Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Liberation Built on Self-Sacrifice

by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

The pasuk in Yechezkel (16:6), which we read in the Haggada, repeats the phrase, "In your blood you shall live." The midrash (P’sikta 17) says it refers to the blood of mila and the blood of Korban Pesach. We are forbidden to give the Korban Pesach to a non-Jew or to one who does not have a brit mila (Shemot 12:43,48). Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer says: "In the merit of the blood of brit mila and Korban Pesach, they were liberated from Egypt, and in the merit of the blood of brit mila and Korban Pesach, they will be liberated at the end of ‘the fourth kingdom.’"

The Korban Pesach represents the liberation. We are to eat roasted lamb with the whole family celebrating as a unit at an elaborate meal, on the one hand, and eat matza and maror to remember the past, as well. Only if, at the time of success, we remember the times of affliction, can we be sure that the light of success will not blind us. This is best accomplished when there is first a brit mila.

There are many who are ready to sacrifice for independence as long as that independence seems fit for posh festivities. At that point, one does not want to have to remember the past with its difficulties. One wants to see in the independent nation a new nation, in our case, not the same "Yiddelach" from the exile. A certain self-pride is born, as we see, with a hollow boastfulness, which can eventually turn into empty disregard for others. To combat that, we need the blood of mila. The independence of Israel is a chain of self-sacrifice, whose purpose is not to let us rest on our laurels. Indeed, one who is not circumcised cannot take part in the full Pesach celebration. Without a life of purity, independence can be dangerous.

This is what Chazal (Shemot Rabba 3:4) meant in saying that Bnei Yisrael went down to Egypt with the word "anochi," were taken out with the word "anochi," and will be redeemed at the end of time with "anochi" ("Alas, I (anochi) am sending you Eliya the Prophet"). Some think that one can be liberated without calling out in the name of Hashem (anochi), as the other nations can. Without anochi the hearts of the fathers are not lined up with the hearts of the sons (see Malachi 3:24). This is not only in regard to Torah observance but when things are done wrong, the younger generation will be disillusioned with that which their fathers cherished and fought for. We already see the emergence of youth who feel over-entitlement. That is because one who does not keep on a straight line, will grow increasingly crooked.

For the liberation at the end of the fourth liberation there is a need for preparation done by Eliyahu before the "day of Hashem" and "the offering of Yehuda and Yerushalyim like the days of the past." The navi (ibid. 4) referred to it in a double language that hints about the time of Moshe and the time of Shlomo (Vayikra Rabba 7:4). Both before the time of the particular national emergence (time of Moshe) and before the time that will usher in an era where all of mankind will learn from the Torah emanating from Zion (time of Shlomo) there is a need for Eliyahu to set the stage.

The Torah's Vision of Our National Role

by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El


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

SPEAKING CONFIDENTLY
At the opening of this week's Torah portion, God says to Moshe: "Come to Pharaoh, because I have hardened his heart so that I can multiply My miracles in his midst." Question: Why does God not simply say, "Go to Pharaoh?" or "Speak to Pharaoh"? To gain an insight into the answer to this question, we must first understand the predicament of the nation and its leader Moshe at this juncture.

Until now, the start of Parshat Bo, Pharaoh and his nation had already experienced seven major plagues, but had refused to give in and free the Jews. In this situation, many Jews had likely resigned themselves to the status quo, feeling that there was no point in really trying to convince Pharaoh to permit them to leave; it's possible that these doubts even trickled down to Moshe Rabeinu. In response, Hashem had to deliver words of encouragement, a statement that would clarify for them that all of the hardships blocking their immediate redemption were part of a Divine plan, that there was nothing to fear from Pharaoh. "Come before him - showing self-confidence, not as if you've been sent, forced to speak with him, but like someone who has come to fulfill his mission..."

WHY THE PLAGUES?
At first glance, it seems that the plagues that befell the Egyptians constituted a punishment for their refusal to release the Children of Israel from bondage. Our sages tell us, however, that there was another reason for the Egyptian suffering: "The Egyptians were evil," say the rabbis, "as it says, 'I (Pharaoh) and my nation are wicked people.' What caused them to suffer each successive plague? They were firmly convinced of the power of their idolatrous gods to save them. So what did God do? He smote their gods along with them."

On the surface of things - from a purely human perspective - it is possible to offer various "political" explanations for the numerous wars that have erupted between Israel and the other nations throughout history. Just as one may understand the conflict with Egypt as a purely economic conflict (i.e. that Egypt did not want to lose all of its free, efficient manpower, its Israelite slaves.) there are those who would argue that our conflicts with other nations stem from economics, security, territory, and the like.

And yet our sages teach that such is not the case. The deeper roots of the war between Israel and the nations is not political or economic, but spiritual. The Jewish servitude in Egypt was merely a manifestation of the spiritual opposition that Egypt posed to everything that the nation of Israel represents. Therefore, it was not Egypt's desire to hold onto Israel that invited the plagues, but the Egyptians' certainty, their faith in their idolatry, that sparked their suffering.

In our day, too, the nations that rise up against Israel are, in practice, not trying to harm Israel per se, but, rather, so to speak- to harm the God of Israel. The Jewish national renaissance of the last 100 years contradicts the conviction that the Jews should have faded into insignificance, the dustbins of history. According to this view, God has "traded the Jews in" for another nation; He has rejected Israel and chosen others. Thus, our true struggle with other nations is a spiritual one. In response to their efforts to stand in the way of our fulfillment of our duty, we must be sure to raise our voices even more and call in the name of Hashem; we must, through our deeds, continue to prove our complete dedication to Him, and our devotion to the task of sanctifying God's name in the world. By following this plan, we will surely succeed in squelching our enemies: "They rely on their chariots and horses, and we shall call in the name of our God..."

UNRAVELING A MISHNA
The mishna in Tractate Berachot states:
"We recite [in the blessings for the Shma prayer] the passage dealing with the redemption from Egypt [even] at night. Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria said: I am nearly 70 years old, and I never understood why the passage of the redemption of Egypt is recited at night; that is, until Ben Zomah arrived and explained the verse, "...so that you should remember the exodus from Egypt all of the days of your life." If it were only to have said, "the days of your life," I would have learned that the exodus need be recited in the daytime hours only. But the Torah says "All the days of your life." From this, I understand that the relevant passage should be recited during the entire 24 hour period of each day. The sages [disagreed] and said: "[If it had said,] 'the days of your life,' [I would have recited the exodus during] the present period in history. [Now that it says] 'all the days', [I understand that] the exodus will even be recited in Messianic times".

Rabbi Yechezkel Segal Landau points out that the above-quoted verse does not explicitly command us to recite verses dealing with the exodus; rather, it refers to the mitzvah as if it is was well-known, and then defines when it should be performed!

If so, Rabbi Landau asks, is the source in the Torah for the specific obligation to mention the exodus? In his answer, Rabbi Landau explains that there is no need for a special mitzvah (commandment) to teach us that God wants us to mention the exodus, since the main theme of numerous mitzvot is to remind us of the redemption from Egypt. Once we were commanded to adhere to these mitzvot, it is obvious that God wishes us to recount the exodus! This is also the possible reason for the fact that Maimonedes - Rambam - does not enumerate the mitzvah of mentioning the exodus as a separate commandment in his "Sefer Hamitzvot." ("Book of the Commandments")

Recalling the exodus from Egypt is more than just a private commandment; it is in fact related to the entire Torah, and all of the Torah's mitzvot. The exodus from Egypt was the first and most overwhelming manifestation of the chosenness of the Jewish people, of the fact that we are a nation treasured by the Creator of the World. This act of "choosing" us was unilateral, a Divinely-ordained reality that transcends the parameters of a particular mitzvah act. We are bidden to live this truth every waking moment. Thus, the fact that there is no separate mitzvah to recount the exodus, not only does not testify to the fact that there is no value to recounting the exodus, but is rather a testimony to the fact that the obligation to do so transcends the parameters of regular mitzvot.

An additional reason can be offered to why this mitzvah is missing from the Torah is that we are ecstatic to be the nation which God chose from among the other nations, and He imposed upon us to be the carriers of Hashem's ideas in this world. We announce: "Happy our we, how good is our portion, and how pleasant is our lot." We are not in need of a specific commandment that imposes upon us to remember the exodus. It is a pleasant obligation for us that obviates the need for a commandment.

SUBTLE DISTINCTION
According to Rabbi Yosef Babad, the author of the renowned "Minchat Chinuch," there is an important difference between the obligation to recall the exodus from Egypt during the daytime, and the obligation to recall it at night. In his view, since the mitzvah to recite it at night stems from a rabbinic "drasha" (derivation) and is not learned from the plain meaning of the Torah text., the obligation to recite it at night is not as serious as reciting it during the daytime. This point has great implications for a person who takes an oath not to recite the verse of the exodus from Egypt. Regarding all of the mitzvot of the Torah - there is a rule that a person cannot take an oath to refrain from performing a mitzvah, since he has already "been sworn in" at Mt. Sinai to fulfill all of the mitzvot, "and one oath cannot overwrite another." However, this is only true with respect to mitzvot explicitly mentioned in the Torah, but this is not true regarding mitzvot derived indirectly from the Torah - regarding which we were not specifically sworn in on Mt. Sinai. Therefore, when a person takes an oath that he will not recite the exodus verses during the daytime, his oath is invalid. In contrast, someone who takes an oath not to recite the exodus from Egypt at night, his oath is valid, and he must fulfil it.

At first blush, it seems as if that is the night-time recitation of the verses relating to the exodus should be considered the main mitzvah, since the night is when the miracles of the redemption took place. The author of the Passover Haggadah says: "And you should tell your son, saying...it is because of this [that God redeemed me from Egypt - at a time when matzah and bitter herbs are placed before you.] i.e. night." The Mitzvah of telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt -with all of the graphic symbols of the servitude and redemption - must be at a time when the exodus actually took place - at midnight. If so, why is it that, as far as recalling the exodus daily, the prime mitzvah is in the daytime.

A TWO-FOLD DUTY
To understand this paradox, we should remember that two obligations exist: the duty to tell the story of the exodus and the mitzvah of recalling the exodus. Telling the story involves the publicizing of the great miracles that God performed for Israel back then. The purpose of publicizing the miracles is two-fold: 1) To praise and bring splendor to God for his miracles and wonders; 2) To warn the other nations of the world who may be planning to rise up against Israel: Observe what happened to the first nation that tried to do so!

The exact time of the main redemptive miracles was midnight. Our sages ask: Why did Moshe say, in the name of God, that "around midnight, I will 'come out' in the midst of Egypt" - instead of being more specific and saying - "at midnight"? To this query, the rabbis answer: "Perhaps Pharoah's magicians would say: "Moshe is just making this all up." If the magicians' calculation of midnight came out differently than the calculation made by Moshe, God's name would be desecrated. If Moshe were to have said that God would smite the firstborn boys - and at "midnight" according to the magicians, the plague had not yet occurred, the world would have experienced a "Chilul Hashem" - a desecration of God's name.

Some of you may ask: Why should we care if the Egyptian sorcerers err? At most, a minute later, the plague of the first born would begin, and all of the first born Egyptian boys would have nevertheless been killed. If so, why the insistence on saying "about midnight"? We can, however, deduce one central theme from this discussion : God wants to ensure that there is no room for misunderstanding, even for a second regarding His power and the complete truth of his promise to redeem Israel.

Until midnight, the night is at its peak, and, mystically, the attribute of God's strict justice is operative. From midnight and onwards, the strength of the night begins to dissipate, and the Divine attribute of mercy begins to shine on earth. Exact midnight represents the moment of synthesis of judgement and compassion: God's judgement of the nations of the world, and His compassion for the nation of Israel. Herein lies both a hint and a warning to Israel’s enemies in future generations who seek to delay the redemption of our people: The moment of Israel’s redemption is a time of compassion for the Jewish people and of strict judgement for those that try to bring the redemption to a halt! In light of the above, the main obligation of telling the story of the exodus from Egypt is at night.

The recitation of the verses relating to the exodus, however, relates to the recognition of God’s having chosen the Jewish nation to be the carrier of the Divine idea in the world - and the Jewish separateness enables our nation to fulfill its role. This recognition must totally fill the being of every Jewish person. With all of his power, each Jew is called upon to recognize the unique part he must play as a member of the treasured nation. This mitzvah is therefore fittingly placed - when people can best internalize it - at the height of the day, when everyone is up, around, and fully conscious.

The Process of Redemption

by Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

Salvation and redemption do not come easily. In this week’s parsha the cost of Israel’s redemption is graphically detailed in the Torah. Though the major cost and punishment is meted out to the Egyptian Pharaoh and his nation, the oppressors and enslavers of the Jewish people, Midrash teaches us that the Jews also suffered great loss in this process of redemption and of gaining their freedom. According to certain midrashic opinion most of the Jews never were able to leave Egypt at all. Only a minority successfully followed Moshe out of the house of slavery. And ironically, even most of those who did leave Egypt would eventually be unable to live to see the promised land of Israel. Why must the process of redemption and independence be such a long and painful one?

After all, the Lord could certainly have made it much easier on all concerned. The obvious lesson is that freedom and redemption, both physical and spiritual, has little value if it is not hard won. That is the symbol of the blood on the doorposts that signaled the immediate moment of redemption. "And I [the Lord] said unto you: With your blood [and sacrifice] shall you live!" The rabbis interpreted the repetition of this phrase twice as referring to the paschal sacrifice and the blood of circumcision. Redemption is apparently meant to be hard won. It is not a gift that entails no cost. Becoming a Jew entails blood at the beginning of life. Becoming the truly free Jew that the Torah commands us to become entails lifelong sacrifice and the blood that this entails.

Our generation is also involved and absorbed in a struggle for redemption and salvation, both personal and national. This struggle has taken a great toll on our enemies but in a psychological and spiritual measure perhaps even a greater toll upon us. Much blood has been spilled in this struggle and, truth be said, no imminent success is yet visible to us. A great portion of world Jewry in the twentieth century did not survive to see the beginnings of our redemption and restoration to sovereignty in our ancient homeland. Many others have now faltered in their resolution to see it through until reaching the Promised Land. Whereas the Jews leaving Egypt had dominant figures such as Moshe and Aharon to lead and inspire them our times and situation lack such towering personalities. But that may be precisely what the rabbis meant when they stated; "We have no one that we can truly rely upon except for our Father in Heaven." Every generation experiences crises of faith and belief. Our generation which is witness to the death of all of the false ideals that permeated Jewish society over the past two centuries is truly left with no one to rely upon "except for our Father in Heaven." But the prophet has assured us that "as the time when you left Egypt, so too now will you witness wonders and greatness." The bitter and costly process of redemption is upon us. May we be privileged to see its successful completion with great speed and minimum pain.

"All of Israel had light in their dwellings.”

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir


“There was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. People could not see one another, and no one left his place for three days” (Exodus 10:23).

When there is darkness, people cannot see one another and they get cut from one another. The darkness and dysfunction can sometimes grow to a point where “no one leaves his place,” that is, no one is capable of standing erect and changing things.

Today, when someone cannot see the distress of his fellow man, that is a sign that that he is sunken in spiritual and mental darkness. Sometimes, he feels like things will never improve. The antidote for these difficult situations is to light a candle and thereby increase the light -- the light of love and faith, of Torah and mitzvot and good deeds. When someone does not see or notice his fellow man, when that which divides and separates seems to stand out and that which unites seems concealed, precisely in such situations we must resolve to stand firm and to stress that which unites all of Israel together. Just so, in Egypt, there was thick darkness, while “all of Israel had light in their dwellings” (Ibid.). So too may we merit that a new light will shine over Zion, and may we all be privileged to benefit from its light.

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

Miracles and Nature

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh


Parshat Bo begins (Shemot 10:1-2):

Hashem said to Moshe, "Come to Pharaoh, for I have made his heart and the heart of his servants stubborn so that I can put these signs of Mine in his midst; and so that you may relate in the ears of your son and your son's son that I made a mockery of Egypt ... that you may know that I am Hashem.

Miracles are the foundation of belief. Thus, G-d opened the Ten Commandments with the declaration, "I am Hashem, your G-d, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt." (Shemot 20:2) We find, however, an apparent contradiction regarding the issue of miracles.

There are times that we are told to sit by passively and not to do anything, but rather to rely on miracles. For example, at the splitting of the Red Sea Bnei Yisrael were told, "Hashem shall make war for you, and you shall remain silent." (Shemot 14:13) Similarly, Gideon was told in his war against Midian that there were too many soldiers with him, "lest Israel aggrandize itself over Me, saying, ' My own strength has saved Me.'" (Shoftim 7:2) He maintained only three hundred men, and through them Israel was saved. In the same way, King Hezekiah said, in contrast to previous kings, "I do not have the strength neither to kill, nor to chase, nor to sing [praise]. Rather, I will lie on my bed and You will do. G-d said, 'I will do,' as it says, 'An angel of Hashem went out and struck down the Assyrian camp.'" (Midrash Rabbah Eichah 4)

On the other hand, we find that in the battle of Ai Yehoshua was required to take action and to employ military tactics. Similarly, we are familiar with the rule, "We do not rely on miracles." (Pesachim 64b)

Rav Kook zt"l explains that the resolution to this issue depends on the spiritual state of the nation. When Bnei Yisrael are on a high spiritual level and are firm in their belief in G-d, there is no need for overt miracles. The opposite is true; the greatest demonstration of faith is when one follows a natural course of human hishtadlut (endeavor) and Divine help accompanies him in whatever he does. The Ran writes this same idea in his Drashot, on the pasuk, "Remember Hashem, your G-d; that it was He that gave you strength to make wealth." (Devarim 8:18) The pasuk does not say that G-d makes the wealth for you while you sit idle, but rather all the doing is yours and Hashem supports you and gives you the strength to make the wealth!

In this vein, Chazal comment (Shabbat 118b), "One who recites the Hallel every day disgraces and blasphemes," because in doing so he bases belief only on overt miracles alone. However, true belief is recognizing the Divine assistance that is always present in all courses of nature. This is what we say in davening, "On your miracles that are with us every day, and on your wonders that are at every moment."

However, when the nation falls from its spiritual stature -- when it is preoccupied with materialism and does not see the hand of G-d in everything -- man's hishtadlut will not lead to belief. Just the opposite! The more he expends human effort, the more he will think, "My strength and the might of my hand made me all this wealth." (Devarim 8:17) In such a situation, it is necessary to increase the performance of miracles and to minimize human attempt and effort.

In the period of Egypt and the Wilderness, when the nation was young, there was a need for overt miracles in order to establish belief in Yisrael. However, when they entered Eretz Yisrael and were already accustomed to miracles, it was possible to rely on human effort and to see G-d's hand evident in it. In contrast, in the time of Gideon the nation had already sunk to a low spiritual level. The same was true in the times of Hezekiah, after his father, Achaz, tried to abolish the name of G-d from Yisrael. Thus, there was a need to refrain from human initiative and to rely on a miracle in order to strengthen belief.

The ultimate redemption can come in one of two ways. The first is miraculously, "As in the days when you left Egypt I will show it [=the nation] wonders." (Micha 7:15) The second is in a natural manner, "little by little." The superficial view is that if we are worthy we will merit overt miracles; if not, the redemption will come about through natural means. However, according to what we explained above, the opposite is true. In the ideal situation there is no need for miracles, and only if the nation declines will there be a need for miracles.

The Gemara in Yoma (29a) compares the miracles of Egypt and of the first Temple to night and Esther to dawn. "Just as dawn is the end of the night, so too Esther is the end of all miracles." When the dawn breaks there is no longer any need for a candle and it is possible to extinguish it. In the ultimate redemption there will be no need for miracles since there will be a great light, and the Divine Providence will be recognized also in the course of nature.

The Quran Says Jerusalem Belongs to the Jews

by Saied Shoaaib

  • Quranic passages clearly illustrate the Jews' imperative to enter the land of Israel.
  • And [mention, O Muhammad], when Moses said to his people, "O my people, remember the favor of Allah [God] upon you when He appointed among you prophets and made you possessors and gave you that which He had not given anyone among the worlds. O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back and [thus] become losers." — Quran, Surah Al-Ma'idah 5:20-21.
  • According to verses in the Quran, God punishes the Jews for their sin of refusing to fight the indigenous people in the land, and God is angry that the Jews refused to convert to Islam. Yet the verses are consistent in their assertion that God gave the Jews the Holy Land.
An aerial view of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and much of Jerusalem's Old City. (Image source: Andrew Shiva/Wikipedia)
Following U.S. President Donald Trump's December 6 official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Muslims around the world held angry demonstrations, during which they chanted slogans about Jerusalem "belonging to Muslims." This ought to seem odd to anyone versed in Islamic scripture, since the Quran specifically states that God promised the land of Israel, including Jerusalem, to the Jews.
Although ordinary Muslims who might not actually have read their holy book could be excused for their ignorance about the Jewish roots of and rights to Israel and Jerusalem, the same cannot be said for the leaders of Muslim countries, imams and the heads of illustrious Islamic institutions. Dignitaries and scholars of that caliber should know better. Yet many of them repeat false assertions that contradict the Quran and scholarly interpretations of its verses.

The Palestinian Terror Party: Celebrating Murder

by Bassam Tawil

  • The Palestinians do not even feel the need to condemn terror attacks against Jews, because the international community is no longer demanding that they come out against terrorism.
  • Instead of condemning the murder, the Palestinian Authority has been condemning Israel for launching a manhunt for the terrorists.....
  • Why do the Palestinians not want anyone to call them out? Because they are planning ... a new intifada.
Mahmoud Abbas. The PA leader is happy a Jew was murdered, but outraged at U.S. officials who called him out on his failure to condemn terrorism. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
What do the Palestinians think about the murder of a young rabbi and father of six? They "welcome" it with open arms.
So what if Rabbi Raziel Shevach was said to have maintained good relations with his Palestinian neighbors?
The Palestinians are still happy that he was gunned down last week as he was driving his car in the northern West Bank. They are happy because the victim was a Jew. They are happy because the victim held a religious position: Rabbi. They are happy because the victim was a "settler."
The fact that Rabbi Shevach was the father of six children does not faze the Palestinians one bit.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Who is the Religious Fanatic? A Torah Thought for Parashat Vaeirah

by Moshe Feiglin

“For if you refuse to let them go, and hold them still, behold, the hand of G-d is upon your cattle which are in the field, upon the horses, upon the donkeys, upon the camels, upon the herds, and upon the flocks; there shall be a very grievous disease. And G-d shall make a division between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt; and there nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel. And G-d appointed a set time, saying: ‘Tomorrow G-d shall do this thing in the land.’ And G-d did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died; but of the cattle of the children of Israel not one died.” (From this week’s Torah portion, Va’eirah, Exodus 9:2-6)

We can easily understand Pharaoh’s insistence on keeping the Jewish slave-nation in Egypt as the determination of a dictator intent on maintaining the existing regime’s order. The liberation of the Nation of Israel would certainly destabilize the entire Egyptian hierarchy and would eventually cost him his throne and probably, his head. Archeological research points to the fact that this is indeed what happened to Pharaoh after the Jews were liberated from Egypt.

The verses, however, point to a more underlying struggle; a conflict over the very recognition of the G-d of Israel. “And Pharaoh sent and behold, not one of Israel’s livestock had died.” (Exodus 9:7)

Pharaoh remains obstinate, but nevertheless wants to know if the plague really did skip over the Jews. In other words, not only is Pharaoh determined not to follow G-d’s orders, he is also determined not to believe in Him!

One could possibly think that Pharaoh’s ruling position had made him so obstinate. But as the story unfolds, we see that even among the simple Egyptians, some believed in G-d and others did not – despite the plagues that they endured. Some of the Egyptians were so blindly stubborn that they did not even heed an exact, time-defined warning issued by the man who had foreseen all the previous plagues. These Egyptians were willing to endanger all their possessions when they could have easily brought them indoors.

Those of Pharaoh’s servants who feared G-d made his servants and flocks scurry into the houses. But those who did not heed the word of G-d, left their servants and flocks in the field. (Exodus 9:20-21)

How can this lack of faith be explained? Would anybody we know today be willing to endanger his life and possessions in the face of explicit warnings issued by those who have already proven that they are connected to reality?

The Egyptians continued to believe in their religion. They attached some sort of idolatrous explanation to each of the plagues. They had their own magicians to face off against Moses’ staff. True, Moses’ staff defeated the Egyptian staffs, but the bottom line was that the idolatry belief system emerged unscathed in their eyes.

There are Israelis today who “do not heed G-d’s word” and continue to believe in their own religion. They are determined to continue with the Oslo process. It makes no difference at all that all the plagues foreseen by those who “fear G-d’s word” were completely fulfilled. It does not matter that they see with their very own eyes how their belief raging Arab violence on the one hand and the loss of Israel’s existential legitimacy on the other. All this, mind you, without “peace.” It simply makes no difference. Their religious fanaticism is strong enough to allow them to continue to suffer and to bring this suffering on their Nation.

To understand the Egyptians, all that you have to do is listen to the news.

Shabbat Shalom.

Moshe Feiglin on Arutz 7: The Right Must Stop Enabling The Left’s Ideology


Translated excerpts from an interview with Moshe Feiglin on Arutz 7, 21 Tevet 5778/Jan. 8, ‘18

Shalom Moshe Feiglin. You published an article on Friday in which you attacked Netanyahu and the entire Right.
Actually, what we are experiencing here is the Right’s inability to mount any type of vision, any type of alternative message to the Left’s. It is not just Netanyahu. It is all the rightist parties over all the generations. The Right has never said what it wants. It has only said what it is not. The Right is always busy fighting the Left. If there would be no Left, there would be no Right. Without the Left, the Right would not know how to define itself.

Just last week, the Likud Central Committee made a very important declaration of intent to declare Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria. This was a statement. Perhaps not a statement that can be put into practice, but it is a statement.

Yes, I remember how in 2002, I was new in the Likud, I wasn’t even yet a member of the Likud Central Committee. The Likud Central Committee, with Sharon as Chairman of the Likud, voted unanimously against a Palestinian state and any division of the Land of Israel. The most inspiring leader of the evening, who convinced the crowd to vote against Sharon, was Binyamin Netanyahu. The same Binyamin Netanyahu who, a few years later, made the Bar-Ilan speech in favor of two states. The same Binyamin Netanyahu who, together with Sharon, voted in favor of the Expulsion from Gaza. Nobody argues that the Right’s heart is not in the right place. Clearly, Netanyahu is not happy about surrendering parts of our Homeland. But because these hearts’ desires were never – never – translated into any practical ideology – not in the Likud, not in the Jewish Home, not with Lieberman, not in any place – the end result is that the Right always drifts into implementing the policies of the Left.

Our Sages say that it is not the mouse who steals, but the hole, which enables him to do so. The mouse in this analogy is the Left. The Left wants to steal the cheese, or in this case, to destroy Jewish towns in the Land of Israel. That is its role. That’s why it is a mouse. But the mouse is not the thief. It is the Right that steals. The Right has always been in the role of the hole. It is the enabler that beckons the thief. Ultimately, it is almost always the Right that destroys Jewish towns and surrenders parts of the Land of Israel. Our Sages were right. It is not the mouse that steals – it is the hole.

Do you see the surrender of parts of the Land of Israel or Jewish towns as a current threat? Even Labor’s Avi Gabai is breaking to the Right to get more votes.

The time has come for us to learn from our lengthy experience. We all remember how we rejoiced when Begin was elected in ’82 and then we got the retreat from Sinai. We remember how we rejoiced when Sharon was elected and then we got Gush Katif. Ultimately, where there is a mouse and a hole, the mouse will always find the way to enter the hole. The guilty party is the hole, not the mouse. If you insist on being an enabler – not creating an alternative, not creating a message, not creating direction, to continue speaking in terms of Oslo, to continue in a never-ending rear-guard war – and you think that in this way you will be able to prevent the mouse from stealing the cheese, then it doesn’t matter how big you are, and how many times you win the elections, and that most of the public is moving to the Right – if you are a hole, the mouse will enter.

Perhaps we should be conducting the rear-guard war against the nations of the world, who vote against Israel in the UN oppose settlement activity.

The mouse is all those forces that are trying to prevent the continued redemption of the Nation of Israel, its return to itself and its Land, its growth, progress, etc. Clearly, the nations of the world are also part of that mouse, as is the Left.

There are two sides here. The problem is that one side does not formulate any direction for itself. It is afraid of its own message, and that is not only the problem of the Right, but of Zionism as a whole. Zionism is attempting to be just a regular nation and to flee its message.

Netanyahu is not the problem. He is the face of the problem. Why did he remove the metal detectors from the entrances to the Temple Mount? Didn’t he have the legitimacy from the world after the Arabs murdered two of our police officers with weapons that they smuggled into the Temple Mount via those entrances? Nobody pressured him and he would have had no problem explaining why metal detectors were necessary on the Temple Mount.

Netanyahu removed the metal detectors from the Temple Mount because the Arabs told him that they would not go to the Temple Mount if there would be metal detectors there. In other words, the Mount will be in your hands. What will you do with it? What will you do with the Temple Mount? 


Netanyahu is afraid of the message of the Temple Mount. He is afraid of Jerusalem, just as Dayan was afraid in 1967, just as Ben Gurion, who in the War of Independence had already captured Jerusalem – was afraid of Jerusalem. Zionism is afraid of its message. It is afraid of Jerusalem, of the Temple Mount and of the Land of Israel.

This is a deep issue. Ultimately, the Right, which does not deal with it, leaves the hole for the mouse, which will always enter. The Right’s academics, who try to tell us that Netanyahu is simply sacrificing pawns here and there on the Temple Mount or the Marmara and that he has some great strategy that we cannot perceive, are ludicrous. It is simply an attempt to cover up the fact that there is no strategy and there can be no strategy. When you do not have identity, when you do not have purpose and you are constantly preoccupied with survival – you end up protecting yourself against accusations of corruption for receiving too many cigars.

The time has come for all those who are connected to the purpose of our national existence here in Israel to understand that we must create a meaningful ideological alternative to the Left. Zehut’s platform does just that. There is nothing else like it in the political system. Everything is ready. We just have to understand that the problem is not the Left. The problem is the Right. We have to close up the hole.

Moshe Feiglin on Radio Moreshet: Zehut Will Not Be Like Other Parties

Translated excerpts from an interview with Moshe Feiglin on Moreshet Radio:

Moshe Feiglin, you used to be in the Likud. Can you please explain to me how the ruling party, that does not really stand behind the grocery bill, which mandates that all groceries must be closed on Shabbat unless the municipality rules otherwise, is battling so hard to get it passed?

It is actually very simple. Netanyahu wants to retain his rule and his rule is contingent upon one man - whose name is Aryeh Deri. He has to keep him close to him. There was even talk of passing a bill that would lower the voting threshold, which would allow parties with fewer mandates to enter the Knesset. This would help Deri, whose Shas party is teetering on the voting threshold. Deri will have four or five mandates and those mandates are guaranteed for Netanyahu’s coalition. It has nothing to do with Shabbat. That is the whole story.

You used to be in the Likud and now you are the head of the Zehut party. What is the problem with the Likud?

The Likud’s problem is the same problem that plagues the entire political system in Israel: The Likud, the Jewish Home party, Yisrael Beiteinu, the Labor party, or Lapid. It doesn’t matter. They simply don’t say anything. They don’t have a message, they don’t have direction or vision. They are wallowing in their own murky waters and that is why we see all this infighting. They are busy saying what not to do and why they are better than the other parties, but they do not say what they want to do and why they should lead.

Do you think that Netanyahu is bad for the Likud? That if there was someone else heading the party, things would be different?

What is good or bad for the Likud does not interest me. What interests me is what is good for Israel. Israel needs a message, vision and direction. I think that Netanyahu is an excellent manager but a terrible leader. What is the problem with Netanyahu? The problem with Netanyahu is that we, our children and grandchildren will be living in the shadow of a nuclear Middle East because of Netanyahu.

Another example. When you turn your entire country into one big protective cement block – and it doesn’t matter if it by means of actual cement blocks, or Arrow missiles or by moves to avoid decisiveness such as removing the metal detectors from the Temple Mount or apologizing to Turkey or what not – you gain another day or two of quiet governing. But you push the glowing embers further down the line, where they turn into a huge fire of lost legitimacy and future war. Netanyahu likes to compare himself to Churchill. It is Churchill, however, who said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war."

If you will be in the Knesset, and if you are in a senior position, how will you guarantee a majority for your message, for the bills that you will want to pass? After all, not everybody agrees with you.

Exactly like the Ultra-Orthodox. Why are they so strong? Why is Deri so strong, and has the entire State in his pocket? Why is Lieberman so strong? How did he become Defense Minister with only five mandates? For one simple reason: Netanyahu knows that they are not in his pocket. They are not in anyone’s pocket. Zehut has a very clear message…

Can you be in a coalition with the Left?

I can be with myself.

Right, but if you only have four or five mandates…

Try to remember how I conducted myself when I was in the Knesset. That is how Zehut will conduct itself when it returns to the Knesset with many mandates and that is how it will be, with G-d’s help. We will be in the Co-opposition. In other words we will do what we believe in and what we believe is good for the Nation of Israel. We certainly will not be giving strength to the rule of the Left. Zehut is the only party that has a clear plan for applying sovereignty over all parts of Israel. On the other hand, we are not just another key dangling from Netanyahu’s belt – that at the moment that he whistles, “The Arabs are running to vote!” all of our voters will run to vote for him. That is simply because many of our voters are Centrist. 11% of our potential voters are from the Ultra-Orthodox sector. This is a party that is building itself correctly.

Rav Kook on Parashat Va'eira: Priceless Jewels on Tattered Clothes

Every year at the Passover seder, we read Ezekiel’s allegorical description of the Israelites in Egypt:

“You grew big and tall. You came with great adornments and were beautiful of form, with flowing hair. But you were naked and bare.” (Ezekiel 16:7)

The prophet describes the Israelites as being large and numerous, yet, at the same time, impoverished and barren. Physically, Jacob’s family of seventy souls had developed into a large nation. Despite Egyptian persecution and oppression, they had become numerous. Morally and spiritually, however, they were “naked and bare.”

What about the “great adornments” that the verse mentions? What were these “jewels” of Israel?

Two Special Jewels

These “jewels” symbolize two special traits of the Jewish people. The first trait is a natural propensity for spirituality, an inner desire never to be separated from God and holiness.

The second “jewel” is an even greater gift, beyond the natural realm. It is the unique communal spirit of Israel that aspires to a lofty national destiny. Even in their dispirited state as downtrodden slaves in Egypt, their inner drive for national purpose burned like a glowing coal. It smoldered in the heart of each individual, even if many did not understand its true nature.

For the Hebrew slaves, however, these special qualities were like priceless diamonds pinned on the threadbare rags of an unkempt beggar. The people lacked the basic traits of decency and integrity. They were missing those ethical qualities that are close to human nature, like clothes that are worn next to the body.

Without a fundamental level of morality and proper conduct, their unique yearnings for spiritual greatness had the sardonic effect of extravagant jewelry pinned to tattered clothes. “You came with great adornments... but you were naked and bare.”

(Silver from the Land of Israel (now available in paperback). Adapted from Olat Re’iyah vol. II, p. 276)

Biometric Database: It's About Power, Not Security

by Moshe Feiglin

India’s biometric database has been hacked, according to Israel’s Kalkalist newspaper. Now, for eight dollars, anybody can buy the biometric details of one billion Indians.

If you would hear that your credit card password can be bought for eight dollars, you would immediately change your password. But it is much more complicated to change your fingerprint or iris.

The question is not if Israel’s biometric database will be hacked. It will be hacked. It is only a question of when. That is why, for example, those people whose privacy the State prefers to safeguard will not be included in the database.

But the real problem is not a criminal element that will infiltrate the State’s database. The real problem is the State, itself. The need to prevent the forgery of ID cards is not the real reason for the database. It is just the excuse. It is no problem to burn coded biological data on the ID card itself. We don’t need a database to prevent forgery.

The reason that the State insists on creating a database is that information is power. The State will always want more power at the expense of the citizen, more liberty for itself and less liberty for the citizen, more control for itself and less privacy for the citizen.

The basic agreement between the State and the citizen is that the citizen forgoes a bit of his power and liberty in exchange for personal and national security. The State, which always desires to add to its power, does so by claiming that it needs more power to protect the citizens. The State makes a database because a database is power – for the system. It makes a database simply because it can. And the excuse, as always, is security.

Almost no liberty states have a biometric database. A non-US-citizen entering the US is required to submit his biometric data. But they would not dare require that of their own citizens.

Zehut will erase Israel’s biometric database. Let us hope that will happen before it is hacked.

Zionism's Rear Guard War

by Moshe Feiglin

“Nobody will run Zionism’s rear-guard war better than you,” I once said to Netanyahu. Today I understand that it is not just Netanyahu – it is almost all the Right’s intelligentsia.

Netanyahu is not the problem. He is just its face. He is the face of the unrelenting rear-guard war of the Right. Actually, he is the face of the rear-guard war of Zionism, in its entirety.

As if someone had given an order, a flurry of pro-Netanyahu articles written by rightists is now falling upon us. For example:

“When will you understand that Netanyahu is playing chess?” explains Tal Gilad. “He thinks ten moves ahead”. Every so often, he sacrifices a pawn, all the chess-masters do so…when the moment comes, Israel will achieve rapid and absolute deterrence.”

“Netanyahu is not considered a leader of the stature of Ben Gurion,” Caroline Glick laments. “Netanyahu is signed on the reforms that brought about the revision of Israel’s economy from sputtering socialism to a free and flourishing market…He is the most important and successful prime minister we have had beside Ben Gurion.”

I will not debate too much with the facts. I am willing to assume that the Prime Minister is a strategic genius on a scale that we simply cannot understand. I am willing to ignore the fact that the ‘moment’ Tal Gilad wrote about has already come and gone a number of times – and in all those instances, we did not see “rapid and absolute deterrence” (to put it mildly).

Netanyahu’s speech-making-strategy in the face of the Iranian nuclear threat; his depositing of the management of the Iranian existential threat to Israel in the hands of Obama and his sanctions; the Czechoslovakian re-run into which Netanyahu has maneuvered Israel, which remained outside the room in which they were conferring on its future in the modern-day Munich Accords signed by Obama and the Ayatollahs – all this was nothing more than ‘sacrificing a pawn’. We simply cannot see ten steps ahead. Now Netanyahu is pressuring Trump to try and revise the Accords – like a Scholar’s Mate in twenty moves…

The tie that we achieved against the Hamas and its “divisions” in Operation Protective Edge after it incessantly bombarded Tel Aviv was apparently “rapid and absolute deterrence”. The Marmara, the metal-detectors on the Temple Mount, Elor Azariah, the slap in the face to IDF officers and much more… all those are just ‘sacrificing a pawn’ on the road to some sublime strategy at the end of which is a sophisticated goal that we, the peons, simply cannot understand. It is revealed only to those who are privy to Concealed Wisdom, like Netanyahu and Tal Gilad.

I do not want to debate too much with Caroline Glick, either. First, because in the economic field, Netanyahu did indeed perform a number of important moves when he was Finance Minister. Most of those improvements dissipated during the rest of his term. Israel is flourishing today not because of Netanyahu, but despite him.

I will ask the simple question, ‘If we are so successful, why do waves of Aliyah to Israel come only from failing countries? Why don’t multitudes of Jews from the West come here to make money? Why can’t a Jewish doctor who left France find work here? Why does he ultimately immigrate to Canada? Why does a young couple in Israel (which truly is wealthy) work the longest hours in the West, earn the least – and pay the most? And why don’t they have any hope to buy an apartment without help?

I am willing for the sake of discussion to assume that Netanyahu is indeed a strategic and financial wizard, and that material situation has never been better.

Leadership, however, is not measured by the question, “How much”?

Managers are measured by “How much?”

Leadership is measured by the question “to where?”

It could be that Netanyahu is a good manager. But he is a very bad leader. Simply because he is not leading us anywhere. He is not leading at all.

A good manager installs an Iron Dome defense system.

A good leader brings about a new reality in which there is no need for it.

Moreover – a good leader understands that the Iron Dome is a good managerial solution, but a strategic catastrophe because it changes the equation and makes Israeli civilians on the home front a legitimate target.

And that is what has happened, thanks to Netanyahu.

Netanyahu has led us to place in which it is not legitimate to attack Iran, but it is legitimate to threaten Israel with nuclear weapons. For, after all, we have invested in technology against nuclear weapons instead of eliminating the threat.

A good manager bombs the tunnel and apologizes for killing the enemy inside it.

A good leader kills the enemy and thus prevents the tunnels from ever being built.

A good manager solves the crisis with the Marmarah and gains a few more months of quiet with Turkey.

A good leader understands that it is fine to forgo personal honor, but when you forgo the honor of your soldiers, Israel loses its deterrence.

Netanyahu likes to see himself as the Israeli Churchill. But after the Munich Accords Churchill said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war."

Netanyahu the Manager brings dishonor upon us repeatedly in exchange for hypothetical quiet. Our children and the generations to come will pay the price of constant war and life in the shadow of a nuclear Middle East. We can only pray that Israel will have a leader – and not a manager – to deal with the reality that the disgraces of Netanyahu have brought upon us.

Churchill, by the way, chain-smoked cigars and took bubble baths in the middle of the day while London was being bombed and food was being rationed – and it didn’t bother anyone. Because the commodities that a leader is supposed to supply to his nation – vision and leadership - Churchill had in abundance. He was not playing chess. He was leading.

The public is not fed up with Netanyahu because of its material situation. Not because of his wife and not because of his cigars. All of those are ridiculous. The ludicrous accusations of corruption are the last things that bother the hypocritical protests of the Left in Tel Aviv.

The Netanyahu family’s conduct is indeed scandalous – but it is not corrupt. By comparison to most of the leaders that the Left has produced – from Eshkol, to Dayan and Weitzman and on to Rabin, Peres and Barak – Netanyahu looks like a Buddhist monk.

The public is fed up with Netanyahu because he is not capable of mounting any goal beyond simple existence. Netanyahu is stuck in existence in an era in which the Nation of Israel is desperately seeking purpose and destiny. Netanyahu is the prime minister of a Nation that flees its own message, despises itself for that and is angry at him for not supplying it.

Netanyahu is a tragedy. For himself and for us all.

The credit that we have received from the Holocaust to justify our political existence has been terminated. Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem just doesn’t work anymore.
No F-35 pilot or submarine commander who has lost his identity – no soldier whose sense of justice has been denied, who is trained to think that he is from the UN and that his job is to ‘freeze’ the situation, who is trained to simply preserve existence – will defeat a young girl with a pair of scissors or without them. They will not defeat a young girl who knows who she is, what her goal is and the identity of her enemy.

Within the personal tragedy of Netanyahu, which is the tragedy of Zionism, lies the smaller tragedy of most of Israel’s Right. It always wins the elections, but loses in real life. Its leader has maneuvered it into giving up on its dream. Its Intelligentsia is not capable of saying what it wants (only what it does not want). All that is left for it is its battle against the Left, making small-time deals and waiting for the next expulsion – “because of the Left” of course…

All that is left for it is a rear-guard war.

I’ve Got Zehut 2018 – Starting this Sunday!



I am excited to write this: Starting this Sunday, our trek to the 21st Knesset begins!

This is the first time in Israel that a political party has chosen crowdfunding to provide the entire budget for its election campaign.

That is certainly no coincidence. Zehut is the only party whose members and supporters are responsible for the party’s decision-making.

Zehut is the party for the people, supported by the people and beholden only to the people!

On Sunday, our biggest and most important fundraising campaign will be starting. We need your help to succeed and reach the goal that we have set for ourselves: To infuse the State of Israel with identity, liberty and purpose.

On Sunday the journey that will determine where Israel will be in a few years from now –begins. Be with us.

With Great Appreciation,
Moshe Feiglin

Video: I've Got Zehut





Is your identity being erased? 

Get it back with Zehut. Zehut's Donation Week is starting on 27 Tevet/Jan. 14th. 
We need everybody to help us make it a success! 
To prepare and send in your contact form, go to http://www.zehutinternational.com/contact-list

Thank you!

An Interview With HaRav Nachman Kahana: Stop Being Jewish (video with transcript)




Transcript
An interview with HaRav Nachman Kahana (on April 30, 2017, but very relevant today)

I was coming out from my house in the Jewish quarter in the Old City and I saw a group of Americans, middle-aged people, and I usually go over and speak to them, which is a very pleasant thing to do. And this group, I asked them “where do you come from?”

They said, “we come from Texas.”

“Oh, we have something in common.”

“What is that?”

“We both have one star on our flag.”

They were very impressed that an Israeli knew that Texas is the Lone Star State.

Then one woman says to me, asks me, “are you Jewish?”

I said to her, “I'm not Jewish”. And they are very surprised, I'm not Jewish?

I said, “let me explain it to you. Let’s say you have something that’s the color red, but it’s not really red, but it tends to be red, what do we call it? Reddish. Yellow, not really yellow, but it tends to be yellow, you call it yellowish. I’m not Jewish, I'm a Jew. There's a difference. In Israel, you're a Jew - outside you’re Jewish. And that makes the whole difference.”

It depends what you want to be, how much do you want to be a Jew? Or do you want to be Jewish? The choice is in your hand to be the historical person that has a continuation from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and giving us devar Torah on Mount Sinai, and coming into the Land of Israel. And to all the time, the thousands of years we are here, and of the Temple and the grandly high priest, and all Jewish history. You want to be part of that? Then you have to be a Jew, not to be Jewish. If you'll be Jewishyou're going to go the way of the world, more things. Judaism is like a big river, like the Mississippi, a big river nobody can stop. If you’re in the middle of the river, you continue on. If you’re on the side of it, you just got sidetracked and you dry up. And that happened to many people in the galut, many, many people, I know how the numbers are - many people went away of assimilation, many Jews were killed.

Let me give an example, let’s say you have a pile, a huge pile of metal shavings and wood and some sawdust – a huge pile, big, and you have been asked to take out the metal shavings from the wood. You could sit your whole life long and never finish. So, there are three ways that you can do it:
One way is to blow a big, big wind that takes away the lighter pieces of wood and leaves the metal shavings.
Or you can burn it, the wood burns and just the metal is left.
Or a magnet.

When it comes the Jewish people, there are three ways that God is able to distinguish between the the authentic Jew and between those who are just hanging on:
One is fly the wind, the wind is assimilation - go out.
The other way is unfortunately fire, which you know what that means
The other is the magnet, the magnet is that you feel an attraction to the Holy Land when you are an authentic Jew. And this is the test that we have in every generation, not just this generation.

In the United States according to what I understand, which I read, any number of Jews that you say that there are 5 million, 6 million, half of them are non-halachic Jews. Either they became Jews through reform conversion, or the reform and conservative recognize the patriarchal lineage – “if your father is Jewish then you're Jewish” - but that's not halachic Jew. So, any number you say in America, half of them are not Jewish. After that 70% of intermarriage of those who are Jewish, what are they left with in America? The Jewish people are going down, going down, there's no question now the future of Judaism, of historical and religious Judaism, is in the original land of Israel.

It took us many years to come back here, 2,000 years, and along this time there’s this replacement theology of Christianity as they replace the Jewish people as God's chosen people. In other words, there was a recognition that we were God's chosen people, but now take a look at our situation in the world and obviously God's replacing Jews with Christianity. Then the Muslims came, and they say we replaced both of you. And then came the Shoah which gave credence to all these claims that we are not, no longer, God's chosen people. And all of a sudden three years later, after Auschwitz, came the Jewish state! How did that come about? It was the Hand of God. Six hundred thousand people, before next day of declaring the state, were invaded by seven standing armies. We had no planes, we had no tanks, there was no way that we could survive here, and we won the war! We extended the area that was given to us.

Then came the miracle of the Six Day War, which if we could add chapters to the Bible this would certainly override many of the miracles which are stated today in the Bible, the whole Bible. The Six Day War was something else. In fact, if we are going a little bit to speak about it, that we brought down the Soviet Union. Because the Israelis when we fought the Arabs, we were fighting against Russian equipment and Russian advisors, and we destroyed them. We showed that Russian equipment cannot stand up to Western equipment, and that brought down the Soviet Union in such a way.

But to go back to our thing, I think that there are many rabbis in Israel, I don’t know exactly why you chose me, maybe because I’m here fifty-five years and that makes a statement. And all of our children were born here, our children are produced in Israel for domestic use not to export. And all of our grandchildren here, and all of our great grandchildren here, and we are part and parcel of this great adventure for the State of Israel. See, but the problem is you can’t explain something which is round to someone who is blind, there's no way. To explain to you what it means to live in Israel, is something which if you’re not here you can’t understand it. The total being of a Jew, we have to walk in the street and just scream out “Shema Yisrael”, and you wouldn’t even look strange. Walk with tefillin in the street, you put this on at home [because in galut], nobody's your brother.

I recall once I was in the United States and I had to ask somebody a question, directions, people run away from me. Here standing on a bus, you can start talking to anybody, brothers and sisters here, it's something else. Of course, we have Israel, it's not on a silver plate. Tomorrow, or today actually (filmed April 30, 2017), we're beginning the day that we commemorate the fallen soldiers – 23,544 soldiers were killed to give us what we are today in Medinat Yisrael. But that's equal to two days of Auschwitz. Auschwitz in its prime was killing ten to twelve thousand Jews a day. And that's the number of soldiers, of course everyone that falls that's the world - a world unto himself - but that's what it is, it’s two days of Auschwitz. And the Jews have a choice, you can have a physical Auschwitz, or you can have a spiritual Auschwitz.

People talk about, I meet people who are survivors from the camps and I say I am also a survivor because losing, we probably lost in the United States over the last 70 years, we probably lost six million Jews - that's also a Shoah, so it's a holocaust of some kind. So, I'm a survivor too - I'm survivor. I think that it was put very succinctly several years ago, the Jewish Agency put up road signs in Florida every couple of miles, and the signs said - it was directed to Israelis who left the country, we call them “yeridim”, those that go down [descend]. And the sign said, “Come home before “Abba” becomes daddy”. That's a little story, but my understanding was the Prime Minister didn’t like it and he told them to take down the sign. But that’s the message, because if you stay there long enough so ABBA, which means father, is going to become daddy.

Now, I say about aliyah [to those who say] “we wait a little bit, another 50 years”, I say they’ve got to have an immediate aliyah. Every day that you remain there you're putting your children in jeopardy of assimilation. Assimilation doesn't mean they just stop putting on tallis and tefillin. Assimilation is something else, assimilation where you inside, your value becomes those of the people that you live among. You cannot jump into a pool and remain dry - going to live with the Gentiles not to be like them. And then the most important thing is, I'd say, the most the foundation stone of Judaism is one idea, one concept, and in Hebrew it’s called “atah b’chartanu” (אתה בחרתנו) - you chose us, we are God's chosen people. That this is the fulcrum around where people, the war between the men and the boys.

Do you believe that God - the Creator of all things, the God which we have no idea, Who is so great and so almighty, we have no concept of what He is - chose the Jewish people more than other nations to be his special people? There are some religious Jews that deny it, they say that Judaism could be the common conglomeration of rituals or even prophecies, but all people are basically created equal. But that's not Judaism, it may sound nice, liberal Judaism, but Judaism is that there were seventy root nations and God chose the Jewish people as something else.

The people, the nations of the world, the Gentiles, were given 7 basic commandments. Jews were given 613 basic commandments. And we're judged differently than other nations. We're judged that like a parent that disciplines a child, a parent will not hit the child of a neighbor, that's not my problem, but he punishes his own child. HaShem punishes the Jewish people when we don't stand up to the level what He demands of us. But one thing, Jews suffer, but Jews always remain, Jews always remain.

The great nations of the world, the great empires that made a big noise when they were here 200 years, 300, 400 years, and now there’s no sign of them anymore. Jewish people, the smallest of all the nations, continue on and on, and we came back here.

I recall there's a place called the Bible Lands Museum, near the Israeli Museum, and several years ago that had exhibits of 15 ancient capitals that really were the powerhouses in those times, and they showed that not one of them is in existence anymore. And yet the Jewish people were not an exhibit in anyone's museum, we’re the exhibitors, we're not being exhibited. Jewish people are something different. Now the question is do you want to be part of that Jewish people? Be part of that excitement, be even different, to be a part of eternity? Because when HaShem chose us, he gave us eternity. Other peoples of the world I don't know, I'm a rabbi for Jews, not a rabbi for people who are not Jews.

Want to be part of eternity, not only this world? Judaism is like an iceberg. An iceberg is 1/9th above the water, 8/9ths under the water. The real part of Judaism is that part of the world which is not the material world, but the spiritual world. And we’ll all get there, and one day we're going to get there, no one's able to beat the game we all live 70, 80, 120 years, but the real life of a person is the next world. And that's where Judaism comes in. It promises a person eternal life. You can believe it or deny it, it's in your hands. But if you believe it, then you have to be able to understand that the place of a Jew is here.

I want to just go back for a moment, if I may, to the story of the sacrificing of Isaac. That Abraham was commanded by HaShem, by God, to take his son Isaac to the Temple Mount, which is 100 meters from where we're sitting now, and to sacrifice his son. The command was given by God to Abraham, it was not given to Isaac. Isaac could have said, “father, your commandment, not my commandment, I don’t want to, I'm not cooperating. And if I disagree so you’re off the hook, because there's no lamb, there’s no sacrifice”. Isaac didn’t do it, why? Because Isaac said to himself, “this is the Will of HaShem. That's what God wants, that's what He wants, and I have to acquiesce to what He wants. He didn't command me, but I don’t have to wait for a command, when I know that that's what He wants”.

So, I asked myself the question, “does God want you to live in Philadelphia? Does God want you to live in Milwaukee? Does God want you to live in the Holy Land?” The answer is quite plain, if you're a cognizant, conscious Jew, enough to realize God wants you to be here. For 2,000 years we could not come here until a British Mandate which ended on May 14th, 1948 – that would be my birthday by the way, the 5thday of Iyar in the year Taf Shin Chet. The British Mandate ended and the gates of Eretz Yisrael opened for the first time in 2,000 years and the call came out to all Jews to come home. Many people heard it and they came, many people don't.

I have a very big problem, not with the layman, Jews a wonderful people. There are some rabbis out there that are anti-God. How can a rabbi be anti-God? In this world anything can happen. A rabbi that says to you “we’ll come when the Moshiach calls us – when Moshiach, Messiah comes”.

I recall being in New York about thirty years ago, I was riding in the subway and next to me came in two young Chassidim, and they sat next to me, and started to talk. They speak English better than me because they’re already fifth generation in America, and I’m from the second generation in America. We started talking, they said they’re followers of the Satmar rabbi, so I said, “when are you coming to Israel?” And he said, “when Messiah sends a limousine for us, we will come”. I said, “so you think he’s going to send a limousine for you to come to Israel?” What they're saying was don't bother us, we’re not coming to Israel. And they have a rabbi that backs them. And there have always been, in every generation, all kind of leaders that took advantage of their position to control. Religion is a tremendous tool for control - it depends how you control.

I also want to talk about the idea of the Messiah, in terms of the way I see the Messiah it's a great anesthetic, it puts you to sleep - don't do anything, don't move, wait for the Messiah, don't build a country, don't go to the army, don't work, you share, they’ll take care of your overdraft in the bank. It’s not that way. God made the world for people to do things. It's up to us to do it.

If you’re up to it, and you can make it, then you gain eternity. If not, and you want to escape, you can escape your Judaism, that's not difficult. If Jane marries Jacob, then you've done it, you’ve finished it already.

I'd like to speak to you about life, life in this country. I've been, as I said, fifty-five years here. Life when I came in 1962, the country before the Six Day War in 1967. Sixty-seven, that was the parting of the ways of the old customs and the new customs of Israel. Before ’67, Israel was, I’d say, a third-world country. My wife came from West End Avenue in Manhattan, I came from Flatbush, and we came, I taught in a yeshiva on a moshav called Nehalim, between the airport and Petah Tikva, and we lived in a tzarif, a wooden hut. My hero was Lincoln because he had a log cabin, and I had a thin little balsam hut – that’s what it was, hot in the summer, cold the winter, and the grass would grow up between the floor, and I taught in the yeshiva, and that was life.

There was no meat, Shabbat only chicken, it was poor, but we loved it! Life was so sweet, and then came the 1967 war, which in itself is a discussion that war - that was a miracle beyond belief! Everything changed in a most radical way. Aliyah came, money started coming into the country, and the great economic powerhouse that we have today in Israel - which is a powerhouse - remember India wants to make deals with Israel, China's making deals with Israel, even though we can stay in a hotel, the whole population of Israel can fit into a hotel in Shanghai, these countries are looking for us – to use your technology, use your brain power.

Today, in Israel, already we’ve got plans, they’re ready for building a 100-story building in Ramat Gan – in Israel a 100-story building! This country is rich, but people don't realize how much money is in this country! From what? From where? A little country on the edge of the desert with no resources to speak of, except the Jewish mind and the blessing of HaShem. Want to be a part of it? It's an experience - it's a one time, you go through this world only one time, you don't get another chance. You have to make good of every single day. And there are many excuses that people can say my children are in school, and one may get parnasa / get work, and this and that, there are a hundred excuses not to do something good. But you need one excuse to do something, to do something good. There are many reasons that a Jew should come back home - religious, or as I said because to protect your children, or a good life feeling – you’ve heard of people say, the most comfortable pillow to sleep on at night is a clean conscience. Here in Eretz Yisrael you have a clean conscience.

Of course, if you want to make a living, you'll make a better living there. If you want to make a life, you make a life here. These are not just words. Now, many people will say, “it's not easy to make aliyah”. I realize that, I went through it, but my experience was the most - and other people which I know - the most difficult thing about aliyah is the moment of decision - that's murder. But the moment that you make it, things fall into place. Try it, try it out.

What else can I tell you? I know that the words which I'm saying doesn't have in them the ability to override all the other reasons to stay where you are. Especially if you have today a young new community like Syracuse I saw, and Rochester, and other places - young vibrant religious communities - come and take part in the community, we have a young rabbi, we have a mikveh, we have a day school, and everyone gets a private home, it’s nice. Nachon, it is very nice for today, but Judaism always has to look for tomorrow, because we have a tomorrow. Other people may not have it, other people may say live, eat, and live because tomorrow we die. Jews always live for 'tomorrow, and tomorrow is here in this country.

And there are many other issues, for example, I have a son, one of my sons, the younger son who is a general in Israeli army, very special. How would I ever believe, with me born in Brooklyn and my wife, as I said, in Manhattan were going to have a son who would be a general in the Israeli army - infantry general. I have another son who is a building engineer, he just finished the most magnificent hotel in Israel called the Waldorf Astoria, which classifies as the 8th most beautiful hotel in the world. Now the third son teaches Torah in Hevron (חֶבְרוֹן). I have three daughters, two of them are midwives - nurses of the specialty in assurance of the world. Another daughter who is a medical practitioner in a different field, all born in Israel, all went through the system. People say you bring your children here and they’ll become not religious, what are you talking about? Pure religious people, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. What are you talking about? It's only lashon hara about the country. Of course, children in America all of them turned out perfectly, a hundred percent, right? All of your children are wonderful, only here they get spoiled. It doesn't work that way. Again, you cannot explain to someone who is blind what something round is, to come and tell you what life is in Eretz Yisrael is difficult if you don’t experience it – you have to come.

And I’ll say it again, there's a magnet. If you don't feel the attraction, then you have to think, “maybe I'm not an authentic Jew, maybe somewhere around the line something happened - my grandfather, great-grandmother, who knows what”.

If you feel an attraction to this country - now don't have to be religious to feel the attraction. I have a young man who married a cousin of mine, he is a leftist, his friends are Arabs. He received the Israel prize for making motion pictures, and he produced pictures which portrayed the army not a good light, and other things and so forth. He was in London at the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, totally irreligious, and a leftist – a “give away the territory, give the Arabs whatever they want” leftist. He was in London when the Yom Kippur war broke out and he fought tooth and nail to get on a plane to come back here to join his parachute unit. He had the magnet. No religion? Okay, that’s a private thing with him and God, but he has that magnet. It pulled him here, he was going to the thick of the war, why? Why are you doing that? Because he’s a Jew, not Jewish, he’s a Jew. Of course, it has to be a little bit, you have to round out the corners a little bit with him, but that's what it is.

Now, in the name of truth, I cannot say that everybody walks around here la la la land, everyone is happy, and everyone is singing. Life is real here, you have to work to make a living. You have to get a job, have to get a house, need a place for your children to study, and it's a real world, it’s a real world. And with that it really depends between your personal relationship, your relationship between you and HaShem, everyone has their thing. But once you settle in, and become part, then you’ll feel that your life has value. There's an ideal to what you're doing.

I see even more in the Holy Land no such thing as a secular act. I once met a man, many years ago, who lived in Bnei Brak and he told me a story that he has a daughter, a teenage daughter, normal in every way, went to Beit Yaakov school, and one day she became very introverted, closed into herself come home from school and go into her room and lock the door. And he didn’t know what happened to her suddenly. And then after a while, “I questioned her, and she opened up she said she never knew what my work was”, the man says. “One day she was riding on a bus with her friends from Petah Tikva to Bnei Brak, and she saw me working on the roads, and I paved the roads. And she was so, she was so devastated that her father is working like a common laborer on the road. So, I sat down, and I said to her, “my daughter, you’re right, I'm a common laborer but on that road, that I'm making millions of people will be going through all the years - this one’s going a doctor going to help someone, this one is going to learn in yeshiva, there's one for another mitzvah, and every person on that road that I paved, I might have a part of their mitzvah”.

Of course, in Eretz Yisrael, there's no such thing as a secular act, whatever you do has religious and spiritual connotation, no matter what your profession is, the very fact that you are doing it in the Holy Land it has a part of spirituality attached to it. It's better today than tomorrow, no one knows what tomorrow can bring, but one thing the Prophets in two places say the same words “b’Har Zion yeh plita” (בהר ציון י פליטה) – on Mt. Zion, meaning the Land of Israel, there shall be refuge, the Jewish people are saved in Eretz Israel. That's not the case outside of Eretz Yisrael.

Don't be fooled by certain rabbis, even great names. If a rabbi says to you, “where are you going? Stay here”, he's not a legitimate rabbi. A rabbi’s summoned, his job is to strengthen the Torah, and strengthen the Jewish people, not to make the Torah weak. And here we get strong, just take a look at statistics, just take a look where we are – 8-1/2 million people in this country, and they're predicting in 2048, a hundred years after the establishment of the state, we’re going to reach 15 million. But I say that's wrong, because at some point there’s going to be the return of the descendants of the twelve tribes that were of the tribes that were sent out, and many, many of the Marranos - these are the people who Spain and Portugal accepted Christianity out of coercion are to come back. There's a movement going on now all over the world, I said South America, and Portugal, and Spain to be able to come back. There's such a great future in this country and also, we’re not going to remain so small - the Biblical boundaries of the country - of the State of Israel - is a huge country! It’s not just this little bit at the eastern end the Mediterranean between the river of Jordan and between the Mediterranean. Half of Turkey was the land of the Hittites, is the Biblical Land of Israel, from where the Euphrates River begins to the Nile River, we take in a half of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Sinai Peninsula, until the Nile River - Eretz Yisrael, is part of an economic unit.

I once read a book about the way each different part of this great land has an economic input to the whole of it. Mountains and the rivers and the different - even this little country we’re on now – there are 30 different areas of vegetation. You take your car and you drive half an hour in any direction - a different kind of vegetation, like the most assorted in the whole world in such a small space.

In any event, I see the Land of Israel being according to the Biblical boundaries. I see how people in the tens of hundreds of millions of people in the future in this country. My dear brothers and sisters I say think about it, the future’s in your hands and only in your hands, and everybody has to make decisions. If you come here, you’ll become part of the eternal Jewish people. If you stay there, stay there, then you're lost to the Jewish people and you'll fade from the platform of history.