29 January 2016

Whose Rule of Law: America’s, Europe’s, Russia’s, the UN’s — or HaShem’s?

19 Shevat 5776

The rule of law is the legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government officials. More at Wikipedia

The line of questioning that I have been thinking about, concerning recent events in Israel, is: How can our leaders claim that they are promoting rule of law when they make arbitrary decisions concerning certain Jewish sub-populations, as was evident over the last five months regarding the dati-leumi (national religious) sector and a year or so ago, the haredi one? Regarding the former, it seems they believe some of them will rise up and foment revolution, overthrowing the current order; and the latter, it seems, are not willing to defend the current order by enlisting in the army. I am presenting each one’s view as best as I understand it, not based on any agreement I might have, or not, with it:

  • Why would a small part of the youth of the national religious sector want to foment revolution? Because the government has been showing a particularly nasty side of itself toward them in particular: Denigrating and demonizing them and their families by calling them names (e.g., making “settler” a dirty word – my upbringing in America taught that settlers of the West were a positive phenomenon even as they were evicting an indigenous population —as, ironically, we are here) in order to make them hated among the general population; labeling young people’s desire to apprentice as farmers and ranchers on the hilltops as subversive activity; not allowing sufficient building even for natural growth; forcing families to obtain approval before purchasing property based on the area (Hevron is a HUGE example; this is not the first time it's happened here); deliberately leaving valuable territory under-protected or even unprotected…I could go on. Also, take into account that the minors among them are from a generation born during the Gush Katif expulsion and its aftermath. The older ones are from the generation immediately after the murder of R’ Meir Kahane. Both were traumatic experiences for the nation. 
  • Why would the ultra-religious rabbinate enforce a non-enlistment policy, even going against the government decision to draft young haredis? Because, in their eyes, the army is a place where religious youth lose their religion — and, after all, why have Israel in the first place without that most important thing? They may gain skills useful for making money later on, courage, unity with their fellow soldiers, and so on —very positive things — but: If in the taking on of secular mores they lose their connection with G-d as they eat their food, whether kosher or not, what have they in fact gained for the rest of their lives after leaving the army? Is it freedom, or is it another step toward Jewish annihilation? 
  • The leaders say that none of this is important as long as another significant sector must be considered: the Arabs, most of them Muslims, just because they happen to live among us and believe that our land is actually theirs; so, for them, it is a capital crime for Jews to be here. That means, we are under a death penalty according to them and their outside supporters. Why is that? Because the nations, led by the United Nations, forced us to keep them here, despite international law. They made their support of the newly-reinstated Jewish Homeland contingent on our respecting the rights of the Arabs as dwellers of long standing — which most of them were not, according to ordinary standards, at that time. Special standards were created for them with the help of the then-new agency for refugees, UNRWA, which was formed specifically for the Arabs of Palestine and not even for Jewish refugees from the Holocaust and from the Arab world.
  •  And why did the nations force us to go through all this trouble, knowing that we had just gone through attempted genocide, for which the term was, in fact, invented to describe? Because in the end they are conspirators in our expected demise, willing or not. They want every single Jew dead. Even conversions won’t be enough for them; even at the risk of the implosion that will follow according to Jeremiah 31:30 to the end, if they even believe it and understand its implications.

So, whose rule of law are we following? That of the nations, whose goal is to oversee our destruction, or that of the Torah, which only wants to see us grow and thrive without fear?
These are not theoretical questions. I may be sitting in the comfort of my home office, but I am quite aware of the world outside my window. I arrived in this country shortly before the massacre of the students at the Mercaz haRav Yeshiva, merely blocks from my apartment; I was rudely awakened the morning of the Har Nof massacre by ambulances madly rushing to the scene there. I have been here for everything that has occurred between these horrifying events, and since then as well. No thanks to you, nations of the world, for enforcing the rule of death-to-the-Jews here.

This is not to say that Jews have not been cooperating with this evil agenda. Unfortunately, we have a strategically-placed and -supported coterie of them exactly where they will do us the most harm.

For instance: We noted here last August that a former Shaba”k agent criticized the government for not enforcing laws against “a group of fundamentalist ideological criminals that see no justice.” By contrast, we have at least dozens of street videos from CCTV cameras (one good thing: A telephone pole can’t have an agenda…only human beings can) of Arabs openly slaughtering Jews in broad daylight, with no shame. (But, fortunately, we have the comment from a young Arab woman who wishes the Palestinian “enterprise” would fail if it is built on murder of the innocent. I wish that the majority of our Arab population were like her. As it is, we have just enough of them to prove there was a path in the road many could have taken, but chose not to.)

Not very long ago, Jerusalem Post readers found out from Caroline Glick that at the same time that the Israeli government has been assuming that Arabs have been engaged in lone-wolf attacks since last September, we received a message from the United States that Israel is at fault for their bloodthirstiness, the Council of Europe announced that it was finalizing its rules for labeling anything made by Jews outside the “green line” for sale in Europe,  giving a “green light” to Arab-on Jewish violence in Israel; also, the US State Department condemned perfectly normal and lawful Israeli policies in the Jordan Valley, “followed immediately by a similar condemnation by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and a call by the PA for a UN Security Council resolution against Israel.”

We knew that the Arab so-called Palestinians were getting help from a lot of places. But did anyone imagine that our so-called best friend, the United States would coordinate an invasion with multiple parties designed to destroy Israel politically — meaning the immediate military invasion and fall of the country? That is what Caroline Glick is saying. They want the end of Israel, followed by the end of the Jewish People. Now.

Meanwhile, back home, words attributed to Moshe “Boogie” Ya’alon, who was then busy evacuating people who bought their homes in Hevron:

"The state of Israel is a state of law, and I do not intend to compromise when the law is breached. In the case of the buildings in Hevron, the law was systematically breached. In order to enter a home several legal activities are required, and none of them were conducted. Therefore the squatters were evicted."

None? If what is said here is true, then if paying money for property and having proof of sale isn’t a legal activity required to possess and live in a house or apartment, then something smells fishy in Yerushalayim and they can smell it all the way to Hevron. How can a properly-conducted real estate transaction not be legal or relevant? Calling people who paid money to transfer ownership “squatters” is a gross, demeaning distortion of the meaning of the word, no matter what else hadn’t been done.

Arutz Sheva staff reports, “The "legal activities" mentioned refer to the draconian limitations placed on Jews in Hevron, who are required to receive approval for purchases, have security clearance and also receive approval from the political echelon before buying a new home.” 

Some back-and-forth is going on as to whether the new homeowners will be able to take full possession of their property.

Is the point of all this to make Israel, our gift from G-d, a living hell on earth for Jews using the law as its tool? May G-d protect us and deliver us speedily into the arms of Mashiach and Torah governance, the rule of the Creator (HaShem, no substitutes please.). And may the rest of the world should realize that all the attacks on Jewish sovereignty and ownership within our own land must stop. Now. 

If you have been able to read the signs whenever something bad happens against the Jews in Israel and something similar happens in your country shortly thereafter, and you understand that the Great Judgment Day is around the corner, you know that what’s good for the Jews is good for the rest of the world too. The “rule of law” demands it. Speak up, in the name of human decency! This is a major step towards salvation at a time when most will not be saved.

The Ten Commandments are highly recommended to start with. Or the Seven Noahide Laws.

Caroline Glick opposes the notion that Israel is destroying itself with its settlement policy at the Royal Geographical Society, UK, 15/1/2013. H/T to Shiloh Musings (she has a shorter version of this speech.).

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24 January 2016

R' Sprecher Gems on Tu b'Shevat

Erev T"u b'Shevat 5776

Almond blossoms have the nicest scent, too. Thanks to Creative Jewish Mom.

 Tu B'Shvat: Why the Torah Compares a Human Being to a Tree

The source for Tu B'Shvat is the opening Mishnah of the Talmudic Tractate Rosh Hashana: "The Academy of Hillel taught that the 15th of Shvat is the New Year for the Trees."

 What does that mean, "New Year for the Trees?"

 Tu B'Shvat is technically the day when trees stop absorbing water from the ground and instead draw nourishment from their sap. In Halacha, this means that fruit which has blossomed prior to the 15th of Shvat could not be used as tithe for fruit which blossomed after that date.

 So what relevance does this have for us in the 21st century, when most of us are not farmers? In various places, the Bible compares a person to a tree:
  • A person is like the tree of a field…" (Dvorim 20:19)
  • For as the days of a tree shall be the days of my people." (Isaiah 65:22)
  • He will be like a tree planted near water…" (Jeremiah 17:8)
Why the comparison? A tree needs the four basic elements in order to survive – earth, water, air and fire (sunshine). Human beings also require the same basic elements. Let us see how by analyzing these four essential elements individually.

Earth: A tree needs to be planted firmly in the earth. The soil is not only the source through which nourishment is absorbed, but also provides room for the roots to grow.

This is true of a person as well. The Talmud explains; "A person whose wisdom exceeds his good deeds is likened to a tree whose branches are numerous, but whose roots are few. The wind comes and uproots it and turns it upside down. But a person whose good deeds exceed his wisdom is likened to a tree whose branches are few but whose roots are numerous. Even if all the winds of the world were to come and blow against it, they could not budge it from its place." (Avot 3:22)

A person can appear successful on the outside. "But if the roots are few" — if there is little connection to one's community and Torah heritage — then life can send challenges that are impossible to withstand. "A strong wind can turn the tree upside down." A person alone is vulnerable to trends and fads that may lead to despair and destruction. But, if a person — irrespective of wealth and status — is connected to his community and Torah heritage, then "even if all the winds of the world were to come and blow against it, they could not budge it from its place."

People require a strong home base, where Judaism's values and morals are absorbed, and which provide a supportive spiritual growth environment.

Water: Rain-water is absorbed into the ground and — through an elaborate system of roots — is carried throughout the trunk, branches and leaves of the tree. Without water, the tree will wither and die. The Torah is compared to water, as Moses proclaims: "May my teaching drop like the rain" (Dvorim 32:2). Both rain and Torah descend from the heavens and provide relief to the thirsty and parched. The Torah flows down from G-d and has been absorbed by Jews in every generation. Torah gives zest and vitality to the human spirit. A life based on Torah will blossom with wisdom and good deeds.

Deprived of water, a person will become dehydrated and ultimately disoriented, even to the point where they may not be able to recognize their own father. So too, without Torah, a person becomes disoriented — to the extent that they may not even recognize their Father in Heaven.

Air: A tree needs air to survive. The air contains oxygen that a tree needs for respiration, and carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. In an imbalanced atmosphere, the tree would suffocate and die.

The Torah (Bereishit 2:7) states that "G-d breathed life into the form of Man." The Hebrew word for "breath" — nesheema — is the same as the word for "soul" — neshama. Our spiritual life force comes, metaphorically, by way of air and respiration.

We use our senses of taste, touch and sight to perceive physical matter. (Even "hearing" involves the perception of sound waves). But "smelling" is the most spiritual of senses, since the least "physical matter" is involved. As the Talmud says (Brachot 43b); "Smell is that which the soul benefits from and the body does not."

In the Holy Temple, the daily incense offering (sense of smell) was elevated to the once-a-year Yom Kippur offering in the Holy of Holies. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 93a) also says that when the Messiah comes, he will "smell and judge" — that is, he will use his spiritual sensitivity to determine the truth about complex matters.

Fire: A tree also needs fire — sunshine — to survive. The absorption of energy from the sunlight activates the process of photosynthesis, a chemical reaction that is essential for the growth and health of the tree.

People too need the physical warmth of fire and sunshine to survive. But we also need to absorb and reflect the spiritual warmth and sunshine of friendship, which is the essence of Judaism. As the Torah states in Vayikra 19:18, "Love your friend as yourself." And Rabbi Akiva states that this verse is the greatest principle of the Torah (Talmud Yerushalmi, Nedarim, Chapter 9.) Source

 Skywriting The Ten Commandments

"And all the people saw the sounds (of the Ten Commandments)" (Shemot 20:15). The Kli Yakar explains this verse as meaning that the Jewish People actually saw the words of the Ten Commandments, as they were being proclaimed by G-D. Each Jew saw the Holy Letters being formed in mid-air, as if G-D was actually doing skywriting.
Why was this necessary, given that the Jews also heard these very same words being spoken by G-D. The Chidushei Harim presents an amazing answer to this question. Without actually seeing the words of the Ten Commandments, the word "LO-DO NOT" could be misinterpreted. The word "LO" meaning "DO NOT" and "LO" with a VAV meaning "to him," are pronounced the exact same way but are spelled differently. This can cause a major misunderstanding if the words are only heard and not seen.
For example, the prohibition of murder, "LO TIRTSACH," if only heard, could instead be interpreted as "LO TIRTSACH" with a VAV instead of an ALEF. IT would them mean, "For His sake (G-D), you may murder." It is just amazing how the Parsha of the week speaks to Current Events. Our so called "Peace Partners," always invoke G-D's name in order to justify their murder of Jews. In fact, Abu Mazen's murderous incitement of his people against the Jews, is all the sake of "Allah."
Thus, we have a duty and an obligation to proclaim loud and clear to our Arab cousins "Do not murder in the name of your god." Source

 Happy T"u b'Shevat!

17 January 2016

Forced Self-Incrimination: Just Plain Wrong

8 Shevat 5776

Credit here.

דברים י"ז, ט"ו
Deuteronomy 19:15 
טו  לֹא-יָקוּם עֵד אֶחָד בְּאִישׁ, לְכָל-עָו‍ֹן וּלְכָל-חַטָּאת, בְּכָל-חֵטְא, אֲשֶׁר יֶחֱטָא:  עַל-פִּי שְׁנֵי עֵדִים, אוֹ עַל-פִּי שְׁלֹשָׁה-עֵדִים--יָקוּם דָּבָר.

15 One witness shall not rise up against any person for any iniquity or for any sin, regarding any sin that he will sin. By the mouth of two witnesses, or by the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be confirmed. 

מקור: מכון ממרי
Source: Chabad

ואין אדם משים עצמו רשע...
And a person may not incriminate himself…
מקור: סנהדרין ט, ב, תלמוד בבלי
Source: Sanhedrin 9b, Babylonian Talmud

I deliberately linked to early accounts, so that we can recall how it was then, before young Jews — both men and underage boys — were formally accused, taken into custody and, by some accounts, treated worse than Arabs in their place would be. None of this would have happened if self-incrimination and forced confessions were not allowed air time or print space in any medium in Israel — never mind in a court of law.

The Jewish Division of the Shaba"k (Israeli Security Agency) claimed that there was a need to take young, even underage Jews into administrative detention due to a “ticking time bomb” situation (possibly to be discussed in a separate post – to read the full article, I suggest the search phrase “jewish ticking time bomb” if you don’t subscribe to HaAretz. Here’s another article where the ISA admits to treating “Jewish extremists” as ticking time bombs.).

Everyone knows that the American Constitution has what is famously known as the Fifth Amendment:
"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

How many have internalized what the Torah and Talmud say on the matter? It is not a matter of amendment — or a tacking on, if you will — to the law for these works of Jewish law, but part of its central body: It starts with the 9th commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” and goes on to say, “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses…” The repetition of the Hebrew word edim there is deliberate; there is no unnecessary word in the Torah. Could witnesses be so important that the Torah appears not to even consider not having them in a case where the accused’s life or future is at stake?

Here's a potential hiddush: Could one say, in easy legalese, that the Torah and Talmud together imply that a person of whom a confession is demanded or required is automatically considered to be in a conflict of interest and is therefore automatically recused?

The Talmud puts it more concisely and understandably for modern readers, with the exception of the phrase mesim atzmo, which I have translated as “impute on oneself” due to its (as I perceive it) mixed verb-direct reflexive object relationship1.

A lot of people, especially women, long ago stopped considering Torah law and governance a viable alternative to what we have now because of issues such as the plight of the agunah. I hope that now, considering the environment we live in, where the entry of Muslim men en masse all over the world is creating far worse conditions for a much greater number of women (who were accustomed to going out freely to attend to their errands, visit friends and so on virtually without concern, but now must go out, if at all, in groups, always with an eye out for trouble and, if this occurs, no help from authorities), we in Israel can look at other problems where Torah clearly shines for everyone, such as the abolishing of self-incrimination and the requiring of witnesses to acts that could land a person in jail for life or dead, whether male or female. (In fact, since there seems to be no support at all from the feminists on issues where rape and other misogynistic acts by Muslims are concerned, they have rendered themselves and their philosophy irrelevant – this news story took 20 years to break.)

There is a lot more to be discussed, which is why I have collected many Torah sites on this blog and plan to add more as I find them. In the meantime, though, it seems that making Arabs and Jews "equal" is having the effect of making Arabs "more equal" than Jews. It might be time for the pendulum to swing strongly towards advocating, and achieving, Torah governance in Israel. Until then, if the Israeli government has any sense of true democratic justice — let alone Torah justice — the case against Amiram ben Uliel should be thrown out due to his inadmissible confession.

1 the phrase masim atzmo (משים עצמו) in my eyes combines a hif’il (causative) verb form with a reflexive object (refers to oneself; nay, means “oneself”). Impute means to attribute or ascribe, as to a person, or in its obsolete meaning, to charge (a person) with fault. If you still have questions about this, please, feel free to go to the native Hebrew/English speaker-scholar of Talmudic Hebrew, of your choice. 

I have already taken my advice and asked Reb Yehudah B. Ilan of Forthodoxy about my explanation. If and when I should receive a reply, be"H I will post it here as an update.

UPDATE: Reb Yehudah replies:

Your translation is okay, but I think that you may be over-thinking this a bit and analyzing a passage from the Gemara using the intricacies of Hebrew grammar is not usually the correct method of study. The reasons for this are that (a) the language of the Gemara is a mixture of Mishnaic Hebrew and Babylonian Jewish Aramaic – which do not follow the grammatical rules of either Biblical or Modern Hebrew, (b) most of the Talmudic text is written in scholarly turns of phrase which are not meant to be taken literally but rather have a particular legal meaning and/or a dialectal significance. This being the case, translating the Gemara is almost never a word-for-word exercise. If someone cannot interpret the text on their own, I suggest employing a standard translation of the Talmud, such as the edition published by Koren or one of the many Steinsaltz editions (I do NOT promote the use of Artscroll).

Without knowing the intent or essential message of your post, I can only explain this particular phrase as it appears in the context of b.Sanhedrin 9b.

As for the meaning of the words “mesiym `assmo rasha` – משים עצמו רשע” it can be translated here as “…place himself [in the category of] a wicked one (i.e. incriminate himself through his own testimony in court).” The phrase “mesiym `assmo” is made up of two words: [1] השים which has the simple meaning of “to place” or “to put” and [2] עצם which in Biblical Hebrew means “bone” and came to be used to signify “self.” This phrase only means “incriminate himself” in context of the discussion here in the Gemara.

On Rava’s statement, Rashi comments: “Rava says: A person cannot become invalid to testify by way of admitting his own guilt, for a person is considered to have the status of a ‘close relative’ in relation to himself. Therefore ‘a person is not able to implicate himself (lit. ‘to place himself [in the category of] a rasha`‘), that is to say on the basis of testimony about himself one is not convicted (lit. ‘made a rasha`‘) for behold the Torah invalidates a ‘close relative’ to testify. Yet the rova` (i.e. the penetrating participant in male homosexual relations – referring to a case mentioned earlier in the discussion) is put to death on the basis of such testimony since we divide his statement (i.e. ‘so-and-so penetrated me during homosexual relations and I was complicit in the act.’) and while we consider his testimony reliable with regard to the actions of his fellow, we do not consider him reliable with regard to his own actions – which would otherwise invalidate him to testify.”

Essentially, this passage is explaining that if one testified in court that he and another person willingly engaged in forbidden sexual relations together (for example – other similar cases exist as well), three things take place legally: [1] His incriminating testimony about his own behavior is not accepted as valid, [2] his testimony about the actions of the other person is accepted as valid (and may be combined with the testimony of another valid witness to effect a death penalty in the case), and [3] whereas such behavior – when attested to about him by others – would invalidate him to testify in the first place, the fact that he said it about himself does not invalidate him and he remains an acceptable witness.
This, however, only holds in capital and corporal cases – it does not count in monetary cases (see Musaf Rashi there). In other words, a person cannot incriminate himself to endanger his life, but he can incriminate himself to endanger his money. This is important to note as it means that אין אדם משים עצמו רשע is not a general, over-arching principle in halakhah, but rather has specifically-defined parameters of application.

I hope that this helps.
So do I.

More reading:

13 January 2016

The Real Reason Israel Suffers

3 Shevat 5776

These days, not too many Jews show pride in the designation, “Chosen People” — especially in public. We may feel good about it to whatever extent we do, but we are careful not to display it. In fact, many who are upset by this term ask the question, “What are we chosen for?” and answer it: “To suffer.” I can say I’ve thought that way myself from time to time.

Last Yom Rishon (Sunday), R’ Ephraim Sprecher took it upon himself to answer the question, “Why is Israel Chosen to Suffer?” in a shiur recorded on video (see at the end of this article) the day before Rosh Hodesh Shevat, 5776. I was there.

Now, before you go away, you should know that he does not blame the non-Jews, the Erev Rav, or the Jewish spiritual descendants of the Erev Rav. This one is strictly on the descendants of the tribes of Israel, beginning with Dathan and Aviram who, it is explained, snitched on Moshe Rabbenu.

I, on the other hand, would not have called it “why are we chosen to suffer,” but why we choose to suffer, because of the reason Rav Sprecher gave: We Jews, for some reason, have a very great tendency to tell on one another. I thought about it again, and it seems to me it stems from the time of the Sale of Yosef, and has never gone away despite the punishments we get for it. The informers among us especially love to tell on those who live in the hope that the Mashiach will come, the whole Land of Israel will be reclaimed (and some parts of it will be claimed for the first time), the Temple will be rebuilt in its place in Jerusalem, the Great Beth Din will be built and its Assembly reassembled (speaking of which, here’s news concerning the “nascent Sanhedrin”), and the true mesorah (what is passed down) will be revealed and taught to all Jews, both to those who have known themselves to be Jews all their lives and those to whom it will be revealed in the (we hope, near-) future; and true Judaism will be lived and not just talked about. Most of these snakes-in-the-grass are hypocrites because they have done many of the things they accuse their fellow Jews of, in the service of their agenda, which of course is to keep the geula away. 

Today many call them Erev Rav due to their disowning of the precious heritage we share, and their acting as though those who cling to it are evil and deserving of oppression and punishment. Perhaps they are, and perhaps not. But how many of us have considered why we are so vulnerable to such people? Is it possible that it all starts with real Jews with real Jewish souls, who hear a message, delivered in a certain way that makes it seem right; and, obeying and acting on that message, it turns out that they are harming the very brother or sister they wished not to harm? Do we really believe that G-d will deliver Israel, or do we believe that anyone who advocates preparation for the coming of Mashiach, the building of the Holy Temple, and Torah governance is a freak? Is our situation a good substitute for the liberation we were promised, which would make the nations admit that it is even greater than when we left Egypt? 

A great deal of early Israeli history (readers might want to use more specific search terms than I did to tease out even more information) reveals a poison flower and its fruit in full bloom that continues to grow until the present day, with the recent detaining of “hilltop youth” (name-calling: a favorite tactic of the Left, even here), most of whom had nothing to do with the deed in question. There is even a strong possibility that Amiram ben Uliel, the one who was indicted, incriminated himself under torture. How can one believe what the media says he says until the trial itself reveals the truth? Even if he “re-enacted” the crime — and I don’t call a 31-second video that reveals nothing a “re-enactment” — how do we know it wasn’t just a matter of taking whatever the young man said and saying “we knew this all along and what he said matches”?

Drawing the bullseye around the arrow and calling that “hitting the target” is not the same thing as truly hitting the center of a pre-existing target. We need to remember the difference when we read the news.

Which begs the question: Do violations like these, of all that is sacred, reveal the sin that the state of Israel was born in, as our enemies say? I don’t think so. I think the situation is even worse than that: The people who took credit for the rising of the state of Israel took full advantage of the very life-giving holiness of the return of even a small part of the Jewish Holy Land to a very small part of its people to keep us under bondage to the godless system they brought with them from the by-then Communist lands they left, with previous British and Ottoman law left attached at their convenience. Their spiritual descendants still derive nourishment from this kedusha; they also know well that G-d will do just about anything to keep the Jewish people on the land He promised them at this time in history. Many of these “leaders” still remember the Six-Day War and all the miracles that took place then; they observe all the miracles in every war since, even if they don’t admit it. So, they know the Jewish presence will not go away, as hard as they try to create a hostile environment for Jews so that we will “go back where we came from.” Unlike true teachers of Torah, those who wield power here in Israel draw near with the left hand and push away with the right.

So, I believe I am not the only one who didn’t come up to Israel to live here because of the system and the “booming” economy; we are here in spite of them. Those who take credit for these achievements now do not give G-d credit for creating them and putting marvelous thoughts into their brains. Those of us who do give Him credit for having created all, including ourselves and our brains, are praying, working and waiting for His higher will to be done, beginning where we live and breathe.

A warning to my non-Jewish readers: I do not expect this article to be waved around by anyone from the non-Jewish nations so they can say, “See? They admit it, it IS all their fault!” No! You nations — especially the leaders of the nations throughout the generations, coming up on 2,000 years — contributed to this horrible dysfunctional behavior, aided and abetted it, encouraged us to rat each other out and laughed at us when we did. And worse: Don’t get me started. Especially when the victims were, and are, those who are aware of, and cling to, the words passed down to them by their fathers, who received them from their fathers…and so on, back to Avraham and Sarah, Yitzhak and Rivkah, and Ya’aqov and Rahel, Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah. 

In fact, a particular group of non-Jews (and some former Jews, unfortunately), whom we know as Christians, even dared to change words in the Talmud so that what we learned would not be so offensive to them, rather than learning the lessons, in the Middle Ages. That makes their part in all this especially egregious because many Jews still learn from these redacted texts, imbibing twisted teaching from them as a result. Hypocritically, these redacted words are now part of the text you try to distance Jews from in order that they be cut off from the teachings of the Sages of blessed memory — creating problems where there were none before! So, instead of shouts of victory, I expect you to hang your heads in shame and cry out to G-d for forgiveness — and if you still can, try to reverse the evil your ancestors and your fellow Gentiles have done. Learn about, and become, true Seven Laws-abiding Noahides.

Back to the Jews: Is it confusing that we are still taking the punishment for the Sale of Yosef, even though the sentence was officially administered in the times of the Romans and we (at least in Israel —it’s possible that we read it outside Israel too, but I didn’t understand what I was reading in those days) read it every Yom Kippur?

I do not claim to understand what is still going on over the boys who were administratively detained by the Israel Security Agency’s Jewish Division (aka Shaba”k). Many have now been released; but we have conflicting reports on whether torture was “administered” or not. Not only this, but there have been many other times this issue has come up, for example the murder of Mohammad al-Khdeir, supposedly by Jews, after the murder of our 3 Boys, Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrah and Gil’ad Sha’ar, may their memories be for a blessing, who were very obviously murdered by Arabs. Perhaps the government was taking advantage of the understandable feelings and desire to act against a very dangerous environment to actually assign blame to Jews enclosed in it based on forced confession and self-incrimination (the US Constitution, which Israeli government likes to be seen as emulating, adheres to the famous Fifth Amendment, whereby one is allowed not to answer questions which may incriminate him; and the Torah forbids self-incrimination, relying instead on the testimony of two witnesses), even sharing this assignation with the rest of the population through the media even before trials could be planned to take place. Let’s have a proper trial, please.

According to R’ Sprecher (personal conversation, later that same day), two geniuses (ge’onim) of the last generation weigh in:

  • R’ Yosef Dov Soloveitchik says that when it comes to national security, we must trust what the security agency says.
  • The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, says that when it comes to national security, we must NOT trust the security agency alone.

It’s a large mahloket – discussion or controversy – between great modern-day rabbe’im. Does it depend on who your rav is, or on whose advice seems most relevant to the situation at hand? Is it treason for a Jew to disagree with his rav, if there is another whose opinion is as likely — if not more — to be correct, more appropriate or more helpful to the Jewish nation as a whole? We have an issue before us that very few of us witnessed personally, that only G-d and the perpetrator(s) of the burning of the Duma house know(s).
My question is: Once Jews are blamed, is it necessary to come up with Jewish suspects and convicts, or is it possible to investigate with an unbiased mind, taking every possible pathway with an eye for the truth? 

In closing, I am very much in awe of how Rabbi Sprecher could smack me upside the head and down, and sideways; he could really dress me down. But he doesn’t. I’m not sure I could do as well, were I in his place. And, with the help of G-d, I will be there next week at his shiur listening, even if, as he promised me yesterday, I won’t like what he has to say; I’ll also post the shiur so my readers can listen for themselves.

For now, here's "Why is Israel Chosen to Suffer?"

UPDATE: This blog post made it to today's Havel Havelim (aka Batya Medad's Alternative International Jewish Newspaper) — only 18 posts! Read, enjoy and, if you especially liked this post, please let Batya know. Thank you!

UPDATE 2: I indeed posted R' Sprecher's shiur "May We Turn In the Duma Suspects?" — produced today, Sunday, 17 January 2016, to my "R' Ephraim Sprecher Videos" page.

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