Friday, July 21, 2017

The Vengeance of G-d and of the Jewish People

By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh


"Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying, 'Take vengeance for Bnei Yisrael against the Midianites.'... Moshe spoke to the people, saying, '... to inflict Hashem's vengeance against Midian." (Bamidbar 31:1-3). Chazal (Bamidbar Rabbah 22:2, Tanchuma #3) point out that G-d sought the vengeance of Bnei Yisrael, while Moshe sought G-d's vengeance:

G-d said, "It is your cause, because Midian caused Me to inflict harm upon you." Moshe replied, "Master of the World, if we were uncircumcised, idolaters, or heretics, we would not be hated. The reason for our persecution is because of the Torah and mitzvot that you gave us. Therefore, the vengeance is yours."

Similarly, Rashi comments on the pasuk, "Let those who hate You flee from before You" (Bamidbar 10:35): These are the haters of the Jews, because anyone who hates the Jews hates the One who brought the world into existence, as it is says, "Those who hate You have raised their head." Who are they? [Those who] "Against Your people, they plot deviously." (Psalms 83:3-4)

The identification of the Jewish people with Hashem is not merely symbolic, but is quite deep. The prophet Yeshayahu says (43:12), "'You are My witnesses,' spoke G-d, 'and I am G-d.'" Our Rabbis explain, "If you are My witnesses, then I am G-d; if you are not My witnesses, then (figuratively speaking) I am not G-d." Hashem's desire is that He be revealed in the world, "G-d desired a dwelling place in the lower realms." This requires a nation that will accept upon itself this difficult task, and we, the Nation of Israel was created for this purpose, as it says, "This nation I created for Myself, that they might declare My praise." (Yeshayahu 43:21) To quote Rav Kook, zt"l, "The Jewish people clothe the aspect of G-d that is revealed in the world." A person will not appear in public unless he is dressed in his clothing; likewise Hashem does not appear in this world unadorned. We, the Jewish people, are the clothing that allow G-d to reveal Himself to our world.

The war that the nations fight against the Jewish people is actually directed at G-d. However, since they cannot fight Hashem directly, they shoot their arrows at us, His representatives in this world. "Why do nations gather, and regimes talk in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the princes conspire secretly, against Hashem and against His anointed." (Tehillim 2:1-2) So too we can say regarding all of the Jewish victims who have fallen through the centuries, "For Your sake we are killed all the time." (ibid. 44:23)

Chazal vividly expressed this connection by way of analogy (Talmud Yerushalmi Ta'anit 2:6):

G-d joined his name with Israel. To what is this similar? To a king who had a small key to a palace. The king said, "If I leave the key as it is, then it will surely get lost. Rather, I will attach a chain to it, so that if it should get lost, the chain will still be on me." So too, G-d said, "If I leave the Jewish people alone, they will eventually be lost amongst the nations. Instead, I will attach My Name to them." What purpose will this serve? [As Yehoshua prayed (7:9),] "The Canaanite and all the inhabitants of the land will hear and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. What will You do for Your Great Name" which is joined with us?

The simple understanding is that Hashem joined His name with us in order to be close to us and thereby protect us. However, based on the analogy, the Maharal explains this passage with a more profound understanding. The palace, representing the world, has a small key. The key itself has little value, but only it capable of opening the palace -- only through its use can G-d enter and appear in this world. This is the basis for the shared destiny and the mutual dependence of Israel and G-d.

We, figuratively, carry G-d on our shoulders; if we fall, He (as it were) will fall with us. Then, as the Ramban writes, "the purpose of the creation of Man would be completely lost." Therefore, G-d bound His Name in ours -- YisraEl. As such, even when we are dispersed in exile, the Divine Presence is with us, and when we will be redeemed, G-d shall be redeemed as well. "Whom You have redeemed from Egypt, a nation and its G-d" (Shmuel II 7:23) ... The Jewish people said to Hashem, "You have redeemed Yourself." (Yalkut Shimoni 146) This is the message that Yehoshua conveyed when saying, "What will You do for Your Great Name" that You share with us? If our enemies destroy us, Your loss will be greater than ours, since if we are not here, You are not here! (Abuseulah supercommentary to Ramban Shemot 29:46)

"I shall return vengeance upon My enemies, and upon those that hate Me I shall bring retribution." (Devarim 32:41) -- "Because they did all the evil to us out of hate towards G-d!" (Ramban)

The Yishai Fleisher Show: Temple Mount Tensions

White Elephant in the Sky

By Moshe Feiglin

When I became aware of high-level government corruption (as an MK I became deeply involved with uncovering the corruption in the Sarel Medical Company) I repeatedly claimed that the largest swamp of corruption is in the Defense Ministry. The tape recordings revealed by former PM Ehud Olmert’s secretary, Shula Zaken, of Olmert describing how he received kickbacks from former Defense Minister Ehud Barak for every weapons deal – and where he hid the money - are seriously more incriminating than anything being uncovered now about PM Netanyahu. But because it was Ehud Barak, the entire affair was silenced.

The fact that the Defense Ministry under Barak made a huge purchase of the white elephant F-35 fighter jet (the jet’s development was never completed and President Trump is considering shelving the entire project) begs a deep examination of the considerations that led to this farce.

The F-35 is the most expensive weapons development project in history. Its development encountered serious difficulties. Israel debated for years as to whether the investment in the jet was worthwhile. Ultimately, after unprecedented negotiations in terms of the pressure and limitations applied to Israel in their course, it was decided to purchase the jet, at a heavy price. A major selling point of the F-35 is its ‘stealth’ capabilities. In other words, it is more difficult for radar to track the plane. But this capability comes at the expense of serious shortcomings. As compared to the F-15I, the Israel Air Force’s strategic plane, the F-35 in its stealth mode: 

  • Cannot reach the nuclear installations deep inside Iran without refueling. The F-15I can do so. 
  • Carries a much lighter payload than the F-15I 
  • Cannot carry the large bunker-buster bombs that the US supplied to Israel. Israel’s F-15I planes can carry them. 
  • Cannot carry air-to-air missiles made by Israel, which are the best in the world. As a result, Israel was forced to spend an additional half billion dollars to purchase the less efficient US missiles. 
  • Many weapons systems developed in Israel for its air force cannot be installed on the F-35. The F-15Is are completely outfitted with these systems. 

The list above is not complete, but we will suffice with those points.

Today, the Israel Air Force has only one F-15I squadron, its strategic fighter jet. In November, 2016, even before the first F-35 reached Israel, the government decided to increase its F-35 armament to two squadrons, with an option to add a third. But despite the fact that the F-35 is more ‘stealthy’ and much newer, it was publicized that Israel is still considering the purchase of an additional F-15I squadron instead of the F-35.

In an interview upon the arrival of the first F-35s in Israel, the Air Force Chief of Staff emphasized that their anticipated role would be in intelligence assistance for the other jet fighters. When asked if Israel would have to buy additional F-15s in the future, or just F-35s, his answer was: “It’s not simple.”

Zehut does not pretend to know how many jets of what type the Air Force needs. But clearly the decision to equip the Air Force with F-35s was extremely out of the ordinary, presenting many questions when compared with previous army acquisitions. So why did Israel spend seven and a half billion dollars from its US ‘aid’ budget to buy F-35s? Is it because they really are the most useful and vital for the IDF? Or is it because the US applied heavy pressure and ‘convincing techniques’ upon Israel’s decision makers so that Israel would buy their newest jet – and not necessarily the jet most useful and vital for it?

Moshe Feiglin: Terror Attack on Temple Mount No Surprise

In last Friday’s terror attack on the Temple Mount, Arab citizens of Israel murdered Druze citizens of Israel in the place most holy to the Jewish citizens of Israel (and to all Jews worldwide). And the Jews were not even there.

This terror attack was no surprise. When Jews ascend to the Temple Mount, Judaism’s most sacred site, they are subjected to a thorough search to ensure that they are not bringing any type of Jewish prayer book or religious item to the Mount Arabs are allowed to enter with no security check. In other words, this was a terror attack waiting to happen. It was only a matter of time until somebody would use a weapon brought to the Temple Mount to shoot at the police forces or other Jews there.

Reuben and Gad

By Rabbi Ari Kahn

Parshat Matot seems to consist of a number of non-sequiturs. It begins with a discourse on the laws of oaths. The heads of the tribes -- roshei matot -- are gathered together to receive these laws, hence the name of the portion.

Next, the Torah calls for vengeance against the Midianites, for their crime against the people of Israel. The wrath of Israel is centered around Balaam who attempted to curse the Children of Israel and who, we are told, "died by the sword." The Torah goes on to describe the ensuing battle, and the spoils of war with which the victorious army returns.

The subsequent section tells about the tribes of Reuben and Gad, who requested that they be allotted the grazing land outside of Israel, on the east bank of the Jordan River, in order to accommodate their very large herds. Moses chastises them for this request, and an arrangement is reached whereby these tribes will aid their brethren in the conquest, and only afterwards return to their lands across the River. The Torah adds that half of the tribe of Menashe, son of Joseph, will join them.

The connection with the laws of oaths, brought at this particular junction, is not immediately clear; however, this specific issue may be the link between the various topics covered in this Torah portion. As we shall see, the importance of one's word -- or indeed the power of the word -- is the common denominator.


THE LAWS OF OATHS
We will consider vows which begins the portion and which also ends it, because the "deal" which the tribes of Reuben and Gad reached with Moses is considered by Jewish law as the archetypal oath; it contains many details of the laws of oaths. (See Kedushin 61a.)

This last episode, involving the tribes of Reuben and Gad, deserves further attention. It seems quite strange that two tribes are willing to form an allegiance and avoid entering the Land of Israel. Yet these tribes have a number of things in common.

First, they are both first-born to their respective mothers, Leah and Leah's maidservant Zilpah. Second, they have a common marching formation -- the two were in the same group, and when they marched they surrounded the tribe of Shimon. According to the Midrash, these two tribes were exceptionally wealthy, and therefore preferred to remain in the greener pastures outside the Land of Israel.

Likewise the case of the children of Gad, and the children of Reuben, you will find that they were rich, possessing large numbers of cattle, but they loved their money and settled outside the land of Israel, consequently they were the first of all the tribes to go into exile. (Midrash Rabbah Bamidbar 22:7)

Furthermore, the Midrash sees the section dealing with the spoils of war as directed against these two tribes, as if to say "if it is money which you seek, God has many ways of providing."
Know that when He (God) wished the sons of Reuben and Gad to become wealthy he sent the Midianites before them. (Midrash Rabbah Bamidbar 22:8)


WARPED VALUES
The Midrash goes even further in pointing out the warped value system of these tribes. When they approach Moses to argue their case and make their request, they mention their cattle before their children:

'We will build fenced-in enclosures for our cattle and cities for our young children.' (Numbers 32:16)
When Moses responds, he places the children before the cattle:
'Build cities for your young children and fenced-in enclosures for your cattle.' (Numbers 32:24)

The message is subtle but clear: Owning cattle is fine, but do not for a second place material wealth above one's children. How could these people have their values so confused?

This confusion is indicated in yet another teaching: The Torah speaks of a city of refuge where a person who killed by accident can seek refuge. Three cities were built in Israel proper, while another three were built in the territory across the Jordan settled by Reuben, Gad, and Menashe. Rashi, drawing from the Talmud, points out this obvious inequity, the division so disproportionate to the relative populations. Why would two-and-a-half tribes require the same number of cities of refuge as nine-and-a-half tribes? (See Rashi 35:14.)

There is a tradition, brought down in the Talmud (Makot 10a), that there was a disproportionate frequency of bloodshed in this territory. The obvious implication is that there was some sort of moral breakdown in that society. Something was wrong with the educational setup if people did not know how to take precautions which could save lives.

This is a further indication of the bizarre value system, which favored possessions over children. By the time the fighters from these tribes returned from the years of conquest and division of the land, an entire generation was raised without the benefit of their fathers. No wonder basic safety precautions were not taken. No wonder human life lost it value. After all, it was only people -- not cattle.

REUBEN'S PRECEDENT
We can see how the moral breakdown echoed in the request of the two-and-a-half tribes affected the future, but what was its origin?

In Genesis we see Reuben standing out on a number of occasions. One such instance is at the sale of Joseph, where he heroically jumps into the fray and attempts to save Joseph from his tormentors. At that particular point in the text, Reuben's motivation escapes us. Only later, when Joseph was sold by the others and without Reuben's knowledge, we find out.

He ripped his clothing (in grief). He returned to his brothers and said 'The boy is not there; and I -- where can I go?' (Genesis 37:29-30)

What may have seemed like a noble gesture turned out to be merely an expression of Reuben's responsibility as the eldest son. If something happened to Joseph, he felt that he would surely pay the price.

Later, as the story unfolds and the Egyptian vizier demands to see Benjamin before providing more food, Reuben offers that his own sons be killed in the event that Benjamin is not returned unscathed to Jacob.(See Genesis 42:37.) Needless to say, Jacob rejects this bizarre offer, but one can not help but wonder what type of effect this had on these children, knowing that their father was willing to exchange them.

Perhaps we can take this question one step further: What motivated Reuben's offer? Perhaps he suspected that because of his various indiscretions, he stood to lose the double portion of the first-born, and this offer was a gamble which could win that double portion back. He was willing to place his own children on the table as "markers" in this game of "high-risk poker."

Whether or not this is the case, the fact remains that Reuben does not seem to have placed a very high value on the lives of his children. We therefore should not be all that surprised when Reuben's descendants prioritize in a similar fashion, i.e., possessions before children.

Perhaps Gad, as a first-born from a different mother, identified with Reuben's "plight." This may also give us insight into the selection of Menashe, the third tribe which will join them. Why does Moses choose Menashe? Perhaps this tribe, as the descendants of Joseph, knows how to survive in a foreign environment. Joseph himself serves as the prototype of the saint who retains his values despite the temptations of the surrounding culture. On the other hand, it is fascinating that Menashe was also first-born of his mother, and he too was displaced in favor of his younger, more successful brother. (See Genesis 48:19.)

Perhaps these three, once united, commiserated on the inequity of losing the rights associated with being the older brother. Perhaps their pact was solidified around the decision to remain outside of the land which should have been theirs, more than anyone else's.

SAVING MOSES
There is another approach which may provide us with further insight into the motivation of the tribes of Reuben and Gad, as well as the connections between the various sections of the Parshat Matot. When God calls Moses to ascend the mountain and see the Promised Land, the Sifri explains:
When Moses entered the portion of the children of Gad and the children of Reuben he was overjoyed, and said: 'It seems to me that my vow (the vow of God regarding Moses) has been lifted!' (Sifri, Pinchas section 23, cited in Rashi 27:12)

After striking of the rock, Moses knew that he could not enter the Land of Israel; thus was the will of God, the word of God. But even so, could God not break his own vow? The portion of Gad and Reuben was not part of the land, but one day it would be. Therefore, if they were to stay on the east side of the Jordan -- where Moses was permitted to enter -- and go on to fulfill their side of the deal, then their portion achieves the same status as the rest of the Land of Israel, and effectively God's vow is nullified, because Moses had in fact entered the land.

In this light, the various parts of this Torah portion become a cohesive whole:

Moses teaches the laws and intricacies of oaths. One important part of these laws is that oaths can be challenged and rescinded.

Once the tribes of Reuben and Gad hear this, they devise a plan for Moses to join them in Israel. If the vow precluding Moses' entrance to Israel could be reversed, then perhaps the loss of the double portion of Reuben can also be reversed.

Moses, for his part, does not seem interested in subterfuge. He continues his mission -- what is to be his last task. He takes immediate steps to fulfill the Divine order to seek vengeance against Midian.

The Midrash makes the following comment on the actions of Moses:
Delaying the battle and, as a result, his own demise, would have caused the Children of Israel to linger in the desert. Instead, Moses sets off on his final mission, even though its completion will drawn his own death nearer. Even one unnecessary day in the desert was too high a price to be paid; the welfare of the nation always came before personal considerations, and Moses immediately, heroically, sends Joshua to battle the Midianites.

Another Midrash offers some details of the events on the last day of Moses' life, some of which are germane to this discussion:
A heavenly voice came out and said: 'You have but three hours in this world.' Moses said, 'Master of the universe, let me remain with children of Gad and the children of Reuben ... and Joshua will rule and bring the Children of Israel into the Land of Israel.' (Otzar Midrashim Eisenstein page 356)

According to this Midrash, Moses himself makes the suggestion that he remain in the portion of Gad and Reuben. God explains that such an arrangement is impossible. If Moses were alive and remained in Jordan during the major holidays, who would go to Israel when they could be with Moses?

A person like Moses can not simply retire and slip out of the public eye. God explains that ultimately such an arrangement would destroy the Torah.

Moses surely does not want to be party to any suggestion which would have a negative effect on the people or the Torah. And therefore, he carries out God's order without delay whatever the consequences to himself.

Moses's approach differs from that of Gad and Reuben in that Moses does not seek to harm the integrity of the Torah, or the Jewish people, whereas Reuben and Gad's suggestion ultimately harmed their own children.

The earlier indiscretion of Reuben himself, when he intimated that his children were expendable, reemerges to harm his descendants.

Be it motivated by their love of money, or their twisted love for Moses, the result of parents letting their children know that they are not their most valued "possession," proved disastrous for these tribes. Children inevitably learn from the actions and values of their parents.

Therefore, the east bank of the Jordan River became a place of violence and bloodshed, and the children of these tribes were the first to be exiled.

The Mitzvah of Vengeance

By Rav Yehuda HaKohen
Yeshivat Machon Meir


“HaShem spoke to Moshe, saying, ‘Take vengeance for the Children of Israel against the Midianites; afterward you will be gathered unto your people.’” (BAMIDBAR 31:1-2)

HaShem instructs Moshe to wage war against Midian in retribution for that nation’s attempts to seduce and destroy Israel. But when Moshe, in turn, relates this mitzvah to his people, his words are noticeably different.

“Moshe spoke to the people, saying, ‘Arm men from among yourselves for the army that they may be against Midian to inflict HaShem’s vengeance against Midian. A thousand from a tribe, a thousand from a tribe, for all the tribes of Israel shall you send to the army.’” (BAMIDBAR 31:3-4)

In relating this commandment, Moshe refers to the vengeance of Israel as the vengeance of HaShem. Rashi teaches that one who raises a hand against Israel – the national human expression of the Kadosh Barukh Hu – must be regarded as if he is attacking G-D Himself.

Israel is tasked with the unique mission of bringing humanity to the awareness of HaShem as the timeless ultimate Reality without end that creates all, sustains all, empowers all and loves all. This message is revealed through the very life of the Jewish people in history, culminating with the establishment of a Hebrew Kingdom in Eretz Yisrael that manifests the Divine Ideal in every facet of human behavior.

By attempting to prevent Israel from establishing this kingdom, the Midianites were essentially working to delay man’s attainment of this higher consciousness and the blessing it would bring to all of Creation.

The battle of Midian therefore reveals the link between a nation’s animosity towards Israel and its subconscious desire to prevent history’s goal from being attained. By waging war on the Jewish people, even if not consciously aware of the inner cause, an individual person or collective group is making a declaration of war against the Source of all Creation. It then becomes Israel’s task, like a surgeon removing malignant tumors from a patient’s body, to extract this malevolent cancer from the world. While this may be difficult for a people whose national aspirations necessitate the elevation of all humankind, Jews must learn to view such “cruelty” through the lens of a greater vision that strives for humanity’s ultimate collective benefit.

Loving HaShem naturally requires one to extend that compassion to all of His children. And loving everyone and everything that the Kadosh Barukh Hu creates makes it difficult to hurt people fashioned in His Image. Every creature in existence, no matter how iniquitous, possesses a Divine spark of deep inner kedusha. But when existing within those who war against Israel, this holy spark suffers from a dark malice surrounding it and desperately yearns for rectification.

By removing such a person from the world, Israel rectifies the evil and uplifts the holy spark, liberating it from its prison of darkness and sin. It therefore becomes an act of great compassion – to HaShem, to humanity and even to the spark of good existing within Israel’s antagonist – that the Jewish people remove such a threat from the world and prevent him from further destructive behavior (while at the same time precluding his darkness from corrupting civilization). Similar to killing harmful bacteria, this kindness makes our world a healthier place as the Hebrew Nation aspires to bring Creation to an era of unparalleled blessing and harmonious unity through the higher awareness of HaShem as the infinite Whole of which we are all a part.

With Love of Israel,
Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

UNESCO is an Immoral, Anti-Semitic Organization

Decent Countries Should Leave

By Guy Millière
  • Although Europe claims to respect human rights and the rights of peoples, it has been a party to violating the most essential right of the Jewish people: the recognition of its existence for more than 3,000 years, and the anchoring of this existence to its sacred monuments. Worse, Europe does so in the name of a people fictitiously invented less than 50 years ago. No serious scholar can find any trace of a "Palestinian people" before the 1960s. Europe has apparently been all too happy to accept lies.
  • While claiming to fight terrorism, Europe complies with the demands of a terrorist movement that does not even bother to hide its terrorist nature. When Mahmoud Abbas speaks Arabic, he continually incites the murder of Jews. He recently repeated that he would not stop paying tried, convicted and imprisoned murderers of Jews, and still calls these murderers heroic "martyrs". On all maps used by the Palestinian Authority and in Palestinian textbooks, Israel does not exist; it is called Palestine.
  • Europeans, imbued with a generic sense of guilt, began attributing all that is wrong in the world to Western civilization. Because they had colonized parts of the Muslim world, they failed to note that Muslim culture had, in fact, colonized Persia, the Byzantine Empire, the Middle East, Greece, Cyprus, the Balkans, North Africa, Southern Spain, and, more recently, northern Cyprus.
The director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Lebanon, Ann Dismorr, poses with a map devoid of any trace of the State of Israel, instead presenting it as a map of "Palestine," May 2013. (Image source: Palestinian Media Watch)
On July 7, UNESCO voted for a resolution defining the Old City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs as Palestinian heritage sites. Before that, in 2016, two resolutions making the same type of counterfactual assertions concerning the Old City of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall were adopted. And the year before that, in 2015, UNESCO again upended history to rename two ancient biblical sites, Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs, Islamic holy sites -- even though Islam did not even exist at that time.
Three days before this month's Hebron resolution, still another resolution, reaffirming the Jerusalem resolutions, was passed.
The Israeli government reacted with indignation. It decided to stop cooperating with UNESCO. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said she was shocked and that the decision would not be without consequences.
The rest of the world has remained silent. How come?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Three Weeks – a Time for National Soul-Searching

By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir


During the Three Weeks, between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, the Jewish People mourn the bad things that occurred to Israel during this period. On the 17th of Tamuz, five troubles befell Israel: the tablets were broken in the Golden Calf Incident; the Daily “Tamid” offering of the First Temple was cancelled; Jerusalem’s wall was breeched during the Second Temple period; the Torah was burnt by wicked Apostomos, and an idol was installed in the Temple Sanctuary. On the 9th of Av, the First and Second Temples were destroyed; it was decreed that our ancestors in the desert would not enter the Land; Beitar was captured and tens of thousands were murdered by the Romans. On this day, the Temple Sanctuary and its environs were ploughed, thereby fulfilling the verse, “Zion shall be ploughed as a field” (Jeremiah 26:18).

At this time of year, we have to arouse our hearts and look for ways to repent; to think about our own deeds and those of our ancestors. Their deeds were like ours, and those deeds brought both them and us suffering. Recalling these things will make us repent and become better…. Therefore, every Jew must repent during this period, examining his own deeds and making amends” (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 121:1). Today, we must search our souls not just as individuals but as a nation as regards our relationship to the People, Torah and Land of Israel.

Regarding our relationship to Eretz Yisrael, we must return to ourselves. We must learn and recognize, study and make ourselves aware, become acquainted and inform others of what we are, what our destiny is and what our specialness consists of. We are not like all the nations, we are set apart from them. We are a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Our historic task on earth is to shower light upon the world and to bring goodness to mankind, in accordance with G-d’s command to Abraham: “I will make you a great nation…. and you shall be for a blessing…. All the families of the earth shall be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3). As Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook taught in Orot 55: “We are greater than any other people; if we recognize this greatness, we will recognize ourselves, and if we forget it, then we will forget ourselves. A people that forgets itself is small and lowly… Forgetting ourselves constitutes forgetting our greatness.”

As far as our relationship to the Torah of Israel, our sages long ago said, “Each day, a heavenly voice resounds from Mount Sinai proclaiming, ‘Woe to the people for their disregard of the Torah!’ (Avot 6:2). Rav Kook adds, “We must study Torah and give it the appropriate respect, and we must relate to it reverently. Surely when one ponders the Torah, one finds that everything is contained within it, every delight and every splendor” (Orot HaTeshuva 4:9). Our holy Torah is a living Torah for us and for the entire world, as we say in our prayers, “Everlasting life did He plant in our midst”. We, as a nation, must repent, and bring ourselves and our children once more to study Torah lovingly. By such means, we will merit that our people, rising to rebirth in Zion, will have a new heart and a new spirit.

As far as our relationship to Eretz Yisrael, we must rid ourselves of the fundamentally erroneous assumption that Eretz Yisrael is just a means towards achieving existential goals such as security, prosperity or even spiritual and religious goals. (Eretz Yisrael is not an external acquisition of our nation. It is “an independent entity tied to the nation by a living bond, enveloped in inner virtues inherent to it” – Orot 9). Eretz Yisrael is not a topic for negotiations. It cannot be handed over to any individual or people on earth. Just as one does not concede his own life, so are we forbidden to concede our land, not one single millimeter.

Unfortunately, our present political leadership, and portions of the public, are suffering from a kind of confusion, and a weakness of faith, that have brought them to unprecedented effeteness and lowliness in their relationship to Eretz Yisrael. That relationship is expressed by the plan for expelling Jews from our land and for establishing a state for the Arabs who long to destroy us. By repenting nationally and as individuals vis-à-vis the people, Torah and Land, we will merit that these days will be transformed from a time of mourning and pain to a time of joy and gladness. As Zechariah said, “The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful seasons. Therefore love truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19).

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

We Need the Jewish Women

By Shmuel Sackett
Ask your fellow Jew the following question and see if he/she answers it correctly: “Who were the people lucky enough to leave Egypt and actually enter the Land of Israel 40 years later?” My guess is that the overwhelming answer will be the following: “The only ones who left Egypt and entered Israel were those who were under 20 years of age at the time of the Exodus, plus Yehoshua and Caleb. This was due to the tragic Sin of the Spies and the subsequent punishment by Hashem that anyone over 20 would die in the desert.”

I am willing to bet that if you ask this question to 100 people (who know the story), at least 95 of them will give you this answer. After all, the Torah itself seems to say this very clearly. When pronouncing the punishment, Hashem Himself said the following; “Because you complained about Me, your corpses will fall in this desert. This will happen to your complete tally, everyone over 20 years old who was counted… will not come into the land regarding which I swore… the only exceptions with be Caleb and Yehoshua” (Ba’Midbar 14:29-30 – translation by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan z”l)

While this may seem like the right answer… it is not. There were actually lots of people over 20 at the time of the Exodus who left Egypt yet merited to enter Eretz Yisrael. They were called… the Jewish women! Rashi is very clear about this; “Upon the women, the decree of the Spies was not decreed, for they held the land precious. The men said, ‘Let us appoint a leader and let us return to Egypt’, but the women said, ‘Give us a possession’!” (Ba’Midbar 26:64 – Rashi’s commentary – translation by ArtScroll)

We seem to be very familiar with the famous line in the Talmud that states how “In the merit of the righteous women… Israel was redeemed from Egypt” (Sotah 11b) but how many of us know the Rashi I just quoted? Sadly, just a handful. So let me repeat it in my own words: The men (above 20) died in the desert but the women did not because they loved the Land of Israel! When the Spies returned and gave their evil report about Israel, the women refused to accept it. It was the men who kvetched and wanted to return to America, I mean Egypt, but the women said “No way!” Therefore, when the punishment was announced, the women were not included and they merited to enter the Holy Land with all its glory and splendor.

That was exactly 3,329 years ago and we need to know that what happened then, can and must happen now! Therefore, I am addressing the rest of this article to the Jewish women. If any men are reading this, I have just one thing to say: Please pass the article immediately to your wife, mother, daughter, sister and every female cousin!

Dearest sister; as you know, the Torah is not a book of stories. It is our guidebook, our compass and our instructions for living. If the Torah tells us that Jewish women were strong in their love for the Land of Israel then you need to muster that strength today as well. Most guys I know have their head spinning in different directions and moving to Israel is usually not on their radar. Therefore, it’s you who Am Yisrael needs. We need you to be the backbone and driving force behind the dream of raising your family in the Promised Land. There will be lots of negativity with people telling you it can’t be done. Your husband may ask, “How will I make a living?” Your kids may complain about losing their friends and people will hit you with complaints about Israeli schools and health care. The only way to overcome this is to tap into the great women you come from… the ones from 3,329 years ago who heard the same complaints – and far worse – yet refused to believe a word of it!

Think about it. 10 of the 12 spies return from a 40 day mission and gave their report. These were very respected men… leaders of the generation! Let’s be honest for a minute. What they said was very frightening! “The people living in the land are aggressive and the cities are large and well fortified… Amalek lives in the Negev, the Hittities, Yebusites and Amorites live in the hills and the Canaanites live near the sea… The land consumes its inhabitants. All the men we saw there were huge… sons of the giants… we felt like tiny grasshoppers” (Ba’Midbar 13:28-33 – translation by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan z”l)

It is easy for me to say that I would not have listened to them but reality might have been different. The men heard this and became scared but the women – who heard the exact same words – refused to back down. Their response? “Give us a possession” says Rashi! They might have been afraid but they trusted in Hashem completely. They knew that Hashem didn’t take the Jewish Nation out of Egypt just to have some Hittites wipe them off the face of the earth a few months later. They understood the challenge and danger but had complete faith that the King of Kings would guide them to victory, success and help them set up a beautiful life for their families.

I won’t waste any words. Simply put, we need that faith, optimism and positive energy today. If the Jewish women did it once, they can do it again. Don’t wait for your husband to call Nefesh b’Nefesh… you do it! Don’t let the negative words of the modern day spies infect your pure soul. Assure your husband that he will find a job, talk to your kids about the wonderful new friends they will have and tell all your neighbors about how your family will thrive in Israeli schools and with the medical system.

My sister; You are the rock and Am Yisrael needs you as much as ever! Many years ago you didn’t believe the negativity so don’t believe it today. Israel is strong, beautiful, spiritually alive and moving closer to Hashem every single day. Our kids are thriving, our economy is growing and the quality of life cannot be beat. This is the place to raise your family and to connect to Jewish history. Tap into the energy of your 3,329 old grandmother and make that spirit come alive today. We can’t do it without you.

Why are you afraid?

BS”D
Parshiot Matot-Masai 5777
By HaRav Nachman Kahana

Why are you afraid?

Major General Yaakov Amidror, former head of Israel’s National Security Council, said at a Monday press conference that at some point Israel will have to destroy all Iranian infrastructures in Syria. He stated that Israel’s interests must be taken into account by the Russians and the Americans when considering possible peace agreements in Syria.

In Amidror’s opinion, Israel needs to first of all “take care of its strategic goal” of “keeping Iran and Hezbollah from building launch pads in Syria.” Regardless of how much Israel wants the Syrian civil war to end, “the price can’t be having Iran and Hezbollah on our borders.”

Yalkut Shimoni (Book of Yeshayahu #499) deals with military conflicts of the future, which is now:

Interestingly, but not coincidental, the Yalkut states that Paras (Persia-Iran) will be the dread of humanity. World leaders will be frustrated in their futile efforts to save what they can. The people of Yisrael will also be petrified by the impending danger. And HaShem will say to us, “Why are you afraid? All of this I have done in order to bring you the awaited redemption. And this redemption will not be like the redemption from Egypt, which was followed by suffering. This redemption will be absolute, followed with peace”.

Who will bring about the final redemption?

In view of the life-threatening dangers facing our nation from Arabs and Moslems, military service in Tzahal is the fulfillment of the most essential contemporary mitzva.

In this week’s parasha, Moshe angrily rebukes the tribes of Reuven and Gad when they requested to receive their land portions on the liberated eastern side of the Jordan River without having to go to war together with the other tribes.

האחיכם יבאו למלחמה ואתם תשבו פה:
Would your brothers (the other tribes who still have to liberate the western side of the Jordan) come to war while you sit here?


Devorah the Shofetet, denounced the people of Meroz for evading the call to defend the nation! (Shoftim 5,23)

אורו מרוז אמר מלאך ה’ ארו ארור ישביה כי לא באו לעזרת ה…
Curse Meroz said the angel of the Lord. Curse its people because they did not come to help the Lord,


The Chareidi sector is opposed to military service in Tzahal, but are splintered regarding the reasons for their objections. The most extreme elements claim that the Medina was born in sin and has no right to exist, and would welcome the return of some foreign entity – even the Arabs – to rule over the land until the Mashiach appears.

Another group claims that since the sins of the secular are responsible for our security problems, they are the ones who must serve.

The more enlightened Chareidim claim that their Torah study is protecting the Medina, no less than Tzahal.

So, the question is: now that leading Chareidi rabbis have relinquished the helm of leadership of the Medina by prohibiting their students (numbering in the tens of thousands) from taking part in the defense of our holy land and nation, who will bring about the final redemption?

The answer is Iran.

Changes to the status quo are on the horizon

Current events are following HaShem’s plan as revealed by Chazal.

The US and European States signed a bad agreement with Iran, the result of an American President who is a closet Jihadist or an incompetent with a narcissist complex.

The Redeemer will be HaShem, but what is the role that Iran will play?

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 97b) records a fundamental controversy between two leading tana’ic rabbis – Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua.

Rabbi Eliezer believes that redemption will come about only after the Jewish people do teshuva (to repent and return to the correct path). HaShem will not initiate any act of forgiveness or redemption, but will react to our teshuva initiative.

Rabbi Yehoshua disputes this, claiming that when a certain point in time will be reached, and the Jewish nation will not have done teshuva, HaShem will create a situation whereby we will be forced to return to the Torah. This will be done by HaShem giving rise to a despotic leader whose decrees will be even harsher than those of Haman.

Rambam in Hilchot Bait Habechira 7,23 states:

בשעה שנכנסין הבנאים לבנות ולתקן בהיכל או להוציא משם את הטומאה, מצוה שיהיו הנכנסין כהנים תמימים, לא מצאו תמימים יכנסו בעלי מומין, ואם אין שם כהנים יכנסו לוים, לא מצאו לוים יכנסו ישראל, מצוה בטהורים, לא מצאו טהורים יכנסו טמאים וגו’.
When builders enter the Temple to construct or repair it, or to remove an impure object, it is a mitzvah for the craftsmen who enter to be kohanim who do not possess any disqualifying physical deformities.


If no capable craftsmen meeting those criteria can be found, then kohanim with disqualifying deformities should enter. If none are found, Levites should enter. If none are found, Israelites should enter.

It is a mitzvah for those who enter to be tahor (ritually pure). If no capable craftsmen who are tahor can be found, then craftsmen who are tamai (impure) may enter.

At the end of the 19th century when HaShem saw that the time to return home had arrived, He certainly preferred that the initiators of our national renaissance would be great Torah scholars leading large numbers of God-fearing laymen. When the great scholars did not come forward, HaShem brought forth a non-observant visionary by the name of Theodor (Binyamin Zeev) Herzl to fill the historical void by establishing the Zionist movement. He was followed by groups of Jews who too were not Torah observant, but their hearts and minds were obsessed with rebuilding the Land and bringing millions of Jews home.

As the Rambam wrote regarding the construction of the Bet Hamikdash, the order of preference was from the observant craftsmen down to whoever there was who could do the job. HaShem gathered together Jews of every persuasion to clear the swamps, pave the roads, build the buildings, plant the vineyards, establish industries, form the military and a modern robust nation, called today Medinat Yisrael.

And just like the Bet Hamikdash, the moment it was completed, no tamai person could enter, no Levi could enter the precinct of the kohen and only the Kohen Gadol could enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur; so too the Medina. While it is being constructed, every craftsman can contribute his part; but when the Medina will reach a point decided by HaShem, changes will occur.

It is happening now, and those changes will be generated by Iran.

Iran’s role

Dire threats will be made by the Ayotullas of Iran to the people of Israel. The dangers will create here an atmosphere of trepidation, causing many people to leave the country.

Those with weak spiritual connections to the State and to Torah will either return to the Torah through teshuva or leave the land.

The three hundred and fifty thousand gentiles from the Soviet Union who do not want to convert halachically will leave.

Chareidim who do not identify with the Medina will find living more comfortable in other places in the world, and many kollel men will find that the tension is interfering with their learning, and leave.

Millions of Arabs will flee to wherever they can, as they did in 1948.

The radical leftists who undermine the foundations of the Medina will leave.

The Jews in the galut will certainly not want to be here.

We lived in Kiryat Sanz in Netanya and during the three weeks preceding the Six Day War in 1967, we witnessed whole families escaping their own fears for “greener” pastures of the USA and Europe.

Their punishment was swift in coming. It was during the Six Day War that Medinat Yisrael liberated all of Yerushalayim, and the Medina became three times larger in six days. Those who had left were not here to rejoice with us.

In the future, those who will remain here will be the Jews who have an “irrational” love for the Land and believe deeply that HaShem will never abandon His children in Eretz Yisrael. They will be the old entrenched families who came here a hundred or more years ago – the Rivlins, the Blaus, the Solomons, the Kahanas of Tzfat, and the Liders of Tiveria. And of course, the knitted kipot people and the military personnel who are willing to sacrifice all for the State.

This is the role set about for Iran. To create fear that will cleanse the country of “inappropriate” residents and retain only those who are sincerely loyal to HaShem.

When that happens, we will witness the most astounding and impressive miracles of salvation which will defy all human imagination.

The Mashiach will appear and Tzahal will be his vessel to destroy the foreign enemies of HaShem and prepare the Land for the reappearance of the Shechina in the Bet Hamikdash on the Temple Mount.

This is what the Yalkut Shimoni means when it says: And HaShem will say to us, “Why are you afraid? All of this I have done in order to bring you the awaited redemption.”

I hope and pray that HaShem will grant me, my family and friends to be among those who will witness these extraordinary events.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5777/2017 Nachman Kahana

The Shamrak Report: Israel Can Change the Status Quo

In response to the Temple Mount terror attack Israel took three unusual steps:
The first was expected, closing the Temple Mount to everyone as police investigated the attack, including if any Waqf officials aided the terrorists in conveying and hiding the terrorists’ weapons on the Temple Mount.
The second, was detaining the Jerusalem Mufti for incitement, and arresting three suspicious Waqf officials.
The third move Israel took was to shut down the Old City on Friday to non-resident Muslims...
But, despite the official outrage, demands, threats and pleas by Jordan, the Waqf, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to reopen the Temple Mount, there was no explosions, no protests, and no riots by the general Muslim population in Israel in response to the closure of the Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem...
The police also announced they will be changing the security arrangements on the Temple Mount, installing metal detectors and cameras, a move Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have refused to accept in the past...
Israel can and should finally act like the sovereign entity on the Temple Mount, and the police can finally discard their irrational fear of what the Muslims may or may not do in response...
The obvious conclusion is that prayer arrangements can and must be changed so that Jews can also receive their fair share of exclusive time and freedom of worship on the Jewish people’s holiest site, without being harassed and watched by the Waqf and other Islamic provocateurs. (Netanyahu said he plans to gradually reopen the Temple Mount to all visitors on Sunday afternoon. He also promised to maintain the so-called status quo. He is not leader of Jewish people – the gutless wimp must go!)
Amid deadly Temple Mount terror attack, Netanyahu resists calls to change status quo. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fended off the calls with a blunt statement from his office, saying, “The status quo will be protected.”
Police now believe that the weapons used in Friday’s Temple Mount terror attack were hidden in the holy site days ahead of the attack. The police are investigating if the terrorists received any inside help, specifically from Waqf officials, who may have hidden the weapons, two Carl Gustav machine guns, a pistol and knives.
Israel reopened an ultra-sensitive holy site on Sunday, closed after an attack that killed two policemen, but Muslim worshippers were refusing to enter due to new security measures including metal detectors and cameras. “We reject the changes imposed by the Israeli government,” Sheikh Omar Kiswani, Al Aqsa director, told reporters outside. “We will not enter through these metal detectors.”
Hundreds gathered in an Umm el-Fahm cemetery on Sunday evening as the three terrorists responsible for Friday’s deadly terror attack near the Temple Mount were buried. The three terrorists, all of whom were residents of Umm el-Fahm, were praised at a special memorial ceremony held at the local mosque they attended. "All we know about them is that they served the religion of Allah faithfully,” the preacher said. "...The Prophet taught us that one who goes out to worship Allah and is killed is considered a martyr.” “Our heads are lifted up by the fighting of young Palestinians who are still fighting in the name of the people.”
FOOD for THOUGHT by Steven Shamrak

For quite a while the Western governments have been vigorously opposing people’s negative attitude to Islamic-Terrorism. They had even invented new term - Islamophobia! At the same time, there are no real efforts to fight new wave of anti-Semitism, ‘inspired’ by the new arrivals. Muslim anti-Semites found fertile ground among traditional Jew-haters!

Three Israeli Arab terrorists killed two police officers on Friday morning in a terrorist shooting attack on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The terrorists walked from INSIDE the Temple Mount to Lion's Gate after prayers and walked towards the Old City's Lions Gate, seeing the police officers the terrorists fired, and then ran back towards the mosques on the Temple Mount. Terrorists were all Israeli citizens. (Nothing has changed! Arab League scolds Israel for Temple Mt. closure, failing to mention the attack. The PA incites terrorism against Israel/Jews and Arabs everywhere are happy about it!)

Settlements are no Longer the Obsession!

Since Donald Trump moved into the White House, the international community’s single-issue hyper-focus on Israeli settlements would seem to have been consigned to a past era. Even the Europeans, who haven’t substantially changed their policies regarding settlements, have toned down their criticism. Obama bet everything on Israel ceasing settlement expansion, but the current White House has made it just one of many issues, leaving Ramallah no choice but to acquiesce.
The widow of deceased Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat said that it is time for the region’s Arabs to recognize the state of Israel. “We need to clearly express the recognition of Israel; no one can doubt its existence.” However, she did not say whether she believed Israel has a right to exist only that it does exist. (Wow! Have they stopped paying her a multi-million dollar pension?)
Personal Popularity First
Labor party's popularity soars in first polls after Avi Gabbay wins Labor party leadership, overtakes Yesh Atid. Advantage that Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party has enjoyed over the Labor Party under the leadership of Yitzhak Herzog has disappeared, and that the battle for the leadership of Israel's left-wing bloc is wide open once again. The centrist Kulanu party, headed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, has also lost ground since to Labor since Gabbay's victory. (Avi Gabbay, the man who came out of nowhere‏, joined Labor about six months ago. There are too many political parties in Israel, driven mainly by personal ego and corruption, not policies! Many of them share similar platforms, but would not join together!) 
According to the survey, 65 percent believe anti-Jewish hatred is a serious problem, with 24% saying it’s “very serious”, while 32% attribute it to anti-Jewish hatred. The Jewish civil rights group’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents found 541 reported anti-Semitic incidents in the first four months of the current year, including 380 episodes of harassment, 161 bomb threats to Jewish institutions and 155 cases of anti-Jewish vandalism.
Quote of the Week:
“While I agree with you (Steven) that Netanyahu must be replaced, I am sorry to say that there is no one in the Likud that would do what must be done to put Israel back on the right track and off the Oslo suicide plan.  Erdan, Elkin, Katz and Levin are all complicit with what Netanyahu is doing.  They are more interested in keeping their jobs than doing what is right. It is not just an alternative to Netanyahu that is needed, but an alternative to the whole leftist (modern anti-Zionist) ideology that has been running Israel for decades, no matter who is in power in the Knesset.  The Likud continues to implement the policies of the left because they do not have an alternative...” - Jeffrey Cohen, reader’s reply – Israel has leadership problem and lack of coherent national plan of freeing Jewish land from occupation by enemies. Recycling the old unworkable ideas of so-called peace initiatives, imposed on Israel by enemies and ‘friends’, will not bring peace but terror and the loss of Jewish lives!
Israel’s Security Cabinet has stalled a decision on whether or not to transfer a small portion of land from Area C in western Samaria! Israel’s Security Cabinet met to debate and vote on what’s being called the “Qalqilya Plan”; a series of land transfers from Area C (under full Israeli control) in Judea and Samaria to PA cities, facilitating the expansion of those cities. The plan, which is being pushed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) would also permit the construction of some 14,000 housing units in Qalqilya, roughly doubling the size of the PA-controlled city. It was decided to temporarily freeze the proposal. 
The plan as a “reward for terror”! Qalqilya sits next to a major Israeli highway at the country’s narrowest point, just 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the Mediterranean Sea. 
Jewish Israelis in Judea and Samaria wonder why their own communities are in deep freeze, while Israel is discussing plans to build thousands of housing units in Qalqilya.
Following consultation with ministers, after the terrorist attack in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Office issued a statement confirming that the status quo (at the holy places) will be preserved.(How many traitors, like Liberman, in the government and for how long will Israel tolerate?)
According to Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Cabinet Member Ze'ev Elkin, the plan will not be approved, not only because it does not have a majority in the cabinet, but because of the simple fact that it makes no sense to allow the Hamas-controlled city to control Route 6 and cities in the Sharon region.

So Now American Zionists Want to Boycott Israel

By Alan M. Dershowitz

(Ed. note: "Zionists"? Maybe "so-called Zionists" is more appropriate. Well, it's Dersh so you get the idea and while he doesn't always, here it's an "A" for effort.)
  • "We shall . . . prevent any theocratic tendencies from coming to the fore on the part of our priesthood. We shall keep our priests [by which is meant Rabbis] within the confines of heir temples." – Theodor Herzl, Der Judenstaat
  • Tough love may be an appropriate response in family matters, but boycotting a troubled nation which has become a pariah among the hard-left is not the appropriate response to the Israeli government's recent decisions regarding religion. The answer is not disengagement, but rather greater engagement....
  • To do otherwise is to engage in a form of BDS – the tactic currently employed by Israel's enemies to delegitimate the Nation state of the Jewish people. Supporters of BDS will point to these benign boycotts as a way of justifying their malignant ones.... The role of American Jews is limited to persuasion, not coercion.
Western Wall In Israel. (Photo from PublicDomainPictures.net)
Several prominent American Zionists – including long-time supporters of Israel – are so outraged at the Israeli government's recent decision regarding the Western Wall and non-orthodox conversion, that they are urging American Jews to reduce or even eliminate their support for Israel. According to an article by Elliot Abrams in Mosaic, Ike Fisher a prominent member of the AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] board, threatened to "suspend" all further financial support for Israel. Daniel Gordis, a leading voice for Conservative Judaism, urged American Jews to cancel their El Al tickets and fly Delta or United. He also proposed "withholding donations to Israeli hospitals, so that 'They start running out of money' and 'begin to falter.'" This sort of emotional response is reminiscent of the temper tantrum outgoing President Barak Obama engaged in when he refused to veto the UN's recent anti-Israel resolution.

UNESCO Supports Terrorism

By Bassam Tawil

  • This is the same Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership that purports to be working toward achieving peace and coexistence with Israel. In the upside-down world of Palestinian denial, such repudiation of the truth is par for the course: the "culture of peace" lie that Abbas fed to President Donald Trump several weeks ago has about as much truth value as this newest deadly fabrication.
  • As of now, Palestinians also have an international agency (UNESCO) to support their anti-Israel narrative and rhetoric. The UNESCO resolutions are being interpreted by many Palestinians as proof that Israel has no right to exist. For many Palestinians, the resolutions are a green light to pursue their "armed struggle" to "liberate Palestine, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river."
  • The latest UNESCO resolutions are a catalyst for Palestinian terrorism against Israelis. Yet they are more than that: they also make the prospect of peace even more distant.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs of Hebron. (Image source: Zairon/Wikimedia Commons)
What do Hamas and UNESCO have in common?
Both believe that Jews have no historical, religious or emotional attachment to the Holy Land.
The recent UNESCO resolutions concerning Jerusalem and Hebron are precisely what terror groups that deny Israel's right to exist, such as Hamas, have long been hoping to hear from the international community.
The first resolution denies that Israel is the sovereign power over Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, while the second one designates Hebron and the Jewish Tomb of the Patriarchs as an "Endangered Palestinian World Heritage Site."
The two UNESCO resolutions, in fact, back the position of Hamas and other Palestinians -- namely that Israel has no right to exist. These decisions provide Hamas and other terror groups with ammunition with which to destroy Israel, killing as many Jews as possible in the process.

Who Are We to Tell Religious Jews What to Do at the Western Wall?

By Irit Linur, Ha'aretz

After all, the Orthodox made the Western Wall a holy site, while we secular Jews banished God from our lives.

(Ed. note: Very impressive for a Ha'aretz columnist. Even more impressive that Ha'aretz printed it)

Like many secular Jews, I am not particularly interested in the Kotel. It has no shade or Zara outlet. But, I hopped over there this week for a surprise visit, and two things caught my eye. First, there was the mixed gender prayer space. It is beautiful, built on an impressive archaeological site below Robinson’s Arch. Unlike the Western Wall plaza, it is shaded, and you can enter it without a security check.

The second impression was the difference in the number of visitors to the two plazas. There were thousands of people in the Western Wall plaza on a regular weekday. There was just a cat in the mixed section. In light of the outcry that arose around the nixing of the Kotel agreement one would have expected to see thousands of Women of the Wall, imbued with religious spirit, alongside bar mitzva ceremonies in which grandma need not stand on a chair to get a peek at the men’s section. However, the mixed section was practically abandoned.

A few meters away, the Western Wall is teeming with Jewish life, despite the long – and gender-segregated – security inspection line. It is full of life because for hundreds of years its natural guardians – the Orthodox – preserved its holiness. They engage in it, with texts that are hundreds or thousands of years old, and a rabbinic hierarchy, and tradition and strict rules that if they change at all, change s-l-o-w-l-y. And they are engaged in the daily observance of commandments and prohibitions that not everyone can rationally explain, and some of them are unacceptable. And even those that are acceptable can be deceiving: Orthodox Jews’ strict observance of Shabbat does not stem from an adherence to socialism or primordial support for workers of the world but rather a godly commandment. Orthodox Jews avoid schnitzel with butter even though they know chickens do not produce milk. And the Kotel is most definitely holy because anyone who keeps chicken and milk separate is exactly the type to find holiness in stones.

The obsession with holiness is sometimes annoying, perhaps even arrogant, so particularly witty secular Jews can mockingly call God “an imaginary friend” or compare him to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But when faith in an imaginary friend begets the Bible, a people and a 2,000-year-old culture as well as a moral system that ignited Western culture, you can drop the smugness with which people brag about their atheist purity. And let’s admit the truth: Not keeping commandments is much easier than keeping them.

Some will say that even without commandments secular Jews are no less Jewish than religious ones, so they should be equal partners is determining the character of the Kotel. It is correct in principle, but there is meaning to keeping your religious traditions, or at least recognizing them, before pretending to make religious rulings. I, for example, am a typical product of state secular education. I was surprised to discover in my first year of university that the Rambam was a world-famous philosopher and not just another baba from the graves of righteous Jews. Thus, I still don’t feel ready to write a prayer equal to the Aleinu, or to prove that God is totally cool with driving on Shabbat and with a female rabbi. You have to wait 500 or 600, or even 2,000 years for that.

And if we insist on secularism as a value, it’s hard for me to understand the accompanying insistence on sitting on the tribunal, free of religion’s bonds, and shouting out directives to a Jew who fasted not only on Yom Kippur but also on… nu, remind me … oh, right, Gedalya, and furiously reads the entire Hagaddah every Passover seder, including the part after the meal. We are arguing with these people about Judaism, and what is the right Judaism, and how Judaism should be, while we are armed with ignorance that we acquired through state secular education, a very partial study of the Bible, “Two are holding a tallis” from seventh-grade Talmud class, and that’s it. We sometimes seem like six-year-old children who are trying to join a philosophy discussion without knowing who Plato is.

You don’t have to be religious to recognize the religious contribution to turning the Kotel into much more than an archaeological site. Religious Jews made the Kotel holy long before we extended Israeli sovereignty over it, including periods in which praying there was dangerous. They prayed without a partition between men and women when the Ottoman regime forbade Jewish worship. Religious Jews adhered to their imaginary friend, whom we banished from our secular lives. We rejected large parts of the cultural enterprise that Judaism fostered, and we even defended our children from it. We complained about religious influence in the education system, instead of complaining that they didn’t teach us how a siddur looks.

Excuse me, but I don’t believe a sudden outburst of holy lust has overcome us. It looks to me like the disappointment of those who fully believed you could have a Jewish state without Judaism, and perhaps an overreaction by those whose enlightened sensitivities are repulsed by any level of religious feeling.

The fight over the Kotel isn’t really about Reform Jews. They are a marginal group in Israel. They may be a – not especially effective – barrier against mass assimilation. However, Israel is the only place in the world in which you can be a Jew and, without fearing for the Judaism of your grandchildren, cast off the burden of commandments and still feel as Jewish as Moses. None of this could exist without religious Jews. As a secular person, I believe that if we run the Kotel according to secular standards, it will look less like a holy site and more like a parking lot. Fortunately, the Orthodox will keep praying there even then.

Like many secular Jews, I am not particularly interested in the Kotel. It has no shade or Zara outlet. But, I hopped over there this week for a surprise visit, and two things caught my eye. First, there was the mixed gender prayer space. It is beautiful, built on an impressive archaeological site below Robinson’s Arch. Unlike the Western Wall plaza, it is shaded, and you can enter it without a security check.

The second impression was the difference in the number of visitors to the two plazas. There were thousands of people in the Western Wall plaza on a regular weekday. There was just a cat in the mixed section. In light of the outcry that arose around the nixing of the Kotel agreement one would have expected to see thousands of Women of the Wall, imbued with religious spirit, alongside bar mitzva ceremonies in which grandma need not stand on a chair to get a peek at the men’s section. However, the mixed section was practically abandoned.

A few meters away, the Western Wall is teeming with Jewish life, despite the long – and gender-segregated – security inspection line. It is full of life because for hundreds of years its natural guardians – the Orthodox – preserved its holiness. They engage in it, with texts that are hundreds or thousands of years old, and a rabbinic hierarchy, and tradition and strict rules that if they change at all, change s-l-o-w-l-y. And they are engaged in the daily observance of commandments and prohibitions that not everyone can rationally explain, and some of them are unacceptable. And even those that are acceptable can be deceiving: Orthodox Jews’ strict observance of Shabbat does not stem from an adherence to socialism or primordial support for workers of the world but rather a godly commandment. Orthodox Jews avoid schnitzel with butter even though they know chickens do not produce milk. And the Kotel is most definitely holy because anyone who keeps chicken and milk separate is exactly the type to find holiness in stones.

The obsession with holiness is sometimes annoying, perhaps even arrogant, so particularly witty secular Jews can mockingly call God “an imaginary friend” or compare him to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But when faith in an imaginary friend begets the Bible, a people and a 2,000-year-old culture as well as a moral system that ignited Western culture, you can drop the smugness with which people brag about their atheist purity. And let’s admit the truth: Not keeping commandments is much easier than keeping them.

Some will say that even without commandments secular Jews are no less Jewish than religious ones, so they should be equal partners is determining the character of the Kotel. It is correct in principle, but there is meaning to keeping your religious traditions, or at least recognizing them, before pretending to make religious rulings. I, for example, am a typical product of state secular education. I was surprised to discover in my first year of university that the Rambam was a world-famous philosopher and not just another baba from the graves of righteous Jews. Thus, I still don’t feel ready to write a prayer equal to the Aleinu, or to prove that God is totally cool with driving on Shabbat and with a female rabbi. You have to wait 500 or 600, or even 2,000 years for that.

And if we insist on secularism as a value, it’s hard for me to understand the accompanying insistence on sitting on the tribunal, free of religion’s bonds, and shouting out directives to a Jew who fasted not only on Yom Kippur but also on… nu, remind me … oh, right, Gedalya, and furiously reads the entire Hagaddah every Passover seder, including the part after the meal. We are arguing with these people about Judaism, and what is the right Judaism, and how Judaism should be, while we are armed with ignorance that we acquired through state secular education, a very partial study of the Bible, “Two are holding a tallis” from seventh-grade Talmud class, and that’s it. We sometimes seem like six-year-old children who are trying to join a philosophy discussion without knowing who Plato is.

You don’t have to be religious to recognize the religious contribution to turning the Kotel into much more than an archaeological site. Religious Jews made the Kotel holy long before we extended Israeli sovereignty over it, including periods in which praying there was dangerous. They prayed without a partition between men and women when the Ottoman regime forbade Jewish worship. Religious Jews adhered to their imaginary friend, whom we banished from our secular lives. We rejected large parts of the cultural enterprise that Judaism fostered, and we even defended our children from it. We complained about religious influence in the education system, instead of complaining that they didn’t teach us how a siddur looks.

Excuse me, but I don’t believe a sudden outburst of holy lust has overcome us. It looks to me like the disappointment of those who fully believed you could have a Jewish state without Judaism, and perhaps an overreaction by those whose enlightened sensitivities are repulsed by any level of religious feeling.

The fight over the Kotel isn’t really about Reform Jews. They are a marginal group in Israel. They may be a – not especially effective – barrier against mass assimilation. However, Israel is the only place in the world in which you can be a Jew and, without fearing for the Judaism of your grandchildren, cast off the burden of commandments and still feel as Jewish as Moses. None of this could exist without religious Jews. As a secular person, I believe that if we run the Kotel according to secular standards, it will look less like a holy site and more like a parking lot. Fortunately, the Orthodox will keep praying there even then.