Thursday, July 20, 2017

UNESCO is an Immoral, Anti-Semitic Organization

Decent Countries Should Leave

By Guy Millière
  • Although Europe claims to respect human rights and the rights of peoples, it has been a party to violating the most essential right of the Jewish people: the recognition of its existence for more than 3,000 years, and the anchoring of this existence to its sacred monuments. Worse, Europe does so in the name of a people fictitiously invented less than 50 years ago. No serious scholar can find any trace of a "Palestinian people" before the 1960s. Europe has apparently been all too happy to accept lies.
  • While claiming to fight terrorism, Europe complies with the demands of a terrorist movement that does not even bother to hide its terrorist nature. When Mahmoud Abbas speaks Arabic, he continually incites the murder of Jews. He recently repeated that he would not stop paying tried, convicted and imprisoned murderers of Jews, and still calls these murderers heroic "martyrs". On all maps used by the Palestinian Authority and in Palestinian textbooks, Israel does not exist; it is called Palestine.
  • Europeans, imbued with a generic sense of guilt, began attributing all that is wrong in the world to Western civilization. Because they had colonized parts of the Muslim world, they failed to note that Muslim culture had, in fact, colonized Persia, the Byzantine Empire, the Middle East, Greece, Cyprus, the Balkans, North Africa, Southern Spain, and, more recently, northern Cyprus.
The director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Lebanon, Ann Dismorr, poses with a map devoid of any trace of the State of Israel, instead presenting it as a map of "Palestine," May 2013. (Image source: Palestinian Media Watch)
On July 7, UNESCO voted for a resolution defining the Old City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs as Palestinian heritage sites. Before that, in 2016, two resolutions making the same type of counterfactual assertions concerning the Old City of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall were adopted. And the year before that, in 2015, UNESCO again upended history to rename two ancient biblical sites, Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs, Islamic holy sites -- even though Islam did not even exist at that time.
Three days before this month's Hebron resolution, still another resolution, reaffirming the Jerusalem resolutions, was passed.
The Israeli government reacted with indignation. It decided to stop cooperating with UNESCO. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said she was shocked and that the decision would not be without consequences.
The rest of the world has remained silent. How come?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Three Weeks – a Time for National Soul-Searching

By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir


During the Three Weeks, between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, the Jewish People mourn the bad things that occurred to Israel during this period. On the 17th of Tamuz, five troubles befell Israel: the tablets were broken in the Golden Calf Incident; the Daily “Tamid” offering of the First Temple was cancelled; Jerusalem’s wall was breeched during the Second Temple period; the Torah was burnt by wicked Apostomos, and an idol was installed in the Temple Sanctuary. On the 9th of Av, the First and Second Temples were destroyed; it was decreed that our ancestors in the desert would not enter the Land; Beitar was captured and tens of thousands were murdered by the Romans. On this day, the Temple Sanctuary and its environs were ploughed, thereby fulfilling the verse, “Zion shall be ploughed as a field” (Jeremiah 26:18).

At this time of year, we have to arouse our hearts and look for ways to repent; to think about our own deeds and those of our ancestors. Their deeds were like ours, and those deeds brought both them and us suffering. Recalling these things will make us repent and become better…. Therefore, every Jew must repent during this period, examining his own deeds and making amends” (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 121:1). Today, we must search our souls not just as individuals but as a nation as regards our relationship to the People, Torah and Land of Israel.

Regarding our relationship to Eretz Yisrael, we must return to ourselves. We must learn and recognize, study and make ourselves aware, become acquainted and inform others of what we are, what our destiny is and what our specialness consists of. We are not like all the nations, we are set apart from them. We are a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Our historic task on earth is to shower light upon the world and to bring goodness to mankind, in accordance with G-d’s command to Abraham: “I will make you a great nation…. and you shall be for a blessing…. All the families of the earth shall be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3). As Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook taught in Orot 55: “We are greater than any other people; if we recognize this greatness, we will recognize ourselves, and if we forget it, then we will forget ourselves. A people that forgets itself is small and lowly… Forgetting ourselves constitutes forgetting our greatness.”

As far as our relationship to the Torah of Israel, our sages long ago said, “Each day, a heavenly voice resounds from Mount Sinai proclaiming, ‘Woe to the people for their disregard of the Torah!’ (Avot 6:2). Rav Kook adds, “We must study Torah and give it the appropriate respect, and we must relate to it reverently. Surely when one ponders the Torah, one finds that everything is contained within it, every delight and every splendor” (Orot HaTeshuva 4:9). Our holy Torah is a living Torah for us and for the entire world, as we say in our prayers, “Everlasting life did He plant in our midst”. We, as a nation, must repent, and bring ourselves and our children once more to study Torah lovingly. By such means, we will merit that our people, rising to rebirth in Zion, will have a new heart and a new spirit.

As far as our relationship to Eretz Yisrael, we must rid ourselves of the fundamentally erroneous assumption that Eretz Yisrael is just a means towards achieving existential goals such as security, prosperity or even spiritual and religious goals. (Eretz Yisrael is not an external acquisition of our nation. It is “an independent entity tied to the nation by a living bond, enveloped in inner virtues inherent to it” – Orot 9). Eretz Yisrael is not a topic for negotiations. It cannot be handed over to any individual or people on earth. Just as one does not concede his own life, so are we forbidden to concede our land, not one single millimeter.

Unfortunately, our present political leadership, and portions of the public, are suffering from a kind of confusion, and a weakness of faith, that have brought them to unprecedented effeteness and lowliness in their relationship to Eretz Yisrael. That relationship is expressed by the plan for expelling Jews from our land and for establishing a state for the Arabs who long to destroy us. By repenting nationally and as individuals vis-à-vis the people, Torah and Land, we will merit that these days will be transformed from a time of mourning and pain to a time of joy and gladness. As Zechariah said, “The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful seasons. Therefore love truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19).

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

We Need the Jewish Women

By Shmuel Sackett
Ask your fellow Jew the following question and see if he/she answers it correctly: “Who were the people lucky enough to leave Egypt and actually enter the Land of Israel 40 years later?” My guess is that the overwhelming answer will be the following: “The only ones who left Egypt and entered Israel were those who were under 20 years of age at the time of the Exodus, plus Yehoshua and Caleb. This was due to the tragic Sin of the Spies and the subsequent punishment by Hashem that anyone over 20 would die in the desert.”

I am willing to bet that if you ask this question to 100 people (who know the story), at least 95 of them will give you this answer. After all, the Torah itself seems to say this very clearly. When pronouncing the punishment, Hashem Himself said the following; “Because you complained about Me, your corpses will fall in this desert. This will happen to your complete tally, everyone over 20 years old who was counted… will not come into the land regarding which I swore… the only exceptions with be Caleb and Yehoshua” (Ba’Midbar 14:29-30 – translation by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan z”l)

While this may seem like the right answer… it is not. There were actually lots of people over 20 at the time of the Exodus who left Egypt yet merited to enter Eretz Yisrael. They were called… the Jewish women! Rashi is very clear about this; “Upon the women, the decree of the Spies was not decreed, for they held the land precious. The men said, ‘Let us appoint a leader and let us return to Egypt’, but the women said, ‘Give us a possession’!” (Ba’Midbar 26:64 – Rashi’s commentary – translation by ArtScroll)

We seem to be very familiar with the famous line in the Talmud that states how “In the merit of the righteous women… Israel was redeemed from Egypt” (Sotah 11b) but how many of us know the Rashi I just quoted? Sadly, just a handful. So let me repeat it in my own words: The men (above 20) died in the desert but the women did not because they loved the Land of Israel! When the Spies returned and gave their evil report about Israel, the women refused to accept it. It was the men who kvetched and wanted to return to America, I mean Egypt, but the women said “No way!” Therefore, when the punishment was announced, the women were not included and they merited to enter the Holy Land with all its glory and splendor.

That was exactly 3,329 years ago and we need to know that what happened then, can and must happen now! Therefore, I am addressing the rest of this article to the Jewish women. If any men are reading this, I have just one thing to say: Please pass the article immediately to your wife, mother, daughter, sister and every female cousin!

Dearest sister; as you know, the Torah is not a book of stories. It is our guidebook, our compass and our instructions for living. If the Torah tells us that Jewish women were strong in their love for the Land of Israel then you need to muster that strength today as well. Most guys I know have their head spinning in different directions and moving to Israel is usually not on their radar. Therefore, it’s you who Am Yisrael needs. We need you to be the backbone and driving force behind the dream of raising your family in the Promised Land. There will be lots of negativity with people telling you it can’t be done. Your husband may ask, “How will I make a living?” Your kids may complain about losing their friends and people will hit you with complaints about Israeli schools and health care. The only way to overcome this is to tap into the great women you come from… the ones from 3,329 years ago who heard the same complaints – and far worse – yet refused to believe a word of it!

Think about it. 10 of the 12 spies return from a 40 day mission and gave their report. These were very respected men… leaders of the generation! Let’s be honest for a minute. What they said was very frightening! “The people living in the land are aggressive and the cities are large and well fortified… Amalek lives in the Negev, the Hittities, Yebusites and Amorites live in the hills and the Canaanites live near the sea… The land consumes its inhabitants. All the men we saw there were huge… sons of the giants… we felt like tiny grasshoppers” (Ba’Midbar 13:28-33 – translation by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan z”l)

It is easy for me to say that I would not have listened to them but reality might have been different. The men heard this and became scared but the women – who heard the exact same words – refused to back down. Their response? “Give us a possession” says Rashi! They might have been afraid but they trusted in Hashem completely. They knew that Hashem didn’t take the Jewish Nation out of Egypt just to have some Hittites wipe them off the face of the earth a few months later. They understood the challenge and danger but had complete faith that the King of Kings would guide them to victory, success and help them set up a beautiful life for their families.

I won’t waste any words. Simply put, we need that faith, optimism and positive energy today. If the Jewish women did it once, they can do it again. Don’t wait for your husband to call Nefesh b’Nefesh… you do it! Don’t let the negative words of the modern day spies infect your pure soul. Assure your husband that he will find a job, talk to your kids about the wonderful new friends they will have and tell all your neighbors about how your family will thrive in Israeli schools and with the medical system.

My sister; You are the rock and Am Yisrael needs you as much as ever! Many years ago you didn’t believe the negativity so don’t believe it today. Israel is strong, beautiful, spiritually alive and moving closer to Hashem every single day. Our kids are thriving, our economy is growing and the quality of life cannot be beat. This is the place to raise your family and to connect to Jewish history. Tap into the energy of your 3,329 old grandmother and make that spirit come alive today. We can’t do it without you.

Why are you afraid?

BS”D
Parshiot Matot-Masai 5777
By HaRav Nachman Kahana

Why are you afraid?

Major General Yaakov Amidror, former head of Israel’s National Security Council, said at a Monday press conference that at some point Israel will have to destroy all Iranian infrastructures in Syria. He stated that Israel’s interests must be taken into account by the Russians and the Americans when considering possible peace agreements in Syria.

In Amidror’s opinion, Israel needs to first of all “take care of its strategic goal” of “keeping Iran and Hezbollah from building launch pads in Syria.” Regardless of how much Israel wants the Syrian civil war to end, “the price can’t be having Iran and Hezbollah on our borders.”

Yalkut Shimoni (Book of Yeshayahu #499) deals with military conflicts of the future, which is now:

Interestingly, but not coincidental, the Yalkut states that Paras (Persia-Iran) will be the dread of humanity. World leaders will be frustrated in their futile efforts to save what they can. The people of Yisrael will also be petrified by the impending danger. And HaShem will say to us, “Why are you afraid? All of this I have done in order to bring you the awaited redemption. And this redemption will not be like the redemption from Egypt, which was followed by suffering. This redemption will be absolute, followed with peace”.

Who will bring about the final redemption?

In view of the life-threatening dangers facing our nation from Arabs and Moslems, military service in Tzahal is the fulfillment of the most essential contemporary mitzva.

In this week’s parasha, Moshe angrily rebukes the tribes of Reuven and Gad when they requested to receive their land portions on the liberated eastern side of the Jordan River without having to go to war together with the other tribes.

האחיכם יבאו למלחמה ואתם תשבו פה:
Would your brothers (the other tribes who still have to liberate the western side of the Jordan) come to war while you sit here?


Devorah the Shofetet, denounced the people of Meroz for evading the call to defend the nation! (Shoftim 5,23)

אורו מרוז אמר מלאך ה’ ארו ארור ישביה כי לא באו לעזרת ה…
Curse Meroz said the angel of the Lord. Curse its people because they did not come to help the Lord,


The Chareidi sector is opposed to military service in Tzahal, but are splintered regarding the reasons for their objections. The most extreme elements claim that the Medina was born in sin and has no right to exist, and would welcome the return of some foreign entity – even the Arabs – to rule over the land until the Mashiach appears.

Another group claims that since the sins of the secular are responsible for our security problems, they are the ones who must serve.

The more enlightened Chareidim claim that their Torah study is protecting the Medina, no less than Tzahal.

So, the question is: now that leading Chareidi rabbis have relinquished the helm of leadership of the Medina by prohibiting their students (numbering in the tens of thousands) from taking part in the defense of our holy land and nation, who will bring about the final redemption?

The answer is Iran.

Changes to the status quo are on the horizon

Current events are following HaShem’s plan as revealed by Chazal.

The US and European States signed a bad agreement with Iran, the result of an American President who is a closet Jihadist or an incompetent with a narcissist complex.

The Redeemer will be HaShem, but what is the role that Iran will play?

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 97b) records a fundamental controversy between two leading tana’ic rabbis – Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua.

Rabbi Eliezer believes that redemption will come about only after the Jewish people do teshuva (to repent and return to the correct path). HaShem will not initiate any act of forgiveness or redemption, but will react to our teshuva initiative.

Rabbi Yehoshua disputes this, claiming that when a certain point in time will be reached, and the Jewish nation will not have done teshuva, HaShem will create a situation whereby we will be forced to return to the Torah. This will be done by HaShem giving rise to a despotic leader whose decrees will be even harsher than those of Haman.

Rambam in Hilchot Bait Habechira 7,23 states:

בשעה שנכנסין הבנאים לבנות ולתקן בהיכל או להוציא משם את הטומאה, מצוה שיהיו הנכנסין כהנים תמימים, לא מצאו תמימים יכנסו בעלי מומין, ואם אין שם כהנים יכנסו לוים, לא מצאו לוים יכנסו ישראל, מצוה בטהורים, לא מצאו טהורים יכנסו טמאים וגו’.
When builders enter the Temple to construct or repair it, or to remove an impure object, it is a mitzvah for the craftsmen who enter to be kohanim who do not possess any disqualifying physical deformities.


If no capable craftsmen meeting those criteria can be found, then kohanim with disqualifying deformities should enter. If none are found, Levites should enter. If none are found, Israelites should enter.

It is a mitzvah for those who enter to be tahor (ritually pure). If no capable craftsmen who are tahor can be found, then craftsmen who are tamai (impure) may enter.

At the end of the 19th century when HaShem saw that the time to return home had arrived, He certainly preferred that the initiators of our national renaissance would be great Torah scholars leading large numbers of God-fearing laymen. When the great scholars did not come forward, HaShem brought forth a non-observant visionary by the name of Theodor (Binyamin Zeev) Herzl to fill the historical void by establishing the Zionist movement. He was followed by groups of Jews who too were not Torah observant, but their hearts and minds were obsessed with rebuilding the Land and bringing millions of Jews home.

As the Rambam wrote regarding the construction of the Bet Hamikdash, the order of preference was from the observant craftsmen down to whoever there was who could do the job. HaShem gathered together Jews of every persuasion to clear the swamps, pave the roads, build the buildings, plant the vineyards, establish industries, form the military and a modern robust nation, called today Medinat Yisrael.

And just like the Bet Hamikdash, the moment it was completed, no tamai person could enter, no Levi could enter the precinct of the kohen and only the Kohen Gadol could enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur; so too the Medina. While it is being constructed, every craftsman can contribute his part; but when the Medina will reach a point decided by HaShem, changes will occur.

It is happening now, and those changes will be generated by Iran.

Iran’s role

Dire threats will be made by the Ayotullas of Iran to the people of Israel. The dangers will create here an atmosphere of trepidation, causing many people to leave the country.

Those with weak spiritual connections to the State and to Torah will either return to the Torah through teshuva or leave the land.

The three hundred and fifty thousand gentiles from the Soviet Union who do not want to convert halachically will leave.

Chareidim who do not identify with the Medina will find living more comfortable in other places in the world, and many kollel men will find that the tension is interfering with their learning, and leave.

Millions of Arabs will flee to wherever they can, as they did in 1948.

The radical leftists who undermine the foundations of the Medina will leave.

The Jews in the galut will certainly not want to be here.

We lived in Kiryat Sanz in Netanya and during the three weeks preceding the Six Day War in 1967, we witnessed whole families escaping their own fears for “greener” pastures of the USA and Europe.

Their punishment was swift in coming. It was during the Six Day War that Medinat Yisrael liberated all of Yerushalayim, and the Medina became three times larger in six days. Those who had left were not here to rejoice with us.

In the future, those who will remain here will be the Jews who have an “irrational” love for the Land and believe deeply that HaShem will never abandon His children in Eretz Yisrael. They will be the old entrenched families who came here a hundred or more years ago – the Rivlins, the Blaus, the Solomons, the Kahanas of Tzfat, and the Liders of Tiveria. And of course, the knitted kipot people and the military personnel who are willing to sacrifice all for the State.

This is the role set about for Iran. To create fear that will cleanse the country of “inappropriate” residents and retain only those who are sincerely loyal to HaShem.

When that happens, we will witness the most astounding and impressive miracles of salvation which will defy all human imagination.

The Mashiach will appear and Tzahal will be his vessel to destroy the foreign enemies of HaShem and prepare the Land for the reappearance of the Shechina in the Bet Hamikdash on the Temple Mount.

This is what the Yalkut Shimoni means when it says: And HaShem will say to us, “Why are you afraid? All of this I have done in order to bring you the awaited redemption.”

I hope and pray that HaShem will grant me, my family and friends to be among those who will witness these extraordinary events.

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

The Shamrak Report: Israel Can Change the Status Quo

In response to the Temple Mount terror attack Israel took three unusual steps:
The first was expected, closing the Temple Mount to everyone as police investigated the attack, including if any Waqf officials aided the terrorists in conveying and hiding the terrorists’ weapons on the Temple Mount.
The second, was detaining the Jerusalem Mufti for incitement, and arresting three suspicious Waqf officials.
The third move Israel took was to shut down the Old City on Friday to non-resident Muslims...
But, despite the official outrage, demands, threats and pleas by Jordan, the Waqf, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to reopen the Temple Mount, there was no explosions, no protests, and no riots by the general Muslim population in Israel in response to the closure of the Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem...
The police also announced they will be changing the security arrangements on the Temple Mount, installing metal detectors and cameras, a move Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have refused to accept in the past...
Israel can and should finally act like the sovereign entity on the Temple Mount, and the police can finally discard their irrational fear of what the Muslims may or may not do in response...
The obvious conclusion is that prayer arrangements can and must be changed so that Jews can also receive their fair share of exclusive time and freedom of worship on the Jewish people’s holiest site, without being harassed and watched by the Waqf and other Islamic provocateurs. (Netanyahu said he plans to gradually reopen the Temple Mount to all visitors on Sunday afternoon. He also promised to maintain the so-called status quo. He is not leader of Jewish people – the gutless wimp must go!)
Amid deadly Temple Mount terror attack, Netanyahu resists calls to change status quo. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fended off the calls with a blunt statement from his office, saying, “The status quo will be protected.”
Police now believe that the weapons used in Friday’s Temple Mount terror attack were hidden in the holy site days ahead of the attack. The police are investigating if the terrorists received any inside help, specifically from Waqf officials, who may have hidden the weapons, two Carl Gustav machine guns, a pistol and knives.
Israel reopened an ultra-sensitive holy site on Sunday, closed after an attack that killed two policemen, but Muslim worshippers were refusing to enter due to new security measures including metal detectors and cameras. “We reject the changes imposed by the Israeli government,” Sheikh Omar Kiswani, Al Aqsa director, told reporters outside. “We will not enter through these metal detectors.”
Hundreds gathered in an Umm el-Fahm cemetery on Sunday evening as the three terrorists responsible for Friday’s deadly terror attack near the Temple Mount were buried. The three terrorists, all of whom were residents of Umm el-Fahm, were praised at a special memorial ceremony held at the local mosque they attended. "All we know about them is that they served the religion of Allah faithfully,” the preacher said. "...The Prophet taught us that one who goes out to worship Allah and is killed is considered a martyr.” “Our heads are lifted up by the fighting of young Palestinians who are still fighting in the name of the people.”
FOOD for THOUGHT by Steven Shamrak

For quite a while the Western governments have been vigorously opposing people’s negative attitude to Islamic-Terrorism. They had even invented new term - Islamophobia! At the same time, there are no real efforts to fight new wave of anti-Semitism, ‘inspired’ by the new arrivals. Muslim anti-Semites found fertile ground among traditional Jew-haters!

Three Israeli Arab terrorists killed two police officers on Friday morning in a terrorist shooting attack on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The terrorists walked from INSIDE the Temple Mount to Lion's Gate after prayers and walked towards the Old City's Lions Gate, seeing the police officers the terrorists fired, and then ran back towards the mosques on the Temple Mount. Terrorists were all Israeli citizens. (Nothing has changed! Arab League scolds Israel for Temple Mt. closure, failing to mention the attack. The PA incites terrorism against Israel/Jews and Arabs everywhere are happy about it!)

Settlements are no Longer the Obsession!

Since Donald Trump moved into the White House, the international community’s single-issue hyper-focus on Israeli settlements would seem to have been consigned to a past era. Even the Europeans, who haven’t substantially changed their policies regarding settlements, have toned down their criticism. Obama bet everything on Israel ceasing settlement expansion, but the current White House has made it just one of many issues, leaving Ramallah no choice but to acquiesce.
The widow of deceased Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat said that it is time for the region’s Arabs to recognize the state of Israel. “We need to clearly express the recognition of Israel; no one can doubt its existence.” However, she did not say whether she believed Israel has a right to exist only that it does exist. (Wow! Have they stopped paying her a multi-million dollar pension?)
Personal Popularity First
Labor party's popularity soars in first polls after Avi Gabbay wins Labor party leadership, overtakes Yesh Atid. Advantage that Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party has enjoyed over the Labor Party under the leadership of Yitzhak Herzog has disappeared, and that the battle for the leadership of Israel's left-wing bloc is wide open once again. The centrist Kulanu party, headed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, has also lost ground since to Labor since Gabbay's victory. (Avi Gabbay, the man who came out of nowhere‏, joined Labor about six months ago. There are too many political parties in Israel, driven mainly by personal ego and corruption, not policies! Many of them share similar platforms, but would not join together!) 
According to the survey, 65 percent believe anti-Jewish hatred is a serious problem, with 24% saying it’s “very serious”, while 32% attribute it to anti-Jewish hatred. The Jewish civil rights group’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents found 541 reported anti-Semitic incidents in the first four months of the current year, including 380 episodes of harassment, 161 bomb threats to Jewish institutions and 155 cases of anti-Jewish vandalism.
Quote of the Week:
“While I agree with you (Steven) that Netanyahu must be replaced, I am sorry to say that there is no one in the Likud that would do what must be done to put Israel back on the right track and off the Oslo suicide plan.  Erdan, Elkin, Katz and Levin are all complicit with what Netanyahu is doing.  They are more interested in keeping their jobs than doing what is right. It is not just an alternative to Netanyahu that is needed, but an alternative to the whole leftist (modern anti-Zionist) ideology that has been running Israel for decades, no matter who is in power in the Knesset.  The Likud continues to implement the policies of the left because they do not have an alternative...” - Jeffrey Cohen, reader’s reply – Israel has leadership problem and lack of coherent national plan of freeing Jewish land from occupation by enemies. Recycling the old unworkable ideas of so-called peace initiatives, imposed on Israel by enemies and ‘friends’, will not bring peace but terror and the loss of Jewish lives!
Israel’s Security Cabinet has stalled a decision on whether or not to transfer a small portion of land from Area C in western Samaria! Israel’s Security Cabinet met to debate and vote on what’s being called the “Qalqilya Plan”; a series of land transfers from Area C (under full Israeli control) in Judea and Samaria to PA cities, facilitating the expansion of those cities. The plan, which is being pushed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) would also permit the construction of some 14,000 housing units in Qalqilya, roughly doubling the size of the PA-controlled city. It was decided to temporarily freeze the proposal. 
The plan as a “reward for terror”! Qalqilya sits next to a major Israeli highway at the country’s narrowest point, just 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the Mediterranean Sea. 
Jewish Israelis in Judea and Samaria wonder why their own communities are in deep freeze, while Israel is discussing plans to build thousands of housing units in Qalqilya.
Following consultation with ministers, after the terrorist attack in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Office issued a statement confirming that the status quo (at the holy places) will be preserved.(How many traitors, like Liberman, in the government and for how long will Israel tolerate?)
According to Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Cabinet Member Ze'ev Elkin, the plan will not be approved, not only because it does not have a majority in the cabinet, but because of the simple fact that it makes no sense to allow the Hamas-controlled city to control Route 6 and cities in the Sharon region.

So Now American Zionists Want to Boycott Israel

By Alan M. Dershowitz

(Ed. note: "Zionists"? Maybe "so-called Zionists" is more appropriate. Well, it's Dersh so you get the idea and while he doesn't always, here it's an "A" for effort.)
  • "We shall . . . prevent any theocratic tendencies from coming to the fore on the part of our priesthood. We shall keep our priests [by which is meant Rabbis] within the confines of heir temples." – Theodor Herzl, Der Judenstaat
  • Tough love may be an appropriate response in family matters, but boycotting a troubled nation which has become a pariah among the hard-left is not the appropriate response to the Israeli government's recent decisions regarding religion. The answer is not disengagement, but rather greater engagement....
  • To do otherwise is to engage in a form of BDS – the tactic currently employed by Israel's enemies to delegitimate the Nation state of the Jewish people. Supporters of BDS will point to these benign boycotts as a way of justifying their malignant ones.... The role of American Jews is limited to persuasion, not coercion.
Western Wall In Israel. (Photo from PublicDomainPictures.net)
Several prominent American Zionists – including long-time supporters of Israel – are so outraged at the Israeli government's recent decision regarding the Western Wall and non-orthodox conversion, that they are urging American Jews to reduce or even eliminate their support for Israel. According to an article by Elliot Abrams in Mosaic, Ike Fisher a prominent member of the AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] board, threatened to "suspend" all further financial support for Israel. Daniel Gordis, a leading voice for Conservative Judaism, urged American Jews to cancel their El Al tickets and fly Delta or United. He also proposed "withholding donations to Israeli hospitals, so that 'They start running out of money' and 'begin to falter.'" This sort of emotional response is reminiscent of the temper tantrum outgoing President Barak Obama engaged in when he refused to veto the UN's recent anti-Israel resolution.

UNESCO Supports Terrorism

By Bassam Tawil

  • This is the same Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership that purports to be working toward achieving peace and coexistence with Israel. In the upside-down world of Palestinian denial, such repudiation of the truth is par for the course: the "culture of peace" lie that Abbas fed to President Donald Trump several weeks ago has about as much truth value as this newest deadly fabrication.
  • As of now, Palestinians also have an international agency (UNESCO) to support their anti-Israel narrative and rhetoric. The UNESCO resolutions are being interpreted by many Palestinians as proof that Israel has no right to exist. For many Palestinians, the resolutions are a green light to pursue their "armed struggle" to "liberate Palestine, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river."
  • The latest UNESCO resolutions are a catalyst for Palestinian terrorism against Israelis. Yet they are more than that: they also make the prospect of peace even more distant.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs of Hebron. (Image source: Zairon/Wikimedia Commons)
What do Hamas and UNESCO have in common?
Both believe that Jews have no historical, religious or emotional attachment to the Holy Land.
The recent UNESCO resolutions concerning Jerusalem and Hebron are precisely what terror groups that deny Israel's right to exist, such as Hamas, have long been hoping to hear from the international community.
The first resolution denies that Israel is the sovereign power over Jerusalem, including the Western Wall, while the second one designates Hebron and the Jewish Tomb of the Patriarchs as an "Endangered Palestinian World Heritage Site."
The two UNESCO resolutions, in fact, back the position of Hamas and other Palestinians -- namely that Israel has no right to exist. These decisions provide Hamas and other terror groups with ammunition with which to destroy Israel, killing as many Jews as possible in the process.

Who Are We to Tell Religious Jews What to Do at the Western Wall?

By Irit Linur, Ha'aretz

After all, the Orthodox made the Western Wall a holy site, while we secular Jews banished God from our lives.

(Ed. note: Very impressive for a Ha'aretz columnist. Even more impressive that Ha'aretz printed it)

Like many secular Jews, I am not particularly interested in the Kotel. It has no shade or Zara outlet. But, I hopped over there this week for a surprise visit, and two things caught my eye. First, there was the mixed gender prayer space. It is beautiful, built on an impressive archaeological site below Robinson’s Arch. Unlike the Western Wall plaza, it is shaded, and you can enter it without a security check.

The second impression was the difference in the number of visitors to the two plazas. There were thousands of people in the Western Wall plaza on a regular weekday. There was just a cat in the mixed section. In light of the outcry that arose around the nixing of the Kotel agreement one would have expected to see thousands of Women of the Wall, imbued with religious spirit, alongside bar mitzva ceremonies in which grandma need not stand on a chair to get a peek at the men’s section. However, the mixed section was practically abandoned.

A few meters away, the Western Wall is teeming with Jewish life, despite the long – and gender-segregated – security inspection line. It is full of life because for hundreds of years its natural guardians – the Orthodox – preserved its holiness. They engage in it, with texts that are hundreds or thousands of years old, and a rabbinic hierarchy, and tradition and strict rules that if they change at all, change s-l-o-w-l-y. And they are engaged in the daily observance of commandments and prohibitions that not everyone can rationally explain, and some of them are unacceptable. And even those that are acceptable can be deceiving: Orthodox Jews’ strict observance of Shabbat does not stem from an adherence to socialism or primordial support for workers of the world but rather a godly commandment. Orthodox Jews avoid schnitzel with butter even though they know chickens do not produce milk. And the Kotel is most definitely holy because anyone who keeps chicken and milk separate is exactly the type to find holiness in stones.

The obsession with holiness is sometimes annoying, perhaps even arrogant, so particularly witty secular Jews can mockingly call God “an imaginary friend” or compare him to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But when faith in an imaginary friend begets the Bible, a people and a 2,000-year-old culture as well as a moral system that ignited Western culture, you can drop the smugness with which people brag about their atheist purity. And let’s admit the truth: Not keeping commandments is much easier than keeping them.

Some will say that even without commandments secular Jews are no less Jewish than religious ones, so they should be equal partners is determining the character of the Kotel. It is correct in principle, but there is meaning to keeping your religious traditions, or at least recognizing them, before pretending to make religious rulings. I, for example, am a typical product of state secular education. I was surprised to discover in my first year of university that the Rambam was a world-famous philosopher and not just another baba from the graves of righteous Jews. Thus, I still don’t feel ready to write a prayer equal to the Aleinu, or to prove that God is totally cool with driving on Shabbat and with a female rabbi. You have to wait 500 or 600, or even 2,000 years for that.

And if we insist on secularism as a value, it’s hard for me to understand the accompanying insistence on sitting on the tribunal, free of religion’s bonds, and shouting out directives to a Jew who fasted not only on Yom Kippur but also on… nu, remind me … oh, right, Gedalya, and furiously reads the entire Hagaddah every Passover seder, including the part after the meal. We are arguing with these people about Judaism, and what is the right Judaism, and how Judaism should be, while we are armed with ignorance that we acquired through state secular education, a very partial study of the Bible, “Two are holding a tallis” from seventh-grade Talmud class, and that’s it. We sometimes seem like six-year-old children who are trying to join a philosophy discussion without knowing who Plato is.

You don’t have to be religious to recognize the religious contribution to turning the Kotel into much more than an archaeological site. Religious Jews made the Kotel holy long before we extended Israeli sovereignty over it, including periods in which praying there was dangerous. They prayed without a partition between men and women when the Ottoman regime forbade Jewish worship. Religious Jews adhered to their imaginary friend, whom we banished from our secular lives. We rejected large parts of the cultural enterprise that Judaism fostered, and we even defended our children from it. We complained about religious influence in the education system, instead of complaining that they didn’t teach us how a siddur looks.

Excuse me, but I don’t believe a sudden outburst of holy lust has overcome us. It looks to me like the disappointment of those who fully believed you could have a Jewish state without Judaism, and perhaps an overreaction by those whose enlightened sensitivities are repulsed by any level of religious feeling.

The fight over the Kotel isn’t really about Reform Jews. They are a marginal group in Israel. They may be a – not especially effective – barrier against mass assimilation. However, Israel is the only place in the world in which you can be a Jew and, without fearing for the Judaism of your grandchildren, cast off the burden of commandments and still feel as Jewish as Moses. None of this could exist without religious Jews. As a secular person, I believe that if we run the Kotel according to secular standards, it will look less like a holy site and more like a parking lot. Fortunately, the Orthodox will keep praying there even then.

Like many secular Jews, I am not particularly interested in the Kotel. It has no shade or Zara outlet. But, I hopped over there this week for a surprise visit, and two things caught my eye. First, there was the mixed gender prayer space. It is beautiful, built on an impressive archaeological site below Robinson’s Arch. Unlike the Western Wall plaza, it is shaded, and you can enter it without a security check.

The second impression was the difference in the number of visitors to the two plazas. There were thousands of people in the Western Wall plaza on a regular weekday. There was just a cat in the mixed section. In light of the outcry that arose around the nixing of the Kotel agreement one would have expected to see thousands of Women of the Wall, imbued with religious spirit, alongside bar mitzva ceremonies in which grandma need not stand on a chair to get a peek at the men’s section. However, the mixed section was practically abandoned.

A few meters away, the Western Wall is teeming with Jewish life, despite the long – and gender-segregated – security inspection line. It is full of life because for hundreds of years its natural guardians – the Orthodox – preserved its holiness. They engage in it, with texts that are hundreds or thousands of years old, and a rabbinic hierarchy, and tradition and strict rules that if they change at all, change s-l-o-w-l-y. And they are engaged in the daily observance of commandments and prohibitions that not everyone can rationally explain, and some of them are unacceptable. And even those that are acceptable can be deceiving: Orthodox Jews’ strict observance of Shabbat does not stem from an adherence to socialism or primordial support for workers of the world but rather a godly commandment. Orthodox Jews avoid schnitzel with butter even though they know chickens do not produce milk. And the Kotel is most definitely holy because anyone who keeps chicken and milk separate is exactly the type to find holiness in stones.

The obsession with holiness is sometimes annoying, perhaps even arrogant, so particularly witty secular Jews can mockingly call God “an imaginary friend” or compare him to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But when faith in an imaginary friend begets the Bible, a people and a 2,000-year-old culture as well as a moral system that ignited Western culture, you can drop the smugness with which people brag about their atheist purity. And let’s admit the truth: Not keeping commandments is much easier than keeping them.

Some will say that even without commandments secular Jews are no less Jewish than religious ones, so they should be equal partners is determining the character of the Kotel. It is correct in principle, but there is meaning to keeping your religious traditions, or at least recognizing them, before pretending to make religious rulings. I, for example, am a typical product of state secular education. I was surprised to discover in my first year of university that the Rambam was a world-famous philosopher and not just another baba from the graves of righteous Jews. Thus, I still don’t feel ready to write a prayer equal to the Aleinu, or to prove that God is totally cool with driving on Shabbat and with a female rabbi. You have to wait 500 or 600, or even 2,000 years for that.

And if we insist on secularism as a value, it’s hard for me to understand the accompanying insistence on sitting on the tribunal, free of religion’s bonds, and shouting out directives to a Jew who fasted not only on Yom Kippur but also on… nu, remind me … oh, right, Gedalya, and furiously reads the entire Hagaddah every Passover seder, including the part after the meal. We are arguing with these people about Judaism, and what is the right Judaism, and how Judaism should be, while we are armed with ignorance that we acquired through state secular education, a very partial study of the Bible, “Two are holding a tallis” from seventh-grade Talmud class, and that’s it. We sometimes seem like six-year-old children who are trying to join a philosophy discussion without knowing who Plato is.

You don’t have to be religious to recognize the religious contribution to turning the Kotel into much more than an archaeological site. Religious Jews made the Kotel holy long before we extended Israeli sovereignty over it, including periods in which praying there was dangerous. They prayed without a partition between men and women when the Ottoman regime forbade Jewish worship. Religious Jews adhered to their imaginary friend, whom we banished from our secular lives. We rejected large parts of the cultural enterprise that Judaism fostered, and we even defended our children from it. We complained about religious influence in the education system, instead of complaining that they didn’t teach us how a siddur looks.

Excuse me, but I don’t believe a sudden outburst of holy lust has overcome us. It looks to me like the disappointment of those who fully believed you could have a Jewish state without Judaism, and perhaps an overreaction by those whose enlightened sensitivities are repulsed by any level of religious feeling.

The fight over the Kotel isn’t really about Reform Jews. They are a marginal group in Israel. They may be a – not especially effective – barrier against mass assimilation. However, Israel is the only place in the world in which you can be a Jew and, without fearing for the Judaism of your grandchildren, cast off the burden of commandments and still feel as Jewish as Moses. None of this could exist without religious Jews. As a secular person, I believe that if we run the Kotel according to secular standards, it will look less like a holy site and more like a parking lot. Fortunately, the Orthodox will keep praying there even then.

Turkey: Erdogan's Obsession to Take Jerusalem

By Burak Bekdil

  • Simply put, Jerusalem's Judaic history dates back to thousands of years before the birth of Islam, only in the seventh century CE.
  • As an American friend delicately asked: "Isn't Turkey supposed to be investing millions to help rebuild Gaza?"
  • Not, it seems, when Islamist ideology is involved.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan giving a speech in Ankara on April 17, 2017. (Image source: Getty Images)
Less than a year ago, Turkey and Israel agreed to end their six-year-long diplomatic stand-off and officially "normalized" their relations. They appointed ambassadors Kemal Okem to Israel and Eitan Na'eh to Turkey, two prominent career diplomats, who, since then, have been struggling actually to normalize formally normalized ties. As some observers, including your humble correspondent, cautioned in 2016:
"Erdogan had pragmatically agreed to shake hands with Israel, but his ideological hostility to the Jewish state and his ideological love affair with Hamas have not disappeared; so the Turkish-Israeli 'peace' would not be easy to sustain".

Obstacles to peace: a politically-incorrect diagnosis

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

Political-correctness suggests that the resolution of the Palestinian issue is predicated upon a dramatic Israeli land-concession and the establishment of a Palestinian state: the two state solution.

Moreover, political-correctness has subordinated Middle East reality and long term national security to the achievement of the holy grail of peaceful-coexistence between Jews and Arabs west of the Jordan River. In the process, the “holy grailers” have oversimplified the highly-complex, unpredictable, violent, intolerant, fragmented Middle East. This is the same school of thought, which applauded the 1993 (Oslo Accord) and 2005 (uprooting all Jews from Gaza) sweeping Israeli concessions – which, in fact, escalated terror, war and hate education – and misperceived the Arab Tsunami, in 2011, as an “Arab Spring,” the “Youth Revolution” and the “transition towards democracy.”

Political-correctness has preferred talk and assessment-based subjective “hope” over centuries-old, well-documented, objective walk-based realism.

While political-correctness has failed to advance peaceful-coexistence, it has forced the Arabs to outflank Western pressure (on Israel) from the maximalist side, radicalizing their demands, and further intensifying the obstacles to peace.

Political-correctness resembles a surgeon, who focuses on the spot of the surgery, ignoring the complex medical history of the entire body and its bearing upon the surgery.

For instance, the sustained Arab war against the Jewish State has taken place in the Middle East, which has featured a systematic, regional state-of-war, terrorism, subversion, provisional one-bullet-regimes, tenuous policies and agreements, short-lived ceasefires and the lack of civil liberties since the seventh century appearance of Islam. These have been almost entirely intra-Islamic, intra-Arab wars, reflecting the (so far) unbridgeable ethnic, tribal, cultural, religious, historical, ideological battles, which has dominated the region, totally unrelated to Israel.

The Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue are not “the Middle East conflict” or the top priorities for Arab policy-makers, irrespective of the Arab talk, which has, historically, deviated from the Arab walk.

Contrary to political-correctness, the Palestinian issue has never been the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a crown-jewel of Arab policy-makers, nor a core-cause of regional turbulence; but for Arab talk, unsubstantiated by Arab walk.

Political-correctness has assumed that “everyone wishes peace, prosperity and civil liberties,” ignoring the fact that the dictatorial Arab regimes have systematically denied their people such prospects. While most Arabs may hope for regional peace, and are not preoccupied with Israel, the concept of the majority-rule is yet to assert itself in Middle East political reality.

Political-correctness has considered Islam to be another religion of peace, overlooking its fundamental tenets. For example, the constant battle between the Abode of Islam and the eventual subservience of the Abode of the “Infidel”; the determination to spread Islam, preferably peacefully, but via war if necessary; the duty to dedicate one’s life to Jihad (Holy War) on behalf of Islam; the option to conclude provisional agreements - and to employ double-speak (Taqiyya), when negotiating - with the infidel; etc.

Arab attitudes toward Israel derive from the fourteen-century-old Islamic intolerance of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and other “infidels,” who claim sovereignty in “the abode of Islam.” The key issue has never been the size – but the existence - of the “infidel” Jewish State on land, which is, supposedly, divinely-ordained to be ruled by “believers.”

Political-correctness has ignored, or down-played, another chief-obstacle to peace: the Palestinian track record from the wave of terrorism of the 1920s, through their alliance with Nazi Germany, the Soviet Bloc, Iran’s Ayatollahs, Saddam Hussein, North Korea and Venezuela, their training of international terrorists in Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen, and their current hate-education, incitement and terrorism. Such a track record attests to the anti-US impact of the proposed Palestinian state.

Would it be reasonable to assume that Israel’s withdrawal from the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria (which would drastically erode its posture of deterrence, unlike Israel’s substantial land concession to Egypt – the Sinai Peninsula) would cause the Arabs to grant to “the infidel Jewish State” peaceful-coexistence, which they have denied fellow “believers” since the seventh century?!

Would it be reasonable to assume that the Arab Middle East, which has been merciless towards weak, vulnerable fellow-Arabs, would display compassion towards a highly vulnerable “infidel” Jewish State, if it is reduced to a 9-15 mile-wide sliver along the Mediterranean, over-towered by a mountainous Palestinian state?!

The unfathomed gap between Middle East reality and the two-state-solution was demonstrated in 1993 when Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, promoted the two-state-solution and his vision of peace in “The New Middle East” (Henry Holt publishing). Attempting to rationalize Israel’s dramatic concession of its most strategic mountain ridge to the PLO, Peres asserted: “Arafat is a national symbol, a legend in his own time (p. 17)…. The international political setting is no longer conducive to war (p. 80)…. We must focus on this new Middle East reality… wars that will never be fought again (p. 85)…. We must strive for fewer weapons and more faith…. You could almost hear the heavy tread of boots leaving the stage…. You could have listened to the gentle tiptoeing of new steps making a debut in the awaiting world of peace (p.196)….”

In 1994, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Arafat, Peres and Rabin “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.” It was praised by the political, academic and media establishments, which chose to ignore Arafat’s track record, underlined by his 1959 and 1964 founding of Fatah and the PLO terror organizations, calling for “the liberation of Palestine” eight years and three years before the 1967 War, respectively.

In other words, the Palestinian focus has been the de-legitimization and destruction of the pre-1967 Israel, as highlighted by the 2017 Palestinian Authority K-12 school curriculum (established in 1993 by Mahmoud Abbas), Palestinian media and Fridaysermons in Palestinian mosques.

The “two-state-solution” gospel is a miniaturized replica of the 1938 “hope”-driven Anglo-German “peace-for-our-time” initiative of the British Prime Minister Chamberlain, who sacrificed national security clarity on the altar of a peaceful holy grail. He appeased a rogue regime, yielded the most strategic Czechoslovakian land to Germany, reflected feebleness and whetted the aggressive appetite of Hitler; thus producing a robust tailwind for the Second World War.

Will contemporary policy-makers avoid – or repeat – severe blunders?

Rav Kook on Parashat Matot: Keeping Vows


One who makes a vow should take care to fulfill it:

“If a man makes a vow to God, or makes an oath to prohibit [something] to himself, he must not break his word. He should do all that he expressed verbally.” (Num. 30:3)

Oaths and vows are a natural human response in times of intense emotions. Particularly when we sense danger or trouble, we spontaneously begin to bargain with God. We pledge to improve ourselves or repay some undeserved kindness. Why do people act this way?

The Intellect and the Emotions
Two major facets of the soul are the intellect and the emotions. Fortunate is the individual who has succeeded in refining both intellectual and emotional aspects, so that they work together and complement each other.

Torah study and mitzvot help us grow in both of these areas. Some mitzvot are primarily geared towards developing the intellect. They guide us towards an accurate outlook on the world, and help us focus our powers of analysis and introspection. Other mitzvot are more related to our emotional lives. They guard and direct the emotions, refining them so that they will harmonize with the rational intellect.

Where do vows and oaths fit in? They are associated with the realm of emotions. Vows are usually the result of an outburst of feelings - an overpowering sense of holiness, awe, fear, or gratitude - that fill one’s heart and inspire one to make a vow. The Torah admonishes us to be careful to fulfill our pledges. We need to recognize the value of these holy feelings. One who belittles and disregards his vows is in fact rejecting the great benefit of this natural asset, for vows can direct us to live an emotionally refined life that complements our intellectual attainments.

Keeping One’s Wife
Rabbi Natan, the second-century scholar, made a statement that is difficult to understand: “A man loses his wife as punishment for breaking vows” (Shabbat 32b). What is the connection between keeping one’s vows and keeping one’s wife?

The principal differences in the psychological makeup of men and women are rooted in the spheres of intellect and emotion. Women excel in emotional intelligence. They feel more acutely the good and the evil in moral choices, the true and the false in practical studies, the beautiful and the ugly in lifestyles.

Men, on the other hand, are more focused on their intellectual faculties. For them, emotions take on a supporting role.

A woman of valor is called “her husband’s crown” (Proverbs 12:4). Her talents complement that which is lacking in her husband, namely the emotional component. His powers of introspection are bolstered and sustained by her heightened sense of good and evil, truth and falsehood.

One who disparages the importance of vows, and their usefulness in refining the emotions, has also lost sight of the sublime value provided by a virtuous woman when her talents are properly appreciated. One who disregards his oaths undermines the significance of emotions in life and spiritual growth. Such a person, Rabbi Natan taught, has ‘lost’ his wife and her unique contribution. His path in life, both spiritual and material, is limited, for only a woman of valor “does him good and not evil all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:12).

(Gold from the Land of Israel (now available in paperback), pp. 280-281. Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. III, p. 176)

To Speak or Not to Speak


By HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

Dedicated to the memory of R. Avraham Ben David


Not Just Anyone
Parshat Matot opens with the laws of vows and oaths. In the midrash, our Sages (of Blessed Memory) include a lengthy discussion regarding such declarations: "'And Moshe spoke to the tribal heads, saying: One who takes a vow to God’. Elsewhere it is written, ‘You swore, says Hashem, in truth, justice and righteousness.’ The Holy One, Blessed be he said to Israel: ‘Do not think that you have been permitted to swear in My name even truthfully, unless you have all of the following qualities: 1) ‘You should fear the Lord your God.’ You must behave similar to those who are known as the ‘fearers of God,’ - Avraham, Job and Yosef..’ 2) And you should serve Him’ - you should make yourself available to engage in Torah and the performance of mitzvot; 3) 'And you shall cleave to Him’. Can a person truly cleave to the Divine Presence? Does it not already say, ‘The Lord Your God is an all-consuming fire?’ Rather, the meaning of this verse is that one must marry off his daughter to a Torah scholar who learns Chumash (Bible), Mishna, and one should engage in business deals to financially benefit the Torah scholar. This is what the Torah is referring to by the commandment to ‘Cleave to Him.’ If you have all of these personal attributes, then you are permitted to swear, and if not, you are forbidden to do so." (Bamidbar Rabba 22).

With Complete Faith
A person’s ability to have his words virtually create "kedusha", or holiness, to link his words to Heaven, is contingent on his complete faith that he has the ability to fulfill those words. This kind of trust and faith exists only in a person who has successfully cleaved to God, in a person who is totally at one with God and who possesses the fear of Heaven. Such a person has complete faith that he can and will fulfill his words; he does not risk offending "Shem Shamayim" - "Heaven's name." It follows that one who is not on this level is forbidden to swear. His oath is liable to be destructive - as elucidated in the midrash. It recounts how King Yannai, who ruled over two thousand cities, all of which were destroyed as a result of true oaths . In the end, there was no affront to the name of Heaven. Yannai stood by his every word, and even so, the oaths brought with them a certain degree of danger of the desecration of God’s name. There was no certainty that the words of King Yannai would be fulfilled. As a result, the cities over which he ruled were destroyed.

Man's Creative Energies
We should stress, however, that our sages did not have a completely negative attitude towards oaths: "And you should take an oath, says God." The Holy One, Blessed be He is interested in having a Jewish person attain the level of perfection that will enable him to sanctify his speech and to direct his words towards Heaven.

In the parsha (portion) dealing with oaths, the Torah introduces the concept of man being able to infuse his reality with holiness through the power of speech. Such a power stems from the principle elucidated in Tehilim (Psalms): "By the word of God were the Heavens fashioned." This same power, of shaping reality through speech, characterizes the Children of Israel, whose power also lies in speech. Our forefather Yitzchak recognized this quality prior to issuing the blessing to Ya'akov: Hearing Ya'akov speak, Yitzchak exclaimed:"The voice is the voice of Ya’akov"...

In fact, according to Jewish sources, the entire world is sustained by the merit of the Torah learning, by prayer uttered by the Jewish people, and by virtue of the breath of young children learning Torah in their rabbi’s classroom. (Talmud, Shabbat 119b)

The parsha of nedarim (vows) teaches us the power of speech, that one’s words are able to create realities. With our words, we can transform a mundane head of cattle into a "korban" or holy sacrifice. According to Maimonedes, if someone were to come thereafter and affix this animal to a plough along with an animal that is not in the category of "hekdesh" (Temple property) - he would be transgressing the prohibition of "Kila’im" (forbidden combinations) - having bound a non-Hekdesh animal with one dedicated to Hekdesh).

Perception Deceptive
Despite the fact that our words can create realities, these changes are not always perceptible. Nevertheless, we must not say that no change has been effected - simply because we cannot appreciate it with our senses! Science has revealed many new realities and facts, forces that have a tremendous impact on our world, phenomena that simply cannot be "absorbed" by our five senses. In fact, It often the most impressive, powerful forces that cannot be absorbed by the senses because of the limitations of the latter.

Our sages maintain that evil gossip is equivalent, on its own, to the three cardinal sins of murder, idolatry and sexual immorality. (Talmud, Arachin 15b) The reason for this is that speech has a real, substantive impact on the world. Evil talk brings about destruction in the world, just as do the three cardinal sins. From the parsha of vows we learn - from one perspective - the need to refrain from forbidden talk; even though we don’t sense it, it has the potential to bring great harm to the world. From another perspective, we learn about the power of holy speech, that words that have the ability to positively affect the world, to fill it with blessing.