Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Free Choice - Ordained by Torah

A most fundamental Judaic principle relates to "free choice". Man, and only man, benefits from this privilege. The opening verse of Torah portion "Re'eh" teaches this tenet. It says, "... I offer you blessings and curses ...".

Two words here deserve focus. The word "I" is the same word with which the segment of the "Ten Commandments", in an earlier portion, starts off with. The word "offer" connotes a gift; As this verse does, which speaks of offering blessings. But how then can these two words that imply beneficence also be used to provide curses?

Every aspect of Torah is perfect and therefore we must understand how the offering of curses is indeed a good feature.

Imagine then the world without the presence of bad. If goodness were the only reality, if humans had no tendency to do bad, thereby being forced into constant good behavior, man would lack the capability for free choice.

Of all creatures in the world, only man has free choice. Without capability to also choose bad, mankind would be no different than any other, lower creature.

It turns out, therefore, God's granting to man "curses" as well as "blessings", raises mankind to a unique position among the world's creatures. By implanting the inclination for evil as well as for doing good renders mankind its exalted status, without which it would be relegated to being merely another specie of animal.

The rewards for choosing right from wrong is another issue, and in fact involves another tenet of Judaism - how rewards for free choice are distributed. For this also involves the belief in the world-to-come, the world of truth that awaits one who passes on from this world of good-mixed-with-bad. For rewards for deeds in this world can be held back until the person reaches the world-to-come. So let not the irony of seeing a righteous person who suffers while an evil person enjoys a lavish lifestyle in this world confuse you.

For if the free choice option embedded in your psyche be misconstrued as an arbitrary device, you will have missed the whole point of its benefit, for which you can only hurt your own destiny.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Month of Elul - A Time for Self-Evaluation

The month of Elul is a time for self-accounting. Elul (אלול) in Hebrew is the acronym of "I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me." (Song of Songs 6:3)
אני לדודי ודודי לי
On the other hand, in verse 2:16 it says, "My Beloved is to me and I am to Him."
דודי לי ואני לו
Why here do we read these terms in reverse order?

Commentaries explain that the "me" refers to the people of Israel, and the "Beloved" refers to God. The Song of Songs portrays a loving relationship between God and the Jewish people.

This love affair can come about in one of two ways. Either God initiates the relationship, showing man the love He has for him, and man thereafter returns the love, as implied by the verse "My beloved is to me and I am to Him." Or, on the other hand, man can initiate the affair, showing his love to God first, and then God reciprocates by showing His love to man. This is connoted by "I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me."

To illustrate, there usually exist two sorts of stories by those who have "returned" to God. Some of these people speak of some divine revelation or intervention that occurred to them, as on some mountain peak in Thailand, or during a horrible traffic crash, or some special moment, when they felt the loving Hand of God. Such a situation relates to "My Beloved is to me ...".

In contrast, other such people never experienced a revelation or special miracle. They simply arrived at an intellectual conclusion they need to investigate the path of Judaism, and after a long process of search they concluded that truth lies in Torah, so they began to serve God. Only at a later stage did they begin to feel the love that God has for them. This type of affair is alluded to by "I am to my Beloved ...".

Were we to ponder the Jewish calendar, we'd find two months that parallel these two situations: The months of Nissan and Elul.

Nissan in Hebrew means "miracle". During Nissan, many miracles happened to the Jewish people during their exodus from Egypt, when God demonstrated His strong love for them, even though they did not deserve it on merits. Only at a later time did the Jewish people reciprocate with love of their own. The month of Nissan therefore fits the verse "My Beloved is to me ...".

But Elul is void of miracles, Godly revelations or special holidays. It's a month of working on oneself, of learning Torah and doing mitzvot, a time of thoughtful prayer and inner, self-reckoning. It's a time for climbing, of exerting oneself. When man achieves, on his own initiative, a closer relationship to God, God will then respond to him or her with love. Our sages illustrate this relationship as follows, "Wedge for Me an opening the size of a pinhole, and I'll expand it for you to the size of an auditorium".

Which is why Elul reflects "I am to my Beloved," - which then draws down "and My Beloved is to me".

The Alter Rebbe (the 1st Lubavitcher Rebbe) provided a metaphor for the month of Elul. It is that of a king who all year dwells in his palace. Only a privileged few can gain face-to-face access to him in his inner chambers. But there is one period during which the king makes himself available to the commonfolk, by going out to them in the fields. These folk, even dressed in their work clothes, now have the opportunity to meet the king. From there they can accompany the king to his palace.

This king is God. All year long God is in His heavenly palace, and in order to receive his attention, people have to achieve incredible spiritual heights or exceptional deeds. But during the month of Elul, God is near every individual, present at our location wherever we are, and gives us the chance to change, listens to us and responds by responding with a kind countenance and a smile.

Let us therefore exploit these days of mercy by examining our behaviors to see where they can be improved and thereby get closer to God. As it says, "Return to Me and I will return to you!" (Malachi 3:7)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Emanuel Moreno - A Hero's Assassination Covered Up?

In late October, or, more likely, in the first week of November, 2006, a man was introduced to a crowd of thousands who gathered in "770" (a synagogue in Brooklyn that serves as "headquarters" for the world-wide Lubavitch chassidic movement) for some Chabad-related occasion. The speaker didn't look Chabad-like, but that is not uncommon. I don't recollect the occasion's raison d'etre. In any event, his speech was spell-binding. When I happened upon Arutz 7's story last week of the passing of Emanuel Moreno, telling of the 5th yahrzeit of a "secret IDF officer" whose story is shrouded in "national security", I immediately made the association. The speaker never mentioned Emanuel by name. It's only I who suddenly made this connection, because the "secrecy" imprint raised my suspicions, and for another reason that I'll tell later. The speaker, apparently in the upper echelon of political and/or military Israeli circles, or a man seemingly in the know, spoke of abuses executed by the political/military Israeli establishment. One particular evildoing he detailed for us. The details differ significantly from Caroline Glick's story of this hero's passing.

Here's how I remember it 5 and 1/2 years later.

Emanuel was climbing up in the ranks of his political party and was somewhat religiously oriented. His success threatened the higher-ups, afraid he was going to rise even higher and thwart their own political ambitions. So they wanted to "take care of him". They plotted this ploy. He was known to be a military dare-devil and the scheme they painted for him made him out to be the perfect man for the daring mission. They told him - towards the end of the Lebanon war, they needed him to capture officers of Hezbullah and bring them back, in order to make the Israeli army's performance during this war appear more creditable. He was told that many Hezbollah officers were to be found in some hotel in some city in the Northeast of Lebanon. Now, as I read about the passing of Emanuel, and map-googled Baalbek, this city "fits" the picture. This is the other reason that reinforces my hunch of intrigue.

He got to the mission's target city and found that the hotel had, in fact, no ranking officers of Hezbollah therein. One thing was sure, however, there were extremely many Hezbullah operatives in the vicinity. He radioed to make his report and to ask for some aerial assistance to escape. Nobody answered his calls. In desperation, because Hezbullah fighters were buzzing about everywhere, and his group now found out, he realized he had no choice but to rely on his own limited resources.

The reason the plotters targeted this city, said the speaker, was for its location. It was close to the Syrian border, far from the Lebanese coast, making naval escape impractical, and far from the Israeli border. Emanuel was literally surrounded by hostile elements and isolated from his army when no one answered his desperate calls.

The helicopters that brought him to this location were two transport helicopters. They remained the only means by which to make the return trip. He called the pilots and they informed him they will need to abandon their site very soon, giving Emanuel very little time.

Emanuel told his soldiers his final strategy for escape. He told them they will all pack into their two jeeps. Both jeeps will then race full-speed to the rendezvous site to make it in time before the helicopters leave. He told them that chances may well be the first jeep will make it through safely but the second one will absorb many bullets. He got into (or ?drove) the second jeep.

They made it to the helicopters, just as he predicted; The first jeep got through relatively unscathed, but his trailing jeep took many hits. The way I remember it, the speaker said Emanuel died of his wounds during the flight back on the helicopter.

The conspirators' plan for Emanuel's elimination had worked.

The details I recall here and the alleged connection to Lt. Col. Emanuel Moreno are open for investigation. It may shed light on this hero's real story, which isn't consonant with the media's innocuous, scant take of it. Maybe with more dots to connect, a different picture will emerge. Criminality is certainly plausible, given the troublesome facts surrounding people such as Uzi Meshulam, Jonathan Pollard, Yitschak Rabin and Baruch Goldstein, to name a few.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

To See or Not to See, with Your Mind's Eye

A recurring maddening issue in Jewish history is the need to fight reformism. Prior to World War II, the "Haskallah" movement sought to reform Judaism, with their motto, "Be a Jew at home, but blend in among society." In earlier times we had Hellenists and Saduccees, and today we have "Reconstructionist, Conservative and Reform" movements. The Previous Rebbe, while his chassidim fought against Soviet atheism (and finally won), came to America in 1940 to take up the fight to bring religious Judaism to this hemisphere as well. One strategy was, he published the "Reading and Holiness" monthly journal and distributed it freely to all synagogues and Jewish organizations. Here follows an article therefrom, translated from Yiddish, written in Aug. 1941, p. 172.
This week's Torah portion starts out discussing blessings and curses, later to be cited on Mounts Grizim and Eival. The first words are, "See! I offer you today blessings and curses," and the portion's name is "See!"

Understandably, we all prefer blessings over curses, yet most people still bring upon themselves the curses. Spiritual blindness is to blame; We either do not see, or we see the curses as blessings. To recognize the difference between them, we must be able to see.

For the main difference of a blessing and a curse has to do with seeing, for, put a blessing in front of a blind man and beg him to choose it or try to convince him, and he'll purposely choose the curse and do the wrong thing and become cursed, unfortunately.

We don't need a better example of this than the current burning question among most of society regarding the future course of world civilization or the question among Jews regarding the future fate of the Jewish people. Too few people see the cursed direction the world is taking, blind to the destruction that will take place. And too few Jews see the blessing in returning to God and the approaching Era of Ultimate Redemption.

Generally, mankind does not want civilization to decline, yet still it takes the criminal path that undermines civilization. The depiction
"And the earth filled with violence" (Gen. 5:11) prevails and nobody figures to take the blessed path by desisting from all the criminality, all the wars, all the oppression, and removing all the burden imposed upon the weak - the only means by which civilization can be saved.

The same goes for Jews; Most of us do not see blessed path of earnestly returning to God, by which we can avoid the coming "birth pangs of Moshiach" and merit very soon the Era of Ultimate Redemption. This era is definitely arriving, yet despite this, people choose the wrong path, the cursed path, by waiting for a redemption that relies on the dubious hope for social righteousness.

Neither society at large sees where lies its blessing or curse; Nor the Jewish people see the correct path. They all seek blessings but cannot see; And they all hate curses but blindly draw these upon themselves. This is the very issue Torah here addresses: For, in having recourse to blessings or curses lies the danger of not seeing, the danger of not seriously contemplating to see where, in fact, lies the blessing and the curse.

The name of this Torah segment therefore bears a great lesson for us Jews. Each Jew must see, ponder and envision - not go blindly, nor trust dubious hopes, nor take a path that hasn't proved its worth to the Jewish people. The blessing lies in the following (Deut. 11:27): "A blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God." The wrong path too is defined for us: "And a curse, if you do not obey ...."

"See!" - No one should be blind. We can see if we want to see. Were this not so, Torah would never enjoin us to see.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Glib "Nutritious" Advertising to Fool People

A popular product promoted for its nutrition is "Ensure Powder". The manufacturer "formulates" similar nutrition products for babies and suckling infants too.

At the bottom of this post is this can's list of ingredients. Let's take a look at some.

The first three are all sugars. The federal rule is to list the ingredients sorted by weight in decreasing order. By breaking up the sugars into 3 types, it seems the sugar content thereby is reduced because each name is not immediately identified as a sugar by the often ignorant public. Still, here you have the top three ingredients being sugar. It may as well have been written as: "Sugar, Sugar, Sugar".

In other products that contain water they often pull the same trick. They manage to place water before the sugars - by separating the sugars into different types. But if you add all sugar weights together, sugar would easily take first place in the list of ingredients.

The fourth ingredient (really the second) is a fat. The next "nutritious" element is a sodium compound.

Soon after comes "Artificial flavor" - a laboratory chemical. Then come more sodium and sulfate products. There's even "Cupric Sulfate" among them; Last I checked, it's considered "too toxic for use"!

Of course, the best way to sell garbage is to have people praise it to the hilt, saying "how wonderful it is". Here, as an example, is this "review" by some lady when she fed this product to her grandchild:

Product Rating: *****
Pros: Greatly improves health
Cons: expensive
Bottom Line: It turned our little Kathie into a thriving ball of energy
.

Is it any wonder doctors live significantly shorter lives than the average lifespan!
P.S. I just picked this product randomly. It's probably not even kosher.

INGREDIENTS:
Corn Syrup, Corn Maltodextrin, Sugar (Sucrose), Corn Oil, Sodium & Calcium Caseinates, Soy Protein Isolate, Artificial Flavor, Potassium Citrate, Magnesium Chloride, Calcium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, Soy Lecithin, Ascorbic Acid, Choline Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Niacinamide, Ferrous Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Cupric Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin A Palmitate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Chromium Chloride, Sodium Molybdate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Phylloquinone, Cyanocobalamin, and Vitamin D3.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Satmar & Chabad Relations (cont'd)

A story is told, when the pamphlet "Neturei Karta", once published in Jerusalem, reached the desk of the Previous Rebbe, he handed it to his son-in-law (the Rebbe) and said, "Take your newspaper".

He said this because the Rebbe supported Satmar chassidim, and it's known he sent them funds as well.

Also well known is what the Rebbe said about Satmar's activities in Israel, that "if the 'Neturei Karta' would not be doing the 'dirty work', then we would have to do it instead." (eg, the protests against building on graveyards, protests against Shabbat desecrations, and many more protests against the many forms of Zionist sacrilege.)

After Zalman Shazar, the 3rd president of Israel, had a private audience with the Rebbe, one of many, Shazar said he felt as if the Rebbe was much more aggressively overzealous for strict orthodoxy than the Previous Rebbe; Furthermore, he said, had the Previous Rebbe not established a Chabad community in Israel (Kfar Chabad), he doubted whether the Rebbe would ever have taken such a step.

Rabbi Geldzeiler, from Lakewood, confided to Rabbi Rapp of Brooklyn that he once showed the Rebbe a booklet he composed of his Torah findings. Passing by the Rebbe, he told him that the Satmar Rebbe had also reviewed it. He said it and tried to swallow his words. The Rebbe then said to him, "You don't have to mention the Satmar Rebbe with a frown. You should know he's a friend of mine and I'm a friend of his. As for our differences, these were caused by 'Datan and Aviram'".

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Before" and "After" White House Smiley Pictures

We all sense, those in touch with political ongoings, just how discombobulated American politics and economics suddenly became with the election of whom I think is a Muslim or Communist mole in the White House. We sense it and monitor it with foreboding. The entire capitalistic system seems to have taken a jolt and now totters and reels. Shifting winds bring dark clouds of gloom. A sinister infrastructure seems to be pulling strings, puppeteering the president and many other halfwits implanted throughout the country acting as administrators who hold the reins over many key positions.

Jews feel this trepidation closer to heart because of the significant change in policy towards Israel. The enmity towards Israel has become quite tangible in many ways, if before it lurked as an undercurrent.

Here's an example of the latter. Compare the captions under both "smiley" pictures. These pictures were posted on the White House website (link). The original, "before" picture contained the words, "Jerusalem, Israel" in its caption. (This was taken by photographer Daniel Harper, who revealed the story.) The "after" picture, has the word "Israel" expunged. The implication of the decisive rub out is clear - Jerusalem no longer belongs to Israel from America's perspective! (Note the irony in the smiles.)

(The erasure story is here. A video clip of it is here.)


Jews "Kidnapped from Birth"

In the "desert" of Southern Florida you find many many Jews who have suffered a drought of Judaism, since they were born. Many with Jewish mothers don't even realize they are Jewish. Octogenerians abound who haven't once in their many years on Mother Earth donned a pair of phylacteries. Ask them if they ever put on "tefillin", and they'll think it's a brand of sun lotion.

Jewish education to a Florida Jew has nothing to do with anathema. It's simply a matter of having been "kidnapped from birth" by a foreign culture. These people never broke away from Judaism. They simply never got exposed to the real thing. Their lives began with Gentile-like culture, continued with Gentile-like culture, and never knew anything else. They suffer from sheer Americanism.

But, at least, when they get rescued and are given some water of Torah to drink, it may revive them enough to seek to quench their thirst, for thirst they surely have. For a Jewish soul cannot achieve tranquility without some divine intimacy, no matter how many baccalaureates or degrees trail after his name. A Jewish soul not anchored in Torah feels itself being tossed around on stormy waters like a rudderless ship.

These pictures are from a fellow, an emissary of the Rebbe, who, undaunted by what people might think, reaches out to these Jews, doing his best to touch them with some Jewish love.

Dr. J. Berman of Sarasota wasn't embarrassed to show his Jewish pride in public at the airport in front of hundreds of travelers. Everyone there looked in amazement.

It created a chain reaction. Here is another Jew, an attorney from Tampa, in the airport, on his way to a nephew's Bar-Mitzvah in New Jersey. He was so inspired by what he witnessed, he decided to do it himself.

Iris sees her husband get "wrapped" for the first time in his life, at age 80!

The girl to the right, from Sarasota, just discovered she was in fact Jewish. She got interested in what we were doing. So I showed her the internal parchment scrolls inside the tefillin and explained to her the spiritual act of the Bar-Mitzvah. She then revealed to me her mom was Jewish. She never experienced anything of Jewish nature. As we parted ways I wished her well in discovering her newly-discovered identity. She is another typical Jewish girl from the Tampa Bay area.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gush Katif Remembered

The Mishna (Taanit 4:6) lists 5 calamities that struck Jews on Tisha B'Av. Some 500 years ago, also on this day, Jews were banished from Spain.

Then came, on this day, yet another banishment, in ways even more painful. In 2005 (it was scheduled on Tisha B'Av, but actually took place the next day), Jews were brutally evicted from their residences, businesses and properties of Gush Katif. Many were third generation citizens.

You would think a Jewish government would know something about significant Jewish dates. Yet they chose Tisha B'Av to do their dirty work. Jews of Gush Katif were told Tisha B'Av was the final day, by which time they were required to abandon their birthrights.

The 5 calamities the Mishna lists that befell on Tisha B'Av are: The decree to forbid entry to the Holy land for the generation of the desert; The 1st and 2nd Temples were destroyed; The city of Beitar was captured; And, Jerusalem was smashed to rubble after the destruction.

For generations other unfortunate events occurred on Tisha B'Av, the harshest of them being the expulsion from Spain. On August 2, 1492, King Ferdinand of Spain proclaimed that no Jewish foot may remain on Spanish soil.

Then came the recent expulsion from Gush Katif. It's one thing when Gentiles oppress Jews. Jewish law tells us "Esav hates Yaakov", so we can somewhat understand the cruelty committed.

But how can we begin to fathom cruelty when a Jew commits such atrocity to another Jew? Can we compare an eviction of Jews perpetrated by Gentiles in a Gentile nation to one where a Jewish government in a Jewish country does the same to its own people?

What further aggravated this eviction was the handover of the birthrights to Israel's worst enemies - an act so perverted it boggles the mind! And, to add salt to the wound, the birthrights robbed from Jews and handed to the Arabs was meant to resolve a border conflict that had wrought much tension. The proponents of the expulsion so argued. Those against the expulsion knew full well it was a delusion, with a horrible payback. The latter were right because it created what today is a much more dangerous state of affairs, with greater risks to life.

The exile we are in is both a physical exile and a psychological one. As long as Jews see themselves as just another nation, relating to their Judaism as an incidental fact, without taking pride in the vast heritage and delight that Torah and Jewish tradition offer, the exile mentality will persist - and Jews may well fall victim yet again to such aberrant behavior (God forbid!); For Jewish destiny cannot steer a path to redemption hitched on desires for assimilation. The Jewish soul cannot smooth a path against its innate grain by subverting the Torah injunction "And they shall be a people onto themselves" (Num 23:9).

There's an internal exile and an external one. May we soon see the day when Jews become proud to be Jewish, proud of their heritage, proud of their Torah and customs, thereby divesting their internal exile. With that achieved, the external exile too will vanish - to yield for all Jews and all mankind a long-awaited, eternal utopia.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Jew "Confronts" a Skinhead

A Jew who recently became religious lives in Germany. In his new-found enthusiasm, seeking to learn more, the better to steer his new course in life, he packed his bags for a trip to New York, to visit the Lubavitch headquarters in Brooklyn, where he could fully "charge up his motivational batteries" for future challenges. I met him in shul ("770") two hours after he arrived. He was still worn to a frazzle from an experience he told me about, which occurred to him at the Munich airport.

While in the airport, he looked down, saw a wallet on the floor and picked it up. He decided to take it to the airport police and let them handle the lost item. He opened the wallet and saw it held a large wad of cash. He began to count the money as he made his way to the police. He already counted $3,000 and still there was about another $2,000 left uncounted.

Suddenly he realized how foolish it would be to bring this lost item to German police, who would simply help themselves to the cash. So he pocketed the item and turned back.

He made his way to his boarding gate and waited in line. He looked around and noticed a young man frantically looking about the airport's floor, running here and there, searching around pillars and under benches. This young German had all the signs of being a "Skinhead", in dress and shaven head. The Jew kept watching until finally the fellow went towards his gate. The Skinhead's line was moving forward and soon he would be inaccessible inside the gate.

The thought recurred to him he should hold on to the money. After all, Skinheads hate Jews. German ones how much more so. He also made quick calculations he was going to 770 where plenty of opportunity exists to distribute charity. Finally the Jew decided he was going to run and reach the Skinhead before he disappears beyond the gate.

"Is this what you were looking for?" said the Jew. The Skinhead's eyes opened wide and his jaw dropped. "Yes", he practically shouted, "Thank you! Why are you doing this?" The Jew pointed his finger upwards and said, "Because there is a God and He sees all!" Asked the Gentile, "What can I ever do to thank you?" The Jew told him he should believe in God. The Skinhead promised he would. The Jew pulled out a card with the "Seven Noahide Laws" printed on it, which he always carries for "reach-out opportunities", handed it over, and quickly told the Gentile about these obligations. "I'll keep this card to the last day of my life," said the Skinhead out of sheer relief and emotion.

The Jew went back to his gate and swelled with Jewish pride, thinking he did the right thing, because he committed a great act of "kiddush hashem", sanctifying Hashem's name.

He told me, it took a lot out of him, but in the end he was happy he did it.
- - - - - - - -
UPDATE: The total amount, my friend wrote to correct me, was about $10,000! The Skinhead was from Lithuania Russia. Once the Jew gave him the money and left him, he ran after the Jew to tell him that, in effect, the Jew saved his life because this money constituted his entire earnings and savings. He repeated he will always remember what a religious Jew did for him. He also said he never in his life met a religious Jew!

The other corrections: He did, in fact, take the wallet to the police station, keeping the money in his pocket. The wallet was on a bench when he found it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Consoling the Bereaved

An elder chassid of Crown Heights had gone to console mourners in the Kletsky family. It was packed. He sat behind several rows of people and felt reluctant to say anything because most everyone there belonged to other chassidic groups and he was the only Chabadnik there at the time. Despite many hesitations, however, he stood up and began to speak.

He related how the Rebbe once responded to a man who came to him to complain, for he was childless for many years and then finally Hashem gave him a child - yet Hashem took this child away from him after so few years of life.

The Rebbe told him how Hashem sought among the Jews, looking for who among them is worthy to be presented with this cherished gift for a number of years, and decided, "to give it to you". Yes, it was not a gift for many years, but it was a most precious gift for while it lasted.

As the chassid told his story, he broke into tears but managed to finish it. He also noticed there were hardly any dry eyes in the crowd.

The father of Leiby then spoke up and told the chassid he finally felt consoled because of the Rebbe's words.

Back in Crown Heights the chassid related what happened to the father of Gabi Holtzberg, who then also went to console the Kletsky family.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Gush Katif Painfully Recalled on Tisha B'Av

Those protesting for affordable housing cannot succeed – unless they repent for having stood by silently as Jews were expelled from their homes in Gush Katif. So says Rav Daniel Stavsky of Jerusalem, in a brief segment of his weekly Torah lecture.

“Those who ask for homes, for housing, and six years ago did not protest the expulsion of 10,000 Jews from their homes, and the demolition of their homes – it didn’t pain you then? You did not take to the streets? You have no right. You have no right,” the rabbi declared. “You didn’t care, it didn’t pain you, you didn’t go out to the streets. Now you want ‘a home, a home, a home.’ You have no right.”

(I want to add: Perhaps the protestors cannot buy or rent a home. But that isn't nearly as bad as having been thrown out of your homes, robbed of your homes and seeing your homes handed over to your worst enemy!)

Neturei Karta Revisited

A Brooklyn rabbi told over a story he heard 2 weeks ago from a Satmar Chassid:
"It happened back then, when some took the name of 'Neturei Karta', and spoke in favor of the Arabs who were fighting in Eretz Yisrael and against the Jews. In response to this the Satmar Rebbe (זצ‫'‬ל) [Rabbi Yoel] delivered a talk before his congregants and said: In the prayer of Shmona Esrei, in the paragraph of ולמלשינים [informers], even before we get to the part that speaks about the "heretics" and the "deniers", we first mention the worst of these, the "informers" - that is, those who talk against Jews with the enemy, י‫'‬ש; They are the first who must be negated, and only thereafter do we request renunciation of heretics and deniers.

"Included in this negativity is the disgrace that so small a faction can bring to the Neturei Karta."
(We spoke earlier of the Neturei Karta, and if any one is under the impression they are a multitude, I want to correct the impression. This bunch that seeks audience with the likes of Arafat or Ahmedinajhad, even hugging and kissing them, comprise no more than a dozen or two chassidim. Most Neturei Karta chassidim disapprove of this shameful behavior.

But don't expect the vermin in the Western liberal press to forego this photo opportunity to belittle the Jews when it presents itself.)

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Who will Build the 3rd Temple?

The 3rd Temple that will replace the 2nd Temple destroyed in Jerusalem will descend from heaven entirely built, according to sources (eg, Sukah 41a).

But how could this be; One of our 613 commandments explicitly states we must partake in building God's "House of Choice"? What then will it be, God-made or man-made?

The Rebbe, as he usually aligns what otherwise appear to be antithetical claims, explains: We have it from tradition the 3rd Temple will descend from heaven as a beautiful, finished building - except, its gates will be missing!

When the Babylonian enemy surrounded the 1st Temple, prior to destroying it, a miracle occurred and the earth swallowed the Temple's gates, as it says (Eicha 2:9), "Its gates sunk into the ground". These gates were built by King David (Sota 9a).

Says the Rebbe, to complete the 3rd Temple, Moshiach will "float" these gates up from the earth and, together with all the Jews, will install them into their proper places.

(As to how all Jews can participate in this event - the same way they all participated in the daily "Tamid" sacrifices - by way of 12 representatives, one from each tribe, being at location for the event, although here I surmise.)

You might think, "How trivial the task given the Jews" to install gates to the building. But think again; For a house without a door is as good as already broken into. This last task, of placing doors, is what secures the building, which now can fittingly be called - a house (בית), as in בית הבחירה or בית המקדש.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Neturei Karta & Chabad - A Reason for Conciliation

Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, of blessed memory, the illustrious Satmar Rebbe, opposed the Zionist movement and its exploits. He based his opposition on three Halachic prohibitions derived from the gemora (Ksuvos 111a), expressed in Shir HaShirim (2:7) as oaths taken by God, namely:
1) Jews musn't go to the Holy Land en masse, in a forceful way;
2) Jews musn't rebel against their government while in exile; and
3) Jews musn't further distance the redemptive era.

These "3 oaths" characterize for the Neturei Karta their vigorous arguments vis-a-vis the present Israeli situation. (They comprise an offshoot of the Satmar Chassidim. In fact, they themselves comprise two schools of thought - whether or not to embrace the haters of Israel).

The first oath relates to Jews having purposefully gone to Israel en masse to set up a government and nation. I, for one, don't quite understand where else the remnant Jewry of Europe could all have gone. Most doors were bolted shut. Perhaps the oath meant to stay in Europe, or go elsewhere, or go to Israel in small groups; I don't know what alternative plans this Rebbe had for his followers and for Jewry at large. I only know that my parents, a"h, who survived the holocaust, could not remain in Europe because despite the war coming to an end, the hatred for Jews remained palpable nevertheless. But so be it, let's say there was another route to take instead of going en masse up to Israel.

The second oath, which prohibits rebellion against the foreign element, also was breached, in that they set up a nation, set up a military to fight and kill the enemy. The oath implied Gentiles were meant to control the Jews, and not have a Jewish nation of self-rule that automatically entails opposing the Gentiles on the land.

The 3rd oath, not to forestall the redemptive era, also was violated because Jews did not wait for Moshiach. They took matters into their own hands by saying, "We'll set up an army, we'll guard the Jewish people, we don't have to wait for Moshiach because, in fact, we have our own Messianic agenda." In fact, Herzl was often referred to as "King of the Jews". And in fact, they took the verse, "And let our eyes behold Your return to Zion", which orthodox Jews say during prayers thrice a day, and plastered it next to a picture of Herzl, making it clear their vision of Zionism meant to supplant the orthodox portents of Moshiach.

On 4 Tammuz 5740 (June 18 1980), when asked by the Admor of Sadigora (Rabbi Avraham Yakov Friedman) about these "3 oaths", the Lubavitcher Rebbe answered in words different than I bring here, but the idea is the same. You can find his answer in the book, "שיח שרפי קודש", recently published (p. 280); The book transcribes the conversations the Lubavitcher Rebbe had with rabbinic giants. As I understood it, there is a situation wherein you musn't, at first, do something, and then there is another situation where, if you already did do it, other laws apply. In other words, the new circumstances call for a different approach. For example, on Shabbos you must not pick up "Muktzeh". But if you happened to pick it up anyway, you now have other laws that apply; You now needn't drop it immediately. These relate to cases or laws of "לכתחילה" and "בדיעבד".

It may well be the 3 oaths applied originally, before the Zionists did what they did. Whether or not Chabad held these three oaths as binding I'm not sure, because in his authoritative book of the Jewish Code of Law, Maimonides makes no mention of them - but I doubt they would have disagreed with the Satmar Rav's ruling. But, explains the Rebbe, the matter is an altogether different matter today, where the 3 oaths are no longer a concern, because now another major factor supercedes them - that of "פיקוח נפש" - saving lives, and that today becomes the paramount issue! Today, because we find ourselves in Israel surrounded by enemies, the laws that come to bear, at the forefront, must take "saving lives" into foremost consideration, leaving the others irrelevant.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Dementia - Living Proof it Exists

For those who haven't yet seen this, it's worth the 3 minutes.

Notice a few things: The woman may be pregnant, but what's certain is she has other children there with her when she exits the car. The Arab men know this too. And, note she has been treated for burns for 6 weeks in the hospital where she wants to commit the atrocity.

This is Arab, genetic dementia. What else can it be?
video
Golda Meir once keenly observed, about Arabs, "They hate Jews more than they love their children!"

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