Monday, November 29, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
"And it was at that time, and Judah went down from his brothers." (From this week's Torah portion, Vayeishev, Genesis 38:1)
This verse opens the entire story of Judah and Tamar, which took place after Joseph was sold to Egypt by his brothers. Our Sages in Breishit Rabbah have an interesting perspective on the events described in these verses:
"The tribes were preoccupied with the selling of Joseph, Joseph was preoccupied with his sackcloth and fasting, Reuven was preoccupied with his sackcloth and fasting, and Jacob was preoccupied with his sackcloth and fasting and Judah was preoccupied with taking a wife and the Holy One, Blessed Be He was busy creating the light of Mashiach."
Everyone was preoccupied: Drowning in the swamp of their errors, mourning, trying to extricate themselves and not knowing how. The general mood was low; sadness and ambitions prevailed. The brothers did not overcome their jealousy and competitiveness and sold Joseph. Reuven was busy with his ambitions, Judah - busy with his. It looked like the forces of the mundane were poised to overcome the young family of Israel and drag it into the abyss of submission, despair and mourning.
Behind the scenes, though, the King of the World was there, fulfilling His promise to Israel. From amidst all the complications He created the light of Mashiach. Peretz is born to Judah and Tamar. He will become the progenitor of King David and Mashiach, the son of David, in the future.
Sometimes, the truly significant events take place behind the scenes. The challenge is to identify those portentous times and not to miss the truly consequential developments amidst the constant barrage of distractions.
Today, everyone is preoccupied with their sackcloth and fasting. There will be a second building freeze, there won't be a second building freeze - it is completely insignificant. Since the days of the Rabin government – and actually, even prior to that – the strategy of Israel's successive governments has been to choke off the settlements as a prelude to their abandonment. A state that is not Jewish in its essence is incapable of holding onto the Land of Israel. Eventually, it loses the legitimacy for its very existence.
Let us progress to a truly Jewish State.
Let us create the light of Mashiach.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
By Moshe Feiglin
Manhigut Yehudit in the News
Friday, November 19, 2010
And the messengers returned to Jacob and said: We have come to your brother, to Esau and he is also coming to meet you and four hundred men are with him. And Jacob was very frightened and he was distressed and he divided the people that were with him and the sheep and the cattle and the camels to two camps. (From this week's Torah portion, Vayishlach, Genesis 32:7-8)
"And he was very frightened and he was distressed." Why write the same thing twice? We understand that Jacob was frightened, we understand that he was feeling pressured. Why re-emphasize this as two separate issues?
There are many answers given to this question. But one Chassidic commentary captured my eye. "And he was distressed -" because he was frightened. Jacob naturally reacted toward Esau with fear. But immediately afterwards, he felt great sorrow for having felt fear.
When we moved to the Shomron, the Arab uprising was in its first year. To protect their car windows from being smashed by rocks, many of our neighbors attached metal "cages" to their windshields. Their cars resembled a sorry version of a zoo on wheels.
I took a different tack. I began driving on the roads slowly, with my windows open and an Israeli flag flying proudly from my car. I was the victim of far fewer rock attacks than my neighbors, who would fearfully speed through the Arab villages. When the flag got torn and had to be removed from our car, my wife was afraid to drive!
Much water has flowed since then under the bridges of Judea and Samaria. An Israeli flag no longer conveys pride and ownership - it may possibly even convey the opposite. But the lesson remains the same. A person is where his thoughts are. If you feel that you belong in Israel and that this Land is yours, then you are not afraid. Your internal world projects to your surroundings, reflecting as a world that is, indeed, not dangerous.
Israelis today do not feel that they belong in their Land. They are encased in state-of-the-art protective defense systems, but are suffering from the worst case of existential doubt they have ever had. Their internal perceptions create the external threat. That is why the solution has to be - first and foremost - to change Israel's mentality and consciousness.
It all begins and ends in the world we create inside our heads and hearts.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
By Moshe Feiglin
7 Kislev, 5771
Nov. 14, '10
Translated from the Makor Rishon newspaper
The tremendous significance that Israel's Right attaches to last week's elections in the US attests to the fact that the Right also pins most of its hopes on America. In other words, both the Right and Left in Israel suffer from the same delusion. For both sides of the political spectrum, everything depends upon our relations with the US - and not on our relations with ourselves, with the justness of our cause - and with our G-d.
The "pragmatic" perspective that disconnects destiny from existence is what ultimately prevents us from understanding reality and dealing with its challenges.
From a strategic perspective, the political process in the US does not have much importance for Israel. The building moratorium in Yesha began a short time after Rabin took office in 1992. Since then, we have been busy adjusting the height of the flames, while the situation has steadily deteriorated. Now, there is also a building moratorium in Jerusalem - even though officially, no such thing exists.
Obama did not create the problem. The problem is completely home-grown. We created it and the US pressure that accompanies it. True, Obama has intensified the problem and treats us less gently. But his behavior is actually helpful because it indicates which way America is headed - an indication that pragmatists like us insist on ignoring. Instead we look to the mid-term elections in Washington for salvation.
There are more than enough signs that the curtain is closing on America. If someone would have told us ten years ago that within less than a decade it would not be Israelis stuffing dollars into their mattresses but Americans rushing to buy the shekel, would we have believed him? If we had been told that within a decade the Governor of the Bank of Israel would be buying dollars in an effort to maintain the value of the American currency, would we have taken that information seriously?
What happened to the Soviet Empire, the British Empire and all the empires throughout history is beginning to happen to America. It is simply a historical rule to which the American Empire is also subject.
Obama has hastened the pace of this process but he did not create it. Thus, his decline will not prevent it. The very fact that the majority of Americans so enthusiastically voted for the man whose entire being symbolizes the complete opposite of the values that brought about the establishment of the United States, indicates the deep rot that has spread through American society. The inevitable economic collapse that Obama is inflicting upon America is nothing more than a symptom of the moral rot.
Significant sections of the American population are still motivated by the values of America's founding fathers. But they have no real ability to stop the crumbling of their society. The Hispanic immigration on the one hand and the Islamic pressure on the other have forced America to face a challenge that it cannot overcome. "Multi-culturalism has failed," explained Angela Merkel. In America, multi-culturalism is in the Oval Office.
In these very days, when America is pulling out of Iraq with its tail between its legs and when it is already clear that it will suffer a similar defeat in Afghanistan, we can say that Bin Laden defeated Bush - in a big way. He defeated Bush, which just goes to show that the defeat is not Democratic or Republican. The defeat is American, the product of values that cannot face conflict with a religion or an enemy that is not a nation-state.
Where is Israel in this state of affairs? Clearly, nobody in Israel's Foreign Ministry, in its plush universities, in Israeli politics or its generously-funded think tanks is even attempting to think about what will happen when we wake up one morning and America will simply not be there. For them, this would be tantamount to a religious person considering the ludicrous possibility that there is no G-d.
But that is exactly what will happen. First, America will not be there for Israel. And then it will not be there at all. It will collapse or turn into something reminiscent of Argentina.
All the important institutions that are supposed to warn us of this eventuality will fail miserably. That's how it is with institutions. By their very nature, they cannot think out of the box. They will scoff at the type of article that you are reading now, just like they scoffed at everyone who warned that rockets would be flying into Ashkelon. Afterwards they will explain why they were right nevertheless or they will ignore their failure. The people who were paid fat salaries to prepare us for the new reality - and instead left us off-guard and helpless - will write glorious autobiographies and run for the Knesset.
So, despite all the warning signs, America's collapse will catch us completely by surprise. Like the fall of the Berlin Wall, like the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is impossible to know when it will happen. But one way or another it will happen - and Israel should plan ahead and free itself now of its dependence on America.
How will we manage without the American veto in the UN Security Council? Maybe we should pre-empt that problem and simply resign from the UN? Don't we have other strategic allies?
How do we fight without American weapons? Has anybody thought of the fact that in any case, we will not have American spare parts after a certain point? Did the recent F-35 deal take that into account?
In other words, instead of beginning to free ourselves from the sinking Titanic, we have added another rope that ties us to it. Simply because our pragmatism leaves no room for strategic thinking.
Friday, November 12, 2010
By Moshe Feiglin
And he dreamed and behold a ladder planted on the ground and its top reaches the heavens, and behold angels of G-d were ascending and descending upon it. (From the week's Torah portion, Vayeitzei, Genesis 28:12)
That's it. No doubts remain. Now that G-d has revealed Himself to Jacob, it turns out that his mother, Rebecca, was right all along. The Kingdom of Priests, the holy nation that testifies to the existence of the Creator and His message to the world hinges on Jacob - not Esau.
This does not mean that now Jacob can rest on his laurels. On the contrary - the significance of G-d's directive means that now Jacob has to actualize the potential that he carries within.
"In the World to Come, they will not ask me why I was not Moses. They will ask me why I was not Zusha," said Rabbi Zusha of Anapoli. Jacob understood Rabbi Zusha's message. Now that he has received the Divine promise, he has no doubt as to his role in the world. The only question that remains is if Jacob will actualize all his Jacob potential. To foster this goal, Jacob vows:
"And this rock that I have set up for a pillar will be the House of G-d." Jacob declares that he is committed to his destiny.
What is Jacob's destiny?
The entire depiction of Jacob's dream begins and ends with the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. "A ladder planted on the ground and its top reaches the heavens."
The Temple is the connecting point between heaven and earth, between the physical and the meta-physical.
"G-d is truly in this place," says Jacob. It is entirely possible to live here in the Land of Israel with G-d in our midst. Judaism is not about Christian asceticism or Moslem animal lusts. At the Temple, we can naturally connect the mundane with the holy.
"This is none other than the House of G-d and this is the gateway to Heaven," Jacob continues. I am setting out on a long and exhausting path, strewn with obstacles. I will have to work hard, establish a family, establish a nation and stave off swindlers and murderous enemies. But I will always remember my destiny:
"And this rock that I have set up for a pillar will be the House of G-d."
This is my role in the world; from this place I must connect the plug to the socket; from this place I must connect humanity to its Creator.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Monday, November 08, 2010
Sunday, November 07, 2010
By Moshe Feiglin
And Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and he rose and he left and Esau scorned the birthright. (From this week's Torah portion, Toldot, Genesis 25:34)
When Esau heard his father's words, and he cried an exceedingly great and bitter cry and he said to his father: Bless me as well, my father. (Genesis 27:34)
Esau scorned the birthright and sold it for a pot of lentil stew. Yet he cries an "exceedingly great and bitter cry" when his brother receives the firstborn's blessing. Esau's descendants practice the same mode of behavior until this very day. Until the Nation of Israel returned to its homeland, the Land of Israel laid desolate, of interest to no one. As soon as Jacob's descendants returned, Esau's descendants woke up and began to cry "an exceedingly great and bitter cry."
It is worthwhile to look at the picture of the Temple Mount above, taken in 1877. Note the thorns and thistles, neglect and desolation. There was no Palestinian nation, no Palestinian state. Before the miraculous 1967 war, the Arabs claimed land inside the borders of what was then the State of Israel. They did not demand land held by the Jordanians. They were not interested in land that was not in Israel's hands.
It is not the blessing that makes Jacob. It is Jacob who gives significance to the blessing. Now that the two have connected, Esau is jealous of the result. The deep hatred burning in his gut stems from the understanding that the essential truth is that he is not the first-born; the dynasty of Abraham and Isaac will not continue through him - and the blessing will not be bestowed upon him.
Esau was right. He really has nothing to do with Jacob's blessing. He knew that then and he understands it well today. But then as now - he will certainly raise a ruckus.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
By Moshe Feiglin
From the moment that Manhigut Yehudit understood that in order to save Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel we must establish Jewish leadership for Israel, we faced two problems.