15 March 2019

Haman’s Anger Management

8 Adar Bet 5779
Erev Shabbat Vayiqra/Zakhor

Queen Esther Denounces the Evil Haman the Agagite, Son of Amalek!

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher | first published here

Of all the abilities that human beings possess, perhaps none is as mysterious as our talent for compartmentalization. Each of us is multiple people, and different ones emerge in different circumstances and relationships.

If we can never fully know somebody, it's not simply because his exterior does not match his interior. It's because we have so many chambers inside, and some are more hidden than others, even from the person himself. As the radio program of yesteryear called “The Shadow” stated, “Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man?”

Thus, even mild mannered people, including me, lose their temper and get angry on occasion. Is there a magic formula to control and manage our anger?

Last week the OU Israel Center showed the film Ground-Hog Day. It’s about a guy that is stuck in a Time Warp. This person keeps re-living the SAME day over and over again. He keeps repeating the same mistakes of the past.

I can identify with the Bill Murray character in the film. When I am having a Bad Hair Day, I tell myself, “I won’t become upset and angry.” And then, BOOM - It’s Ground-Hog Day all over again!

The Talmud in Shabbat 105 and Nedarim 22 state, "When one becomes angry, it is as if he is serving idols." This seems to be a very extreme and exaggerated statement. How can the Talmud compare anger to the worst sin of idolatry?

Upon deep reflection, we can perceive a connection. What really causes anger? When things don’t go my way, when my plans don’t work out, I get angry. The world is not conforming to my vision of perfection.

However, since G-D is running and controlling all events, getting angry is like saying that my version of the world is better than His! A person in the heat of anger thinks, "If I were running the world, I wouldn't have all these problems and troubles." The angry person also thinks, "If I was in charge of the world, I wouldn’t be messing things up the way G-D is." This angry reaction is a subtle form of idol worship. Because I am enthroning my intellect and ego and paying homage to them, instead of to G-d.

What is the best antidote for anger?

Purim is coming fast. Perhaps the antidote for anger can be found in the Megillah. “That day Haman went out (from the King) joyfully and exuberant. But when he noticed Mordechai in the King’s gate, that Mordechai did not stand up and did not bow before him, Haman was filled with anger and rage at Mordechai. Yet Haman controlled and restrained himself and went home. He summoned his friends and his wife Zeresh.” (Esther ch 5)

Why did Haman restrain his fury? How could he have suppressed and controlled his anger? Rashi explains, because Haman was afraid to take revenge against Mordechai without explicit permission from the King.

Here was the wicked and evil Haman “filled with rage.” His whole being was fury and anger, with murderous intent. Yet he was able to control and restrain himself from acting impulsively because he considered its negative consequences. How much more so should we be able to control OUR angry impulses!

The Mishnah in Avot 2 states, “Know Who and What is above you! An All Seeing Eye, an attentive and All Listening Ear, and all your deeds are recorded in The Book.”

When you feel anger coming, stop and say, “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!”
Happy belated Adar Bet 5779!

More about Amalek (Haman's ancestor) from Myrtle Rising:

The Hidden Viciousness of the Esav/Edom Pig | How to Identify & Overcome the Amalekite Conspiracy

01 March 2019

Esther – A Woman’s View of TANACH

24 Adar A 5779

La Toilette d'Esther, originally Théodore Chassériau, 1841. I found it here.

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher

When Esther sent the Sages her request, "Write my story for future generations," they responded, "Forget it, you are arousing jealousy between us and the United Nations" (Talmud Megilla 6).

The Sages’ response is puzzling. Since when do we censor TANACH because of what the UN and the EU will say?

As the Torah states, "What nation is so great that they have such righteous rules and laws?" (Devarim 4). G-D set us apart through His Torah and Mitzvot, thus highlighting our moral superiority over all the nations. Would we ever consider hiding our Torah so as not to arouse jealousy among the nations? What then was the debate between Esther and the Sages?

We can understand the Sages’ response according to their time. When they lived, new books were still being added to TANACH, and Esther was asking that her scroll, as well, should be included in the Bible. It is very interesting that in the Dead Sea Scrolls all of the Books of TANACH are there, except the Scroll of Esther. Our Sages had their own yard stick for what should or should not be included in TANACH.

As the Talmud in Megilla 14 states, "May prophets arose in Israel, twice as many as the number of Jews who left Egypt. Yet, only prophecies needed for all future generations were included in TANACH, and those not needed were excluded." The debate between Esther and the Sages was - Is or Is not Megillat Esther relevant to all future generations?

According to the Sages, the Purim story could not be classified as "needed for future generations", because until Haman, there was no precedent for genocide. Thus, the Purim story seemed to be a one-time event such that no one could ever imagine it recurring.

It is true that the Jewish People had known persecutions and suffering, for example Pharaoh in Egypt, who decreed, "Every boy who was born must be cast into the Nile" (Shemot 1). Then there was Amalek who terrorized Israel in the desert, Nebuchadnezzar who destroyed the Holy Temple, and all the other enemies of Israel.

Yet, such an "insane" decree as Haman's, "to destroy and exterminate all Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day" (Esther 3), the Jews of Esther's day had never known such a decree of genocide. The Sages, based on their past experience, viewed this genocidal plot as an insane one-time event that would never repeat itself. Therefore, they held that the Bible should not include Megillat Esther. For the Sages, it was a prophecy irrelevant for future generations of Israel.

However, Esther was one of the 7 prophetesses who prophesied to Israel (Talmud Megilla 14). Prophecy is not based on past historical events. Prophecy looks to the future, transcending the limits of time and place.

Esther, with her prophecy, looked into the future of the Jewish People, and knew that the Purim story would NOT be a one-time event. Rather, Haman's evil plot would tragically repeat itself many times throughout the bitter and sad history of the Jewish People.

Through her prophecy, Esther knew that a long and harsh exile awaited us among the nations, an exile whose end could not be seen on the horizon. It was an exile in which the Jews would face terror, persecutions, unimaginable suffering, and the Holocaust.

We would see ourselves as drowning in an endless sea of sorrow and persecution, and in desperate need of a life-raft.

Such a life-raft is Megillat Esther, for it teaches us that even when Israel reaches a situation of the Holocaust, even then we should not despair because the Jewish Nation is eternal. The greatest proof of this truth is that just 3 years after the Holocaust, the amazing State of Israel arose like a Phoenix out of the Ashes of Auschwitz.

Throughout Jewish History, there never was a prophecy so vital for all generations as Megillat Esther, to inspire us with hope for a better and brighter future.

12 February 2019

From the river to the sea, Eretz Yisrael will be free! (Repost)

Originally posted 6 Tevet 5777, currently posted 8 Adar A 5779

Blogger's note: I accidentally deleted this post this evening. Thankfully, I had a copy...perhaps HQB"H wanted me to repost it? I regret that I can't restore the comments!


This little gem fell into my hands maybe 2 months ago. Who knew?

Nahalah (Inheritance/Heritage) raises money, rather like the Jewish National Fund used to (shame on them now!), to build the Land of Israel and I happened (only from HaShem) to get the winning lottery number.  Now I'm sharing. ;)

The Jewish nation must not let the battle lines be drawn for us — or worse yet, let ourselves be put like fish in a barrel, to be shot to death at the whim of the whole world.

And for those who live outside Israel, don't think that just because you don't live here that it won't affect you. We are one people whether you like it or not, and you will share our fate whether good or bad. The Tana"kh assures us of a good future in the end; the decision is yours alone whether you want to contribute to it and be part of it, or not. With G-d's help, and only thus, will we succeed together.

The United Nations is certainly not taking half-measures with half a heart against us. They want to make sure that we Jews get put down like the dogs they aggress (I feel the words "assert" and "say" are not strong enough) we are. This is no "micro-aggression," as college students call it these days. It is a full-on attempt at a knock-out punch to the gut and a stab to the head and heart. I, for one, firmly believe that murder — a final Holocaust — is in their minds and in their hearts. The sustained applause at the end of the declaration of UNSC Resolution 2334 tells us nothing less. We must put the kibosh on this resolution before it gets turned into a binding document. That's next, don't you know!

From the greatest among us to the least, as one we must reply precisely in kind; nothing less will do. We cannot just annex Ma'aleh Adumim, but must take the whole thing in one fell swoop. The teshuvah will do us good in the long run. Anyway, we now have no choice in the matter.

With G-d's Help: From the river to the sea, Eretz Yisrael will be freed for us!  The Jewish people had light, joy, gladness and great importance - let us have it too, Abba!
בע"ה: מהירדן עד הים בארץ ישראל ישוחררו אלינו! ליהודים היתה אורה ושמחה וששון ועיקר - כן תהיה לנו, אבא!

More reading:
JPOST: Cognitive bias and USNC Resolution 2334 | Institute for National Security Studies: Security Council Resolution 2334: The Legal Significance | The Globe and Mail: Ignore the political theatre, Resolution 2334 has global support | The Algemeiner: Resolution 2334 and the Feral Pack | Evelyn C. Gordon: The UN Vote Mocks the Law and Build, Baby, Build | Abu Yehuda: The "international community" and its Israel problem and Q&A about UN Security Council Res. 2334 | Relevant Excerpts from The Hamas Covenant and the PLO Charter for comparison to Res. 2334 | Women in Green: 2017: Year of Jewish National Consciousness |
One more from Abu Yehuda:

08 February 2019

Wake Up Before Geulah Shlemah, and Don't Hit the Snooze Button!

3 Adar A 5779

Blogger's Note: I'm following up on the conversation my colleague, Neshama, and I and our readers had concerning the news that the arrival of Mashiah may be imminent. R' Winston puts it into perspective for us all. - HDG

L'Iluy Nishmat Ori bat Gadi, A"H, HY"D the 19-year-old who was murdered this past week in Yerushalayim...

"We should be WAKING up, not hitting the snooze button and rolling over." - Rabbi Pinchas Winston (picture source)

 -from Connecting the Dots, issue #16, parashath T'rumah 5779

In a recent article in Israel Breaking News in which I was quoted, it mentioned a prediction by Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, shlita. According to the Rav, there would be no need for the upcoming Israeli election, since Moshiach will be here by that time, a result in part because of increased action in the north.

Of course such an article is making the rounds, and some people have contacted me asking if the prediction is authentic. The assumption is that if I am part of the article, I must have signed on because I have verified the quote as being accurate and from Rav Chaim himself.
Unfortunately, that is not true. Like in most cases, I am simply interviewed individually, and then my comments are added to the article. I was certainly made aware of the quote by Mr. Berkowitz, but I’m pretty sure he did not quite direct verification of the quote as well.

It does not mean that Rav Chaim did NOT say what it says in his name. It’s just means that it is hard to know if he said it, or how he said it, and to whom he said it, and why he said it, etc. And if he DID say it, does it count as prophecy and we should prepare for its fulfillment, or was it said as a hope, one which many of us share?

One thing I DO know for certain is that Rav Chaim’s mindset is that the Final Redemption is imminent. I know this because someone I can rely upon asked his rebbetzin, a”h, about the matter, and she said then, about 10 years ago, that her husband is of the belief that Moshiach will reveal himself in the very near future.

So, whether the Rav said what is quoted in his name about the upcoming elections or not, his overall belief about an imminent redemption says more than enough to warn us about how we should be living today. We should be WAKING up, not hitting the snooze button and rolling over.

Not a week goes by, and sometimes not even a day, that I don’t receive some email about what’s going in the States, none of it good. Of course good still happens there, but no one is upset about that. The good doesn’t scare, it encourages. It strengthens. It makes people feel better about life.

It’s the bad stuff that makes people nervous. They worry about where society is going, especially if they are still a part of it. “If they’re doing that today, then what will they be doing tomorrow?” That is the concern.

But every time I get those emails and read them, or watch the clip, I wonder to myself, “What is the point? What is this supposed to do? What is this supposed to change? Who is it supposed to affect? The people who need to listen won’t. The people who need to move say they can’t. Is it about going down, and just knowing who the culprit is?”

It makes you feel so helpless. That’s what led me to write the following, for those who did not see it last week, also on IBN.

Dear God,

What’s with the Final Redemption? We could really use it now. I know, I know, we have it SO good compared to previous generations, most recently the generation of the Holocaust. I mean, they must have REALLY begged You for YEARS to bring Moshiach, and, well, here we are today, still Moshiach-less.

I am not questioning Your judgment AT ALL. You have Your calculations, and I have learned a little about how complex and MYSTERIOUS they can be. You’ve known from “Day One” what has to be accomplished throughout human history, and I am sure everything is just fine by You, and on schedule. The view from Heaven always includes past, present, and this is the best part, FUTURE as well.

Being perfect, everything You DO is perfect. No matter how much we conspire to undo Your good, and do things our own limited and self-destructive way, I know that You’re always tons of steps ahead of us, righting our wrongs before we have even committed them.

But I have to tell you, the view from here is, well, let’s just say, not nearly as pleasant as Yours. We don’t have a good handle on the present because we tend to ignore the past and have little or no knowledge of the future. Once upon a time we had prophets. Today, we seem more interested in profits.

We could sure use some of the original kind, although we probably wouldn’t listen to them anyhow. After all, You left us prophecies, and hardly anyone pays attention to them. They warn about events destined to occur at the End-of-Days, but people act as if that will only happen in a parallel universe, not their own. A lot of good that does.

You even allowed us to witness some of those prophecies coming true before our very eyes. I mean, here we are again, after TWO THOUSAND years, back in our land, just as You predicted! How many other nations have experienced such a national revival after so long? NONE.

You gave us the land in spite of ourselves, and despite so much international pressure to keep it away from us. Our “neighbors” even had the audacity to fight You over it, and were beaten back every time. We’ve never had the manpower or machinery to last this long, at least not without YOUR help.

The miracles have been MANY, and AWESOME, and yet too few of Your children seem to notice that. Some have even taken to trying to reverse what You have done, again. There are a few of us who believe that all Your miraculous kindness to allow the Jewish people come home and prosper, materially AND spiritually, is a sign of impending redemption. But for the rest of the nation it’s still a VERY hard sell.

I get their issues, and I sympathize with their problems. My brothers and sisters in the Diaspora are firmly rooted in their foreign lands. They’ve bought homes and taken out mortgages. They have started businesses and built up entire communities. They have good yeshivos and, let’s face it, GREAT lives. For some, it’s like living in the Messianic Era, just WITHOUT Moshiach.

Furthermore, how much were they taught about redemption growing up? Yes, the Talmud says that this is one of the six questions we will be asked on the Day of Judgment: “Did you anticipate redemption?” How many people were even told that in yeshivah, or shul? How many rabbis or teachers spoke about that from the bimah during the last 50 years? Exactly!
So most people grow up in the Diaspora NOT anticipating redemption. Why should they, if they believe they are living it while in exile? If you haven’t built a redemption framework as a child, then you end up without a redemption framework as an adult.

Once upon a time, before the Diaspora became so cozy for Jews, great rabbis warned us about giving up on redemption. Even the TALMUD warned us about giving up on redemption. But how many even learn those seforim or sections of Talmud today?

If only people would study that holy sefer “Ohr Yechezkel,” by the Mashgiach Ruchani of the Mir and Ponovez yeshivos in the 1960s, Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein, zt”l. In “Emunas HaGeulah,” he tells it like it is, or at least the way it’s supposed to be. And he was brave enough to tell the Torah world how EMPTY their prayers are when they ask for a redemption they do not even take seriously.

You are a MERCIFUL God, however. If it were up to mankind, we’d probably have abandoned the Jewish people long ago. But there You are, as always, sticking with us, even making events occur to wake us up and smell the coffee, so to speak. You know what I mean.

Antisemitism, of course, is the most obvious of these events. Well, to some of us at least, those who realize that antisemitism is not just racism. Racism is against people with undesirable differences. Antisemitism seems to get worse as differences between “us” and “them” lessen.

That’s why they say things like “There’s nothing better for the Jew than antisemitism.” Unless, of course, the “Jew” is trying to assimilate. It was Hitler, ysv”z, who basically taught us, in no uncertain terms, that all the waters in the world can’t baptize a Jew.

But what do you expect from a religion whose very origin hints to future antisemitism? As the Talmud concludes, Mt. Sinai is called so because it comes from the word “sinah,” which means “hatred,” an allusion to future antisemitism. Its “nickname” is “Chorev,” from a word that means “destruction.”

And some gentiles have STILL wanted to convert to Judaism?

It’s a hot topic, antisemitism. It’s increased so very much in recent times. Actually, it has never really gone away, just our ability to recognize it for what it is. Ya’akov Avinu understood that antisemitism was as natural as the sun rising and setting each day. He knew about his father-in-law’s hatred for him (Lavan was the Arami that the Haggadah says tried to kill us), and that it was only held in check by God, MIRACULOUSLY, so that he could accomplish what he had to while at Lavan’s home.

Therefore, when Lavan’s “displeasure” with Ya’akov returned one fine “summer day,” Ya’akov had no illusions about what it meant. He didn’t just see Lavan smiling with less enthusiasm, or just hear his brothers-in-law falsely libeling him. He heard God speaking to him, saying, “Good work, the job is done, it’s time to return home.”

So after 20 years of living somewhere else, Ya’akov Avinu uprooted it all. True, he had been living in someone else’s home the entire time. True, he didn’t have a mortgage to pay off, or relatives who could not move with him. True, he was going back to an already established home, where his parents lived and awaited his return, and the chinuch was probably a LOT better.

ALL true.

Dealing with all THOSE THINGS, as many Diaspora Jews have to, definitely warrants divine assistance, some of it, perhaps, even with the help of the Jewish Agency. Absolutely it should invoke a lot of sympathy and empathy from those already living in the Holy Land (Israel, in case someone is confused).

Anyone thinking, “I told you so,” should keep it to himself. Okay, so you WARNED people decades ago that the end was near and that they should start thinking about making aliyah. So you chided rabbis for not teaching their congregations and students about redemption. So you WERE prophetic. It still doesn’t give you the right to shove it back in their faces at a time when people need mercy and support. I’m sure God feels the same way.

But if “Churban Europe” taught us anything at all, it is that when it is time to go, it doesn’t matter how rooted we have become in the Diaspora. There were people who saw what was coming and left most of what they owned behind, getting out while they could. They lived and were able to start their lives in better places.

The rest only lived long enough to wish they had. Almost everyone else not only lost their “roots,” they lost their lives, and in the cruelest ways possible. They witnessed the extinction of entire families. More than one must have wondered to himself why he did not get out earlier, like some of his family and friends did—those who at one time had seem to be overreacting.

Which brings me to the reason for this letter, dear God.

Why don’t we EVER get it? Why do we ALWAYS seem to repeat our errors? A terrible act of antisemitism occurs and Jews minimalize its meaning. An antisemitic Arab is accepted into the American political system with open arms, and Jewish leaders merely respond to Democrat leaders by calling it a “slap in the face.” Why don’t they talk about it with YOU instead, and pray for insight into what it REALLY means?

History is screaming “antisemitism!” but Diaspora Jews are only hearing “racism!” They’re hearing the antisemites talk, and not God. You are saying, “Good work, the job is done, it’s time to return home,” but they’re hearing, “Write to your congressperson and right this official wrong!” Aren’t they missing something?

Sometimes when I look back over the millennia, I wonder if everything that has happened, and WILL happen, is truly b’shert. Maybe it just HAS to happen. Perhaps, for reasons beyond our understanding, the suffering just HAS to take place. Stop the War of Gog and Magog? Maybe it’s simply impossible. Maybe it truly is written in stone, the ones Moshe Rabbeinu descended Mt. Sinai with—the SECOND time.

This would explain why we do not learn from history, even though we have been warned to, and let it repeat itself at OUR expense. It would explain why some people just NEVER see the truth until it is all over them, and they can’t escape it—literally. It would clarify why, no matter how many sources I marshal, and “evidence” I muster that we are close to the Final Redemption, people just balk.

UGHHHH! It’s SO frustrating, like a splinter in your mind that is annoying you but which you cannot remove. But I guess if Moshe Rabbeinu couldn’t remove it until You told him to, or did it for him, then why should we expect something different? We shouldn’t.

So, where does this leave me, besides intellectually challenged and emotionally uptight? I guess, where it always does, before You and with a prayer in my mind and heart. It may not help Jewish history, but at least it will help me feel as if I tried.

Anyhow, I’ll condense this, since I’ve already taken up too much of Your time, even if you ARE eternal. Here goes:

Dear God, merciful and almighty, please show us what we need to know and do. Show us mercifully, and in time to avoid any kind of disaster, to expedite the Final Redemption. Show us the right buttons to press so that the rest of history falls into place, in the RIGHT place. Send us Your beloved emissary, our righteous Moshiach, our future king, to lead us to redemption, in a way that impresses everyone and tests no one. Give us the wherewithal to sanctify Your great and holy name through life, and not through death, with pleasure and not with pain. Give us the intelligence and the energy to work hard to earn our portion of redemption in this world, and eternal reward in the next one. As our rabbis have written in the Talmud, “You created the yetzer hara, and You created the Torah to be its spice.” Show us, ALL of us, how to use the latter to rectify the former, and make You proud of our accomplishment and happy that You made us in the first place. Amen!

04 February 2019

Time – Life’s Most Precious Gift

29 Shevat 5779 | the day before Rosh Hodesh Adar 1 | the one who brings out the spirit of* Adar increases joy!


by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher
first published here | links by HDG | thanks to Sefaria

“This month shall be for you the beginning of all the months.” (Shemot 12:2) This verse contains the very first Mitzva that Klal Yisrael received as we were about to become a free and independent nation, right before the Exodus from Egypt.

Seforno explains that this Mitzva of Rosh Chodesh was presented first because its essence – that we Jews are masters over our time – is the central concept and definition of being a free individual. Because as slaves in Egypt, we had no time to call our own, as we were totally dependent on the will of our Egyptian task masters.

Thus, as Israel was about to leave Egyptian bondage forever, we were presented with the Mitzva whose essence is the concept of the gift of freedom of time.

It is Beth Din’s task to declare when Rosh Chodesh will take place, by one of two methods. Number one, through RE’IAH – the actual sighting of the New Moon by two valid witnesses, or number two, by CHESHBON – calculation, where Beth Din determines through a mathematical formula when it was probable to see the New Moon.

What is the lesson for us today when we have no Beth Din to determine when the New Moon is? Rav Pam ZT”L explains that there are 2 distinct ways in which a person can utilize his time in this world. Number 1, through RE’IAH or number 2, with a CHESHBON. For many people, time is spent through RE’IAH, how they see fit to waste time. These foolish people do with time whatever they want, failing to realize that the passing of time on Facebook and Smart Phones is a tragic loss never to be re-gained.

However, the intelligent, thoughtful person uses time with a CHESHBON. He is careful to calculate and fulfill his days and hours with Torah and Mitzvot.

We must strive to the best of our ability to use life’s most precious gift wisely, by not killing time or wasting time.

Thus, the Hebrew word for time is ZMAN, which means preparation. G-d gives us time in this world to prepare ourselves for OLAM HABA – Eternal Life in the World To Come.

*not a literal translation of the Hebrew! Rather, a suggested explanation of the spirit of the beginning of the time of joy for the Jewish People. You may have noticed that, every year around this time, our enemies plan horrible events to squash this spirit in order to cause us to feel mournful and desolate. They started early this year with the desecration of Torah scrolls in the Siach Yisrael synagogue in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood of Yerushalayim. May there be no more of this or worse!


23 January 2019

A Sense of Humor Regarding the Israeli Elections? A discussion about Mashiah's arrival

light of 18 Shevat 5779

Today I am co-hosting - or co-posting (or whatever this is) with Neshama at Going Home...to Yerushalayim concerning three of her posts containing commentary on the notice that, according to R' Matityahu Glazerson, R' Chaim Kanievsky advised an American citizen who asked him whether he should take out Israeli citizenship so that he will be able to vote in the upcoming elections. The Rav told him: "It's unnecessary. The Mashiah will come before then." More of this conversation is quoted in English here. The original Hebrew is on video here. The Ask Project video post in between them is a compilation of interviews asking how we will know when the Messiah comes.

Blessed news indeed...if it turns out to be as R' Kanievsky replied to his interlocutor. I am more inclined to believe this conversation actually took place — as opposed to the many that were publicized falsely — because of the video from R' Glazerson that mentions it. I'm not close enough to the situation to have a better way of knowing or telling.

Two questions:
  • Does haShem have a sense of humor regarding the timing of the elections this time around? 
  • If Mashiah reveals himself or gets revealed before then, as posted above, what significance does this have for us? That post will have to wait until we see whether it materializes.
HDG (link added):


H's sense of humor is coming to the fore once again. Do you realize the elections come on the Tuesday between parashiot Tazria and Metzora??? ;-)

NESHAMA: Thanks for the comment. Ok, so elaborate on that for our readers!

HDG:  Well, parashiot Tazria and Metzora are about the metzora, a person who has a disease similar to, but NOT leprosy - it is often translated this way in English. In fact, it is a spiritual disease that occurs only in Israel, brought on by lashon hara (evil speech), that hasn't occurred in this exile. Only a kohen can diagnose it. The person with this disease is usually on a very high spiritual level. You can see more about tzaraat, and its relationship to Mashiah, here.

And this is when we're having our elections!!! Between these two parshiot, davka!

NESHAMA: So your reference is to Lashon Hara. However, it is not clear to me why you thought this. Maybe not clear to readers. What is the ikkar to your thoughts?

HDG: The funny thing is that tzaraat, of all things, surrounds our elections, which are full of lashon hara! Also, the references to Mashiah having it as well.

Sources from the About Moshiach site:
Tzaraat is a punishment for negative speech - Talmud, Arachin 15b
Hefty Criteria for Tzaraat - Likutei Torah 22b
The Torah enables purification of Metzora - Etz Hayim, Shaar Rachel and Leah, Ch.7

R' Sprecher has 3 videos on the subject as well.

from 2018

from 2017

from 2016

More sources, again from the About Moshiach site, on Mashiah as metzora:

Moshiach is a Metzora - Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a and 98b, Rashi
Concept of Tzaraat applying to the world at large - Sefer Hasichot 5751 Tzaria/Metzora Pt.2 p498

HDG: I hope that this will be taken, as you suggested later, as part of a primer for the elections. The funniest part, as I see it, is that the government chose 9 April, 2019 (4 Nisan 5779), the Tuesday (Yom Shlishi) between the two parshiot that discuss tzaraat, 10 days before Pesah, for the elections to take place. HaShem truly has a sense of humor.

I wonder, based on the hysterical actual opposition and (overt) assassination attempts, could DJ Trump be a METZORA (no, not משיח.) While I do not believe lashon hara applies to him, and he does not reside in Eretz Yisrael, he IS fighting against evil in the world and wants to right many wrongs of history. This is a gargantuan endeavor.

In fact, there might have been as many as 17 attempts (don’t quote me). Read this FICTIONAL STORY: YellowSubmarine, and remember it is FICTION. In any event, you HDG may have touched upon an important episode in the ongoing process of Geula.

HDG: I will not comment on DJT. Actually, I'm not sure a non-Jew, even with Jewish grandchildren, can get tzaraat. Maybe a zera' Yisrael (the closest thing to being "part Jewish" we get; the person so designated has Jewish blood but doesn't belong to the nation unless s/he converts) can, but I haven't studied that issue, so I can't comment on it.

Thank you for starting this conversation, and letting me be a part of it! We are living in great times now!

We open this discussion to all commenters! See Neshama's version here. Differences are because we agreed to show our different perspectives.

21 January 2019

Why Name Parshat Matan Torah after a GER?

15 Sh'vat 5779 | "T"u biShvat"

by Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher | first posted here

The Nation of Israel Accepts the Torah. Source

Yitro, Moshe's father-in-law, is the name of the Parsha in which we read the account of the most important event in Jewish and World history, the Giving of the Torah. It is remarkable that this Parsha has as its title, the name of someone who was not even born a Jew. Yitro was a pagan idol worshipper, but only later in life abandoned his paganism and recognized the One True G-d.

Why was Yitro the GER chosen to have the Parsha of MATAN TORAH named after him? It is because Yitro is the greatest illustration of what the Torah is meant to accomplish. The Torah's goal is to transform idolaters into believers and pagans into the worshippers of the One True G-d.

Judaism is not a restrictive club for born Jews only. Any non-Jew who sincerely desires to embrace Torah true Judaism is welcome. In fact, the most repeated Mitzva in the Torah is to love the GER. The Sefer HaChinuch in Mitzva 63 quotes the Talmud in Baba Mitzia that 24 out of 613 Mitzvot discuss loving and not mistreating a GER.

When the Jewish People stood at Mount Sinai and were prepared to accept the Torah, G-d defined our mission by telling us, "If you will listen to My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own, special treasure from among all nations. For all the Earth is Mine, and you shall be to Me a Kingdom of Kohanim and a Holy Nation" (Shemot 19).

Yehudah Halevi wonders about the phrase MAMLECHET KOHANIM (A Kingdom of Kohanim). Surely the Jewish People will not all be Kohanim. The 12 Tribes were divided into Kohanim, Levi’im and Israelites. Most Jews are simply Israelites. So why does G-d say that the Jewish People in its entirety will become a "Kingdom of Kohanim"?

Yehudah Halevi answers that just as the Kohanim were to be the teachers and leaders for the rest of the Jewish People, so too we Jews have to become the leaders and teachers of the rest of the world. That is the meaning of "… You shall be My own special treasure from among all nations…" (Shemot 19).

We are to be the Kohanim, who will insure that all nations eventually will acknowledge the One True G-d. That's why G-d says "…for all the earth is Mine"(Shmot 19).

We Jews perform our G-d given task in 2 ways – Judaism for Jews and those who want to sincerely convert to Judaism, and the Torah's 7 Noahide Laws for the gentiles. Our motto to non-Jews is "Keep the 7 and go to Heaven!”

Rambam in Sefer HaMitzvot states that teaching the 7 Mitzvot of Bnei Noach to non-Jews is part of the Mitzva to love HASHEM.

This Divine Plan is used by the Talmud to explain why Jews throughout history have been exiled around the globe. The Talmud offers the rationale that the punishment of our exile may have a totally different purpose. "G-d did not exile Israel among the nations but only so converts might join them, as is written, 'And I, (G-d), will plant her for Me in the land'… (Hoshea 2:25). "Surely a man plants a SEAH (a biblical measure) in order to harvest many KOR" (an even greater measure). (Pesachim 87b).

Our mission as Jews is to spread the knowledge of the One True G-d, as the prophet Yeshayahu says, "We are to be a light unto the nations". But before we can be a light unto the nations, we must first be a light to each other.

Happy T"u biShvat, everyone!

13 January 2019

"...We want Eretz Yisrael and not suicide."

7 Shevat 5779

Many thanks to Esser Agaroth for this picture (last posted here), and for making it possible not to have to rely on anti-Israel websites for pictures of "the occupied territories."
The picture above is Naftali Bennett's plan to take Yehuda and the Shomron piecemeal - pretty much the same as Arafat's Oslo II map. I don't think it has changed, even with his new party, the New Right. I'm happy to see that Women in Green is now looking at a more comprehensive solution.

Can Israel Annex The West Bank?
An Interview with Women In Green Co-Founder Nadia Matar
By Jewish Press Staff, January 3, 2019

Nadia Matar has been a fighter for Eretz Ysrael, Am Ysrael, and Torat Yisrael for the last 35 years. Along with her late mother-in-law, Ruth Matar, Nadia founded Women in Green in the 1990s, a grassroots movement opposed to any surrender of biblical Israel to Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority.

She was arrested numerous times and sat in jail on several occasions with her mother-in-law, resulting in a wonderful bond between the two. “I tell every girl that the best formula for a wonderful marriage is to go to jail with your mother-in-law, fighting for Eretz Yisrael,” she told The Jewish Press during a recent interview from her home in Efrat.

Today, she heads the Sovereignty Movement alongside Yehudit Katzover, whose heroism in 1979-1980 helped lead to the founding of modern Chevron and whose husband served as mayor of Kiryat Arba for 20 years.

The Jewish Press: What’s your background?

Matar: I was born to a non-religious traditional family in Belgium. On Shabbos we lit candles and made Kiddush and then ate non-kosher and watched TV. As I grew up, I started asking questions – how could we keep Yom Kippur one day and be mechallel Shabbos the next? – so I joined Bnei Akiva and started keeping Shabbos and kosher.

But then I couldn’t understand why people who were keeping these mitzvos were not also fulfilling “Vetechezeina einenu beshuvcha l’Tzion berachamim” and moving to Eretz Yisrael. I went to Eretz Yisrael for one year and came back because of kibud av va’eim. But my parents saw how miserable I was in chutz la’aretz, so they finally gave me their beracha to move to Eretz Yisrael.

JP: How did you become the activist you are today?

NM: I guess it was in my genes, and the upbringing I got at home. I was very involved in the struggle for Russian Jewry. But when I first got married, all I wanted to be was a stay-at-home mommy. My first three kids were born with me as a housewife and mother.

JP: When and how did that change?

NM: In 1992, the Rabin-Peres government came to power with four promises: no talks with the PLO; no Palestinian state; no division of Jerusalem; and no retreat from the Golan Heights.

But almost immediately after the elections, we started hearing talks of giving up the Golan. So when my husband and I heard about a demonstration in Jerusalem against retreating from the Golan, we took our kids and went.

The next day, the media published a horrible-looking picture of a settler with a beard, peiyos, a gun, and two little kids. The caption read something like: “Settlers and religious Bnei Akiva youth demonstrate against giving away the Golan Heights.” My mother in-law, Ruth Matar, immediately grasped the full meaning of the headline: “They’re trying to delegitamize us and portray us as lunatics,” she said.

So we decided to organize, and that’s when Women in Green was born.

JP: Women In Green soon became known for its animated street protests. When did those begin?

NM: We were growing fast in the beginning, but we got no press coverage whatsoever. We were naïve and inexperienced and didn’t realize the press didn’t want the world to know there was opposition to the Oslo Accords.

So we decided if the press wasn’t going come to us, we would go to the press. Whenever there was a newsworthy event, we went. If the prime minister, for example, was talking somewhere, we went, made noise, held up provocative signs, and got the attention of the media.

And that’s when our troubles began. All of a sudden, the police — who previously had ignored us – started beating us, breaking our ribs, and arresting us on false charges.

Some of us forget how charged the atmosphere was in the 1990s with Israel ceding more and more land to the PA – despite vigorous protests — and only getting terror in return.

I speak to my kids and they don’t remember the terrible years we went through. Buses were being blown up. Every day we left our house not knowing whether we were going to come back or what funeral we were going to attend. We buried so many friends.

After the Disengagement in 2005, many people gave up and said, “What’s the point?” But we felt that if we didn’t succeed in preventing the Disengagement it was only because we didn’t work hard enough.

JP: Today, you are one of the leaders of what’s known as the “sovereignty movement,” which essentially calls on Israel to annex the West Bank. How did that start?

NM: We realized that demonstrations and vigils were not going to save Judea and Samaria. I always compare it to an aquarium. You can kill the fish in two ways: either by taking the fish out of the aquarium or by making a small hole in the aquarium. The fish continue to swim, but little by little the water disappears.

That’s exactly what’s happening today. What is the water? The water is the land in Judea and Samaria. You have Jewish communities and Arab villages there, but in the middle there’s a lot of empty land. The Arabs, very smartly, said, “Let’s take over those empty lands and choke the Jewish communities.”

And that’s what they’ve been doing, completely unhindered by the authorities because the Civil Administration here in Israel, unfortunately, is very left-wing and doesn’t care. They say, “Judea and Samaria is not ours, so what do I care if the Arabs take over Area C with illegal construction, illegal agriculture, and illegal takeover of abandoned army bases?”

JP: What’s your solution?

NM: Sovereignty! Apply Israeli law over Judea and Samaria – which is what we should have done the day we won the Six-Day War. At the time, the government was in such shock that we won that they didn’t know what to do with those areas, so they created something called the “Civil Administration” and thought that within a few months they’ll decide what to do with the land.

But those few months turned into 50 years, and we now have this weird situation where a Jew living in Judea and Samaria has a different status than a Jew living in Raanana, Tel Aviv, or Ashdod.

JP: Why is applying sovereignty in Judea and Samaria so significant?

NM: Because when Israel didn’t apply sovereignty, the world started asking questions. “Wait, if it’s yours, why don’t you include it?”

It’s like the famous story of King Solomon and the baby. If somebody else is saying it’s his and you’re not saying it’s yours, and you’re even willing to give parts of it away, then maybe it’s not yours. In other words, all the complaints of the world that we are occupiers we can at least partially blame on ourselves.

JP: People argue that you can’t declare sovereignty over the West Bank because then you would have to give the Arabs living there the right to vote.

NM: That’s not true. There’s legal backing to prove that. The best example is the Jerusalem Arabs. There are 300,000 Arabs in Jerusalem, who have no voting rights for the Knesset. They are residents, not citizens, and the sun is still shining every morning.

JP: People argue that if Israel doesn’t give all residents voting rights, it can’t be considered a democracy.

NM: We are saying that democracy has different definitions. First of all, every democracy has to defend itself. It cannot be suicidal in giving tools to a minority within its borders to take over the democracy and turn it into an Arab dictatorship.

There is something that we call “Zionist democracy,” which means that you give everyone basic human rights but no voting rights. In Puerto Rico there are no voting rights and nobody makes an issue out of it.

JP: You have an urgency in your voice.

NM: Yes, because there is no other alternative to sovereignty. The alternative is a two-state solution, which is suicide. And the status quo is impossible because every minute that we are on the phone the Arabs have taken over another hill. They do it all the time. Everyone who lives in Judea and Samaria sees it, and if we don’t act fast we will have no more land left.

JP: What are the chances, practically speaking, that the Knesset will apply Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank?

NM: Let’s start with applying sovereignty over the existing Jewish communities in Area C where there are hardly any Arabs. Or at least let’s apply sovereignty over the Israeli communities. There should be no opposition to that at all. There is not one Arab in any Israeli community, so that is practical.

The Likud actually voted for this unanimously in December. It’s now in the official platform of the Likud party.

JP: So why didn’t the Knesset, which was led by Likud in recent years, do it?

NM: There is only one answer: Bibi Netanyahu.

JP: Why is he against it?

NM: He’s not saying. But we know one thing: We have to increase the pressure. It’s going to happen in the end, whether it’s with Bibi or somebody else. Bibi is not the Messiah.

JP: People sometimes say that if Israel is too hawkish it will lose the support of America. What’s your response?

NM: G-d arranged it that we now have an administration that told us from the very beginning that America will respect what Israel wants. So we are here to tell them that the majority of the Jewish people wants sovereignty and not a Palestinian state – that we want Eretz Yisrael and not suicide.

JP: President Trump is supposed to soon unveil his peace plan, which allegedly calls on Israel to make concessions of various sorts to the Arabs. Are you going to fight him?

NM: From what we understand, the Trump plan is something they’re going to suggest – not impose. The Trump Administration people are smart and know about our Biblical right to this land. They know that the Palestinian Authority are basically terrorists who want all of Israel. They don’t want peace. They want piece after piece after piece.

It’s very hard for me to believe that anyone who is smart will try to impose on us concessions that are against Israel and against simple logic.

I hope and pray the Trump plan calls for the application of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria because that will bring real peace and good life for the Jews and the Arabs.

JP: But what if it calls for a two-state solution. Will you fight it?

NM: We will oppose it and bring down any government or prime minister who will agree to a two-state solution just like we did till now.

For some humor — It's funny even though it's true! — read this article from Honest Reporting!

On a more serious note, it seems as though our "experts" claimed last year that Israel's Jewish population growth rate is unsustainable. I'd like to make Leonie Ben-Simon my newest best friend for writing: Overpopulation in Israel. Really?

Absolutely no one has the right to demand that Jews stop contributing to "overpopulation" of our planet, since we comprise far less than 1% of it. Taking back our land in YEHUDA (where the word JEW comes from) and SHOMRON (that a king of Israel took a long time before there were Palestinians) will help a lot, and filling up the land we already fully possess will help even more!

Also, I stumbled on a video last night (it was presented as a comment to an article it had nothing to do with), called Caesar's Messiah. It proposes that Christianity is an invention of the Romans for the purpose of controlling the populations they governed, and for scattering the Jews and bringing us "to heel." I don't agree with the solutions it suggests, but I think it explains how the Esavians have been ruling the earth for 2,000 years — with HQB"H's permission, of course. I believe they don't have much more time.

Despite all this, committing national suicide is neither in our plans nor in the Jewish destiny according to our prophets, and I'm not at all sorry for saying so. See my Time of Jacob's Trouble series for more on that.

In case I don't post next week, have a blessed T"u b'Shevat!

If you happened to stop by this post, you should read this one by R' Steven Pruzansky...