12 September 2017

If You Build It, Will They Come? - by Shmuel Sackett

21 Elul 5777

This post marks our 10th anniversary in Eretz Yisrael, B"H! UPDATE BELOW.

from http://www.zehutinternational.com/single-post/2017/08/23/If-You-Build-It-Will-They-Come

One of my favorite movies is “Field of Dreams”, a 1989 classic starring Kevin Costner. In this movie, Costner plays an Iowa corn farmer named Ray Kinsella. Costner’s character is a huge baseball fan who keeps having dreams, with the line “If you build it, they will come”. He interprets this to mean that if he turns his corn farm into a baseball field, the ghosts of the 1919 Chicago White Sox (who were accused of cheating) would play one more game.

As unbelievable as it sounds, he does exactly that! He cuts down his corn, uproots everything that had been planted and plows his field into a real, major-league baseball field. The entire time, with everyone against him, his sole motivation is that one simple line; “If you build it, they will come.” This guides him, motivates him and is at the core of everything he does.

Since the movie is almost 30 years old, I won’t mind ruining the surprise for you. Yes, they come. Ray Kinsella may no longer have a corn field, but he did manage to bring his dream to fruition. Against all odds, he built it and – just like they said – they all came and played that final game.

I think of this movie every year at this time, in the weeks following Tisha B’av. We currently find ourselves in the period called “The 7 Weeks of Comfort” when our Rabbis chose very special sections to read for our weekly Haftorah, which focus on comfort and consolation, after the horrific destruction of the Temples. These are also the days when we celebrated one of the most festive days of the year, known as Tu B’av (the 15th of Av). Many wonderful things happened on that day, which made it so joyful, but I want to focus on just one of those things… because it has a deep connection to Kevin Costner’s movie.

We are all familiar with King David and the successor to his throne, his son, King Shlomo. What very few people understand is what happened next. When King Shlomo died, his kingdom was tragically divided. The tribes of Yehuda and Binyamin were led by Shlomo’s son – and the rightful ruler – Rechav’am. It was known as the Kingdom of Yehuda and was based in Jerusalem. The remaining ten tribes were led by Yeravam ben Nevat and was known as the Kingdom of Yisrael. Yeravam made the center of his kingdom in northern Israel. This happened in the year 2964 (over 2,800 years ago).
For the first three years (2964-2967) the Jews from all over the country continued to make pilgrimages to the Bet Ha’Mikdash in Jersusalem. This angered Yeravam very much as he felt it strengthened Rechav’am.

Finally, he did something very drastic. In the year 2967 Yeravam set up border guards to physically prevent the Jews from going to the Bet Ha’Mikdash. As unbelievable as it sounds, this horrific policy continued for 220 years!! Imagine that; Jewish kings preventing fellow Jews from bringing the Korban Pesach, from witnessing the awesome service of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, from bringing personal sacrifices, from dancing on Sukkot in the Temple courtyard... incredible!

This lasted for 220 years until the 15 of Av 3187 when the northern king, Hoshea ben Elah, removed the guards and became the first king of Yisrael to allow the ten tribes to go to the Bet Ha’Mikdash! (See Talmud Gittin 88a and also Ta’anit 30b-31a) What a happy day that was… Tu B’av!!

That’s the good news. Fast forward 9 years and you will see that during the reign of this same king Hoshea ben Elah, all ten tribes of Yisrael were exiled! To this day we do not know where they are and they are known as “The Lost Tribes”. How tragic was that?? 10 of Am Yisrael’s 12 tribes lost. How many Jews would there be in the world today if we had all 12 tribes? While many studies have been conducted over the years, and various scholars claim to have discovered some of these lost Jews – such as the B’nei Menashe (from the tribe of Menashe) – these are just a handful when compared to hundreds of millions of lost Jews. That’s the bad news.

Rabbi Nachman Kahana, Talmudic scholar and author of the “Mey Menuchot” commentary of Tosafot, asks a very serious question; Why did the exile of the 10 tribes happen during the days of Hoshea ben Elah? After all, he did a good thing!! As stated above, the Talmud says that his actions – of removing the border guards – resulted in Jews being able to come to the Bet Ha’Mikdash! We dance to this very day on the 15th of Av to celebrate that great event… and yet, during his reign the 10 tribes were expelled, exiled and disappeared?? How can that be??

“If you build it, they will come”, said the voice in Kevin Costner’s dream in the movie. So he built it… and they came.
“If you remove the security guards, they will come (to the Bet Ha’Mikdash)”, said the voice in Hoshea ben Elah’s dream but tragically… they never came.

Rabbi Kahana explains that for 220 years the Jews in northern Israel were not punished because they physically could not come to the Bet Ha’Mikdash! There were guards, walls, fences and the gate was shut. There was literally no way of going from northern Israel to Jerusalem. It was simply impossible. But when Hoshea ben Elah removed those guards and opened the gates, the excuses were gone. Jews could travel freely to Jerusalem yet… they didn’t come. As their leader, Hoshea ben Elah was punished. Yes, he did a wonderful thing by removing the guards but by not making sure that the people actually went to the Bet Ha’Mikdash – even though they could at any moment – both he and the people were punished and sent into oblivion. They disappeared… maybe forever.

The message for our day is crystal clear. For hundreds of years Jews could not travel to Israel. The roads were dangerous, there were horrible diseases in the land and there was little chance of making a living. We all dreamed of the land and said to Hashem; “If You build it, we will come”. We begged, cried and pleaded with Hashem to rebuild the land and make it possible for us to come.

Well, Hashem listened. Thanks to His holy helpers - tens of thousands of hard-working pioneers and brave soldiers - the land has been built. Nothing is lacking. You can fly to Israel in comfort while watching movies and eating glatt kosher food. There are amazing places to live in Israel, incredible educational opportunities, good jobs for men and women and the chance to do what has not been done in close to 2,000 years!

Our job now is to learn from Hoshea ben Elah. Everything is ready and the guards have been removed. We need only one thing: The Jews to come home.

If you build it, they will come… Attention fellow Jews: It has been built. Time to come home.

Amen! It is a key to complete redemption. Even though you "may not make it" just by coming and living here, it is an important first step.

Don't underestimate it.

Shanah tovah!

UPDATE: If you need help and you aren't getting enough from Nefesh b'Nefesh or the Jewish Agency, you might want to try Keep Olim.

08 September 2017

Dhimmitude, Sovereignty, or HaShem's Kingdom?

17 Elul 5777

Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount
Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90

What happened at Har haBayit back on the 20th of Tammuz/14 July and its unfortunate reversal (temporarily, please G-d!) highlights an underlying dynamic in Israeli society: the lack of understanding of how Muslims treated Jews when we were subject to them, didn't have possession of our own homeland, or could not get here after we did; how they greeted the news when we finally came home; and how they are cooperating with other nations to make sure we don't keep the Land of Israel to pass on to our children and other descendants.

A hint, if you go to that last link: "pro-jihadi" means anti-Israel – and anti-everyone else the Muslims hate as well.

The Ashkenazic leadership never lived with Muslims ruling over them, as they did the Christians. Kindly note that there has never been a prime minister in Israel who is (even appears or acts as if he is) aware of this history. I hope they don't wait until the last living survivor of dhimmitude passes away (my own maternal grandparents were survivors, but left this world long ago. I was two years old at the time and never got to meet them.). We all need the feedback from those who remain, to hear their story; just as we encouraged Holocaust survivors and their children to speak out, it is vitally important to encourage those who came out of dhimmitude and their descendants to express themselves as well!

Back to the Ashkenazim: They think that Islam treated the Jews better than Christianity did. Of course, the Muslims would like the entire world to believe that. Don't confuse them with the facts! Unfortunately, their lack of knowledge informs their attitudes concerning our most confrontative enemies and makes world Jewry all the more vulnerable. While this is especially applicable in Israel, Jews elsewhere should not think themselves safe from Islamic plans and depredations.

The Muslims expected our subservient behavior because in their mind we are inferior to them (but then, isn't everyone supposed to be submissive to them?). I have long suspected that they don't even want us as dhimmis because the State of Israel — let alone the Kingdom of Israel to come, with the help of G-d, speedily within our lifetime! — is an unforgivable affront to them. Why do you think, dear reader, that they went straight to the war cry of "Slaughter the Jew!"? The Three Noes of Khartoum back after the Six-Day War meant essentially the same thing:

Every. Jew. Dead.

Most Israelis know better by now that giving in doesn't work. But we must also accept our destiny. Can we? Do we want to survive or not, as the Jewish People?

Do we care enough to pick up our heads and look around to see what's happening? Or are we so busy hating fellow Jews that we feel that they — and therefore we — are unworthy of better?

Then there's the issue of sovereignty under the present system. While I think that the drive for Jewish sovereignty is admirable, it does not seem certain whether the goal is possible to achieve while the current government system is in place, even when supported by religious Jews.The powers-that-be here seem to want to have it both ways: The fact that it took the 10 years following the destruction of Gush Katif for them to realize that it was a bad decision should tell us something; but, too late now. Are they going to go ahead with the abandonment of Yehuda and the Shomron anyway? Do they really think it might be a better choice to abandon Jews to the tender mercies of the Esav-supported Yishmaelim? Or, are they going to stick by the progress, recently made, of upgrading vital places within that portion of Eretz Yisrael (i.e., Hevron)? Official Israel cannot say "the land is ours" and "we're willing to give it up" at the same time, whether for "peace" or for some other excuse. I hope the matter becomes clear which side they've decided to be on, soon. They must not be stuck on this issue while something much bigger is breathing down our neck, anxious to make the "bone in our throat" choke us and thus achieve their goal of "Let us destroy them from being a nation, and the name of Israel will no longer be remembered" — may it never be, h"v.

One suggestion: Instead of assuming that we know what it takes to survive (this would be those who don't take G-d into account) or what G-d expects of the Jewish people (those who take Him into account), maybe all of us need to study. It will take learning basic Hebrew and then examining more closely the words we do not know — instead of relying on translations to languages we are comfortable with and, therefore, think we know what the Tana"kh (not to mention the Talmud, Torah's "other half") is saying.

(I am speaking as much to myself as to my gentle readers on this point. Not being a native Hebrew-speaker, reader or writer makes elucidation of the issues difficult, for me as much as for my readers. My only advantage now is my 10 years here (this very month, yay!), going to beit-knesset — synagogue — regularly and forcing myself to be engaged with Hebrew-speakers as much as possible.)

In addition, we might be better enabled to make informed decisions as to whether we should remain under the dhimmitude of the nations, spearheaded by the Muslims (the spiritual, if not the physical, descendants of Yishma'el) around us, supported by.the Europeans (including Russia -"we can't help you when your worst enemy is 10km from you") and Americans, the spiritual, if not the physical, descendants of Esav.

If our government is incapable of throwing off these shackles, maybe we would actually be better off without a government at all, crazy as this sounds, whether Mashiah steps in or not (best, of course, if he does; may it be so!)! Either way, though, we must act with faith, relying on HQB"H to come through for us.

May we make full use of the Hebrew month of Elul to make full teshuvah, before the Yamim Nora'im.

Rosh HaShana - Strict Judgement, or Let's Make a Deal? - R' Ephraim Sprecher

As followup to a topic I posted recently, I also note that the Xians at One for Israel Ministry have revealed that Theodor Binyamin Ze'ev Herzl had a Christian mentor (rather like "behind every great man there is a woman..."). Normally, I don't read these articles, but I had to go there this time and find out who he was, only because I have never read any of Herzl's works: William Hechler, born in Germany and raised in the UK.

Apparently the information came out of Herzl's writings; but, as noted above, I cannot confirm it. If this revelation has been passed along among Israelis, I cannot wonder that many Jews in Israel have been, and are now, enamored with "Christian Zionists." Particularly if my fellow Jews already knew this information, but I didn't until now. If you decide to go there and read it, it might become evident how the Xians claim to have victory because of it.

Our obsessive need to give thanks to everyone who seems to do us a favor, even if it is meant to be against us, their end being to rob us of our hold on the land — not to mention our confidence in what we know G-d wants of us — has us by the throat. It seems to me that it is a very fine line that separates our true friends from those who wish to trap us through appearing to be true. Do we really need a prophet or ruach hakodesh to tell us which is which? Or do we have any real friends at all?

On a personal level, I want to apologize now for having possibly offended or hurt readers who have not deserved my wrath, insult or opprobrium. It is the behavior, not so much who the people are, that incurs harsh commentary on my part at times. At least we can all repent of the behavior that hinders our progress, and head towards our ultimate goal with that stiff-necked determination we're so famous for. Yes, even I. 😉

I'll leave you with a look at a Talmud prophecy fulfilled (in part at least) concerning the generation when Mashiah will come...It's part of Sanhedrin 97a:4 in the Bavli (Babylonian) version. The bold text on the linked English page is translated from the original Hebrew/Aramaic text, both within the grey highlighting. Hamevin yavin.

May we all find our Father, our King in the field during the remainder of Elul.