Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Zehut Conference in Israel: Monday February 28. Attend or Watch

  • Tel Aviv Port (called the "Namal") inside "Hangar 11" this coming Tuesday evening – February 28th (the 2nd of Adar).
  • Zehut members are asked to come between 3:00pm-5:45pm in order to vote on key Zehut issues regarding our primaries.
  • Doors open to the General Public at 5:45pm and the program will begin promptly at 6:15pm.
  • The evening will conclude at 8:45pm.

Click here to attend (in Israel).
Click here to view (outside of Israel).

Our Youthful Backyard

By Zvulun Orlev

“Wild Weeds” in the Backyard

We have in our midst young men and women who gain strength from generation to generation in the path of “Torah and Labor,” and we are rightfully proud of them. The disseminating of the values of religious Zionism within our land is to the credit of these people, and it can be viewed as a success of the religious education they received in their families, from the Chemed religious school system, in the yeshivot and IDF prep schools, in our youth movements, in our communities and settlements. Credit is also due to such religious Zionist organizations as Emunah, the Kibbutz Hadati, and others.

As opposed to our wonderful youths, which number about 250,000 students in all the educational institutions combined, there are a few hundred youths, including a tough kernel of no more than a few dozen, who have abandoned the yoke of authority and the discipline of their parents, their rabbis, and their educators, ignoring the public leadership and the laws of the land. They have written their own set of national values, one that is foreign to our Torah and our nation. We cannot ignore the violent struggle of these youths in the synagogue of Amona against police and soldiers, in defiance of the calls by rabbis and community leaders to refrain from violence. The image of the destroyed synagogue is a view of our own young backyard. We can see in sharp detail the image of those who refuse to accept any authority.

What did we do, how did we react to the destruction? Except for a handful of leaders and rabbis we continued with our regular routines as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Some of us reacted calmly: They were twenty fools, they are alone, let the police take care of them. Some of us said, there is nothing we can do, we have no other course of action. Some people stayed away from controversy, saying: “They are not from among us, they are not religious Zionists” – it is not our responsibility to comment on their behavior.

However, this “backyard” causes tremendous harm, first and foremost to the young men and women themselves. Their actions lead to terrible damage to their families, their communities, to religious Zionism as a whole, and to the country. These backyard people do not suffer from damage in terms of intelligence, cognizance, emotions, or the spirit. Their head is distorted, and their soul is totally corrupt in terms of actions and values. I am sorry to say that there are some mature adults and organizations which see them as legitimate, lend them their support, encourage them, and even make use of them for their own distorted goals. Government authorities do not prosecute them fully, and the educational and therapeutic institutions have not organized properly in order to stop their downward trend and to bring them back to normative living.

Take on the Responsibility

What should we do? First of all, we must not abandon our responsibility for them and for us to search for ways to bring them back to the fold, or at the very least to prevent others from joining them. They indeed grew up in our families (including some of the most prominent and important ones), they have been living in our towns, they were educated in our youth movements and our yeshivot. They are our biological children, they are our students and members of our youth clubs. No normative family or strong community has immunity that will guarantee that such wild plants will not grow up among us. If we remain indifferent, not only will they not disappear but they will gain strength and increase their numbers without limit.

The good news is that behavioral distortion and corruption of the spirit and values of the youths can be reduced to a minimum and even corrected by proper treatment. There are educational and therapeutic models which have been shown to be capable of coping with this phenomenon. We have in our midst excellent professionals who have demonstrated successes in treating these youths. Even though we have not yet developed enough suitable places for them, there are some therapeutic institutions within religious Zionism which have shown impressive results in this matter.

What is still lacking? It is broad recognition and an awareness by us all about this problem. Rabbis, educators, and public leaders must all band together to relate to the situation. Just the acts of awareness and taking on responsibility will help to reduce the dimensions of this backyard. Awareness, responsibility, and recognizing the seriousness of the problem will guarantee that we commit the necessary resources.

Rav Kook wrote: “The objective of education is to guide a person into a proper path, whose central focus is to make him into one who is good and upright... It is clear that at times to go beyond the strict limits of the law becomes the law itself.”

It is clear that we are bound by a mitzva to dedicate our educational, spiritual, social, and financial resources to the cause of bringing our youths back to their proper form.

Success in this matter depends first and foremost on our efforts, not on the youths themselves. Let us make the effort, and we can succeed!

Zionist Chassidism: The Task of the Tzadik

By Rafi Ostroff 
Head of the Religious Council of Gush Etzion

In the year 5698 (1938) the Rebbi of Husiatyn gave the following Torah insight in a sermon:

“Come now and let us have a discussion, God says” (Yeshayahu 1:18). The current topic of discussion is Eretz Yisrael.

The nation of Yisrael claims: We are going to Eretz Yisrael. Or, it would be more correct to say, we are being evicted from the lands to which we have been dispersed, and we turn towards Eretz Yisrael. (The people also emigrate to other lands, but only as private people. In response to a general national goal, we go only to Eretz Yisrael. The proof is the offer of Uganda. Even irreligious people wept when they heard this proposal, although they did not yet know if the land that was offered was good or not.) We go to the land based on the promise: “I will give it to you as a heritage, I am G-d” [Shemot 6:8]. And based on this promise in the Torah portion, “I will oppress your oppressors and I will make enemies of your enemies” [Shemot 23:22].

And now, the Jews are coming here, but the British stand at the gate and do not let them in. And those who already came in and built up the land with their blood (or their money – a pun) have encountered a wild breed of men, natives of the desert, who uproot the trees they planted and murder innocent souls. The economic foundations have been destroyed, and all roads are dangerous. (This sermon was delivered at the height of the Arab riots, during the years 5696-99 - 1936-39.)

What is it that G-d claims? He says, the promise I gave you depends on a condition: “Observe everything that I commanded you to do” [Shemot 23:13]. The reply to this condition is that Bnei Yisrael have a special privilege, as noted by Rashi: “‘Observe everything that I commanded you to do, and do not mention the names of other gods’ – This teaches us that idol worship carries the same weight as all the other mitzvot, and one who observes this mitzva is treated as if he had observed them all.” And as for Yisrael, no matter what else has happened, they do not violate the laws of idol worship, heaven forbid.

And I saw the following in Daat Zekeinim at the end of the Torah portion of Behar: “‘For Bnei Yisrael are slaves to Me, they are My slaves whom I took out of the Land of Egypt’ [Vayikra 25:55]. And then, ‘Do not make gods for you’ [26:1]. Why is this relevant here, when the passage is concerned with the laws of Yovel? I say to you, this comes to explain why we will be redeemed even though we do not observe all the mitzvot, because in any case we did observe the mitzva, ‘Do not have for you other gods’ [Shemot 20:3].

* * * * * *

The Rebbe of Husiatyn wrote this in 1938, before the great Holocaust took place, but he already saw how the Jews were being expelled from their lands. (If only more had been expelled perhaps they could have been rescued, but who could predict what was about to happen to them?)

What is the Difference between My Son and My Father-in-law’s Son?

The required condition for possession of the land is to observe the mitzvot, because this area of land is the entranceway to the King’s palace. However, the Rebbe saw the task of the great men of his generation as a need to emphasize the merits of Yisrael, in spite of what he could plainly see – that most of the people in Eretz Yisrael did not observe the mitzvot. He therefore wrote:

“It is the will of G-d that the righteous men and the leaders of the nation in every generation should awaken mercy for the people in this way and find ways to sweeten the harsh punishments that overcome them, heaven forbid. The best way to do this is to mention the other nations and to compare them to Yisrael. Then we can see the difference between “my son” and “my father-in-law’s son” – and this is the path followed by the Rebbe of Berdichev.

(According to the Talmud, Leah noted that her father-in-law’s son Eisav hated Yaacov to whom he sold the birthright, while her own son Reuven did not hate his brother Yosef who was given the birthright against Reuven’s will. See Berachot 7b.)

And here the Rebbe tells a wonderful story about Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev. He went out into the market late at night and offered some food to the people there. The Gentiles took the food and gobbled it down, while the Jews said that they must first wash their hands.

The Rebbe of Husiatyn emphasizes: The task of the rabbis is to reveal the merits of Yisrael. And in his generation he was able to say that the Jews did not worship idols and were not ready to do so (even though they did not observe the laws of Shabbat and kashrut). Today we sorely miss having such rabbis, who see their main role as a search for the merits of the people, even if the only merit that they can find is that they are not involved in idol worship...

Justice belongs to G-d

By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

In the beginning of his book “Mussar Kodesh,” Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook discussed the difference between Divine and human morality:

“Secular morality has no depth and does not enter into the internal nature of the soul... This teaching takes no stand against the attack of various lusts which might awake in strength, and it goes without saying that such weak morality cannot serve as a guide for the general human public in all its depth and broad experience, to penetrate into the depths of the soul – and to transform the hearts of individuals and the community into a heart of flesh instead of a heart of stone. There is no alternative other than being guided by Divine morality. ”

The same can be said about the difference between human justice and Torah (Divine) justice. Rav Kook discusses this in “Arfilei Tohar:”

“Social punishment, especially in terms of monetary damage, has two sources in the soul: one is good and the other is bad. The first one stems from the recognition that one should never do an injustice, and that one who does so must suffer so that the good attitude (that injustice must be avoided) will gain strength. The second source is a result of a selfish feeling. Another person should not benefit from what is mine or touch what is mine, because the feeling of something being mine and of myself is stronger and more powerful than anything else... The laws of the Gentiles almost exclusively stem from this crude second source...”

A student of Rav Kook’s words explained the above ideas as follows: There is legal justice, and there is moral justice. The theme of legal justice is: give every person what belongs to him! And the role (of the courts) is to enforce this idea, to protect everybody’s possessions from being attacked by anybody else.

However, moral justice (that of the Torah, which is Divine justice) is at a much higher level. It comes to mankind with demands based on the principle that man was created in the image of our G-d, and that therefore we must get rid of animal selfishness. We must rise above it and conquer our corrupting lusts, which destroy the glory of His status.

The main objective of legal justice is to protect other people from me, from my actions. This is not true for moral justice. In this case the main goal is related to me - to make me into a better person. (See: R.Z. Pinnes, Morality of the Torah and the Talmud.)

A similar idea was expressed by the Kli Chemda on the verse, “For justice belongs to G-d” [Devarim 1:17]:

“G-d wants to establish justice – that the judgement of the Torah will be applied to Yisrael. However, when Bnei Noach were commanded to establish courts of law, the reason was to make the world peaceful but not to apply the laws of the Torah.”

The first to write this was the Maharal of Prague in his book “Tiferet Yisrael” (Chapter 25). He wrote that all the mitzvot of the Torah are Divine and that the Torah is not a natural or behavioral religion, or “ Derech eretz (proper behavior) to maintain order... Rather it is Divine. All of its words are Divine, and therefore one who observes it has the privilege of having a place in the world to come.”

The purpose of the laws of the Torah is not simply to institute proper social relationships but rather to “guide us along the paths of mercy... so that we will remain pure in our souls... and to teach us good traits” [Ramban, Devarim].

Rav Kook on Parashat Mishpatim: Trust in God vs. Self-Reliance

The Talmud (Berachot 10b) tells a puzzling story about the righteous king Hezekiah. It is related that the king secreted away the medical books of his day. Why? King Hezekiah felt that the people relied too heavily on the prescriptions described in those texts, and did not pray to God to heal them.

Surprisingly, the Sages approved of King Hezekiah’s action. Such an approach would appear to contradict another Talmudic ruling. The Torah says one who injures his neighbor must “provide for his complete healing” (Ex. 21:19). The Talmud (Baba Kama 85a) deducts from here that the Torah granted doctors permission to heal. Even with natural diseases, we do not say, “Since God made him ill, it is up to God to heal him,” but do our best to heal him.

Which is the correct attitude? Should we rely on doctors and medical books, or place our trust only in God and prayer?

There is in fact a larger question at stake. When are we expected to do our utmost to remedy the situation ourselves, and when should we rely on God’s help?

Two Forms of Bitachon

Rav Kook explained that there are two forms of bitachon, reliance on God. There is the normative level of trust, that God will assist us in our efforts to help ourselves. And there is the simple trust in God that He will perform a miracle, when appropriate.

Regarding the community as a whole, we find apparent contradictions in the Torah’s expectations. Sometimes we are expected to make every possible effort to succeed, as in the battle of HaAi (Joshua 8). On other occasions, human effort was considered a demonstration of lack of faith, as when God instructed Gideon not to send too many soldiers to fight, “Lest Israel should proudly say ‘My own hand saved me'” (Judges 7:2). Why did God limit Gideon’s military efforts, but not Joshua’s in the capture of HaAi?

The answer is that the spiritual level of the people determines what level of bitachon is appropriate. When we are able to recognize God’s hand in the natural course of events, when we are aware that God is the source of our strength and skill - “Remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives you strength to succeed” (Deut. 8:18) - then God is more clearly revealed when He supplies our needs within the framework of the natural world. In this situation, we are expected to utilize all of our energy and knowledge and talents, and recognize divine assistance in our efforts. This reflects the spiritual level of the people in the time of Joshua.

On the other hand, there are times when the people are incapable of seeing God’s help in natural events, and they attribute any success solely to their own efforts and skills. They are likely to claim, “My own hand saved me.” In this case, only miraculous intervention will enable the people to recognize God’s hand - especially when the Jewish nation was young, miracles were needed to bring them to this awareness.

Educating the People

Consider the methods by which parents provide for their children. When a child is young, the parent feeds the child directly. If the child is very small, the parent will even put the food right in his mouth. As the child grows older, he learns to become more independent and take care of his own needs. Parental care at this stage is more indirect, by supplying him with the wherewithal - the knowledge, skills, and training - to provide for himself. The grown child does not wish to be forever dependent on his parent. He wants to succeed by merit of his own talents and efforts, based on the training and tools that his parents provided him.

So too, when the Jewish people was in its infancy, miracles served to instill a fundamental recognition and trust in God. In the time of Gideon, the people’s faith had lapsed, and needed strengthening. Similarly, in the time of King Hezekiah, the king realized that the corrupt reign of Ahaz had caused the people to forget God and His Torah. He calculated that the spiritual gain through prayer outweighed the scientific loss due to hiding the medical texts.

But when faith and trust in God are strong, it is preferable that we utilize our own energies and talents, and recognize God’s hand within the natural universe. The enlightened viewpoint calls out, “Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these?” (Isaiah 40:26). So it was when Joshua conquered the city of HaAi. After forty years of constant miracles in the desert, the people were already thoroughly imbued with trust in God. It was appropriate that they use their own resources of cunning and courage to ambush the fighters and destroy the city.

What about the future redemption of the Jewish people? It may occur with great miracles, like the redemption from Egypt; or it may begin with natural events, as implied by several statements of the Sages that the redemption will progress gradually. It all depends on the level of our faith in God. It is certainly integral to our national pride that we take an active role in rebuilding the House of Israel.

(Gold from the Land of Israel pp. 136-138. Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. I, p. 57)

Why Millions of Jews were murdered in the Holocaust

Parashat Mishpatim 5777
By HaRav Nachman Kahana

Why millions of Jews were murdered in the Holocaust

The Holocaust was the greatest calamity to befall the Jewish nation.

Its devastation outranks even the destruction of the two Batei Hamikdash, as explained in Midrash Eicha 4 in its analysis of chap. 79 in Tehillim: “Mizmor Le’Asaf” – a song of praise (to Hashem) composed by Asaf (the Levi).

The Midrash points out that this introductory sentence is totally incompatible with the text, which deals with the projected destruction of the Bet Hamikdash. It should read “Kina Le’Asaf” – a lamentation composed by Asaf not “Mizmor le’Asaf” – a song of praise composed by Asaf.

The Midrash explains that the destruction of the two Batei Mikdash was certainly a calamity of the first order. However, even within the context of this punishment, Hashem showed His mercy by venting His anger on the wood and stones of the structure rather than permit mass murder of His people.

So, the unescapable question: How did it come about in Hashem’s world that six million Jews (the belief today is that the number is closer to seven and a half million Jews), including one-and-a-half million children and millions of God-fearing Torah Jews, were sent to Olam Haba (the next world) through the chimneys of Aisav’s (Esau) death camps?

It would be flippant and irreverent to answer that the Shoah was punishment for our sins, because all Jews are mutual guarantors (kol Yisrael arayvim ze la’ze), when in fact only the Jews of Europe and parts of North Africa suffered that fate, whereas the Jews of the U.S. and Eretz Yisrael were not only spared, but also prospered.

My personal understanding of these events consoles me in some small way when facing the unspeakable horrors of the Shoah.

The Gemara (Bava Kama 60a) explains the underlying meaning of the verse in our parasha (Shemot 22:5):

כי תצא אש ומצאה קצים ונאכל גדיש או הקמה או השדה שלם ישלם המבער את-הבערה
If a fire spreads to weeds (in another’s field) and devours bales of wheat or uncut wheat of the field, the negligent perpetrator must make payment.

In addition to the explicit judicial responsibility of a man for his actions, the Gemara explains that “weeds” are the evil doers of the world and “the bales of wheat and uncut wheat” are the righteous of Am Yisrael. When HaShem decrees that the “weeds” be destroyed, the free hand of the Angel of Death begins with the coveted “bales of wheat” – the first and most to suffer are the righteous who happen to be present among the evil doers.

I reject any allegation that my fellow Jewish brothers and sisters sinned to a degree which justified the horrors of the Shoah. Some “experts” at counting other peoples’ sins place the blame on assimilation. But Jewish history has never encountered the numbers and rate of assimilation and intermarriage found today among the Jews of the United States. Yet they continue to thrive. Other sin counters put the blame on Zionism, while others, on the lack of Zionism.

The Shoah was Hashem’s decree which began with the First World War, that the evil descendants of Aisav should put an end to one another; that Aisav should devoir Aisav. Russians should kill Germans, and Germans should slaughter Englishmen, the Ukrainians should kill the Americans, and Americans should kill the Turks, etc. And it is common knowledge that the Second World War was a continuation of the First World War, albeit after an extended cease fire.

The Jews were turned into smoke and soap, because the leash on insanity was released, and the Jews were caught up in it BECAUSE WE WERE THERE! And we were there because we did not understand that when Aisav kills Aisav, it is no place for Ya’akov (Jacob/Israel) to be.

When the inhibitions of hatred are released, then the ever-present hatred of Jews rises to the fore and Aisav seeks to put an end to Ya’akov.

If you reject the proposition that the two world wars were death sentences decreed on the goyim, and we were swept up into it just because we were there, you are left with two very bad options: That the Jews of Europe sinned to the extent that 1,500,000 little children had to die; or the whole matter is beyond our comprehension, so let’s just continue building bigger and more expensive holocaust museums and go back to living.

Conclusion: If one lives in a depraved or a potentially depraved gentile society, then no matter how frum or how erudite in Torah, one could suddenly find himself swept up in the tsunamis and 9/11’s of that nation.

To be more specific: President Trump is not an anti-Semite. However, there are many millions of white Americans who perceive his messages as suggestions to mean things he never intended.

“Let’s make America great again”, is perceived to mean “Let us white, Protestants retake our homeland from the third world peoples who have defiled the purity of our culture.” This infers the blacks, the Hispanics, the Moslems and certainly the Jews who control the “false news” media and the sensitive centers of economic power.

Remember: The Jews of Europe were cast to the unbridled hatred of the Aisavic Christians because we were there.

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

Sell Out: The Yesha Council's adherence to the Peace Now Strategy of Isolating the “​settler minority”​

By David Bedien

(Ed. Note: Anyone who doubts this, feel free to take a look at Moshe Feiglin's book, "Where There Are No Men". The sell out continues)

In 1993, those who promoted the Oslo process portrayed the opposition to “land for peace” as a “​settler minority​” locked in to their ideology and their real estate.

This “settler isolation” approach was best elucidated by PR expert Yekutiel Federman, once the owner of the Dan Hotel Chain, sponsor of Abie Nathan’s Voice of Peace and funder of PEACE NOW.. on the pages of the now defunct-Al HaMishmar. the former Mapam-Meretz daily newspaper, in October 1993. Federman advised the Rabin-Peres government to “isolate the 3%” of the population who live in Yesha, and to attack them personally.

Prime Minister Rabin therefore referred to ‘settlers’ as propellers whom he would let spin their propellers and whom he promised to ignore.

For 23 years, the Yesha Council, the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria & Gaza, has adhered to Federman’s Peace Now strategy.

Even now. In well funded demonstrations against the destruction of Amona, the Yesha Council mobilized only those Jews living in Judea and Samaria, without inviting anyone else to the speak at their rallies, as if the wanton demolition of a thriving community was only the problem of Amona and the Jews who live Judea and Samaria.

At no time did the full page Yesha ads for Amonah include Jews who were not Rabbis or residents of Judea and Samaria.

Nor did the Yesha Council reach out to Jewish landowners within the green line who may suffer the consequences of the Amona precedent .

In other words, playing into the hands of Oslo advocates, the Yesha Council would not to stress that the Amona precedent represents a threat to all of the people of Israel, and not only to Judea and Samaria.

Haggai Segel, writing in Makor Rishon on September 23, 2016, reported on court judgments which can still be enforced against thousands hundreds of Jewish homes within the green line where absentee Arab landowners still lay claim to their land that Jews took possession of, between 1950 and 1952. Even more important, the Adalah Arab rights organization has hired a team of lawyers to help absentee land owners lay claim to these lands.

In other words, Yesha could transform homeowners within the green line into allies, yet they will not do so.

The unkindest cut of all: the refusal of the Yesha council to play the human rights card.

At no time does the Yesha Council appeal to protect the fundamental human rights of a family who has lived in a home for years to not be thrown into the street in the cold of winter, because that parcel of land was allocated by King Hussein a generation ago to his subjects.

That Israeli Basic Human Rights Law should be invoked, based on the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which all democratic governments are adherents.

Given the legal precedents from Israeli court cases and from court cases around the world, any Israeli government decision to expel people from their homes, even in the context of a diplomatic move, would represent a wanton violation of basic human rights and civil liberties that are protected under Israeli and international human rights law.

Clause 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, declare that it is illegal for sovereign governments to expel their own citizens from their homes, their private properties or from their farms.

Instead, the leaders of the Yesha council opted to adopt the Peace Now strategy, to isolate and destroy themselves.

MK Yair Lapid, when he was Israel Minister of Finance, asked why that the government of Israel paid the PR expenses of the Yesha Council. Now we know why.

The Shamrak Report: No More Excuses Bibi - Do What is Right for Israel!

By Sima Kadmon
Trump pulled the rug of excuses from under Netanyahu’s feet. After his meeting with the US president, the prime minister will have to deal with his greatest fear - the need to decide. Will he stick to the two-state vision he presented eight years ago, or will he adopt Bennett’s plan for the annexation of Judea and Samaria?
There is no argument over the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got from US President Donald Trump exactly what he wanted. One state, two states, what difference does it make - that is the exact attitude Netanyahu would like to hear in an American president. Someone who hasn’t got a clue what it’s all about.
...Netanyahu is now in a situation of “damned if I do and damned if I don’t.” He may suffer from any choice he makes. The American reception was a dream that even he didn’t dream of. The way Trump waited for him at the entrance to the White House. The way he spoke to him and about him at the press conference. The way he treated Sara, telling her to stand up so that everyone would applaud her. 
...Netanyahu will discover that it’s all in his hands. Trump won’t lift a finger. He won’t push for a solution and won’t force Israel to reach an agreement. He has enough urgent matters on the agenda. What Netanyahu will have to do is the exact thing he doesn’t know how to do!
MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) will submit a bill this week to remove the Israeli Supreme Court's unlimited control of Israel's laws and justice system.
The bill was suggested by the "Derech Chaim Movement," which aims to infuse Jewish values into Israel's government and legal system.
The new proposal would end the Supreme Court's ability to cancel laws of which they do not approve.
The booklet suggests adopting a model similar to England's, in which the Supreme Court can point out contradictions between basic laws and new laws, but the only ones with the authority to cancel or create laws are members of the government itself.
Israel does not have a basic law authorizing the Supreme Court to cancel new laws nor does it have a "checks and balances" system as does the United States. However, the Supreme Court has decided it has this authority because of how its justices interpret the basic law on "human dignity and liberty," although when this same basic law was passed, the lawmakers stated explicitly that it was "not intended to authorize the Supreme Court to cancel laws."
Food for Thought by Steven Shamrak
Just a year before the Fourth Geneva Convention was adopted close to 14 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims were transferred during the partition b/w India and Pakistan in 1947. The Fourth Geneva Convention was adopted to stop Israel from removing enemy population. It has never been taken seriously by any other country, as well as the UN! Only Israel has been forced to follow it all the time. 
Time for the PA to Pay Its Bills
Director of the Israel Electric Corporation, Yiftah Ron Tal, said that if the PA don’t pay what it owes to the Corporation, electricity will be cut off in homes in PA-controlled areas. Recently, the PA paid 600 million shekels in electricity debts. However, their debt stands at over a billion shekels.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that he "deeply" regretted the opposition to the appointment of former Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Salam Fayyad (non-state representative) as the UN’s peace envoy to Libya. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hailed the U.S. veto of Fayyad as counter to the "free gifts constantly given to the Palestinian side".
Yahya Sinwar, 55, head of the most extremist faction of Hamas, who received four life sentences from an Israeli court for attacking and kidnapping Israeli citizens, only to be released in the Gilad Shalit deal, was elected leader of the terrorist group, replacing Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. This is the first appointment to the top job of a man from the military arm of Hamas. This is a signal that the two and a half years of calm along the Gaza border will soon be over. Sinwar believes in an ongoing conflict with Israel.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely referred to the press briefing in Washington between President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu said "I welcome the fact that for the first time in 25 years there is an American desire to think afresh and to respect Israel's interests as determined by the people of Israel… the two-state era has ended. The prime minister is talking now about new ways of achieving peace."
The UN envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, told the Security Council that the “two-state solution” remains "the only way" to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs. "The two-state solution remains the only way to achieve the legitimate national aspirations of both peoples.” The envoy urged Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders to "carefully contemplate the future," which he warned could be one "built on perpetual conflict, rising extremism and occupation." (Hasn’t that been what Israel been subjected to so far? The occupation of Jewish land and Islamic terror, it can’t be worse!)
Mahmoud al-Zahar, a spokesperson for the Hamas terrorist group, rejected Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s offer of massive assistance to the Gaza Strip in return for them giving up their rockets and attack. He also rejected call for Hamas to return the bodies of the fallen IDF soldiers and the three Israeli civilians it is holding in exchange for economic prosperity.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US President Donald Trump that the United States should recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The United States and the international community have never recognized Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day (defensive) war and then annexed in 1981.
Quote of the Week:
“The settlement regulation bill is not a radical bill. It is a liberal reform of a legal regime that harms the civil rights of both Palestinians and Israelis... the Palestinian Authority made selling land to Jews and Christians a capital offense. Dozens of Palestinians have been murdered over the past two decades in extrajudicial executions by both Palestinian security forces and by terrorist militias working hand in glove with Palestinian security forces for the ‘crime’ of selling their land to Jews.”– Caroline Glick

Lubavitcher Rebbe - How to Settle Jewish Land

1) Not provocative: In various public addresses the Rebbe recommended not proclaiming fearlessness by announcing intentions to settle the entire territory. Display of arrogance arouses a reciprocal desire among the nations to show us their arrogance in return: “If we show them kochi v’otzem yodi (“my power, and the might of my own hand”), it will prompt them to show us their kochi v’otzem yodi in return...”
2) Quietly: The Rebbe distinguished between bombastic and subdued modes of settlement: The former involves noise, publicity, and press announcements flouting the construction. The latter entails doing things quietly... "The main thing is that they not announce this loudly, so that settlement in the territories should be without commotion and tumult. The only thing which is truly important is the actual settlement itself!"
3) Simultaneously: The Rebbe spoke of “the absolute necessity of settling all the territories simultaneously - at least those places which are disputed by the nations.”
4) “The deeds of the fathers are a lesson for the children”: The Rebbe explained that settlement should follow the example of Abraham in the Land of Israel: Just as when Abraham travelled the “length and breadth of the land,” he would “build there an altar to G‑d,” so must it be today. When we settle the Land of Israel, we should establish in each new place:
a) A venue for Torah learning: For this is the dwelling place of G‑d, since “from the time of the destruction of the Temple... G‑d does not have any place in His world except in the four cubits of halachah.”
b) A place for prayer: This follows the previous point, since prayers take the place of the sacrifices (altar), and synagogues are “small Temples” (Megillah, 29a).
c) Mikvah: ...there must be purity... Even though nowadays immersion in a ritual bath is not an absolute prerequisite for prayer, immersion is still widely practiced.
d) There is a special need to establish Yeshivas where Torah is learned.
No calls for killing enemies? So much for radical Zionism! 
But what had Arafat promised to his fake people and the world:
“I want to tell Carter and Begin that when the Arabs set off their volcano there will be only Arabs in this part of the world… Our people will continue to fuel the torch of the revolution with rivers of blood until the whole of the occupied homeland is liberated, the whole of the homeland is liberated, not just a part of it.” - Yasser Arafat (Associated Press, March 12, 1979)
“Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations… We shall not rest until the day when we return to our home, and until we destroy Israel.” - Yasser Arafat (El Mundo, Venezuela, February 11, 1980; The Times, UK, August 5, 1980)

The Offer that Turns the Gaza Strip into Singapore

By Bassam Tawil

  • Last week, Hamas received an offer that no sane entity would turn down. The offer did not come from Hamas's allies in Iran and the Islamic world. The offer, to turn the impoverished Gaza Strip into "the Singapore of the Middle East," came from Israel.
  • "The Gazans must understand that Israel, which withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the last millimeter, is not the source of their suffering -- it is the Hamas leadership, which doesn't take their needs into consideration... The moment Hamas gives up its tunnels and rockets, we'll be the first to invest." — Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
  • Hamas does not want a new "Singapore" in the Middle East. Hamas wants Israel to disappear from the face of the earth. The welfare of the Palestinians living under its rule is the last thing on the mind of Hamas. The dispute is not about improving the living conditions of Palestinians, as far as Hamas is concerned. Instead, it is about the very existence of Israel.
  • Hamas deserves credit for one thing: its honesty concerning its intentions to destroy Israel and kill as many Jews as possible. Hamas does not want 40,000 new jobs for the unemployed poor Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It would rather see these unemployed Palestinians join its ranks and become soldiers in the jihad to replace Israel with an Islamic empire.
Whither the future of Gaza: to be "the Singapore of the Middle East," or to more terrorism and war? Sadly, Hamas does not want a new "Singapore" in the Middle East. Hamas wants Israel to disappear from the face of the earth. The welfare of Palestinians living under its rule is the last thing on the mind of Hamas.
The Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas has once again demonstrated its priorities: killing Jews. That clearly takes precedence over easing the plight of the two million Palestinians living under its rule in the Gaza Strip.
Since Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, the conditions of the Palestinians living there have gone from bad to worse. Crisis after crisis has hit those under the Hamas rule; electricity and water as well as lack of medicine and proper medical care are in dangerously short supply.
Disputes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have left the Gaza Strip dangerously short of fuel, resulting in massive power outages. Palestinians there consequently have had to resort to using wood for cooking and heating. Hamas, which has brought about three wars that wreaked havoc on its people, is unable to provide them with basic needs.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Israel's Public Relations: The Problem and the Solution

By Bernhard Lazarus

  • It is worth noting that the Jewish State was effectively created through the efforts of the countries of the world in San Remo and Geneva years prior to the Holocaust.
  • Jerusalem, except for fewer than 200 years in the 11th and 12th Centuries, when it was the capital of a short-lived Crusader State, has only been a capital city under Jewish rule. At other times since the Roman conquest it was not even considered by Muslims, or anyone else, a provincial city of consequence.
  • In the War of 1948-49, Jordan illegally seized Jerusalem, ethnically cleansed its Jewish inhabitants, destroyed all the synagogues and on top of the ancient sacred Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives, after taking ancient Jewish headstones to use as the floor of latrines, Jordan built a hotel.
  • The aggression by Egypt, Syria and Jordan in June 1967 was overturned by Israel. Israel liberated Jerusalem, took control of the Golan Heights, from which Syrians had been shooting down at Israeli farmers, and entered the West Bank, which was under illegal Jordanian occupation.
  • Anti-Apartheid movements in South Africa wanted equal political and other democratic rights for all -- irrespective of race -- but neveradvocated the destruction of South Africa.
  • Israel currently has no Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the post of Minister of Information does not exist. This creates the message, as former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir put it, of being the "prime minister of six million prime ministers".
  • An even more urgent condition is that Israeli authorities refuse to deal with the considerable number of renegade Israeli academics (and others) harming Israel on the international scene, presumably for their personal reasons.
"War is the continuation of politics by other means," said by General Carl von Clausewitz nearly 200 years ago, has now morphed into: "Politics is war by other means".
Enemies who are inferior militarily have understood this; hence, from the height of admiration after the Six Day War, Israel has hit bottom, sharing the position with the likes of North Korea.
How and why is this?
A knowledge of history is essential; therefore it is the first thing one's enemies try to destroy. If one can falsely claim that biblical places such as Rachel's Tomb, the Cave of the Patriarchs, the Temple Mount or even Jerusalem are Islamic, even though Islam did not, historically, exist until hundreds of years later, one can consequently claim that there never was a Jewish connection to the land – so then why should the Jews have it?

Moshe Feiglin Video Interview: All Jews are Partners in the Land of Israel (English subtitles)

(Ed. note: In this brief video, Feiglin absolutely upends the tired, re-hashed perceptions of the leftist interviewer to the point of where she can't help wearing the stunned look on her face towards the end. A joy to watch.)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Banning Outsiders and Vetting Visitors: A Letter to a Community Rabbi

(Ed. note: The following letter was written by a friend to his local community rabbi. Let honesty reign)

Dear Rebbe,

Since I hear a lot of comments on the new President's Border Control policies, I thought that I would add my own, especially within the context of our own community. 

For several years now, we have employed our own CSS volunteers to stand at the entrance of our shul and walk the perimeter of our property. Their primary purpose is to screen out would-be intruders with evil intentions from gaining access to a synagogue where they could carry out mayhem against us, Chas V' Shalom. More recently, we have chosen to electronicaly lock our doors to further limit access to those seeking to do us harm.

How absurd would it be to tell our volunteers to disregard the ethnicity or appearance of possible intruders. Do we employ a system where people of "Muslim-Looking" appearance are expected to be stopped, questioned, and extensively vetted? I certainly would expect that such is their training and mission.

Would it be ridiculous to hand a key fob to random Middle-Eastern people? How about housing Syrian refugees in the shul without checking their background just because they claim to be indigent, hungry or ill?

Do you see where I am going?

Any standards that we wish to apply to our own shul, or to our own homes, should be the same standards that we apply to our nation's borders, or we are hypocrites to the core.

Any Jew who can take a moment to contemplate the true threats that lurk in today's world, especially to the targeted Jewish Community Centers, Yeshivas, Shuls, Day Schools, Kosher Restaurants and Shops, should applaud and support the new President's actions. Ganging up on him, by invoking similarities of Syrian Refugees, (most if whom were reared with visceral hatred toward us, arriving from countries that expelled us en masse in 1948) with the desperate, gentle souls who were the European Jews of the 1940's, is truly offensive.

What is the matter with us? 

Do we have a death wish?

Can we please hear some rational truth from our leaders, educators, and journalists?

We need to come to our senses soon before the very beneficial attitude toward us at the White House is destroyed by the overwhelming outcry of Jewish antipathy.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

From Inspiration to the Detailed Laws

By Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

The Torah follows its exhilarating and inspirational description of the revelation at Mount Sinai with a rather dry and detailed set of various laws that are to be followed by the people of Israel. It is one thing to be inspired and thus acquire great ideals. It is another thing completely to be able to transfer those ideals and inspiration into everyday life on a regular basis. We are all aware that the devil is always in the details. It is natural to agree that one should not steal or murder. But what is really the definition of stealing? Is taking something that originally did not belong to you always considered stealing? How about grabbing my neighbor’s rope and using it to save a drowning person? Is that also stealing? Is self-defense murder? Are court imposed death penalties murder? How are we to deal in facing such complex moral issues? This is really the crux of all halacha and this week’s parsha serves as our introduction to the concepts of Jewish law and halacha. Without such an understanding of the practice of halacha the great ideals and inspiration of the Torah are almost rendered meaningless and unachievable. The Torah concentrates not only on great ideas but on small details as well. From these small details spring forth the realization of the great ideals and the ability to make them of practical value and use in everyday life. Hence the intimate connection between this week’s parsha and the revelation at Mount Sinai discussed in last week’s parsha. There is a natural and necessary continuity in the narrative flow of these two parshiyot of the Torah.

I think that this idea is borne out by the famous statement of the Jewish people when asked if they wished to accept the Torah. In this week’s parsha their answer is recorded as "we will do and we will listen." All commentators and the Talmud comment upon the apparently reverse order of this statement. People usually listen for instructions before they "do." But the simple answer is that the people of Israel realized that listening alone will be insufficient. The great and holy generalities of the Torah are valid only if they are clearly defined, detailed and placed into everyday life activities. We have to "do" in order to be able to "listen" and understand the Torah’s guidance and wishes fully. The Talmud records that a non-Jew once told a rabbi that the Jews were a "hasty and impulsive people" in accepting the Torah without first checking out its contents. But in reality that holy hastiness of Israel was a considered and mature understanding that a Torah of ideas and inspiration alone without a practical guide to life would not last over the centuries of Jewish history. Only those who are willing to "do" and who know what to "do" will eventually appreciate intellectually and emotionally the greatness of Torah. Only then will they be able to truly "listen" and appreciate the great gift that the Lord has bestowed upon Israel - the eternal and holy Torah.

God and his Laws

By HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit-El
Dedicated to the memory of R. Avraham ben-tziyon ben shabtai

1. A God Who Prays?
2. Law and Order

A God Who Prays?
In illuminating the opening words of this week's Torah portion - "And these are the ordinances that you shall place before them" - the Midrash brings a verse from the book of Tehillim :

"He relates His Word to Jacob..." - this refers to the commandments, "His laws and His judgements to Israel." - this refers to the ordinances. The ways of the Almighty are not like those of man. Man makes a practice of telling others to act, while he himself does absolutely nothing; yet, whatever God does, he tells the Jews to do and to guard.

The above can be understood in two different ways. According to the more plain understanding, what we have here is advice on how to go about teaching and educating the masses. Only when a leader or educator has perfected his own behavior, only when he himself performs perfectly that which he demands of others, will his words be accepted. From this rule we can gain fundamental insight concerning the proper way to bring estranged Jews closer to the study of Torah and the performance of Mitzvoth . Only when we ourselves have perfected our character traits to the point that nothing can stand in our way, will our words be heard and welcomed by the greater public.

Yet, it appears that in this Midrash the sages are attempting to make us aware of an even deeper concept. From the verse, "He relates His Word to Jacob, His laws and His ordinances to Israel," the sages deduce that the laws and ordinances which the Almighty related to Israel, to the Jews, are in fact the laws and ordinances of the Almighty Himself. The commandments are an expression, as it were, of the Divine essence. Judaism's 613 Mitzvoth correspond to the man's 248 limbs and his 365 veins. They - the Mitzvoth - fill man's entire existence with deep spiritual meaning. Man was created in God's image, and so, even in the Divine arena there exists an enumeration of "limbs and veins". Therefore, the Almighty Himself performs the Mitzvoth that he commanded Israel to perform.

This, then, is the central and complex message being conveyed in the words of the Midrash. It is for this reason that the sages did not say, "What God tells the Jews to do, He Himself does," rather, "Whatever God does, he tells the Jews to do and to guard."

The first Mitzvah which is mentioned in the Torah is the Mitzvah of Sabbath: "And on the seventh day He rested and relaxed." We find that the first to observe this commandment was God Himself. In addition, we find, according to the Talmud, that God prays. His prayer is that: "My mercy should conquer My anger." There are special prayers for God, and before Moses God appeared, crowned in Tefillin and wrapped in a Tallit .

The Mitzvoth, then, are the will of God not only because God wants the Jews to behave in this particular manner, but because they - the Mitzvoth - are His real and actual will, the revelation of the Divine essence in the world. The task of Israel is to make their own will like His will, to be similar to God, and, as such, to bring about the appearance of the Divine element in our worldly existence.

Initially, the world was created through the attribute of Divine judgement. This attribute is characterized by order, structure, and a clear plan for the existence of the world in accordance with the values of Divine justice and righteousness, for "judgement belongs to God" (Deuteronomy 1:17). Therefore, the sages have taught that each judge who performs upright judgement becomes a partner with God in the creation of the world; the attribute of judgement is the attribute tied to the creation of the world, and the performance of fair judgement serves to provide continued existence and protection to the desired Divine order in the world - the order which was implanted in the world since its very creation. God places the responsibility for the continued existence of creation's world order on the nation of Israel: "And these are the ordinances that you shall place before them"

Law and Order
Our Torah portion deals primarily with the topic of civil law. Concerning such dealings the sages have taught: "One who wishes to attain wisdom, [is advised to] occupy himself with civil law." In dealing with these laws the human intellect enjoys plenty of space in which to distinguish itself. Because the importance of logical argument is so great here, one who wishes to sharpen his intellect and to increase his wisdom is advised to "occupy himself with civil law."

From the Scriptural passage, "Whoever has a problem can go to them," the Talmud attempts to derive the well-known rule that one who lays claim to an object in another person's possession must first bring proof of ownership. Yet, in the end, such a derivation is discarded on the grounds that, "What do we need Scriptural proofs for when logic itself dictates such a rule: The one who is in pain, he goes to the doctor." With these words the sages teach a great and important lesson: The value of pure human logic is equal to that of a verse from the Torah, and such logic establishes laws which are themselves considered Torah.

In the Midrash to our portion the sages teach:
Moses demonstrated self-sacrificed for three things which were, in turn, named after him: the nation of Israel, the Torah, and the laws. The nation of Israel - how much he suffered on their behalf! - were named after him, as it is written, "Then, he remembered the past, Moses, and his people;" the Torah, as it is written, "Remember the Torah of Moses, my servant;" and the laws, as it says, "And these are the laws that you shall place before them."

One might ask: "Are not the laws themselves part of the Torah? If so, why does the Midrash make a distinction between the laws and the Torah? In light of the above, though, we now understand that the laws enjoy a special status of their own due to the fact that they constitute a Torah which stems from the intrinsic human vitality of the nation. In order to attain the laws, along with their special status, for the people of Israel, Moses sacrificed himself greatly, just as he sacrificed himself in order to guarantee the presence of the Torah amongst the people and the existence of the Nation itself.

Nonetheless, civil laws were included in the Torah. This was done in order to teach us that even in civil law there are Divine guidelines which are above and beyond human reasoning. Rabbi Nisim ben Reuven Gerondi, the Ran , explains that the difference between the laws of Israel and those of the other nations is that the purpose of the laws of the nations is to establish law and order, thus assuring the continued existence of civilization, because, "were it not for the fear of the kingdom men would swallow each other alive." Yet, the purpose of the laws of the Jews is to cause the dwelling of the Divine Presence in Israel. The laws of the Torah have been given to us by God, and, even in those cases where they are dictated by human reasoning, their foundation is in Divine logic.

Israel, beware of US and International Guarantees

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

Entire mini-seminar:

1. US and/or international guarantees – including peacekeeping forces on Israel's borders with Arab entities - have been proposed as a means to convince Israel to retreat from the historically and militarily critical and irreplaceable mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, contending that Israel's national security would be guaranteed by US and/or international guarantees and forces on its border in the most violently intolerant and unpredictable region in the world.

2. While Israel's retreat is Israeli-controlled, precise, certain and irreversible, the political and military viability of these guarantees and their potential benefits are top-heavy on escape routes, uncontrolled by Israel, imprecise, uncertain, open to various interpretations, doubtful, reversible and subject to multitude of changing circumstances, which are sometimes uncontrollable by the guarantor.

3. Notre Dame University Prof. of international relations, Alan Dowty, conducted a thorough study of "the role of great power guarantees in international peace agreements," concluding that: "The effectiveness of a guarantee depends upon the willingness of the guarantor to react to a threat, and upon his ability to react with sufficient force…. [For instance,] fear of disrupting American relations with Arab states was a factor in the 1967 US decision not to force open the Red Sea Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships [contrary to the US commitment in 1957, in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula]…. The effectiveness of a commitment depends on the underlying interests and capabilities of the guarantor, [not the guaranteed!]…."

4. According to Prof. Dowty, "Great Powers' guarantees are generally effective only when their own dominant or strategic position is involved. In general, the credibility of their promises and commitments is continuously vitiated by inadequate power, lack of means or sustained interest, multiple and conflicting interests, changes in relative might, changes in international alignments, rapprochement between former rivals, the breakup of guaranteeing coalitions, or by changes of government in the guaranteeing state. No international guarantee is more stable than the international and internal combinations that produced it…. Guarantees are by no means universally reliable even after they have been promulgated by formal or informal means [guarantees, alliances, defense pacts and peace accords]….The frequency with which weak states reject offers of protection is striking and shows that guarantees are not unambiguous blessings…."

5. Prof. Dowty concludes that "in the past, nations seeking to evade their commitments to support another state's independence and territorial integrity have never failed to find the means of doing so. Either commitment had changed, or the commitment was reinterpreted, or the failure of others to act was cited as excuse, or prior commitments were invoked, or failure of the guaranteed state to heed the guarantor's advice was held to release the latter from its commitment. Or, the commitment was simply ignored. The question of who will guarantee the guarantor remains unresolved."

6. US peacekeepers would be targeted by terrorists – such as Hezbollah, which murdered 300 Marines in 1983 in Beirut - who are proxies of anti-US rogue regimes – such as Iran - intimidating Washington, constraining the US capability to respond to provocations elsewhere (e.g., the Persian Gulf), and extort political concessions by targeting US servicemen, while preserving the element of deniability.

7. Against the backdrop of the US public reaction to US military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Lebanon, another peacekeeping undertaking would not be politically/militarily sustainable, leading to a prompt withdrawal in response to casualties and/or hostage-taking.

8. A US peacekeeping force on Israel's borders would, inadvertently, shield terrorists by constraining Israel's capabilities to preempt – and react to – Arab terrorism and aggression. It would also deny the US the benefits of Israel's military operations, which are not coordinated with the US, such as the bombing of Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981, which spared the US a nuclear confrontation in 1991.

9. The stationing of US peacekeepers on Israel's borders would demolish Israel's posture of deterrence and US public and congressional support of Israel, which would be transformed from a country defending itself and a strategic asset, extending the strategic hand of the US, to an American dependent and liability, relying on US soldiers. Most Americans support military aid to Israel, but not sending troops to protect Israel.

10. A tenuous US military force on Israel's borders – in exchange for Israel's withdrawal from the dominant mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria - would have a short life expectancy, undermining US-Israel relations, further eroding US reliability and posture of deterrence, dramatically limiting Israel's power-projection, which would exacerbate regional instability and injure US interests, causing another setback to the cause of peace.

11. US-Israel defense cooperation should be driven by the enhancement of the mutually-beneficial, win-win, two-way-street ties, not by the re-introduction of one-way-street relations, which would burden the US and increasing the dependency of Israel upon the US.

12. The next video will highlight the constitutional constraints on US security guarantees.

Scandinavia: The West's Citadel of anti-Semitism

By Giulio Meotti 

  • Hate for Israel has become a real obsession in Scandinavia, which revived the glorious partnership between the liberal "useful idiots" -- the ones concerned about equality and minorities -- and the Islamists, the ones concerned about submission and killing "infidels".
  • Despite the fact that Jews in Norway are only 0.003 percent of the total population, Oslo is now world's capital of European anti-Semitism. Norwegian newspapers are full of classic anti-Semitic tropes.
  • A festival in Oslo also rejected a documentary, "The Other Dreamers," about the lives of disabled children, simply because it was Israeli. "We support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel," wrote Ketil Magnussen, the founder of the festival.
  • The same racism exists in Sweden. Dagens Nyheter, the most sophisticated Swedish newspaper, published a violent anti-Semitic op-ed entitled, "It is allowed to hate the Jews".
  • Does Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström really mean that to defeat Islamic aggression, Israel must surrender? The Palestinians' situation is indeed desperate, but as they have had full autonomy for decades, their desperate situation is caused by their own corrupt leaders who appear deliberately to keep their people in misery try to blame it on Israel, in the same way that people maim children to make them "better" beggars.
  • The Nazi daily Der Stürmer could not have drawn it better.
In January 2009, an Arab mob in Malmö pelted a peaceful Jewish demonstration with bottles, eggs and smoke bombs. The police pushed the Jews, who had a permit for their gathering, into an alley.
On January 12, the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten published an article about Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and his senior adviser: "The Jew Kushner reportedly pushed for David M. Friedman as the new ambassador to Israel", Aftenposten wrote. The newspaper had later to apologize for calling Kushner "the Jew".
A few weeks earlier, the city council of Trondheim, Norway's third-largest city, passed a motion calling on its residents to boycott Israeli goods -- a city aspiring to be "Israel-free". Then it was the turn of another Norwegian city, Tromso, population 72,000, whose city council approved a similar motion. More than 40% of Norwegians are already boycotting Israeli products or are in favor of doing so, according to a poll.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Service of G-d or Bondage to Man? A Torah Thought for Parashat Yitro

By Moshe Feiglin

“I am Hashem your G-d Who took you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” (From this week’s Torah portion, Yitro, Exodus 20:2)

Values always come on a ladder. They have no significance if they are not set out in the proper order of preference; what is more important, what comes first and what is the foundation for all the rest. 

The first commandment of the Ten Commandments in this week’s Torah portion is the starting point and the foundation for the entire structure of values that follows. There is a G-d Who redeemed us from slavery to humans. We serve Him and Him only. Throughout history, despots who desired to rule the entire world have found themselves in serious conflict with the Nation of Israel. From Pharaoh to Ahashverosh, from Hitler to Stalin – these despots concluded that they must destroy the Jews, simply because the Jews cannot be enslaved: They already have a King, “I am Hashem, your G-d.”

Many values are held aloft in our world: Equality, liberty, liberalism and more. They are all fine and good. But usually, they are not founded on the first of the Ten Commandments. “My (Nile) River is mine and I created myself,” said Pharaoh, just one example of a king who thought he was a god. The more that a leader puts himself at the focal point, the more he diminishes G-d and attempts to “replace” Him, the more that slavery takes root until the entire state becomes one large concentration camp: a “house of bondage”. The danger of enslavement has greatly increased in modern times. The state’s ability to control and revoke its citizen’s liberty is very enticing to a regime that has no G-d. The excuse will always – always- be security. “We must revoke your liberty so that we can protect you.”

Do we really need to be biometrically marked like animals just to counter the plague of forged identity cards? Is there no technological solution better than a simple photograph that can easily be removed and replaced? Of course there is. (Smart chips are already in place in all sorts of identity cards, and they are extremely difficult to forge.) But the prime motivation for the Orwellian biometric law is the abrogation of liberty; to entice us all into a house of bondage – in the name of security, of course.

Wherever G-d has been completely removed from the picture – in atheist or communist regimes – human life and honor have no value at all. In China they raise people in locked farms so that they can sell their organs for transplants.

So when you hear someone talking about lofty values, be sure to check his entire message. Who is his G-d? Who works for whom? Does he work for G-d, or vice versa?

Shabbat Shalom.

The Treasured Nation

By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

Two fundamental values of Judaism are expressed in the Parsha: the giving of the Torah and the selection of Am Yisrael as the chosen nation, "You shall be to Me the most beloved treasure of all peoples." (Shemot 19:5) The question arises, was God's choice of Yisrael a result of their acceptance of the Torah, "Na'aseh venishma - We will do and we will listen," as opposed to the other nations who rejected the Torah? Or, just the opposite, was Hashem's choice of Yisrael the foundation for their receiving the Torah? The text that Chazal established for the bracha on the Torah shows that Yisrael was chosen first, and the selection is not contingent on our initiative or actions. We bless God, "Who selected us from all the peoples, and," -- as a result -- "gave us His Torah." Similarly, we say in Shacharit, "Blessed is He, our God, Who created us for His glory, separated us from those who stray, and," -- as such -- "gave us the Torah of truth."

This idea is explicit in Tana D'vei Eliyahu:

He said to me: Rebbe, "There are two things in this world which I love completely, and they are the Torah and Yisrael, but I do not know which one to prefer." I said to him: My son, generally people say that the Torah is first, as it says, "Hashem made me [the Torah] as the beginning of His way." (Mishlei 8:22) But I say Yisrael is first, as it says, "Israel is holy to Hashem, the first of His crop." (Yirmiya 2:3)

This perspective is the foundation of the maxim of Chazal, "A Jew, even when he sins, is still a Jew." If the selection of Yisrael were to depend on their deeds, then when one sins, he would remove himself from the holiness of Israel. But, since the selection of Bnei Yisrael does not depend on their deeds, it remains even if a Jew sins. Conversely, when a gentile performs mitzvot, he does not acquire the status of Yisrael, as his actions are merely insignificant movements, since he is lacking the inherent, special nature of Yisrael.

This same concept applies to Klal Yisrael as a whole. "Hashem has distinguished you today to be for Him a treasured people." (Devarim 26:18) The Ohr Hachaim explains that Hashem declared Yisrael to be the chosen nation, so that even if another nation improves its deeds, and attempts to join with the Shechina (Divine Presence), they will not achieve the status of Yisrael. Conversely, even if there will be a time that Yisrael angers the Creator, Hashem will not replace them with another nation.

This concept is reflected in the Tanach, as well, as Rabah b. Rav Huna comments (Yalkut Shimoni II:312): This is the distinction between Yisrael and non-Jews. Regarding Yisrael it says, "I will be a God to them, and they will be a people to Me" (Yechezkel 37:27), whereas regarding non-Jews, it says, "For who then would embolden his heart to approach Me ... You will be a people unto Me, and I will be a God unto you." (Yirmiya 30:21?22) The Maharal explains (Netzach Yisrael, ch. 11) that Hashem chose Yisrael for their essence and not for their good deeds, and naturally seeks after them. But, regarding non-Jews, it first says, "You will be a people unto Me," that when their deeds will be good, then Hashem will bring them close to Him.

The same idea is alluded to in the pasuk, "He perceived ("hibit") no iniquity in Yaakov and saw ("ra'ah") no perversity in Yisrael." (Bamidbar 23:21) The Netziv explains: The name, "Yisrael," connotes the great people of the nation, where sin is not found even with an external look (ra'ah). However, regarding "Yaakov," the common Jew, even though exterior flaws are sometimes evident, after looking deeper (hibit) into their essence, iniquity is not perceived.

We, who follow the ways of Hashem, must not search for the sins of others, but rather we must look deeply to seek merits and positive traits. The Chazon Ish (Yoreh De'ah 12), writes about the wicked people of our generation that the law of "moridim" (that certain sinners are eliminated by Beit Din) only applies when Divine Providence is evident to all, through miracles and Bat Kol (Heavenly voice). When Hashem's Presence is more hidden, though, and faith in Hashem is not present among the general public, this law does not apply. Our responsibility is to draw Am Yisrael to the light of Torah with chains of love to the best of our ability.