19 December 2018


the light of 12 Tevet 5779

From R' Lazer Brody's article of 17 December 2018

Shira Ish-Ran's recent statement is what I would seek to emulate following the utterly untimely death of her baby, Ami-Ad Yisrael, HY"D, due to being forced by a vile enemy bent on murder to be born far too soon — if, like her, I could be of childbearing age and ability (again. Hey, it has happened before. 😉). 

According to the Times of Israel, she was quoted by Hebrew-language media as saying, in her first remarks since the attack: 

“I will prove to them, I will show them. I will bring many more babies into this world. Am Yisrael chai.”

May it be for her and her husband as she has spoken. I'm also borrowing the picture from R' Brody's article - I love it! -CDG


Dr. Harry, who guest-posted on R' Lazer Brody's Lazer Beams, wrote the following (with light editing):

Every Jewish woman of child bearing [age and ability] around the world should have at least one more baby than planned and name the boy Ami Yisrael, and a girl Bat-Ami Yisraella in memory of her baby. Let these savages who kill Jews in the womb be answered with millions of new Jewish babies, all of who [are] standing for "My nation forever, Israel."


Read the rest of Dr. Harry's article here. I would only add: May these Jewish women and their entire families from all over the world merit to make the rest of their lives in Israel. It is our land and our future. Dr. Harry is a new oleh to Israel, and I wish to join R' Brody and his readers in welcoming him!

As we know from Sefer Yirmiyahu (the book of Jeremiah), the Jewish population will grow by leaps and bounds in the end of days. I wrote a series on it: part 1 | part 2 | part 3.

AND last but not least: Please pray for the healing of Netanel Ilan ben Sheina Tzipporah נתנאל אילן בן שיינא ציפורה. He was shot in the head in Givat Assaf a few days ago and is still in the hospital. May he merit a long life ahead of him and everything that goes with it, and that he should lack nothing.

16 December 2018

What is the best reason for aliyah?

8 Tevet 5779 | ח" טבת ה"תשעט

This is the destiny of Israel according to the HOLY BIBLE (Bamidbar/Numbers 34:1-15). The map is in our indigenous language! See here for the English as well, and picture sources.

We are told many times in the book of Bereshith בראשית and other books of the Torah about the land where we are supposed to keep all the laws of haShem; and, deep down, most Jews know that at some point we are all supposed to be living here.

The problem is that, unless we have no other choice, people tend to follow one of Newton's Laws of Motion: a body at rest tends to stay at rest, called inertia. Its corollary, a body in motion tends to stay in motion? Not so much.

Jews especially. We (not all of us, but a great many) tend to dig deep roots wherever we end up living and want to stay there even though we have been "known" as wanderers. I must confess that despite having experienced anti-Semitism a great deal during my childhood,  it took me more than five (5) decades to get here even though I really wanted to come! Two main reasons stand out: 1) no connection to a Jewish community for the most part, and 2) no connection to Eretz Yisrael, except the fact that my maternal grandmother was born here. Yes, my mother's mother, not some relative from the Roman Empire!

Enough about me for now. I think, though, that I have found the best reason to make aliyah. You don't have to want to be here for the sake of the State or its structure to want to include yourself among us in our Holy Land.

It isn't because Israel is the safest place for a Jew to live, or that we've found the holy grail when it comes to antisemitism, as Theodor (Binyamin) Herzl had hoped we would. It certainly isn't because the laws here favor Jews, or that we feel we've got a grip on the land we live on, or that our leadership is the greatest. Oh, no. We are challenged on all these things every moment! As my second ulpan teacher said to us, "Every morning when we wake up and Israel still exists is a miracle" in Hebrew that even back then I could understand. It's also not for the benefits we receive on arrival although they do help somewhat during the most difficult part, the transition.

Here is the thought I had recently as to why it is imperative for every Jew to at least make the effort to think of this place as home and to endeavor to live here:

Israel is the only place in the world where the Jewish People as a whole has the obligation to take responsibility for itself, whether in how we think of ourselves, in how we rule ourselves or in how we conduct our relationships, both good and bad, with the rest of the world. It is the greatest opportunity for us to relearn how to be a nation without us being dictated to — if we have confidence in haShem and are proactive enough.

After 2,000 years, give or take, we have to figure out how to do everything without saying, "Yes, master. Anything you say, master..." to other human leaders. Yes, even after 70 years we still have a lot to learn. We have been taking bad advice from most of the nations around and we are still suffering greatly from following it. Especially when we live or have lived in a nation that has treated us relatively decently compared to the others, as the US has. Manfred Gerstenfeld, who usually writes for Israel National News, has this piece of advice for Jews from the United States, post-Pittsburgh, at The Algemeiner:

American Jews should reach the obvious conclusion: Jews in the world, including in the US and Israel, are a community whose fate is one and the same. They are subject to similar threats, which may differ only in the way and the time frame in which they occur.

Not only American Jews, but every Jew who still lives outside of Israel and who thinks he or she is safer there.

It takes more than physical strength to do the job, especially for the Jewish People: We need to be on G-d's side first and foremost. It's more important than to be worried about how the rest of the world thinks of us.

The non-Jews who look over our shoulder constantly because we took orders from the international community to allow them to stay among us are, to say the least, quite bothersome. Privacy is the one thing we need and don't seem to be able to attain mainly because we dare not say YOU CANNOT LIVE HERE. Even though our country — the portion of the Promised Land we have been able to cobble together until now — is pitifully small. But, the Jewish People is the responsible party for how things are done, or not, here in Eretz Israel.

Wasn't it the gentile prophet Bil'am (usually spelled Baalam in English) who said: "...it is a nation that will dwell alone, and will not be reckoned among the nations"? So why do the gentiles today insist that we not do so?

And why should we care? Here's a video that explains the war against the Jews and explains how to "get out of the dock" we've been in for the last 2,000 years. I've listened to it more than once, which is more than I can say for most videos. I intend to listen to it and others like it, more. I don't care that Ruth Wisse is a professor and not a rabbi (not that I don't respect rabbis. I suspect she does too, actually. Else, why is this video on Torah Café, of all places?). Perhaps this is one of the messages we've sorely needed to hear all along.

Could it also be that a site called The Rainbow Swastika, which deals with "New Age" people (a misnomer — they have been around since the days of Shabtai Zvi, at least) and their camouflaged and open antisemitism, explains it better than anyone else today? Read and judge for yourself.

Another objection is that a basic misunderstanding between American and Israeli Jews has been under the spotlight for some time. Evelyn Gordon has a great discussion on that topic; I'd only like to add that, among the "Jews of no religion," there were (and possibly still are) those whose families didn't have the wherewithall to afford membership at a synagogue, summer camp and Hebrew day school for their children. These things all cost major money, and it wasn't so long ago when Jewish communities didn't consider that some of their potential constituents might be poor. I was one of them once upon a time.

Need I remind you that in Israel, Hebrew is the native language, and every school for Jewish children is a Hebrew-speaking school? And who needs a special summer camp when everything else is at least relatively Jew-friendly to begin with? So, we can all see how the societal context of where one lives has great impact on how a Jew in a foreign land perceives his/her need for special Jewish movements to help retain Jewish identity — even despite the cost — even if religious practices hold no relevance for him or her.

I think our biggest problem, however, is that we haven't broken the habit we acquired after the destruction of the First Temple of relying on patron nations to help us stay afloat when we had our own country. Even though most of the greatest devices and conventions in the modern world were invented and developed by Jews, especially Israelis, we still mainly rely on the nations as we have since that long-ago period: Between our two temples our patron, particularly after the end of that period, was Koresh (Cyrus) of Persia. After the times of Hanukkah our patron was Rome...until we were banished from our Holy Land, sent to the four corners of the earth, and left to fend for ourselves.

Today, it is the United States. But America "dances at two weddings" as the saying goes. She also supports the "Palestinian" Arabs. She may have withdrawn money from them recently, but I imagine that people are taking bets on whether the "Deal of the Century" President Trump and Jared Kushner have been working on will actually restore a large part of that financial support to them. I think it more than likely will. It's part of a pattern: As usual, what has been given to us in the past was largely symbolic; and what has been given to our enemies has been material. Unless we stop relying on nations as patrons, no matter how friendly they seem, that will not change. For example, why does US President Trump still sign waivers for the US Embassy here in Yerushalayim?

Our only real, true and faithful patron is the Holy One, blessed be He, who established us on this earth through our forefathers and the Twelve Tribes — Ha Qadosh Barukh Hu.

As for the "when" — now is always the best time to further whatever plans you have...until it isn't. Serendipitously, another article, by R' Y.Y. Jacobson, explains plainly why the children of Jacob (Ya'acov) must keep the spirit imparted by the study hall (beit hamidrash) while wearing the garb of Esau (Esav) - laws guaranteeing the life of the Jewish People in its own land, the military backing it up with firm, consistent enforcement. Tehillim are especially important now, even when things are relatively quiet — if they ever get that way again.

The best reasons to make aliyah to Israel are still: Israel is the best place to grow up, get over our free-floating hatred for our fellow Jews, and let the Holy One, blessed be He, take SOVEREIGNTY over us at long last!

Recommended reading: The imperative response to terror: Sovereignty! | Hebrew עברית

May the Go'el Yisrael be revealed speedily!

14 December 2018

How to Deal with the Terror Tunnels

6 Tevet 5779 | ו" טבת ה"תשע"ט

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher | first published here

A first look at Hamas' terror tunnels in Gaza from 2014. Too soon to reveal pics of tunnels in the North? Source

King David tells us in Tehillim 100, “to serve G-d with joy”. The Mishna in Avot 1 tells us that we should “greet and welcome everyone with a joyful countenance”. Avot D’Rabbi Natan 13 states that a happy and pleasant facial expression is considered equal to giving a person the most treasured gift in the world.

I just returned from a mini Chanukah vacation in Sholomi and Rosh Hanikra which is right next to the Lebanese border. The people there told us that for a long time they have been hearing the sounds of drilling and tunneling underneath their homes. And then next to the Gaza border there are also terror tunnels being dug constantly by Hamas. And this week there was another vicious terror attack next to the Ofra Junction that injured many people and caused the death of a premature infant.

So how is it possible to be in a joyful mood when we are surrounded by brutal Arab terrorists and savage murderers? The answer to this dilemma is found in the Book of Yirmiyahu. While most of the Book of Yirmiyahu contains prophecies of doom and destruction, we see some prophecies in which he speaks words of encouragement and comfort. In these prophecies how is Yirmiyahu’s message of consolation reinforced? How does he prove that G-d will bestow good on the Jewish People? Yirmiyahu states, “Just as I (G-d) brought evil, I also will bring eventual good”.

We see this concept of Yirmiyahu’s consolation at the end of Tractate Makot. Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues were walking on the Temple Mount, and they saw foxes come out of the place of the Holy of Holies. All the Rabbis began to cry, and Rabbi Akiva laughed. They asked him, “How can you laugh when you see foxes (terrorists) prowling on the Temple Mount and the Holy of Holies?” His colleagues said to him that this is the worst tragedy imaginable, “So how can you laugh?”

Rabbi Akiva answered, “Exactly for the reason that you Rabbis are crying, I am laughing. For I see how the words of Micha are being literally fulfilled when he says, “Foxes (terrorists) will prowl the Temple Mount”. Rabbi Akiva continued to console his colleagues, “Just like I see the tragic prophecies come true, so I also know that the wonderful prophecies of Zecharia will also be fulfilled“. “Old men and women and playful children shall yet dwell in the streets of Jerusalem” without the fear of being attacked by murderous Arab terrorists.

In other words, when we see our tragic current situation, it strengthens our faith in the coming of the Moshiach. These prophecies demonstrate that the same G-d who warned us that if we do evil, then evil will befall us, also promised us that He would redeem us and usher in a glorious future for Israel.

What about our current situation? How do we get rid of our fears of being attacked by vicious Arab terrorists? The Rambam in the Guide to the Perplexed addresses this problem. He writes, “Worrying about the past, has no benefit, and someone who frets over some trouble that has already passed, is senseless and foolish. It’s bad enough that such a person once had a tragedy, but he makes things worse by worrying about it after it has passed and gone.”

As for worrying about future troubles, that too, Rambam says is nonsense. It is possible that the trouble will come, and it is possible that the trouble will never come. G-d is all good, and whatever He sends a person is only for his ultimate good, even though we don’t always understand why or how.

05 December 2018

Chanukah – 8 Days a Week! + WATCH: Is Yehudit the Esther of Chanukah?

27 Kislev 5779  | כ"ז כסלו ה"תשע"ט
4th Candle of Hanukkah | נר רביעית חנוכה

Chanukah – 8 Days a Week! | by R' Ephraim Sprecher | first published here

The Beatles had a number 1 hit song called 8 Days a Week. Were they singing about Chanukah?

2,182 years ago the Greeks had outlawed Torah observance among the Jewish People in Israel. They made it a capital punishment to observe the three Mitzvot of Shabbat, Milah and Nidah, which happens to be an acronym of SHEMEN (oil) (שמן). Parshat Vayeishev always falls out around Chanukah time. Thus the Sefer HaPardes points out that there are 112 verses in Parshat Vayeishev, 104 of which begin with the letter VAV, which is a conjunction. These 8 independent verses, represent the 8 days leading up to Brit Milah and the 8 days of Chanukah.

What is the connection between Parshat Vayeishev and Chanukah? All of the incidences in Vayeishev are one large continuum connected by the VAV conjunctions. Everything is cause and effect. But the life of a Jew, symbolized by the 8 days of Brit Milah, is not affected by this continuum. There are no VAV’s or conjunctions in the verses that represent Israel, because there is no ordinary cause and effect when it comes to the Jewish People.

The life of a Jew is above and beyond the control of nature. The Jewish people are identified with the number 8, which symbolizes the supernatural, 7 being the symbol of nature as in the 7 days of the week, and 8 symbolizing the supernatural.

The 8 days of Chanukah which fall around Parshat Vayeishev, also fit neatly into this pattern. The 8 days symbolize and signify the supernatural, which is a perfect description for the Miracle of Chanukah.

Why is Chanukah 8 days? The Talmud tells us that there was enough oil to light the Menorah for 1 day, but miraculously the 1 day supply of oil burned for 8 days. So the miracle of the oil was ONLY 7 days. Why do we have an 8-day festival for a 7-day miracle? It can’t be to give us an extra day to eat donuts and latkas!

The answer is that the 8 days of Chanukah, like the eight days of Brit Milah, symbolize that Israel will exist eternally above and beyond the laws of nature. As John Lennon sang in his number 1 hit song, without the Beatles, “WE ALL SHINE ON!” This is Israel’s eternal destiny!
I was sick during the first few days of Hanukkah, so didn't post until now! Sorry about that. This post deserved the whole week! -CDG