15 October 2016

Did I see Eliyahu haNavi?

12 Tishrei 5777
Erev Shabbath Ha'azinu 

Image credit: CHLEAKS

I must interrupt the series I am writing called The Obstinate Jew (to be in 5 parts) to record an encounter I had yesterday with a man who, if I were to imagine what Eliyahu haNavi might be like, would be him, having learned that there have been many righteous people in Am Yisrael, unknown to him — before I forget.

Sorry, no picture. :-(

I was on my way to meet my husband and the rest of the class at the OU (Orthodox Union) Center on Keren haYesod Street in "downtown" Yerushalayim on a number 74 bus, if I remember correctly. I managed to get a seat next to a young woman with a baby boy around a year old, right behind the space where people with baby and food carriages (agaloth) park them until they get off.

A couple of stops later, an elderly but quite strong man with a baseball-style cap and "regular" clothes got on the bus with a lot of bags of food. He arranged them on the floor in the carriage park area and stood in front of the young woman and me. He began talking to the baby, trying to engage him, talking about Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya'aqov - in fact, every word out of his mouth was related to Torah, from what I could understand (the entire encounter was in Hebrew.). I murmured to the young woman and winked at her: This guy is like Eliyahu haNavi.

The young woman tried to get her son to wave to "Saba" (grandpa) and say shalom or something, but to no avail. But, he kept looking at the man. He also resisted all attempts on my part as well. Definitely at the stranger-resistant stage, not quite ready to play along.

A couple of stops later, the young woman and her baby got off the bus. He was hungry by then and crying to be fed.

I asked the man if he would like to sit down. He had been standing the entire time up till then. I reckoned that he might be as old as my father would be (in his mid-to-late 80s) if he were alive today.

He sat down and began explaining to me, as best as I can translate a summary of it, that haShem rules over everything and does everything...and something I wasn't sure I understood: that He had said that we weren't going to be ruled over by the nations any more.

I repeated to him, as a question, in my own words, something like: Are you saying that He has said that we would not be ruled over the nations any more? He repeated what I said, and affirmed it, and I said, Baruch haShem!

Just then I saw that we were approaching my stop, and I told him I was getting off. He said, Gam ani (me, too), and began to gather his bags while I got off. As the bus pulled away, I noticed that he hadn't gotten off.

Maybe he was getting off at the next stop, just down the hill from mine. Who knows?

I thought about it later: Maybe I should have let him have the window seat. And, definitely I should have offered to carry some of his bags, even if he isn't Eliyahu. It's a matter of common decency. I would have done it for my dad.

I hope that when I meet Eliyahu for real and knowing for sure, I won't blow it. Then, I will be sure to behave properly when Mashiah is announced.

And I wish this for all of us.

May he come quickly to us with Mashiah, David's descendant!

Yes, I know - wrong season again. R' Sprecher covers this in the video below.

Sukkah: The Honeymoon Hut - R' Ephraim Sprecher

Shabbat shalom and Hag Sukkoth sameah!

Written before Shabbath and posted motza'ei Shabbath. I tried using the automatic-post function and it didn't seem to work!

11 October 2016

The Obstinate Jew: The Bad

9 Tishrei 5777
Erev Yom haKippurim

Introduction | The Good | The Bad | The Ugly | The Best

Forgive Me, Eretz Yisrael!
by Shmuel Sackett, International Director, Zehut
with minor editing by CDG

Thank you, Marc Gottlieb! (He's on Pinterest; this meme is attributed to him.)

Yom Kippur is just a few hours away and we must be ready – on that great and awesome day – to beg forgiveness from the Almighty. Our holy Rabbis have taught us that while our Father in Heaven wants to forgive and accept our genuine repentance, He only does that for sins between Man and G-d. For sins incurred between Man and Man, we must first apologize and beg forgiveness from the people we hurt. Only after receiving their forgiveness, will Hashem forgive us as well.

I would like to add a third group of sins; those committed between Man and Eretz Yisrael. It is my firm belief that we need to add these sins to our long list and make sure we verbally confess them to our Father, our King, on Yom Kippur.

As you know, when our ancestors were in the desert, they were far from perfect. The Torah relates many, many episodes where the Children of Israel complained and sinned. The Torah also lists their punishments – sometimes in graphic detail – and the number of Jews killed as a result. Yet, as bad as those sins were, they were confined to the specific time period of the 40 years in the desert. Hashem even forgave the horrible, unthinkable sin of the Golden Calf, where originally, Hashem said to Moshe; “Do not try to stop me when I unleash My wrath against them to destroy them” (Exodus 32:10) – yet, even that sin was forgiven – just 4 verses later; “G-d refrained from doing the evil that He planned for His people”. (32:14) Yes, many Jews were killed but as bad as it was, the punishment was focused and limited to only those directly involved. It did not extend beyond the time in the desert.

There is only one exception; one sin that was committed in the desert for which we are still being punished; The Sin of the Spies. I have always felt that one reason we don’t take that sin so seriously is because of its name…it sounds like a James Bond movie. Really, that sin – which gave us the yearly Tisha B’av and all the destruction that came with it - should be called The Gossip of the Land of Israel. That’s correct. We have been punished for the last 3,329 years because 10 people spoke poorly of Eretz Yisrael.

Forgiven for idol worship but not forgiven for talking negatively about Israel? That’s simply incredible! When I focused on that for a while my head started spinning. How many Jews have died throughout the years? How much suffering, how much pain, how many Tisha B’avs? And why? Because a few Jews said bad things about Israel!

Based on this, I came to the conclusion that we are still being punished for these sins because we never did Teshuva for them! Actually, the more I thought about it, the worse it got. We not only never did Teshuva…we are constantly repeating that same sin over and over again! I therefore decided that the reason for this is because we never realized that these sins are in their own category! In addition to the sins between Man and G-d, and between Man and his fellow Man, there’s actually a third group of sins between Man and Eretz Yisrael. Here is my list:

Forgive us Hashem for speaking poorly of Your wonderful Land.

Forgive us Hashem for thinking that You can only help us make a living in New York or Toronto but not in Netanya or Ashdod [or Kedumim or Hevron or Elon Moreh...etc. -CDG].

Forgive us Hashem for bashing the Israeli religious school system even though Israeli kids know more Tanach than any kid coming out of the finest Yeshiva in America and England.

Forgive us Hashem for running to Florida, Arizona and even Aruba on Pesach and not spending the holiday in Your holy city of Jerusalem.

Forgive us Hashem for giving millions of dollars to elect pro-Israel candidates in America, Australia and Canada but not giving even 1% of that money to elect strong candidates in Israel who would turn this country into a strong and proud Jewish state! [and by so doing, playing into the hands of our enemies -CDG]

Forgive us Hashem for seeing Israel as a museum – recognizing only the past, but not the present and future.

Forgive us Hashem for sending our children to learn Torah in Israel for a year – and sometimes two – but never considering letting them live there.

Forgive us Hashem for not knowing Hebrew; the language of Eretz Yisrael and of our Nation.

Forgive us Hashem for lying to You when we say each Shabbat, during Mussaf; “Bring us up in gladness to our land and plant us within our boundaries” because we don't really mean it.

Forgive us Hashem for not defending Your land, choosing to send us sons to university rather than the IDF [and leaving Eretz Yisrael to those who cannot defend her as well as we can, because we rely on You and Your Torah.-CDG].

Forgive us Hashem for not recognizing Your miracle and not thanking You with Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut, or even saying the prayer for the State of Israel on Shabbat.

And finally, forgive us Hashem for preferring to live outside Your Holy Land, making up all sorts of excuses. Yes, we are princes and princesses and You are our King – the King of Kings – Who has personally invited us to come inside the palace. But we have ignored Your pleas and remained outside.

Please, Hashem, forgive us for that… and this year bring us inside. Bring us home to Eretz Yisrael and forgive all the negative things we ever said about Your beautiful and special land.
I believe that the rejection of haShem's gift to us, this Land — along with all the obligations we have to her — is the root of most, if not all, of the real sins of the Jewish People (as opposed to the exaggerations and lies of the goyim), for many reasons, but most of all because He said so. Enough said.

Also see: Lessons from Azazel | A Special Message from Menachem | Goodbye, Barack | Homeward Bound |

G'mar Hatimah Tovah!

10 October 2016

The Obstinate Jew: The Good

9 Tishrei 5777
Erev Yom haKippurim

Introduction | The Good | The Bad | The Ugly | The Best

We HIJs (Hebrews/Israelites/Jews — however you wish to refer to us), especially in Israel, would not have survived, and we cannot survive now, without a certain amount of “attitude” toward the nations. This means, first and foremost, that we do not worship other gods no matter how many percentage points the man portion or the god portion gets, or who their favored prophet is; also, that we do not kowtow to the advice or the orders of other nations; certainly, it does not matter to us how much the rest of the world wants us OFF THE PLANET (i.e., DEAD). We are all too aware of it. 

We will soldier on, nevertheless.

Those of my readers who were old enough remember that only after the 1967 Six-Day War did we receive the slightest bit of respect and consideration from other nations, particularly the United States. The Shiloh Muse remembers and evokes this time even better than I do, being somewhat older. More than that, she describes clearly how blinded most American Jews are toward people they should be leery of. I think she would agree with me that its hatred was obvious when the US refused to let Jewish refugees into America, including Anne Frank and her family, during WWII. It was when I realized this, quite some time before we decided to make aliyah, that I shed any shame I had about having dual loyalties. I acquired a single loyalty: to the Jewish People in its Holy Land, one nation under her G-d. 
All the Anne Frank memorials and museums in the world will not replace the family and descendants we should have seen from her, her sister and her cousins, and everyone they represented as well. The diary would have come out after she passed away under more normal circumstances, if ever. Her name would have never driven an entire industry, which neither she nor her family benefits from. 

We are determined to keep her memory and that of all Jews murdered in the Holocaust alive.

We also would have given in to our baser nature long ago and wiped out some peoples, not unlike those who seek to wipe us out (today we have the Palestinians as described in the Abu Yehuda blog: A War Between Peoples). However, we have an obligation to wipe only one people off the face of the earth, and that is Amaleq. This obligation also includes anyone who acts like him: He hates us so much that he would sacrifice his own life to rid the earth of us. As it happens, suicide bombers are the perfect visual to illustrate that concept, even though they kill other people too. And who invented such a thing, pray tell?

Would anyone who believes in and wants to do the will of the Creator of the Universe seek to destroy almost all mankind, as a certain group wants to do (may it never be)?

The beginning of the end if Israel DOESN'T persevere against the nations. (H/T: Shiloh Musings)

More reading:

06 October 2016

The Obstinate Jew: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Best: Introduction

5 Tishrei 5777
Day 5 of the Yamim Nora'im

Introduction | The Good | The Bad | The Ugly | The Best

Please pray for the speedy and thorough recovery of Hayah Miryam bat Hinda Ruhama (חיה מרים בת הינדא רוחמה).

During the Ten Days of Awe in the Hebrew month of Tishrei, Jews the world over take time out for introspection and returning to G-d before the Great Day of Atonement, Yom haKippurim. (Many also use the month of Elul for preparation with the thought, “the King is in the field...so I'll try to speak with Him while He's more accessible.” But show me where in the sources, Tana"kh or Talmudic, Elul is discussed in this manner. I'd like to study.) 

It is said that the protracted time we, as a people, have spent in galut mode began because of sinath hinam (שנאת חינם), unjustified hatred (translation: Morfix). (The phrase itself is difficult to break down and translate literally because it ends up not making sense. Also, not everyone believes this alone is why we still don’t have the signs that all is well with the world.) I want to explore how we (including myself) can solve this heretofore insoluble problem, with the hope that it could help clear the way to ha-ge’ulah ha-shlemah, the complete redemption!

One of the things the Jewish People is well-known for, usually in a negative sense, is the paradigm of the Stiff Necked Jew; in our times, “stiff-necked” can be called obstinacy. However, I consider it to be a trait like any other, good or bad, depending on how we use it and where we direct it. The original Hebrew term, k’sheh oref קשה אורף, literally means hardness of neck. (Kasheh also means solid, stiff, difficult, strict or severe, depending on the context.) It may refer to instances when individuals among our people were threatened with beheading and it was rendered impossible by the neck being so hard it was as though turned to marble for that moment – such as when Moshe Rabbenu killed the Egyptian who murdered a Jew, and was to be punished for it, but the sword failed to kill him. But that's just my thought about it. 

I believe I first read about the concept of the proud Jew being a good thing from Yishai Fleisher a long time ago. I just found the article again and read it, and it doesn't say "stiff-necked" anywhere in it. But for some reason I associate this article with the idea that we Jews can stand up for ourselves and not be ashamed even if some of the things we practice today seem reminiscent of what we avoided back in hutz-land (wherever we olim came from). We are all too aware that the goyim label us and consider us the same stiff-necked people who disobeyed haShem so very long ago. Sadly, it informs much of our visceral reactions to things we see among our fellow Jews; therefore, we cannot entertain the notion that there might be absolutely nothing wrong with what we are seeing (like rabbis' pictures in a foreign-exchange office, as in Rabbi Fleisher's article linked above.).

The good part will discuss how we would not have survived without that certain bit of obstinacy against the nations who hate us.
The bad part will talk about how Jew-on-Jew hatred because of things about him or her (or their family, or their neighborhood, or their Jewish orientation) that appear to be sin but may actually not be.
UPDATE on BAD and UGLY: I saw an article about our lack of gratitude for Eretz Yisrael and the fact that we can come back and live here; the foregoing things I was going to write about in this part, I believe, stem from this. I reblogged the article.
The ugly part will include the Jew-on-Jew hatred as above that I had planned for the bad part, and also reveal how our bad behavior towards one another allows the nations to come against us with impunity, regardless of what kind of Jew we are.
The best part will encourage us to redirect our stubbornness towards our relationship with HaQadosh Baruch Hu and with each other.

My dear readers, thank you for your patience and for waiting while I wrote about this very important topic, mostly during the month of Elul and, I hope, finishing up during the Yamim Nora’im (Days of Awe) of the month of Tishrei. I am frankly quite daunted by it because there are many details I could miss. So, I am writing along these main principles, which are the following:

  • The Creator of the Universe gave the Hebrews/Israelites*/Jews (hereafter HIJs) the Torah, both Written and Oral, which encompasses our entire lives in exquisite detail.
  • There is no other true religion (keeping in mind that observant Noahides, who ultimately will comprise the rest of the world, are practicing a very basic form of Judaism, which our forefathers kept before the Torah was given. But note that one must be very careful when becoming Noahide-law-observant, to choose well from whom one learns it. Otherwise, that Noahide might end up “stepping on Jewish toes,” so to speak, which he MUST not do; the nations (at least most of them) do it all the time, on purpose.).
  • It is particularly important for HIJs to be careful when reading or hearing the words of outsiders about us (it is so difficult to block it all out these days) because most of them are lies and, at best, exaggerations; furthermore, because they are largely projecting their own faults onto us and our actions, they do not think well of us or have our best interests at heart, to say the least.
  • Therefore, it is assumed here that most faults of HIJs in our times — which are quite real, which is why we always need to "return in teshuva" — are all the more pronounced and obvious due to the protracted (extremely long, unreasonably extended) exile many of us are still stuck in, whether externally- or internally-imposed, until the redemption is completed, may it be so imminently; and that most things that are said about HIJs are completely false or exaggerated, with no empathy or understanding at all. Someone must give the HIJ the benefit of the doubt; since most of the rest of the world does not, we have to stubbornly, obstinately, even with “stiff necks,” do so ourselves.
  • We reserve the right to decide who belongs to our group and who does not. Those who otherwise would be said to belong, but who live their lives without regard to the group’s survival and continuation, whether national or spiritual, ARE NOT INCLUDED. The same goes for anyone who wishes to belong whose practices, if followed by us all, would lead to HIJ destruction – whether they know it or not (the latter must be warned, of course, before being rejected!).

I conclude this introduction with a true story from yesterday. I went to the hospital to visit a very dear friend, who is there because she was in a bad accident and both legs were broken. She has many friends and her family is large, b”H, bli ayin hara’, and two of her other friends were there too. At one point, one of the friends had left and we who remained were speaking about how many Jews would be included among those getting to go into ge’ulah sh’lemah. The other woman (I had not met her prior to this visit) was saying that she doesn’t know what direction American Jewry will take, and whether the rules for full acceptance into the Jewish people would possibly loosen so that many Reform and Conservative families who comprise halakhic non-Jews among their members might be included. I am not so sure about this, and said so.  Our sick friend was trying to subtly and kindly disagree as well. Since my remarks were more direct, she turned to me and said, “We cannot know the future.” She said this several times, and my reply was something that, if I had heard it from someone else, I would have been really amazed at how it came out: “We cannot know the future. But we are assured of one thing: Those who follow haShem fully and completely will be included.” Our sick friend nodded and gave her a meaningful expression.

I did not add any qualifiers or other words because there are lots of things that people believe and live by that may not be "following fully and completely" but nevertheless fit in most people's concept of Jewish living — even among many religious Jews. This may contribute a great deal to the notion that, even in Israel we are still in galut, just as much as any HIJ in the rest of the world.

Speaking of which, I am sorry for having offended anyone who happened to read something I wrote and didn’t understand that my remark(s) was (were) not directed at him or her or the likes of them (I have been in that position many times, too.). Shanah tovah ug’mar b’hatimah tovah. Hamevin yavin.

Yom Kippur: The Original Soul Food  - R' Ephraim Sprecher

*The term Israelis is not included in my newly-made-up abbreviation because at the time of this writing it includes citizens of Medinath Yisrael other than Jews; and for the purposes of this article – and, for that matter, all the writing on this blog – it is not desirable to involve or invoke non-Jews, Israeli or otherwise, unless specifically indicated.

More Reading:

18 September 2016

Gematria: Getting Down to the Wire

17 Elul 5776

The pressure's on! Only two more weeks to go, and Mashiach hasn't been identified yet as far as I know. Too many gematrias (gematrioth if you're good at Hebrew) point to 5776 as the year he will show up on Jewish "radar." The radar part is my interpretation, not what was said.

 Also take a look at this video: the Temple will come down to Yerushalayim in 5776.

My husband and I wrote an article back about 2013-ish, an exercise in interpreting gematria that even R' Pinchas Winston had nothing bad to say about - we had it posted under his video Geulah b'Rachamim, thinking they went well together, and published it on our personal web site. (I'm not adding a link to it here because hubby redesigned the site and hasn't put any articles back in. The Wayback Machine doesn't have it either. If my husband finds it, bli neder I will post it next. If not, then I'll continue with more writing I have had in mind for a while.) It was inspired by a teaching by R' Ephraim Sprecher, that in Parashath Behar, Vayikra 25:10 the gematria of the word tashuvu  תשבו (missing a vav (ו) - we know it through the nikud) comes out to 708, referring to the rebirth of the State of Israel.

י וְקִדַּשְׁתֶּם אֵת שְׁנַת הַחֲמִשִּׁים שָׁנָה וּקְרָאתֶם דְּרוֹר בָּאָרֶץ לְכָל ישְׁבֶיהָ יוֹבֵל הִוא תִּהְיֶה לָכֶם וְשַׁבְתֶּם אִישׁ אֶל אֲחֻזָּתוֹ וְאִישׁ אֶל מִשְׁפַּחְתּוֹ תָּשֻׁבוּ

10 And you shall sanctify the fiftieth year, and proclaim freedom [for slaves] throughout the land for all who live on it. It shall be a Jubilee for you, and you shall return, each man to his property, and you shall return, each man to his family.

My husband's question was: How do we know it was in 5708, since the gematria was 708? It could have been in any of the past or future millennia. To find the answer, he and I went through all the millennia from Creation - the years 708, 1708, 2708 and so on, up to 6708 (which hasn't happened yet) searching for events that could answer 1) the gematria, and 2) the context of the verse it occurs in (in this case, sanctifying the Yovel, or Jubilee, year), and came to the conclusion that 5708 was the answer because of the major event that occurred in that year, the announcement of the rebirth of the State of Israel. All the rest of the millennia didn't have such a clear event to point to.

In the next two weeks we shall see whether the gematriot that have been put forth as possibly indicating Mashiach's identification in 5776 come true. Prior to this we can never know. And even if it doesn't...we must wait expectantly, and not give up! There's always 5777!

Meanwhile, the King is in the field, and we must go out to meet Him...!

11 September 2016

Valuable Post: The Day We Decided to Win, by Emily Amrousi

8 Elul 5776

Blogger's Note: I have not had a lot of time to write articles myself this summer; I have plans for a series after this month is over. Meanwhile, I hope that the State of Israel will consider and take the excellent advice hinted to below.

It would be a step in the right direction even if this is not our ultimate government. Do I really believe they will take it? I don't know. It is a matter of fact and not opinion whether they do or not. Bottom line, it is a matter of whether they truly care about the survival of any state of the Jews, and in particular, the only one that exists. If they don't, I believe their role will be "overtaken by events" at some point. Meaning, it will be left out of the Geulah Shlemah (complete redemption). I hope the Absolute Truth blog is right on what he's saying there. But if not, I'll keep waiting.

I have enhanced the article a bit with links (except the two to Israel haYom, which are original), pictures and commentary [between brackets; just a couple of questions for Ms. Amrousi.]


Iconic photograph from the expulsion of Gush Katif & the northern Shomron. (Oded Balilty, AP)

The day we decided to win
by Emily Amrousi for Israel HaYom

On the day that the State of Israel decided to win, infantry units entered schools in the Palestinian[*] Authority, confiscated all the existing textbooks and left in their place piles of freshly printed Arabic textbooks. Paratroopers took down the monuments in memory of martyrs that stood at the entrances to villages, and soldiers in the Intelligence Corps set up digital whiteboards and computers in all the classrooms. 

On the day that we decided to win, we left the murderers without a community: The imams in the mosques were disconnected from their microphones; Palestinian television was taken off the air; and anyone who made a post in the evening inciting to murder had their water turned off by the following morning. Those praising the murderers were arrested and put on trial. The echoing voice that led the propaganda movement, calling Jews rats and pigs, rapists and murderers, was put to rest. 

On that day, when Israel decided to win, we were sorry for the Palestinian who helped the children of the Mark family when they were injured in a terrorist attack and then had to appear in interviews with his face blurred and his voice distorted. We began to understand the culture of death in which he lives: There are many Israelis, including settlers, who help Palestinians, and none of them have to hide their faces. 

On the day that we decided to win, we carried out thousands of demolition orders for illegal buildings in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria. We prevented the transfer of funds to security prisoners. We entered Palestinian Authority territory as needed. We did not enter when it was not necessary. We were sovereign. 

[Wouldn't granting any territory to them, within that which was granted us, be abdicating sovereignty? - this is how the Arabs seem to have always understood it; they have not and will not give up trying to take over all of the land, at least as long as they have help from the European Union and the United Nations. Have we not yet learned our lesson?]

I took this picture in April 2015 (during hol hamo'ed Pesah 5775) on a field trip with Regavim. Look for the small blue-and-white stickers, which are the European Union's signature on this "shantytown" near Ma'ale Adumim. - CDG

We spread out a map of the land and marked large swathes of it for construction. Tens of thousands of housing units in Jerusalem, in the greater Jerusalem area, on the way from the capital city to the Dead Sea, between Gush Dan and the Jordan Valley. In Ariel and Maaleh Adumim, in Beit El and in Gush Etzion. The bubble burst and real estate prices dropped throughout the nation. On the day that we decided to win, we stopped the trial of Elor Azaria; a circus of a trial that has left an IDF soldier alone in the ring. Azaria went home, exhausted and free. 

Elor Azaria in court. (Ynet News)
On the day that we decided to win, we made the decision to destroy terrorists' homes with no advance warning. We deported the families of terrorists. We wrapped the bodies of terrorists in pig skin. "They've gone crazy," everyone said. Yes, we had already gone crazy, when they murdered a young girl in her bed [and, don't you think, long before that? No one I know has forgotten or forgiven the Holocaust or dhimmitude, both of which have cost an incredible number of Jewish lives and kept us one of the smallest nations on earth in modern times.].

* * *

Amona: "Every house destroyed is a victory for Hamas." (Wikipedia)
On the day that we decide to win, we will also decide to allow the outpost of Amona to remain intact. This community's fate -- to be demolished by the end of the year -- is not just about the dozens of families that have been living there for the last 20 years, rather it is an Israeli story. 

The residents are not thieves. The vast majority of the landowners registered in the Ottoman and Jordanian documents cannot be found, making the land "absentee property." Some left the country or died without heirs, and some cannot be identified because they used fake names for tax purposes. In recent years, a small number of the owners have been found, and they did not even know about their ownership of the land until the left-wing organization Yesh Din intervened. A plot here, a plot there, scattered among Jewish homes, between the grapevines and the fig trees. 

The residents are offering additional compensation to anyone proven to be a landowner now and in the future. The High Court of Justice is asking that the whole settlement be bulldozed. If this small and beautiful outpost is ordered to be demolished, all the other settlements and kibbutzim established on land owned by Arabs prior to 1948 are also in danger. This is what logic would say and what history would determine. If Amona goes down, why should Shefayim remain?

[*] Need we remind readers that Palestinian = Arab?

More reading:

Regavim | Women for Israel's Tomorrow | Israel Law Center | Zehut | Yes, The West Wants to Ethnically Cleanse Israel of Jews

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