25 December 2016

My Rebbe and My Mentor...by R' Ephraim Sprecher

26 Kislev 5777
2nd Candle of Hanukkah

R' Goldstein, right - speaking at the Diaspora Yeshiva on Mount Zion. Photo credit: Ben Bresky.

 My Rebbe and My Mentor...by R' Ephraim Sprecher

It is with great sadness that I write about the passing of Rabbi Mordechai Goldstein zz"l, Rosh Yeshiva of the Diaspora Yeshiva on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Despite being extremely ill these past three and a half years and being confined to a wheelchair, he continued to give outstanding shiurim in the Yeshiva.

An early Talmid of Rav Aharon Kotler in Lakewood and Rav Henoch Liebowitz at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim in Queens, Rabbi Goldstein was the first pioneer of the contemporary Ba'al Teshuvah movement in Israel. In 1965, before there was a concept of a Ba'al Teshuvah Yeshiva, Rabbi Goldstein established the Diaspora Yeshiva in Jerusalem, which was opened to one and all. He loved and accepted all Jews without being judgmental. After the 1967 Six Day War, the Diaspora Yeshiva moved to Mount Zion, the site of King David’s Tomb. The Lubavitcher Rebbe told Rav Goldstein zz"l how privileged and fortunate he is to have King David as a next door neighbor.

I was a student in the Yeshiva in 1970 when I was twenty years old. One morning as I lay in bed, Rabbi Goldstein sat down on my bed and shook me gently and with love in his eyes told me, "Ephraim, it’s time for Shacharit, G-d is waiting for you." When I made Aliyah in 1994, Rav Goldstein zz"l invited me to teach in his Yeshiva. He told me that I was to be his spiritual fireman. My job was to put out the fires of assimilation and secularism which are threatening to consume many lost Jewish souls.

The prophet Malachi states, “The lips of the Kohen-Rebbe imparts knowledge, and Torah you shall seek from his mouth, because he is an Angel of G-d.” The Talmud in Chagiga explains this verse, that if your Rebbe is like an Angel of G-d then study Torah from him, but if not, don’t study from him. This is a strange statement because Kohelet teaches “There is no Tzaddik on Earth who does only good and never sins.” Every person sins! So according to the Talmud we should not study Torah from any Rebbe? But the explanation is, that the difference between an Angel and a person is that an Angel can’t move forward and cannot progress spiritually. Unlike a person who can move forward, grow, advance and progress spiritually. So the Talmud means that if your Rebbe is willing to give up his own spiritual growth and progress for his students, that’s the type of Rebbe you should seek out.

This was exactly Rav Goldstein zz"l who was willing to sacrifice his own spiritual growth and advancement in order to teach Ba'alei Teshuvah who were ignorant of Judaism. He loved all his students like his own children. Rav Goldstein zz"l knew how to push everyone’s spiritual buttons to motivate them to realize their full potential. He was not just my Rebbe and Mentor but also my dear friend who helped me through the difficult times in my life. I will miss him sorely. May his memory be a blessing to his family and all of Israel.

Blogger's note: Our own Diaspora Yeshiva connection began with R' Mordechai's son, R' Avraham Goldstein, who visited us in our diaspora city and even gave a shiur in our house. R' Avraham became the Rosh Yeshiva of Diaspora when the Rav became ill. After I made aliyah and finished ulpan, I spent almost 2 years learning with the Rav's wife, Rabbanit Mollie Goldstein, at Machon Roni, Diaspora's Torah Seminary for women (también Midreshet-Roni enseña a las mujeres en español. Yo creo que la Yeshiva también enseña a los hombres; pero, a mi pesar, no encontré ninguna página con que enlazar.). My husband began studying with R' Sprecher at Diaspora Yeshiva some six months after our arrival, and is still learning with him more than 9 years later.

More Diaspora Yeshiva: Diaspora Yeshiva's Pre-1967 History, The Vatican and Mount Zion (featuring a 2013 audio interview between the Rav's son R' Yitzhak Goldstein, now Diaspora's Rosh Yeshiva, and Judy Simon, Arutz 7) | Facebook | Diaspora Yeshiva Band | About the Yeshiva

09 December 2016

Motherhood and Amona - R' Nachman Kahana

9 Kislev 5777
Erev Shabbat Vayetze'


BS”D Parashat Vayaitzai 5777
Rabbi Nachman Kahana

The Ultimate Joy of Motherhood

Normal people place great value on having children. But in our parasha the desire for children and the joy and delight exhibited by our grandmothers Rachel, Leah, Bilha and Zilpa upon the birth of their children go beyond the natural feeling of motherhood.
Their delight was in the knowledge that they were chosen to be a major part in the biggest saga in human history – they were to bring into this world the beginning of the 12 tribes which would comprise Am Yisrael.

Ya’akov, undoubtedly, made them aware of the dream he experienced on the Temple Mount, where HaShem promised that his children would be the chosen of all nations to receive the Torah, inherit the Land and enjoy eternal life. Each child was a world unto himself. The characteristics of Reuven were radically different than those of Shimon; and Levi was a world apart from all the others.

To this day, every halachically born Jewish child brings with him and her a holy soul from the upper realms of the spiritual world (converts are pure Jewish souls who for reasons unknown to us had to go through the conversion process).

My grandmother Leah (being a Kohen, I am from the tribe of Levi, Leah’s third son) was overwhelmed with joy when her sixth son Naftali was born, because with his birth she brought forth half of the tribes of Am Yisrael.

Rachel was devastated when Ya’akov’s other three wives gave birth to children while she was barren, until HaShem blessed her with the 11th and 12th tribes – Yosef and Binyamin. Rachel had the unique privilege of giving birth to Binyamin in Eretz Yisrael; the only one of the tribes born in the Holy Land. And while Binyamin’s soul was descending from heaven, his mother’s soul was ascending to the highest realm of the shamayim, as she passed away just after naming the boy.

Bringing Jewish Children into the World

The Jewish nation has the questionable distinction of being one of the numerically smallest in the family of nations. To number around 10 million (halachic Jews) after being in the world close to four thousand years tells the whole story of the price we have paid to survive in a world that rejected HaShem’s Torah in search of more “user friendly” religions which permit the hedonistic desires of the human race to sin and yet feel holy about it.

A Jewish child is a perfection that passed the inspection of the Almighty Himself. The Gemara (Nida) reveals that every Jewish child while being conceived is given an angel who teaches the soon to be born soul the entire Torah. At birth the knowledge of Torah is deposited in the inner recesses of the child’s consciousness – but it is not forgotten. So that in effect when we learn Torah we are not attaining new information but retrieving what we already knew from the recesses of our inner selves.

This answers a question regarding the lovely song at the end of the Pesach Seder – echad mi yodai’ah (Who is aware of the “One”).

The song contains 13 stanzas, each dealing with a number beginning with one till 13.
1 is our God
2 are the Holy Tablets
3 our fathers: Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov
4 our mothers: Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah
5 books of the Torah
6 books of the Mishna
7 days of the week
8 days until a brit mila
9 months of conception
10 Commandments
11 stars in Yosef’s dream
12 tribes
13 attributes of HaShem

All the numbers in the song relate to issues which are totally Jewish except for number 9 which is universal: The nine months of conception. Why?

In fact, there is no exception. Because the author was referring to the nine months of conception of a Jewish child, which as stated above is different than all others of the human race. These are the 9 months of Torah study from an angel – one on one.

To be blessed with a Jewish child is to expand the boundaries of Gan Eden to make room for one more holy soul.

(Judaism and the concepts stated above have nothing in common with what is commonly called racism. Race is a situation one is born into and cannot change. Just as a mouse cannot turn into an elephant, a member of the black race can never turn into a Caucasian and visa versa. However, one who was born a gentile can become a Jew and attain a Jewish neshama as if he were a newborn, hence Judaism is not racist.)

An ugly practice has entered into the mainstream of many Jewish communities in the galut and has started to trickle into our holy land. People are getting married later in life – into their thirties, rather than in their early twenties, as was the norm when I was a young man. Without going into the many negative aspects from a halachic and moral viewpoint, these individuals will in the best case bring but 2 or 3 children into the world.

Sexual perverts not only sin against HaShem, for which they will be severely punished, despite all the rhetoric justifying their right and need to be accepted; they betray the future of our nation. For any such couple will not bring a Jewish child into the world.

Late marriages, perverted sexual preferences and just regular non-orthodox families who have two children (and a dog) will eventually disappear, and the Jewish nation will be comprised of orthodox God-fearing families who fulfill the first mitzva in the Torah “pru u’re’vu” – multiply and be fruitful.

Part Two

The Settlement of Amona


In the parasha, Ya’akov rests for the night on Mount Moriah, the future Temple Mount. There he sees the dramatic vision of the angels who guarded him in Eretz Yisrael ascending the ladder to return to heaven, to be replaced by lesser angels who were sent to guard him in the profane galut.

And HaShem appears to Ya’akov saying:
הארץ אשר אתה שוכב עליה לך אתננה ולזרעך
The ground you are lying on I will give to you and to your descendants
The Gemara (Chulin 91b) records the explanation of this phrase by Rabbi Yitzchak:
מלמד שקפלה הקדוש ברוך הוא לכל ארץ ישראל והניחה תחת יעקב אבינו, שתהא נוחה ליכבש לבניו
This comes to teach that HaShem folded (as it would be) all the land of Yisrael placing it under Yaakov, so that it would be easy to liberate and settle the land in its time.
Rabbi Yitzchak was expressing the idea metaphorically, that in the future Yehoshua Bin Nun at the head of the Jewish army would liberate the Land without sacrifice.

I submit that the phrase is telling us that just as a human being comprises a single indivisible entity, so too will the holy land be from this moment on an indivisible entity belonging exclusively to Ya’akov’s descendants.

International law has classified the State of Israel as a “military occupier” of the West bank and the Golan.  Six UN committees have taken an even larger step towards the muck and mire of political insanity when they declared that the Jewish people have no historic or religious connections to the Temple Mount or to the Kotel.

The Israeli High Court ordered the destruction of the Amona settlement after being in place for 20 years. The court sees itself as being subordinate to international law rather than to Jewish, tradition and history.

One cannot be an occupier in one’s own land. Yehuda and Shomron are the heartland of Eretz Yisrael which was presented to the Jewish people by the Creator. However, when one denies the Torah, it is just a short ideological distance to adopting a gentile orientation and the desire to be accepted by the gentile world.

To uproot the Amona, just as was the uprooting of Gush Katif and giving the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt by Menachem Begin, is a “slap in the face” of the Creator and a denial of our own history.

The highest goal of this generation is the return of our people to the holy land. It overrides any claim to private property some gentile might have, as in the words of Eliyahu the prophet to King Achav when he murdered Naot in order to attain his vineyard:
רצחת וגם ירשת
You have murdered and then taken possession of the victim’s property.
The Romans murdered our people 2000 years ago and the gentiles who came in their wake stole our land.

Amona will be taken down, because of the High Court’s coercive police power. But let it be recorded in the protocols of the Medina, that just as we today have to accept the court’s judicial order, that when the time comes and the law of the land will be the Torah, all people in the Medina will have to comply.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5777/2016 Nachman Kahana
 The video below is a very rare and raw look (yes, it was very bloody and it looks like some people nearly died!) at what happened in Amona 10 years ago, from Honenu. I am afraid that by declaring that they would not oppose the government forces this time, they may have invited themselves to be punished now just as they were then (may it never be. I hope to haShem that I'm wrong!), because whether or not they opposed the evacuation, THE GOVERNMENT'S PURPOSE THEN WAS TO PUNISH THEM, PERIOD. The evacuation takes place tomorrow night, Motza'ei Shabbat.

Let us have the active emunah (אמונה) to support the villagers of Amona (עמונה) this time, however we can! HaShem is with us, especially when the world is not!

Shabbat Shalom!

Some history on Amona


State to request delay of Amona evacuation
Ari Fuld discusses the legal issues surrounding Amona with Simcha Rothman, legal adviser  of Meshilut (the Movement for Governability and Democracy - no Web site yet) on his radio show Bulletproof.
The Complex Nature of the Land
The Regulation[1] Law: Historic Achievement or Farce?

[1] Hasdarah הסדרה, or Resolution in Hebrew -CDG

02 December 2016

"We are Character Witnesses..."

2 Kislev 5777

This post is dedicated l'iluy nishmat my safta, Nazira Cohen Mizrahi, z"l. Unfortunately, I didn't know her - she passed when I was 2 years old and we were on the other side of the country from her (the US, not Israel...) - and I don't know her parents' names. She was born in Haifa in June 1900 as far as I know, and passed on 3 Kislev 5718.

I still have relatives in Haifa, but I have not had a chance to reach out for, or to, them. If anyone can help me put this puzzle together, please comment.

R' Berland in court in South Africa, from the Randburg Sun. The article I linked to notes that while the charges against him are severe, he is not listed on Interpol. Hmmm.

The injustice continues in Israel at the behest of the nations, whose aim it is to destroy her, no matter how. One of their favorite targets is rabbis who manage to win secular Jews to observance. Rivka at Emunaroma.com threw down the gauntlet: "...when one of the leading Gedolei HaDor [R' Dov Kook of Tiveria] puts out a public statement clearly linking Rav Berland’s persecution by the Israeli government to these fires - no-one quoted it. No-one mentioned it."

Well, in my last post I linked to it, and now I will mention it, as fully as I can.

For the past several years the sweeping hand of Erev Rav injustice has come against Rav Eliezer Berland, loaded with invective, slander and libel (If the legal system here had proof, it would have been presented by now. They aren't known for hesitation, particularly when it comes to religious Jews. Apparently the "proof" they had previously hasn't held up to serious scrutiny; in fact, it hadn't met the burden expected of it in Holland and other places. It has gotten to the point that someone is trying to take all the Rav's videos down from YouTube based on false accusations of copyright violation. Shuvu Banim Yeshiva vouches for them on its Web site.). The news here (the voice of the Israeli government, or should I say "system"?) says one thing; some rabbis say another and other rabbis say yet other things (see this search for example). Along with all this, too many people trust the news above all else and haven't kept in mind that every report is hearsay. And a lot of people want to see him jailed until he dies, from the accusatory commentary I'm reading — which I won't link to. I would rather see real legal proceedings...if there are going to be any.

Torah basically commands that a judge not favor either a rich person or a poor one. It doesn't matter whether he is a rabbi, the prime minister or a garbage collector (and even though he could be much more): If he (whoever he is) is innocent, he shouldn't be in jail, and he shouldn't be harassed. The principle is that an innocent person should not be in prison, no matter if he (or she) is the simplest or the greatest; and there is no excuse good enough. The only way to find out is through a real trial, if there are real charges to be brought. Case closed.

The following people bear witness to the Rav's character, wholeheartedly believe he is innocent and that he should be permanently freed immediately. (I'm sorry only because I cannot compile a complete, comprehensive list.)

Apparently the government also does, since he has been freed several times, only to be put back into prison!

Absurd, right?

I am not speaking to people who uncritically believe every word out of a newspaper or TV presentation, no matter where it comes from in the world, even here in Israel. It is clear that they frequently, if not always, lie; furthermore, no matter what kind of society they live in, they mostly serve the government and ultimately the United Nations. And we know how much they love Israel, right?

Bible Code Tables (VIDEO) from R' Matityahu Glazerson:
22 Nov 2016: Rabbi Berland Admits... [to what? and why?]
  1 Aug 2016: Accusation of Rabbi Berland - Erev Rav Rule

28 Jul 2016: Detention of Rabbi Berland in 5776 in Bible code
19 Jul 2016: R' Shimon Badani's statement: "Anyone speaking Lashon Harah about Rav Berland will inherit hell!"
30 July 2015: The Plot against Rabbi Eliezer Berland

Posted 3 May 2016:
Berland-Pinto-Erev Rav (some interesting insights into the case of R' Yosef Pinto as well)
Signs of Mashiach: Persecution of Rabbis
Last Sign before Mashiach: Libel against R' Eliezer Berland (expanded from the one just above)

13 Apr 2016: Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef to Breslov students: "Your Rabbi is a great and righteous man..."

Other Articles in The Rav's Defense
  1 Dec 2016: Three lawyers plead with the Rav not to make a plea bargain

31 Oct 2016: Rav Chaim Reicher visits R' Berland in prison
  6 Apr 2016, Jerusalem Post: Setting the Record Straight about Rav Eliezer Berland

Dani18.com (the autistics)
6 Aug 2016: Rav Berland Live Shiur, 2 Adar B 5776 (Hebrew)
17 Sep 2016: a video was posted here but the original YouTube has been taken down: R' Berland is righteous, don't believe in lies! (Hebrew)

I could go on....but I think the point has been made. There's more if you care to search for it. Meanwhile, please pray for R' Eliezer ben Etya and that he, and we, will live to see justice done.

By the way, it seems to me that the Rav's parents' names, Hayim and Etya (עטיה) mean "Life" and "Pen of G-d" in Hebrew. Hmmm. May these meanings stand him in good stead.

11 Aug 2016: R' Dovid Chaim Stern testifies of R' Berland's character from a personal conversation with the Steipler Ga'on (Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, zz"l), with whom the middle-aged R' Berland was a Torah-learning partner.

I want to thank Rivka Levy (emunaroma and other sites) for her help with my research for this post.

Shabbat Toledoth Shalom! 

26 November 2016

By the Light (and the Heat) of the Fires of Haifa...

26 Heshvan 5777

 R' David Bar-Hayim explains the real motive behind the arson-related fires here.

The fires in Israel, which started mainly in Haifa, chasing out some 60,000 residents, and have also been set in various parts of the country, even threatening important infrastructure items such as the power station in Hadera, many by the hands of Arabs and "politically motivated" arsonists (probably one and the same, since some news services aren't being specific about who is being arrested or even caught setting fires - or even how they are occurring, but they are noting their social media reactions), should serve as a perfect example of why we Israelis — particularly the Jews — need our k'shei oref (stiff-necked) attribute when it comes to letting our government have its way with enforcing global political correctness on us.

A number of people have been arrested because they are suspect. This does not mean the problem is solved. Note the order of just a couple of related events from the Times of Israel:

A fire was also reported close to the Israel Electric Corporation’s huge coal-fired power station in coastal Hadera. Firefighters said the outbreak was under control.

The IEC has since declared a national emergency due to the large number of fires across the country.

This is serious; HaShem is waking us up from our complacency. We cannot keep holding back our voices from crying out. Fire literally means HOLOCAUST, people. Our enemies won't wait until concentration camps and ovens are built — our trees, our cities, and the physical sources of our modern lives ARE the ovens, unless we act NOW, with emunah that haShem is with us. All the firefighting from the air from all over the world is appreciated, but will not help. We cannot assume that this will be able to be stopped soon.

Israel News Online is liveblogging on Facebook (for those who have it), in addition to The Jewish Press (h/t: Devash).

 According to the BBC, the leader of Israel's Labor party, Yitzhak Herzog, "also urged restraint, warning of the dangers of rhetoric that could 'add to the flames'."

Why would that be, if no one is responding to what we say?! If the fires are lighting themselves, as is claimed about half of them are, then why bother objecting to how we speak about them?

It seems that we don't fully know what is going on. I'm not live-blogging this one, since people with more time are already doing that; but I will keep my eyes open. There may be other things happening for which the fires of Israel are, literally, a smoke screen.

We don't believe haShem is punishing us because He enjoys our pain. We need to learn our lessons. There may be many spiritual reasons this extreme trial is upon us. Some suggestions are linked to in the "more reading" below.

The Arabs have to answer at least one question as well: If the Land really belongs to them, why are they burning it?

Abba sh'baShamayim, please Give Blessed Rain on ALL the Face of Our Land!
אבא שבשמים, נא תן טל ומטר לברכה על כל פני האדמה!

All this, as the month of Kislev, a month of signs, wonders and victory for the Jewish People, stands ready to begin later this week, may haShem cause it to live up to its name.

Hodesh tov umevorakh חודש טוב ומבורך!

More reading:

Pictures of Israel Burning from BBC | R' Dov Kook: ...Because of the terrible persecution of R' Berland | ...Because of Amona (Hebrew) (h/t: Yeranen Yaakov) | Song of the Wind | Dov Bar-Leib: My Open Letter to the Residents of Red Haifa | Israel News Talk RADIO: When Arabs Burn the Land They Say They Love | Arson: A New Stage in the UNRWA War on the Jews | PA Arabs, [US] State Dept. Mourn Fidel Castro, as Miami Exiles Dance in the Streets | The "Aishtafada": Arab Arson Terror Continues | Attempted Mass Murder in Israel | SATIRE: I hope you all ignore my knee-jerk accusation of arson as I ridicule yours | Israel is Burning | Updates on Israel Fires | Arab Knesset Member is Taught Torah! | R' Shmuel Eliyahu: It is a mitzvah to break Shabbat to stop an arsonist | What lies behind the conflagration | Fire on My Mind | Al-Qaeda-linked Palestinian group "claims responsibility" for devastating Haifa fires...h/t: Neshama |

17 November 2016

A Good Omen for Our Nation by R' Nachman Kahana

16 Heshvan 5777

BS”D Parashat Vayaira 5777
Rabbi Nachman Kahana


Part One: Yitzchak’s Sacrifice

The Gemara (Shabbat 89b) records that at some unspecified time in history HaShem related or will relate to Avraham Avienu “banecha chatu’li” – your sons have sinned against me. And Avraham replied (or will reply) that they should be severely punished. HaShem is not satisfied by this reply and repeats to Ya’akov that his sons have sinned. Ya’akov, like his grandfather Avraham, replied that they should be severely punished for their sins.
HaShem is now displeased with Ya’akov.

He then informed Yitzchak of the low spiritual state of his children, to which Yitzchak defends the Jewish nation, with the major thrust of his defense being the claim that the episode of the Akeida (the binding and near sacrifice of Yitzchak) is sufficient reason for HaShem to forgive the transgressions of Am Yisrael.

What makes the episode of Akeidat Yitzchak, recorded in our parasha, so essential in our requests for forgiveness.

I submit:
The call to sacrifice Yitzchak was made by HaShem to Avraham – not to Yitzchak. So, in fact, Yitzchak had the prerogative to refuse. And had he done so, Avraham would have been exempted from his obligation due to causes beyond his control, and Yitzchak could not have been held liable, because as stated he was not commanded.

Yet Yitzchak agreed to be the sacrifice demanded by HaShem of his father Avraham, for one reason. Despite the fact that HaShem did not command Yitzchak to give up his life, Yitzchak knew that it was HaShem’s will that he be sacrificed on the altar on what was to become the Temple Mount, in Yerushalayim.

By Yitzchak bringing up the episode of the Akeida, to counter HaShem’s implicit warnings that He has taken notice of our dire sins, Yitzchak is saying to HaShem: “You did not command me to relinquish my life at 37 years old under my father’s knife. Yet I agreed for one reason – I knew that that was your wish. We, the Jewish people, also have a wish – it is to be loyal sons to You, our Father-in- Heaven. But we are human beings, make of flesh and blood, distracted and bombarded by the yetzer hara (our corporeal instincts) which seeks to drive us away from the holy Torah. So just as I yielded to what I knew was your desire, so too listen to the wishes of Your People Am Yisrael and forgive them for their sins.

A true Jew is one who not only fulfills the implicit mitzvot of the Written and Oral Torah, but carries out even the implied, tacit and silent wishes of Hashem.

The principle of doing HaShem’s silent wishes is upon us every moment. A Jew who lives only according to the letter of the Halacha while ignoring the spirit of Halacha, is an halachic robot who does not come even close to what a Jew must be. The taking of that “one more step” which we call “lifnim mei’shurat hadin” (beyond the requirements of the law) is what defines a Jew as being God fearing. The Torah says we must give tzedakah (charity). So, one can give money to a needy person like you throw a bone to a dog, or he can speak to the person and give him hope that things in life have a way of turning around.

The Zohar states that there are two kinds of Gehennom – one of fire and the other of ice.
I believe that the fire is for those who have committed a sin in heated passion and the Gehennom of ice awaits those who have fulfilled a mitzva with lack of passion.

Stairway to Heaven
I am fully aware of the pilpulistic contortions and meandering taken by some Halachic “authorities” in the galut to prove that there is no mitzva today to live in Eretz Yisrael.
Open a Chumash to any parsha – you will not be able to escape Eretz Yisrael. Most learned Jews know that it is a Torah mitzva in every generation for every Jew to live in Eretz Yisrael when the gates to the Holy land are open.

But even if you believe that the official mitzva is only when the Mashiach comes, stand in front of a mirror and ask yourself, “Is it HaShem’s desire that a Jew live in Pittsburgh or in His Holy Land of Eretz Yisrael? HaShem indeed wants every Jew to be in the Land that He chose over all others to house His holy Temple and declared the Temple Mount to be the “Stairway to Heaven”.

It is HaShem’s desire that His children be in Eretz Yisrael. Even if your learned rabbi told you that it is not an official mitzva today, it was Yitzchak’s decision to give his life because he knew that it was HaShem’s wish.

Part Two: The Savior of Yisrael

The third chapter of Birkat Hamazon (grace after meals) was authored by Kings David and Shlomo, and deals with Yerushalayim and the Bet Hamikdash (the holy temple). The Gemara (Brachot 49a) discusses the wording of its closing blessing with the conclusion that one may say “Blessed are You… the re-builder of Yerushalayim”, or “Blessed are You… the savior of Yisrael”.

Rashi explains that the phrase “the savior of Yisrael” is equivalent to saying “the re-builder of Yerushalayim” because the salvation of Am Yisrael is dependent on the re-building of Yerushalayim.

My Friend the Yerushalayim Dust-man
Where I live in the Old City of Yerushalayim, there is a dust-man (sanitation worker) who cares for our streets and plazas.

Aharon and I are friends and speak almost every day. He once told me that his wealthy grandfather came from Iran to Eretz Yisrael and established a chain of carpet stores. He gave a store to each of his sons except to Aharon’s father who preferred to be a construction worker to build up Yerushalayim with his own hands.

Aharon followed in his father’s way until he was hurt on a site and could no longer work in construction and became the dust-man of the Jewish Quarter.

A while back, Aharon and I had a heated argument. Aharon claimed that he was a simple Jew in Yerushalayim working hard to support his family. I argued that he, like his father, is a tzadik (righteous one) whose real value in heaven one cannot fathom. In order to emphasis my case, I said to Aharon: “You are, in the eyes of HaShem, more important than the most illustrious spiritual leader in the galut, for you are advancing the advent of the Mashiach, whereas the spiritual leaders in the galut with every shiur, drasha, new shul, yeshiva and mikveh repulse the Mashiach as they strengthen Jewish communities in the gentile galut.

The Perigee
Our rabbis have likened the Jewish people to the moon, because we both wane and nearly vanish but always re-appear.

The moon’s orbit has an elliptical shape, sometimes it is closer to Earth than other times. Astronomers call the closest-to-the-Earth moment the perigee. This week on November 14 the moon became full within about two hours of perigee making it an extra-supermoon, and the Earth was bathed in 30% more moonlight (learn more about this rarity of such a supermoon at NASA and EarthSky.org).

This is a good omen for our nation. What is interesting is the fact that the last time such a super-supermoon occurred was in the year 1948 – when Medinat Yisrael was established.

In conclusion: It is HaShem’s desire that His children be in Eretz Yisrael, even if your learned rabbi tells you that it is not a mitzva today. Remember, it was Yitzchak’s decision to give his life because he knew that it was HaShem’s wish. It is HaShem’s wish that the Jews leave the galut and return to the Holy Land.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5777/2016 Nachman Kahana
Also, you are invited to read the following featuring Yitzhak Avinu:

Concerning "Beating Yishma'el at His Own Game" by Rav Yissocher Frand part 1 | part 2 | part 3

and concerning the super-SuperMoon:

Wired.com | National Geographic | Shirat Devorah: And Now a Red Super Moon in Australia and Super Moon Photos |

13 November 2016

Assassination of Leaders and Nations - R' Nachman Kahana

12 Heshvan 5777

BS”D Parashat Lech Lecha and Vayaira 5777
Rabbi Nachman Kahana

From Abraham’s Journey from Ur to Canaan, 1850, by the Hungarian artist József Molnár. Wikiart.

Assassination of Leaders and Nations

Part One

A: Two Jewish leaders were assassinated within a period of five years. My brother Harav Meir Kahana on the 18th of Cheshvan 5751 (Nov. 5, 1990) and Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin on the 12th of Cheshvan 5756 (November 4, 1995).

B: In parashat Lech Lecha, HaShem informs Avraham that Sarah will give birth to a son, Avraham is traumatized and replies: “lu Yishmael yich’ye le’fanecha” – “May Yishmael (who was already born) live before you”.  Avraham comes to the defense of Yishmael and requests future equal rights for his son born of Hagar, the Egyptian woman.

In next week’s parasha Vayera, Yitzchak is born and Sarah perceives the unbridgeable spiritual divide between the two half-brothers. Sarah demands that Avraham send Yishmael away (Beraisheet , 21:10):  “Chase away this maidservant and her son, for this son of the maidservant will not inherit together with my son Yitzchak”

Sarah instinctively sees the evil and wildness in the soul of Yishmael, and knows that neither Yitzchak and Yishmael nor their offspring will ever be able to live together.
HaShem tells Avraham to abide by Sarah’s request, for she is correct in declaring that Yishmael’s progeny will maintain everlasting enmity towards the future descendants of Yitzchak.

C: True to parashat Lech Lecha, up until he was murdered, Rabin adopted Avraham’s mistaken belief that Yishmael has spiritual qualities which could permit him to live harmoniously with Avraham’s future Jewish descendants. Toward this end, Rabin permitted the return to the Medina of the PLO murderers living in Tunisia and gave them forty thousand weapons.

Yitzchak Rabin was murdered on Motzei Shabbat of parashat LECH LECHA.
Harav Meir, adopted Sara’s divinely affirmed position that the souls of the two are hewn from vastly different worlds – Yitzchak is the ben-Torah and worthy to be a korban (sacrifice) for God on Mount Moriah, while Yishmael is a “pereh adam” (barbarian) who prefers death over life.

Harav Meir preached and pleaded that the people of Israel should see the future and take steps to prevent the tragedies we are witnessing to this very day. Rabin wanted to give them half of Eretz Yisrael, despite the words of our mother Sarah in parashat Vayaira that “the son of this maidservant will not inherit with my son Yitzchak”. History has played out in accordance with God’s command to Avraham to abide by Sarah’s wishes.

Rav Meir was murdered in the week of parashat VAYEIRA, the week of “Chase away this maidservant and her son, for this son of the maidservant will not inherit together with my son Yitzchak”.

Part Two
Rambam (Maimonidies) in his ‘Laws of Tshuva” (repentance) based on Tractate Yoma, enumerates the various ways one can achieve atonement such as confession, Yom Kippur, Temple sacrifices and difficulties in life, dependent on the severity of the sin. However, if a sin creates a chillul HaShem – a desecration of God’ holy name, then atonement can be obtained only after the above-mentioned stages plus the day one passes away.

There are many ways one can create a chillul HaShem, such as a religious person who is found to be corrupt or even impolite behavior by a person who is noticeably Jewish.
The Book of Samuel  1 chapter 17 records that the Jewish and Philistine armies were facing each other in the Valley of Elah, south of the present city of Bet Shemesh.

For a period of 40 days and 40 nights, whenever the Jews would recite Kri’at Shema, Goliath would advance to “no man’s land” and curse the Jewish God and His nation Yisrael.
Goliath obviously had defiled the name of HaShem. However, his was not the ultimate chillul HaShem at the time, there was a more severe desecration of the Holy Name. It was the fact that until David appeared on the scene no Jew dared to silence the defiler of HaShem’s holy name.

We too are witnessing an ongoing chillul HaShem that makes the absurd declarations of UNESCO pale before it.

In Parashat Lech Lecha, HaShem promises Avraham that his Jewish descendants would be the sole possessors of Eretz Yisrael. The promise was fulfilled when Yehoshua entered the land 3500 years ago.

The powers behind UNESCO’s declaration that the Jewish people have no connection with the Temple Mount or the Kotel gains legitimacy from the thousands of rabbis and spiritual leaders of all sorts who prefer to live in the exile rather than in the holy land.

What would our father Avraham and mother Sarah say if they saw the religious communities in the States? They would experience profound feelings of failure. Avraham would probably not enter into their succot, nor would the other 6 ushpizin, they would be too busy visiting the succot of the non-observant kibbutz succot here in Eretz Yisrael who struggle and sacrifice to maintain our presence in the Land HaShem promised to Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov.

Rav Meir Kahana and PM Yitzchak Rabin gave their “all” for the continued success of the Medina in the land which was promised to our forefathers; may the souls of both these men be united with the living souls in Olam Haba.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5777/2016 Nachman Kahana

 R' Kahana speaks about aliyah in English...

 and in Yiddish.

11 November 2016

Kennedy v. Nixon: A Proper Presidential Debate

10 Heshvan 5777
Erev Shabbath Lekh Lekha

When I wrote yesterday that I remembered the Kennedy-Nixon debates, I hadn't checked YouTube (it seems like one may find there everything since the dawn of moving pictures!). My husband found the first one and we watched it together. I had told him that I remembered the candidates sitting down; and, sure enough, in the opening shot there they are, sitting, with the moderator between them. Each one stands only to speak, at a music stand for each of them.

They don't dare do that today! No sitting onstage, and certainly no music stand; each candidate has a full-fledged podium at which to deliver his or her point of view. Then, color television had not made its appearance, and an ultra-simple set sufficed (not even a curtain around the set, called a cyclorama, or cyc - pronounced sike - for short); today, sets must be elaborate and colorful to appear proper. Even the furniture must at least look solid (unless you have high-definition TV, in which case the viewer will see all the flaws, so expensive-looking furniture must be used on the set).

More to the point, words were more important then, and had to have at least the ring of truth; sincerity was a key term and value. Today there seems to be no such concern, since "everything is relative" and only the narrative matters.

Without further ado, I present the first Kennedy-Nixon Debate (58:35, originally film), which took place on 26 September 1960, when both candidates were young and fresh. Even Nixon looks good on camera! Only his voice seems more off-putting than Kennedy's, later in his speech.

I was a couple of months shy of 5 years old. My mother and I watched it together on our black-and-white television set. I know, I'm dating myself...

They don't make debates like this anymore...more if you want to watch them.

And a bonus video: President Kennedy in the face of the Cuban Missile Crisis, complete and uncut (18:42). Democrats don't dare speak forthrightly anymore, as the President does here. And USSR Premier Nikita Khrushchev backed down. Yes, the Soviet Union had brought those missiles to Cuba, the better to threaten everyone in the Western Hemisphere within thousands of miles in all directions.

President-elect Trump, listen up!

Shabbat shalom!

10 November 2016

...But Did the American People Win?

9 Heshvan 5777

Ah. "Democracy" at its finest. -Yeah, right.

As we all know now, Donald J. Trump, otherwise known as "The Donald," won the American Presidential election that took place two days ago.

It was a knock-down, drag-out fight between him and his opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton. As it has been for a long time, but more obviously now, the Presidential race was between bad and worse, between menuval מנוול and menuvelet b'yoter מנוולת ביותר (meaning: evil, wicked, contemptible - the "b'yoter" means the most; menuvelet b'yoter means the most evil, etc.). I did not vote.

I was small at the time, but I remember well the debates between John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Richard Milhous Nixon; so I have some basis for comparison. Those who also remember will understand.

The following audio file of Tamar Yonah's interview with Professor Francisco Gil-White should clarify why, even in the best of circumstances, with the very highest caliber candidates, a vote in an American Presidential election makes no difference whatsoever. While, as intended, there is no center of power among the three official branches of government (for those who need the reminder, they are executive, legislative and judicial), there is a hidden center of power in the American government, either unknown or ignored by most people. It is the intelligence services: mainly the FBI and CIA, but perhaps there are others as well.

I have also written about it here.

 I liked Prof. Gil-White's suggestion that if we want to change our voting system, we should boycott voting, or withhold our vote en masse. My question for him is: Is there any legislation anywhere that declares a vote invalid if too few people (too small a percentage) participate? That would be where the system itself has to check itself in order to stay relevant. Otherwise, all we're doing is letting a minuscule minority decide our future for us. And what happens if a vote gets invalidated? Do we still have to put up with the wicked government we have/the devil we know? Any peaceful way out?

I have one two suggestions for President-elect Trump: If you want to fundamentally "make America great again," you might want to start with fighting to repeal the National Security Act of 1947. But watch your back!

Furthermore, if you want to continue to be blessed by G-d, as you were in the election, you might want to help Jews who want to make aliyah to Israel, to do so, and quit insisting that Arab Muslims who want us dead should remain among us.

As for me, I would rather have Mashiach, Har haBayit, the Knesset haG'dolah (Sanhedrin)...in short, Complete Redemption. Geulah Shlemah גאולה שלימה.

More reading/listening:

Tamar Yonah: "After the Election" Special - WHAT NOW | 78th Anniversary of Kristallnacht | American Uprising | America's Scary New Direction - 8 10-part series starts here | The End of Political Correctness | Must-See Short Video about the US Elections... | More on Israel News Talk Radio |

04 November 2016

In Deep Waters by R' Nachman Kahana

3 Heshvan 5777
Parashath Noah
Shabbath shalom!

L'iluy nishmatam shel R' Ovadia Yosef v'Nehama Consuelo bat Sarah Imeinu, who passed one Hebrew day apart, the same year. I could not find R' Yosef's parents' names.

BS”D Parashat Noach 5777
Rabbi Nachman Kahana

In Deep Waters

From Noah's Ark Overview. More here.

There are two sequential verses in this week’s parasha (chapter 6:10-11) without any apparent connection.
ויולד נח שלשה בנים את-שם את-חם ואת-יפת: יא ותשחת הארץ לפני האלהים ותמלא הארץ חמס
And Noach bore three sons: Shem, Cham and Yefet: And the land (society) became corrupt before the Lord and the land was filled with thievery (deception).
Why does the verse dealing with the corrupt state of society appear adjacent to the verse informing us of Noach’s three sons?

The Torah is not the recording secretary of historians; but in its subtle way, even the very order in the verses is replete with information.

We know from the first verse in the parasha that Noach was a Tzadik (a righteous man). It is also common knowledge that in order to reach the level of “tzadik”, one must labor long and arduously away from the distractions of society – especially the hedonistic one in which Noach lived. So it would be safe to assume that Noach, at least during the latter part of his life, led a monastic existence where he focused his attention on spirituality and the study of that part of the Torah which was carried by tradition from the days of Adam.

I submit that the sequence of the verses is to inform us that Noach was unaware of how low society had fallen, but learned of the world surrounding him from what he perceived from his own children.

His first son, Shem, went in the holy ways of his father. Cham was perverted and depraved, as we learn from his conduct in the ark. Although Yefet did not reach the depths of depravity, which were the accepted standard of that generation, he was involved in the esthetic side of life more than in its moral and spiritual aspects.

Noach saw the friends Cham and Yefet “hung out” with. He smelled the alcohol on his sons’ breath when they returned home in the early hours of the morning, and felt a sense of great disillusionment when the two would bicker over who would get the car on Saturday night. He suspected them of using drugs, of viewing unsavory material on the internet and cable T.V. These two sons spoke to Noach and their mother, Na’ama, with chutzpa. All this, and more, had taught Noach that it was no longer the world of his childhood and of the moral standards upon which he had based his life, but rather a subversion of that world.

Hence the Torah writes: Three sons were born to Noach – Shem, Cham and Yefet: And the land (society) became corrupt before the Lord and the land was filled with thievery (deception).

Whenever I am present at a simcha of our children and grandchildren (engagements, weddings, etc.) I look around the table at the young personalities who are the friends of our family.

These young men and women are part of the greatest generation our nation has produced in over 2000 years. The boys are all talmidim in hesder yeshivot or kollels of the dati-leumi philosophy. They all served or will soon serve in Tzahal in order to perform, in total conviction, the greatest mitzva of our times – the defense of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael.
The young women are educated in Torah as in no previous generation. Most are erudite in Halacha, Jewish thought and above all Jewish modesty and yirat shamayim.

The young people, products of the dati-leumi educational system, serve HaShem in joyful happiness. The boys are physically strong and mentally healthy. Most have traversed every centimeter of this land on foot, as did Avraham Aveinu, to let the land know that Rachel’s prayer of “the sons shall return to their borders” has been answered. Their many years in the yeshiva world have not effeminized them; you would not want to meet them in a dark alley when they are in a bad mood. In time, they will fill all the functions of a healthy Torah society: rabbis, teachers, scientists, pilots, farmers and construction workers.

You would not hear their words of Torah spoken at the table – in beautiful Ivrit of course – at similar celebrations in Lakewood, New Jersey or Manchester, England. There were no suits or ties, and the dresses of the young women were not the last word out of the Boro Park fashion shows. They did not have tent-like black hats put over their ears at the age of 13 to steal from them their beautiful years of youth, but led the natural lives of youngsters growing in mental and physical strength.

Beauty shone in their faces – the faces of people who will be the leaders in the next generation in Eretz Yisrael.

Indeed, their parents did not pay $15,000 a year in elementary school and $25,000 in high school, and after 12 years of Torah education get back a child with a diploma in Torah ignorance, barely able to read Hebrew and certainly not a page of Gemara. They did not have girlfriends at the age of 14, but met the opposite sex only after deciding that the time had come to establish their own homes.

These young men and women are the product of Torat Eretz Yisrael (the Torah of the holy land). They are like the students and soldiers of King David.

I feel so proud that my family is part of this segment in our society. And, as I do every moment of my life, I offer a prayer of thanksgiving to HaShem for having given my wife and me the courage and sense to come home 54 years ago.

The Lesson of the Deep Waters
People don’t change much. Our dress and eating habits might vary, but the basic nature of man does not.

I can imagine what transpired at the time of Noach by simple juxtaposition of our leaders today and those of Noach’s time.

Noach, who is a well-known figure, entreats the people of his society to change their corrupt ways or suffer the destruction of humanity. The serious among them go to their spiritual mentors to discuss Noach’s threats. The answers they receive probably sounded something like the following:

One gadol (highly revered rabbi) of their society says: “Rubbish. If by some chance there is a pending calamity, the gods will send us a Mashiach to carry us on the wings of eagles to high ground.”

Another gadol answers: “There is no chiyuv (obligation) to move to higher ground, although one who does can be considered to have done a meritorious act.”

And a third gadol refuses to discuss the issue, saying that it is irrelevant and he never brings up the matter in his sermons.

Then one day it began to drizzle. And the drizzle turned to light rain. Then the waters began to come down in earnest. HaShem commanded Noach to enter the ark together with his family and certain chosen of the animal kingdom, and to be sure to lock the door hermetically.

The people saw the waters rising steadily as they ran to their holy sites to seek salvation from their gods. Their gedolim (highly revered rabbis) told them not to worry, “there have been cloud bursts before and will be again,” they said.

But when the common people left the compounds of the holy places, their religious leaders were already on their way to the highest points overlooking the plains of Mesopotamia.
From their vantage point, the holy leaders saw the ark floating above the surging, scorching waters, and they begin calling out in desperation to Noach to open the ark for them.

The rest is history. But, unfortunately, it has a way of repeating itself to those who refuse to learn from history.

Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana

Copyright © 5777/2016 Nachman Kahana

Jews Outside Israel: How many ways do we have to say it? Come home now, while it is still relatively safe where you are.

 More reading:

"You Are Bandits!" | The Hidden Sin of the Flood Generation... | Bringing Israel's Supreme Court into the 21st Century | A Beacon of Truth: Noach | Lesson of Noah: Being "Socially Inept" can be Good |

31 October 2016

The Obstinate Jew: The Best

30 Tishrei 5777
Erev Rosh Hodesh Heshvan

Introduction | The Good | The Bad | The Ugly | The Best

Prayer for the Israeli Army: Only for the Good - R' David Bar-Hayim

 We all know, whether we speak about it or not, that traits that are often looked down upon have their good uses too. Turning them around in our heads into the best thing about us is all a matter of context and direction. The problem with Jewish obstinacy (the topic of this series), translated literally from Hebrew as stiff-neckedness, is that it belongs to Jews and like anything else that belongs to Jews, it must be bad for us to have it, at least according to our many opponents. The nations, with the Muslims at their head and enabling from the United Nations and sneakiness from Xians who say they love us but really want to take our place in the world from us, have been projecting their own hell-bent self-will against us onto us with uncompromising determination and unrelenting bullheadedness with their decision that we have no history, land or anything else. Not only have they thrown away any morality they may have had before, they have now thrown out the Bible they so cherished and used against us. They had to, in order to put us in the wrong!

Now, they've done it to themselves. They have no merit to win against us because they have nothing to tie them to haShem. What our commentaries have said about the three laws they promised to keep, out of the seven they were supposed to, is now down the drain.

Said Rav Yehuda: These are the thirty righteous men among the nations of the world by whose virtue the nations of the world continue to exist. Ulla said: These are the thirty commandments which the sons of Noah took upon themselves but they observe three of them, namely, (i) they do not draw up a kethubah [marriage - CDG] document for males, (ii) they do not weigh flesh of the dead in the market,and (iii) they respect the Torah.
- Masekheth Hullin 92, Talmud Bavli

Let us use this trait of obstinacy that HaShem gave us, that we are so well-known and even notorious for, to turn away from those who hate us, wish to see us driven off the planet and will follow no law or statute except whatever will get them gain, and to cling to HaQadosh Barukh Hu during these chaotic times before the Complete Redemption comes. No matter how much or how little we know of the Torah, Tana"kh and the wisdom of the Sages, we can always cry out to Him when we need to; and as long as we are alive, we can seek to learn more (being careful about from whom we learn). We should not only learn, but apply our learning. If we see that we need to internalize the laws haShem gave us in order to carry them out here in Eretz Yisrael, then we must think about the implications of these orders from Him. How dare we go against them and decide for ourselves that some other place is our Jerusalem, our Holy Land? How dare we not take for our own all the disputed territory, and resolve the argument once and for all?

Within collective memory, we have faced the threat of utter extermination. How much worse can it get? All the threats we are hearing have already been carried out. No one will buy from us? BDS. No one will sell to us? Boycott. We will kill you all? Holocaust and dhimmitude, Al Qaeda and ISIS. Not to mention the "Palestinians," New Age movement and the Vatican.

The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear?

The worst thing about being stubborn, obstinate and stiff-necked is that, like a mule, one cannot move you unless you want to move! And this is also the best thing, when you are moving in the right direction. Then, you are serious, determined, tenacious, resolute, decisive, earnest, persistent, and iron-willed. You have pluck, grit, fortitude, persistence and backbone. You have a SPINE.

HaShem says that He has control over everything, except whether a human being will follow Him. He already has robots — angels, who must follow directions, at least that's how R' Sprecher puts it. There is no "or else" — they just do what they're told. What He wants from us is our willing cooperation.

Why bother? Because He only supports those who follow Him wholeheartedly. No reservations, no doubts. Question all you want, but expect to accept, and adhere to, the answer you get. You and I, Jew, are beholden to no one else, particularly the lawless people who claim our loyalty.

Here's how some pretty uppity HIJs would respond, and have responded, to our current circumstances:

Writing Jews out of Their Own History | How Rav Kook  would have dealt with UNESCO | Standing His Ground and Losing His Job for the Right Reason | The Two-State Delusions...writes Michael Kuttner | 'Don't fret global opposition, annex Judea and Samaria now' |

A Healthy Winter to all my readers! I am sure some of you have even more and better ideas.

Current Events in the Haftarah: Bereshith 5777 - R' Ephraim Sprecher

Moshe Will Rejoice (Yismah Moshe) and I Will Sing a Song in Honor of the Torah (Ashorer Shira), sung by R' Haim Louk

More reading:
Israel and Contemporary Forms of Western-Left Racism | Checkmating Obama | 10 Photos to Remind You that Jews Don't Fit Into a Stereotype (And Never Have) | Bread and Circuses. G-d Chose Circuses. |

And a couple more articles in 2019:
PURIM: Thanking G-d for our Struggles | Beresheet: The Nation of Israel reaches for the stars |

26 October 2016

The Obstinate Jew: The Ugly

24 Tishrei 5777
Aharei heHagim...after the holidays...back to the routine

Introduction | The Good | The Bad | The Ugly | The Best

Is there a devil and is it us? - thank you, Yaakov Kirschen, for your forthright reply!

This whole series — in case I have not made this clear from the beginning — is about misdirected stubbornness on the part of the Jewish people, in one way or another — but not in and of itself. My humble observation: The ugly part of this meandering is what happens to us as a result of our inappropriate obstinacy towards haShem Yithbarakh (our Blessed G-d). I am sure there is a lot more to say, but for whatever reason, I am not the one to say it. Also, before the holidays ended was not the time to post it, so I have been delayed until now. A word to the wise is sufficient, as the proverb goes.

It is bad enough when we speak poorly about, and think badly of, ourselves, each other and our Land that is haShem's gift to us. It is worse when the other nations listen in and take advantage of our disunity. Even something seemingly innocent as being for the "Two-State Solution" (or not calling it out as a toxic term) means we have allowed someone with ulterior motives to put words in our collective mouth, leading to consent to our own destruction — which even one of the latest most pro-Israel sites does not recognize, let alone mention. After all, it entails giving up half of the land we have for the other state, even as our population burgeons; and the state keeps lots of empty land empty (particularly obvious along Highway 1 between Tel Aviv and Yerushalayim, note pics), letting the Jewish population suffer for lack of housing. Since the British already took 78% of the land that was given us and handed it to Jordan, how many more salami slices, G-d forbid, will we endure before we're all but finished? How did we get to the place where a term like Two State Solution became acceptable to Jews? Do we so desire to play to the sympathies of the gentile world that we intransigently program ourselves not to think about the phrases we use and what they mean? Do we really want to participate in our own destruction, personally and nationally? I hope not, against all odds.

Maybe the question is, "do those who govern us wish to rid themselves of the albatross of the State of Israel around their neck?" If that's the case, better to get rid of the system before it gets rid of us. Ugly? You bet. More below.

Perhaps we should stop referring to ourselves and one another by galuth-originated labels and epithets and quit agreeing when we are named and shamed; it would be a great beginning. The question is, when will we ever feel ourselves able to fight back effectively against all these assaults...the latest being the attempted erasure of our entire history and basis for being on the part of the United Nations' UNESCO branch? I wrote this sentence several hours before the vote took place, US Eastern time.

The "we" I am referring to is our government, comprising those who officially speak for us. Never mind that most of the time, most of the people disagree with it. Where does our voice even come into it, when voting is done by party and not by district, and where elections corruption as small as misprinted slips can completely invalidate an entire group of innocent voters' choice and even lead to the erasing of its history? The 2014 version of Yachad the Israeli Political Party no longer exists on the Internet due to what happened to them in the last election. You can read about it here; it mentions nothing about the corrupted ballot tickets that caused the failure to reach the Knesset. The Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) discusses the overall corruption and even the US V-15 campaign, but the only mention of Yachad is the British version, having nothing to do with the Israeli party that was robbed of its votes. Even the Israel Democracy Institute's president, Yohanan Plesner, while lauding the increasing stability of democracy in our fair land, ignores one of the issues that made this stability possible, as though the end justifies the means, however evil (not to mention illegal) they may be.

I hope it was just thoughtlessness that made all these people report it that way. Or is it their stiff-necked, dogged determination to keep the Kingdom of Israel from rising up?

I am one of thousands of primary sources on the snuffing out of Yachad, the political party, because it happened to me as well! I will not shut up and forget about it just because it isn't on the Internet (the subtext being, if it isn't on the Internet, it doesn't exist, and didn't happen)!

I do wonder whether any ability to vote for a decent party in Israel was stripped from us in the 2015 election (thanks, but no thanks, in large part to Barack Obama and the PeaceWorks Network). Moshe Feiglin and Zehut, take heed. (And make your site easier to load, while you're at it.)

Our government's insistence on keeping the self-destructive status quo may be why there is still a controversy in the trial of the soldier Elor Azaria, who killed a terrorist who had already stabbed a fellow soldier (which some news sources don't mention...), why patriotic youth (called "nationalistic" here, as if there's something wrong with that...) are singled out for administrative detention and harsh treatment even while there is doubt they committed the crime ascribed to them, and why rabbis like Eliezer Berland are in jail for trumped-up reasons (Charges have not been brought and trial has not occurred in this case. Speak up for R' Berland, shlit"a, here!).

Even more to the point is our refusal to act like we are the primary people in the Land of Israel unless outside pressure is put on us, like the current threat to take all credibility away from us as a nation, starting with the Temple Mount. There is no reason whatsoever to act as though Jews, particularly the religious, are the outsiders here, but nevertheless we have (or our government has: Here's one Jewish reporter's experience.) until very recently.

But...there was a record number of Jews going up in holiness this holiday season, according to R' Chaim Richman. More on this and other great parts about our kishui oref, obstinacy, next.

 Let us proclaim the mighty holiness of this day (Yom haKippurim)...unethaneh toqef

More reading:

Why do US Jews Make Judaism Hard? | Nationalistic Prisoners Banned from Eating in the Sukkah - "A security risk" | Imagine Taking the Statue of Liberty Away | Israeli Arabs More Bullish on Israel than Israeli Jews (not a typo!) | Hamas, des démocrates? (français) Hamas the Democrats? (English) | UNESCO Does it Again...Should We Be Surprised? | Professor Wants Safe Space to Bash Israel | Not Everyone is Included in the Four Species |

15 October 2016

Did I see Eliyahu haNavi?

12 Tishrei 5777
Erev Shabbath Ha'azinu 

Image credit: CHLEAKS

I must interrupt the series I am writing called The Obstinate Jew (to be in 5 parts) to record an encounter I had yesterday with a man who, if I were to imagine what Eliyahu haNavi might be like, would be him, having learned that there have been many righteous people in Am Yisrael, unknown to him — before I forget.

Sorry, no picture. :-(

I was on my way to meet my husband and the rest of the class at the OU (Orthodox Union) Center on Keren haYesod Street in "downtown" Yerushalayim on a number 74 bus, if I remember correctly. I managed to get a seat next to a young woman with a baby boy around a year old, right behind the space where people with baby and food carriages (agaloth) park them until they get off.

A couple of stops later, an elderly but quite strong man with a baseball-style cap and "regular" clothes got on the bus with a lot of bags of food. He arranged them on the floor in the carriage park area and stood in front of the young woman and me. He began talking to the baby, trying to engage him, talking about Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya'aqov - in fact, every word out of his mouth was related to Torah, from what I could understand (the entire encounter was in Hebrew.). I murmured to the young woman and winked at her: This guy is like Eliyahu haNavi.

The young woman tried to get her son to wave to "Saba" (grandpa) and say shalom or something, but to no avail. But, he kept looking at the man. He also resisted all attempts on my part as well. Definitely at the stranger-resistant stage, not quite ready to play along.

A couple of stops later, the young woman and her baby got off the bus. He was hungry by then and crying to be fed.

I asked the man if he would like to sit down. He had been standing the entire time up till then. I reckoned that he might be as old as my father would be (in his mid-to-late 80s) if he were alive today.

He sat down and began explaining to me, as best as I can translate a summary of it, that haShem rules over everything and does everything...and something I wasn't sure I understood: that He had said that we weren't going to be ruled over by the nations any more.

I repeated to him, as a question, in my own words, something like: Are you saying that He has said that we would not be ruled over the nations any more? He repeated what I said, and affirmed it, and I said, Baruch haShem!

Just then I saw that we were approaching my stop, and I told him I was getting off. He said, Gam ani (me, too), and began to gather his bags while I got off. As the bus pulled away, I noticed that he hadn't gotten off.

Maybe he was getting off at the next stop, just down the hill from mine. Who knows?

I thought about it later: Maybe I should have let him have the window seat. And, definitely I should have offered to carry some of his bags, even if he isn't Eliyahu. It's a matter of common decency. I would have done it for my dad.

I hope that when I meet Eliyahu for real and knowing for sure, I won't blow it. Then, I will be sure to behave properly when Mashiah is announced.

And I wish this for all of us.

May he come quickly to us with Mashiah, David's descendant!

Yes, I know - wrong season again. R' Sprecher covers this in the video below.

Sukkah: The Honeymoon Hut - R' Ephraim Sprecher

Shabbat shalom and Hag Sukkoth sameah!

Written before Shabbath and posted motza'ei Shabbath. I tried using the automatic-post function and it didn't seem to work!