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!

11 October 2016

The Obstinate Jew: The Bad

9 Tishrei 5777
Erev Yom haKippurim

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

Forgive Me, Eretz Yisrael!
by Shmuel Sackett, International Director, Zehut
with minor editing by CDG

Thank you, Marc Gottlieb! (He's on Pinterest; this meme is attributed to him.)

Yom Kippur is just a few hours away and we must be ready – on that great and awesome day – to beg forgiveness from the Almighty. Our holy Rabbis have taught us that while our Father in Heaven wants to forgive and accept our genuine repentance, He only does that for sins between Man and G-d. For sins incurred between Man and Man, we must first apologize and beg forgiveness from the people we hurt. Only after receiving their forgiveness, will Hashem forgive us as well.

I would like to add a third group of sins; those committed between Man and Eretz Yisrael. It is my firm belief that we need to add these sins to our long list and make sure we verbally confess them to our Father, our King, on Yom Kippur.

As you know, when our ancestors were in the desert, they were far from perfect. The Torah relates many, many episodes where the Children of Israel complained and sinned. The Torah also lists their punishments – sometimes in graphic detail – and the number of Jews killed as a result. Yet, as bad as those sins were, they were confined to the specific time period of the 40 years in the desert. Hashem even forgave the horrible, unthinkable sin of the Golden Calf, where originally, Hashem said to Moshe; “Do not try to stop me when I unleash My wrath against them to destroy them” (Exodus 32:10) – yet, even that sin was forgiven – just 4 verses later; “G-d refrained from doing the evil that He planned for His people”. (32:14) Yes, many Jews were killed but as bad as it was, the punishment was focused and limited to only those directly involved. It did not extend beyond the time in the desert.

There is only one exception; one sin that was committed in the desert for which we are still being punished; The Sin of the Spies. I have always felt that one reason we don’t take that sin so seriously is because of its name…it sounds like a James Bond movie. Really, that sin – which gave us the yearly Tisha B’av and all the destruction that came with it - should be called The Gossip of the Land of Israel. That’s correct. We have been punished for the last 3,329 years because 10 people spoke poorly of Eretz Yisrael.

Forgiven for idol worship but not forgiven for talking negatively about Israel? That’s simply incredible! When I focused on that for a while my head started spinning. How many Jews have died throughout the years? How much suffering, how much pain, how many Tisha B’avs? And why? Because a few Jews said bad things about Israel!

Based on this, I came to the conclusion that we are still being punished for these sins because we never did Teshuva for them! Actually, the more I thought about it, the worse it got. We not only never did Teshuva…we are constantly repeating that same sin over and over again! I therefore decided that the reason for this is because we never realized that these sins are in their own category! In addition to the sins between Man and G-d, and between Man and his fellow Man, there’s actually a third group of sins between Man and Eretz Yisrael. Here is my list:

Forgive us Hashem for speaking poorly of Your wonderful Land.

Forgive us Hashem for thinking that You can only help us make a living in New York or Toronto but not in Netanya or Ashdod [or Kedumim or Hevron or Elon Moreh...etc. -CDG].

Forgive us Hashem for bashing the Israeli religious school system even though Israeli kids know more Tanach than any kid coming out of the finest Yeshiva in America and England.

Forgive us Hashem for running to Florida, Arizona and even Aruba on Pesach and not spending the holiday in Your holy city of Jerusalem.

Forgive us Hashem for giving millions of dollars to elect pro-Israel candidates in America, Australia and Canada but not giving even 1% of that money to elect strong candidates in Israel who would turn this country into a strong and proud Jewish state! [and by so doing, playing into the hands of our enemies -CDG]

Forgive us Hashem for seeing Israel as a museum – recognizing only the past, but not the present and future.

Forgive us Hashem for sending our children to learn Torah in Israel for a year – and sometimes two – but never considering letting them live there.

Forgive us Hashem for not knowing Hebrew; the language of Eretz Yisrael and of our Nation.

Forgive us Hashem for lying to You when we say each Shabbat, during Mussaf; “Bring us up in gladness to our land and plant us within our boundaries” because we don't really mean it.

Forgive us Hashem for not defending Your land, choosing to send us sons to university rather than the IDF [and leaving Eretz Yisrael to those who cannot defend her as well as we can, because we rely on You and Your Torah.-CDG].

Forgive us Hashem for not recognizing Your miracle and not thanking You with Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut, or even saying the prayer for the State of Israel on Shabbat.

And finally, forgive us Hashem for preferring to live outside Your Holy Land, making up all sorts of excuses. Yes, we are princes and princesses and You are our King – the King of Kings – Who has personally invited us to come inside the palace. But we have ignored Your pleas and remained outside.

Please, Hashem, forgive us for that… and this year bring us inside. Bring us home to Eretz Yisrael and forgive all the negative things we ever said about Your beautiful and special land.
I believe that the rejection of haShem's gift to us, this Land — along with all the obligations we have to her — is the root of most, if not all, of the real sins of the Jewish People (as opposed to the exaggerations and lies of the goyim), for many reasons, but most of all because He said so. Enough said.

Also see: Lessons from Azazel | A Special Message from Menachem | Goodbye, Barack | Homeward Bound |

G'mar Hatimah Tovah!

10 October 2016

The Obstinate Jew: The Good

9 Tishrei 5777
Erev Yom haKippurim

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

We HIJs (Hebrews/Israelites/Jews — however you wish to refer to us), especially in Israel, would not have survived, and we cannot survive now, without a certain amount of “attitude” toward the nations. This means, first and foremost, that we do not worship other gods no matter how many percentage points the man portion or the god portion gets, or who their favored prophet is; also, that we do not kowtow to the advice or the orders of other nations; certainly, it does not matter to us how much the rest of the world wants us OFF THE PLANET (i.e., DEAD). We are all too aware of it. 

We will soldier on, nevertheless.

Those of my readers who were old enough remember that only after the 1967 Six-Day War did we receive the slightest bit of respect and consideration from other nations, particularly the United States. The Shiloh Muse remembers and evokes this time even better than I do, being somewhat older. More than that, she describes clearly how blinded most American Jews are toward people they should be leery of. I think she would agree with me that its hatred was obvious when the US refused to let Jewish refugees into America, including Anne Frank and her family, during WWII. It was when I realized this, quite some time before we decided to make aliyah, that I shed any shame I had about having dual loyalties. I acquired a single loyalty: to the Jewish People in its Holy Land, one nation under her G-d. 
All the Anne Frank memorials and museums in the world will not replace the family and descendants we should have seen from her, her sister and her cousins, and everyone they represented as well. The diary would have come out after she passed away under more normal circumstances, if ever. Her name would have never driven an entire industry, which neither she nor her family benefits from. 

We are determined to keep her memory and that of all Jews murdered in the Holocaust alive.

We also would have given in to our baser nature long ago and wiped out some peoples, not unlike those who seek to wipe us out (today we have the Palestinians as described in the Abu Yehuda blog: A War Between Peoples). However, we have an obligation to wipe only one people off the face of the earth, and that is Amaleq. This obligation also includes anyone who acts like him: He hates us so much that he would sacrifice his own life to rid the earth of us. As it happens, suicide bombers are the perfect visual to illustrate that concept, even though they kill other people too. And who invented such a thing, pray tell?

Would anyone who believes in and wants to do the will of the Creator of the Universe seek to destroy almost all mankind, as a certain group wants to do (may it never be)?

The beginning of the end if Israel DOESN'T persevere against the nations. (H/T: Shiloh Musings)

More reading:

06 October 2016

The Obstinate Jew: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Best: Introduction

5 Tishrei 5777
Day 5 of the Yamim Nora'im

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

Please pray for the speedy and thorough recovery of Hayah Miryam bat Hinda Ruhama (חיה מרים בת הינדא רוחמה).

During the Ten Days of Awe in the Hebrew month of Tishrei, Jews the world over take time out for introspection and returning to G-d before the Great Day of Atonement, Yom haKippurim. (Many also use the month of Elul for preparation with the thought, “the King is in the field...so I'll try to speak with Him while He's more accessible.” But show me where in the sources, Tana"kh or Talmudic, Elul is discussed in this manner. I'd like to study.) 

It is said that the protracted time we, as a people, have spent in galut mode began because of sinath hinam (שנאת חינם), unjustified hatred (translation: Morfix). (The phrase itself is difficult to break down and translate literally because it ends up not making sense. Also, not everyone believes this alone is why we still don’t have the signs that all is well with the world.) I want to explore how we (including myself) can solve this heretofore insoluble problem, with the hope that it could help clear the way to ha-ge’ulah ha-shlemah, the complete redemption!

One of the things the Jewish People is well-known for, usually in a negative sense, is the paradigm of the Stiff Necked Jew; in our times, “stiff-necked” can be called obstinacy. However, I consider it to be a trait like any other, good or bad, depending on how we use it and where we direct it. The original Hebrew term, k’sheh oref קשה אורף, literally means hardness of neck. (Kasheh also means solid, stiff, difficult, strict or severe, depending on the context.) It may refer to instances when individuals among our people were threatened with beheading and it was rendered impossible by the neck being so hard it was as though turned to marble for that moment – such as when Moshe Rabbenu killed the Egyptian who murdered a Jew, and was to be punished for it, but the sword failed to kill him. But that's just my thought about it. 

I believe I first read about the concept of the proud Jew being a good thing from Yishai Fleisher a long time ago. I just found the article again and read it, and it doesn't say "stiff-necked" anywhere in it. But for some reason I associate this article with the idea that we Jews can stand up for ourselves and not be ashamed even if some of the things we practice today seem reminiscent of what we avoided back in hutz-land (wherever we olim came from). We are all too aware that the goyim label us and consider us the same stiff-necked people who disobeyed haShem so very long ago. Sadly, it informs much of our visceral reactions to things we see among our fellow Jews; therefore, we cannot entertain the notion that there might be absolutely nothing wrong with what we are seeing (like rabbis' pictures in a foreign-exchange office, as in Rabbi Fleisher's article linked above.).

The good part will discuss how we would not have survived without that certain bit of obstinacy against the nations who hate us.
The bad part will talk about how Jew-on-Jew hatred because of things about him or her (or their family, or their neighborhood, or their Jewish orientation) that appear to be sin but may actually not be.
UPDATE on BAD and UGLY: I saw an article about our lack of gratitude for Eretz Yisrael and the fact that we can come back and live here; the foregoing things I was going to write about in this part, I believe, stem from this. I reblogged the article.
The ugly part will include the Jew-on-Jew hatred as above that I had planned for the bad part, and also reveal how our bad behavior towards one another allows the nations to come against us with impunity, regardless of what kind of Jew we are.
The best part will encourage us to redirect our stubbornness towards our relationship with HaQadosh Baruch Hu and with each other.

My dear readers, thank you for your patience and for waiting while I wrote about this very important topic, mostly during the month of Elul and, I hope, finishing up during the Yamim Nora’im (Days of Awe) of the month of Tishrei. I am frankly quite daunted by it because there are many details I could miss. So, I am writing along these main principles, which are the following:

  • The Creator of the Universe gave the Hebrews/Israelites*/Jews (hereafter HIJs) the Torah, both Written and Oral, which encompasses our entire lives in exquisite detail.
  • There is no other true religion (keeping in mind that observant Noahides, who ultimately will comprise the rest of the world, are practicing a very basic form of Judaism, which our forefathers kept before the Torah was given. But note that one must be very careful when becoming Noahide-law-observant, to choose well from whom one learns it. Otherwise, that Noahide might end up “stepping on Jewish toes,” so to speak, which he MUST not do; the nations (at least most of them) do it all the time, on purpose.).
  • It is particularly important for HIJs to be careful when reading or hearing the words of outsiders about us (it is so difficult to block it all out these days) because most of them are lies and, at best, exaggerations; furthermore, because they are largely projecting their own faults onto us and our actions, they do not think well of us or have our best interests at heart, to say the least.
  • Therefore, it is assumed here that most faults of HIJs in our times — which are quite real, which is why we always need to "return in teshuva" — are all the more pronounced and obvious due to the protracted (extremely long, unreasonably extended) exile many of us are still stuck in, whether externally- or internally-imposed, until the redemption is completed, may it be so imminently; and that most things that are said about HIJs are completely false or exaggerated, with no empathy or understanding at all. Someone must give the HIJ the benefit of the doubt; since most of the rest of the world does not, we have to stubbornly, obstinately, even with “stiff necks,” do so ourselves.
  • We reserve the right to decide who belongs to our group and who does not. Those who otherwise would be said to belong, but who live their lives without regard to the group’s survival and continuation, whether national or spiritual, ARE NOT INCLUDED. The same goes for anyone who wishes to belong whose practices, if followed by us all, would lead to HIJ destruction – whether they know it or not (the latter must be warned, of course, before being rejected!).

I conclude this introduction with a true story from yesterday. I went to the hospital to visit a very dear friend, who is there because she was in a bad accident and both legs were broken. She has many friends and her family is large, b”H, bli ayin hara’, and two of her other friends were there too. At one point, one of the friends had left and we who remained were speaking about how many Jews would be included among those getting to go into ge’ulah sh’lemah. The other woman (I had not met her prior to this visit) was saying that she doesn’t know what direction American Jewry will take, and whether the rules for full acceptance into the Jewish people would possibly loosen so that many Reform and Conservative families who comprise halakhic non-Jews among their members might be included. I am not so sure about this, and said so.  Our sick friend was trying to subtly and kindly disagree as well. Since my remarks were more direct, she turned to me and said, “We cannot know the future.” She said this several times, and my reply was something that, if I had heard it from someone else, I would have been really amazed at how it came out: “We cannot know the future. But we are assured of one thing: Those who follow haShem fully and completely will be included.” Our sick friend nodded and gave her a meaningful expression.

I did not add any qualifiers or other words because there are lots of things that people believe and live by that may not be "following fully and completely" but nevertheless fit in most people's concept of Jewish living — even among many religious Jews. This may contribute a great deal to the notion that, even in Israel we are still in galut, just as much as any HIJ in the rest of the world.

Speaking of which, I am sorry for having offended anyone who happened to read something I wrote and didn’t understand that my remark(s) was (were) not directed at him or her or the likes of them (I have been in that position many times, too.). Shanah tovah ug’mar b’hatimah tovah. Hamevin yavin.

Yom Kippur: The Original Soul Food  - R' Ephraim Sprecher

*The term Israelis is not included in my newly-made-up abbreviation because at the time of this writing it includes citizens of Medinath Yisrael other than Jews; and for the purposes of this article – and, for that matter, all the writing on this blog – it is not desirable to involve or invoke non-Jews, Israeli or otherwise, unless specifically indicated.

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