12 April 2017

The First Son: Why Wise, and not Righteous?

16 Nisan 5777
1st Day of the Omer

Featuring the top 2 in this picture. Thanks to Yaakov Kirschen.

Last night, Erev Pessah, my husband and I were seated across from a couple who were the son and daughter-in-law of our gracious hosts, along with their lovely children. The husband of this couple gave over an interesting question from The Rebbe concerning the Four Sons of the Seder.

A little background: The family we ate with is a large Halabi Syrian Hebrew-speaking (and Arabic-speaking, at least for the Seder), with Sepharadi origins and Mizrahi practice. At least two of their many sons have aligned themselves with Chabad, that I know of. The elder of these two is the one whose rendition, given in Hebrew, I am writing about today. It is more a transfer of thought, which is probably as much as I can expect from myself, than a translation.

Disclaimer: I have never read anything this question in Hebrew or English, and I find it difficult to find search terms on the Internet in Hebrew or English that would reveal it; so, my understanding of it comes from this d'var Torah. Any failure to give this over properly is mine.

And a reminder that in Israel we have only one night of seder. It is now hol hamo'ed — weekday during a holiday — for us.

The original was, of course, not recorded because we don't record on Hag. Therefore, it is hard to tell the difference between my thoughts and what the Rebbe said. My Hebrew, both understanding and speaking, is improving but isn't perfect. Perhaps when haShem flips the switch to give us all a common, clear language as He did when He confused the languages...😉

So...The Rebbe asked: Why does the Haggadah call the first son the Wise Son (hakham חכם) and not the Righteous Son (tzadiq צדיק)?

[After all, if one were to make a list of opposites, Wise would go across from Foolish, and Righteous would go across from Wicked. But in this case, Wise is across from Wicked (rasha' רשע). Which is why I think the Rebbe is asking the question; it intrigues him.]

The Rebbe's answer: The Righteous Son would always be correct in everything he said. But not everything he said would be listened to, because, while he is smart and knows all the answers, he doesn't know how to say what he needs to say because he does not understand the Wicked Son's need for a frank, uncompromising, real answer.

The Wise Son knows how to deal to everyone at the table. He knows to ask his parents questions, when to speak and when to keep silent. He knows how to deal with everyone, even (and especially) to his brother the Wicked Son. He even understands the Wicked Son because he has a little of him inside — but he knows how to handle himself so that he doesn't have to give in to it. [How did he get there? Maybe he decided that leaving himself out in the cold when it comes to the Jewish People's destiny is not a good idea.]

May Eliyahu haNavi (Elijah the Prophet) come to bring the good news of Mashiah's revelation and our complete redemption swiftly in our days!

Happy Festival of Freedom to all ! חג חירוטנו שמח לכולם

07 April 2017

Purim isn't only for fun.

11 Nisan 5777

(This post was begun on 
Shushan Purim (15 Adar) 5777)

For Adi, for Shiri, for Natalie, for Sivan, for Keren, for Nirit, and for Ella.
(Thanks to Paula R. Stern also for the names of these girls. I have no idea whether they're in order or not.)

Even weeks afterwards, I'm still stuck on this past Purim, and not only for joy and happiness. I'm fortunate that I can post this before Pessah...and I'm hoping that we'll be getting a visit from a certain prophet of renown before Mashiah is revealed.

Some people take Purim very seriously. Mainly, they would be non-Jews who love nothing more than to keep us Children of Israel unhappy during our happy times, emotionally far from our redemption and our redeemer.

The nation of Jordan is an appropriate example: Earlier that day, while it was still Purim for most of the Jewish world (and when I started this article, it still was...but I delayed all this time, while work practically ruled my life afterwards...), they released none other than Ahmed Daqamseh, the Jordanian "soldier" who murdered seven Israeli Jewish schoolgirls from Beit Shemesh, students who were on a field trip, in the Island of Peace massacre 20 years ago the next day. Memory is kept of these girls at the school where they attended (One of Mystical Paths author R' Akiva Marks's daughters attends there.).

The Island of Peace, as noted in Wikipedia (link above), was a joint Israeli-Jordanian tourist resort that was under Jordanian rule. So much for peace efforts. Showing no remorse, this murderer still dares to say that he considers himself and his sons "soldiers in the armed forces." Perhaps if he knew what real soldiers do, he wouldn't say such a thing. Killing unarmed schoolgirls who have not come to kill him is not soldiering; he is a cowardly murderer, as are the people he served under, and apparently he intends to continue in that path. He lives in the spirit of Amalek and the Philistines.

How can we tolerate the freedom of this murderer? Let me be clear: The schoolgirls who have been in their graves because of him for the last 20 years were not shielding criminals or terrorists. They were not "collateral damage" that happened to be in the way of a legitimate target (as dehumanizing a phrase as can be!). They had no weapons in their hands with which to harm. THEY WERE THE CIVILIAN PREY OF THIS FIRST-DEGREE MURDERER. Think about that. People have been in jail longer than he for far less!

I stand with Yaffa Shoukroun, the teacher who was also seriously injured by Daqamseh, but fortunately not killed. She told Arutz 7,  "I heard this morning about the release and I feel that they ruined our Purim celebrations...The Jordanian government did not coordinate with us the decision to release him...[t]hey released terrorist like robbers in the night. In the past there were attempts to release him but we made a fight so that the terrorist would never again see the light of day. I never imagined that one day this terrorist would be set free. The terrorist should have served a sentence for every pupil he murdered, he didn't even serve a sentence for one and was released after 20 years."

King Hussein actually offered condolences after the attack; but today's Jordanian leadership has taken his gesture back, substituting for it a warm welcome home for the terrorist.

Personally speaking, I feel that we need to not be so accepting when it comes to the actions of our so-called friends. Remember, this murderer was not in jail here in Israel, but in Jordan, and was released there. A decent Israel cannot have (or continue to have) good relations with them under these conditions; no one needs to remind me that we're not quite there yet. I am painfully aware of how imperfect we are; however, it doesn't give others the right to take advantage of us and our profoundly dysfunctional state. But I digress.

I was, and still am, upset by this release precisely because I clearly remember when he went to jail! His own mother doesn't believe the "mentally unstable" excuse. Wikipedia quotes from Al Jazeera: In May 2001, Daqamseh's mother said,

"I am proud of my son, and I hold my head high. My son did a heroic deed and has pleased god and his own conscience. My son lifts my head and the head of the entire Arab and Islamic nation. I am proud of any Muslim who does what Ahmad did. I hope that I am not saying something wrong. When my son went to prison, they asked him: 'Ahmad, do you regret it?' He answered: 'I have no regrets.' He treated everyone to coffee, honored all the other prisoners, and said: The only thing that I am angry about is the gun, which did not work properly. Otherwise I would have killed all of the passengers on the bus."

She clearly does not think her son is mentally unstable or a madman. Far be it from me to contradict.

But. I have some good news for my gentle readers today, thanks to Rivka Levy of Emunaroma (whom I suspect also translates the Shuvu Banim website into English for them. I could be wrong; it could be some other British-English writer.):

RAV ELIEZER BERLAND WAS RELEASED FROM PRISON YESTERDAY. This is truly big news that isn't getting around, and I hope that the other innocent Jewish prisoners of Zion, as well as those whose sentences have long passed and yet they languish, will also be freed as well. Frankly, it will take completely freeing ALL of these prisoners, with NO ONEROUS CONDITIONS, to even begin to balance the freeing of this FIRST-DEGREE MURDERER OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS...HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS...right in front of everyone there.

Complete Redemption, perhaps?

Abba HaShem, are You listening? Who is Mashiah and where, oh where, is his forerunner Eliyahu?

Sorry, I don't have time to gather more links. Maybe next week after the Hag, be"H, b"n. There are tons of them.