hosts in Ramallah and of Hamas in Gaza was planting its flag in Israel. Instead Blinken once again condemned Jewish Israeli “settler violence”.

Like Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland's previous visit, the formula of Biden administration officials condemning Israeli "settler violence" while promising to "strenghten" the terrorists of the Palestinian Authority is as familiar as it is evil. The Palestinian Authority is an unwanted institution whose leader 73% of the people the dictator rules over want to see out of office.

And 49% want to dissolve the Palestinian Authority.

Considering the decades of failure, misery, and terrorism wrought by the failed Clinton initiative to create a Palestinian state, it’s long past time for everyone to turn the book on this disaster.

Neither Arab Muslims nor Israelis want Abbas or the Palestinian Authority. Only diplomats like Blinken and Nuland insist on keeping the senile tyrant of Ramallah in office until he dies.

In a final statistic, the poll asked who was "most deserving of representing and leading the Palestinian people". 31% picked Hamas, 29% chose Abbas' Palestinian Authority, and 33% chose none of the above. 84% believe the PA is corrupt and 70% believe Hamas is dirty.

The “Palestinian people” have spoken. Will Biden listen to them?

The root source of the corruption comes from the hundreds of millions of dollars that Blinken came bearing last year for the regime of a corrupt senile autocrat who didn’t even know whom he was talking to. There’s more money coming this year to prop up the terrorist regime.

All in the name of a peace which doesn’t exist and that the majority of “Palestinians” don’t want.

The United States has gone from using its foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority to prop up PLO, Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorism against Israel, to subsidizing ISIS terrorism.

Will ISIS be a final red line for the corrupt farce of a two-state solution and a peace process?

Arabs: Biden Administration Harming US interests

by Khaled Abu Toameh 
  • "In 1979 Iranian students established their own group, which over time turned into an extremist military organization under the name of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The group seized control of the US Embassy embassy in Tehran. Two years later the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.... struck buildings in Lebanon that housed American... soldiers, killing of 307 individuals, including 241 Americans.... In 1996, terrorists linked to Iran and the Revolutionary Guards, and their Hezbollah proxy attacked a residential complex in Al-Khobar, eastern Saudi Arabia, killing and wounding many American experts and other innocent people. Since 1990, Iran has turned into an incubator for Al-Qaeda and ISIS." — Mohammed Al-Saed, Saudi writer, Okaz, March 24, 2022.
  • "The events of September 11 [2001] came on top of those crimes, which were committed by Osama bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri, all of whom had the support of Iran. In the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran fueled the horrific killings and bombings that affected the US Army through different cells that were driven by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Thousands of American soldiers were killed." — Mohammed Al-Saed, Okaz, March 24, 2022.
  • "[T]he Democratic administration headed by Barack Obama is not happy with what Trump did...." — Mohammed Al-Saed, Okaz, March 24, 2022.
  • "The Houthis bomb Jeddah, Biden rewards Iran....The Biden administration knows that Iran finances the Houthi group and supplies it with missiles." — Sawsan Al-Sha'er, Bahraini journalist, Al-Watan, March 22, 2022.
  • "[T]here is no American policy in Syria other than placing Syria entirely in the hands of Iran." — Nadim Koteich, Lebanese TV presenter and journalist, Asharq Al-Awsat, March 22, 2022.
  • The Houthi militia rejects any settlement to the civil war in Yemen and seeks to assist Iran in establishing a foothold in the Arab region. "This is what the US administrations could never comprehend... It encouraged Iran to turn Yemen into a base for Iranian missiles and drones. — Kheirallah Kheirallah, veteran Lebanese journalist, Al-Arab, March 28, 2022.
  • The crisis between the Biden administration and the Arab countries, especially the Gulf states, is so deep that it could take years, if not decades, to repair the damage caused to America's interests in the Middle East.

Many Arabs are continuing to express deep disappointment with the policies of the Biden administration in the Middle East, especially regarding Iran's role in destabilizing security and stability in Arab countries. These Arabs say that President Joe Biden is following in the footsteps of former President Barack Obama, who preferred to reach a nuclear deal with Iran at the expense of Washington's allies in the Middle East. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Many Arabs are continuing to express deep disappointment with the policies of the Biden administration in the Middle East, especially regarding Iran's role in destabilizing security and stability in Arab countries that once trusted the US as a reliable and trustworthy ally.

These Arabs say that President Joe Biden is following in the footsteps of former President Barack Obama, who preferred to reach a nuclear deal with Iran at the expense of Washington's Arab friends and allies in the Middle East.

The Arabs are further saying that the policies and actions of the Biden administration are harming not only America's allies, but also the interests of the US.

"The notorious agreement unleashed Iran's hand, allowing it to tamper with the security and stability of the region," wrote Syrian political analyst Rami Alkhalifa Alali.

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The punishment of Tzara’as only lasts as long as people will listen to it

by Rabbi Pinchas Winston

Friday Night
WHEN YOU HAVE a problem with your skin, you go to a skin doctor. Unless, of course it was tzara’as, in which case a skin doctor would not do you much good. If it was only leprosy, then maybe a skin doctor could help. But tzara’as required a kohen to determine its status, and to advise a metzora how to precede. His advice never included over-the-counter or prescription drugs, just some serious teshuvah.

As we see from Moshe Rabbeinu, whose hand turned white as snow for speaking badly about the Jewish people, and then later from his sister Miriam, who got tzara’as for doing the same thing about her brother Moshe, tzara’as is in response to loshon hara. But when too many people began to speak loshon hara too freely, God stopped giving tzara’as. Like prophecy, the punishment of tzara’as only lasts as long as people will listen to it.

Before we go and celebrate our license to kill with our tongues, we should realize that we have gained nothing. If anything, we have lost, because the offense of loshon hara is as serious as it has ever been. It’s just that rather than pay for it in this world, we’ll just have to pay for it in the next one, and that is never better. Accidentally biting your tongue or breaking a tooth doesn’t quite match up with the embarrassment and hassle of tzara’as.

The question is, why the skin? What is the connection between a person’s skin and their mouth? Even though tzara’as starts off on the walls of the house, moves to the clothing if they don’t do teshuvah, the final destination of tzara’as is the loshon hara speaker’s skin. Since God punishes measure-for-measure, there must be something to that.

In the past I have shown the connection to the transformation of Adam HaRishon’s skin from skin of light to skin of flesh. As Rashi explains in Parashas Shemos, God told Moshe that loshon hara is the craft of the snake, and it was the snake’s words that led to the eating from the Aitz HaDa’as Tov v’Ra and the original skin transformation. Tzara’as is a throwback to that.

Another idea is that when a person speaks loshon hara, they are being superficial. Actions can be deceiving. Accurately understanding what people do can only be the result of many things we can’t know about. We don’t know about all the things that happened to us to make us who we are, so how can possibly know this about others?

Shabbos Day
THE SYMBOL OF such superficiality is the skin. When we say that something is only “skin deep,” we mean that it lacks depth. When a person speaks loshon hara, not only do they not perform the thorough investigation necessary to judge the person worthy of such loshon hara, they can’t. Only God can. Only He can know everything about a person and if they are guilty or innocent. This makes the speaking of loshon hara reckless, if not actually trying to act like God, which the yetzer hara tends to make us do.

The three stages of tzara’as give us the opportunity to wake up to this and do teshuvah on our own. It first affects the walls of a person’s house because they hide how a person behaves in private. Many people act one way outside the house and a very different way inside the house. At home, people let their guard down and their true self pours out. If a person read the tzara’as writing on the wall, they could save themselves a lot of humiliation and inconvenience. It’s a skin-deep message to the person.

If not, it moves to their clothing. This is something that we wear in both places, inside and outside the house. It’s Heaven taking a second warning shot, this time a little closer to home, so-to-speak. Shooting in the air did not make the loshon hara speaker back down. So, Heaven takes another shot at the feet of the person, in a manner of speaking, to see if that gets them to right their wrong.

But tzara’as on the clothing is still not as bad as tzara’as on the skin, especially since the person does not need to be sent outside the camp and walk around in public yelling out, “Impure! Impure!” The pain is no longer skin-deep but goes right to the heart of the matter…and the person. For acting like a dead person, that is insensitive to the life of another, they are treated like a dead person.

Since this is a leap year, Parashas Tazria comes before Pesach instead of after it. This gives us an opportunity to connect it to the whole idea of redemption, which it is. Superficiality is not a Jewish thing, or at least it is not supposed to be. But what people who live superficially do not realize is how it enslaves them to their own version of Pharaoh, their personal yetzer hara. The greatest sign that a person has that they are a slave to their yetzer hara is the ease with which they can speak loshon hara. They may feel as if they benefit from speaking it, but in reality, they hurt themself each time they do, in this world and certainly in the next one.

They also set themselves up for some kind of divine punishment for it as well. We learn this from the Talmud that says that even though the Sanhedrin may not exist today to give out punishment, Heaven has other ways to do it through “natural” life occurrences (Kesuvos 30b).

Shalosh Seudot
THE GEMORA ASKS about the relevancy of capital punishment once the Sanhedrin no longer had the authority to carry them out. It answers the following:

Since the day of the destruction of the Temple, although the Sanhedrin ceased, the four forms of capital punishment have not ceased. They have not ceased, [you say]? Surely they have ceased! But [say] the judgment of the four forms of capital punishment has not ceased. He who would have been sentenced to stoning either falls down from the roof or a wild beast treads him down. He who would have been sentenced to burning either falls into a fire or a serpent bites him. He who would have been sentenced to decapitation is either delivered to the government or robbers come upon him. He who would have been sentenced to strangulation is either drowned in the river or dies from suffocation. (Kesuvos 30a)

This is true of capital punishment and lesser offenses as well. And given what Chazal say about the seriousness of loshon hara, it can be assumed that God doesn’t just look the other way or turn the other ear when people speak it. There may not be any tzara’as today, but there are other skin-related illnesses, or other ways to rectify a person’s propensity to speak loshon hara. Sometimes we don’t have to be told to bite our tongues. It just happens on its own, or any number of other mishaps that might be the divine response to our loshon hara.

But what is the worst punishment of all for speaking loshon hara? Nothing at all. There is nothing to get away with. If a person cuts off their finger and no one is around to witness it, have they gained anything? Just the opposite.

Likewise, loshon hara may just seem to be words that vanish as quickly as they emerged, but that is only what it seems to us. We can’t see the damaging angels we have created with our words which will not only testify against us on our day of judgment, but which wreak all kinds of havoc in our personal lives. For damaging relationships with loshon hara, we may pay with damaged relationships elsewhere for reasons we can’t fathom.

At least in the good old days a person could get tzara’as. The kohen could come and confirm it, and the message was clear. The person was guilty of loshon hara. Stop it, or else. How many people who got tzara’as once did not change their life after that to avoid getting it a second time?

Today, we have no clear-cut way to know if what we are undergoing is tied to any loshon hara we might have spoken. How many people even consider the possibility? Hashgochically, they cannot hurt anyone God does not intend to be hurt for reasons of their own. But the speaker of loshon hara damages themself in ways that will not only bite them later, but will cause them to be increasingly desensitized to the sin they are committing.

The Zohar says that you can size a person up by the way they speak. What comes out of our mouths is the best indicator of our soul-body combination. If our speech is spiritually-rich, then it shows our soul leads in life. If the opposite, it means we are slaves to our bodies and yetzer haras.

As Chazal point out, Pesach is also peh sach, the mouth that spoke. The Jewish people left the Egyptians once and for all by a place called Pi HaChiros, the Mouth of Freedom. One that speaks in a spiritually-refined manner is truly a free person.

Pesach Haggadah
IT IS A curious thing. Each year we sit down to make a Pesach Seder to commemorate an event that the vast majority of the world thinks is fictitious. But we do it anyhow, even Jews whose lives reflect their disbelief in the very origin of this time-honored tradition.

We are not the only people to do this. Various different religions and cultures also continue to celebrate long-ago historical events, the spirits of which are often contradicted by the present-day lives of their celebrants. That’s the power of tradition: it can keep alive even that which, for all intents-and-purposes, is actually dead.

Is it hypocrisy? A lot of times.

Perhaps this is part of what is bothering the Evil Son. He’s the main antagonist in the Haggadah because he dares to ask the question: “What does this service mean to you?”

And though we break his teeth for asking such a question, and wag a proverbial finger at him saying, “Had you been there, you certainly would not have been redeemed!” his question is indeed a good one. In fact, it is one the Haggadah each year asks us all to answer by the end of the evening, for the right answer is not only liberating, it is freedom itself.

The problem with the Evil Son is not his question; it is his answer. His question is his answer because for him it is rhetorical. He may have phrased his words as a question, but he was really making a statement: Though this service may have made sense back in the days of Egyptian slavery, it is meaningless today.

Okay. For making fun of tradition we break his teeth, metaphorically-speaking. However, if he is in agreement that once-upon-a-time all of this was necessary, then why do we tell him that had he been in Egypt at the time of the redemption, he would have been one of those who did not go out?

Because he has missed the point of the Haggadah, of the Pesach-Offering, of the entire concept of redemption.

Sure, we no longer worship Egyptian gods, and therefore no longer have to parade through the streets with lambs to prove that we do not fear them or adhere to their religious values.

But that was not the entire story of the Korban Pesach, just a part of it. After all, when Kayin and Hevel brought their offerings to God (Bereishis 4:3), it was on the fourteenth day of Nissan. They had brought Pesach Offerings. And, as the Brisker Rav points out, Avraham Avinu ate matzah on the fifteenth of Nissan, hundreds of years before there was even an Egyptian exile!

This begs the question: Do we eat matzah because there wasn’t enough time to bake bread, or was there not enough time to bake bread so that we would eat matzah? Because, contrary to the Evil Son’s thinking, mitzvos are eternal. They supersede our daily reality and are never the result of circumstance. If anything, they make circumstances possible, such as the leaving of Egypt in Moshe’s time, and the leaving of exile at the End-of-Days.

It is the Chacham, the wise son in each generation who understands this. Hence, the Haggadah’s response to his question is the opposite of the one given to his evil brother:

You, in turn, shall instruct him in the laws of Pesach, [up to] “one is not to eat any dessert after the Pesach lamb.”

The Wise Son is the person who understands one of the most important ideas of Creation, and yet one of the least-known: Redemption is a de facto state of existence. To understand this, it is important to first understand the concept of exile.

When we think of the first exile, we think of the Jewish people in Egyptian bondage. However, the Egyptian exile was really the result, and in many respects, a replication of the original exile of all of mankind. In the beginning, man was created into a state of redemption. Immediately after being formed by God, Adam HaRishon was placed in the Garden of Eden where he lived an idyllic existence. The life of the first man is the one that we all dream of living if we merit to make it to Yemos HaMoshiach—the Messianic Era.

Eating from the Aitz HaDa’as Tov v’Ra—the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil—changed all of that. The bottom line is that within one day of being created and placed into Paradise, mankind was forced to leave it, and the question is, why? The answer is, the transformation of man:

The creation of Heaven and Earth and their components was with the Supernal Light, and they existed on a very elevated and awesome level, specifically man who was higher than all of them. However, after the sin of the Tree of Knowledge and Good and Evil, he and everything else descended and was transformed from skin made of light to human skin. (Hakdamos uSha’arim, Sha’ar 6, Ch. 10)

Though man has always consisted of a body and soul, before the sin they both existed on a much higher spiritual plane. A human body once more closely resembled a soul than the body we now have, made of divine light rather than of opaque skin. Sin resulted in skin, and the distancing of man from God. That is the very definition of exile, and the Pesach Seder comes to reverse that. To be continued…

Is the US Pretending That Iran's IRGC, "Mother of All Terrorist Groups", Is Not a Terrorist Group?

The Biden Administration's Never-ending Appeasement of the Mullahs

by Majid Rafizadeh 
  • "It [the IRGC] is also a chief supporter and enabler of other FTOs and insurgent groups in the region. These organizations include, but are not limited to: Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Houthi insurgency. The IRGC's actions have led to decades of instability and conflict across the Middle East and the group is responsible for countless deaths, including more than 600 U.S. troops during the occupation of Iraq." — Letter from 80 Republicans to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Fox News, March 23, 2022.
  • "In Havlish, et al. v. bin Laden, et al., Judge Daniels held that the Islamic Republic of Iran, its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Iran's agencies and instrumentalities, including, among others, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps ('IRGC'), the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security ('MOIS'), and Iran's terrorist proxy Hezbollah, all materially aided and supported al Qaeda before and after 9/11." — PR Newswire, December 23, 2011.
  • One of the IRGC's elite branches, the Quds Force, deploys its proxies and militia groups to attack the interests and assets of the US and its allies in the Middle East, as well as the soft underbelly of the US, Latin America. The Quds Force exerts significant influence, direct or indirect, through a conglomerate of more than 40 militia groups....
  • "The Iranian Al-Quds Force packs weapons, ammunition and missile technology to Hezbollah in suitcases and puts them on Mahan Air flights.... these planes fly directly to the airport in Lebanon or Damascus and from there the weapons are transferred on the ground to Hezbollah." — Amb. Danny Danon, then Israeli Ambassador to the UN, from a 2016 letter to UN Security Council members.
  • The IRGC "continues transferring weapons and drones to terrorist proxies.
  • The mission of Jihad for the IRGC is unmistakably clear in Iran's Constitution. Its Preamble states: "the Constitution provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the Revolution at home and abroad... the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps are to be organized in conformity with this goal, and they will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of (Shiite) jihad in God's way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God's (Shiite) law throughout the world in the hope that this century will witness the establishment of a universal holy government and the downfall of all others." [Emphasis added.]
  • "These assessments, combined with the IRGC's lengthy history of killing hundreds of Americans... make it clear: The IRGC is a terrorist organization and should remain labeled as such.... The pursuit of an ill-conceived 'deal' should not compel American leaders to acquiesce to the demands of a terrorist regime to deny the truth. American lives are at stake, and this is a time to project strength, not weakness." — Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien and former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, joint statement, Axios, March 22, 2022.

If the Biden administration removes Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the terrorist list, it will be enabling this terrorist organization to gain legitimacy, do more business, obtain more funds, kill and harm more innocent civilians, pursue more aggressively its mission of Jihad, anti-Semitism and the elimination of countries in the region, crack down more forcefully on the Iranian people, and carry out more terrorist plots throughout the world. Pictured: IRGC members on parade, marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war, on September 22, 2018, in Tehran. (Photo by Stringer/AFP via Getty Images)

To appease the ruling mullahs of Iran, the Biden administration in January 2021 first suspended some of the anti-terrorism sanctions on Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthis that the Trump administration had imposed. Soon after, the Biden administration revoked the designation of the Houthis as a terrorist group. Since then, the Houthis have been attacking their neighbors, as recently as this week.

Now, the Biden administration is considering also removing Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), called the "Mother of All Terrorist Groups," from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

The Biden administration, then, wants to preserve -- by sparing it from the terrorist list -- an organization that has killed hundreds, no thousands of Americans "before and after 9/11":

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Monday, March 28, 2022

Rav Kook on Parashat Tazria: Shiloh and the Birth-Offerings

The Torah portion of Tazria opens with the offerings of women who recently gave birth. Amazingly, it was on account of these birth-offerings that a distinguished family of priests was forever disqualified from serving in the Beit HaMikdash. Even worse: this sorry affair led to the destruction of the Shiloh tabernacle, forerunner to the Beit HaMikdas in Yerushalyim, after nearly four centuries of service as the spiritual center of the Jewish people (Yoma 9a).

The Sin of Eli’s Sons
The book of Shmuel describes the ignominious state of the Temple service in Shiloh. The sons of Eli were insensitive priests who would take their portions by force, treating the Temple offerings with contempt (Shmuel Aleph. II:17). Their worst sin, according to the reports reaching the ears of their father, was that “they slept with the women who streamed to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting” (v. 22).

The Talmud cautions against taking this verse literally: “Anyone who says the sons of Eli sinned is mistaken” (Shabbat 55b). So what does it mean that “they slept with the women”?

According to the Sages, they failed to promptly offer the birth-offerings. In this way, they indirectly prevented them from returning home. The women did not trust the priests to bring their offerings, so they would remain in Shiloh until they saw with their own eyes that their offering was completed. Since the inattentive service of Eli’s sons caused the women to be unnecessarily separated from their husbands, the verse refers to their irresponsible behavior as if they had slept with them.

Is this just a case of Talmudic whitewash, a rabbinic cover-up? Why should this be the cause for the destruction of the Tabernacle?

The Purpose of the Temple Service
If we wish to understand what brought about the fall of the Tabernacle in Shiloh, we should not give too much weight to passing incidents, grave though they may be. Rather we should look for signs of moral decay which undermined very foundations of the Temple service and its purpose.

The Divine service is integrally connected with the goal of sanctifying life. We cannot fully elevate life in all of its aspects, in its pinnacles and its crises, unless we are able to connect life to its Source, to the Creator of all life.

Life also includes times of trouble and distress. What will give it light, restoring its natural happiness and joy? What will rejuvenate it and grant it nobility and grace? This can only be accomplished by uncovering the holiness to be found in all aspects of life.

The Birth-Offering
The birth of a child is a wonderful occasion, bringing new life and joy to the family. But the birthing experience itself is a challenging one, involving great pain and suffering. The complex experiences of the woman giving birth can generate stress and tension, and are only overcome with the passage of time, as life returns to its usual joy and happiness. 

What can cleanse the difficult impressions and feelings that result from this suffering, rooted in the ancient sin of Eve in the beginnings of humanity? Their remedy requires an act of drawing near to God. As the new mother elevates her birthing experience with her chatat and olah offerings, she rectifies the shortcomings caused by the rebellious tendencies of the human heart. These offerings allow her soul to be lifted up in feelings of love for the greatness of the Creator of all life, the Source of love for all creatures.

In short: the Temple offerings must reflect a harmony between the Divine service and the goal of elevating life. This is especially true for the offerings brought after giving birth. True morality cannot sanction the idea of a mechanical Temple service, disconnected from the people and their lives.

The Service in Shiloh
The unfeeling, even tyrannical, atmosphere that existed in the Shiloh Tabernacle — the absence of ethical sensitivity, the lack of integrity and compassion, the disconnect from the needs of the people, by an order of hardhearted Kohanim who paraded their elevated station over the people — this climate created an artificial divide between the principles of morality and the Temple service. In the end, it destroyed the reign of the Kohanic family of Eli. These callous Kohanim saw no connection between their service and the sanctification of life. Ultimately, their actions brought about the fall of the Tabernacle in Shiloh.

The Kohanim should have seen the birth-offering as a vehicle to elevate life. How could they delay these offerings, thus impairing their primary purpose, that which God desires in His world — shalom bayit — harmony and peace in family life?

Eli’s sons mistakenly viewed their Kehuna as an entitlement. Instead of a service based on purity and holiness, their service reeked of high-handed arrogance. They were functionaries, focusing only on the technical aspects of the Temple service.

It was this corrupted service that led to the Tabernacle’s destruction — something that an individual sinful act could not bring about. If Eli’s sons had actually sinned as written, such a state could not have continued for long without correction. The service in Shiloh did not suffer from any particular evil incident, but rather from a moral decay in its very core, for which it needed to be destroyed in order to be corrected.

(Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. IV, pp. 49-50 by Rav Chanan Morrison)

In its Time I will Hasten It

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

"When a woman produces seed and gives birth to a male." (Vayikra 12:2) Chazal comment: "If the man produces seed first, [the woman] gives birth to a female; if the woman produces seed first, she gives birth to a male." (Brachot 60a)

Many divergent explanations are offered as to the simple meaning of this statement. However, in the realm of drash, Chazal's words are associated to the notion of teshuva and geulah. The prophets compare the relationship between G-d and Israel to the relationship between a man and his beloved. There is an argument between them who should take initiative and appease the other. G-d requests, "Return to Me and I will return to you," whereas Knesset Yisrael requests, "Bring us back to you and we will return."

This argument has ramifications as to the nature of the redemption: "I, Hashem, in its time will hasten it." (Yeshaya 60:22) Chazal comment: "If they are worthy – I will hasten it; it they are not worthy – in its time." (Sanhedrin 99a) If Israel are worthy, the redemption will come quickly; when they are not worthy – it will come in its due time. Chazal further comment that there are two types of redemption. The redemption can come in a quick and miraculous manner, "Behold! With the clouds of heaven" (Daniel 7:13), and it can come in its own slow pace, "A humble man riding on a donkey." (Zechariah 9:9) The question is whether the redemption will come be'itaruta dele'eila, initiated by G-d, or with itaruta deletata, that we will initiate and we will arouse the redemption through our actions.

Chazal explain in this manner additional contradictions in the verses. In one place it says, "raglei mevasser" (the feet of the herald), in masculine form, while in another place it says, "mevasseret Yerushalayim" (herald of Yerushalayim) in feminine form. Chazal apply to this the pasuk, "How long will you slip away, O wayward daughter?" (Yirmiya 31:21) Rashi explains: How long will you hide and not return to me, you rebellious daughter, "For Hashem has created something new in the world – that the woman will court the man," that the woman will seek after the man. When the woman seeks the man, and Knesset Yisrael seeks G-d, then the redemption will be like a man; it will come quickly and with ease. When they are not worthy, the strength of the redemption will be weak like a woman and will come slowly and lazily.

The Mechilta in Parshat Beshalach states that when the redemption is compared to a man, there is no more subjugation afterwards. However, when it is compared to a woman, they are subjugated once again, just as a woman gives birth with pain, and when the infant is born she is redeemed from her suffering, yet she repeats this and suffers again. Therefore they compare the complete redemption to a man, and the slow redemption to a woman. This matter depends on the willingness of Israel to take initiative for the first step, or whether they sit passively and expect G-d to do the work. The Midrash Kohelet Rabbah (1:1) relates that R. Chanina b. Dosa sought to bring a large stone up to Yerushalayim to the Beit Hamikdash. He came upon five laborers, but didn't have the sum that they requested, so they left him and went away. G-d arranged for him angels in the form of laborers, and they said to him: "Give us five selaim and we will bring your stone up to Yerushalayim, provided that you put your hand and finger to it." He put his hand and finger in with them, and they found themselves in Yerushalayim. He wanted to give them their wages, but didn't find them. He entered the lishkat hagazit (where the Sanhedrin sat) and inquired about them, and they said to him: "It appears that angels brought your stone to Yerushalayim."

This is just like the Ark, which actually bore those that carried it (Sotah 35a), and yet, "they carried on the shoulder." (Bamidbar 7:9) Without the help from below, G-d does not do anything from above. However, when we help with even our small finger, G-d completes everything from above.

Thus, the Chozeh of Lublin explains Chazal's comment: When G-d, who is called "man" initiates from above, the redemption will appear in the form of a female. However, when the woman provides the seed first, and Knesset Yisrael initiates, then the redemption will come in the masculine form, with force and speed, and there will be no sadness afterwards.

The Mitzva of Circumcision

by Rabbi Dov Berel Wein

From the time of our father Avraham, circumcision has been the cornerstone of Jewish identity. We acknowledge this in our prayer after meals daily "we are grateful to You for your covenant that you have sealed into our flesh." The rabbis of the Talmud indicated to us that the Jewish people accepted this commandment of circumcision willingly and happily and therefore it has persisted amongst Israel uninterruptedly for all of these many generations since the time of Avraham. Though many claims of physical health benefits have been made over time for the efficacy of this procedure, the Jewish people have always viewed it as being the supreme symbol of personal Jewish identity and role. Over the ages the enemies of the Jewish people have attempted at various times to ban Jewish circumcision. The great classical Greeks considered it to be a mutilation of the body and in that body worshipping culture it was held to be repugnant and unacceptable. Much more recently the "progressive, democratic, peace-loving" Soviet Union prevented Jewish circumcision. In all cases, from Antiochus to Gorbachev, there were Jews who risked all to fulfill the commandment of circumcision. However, it bears note that the enemies of the Jews saw in Jewish circumcision a spiritual weapon of the Jews that would help guarantee their survival against the prevailing government, mores and culture. As is often the case our enemies are more astute in recognizing and identifying the true strength points of the Jews than many Jews are themselves.

The commandment of circumcision is that the procedure is to take place on the eighth day of the young boy’s life. There are physical circumstances that can allow for a postponement of the actual circumcision but the obligation of circumcision remains a personal obligatory one upon the Jew throughout life. For instance the Talmud records that a person who is a hemophiliac obviously should not undergo a then life-threatening procedure such as circumcision. However, even though that person has more than a legitimate excuse for remaining uncircumcised he still is considered to be uncircumcised according to halacha and therefore excluded from those rituals that the Torah explicitly requires that only circumcised Jews may participate in. This is a further indication of the stress and importance that the Torah places upon this commandment and how vital it is to the Jewish being and future. It is therefore most understandable why the performance of this commandment occasions the necessity for a festive meal and a great gathering of friends and family. It is not only the circumcision of that actual child that is being celebrated as much as it is a celebration of the ceremony itself, an affirmation of Jewish tradition and identity that is millennia old. Over the centuries, Jews have paid with their lives for being circumcised but the ceremony itself is seen as an affirmation of life and holy commitment. Physical health benefits have been ascribed to the procedure and its result. But Jews perform this commandment out of belief and joy and conscience and not out of any other considerations.

The Place of Tumah in the Human Experience

by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli, zt"l
Rosh HaYeshiva, Mercaz HaRav
Rosh Kollel, Eretz Hemdat
Chaver, Beit Din HaGadol Yerushalayim

Sefer Vayikra through Parashat Shemini deals with a description of the divine service and the inauguration of the Mishkan. Parashat Acharei Mot contains a detailed account of the service of Yom Kippur. In our two parshiyot, Tazria and Metzora, a different topic "interrupts": the various causes of tumah (ritual impurity) that affect man. These can be broken into two categories: those that affect men or women without being a response to wrongdoing, such as tumot related to the reproductive cycle; those that can be attributed to man’s wrongdoing, i.e., tzara’at afflicting the body, garments, or structures.

Rashi (Vayikra 12:2) tells us that the laws of man are specified after those of animals, just as man was created after animals. Man, unlike animals, wavers greatly between greatness and lowliness. "If he has merit, he precedes the ministering angels; if he lacks merit, a mosquito precedes him" (Bereisheet Rabba 8:1). Since creation was made with man in mind, he has a great obligation to improve the world and not spoil it. He has two opposite sides: he is made of earth and has the spirit of life that Hashem breathed into him. Man stands between his animalistic side and his divine side, between impurity and sanctity. Both elements follow him throughout his life; he should not be naïve and ignore the danger that lurks around his spiritual state.

A child is born, and at the same time there is tumah (Vayikra 12:2). On the eighth day, a Jewish baby boy is circumcised (ibid. 3). Only a baby whose mother has tumah at birth can have his brit on the eighth day even on Shabbat. The connection is that the brit mila is made to fight tumah, for if man does not fight the tumah, it will overtake him spiritually and he will be liable and deserving of the various forms of tzara’at.
Hashem acknowledges that He created evil and attached it to man (see Micha 4:6; Berachot 32a). But it was created so that we should fight and overcome it. We use special "spices" such as Torah (Kiddushin 30b), thus called because like spices change a food’s taste, so Torah turns a person from bad to good.

Sometimes a person errs by being too far away from Hashem, and sometimes he sins by approaching Hashem in the wrong way (see Vayikra 16:1). The latter can come out of arrogance of a type that can lead to lashon hara and tzara’at. Tzara’at comes to signal man about his problem. Fortunate is the one who responds properly to the sign. On a national level as well, there are forces of good and of bad: when one goes up, the other goes down (Megilla 6a).

Why do we tell man that if he is successful, he is greater than the angels? For a similar reason that we tell him he could be lowlier than a fly. Lack of recognition of the dangers in both directions need to be countered. Therefore, we should tell the "Levites" of all generations, i.e., Torah scholars in our times, the power they possess and what they need to do. In such a confusing world, we need to concentrate on logic and a clear head and win the battle over the direction of our lives.

The "Unpleasant" Laws leading to Ultimate Oneness

by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

The Torah study is dedicated in the memory of R. Avraham ben-tziyon ben shabtai

Rabbi Shmuel Bar Yitchak once noted that certain laws of the Torah, even though they seem to be disgusting and therefore inappropriate to discuss in public, are "sweet to God." Some examples of this area of law: halachot governing impure emissions from the body, the menstrual impurity of a woman, etc. According to the prophet Malachi, "the offerings of Judea and Jerusalem will be sweet to Hashem as in former days..." is a reference to the Torah portions of the male and female who each have impure bodily emissions; they could have been written in one unit, but they were not. They were to be discussed, "savored" separately by God.

The laws of ritual purity and impurity, though they seem unpleasant, are a direct function of the greatness of the people of Israel. Only Israel, a nation mandated to continually rise to higher spiritual levels, is required to distance itself from impurity to such a great extent. Today, these Torah portions don’t speak to us so much. We cannot truly imagine what it must have been like to live in such a reality, with complex laws of purity and impurity governing our lives, what it must have involved to sacrifice the Pesach offering in purity. We lack a sense of Kedusha, or holiness. We do not have the Beit Hamikdash, the Torah-mandated holiness of the Teruma offering, etc. Thus, no laws of impurity are practically applicable. In the meantime, when we discuss matters of ritual purity and impurity, we "darshen" try to get a peek into the internal mechanisms of purity and impurity.

Tza'raat is the leprosy-like illness mentioned in our portion. Our sages explain that "Metzora," the Hebrew term for the person stricken with this illness, is an acronym for "Motzi Shem Ra" - someone who is a purveyor of slander against others. When we deal with Tz’araat, we discuss the mitzvah of guarding one’s tongue and the like. In other words, as opposed to studying the illness itself, we examine the factors that bring it about. All of the various types of impurity mentioned in this week’s Torah portion are impurities that emanate from, and become evident on, the surface of the human body. Only after a sore manifests itself in the case of Metzora - or blood in the case of a Zav or Zava, does the impurity appear - on the skin, clothing, vessels... Once the respective impurities appear the process of healing can begin. When the impurity manifests itself, it "escapes," and the person is freed from the turmoil that was brewing inside of him...

Speech also helps bring out that which was bound up inside the person. If talk is positive and productive, it brings in its wake all sorts of positive results. But, if God forbid, one speaks slanderously of another, one thereby emits all sorts of unhealthy forces that spread and impact on him as a person: on his skin, hair, clothing and home.

Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook of blessed Memory discusses three different levels on which man expresses his connection to money and material possessions: in reference to Tz’araat sores, in reference to our father Ya’akov and regarding the great sage, Rebbe Yochanan Ben Zakkai.

In reference to Tz’araat sores, our Torah portion says: "When you arrive in the Land of Cana’an that I will give you as an inheritance, and I will provide the blemish of Tz’araat in the homes of the Land of your inheritance." To this, the Tosefta responds: "There never was and never will be a home smitten with Tz’ara’at. If so why was it written? To teach you that it is a value to elucidate the law and thereby receive merit." All of the laws and sundry details were given so that we learn these mitzvot and thereby receive merit.

Rebbe Meir notes that in reference to the illness of Tzaraat, the Torah commands the Cohen to remove even minor clay vessels from the smitten home, lest they become defiled. He adds that the people generally smitten by the illness are those of a low moral stature, people who have been guilty of speaking slanderously and improperly. Therefore, concludes R. Meir, the Torah is concerned with even the most minor vessels of wicked people!

A similar theme is evident in the life of our forefather, Ya'akov. "And Ya’akov remained alone." Said R. Elazar: he remained back in order to collect small clay pottery. After Ya’akov had guided his family across the river, and even though only minor possessions were left back at the camp, he went back to get them. He would not even forfeit the smallest clay vessels...

This midrash is quite perplexing. Ya’akov Avinu, we are taught, remained alone because he went back to retrieve tiny clay jars? He seems to be a real miser! This aloneness, however, that characterized Ya’akov gives our forefather a quality otherwise reserved for God - Who is also "alone".

When Rebbe Yochanan Ben Zakkai fell ill, his students came to visit him. At the moment of his death, he said: Take the vessels out of this room due to the impurity [of my body once I am dead.] Prepare the throne for King Hezekiah the King of Judea..." Even if one can explain the eventual arrival of Hezekiah as preoccupying R. Yochanan before he dies, why should this great sage be worried about clay pottery and be worried that they be taken out of the building lest they be disposed of due to impurity?

Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook offers an explanation as to the linkage between the above elements. We live in a world of separation, between light and darkness, Israel and the other nations, between the Shabbat day and the other days of the week. When the world was initially created, however, light and darkness were unified, and only thereafter are we told that God separated between light and darkness. In the future, the prophet Yeshaya tells us, the distinction between the light of the sun and the moon will disappear. In other words, at the foundation of all existence - all levels of the world are united. Only when they emanate into physical reality do they become divided; we thus experience darkness vs. light as well as various gradations of darkness vs. light. But in the future, these phenomenon will all unite. So, too, the distinction between Israel and the nations will become blurred, as the prophet Zephaniah teaches us: "Then, [says God], I will provide all of the nations with one mouth, to call in the name of God and to worship Him jointly".

In the future, all days of the week will be melded into one grand day that is completely Shabbat. The mundane will unite with the holy, forging one united reality of holiness. The distinction between the holy and profane is not an intrinsic, absolute division; it came to the world as a result of the sin of the Garden of Eden, which resulted in a split between the physical and spiritual worlds. But when the world is ultimately rectified and perfected, when all creatures call out in the name of God, then these divisions will dissolve. In the meantime, the light must impact on the darkness, the holy on the mundane, Israel on the gentile nations, etc.

This unity is characteristic of our forefather Ya'akov. Ya'akov, like God, remained "alone." In the end of days, as well, God will be "alone," in that no other gods will be worshipped aside from Him. The clay jugs were important to Ya'akov not because he was miserly, God forbid, spending his time on trite matters, but because he saw the jugs as part of an entirety of existence, a reality that encompasses all things big and small. Clay jugs also have their purpose!

Rebbe Yochanan Ben Zakkai - before his encounter with the World to Come, mentioned the throne of King Hezekiah and called for the removal of vessels so that they would not be contaminated with the ritual impurity his dead body would create. At that moment, like Ya'akov our father, R. Yochanan understood the unity of all existence and the function of the most seemingly insignificant of objects:

Our sages teach that Hezekiah could have been the Mashiach; why then was he not allowed to be? Because he did not recite the Hallel on the great miracle that benefited him, when God killed in one night the entirety of the Ashur army. It was not Hezekiah, but the land, that then opened its mouth, so to speak, and sang. Rav Kook explains that although in Hezekiah’s day, Jews found themselves on a high level relative to both Torah study and spirituality in general, Hezekiah failed to translate that strength into an earthly holiness. It was not he who sang, but the earth itself that had to sing! Rebbe Yochanan ben Zakkai thus called for the preparation of a place for Hezekiah the King of Judea, as well as calling for the removal of vessels lest they become impure. These two approaches, though they represent opposite relationships and sensitivities to the fusion of physical and spiritual realities, are part of the same process. And R. Yochanan ben Zakkai understood that the process of redemption must engage and apply all matters, however contradictory...

Israel and America, Far Apart

by Victor Rosenthal

The foreign ministers of Israel, the US, Egypt, UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco are meeting at Kibbutz Sde Boker in Israel’s Negev desert. The topic is said to be the soon-to-be-signed nuclear deal with Iran. According to Israel’s ambassador to Bahrain, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will “hear a strong position on Iran” from the other participants. If recent history is a guide, the Biden Administration will not be interested in what they think, and will convey to them as politely as possible (Blinken usually plays the Good Cop) that they’d better not rock the boat.

I am guessing that the deal will include a secret side agreement that the US will not allow its client states to take action against Iran. Ron Dermer, Israel’s former ambassador to the US, argues (podcast, about 28:00) that if a deal is signed, the US will likely act to restrain Israel from all activities against Iran, including her operations against Iranian bases and weapons shipments in Syria, on the grounds that these will cause the price of oil to go up.

The Saudi foreign minister did not attend, because Saudi Arabia, which chose not to join in the Abraham Accords, still does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. The reason for that is usually said to be because the elderly King Salman bin Abdulaziz does not wish to, even though the de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is secretly cooperating with Israel against Iran. I suspect, though, that the real reason is that MBS wants to hedge his bets.

Meanwhile, the attacks against Saudi Arabia by the Iran-sponsored Houthi rebels in Yemen were sharply escalated this weekend when they hit Aramco oil facilities in Jeddah, doing significant damage (and incidentally causing a spike in oil prices). The US issued a condemnation of the attack which said that America would “continue to support [its] partners in defense of their territory.” Although the statement mentioned that the Houthis get their weapons from Iran, it only called on the Houthis to cooperate with the pusillanimous UN to “de-escalate the conflict.” Compare this tepid response to 1990-91, when in response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and threats against Saudi Arabia, President GHW Bush crushed the Iraqi military and sent troops to Saudi Arabia to protect the regime and insure stability in the oil market.

It’s possible to see the attack as a message from Iran to the Americans to hurry up and surrender the last shreds of their honor, agree to the remaining Iranian demands – including promises to rein in Israel – and sign the deal. How expensive can the administration let gas and heating oil get, with midterm elections coming? Brent crude is now hovering around $120/bbl., about twice what it was at this time last year. And just a couple of years ago, I thought that American energy independence was going to put an end to the effectiveness of the “oil weapon,” first wielded against Israel in 1973. How quickly things change.

The US is pressuring Israel to sanction Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. One might ask why this tiny country is so important. It’s not, really, even if a few Jewish oligarchs can land their private planes here. Former Ambassador Ron Dermer thinks that the intent is to drive a wedge between Israel and Russia. Russia controls the skies over Syria, and has been allowing Israel to bomb Iranian bases and weapons shipments there. This is extremely important, because 1) Iranian militias in Syria can open yet another front against Israel in the next war, and 2) the shipment of kits to upgrade the 130,000 rockets aimed at Israel from Lebanon into missiles accurate to within a few meters is an existential threat to the Jewish state. Israel can provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine – Israel has set up a complete field hospital there – but there is a line that can’t be crossed. The Iranians would be happy to see an end to Russia’s cooperation with Israel. Perhaps they even suggested this to the American negotiators, whose lust for an agreement seems to know no bounds.

The perception of American interests held by the Biden Administration have diverged far from the interests of Israel. I think that PM Naftali Bennett and (especially) his Foreign and Defense Ministers, Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz respectively, are having a hard time internalizing this.

I am always cheered by signs of Israeli-Arab cooperation in the struggle against Iran’s attempt to turn the entire region into an Islamic caliphate ruled from Tehran, but the meeting at Sde Boker would have been more meaningful if it had included a representative from Saudi Arabia rather than one from the US.