Monday, January 16, 2017

The War Inside and Outside

By HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh


There are two ways that the nations of the world fight against Israel. One way is through physical might, by attempting to destroy and annihilate them. The second is through religious and cultural conflict. The Rambam discusses this in his "Iggeret Teiman," and declares that the nations' attempts will not succeed! He interprets in this vein the pasuk in Yeshaya (54:17), "Any weapon sharpened against you will not succeed, and any tongue that will rise against you in judgment, you will condemn," which mentions both the war of the weapon and the word of the tongue. The war of the sword may cause many casualties, but, at least, its intentions are clear and overt. However, the second type of war is fought with a hidden agenda, and since its insidious impact is not immediately noticeable, it can have a more devastating effect, much like the venom of a snake.

The exile began when Yosef was thrown into a pit that had no water in it, "but had snakes and scorpions in it." (Shabbat 22a) A snake bites with intention to damage, as opposed to a scorpion which stings with its tail, without intention. On the other hand, a snakebite is limited because the snake has less venom after it bites, and cannot immediately continue its attack, whereas a scorpion can continuously sting. These reflect the two dangers of exile. The scorpion's sting is much more dangerous, because it operates in an indirect and protracted manner and is harder to take precautions against. This corresponds to the poisonous cultural influences that affect us throughout our stay in galut.

Still, the worst affliction of exile is the "sinat chinam" (baseless hatred) among us, which is the cause for the continuation of our exile. This is what Moshe noted when he saw that there were informers among the Jews: "Indeed, the matter is known!" (Shemot 2:14) I now know the matter that I had wondered about. In what way did Yisrael sin more than other nations to be afflicted with such hard work? Now I see that they deserve it! (Rashi ibid., quoting Midrash)

There are some that believe that in order to lessen the sting of external hatred of Yisrael, we should not express our differences, but should highlight our similarities with the nations. Already in Egypt Bnei Yisrael tried to remove the fence between themselves and the Egyptians by neglecting the mitzvah of Brit Mila, but the outcome was the opposite of their intention, as it says, "He turned their hearts to hate His nation." (Tehillim 105:25) The Netziv comments on the pasuk, "Behold, it is a nation that will dwell in solitude and not be reckoned among the nations" (Bamidbar 23:9), that the ideal situation for Am Yisrael is "to dwell in solitude," and through this separation, security will come. However, if Yisrael attempts to mingle with the nations, they will "not be reckoned among the nations" -- Hashem will cause them to be hated. The Gemara says in Sanhedrin (104a): G-d said, 'Thus Israel shall dwell secure, solitary,'" that their solitude will lead to security. But now -- when Yisrael tries to mingle with the nations - "Alas -- she sits in solitude" (Eicha 1:1), against their will they will sit solitary in exile. Therefore, Yaakov and Yosef wanted to settle their family in the land of Goshen, apart from their neighbors, in order to remain free from outside influence.

In order to overcome the afflictions of galut, we must protect our distinct national character and counteract sinat chinam. Yisrael is compared in Tanach to fire, and the nations to water, as the pasuk in Shir Hashirim (8:7) says, "Much water can not extinguish the love [of G-d and Israel]." Water impacts on the fire and extinguishes it, but only when they come into direct contact. If there is a separation between them, however, such as a pot of water on the fire, the opposite occurs -- the fire impacts the water and warms it. Only direct contact between Israel and the nations causes us harm. To counteract the affliction of sinat chinam, we should increase ahavat chinam. The Netziv comments on the phrase, "he shepherded the stone of Israel" (49:4), that Yisrael in exile is compared to dust, and the nations are compared to water which washes away the dust. However, when the individual pieces of dust consolidate to become stone, the water has no affect on it.

"In the merit of four things Bnei Yisrael were redeemed from Egypt: they didn't change their names; they didn't change their language; they didn't speak "lashon hara"; and they did not commit acts of immorality." (Vayikra Rabbah 32:5) In these ways they were careful about loving their fellow Jews, by not speaking lashon hara, and they kept their national character, by not changing their names and language, so as to maintain their distance from the Egyptians.

The Nation of Israel is called, "Beit Yaakov," the House of Yaakov. There are two functions of a house-- to unite the family within it, and to protect the family from outside dangers. When Bnei Yisrael went down to Egypt, "Each man and his household came." (Shemot 1:1) The preparation for exile requires "building houses" -- that is, keeping out the influences of foreign nations, and uniting the family within. Ultimately, in the future, everyone will recognize the value of the house and will say, "Come, let us go up to the Mountain of Hashem, to the House of the G-d of Yaakov, and He will teach us of His ways and we will walk in His paths." (Yeshaya 2:3)

Is Peace In Israel Possible?

By Elliot Resnick

“Israel can either be Jewish or democratic. It cannot be both,” said Secretary of State John Kerry last month.

In fact, it can. The argument that it cannot is based on the premise that a democratic state must give all residents within its borders the right to vote. But that plainly is not so. The United States currently bars 11 million illegal immigrants in its midst from voting. Does that make it non-democratic? It also denies the franchise to six million prisoners who hold U.S. citizenship. Does that make it non-democratic?

Democracy is a method of governance – nothing more. Under it, members of a society determine their own fate. But that society can be exclusive. If I created a Resnick family club, for example, I would give all club members the right to vote – thus making it democratic – but I obviously would restrict membership to the Resnick family. Otherwise, it wouldn’t exactly be a family club.

Japan operates on similar logic. The country is widely celebrated as a modern democracy, and yet, Japan rarely grants citizenship – let alone the right to vote – to someone who isn’t ethnically Japanese. Indeed, in 2005, former Japanese prime minister Taro Aso proudly stated that Japan is a nation of “one race, one civilization, one language, and one culture.” I don’t remember any U.S. official reacting with horror to that statement.

So yes, Israel can quite easily be Jewish and democratic. What it can’t be is stupid. It can’t ignore what Jewish nationalist leader Rabbi Meir Kahane once called “that most fundamental law of political physics: Two nations, each claiming ownership, can never occupy the same space at the same time.”

The Arabs in Israel believe the Jews stole “Palestine” from them. They want their land back – all of it, including Tel Aviv – and will not stop killing Jews until they triumph. No amount of concessions or goodwill will convince them to abandon land they consider theirs – just like no sane person would yield a portion of his house to a trespasser.

Liberals who believe otherwise ignore the potency of national pride (perhaps because they themselves do not possess it). The Bible does not. When the ancient Israelites advanced toward the Land of Canaan 3,330 years ago, God ordered them to destroy the seven nations living in it or – at the very least – expel them. Why? One reason was spiritual. God feared the Israelites would adopt these nations’ idolatrous beliefs and practices. Another, more basic, reason, though, had to do with national security. Essentially, the Canaanites, Hittites, Jebusites etc. – like the Arabs today – detested the Jews. They believed Canaan was theirs and saw the Jews as interlopers. And so, God explicitly warned the Israelites against making “a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you come, lest it be a snare in your midst” (Exodus 34:11-12). Don Isaac Abarbanel, a 15th-century biblical commentator, explains:

“A treaty with them will not succeed since there is no doubt that they will always seek evil for Israel considering that the Israelites took their land from them. And this is the meaning of the words ‘the land to which you come’ – i.e., since you, Israel, went into that land and took it from its inhabitants, and since they feel oppressed and robbed of it, how will they preserve a treaty of friendship? Rather it will be the opposite; they will be ‘a snare in your midst’ – i.e., when war breaks out they will join your enemies and fight you.”

What then is the solution? Are Israel and her Arab denizens destined to kill each other for all eternity? As matters stand now, the answer is yes. But for those of us who 1) believe God gave Israel to the Jews and 2) are willing to consider politically-incorrect ideas, at least two solutions present themselves. One is for Israel to bomb its enemy into submission. That’s how America ended WWII, and there’s no reason to believe Israel couldn’t utilize this strategy to similar effect. Once the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza surrender unconditionally, Israel could then allow them to live in its midst with personal rights but no national ones – which is more than they had before Zionism came on the scene.

The second solution – which wouldn’t require killing tens of thousands of so-called innocent civilians – lies in separating the two populations. The only question remaining is where each population would live. Liberals believe Israel should establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and expel the 400,000 Jews who currently live there. Israel’s far right-wing camp believes in doing the reverse: keeping the West Bank – which contains such biblical cities as Shechem, Hebron, and Bethlehem – and expelling the Arabs. These Arabs can then create their own state on the east bank of the Jordan River or assimilate into Jordanian society, whose population is already 70 percent Palestinian.

This solution may sound “radical,” but population transfers have actually helped resolve conflicts in the past (e.g., Greece and Turkey, India and Pakistan). Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, journalist John Gunther, and author Israel Zangwill (famous for his play “The Melting Pot”) all supported removing the Arabs from what was then Palestine – as did Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Under-Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, who spoke with Roosevelt about the matter in 1944, wrote in his diary that the president believed “Palestine should be for the Jews and no Arabs should be in it.”

Fully half of Israel’s Jewish population today favor transferring the Arabs out of Israel according to a recent Pew Research Center poll. Amazingly, though, Israeli political parties are legally barred from advocating this solution. MK Rabbi Meir Kahane – the “Donald Trump of Israel” – begged his fellow countrymen in the 1980s to adopt it, arguing that it would save Jewish and Arab lives. His popularity grew immensely during the First Intifada, but Israel’s establishment branded him a “racist” (sound familiar?) and banned his party from running for office. Two years later, in 1990, he was assassinated by a jihadist who is now serving a life sentence for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Rabbi Kahane’s legacy lives on, however, and whenever a wave of Arab violence strikes Israel, one is liable to see fresh “Kahane was right” graffiti throughout the country.

It’s time to remove our heads from the sand. The question isn’t “Jewish vs. democratic.” It’s “Jewish vs. suicidal liberal.” The Arabs in Israel dream of destroying her. The sanest solution is for the two peoples to go their separate ways. Let the Jews live in the Jewish state, and let the Palestinian Arabs live anywhere they wish in the Middle East’s 22 Arab states.
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Elliot Resnick is a writer and editor for The Jewish Press, as well as the author of Movers and Shakers and editor of Perfection: The Torah Ideal.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The View From Above

By HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

1. Tzadikim and Yesharim
2. The Paradox
3. Comparable to the Stars
4. What's in a Name?
5. Everywhere, in Every Situation



TZADIKIM AND YESHARIM
"And these are the names." Rabbi Abahu said: "Any time the Torah uses the term, 'these are' - it intends, in the passage that follows, to draw a line of separation between it and that which preceded it. However, when the Torah uses the phrase, 'And these are,' the personalities or subject matter next mentioned represents a continuation of, and actually an improvement on, the subject mentioned before".

In line with this principle, the verse in the Torah’s account of creation - "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth" - represents a break from the state of chaos that preceded that verse. But when it says in the Torah, "And these are the names," (at the start of the book of Shmot) the Torah is offering additional praise of the seventy souls of Ya'akov's family mentioned earlier, noting that all of them were "Tzadikim" - righteous people.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook notes that our forefathers are referred to in several places as "yesharim" - literally: "straight" or "upright" - people, and notes that the status of the "yesharim" is higher that the status of "tzadikim." This superiority is evident in the verse (elsewhere) that says: "A light is sewn for the Tzadik - and those of an upright heart are joyous." Rav Kook explains that Tzadikim regularly find themselves engaged in internal moral battles in which they struggle with, and eventually overcome, the pull, or inclination, to do the wrong thing. Through this process, Tzadikim succeed in ultimately performing God's will. For the Tzadik, the light is "sewn." This means that, just as a seed planted in the ground, through a path of slow growth, successive victories over tugs in the opposite direction permit the Tzadik to continually improve himself...

The lives of "Tzadikim" are thus fundamentally different than that of the "yesharim"; the latter are blessed with the ability to serve God in response to their strong natural internal desire to do good; they are people who have succeeded in turning their evil inclinations into good ones, who serve the Creator with their good and evil inclinations simultaneously. They have "arrived" in a sense, having already achieved their goal of reaching the state of joy referred to in the verse above. If, then, our forefathers were in fact "yesharim," what more can be said of them? Why must the Torah say, "And these are the names..." and thereby indicate that they were also Tzadikim?

THE PARADOX
Rav Kook explains: Although it is true that the yesharim serve the Creator out of complete, absolute cleaving and devotion, and that this is a wondrous and complete type of service of God - such people paradoxically perhaps, suffer from a lacking; that is, they lack the experience of undergoing spiritual struggles. Put another way, they have little contact with the privilege of serving God through overcoming obstacles. Thus, the Tzadik's service of God has its own special, revered, status: "And these are the names..."

Rav Kook adds that Moshe and Aharon possessed a synthesis of these two qualities - knowledge of God, which is characteristic of the yesharim, and the proper exercise of free choice, which characterizes the Tzadikim. Aharon, for instance, was a Tzadik. The symbol of this quality came in the form of his wearing the "Choshen Mishpat" on his chest; this garment represents the "dayan," the judge, who must possess the ability to properly apply his personal judgement to rule on a particular case. Moshe and Aharon were fit to be the leaders that would help redeem the Jewish people, who would serve as a bridge between the forefathers who were on the level of "knowing" God - as yesharim - and the children, who regularly, as Tzadikim, had to resolve matters through the appropriate use of their free will.

COMPARABLE TO THE STARS
The midrash also notes: "'And these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt, with Ya'akov, everyone came with his household...' Israel is comparable to the heavenly hosts: The verse at the opening of Shmot refers to 'names'; 'names' is a term used in reference to the stars, as well, as it says: 'He counts the stars by number, and gives them each a name.' So too, when the Jews descended to Egypt, the Holy One Blessed Be He counted them by number, and like the stars,called them each by name..."

Stars constitute a world unto themselves; each star is a massive entity. To us, from such a great distance, the star looks rather tiny, but in reality, each star is a giant world. The Jewish people are comparable to the stars. In our eyes, we sometimes look at a Jew and, because we are not particularly impressed by his behavior, ask: "Is he really a Jew?" But the soul of each Jew is so lofty, so profound, that when we look at him, we are really looking at him from a "great distance." As such, each Jew may look rather small, though he is really greater than an entire world. Because of the distance between our ability to perceive and the actual essence of his soul, the soul merely appears less significant...

When our sages compared the Children of Israel to the stars, they were understating their case, by making use of a comparison that is within human perception - the vastness and greatness of the stars; in truth, however, the sages mean to say that the Jewish people are at least as great as the stars. The greatness of Israel, must be measured on a completely different scale, however: We, unlike the stars, possess great spiritual powers.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Just as the stars have names, "He counts the stars by number, each one he gives a name," so too, each Jew has a name: "And these are the names of the Children of Israel..."

Rav Kook points out that in one point in the Torah, the verse states: "He accounts for the hosts by number, and calls them all by a name." The stars have one name that unites them all. Elsewhere, the Torah says: "He calls them all by names." This means that they have many names - each star boasts its own name. Rav Kook explains that the same is true for the Children of Israel: from one angle, the Jews are all part of one nation; it is for this reason that there is one name for all of the Jewish people. From another perspective, though, each tribe, and each individual, has its own independent identity...

Our portion's opening verse literally reads: "And these are the names of the Children of Israel who came to Egypt, with Ya'akov, each came with his household." Regarding this (underlined) phrase, the Zohar asks: "Since it says that the Jews arrived, it did not have to add that they came with Ya'akov, since he is part and parcel - and the leader of - the Children of Israel." The Zohar answers that the Torah is not talking about the Jewish people in the physical sense of the word, but is rather relating to the spiritual aspect of the tribes. The names of the tribes express their common roots, that the souls of their members are connected to the heavenly hosts, to the lofty Divine chariot. When the Jewish people begins its period of enslavement in Egypt, the Shechina (Divine Presence) descends there with them. God's dedication to the Children of Israel parallels his promise to their father, Ya'akov: "I will descend with you to Egypt, and I will ascend from there with you..."

EVERYWHERE, IN EVERY SITUATION
The Shechina accompanies the Jewish people everywhere, in every situation. Even in the most difficult of times, when it seems that God is not with them, He is. Even when the Egyptians are busy drowning Jewish babies, and sealing them into the walls of buildings; when terrible national traumas, even holocausts. befall us - still, and perhaps most intensely then - the Shechina is with us.

The Zohar asks: Why did the prophet Yechezkel reveal everything that he saw in his grand prophecy of the Divine Chariot? The secrets of the Divine chariot are not something that should be made available to everyone!

The Zohar responds by noting that the exile of the Jews to Babylonia was more difficult than their descent to Egypt. Life was difficult before the Egyptian exile - in fact, life in Ya'akov's home was by no means simple: He first had to deal with Lavan, then Shechem, etc. Ya'akov seems to continuously be embroiled in conflicts and struggles!

As a result, the Jews began the Egyptian exile with a wealth of experience in what it means to face challenge and conflict. In contrast, the Babylonian exile began after an extended uplifting Jewish stay in the Land of Israel, a life that surrounded the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) - where the reality of an ongoing set of ten miracles was accepted as a matter of routine! Divine Providence clearly manifested itself through the fire on the altar never waned, the continuous burning of the Ner Tamid, the eternal light. Consequently, the descent into the subsequent Babylonian exile was especially shocking and unsettling for our people.

God thus appears to Yechezkel, making him aware that He is with him in his exile - even though He seemed "hidden." Had the prophet stated that he saw a chariot, without giving details as to what he exactly saw, his words would not have been compelling, and the Jewish people would not have been sufficiently strengthened and encouraged by the prophecy. Thus, says the Zohar, it was imperative that the prophet become privy to - and report on - all the grand images that he witnessed. In a similar way that He relates to the stars - on both the "macro" and "micro" levels - God has tied His destiny to the Jewish people as a whole and to each and every Jew in particular, accompanying us through all the crises and difficulties that each individual must face.

Names by the Jewish People

By Rabbi Dov Beryl Wein

The Torah emphasizes the names of the family of Yaakov in this week’s parsha as it did in even greater detail in last week’s parsha of Vayechi. There may be many varied reasons for this concentration of interest in the names of the tribes of Israel. But whatever the reasons are the Torah obviously feels it to be of great importance. In fact throughout the Torah the names of the tribes are repeated many times. After all, we might ask, what is in a name? But the names of our ancestors are drummed into us by the Torah to provide us with a sense of continuity and tradition. The Jewish people are about to experience centuries of exile and eventual slavery in Egypt. They are certainly in danger of being destroyed both physically and spiritually. The rabbis have taught us that by not forgetting their original names, by not completely becoming Egyptian in name and deed, the hope of the Jewish people to be redeemed and freed never died out. The names of their ancestors reminded them of their past and of the commitment of God to redeem them from their bondage and afflictions. This experience of Egyptian exile imbedded within the Jewish world the importance of remembering our original names. For it was the existence and use of those names that prevented their extinction as a special and eternal people. Thus the introduction to the book of Shmot, the book of bondage and redemption, is the list of names of the sons of Yaakov, the eternal reminder of who the Jewish people really are.

Over the centuries, the Jewish people have continually struggled to retain their identity and sense of continuity through their names. In the Ashkenazic world it became customary to name children after deceased ancestors. This became a deeply emotional bond in families ultimately leading to children being given multiple names to commemorate more than one ancestor. In the Sephardic tradition names are given to honor living grandparents and relatives. But there also the sense of continuity and purpose is stressed in the granting of those names. In more modern times Jews were given secular names as well to be used in general society. However, over the last few decades the use of exclusively Jewish or Hebrew names as the sole name of a person has returned to be in vogue. So apparently there is a great deal involved in a name. Even in the non-Jewish world the use of biblical names remains quite popular and widespread. 

People hunger for a connection to their past and such traditional, biblical, family names seem to provide a sense of immortality and continuity that flashy "cool" names cannot provide. Names can therefore be an anchor to one’s own self-worth and purpose in life. The Torah’s insistence on recording the names of the sons of Yaakov - the eventual tribes of Israel - highlights this important fact of life and family to us. Perhaps this is what Midrash meant when it taught us that one pf the causes of the redemption of Israel from Egyptian bondage was "that they [the Jewish people] did not change their names [from Hebrew ones to Egyptian ones.]"

The Less Understandable Request

By HaRav Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

Egypt. Hashem told them to tell Paroh that they want to travel for three days into the desert and bring sacrifices to Hashem (Shemot 5:3). Was there a need for Hashem to hide the fact that they were to be leaving permanently and not just bringing sacrifices and returning? Certainly Hashem was capable of getting Paroh to agree to anything. In fact, he even had to harden Paroh’s heart so that he would not agree earlier.

Perhaps the idea was not to use this approach as a way to get Paroh to agree but to teach a lesson. It was important that Bnei Yisrael should be liberated not just as an ethnic group of slaves being freed but that they were being freed as the Nation of Hashem. They also needed to know that Hashem is the one who runs His world. The idea was to break the Egyptian conception of how things are supposed to work. The Egyptian standard of success and their confidence in their civilization had to be broken. Their deities had to be slaughtered as sacrifices to the true G-d. They had to recognize that Hashem’s demands of them were just and that they were prepared to agree to His will. Even Paroh would have to acquiesce to the dictates of the King of kings.

Had Bnei Yisrael just asked for freedom from slavery, it is possible that Paroh would more easily have found the humanitarian appeal to have logic and merit. Maybe he would have found the moral basis to be gracious. Then there would not have been a theological element to the struggle between Bnei Yisrael and Egypt. It was specifically the theological basis of the conflict that needed to be the driving force in the emergence of the Nation of Israel. The world had to see that Paroh had given in to Hashem in this struggle.

Perhaps the above explains what Moshe meant when he said, amidst a bad start to his mission of freeing the nation: "From the time I came to speak in Your name, the situation for this nation has deteriorated" (Shemot 5:23). Moshe felt that the things he said, invoking Hashem, made things worse. Perhaps asking for freedom on humanitarian grounds would have been better. Paroh cannot accept, "Send My nation and they will serve Me," as this is a contradiction to what he presumed one would view as liberty.

Hashem answered Moshe: "With a strong hand, he will send them" (ibid. 6:1). It is not up to Paroh’s desires; he will be forced. Thus, the less the process of liberation makes sense, the more desirable it is.

The Tragedy of American Jewry

By Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

Seldom do one op-ed article and three letters to the editor unintentionally reveal the malady that is threatening to destroy American Jewry.

In the Wall Street Journal (December 30, 2016), the writer Andrew Klavan criticized physicist Stephen Hawking for the latter’s now common assertion that the universe can be explained without G-d, the Creator. Hawking: “The laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing.” If science explains everything then G-d becomes unnecessary; of course, science does not explain everything. But they are both wrong in their assumptions. Klavan is wrong because Jews believe the creation did emerge “spontaneously from nothing,” that G-d created the universe “yesh me-ayin,” creation ex nihilo, and doesn’t seem to realize that “the laws of gravity and quantum theory” are merely tools that the Creator, in His will, created, and could have used in creating what He wishes to create. Hawking is wrong because, as Klavan rightly points out, the laws of nature had to originate from something, and to believe the converse (the eternity of the universe and matter) is, well, a belief.

No matter. Klavan’s objective was to re-introduce religion into this discussion by positing the impossibility of explaining creation without a Creator. It was a reaffirmation of his religious faith and a defense of all believers.

On January 5, 2017, Klavan was lambasted in the WSJ by three letter writers for his naïveté, “patent nonsense,” “obvious flaws,” and “obnoxious and erroneous assertions.” All three were diehard seculars, presumed atheists who ridicule the very notion of God’s existence. More on their contentions in a moment.

Here’s the irony: Klavan described himself as being raised a “secular Jew who converted to Christianity,” and is married to a Christian and raising a Christian family. The three letter writers were named Gelb, Fried and Siegal, all obviously Jewish names and all, at least the descendants of Jewish fathers if not mothers as well. Nevertheless, let us assume the three are Jews.

What emerges is that the only person of faith in this whole mix is the Jew who purported to convert to Christianity. The three Jews were the ones who publicly professed their rejection of God and mocked the believer. That is, sadly, quite typical of American Jewish life today, and why the Jewish world, outside the Orthodox community, is suffering sustained and consistent losses of people, prestige, influence and a real connection to the truths of Torah. As every Jewish life is precious – because every Jew is an integral part of the Jewish nation – such losses are devastating to us all and are a cause for mourning, not celebration. But neither mourning - nor celebration - will save one soul for Torah and the Jewish people.

Beyond the tragic irony is the realization that the heretical arguments of the three Jewish letter writers are hackneyed and unsophisticated, such that they could be answered by an educated Yeshiva high school student. The old question “Who created G-d?” is asked, as if it is a credible challenge to the notion of God as First Cause or a refutation of the concept of cause and effect.

It is a shame that intelligent Jews are unfamiliar with Jewish sources and discussions of these very matters among the greatest Jewish minds in history (like Rav Saadia Gaon, Rambam, Ramban et al), and the lack of Jewish education among Jews who are otherwise educated is the real crisis that has eviscerated American Jewry.

Briefly, for this most engaging topic, G-d is an incorporeal Being who transcends time and space and, indeed, created time and space. Nothing preceded Him or follows Him. That is the definition of “eternal.” He always existed and thus was never created.

Moreover, God created cause and effect, as well as the laws of nature that were fixed and finalized when the process of creation stopped with the onset of the very first Shabbat. So to ask “who created the First Cause” is to indulge a non sequitur. The First Cause needs no creation; that is what makes it “First."

Only physical entities need to be created. Only physical entities can be “proven” in a laboratory because a laboratory is equipped to evaluate physical substances based on the laws of nature. Matters that are purely ideational are not subject to “laboratory” proof. This is both obvious - and has a profound practical and moral dimension to it. If G-d’s existence was physically verifiable - as it was, for example, at Sinai - it would impair and undermine the free will of every human being - as it did in the aftermath of Sinai. Free will is the essence of the human personality. Thus, to the person of faith, God’s existence demands study and can be found in creation and His governance of human affairs. To the person of no faith, the fact that a non-physical G-d cannot be demonstrated in a laboratory is supposedly a slam dunk refutation of G-d’s existence. Hardly, and “faith” here does not mean “blind faith” or “irrational faith,” but a faith that is grounded in reason, tradition, and knowledge.

One writer (Siegal) insisted that all he seeks is mutual respect – that Klavan should respect his right of disbelief as he respects Klavan’s right to believe. But this too is misleading, as nothing that Klavan wrote indicates even remotely a lack of respect for the secular viewpoint. What he wrote is that “secularism” is failing Western civilization because it is inherently incapable of dealing with radical Islam and other moral challenges. It is secularism that cannot recognize the tenacity of true faith (of any kind) and how the material world holds less and sometimes no attraction to some believers. For sure, that secular view has engendered the curious disposition that every problem can be resolved, every war can be negotiated to a peaceful conclusion satisfactory to all sides, and that bitter enemies can reconcile without compromising their cherished beliefs. But none of that is true save for extraordinary circumstances. This secular viewpoint is alive and well among one shrinking segment of Israeli society that refuses to characterize attacks on Jews or Israel as elements of a religious war simply because it is inconvenient to characterize it as such or because they refuse to accept that faith (of any kind) can have that power over human beings. But it does.

To ask secular people to reconsider the value of faith is not to disrespect them but to show concern for them. It is merely to point out to them that they are “accidentalists,” and there are perhaps no greater believers today that those who believe that the universe and everything in it, man and his development, are just cosmic accidents.

All these questions have rational answers, and if only Jews would study them before rejecting Judaism or tilling the vineyards of others we would be a different people. How sad that the Jew of faith had to become a Christian to find that faith, while the three Jews with Jewish surnames revel in their pseudo-sophisticated lack of faith. How sad that after almost two millennia of a bitter exile in which so many Jews tenaciously clung to the Torah that, in recent years, millions of Jews have used the freedom of America to reject their faith and heritage. That is the tragedy of American Jewry and why our numbers and commitment are in such steep decline. It can only be reversed through love, tolerance, intensive Torah education and recognition of the historic times in which Jews are now living - having returned to Israel, established Jewish sovereignty there after a lapse of two millennia, and on the verge of the Messianic era.

For sure, there are large pockets of great strength, optimism and dynamism in American Jewry and American Jewish religious life. The thinking Jew should run, not walk, to be part of that people, that process and that destiny.

Palestinians: A Strategy of Lies and Deception

By Bassam Tawil 

  • Abbas here lied twice. First, it is a lie that he is prepared to return to the negotiating table with Israel. In the past few years, Abbas has repeatedly rejected Israeli offers to resume the stalled peace negotiations.
  • Abbas's chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, claimed this week that his boss was ready to resume the peace talks with Israel in Moscow....Indeed, Abbas had "earlier" voiced his readiness to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow. But Abbas once again outlined his preconditions for such a summit... This means that Abbas has not abandoned his preconditions for resuming the peace talks with Israel. The timing of Erekat's announcement in Moscow is clearly linked to the Paris peace conference. It is part of the Palestinian strategy to depict Israel as the party opposed to the resumption of the peace talks.
  • Abbas has in the past reluctantly condemned some of the terror attacks against Israel. But these statements were made under duress, after being pressured by the US or EU.
  • In fact, his "condemnations" are nothing but political pablum, a sop to the West.
  • The Palestinian terrorist who rammed his truck into a group of young Israeli soldiers last week was doing exactly what his president urged Palestinians to do.
  • The Germans and French should not believe Abbas when he says that he condemns truck terror attacks in their countries. The scenes of Palestinians celebrating carnage in Jerusalem should serve as a wake-up call to the international community. The message of the call? That the overall Palestinian strategy – like the jihad strategy - is built on lies. Both continue to feature terror as one their main pillars.
  • What members of the international community do not seem to understand is that... [t]he terrorist who rammed his truck into a German Christmas market did not carry out his attack in outrage at a German settlement or a checkpoint. The terrorist who mowed down French people celebrating Bastille day was not protesting French "occupation." Abbas and his cohorts, like the terrorists in Europe, are part of just one big global jihad against all "infidels" – including them.
Palestinian Authority Leader Mahmoud Abbas
The Palestinian Authority and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, still believe that they can fool all of the people all of the time. This has always been the Palestinian strategy: nothing new here. Yet one likes to think that world leaders and decision-makers in the West will eventually - perhaps today? – wake up to the fact that the Palestinians are playing them for fools.
Last week's terror attack in Jerusalem, where a Palestinian tourist rammed his truck into a group of soldiers, killing four and wounding scores of others, rips the mask off of Abbas and his PA leadership in Ramallah. By either failing or consciously refusing to condemn the terror attack, they expose their cowardice, but, equally importantly, that terrorism directed against Jews is just fine by them.
How differently Abbas plays his cards when the blood spilled is not Jewish: seldom has he missed an opportunity to condemn terrorist attacks around the world.

The UN Holocaust: More Lies and Treachery on the Way

By Yves Mamou

  • The launch of this diplomatic attempt to gut Israel will start on January 15, in Paris, at a "peace conference" -- which should immediately be postponed a week.
  • "Led astray from their primary mission, these organizations [such as the United Nations] have become tools of corruption or terrorism, reinforcing global Islamic power... Their latest resolutions do not only confirm the victory of jihadism and illiteracy: they also express the success of the years of effort made by this post-war Europe that continues to destroy, defame and delegitimize the Jewish State in the name of Islamic justice." — Bat Ye'or, prizewinning historian.
  • With a UN now run as if it is the universal caliphate, assisted mostly by dictators and despots, it is hard to see much good ever coming from it. No one has yet been made accountable for the $100 billion "oil for food" scandal, and peacekeepers still dole out food to children in exchange for sex.
  • "The beginning of this long journey dates back to 1967, in France... Europe rushed to adopt the French position in 1973 and, along with the OIC, planned political measures designed to destroy the Jewish State by denying its sovereign rights and its cantonment on an indefensible territory. Resolution 2334 is now the icing on the cake of this policy, which forms the basis for a Euro-Islamic policy..." — Bat Ye'or.
  • All freedom loving nations would be wise to abandon the UN, or, second-best, defund it. Sadly, that is the only language the UN seems to understand. Countries imagining that in Donald Trump they have another pushover, watch out. You will be in for quite a shock.
A vote at the UN Security Council (illustrative). [Image source: U.S. State Department]
Israel, this tiny country in the heart of Middle East, has become the new target of diplomacy-abuse at the United Nations, headed by the Americans, the Europeans (mainly France) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) -- 57 Islamic states plus "Palestine", which at the moment forms the largest bloc at the UN.
On December 23, 2016, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334, which effectively sets the boundaries for the Palestinian state at the 1949 armistice lines. The Arabs had previously refused to accept the armistice line as a border, presumably because agreeing to it might preclude the Palestinians from trying to get the rest of "Palestine", defined by them as "from the river [Jordan] to the sea [Mediterranean]" -- meaning all of Israel. Just look at any Palestinian map -- It is identical to the shape of the entirety of Israel.

Obama's Betrayal of Israel

By Guy Millière

  • President Obama's decision not to use the US veto in the UN Security Council and to let pass Resolution 2334, effectively sets the boundaries of a future Palestinian state. The resolution declares all of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem -- home to the Old City, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount -- the most sacred place in Judaism -- "occupied Palestinian territory," and is a declaration of war against Israel.
  • Resolution 2334 nullified any possibility of further negotiations by giving the Palestinians everything in exchange for nothing -- not even an insincere promise of peace.
  • The next act is the Orwellian-named "peace conference," to be held in Paris on January 15. It has but one objective: to set the stage to eradicate Israel.
  • In this new "Dreyfus trial," the accused will be the only Jewish state and the accusers will be the OIC and officials from Islamized, dhimmified, anti-Israel Western states. As in the Dreyfus trial, the verdict has been decided before it even starts. Israel will be considered guilty of all charges and condemned. A draft of the declaration to be published at the end of the conference is already available.
  • The declaration rejects any Jewish presence beyond the 1949 armistice lines -- thereby instituting apartheid. It also praises the "Arab Peace Initiative," which calls for returning of millions of so-called "refugees" to Israel, thus transforming Israel into an Arab Muslim state where a massacre of Jews could conveniently be organized.
  • The declaration is most likely meant serve as the basis for a new Security Council resolution on January 17 that would recognize a Palestinian state inside the "1967 borders," and be adopted, thanks to a second US abstention, three days before Obama leaves office. The betrayal of Israel by the Obama administration and by Obama himself would then be complete.
  • The US Congress is already discussing bills to defund the UN and the Palestinian Authority. If Europeans think that the incoming Trump administration is as spineless as the Obama administration, they are in for a shock.
  • Khaled Abu Toameh noted that the Palestinian Authority sees Resolution 2334 as a green light for more murders and violence.
  • Daniel Pipes recently wrote that it is time to acknowledge the failure of a "peace process" that is really a war process. He stresses that peace can only come when an enemy is defeated.
  • Resolution 2334 and the Paris conference, both promoted by Obama, are, as the great historian Bat Ye'or wrote, simply a victory for jihad.
Is Barack Obama planning another betrayal of Israel at next week's Paris "peace conference," organized by French President François Hollande? Pictured: Obama and Hollande in Washington, May 18, 2012. (Image source: White House)
The Middle East is in chaos. More than half a million people have been killed in the Syrian war and the number is rising. Bashar al-Assad's army used chemical weapons and barrel bombs against civilians; Russia has bombed schools and hospitals.
Syrians, Christians, Yazidis, Libyans, Yemenis and Egyptians all face lethal treats. Iranian leaders still shout "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" while buying nuclear equipment with money from lifted sanctions. Turkey is sliding toward an Islamist dictatorship, and unable to stem attacks against it.

India's Best Friend: Protector of the Free World

By Jagdish N. Singh

  • Israel has always been appreciative of New Delhi's security imperatives. New Delhi, however has yet to be fully appreciative of Israel's security imperatives.
  • New Delhi has yet to be morally conscientious enough openly to back Israel in multilateral fora such as the United Nations. One hopes Prime Minister Modi would show the statesmanlike leadership at which he is so expert and which makes him so admired.
  • Israel stands and fights for openness, diversity, truth and its existence, just as India does. India must back Israel. New Delhi also needs Jerusalem in combating Islamist terrorism, one of the greatest threats to its unity and territorial integrity.
  • The operational code of anti-India Islamist forces' behaviour is similar to that of Israel's Palestinian counterparts: spread the culture of hatred and violence against the free world. Israel knows better than anyone it how best to protect it against such elements.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York, on September 29, 2014. (Image source: Israel Government Press Office)
Ever since former Indian Prime Minister P. V. Narsimha Rao decided in January 1992 to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel, relations between the two democracies have flourished in all fields. Socially, there have been unprecedented people-to-people exchanges. Today over 40,000 Israelis travel to India annually. Since the Israeli poet Amir Or translated the famous Indian epic he Mahabharata into Hebrew in 1998, more books of Indian poetry have been translated into Hebrew.
Economically, technologically and militarily, relations between India and Israel also have moved from strength to strength. In 1992 trade between the two nations stood at a meagre $100 million. Today this stands at $5 billion with the possibility of its being tripled if a free trade agreement is concluded between the two nations.

Israel’s Globalized Economy sets new Records

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

Israel’s economic performance has defied conventional “wisdom,” political-correctness and steep geo-strategic, diplomatic and economic odds, transforming seemingly-insurmountable hurdles into boundless opportunities.

1. A January 11, 2017 European vote-of-confidence, in Israel’s economy, took place in the London Stock Exchange, when Israel sold to British, German and French financial institutions 2.25BN Euros in 10 and 20 year government bonds, while demand surged to 9.8BN Euros. It was Israel’s biggest Euro offering ever.

2. In 2016, Israel’s hightech sector raised an all-time high $4.8BN, compared to $4.3BN in 2015, $3.4BN in 2014, $2.4BN in 2013 and $1.9BN in 2012. 2017 has already ushered-in the $75MN invested, in Israel’s Kaminario, by the Honk Kong Waterwood Group, Silicon Valley Bank, Globespan Capital, Sequoia and Lazarus. Israel’s Health Watch raised $20MN from China’s Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceuticals. Israel’s Corephotonics raised $15MN from the South Korean Samsung Ventures, Taiwan’s Foxconn and Taiwan’s MediaTek.

3. In 2016, Israel’s hightech sector featured $10BN in exits; the highest since 2012 ($11BN), including mergers & acquisitions, Initial Public Offerings (stock) and buyouts.

4. In January 2017, Israel’s foreign exchange reserves expanded to a record $98.4BN.

5. In 2016, Israel’s debt-to-GDP ratio declined to 60.4%, compared to 62.6% in 2015, 64.8% in 2014, 69.3% in 2010 and 105% in 2003. GDP grew by 3.8%.

6. In 2016, Israel’s exports grew by 2% to $86BN (excluding diamonds).

7. According to Dr. Adam Reuter, CEO of Israel’s Financial Immunities, Israel’s economic performance has featured a 31% growth since 2008, compared to the OECD average of 10% and the USA’s 12%; Israel’s GDP growth per capita surged from $27,000 to $38,000, compared to the OECD growth from $35,000 to $40,000 (Israel’s fertility rate – 3.13 births per woman – is much higher than the OECD’s rate of 1.6 births per woman, hence the large proportion of still non-employed Israeli youth, which lowers the GDP per capita).

8. The Jerusalem-based $9BN market-value car sensor manufacturer, Mobileye, collaborates with Germany’s giant car manufacturer, BMW, and with Intel in the development of an autonomous car. 40 trail autonomous cars are expected to be on the toads in the US and Europe by the second half of 2017. The Munich-based Roland Berger, an international consultancy firm, maintains that Israel has positioned itself at the forefront of the driverless/smart car revolution. Some 500 Israeli companies are devoted to various aspects of the smart car industry, and over $1.6BN was raised by them in recent years.

9. Israel’s Rivulis, headquartered in Kibbutz Gvat, merged with Greece’s Eurodrip, the world’s 4th largest irrigation company, establishing the world’s 2nd largest irrigation company. Rivulis operates manufacturing plants in Israel, South California, Georgia, France, Spain, Australia, India, Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Eurodrip’s plants are located in Central California, Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Chile and Peru.

10. 250,000 tourists visited Israel during December, 2016 – a new record – bringing the total of 2016 tourists to 2.9MN, a 3.6% increase over 2015.

Thus, Israel, a well-established military and intelligence powerhouse – a producer of national security for the US, pro-US Arab states and the Free World – is increasingly integrated into the global economy, emerging as an economic and technological powerhouse – a producer of cutting edge technologies for the US and other advanced global economies.

Trump's Jews and Obama's Jews

The Left is losing the culture war within the Jewish community.

By Daniel Greenfield 

Seen from above, the 2016 electoral map of New York City is blue with dots of red. Trump’s home district is blue, but across the water a red wedge slices into Brooklyn. Around that red wedge are districts where Hillary won 90 percent of the vote and Trump was lucky to get 5 percent. Inside it, he beat her in district after district.

The voters who handed him that victory are the Chassidic Jews of Williamsburg who dress in fur hats and black caftans. Their districts, crammed in by hipsters and minorities, are a world away from the progressive activist temples whose clergy went into mourning at Hillary’s loss.

East of Prospect Park, in a vast sea of blue, is what looks like a red sofa. Trump won here with the Chabad Chassidim of Crown Heights. He won in the more mainstream Orthodox Jewish communities of Flatbush. He won by huge margins among the Russian Jewish immigrants of Brighton Beach who listen to a man dubbed the “Russian Rush Limbaugh.”

As the left-wing Forward put it, “Nearly every election district that Trump won in Brooklyn was in a Jewish neighborhood.” But it was a certain type of Jewish neighborhood. The wrong type.

“You can compare them to Rust Belt voters,” a Forward source states. “They are hardworking people, not college educated.”

And then in Far Rockaway where the housing projects by the beach give way to the red Orthodox Jewish communities that extend into Long Island.

There’s a line that recurs again and again in the attacks on David Friedman; the man picked by President-elect Trump to serve as the ambassador to Israel. It’s not stated openly. It’s implied.

“David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer from Long Island,” is the sneering summary.

Remnick, the New Yorker’s left-wing editor, took the sneering to a new level, titling his smear as “Trump’s Daily Bankruptcy.” Jewish identity, he declares, has never been a matter of “bankruptcy law.”

To a certain class of elites, it is self-evidently absurd that a bankruptcy lawyer from Long Island be appointed to anything or be listened to about anything. David Remnick is a Washington Post man married to a New York Times woman who went on to inherit the editorship of the New Yorker and turn it into a left-wing echo chamber. He lives in a $3.25 million four-bedroom Manhattan apartment with a wood-burning fireplace.

And David Friedman is the Orthodox son of a Rabbi from Woodmere who still lives there. His father was a Republican who hosted President Reagan. He might occasionally be allowed to read the New Yorker.

And that’s about it.

Yet it’s hard to think of anything that might recommend Friedman more to Trump.

Over at New York Magazine, Frank Rich and Fran Leibowitz famously chuckled over Trump being “a poor person’s idea of a rich person.” David Brooks, the token slightly right of the left voice at the New York Times, full of contempt for Trump, in an infamous moment, studied Obama’s “perfectly creased pant” and came to the conclusion that, “he’ll be a very good president.”

“I divide people into people who talk like us and who don’t talk like us,” Brooks has said.

Obama spoke like one of the collective “us”. Trump and Friedman don’t talk like “us”. Their voices are distinctly working class. Their New York values are those of a grittier and grimier country.

Trump’s calling card was, “Make America Great Again”. Obama’s was a memoir about race and identity that was a hit on college campuses. Two cultures could hardly be further apart.

The internal war in America and among Jews over Trump is not just about politics, it’s also about class. Trump’s victory was the uprising of a cultural underclass. That is equally true among Jews.

The same divide exists between the slick branding of J Street’s conferences stocked with self-appointed thought leaders who have never worked for a living and the hard-working Jewish communities who loathe the New York Times for its hostility to Israel. These are the Jews who have never been represented in national politics. Whom most of the left didn’t even know existed.

Friedman’s appointment led leftists like Remnick to undertake a baffled archeological survey of Arutz Sheva: a popular pro-Israel news site that no one at the New Yorker had ever heard of. The elites of the left have suddenly had to grapple with the existence of people who don’t talk like “us” or think like “us”.

And that for many voters, non-Jewish and Jewish, encompassed the thrill of Trump. Voting for Trump forced the elites that had ignored them out to acknowledge their existence for the very first time.

The split is as real among Jews as it is in the rest of America. Trump’s victory allowed Jewish communities that had been shut out of the national dialogue to have a voice. The divide over Israel is not only about policy, but about culture and class. The divide between readers of the Jewish Press and the Forward is as real as the yawning gap between country music listeners and the NPR audiences.

Trump and Obama both have inner circles filled with Jews. But they are as different as David Remnick is from David Friedman, as Jan Schakowsky is from Boris Epshteyn, or as J Street’s Jeremy Ben Ami is from Jason Greenblatt, a Trump advisor who performed armed guard duty while studying in Israel.

Obama is legitimately baffled by accusations of anti-Semitism. His inner circle of left-wing Jews agree with him that the Jewish State is the problem and aiding Islamic terrorists is the solution. His echo chamber elevated marginal left-wing organizations like J Street or Yeshivat Chovevei Torah into representatives of American Jews. Meanwhile his people, like ADL boss Jonathan Greenblatt, took over already liberal Jewish organizations and turned them into lobbies for his anti-Israel agenda.

Now suddenly the President-elect is surrounded by a very different breed of Jews. Instead of tenured academics, progressive journalists and irreligious clergy for whom Jewish values, like American values, mean appeasement and surrender to terrorists, a very different kind of Trump Jew is now on the rise.

Trump’s Jews are scrappy businessmen and tough lawyers. They live in traditional suburban communities instead of hip urban neighborhoods. They are more likely to be religiously devout and have large families. And they don’t look or sound like the “us” of the leftist elites. They don’t have the “perfectly creased pant”. Instead they look like the suburban dads and granddads that they are.

They believe that you have to work hard to get ahead. They know that you have to be tough to succeed. And they’ve learned to get ahead without caring what the liberal elites think of their manners and style.

In that they’re a whole lot like Trump. And a whole lot like the stereotypical Israeli.

It’s not just the substance of their message, pro-American, pro-Israel and pro-work, that horrifies the Remnicks of the left. It’s the conviction that they’re part of a social underclass that doesn’t belong on stage. The Remnicks have worked hard to ape the manners and attitudes of their progressive betters. There was a time when his ilk dared to be pro-Israel. But when the liberals went left, they went with them. They justified their betrayal by blaming Israel for “moving to the right” and alienating them.

But Trump’s Jews, whether it’s his advisers, who look like every other professional or small businessman in Long Island or Teaneck, or the Chassidic and Haredi Jews of Brooklyn who voted for him, make no apologies for who they are. They pray toward Jerusalem, not Martha’s Vineyard. They do not cringe inwardly when Israel takes out a terrorist. They are not politically correct. They are Biblically correct.

They are not ashamed of their Jewishness. And now their voice is being heard.

In the fall of ’84, President Ronald Reagan showed up at the home of a Long Island Rabbi for a Sabbath meal. David Friedman’s mother spent three days shopping and prepared stuffed chicken cutlets, apricot noodle pudding and an apple crumb cake. Reagan toasted her as “a woman who makes a meal better than a state dinner.” Meanwhile outside, left-wingers protested hysterically against the visit.

At Rabbi Friedman’s synagogue, President Reagan declared, “the so-called anti-Zionists that we hear in the United Nations is just another mask in some quarters for vicious anti-Semitism. And that's something the United States will not tolerate wherever it is, no matter how subtle it may be.”

The United States has tolerated it for far too long from Barack Hussein Obama.

When Rabbi Friedman passed away, Donald J. Trump, a future Republican president, drove to Long Island through a snowstorm to pay a condolence call to his son. Trump has chosen the man who sat at the table with President Reagan, that “bankruptcy lawyer from Long Island” as ambassador to Israel.

The left is so angry because it senses that it is losing the culture war within the Jewish community. The future does not belong to David Remnick. It belongs to David Friedman.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Long Term Influence

By Moshe Feiglin

"And the brothers of Joseph saw that their father had died and they said, 'Perhaps Joseph will hate us and will return to us all the evil that we had done to him.'" (From this week's Torah portion, Vayechi, Genesis 50)

It is strange. After all the outpouring of emotion, the public forgiveness, living together, suddenly the brothers fear that it was all a show? That Joseph was just paying lip service, simply waiting for their father to die?

We are usually not aware of the power of parents' influence over their children. It seems to us that when the children grow up and fly from the nest that they are completely independent. But the child has a natural need to look back to his parents and receive endorsement for his chosen path. Every action taken by the parents is watched and learned. Always. Even by the most outrageously rebellious children, even when they are older, even when the parents are already very old. Even when the parent does not immediately feel his influence, it is immense. One can never know the extent of his influence over his children and its reach – even years after he has completed his sojourn on this earth. The brothers did not believe that Joseph had a long-term scheme to harm them. They feared something much deeper. They feared an authentic change in Joseph's personality after the death of their father and the seeming decrease in his influence.

What does Joseph say to them?

Do not worry. My relationship with you is not dependent upon changing moods and not upon education that may go awry. It is based on stability that stems only from a faith-based worldview and steeped in fear of Heaven.

"And Joseph said to them, 'Do not fear, for am I instead of G-d? And you thought evil for me and G-d thought if for the good, in order to do as this day, to keep a huge populace alive."

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Flying to Nowhere

By Moshe Feiglin

In the last conversation that I had with Prime Minister Netanyahu, I told him, "You are the person most capable of managing the rearguard war of the existing Zionist consciousness." Perhaps because I did not intend to insult him and really meant every word, my statement seemed to sear his heart.

Netanyahu is a great Zionist. He has managed the dead end that Zionism has reached with superb talent. What may topple this extremely talented man is not his cigars, but the feeling of aimlessness, lack of direction, message and purpose that engulfs the Israeli public.

Even a passenger sitting in first class in the national jumbo jet – and all is fine and comfortable and set up for him – feels a terrible sense of strangulation when he discovers that the jet is flying in circles and that it has no destination. Even if there is enough fuel in the tanks for another thousand years, more and more passengers will demand a new pilot when they discover that the current pilot has no idea where he is flying.

The Zionism of Existence has replaced the Holy Temple in Jerusalem with Jerusalem Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem and the High Priest with the Chief of Staff. This Zionism must now be replaced by the Zionism of Destiny. For without destiny, there is no existence, either.

Netanyahu was the very best pilot that the old Zionist mentality could provide (and the least corrupt of all prime ministers in the last 20 years). He is truly a virtuoso pilot. But it is specifically during his incumbency that the passengers began to understand that the jet is flying nowhere. It is not because of Netanyahu. It is because the old, great (and extremely important) Zionism has never given us a roadmap for beyond its first 100 years.

Now, when it is clear that Netanyahu is conducting the rearguard war for his continued rule, I would like to thank him for contributing his great talent to the daily management of our state – for flying the national jumbo jet under very complicated conditions.

It could be that a new pilot with no compass to guide him will enchant the Israeli public and Heaven forbid, take control of the national steering wheel for a short while. But the deep process of the transition of Israeli-ness from Zionism of Existence to Zionism of Destiny must occur. Simply because without it, there will be no existence. That is why we established the Zehut party.

And in the margins of the above, a small warning note that I cannot keep to myself. Where is the Disengagement 2017, that will make journalist Amnon Abramowitz declare that Netanyahu is now wrapped and untouchable, being cooked up now?

Huckabee and His Support of Missionaries in Israel

When someone of Huckabee's stature finally stands up for Israel we overlook everything (Ed: or the Glen Beck fiasco revisited).

By Shmuel Sackett

I do not own a television but I work out in a gym that does have a TV. As soon as I enter the gym, before getting ready to hit the weights, I switch the channel (usually at MTV) to Channel 200, which – here in Israel – is Fox News. Over the years I have watched, and have become very impressed with Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson, Eric Bolling, Judge Jeanine Pirro and others. All of these people host wonderful and informative shows and I generally enjoy their commentary. I also enjoy the guests they have on their shows, especially my #1 favorite Fox guest and contributor, (former) Governor Mike Huckabee.

Governor Huckabee says it like it is. He speaks clearly, professionally and always to the point. His stance on Israel is strong and unapologetic. He is against the Two-State Solution, is very pro-settlements and is a sincere and devoted advocate for a strong and proud Jewish State. In short, he is a rare gem in the media.

Last week, Governor Huckabee visited Israel. He spoke in the Knesset, met with settlement leaders and visited Hebron. He had 98% of the right wing camp eating out of the palm of his hands and he took selfies with anyone who asked. His warm smile, with that big dimple, was splashed across countless Facebook pages. Because of his close connection and special relationship with President-elect Trump, people were overjoyed that wonderful days are ahead for Israel. Even though I enjoy his commentaries on Fox – as I wrote above – I stayed away from all those meetings in Israel, because there is a major difference between Mike Huckabee commenting on Fox and Mike Huckabee visiting Israel and being cheered at every speech.

The reason is simple; Governor Mike Huckabee endorses proselytizing Jews in Israel to bring them to Jesus. Yes, you read that right. He endorses missionary activities aimed at Jews in Israel.

Before you look for a hammer with which to hit me on the head, please allow me to prove my point. I would never write these words if they weren’t 100% true… and unfortunately they are.

There is a terrible organization called “One for Israel” which defines itself as “a ministry that teaches Israelis that Yeshua is the Messiah” (chas v’shalom). They educate and raise leaders to preach this anti-Jewish doctrine all over Israel and they pour millions of dollars into their goal of ripping Jews away from Hashem and His holy Torah. According to their website, they “provide humanitarian aid to Holocaust survivors with the love of Yeshua.” Their promotional video ends with a plea; “Join us as we share the gospel in Israel. Become One for Israel.”

What does this have to do with Mike Huckabee? Simple. Mike Huckabee fully endorses this evil group. Please read this exact quote from Huckabee, which can be seen on the One for Israel Missionary video; “I’ve hope you’ve heard of the wonderful things that God is doing with Jews and Arabs in Israel. Well, I’ve heard about it and I have become One for Israel. I hope you will do the same.”

This video can be seen on the website: www.JewishIsrael.com, which works day and night at uncovering and battling missionary activity in Israel and on social media. They do a terrific job.

When I saw this video a few months ago, I sent it to people who are close to Governor Huckabee. I asked them to please clarify his position on it but I never received a response. I then sent it to people who were scheduled to meet with Huckabee in Israel and, once again, did not receive a response. Finally, I sent it to several Jewish media outlets and nobody printed it or even mentioned it! All I wanted to hear was someone ask him – in a public setting – whether he still endorses the missionary group “One for Israel”, yet nobody had the guts to do it.


I have stated many times, and did so in this article, that I enjoy Mike Huckabee’s comments on Fox, and other places as well. However, I am able to differentiate between someone commenting from a TV studio in New York vs. coming to my home in Hebron and Jerusalem. Let me make my position perfectly clear: If Mike Huckabee still believes in what he said on the “One for Israel” video then – NO!! – he is NOT welcomed in Israel, no matter how eloquently he speaks about Israel and the settlements. If Mike Huckabee helps an organization that proselytizes Jews in Israel (or anywhere, for that matter) then I don’t want him speaking at my fundraising dinners or praying at my holy Wall!

I think the reason that people avoid this topic is because there is such little support for Israel in the media that when – FINALLY! – someone of Huckabee’s stature stands up and defends Israel, we simply overlook everything else and jump for joy. I too jumped for joy and was ecstatic when I heard his words. The last time he came to Israel, I DID attend one of his meetings in the Knesset, and even had lunch with him afterwards. I smiled the whole time since I felt that we found our advocate and weapon in the media war.

And then shortly afterwards, my friends at www.JewishIsrael.com told me to look at the video. I was shocked. I was horrified. The difference between me and those connected to Huckabee was that I kept my eyes open while theirs were sealed shut.

Please note that Mike Huckabee’s personal religious beliefs do not bother me in any way. He has the freedom to choose his religion and I respect his choice. It’s when his beliefs cross the line and enter my zone that my boxing gloves go on. He can pray to whomever he chooses but how DARE he – or anyone else – reach out to my brothers and sisters in an attempt to steal them away from Hashem?? How DARE he – and the organization he endorses – “provide humanitarian aid to Holocaust survivors with the love of Yeshua” (sic)!! Everyone knows that many of these Holocaust survivors are weak and broken and are perfect candidates to accept the false prophet into their lives. Is this what Mike Huckabee wants… that after all a Holocaust survivor went through and survived… that in his/her final years they throw away their connection to Hashem and the Jewish people??

This is why I did not attend any of the Huckabee festivities in Israel last week and I will NEVER go to any event that his him as a guest until I clarify this point. Until I hear – in a public setting – that Governor Mike Huckabee opposes proselytizing Jews and that he renounces his endorsement for“One for Israel” and for all gospel activity aimed at Jews, I will never again be seen at a Huckabee event. I urge anyone who can reach him to please set the record straight.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Is this “Satanic Prosecution” by the Judges?

By HaRav Yisrael Rosen 
Dean of the Zomet Institute

“If all the judges of the Sanhedrin rule that the defendant is guilty – he is released... Nobody is appointed to the Sanhedrin unless he knows can a show that a vermin is kosher by Torah law.” [Sanhedrin 17a].


A Note to the Honorable Judge: We are at War!

I join at least half of our nation in expressing total shock to hear the ruling of the judges that was read by IDF Judge Maya Heller in the case of Elor Azaria, who killed a terrorist in Chevron. I have no quarrel with the facts, with such issues as the angle of shooting, or the values of “the purity of arms,” which are all part of the arsenal of the honored judge. I do have a dispute with the tie-wearing military prosecutors, who refused to accept a plea bargain (as reported by the press), preferring to stick to their religion of legalism, because of they are convinced that the law takes precedence over life. And I have a dispute with the blindness of the Chief Judge of the case, who lives in this religious bubble, which seems to be taken from another planet, not the one on which we live.

Has this woman never heard that we are at war? Doesn’t the honorable judge know that the international laws of war have undergone a revolution, not from the side of the “good guys” but from the side of the evil ones? They have invented a new weapon for which nobody has yet found a defense: Suicide! These people are living bombs who are willing to die for “the cause.” Anybody who wants to live is naturally repelled by this weapon and is filled with natural suspicions of fear. But evidently these simple facts have not been recorded in the learned law books. Madam Judge, I understand that we are not allowed even in wartime to kill an enemy who is restrained and handcuffed. However, is the honorable judge allowed to put handcuffs on the hands of our fighters, and to restrain their spirits, with ropes that stem from legalisms? Doesn’t such a primeval situation rate at least a small level of consideration, something which is completely missing from the judge’s ruling?

Today, when I am writing this column, we lived through the tragedy of a truck attack on officer cadets from Bahad 1, in full view of the walls of Jerusalem. It has been reported that for this terrorist one attack in the “forward” direction was not enough, and he turned the truck back and ran over his victims a second time. My fingers tremble when I consider the following dilemma: If I had been there, or my officer sons or grandsons, would I have shot at the terrorist in the pause between the two stages of the attack? In a flicker of indecision, I might have indeed held back, seeing the image of the raised finger of Judge Heller: “It is forbidden! The attack is over!”

I agree that we cannot erase the laws of war, but there remain two paths that we can take in Azaria’s case: A reasonable plea bargain, or to quickly grant a pardon (skipping over the stage of appealing the existing decision, which perpetuates the religion of the absurd).


Is there no Spark of Consideration? Does Everything Point to Guilt?

In Hebrew law there is a rule that at first glance might seem to be absurd, but which in reality is a perfect match for the psychology of judgment. As quoted above, “If all the judges of the Sanhedrin rule that the defendant is guilty – he is released.. .” The commentators explain that if the judges could not find any reason in favor of the defendant, not one single indication of lenience (as is true of the learned decision of the judge in this case) – then we must conclude that this is a “done deal” and not an honest trial! The main foundation of judging is to be able to see the “other side” of an issue, and as quoted above to show that a vermin is kosher by Torah law. If this element is missing, the trial is cancelled.

Elor Azaria’s trial is a perfect example of iniquity in judgment – the ruling does not include a single word of compassion for the defendant.

(Written at the end of the fast of the Tenth of Tevet.)


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*** AN IMPORTANT NOTE BY RABBI YISRAEL ROZEN: I received hundreds of angry reactions, if not more, in talk-backs, e-mail, and text messages, to my article of last week about the saga of the Yemenite children. A few of the messages tried to argue against what I wrote, while the vast majority just vented their rage. But none of them understood correctly what I wrote


I did not write that no children disappeared (in fact, I wrote that more than 1,000 children did disappear). I did not write that children were not buried without giving any details to their parents (just the opposite). And I did not write that children were not given out for adoption (just the opposite). I did not even write that there was no “organized crime” by official government enterprises to hand children out for adoption and for “re-education.” What I did write is that no evidence was uncovered that this was all the result of an organized secret conspiracy, and that this fact gave me a good feeling. All those who attacked me so viciously may well have a problem understanding clear language.