Thursday, August 31, 2006

Lava of Love for Eretz Yisrael

Lava of Love for Eretz Yisrael

by David Wilder

The Jewish Community of Hebron

August 31, 2006


A few days my wife and I, together with our two youngest children, (aged 11 and 15) took a break from Hebron city life and drove up north. All the way up north. To Kiryat Shemona.


Actually, we had been planning on going north at the beginning of August. However, at that time, Nasrallah, Olmert and G-d had other plans for that part of the country. So we had to wait.


Life in Kiryat Shemona is, at least for tourists like us, back to normal. People moving around, cars, shopping, restaurants, etc. On the other hand, it was difficult to escape an intuitive impression that life was, very much, not really back to normal. It takes a little time to readjust after having had missiles being shot into your homes. In Hebron we had some experience with such events. True, we didn't have rockets being shot at us, but two years of bullets isn't a bad second.


Sunday night we had dinner with old friends. It was a nice evening of 'catch-up." Monday morning we went 'kayaking' – that is, river rafting, down the Hatzbani river. If you've already done it, obviously you're having a difficult time waiting for a repeat performance. If you've never done it, you don't know what you're missing.


Gliding down the river in a rubber boat, or kayak, soaking in the scenery, heating up under the hot sun and then cooling off in the refreshing water, playing 'splash games' with the kids and colliding with other water-travelers; it's two hours of totally losing yourself, forgetting the real world, simply drifting, mind and body alike.


Unfortunately, the two hour water venture finishes much too soon. As you disembark you feel like you could do it again and again and again. However…


Reality quickly reminds you that the Garden of Eden is still something of a fantasy.


Leaving the Hatzbani, we looked for something else to do before leaving the area. We sighted signs to Tel Chai and decided to make the short ride there.


Tel Chai is located on the outskirts of Kiryat Shemona, sort of between the roads leading to Misgav Am and Metulla. It became famous during the skirmishes between the French and the Arabs during World War One. The Arabs, thinking that the Jews were assisting the French, attacked them and the small villages they had founded along the Israel-Lebanon border. One of these outposts was called Tel Chai.

At the end of 1919, a former Russian war hero named Joseph Trumpeldor was asked to take command and find a way to protect the few isolated settlements and their meager population. It was an almost hopeless task.


Arguments raged amongst the Jewish leadership of pre-State Israel. Interestingly, according to the movie shown at the site, David ben Gurion favored sending reinforcements, saying that Jews must be protected wherever they are. On the other hand, Zeev Jabotinsky preferred to evacuate the civilians due to the excessive danger.


On March 1, 1920 – the 11th of Adar, six Jews were killed at Tel Chai, including the one-armed Trumpeldor. His famous last words, heard by three people were, "It's nothing, it's good to die for the sake of our homeland." The outpost was burned to the ground and evacuated. A year later, Jews returned to the area and reestablished a Jewish presence in the north of Eretz Yisrael.


Trumpeldor and his fallen friends were buried on the outskirts of one of these communities, Kfar Giladi, and a huge stone lion was place above their common grave, called 'the roaring lion.'


After viewing the movie, we took a short ride to the cemetery, to see the lion. It really is quite impressive. However the lasting impression wasn't formed from the lion. It came from the blackened areas, surrounding the cemetery. Black, burnt, from the katusha rockets recently aimed at our homeland by our enemies, from only a few kilometers away. It left a very empty feeling in my stomach. On the one hand, such courage, such heroism, and on the other hand, a big question mark, where has it all gone?


From Tel Chai-Kiryat Shemona we drove a few hours south, reaching Zichron Ya'akov. A tourist town, not far from the Mediterranean, Zichron Ya'akov sports a seemingly unending amount of coffee shops and restaurants. Being that there's a limit how many breakfasts you can eat, we wandered the streets and happened upon another historic site – the Aaronson home. We bought tickets and went inside.


In Israel, the Aaronson family, Sarah Aaronson, Aharon Aaronson, and their colleague, Avshalom Feinberg, are almost a synonym for dedication and heroism. Initiating one of the first Jewish spy rings in Israel in 2,000 years, called "Nili" – (Netzach Yisrael Lo Yishaker – the eternity of Israel will not be silenced), the group assisted the British fighting against the Turks and the Ottoman Empire during World War One. They had one goal: to oust the Turkish invader and prepare conditions for the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael.


Feinberg was killed by Bedouins in the Sinai, when trying to make contact with the British. Twenty-seven year old Sarah, after having been captured and tortured by the Turks, committed suicide so as not to reveal secrets she knew about the organization and fellow members. Others were captured and hanged.


In the Aaronson house, seeing the bathroom where Sarah shot herself to protect others, you get goose pimples, you can experience the electricity of moments that occurred almost 90 years ago.


And again, that sensation, the same one felt at Tel Chai. On the one hand, such unbelievable heroism, and on the other, where has it all gone? The Aaronson's and their compatriots never had a chance, and more than likely, they knew it. Who did they have behind them? There was no Jewish army, no state, virtually nothing. We are talking about Eretz Yisrael of 1915-1916-1917. (Sarah died the day after Succot, in 1917.)


Despite their miniscule chances of success, they refused to despair. A small group of dedicated Jews, against the Ottoman empire. One of those captured and hung in Damascus, Yosef Lishanski, moments before his death, declared: "We are not traitors, we did not betray our homeland, for before their can be treachery, there must first be love. We never loved the [Ottoman] homeland; we hated it the supreme hate...those of us, members of Nili, headed by the 'great Jew' (Aharon Aaronson), have dug you a huge grave, disgraced Ottomans...For as you are busy hanging us, the great British army is entering our holy city, Jerusalem and your armies are fleeing from the city without a fight."

Such dedication, such courage, such heroism, - there aren't enough adjectives in the English language to describe these people, the Trumpeldors, the Aarnonsons and Feinbergs, and others like them, who laid down their lives for one thing and one thing alone: for Eretz Yisrael.


And today I can only ask: where has it all gone? Has that same love of the land that they died for disappeared?


Despite the superficial illusions, I think not. The love is still there. But it has been buried, deep inside our souls. It no longer glows and shines as it did for Sarah Aaronson. The brainwashing of 'reality,' the indoctrination of 'a palestinian homeland,' the propaganda of self-hate, the lies of wolves in sheep's clothing, whose sole desire is the eradication of the State of Israel, all have obscured love of the homeland. Trumpeldor's and Aaronson's love of Eretz Yisrael wasn't contrived, it was natural, as natural as eating, sleeping and breathing. And dying for what you believe in.


Nature isn't easily changed. We need only dig a little, and when we hit it, it will spout forth as a volcano spews lava – the lava of love for our land, for all our land, for Eretz Yisrael.


That's the lesson of this year's vacation.


With blessings from Hebron.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Elul: Unity and Repentance


This piece by Rav Kook z"ya is, I feel, most important for every single one of us - not just especially at this time of year, but even more so specifically at this point in our history, when old, archaic concepts, bubbles and sectarian divisions that should have been left behind in the galut still sadly remain with us...

[Rav Kook wrote the following article in 1933 for the journal HaYasod.]

As we stand before the beginning of a new year, it is incumbent upon us to draw near to the path of teshuvah (repentance), which brings redemption and healing to the world.

The Jewish people have become divided into two camps, through the categorization of Jews as Charedi (religious) and Chofshi (secular). These are new terms, which were not used in the past. Of course, not everyone is identical, especially in spiritual matters; but there was never a specific term to describe each faction and group. In this respect, we can certainly say that previous generations were superior to ours.

Emphasizing this categorization obstructs the way towards improvement for both camps. One who feels that he belongs to the Charedi camp looks down upon the secular camp. If he thinks about teshuvah and improvement, he immediately casts his eyes in the direction of the Chofshi camp, devoid of Torah and mitzvot. He is confident that full repentance is required by the irreligious, not by him.

The secular Jew, on the other hand, is convinced that any notion of penitence is a Charedi concept, completely irrelevant to him.

It would be better if each person would concentrate on discerning his own defects, and judge others generously. It could very well be that others have treasure-troves of merits, hidden from sight. We must recognize that there exists in all of the camps a latent force leading towards goodness. Each camp has much to improve upon, and is capable of learning much from the light and goodness of the other camp.

Let us be known to each other by one name - "Klal Yisrael". And let our prayer be fulfilled:

"May they all become one group, to perform Your Will whole- heartedly" [from the High Holiday prayers].



[adapted from Mo'adei HaRe'iyah, p. 58]

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Israel's Terminal Illness

This piece was written by the Xtian-Arab journalist "Joseph Farah" for WorldNetDaily:


Israel's terminal illness

By Joseph Farah

We've all known brave soldiers who fought courageously in multiple conflicts only to succumb to lingering and debilitating illnesses years later.

Likewise, history tells us of nations that never lost a battle in combat only to die because they lost their sense of purpose, their will to survive.

I think that's what is happening in Israel today. I think the Jewish state is terminally ill.

Israel may have won three major wars in its 60-year history, but it will be lucky to survive another decade of morally bankrupt leadership.

It's not just former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who is comatose. It seems the whole current Israeli government is brain dead.

How else can one explain Israel's agreement to Lebanon cease-fire terms that amount to unconditional surrender?

I know few other commentators who have explained the development in these stark terms, but this is the reality of what Ehud Olmert's government has done. It represents, in my opinion, one of the biggest strategic blunders in the history of the country.

Let's review what Israel has done:

It launched a war on Iran-directed Hezbollah terrorists after they kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, killed eight others and rocketed northern Israel towns. From the beginning, Israel demanded the return of its troops and the disarming of Hezbollah terrorists.

What did Israel get in the cease-fire deal? No return of the kidnapped troops and Hezbollah terrorists remain under arms.

For the life of me, I don't understand why Israeli civilians are not massing in the streets of Jerusalem demanding the immediate resignation of Olmert and his Cabinet. The Israeli army is returning from Lebanon with its tail between its legs.

How can you ask soldiers to kill and die for a simple objective that is later abandoned without explanation or reason?

Does Olmert not understand what his surrender means? It means he has given aid and comfort to Israel's enemies. He has handed Hezbollah its biggest victory since former Prime Minister Ehud Barak unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon, handing the southern part of the country to Iran's proxy army and positioning it to claim it had defeated the Jewish state.

He has also proved to Israel's other terrorist enemies – those in Hamas and the Palestinian Authority – that rocket attacks, assassinations and kidnappings are winning tactics against the Jewish state. Prepare to see more of them under the terms of this "cease-fire."

He has demonstrated for the entire world that Israel has lost the kind of resolve it had in previous military campaigns. When the going gets tough, today's Jews evidently will just sue for peace.

Hezbollah has won. That's the unimaginable bottom line after this conflict. The terrorists have won – not in the battlefield, mind you. But they won before the war ever began because weak-kneed, cowardly, morally unfit leaders in Jerusalem would never permit Israel to win.

With Hezbollah's victory, Iran and Syria have been emboldened as well. This is bad news not just for Israel, but for the entire world.

If you think I overstate the case, ask yourself this fundamental question: Is Israel more secure after abandoning its conflict in Lebanon or less secure?

You know the answer. Everyone knows the answer.

Israel may have one of the greatest military machines in the world. It may have an intelligence apparatus that is the envy of superpowers. It may even have right on its side.

But Israel is being led by men unworthy of its history, unworthy of its sacrifices, unworthy of its hard-fought victories of the past and unworthy of God's sovereign promises to bless the Jewish state forever.

It's clear the only enemy that could ever destroy Israel is the kind of internal moral rot we are witnessing today in Jerusalem. Israel has just one shot at surviving its terminal illness – cutting out the cancer that is the Olmert government.

Justice and Morality - or Perversion?


BS"D

YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

PARSHAT SHOFTIM
2 Elul, 5766/25-26 August, 2006


"PLACE JUDGES AND OFFICERS FOR YOURSELVES IN ALL YOUR GATES"

The Midrash teaches us about the ant: "Go to the ant, lazy one. Study its ways and become wise. They have no offices, guards or rulers. The ant prepares its bread in the summer, stores its food during harvest."

What is meant by the phrase "study its ways and become wise"? Our Rabbis teach us to study its manners, for it flees from stealing. Rabbi Shimon in the Talmud relates that there was once an ant that dropped a kernel of wheat. All the other ants came and smelled the kernel, but none would take it. Then the ant that dropped the kernel came back and took it back. We can see the wisdom of the ant, that even though they have no offices or guards they will not steal from one another. Man, then, should appoint officers and guards in order not to steal.

One of the Talmudic commentaries (Chidushei Ha-Ran) questions the actions of the ant. It asks: Is there a greater thief than the ant? Whatever it takes, it takes from a field that did not belong to the ant! Sure, ants will not steal from one another, but all of their kernels are stolen! He answers that when there are no Torah values, a person can go through his whole life amassing money and thinking that he is morally a righteous person, and not realizing that in essence, he is really just a thief. For without Torah, the eternal yardstick, what is considered moral today may not be so tomorrow. And many people, in the name of justice and morality, may do many things that are really perverted.

Take the example of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah: Even though their societies were corrupt beyond repair and had to be destroyed, everything that they did was done by the letter of the law. All their actions were done with the approval of the high courts of Sodom.

And today, without the yardstick of Torah to govern us, without the officers and guardians, we are left with "Pucker Lips Ramon", a Justice minister no less, who tries to French-kiss his fellow worker even as he tells us all how innocent he is (right, as innocent as old "Zipper Bill Clinton"). Or maybe we can turn to bullish General Dan Halutz, who instead of fighting the war as it was supposed to be fought in Lebanon, he is busy being a day trader and teaching us the art of playing the market. Then there is always inspiration from our very own president, who will now probably be cast out of office for sexual harassment: Welcome to the club, Mr. President. Let us not forget, while we are at it, our past Minister of Justice Hanegbi, who in the name of morality will also go down the tubes, as he was indicted this past week. By now it should be clear for all to see that the corrupt government of Olmert should go home (or to jail).

Without Torah law and without having the right judges and safeguards, there can never be a moral ground. We are left being as the ant: raising our moral flags but in reality doing the most immoral acts possible.

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Restraining Evil Impulses



Psalm 4: Restraining Evil Impulses


Often we feel ourselves drawn by destructive or selfish impulses. How can we overcome these urges?

When King David called upon his enemies to repent, he advised them:


"Tremble and do not sin; speak in your hearts upon your bed, and be still forever." [Ps. 4:5]

According to 3rd century scholar Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish - himself a well-known penitent - this verse outlines a four- step program how to master the temptations of the "yeitzer hara" (evil inclination).


- First, "tremble and do not sin." Awaken your innate positive nature, your "yeitzer hatov", and use its power to counter any bad impulses.

- If this does not work, then "speak in your hearts" - engage in Torah study.

- If that is not enough, then say the Shema prayer, recited "on your bed" (before going to sleep).

- And if that does not vanquish the negative impulse, then "be still forever" - remind yourself of the day of death. [Berachot 5a]


These are four useful tools for overcoming evil urges and desires. But if the ultimate weapon in battling the "yeitzer hara" is to reflect on human mortality and the transient nature of life in this world, then why not use this method right from the start? Why wait before bringing out our most effective weapon?

1. Awaken the Inner Good

All of our characteristics, whether positive or negative, are meant to be used for the good. Even bad traits, such as jealousy, greed, and pride, have their place, and can be sublimated for good purposes. If we weaken these negative traits, they will not be available to help us attain positive goals. The ideal is that all of our energies be strong and healthy, with the negative traits firmly under the control of our positive side.

It is natural that negative traits are more readily aroused. Therefore, the first step in subduing them is to "awaken the good inclinations" - to bring our good traits to the fore, so that they will be in control and rule over the negative ones.

2. Engage in Torah

It is enough to awaken the soul's innate goodness if one has a healthy sense of morality. But those who have not adequately refined their character need to learn and absorb the knowledge of what is the right path. Therefore, Rabbi Shimon's second advice was "to engage in Torah study." He was not referring to the study of Torah in general - that is a mitzvah that obligates all. Rather, he meant the study of those specific aspects of Torah that one is lacking. By internalizing this knowledge, the penitent will then aspire for the good, and will be able to overcome any negative urges.

3. Inspire the Emotions

For some individuals, however, knowledge alone is insufficient to awaken their inner good. For these people, the soul has been so tarnished that the soul's emotional faculties need to be elevated. In order to uplift the emotions - which have a stronger impact on the soul than dry intellectual knowledge - the third method is to recite the Shema prayer.

The Shema is not simply a matter of intellectually recognizing God's oneness. Were that the case, it would be sufficient to recite it at infrequent intervals, perhaps once a year (like the mitzvah to remember the evil of Amalek). The fact that we are commanded to recite the Shema twice a day indicates that this mitzvah relates to our faculties of emotion. The Shema is meant to instill feelings of love and closeness to God; therefore it is recited every morning and evening. This truth must be constantly confirmed and renewed in the heart. It is a continual spiritual need, like air to the soul. By inspiring the emotions, we strengthen the intellect.

4. Ponder Life's Transience

All of the first three steps share a common feature: they work by strengthening the soul's positive qualities. But if evil impulses are still not overcome, then it becomes necessary to weaken the negative traits. This is the final step, to "remind oneself of the day of death." Reflecting on our mortality serves to restrain the lures of false imaginings that inflate the importance of worldly pleasures.

However, if it is possible to strengthen the positive forces, this is the preferred method. For once we start weakening the forces of the soul, we also lose positive energies.

[adapted from Ein Ayah vol. I pp. 13-4; vol. II p. 389]

The Lessons of War

(A little late in posting, I know, but better late than never...)

BS"D

YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

PARSHAT RE'EH
25 Av, 5766/18-19 August, 2006


THE LESSONS OF WAR

As the dust settles over northern Israel and Lebanon, we ask: Who came out the real winner? Was it Nasrallah's Hizbullah terrorists, who certainly gave Israel a bloody nose and opened the door for a war somewhere down the road? Or was it Olmert and the IDF, who somehow were not able to really get a grip on the war and finish off the bad guys? No, I would say that in this war, the real winner was... the printing press in Tel Aviv.

Yes, while most of Israel was under fire, with tens of thousands of Israelis out of work, the printing press was working overtime and raking it in, printing up flyers that were dropped by the IAF. Oh, all types of flyers were printed during the 40-day war: First, the IAF dropped flyers warning the South Lebanese population not to run; then later, they told them to go; then they told them - if you support Hizbullah we will attack; then they told them to leave, to come back, to go here, there and everywhere. Even after the ceasefire, more flyers came down in a daring IAF flyer raid, the likes that have not been seen in the history of modern warfare, telling the S. Lebanese population that if they let Hizbullah back, then the IAF will also come back, this time stronger than ever before. Why the IAF, which had 40 days to fight, needs to re-warn them is beyond me...

All kidding aside, it should be clear to all that one cannot win a war with Western values: being the nice guy, while the enemy is out for blood. And what would I do, you ask, if I was the Defense Minister? Well, for one thing, every village or town that fired off a rocket to Israel would be leveled, the entire village would be sent back to the stone age. Believe me, if you do this two or three times they will finally get the picture. What did Harry Truman do, when he knew that to win the war against a very fierce enemy he would have to sacrifice tens of thousands of men? He simply did not go on that path, but rather, ended the war quickly with the two big A-bombs. When you are fighting an enemy that’s out for blood and will stop at nothing - that is what you must do.

This is what our parsha teaches us, when it says: "These are the decrees and the ordinances that you shall observe to perform in the Land that Hashem the G-d of your forefathers has given you, to possess it all the days that you live on the Land. Destroy, you shall destroy all the places where the nations from whom you shall take possession worshiped their gods. You shall break apart their altars, you shall smash their pillars."

This is the Jewish way, this is the only answer to have peace in our time.

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Parables and Riddles


Psalm 49: Parables and Riddles


The psalmist announces that he will introduce his words of wisdom by way of a parable and a riddle:

"I will incline my ear to a parable; I will open my riddle to the accompaniment of a harp." [Ps. 49:5]


Maimonides similarly wrote that the method of truly great thinkers is "to employ the style of riddle and parable" (Introduction to Chelek). Why do the wise speak in parables and riddles? And what is the role of the harp?

Rav Kook explained that these are two tools for presenting complex ideas.

The Parable


The first tool is the mashal, the parable. The parable is similar to the concept we wish to explain; but it itself is clear, and allows the audience to grasp the difficult idea. This method only requires one to 'incline an ear.' No great intellectual exertion is necessary. Just hearing the parable is sufficient; the idea immediately becomes clarified.

Sermons often make use of parables. The master of this method was the famed Maggid of Dubno (Rabbi Jacob Kranz, 1740-1804). His unrivaled success with brilliant, incisive parables stemmed from his thorough grasp of the ways of the world. His encyclopedic knowledge enabled him to find the exact parable to use.

The Riddle

The chidah (riddle) works in a different fashion. The listener must work out the riddle for himself. The intellectual challenge stimulates the mind, enabling it to perceive deeper aspects of the idea to be grasped.

Simply 'inclining an ear' is not enough to decipher the riddle. The listener needs a special inspiration - and that is the role of the harp. We find that the prophets utilized music in order to clear their minds and attain a prophetic state (see I Kings 3:15; I Samuel 10:5; I Chronicles 25:1). Music has the ability to stimulate and inspire. It assists us in solving the riddle, and we are granted a more profound insight into the original matter.

[adapted from Shivchei HaRe'iyah pp. 285-286]

Monday, August 14, 2006

Parshat Shoftim: The Voice of Torah and the Laws of War


By Moshe Lerman

Parshat Shoftim discusses the laws of war. A whole chapter, Devarim 20, is devoted to the subject. To put it simply, the Torah commands us in no uncertain terms to not have mercy with our enemies. A cursory reading of the chapter suffices to conclude that the State of Israel does not act according to these laws. This is not so strange, as the laws seem to be so much at odds with modern views on morality that even in the world of Torah their proper application in today's world is a cause of deep division.

By providence, Parshat Shoftim also tells us what to do when we do not know how to apply a law of Torah:

"If a matter of judgment is hidden from you, between blood and blood, between verdict and verdict, between plague and plague, matters of dispute in your councils – you shall rise up and ascend to the place that HaShem, your G-d, shall choose." (Devarim 17:8)

Those who pass judgment, including all teachers of Torah, are obligated to bring every serious issue of doubt before the Sanhedrin in Yerushalayim, so that they can decide on the matter. Subsequently:

"According to the teaching that they will teach you and according to the judgment that they will say to you, shall you do. You shall not deviate from the word that they will tell you, right or left." (Devarim 17:11)

In his comment to the latter verse, Rashi cites from Sifri: "Right and left, even if they tell you about right that it is left, and about left that it is right." In other words, we follow the rulings of Sanhedrin even if they should make a mistake.

The Talmud Yerushalmi (Horayot) seems to explicitly negate the latter position: "One could think that if they said to you about right that it is left and about left that it is right, listen to them. Therefore the Torah says to go right and left: that they will tell you about right that it is right and about left that it is left."

However, there is no real contradiction. This Yerushalmi was written in reference to the first Mishna in Horayot, which implies an additional obligation for those who pass judgment and teach Torah. The Ramban explains the point in his commentary to the first Shoresh in the Rambam's Sefer HaMitzvot:

"The Torah was given to us in writing through Moshe Rabbeinu, may Peace be upon him, and it was apparent that the opinions regarding all the important issues that would come up would not align by themselves. So, the Exalted made us the law that we should listen to the great Beit Din in everything they will say, whether they received explanation from Him, or whether they will speak from the essence of the Torah and its intention according to their understanding. Because, it is through them that He commands us and gives us the Torah. Regarding this there is one condition, which he who delicately studies the beginning of Horayot will notice. The condition is that if in the time of the Sanhedrin there was a sage who was fit to teach and the great Beit Din would issue a teaching that a certain thing is permissible and he is convinced that they erred in their teaching, he should not listen to the words of the sages and he is not permitted to allow himself that what is forbidden to him, but he must act with stringency for himself. And this is even more so if he would be a member of the Sanhedrin. He has the obligation to come before them and tell them his claims and they will debate and discuss with him. And if all agreed that the opinion that he said should be discarded, showing him how his reasoning is erroneous, he will return and he will act according to their understanding."

The purpose of the institution of the Sanhedrin is to grasp the truth. Sanhedrin represents all of Israel, and it is the task of all of Israel to contribute to the process of clarifying our faith. If all unite in the prescribed fashion, Heaven will assist and Sanhedrin will rule according to the truth. They will teach about right that it is right and about left that it is left.

In times of exile, without Sanhedrin, we have no choice but to listen to the rulings of great rabbis who consult with each other. In such times, the judgments of individual sages can surely be trusted, because Heaven assists those who do their utmost.

I write this to sound an alarm. We are in war and we need to know the laws of war. But we did not do our utmost, and heavenly assistance has left us. Though it was in our hands to do so in the years since the establishment of the State of Israel, we did not unite around a reestablished Sanhedrin. Reality is the test, the witness, and the judge. It has come to the point that several rulings by individual rabbis concerning matters of war and peace have decisively contributed to the strengthening of our enemies.

In the face of relentless enemies and plagued by many societal problems, secular zionism has lost its direction. In the area of security, the leaders of the State are stuck in a profound dilemma between their desire to adhere to a universal sense of morality, and the special nature of Israel's enemies. It is clear that the solution to problems of Israel will come from the Torah of Israel. But how will the State listen to Torah while our religious leadership has not given Torah its prescribed authoritative voice?

Let me end with a warning from the Torah: "If you will not disinherit the inhabitants of the Land … they will harass you upon the Land in which you dwell." (BaMidbar 33:55)

The holy Or HaChaim comments: "The explanation of this is that not only will they hold on to the part of the Land that you did not take, but in addition, in the part of the Land that you did take and on which you settled, they will harass you."

This is what we currently experience. From a spiritual perspective, our enemies derive strength from our failure to follow the Torah. I suggest that our failure to unite and establish Sanhedrin is a prime example of the principle.

May Your Mercy overcome Your Anger.

The Jew Is Never "Beinoni"


by Binyamin Zev Kahane (1993)

Translated by Lenny Goldberg

Parshat Re'e

It is common knowledge that to be a Jew is a great responsibility, yet along with the great privelages that come with it, there are also deepobligations. This double-edged sword hovers over the Jew and obligates him from the moment he is born to the moment of his death.

The question that arises is whether or not a Jew can get up one day and say: "I didn't choose this destiny. I didn't ask for it, and I don't want any part of it." Perhaps a Jew doesn't want to be "chosen", and doesn't feel anything good about being "special". He simply wants to be part of "humanity", free to do as he pleases, without being restricted by the 613 mitzvot of the Torah and the countless ordinances of the rabbis. The fulfillment of his Jewish destiny is not for him - it is too "heavy" for him to handle.

Is such a claim legitimate? Can a Jew ignore his lofty mission, his awesome future - and thus be "exempt", that is, off the hook from fulfilling this great but difficult destiny? Is it possible for a Jew to cast away the observance of Torah, which includes being a light unto the nations (in the true meaning of the concept), and clinging to G-d.

Obviously, there is no need to answer this question. Without a doubt, a Jew can not escape his destiny. He was born a Jew and he will stay a Jew, with all rights and obligations included. "LaHavdeel", one can compare it to one who was born a prince. Despite the great "kavod" and greatness that is intrinsically in him the minute he is born, he is also subject to all kinds of edicts and restrictions. There have been many instances when one born into a royal family despised his destiny, feeling miserable and unfortunate, but he had no choice - he was bound forever.

This example isn't really a totally accurate one, since the Jew isn't "miserable and unfortunate", as we will soon explain. On the other hand, it is a perfect example since the Jew is indeed a prince, the son of a King! He can never escape his royalty. Even if he becomes a slave, a Jew is still a prince, as Ze'ev Jebotinsky wrote in his famous song: "The Jew - even in poverty is a prince ... if slave or wanderer, you were created the son of a King, adorned with David's crown!"

This entire concept is brought down in the very first verse of our parsha, "Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your G-d ... and a curse if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your G-d." What is the meaning of such a choice? Does it mean that the Jew is given the right to choose his own way in life, to determine his own destiny? Not quite.

The commentary of the "Sforno" on this verse is the following: "Look (Re'e) and behold, so your eyes WILL NOT BE UPON THE WAY OF THE "BEINONI" (MEDIOCRE) as is the way of most people. For indeed I give before you today the blessing and the curse, and they are two extremes; for the blessing is success way beyond the average good, and the urse is calamity way beyond the average bad, and both these poles lay before you in order to attain - all according to what you choose." In other words, G-d gives us two options. The first option is to be blessed, the second option is to be cursed. THERE IS NO THIRD OPTION. There is not an option of mediocrity; of being neither blessed nor cursed, but "just one of the guys". Either he fulfills his destiny, and then he is blessed, or he does evil by not fulfilling his destiny, and he is cursed and consequently punished.

Someone who thinks that he is unfortunate because he was born a Jew andwants to escape it can only be pitied. He really is an unfortunate "nebish" - not because he was born a Jew, but because he does not understand the special greatness that he was intended for. He is similar to the crazy man who finds gold and throws it away in disgust.

We are Jews that recognize the greatness of our special destiny. We haveabsolutely no complexes about it - "We are fortunate - how good is ourportion, how pleasant our lot, and how beautiful our heritage!!"

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It's All Written in the Book!


BS"D

YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

PARSHAT EKEV
18 Av, 5766/11-12 August, 2006


IT'S ALL WRITTEN IN THE BOOK

"Hear O Israel, today you cross the Jordan, to come and drive out nations greater and mightier than you, cities great and fortified to the heaven . . . He will destroy them and He will drive them out and cause them to perish quickly."

The Talmud relates to us that when the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan River to enter into the Land of Israel, the Land promised to them by G-d, the waters miraculously split, as the Reed Sea did for the Jewish people when they left Egypt some 40 years previously. There, in the midst of the Jordan, the water, as it disconnected from its source so as to allow the Jews to pass through, began to rise to great heights, towering over the entire Jewish people.

It was at that point that Joshua stopped the Jews in their tracks and told them: I have an important message to relay to you all. The people looked at each other in bewilderment: Couldn't this message - important as it may be - wait just a few more minutes until the children of Israel pass over the Jordan and the danger of the water coming down on them passes? What could be so important that it had to be told to the Jewish people right that minute?

Would he tell them the importance of keeping the Shabbat, now that they were entering the Land? Or maybe how every Jew must uphold the dietary laws? No, this is what Joshua told them: Know why you are entering into the Land - to wipe out the nations that have lived here before you. If you do so, all will be well, but if not - then these waters that rise above us will come and wash us away.

But why was that message given over to the Jewish people at that point? Why was this matter so much more important than any other principle related in the Torah?

The answer lies in the jist of this commandment - to wipe out the inhabitants of the Land. The commandments given to us are not, by their nature, dangerous to keep. It is not dangerous to keep Shabbat. True, there might be too many beans in the chulent, but still, as a rule keeping the Shabbat day does not put us in danger. The same is true with all of the commandments. One is not in danger by keeping the dietary laws.

Here, though, lies the difference: The very nature of war, to go and do battle to wipe out the inhabitants of the land - is a danger to life. War, by nature, causes casualties, for there is no war without death. Still, Hashem commanded us to go and fight for the Land even though people may die. This takes great faith.

It is by the hard commandments that a Jew is tested. When all is going well with a person, it is no big deal to believe. It's when the chips are down, when a person is in a difficult situation, that it takes faith - true faith.

For this reason, Joshua called the people together in the midst of the Jordan, not to talk about the Shabbat or any other law that is not difficult to keep, but only to tell them about conquering the Land - the commandment which is by nature dangerous and very difficult, requiring much faith.

The holy Or HaChayim wrote in his commentary to the Torah, that when you do not remove the inhabitants of the Land and you let them dwell amongst you, not only will you not live in peace in the place where they are, but even in the place that you dwell far from them you will not be able to live in peace, for they will come after you.

How tragically true his words ring out to us today! Even the peaceful towns in the north of Israel are being uprooted today, because we have let the inhabitants of the Land - the enemies of the Jewish people - live freely
amongst us.

It is a test of our faith. Do we place it in Hashem, the Creator of the world, relying only on Him, and then do what has to be done, without fear of what the world will say - or do we continue to wage a war with one hand behind our back, because our faith is in Washington and the rest of the nations of the world? It is not an easy thing to place our faith in Hashem, but it is the only option. To our great sorrow, in the meantime, Jewish blood spills, and a great Chilul Hashem continues.


With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Tarpat (1929): Jewish Pride


The 1929 Arab Riots

On the eleventh of Av, 5689 (Aug. 17, 1929), bloody riots erupted in Eretz Yisrael. Hundreds of Jews were murdered or injured by Arab mobs during these uprisings. Worse hit was the Jewish community of Hebron.

When the riots subsided, rumors spread throughout the Yishuv that the British authorities actually cooperated with the rioters. Accusations pointed specifically to Harry Charles Luke - the son of assimilated, Hungarian Jews (his father immigrated to England where he converted to Christianity). At the time, Mr. Luke served as Secretary General of the British Mandatory Government, and rumor had it that he encouraged the Arabs to murder and pillage the Jews.

I Order You!

During the rioting, Rav Kook called Mr. Luke on the telephone and demanded that he take stiff action against the Arab marauders.

'What can be done?' asked Luke. 'Shoot the murders!' replied Rav Kook. 'I have not received any such orders,' retorted the British official.

" I order you!" said the Rav. "I demand this in the name of human dignity."

The Handshake

Sometime later, the heads of the British government in Palestine held a formal reception for the most prominent Jewish figures in the Land. Mr. Luke cordially held out his hand to Rav Kook, but the Rav refused to shake it, saying sternly, "I will not shake a hand stained with Jewish blood!"

Afterwards, Luke said to the Rav: 'You Jews! Go and defend yourselves, but do not attack others.' The Rav replied:

"Do not preach to us, you who violate the commandment of 'You shall not murder'! (Our rule is,) if someone rises to kill you, kill him first."

The Rav's bold stance made a profound impression upon the entire Jewish world, as Avigdor HaMe'iri (a writer of the time) testified:

"If not for one unique, extraordinary man, who stood guard over our national and human pride, we would now be rending our garments over the loss of our honor as well."

News of the Rav's bold response spread swiftly throughout the Yishuv, creating an uproar wherever it reached. Most people praised his valor, but some criticized it, mainly out of fear that Mr. Luke would take revenge on the Jewish settlements, which were largely at his mercy. Whenever the Rav appeared in public, two opposing groups immediately formed, arguing boisterously for and against the Rav.

The Brit

Around that time, Rav Kook was invited to a "brit milah" (circumcision). Before the ceremony began, a heated debate broke out over the Rav's defiant response to the high- ranking officer, who represented the gentile lords of the Land. When the Rav realized what was happening, he signaled to his attendant, R. Meir David Schotland, a clever and learned man, to restore order to the crowd.

R. Meir David rose at once and said emphatically:

'Gentlemen! Very soon, we will usher the newborn baby into the room and bring him into the covenant (brit) of Avraham Avinu. At that time, we will all stand up and welcome him with the traditional greeting of "Baruch HaBa" ('Blessed is he who arrives').

'I have two questions concerning this practice. First, why don't we greet a bar-mitzvah boy or a bridegroom in the same fashion? They at least would understand the meaning of our blessing, while the uncircumcised child surely does not. Second, why don't we bid farewell to the child after the circumcision by saying, "Baruch HaYotzei" ('Blessed is he who leaves')?

Silence hovered over the crowd, as R. Meir David continued his words:

'The answer to these questions is quite simple. Sadly and shamefully, we Jews admire every uncircumcised Gentile we meet, taking every opportunity to show him respect, whether it is necessary or not. Therefore, when the yet uncircumcised child enters the room, we honor him by standing up and proclaiming "Baruch HaBa". However, after he is circumcised and becomes part of the Jewish people, we no longer show him any special respect - no "Baruch HaBa" and no "Baruch HaYotzei"'.

It was clear towards whom R. Meir's words were directed. Rav Kook had dauntlessly stood up to a distinguished Gentile, publicly condemning representatives of the Mandatory Government for cooperating with the Arab rioters, and there were actually people who criticized him for this!

[from 'An Angel Among Men' by R. Simcha Raz, translated by R. Moshe Lichtman, pp. 191-194]

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

United We Fight




By David Ha'Ivri of Revava






Following last year's destruction of Gush Katif and Northern Samaria, many felt betrayed by the State of Israel and the army who carried out this horrible deed. Families who had traditionally sent their beloved sons to IDF's elite units, to take an active role in defending our people and land, could not deal with the fact that the "our" army was now being used against Jews most dedicated to the land and nation. Feelings for the IDF will never be the same.

Many reserve soldiers and youth about to be drafted, swore to themselves that they would never don an IDF uniform again. Certainly, this caused mixed feelings, because up to that time, these same people viewed the IDF with the greatest of respect, even deeming it holy. It is not hard to identify with these feelings of frustration and anger towards the mechanism which betrayed them.

Today, the dilemma becomes even greater as the people of Israel are under attack from north and south, bombarded by Islamic armies who wish to wipe us all out. Frustration reaches a new climax when the Israeli PM makes no effort to hide his intention to continue with his expulsion plan, using the IDF as his tool, as soon as the Hizballah enemy is neutralized. It certainly is a predicament. How can one wear the uniform to fight the enemy, when he knows that the same soldiers will eventually be used to destroy his home and displace his wife and children?

In spite all of this, at times like these we must put all issues aside and go out to battle. For how can one sit quietly when Jewish blood is being spilled like water? Is it not written, "Thou shalt not stand by your brother's blood"?

But still there is an issue of treachery toward our soldiers in the field of battle which must be addressed; the government and army policy which endangers IDF soldiers in order not to hurt "innocent" civilians. It is this twisted "morality" which has caused Jewish heroes to fall in this present war. No country or army in the world behaves in such a way. It is not ethical to put our soldiers in harms way, to consider their lives as of less value than that of the enemy population. General George S. Patton is quoted saying "The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his." It was good for him and its good for us. The lives and well being of our soldiers come first.

If the leaders of the State feel that we must be more merciful on the enemy population than any other army, they can drop flyers to inform the enemy civilian population to vacate all of the terror infested areas, and then after a given 24-hour period, have the Air-Force bomb and wipe out every building which might harbor the enemy. Do not expose Jewish soldiers by sending them into hostile enemy villages to carry out pinpoint actions against one individual terrorist or another.

If there is a dilemma which must stand before he who wants to go out to war. It is the question of: Are my commanders looking out for my welfare first and foremost? Or are they pitying the enemy population, and turning me into cannon fodder? We must demand that all means are taken to protect the lives of our troops even at the cost of the enemy's civilian population. For this is a milchemet mitvah (Obligatory War) as the Rambam defines it: "To rescue Jews from an oppressor who comes upon them". We are obligated to go out to protect our brothers.

God willing, as we succeed in smashing the Islamic tyrants in the north and south , we will overcome the enemy from within and succeed in struggle for maintaining the integrity of the Land Yisrael.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The "Israeli-Arab" Uprising Could Come Sooner Than You Think...


Now this is just my own little theory, but it makes a lot of sense to me. You can choose to take it or leave it.

First, have a look at this mildly interesting article from Ha'aretz:


"Arab citizens directing anger at Israel as frustration mounts with each new death"


Now think for a moment. Everyone knows that the distinction between "Israeli Arab" and "Palestinian Arab" is about as farcical as the very concept of a "Palestinian nation" in itself. Most (if not all) Israeli Arabs refer to themselves as "Palestinians," and those who do not, generally only do not because they are doing well financially, and so why bother kicking up such a fuss when things are so cushy and you can fund the "resistance" quietly, while at the same time make some money? The fact is, they are happy when there are suicide bombings, they are happy when there are expulsions, and they are happy at this latest war with Lebanon. They call their dead "shahids," in identification with the cause of their brethren in Yesha and the Arab countries.

Why is it then, that they have remained so (comparatively) quiet? Ok, there have been several cells of "Israeli-Arabs" who were carrying out or preparing/planning to carry out attacks on behalf of Hamas or Hizbullah, and there have been plenty of Beduin army officers who have sold guns and information to Hizbullah and Syria. And ok, we know of the fact that they commit more crimes than any other population sector (especially violent crimes and sexual-assaults/rapes, etc). But where have they been in terms of the general populace? They seem to get pretty worked up at these funerals...

There are probably a few answers. First of all, the Israeli govt is buying them off - with some limited success. Tax collectors never dare venture into Arab towns and villages; illegal Arab buildings are generally allowed to stand in their thousands; Arabs are exempt from national service and so have a head-start economically (and in terms of starting families and having babies) to Israeli Jews; Arabs still get all the welfare that any other citizen gets despite all of that... the list goes on and on. But still, doesn't it seem wierd to you that with all their connections - in fact, they are part of the same body - to the Arabs of Yesha: Hamas, Fatah, PFLP, Islamic Jihad, etc - and as well as their Lebanese/Syrian/Iranian connections, that they haven't perpetrated any mass attacks?

Obviously, in light of all these facts, the only reason that they are not doing such things is because the time is not yet ripe. For the time being, they stay put, thinking time is on their side, waiting... Eventually, however, they will rise up - and that time might be sooner than you think...

Israel built a "Security Barrier" for Yehuda veShomron. In some parts it is ridiculous. Ok, maybe an elephant couldn't climb through the large gaps in the wall - but any motivated terrorist could. However, there is no doubt that that - coupled with the security services' ever-increasing experience and abilities to deal with the terrorist threat from that front - all of this has "cooled down" the situation there somewhat, right?... Right?!

Wrong - and laughably so. A man with a suicide jacket/belt can be stopped once, twice, three times... maybe twenty times if you're lucky - but they can get through all the time if they really want to. Yes no doubt the security services have made it (for arguements sake) 1:50 instead of 1:20, but there is certainly not a shortage of Arabs, and besides: those are just statistics - in reality things can go completely against the statistics because scenarios are all different.

The reason that that front is less volatile is because of the change in tactics from the Arab side. The suicide bomb phase did what it was meant to do - it forced Israel out of the Gaza "badlands," and forced them to accept the idea of a "2 state solution," which means that "Palestine" is now in sight in some shape or form. Of course, they knew that suicide bombers alone wouldn't destroy Israel. They won in Gaza, and are using it to slowly but surely wear down the residents of Sderot, Ashkelon, and other in the south through the firing of Kassams and other home-made rockets. Every so often they give the IDF a slap in the face by killing and injuring - and even taking captive - soldiers. That's not to say that they aren't still active and deadly in Judea and Samaria - they quite evidently are - but that is now taking a back seat for the time being.

Right now it's Hizbullah. They are killing soldiers, civilians and the economy. But of course, this will gain THEM very little. Lebanon is in ruins (once again), and the only victory they will get is a boost in moral, a PR victory, and perhaps some prisoners. However, the costs do outweight the benefits... but only if you look at Hizbullah by itself!

The fact is that we all know that they are a part of something much much bigger. Has anyone ever wondered about "the day after?" What will be after this war in the north ends? Just more Kassams and IDF operations in Gaza? You really think so? That's it, the militant "palestinian cause" stops there and "negotiations" become the new future? Of course not. There might be a return to some form of "negotiations" for a bit - just to keep up the chirade - but really they will (thank G-D) come to nothing because Abbas is irrelevant and Hamas won't negotiate (again, thank G-D).

I can only speculate, but I would think that precisely THEN would be the perfect time for the "Israeli-Arabs" to start something up.

In Gaza they are walled in - the damage they can do is limited. In Judea and Samaria the objective is almost complete (although they haven't yet started firing rockets from there... yet). The Israeli-Arab populace hate Israel/"the Zionist State" and the Jews in general as much as any other Arab. Certain villages and towns up north (Um El Fahem, Shfaram, etc) are cess-pits and a haven for terrorists. Eventually it will come - although possibly they will wait for some more "concessions" in the way of land by Olmerde and co.

Don't forget about the "Israeli-Arabs," and don't forget that they are a hostile population center that can hit almost anywhere in Israel even easier than the "Palestinian" non Israel-citizens ever could. Hizbullah are softening things up for them and "making them angrier" - give them a few "shahids" as a head start and start stoking the flames anyway... the next stage is to put the Hizbullah/PIJ (both Iranian-controlled)/Hamas/etc, etc, etc terror cells into action. Because once the time is ripe, the population is ready to facilitate a sustained terror campaign - instead of one-off terror plots carried out by a few dozen individuals, that are finished once all 10/12/15 of them (the terror gang) are caught or killed.

It's a very clever change of tactics, because the current tactics have been used to their full capacity. Why ONLY try getting suicide bombers in from Ramallah, Jenin, Kalkilyeh, Shechem, etc, when you can be much more sure of success by sending them from Um El Fahem, or even Jaffa!?

It is their "killer blow," and they will probably wait until after this war - and possibly after Olmerde gives away more land - but not definitely then (because as we know, Arabs generally wreck things for themselves habitually, and it wouldn't really figure in to their equation that waiting a little while longer could probably allow them to milk Israel for all it's worth before sending their people to die.)

The terror wave is coming, and my suspicion is that once it does, things will reach breaking point. The fact is, that such a campaign would shatter the last of the remaining illusions that the left still hold on to - that of the "intergrated Arab, living side-by-side with his Jewish neighbours." Once that illusion is shattered, the people will be forced to go the only other way left for them to go - sooner or later.

But why wait for it to get to that? Maybe the time is ripe to hit them first? Maybe it's time to fight for and take Har Habayit and take the wind out of their sails before anything like that takes place? Maybe, maybe, maybe... Only time will tell. But until then, we can only watch and weep as more and more Jews die.

What is interesting is that in any such "uprising," Yerushalayim (which has sort of fallen out of the spotlight with all this fighting in the north) would most certainly be at the center of all of it - being as it is a "mixed Jewish-Arab city..."

At Last The Penny Has Dropped...!

...Let's just hope and pray that it's not too late!

This article is by David Wilder, one of the leaders of the Jewish community of Hebron. The fact is that previously, his stance had been the more "moderate one," of the kind that lead us like sheep to the slaughter in Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron.

It seems however, that at last the penny has dropped:

Who's the Fool?

David Wilder

August 06, 2006

A number of people have approached me, asking why I've refrained from writing, expressing an opinion about the current situation in Israel.



In truth, I've had trouble writing for the past year. Gush Katif threw me totally out of kilter. And my thoughts concerning many different sorts of 'leaders' are so severe that I've had second thoughts about expressing myself via the written word.



However, perhaps the time has come to end this self-imposed exile. But I must warn all those who continue to read. What I have to say is not easy to think, not easy to write, and surely will not be easy to read. As found on various internet sites, usually before viewing pictures: Warning: these words may not find favor in your eyes.



There – you've been warned.



The past few weeks have found my thoughts somewhat hybrid – the war and Gush Katif. And not necessarily in that order. A year is a long time, but it's also a very short time. It's difficult to reflect – in order to reflect you have to be able to step back, to view from a perspective – a perspective of time and distance. Gush Katif is still much too close to be able to really step back. And it's not just the pictures. A few days ago I posted almost 250 photographs of mine from Gush Katif. It's difficult to look at them and not cry – it was so beautiful – as I once described Kfar Darom, a Gan Eden, a Garden of Eden, a paradise. How can one, using his own two hands, destroy a paradise?



However, it's not just the pictures. Story time: Numerous times last year, I mentioned my friends from Kfar Darom, the Sudri family. About a month ago, their daughter Tamar (made famous in a picture of her, all orange) visited us. She and her family now live in a monstrously dangerous city – Ashkelon, which has come under fire from Arab-launched missiles, launched not far from Tamar's old home in Kfar Darom.



Tamar sat with us, joining us for a pleasant Shabbat meal, when she told us the following story: She had to travel north, and at her parents' request, went by train, rather than hitching a ride. She sat in a car with two other people, both men, both in uniform. At some point the train came to an abrupt unscheduled stop. Some kind of problem was going to cause a lengthy delay. After a little while the three passengers began playing a word game: each would name a letter and then have to name a place starting with that same letter. Eventually the letter 'Kaf' was mentioned and Tamar immediately said "Kfar Darom," which starts with the letter "Kaf." One of the soldiers exclaimed, "That's not a place. It doesn't exist."

Tamar: "Of course it exists."

1st soldier: "But it doesn’t exist anymore.

2nd soldier: I second that – I helped evict such-and-such a family from Kfar Darom."

1st soldier: "I was there too. I bulldozed down houses. And if I ever find that family whose house I tore down, I'll kill them. Their house destroyed my bulldozer."



Time-out for explanation: Due to the continued rocket attacks on Kfar Darom, the families had to add a very heavy protective substance to their roofs, effectively making them 'rocket-proof.' When the houses were being destroyed, these rooftops fell on the bulldozers, causing them major damage.



Tamar: Oh, really? Which house did you bulldoze that caused such damage to your vehicle?

1st soldier: The house which was … and he described exactly where the house was.



Tamar, livid and barely breathing, whispered back: I lived there, in Kfar Darom, in that house – that was my home.



The two soldiers paled and immediately shut up. The game came to an end. Shortly afterwards the train began moving again. As soon as it came to a station, the two men fled, even though they hadn't yet reached their destination.



Can you possibly image, coming face to face with the person who shredded your house, for no reason whatsoever – bulldozed it, the way you knock down a building of blocks? I certainly cannot. I've told this story to numerous people, but even writing it, it brings tears to my eyes. How can people, Jewish people, be so cruel to their own brethren?



So maybe now others will accuse me of the same cruelty, maybe even worse. So be it.



It is so clear that everything we are facing today in the north (and in the south, which seems to conveniently been forgotten), is a direct result of last year's expulsion and abandonment of Gush Katif and the northern Shomron. Years ago, following the abandonment of Sinai and outbreak of hostilities on the northern border, Hebron-Kiryat Arba Rabbi, Rav Dov Lior, said time and time again, one is the result of the other. Israel thought that relinquishment of land would lead to peace. G-d is proving to us otherwise.



Ditto the present.



However today is even worse. Today we are being attacked from the very land we abandoned to our enemies. And to add icing to the cake, the so-called prime minister, in the midst of the battles, proudly exclaims that he plans to continue with the absurdity: the 'victory' over Hizballah in Lebanon will act as a hoist with which he will continue to rid the Jewish people of its G-d-given land throughout Judea and Samaria. So that the enemy will have an easier time knocking down planes entering and leaving Ben Gurion airport.



One might ask: if G-d is trying to teach us a lesson, why must the innocent suffer? All those in the north, now without homes, having fled, or somehow living in bomb shelters? Tens and hundreds of thousands of people, refugees in their own land. It seems so cruel.



Where were all these, tens and hundreds of thousands when thousands of rockets fell on Kfar Darom, Neve Dekalim, and all the other communities in Gush Katif? Where was Israel radio when terrorists plagued Gush Katif, day after day. Where were 'good Israelis' when a criminal decision was made to uproot thousands from their homes. No noise, no protest, no nothing. Just quiet. And amongst many, happiness. 'Ah, at last. Finally. Now maybe we'll see the beginning of peace with our neighbors.'



I have trouble finding any sympathy in my heart for the communities to the north of Gush Katif, who have been coming under Kasam rocket fire – all the left-wing kibbutzim and moshavim, who couldn't wait to see the trucks full of furniture leaving Gush Katif. Did they really think that it wouldn't happen to them? Where are they now?



And I have trouble finding sympathy in my heart for the hundreds of thousands up north who have no where to go. Where were they when Eretz Yisrael was being ripped apart? Where were they when other Jews were being torn from their homes and stuffed in hotel rooms like cattle. Where have they been for the past year, while thousands of people have been left unemployed, their livelihoods destroyed, at the drop of Sharon's proverbial pin, the decision of a madman, who thought that the destruction of Gush Katif would answer all his problems. To the contrary. Gush Katif brought about his downfall. His successor thinks it can't and won't happen to him? Let's wait and see.



The country, the people, have to learn a lesson. As the saying goes, when you play with fire, you get burnt. We keep playing, and we keep getting burnt, but then we go back and make the same mistake again.



The ironies of the war are too great to be overlooked. Mr. Mustache, Mr. Peace himself, trying to lead the charge into Lebanon, as Defense minister. I have no sympathy, none whatsoever, for those supposed leaders, whose terms of office will almost certainly come to a swift end as a result of their overwhelming ineptitude. Leading the troops into the Gusk Katif decimation, Ehud Olmert and Tzippy Livni thought that following in the footsteps of Sharon would be easy. They are starting to learn otherwise. As soon as the war ends, and the enormity of their mistakes is realized, they, together with Peretz, will fall from public office, never to be heard of again, except perhaps in the history books, where they will be shamed and ridiculed.



Why? Because Israel has lost a war to group of terrorist guerrillas. Not to a foreign power, not to the Syrians, Iranians, Egyptians, rather to Nasrallah and Hizballah. There's no way around it. We lost this one. Even if the seeming 'end result' is spun out into a major PR victory. Why? Because Nasrallah has shown the whole world how a small group of guerrillas can turn Israel upside down, how they can kill Israelis, soldiers and civilians, and force hundreds of thousands from their homes. It makes no difference if Nasrallah survives the war or not. He has won. He has proven, following in the footsteps of Arafat, that Israel is not invincible. If he can do it, anyone can. It is truly miraculous that our surrounding neighbors have not yet taken advantage of our unbelievable weakness and joined the party. Why not? The present Israeli leadership, totally inexperienced, totally stunned and dizzied by the ferocity of the Hizballah rocket attacks, wouldn't know how to respond to coordinated Syrian-Egyptian-Jordanian attacks on Israel. All we have left is to pray to G-d in heaven that this catastrophe ends before our enemies can get their act together.



Yet, with all of the anger and bitterness towards these 'leaders,' there has to be a small small space left for pity. After all, our people are dying. A friend of mine came into my office earlier today and presented me with the following parable: The village fool was standing in the town square, really making an idiot of himself. Amost all the villagers stood around, watching, laughing and joking, enjoying the show.



Except for one person, who stood back, crying. One of the villagers approached him and asked, 'why aren't you joining us, watching the fool make such a fool of himself?

He answered: "Yes, but he is OUR fool!"



The fact that we, Am Yisrael, in Israel and around the world, allowed Gush Katif to fall, that we allowed the Northern Shomron to fall, that fact that we allowed Olmert to be elected Prime Minister, that fact that we allow him dare say that this war will act as a hoist to Gush Katif, Part Two –

So you tell me – who's the fool?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Fight Against Perversion in The Holy Land is Far From Over!



The gay march through Jerusalem may have ben prevented (for now,) but for those of you who weren't aware, the perverts are still planning gay and lesbian events around Jerusalem, including a gay "film festival," and a "drag-queen contest..."

One particularly disturbing event to be held is "Youth Day," which the gay movement "Open House," (the organisers of the events) describe as an event meant for youth aged 15-20 to come and attend. They say it is for "gays, lesbians, bisexuals - and those of you who are still 'unsure'."

Needless to say this kind of filth must not be allowed to take place on the Holy soil of Jerusalem - nor anywhere else in the Land of Israel.

The "youth day" event is schedualled for Monday 7th of August. In protest of this disgraceful event, there will be a "Defend Zion Rally" at 11:00am at the "Rose Garden," outside the Knesset. Mothers, fathers, young and old, men and women - all of you are needed to show your opposition to this abomination.

In attendance there will also be several former homosexuals who have been cured of their illness, and who wish to show their utter disgust at such an event being held to actively ENCOURAGE young girls and boys to take on such a lifestyle.

Please be there, and spread the word!

We must stop this affront to G-D's Holy Name in His Holy Land once and for all!

The following is a press release on Arutz7 concerning the demonstration:

Anti-Gay Pride Protest: Monday, 11 AM, Rose Garden
17:42 Aug 06, '06 / 12 Av 5766


(IsraelNN.com) Victims of Arab Terror, together with Revavah, Women for Family Values, and Jews for Morality, have called upon "the concerned public" to take part in a mass protest against the WorldPride gay event taking place in and outside the Knesset tomorrow.

The protest is scheduled for 11 AM at the Rose Garden outside the Knesset, near the large Menorah.

"Acting contrary to G-d's will cannot help us in the war against our enemies," says VAT founder Shifra Hoffman, among the organizers of the protest.

The organizers hope to hand out literature offering help, from organizations such as Atzat-Nefesh (Advice for the Soul), to those who find themselves bewildered by the WorldPride message.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Great Plea


BS"D

YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

PARSHAT VAETCHANAN
11 Av, 5766/4-5 August, 2006


THE GREAT PLEA

Our Rabbis tell us that Moshe prayed to Hashem no less than 515 times, pleading to be able to enter the Holy Land. So great was his cry that Hashem had to command Moshe to stop, for if he prayed just one more time, Hashem would have had to answer his cry in the affirmative.

What was behind this great plea, why was Moshe so anxious to enter the Land? Surely, someone like Moshe, whose prophetic visions outdid by far those of all of our other prophets - surely the one who went up to Mount Sinai and did not eat for 40 days and 40 nights, to bring down the Torah for the Jewish people - could not have had a higher spiritual experience. What, then, was behind Moshe’s pleading request to enter Eretz Israel?

The Talmud teaches us: Why did Moshe want to enter the Land? Did he need to eat from its fruits or enjoy its goodness? Rather, this is what Moshe said to Hashem: "Israel was commanded to observe many mitzvot and they can only be fulfilled in the Land of Israel. Let me enter the Land so that I might observe them." We see from Moshe’s request that he did not say some of the mitzvot cannot be done now, but rather that the mitzvot - seemingly all the mitzvot - are dependent on the Land.

In this light, Nachmanides comments that the fulfillment of the mitzvot outside the Land of Israel is only required so that when the Jewish people return to their Land, they will not be new to them! If not for this reason, there would be no need to fulfill mitzvot outside the Land. We can now understand why King David, as he was being forced to run away from Shaul and hide outside of Eretz Yisrael, stated that it was as if he was forced that day to worship idols.

If the Jewish people were not obligated to be in the Land of Israel, then upon leaving Egypt Hashem would have told His people that they could go whereever they wanted to; surely, some wanted to go to Monsey and some to Flatbush, and some Jews wanted to hit the surf over in California. But this was not the case at all, for all those who did not want to enter the Land died, as the Torah teaches us: "Chamusim left Egypt" - some interpret this that one in five of the Jews left, and some Rabbis, that only one in fifty left, and some very extreme Rabbis teach that only one in five hundred of the Jews left Egypt. Who has ever heard of such a thing, that a nation does not want to be redeemed - but such was the case.

G-d examined all the lands, and He did not find a better place than the Land of Israel. Hashem said: The Land is precious to me and the Jewish people are precious to me, so I will bring the Jews who are precious to me into the land which is precious to me. It will be a perfect match.

So great are the qualities of the Land of Israel that even the nations of the world can feel it. We find in the time of Yehoshua, when the Jewish people were entering the Land, that there were 31 kings who possessed the Land. Thirty one kings in a place not much bigger than the state of New Jersey! How could so many kings have a share in the Land? Rather, a king who did not have a palace in the Land at that time was not considered a king of any importance.

Today, too, the battle is on, as it has been for the past hundred years, for the Land of Israel. And it will not end until all the nations will gather against her at the gates of Jerusalem, each claiming her for its own. It is only when we, the Jewish people, wake up to the greatness of the Land and flock back to it that we will finally be able to overcome all their false claims and bring the Final Redemption.


With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Year Since the Tragedy of Gush Katif and the Shomron - but Where Has All the Faith Gone?


Here we stand today - the eve of the 9th of Av, and the eve of the anniversary of the destruction of the Jewish communities of Gush Katif and the Northern communities of the Shomron/Samaria. Houses, Synagogues, Yeshivot, Mikvaot, schools, Kollelim - all smashed, uprooted, burned or - worse - converted into mosques and "museums" of terror by the Muslim hordes (much in the way that the Nazis wished to preserve certain "Jewish buildings" to stand as a testiment to the "Jewish community that was"...)

The fact is - and this should be evident to all but the most deluded: we lost the battle. Evil won and good lost. It's a sad reality, and one that needn't have been so, but it is indeed the reality.

Who is to blame? Well, each person has their own list of people and organisations and other groups and cliques, but in short, the government, the army, much of the religious leadership, and the supposed "Yesha Council" (them especially in fact), all played their part in this latest of Jewish tragedies.

Ridiculous "demonstrations," consisting of literally tens of thousands - and on some occassions hundreds of thousands - of people did... absoloutely nothing. They just stood, waved banners, flags and placards, sang a few songs, lit some candles, said a bit of tehillim and... they went home.

Some people blocked roads - they made an awful lot of people late for work that day (not that that bothers me,) and accomplished... nothing, because it had no teeth.

Because "painting the country orange" is like painting a house orange when its about to be bulldozed down. Instead of being just a big mess, it becomes a big, orange mess. But nothing more.

All the soldiers who carried out the evil commands, giving as their excuse the pathetic "we were only following orders." All the religious leaders who either ignored what was going on in return for money for yeshivot and/or political brownie points, coupled with those Rabbis who even discouraged the resistance with false words in the name of "Torah."

All the politicians who with their evil plans sent this all into motion. And all the other politicians who remained silent, even though they knew what would happen when and if they did...

All of these people must bare some of the blame.

But instead of ranting and raving and gnashing our teeth and then... going home, why don't we learn something from our mistakes for once? And yes, that includes the self-righteous "national-religious" public who say "I told you so" about Oslo and the expulsion from Gaza so smugly - and yet who at the same time ignored the blatantly true words of warning given by Rabbi Meir Kahane z"tl h"yd all those years ago - words which have so clearly come true today.

When the Sages in the Talmud talk about the Laws of monetary damage, many of Chazal say something truly amazing:

It is true that inflicting monetary damage or harm upon a fellow Jew is a despicable deed, but what is far worse is one who inflicts damage upon his brother through words and other spiritual ways.

How is this?

I have heard several answers given (not my own), but the main one is that whilst monetary damage can always be made up for by paying the victim compensation, a person who has been harmed spiritually and/or emotionally is far harder to do Teshuva over. How can you "make it up to him," when the damage is so great and so internal, that nothing you can physically do can compensate for it? Money is (for most people at least) an external part of our lives. It comes and it goes. Emotions and spirituality are internal - and far, far more important.

So it is TRUE that the evil forces - the "sitra achra," the "Erev Rav," the "Hellenists," or however you want to define them, succeeded in their despicable plan to destroy those holy communities. But just because the PHYSICAL battle was lost - why have we suddenly given in on the spiritual front as well?

How many people have given up hope since then, and retreated to the confines of their little communities and their little yeshivot and their own little bubbles? How many people have been turned insane and lost their faith? How many people have now resigned themselves to losing again and again and again - every time some evil person comes into office in Israel? (And that happens almost every year, so watch out!)

This is a far worse deafeat for our nation than anything else!

The Gemara relates that when Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai was told he could ask 3 requests of the newly-appointed Emperor of Rome, Emperor Vespasian, when Yerushalayim was on the brink of destruction, he uttered those famous words "give me (the city of) Yavneh and her chachamim (i.e. the Torah institutions and the Sages there)." He also asked for two other things: that the bloodline of Rabban Gamliel - the Davidic dynasty - be spared destruction, and that the saintly Rabbi Tzaddok - who had been fasting over the impending churban for 40 years - be nursed back to health.

We are taught - aside for the fact that Vespasian would never have agreed to a request of "spare the Temple" - Rabbi Yochanan asked specifically for these things because he knew that the most important thing of all that would see us through all of our troubles is the Torah, and the spiritual essence of the Jewish Nation that is built through it: faith and trust - Emunah and Bitachon - in the Almighty G-D. The belief - the KNOWLEDGE - that some day He would bring us back. And the rest is history...

We know that Rabbi Yochanan succeeded, so he was obviously on to something there.

The truth is that if we give up now we will have lost not only the battle, but the war as well! Let them gloat over the churban of Gush Katif - it will be rebuilt, and the smiles will be wiped off of their evil faces. We will return to the shores of Gaza just as well returned to the Hills of Judea, and the walls of Jerusalem, and the streets of Chevron, and Tzfat, and Bnei B'rak...

But if we lose the spiritual war, then that will be the real disaster. When the Jewish People have their Emunah and Bitachon, then nothing can stop us, and we always inevitably win - even if it is after a long and bloody struggle. But if we lose that - the faith and trust in G-D that all will be well so long as we do our part - then the future is much less certain. Certainly, such a "generation of slaves," would obviously be of too small faith to merit the Ge'ulah Sheleima, and this defeat would set the Final Redemption back an entire generation! (G-D forbid!)

We must surely learn from our mistakes of course. Pretty human-chains, loud demonstrations, and blocking off roads certainly don't provide a winning formula. And certainly then, the "political avenues" are fraudulent, and those who suggest "changing things from within" should be chewed up and spat out of the camp. Much, much more is needed if we are to prevent a similar such tragedy in the future - even though it will hurt to fight so hard at the time. But ultimately, the eternal nation is not afraid of the long road. We have surely experienced far worse.

But one thing that we cannot do is lose our faith. What some of those demonstrations DID show was an incredible amount of faith (if without the neccessary "teeth" of action)

And also, remember this. Last time - at the destruction of the Holy Temple - they took EVERYTHING - and yet the Nation still did not give up hope, and we did not forget Jerusalem. So why this time?!

The truth is, that Ge'ula will come anyway (as our Holy Sages tell us, and as is written in the words of the Holy Prophets), but we also know the 2 starkly different ways it can come: speedily and with haste, or in a long, drawn out and painful process. It is up to us how to bring it. Surely if we give up hope, we will not have earned the former. It is up to us. Let us pick ourselves up after this year of "aveilut" - mourning - perhaps light a candle if you wish, and stand straight and look forward and upwards. The fight is not yet over, and we have learned so much from our past mistakes.

Now we must finish it!

Tisha B'Av: Seeing Jerusalem in its Joy


"One who mourns Jerusalem will merit to see it in its joy." [Ta'anit 30b]

At first glance, it seems strange that our Sages said that he will merit to see Jerusalem 'in its joy,' not 'in its rebuilding.' Is not the rebuilding primary and the joy secondary?

However, Rav Kook explained, our Sages knew that when the time would come to rebuild Jerusalem, everyone then alive — even those who did not mourn the destruction — would merit to see the reconstruction. The joy, on the other hand, would be felt only by those who mourned and grieved over the destruction, who yearned and ached for its renewal.

In the giddy days following the Balfour Declaration, he remarked:

"There are some Jews for whom the international recognition of the Jewish people's right to its land does not inspire joy. This is because the primary focus of their mourning is the spiritual destruction of Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael, while the utter humiliation of the Land being subjected to foreign rule does not grieve them.


"But those who always felt deep sorrow, not only for the destruction of Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael, but for the absence of Jewish sovereignty in our land, the international declaration that Land of Israel must return to the Jewish people is a source of happiness. They merit "to see Jerusalem in its joy.""



[from "Celebration of the Soul" by Rabbi Moshe Zvi Neriyah (translated by R. Pesach Jaffe), p. 266]

The World is Angry at Israel!!!

BS"D

YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer, SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva




THE WORLD IS ANGRY AT ISRAEL

by Barbara Ginsberg, Maale Adumim, Israel





The world is angry at Israel. And that is great! It means that we are slaughtering the enemy. We made Hizbullah choke on their words that “Hizbullah defeated the Goliath”, defeated indestructible Israel.



The world is angry at Israel for fighting a "war" as a war should be fought.

Israel’s strategy has thank G-d proved effective and the world screams “stop”.

Civilians were killed and some 50 Lebanese in Kana. Well, my friends, that is called war. Israel unlike any other nation, drops flyers, to warn the civilians to leave the area they are going to bomb. Whether the deaths were caused by Israeli bombs, or by Hizbullah to get the sympathy of the world, does not bother me.



The world is angry at Israel, because Hizbullah, in their abnormal, animalistic rage, attacked the UN personnel and their building, both in Lebanon and Gaza. The very people who help these terrorists and are always on their side. Great! Let the world be angry.



Where was the anger of the world when Israel’s innocent civilians were killed and hurt in our Northern towns? Where was the world’s anger when Gush Katif, Sderot and Netivot had missiles and Katyushas raining down on them – in so-called times of peace? Where was the world’s anger when citizens were blown to pieces by suicide bombers? Where was Tony Blair? Why did he not appear on TV and shout, - Stop! Enough! There was a deafening quiet as Jews were being blown to pieces.



Enough – we must continue this war and win. Israel has no choice.



I remember the U.S. using napalm fire against villages in Vietnam, killing innocent civilians.

The French fought in Algeria and thousands of Muslim civilians lost their lives in French bombing raids, and vigilante reprisals.



And the chutzpah of Tony Blair to angrily speak on TV that it is,.”enough.” The Jewish people remember Britain’s occupation of our country - keeping Auschwitz survivors from entering what was then called Palestine. Turning their backs and closing their eyes as the Arabs slaughtered Jews The moral Tony Blair’s country used the noose to end the lives of Irgun and Stern fighters. The British were not for a goodwill gesture to set men free, as foolishly Israel is constantly doing today with her arch-enemies.



Please, G-d, let the world be angry with us. It means that we are winning - and how great it is to be a winner and hated by the world. Please G-d, help us and let this be.