Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Imminent Fall of Damascus

It’s hard not to see Redemption creeping up on us.

Firstly, every Jewish circle seems convinced of it. Even goyim, להבדיל, or “klipah”, acknowledges it, and because the timing is ripe, they strongly promote their version of the prophecy (in an attempt to forestall God’s agenda).

We take the Land of Israel for granted, but this too is a relatively recent phenomenon. Actually it's part of the same phenomenon - Redemption. Years earlier, Israel was only a concept. And we see too in every war we fight with our enemies how God orchestrates it with so many miracles.

Regarding current Middle East upheavals we sense a deja-vu with in Biblical context as well. For example, the Rebbe, quoting many Zohar sources, says (see video hereJerusalem will rise only when Damascus falls! We note a supportive linguistic prop too - that דמשק and מקדש comprise the same letters.

Meanwhile, surrounding the Land of Israel, her avowed enemies are devouring each other. Enemy countries must now funnel resources and energies to maintaining inner stability rather than allocate capital to wipe out the little Jewish land.

The world at large now recognizes the utter evil that reeks from Israel’s haters and the muslim population. The world now has open windows to view for themselves the cruelty these enemies inflict even upon their own kind. They see, as divine providence would have it, what happens to anybody who stands in the way of their petty whims.

We see how anti-Semitism across the world again raises its ugly head. Why? Because, as the Redemption unfolds, people will have to choose what side they are on, either on the side of the Jews, or on the side of their haters. The world being swept in that direction involuntarily.

We note that practice of the Jewish religion is - amazingly, if history is to serve as a barometer - free in almost all places where Jews live - a phenomenon that Jews never merited in their long history in the diaspora.

We see too in Israel, despite its being a juggernaut of secular culture, even though public Israeli education frowns on religiosity, the population there remains more on the right than on the left, no matter how hard the media, courts and other powerful leftist circles try to shape opinion. For example, the only way Bibi could win his last election was to talk the talk of the right, although he continues to walk the walk of the left.

Even though Israel’s secular public adores and idolizes America, seeking hard to mimic American culture, divine providence has - thankfully - intervened and placed a rabid Jew-hater into the White House in order to wean Israelis off this reverence for “America the great”. Instead of awe for the mythical giant, Israelis will now begin to appreciate all that is Jewish, rather than be taken by the temporary glitz of America.

Here’s another nugget from current events to support the notion that Redemption quickly approaching. ISIS just conquered Palmyra - known in Hebrew as “Tadmor”. Among the legions that joined in destroying both our Holy Temples in Jerusalem were tens of thousands of archers from Tadmor, a city built by King Solomon (Divrei Hayomim II, 8:4). Palmyra’s conquest opens up for ISIS a quick highway to Damascus as well as access to a strategic airstrip. We should be happy to see the downfall of Palmyra, as foretold by Reb Yochanan (see here):
אשרי מי שראה במפלתה של תדמור
Interestingly, the gematria of this phrase has its equivalence to only one possuk in all of Torah:
והנה דבר יהוה אליו לאמר לא יירשך זה כי אם אשר יצא ממעיך הוא יירשך
... where God assures Abraham (Lech Lecha 15:4) that his servant “Damascus Eliezer” will not inherit what belongs to Abraham, but rather to one his own children (ie, Jacob) shall this heritage be bequeathed.

Another Midrash source reads (the reason for happiness) slightly differently:
אשרי כל מי שהוא רואה במפלתה של תרמוד
This has the following possuk (Beshalch 14:19) for numeric equivalence:
ויסע מלאך האלהים ההלך לפני מחנה ישראל וילך מאחריהם ויסע עמוד הענן מפניהם ויעמד מאחריהם
... where God leads the Jewish nation to Redemption and protects them in the process!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Working the "Burning Man Festival" in Israel

Poor secular Israelis need some form of release and seek to mimic their idolized Gentile peers in the USA. Thus they came up with “festivals”, a throwback to the 60’s festivals of “hippie” days, where they would gather a few days at a time away from ordinary venues, to leisurely amuse themselves off the ordinary track. Each festival has its “theme” to characterize and label it.

One such recent festival was the “Burning Man Festival”, held in a desert near Kibbutz Sdeh Boker, a few kilometers south of Be’er Sheva. The event mimics its American counterpart, a yearly event in Nevada that’s “dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance”.

The website explains how it works: “They knock together an improvised wooden figure and drag it down to Baker beach .... They light it up, and a curious crowd gathers to watch it burn.”

The holes Israelis crawl into to get to their fun is mid-boggling.

Anyhow, in the thick of secularity, in the middle of all that is devoid of any sanctity, one fearless Chabad emissary (self-appointed soldier) of the Rebbe plies his reach-out agenda to try and influence secular Jews to taste Torah observance.

He’s Michael Kedelburg, a quiet, unassuming fellow, but geared up with immense willpower to accommodate the Rebbe’s wish to reach out to fellow Jews, especially those “kidnapped from birth” by their entirely foreign (Israeli!) culture, to taste Yiddishkeit and participate in a mitzvah or two, for their own sake.

I bumped into him on a visit to Israel last week in Kfar Chabad where he keeps a ship’s container where he stores much of his gear. He told me about his next “festival”. I gave him a few dollars, in addition to that which he got from me on his last trip to America he made months ago to collect for his mission. Just renting a huge tent (see pictures below) cost him $1,000.

Well, since then he wrote me back and sent some pictures. He writes, “The conditions were oppressive; Tremendous heat, a paucity of water and electricity, constant sand storms, chemical toilets, lack of showers, etc.

“Despite the harsh conditions, the activity began Wed. night and continued through the holiday of Shavuot, until Mon. night - five successive days!

“We were kept busy 20 hours a day! Thousands visited our tent, the 'Tent of Israel'. We held classes and get-togethers until dawn. We held private discussions, donned tefillin, handed ladies Shabbat and Holiday candles, had festive meals on Shabbat and Shavuot, ran prayers and, of course, many heard the reading of the Ten Commandments.

“We felt the spiritual thirst many of these travelers were yearning for.”

You can reach Michoel at 0528651551. Here are pictures he sent:

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Keeping Mitzvot Saves Lives - A Miracle Story

I stopped blogging because many others have more inspiring things to say than I do, and they say it better. Especially Harav Yitschak Ginsburg. He speaks of this year, 5775, as the propitious year for the Ultimate Redemption to happen and I figured to give this year its chance to materialize in said way, without diluting this blog’s last post of the Rav and his powerful inspiration.

But I heard this miracle story I wanted to share with you nonetheless concerning the terrorist activity shown on Youtube (link) around the start of the Hamas Tunnel War in 2014 ("Operation Protective Edge" last summer).

A group of Jews of the chareidi variety were concerned about kosher sources of food for the oncoming two years of Shmittah and Yovel. So off they went to search all over Israel to locate wheat fields they can harvest to last them for these 2 years. They found large fields near the Gaza area where the wheat stalks were nice and high and still very green. When they went to the owners to negotiate a price for the harvest, the owners began offering selected portions of the area. In response the group said, “We’ll buy all of it!”, and so they did.

Soon after the war started with Hamas and their underground tunnels, these chareidis harvested their crop and stored away their cherished produce. They left the fields, once sprouting with high outgrowth, shaven.

That’s when Hamas happened to erupt from their underground tunnel, more than a dozen terrorists heavily armed, as a surprise tactic, in the middle of a field inside Jewish territory. We remember the video clip shown by Tzahal: Tzahal successfully spotted them by radar, emerging from the mouth of the tunnel by night, and bombed them, killing those that did not scurry back and disappear into their hole.

Those stationed for Tzahal at the radar desks were girl soldiers, who apparently have better concentration abilities than men for this job. When one of the girls noticed the unusual activity, she took action. It took all of 90 seconds before Tzahal targeted the infiltrators.

Had the chareidi group found their harvest in some other fields, this Hamas tactic could well have spread horrible tragedy, God forbid. Had this wheat not been harvested, its long stalks would easily have camouflaged the terrorists and prevented their detection.

Atrocity was averted all because some Jew tried to keep God’s commandments. Jews that learn and keep Torah, just as their soldiering peers, participate in Hashem's army, in one miraculous way or another.

As we just read in last week's Torah portion (Lev.18:5),
ושמרתם את חקתי ואת משפטי אשר יעשה אתם האדם וחי בהם
"Keep my commandments ... and you will live by them" - can be taken literally!

Just another little miracle among so many God does for us in all our wars and, indeed, every day and every moment of our lives.
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UPDATE (8/27/15):
Just found this video that tells the above story in more and accurate detail! HERE
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UPDATE (9/6/16):

Israeli soldiers seen walking among the flower beds at Nir Yitzhak, Southern Israel, on the spot which was a staging area for Israeli tanks and soldiers during last summer’s “Operation Protective Edge”. (Photo: Edi Israel/FLASH90)