Tuesday, September 27, 2011
You can read all about it in the Jewish liturgy for the New Year celebration. For an enhanced experience, purchase a good commentary for the poetry you will encounter and to understand the connections between Creation, G-dly Judgment and the three weeks of Judgment that begin September 29 and end on October 19, a day called Hoshanna Rabbah. it will be a good investment and, possibly, an excellent overview for both the Jewish High Holy Day(s) process and the unfolding drama at the United Nations.What? That’s right—the UN—because, you see, Jews do not believe in coincidence. We believe, for example, that it may not be accidental that the drama at the UN over Jewish land has begun on the Jewish Elul 24, that day before Creation long ago when all was empty and spiritually dark-- an incredibly inauspicious day, if ever there was one. The Jewish day Elul 24 corresponds this year to Friday, September 23, the exact day that Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the UN with dark distortions and unG-dly falsehoods that denied all Jewish connection to the land of Israel. Abbas and the day before Creation: coincidence?
While many see the events unfolding at the UN as a step towards peace, many also see it as a dark day for the world because it represents a formal and world-wide attempt to strip Jewish land away from Jews. Think about the arrogance of it all: the Arab currently holds more than 99.5% of real estate in the Middle East. The Jew holds practically nothing. The Arab says there is no Jewish case for a Jewish homeland. The Jew deserves nothing. The Arab must have more land, the Jew must give it to him and the UN must approve. Do you see the timing here? As the world prepares to stand up against G-d’s beloved nation, G-d prepares His annual accounting of the entire world. Coincidence?
Many feel that an Arab attempt to grab land out from under the Jew is unconscionable, given the regional real estate context and the religious, historical and archaeological record in Israel. Does Abbas’ UN speech occurring on this day mean that he is asking the world to embrace a spiritual and moral darkness? Do I mean to suggest a connection between Creation of the Universe and the UN’s taking a first step towards the possible ‘uncreation’ of the Jewish state? Do I suggest that UN action against Israel at this time of year will not be good for the nations of the world because G-d is in His ‘Judgment Mode’? I am not qualified to answer these questions. I can only wonder at the apparent ‘coincidence’ of these events coming together at exactly the same time.
UN discussions over Israel began last week. We will watch the UN—and world-wide fallout from their activities—for at least the next three weeks. The world will consider the fate of the Jewish state just as our G-d considers the fate of both Jews and the world, during a parallel time-period—from (this year) September 29 to October 19. For G-d, the fate of the Jewish people (and the world) is a serious issue. He will not analyze and judge on the same day. The same appears true for the world; their deliberations, too, will not all be completed in a single day. The world judges Israel at the same time G-d judges Israel and the world. Coincidence?
Why is this important? Our heritage teaches that those who desecrate the name of Israel desecrate the name of G-d, which means that those who will be the enemy of Israel are the enemy of G-d. To the religious Jew, how we act during our three-week period of Judgment can determine how we are judged. So as the UN deliberates—or prevaricates-- we will see how the nations of the world act towards Israel and towards the enemies of Israel. We will see how citizens of the world, and the world’s media, act. Already, for example, we have heard French President Sarkozy say, “We cannot respond to [the] aspiration for freedom and democracy..so spendidly and bravely expressed by the Arab peoples [during the ‘Arab Spring’] by perpetuating a tragedy, that of the Israel-Palestine conflict” (Neil MacFarquhar, ‘Palestine bid upstages Arab Spring at UN’, New York Times, September 23, 2011). How, indeed, will the world act during this time of Judgment—and how will G-d Judge those actions? Will Heaven and Earth speak?
Jews believe that G-d watches, counts and measures how the nations speak of Israel and Jerusalem, for our tradition teaches that G-d is zealous for His beloved; G-d is not silent for Zion. How will the nations of the world speak of Israel? How will the peoples of the world look upon G-d’s Jerusalem? We will soon find out.
May Hashem, Creator of all, bless the Jewish people in this New Year 5772.
Monday, September 26, 2011
When Israel responded to Arab attacks that took place between August 18-25, 2011, it did so in a nuanced manner. The Arab attacks killed ten Israelis (including those who died from rocket attacks) in the most serious anti-Israel assault in years. Nevertheless, despite the length of the fatality list, Israeli military action was muted. Clearly, the military’s goal was not to eradicate terrorism. Rather, it appeared designed to send two messages: (1) back off; and (2) as we strike back at you, we will show respect. We have seen this type of response before. It is how Israel reacts when Jews are murdered. It is designed to show that there is a cost for killing Jews; but at the same time, it also shows courtesy and deference to the Arab.
How does that work? Look at the facts. Respect for the Arab is everywhere: illegal settlements—and attacks-- by Bedouin in the Negev region are addressed by a specific government proposal-- to gift to the Bedouin 1.2 billion NIS and up to 250,000 dunams of land; Jewish settlements in Samaria, however, are demolished (see Migron, Ga’on Yarden and Alei Ayin); illegal building by Arabs in ‘Area C’ (designated by the Oslo Accords as belonging to Jews) goes on unabated while the Israeli government refuses to issue building permits for Jewish construction in Jewish areas of the West Bank; Jerusalem police appear to do nothing as an Arab mob destroys a police vehicle (Arutz Sheva, September 5, 2011) but they fire rubber bullets at Jewish residents at Havat Gilad and use violence on Jews at Givat Ronen (Arutz Sheva , June 2, 2011). Such favoritism is not isolated. Respect for the Arab at Jews’ expense shows up in the news (Arutz Sheva, Expose: Blatant Anti-Jewish Policy in Judea and Samaria, September 6, 2011) as an accusation of discriminatory (pro-Arab) government policy. It has permeated the work of Shimon Peres for at least twenty years. It so saturates the judiciary that Israel’s High Court appears to have become an ‘activist court’, which is a Court that issues its rulings because of political considerations and not legal precedence—a dangerous behaviour that always threatens to undermine a democracy no matter where it occurs. Such respect for the Arab appears required to reach the highest military ranks—and then shows up in decisions made at that level: read the revised IDF rules of engagement for IDF soldiers in combat against the Arab (see also Caroline Glick, “Our World: Funding the enemy” Jerusalem Post, September 20,2011) . If you have questions about this respect for the Arab, ask Jewish residents of West Bank hilltops. They see it every day.
How do Israel Air Force (IAF) retaliatory strikes show this same respect for the Arab? Israel military response to terror--or rocket attack from Gaza--is almost always careful, appearing at times to be delicate and meticulous-- only a certain number of sorties are attempted; only specific targets are hit; only certain weapons systems are employed—and always, the typical Gazan resident understands that his neighbourhood and shopping areas will usually remain intact. Jews in Israel, meanwhile, receive no such respect from the Arab.
Certainly, Israel will not remain idle when Israelis are killed. The IDF will respond. But the response will be muted, even deferential: in a manner that might be described as considerate, IAF strikes will be quick, limited and surgical. Arab feathers will not be ruffled too much. Acts of aggression against Israel will be tolerated, if spaced out (think about rockets falling on Jews in Southern Israel). If the Arab attacks children, infants and women, the Israeli response will invariably use sufficient restraint to show a consideration for Arab casualties and a deference to their sense of safety. The Arab, however, will shoot and then walk up to a wounded Jew and put a bullet in her head (see news stories, August 18-21, 2011). By comparison, Israel will be dainty. Does this consideration benefit Israel?
One could argue that Israeli nuanced response to Arab terror works. Look at the August 18-25 incident: after Israeli air retaliations, the Arabs complained, they went to the UN and they denounced Israel’s ‘escalation’--but no international outcry occurred, no UN resolutions were passed condemning Israel, no Arab armies attacked Israel, and the intensity of the rocket attacks diminished. Was the result perfect? No. But the response did accomplish three goals of Israel’s current military doctrine: it did not provoke escalation; it fought the terror attacks; and it created a relatively low casualty rate.
Does this approach work? According to Israel’s current military doctrine, the answer is—yes, but only if Israel continues to act with delicacy and deference towards the Arab, and shows respect for the Arab in our military doctrine, our police policies, our judiciary and our government bureaucracy. Is this a correct policy?
This question is important because, as our New Year begins, Arabs have begun to riot, throw stones at cars, burn Jewish crops and attack isolated Jewish homes—while the IDF issues a warning that any soldier who fires his rifle at an Arab is subject to legal prosecution, which could be a dangerous new variation of ‘Respect the Arab’. Is this how we protect our soldiers and citizens? Perhaps it is time to look at other forms of ‘rules of engagement’ for our soldiers. After all, we are the Jewish nation; shouldn’t we consult our Torah?
Is our Israeli leadership, both military and civilian, capable of such Torah-based thinking—or do the citizens of Israel have to demand to see a different, Jewish leadership?
Sunday, September 25, 2011
By Daniel Greenfield
(Ed: Who organized and paid for the tent protestors? Originally posted at Frontpage Mag)
In late February, the Israeli Knesset passed the NGO Funding Transparency Bill by 40 to 34. It had been a long journey for the bill, which despite, its neutered, state was still a declaration of war by the conservative Likud Party against the shadow NGO empire that was the Soros way.
While the bill was no longer able to empower the lifting of tax exempt status for foreign funded NGOs and it only addressed foreign funding of NGOs by government entities, it was a major step for foreign funding transparency. The Soros empire had been built on non-transparency, on hidden donor lists and front groups funded by think tanks with money pipelined in grants through a dozen different organizations.
NGO transparency threatened the entire Soros empire and the passage of even a neutered bill meant that Israel might finally be ready to begin rolling back the peel on the rotten fruits of the Open Society Institute. First governments, then foreign funders, parliamentary inquiries into foreign funding, and then the loss of tax exempt status for left-wing NGOs waging a civil war.
The response came quickly. Less than two months later, Stanley Greenberg, whose firm had done work for OSI, presented a plan to use social protests to create a new majority against the government. Some of the funding for the protests came from fellow Shadow Party billionaire, S. Daniel Abraham.
Abraham was a former board member of Soros’ International Crisis Group and had provided the manpower for J Street, while the Soros money stayed hidden in the paperwork that no one was supposed to see. The president of Abraham’s eponymous organization is Robert Wexler, the former congressman from J Street and an adviser on the Middle East to the Obama campaign.
Netanyahu’s sharp exchange with Obama in May motivated even Democrats who weren’t in Soros’ vest pocket to find a way to force him out of office. It was no longer just fear of losing the Israeli left as their hand puppet – the American Jewish vote was in play. Replacing Netanyahu with a lefty eager to appease the terrorists would heal the split with Obama and Jewish voters.
The American and European left could provide the money and the strategy, but the Israeli left would have to do the heavy lifting to save the millions of dollars flowing their way from their foreign backers. On the Israeli side were left-wing veterans of Clinton’s successful effort to topple Netanyahu. Greenberg had been on that campaign and the plan was to do it all over again.
Two months after Greenberg’s presentation, the ball was rolling. Eldad Yaniv, who had been there when the master plan to take over the country was unveiled, was soliciting volunteers for a campaign against housing prices. And not long after that, Daphni Leef, a radical left-wing activist, set up an encampment and a Facebook page protesting against high real estate prices. Who was Leef? She was a video editor for the New Israel Fund.
The New Israel Fund is the mothership of Israeli left-wing NGOs and it is the most threatened by donor transparency. The NIF’s 25-million-dollar annual budget is used to fund even more radical groups, some of which call for boycotting or outright destroying the State of Israel. A recent WikiLeaks report quoted the local head of NIF, Hedva Radovanitz, as saying that she expected the country to disappear and be replaced by a more “democratic” Arab state. Shatil, the NIF’s “empowerment and training,” arm mobilized tent protesters, wrote up a guide for them and brought out the money. Also helping out was Rabbis for Human Rights, recipients of sizable grants from the Open Society Institute and the Tides Foundation. Rabbis for Human Rights had even given awards in one evening to both the presidents of the NIF and the OSI.
The Greenberg plan, in typical Sorosian fashion, aimed at dispersing the organization to as many groups as possible to make it seem as if there was a plurality of voices in a grassroots populist movement, rather than a well-orchestrated plan by the left’s international backers to topple a government that had become a threat to them.
Netanyahu’s sound fiscal management had brought Israel through the global economic turmoil in fairly good shape, but the country was not immune to the rising prices that had stirred up the revolts of the Arab Spring. The social protests followed a similar template with a similar intent.
Israel is a parliamentary democracy and its elected officials can be forced out by no-confidence votes. In 1999, a no-confidence vote had ended Netanyahu’s first term in office. Protests, trumped up charges and Clinton’s meddling allowed a cabal of leftist tycoons and NGOs to oust Netanyahu and replace him with Barak. Now, the left is partying in Tel Aviv like it’s 1999 all over again.
The left is utilizing a tactical blueprint, tested around the world by Soros front groups or grantees. Hijacking protests over the price of bread allowed him to topple Mubarak. Now it’s Israel’s turn.
The campaign for Israeli NGO transparency threatens Soros’ long-term influence in Israel, and the defection of Jewish voters threatens his influence in America. His Israeli puppets have big money at stake. Soros, the Shadow Party billionaires and the EU have spent fortunes to buy up the left. Israeli left-wing university grads with no talent for tech have a lucrative alternative to dot coms in the NGO, and if their NGO mafia were to collapse, it would give the leaders of the housing protests some real economic problems to cry about.
Meanwhile, a guillotine was set up at the center of Tel Aviv’s housing protest tent city. It’s a message for Netanyahu from the man who has toppled governments and currencies that his days are numbered.
On Friday, September 23, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the United Nations (UN) about the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) request to be accepted by the international community as a sovereign state. Mr Netanyahu spoke about Israel because it would be from land Israel currently holds that this new Arab state would be formed. He spoke of Israel because, he said, he wanted the world to hear the ‘truth’. On that, he was right. The truth must be told. There are too many lies surrounding Israel today. But in that speech, Mr. Prime Minister, where was G-d? You spoke of our Biblical past, but you forgot the center of our Bible—G-d. Would there be an Israel today without the miracles we all saw during the wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973? How many Jewish soldiers who experienced those wars still talk about those miracles, and how many of your citizens and soldiers, Mr. Netanyahu, understand that without G-d’s presence in those wars there would be no Israel today?
If you refer to history, Mr. Prime Minister, you should know the historical truth: without a commitment to G-d, we do not remain Jews. If our forefathers had blotted out G-d from their lives, there would be no Jews today. There would be no Jewish nation. There would be no Jewish state. Without a commitment to G-d, we cannot and we will not sustain our struggle against haters, deniers and killers. Virtually every Jewish Israeli who has no connection to his religion and no understanding of his people’s history will vote in an instant to end the delegitimization, isolation and utter rejection he feels from world opinion. We survive and sustain our struggle—indeed, we thrive-- only because we cleave to our G-d.
It is difficult to talk about G-d in the public arena. It takes courage to do that. It takes courage to be a leader who recognizes (as King David recognized) the role of G-d in our struggle against Israel’s enemies. Mr. Netanyahu, your military record suggests that you understand the courage a soldier needs for combat. Bring that courage to the existential war we now face. David, the King-to-be, faced Goliath with the words, “ You come to me with spear and javelin, and I come to you with the name of the Lord of Hosts, the G-d of the armies of Israel which you have taunted.” Today, we face our own Goliath. We face the ‘giants’ of our Region, multitudes who would taunt us before killing us. Are you and your advisors like Saul, who feared the Goliath of that day past, or are you like David the King-to-be, who understood that G-d commands us to have courage and be strong?
Israel has many today who, like Saul, fear the giants; they wish to unJewish themselves, believing that those who hate them would then relent. But David the king-to-be knew that we are a nation both unique and apart; he saw others hate us, but instead of running away he turned to G-d; and because of that, he stood steadfast and firm before the giant who taunts—and for that, he became king. Mr. Netanyahu, we face a hostile world. We stand isolated before those who would taunt us. What shall we do? If the UN is going to entertain, essentially, the fate of the Jewish nation, shouldn’t the Jewish people demand a Jewish leader who speaks with courage?
The formal application for statehood presented last week by Mahmoud Abbas to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon contains a request for sovereign borders along 1947 lines (this is not a misprint). This application eviscerates the center of Israel, extends Gaza’s border almost to Tel Aviv, includes all of Jerusalem and demands a massive chunk of Israel’s North-central landmass that extends down to a point below the southern end of the Kinneret. It is a plan based on a hostility and an arrogance that is breathe-taking. The darkest enemies of Israel want everything that is precious to us. This is not a plan for peace, Mr. Prime Minister. It is a plan to uncreate the Jewish state—with world approval.
Mr. Netanyahu, while you are an Israeli, like it or not, you are also a Jew. You are the leader of the nation of Israel, the Jewish nation of Israel. Mr. Abbas presents to the world a plan to gut the state of Israel. How can the leader of our Jewish nation at this dark moment in history be a true leader without G-d in his speech? We have had G-d-less leadership for decades and as a result, look at where we now stand—cornered. Remember David the king-to-be; and remember, too, as the Days of Awe and Judgment approach, the Jewish people will reach success only when we call upon our Guardian to stand beside us. We can triumph over the darkness that surrounds us--but only when our leadership is true Jewish leadership stands firm and steadfast with the courage of David the king-to-be. The choice is clear Mr. Prime Minister. Be a Jewish leader, or prepare to be swept aside.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
"See I have given before you today life and good and death and bad." (From this week's Torah portion, Netzvim, Deuteronomy 30:15)
Don't we know that life is good and death is bad? Not really. Our natural will is to stop living and to merely exist. In other words, to stop working and to just be passive; to shed responsibility. To live, we must preserve a state of separation or differentiation. The world was created in a process that separated light from darkness, heaven from earth and land from water. A living organism lives in the same way: it is created from the repeated differentiation of cells. But our natural predisposition is toward osmosis - blending in and returning to the chaos that preceded life.
The choice of life requires unending energy to guard the separation. Our natural urge is to bow out of this struggle for life and to dream of a world that has no separations, no good or bad, no heaven or hell, no countries or religions, no men or women. Imagine.
So yes. It is very easy to become confused and to think that death is good and that life is bad.
"I bring as witnesses to you today the heavens and the earth, I have set life and death before you, blessing and curse, and you shall choose life so that you and your offspring may live. To love Hashem your G-d, to listen to His voice and to cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days to dwell on the Land that Hashem your G-d has vowed to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, to give it to them." (ibid, 19-20).
Israel among the nations is like the heart in the body. Their Land, the Land of Israel, is the heart of all the lands of the earth. It is the Land of Life, the beating heart that enlivens creation.
If Jews thought that they could live here in the Land of Israel, like just another 'normal' nation, reality has come along and poked its finger in our collective eye. The Land is slowly but surely being taken away from us.
Guarding the heart is not like guarding the external organs. It takes less energy to preserve the separations between them. To live in the Land of Israel, we must actively and supremely choose life. Then we will merit to live for eternity in the Land of our forefathers.
BS"D Parashat Nitzavim Vayailech 5771
Our parasha begins (Devarim 29:1-2)
אתם נצבים היום כלכם לפני ה' א-להיכם ראשיכם שבטיכם זקניכם ושטריכם כל איש ישראל: טפכם נשיכם וגרך אשר בקרב מחניך מחטב עציך עד שאב מימיך:
All of you are standing today in the presence of the LORD your God—your leaders and tribal heads, your elders and officials, and all men of Israel, together with your children and your wives, and the converts in your camps, from those who chop your wood and carry your water
While standing at the edge of the ocean, we perceive behind the smashing, relentless waves a seemingly monolithic, indivisible, integrated, homogeneous body of water.
The combined forces of the sun, moon and the rotation of the earth influence the waters to wax and wane, and they execute in perfect unison the order that the Creator imbedded in the "natural law" of gravitational pull.
However, the reality is far different.
Under water, the ocean is crisscrossed with huge rivers often flowing in different and often in opposite directions.
The ocean is HaShem’s metaphor of what occurs in the human mind. Many of the choices one makes might appear to others and to one’s self, as well, as straight forward decisions based on facts and experience. But in truth every decision goes through many stages of subconscious thought. The great Harav Reuven Magolius, author of the book Margoliot Ha’yam on the tractate Sanhedrin, explains that a court which is certified to mete out the death sentence consists of 23 judges, because every major, complex human decision goes through 23 stages of thought.
Within our thought processes, there are, like the ocean, contradictory choices: to be cautious or reckless, be consenting or firm, be cunning or pure, etc. The outcome of these contradictory thoughts are decided upon in accordance with one’s moral or religious orientation, as with the ocean where one underwater current subdues the other, resulting in the stronger rising above the weaker, or driving the weaker to change course.
This is being written on the background of uncomfortable current events, as they affect Eretz Yisrael.
I have been witness, more than once, to a remarkable event that is repeated several times a year here. An event that evokes very dramatic thoughts in me - induction day to Tzahal (the Israeli military).
On every induction day, a large (classified) number of young men answer the call to military duty to protect and preserve the people and land of Eretz Yisrael. What is remarkable and even breathtaking is the rivalry of the young men to fill the limited places in the most dangerous units of the army, navy and air force. Here the kipot serugot (knitted kipot) are conspicuous in the competition for these openings, which are never enough to satisfy the demand.
It brings to my mind a perplexing scenario.
On the one side, I see these young men with the kipot serugot competing for the most dangerous and effective units of Tzahal. On the other side I see 600,000 Jewish men from the ages of 20 to 60, cowering in fear from the thought that they would have to liberate Eretz Yisrael from the hands of the Canaanites.
It must have been an awesome sight. Six hundred thousand men who had stood at the foot of Mount Sinai while hearing the voice of HaShem calling out the first two of the Ten Commandments, now refusing to believe that HaShem would help them. They witnessed the ten plagues, experienced the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea, knew the great Moshe Rabbeinu personally; yet they fled the great mitzva of taking possession of our God-given heritage, as promised to their forefathers.
What do these young men of today’s Eretz Yisrael possess that the whole generation that left Egypt did not?
It can be expressed in one word - courage.
Courage that overcomes timidity when the moment calls for acts of altruism. Initiative that overcomes indolence when the moment calls for action. Responsibility that overcomes desertion when history calls upon one to act for the Jewish people.
Like the underwater currents of the ocean, moral currents crisscross our subconscious when we stand before critical crossroads of life.
What makes a man like Lieutenant Colonel Ro’i Klein ob"m, throw himself on a hand-grenade in order to save his soldiers, while other Jews fear to even visit the Holy Land?
What makes a young soldier charge into a machine gun nest to destroy the Arabs bent on killing all the Jews in Eretz Yisrael, while other young men his age find excuses to sleep every night between two clean sheets?
What was behind the great and enduring friendship between David and Yehonatan (son of King Shaul) that led Yehonatan to be prepared to relinquish the monarchy in favor of David?
It is expressed in one word - courage.
For both were men of great Torah erudition, and also of great personal courage in defense of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael.
World events are advancing at a dizzying pace. With Israel at the center of the centrifuge, surrounded by many nations, and some "Jewish in name only people’ - competing who can scathe the Jewish State more.
The next stage in our history will demand great courage from the people in Eretz Yisrael; courage that is acquired through true faith in the God of Israel. The Creator who promised this land to His chosen people for the purpose of establishing here a perfect society under God’s Torah, as prophesied by King David (Tehilim 27):
לדוד ה' אורי וישעי ממי אירא ה' מעוז חיי ממי אפחד:
בקרב עלי מרעים לאכל את בשרי צרי ואיבי לי המה כשלו ונפלו:
אם תחנה עלי מחנה לא יירא לבי אם תקום עלי מלחמה בזאת אני בוטח:
The LORD is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked advance against me to devour my flesh it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident
The enemies of Israel are many and diverse. They come from Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and all the rest. Many are white as Norwegians and others as black as Sudanese, with every tint in between them. They are Christians, Moslems, Atheists. But despite their differences, they all share a common hatred of the Jews, even though many have never seen or spoken to a Jew in their lives.
King David had it right again when he wrote in Tehilim 83:
שיר מזמור לאסף:
א-להים אל דמי לך אל תחרש ואל תשקט אל:
כי הנה אויביך יהמיון ומשנאיך נשאו ראש:
על עמך יערימו סוד ויתיעצו על צפוניך:
אמרו לכו ונכחידם מגוי ולא יזכר שם ישראל עוד:
כי נועצו לב יחדו עליך ברית יכרתו:
אהלי אדום וישמעאלים מואב והגרים:
גבל ועמון ועמלק פלשת עם ישבי צור:
גם אשור נלוה עמם היו זרוע לבני לוט סלה:
עשה להם כמדין כסיסרא כיבין בנחל קישון:
נשמדו בעין דאר היו דמן לאדמה:
שיתמו נדיבמו כערב וכזאב וכזבח וכצלמנע כל נסיכמו:
אשר אמרו נירשה לנו את נאות א-להים:
אלהי שיתמו כגלגל כקש לפני רוח:
כאש תבער יער וכלהבה תלהט הרים:
כן תרדפם בסערך ובסופתך תבהלם:
מלא פניהם קלון ויבקשו שמך ה':
יבשו ויבהלו עדי עד ויחפרו ויאבדו:
וידעו כי אתה שמך ה' לבדך עליון על כל הארץ:
A psalm of Asaph.
O God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God.
See how your enemies growl, how your foes rear their heads.
With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish.
"Come," they say, "let us destroy them as a nation, so that Israel’s name is remembered no more."
With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you
the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, of Moab and the Hagrites, Byblos, Ammon and Amalek, Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
Even Assyria has joined them to reinforce Lot’s descendants.
Do to them as you did to Midian, as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
who perished at Endor and became like dung on the ground...
Make them like tumbleweed, my God, like chaff before the wind.
As fire consumes the forest or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
so pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your storm.
Cover their faces with shame, LORD, so that they will seek your name.
May they ever be ashamed and dismayed; may they perish in disgrace.
Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.
In keeping with the above, I am reprinting a message that I wrote several years ago and is still very relevant:
"We are a nation steeped in the search for truth.
There are billions of people in the world who are satisfied with believing in lies, regardless of how absurd or ludicrous, because it is convenient and because their fathers did so.
If one’s conception of religion is the belief in "the immaculate conception", so be it. If one believes that Mohammed wrote the Koran (a great trick for someone known to have been illiterate) and that he took a midnight ride to Jerusalem on his faithful steed "Al Burak", and after tying the beast to the Kotel ascended to heaven, so be it.
Not so the Jewish people. Our classical writings are replete with controversy, quarrel and disagreement, not because we are aggressive and uncompromising, but because we seek the truth.
In the spirit of seeking out the truth, one must be prepared to deal with uncomfortable issues, like the one I now put before you.
In his lifetime, David Ben-Gurion was considered an apikoras (heretic). He did not believe in the God of the Torah, and was better versed in Buddaism than in the Shulchan Aruch. Yet this man, so far from Torah and mitzvot was CORRECT - the time for the redemption of the Jewish nation had begun.
In contrast, the Satmar Rav zt"l, and many who still follow his teachings, are God fearing Jews and scholars. They pray, teach, author Torah books and mekarev (draw near) those who have slipped from the Torah. Yet these people, so steeped in the Torah, were and are still WRONG as they preach that Medinat Yisrael is... (I won’t repeat what they say).
The number 6,000,000 is proof that they are so wrong. This is the number of Jews who were murdered by staying in the galut of enlightened Europe, and the number of Jews in Eretz Yisrael today. How can any rational person dismiss the presence of six million Jews in Eretz Yisrael and claim that the redemption process has not yet begun?!
The difference between Ben-Gurion and the Satmar Rav and his disciples can be reduced to one word which is the subject of a midrash in parashat Vayetze.
The midrash states that in Ya’akov’s dream, the angels who were ascending and descending the ladder to heaven represented the major empires in history. Ya’akov sees these great empires rising to the heights of power and influence, only to eventually descend into oblivion.
At one point Ya’akov hears the voice of HaShem instructing him to ascend the ladder. But Ya’akov hesitates because he fears that if he ascends, then he and his children will also eventually descend into oblivion. HaShem promises Ya’akov that if he ascends the ladder, the Jewish nation will forever remain on top.
Ya’akov is afraid to ascend and remains at the foot of the ladder, and for that reason the midrash concludes we were condemned to the tragic events of Jewish history.
The phrase that best explains the conduct of Ya’akov is "LACK OF COURAGE"; that is, lack of the fierce, uncompromising, irrational dedication and determination to achieve a goal against all odds.
Ya’akov was not yet called "Yisrael", the man who fought and vanquished human and spiritual adversaries. He was still Ya’akov who ran away from the threatening Eisav. Ya’akov was not yet the man to ascend the ladder in search of greatness.
It was the trait of courage that made HaShem choose David ben Yishai to be the king of Israel and the future Mashiach. David who fought the lion and bear in protection of his flock. The same David who went out against the giant Galiat (Goliath) with no more than a slingshot and five stones.
Ben-Gurion was all the negative things I stated above. But he was infused with the God given gift of courage! The United States warned him not to declare a state which would be destroyed by the armies of seven Arab nations. And as a means of showing its displeasure, the USA placed an arms embargo on the nascent Jewish State. But Ben-Gurion was adamant that the time had come for the return of the Jewish nation to our ancient homeland, and he acted with courage.
There were many rabbanim who encouraged the creation of the state, which they believed would survive through the miracles of HaShem. They too were imbued with the courage of David ben Yishai. Religious Jews swelled the ranks of the two underground organizations, the Etzel and Lechi, whose aim was to rid the British from Eretz Yisrael. Dati’im served in the Hagana in every area of the country. The blood of Bar Kochba flowed in their veins.
Don’t look for secrets in the position advocated by the Satmar and those who follow his ways to this day. They don’t know anything we do not know. The plain reason for their opposition to the State is simply a character trait less than "courageous"; camouflaged over by halachic dialectic which was the life raft of generations of Jews who did not have the self character to take the extra step called "emunah".
Now, If it is disturbing to think that such a great Torah giant can be wrong, turn to the book of Vayikra chapter 4 which discusses the process of "kapara" (forgiveness) if a kohen gadol (high priest) should erroneously permit an act which the Torah rules to be punishable by "karet". If this is insufficient to prove that even great Torah personalities can err, the chapter discusses the event when the Sanhedrin itself erroneously permitted such a prohibition and a majority of the people acted on their error.
During Chanukah everyone should ask himself; "Had I lived at that time would I have joined in the ranks of the few against the many, of the weak against the powerful?"
Today’s challenges are less formidable than having to fight the mighty Greek army. Yet when HaShem provided us with the "ladder of Ya’akov" by giving us control over Shomron, Yehuda, the Golan, and Azza, we did not act with the courage needed to ascend the ladder. The temerity of our political leaders and, in many cases religious leaders, blocked the gate leading to greatness. For this we might, HaShem forbid, have to pay the price which all cowards must pay when faced with their own phobias.
The call of Moshe Rabbeinu, "Mi Lashem Ayei" was heard by many of our ancestors when the call was again heard to join the ranks of the Chashmonaim. And it reverberates today; calling every one strong of heart and with emuna to return to Eretz Yisrael, to complete the process of Jewish redemption that began on the 5th of Iyar 5708".
As Parashat Nitzavim begins, Moshe brings together the entire Jewish people to renew the covenant entered into by HaShem and Avraham Avienu.
At this critical junction in our history as the oceans of hatred toward the people of the Torah swell, we must re-enforce the covenant by standing together against those who seek to destroy our nation.
So I call upon:
1- The chareidie community in Eretz Yisrael to send their sons and students to Tzahal for basic training.
2- The Jewish youth in the galut to come home to join Tzahal in defense of the holy land.
3- All my Jewish brothers and sisters in the galut, to come on aliya, particularly now. For it is moments like these that the God of history records for posterity the brave and audacious who will bring the dreams of generation to fruition.
No action or inaction is forgotten. The third chapter of the book of Nechmia records the families who participated in the rebuilding of the walls around Yerushalayim at the time of our return from Babylonian captivity. Verse 5 informs that the wealthy families of Tekoa refused to participate in the work. Their refusal is part of the Bible and will be remembered in infamy for all times.
Unknown to many of the people who will be walking home from the Kotel this coming Friday night, the center of Jewish life in Yerushalayim at the beginning of the 1900s was in what is today called the "Moslem Quarter". Here was the seat of the great yeshivot and social and health institutions, as well as home to hundreds of Jewish families who made up the majority of the people living in the Old City.
In the late 1920s early 1930s, the British encouraged and abetted the Arab populous to kill Jews and throw those who survived from their homes, which Arabs occupy to this day. Among the victims were many batei knesset which were physically destroyed.
The bet knesset on Al Wad Street 90 fared much better. When the Jews were forced to flee the area, two Arab families squatted in the building, sparing it building from the hatchets and matches of the religion of peace.
in 1982, I was merited with the opportunity to restore the building to be again a bet knesset. On the last Shabbat before Rosh HaShana, the doors of the new Chazon Yechezkel bet knesset were thrown open to begin anew its function as a house of prayer and Torah study.
I named the bet knesset after my father Harav Yechezkel Shraga Kahana zt"l, and in the spirit of the great vision of the prophet Yechezkel, where the dry bones of Israel return to life.
This coming Shabbat we will mark the 29th anniversary of the bet knesset.
To shorten a long story of 29 fascinating years is a difficult feat.
The bet knesset is today home to a vibrant community, a kollel, an up to date library for the hundreds of Jewish children who live in the area, replete with computers as fitting our times. The bet knesset is the center of Jewish life in the northern part of the Old City.
When in Yerushalayim, please come to the bet knesset. But remember to walk head high, as you tread on the ground where our kings and prophets walked thousands of years before.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
22 Elul, 5771
Sept. 21, 2011
The main item on the agenda of State Radio Channel 2 last Sunday was Channel 10's apology to Sheldon Adelson. (Editor's note: Some months ago, Channel 2 News broadcasted a lengthy report accusing billionaire and founder of the pro-Netanyahu newspaper Yisrael Hayom, Sheldon Adelson, of illegally gaining rights to build a casino. The report turned out to be false and the station was forced to broadcast an apology. The media claimed that the Channel 10 stockholders, who feared financial repercussions by Adelson, coerced the staff to apologize). Karen Noibach also devoted precious air time to performer Yehudah Pollicker. On Israel Army Radio they talked about the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Afterwards the two stations switched stories.
The day before those broadcasts, an Egyptian mob had burned Israel's embassy in Egypt. Six Israelis were extricated from there by the skins of their teeth, with just one door separating them from the Egyptian rabble that threatened to tear them to pieces. In response, Netanyahu thanked the Egyptians for the rescue and Obama for something, although it is not clear what. He promised that Israel will build an embassy in a safer place and reiterated that peace with Egypt is an important asset and that we will also find the way to re-establish our relations with Turkey.
There is no doubt about it. Israeli society and its leaders are still wallowing deep in the peace mentality; peace with Egypt, Oslo peace with the Palestinians and deep faith in the Americans. They cannot discern that the emperor has no clothes. They continue to cheer his royal attire and to alter their policies to fit those illusory garments.
It really is wrong for a journalist to tailor his stand to the position of big money just to ensure a successful career. But what is much worse is that a journalist who wishes to progress to the upper echelons of Israeli media must hide his nationalist views. Journalistic servitude to money is nothing compared to journalistic servitude to ideology. The journalists presently raising the roof over freedom of broadcast are the last - really the last - to talk.
Perhaps the best example of the media tyranny in Israel is not to look at what the media choose to broadcast, but what they choose not to broadcast. The very fact that on the day after Israel's embassy in Cairo was burned, the Adelson agenda is what the media chose to hammer into our heads is proof that something is seriously wrong. Around us, the nations are declaring war on Israel and the media is shouting that the sky has fallen because someone has forced them to apologize - truly a major threat to Israel's existence.
I do not know if the media intentionally plan not to analyze what is happening around Israel in depth and not to reconsider the entire misconception of peace with Egypt and the surrender of Sinai. I do not know if they are burying our collective head in the sand because they understand the situation and are trying to hide it or because they do not understand at all. One way or the other, they have failed miserably.
I have also felt the strong arm of Sheldon Adelson and the private newspaper that he established. (What can I do? I do not always stand by Netanyahu). Nevertheless, I can only rejoice at the fact that somebody has understood the importance of opening Israel's media to additional voices, and has invested the required funds to do so. The media have noticeably improved since Adelson's paper has been published. They are much more balanced. Radical leftist Gabi Gazit, for example, no longer works at the radio station that pretends to be public and objective.
There is still no visible connection between Israel's media and the ideological and moral make-up of Israeli society that is expressed in the results of the elections, for example. Nevertheless, Adelson can chalk up success in the fact that the media in Israel today are in a much better place than they were before the Expulsion from Gush Katif.
Having returned to Eretz Yisrael from the U.S. I have been trying to emerge from a kind of trance or slumber into which I became encapsulated in my brief stay in America. While I had a very nice time seeing family and friends and seeing how nice and comfortably everyone was living there, I looked forward to return to the “land G-d promised the Jewish people”. This weeks parsha, Nitzavim, states: Hashem will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you, and he will gather you in from all the peoples to which Hashem, your G-d, has scattered you.….Hashem will bring you to the Land that you forefathers possessed and you shall possess it….
Israel is bigger than life. It goes beyond the dimension of any individual. It involves the history, the culture, the language, the suffering and the elation and finally the destiny of G-ds “chosen” people. It has been the dream of so many people through the last 2 millenia to settle in Israel, that I feel privileged and humbled that I somehow had the zcut(merit) to be living here.
I want to relate two stories that I heard in the week that I have been back which describe quite beautifully what Israel means to people and their desire to be here.
I was surprised and delighted last night when I heard a former Prisoner of Zion, Yosef Mendelevich, speak at the conclusion of a talk by Rabbi Rakefet. After being imprisoned in the Soviet Union for 11 years for openly trying to be Jewish and emigrate to Israel, he was freed and allowed to come to Israel. When he finally arrived after his long ordeal he requested from his entourage to walk to Yerushalaim. They explained it was quite far and would take him a long time. Although he continued to insist they finally convinced him to take a car. When he arrived close to the entrance of the city he demanded to be let out to walk the remainder of the way to the Kotel HaMa'aravi. As soon as people realized Mendelevich was in Israel and walking to the Western Wall, they started to form a group and walked behind him. As he continued walking the crowd swelled with people constantly joining the marching assemblage. By the time he reached the Kotel there were over 10,000 people walking, clapping and singing in sheer delight. It was an honor just to be in the room listening to Yosef Mendelevich talk about his joy of living in Israel.
The second story was related to me by Rabbi Jeff Bienenfeld who was a rabbi in St. Louis for the last 30 years before making aliya. Last week he attended a Tekes Aliya by a young lady he knew from birth and was asked to speak. What made the occasion so memorable was that the young woman was battling a cruel and vicious cancer for over a year and a half. Every known therapy was tried without success. Meira’s will to live has been nothing short of heroic. Rabbi Bienefeld spoke on the parsha Ki Tavo, and this is what he said:
The opening words of the Parsha read, “And it will be when you come into the Land … (21:1).” The Ohr HaChayim comments that the word, “ve’haya, will be” always connotes a mood of simcha. In this context, the reason is rather evident. Choosing to live in Israel engenders emotions of joy and happiness. One immediately benefits from all the many virtues and blessings for which the Land is famous.
This insight, though, begs an obvious question: “What is it about this one word, ve’haya, that conveys a message of simcha? Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, zt”l expands upon this observation of the Ohr HaChayim with this answer. When a “vov” is added to the past tense of a verb - in this case, “to be, haya” - it changes the tense from past to future (“vov ha’me’hapechet”) such that the word, “ve’haya” now means “it will be.”
For many people, the past is filled with so many trials and challenges, failures and defeats. Looking back, one sees dreams unfulfilled and promises dashed. The past appears bleak and gloomy. But when a “vov” is added to this “hayah (past),” suddenly a fresh future beckons, new horizons come into view and a renewed simcha is happily awakened. A transformation has taken place because no matter the past, so long as there is breath and life, you can always “add” to life. And when there is that “vov,” when that adding takes place, the promise of a future suffused with meaning and purpose can become a reality.
Making aliyah - deciding to live in Israel - powerfully invites such feelings of simcha. “I have chosen to “add” something very precious to my past and in so doing, my future is reborn and I am joyful in the deepest sense possible.”
How long, though, is that simcha meant to last? Is it to be measured in decades of joy, in years, in months? I submit that genuine simcha is measured in special moments, moments that may not have chronological duration, but are rather characterized by incredible depth. These moments have infinite value because each one embraces an eternity of meaning and significance.
All of us are blessed with such moments. For some, it’s the Bris, the Bar/Bat-mitzvah, the wedding of a child and/or grandchild; for others, it’s a Rosh Hashanah Nesaneh Tokef, a Yom Kippur Kol Nidrei. The list goes on. We need to catch these moments and live in them. They may be fleeting but no matter. The incomparable experience of elation and piercing truth of that moment will impact us forever. It will be for us a priceless treasure that will remain with us always.
And last night, for one very special person and her dear family, that moment came when her dream of making aliyah became a reality.
Shana tova to all my friends. Wishing you a year filled with bracha, happiness and meaning.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
The Jewish nation was gathered together and formed by G-d. It is a nation founded on holiness, justice and service. It is a ‘nation of priests’—except that today, Israel is neither holy nor just. Today, Israel is an international pariah, labelled unjust and evil by a people—and their friends—who seek to steal by unholy diplomacy pieces of the very land G-d gave to another, land that has been given to Jews by G-d and defended with Jewish blood. Consider the brazenness of it: Israel holds less than one per cent of regional real estate and the Arabs hold more than ninety-nine per cent of regional real estate; but for the Arab, that ninety-nine per cent is not enough—and it is the Jews’ fault!
This week, as the UN begins deliberating a legal annexation of land away from Israel, evil anticipates a triumph. Remember, in addition to G-d’s gifting Israel to the Jews, international legal contracts have also been completed, to grant legal deed of this same land to the Jewish people. Between 1917 and 1947, more legal paperwork was signed granting this land to the Jewish people than you’ll find for almost any other territory in the world—and the UN has stated explicitly in its Charter that it is required to honor all international legal agreements that pre-date the founding of the UN. But the nations of the world appear to have chosen to betray those legal agreements and the UN Charter—and to scorn G-d. The nations stand ready to choose evil over Good, treachery over contractual commitment. Evil is ready to dance in the street, to celebrate what they will surely and predictably call the beginning of the end for the hated and putrid Jew; and as these deliberations unfold, G-d watches.G-d watches. He watches everyone, including our Jewish leadership. He listens. He waits. As a shepherd counting his sheep, he counts: who is for, who is against; who will speak up for G-d’s land, who will not.
At some point this week or next, the world will choose who is for Israel, who is against. This week or next, Jews all over the world will choose, who will stand for Israel, who against. The same will be true for non-Jews; all will choose. Jewish leadership will also choose: will they stand with David the King for G-d, or will they stand with the worldly diplomats who scorn both the UN Charter and the G-d of Israel?
For how many decades has our leadership of the nation of Israel ignored our G-d? For how long has the national leadership embraced the power of man? The Arab does not ignore his deity. Neither does the Christian his. Each is eager to walk the holy streets of Israel. The Arab has even announced that all of Israel is holy—and his (see Arutz Sheva during the week of August 20 -27). The Arab understands the holiness of this land—and look at the power he can now exercise over us. The current Israeli leadership, meanwhile, ignores the holiness of this land—and look how weak and troubled Israel appears.
During the next ten-fifteen days, the nations of the world will most likely vote. This vote will probably not be binding; rather, it will simply give those nations an opportunity to choose, yea or nay regarding Israel’s Jewish land. As they cast their votes, heaven and earth will stand as witnesses to their deliberate treachery . Everywhere in the world, individuals will stand up and, through polls, surveys, posters and marches they, too, will ‘vote’. Heaven and earth will bear witness to their choice.
History unfolds. Men and women choose. The world will vote. G-d watches-- and His witnesses stand ready to serve their Creator. As more and more of us realize how connected we and our land are to G-d, must we continue to look silently at an Israeli leadership that cannot speak His name? As the nations of the world show Israel what happens to Jews who—uniquely—refuse their own G-d, when do we as citizens of this Jewish State demand that our national leadership must fullfil a G-dly responsibility along with its political duties? Indeed, as we watch the UN this week and next, when will we in Israel realize that leadership without G-d is really not Jewish leadership at all? When will true JEWISH leadership step to the forefront?
Perhaps we do not understand that the nations of the world might be far more spiritually sensitive than we think. Perhaps their actions at the UN teach us something: if our own leadership would stop showing contempt for our own G-d, perhaps the nations of the world will be less eager to show its contempt for us.