29 July 2015

The Status Quo for Jews, part 1

14 Menachem Av 5775

Status Quo:  Latin, the existing state of affairs[source

The 10th of Av 5775, the postponed fast day of Tisha b’Av, saw violence once again on Har haBayit (the Temple Mount).  The 26 July 2015 edition of the Jerusalem Post, at the time of the incident, noted:
the Jerusalem police said they would "continue to have zero tolerance towards any attempt to disrupt the order and harm the status quo," and said the police would arrest anyone rioting at the site and would work to bring them to justice to the fullest extent of the law. (emphasis mine)

Towards press time, this quote did not appear; however, the use of the term was attributed to the Arabs.  I wonder why I am having this 1984 moment, because this is a typical example of The Status Quo as it applies to Jews — even between Jews — and I want it stopped. How about you?

Usually, the term status quo is experienced as neutral, or even positive, and perceived to keep peace unless someone has caused, or is considered to have caused, a breach within it. When it comes to the lives, property and rights of Jews and Israel, whether subtly or overtly, it is as though a complete shattering would take place if we were left alone in peace, to rest and rebuild in our homeland from all the persecutions, exiles and murders that have been brought upon us for the last 2,000 years …the world would simply...collapse.

Rashi warned us right in the first pasuk (verse) of Bereshith (Genesis) that we would be accused of thievery when we came back to our land, and how to reply, very simply:
 א בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ
 1 In the beginning of God's creation of the heavens and the earth.
בראשית: אמר רבי יצחק לא היה צריך להתחיל [את] התורה אלא (שמות יב ב) מהחודש הזה לכם, שהיא מצוה ראשונה שנצטוו [בה] ישראל, ומה טעם פתח בבראשית, משום (תהלים קיא ו) כח מעשיו הגיד לעמו לתת להם נחלת גוים, שאם יאמרו אומות העולם לישראל לסטים אתם, שכבשתם ארצות שבעה גוים, הם אומרים להם כל הארץ של הקב"ה היא, הוא בראה ונתנה לאשר ישר בעיניו, ברצונו נתנה להם וברצונו נטלה מהם ונתנה לנו:
 In the beginning: Said Rabbi Isaac: It was not necessary to begin the Torah except from “This month is to you,” (Exod. 12:2) which is the first commandment that the Israelites were commanded, (for the main purpose of the Torah is its commandments, and although several commandments are found in Genesis, e.g., circumcision and the prohibition of eating the thigh sinew, they could have been included together with the other commandments). Now for what reason did He commence with “In the beginning?” Because of [the verse] “The strength of His works He related to His people, to give them the inheritance of the nations” (Ps. 111:6). For if the nations of the world should say to Israel, “You are robbers, for you conquered by force the lands of the seven nations [of Canaan],” they will reply, "The entire earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He; He created it (this we learn from the story of the Creation) and gave it to whomever He deemed proper When He wished, He gave it to them, and when He wished, He took it away from them and gave it to us. [source]
But. It seems to others that we, too, prefer the status quo. We lose human rights, we get beat up and forcefully evicted from our homes and neighborhoods, towns and cities; we get all kinds of insult thrown at us, and YES, WE PROTEST! — and virtually no one hears about it — because, bottom line, whatever we do is wrong. We’re the Jooooooos, the tail of the nations, the rejects of the world. Yes, they may say "Israelis," but once in a while they slip and say "Jews" - as this article from Canada articulately notes. That is the Status Quo; and we, especially our leadership in Israel, do not react as though anything is wrong with the rank embarrassment happening to us “in front of G-d and everybody” at the hands of the nations, even though we have our own country. If anything, they join the world in our degradation, as if they do not share it with us. Does anyone else see anything wrong with this situation? Here is a partial list of items many Jews believe about ourselves:

  •  There will always be hatred between groups of Jews, coming from both sides. We don’t just dislike our brothers and sisters who disagree with us; we despise them, we can’t discuss anything calmly with them, we HAAAAATE them; and it goes both ways for those who indulge in it. Would we have to paint everyone with such a broad brush if we could speak in a more composed manner with one another?
And I could go on, and on, and on. But there is... 

As always, haShem has created a cure ahead of the disease, but it is for us to discover and take the food or medicine for our own good. Let’s take a look at it in Part 2.

DISCLAIMER: I consider my small post to be, at best, a tiny introduction to a proper treatment of this enormous topic. I hope someone (and I believe Someone) is keeping track. Already this past Shabbat Nahamu 5775, Jews in Israel were attacked by Arabs in more than 4 dozen separate incidents. The list is still being updated by the Jewish Press, translating this haKol haYehudi (Hebrew) page — and does anyone else care?  H/T Tomer Devorah

26 July 2015

Four-Legged Snake Fossil Found. But, Did It Tempt Eve?

11 Menachem Av 5775

It looks like the question of the serpent in the Garden of Eden may be solved, finally, outside the Jewish world. Jonathan Webb, science reporter at BBC News, has the story, published last Friday:

A 113-million-year-old fossil from Brazil is the first four-legged snake that scientists have ever seen. 

Some inquiring minds will want to know whether this snake, or one like it, tempted Eve (Hava haRishona, namesake of this blog). It reminds me of what Rashi says about the nahash in Bereshith (Genesis) 3:14. First, the verse:

יד וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהִים | אֶל הַנָּחָשׁ כִּי עָשִׂיתָ זֹּאת אָרוּר אַתָּה מִכָּל הַבְּהֵמָה וּמִכֹּל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה עַל גְּחֹנְךָ תֵלֵךְ וְעָפָר תֹּאכַל כָּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ:
 14 And the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed be you more than all the cattle and more than all the beasts of the field; you shall walk on your belly, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.

Now, the salient part: 
 על גחונך תלך: רגלים היו לו ונקצצו:

you shall walk on your belly: It had legs, but they were cut off. — [from Gen. Rabbah 20:5] 
[Source of all Hebrew and English (small type), including translation]

Now, Rashi lived in the 11th C. CE...and I find it funny to think that now we've finally caught up with him and seen with our own eyes (I don't take pictures from the sites I cite; you'll have to go there) that there is such a thing as a snake with legs. I'm not saying that these are the bones of the ophidian body the crafty one used to tempt Hava haRishona; however, they'll have to find at least one more skeleton like that to convince me that they're not.

Fair enough? 

23 July 2015

4 Special Shiurim concerning the Beit haMiqdash

7 Menachem Av 5775

a Yom Iyun/יום עיון (Day of Learning) in English
 at Yeshivat haRa'ayon haYehudi 
Jerusalem, Israel, July 21, 2015 
Concerning the BEIT HAMIQDASH

Videos in order of appearance:

Menachem Gottlieb: The Problematic Prayer for Tzahal (43:59)
Rav Yehuda Richter: Why the Beit haMiqdash was Destroyed (43:23)
Rav Chaim Richman: The Loss of the Holy Temple and What It Means (45:10)
Rav Ephraim Sprecher: Knocking on Heaven's Door (28:45)

Videographer: Yaacov Goldman

Be encouraged and get involved in whatever way you can!!! I hope discussion will also be meaningful beyond the Three Weeks...

19 July 2015

The Iran Deal: Silver Lining in the Mushroom Cloud?

4 Menachem Av 5775


The whole world knows by now that the United States signed a deal with Iran last week that basically leaves the latter to do whatever they want regarding nuclear weapons. It doesn't take a prophet/ess to figure out what comes next: Who wants to bet that Iran is not at this very moment on the fast track to showing that it in fact has them and is ready to use them?

First, on Israel...

When the threat is formally announced, those who have one will take out their Isaiah (Yeshayahu) volume of Yalkut Shimoni and read yet again that oft-quoted passage:

א"ר יצחק שנה שמלך המשיח נגלה בו כל מלכי אומות העולם מתגרים זה בזה, מלך פרס מתגרה במלך ערבי והולך מלך ערבי לארס ליטול עצה מהם וחוזר מלך פרס ומחריב את כל העולם וכל אומות העולם מתרעשים ומתבהלים ונופלים על פניהם ויאחוז אותם צירים כצירי יולדה, וישראל מתרעשים ומתבהלים ואומר להיכן נבוא ונלך להיכן נבוא ונלך להיכן נבוא ונלך, וואומר להם בני אל לתתיראו כל מה שעשיתי לא עשיתי אלא בשבילכם מפני מה אתם מתיראים אל תיראו הגיע זמן גאולתכם, ולא כגאולה ראשונה גאולה אחרונה כי גאולה ראשונה היה לכם צער ושעבוד מלכייות אחריה אבל גאולה אחרונה אין לכם צער ושעבוד מלכיות אחריה

Rabbi Yitzchak said: 'In the year in which the Messiah-King appears, all the nations of the world are provoking each other. The King of Persia provokes an Arab king and the Arab king turns to Aram for advice. And the King of Persia goes back and destroys the entire world. And all the nations of the world are in panic and distress and they fall upon their faces and are seized with pains like those of a woman giving birth, and Israel are in panic and distress and asking 'where shall we go? Where shall we go?,' and He says to them 'my sons, do not fear; all that I have done, I have done only for you. Why are you afraid? Do not fear, your time of redemption has come, and the final redemption is not like the first redemption, because the first redemption was followed by sorrow and servitude under other kingdoms, but the final redemption is not followed by sorrow and servitude under other kingdoms. (emphasis mine)

(Thanks to this Gil Ronen article from 2011. I don't know whether he translated this himself or, if not, where he got it from.)

We need all the reminding we can get in advance of, and during, this terrible moment. (I don't have a hard copy of this collection, but anyone who wants could print out this post!) Whether or not this is midrash or prophecy or both (see this post on R' Josh Waxman's Parshablog for an interesting discussion between him and R' Yeranen Yaakov, 9 April 2015), we are, so to speak, poised on the edge of a cliff we may not be able to back away from.

So, we (I most certainly do include myself) might as well take a look at the good hidden in the situation (waddayameanbydat?!?!?!?). I welcome your advice on any points I may have missed or got wrong! 
  1. First, we must take a deep breath or two and remember that the One who created the world still runs it. Neither the leaders of Iran nor the US know what's on His mind. Hint: Better take a look at those 10 Commandments the US state supreme court of Oklahoma has been working on declaring unconstitutional and taking down lately.[1]
  2. We Jews who take our Torah seriously know that everything He does is for the sake of Eretz Yisrael (the land and the people who rightfully belong on it). That's right, Nations of the World. Everything you have tried has turned out good for us, no matter how hard you sought to make it.
  3. We in Israel have a chance to participate in a recreation of the battle between Avraham Avinu and the 4 kings, where we're way outnumbered but win anyway, just as our Patriarch and his 318 soldiers did so long ago. And what about the War of Independence and the 6-Day War? This time, the nations just may stay out of our way (I pray!).
  4. Iran wants a war to bring the Muslim version of the Mashiach, the Mahdi. He won't have much to rule over if they succeed in destroying far more than G-d intends, so I think they'll not be so happy about the results. After all, it is a frank admission that they can't rule a population of billions, even though they want to rule the whole world.
  5. The same goes for the Esavian/pagan New World Order folks; they intend to depopulate the world as well. See the book of Ovadyah (Obadiah). They still don't realize this book is all about them.
  6.  Those non-Jews who live among us in Israel may not want to die among us in one fell swoop. Iran will likely promise Arabs that they will be able to return here to a Jewless country; and Xians know that no one but the government of the Jews defends them in this part of the world (just try to find a church, let alone a neighborhood in Nazareth or Bethlehem, now Muslim enclaves); one way or another, they will leave.
  7. Those Jews whose motives for living in Israel deliberately oppose their Creator's expectations will likely find it not worth hanging around to be bombed to smithereens. Included are those who take part in beating down their fellow Jews physically and legally for defending themselves against their blood-enemies, stepping foot and living anywhere in their country they please, and being a free people in its own land. These sons of Jewish mothers (which would be a good thing, if they weren't our very worst enemy!) also accuse us and our ancestors of thievery from neighboring Arabs, who squatted in this land only as long as they could survive. Well, guess what - it turns out that these Arabs require our presence[2] to live in this land. These Jews, who decided that Israel was born in sin, might be better known as spiritual children of the Erev Rav. Without them, well...we might...actually breathe easily, as we were supposed to when we got here fresh from the European ghetto, Nazi holocaust and Muslim dhimmitude and deportation[3] alike.
  8. It takes a lot of emunah to stick it out, but those who have it, Jew and non-Jew alike, will have front row seats (and even be on stage?) for the Final Redemption of Creation, may that come speedily in our days, yea, even this very hour!
Here's A Torah Prespective on Iran and Aharith haYamim (the End of Days) by Rav Yitzchok Fingerer, to help us keep our heads on straight while this is all going on.

May we merit to see the crowning of our righteous Mashiach even before any of these terrible things happen, has v'shalom; even before the fast of the 9th of Av (held over to the 10th because it's Shabbat) so that it will immediately turn into the feast it was always meant to be!

1 Interestingly, the Governor has taken issue with this. We'll see how it ends. If badly, how long before the rest of the country follows suit?
2 That's why we silly Israelis keep sending supplies over to a Gaza that these people created by an operation then called "The Disengagement" at this very time of year 10 years ago. If the Gazan Arabs could survive on their own as a real country, they could make, grow or create most goods themselves. What, they still can't grow food there after the Jews of Gush Katif proved it could be done?
3 This sounds kinder, but take a look at this blog for a better understanding of how Mizrahi Jews had it under the Muslims.

UPDATE: Now that it is obvious that the crowning of Mashiach has not happened yet, here is another article to read: How Obama Got to 'Yes' on Iran: The Inside Story.
UPDATE: 24/11/15 Another development: US State Department:  Iran Deal is Not 'Legally Binding' and Iran Didn't Sign It: How does this affect the timing of Iran's acquisition of finished nuclear weapons? 

A more nuanced view of Zionism

3 Menachem Av 5775

The blogger known as Devash, whose blog is Tomer Devorah, recently posted an article by Reb Daniel Pinner of K'far Tapuah, How Are The Mighty Fallen!

The second half of this article is about the part of Zionism the vast majority of people in the world don't know about, much less discuss: what is today called Revisionist Zionism, led by Vladimir Jabotinsky.

I'm sure that I, like many people, didn't fully know who Jabotinsky was, especially how close his connection was to the Zionist movement and how much he initiated within it before the Leftist leadership got rid of him. So, I've investigated more on the subject and hope to contribute my small part to the commentary.

Here, exposed, is the Left and Right of Zionism — Socialists (or Labor Zionists) and Revisionists, respectively — as well as a Left and a Right to religious Jewish groups (off-topic for today). Most people who hate Zionism in fact despise its Socialist side (and, in fact, have good reason for so doing); however, they might be mistaken if they think it is the whole of Zionism. The same goes for those who think that all the European rabbis in WWII times were responsible for keeping themselves and their followers there, to be slaughtered by our ever-present enemies, then in the form of the Nazis. They might also have no idea that those spiritual leaders they have no respect for might have been of similar bent as the leftist Zionists; would they have wanted to be lulled to sleep in the lands of their exile as much as the socialist Zionists wanted to lull them? — and that there were many who really wanted to leave and bring their followers along, but were refused by the nasty Leftists, some of whom were exposed later (e.g., Rudolf Kastner, whom al-HaAretz is STILL trying to exonerate in this 2013 article.*). 

There is far, far more to the story of how millions of Jews were left behind to the tender mercies of the Nazis than this summary can give. I, too, believe that an incredible number of Jews could have been saved from the Holocaust — and Zionism itself would have a better reputation today — if Ze'ev Vladimir Jabotinsky had been its leader at the moment of decision.

In the merit of Ze'ev ben Yevno v'Chava, I also wonder how much more we would have been able to accomplish here in Eretz Yisrael in preparation for the Geulah Shlemah (Complete Redemption) of the Jewish People and the world.

*Note for those who can't read it but want to: I believe I got the full-length premium article because it came up in a search - I am never able to read an entire HaAretz article when other people offer these links, so it makes me care even less about that dirty rag, in addition to not appreciating the commenters who offer them — not to mention that I will never pay for a subscription to read the very occasional article I read and, even less often, refer to. Google "kastner trial" and click on "Israel Kastner vs Hannah Szenes: Who was really the hero during the Holocaust?" It helps to keep in mind that the issue was the majority of the population of Hungarian Jews whom Kastner left behind; he could have saved them all and didn't try.

08 July 2015

The Families of "Our Boys": We are growing through the pain...

21 Tammuz 5775

Last Erev Shabbat (the day before Shiva Assar b'Tammuz, when we would have fasted except that it was Shabbat), a ceremony took place honoring the first year's existence of Oz v'Ga'on, built in honor and memory of Naftali Frankel, Gil'ad Sha'ar and Eyal Yifrah, who were murdered last year and dumped not far from Hevron. Here is the video, in Hebrew with English voiceover:

I was not there. I'm just reminding my dear readers that people here in Israel still think of them, even if it's long over as far as the rest of the world is concerned. For that matter, we think of all our murdered ones...removed from the world just because they were Jews. May HaShem Boreh Olam (G-d, Creator of the World) rid the world of evil and those who cling to it, thinking it to be good, and bring justice and peace to the world through the crowning of our righteous Mashiach for the sake of these martyrs, who died al kiddush haShem, "על קידוש ה.

For more, go to Women in Green.

07 July 2015

Was G-d at Auschwitz?

21 Tammuz 5775

A Three Weeks Special: 
R' Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students, Diaspora Yeshiva, videotaped 5 July 2015 (the delayed observed fast day on 18 Tammuz) at the OU Center, Jerusalem.

To read articles by R' Sprecher - or watch more videos...

Someone must have been praying for me...thank you.

20 Tammuz 5775

I had responded to a fellow commenter on Reb Dov Bar Leib's End of Days blog concerning my idea for my own blog, and even given out its name, which I'd had in my head for probably the last 5 years or so. That is a long time to hesitate; but I realized that because I had revealed my idea, anyone who stopped by and read it might be able to take it before I did. I understand that this is not necessarily the best of motives, but there it is. We'll see how it goes from here.

I want to thank anyone who took the time to think of me in positive terms in relation to having my own forum. Here is its story:

Most Jews in the know refer to Hava haRishona, the First Eve, wife of Adam haRishon, the First Adam. Most people understand who Eve was, and her co-starring (or starring, depending on who you're speaking with) role in how the world came to be the way it is now.

Because by all accounts and all Jewish religious authorities (just Google them!) we are nearly at the end of the End of Days, there has to be a Last Eve, or Hava haAharona. She is not me; she is far more learned, smarter and discerning than I; however, neither of us are prophetesses (there are 7 of them in the Tana"ch). Her mission in life is to do her best to correct the mistake of Hava haRishona by clarifiying things, separating good from evil as kindly as possible (with the caveat that, sometimes, kindness will not be possible). I pray and hope that my writing will help her do her job.

Howell, NJ Parah Adumah (Red Cow): P'sulah!

20 Tammuz 5775

First, a little translation: pasul/p'sulah פסול\פסולה means invalid, unacceptable.

I have been following the story of the all-red, Highlander/Black Angus heifer from Herb Celler's farm in Howell, NJ since this story broke January 14, 2015. Over 35,000 people, including many rabbis, have gone to examine her for her qualifications as a potential Red Heifer. I even have a picture of her on my computer.

It seems that one very important thing was overlooked, and it came out in the news last Friday: The two-year-old cow is now what farmers call a first-calf heifer — meaning she's now a mommy, which disqualifies her as a potential 10th Parah Adumah. To make matters worse, in terms of what would have been this all-important milestone, the calf is black, like its dam's parents, so it (the article doesn't specify its gender) cannot replace its mother as the new potential Red Cow.

At least I can be happy for the cow. She gets to live a happy, normal life at Mr. Celler's homestead (and a name, too, I hope). Mazal tov on the new baby, and may they both be healthy!

Although I am happy for the addition of a new bovine — and admittedly I have never had a farm or been a farmer — I imagine one thing that might occur to a cow owner in this situation to do, as a matter of course, is a pregnancy check. Even though Mr. Celler made a point to tell his hired hands not to touch this cow and not make her work, he certainly couldn't have informed the bull(s) not to go near her!

The saddest and most embarrassing part of this whole episode is that it looks as though she was pregnant (in calf, as it's called) the entire time period that she was gaining so much attention. (Cows, similar to human beings, have approximately 9-month gestations.) It brings to mind that we Jews, as we progress from exile mode to redemption mode, need to become more aware of the life cycles of the animals that are mentioned in our holy books, particularly those with as much importance as the Red Cow. Even if we don't farm for a living.

As we approach the end, we must hang on to our emunah and not despair. As fast as this cow came and went, another can arise. HaShem still holds the key to childbirth - of man and animal alike. 

Next time, for sure? Maybe. With G-d's help. 

Oh, by the way, welcome to my new blog.

For more about the Red Heifer, see The Temple Institute's The Mystery of the Red Heifer: Divine Promise of Purity.

In case you're wondering where I get my bovine information, check out the Keeping A Family Cow Forum.