Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Continuing The Fight Against "Jews For Jesus"


This article from Arutz Sheva really caught my attention (how could it not - it was on the home page!), and it really reminded me just how much time and effort and how many resources are needed to fight the missionary scumbags around the world:

"Rabbi Slams Back At Jews For Jesus"

Here's what these J4J scum are all about:
In the last year alone, Jews for Jesus engaged in a 65-city tour -- any city that has more than 25,000 Jews within it -- primarily targeting Jewish youth and the elderly for conversion. To combat this aggressive assault, Rabbi Tovia Singer [pictured], founder of Outreach Judaism and show host on Israel National Radio, is now making available his 20-part tape series, “Let’s get Biblical” free via mp3 download to anyone seeking answers to questions posed by Christian missionaries.


"Jews for Jesus has declared their staggering goals,” stated Rabbi Singer. According to their marketing materials, Jews for Jesus exists, “To make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide.” As part of their recent effort to convert the Jewish elderly in New York, Jews for Jesus distributed more than 80,000 copies of a conversionist film translated into Yiddish to homes in Brooklyn, Queens and Monsey, New York.


They target the most vulnerable:

Jews for Jesus is expanding its efforts to convert survivors of the Holocaust. The testimonials of those who managed to survive the Holocaust, yet became ensnared by the Baptist missionary group are broadcast on the Jews for Jesus website.

Here are two different anti-missionary organisations (each with slightly different methods):

OutreachJudaism.org

Yad Le'Achim

The only thing that I must say is that in Israel the way to combat the missionaries themselves (as opposed to the Jews who get caught up in their web of lies), should not be to even engage such evil people in debate. The response should be to "smash their teeth," in the same way as we respond to the "wicked son" on Seder night - or preferably to do a little bit more damage than just that. In Eretz Yisrael there should be no messing about: the missionaries need to go!

A Vort for Parashat Beshalach

"And Moshe's hands were heavy and they took a stone and put it under him and he sat upon it..." (Shmot 17:12)

The Talmud in Berachot 54a mentions this stone in a list of objects that deserve a special benediction for being testimony to miraculous events. In Rosh Hashanah 29a the Talmud rejects the seemingly obvious supernatural explanation of the verses that indicate that it was Moshe, sitting on the stone, who directed the course of the battle. What, then, is left that would attach such importance to it?

In Ta'anit 11a we learn: "When the public is in a state of hardship one must not say, 'I will go to my home and eat and drink, and peace be upon myself'... rather, one must endure hardship along with the public, as is written: 'And Moshe's hands were heavy and they took a stone and put it under him and he sat upon it.' For did Moshe not have a pillow or a couch on which to sit? Rather, Moshe said: Since Israel is in a state of hardship, I too will endure hardship along with them."

The stone Moshe sat on symbolizes not the victory over Amalek, but that the leader of the nation would not allow himself comfort that was denied to his flock. Testimony to such solidarity and unselfishness truly deserves its own benediction.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The State of Israel Continues to Decay... And Am Yisrael Are The Ones Who Suffer!


What a sad day for Yerushalayim, Ir HaKodesh, as even our Holiest City is not spared from the evil forces lined against us:

Jerusalem registers its first gay couple

And this is probably only the beginning (G-D forbid!)...

...Oh yeah, and it seems that we are reaping the fruits of the ludicrously lenient criteria of the "Law of Return," and non-Jewish immigration from the FSU in general:

'Satanist' teens allegedly burn flag

It is also interesting to note that the main headline was that the teens burned an Israeli flag - not that they burned Mezuzot...

This should just remind all of us here what's at stake. Three murdered Jews in Eilat is barely the tip of the iceberg. Because of the degradation of Torah and Kedushat Eretz Yisrael, the entire Nation suffers - be it from the Arab problem or spiritual malignancy. We [i]all[/i] suffer because of this, and we must fight against it with every fibre of our bodies... May G-D have Mercy on us, and may He exact Retribution on the evil elements and individuals who have caused us so much grief and agony!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Righting the Wrongs of the Past Through Ahavat Yisrael



Why does everyone ignore the plight of our Ethiopian brethren? Why do we repeat the sins of so many years ago, when Sephardi/Mizrachi Jews from the Middle East and Northern Africa were treated like animals and kept in poverty just because they were different to the secular European Jews who ran things at the time (and still do to a great extent today)? We go on and on about Teshuva in this generation, and then we ignore injustices such as these, highlighted in this article by Ha'aretz, as well as so many others, simply because we are able to close are eyes to it. (And how sad it is that no religious media outlets or publications will deal with this problem or even admit that it exists!)

Yes, it is true; there are many complications when it comes to the Ethiopian Jews, stemming in part from the incompetance of certain religious leaders, and in part from certain overly-eager American-Jewish do-gooders. But what is certain is that many of them are sincere in their Judaism, and they are our brothers and sisters! They suffer daily because of the colour of their skin, or because they are "different" to the secular elite who control the Israeli gov't and authorities.

This should not be so, and if G-D-fearing Jews do not take up their cause and relieve their suffering, then the missionaries who lurk in the shadows to kidnap Jewish souls in the way that they did to so many neglected and poverty-stricken Soviet and Northern African Jewish immigrants, will do the same to our vulnerable brethren from Ethiopia - and they have already started! Who will extend a hand to these Jews? Who will show true Ahavat Yisrael to a community who are isolated, scared and confused - but most of all who are in despair?

If we do not do so, then the evil cults and heretical groups who are allowed by the hellenistic authorities to fester inside our Holy Land (much to our shame), will destroy so many thousands of Jewish souls, and commit atrocities far worse than any "Islamic terrorism" could...

Friday, January 26, 2007

It's Like the Blind Leading the Blind... How Much More of This Must We Endure?

I am so terribly glad that I came across this article today! Finally, we have found all the solutions to our problems!

Yes boys and girls, once we burn all our women's open-necked shirts and dangling jewelery, then Mashiach will come, and then we will all be ok! The Arabs will simply turn around and say "how can we continue to rape Jewish girls when so many of them dress so modestly? How can we blow up little kids who are born to women who dress with such sniut? Let's claim a homeland in Las Vegas instead!" And Khaled Mashal, Ismael Haniyeh and Abu Mazen will pack up and leave, and the Qassams will stop, and all the Arabs will leave and all Jews will join hands and sing songs. What wonderfully clever leaders and Rabbanim are leading this nation!

...Even such a thick layer of sarcasm cannot properly relay how angry these kind of things make me. Stupid Rabbanim leading even stupider Zealots in burning clothing, instead of mosques and places of idol worship. Idiotic masses of asses standing around lapping up words of ignorance from a bunch of Rabbanim who have barely even heard of Sderot, let alone lived there and suffered with their brethren there, telling them that the solution to all of our ills is "to get rid of tight clothing."

I know that ynet always look for reasons to bash the Chareidim and other religious communities in Israel - and that is why I usually am repulsed by ynet - but this time their cynicism is well-placed (as much as I hate to admit it).

It's not that sniut isn't vital, and it's not that unfortunately many Jewish women and girls do indeed wear innappropriate clothing - but the fact is that any Rabbi or leader who takes such an initiative against clothing, yet did/does not do so for Batei Knissiot in Yesha or elsewhere in E"Y that are being destroyed, or for people's homes, or for Jewish lives, is either mentally unstable, or simply blind.

It is mamash like witnessing a headless chicken running around its coop like a meshuggena. Like the blind leading the blind. It could not be more frustrating...

Parshat Bo: "Oh, After Midnight"


BS"D

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

PARSHAT BO
8 Shvat 5767/26-27 January 2007


OH, AFTER MIDNIGHT

In his hit song, Eric Clapton tells us that after midnight you are going to "let it all hang out". Lehavdil: In our parsha, Moshe tell Pharaoh that “about midnight” Hashem will strike down and kill all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians. “And Moshe said, 'So said Hashem, at about midnight I shall go out in the midst of Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die - from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on the throne, to the firstborn of the slave woman who is behind the millstone, and all the firstborn animals.'”

Now, would it not have been easier for Moshe to tell Pharaoh at midnight - and not at “about midnight”? Why was it necessary for Moshe to say “about”? Was his watch off a few minutes, that he did not know when exactly midnight was? Should Moshe’s generation have chipped in and bought him a Rolex?

Rashi, quoting the Midrash, teaches us the reason: So as not to let Pharaoh and his servants have room for a mistake, for if Moshe had said midnight, even though Hashem is exact and it would start exactly at midnight, Pharaoh and Co. are not so exact, and they could make a mistake which would then be that according to their account the plague would start a minute or two before or a minute or two after midnight. Pharaoh and Co. would be able to say: See, the plague was not at midnight, as you said, but before or after - that being the case, this plague was not from G-d, and Moshe is a liar.

Understand this well: For the last year, Pharaoh and the Egyptian have had their entire country destroyed by nine plagues, which devastated the entire country - from having all their crops eaten up to the cattle wiped out, to their water and economy turned into turmoil, just to name a few. Still, all that Pharaoh and his servants are interested in, even after being hit by the worst plague of them all - the death of their firstborn - is that maybe Moshe is off by a minute or two. Why? So as to have a reason to say that the plagues are not from Hashem, but rather, they all are just a coincidence. Unbelievable as it might sound at this late stage of the game for Pharaoh and Co., they still hold on to any thing, rather than accept Hashem’s ultimate authority in this world. Even something so small as a minute or two before or after midnight would give them reason to throw off Hashem’s yoke.

This is what our Rabbis teach us - that the wicked, even at the gates of Gehinom - Hell - still do not repent. Even when confronted with overpowering truth, they refuse to see and continue to hold on to their falsehoods until they are consumed. This is what the prophet Isaiah tells us regarding what will take place at the end of days. “Who would believe what we have heard? For whom has the arm of Hashem been revealed? He was despised and isolated from men, a man of pains and accustomed to illness.” The nations have despised the Jewish people throughout our long history, looked down upon us and trampled on us, belittling the idea that the Jews have been chosen and separated from the nations of the world at the Revelation of Sinai. Still, at the end of days, the unstoppable truth will emerge, and even as it does, they will still hold on to their falsehoods.

With this in mind it should come, then, as no surprise that this week “Encyclopaedia Judaica” the world's most profound Jewish encyclopaedia, came out in its new edition with a report about biblical Moshe, saying that they are rather sceptical if Moshe ever really existed: “We cannot even be sure that Moses was a historical character."

Would we find such an article by Muslims about the existence of Mohammed? I’d like to see how long that author would live. Or an X-tian writing that Jesus did not exist? Of course not! But here, a supposed "Jewish" encyclopaedia, in a scholarly work, takes upon itself to destroy the very foundation of Judaism. Shame on them! If only the authors of the encyclopaedia would have looked at their watches, they would have seen that it's only a few minutes to midnight...

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bo: "Donkey-Holiness"

Immediately before leaving Egypt, the Israelites were commanded to commemorate the final plague of "Makkat Bechorot" (the Death of the Firstborn) through the mitzvah of consecrating the firstborn. This mitzvah applies not only to people, but also to kosher animals, and - surprisingly - first-born donkeys: "Every firstling donkey must be redeemed with a sheep" [Ex. 13:13].

Why do donkeys have the holiness of bechor?

The firstborn holiness of donkeys is even more surprising when we consider that these animals are 100% impure. Some non-kosher animals, such as camels and pigs, have only one sign of impurity. Donkeys, however, carry both signs of impurity. The Zohar teaches that the donkey is "avi avot hatuma", the ultimate source of impurity.
In addition, 16th century Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel (the Maharal of Prague) noted that the Hebrew word for donkey (chamur) is the same as the word for material ("chomer"). The donkey, he explained, is a symbol of crassness and physicality [Gevurot Hashem ch. 29]. So why did the Torah designate this ignoble creature to have the special holiness of bechor that must be redeemed?

Hidden Holiness

One explanation proposed by the Talmud [Bechorot 5b] is that the donkeys helped facilitate the Exodus as they carried the treasures of Egyptian gold and silver. Yet the Israelites could have used some other pack animal. It would appear that there is something special about the donkey, that it represents an inner truth about the redemption of the Jewish people, both in Egypt and in the future national rebirth of the Messianic Era.

The Israelites in Egypt had sunk to the lowest levels of immorality and impurity. Outwardly, they were indistinguishable from their Egyptian masters. Even the angels were unable to distinguish between the two nations. They questioned God's decision to save the Israelites at the Red Sea, protesting, "These are idol worshippers and these are idol worshippers!"

But like the donkey, the impurity of the Jewish people was only on the surface, hiding a great inner holiness. It was a superficial blemish, as it says, "Do not look upon me that I am black; for (it is only) the sun that has tanned me" [Song of Songs 1:6].

Messiah's Donkey

We find a similar concept with regard to the future redemption. The Sages noted that the Messianic Era is described in conflicting terms. In Daniel's nighttime vision, the Messianic king arrives "with the clouds of the heaven" [7:13]. The prophet Zechariah, on the hand, speaks of a righteous king who makes his appearance as "a pauper riding on a donkey" [9:9]. So how will the Messiah come - on heavenly clouds, or humbly on a common donkey?

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi explained that the form in which the Messiah will appear depends on us. "If they merit, he will come 'on heavenly clouds.' If they do not merit, then he will be 'a pauper riding on a donkey'" [Sanhedrin 98a]. In other words, if the Jewish people attain a spiritual level high enough, they merit a supernatural redemption with wonders and miracles. If, however, the redemption arrives because it is the final hour for its arrival - but the Jewish people are not deserving - then the redemption will come through natural means [see Ohr HaChaim on Num. 24:17].

"A pauper riding on a donkey" is a metaphor for undeserved redemption without our merits, like the poverty of a poor man. It is a redemption based on natural processes, as exemplified by the donkey, a symbol of the material world. Yet this donkey, while externally crass and impure, has a special holiness hidden within - the holiness of the firstborn.

According to Rav Kook, the Messiah's donkey represents the period of "Ikveta deMashicha," the generation when the 'footsteps' (ikvot) of redemption are first heard. The Talmud [Sotah 49b] describes this era as one of terrible spiritual decline, replete with brazenness and immorality, falsehood and corrupt government. But the Zohar teaches that, despites its external faults, the generation will be "good on the inside." This inner goodness is reflected in the special souls of the pre-messianic era; despite the heavy darkness clouding their behavior and beliefs, they are blessed with an innate segulah holiness, as expressed by their great love for the Jewish people and the land of Israel.

The Function of "Chevlei Mashiach"

The Sages recognized the deeply disturbing nature of "Ikveta deMashicha", using the term "chevlei mashiach", the birth pangs preceding the Messianic Era. In his seminal work, Orot, Rav Kook discussed various reasons for the intense materialism and lack of spirituality that pervades the era of national revival. His central argument is that the Messianic 'birth pangs' come to correct an imbalance stemming from centuries of exile.

Rav Kook explained the process by way of analogy. The dregs in the bottom of the wine bottle are needed to preserve the wine. If a bottle lacks dregs and we wish to correct the situation by adding dregs, the initial effect will be to muddy the entire bottle, temporarily ruining it. But as the dregs settle at the bottom of the bottle, the wine regains its clarity and benefits from the preservative powers of the dregs.

So too, the wicked and the base are needed to ensure the flow of normal life. The Exile, with its concentration on purely spiritual pursuits, weakened the life force of the Jewish people to such an extent that its national survival was endangered. The Jewish people needed to return to their land in order to survive as a nation. The return to the land and to a more balanced national life meant an increased involvement in the material side of life. Initially, the crassness and brazenness of the pre-messianic era will cause great consternation. But as the negative forces are subdued, like the settling of the wine dregs, their alarming and detrimental aspects will be neutralized.

Transforming Darkness to Light

The "Ikveta deMashicha" is a trying time, and not all of the Sages were eager to experience it. Yet Rav Yosef showed great spiritual fortitude, saying, "Let the Messiah come, and may I merit to sit in the shadow of his donkey's dung" [Sanhedrin 98b]. Once again, the donkey metaphor.

Rav Yosef was accustomed to looking at the inner essence of things. He recognized the tremendous inner holiness hidden in this problematic generation, as symbolized by the Messiah's donkey. Rav Yosef understood that the Messianic light would demonstrate how to utilize all forces, even the most coarse, for the sake of good. He knew that the darkness of national rebirth would lead to an even greater light of Torah and knowledge of God.

[adapted from Igrot HaRe'iyah vol. II, p. 188, letter 555 (1913) ("Igeret Takana"); Orot p. 85 (Orot HaTechiyah sec. 45)]

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Plant a Tree in Israel!


This new initiative by the HaMeir Institute, is part of an ongoing effort to re-populate the ancient hills of Judea and Samaria, as well as parts of the Gallil, and make them once again part of a fertile "land of milk and honey."

Click here to be a part of this amazing opportunity! Have your very own trees planted by expert organic farmers in Samaria and the Gallil!

The perfect way to celebrate Tu Bi'Shevat!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Parshat Va'era

"Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it, for to you I shall give it." (Bereshit 13:7)

The Talmud (Bava Batra 100a) says that Avraham was consummating his acquisition of God's gift by hazaka. A declaration alone without a physical presence is not enough to possess the land. The Targum Yonatan translates the verse word for word, except for a small addition: "Arise, walk through the land to make a hazaka in the length of it and in the breadth of it..."

"And I shall bring you to the land that I swore to give to Avraham, to Yitzhak and to Ya'akov, and I shall give it to you as an inheritance..." (Shmot 6:8 )

Since the land was already acquired by Avraham, what need was there for Hashem to again bequeath this gift? We can find an answer in the Yerushalmi, which notes that the verse uses both "ve-natati", I shall give, from the root "matana", a gift, and also "morasha", an inheritance:

"If a gift, why an inheritance? If an inheritance, why a gift? After He gave it to them as a gift, he gave it to them again as an inheritance." (Yerushalmi Bava Batra 8:2 )

What is the difference between a gift and an inheritance? A gift is passed from one to another through a willful action; an inheritance is acquired by default. Legal status changes without any outside involvement.

The Torah is also an inheritance: "Torah was commanded to us by Moshe, an inheritance to the community of Ya'akov." (Devarim 33:4 ) We learn in Sukka 42a that this verse is the first that a father teaches his child when he learns to speak. From the moment the Jewish infant begins his education he learns that Torah is his inheritance. His ties to it are unrelated to acceptance or rejection on his part.

Likewise, Eretz Yisrael belongs to Am Yisrael as an inheritance. Avraham received a gift and accepted it joyously; however, Am Yisrael received it in a way that is not dependent on their acceptance.

"Thus shall you do to them: their altars you shall shatter, and their pillars you shall break, and their Asherot you shall chop down, and their idols you shall burn with fire." (Devarim 7:5 )

An Asherah is a tree that was tended in honor of or as the object of idolatry. The Talmud (Avoda Zarah 53b) asks why such a tree in Eretz Yisrael must be chopped down, since this would seem to contradict the Talmudic principle that one cannot cause someone else's property to become forbidden for the use of the owner. Since Eretz Yisrael is the inheritance of Am Yisrael and belongs to them by default, how could Cana'anite idolaters cause the trees of Eretz Yisrael to be forbidden for their use? (Altars and the like aren't considered part of the land; a tree that is rooted in the ground is.)

The Talmud answers that when Am Yisrael sinned with the golden calf they revealed that they had accepted idolatry. Doing so was the same as giving their consent to the idolatry of the Cana'anites; hence when at that point in time the idolaters worshiped an Asherah they were in essence acting as proxies for the Israelites. The Asherot were forbidden for use not by the actions of the Cana'anites, but by the consent of the Israelites themselves.

The moral is astounding. Eretz Yisrael belongs to us regardless of our actions. We shall always have the right to the Land; even if we do not want it, we cannot flee from our inheritance, just as we cannot disown our Torah. Therefore, anything the Cana'anites do in our Land, any problems they cause, however difficult they make it for us to be here, is because we have given our consent and have empowered them. The blame lies with us alone, and so does the solution.

Understand Well, My Brothers...

BS"D

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

PARSHAT VA'ERA/ROSH CHODESH SHVAT
30 Tevet 5767/19-20 January 2007


UNDERSTAND WELL, MY BROTHERS

In this week's parsha, the redemption process begins to move into high gear. But before the stage gets set for the downfall of the mighty Egyptians “who know not Hashem”, the Jewish people themselves were struggling with the
process. And so we find that the Jewish people in Egypt were so embedded in Egyptian culture, that when the redemption came, the great majority were unable to release themselves from it and had to be destroyed. Make no
mistake about it: The great majority of the Jewish people at the time were lost forever. The most liberal figures teach us that 80 percent - some 9 to 10 million Jews - died during the plague of darkness.

The feeling that Egypt was their “homeland”, together with the “good life” which they enjoyed, clouded their vision, so much so that at the end of the day, when they were supposed to be heading home to the Land of Israel, they could not leave. So much so, as the prophet Hosea teaches us (5:7): “They betrayed Hashem, for they begot alien children, now a month (Av) will devour them with their portions”, meaning that the Jews would have children but not circumcise them. They said: We will be like the Egyptians. When G-d saw this, He said: I will change the love which the Egyptians have for the Jewish people, and turn it into hate.

The Jews themselves at the time were worshipping idols, like their counterparts, the Egyptians. In fact, the same sheep-god whom the Egyptians worshipped and loved so much, was also dear to the Jews as well. It was for this reason that Hashem commanded them to take the sheep and slaughter it before the eyes of the Egyptians.

Hashem said: The time has come for Me to fulfill My promise that I made to the Patriarchs, that I will redeem their children, but they do not have any mitzvot in their hands for me to redeem them through. G-d gave them two mitzvot to do and thus gain merit: The commandment of the Passover sacrifice and circumcision.

The Midrash relates to the sentence: “They did not listen to Moshe because of their broken spirit and hard work”. Rabbi Eliezer said: “Could there be a person that is told good tidings and is not happy?” For how could it be that the Jews were told by Moshe that they would be redeemed, and yet they did not listen to him but, quite the opposite - they were distressed at the news? Rather, it was hard for them to separate from idol worship!

Understand this well, my brothers: The Redemption is here, the one for which we have been praying for the longest of times. The one that we have been crying out to Hashem for, to end this exile, praying and close our eyes, turning heavenward and beseeching G-d to send us the Redemption - but lo and behold, when it's ready to come - no one’s home. For in reality all we did was to go though the motions, as if we wanted it but all along, deep inside - in a place where we don’t dare go - we know only too well that we really do not want to leave the good life, the golden palace which we call home.

“Next year in Jerusalem”: Our brothers in Egypt did not measure up to the test. Do you?


With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Thursday, January 18, 2007

About HaShem

By Moshe Lerman

Awe for the names of HaShem is central to Jewish tradition. For example, we treat the tetragrammaton name, YHVH, with so much awe that we do not pronounce it as a word. Rather, we refer to it as “HaShem”, which means “The Name”. Jewish tradition says further that it is possible to achieve knowledge of an array of names of HaShem which are secrets to other people. What can be the use of a prohibition to pronounce a word? What is behind the secrecy and mystics?

In Parshat Va’eira, it says that HaShem was not known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by the name YHVH. By contrast, Moshe did know this name (Shemot 6:3). Rashi explains that understanding of the depth of faithfulness expressed by this name is only accessible to who witnessed the fulfillment of promises made generations ago.

Knowledge of a name of HaShem is not knowledge of a particular sequence of letters. Who knows a name of HaShem does not know some magic code. Who knows a name of HaShem understands an attribute of the Divine.

Why then do we say that we know a name when really we understand something much deeper than a sequence of letters? Human understanding is limited. No matter how much we understand, it is as if we know nothing. Compared to the Essence of Hashem, all we can possibly know is as superficial as a name. The prohibition to pronounce the tetragrammaton name expresses that there is an infinite difference between the Divine and our understanding of Him.

At the human level, however, knowledge of HaShem is of the essence. It is our very purpose in life: To serve HaShem and to know Him, each in his own way. Knowledge of HaShem requires the study of Torah, in all of its aspects, but some of His names are accessible even through “secular” wisdoms, such as science.

From the Jewish point of view, who knows science knows very deep secrets. He knows the name Elokim, and he is truly fortunate. And yet, the scientist should know that what he knows is as nothing. What he knows is only a description, a name. The Essence of the Divine evades him.

To learn science, one needs to be smart. Torah reaches further, but to learn it is harder, as you need to be holy. The depth of understanding is according to the aspiration and purity of the soul. The sky is the limit.

"For this commandment that I command you today, it is not hidden from you and it is not distant. It is not in the heavens, so that you would say, 'Who can ascend to the heavens for us and take it for us, and let us hear it, so that we can perform it?' Nor is it across the sea, so that you would say, 'Who can cross to the other side of the sea for us and take it for us, and let us hear it, so that we can perform it?' Rather, the matter is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to perform it." (Devarim 30:11-30:14)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Psalm 125: Judging Scholars Favorably

In these times of confusion, when our leaders on all fronts - national, religious and otherwise - have let us down in many ways, we must realise that it is our right and duty to criticise their actions if we see that they are false. However, we must also be careful how we do this, and to make sure that we do so in accordance with Halacha.

Psalm 125: Judging Scholars Favorably


This brief "song of ascents" speaks of God's special protection of His people. Like the ring of mountains protecting Jerusalem, God guards and watches over us. The chapter concludes with a short prayer:
"May God benefit those who are good and upright in their hearts. But those who turn to their crooked ways - God will lead them away, together with the doers of iniquity. May there be peace upon Israel." [Ps. 125:4-5]


Making Others Crooked

The above translation is not completely faithful to the original Hebrew. The word ha-matim ('those who turn') is in the Hif'il (causative) tense. This verb form indicates that the evil are turning others to their crooked ways. Who are their victims? Clearly, those mentioned in the previous verse - "those who are good and upright in their hearts."

According to the Talmud, they do not so much mislead the righteous as ascribe to them their own unscrupulous traits.

"Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: whoever makes derogatory remarks about Torah scholars after their death will be cast into Gehinnom. Even at a time when 'there is peace upon Israel,' 'God will lead them away with the doers of iniquity.'" [Brachot 19a]

Belittling others is wrong, and belittling Torah scholars is worse. But does it warrant such a harsh verdict?

Respecting Scholars

The Torah's command, "Judge your neighbor fairly" [Lev. 19:15], is not only for those who work officially as judges. We are all judges; we are constantly passing judgment on other people. It is an important ethical principle that we should look for the best in others and give them the benefit of the doubt [Avot 1:6].

Judging favorably is especially important with regard to Torah scholars. The Sages wrote that one who ridicules his rabbis will find it difficult to repent. What makes this particular offense so hard to correct? Maimonides gave a very simple and practical reason: if one does not respect his rabbis and teachers, from whom will he be able to learn? [Hilchot Teshuva 4:2] Such a person is left without any ethical moorings. He has no role models to respect and emulate, no moral teachings that he truly identifies with. As the Talmud cautions, he is doomed to share the lot of 'doers of iniquity.'

Respecting their Teachings

Interestingly, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi explained the verse as referring to one who denigrates scholars posthumously. This reading of the verse apparently stems from the similarity between the words ha-matim ('those who turn') and mitatan ('their death bier').

The emphasis on honoring scholars even after their passing indicates that we should respect not only the scholars themselves, but also that which carries on after their death - their sayings and teachings. This idea is already mentioned by Maimonides in his Guide to Perplexed [3:14]: the trait of giving the benefit of the doubt also applies to the writings of the sages. Even that which appears to be illogical or inaccurate, deeper examination will uncover profound and inspiring ideas. With this attitude of intellectual humility, the holy words of these truly wise men will illuminate our lives.

The psalm concludes with a short prayer, "May there be peace upon Israel." The inclusion of this phrase becomes clearer in light of the Talmudic exegesis on the verse. There are difficult periods for the Jewish people - times when corruption and immorality are rampant, times when the destructive influences of materialism and hedonism take their toll. And there are times of peace - times when the spiritual level of the people is strong. But an individual who has grown accustomed to belittling Torah scholars and their teachings will always be subject to moral decay. Even when there is peace in Israel, even when the people enjoy an elevated moral state, his lot will be with the crooked and the incorrigible.

[adapted from Ein Ayah vol. I pp. 94-95]

Monday, January 15, 2007

No Breach in Our Street


Psalm 144: No Breach in Our Street


In this chapter, King David acknowledges God's help and deliverance in his battles against treacherous nations. The chapter concludes with a prayer for robust sons and courtly daughters, plentiful crops and peaceful streets.

"Our leaders ('alufeinu') are burdened; there is no breach and no (rumors) going out, and no outcry in our streets." [Ps. 144:14]

Many of the commentaries translate the word alufeinu as 'our cattle' - a reference to the healthy state of the livestock. The Talmud, however, interpreted alufeinu as 'our leaders' or 'our teachers.' "Our leaders are burdened" - they are heavily laden with responsibilities in Torah and mitzvot [Brachot 17b]. What about the end of the verse - the wish for tranquil streets, without breaches and outcries? What do Torah scholars have to do with quiet streets?

Burning Dishes in Public

The Talmud explains that this is a prayer that our teachers not be plagued by errant students. The rabbis noted that even the greatest scholars and prophets suffered from deceitful disciples and associates. King David's chief counselor was the traitorous Ahitophel, who supported the revolt of Absalom. King Saul employed the talebearing Doeg the Edomite, who was responsible for the slaughter of the people of Nov. And the prophet Elisha had to endure his greedy servant Gehazi.

As the Talmud explains: "'In our streets' - that we will not have a son or a student who burns his dish in public." To 'burn one's dish' means to follow a ruinous and heretical path. Doing so 'in public' means that one has openly promulgated such a path, thus leading others astray.

Still, this curious idiom needs greater clarification. Ruining one's dish, Rav Kook explained, is an appropriate metaphor for one who perverts the words of Torah for erroneous and dangerous ideas. The food itself is wholesome, but the dish was burnt and ruined. So too, the words of Torah are certainly correct and noble; but the wicked misuse them for devious and deceptive purposes.

Where did the erring student go wrong? He saw his teachers expounding the words of Torah, using exegetical methods in a sincere and genuine manner. The student thought that he too could establish a new vision - but one contradictory to the fundamental beliefs of the Torah. For this reason, the reference to the errant disciple is inferred from the word birchovoteinu - literally, 'in our streets,' but also meaning, "in our expansion," i.e., our methods of expanding and elaborating the Torah's teachings.

This is certainly a matter requiring earnest prayer: that no insincere students misuse the tools for interpreting the Torah to distort the true meaning of the words of God.

[adapted from Ein Ayah vol. I, p. 87]

Friday, January 12, 2007

Parshat Shemot - "Down in Old Egypt Land"


BS"D

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

PARSHAT SHMOT
23 Tevet 5767/12-13 January 2007


DOWN IN OLD EGYPT LAND...

"And the children of Israel came into Mitzrayim, with Jacob every man came with his household." Why? Why was such a decree issued against the Jewish people? Why was it necessary for the Jews to go though the fiery furnace that was Egypt? Galut - exile - was given to the Jews as the ultimate punishment, banishment from their homeland as punishment for not listening to the word of G-d. But here, the House of Jacob, with its seventy souls, is decreed to be in Egypt for over 200 years, and all this prior to the receiving of the Torah laws. If so, what, then, was the ultimate reason that the Jews had to be in Egypt?

Many reasons are put forth by our Rabbis, of blessed memory, for the enslavement of the Jews in Egypt. Among them, the Ramban writes that the exile of the Jews to Egypt was punishment for our forefather Abraham, who
descended to Egypt at the time of famine and left the Holy Land, and by doing so endangered his wife Sara. For this act his descendents were decreed to suffer at the hands of the Egyptians.

Other commentaries bring up the idea that the exile in Egypt brought forth a nation that would be ready to receive the Torah. Like a person with a deformed hand who needs an operation to fix his hand, so, too, the Jewish people needed the suffering in Egypt in order to form us into one unit.

Rabbi Meir Kahane, of blessed memory, writes in his book "Perush HaMaccabee": And G-d chose Abraham for his deeds and merits and rejected Ishmael. He chose Yitzchak also because of his deeds and rejected Esau, choosing Jacob. At that point, after three generations of righteous individuals, the stage was set for all of the descendents of Jacob to become the Chosen Nation, the nation to bring the Divine message into the world and to be a light unto the nations - and all of this could take place only in their own land.

But before this could happen, the Jewish people not only had to be formed into a nation, but more importantly, they had to come to the understanding that there is no power in this world except the Holy One, Blessed be He. This lesson could only be learnt in a foreign land under the hand of an apparently all-powerful king "who knew not Hashem". It was only when the Jewish people gave up any hope of salvation from mankind and despaired totally of Redemption, that they were able to come to an understanding that there is no other power in this world besides Hashem. For it is Hashem who brings down the mighty and raises up the lowly.

So essential was this lesson, that Hashem brought His people to enslavement in Egypt, to learn this lesson from a Pharaoh who all thought held the key to the Jewish people's welfare - but in the end, he was reduced to nothing. This, then, is the main thrust of the enslavement of the Jews in Egypt: To understand that our fate is not in the hands of the apparently powerful world leaders, but rather in Hashem's hands. It took enslavement lasting some 85 years for us to understand this.

Unfortunately, the lesson of Egypt has still not been learnt by all, and many of us still quake in fear at the thought of a Bush or a cup of Rice, as they dictate to the Jewish state what to do. It is time for the "bribe-takers" to be placed in jail and move aside - and let the ones who know Hashem - the only Power in this world - take over. To allow the Jewish people to be what they were meant to be: A light unto the nations.

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Monday, January 08, 2007

Beards Carry No Immunity, by Rabbi Meir Kahane


[As of late, we have seen many people from within our nation publicly join hands with our enemies, and those who wish to destroy us. Most public of all was the recent participation of the traitorous Neturei Karta members, who visited Iran (not for the first time), and attended an event to discuss the "Holocaust Myth." And so, these supposed Jews stood side by side with Muslim anti-semites, holocaust deniers, and Klu Klux Klan members, and joined them in calling for the destruction of Israel.

However, this is not the first time that such people have been so active in helping our enemies to destroy us. They recieve huge amounts of money from various sources within the Arab world, (including the PLO,) and in return they have stood side-by-side with nazis, terrorists, and other anti-semites at demonstrations and events worldwide.

This article, written almost 20 years ago, was written by Rabbi Meir Kahane z"tl h"yd, and as usual, his words ring truer than ever, even so long after his death...

Once more we can say with certainty that Rabbi Kahane was right! Had they listened to him all those years ago we would not have to deal with the grotesque results of their inaction today...]


Beards Carry No Immunity

By Rabbi Meir Kahane z"tl h"yd

Published originally on November 10th 1989

“And Judah too, shall fight against Jerusalem...” (Zechariah 14)

The briefest of hints, but a chilling one: that in the end of days, Judah, Jews, will join the gentile enemy in war against Jerusalem. And behold, we see it in our days. The self hating Jewish anti-Semite. The Jew who fights his own people, who joins with the enemy of Jerusalem in battle against Jerusalem.

Disturbed Michael Lerner of Tikkun Magazine carried a “revised” list of sins for which we should beat our breasts on Yom Kippur as we recite Al Het (for the sin). For example:

“For the sins we have committed by not publicly criticizing the Jewish people and Israel when they are acting as oppressors.”

“For not recognizing the humanity and pain of the Palestinian people.”


The same disturbance places an expensive full page ad in The New York Times with the huge headline: “No, Mr. Shamir. Don’t assume that American Jews support your policies toward the Palestinians.”

Moshe Arens’ son, Professor Yigal Arens of the University of California, creates a group called Jewish Committee on the Middle East (JCOME) and places a large ad in several publications. It reads, in part:

“We are Americans and Jews and we come together at this time to publicly express our strong desire to see the US take meaningful steps to disassociate our country from the policies of Israel... We can no longer condone or be associated with such Israeli behavior, nor, do we believe should our country.”

And Arens and his fellow Jews then call upon the United States to cut economic and military aid to Israel. Thus:

"For these reasons, we believe the time has come to normalize the U.S. relationship with Israel. A complete re-evaluation of what has become, since 1967, the American sponsorship of Israel, is required. The unprecedented amounts of economic aid should be cut back over the next two to three years to much smaller levels. Furthermore, the considerable military and intelligence assistance should also be radically reduced."

A Jew named Lenny Brenner writes a viciously anti-Semitic book, Jews in America Today, which is grist for the mill of every Nazi and Jew-hater.

And then there is another Jewish group.

The article appeared in the Magazine, The Message International, a fundamentalist Moslem publication that is venomously opposed to the existence of Israel. It began this way:

"We participate together with the Palestinian people in their anguish and suffering. We feel their intense pain and frustration resulting from the cruel oppression they are enduring under the brutal Zionist occupation of their Palestinian homeland. This is especially so since we understand the overwhelming justice of their right to self-determination and statehood in their beloved Palestine. A yearning that burns fervently to be free and sovereign in their native land."

The article was written by a Jewish group and continued with:

"The genuine Jewish people recognize the Palestinian people as the legal sovereign over their entire land, not just the West Bank and Gaza. The Zionists have absolutely no right to rule the land."

The same Jewish group issued the following statement as part of a pamphlet issued September 15, 1982:

"We pledge allegiance to the kosher state of Palestine represented by the PLO, patriotic freedom fighters in the honorable cause of humanity."

The same group regularly inserts advertisements in The New York Times attacking the existence of Israel, and on March 3, 1989, the Israeli newspaper Davar carried a picture of one of the group's leaders visiting Arabs wounded in the uprising against Israel. He handed out $12,000 to various wounded Arabs and presented the Moslem Red Crescent (the equivalent of the Red Cross) $3,000 for the intifada "victims." Each Arab received a bag of sweets along with a personal letter wishing him a speedy recovery.

All of the above share a common denominator: Jews attacking the Jewish state , Judah fighting against Jerusalem. But one group differs radically from all the others. While all the others are secular, generally leftist Jews, the latter is an Orthodox one - Neturei Karta.

And while much fire and brimstone has been poured on the heads of Lerner and Arens and all the other secular and leftist Jews, there has been an unconscionable failure on the part of religious Jews to speak out against the traitors and enemies of both Israel and the Jewish people who call themselves Neturei Karta. That is inexcusable.

Let me make it quite clear that it is totally legitimate for one to be an anti-Zionist and to disagree with the fundamental concept of a Jewish state in our times, because of religious reasons. There is certainly source material for that position in Torah sources, even though those who use it to deny the legitimate halachic status of Israel are, I believe, very very wrong. I believe that the Jewish state is G-d's hand, that the well known "oaths" in Tractace Ketubot that are used to deny the right to a Jewish state until the coming of the Messiah are interpreted totally wrong and that Religious Zionism is not only proper, but mandatory and obligatory.

Nevertheless, I certainly recognize the right of Jews to religiously differ, though wrong. That is not why I feel that Jews should rise up in anger at Neturei Karta and use all means necessary to punish them. It is not their anti-Zionism which is criminal and which places them beyond the pale. It is rather the fact that they openly support the enemies of the Jewish people, the murderous and vicious Arab Nazis of the PLO, that places the Neturei Karta outside the Jewish camp.

There is a red line in Judaism that cannot be crossed without becoming a traitor to and enemy of the Jewish people. There is a limit that, once reached and violated, marks one as a moser, an informer, and a rodef, a pursuer of Jews, who is plotting to destroy them. That line and limit is the joining together, openly and eagerly and without shame with the enemy who wishes to harm and destroy Jews. Neturei Karta has become the enemy within the Jewish camp, the moser and rodef that should be dealt with in all the ways that are necessary.

It does not matter that they comprise a handful. Their insignificant numbers are unimportant. The substantive nature of their treachery and Hillul Hashem, desecration of the Name, are what matter.

In their obscene words and actions on behalf of the PLO Nazis, do they differ from those leftist Israelis who meet with and support the PLO? In their open support to the Hitlerite Arabs, are they different from Yigal Arens, or Noam Chomsky, or Lenny Brenner or the other disturbed leftist Jews who aid the destruction of Israel? Is venom against Jews and hatred of the Jewish State somehow mitigated because the individual has a beard? Do payot (earlocks) and a long black coat cover the treacherous nakedness of the moser and rodef? Does someone who joins hands, literally, with those who would massacre Jews become more legitimate because he covers his abomination with the mantle of the “Torah”?

I do not think so. I know that there is no difference except that the so-called religious Jew, in addition to his teacher, also desecrates the name of G-d and his Torah. Jewish silence, religious Jewish silence, is inexcusable. The time is long overdue for unified Torah condemnation of Neturei Karta and the same kind of action against them that we would deem proper for those traitors who walk around beardless. After all, many is the “religious” Jew whose beard merely covers an unshaven face, and whose piety is but a fig leaf for the same diseased soul as that which possesses all the traitors on the left.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

***Attention*** Gush Etzion Residents Are Arrested For Protesting Arab Attacks And Thefts In Their Areas!


This disgraceful injustice must be resisted!

GUSH ETZION RESIDENTS ARE ARRESTED FOR PROTESTING ARAB MUSLIM ATTACKS & THEFTS

By Hillel Fendel ARUTZ 7
IsraelNationalNews.com Jan.5, 2007/15 Tevet 5767

forwarded with comments by Emanuel A. Winston, Mid East Analyst & Commentator

Once again the Olmert Regime showed its fascist face as they sent Israeli police to stop the march to protest recent attacks against their homes and thefts by Tzurif, a hostile Arab Muslim village, known for its terrorist attacks and murders of Jews as early as 1948 with the infamous massacre of 35 Jews who were delivering supplies to the besieged Etzion bloc.

Instead of policing the Arab Muslims who stole cars, sheep, etc. with impunity, the police took the opportunity to beat up Nadia Matar, co-chair of Women in Green, known by many in Israel and around the world as the Jewish Joan of Arc, to arrest her and another protester.

We have seen this all before from the time of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres who sent brutal police to beat unarmed older women and children, ride horses to trample them as they peacefully. Has the Government of Israel become a monster, by urging their police to lose all control and act like the savage KGB? The Israeli Police and Shabak (Secret Service) were once honored by the people who now see them as a dangerous, pathologically twisted force profiled and then hired for their brutality. These police and their comrades belong in prison rather than being loose among the public.

In addition, PM Olmert shows his hand of intentionally allowing the Arab Muslims to maraud in Gush Etzion with impunity, to make life intolerable for Jews and thereby to drive them out.

It is a great shame for the nation that Olmert and his thuggish Party continue the politicizing of the Police, the Shabak and the IDF (Israel Defense Force).

Please read the following from Arutz 7, then call & fax these officials:

Please Call or send hourly faxes to:
* Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:
tel 972-2-670-5555 fax: 972-2-654-6717

* Defense Minister Amir Peretz:
tel 972-3-697-5436 fax: 972-3-697-6218

* Minister Avigdor Lieberman:
tel 972-2-501-2999 fax: 972-2-640-89-21

* Minister Eli Yishai:
tel 972-2-666-2252 fax: 972-2-666-2909/7

* Police Minister Avi Dichter:
tel 972-2-542-8504 fax: 972-2-542-8039

COMMENTS BY EMANUEL A. WINSTON

__________________

See an Arutz Sheva article covering the demonstration/march in Gush Etzion this past Friday.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Protest the Imminent Release of Hundreds of Terrorists and Murderers!


Of course every normal Jew wants to see Gilad Shalit - as well as Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, all released, safely, back into the arms of their brothers. It is such a tragedy that they were ever captured in the first place, but let us not perpetuate the tragedy and make it so much worse by releasing hundreds of terrorists - possibly as many as 2,000 in total - many of whom already have "blood on their hands," and the remainder of whom simply failed the first time.

The release of such dangerous individuals (and so many of them!) in return for 1 Israeli soldier, is a perverse "mercy of fools." We will have saved 1 Jew, and endangered the lives of millions more. It has been proven that well over half of such prisoners who have been released in previous exchanges have gone on to once again try - and often succeed - in carrying out acts of terrorism and murder.

Therefore, it is the duty of every Jew who is able to do so, to make it known loud and clear that we will not allow the gov't of Israel to once again give in to terror, and endager the lives of the Israeli and Jewish people any more!

SEND FAXES
===========

In protest of the impending release of these murderers and terrorists, call or send faxes to:

* Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
tel: 972-2-670-5555 fax: 972-2-654-67-17

* Defense Minister Amir Peretz
tel: 972-3-697-5436 fax: 972-3-697-6218

* Minister Avigdor Lieberman
tel: 972-2-501-2999 fax: 972-2-640-89-21

* Minister Eli Yishai
tel: 972-2-666-2252 fax: 972-2-666

Friday, January 05, 2007

Parshat Vayechi: Living With Faith

By Daniel Pinner

"Israel said to Joseph: 'Behold, I am dying. May G-d be with you all, and return you all to the Land of your fathers. And I have personally given you Shchem as one extra portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Emorite with my sword and with my bow" (Genesis 48:21-22).



This blessing of a special gift which Jacob granted to Joseph is a precursor of Jacob's blessing to all his twelve sons, his charge to each tribe of its unique task, and his tantalizing brief glimpse into the Messianic era. With this blessing, Jacob closes several historical circles. First, it is clear that there is a deep connection between Joseph, Shchem, and the Egyptian exile: The exile began with Joseph being sent to Shchem to look for his brothers 49 years previously (Genesis 37:12); and 233 years later, when the Egyptian exile was finally over and the 40 years sojourn in the Sinai desert was passed, when the children of Israel returned to their Land, the first station after conquering Jericho and its environs was Shchem, and the mountains overlooking it, Mount Eval and Mount Grizim. Immediately upon entering the Land, and before separating to their respective tribal territories, they assembled in Shchem to hear the blessings for obeying the Torah and the curses for forsaking it (Joshua 8:30-35), just as Moses had commanded in the last few days of his life (Deuteronomy 11:29, 27:11).



Nonetheless, an obvious question arises: Why did Israel grant the city of Shchem to Joseph (it was in the territory of Joseph's younger son Efraim)? – after all, it was Simeon and Levi who physically took it with their swords and bows. This closes another historical circle: Efraim and Menashe were Joseph's sons, "whom Osnat, the daughter of Poti-phera, priest of On, bore to him" (Genesis 41:50). Actually, Osnat was not the biological daughter of Poti-phera: "Pharaoh renamed Joseph Zaphenatch – Paneach, and he gave him Osnat, daughter of Poti-phera, priest of On, as a wife" (Genesis 41:45), which the Targum Yonatan renders: "…he gave him Osnat, whom Dina bore to Shchem, and he was raised by the wife of Poti-phera, priest of Tanix [On], as a wife". The midrashim are consistent in identifying Osnat as the daughter of Dina whom she bore as a result of being raped by Shchem. Hence, her son Efraim was a grandson of Shchem, and upon dividing the land of Israel between the tribes, Shchem's descendants reclaimed their heritage – a particularly neat example of mida ki-neged mida (measure for measure).



In fact, however, although Shchem was located within the territory of Efraim, the city itself was one of the thirty-five Levite cities scattered throughout Israel (1 Chronicles 6:51-52); so that Levi, who had physically fought in the city of Shchem, ultimately inherited the city itself with its surrounding fields.



And where does Simeon fit in with this? – After all, he, too, had fought in Shchem. Immediately after massacring all the males in Shchem, Jacob questioned the wisdom of their action: "You have sullied my reputation, making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Cana'anite and the Perizzite, while I am few in number; should they gather together and smite me, I and my household will be exterminated" (Genesis 34:30). It is clear why Jacob feared the Canaanites: they were numerous and they occupied the area around Shchem. But the Perizzites? They lived in the south of the country, in the region between Jerusalem and Hebron. And those were precisely the areas, within the territory of Judah, through which the tribe of Simeon was scattered. Jacob feared the reaction of the Perizzites to Simeon's action – and Simeon was given the Perizzite areas.



The Emorites also occupied the general vicinity of the mountain range running north-south through Shchem, hence Jacob's reference to having taken Shchem "from the hand from the Emorites with my sword and with my bow". It is noteworthy that the Targum Yonatan, which typically gives midrashic rendering into Aramaic, translates this particular phrase literally; the Targum Onekelos, which is nearly always a direct, literal translation into Aramaic, paraphrases "…which I took from the hand of the Emorites with my prayers and with my supplications". (Onekelos homiletically reads the Hebrew "be-kashti" ["with my bow"] as "bakashati" ["my supplications"]). This phrase has been eternalized and popularized in Kaddish: "Titkabel tz'lot'hon u-va'ut-hon…" ("May the prayers and supplications be accepted…").



The commentators discuss which is the literal meaning – did Jacob conquer Shchem with sword and bow, or with prayers and supplications? The Targum Yerushalmi gives a beautiful, if alternative outlook: "And I hereby give you an extra portion more than your brothers – Adam's garment, which Abraham, my father's father took from the hand of the wicked Nimrod and gave to my brother Isaac, and my father Isaac gave to Esau; and I took it from the hand of Esau my brother, not with my sword and not with my bow, but by my merit and my good deeds".



The moral lesson is clear: On the physical level, Israel indeed took Shchem with the sword and bow. But Israel wins wars – whether against Esau, or whether against any nation who occupies this Land and claims it for themselves – not in the merit of superior physical strength, but in the merit of prayer and mitzvot. As in Shchem, the first battle the children of Israel ever fought – so every true Jewish army fights with "the praises of G-d in their throats and a two-edged sword in their hand" (Psalms 149:6).



SHABBAT SHALOM

Just Not Here!


BS"D

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

PARSHAT VAYECHI
16 Tevet 5767/5-6 January 2007


JUST NOT HERE!

“Please, if I have found favor in your eyes, . . . do this kindness and truth with me - please do not bury me in Egypt.” What was the cause and concern that our forefather Ya'akov had, not to be buried in Egypt?

Was it because of the pain at the time of the resurrection of the dead that will take place at the end of times, when our Rabbis teach us that Hashem will make underground tunnels for the dead to roll back to Eretz Israel?

True, there will be much pain in this rolling “back home”, but it’s not a 6000-mile journey, as some will have to take - but rather, a very short one, from Egypt to Israel. Rather, Ya'akov's main concern was that he feared that being buried there might give his descendents reason to consider Egypt their homeland. For they would reason that if Egypt was not a holy place - different from the rest of the exiles – Ya'akov would surely not have been buried there. Ya'akov wanted his children to forever know that life in the exile was temporary.

And Ya'akov had good reason to consider this, for in spite of all of his warnings, the Jewish people still clung to the exile, so much so that the great majority refused to leave, as the Torah teaches us: “And Israel settled in Egypt, in the land of Goshen, they took holdings in it and they were fruitful and multiplied greatly”.

The “Kili Yakar” writes that this sentence is speaking poorly about the Jewish people, for in a place where the Jews were supposed to be temporary dwellers, where they should have been waiting anxiously to return home, they became full citizens. One might say, more Egyptian than the Egyptians. So much so, that Hashem had to take them out with a powerful hand - against their will - for they wanted nothing else but to stay in old Egypt-land. And on top of that, only 20 percent came out, the other 80 percent were so immersed in Egyptian culture that they refused to leave, and unfortunately suffered the fate of the Egyptians - death. As the old saying goes: To death do we part!

Has anyone heard of such a thing? Has it ever been told in the generations of mankind that a nation refuses to be redeemed? But still, this is the sad fact of the Jews. Ya'akov foresaw this and tried to teach this lesson to his descendents that the exile is only temporary: not a place to hang your hat, not a place to build multi-million dollar shuls, not a place where people build their palaces and call them home – yet still, his cry went unheeded.

Even Hashem Himself, Master of this world, regretted making the exile, as the Talmud teaches us: Three things Hashem regretted, one being the exile. Why? In the place where the exile was supposed to be a punishment for the Jewish people, away from their homeland, the Jews turned this temporary place of residence and made it into a permanent dwelling. And not just in Egypt alone; unfortunately, we find that in all the exiles where the Jews lived, they refused to heed the call to return and stayed for the “good life” that the exiles had to offer them.

From Babylonia, to the golden years of Spain, to Germany, up to our day - the Jew clings to the exiles with all his might, trying as he does to hold back history as it unfolds before our eyes. Still, when push comes to shove, it is Hashem, with His out-stretched hand and mighty wrath, Who will bring home His people. Who will hear His call?

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Psalm 31: "My Times Are in Your Hand"

This chapter expresses the psalmist's faith that God will protect him against all enemies. Yet the meaning of the first part of the following verse is unclear:
"My times are in Your hand; rescue me from my enemies and my pursuers." [31:16] What does it mean that one's 'times' are in God's hand?

Hezekiah's Death Sentence

The book of Isaiah relates that King Hezekiah once became deathly ill, and Isaiah came to visit him. The prophet, however, did not have good news for the righteous king. "So has God stated: Set your house in order, for you will die and not live" [Isaiah 38:1]. Many people would have called it quits upon hearing a respected prophet pronounce a death sentence so decisively, but Hezekiah turned to the wall and prayed that he might live.

And God listened, adding 15 years to his life.

The story as narrated in Isaiah is quite brief, but the Talmud [Brachot 10a] fills in important details about the conversation between Isaiah and King Hezekiah. The prophet explained to the king the reason for his illness and imminent death. Hezekiah, however, refused to accept the heavenly decree, telling Isaiah firmly:
"Son of Amotz, stop your prophesying and leave! I have a tradition from my grandfather's house (i.e., from King David): Even if a sharp sword rests over one's neck, one should not refrain from praying for mercy."

King Hezekiah's response is surprising. It is one thing to have faith in God's protection when facing troubles and difficulties. But what made Hezekiah think that his prayers could cancel a heavenly decree - especially one confirmed by a prophet?

Beating the System

Decrees from heaven emanate from the eternal workings of the universe, from the overall system of interrelated chains of cause and effect. Prophesy also deals with this long-term perspective of Divine rule.

However, human beings are granted free will within the realm of the 'here and now.' We have the ability to change and improve, and we are judged accordingly. Divine providence takes into account our current state, freeing it from the binds of previous causes.

The efficacy of prayer is precisely in its ability to elevate the individual, allowing him to overcome decrees belonging to the future via spiritual growth in the present. For this reason, the Sages referred to prayer as "chayei sha'ah" - 'life in the present time' [Shabbat 33b]. Prayer is an instrument of our free will, allowing us to break free from the timeless forces of causality and change our destiny.

When Isaiah informed Hezekiah that he was sentenced to die, the king retorted, "Stop your prophesying and leave!" Your prophesy may be true, but it is only according to the yardstick of eternal Divine rule. We also have the power of prayer and "chayei shayah." "Even if a sharp sword rests over one's neck, one should not refrain from praying for God's mercy."

Hezekiah learned this lesson from his ancestor, King David. David's statement, "My times are in Your hand," meant that also his current times and activities are in God's hand and purview. This is the power of prayer, that it can uplift a person in his present state, overcoming decrees that come from the realm of causality and overall Divine rule.

[adapted from Ein Ayah vol. I, pp. 54-55]

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

500 Shekel Fine

Israel's criminal "justice" System continues its persecution of Teenage Girls


copyright (c) 2006 by Mr. Moshe Belogorodsky
mailto:ydf@013.net.il
http://www.honenu.org.il/site/index.asp?pg=home
www.honenu.org.il/english1.htm



YERUSHALIYIM, Israelite Tribal Territories of Judah and Benjamin, Kingdom of David and Solomon, United Israelite Kingdom of Judah and Joseph, Eleventh Day, Tenth Month ("Tevet"), 5767; Yom Sheini (Second Day of the Week/"Mon"-day, January 1, 2007), Root & Branch Information Services

[mailto:rb@rb.org.il] [www.rb.org.il]:


The travesty of justice in my daughter Chaya's case has finally come to an end.

On Sunday, December 3, 2006, the "trial" came to an end. Being pretty certain that the judge would convict Chaya on at least one of four counts in the indictment, I prepared some remarks regarding our case, which I was going to deliver in "court" during the closing arguments. At that point, parents are given the opportunity to plead for reduction of the punishment which the child faces.

What follows is the translation of these remarks from Hebrew:


I hoped for justice, but instead behold iniquity; for righteousness, but instead behold oppression" (Isaiah 5:7).

Thus does Isaiah the Prophet describes the judicial system of his time. Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun.

Clearly, Chaya was not the one standing trial in our case. It was rather the State of Israel in general, and its judicial system in particular, which had to prove themselves innocent. The test was simple and clear: Will the judicial system remain true to those very values which it itself proclaimed as sacred, or will it willingly become a tool and an aide to political persecution of the opponents of "disengagement" [August, 2005 Gush Katif Expulsion].

To my great dismay the system failed miserably in this test. It brutally trod upon all those enlightened values it itself sanctified: Civil rights of its citizens, the rights of children, freedom to protest, and most important -- equality before law. Our case is a classic example of outright judicial discrimination, based on the political needs of the Israeli "government".

The Israeli "justice" system made a complete mockery of its own judicial precedents. My 14-year-old daughter was arrested until the end of judicial proceedings against her. She spent 40 days in jail, under arrest for the very same "crimes" that the Israeli Left commits almost daily. They are never treated in the way my daughter was treated. Here is just one example of this outrageous discrimination:

On July 10th, 2006, Ms. Dana Olmert -- none other than the daughter of our Prime Minister -- together with a number of Left-wing activists -- organized a demonstration against the I.D.F. in front of the Chief of Staff Halutz's home. They carried signs saying "Halutz is a murderer -- Intifada will prevail!" and shouted out to the residents: "Beware -- a murderer lives next to you". Why did not any of the more than 30 policemen at the scene arrest Dana for insulting a public official and supporting terror?

What about the case of two Left-wing radicals -- Netta Golan and Shelly Nativ? In April, 2001, at the height of the Arab riots, Netta & Co. decided to protest against the uprooting of Arab trees near the village of Dir Istyah. Hundreds of Arab attacks against Jewish motorists were carried out from this orchard. That fact did not bother Netta and her friends, who chained themselves to the trees to prevent the I.D.F. from uprooting them.

Netta and Shelly were arrested for "preventing a police officer from carrying out his duties". They were prosecuted and convicted of this crime (which is more serious than Chaya's "insulting a police officer") by "Judge" Maimon-Shaashua in a Kfar Saba "court".

The "judge" sent them to be interviewed by a probation "officer" (just as Chaya was) to determine their punishment. The probation "officer" recommended being very lenient with Ms. Golan and Ms. Nativ, as "their actions were motivated by a positive humanitarian ideology".

"Judge" Maimon-Shaashua was so touched by this that she overturned her own previous decision to convict Golan and Nativ, and acquitted them because they were motivated by "positive humanitarian ideology". Maybe you can explain to me why protesting the uprooting of Arab trees is more positive and humanitarian than protesting the uprooting of Jews from the Land of Israel?!

You said in your "decision" to convict Chaya that "the criminal conviction causes a permanent stain on the accused, a stain that will follow him wherever he goes". Sometimes the opposite is true. Sometimes, a criminal conviction causes a permanent moral stain on the "judicial" system itself.

This was the case with the "judicial" system in Soviet Russia when it used criminal law to persecute refuseniks. What of such famous "criminals" as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King? They too were convicted when they protested against unjust laws. It took decades for the American "justice" system to recognize its own injustice towards these people, and the moral stain that their criminal prosecution left on the system. Today, these "criminals" are considered national heroes and all of America celebrates Martin Luther King day.

The time is near when the current Israeli "justice" system, too, will be replaced by a truly just system -- one based on our Holy Torah. Until that day, you should know that it is you -- all the "judges" involved in this case -- who have put the last nail in the coffin of our trust in this current system. After going through this mockery of justice we have come to realize that those teenage girls who refused to recognize your moral right to judge them were indeed absolutely correct. We cannot hope to get justice in your courts.



Needless to say I was cut off early on and not allowed to say all of the above for the "court" protocol. The reason? In the words of the "judge": "This court is not a political rally". No, it's not. At least not for Right-wingers.

Chaya was acquitted, as I expected from the very beginning, of two of the more serious charges in her indictment -- rioting and interfering with police work. None of the prosecutions' witnesses -- police officers present at the scene -- made any claims in their testimony that Chaya rioted. It will be interesting to find out how and why the State Persecutor's (prosecutor's) office decided to indict Chaya for this crime, without having any facts at all on which to base this accusation.

As for interfering with police work, the only one who made this accusation was the policewoman who claimed that Chaya "insulted" her. During her testimony, however, this policewoman could not explain or demonstrate in any way exactly how Chaya interfered with her police work. The "judge", therefore, had no choice but to acquit Chaya of that charge.

I was fairly certain that the "judge" would convict Chaya on the charge of "insulting" the policewoman. It was the officer's word against Chaya's, and even though the officer was forced to admit a number of times that she did not remember many details of the event, the "judge" accepted her version of the events over Chaya's.

If everything was so clear to us from the start, why did we go through with this farce of a "trial"? The truth is, I had a very faint glimmer of hope that the "judge" would have enough courage to throw this case out of "court". Our case was so clearly political and discriminatory that any "judge" with an ounce of guts should have thrown it out of "court". The guts, unfortunately, were nowhere to be found.

So Chaya was convicted. The punishment? 500 shekels fine. Even though Chaya had already spent 40 days in jail before her trial began. Even though, according to their own "rules", she should not have spent even 40 seconds there.

Why the fine? It is clear to me that the "judge" wanted to add insult to injury. Throughout the duration of our "trial" none of the "judges" involved made even the smallest effort to pretend that they were interested in justice. To the contrary. Their message was crystal clear: We are at war with you, we want to break you and your child, and none of the rules we created for the "justice" system apply to you. What I saw was a vicious, brutal determination to break us, to show us our place -- at the back of the proverbial bus.

Many of you will find the above rather disturbing. Please consider that I arrived at these conclusions based on my experience with no less than 6 "judges", a year-and-a-half spent in "courts", and statements made regarding our case by numerous lawyers and law professors (including those from the Left).

What can we do to protect ourselves? We must organize and unite behind our own civil rights organization -- Honenu. Strong Honenu is the only way to stand up and fight these types of abuses. Honenu was there for us every step of the way.

Just as Honenu has been "there" for hundreds of other Jews, young and old, who are persecuted by the injustice system for being Right.

May we live to see the restoration of our judges "as in former times"



Shalom from Shilo,


Mr. Moshe Belogorodsky
mailto:ydf@013.net.il
http://www.honenu.org.il/site/index.asp?pg=home
http://www.honenu.org.il/english1.htm