26 August 2016

Parashath Ekev: Use It or Lose It!

22 Menahem Av 5776

This post is in honor of my husband's 69th Hebrew birthday, which occurs tomorrow, Shabbat Ekev. He was also born on Shabbat! Happy birthday, ahuv sheli!

"For if you shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your G-d, to walk all in His ways, and to hold fast to Him, then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and you shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves. Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours: From the wilderness to the Levanon, from the river, the river P'rat, to the uttermost sea shall be your border. There shall no man be able to stand against you: for the LORD your G-d shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that you shall tread upon, as He has spoken to you. -D'varim  11:22-25, my husband's birth parashah, aliyath mashlim (7th aliyah, which completes the parashah).

The lime-green overlay is everything HaShem promised Am Yisrael in the future. From Ahavat Eretz Israel

***

Use it or lose it

BS”D Parashat Aikev 5776
Rabbi Nachman Kahana

An orthopedist will tell you “use it or lose it” – exercise or the limb will eventually undergo necrosis (death of the cells).

So the title of this week’s message is “Use it or Lose it”.

The great traumatic crisis that faces Am Yisrael today is the mass departure, retreat, and abandonment, of millions of US Jews from their religious-historical-national ties to Judaism via intermarriage and related avenues leading to the golden gate of assimilation.
Why is this happening just now when the Jewish people are free to serve HaShem and fulfill our religious responsibilities as in no previous time in the past 2000 years?

I submit:

Friday of last week, we commemorated the festive day of the 15th of Menachem Av, which as stated in the Mishna (Ta’anit) as one of the two happiest days in the Jewish calendar year, the other being Yom Kippur.

The Talmud Yerushalmi in Ta’anit states that the 15th of Av is a joyous day for several positive things that occurred on it, one of them being the edict proclaimed by King Hoshea ben Elah of the ten northern tribes. The Gemara explains that on this day King Hoshea ben Elah rescinded a decree prohibiting the Jews of the northern tribes to go up to Yerushalayim.

In order to fully appreciate what this meant we have to return 300 years prior to the time of Hoshea ben Elah. The arch-rasha (evil-doer), Yeravam ben Nevat incited the people of the northern tribes to secede from the union which was under the monarchy of Rechav’am son of King Shlomo. In order to complete the secession, Yeravam began interpreting the Torah in his own way, but the formal act of secession was accomplished by closing the roads to Yerushalayim and creating two substitute spiritual centers, one in Bet El and the other at Dan in the north.

Yeravam knew that as long as the connection to Yerushalayim existed his break away nation would not endure. Yeravam imposed a harsh prohibition on going to Yerushalayim and in order to maintain this rule he placed police and soldiers along the entire border. This situation continued for over 300 years, during which time the Jews of the north were severed from Yerushalayim and the Bet Hamikdash.

Hoshea ben Elah ascended the throne and withdrew the border guards opening the way to Yerushalayim; this occurred on the 15th of Av. Indeed, a day to parallel Yom Kippur for now the Jews would be able to offer korbanot in the Mikdash and achieve kappara for their sins.

After this explanation in the Talmud, a rabbi whose name was Rav Kahana asked that if Hoshea ben Elah was such a great man, why then in his time did HaShem permit Shalmanesser King of Assyria to invade the northern tribes and exile all the Jews?

To this the Talmud answers that Hoshea ben Elah indeed opened the way to Yerushalayim – BUT NO ONE CAME. And the king was held personally responsible, although he opened the way, because he did not use his authority to coerce his citizens to renew their connection with the holy city.

The Gemara explains that in the 300 years when pilgrimage to the holy city was prohibited by the evil kings, the heavenly bet din (court) could not accuse the northerners of neglecting their responsibilities to Yerushalayim. But now that the government permitted the free movement of people to the holy city there was no longer an excuse for not going. It was as if HaShem was saying, “You did not come to my house, so I will eject you from your houses”, or “Use it or Lose it” – and exiled the Jews to the far fling lands to the east.


Seventy years ago the gates to Eretz Yisrael were thrown open to all Jews. The call was sounded to return home and receive immediate citizenship under the “The Law of Return”.  Very few came home from the Western countries; in fact, the year that we came on aliya in 1962, a mere 677 people came from the millions of Jew in the US.

2500 years ago, HaShem exiled the Jews from Eretz Yisrael for not going up to Yerushalayim. And although this dire sin is being repeated daily by the Jews in Western countries, HaShem cannot use the same punishment today as he did with the ten tribes. And this for the simple reason that they are already in exile.

So the question is: Anything short of a repeat Shoah, what is a fitting punishment for a people already in exile?

Answer: It is exile not only from the Jewish homeland – it is absolute banishment from the Jewish nation through assimilation.

The unaffiliated and “liberal” streams of Judaism are left to inter-marry as their punishment, and they will forever be lost to the Jewish nation.

For the religious Jew who does not come on aliya, there is a similar punishment. He is provided for with religious leaders who fortify and uphold the rejection, prohibition, alienation and exclusion of their adherents from the Holy Land which they blindly base on so-called halachic reasons; like “wait for the Mashiach” or “there is chillul shabbat in Israel.” Thereby insuring that their adherents will remain in the galut until their children, grandchildren or great grandchildren will eventually inter-marry and disappear.

Use it or lose it

The Olympic games are over. The winners proudly display their medals around their necks, gold, silver and bronze and wait for the big company sponsors competing for their endorsements. Because when such illustrious people who can run so fast and jump so high endorse a product how can the teeming millions of “plain” people not put their hands in the pockets to purchase the product!

The payments to the lucky winners are in the millions of dollars, just for saying that he prefers a particular pair of sneakers or shaves with a certain razor blade.
Adidas would pay many many millions for the president of the US to endorse their running shoes, and tens of millions to the Pope for his endorsement.

How much would they theoretically pay for the Creator of heaven and earth to endorse an earthly product?

We find in the Tanach (24 books of the Bible) an endorsement of Eretz Yisrael which is called “ha’eretz ha’tova” – the good land, repeated 7 times: once by HaShem (Devarim 1,35); four times by Moshe (Devarim 3,25; 4,21; 4,22; 9,6); and Yehoshua in his book (23,15) and in Chronicles 1 (28,8).

The term “eretz tova” – a good land, stated by HaShem in Shmot 3,8 and by Moshe in Devarim 8,7.

Birkat hamazon (grace after meals of bread) and the closing blessing over cake, wine and those fruits which are indigenous to the holy land (al hamichya) are replete with praises for Eretz Yisrael.

We in Eretz Yisrael are spectators in the “Theatre of the Absurd”. For despite all the above and more, when I speak to most American yeshiva students visiting or learning here all I get is negativism and criticism of HaShem’s holy land and holy people. I get the feeling that something in their Jewish souls has died or was extinguished by their spiritual leaders, as my mentors attempted to do to me, before I escaped.

Tradition states that at some future time the Twelve Tribes will return to Eretz Yisrael.

I have the feeling that we shall see their return a lot sooner than the return of the American orthodox Jew.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5776/2016 Nachman Kahana

***



23 August 2016

On the Front Lines...

19 Menahem Av 5776

With light editing. H/T: Barbara Ginsberg, by email. She has known the Federmans since 1978. She says: "They are special people, very special and we need to help them. It is a mitzva to help the Federmans who fight every obstacle to keep our land."


From Wikipedia: Hevron in 1839, after a drawing by David Roberts

 From Elisheva Federman:

PLEASE HELP US PROTECT OURSELVES AND FIGHT AN UNJUST TRIAL AND RIGHTS FOR A GUN

Dear friends,
December 4th, 2014 was a day like all others. Noam drove the children to their 'Gan' (kindergarten) in Hebron. It was a day like all others when Arab terrorists threw stones on Jewish cars in an attempt to kill and injure. But it wasn't a day like all others the moment Noam decided to stop the stoned car, get out of it and pursue his attackers.
Needless to say, that since that day, not even one stone was thrown at a Jewish vehicle from this same corner where Arabs used to stand, in the middle of the day, and stone Jewish cars.
As it appears, this incident was staged and "Betselem" cameras were set, before the stoning to catch any Jewish response. It wasn't long before all the news headlines said:" Settlers vandalize property as revenge for stone throwing". It took only a few days for the police to show up at our home and arrest Noam, and our son Oved – which was a few days before his recruitment to the Israeli Army. They were investigated and released with a bill of indictment. 
It is over a year now, that Noam and our son Oved, an IDF paratrooper, stand trial for "vandalizing property."
During the trial, the prosecution had to reveal the army's footage of the incident. it was shocking to see Arab teenagers standing in that specific junction on the road from Hebron to Kiryat Arba, and for more than 30 minutes they are throwing stones in broad day light on Jewish cars and on military cars, and no one is stopping them. The Army jeeps, which were captured on camera, decide to do nothing. They flee the scene and let the young terrorists continue their attacks on innocent passersby. It was even more shocking to discover that the offenders were not caught, and were not even investigated for their deeds, although their faces appear clearly in the footage.
A few weeks after this incident, the police came knocking on our door, warning us that they have intel indicating that Noam, the car, and our house is targeted by hostiles. And we should use measures of precaution. Both Noam and I applied for permits to carry hand guns. Both our requests were denied. We decided to appeal against this decision not to allow us protect our children and our home.
And the last straw: after the despicable murder of Hallel Ariel, Military Intel points that these days the Arab terrorists aspire to intrude isolated homes such as ours. We were approached by the security officer of Kiryat Arba advising us to put bars on our windows, due to the fact that our house is isolated and we have nothing in our hands for self-defense. Because of the fact that our home is on "illegal territory" we won't get any help funding it.

"But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew" (Exodus 1:12).

Hebron is our birthright. This is where our forefathers set roots for our great nation, and this is where we feel privileged and obligated to raise the next generations to come. We are here to stay. No matter what the obstacles we face, we stand strong and live here as proud Jews. But we need your help, to fight this unjust trial, to appeal against these unjust decisions preventing us from protecting our home. This is not our private struggle; this has to concern each and every Jew. Please don't let us deal with it alone. Help us fund a lawyer for our son Oved, who spends his nights and days protecting this country. Noam represents himself, but they won't let him represent Oved. Help us fund the appeals for letting us carry handguns for our protection. Help us provide security to our children.
We are looking at a sum of $12,300 US. If you want to help us, please donate in any of the 3 ways below:

PAY PAL
Long into your Pay Pal Account
Hit Pay For Goods or Services
Write Elishfed@gmail.com
Write Amount and Send

Write check payable to Noam Federman
P.O.Box 89
Kiryat Arba 901000
Israel

Bank Hadoar 001
Account no. 24431524
Noam Federman
Mobile phone: 0528693868
noamfed@gmail.com
 ***
Many thanks in advance.

11 August 2016

Yearning for the Land

7 Menahem Av 5776


Yearning for the Land
from Beyond Words: Selected Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane
1960-1990, Volume 7

The klipa, the callus, that slowly and imperceptibly covers the burgeoning adult, immutably desensitizes us and forever loses for us the emotion and value that is the heart and nucleus of the mitzvah cell or ritual.  And so, as if suddenly – but really as part of the slow and ongoing process – there is created a human being, a community, almost a people that elevates the ritual to the heights reserved for the concept, and we become practitioners of Jewish ritual, rather than emotional and living embracers of the concept.

So it is with Tisha B’Av and the three weeks that precede it.  Not a few can emote all the laws and customs emanating from them.  Not an Orthodox Jew will violate the rituals that make up the three weeks and certainly not the nine days.  And yet, as with too many Jewish concepts that were meant to be living, thriving, real things that grip the heart and soul – ha’ikar  chaser min hasefer.  [Editor's note: A Hebrew idiom, literally meaning, “the principle is lacking from the book,” referring to the fact that the main concept has been forgotten.]

For I put it to all honest people that, of all who practice the rituals of the three weeks and Tisha B’Av, few – all too few – mourn for Jerusalem and the Land.  I put it that most find the three weeks an excruciating thing that prevents them from enjoying the summer; that most look forward to its passing as quickly as possible so that vacation and enjoyment can continue in the Catskills and all the other places that make up the Galut enjoyment; that few, all too few, feel the stab of pain in their heart for the Temple that is not there; for the Moslem jackals who walk and control the Mount; for the lack of holiness and sanctity that Jerusalem and the Temple mean. 

What happens because of this is a shallow and terrible corrosion of Judaism and a slow and terrible corruption of the Jewish soul.  Mitzvot become things to be done with and finished; the soul becomes a hard and callous thing feeling nothing, and, worse, mitzvot become meaningless and fraudulent as we weep for a land we could be living in – if we wish to; as we speak of a return to a land of which we do not wish, as we grab ourselves in emotions we do not feel.

We do not wish to leave America; we do not feel any pain in an “exile” that the ritual has us mouthing as a thing of tragedy and pain.  We enjoy the luxury of Galut and mouth quickly the kinot, the lamentations, most of whose words we do not understand anyhow.  We sit on the floor in the Ninth of Av and look forward to the 10th.  And enjoyment.

That is the death of Judaism, no matter how many synagogues and shtiblech have grown.  This is the destruction of Torah as a real and vibrant “thing,” no matter how many yeshivas have sprung up.  For all of them will produce scholars of callous soul unable to feel the pain and joy and honesty of a mitzvah as it was meant when given by G-d at Sinai. 

 ***
Of course, this applies to all the nations of galut/golus, not just America.

Here are a few videos that I hope will point the way forward:


 R' David Bar-Hayim: To Fast or Not to Fast on Tish"a b'Av

Zimmerman Farm: Experimenting with hydroponics, part 1

Zimmerman Farm: Experimenting with hydroponics, part 2

R' Ephraim Sprecher: T"U b'Av: A Tikun for Tish"a b'Av

Temple Institute: Tish"a b'Av: A Time to Build




31 July 2016

Free, Free Invaderstine!

26 Tammuz 5776

I believe that people who support the Palestinians (and the Arabs who keep them as they are) — especially the Jews among them — should really know and think about what they are saying when they yell out "Free, Free Palestine!" I could be wrong, but I imagine that most of these people have no idea who the Palestinians are, what the name they have adopted means and where it came from, and why on earth they are doing nothing to build a country they say they want, except trying to clear a particular country of its people, namely the Jews of Israel. I suspect the answer to this last question is this.

As my many gentle and intelligent readers might have anticipated, I titled this post as I did because we can see that in Hebrew the root of the name Palestine (פלש palash) does indeed mean invade — and here are some English synonyms. So, when you watch videos of massive crowds screaming the chant above, what they are really saying, whether they mean to or not, is Free The Invaders to make "Invaderstine" out of whatever territory they can penetrate and seize!

If any of you participate in protests like this, Heaven forbid, is this what you really want? Take a look at Europe (and my European readers, take a look around you; you likely don't need links since you can see for yourselves) — the Muslim overrunning of these countries is exactly what Invaderstine is, even though they do not call themselves Palestinians. The cry to free Palestine is the cry to unleash the pillage and plunder of Israel, but don't think the world will escape in the end. It is already seeing the results of their quest upon themselves even more than upon us. Perhaps you might want to reexamine the propaganda you have heard and seen about Israel. Many Arabs and Muslims have done so, and these are only a couple of examples; here are a couple of searches you may draw from.

Free, Free Invaderstine!



Here's some insight on what they say about themselves.



18 July 2016

Yesterday could have been my last. Thank G-d it wasn't.

12 Tammuz 5776

UPDATE BELOW...

Yesterday could have been my last day on earth. I am still processing an event that, although it was not carried out to its intended conclusion, may nevertheless have had a significant impact on how I look at the reality I live in.

It had to happen eventually. I had to be a near-witness to a near-terrorist act that turned out well only due to a miracle: HaShem brought the Palestinian would-be murderer to the attention of a light rail security guard, who brought the police and other security forces together to quash his plans. 

Yesterday morning started like most in Jerusalem: bustling, cheery, lots of car horns beeping, people going about their business. My husband and I were headed downtown on the light rail to perform an important errand earlier than usual.

After the errand, we went to get some breakfast. Hubby pointed out that there were police cars blocking car traffic at the intersections from Yaffa Street to Hillel Street along King George Street. We did not stop to stare and wonder what was happening.

Mind you, we did not see any real action; in fact, no one was even injured, thank G-d, except maybe the terrorist as he was being apprehended. In fact, I am reminded of our ancestors, the ancient Israelites, going through the desert, arriving at Arnon, at the border between Moav and the Amorim and seeing blood seeping from the mountain, wondering what that was about. Hearing the news later was like the body parts rising up out of the well (which we would not know about, but for Rashi's commentary. After all, HaShem just put in the words "...it is told about in the account of the Wars of the Lord, 'What He gave at the [Sea of] Reeds and the streams of Arnon.'" and left it to man to figure it out; Rashi could have had access to a scroll. Here is some commentary on it; but I cannot find a readable copy of the work itself. A lot of talk exists about a book no one can find, apparently.). Thankfully we will not be seeing body parts from this episode.

Later on, when we arrived at the OU Center for our Sunday afternoon class with Rabbi Sprecher, he, along with several friends, told us what had happened; and that some of them had been downtown at that time, unbeknownst to us.

My husband, not one to believe word of mouth alone, found an article on the Israel Broadcasting Authority site titled "Palestinian with homemade bombs arrested on Jlem light rail."  I don't know how long you will be able to see it at http://www.iba.org.il/world/.

Later on, we talked about how fortunate and thankful we felt to have lived to make it home, back to our comfort zone, to talk about it. As for me, I might not have made it to my first anniversary blogging - the Common Era date passed eleven days ago, but the Hebrew date is coming up, on the 20th of Tammuz. Thank G-d.



Many thanks to my blogging colleagues who also informed us of what had happened through links to articles, videos and pictures. Especially this article.



More Reading: In My Little Country ... the story isn't over yet.

UPDATE: The spot where the terrorist was captured is the very same corner where the Sbarro restaurant was blown up in August 2001, where many Israeli civilians were murdered, including Malki Roth. I had no idea until I read this article on This Ongoing War. This makes the miracle all the more palpable.

03 July 2016

Shmittah Alert: Wine and Grape Juice Grown and Produced in Israel

27 Sivan 5776
in honor of Shabbath Korah (Israel) / Sh'lah Lekha (outside Israel)

L'iluy nishmatam Hallel Yaffa bat Rina v'Avihai, HY"D, R' Michael ben Avraham ben Adam**, HY"D, v'Eliezer ben Shlomo v'Sarah.
L'refuah shlemah shel Chava Rachel bat Ayelet haShahar, Tehilla bat Chava Rachel v'Pedaya Menachem ben Chava Rachel.

May we all get ourselves together, may  Mashiach be revealed, and may we know no more sorrow. 

[Blogger's disclaimer/disclosure: I am writing from the perspective of following the Otzar Beth Din at this time with regard to the practice of shmittah. To the best of my knowledge, groceries (m'koloth) in my neighborhood seem to follow either this method or that of Heter Mehira every seven years. I am not familiar with all of them.] 


Actual bottles of shmittah wine and grape juice. -CDG


I am just getting ready to discard my shmittah produce guide from the most recent sabbatical year in Israel. Why now, over 9 months later? Because each fruit and vegetable grown here — I am simplifying a great deal — is considered to have qedushath shvi'ith קדושת שביעית (the holiness of the seventh year) according to its growth cycle during the seventh year. Some items don't begin to have qedushah until very late in the year, so many of us keep guides on our refrigerators to help us keep things straight.

But, at least one thing is particularly problematic, guide or no guide. That is the set of foods known as wine and its non-alcoholic sibling, grape juice. OUKosher.org has an article about how the sabbatical year affects Jews the world over. It includes advice for Jewish shmittah-year visitors, and also those who are visiting in the year after, to ask questions about these foods, as well as olive oil — and discusses when we will be obligated to observe shmittah according to the Torah.

During Shabbath, while my back was turned, my husband said something about our wine being from the year 2015. I froze momentarily, then finished what I was doing. After he went to pray minhah I took the bottle in hand. On the front there was no indication other than the year. On the back I found the following:

  ללא חשש טבל וערלה עפ"י התר מכירה שע"י הרבונות הראשית לישראל


"[Have] no concern about tevel (ma'aser taken for various designees according to Torah) and orlah (fruit taken from the first 3 years of growth, or as declared by the rabbis — it depends on the fruit in question) according to the leniency based on sale ("heter mekhirah") given by the Rabbinic Authority of Israel."

One all-important word is missing from that sentence: Seventh (שביעית), referring to produce from the shmittah year. This word is often on food packaging here. It means we can treat the food as we usually do. But not if it has the seventh-year qedushah! When it comes to wine and grape juice, one must be sure to drink every drop and spill none of it! Big problems come about if you do!

I digress now. I can hear you all snickering now. "What fools you are. You know 2015 was a shmittah year, so why did you buy the wine?" It was on sale. OK, so we made a mistake. And I figured out how to drink every drop of that wine from then on, and shared it with him. When we finish a glass of this wine, we now put a little water in the glass, swish it around and drink. A lot better than agonizing about it. And, since we are not mashgihim (kashruth supervisors), we asked our rabbi "the question" today when we saw him (you know those videos I post weekly? That's him.). He says we don't actually have to do that because according to the heter mekhirah rules, we could treat it as though it were from someplace else, instead of Israel.

That's good, as long as our practice of shmittah is d'rabbanan, according to the rabbis, and not d'oraita, according to the Torah. The latter will occur when the majority of the Jews in the world live in Eretz Yisrael. In 2007, the year before the previous shmittah, the accepted figure was 41%. As of 2014, it was at nearly 43%. The Pew Forum states: "Over the next few decades, Israel is projected to pass the United States and become, by a sizable margin, the country with the largest Jewish population." By the way, according to Ynet, we are at about 16 million worldwide (I'm projecting to this year.). This is not such a big increase; but it's the most we've had in a long time. And, that's despite the world's wanting us all dead.

Baruch haShem! More, please!

Back to the topic: There's more regarding shmittah grape products. The same thing is happening with the grape juice, called tirosh (תירוש), or "new wine." The supermarket is selling 20 percent more free and my husband got a few shekel more off from a coupon. No year on the front of the bottle, but I found the same message on the back, with the word kosher beginning the sentence. Same solution as above, and we will keep our eyes open from now on.

Back of the grape juice bottle. I'm referring to the message in the double-outlined text box on the right. -CDG















The brand was Carmel, but Gefen, Manischewitz, Kedem and other kosher brands also could easily be involved. I haven't seen them, so check. In America and other English-speaking countries the notice might be in English and be authorized by other kashruth agencies.

My big concern goes beyond the details of kashruth, as important as they are. I have heard the stories about Israel shipping shmittah produce to other countries, where Jews who don't know how to handle it might buy it inadvertently — or even on purpose because it comes from Israel, but accidentally when it comes to the shmittah issue.

Even more than this, however, is the reason we go to all this trouble every seven years, extending the rules into the eighth year for appropriate items: To honor our beautiful, wide and spacious Eretz Yisrael, even though we don't have all of her yet.

In the parshioth we learned last week, both Sh'lah and Korah highlight the regard we are to have for our land. It was only when Moshe Rabbenu heard how the Land was slandered and Mitzrayim was exalted in the eyes of the people, that he said to haShem, "Do not accept their offering. I have not taken a donkey from a single one of them, and I have not harmed a single one of them." He had got down on his knees and begged Him to forgive the people for what they said about him; but, the word used for how upset Moshe became when he heard how they defamed the Land, yihar יחר, is a form of the same verb used in the second paragraph of the Shema', where we are warned that haShem will react to idol worship by stopping all rain, thus preventing all food growth and quickly driving us out of the Land! (We usually recite this silently because we certainly don't want to have that happen again!)

Today, as R' Nahman Kahana puts it, we have a lot of Korahs, although on a lot lower level than he. In these days of impending geulah shlemah, they'd better think 100 times before continuing on their path.

I pray that paying more attention to Shvi'ith products on the part of Israeli Jews (and Jews outside the Land, even though they are not obligated) will help us focus on our connection with Eretz Yisrael, and arouse the desire in all Jews everywhere to protect and defend her and our people from our enemies with haShem's help. We need to both honor our Land and her produce and honor and defend our people, no matter how much the world will hate us for it. We must combine prayer and action, honor and respect for who we are and the Land we are meant to live in.

**I don't know R' Michael Mark's parents' names and can't find them at this time.

22 June 2016

Desiring Geulah Sh'lemah

16 Sivan 5776

What does it mean, that we've stepped through the Sha'ar Nun — the Fiftieth Gate? And what does it matter for most people of the world?

As Reb Dov Bear explained earlier, it has to do with the 50th Jubilee (in Hebrew, Yovel יובל) Year since Ezra (of Ezra and Nehemiah), known as the Sofer (the Scribe). We have just finished 49 years since the reunification of Yerushalayim, my beloved city, and are living in the 50th year. It also so "happens" that the Hebrew year 5727/1967 was the last Yovel year.

To take in the more full explanation, read here and here. Don't forget to come back!

During Erev Shavuoth, I attended a shiur at a friend's house by Rabbanit Esther KiTov, who teaches I believe is the widow of Rav Eliyahu KiTov, where she regaled us with her experiences as a young teenager at the time of the Six-Day War, along with our hostess' mother-in-law (sorry, no audio or video — it's not allowed on Hag). R' Pinchas Winston also tells the story in the video below. But don't sell him short; I believe this is the shiur to beat all shiurim, until now (skip to 3:30 to the beginning of the shiur).

R' Pinchas Winston helps us appreciate the wondrous times we are in! (H/T Shirat Devorah)

The main thing for us Jews now is to Desire Redemption — which includes doing something to show how much we desire it! Begin now by appreciating the times we now find ourselves in. Know that every deliverance we ever experienced only comes when there is a massive expression, through action as well as thought, of ratzon רצון (will) on the part of the contemporaneous Jewish collective (yes, the entire people alive in any given time — even if it is a small number, such as went out from Egypt/Mitzrayim. Which, if you look around, you see that the number of Jewish men in the world is similar to what it was then, if you assume a normal number of women and children.). The theme throughout is:


מֵאֵת יְהֹוָה הָיְתָה זֹּאת הִיא נִפְלָאת בְּעֵינֵינוּ:
This was from G-d; it is wondrous in our eyes! (Tehillim 118:23)




R' Winston has told us for many years that one must desire the very dust of Eretz Yisrael, as it says in Tehillim 102:14-15:


14 You will rise, You will have mercy on Zion for there is a time to favor it [her]*, for the appointed season has arrived.
יד אַתָּה תָקוּם תְּרַחֵם צִיּוֹן כִּי עֵת לְחֶנְנָהּ כִּי בָא מוֹעֵד:
15 For Your servants desired its stones and favored its [her]* dust.
טו כִּי רָצוּ עֲבָדֶיךָ אֶת אֲבָנֶיהָ וְאֶת עֲפָרָהּ יְחֹנֵנוּ:

It is no different now. As one of the audience members in the video says toward the end: "It would be fair to say that if you're not "doing your hishtadluth" [making an effort], you don't have the ratzon."

May we all get the ratzon and merit to see it through to the end.

* I inserted this word, not only because the Hebrew words call for it, but also in keeping with my belief, given many words from the Torah, that the Land has a personality and desires our return, both to her and to HaShem. -CDG