10 August 2020

Who Gives Sovereignty, the World or G-d?

20 Menachem Av 5780

Yes, I'm still on the topic of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. I strongly feel the need to keep my eyes on target despite all our troubles, and those of the world.

Karni Eldad writes on the Sovereignty (Ribonut) website concerning an enemy state on Israeli territory, as provided for by US President Donald Trump's Peace to Prosperity plan:

One of the key clauses that supporters of establishing a Palestinian state try to use to calm the concerns of the opposition is the clause that stipulates the demilitarization of the Palestinian state. A demilitarized state that will not have any significant weapons will not pose a threat to the State of Israel, they state. This statement seems logical, but is such demilitarization at all possible? General (res.) Gershon HaCohen is familiar with the matter both in its practical aspect in the field and at the level of research and in an interview with Arutz 7 he responds to the question in the absolute negative.

General HaCohen explains there how war and weapons have changed a lot since 1967, the keys being the miniaturization of everything and the ease of building weaponry that can be used in a civilian manner (dual-use) from the internet and even with the help of a computer. And there's a lot more specific information where this came from.

What worked for Israel in the past, strategy-wise, won't even touch the problem now.

And Israel has a bigger problem. Our leadership still has the attitude that we can't do anything without the approval of the United States. Because the USA is still busy with the riots and protesting there — not to mention the upcoming election — our sovereignty issue has been pushed under the table.

Let's just admit to ourselves that, despite our accomplishments, we've been nothing but a vassal to the US until now, and go on from there. I'm not saying we should be giving up. This is the pit we're in, and we have to figure out how to get out of it. No stone must be left unturned, including telling ourselves the truth — that we can't rely on any nation to help us without making sure our enemies are right beside us and living among us so that we're within attack range — even the one we think has been our best friend for the decades since the Six Day War.

Then we must consider that we have more than just ourselves to think about. The last I read, we're expecting some 250,000 new olim in the next few years.
(At least one rabbi thinks there may be some 100 million Jews out there waiting to come home (here's where he says it, so you don't have to hunt for it — this video is from June 2020, right before the start of his first 40-day journey. We will need a lot of room for them! NOTE: People who wish to go on his next 40-day journey are invited to sign up here ahead of time, and review the other videos on the site.)

The current system may need to be opened to allow for something the people who support it have been pushing off for a long, long time: The existence of G-d.

My husband asked me to look up Kosovo recently. Among other things I found that it is not universally accepted by all the nations of the world either. But does this tiny land in the middle of the Balkan Mountains get hassled the way Israel does? No. Does it get publicly shamed constantly? No. One hardly hears of it.

There is a lot of precedent of different nations having a tiny taste of what Israel has been on the receiving end of for a couple thousand years. If they are still jealous of us, as most nations seem to be these days, have they thought about what their problem with us is?

I suspect I saw a clue in last week's parasha, Ekev, at its very end. D'varim/Deuteronomy 11:25...


The middle Rashi above comments on a particular phrase: pahdechem umora'achem. They both mean fear (the "chem" part refers to Israel in the second person plural), as explained above.
In particular, the latter word, mora'a, denotes long-term anxiety and dread, according to the Artscroll translation of the Rashi (paper book, no link). Is a couple thousand years long enough? Does this explain the pamphlet "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and the book Mein Kampf, and many other publications of all kinds, including in Arabic these days?


No man will stand up [before you]: From this verse it is understood only [that]“a man” [will not be able to stand up before Israel]. How do we know that a nation, a family, or a woman with her witchcraft will also not be able to stand up before Israel? Therefore, it says: לֹא-יִתְיַצֵּב, “there will be no standing up [before you]”-at all. If so, why does it say:“man”? [It means any man], even as [mighty as] Og, king of Bashan. - [Sifrei] לא יתיצב איש וגו': אין לי אלא איש, אומה ומשפחה ואשה בכשפיה מנין, תלמוד לומר לא יתיצב מכל מקום. אם כן מה תלמוד לומר איש, אפילו כעוג מלך הבשן:
The Lord… will set] the fear of you and the dread of you [on all the land]: Heb. פַּחְדְּכֶם וּמוֹרַאֲכֶם. Is not פַּחַד the same as מוֹרָא [both meaning fear]? But [the answer is that] פַּחְדְּכֶם“the fear of you,” refers to those near by, and מוֹרַאֲכֶם,“the dread of you,” to those distant, for פַּחַד denotes“sudden fear,” and מוֹרָא denotes anxiety enduring many days. פחדכם ומוראכם: והלא פחד הוא מורא, אלא פחדכם על הקרובים ומוראכם על הרחוקים. פחד לשון בעיתת פתאום. מורא לשון דאגה מימים רבים:
as He spoke to you: And where did He speak [about this]?“I will cast My terror before you” (Exod. 23:27). - [Sifrei] כאשר דבר לכם: והיכן דבר (שמות כג, כז) את אימתי אשלח לפניך וגו':

Does this explain why we have been, and still are, constantly and insistently pressured not to do what haShem told us to do when we return to our land? While at the same time they support those who threaten extinction of Israel with impunity??? (Thanks and praise be to G-d that we weren't blown up last week, as was intended by HEZBOLLAH. Thank you, R' Lazer Brody, for pointing this out clearly.)

Why do we think we need to bend to these pressures, since they are driven by fear, and nothing more? Do we really need their permission, now that we're back, to claim our full Land, to claim our entire Ancestral Homeland???
Only G-d gave us this land. Only He took it away, temporarily. Only He has the right to say who may live on it. All we have to do is openly say so, driving our fear away. 
What gives the Muslims and the Christians the right to claim our land on behalf of their gods, but not us?

We allowed this situation out of weakness (by the time we were to declare the state, we were coming out of the Holocaust!). Seventy two years have passed. We can take our allowance back now that we know to rely on the One who is strong, and Who commands us.
any, many Jews are on our side (and many are not, too. We need to ignore them for now.).

We can do this because when we do, we will have backing from the Holy One, our Source of Blessing.

For only He gives sovereignty to whom He will give sovereignty. 

Just so that you have some context, here are more examples of nations being given the lands of others — especially p'sukim 4-12 — in the same manner as the land we Israeli Jews live on, by HQB"H in the book of Devarim/Deuteronomy, chapter 2.

Ein 'od mil'vado | There is none other than Him | אין עוד מלבדו

22 July 2020

Two Short Rabbi Sprecher Articles: "Life's Journeys" and "Nourishing G-d?" + Video

Originally posted

Posted: 16 Jul 2020 09:38 AM PDT

24 Tammuz 5780

Posted again 1 Av 5780 because the first one didn't work!

Life’s Journeys

“These are the journeys of the Jewish People that left Egypt ….” (Bamidbar 33) The Baal Shem Tov taught that these 42 journeys that the People made from the time they left Egypt until they arrived at the Promised Land correspond to the 42 Spiritual Journeys that we make throughout our lives. We begin from birth, just as the Exodus from Egypt is the Jewish Peoples national birth. The final journey is to the spiritual Promised Land and to the life that awaits us in the World to Come.

Although some of the intervening journeys during the trek through the desert were accompanied by setbacks, also all the stops on our spiritual journey through life has it’s ups and downs.

If we choose good over evil, we will live through these stages of life as G‑d intends. Just like the Jewish People in the desert, if we make some wrong choices, we will experience them as temporary setbacks.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that in every step of the journey of life, we strive to make the right choices. But we should also recognize that even spiritual setbacks can be transformed into positive growth experiences. As the Kabbalah teaches, Yeridah v’Tzorech Aliyah, Sometimes in life You have to go down spiritually in order to ascend higher and higher. On the long and winding road through life, sometimes we descend and sometimes we ascend, just like the Angels going down and up the ladder in Jacob’s dream.


Nourishing God?

“G‑d tells the Jewish People “You must guard My offering, My FOOD for My fire offering.” (Bamidbar 28) G‑d calls the offering His daily “food”, for just as food sustains the body, so did the offering draw sustaining Divine life force into the world.


The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the constancy of the daily offerings express the eternal bond between G‑d and the Jewish People. Today we have no offerings. Thus the daily prayers were instituted to parallel the daily sacrifices and substitute for them in the absence of the Beit HaMikdash.


Thus, explains the Rebbe, our daily prayers also “sustain” G‑d. If we ever doubt how important our prayers can be, we should recall that G‑d considers them vital to the world’s existence and maintenance.


Therefore, prayers are as important to G‑d as our daily food is to us. Prayer is the original soul food and is essential for our well being as well as G‑d’s!


Note: Rabbi Sprecher's students and friends are raising money for him because he lost his paying job at the OU Center and because his health is worse than we had thought. The link will be coming soon, and I will post it under the "Pray for the Sick" section of the sidebar on the right and on my R' Ephraim Sprecher Videos page. In the meantime, please continue to pray for Rav Ephraim Avraham ben Rivka.

Thank you!

12 July 2020

Interviews with Real Puerto Rican Jews: Arroz con Devorah Video Show

the light of 21 Tammuz 5780

Some of my readers might remember Juan Epstein, the "Puerto Rican Jew" character from an American situation comedy ("sitcom") television show from the 1970s called "Welcome Back, Kotter."

I apologize for this corny introduction; the sitcom was the first time I had ever heard of Puerto Rican Jews, and they were presented as a running joke. (I even have relatives I've referred to as "my Juan Epstein cousins" in the Bronx, because of this show.)

Most people who watched probably don't realize that there really are Puerto Rican Jews — real sons and daughters of Israel, from the island of Puerto Rico — and that they have been around for over 500 years. No joke.

In real life, they are anusim who arrived in PR from Spain (Wikipedia), keeping quiet so as not to attract attention from the Inquisition — which, although it was officially called off in 1968, is said to have an office in Rome to this day.

It seems they hid very well, since even Wikipedia doesn't know about the families to be represented in the Arroz con Devorah show with Devorah Esther as our host.

Geula shlemah (complete redemption) is coming soon, and it is hoped that many from this group will be joining us here in Israel. I personally asked the question about how they view Israel's land reclamation process, and how relevant it is to them, and I hope they will be discussing the issue in future shows.

The main topic of discussion is how Devorah Esther's guests discover their families' Jewish past, and what happens after they complete their conversion (back) to Judaism.

Here's the introduction to the series, and for the rest you can go here (the most recent series is on top, and the cover photo looks like the one below.).

Devorah Esther's new book, The Last Anusah, is also available on Amazon.

Tizku l'mitzvoth ! תזקו למצוות

P.S. Despite the Spanish title of her show, Devorah Esther interviews in English, with Spanish, Hebrew, and other languages lightly sprinkled in.

25 June 2020

When a Rabbi is Right, He's Right! Land concession IS like wife sharing...

3 Tammuz 5780

A view of the Shomron (source)

Land concession is like wife sharing. That's how Rabbi Shlomo Aviner put it in a recent interview with Rabbi Mordechai Tzion regarding our side of the Peace and Prosperity Plan ("Deal of the Century") that the United States is proposing - not to mention all the proposals since 1948.

Here is what Rav Aviner said when asked whether Israel should agree with the deal, counting on the Arabs to refuse:

Q. Some say that politics is just talk anyway, and therefore we can agree to this deal, because for sure the Arabs will refuse, and then we'll come out the good guys and we'll reap the benefits.

A. Regarding the Land of Israel, even just talk of betrayal is a terrible sin. It would be like a man who says that he agrees to lend his wife to his neighbor a few days a week, in the knowledge that his neighbor won't agree; this is also betrayal.

We all remember the Rosh HaShanah story of Rav Amnon who, under pressure from the king to convert to Christianity, finally said that he would "think about it." When he realized the he had actually given the impression that he might consider converting, he had terrible regrets, repented of his sin – and died with great suffering.

Incidentally, there is no guarantee that the Arabs will not agree. There were cases in the past when they agreed. When it comes to our very existence and national soul, we don't gamble. After all, the ties between the Nation of Israel and the Land of Israel are not those of a peddler and his wares; they are rather like man and wife, a bond of life.
Read more from whence this passage was taken. This article was translated from Hebrew by Hillel Fendel.

I think that's at the heart of all the difficulties we have been having over our Land. Too many Jews here, especially the leadership of almost all the parties (Yamina being a notable exception), have had ambivalent feelings toward her at the very least. And the Arabs have always refused any deal with us until now.

Aretz/eretz ארץ is feminine, therefore the Land is feminine...so go ahead, call her Mother Eretz Israel. I suspect it's also where R' Aviner got his simile above.)

Surrounding these difficulties like a layer of heart tissue is the propaganda campaign initiated by the KGB and inculcated into Yasser Arafat to win the hearts of the world to his side, against us.

We can overcome this layer by examining the picture we each hold of the Land we love, and by increasing our love for her.

It isn't easy, as we saw recently in parashath Shelah Lekha שלח לך, Send for Yourselves. The people who lived on her at the time were intimidating. So are the people who lived here when we returned, some of whose descendants still live here now.

Lately, I've been reading over and over messages to the "settlers" of Yehuda and Shomron that they are interpreting the Plan wrong, and the maps as well. How many times over the last two-and-a-half decades have they been wrong? Actually, they have a better track record than the rest of the country. They also have the most "skin in the game."

They were correct to declare that we should never have abandoned Gush Katif and northern Shomron. We are still paying the price, fifteen years later; even as I type now, the denizens of Gaza have resumed their terror war against us (terror balloons, rockets, etc.(1): Our fellow citizens who live near the border fence can probably tell us it never stopped).

The Arabs do this because they have heard that we're offering them parts of our land, and they stand to benefit, if they pressure us enough!

They were correct to declare that we should not confine our borders as strictly as the Left would have us do today. Remember when Abba Eban called them "Auschwitz borders"? Even the Left knew better back in Abba Eban's day.

And the settlers are correct now, insisting that we should not give up the right to claim all, yes, ALL, of our territory and not leaving any of our towns and villages in enclaves where people who live there would have to abandon them or die, making things worse for ALL ISRAELIS. Let's not kid ourselves: The less we defend our rights to the whole Land (at least up to the Jordan River), the more the world will demand that we abandon ALL of it altogether, until there is NO MORE ISRAEL. How can any Jew anywhere in the world really stand that, after all we've been through in just the last century alone???!!!

And that's just the "derekh eretz" part of it, including simple logic and past experience. But we read a parasha every year, which we just read again last week, that spells out just how important our Creator thinks it is that we appreciate what He's given us here. The leadership that discouraged us was killed on the spot, and the rest of us had to spend nearly 40 years in the desert thinking about what we'd done wrong - which led to more wrong, as we'll see this week and the rest of the book of BaMidbar (Numbers).

Perhaps a lot of our troubles are still the part of the 40 years that we didn't spend in the actual desert, but are still suffering the loss? Are we still reaping the results of our lack of gratitude way back then, and since then?

And one more "derekh eretz" thought: Younger Jews, especially those who are not related to Holocaust survivors or those who perished, have not been bearing the loss of the Six Million (or more or less) as long as we older ones and are farther away from it, and so appear to be more vulnerable to suggestions that it wasn't as real as it actually was, and that it isn't as important now. It's something to think about, if for no other reason that after 72 years we still haven't recovered our numerical strength to where we were at the beginning of the Second World War, unlike the rest of the world, which has far outstripped us!

Eighteen million really isn't that large a number in the grand scheme of things, and we should have been there many years ago if we were like the other nations. This is what "assimilation" and "intermarriage" have done to us since the Holocaust.

In any case, all Israel (the people) is a family. At the very most, we divide ourselves by tribe, and not by race or other criterion. And we have a Land, much of which is still waiting for us to take it to our bosom with love.

Do we hear the land's melody within us? Rav Dovid Mark explains...there are no deals on Eretz Yisrael, you just won't hear the niggun. Land concession is like wife sharing. So, our "wife" will not share her songs with those who treat her like just any old dirt, to be bargained away to suit someone else's age-old agenda.

Also, remember when Jordan annexed the "West Bank"? They deny it now, but they did, to the disapproval of most of the world. Because it really did belong to someone else before, and that "someone else" is us.

The nations know it, or else they would have thrown out their Bibles long ago, or burned them in public as they did the Talmud in ages past. I dare them to try that again!

Here's what kind of enemy we're dealing with among us...https://youtu.be/xFJyptyJjrs - h/t to Avi Abelow from Israel Unwired, here. (Of course, Blogger wouldn't let me embed the video.)

Our Land should be free of people such as these; and we shouldn't be giving money to them!

And here are two very recent news posts, on Arutz 7: Dr. Hagai ben Artzi, world authority on the Tana"kh, declares that the Jordan Valley must be Israel's eastern border. And: a "black hole" has been embedded in the "Peace to Prosperity Plan." See the explanation by Orit Strook, former Member of Knesset.

As Dr. ben Artzi, PM Binyamin Netanyahu's brother-in-law, said to him:

"Bibi: Be courageous, move ahead. The Jordan Valley must be declared as the eastern border of Israel, and this will be your heritage."

Of course, I think we need to extend sovereignty over all of Yehuda, Shomron and Emek haYarden (Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley). See the video below!

(I would have embedded this video too, but Blogger wouldn't let me, once again!)

One last thing: Every last one of us Jews in this country needs to stop debasing ourselves, our religion and our land! The Lubavitcher Rebbe (his 26th hillula is today) noted (with much pain, I'm sure) -- in 1976:

“Never before have Jews turned themselves into Canaanite slaves! Since the religious Knesset representative is ashamed to say outright that he is a Canaanite slave, he calls this a religious accomplishment!

“The situation has reached such a low that they have agreed to surrender to the Arabs any piece of land that they will demand with the sole stipulation that they will draw this out for an extended time in order to show outwardly that they are taking a strong stand of resistance. If they were doing this in the name of Karl Marx, it would be well understood, but why are they doing this in the name of Torah?”

Read the rest here. And please, stop appeasing the goyim, including and especially the Arabs! No matter over how little land we extend sovereignty now, we will still get the same war. We might as well give them something to really cry about, and exercise all self-defense measures and even offensive measures, no matter how much the rest of the world objects!

And, while we're at it, let's take back our heart, Har haBayit, and reunite Yerushalayim too!!!

You know that if the goyim really loved, and were really following, HQB"H, they would have stopped objecting to our taking our land back years ago. So, let's be strong and take courage!

Land concession is like wife sharing...especially in a time when we are looking forward to the complete redemption. It's a sin to even speak of betraying our Land; all the more so to actually hand her over to another, G-d forbid!

(I almost posted a map of an Arab's view of Yehuda and the Shomron, complete with a flag of "Palestine" stamped on the territory of Binyamin, where Har haBayit is located. I wonder how my readers would have reacted to that.)

(1) All the news sources I reviewed note 2020 attacks only in January and February. All noted "Palestinian" rocket attacks on Israel are here.

14 June 2020

Only HaShem can give us the Land of Israel

22 Sivan 5780

Two and a half weeks from now, Israel plans to take sovereignty over an as-yet-to-be-determined portion of the lands of Judea and Samaria (the map above is from 9 June 2020, and as far as can be determined, it is not final.).

Our representatives don't need to insult the president of the United States, or the leader of any country, or their teams, who are offering their advice, insisting that we not act on this decision over land that has been ours for centuries, and that was won back in the 1967 Six-Day War.

We can simply explain that, no matter who on the earth gives "permission" to the Jewish People to take back our Land, it is G-d who gives the land to us. No leader on earth has the right to place conditions on it because it is not their place to do so, no matter how many changes and versions they may come up with.

(Not to mention that some 400 Israeli rabbis have opposed the Deal of the Century peace plan as a "clear continuation of the Sin of the Spies." Here's an explanation. And what will happen as a result of the secret line the US has made with the "Palestinian" leadership?)

King Cyrus of Persia (Koresh in Hebrew) teaches us how to grant this permission without offending the Almighty. A great skill to have today, unless a leader is among those who is trying to push against Mashiah (h/t to Neshama here).

As Ezra 4:3 puts it:

ויאמר להם זרבבל וישוע ושאר ראשי האבות לישראל לא לכם ולנו לבנות בית לאלהינו כי אנחנו יחד נבנה לה’ אלהי ישראל כאשר צונו המלך כורש מלך פרס:


And Zerubavel and Yeshuah and the rest of the family heads of Israel said to them: It is not for you together with us to build a Temple for our God, we (the Jews) will build (it) for HaShem, the God of Israel as Koresh, the King of Persia, has commanded us.

(The heart of the translation is by R' Nachman Kahana; I finished it according to the passage he quoted in Hebrew. - HDG)

Koresh told us to go home and build the Beit haMiqdash ourselves. It is the same today. As Rav Kahana continues (my emphasis):

Zerubavel evoked the eternal principle that in spiritual matters "three is a crowd." In matters between the Creator of heaven and earth and his chosen nation, Am Yisrael, no gentile hand is to be tolerated...The answer is crystal clear. Reject the American plan so as to remove them from the process, and then declare annexation as Jewish – Israeli right by virtue of our historic and Biblical rights to the land from our sole benefactor, the God of Israel.

Since the nations are offering us free advice on how (or whether) to advance our agenda on "annexation" (extension of sovereignty is the proper legal term for it!...) of land that was ours to begin with, I offer this back to them (I'm looking at you, United Nations, European Union, and most of all, the Israeli Supreme Court[1]):

Leaders of the nations may only command what G-d demands; no more and no less. Beyond that is hubris; this is what Koresh taught Bible-readers. Not to us Jews, but to Him! Even if you are atheist and don't believe in Him, just try leaving us to "our own devices" on this one. Back off, and see what happens.

Perhaps you are hoping that our enemies will devour us once you leave us alone; but it doesn't matter what you think or hope (genuine worry would be nice of you; but I don't expect that, considering your track record.). With G-d's help, we are soon to have the majority of the Jewish population of the world right here in Eretz haQodesh. Only He can decide when that will occur, and this will have major effects on how world events will affect the Jewish Nation, as well as how we observe Jewish Law.

I have a special word for the Israeli Supreme Court. Because of your treasonous actions against the State of Israel and the Jewish People that you have gotten away with until now, especially since the 1995 ruling of then-Chief Justice Aharon Barak that "everything is justiciable," I propose that — instead of limiting the sovereignty plan as our Prime Minister is mulling over — we take sovereignty over ALL of Judea and Samaria. Never mind the Regulation Law that you just nullified, it won't be necessary once this is done. We cannot have a foreign state sitting on our land; we have seen the results of allowing people whose goal it is to rid the world of us to live here among us, to begin with, without it being official.

Banishment of our enemies would be better than war, if at all possible, with or without compensation. But if there is need for war, it should be conducted properly, without our soldiers having to get permission to shoot our enemies dead whether they come after us with weapons, or they plan to do so.

Back to my readers: The best way to understand why we need to do this all at once, and take such pains, is to expose how the Russians advised Yasser Arafat back in the 1960s how to keep us low, small and dependent, and how to turn the world against us seemingly forever. Read this history and let's stop being freierim, being submissive to the demands of our would-be murderers for political correctness' sake!

A question that has recently come up is whether the rest of the Arab world really has given up on the "Palestinians." Are they just saying that in order to fool us, or do they mean it? They shouldn't blame us for asking, given all the times they have indeed said things opposite to what they intend. And, in any case, we should not make any decisions on the basis of how the rest of the world, even the Arab world, feels about us or the non-Jews who live among us.

If they didn't have an issue with Iran, would they tire of the "Palestinians"? Would they need us? Personally, I would rather have friends and associates who don't need "issues" with others in order to cooperate with me, let me live in peace and give me space, in a place where everyone else has more than adequate room for their needs.

Another thing to remember is that other countries who have "Palestinians" living among them don't give them so much as the time of day, let alone cooperation, space, peace and enough to eat. But the world leaves them alone. It's not that they care about these Arabs; rather, they hate us, the Jews. I have a hard time believing that the rest of the Arab world really wants us around for any reason while they neglect the needs of "their" "Palestinian" siblings.

There is plenty of room to go around for all of us, even if we had all the land the San Remo Conference decision "gave" us in 1920.

Please, try not to worry too much about us offending the world. The world has offended us more than long enough. Standing up for ourselves and taking sovereignty from the river to the sea is the least we can do. The sowing of alarm among the nations should not stop us.

Only HaShem can give us the Land of Israel, and make it stick. We just have to gratefully receive it from His loving and holy hand alone!

[1] To the article linked to, I would only add that Israeli government officials who promote the negation of Jewish rights in our homeland, and to our homeland as delineated in the Bible, in favor of others should be tried and sentenced to an appropriate punishment, which I am not qualified to decide. After all, many have perished due to their decisions, overriding Knesset decisions against, to take bulldozers to Jewish towns and villages, leaving us vulnerable to every predation by our enemies who live too close to us! It is against their role as fellow citizens of the land, lacks common sense, and is the opposite of what is practiced in any other country for their citizens, let alone what G-d wants of us. And if the entire government is guilty, then so be it. Bring on Mashiah and the Jewish Law-based government!

12 June 2020

The Spies’ Tunnel Vision + VIDEO (Parashath Shelah Lekha - Israel)

20 Sivan 5780

   by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher
Are we able to defeat the Giants? (Remember Willie Mays?) The Torah tells us that the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael were y’lide ho’anaq, remnants of a race of Giants. When the M’raglim, the Spies, returned with their report, they announced: “The people that dwell in the land are fierce, and the cities are fortified and very great; moreover, we saw the children of Giants there.” (Bamidbar 13:28) And again, (Bamidbar 13: 32,33) reference is made to the anshe middoth, the men of great stature, and the n’philim, the primeval Giants.
The Torah wants to impress upon us the fact that not Bigness was to conquer and hold the Holy Land – but Greatness. The Spies used the wrong measuring rod of Bigness, and that was their tragic and fatal error. However, G‑d desires Greatness not Bigness. This view of Bigness vs. Greatness is expressed in many places in Tanach. Yitzchak referred to Eisav as bno hagadol (his big son) (Bereshit 27:2), and the Rabbis comment, Hashem said to Yitzchak, “Im gadol hu b’einecha, baeinai hu nanas shebananasim.” “By your standards Eisav may be Big; but by My standards Eisav is a dwarf, a spiritual midget.” (Bereshit Rabba 65:11)
In the 16th Chapter of Shmuel Aleph we are given a beautiful description of the Biblical concept of Greatness, as opposed to the popular concept of Bigness. The prophet Shmuel is sent to Bethlehem to select a successor to Shaul Hamelech in the kingship. One by one Shmuel looks upon the sons of Yishai and thinks that this one or that one is the anointed of Hashem, but Hashem says to him: Al tabeit el mareihu v’el g’vah komato…ki lo asher yireh haadam, ki haadam yireh laeinayim v’Hashem yireh laleivav.” “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature… for it is not as a man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but Hashem looks in the heart.” (Shmuel Aleph 16:7). And it is Little David who was physically shorter than all of his brothers, who was selected, not by the standard of Bigness, but by the measuring rod of Greatness.
Bigness is measured from the chin down; but Greatness is measured from the chin up. A person may be the biggest and tallest player in the NBA and still be a mental midget. The Greatness of a people is no more determined by their number than the Greatness of a person is determined by his height. This is certainly true in the case of Israel. As the Torah says: “For you are a Holy People to Hashem, your G‑d… Hashem did not choose and desire you because you were more in number than any people – for you are the fewest of all peoples…” (Devarim 7:6,7).
We were selected because of Greatness, because of being an Am Kadosh (a Holy People) and not for our size and numbers. When we are counted it is from the chin up that we are counted – ki thissa et rosh – “when you raise up the head…” (Shemot 30:11) Naso et rosh, “When you lift up the head…” (Bamidbar 4:22).
Judaism is a religion which does not stress Bigness. For Bigness, a key word in our society today, is very often bought at the expense and pain of others, but true Greatness is attained by developing the best within ourselves. That is why the Am Kadosh (the Holy People) never had to fear the B’ne ‘Anak – the Giants. For ultimately our spiritual Greatness must triumph over the Giants, mere Bigness.
Thus, the end of the Parsha of the Spies deals with the Mitzvah of Tzitzit. Rav Soloveitchik explains that the blue Techelet of Tzitzit is a symbol that all events in life are as profound and mysterious as the deep blue sky. For example, why certain people suffer and others don’t. The Talmud in Menachot states that the blue Techelet of Tzitzit reminds us to look up at the blue heavens and admire the incredible, vast expanse of endless space, leading to its Source, the Ein Sof – G‑d. As Tehillim 19:2 states, “The Heavens tell the glory of G‑d’s Greatness”. By admiring and appreciating G‑d’s Greatness, we can achieve and attain our own greatness as well.
The tragedy of what the spies reported was due to their using the wrong measuring rod because of their Tunnel Vision and NOT relying on the Torah’s Vision.


Please pray for complete healing for Rabbi Sprecher: R' Ephraim Avraham ben Rivka.
Thank you!

05 June 2020

The Menorah – Light Up My Life!

13 Sivan 5780 | Erev Parashath Beha'alothkha
for the ascension of the soul of Yerachmiel Lipman Nissim ben Ezra and Alegre
לעילוי נשמת ירחמיאל ליפמן ניסים בן עזרא ואלגרה

   by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher | first posted here at Hava haAharona
Parshat Beha’alotcha begins with the Mitzva for the Kohen to light the Menorah daily, in the Mishkan and later on in the Beit HaMikdash even on Shabbat.
What is the message of the Menorah for us when we have no Mikdash? And we know that the Torah is G‑d’s GPS (G‑d’s Personal System) for us in the year 2020 and beyond.
The Mishna (Avot Ch. 4) teaches, "There are three crowns: The crown of Torah, the crown of Kehuna (priesthood) and the crown of Monarchy." Corresponding to these three, with which Israel were crowned, there were three crowns on the Temple vessels. The crown of Torah corresponds to the gold crown, which was set on the Ark of Testimony (containing the Two Tablets). The crown of Kehuna corresponds to the incense altar, for only regarding the Kohanim (priests) does it say, "They shall place incense in Your Presence, and put sacrifices on Your Altar" (Deuteronomy 33:10). Finally, the crown of monarchy corresponds to the table in the Sanctuary, for tables, which in Biblical and later Hebrew can symbolize wealth and bounty (see Psalm 23), may here be viewed as evoking the economic and political power of the state.
Still, the Mishna adds that there is yet another crown, "the crown of a good name," which "surpasses them all." This crown is NOT enumerated among the others. Rather, it is kept separate from them and it stands on its own. To what does this crown correspond in the Temple?
The Maharal of Prague associates this crown with the fourth vessel of the Temple - the pure-gold Menorah. The Menorah has no gold crown on it. Neither is it made of acacia wood inlaid with gold. Rather, the whole menorah is like a pure golden crown, embellished with golden cups, spheres and flowers. The crown of the menorah is not something extrinsic to it - the menorah itself is a crown.
It is the same with a person’s good name. It is not an external crown that is placed upon his head. A man's good name touches on his very essence. It includes his whole personality in all its components. It is not an external image, fashioned by public relations professionals, photographers, and newsmen. A person’s good name is the reputation that he earns for himself through his whole life's work, all his deeds and ventures. That is why this crown surpasses all the others.
A man's good name does not find expression at the beginning of his life. Rather, it is acquired through strenuous, daily toil over the course of one's whole life. King Solomon therefore said, "A good name is better than precious oil" (Ecclesiastes 7:1). But however good it may be, oil is applied externally to a person's body, while a person's good name is that person himself.
Moreover, that same verse concludes, "and the day of death is better than the day of birth." Only on the day that a man dies is the good name that he acquired for himself during his life fully revealed. The Menorah causes us to reflect on the type of life we are living.
Please pray for complete healing for Rabbi Sprecher: R' Ephraim Avraham ben Rivka.
Thank you!