"And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph, does my father still live?" And his brothers could not answer him because they were afraid of him." (From this week's Torah portion, Vayigash, Genesis 45:3)
Why didn't the brothers recognize Joseph earlier? True, he had grown a beard. He was also in a completely unexpected place, boasting a completely unexpected status and wearing unexpected attire. But still - the eyes are the same eyes, it is the same forehead, the same tone of speech. Wouldn't you identify your brother in his old kindergarten picture? Or your father in an old black and white photo from when he was a young boy of 17?
Still, Joseph's brothers - who are certainly not stupid - come face to face with their brother, speak with him, focus on him - and not one of them catches on? Not one of them thinks, "What is going on here? This guy reminds me of somebody. Where do I know him from?" Nothing?
Nothing. Because in their minds and hearts, Joseph was no longer their brother. When they threw Joseph into the pit, the brothers buried the brotherhood that was in their hearts. Even when the brothers were face to face with Joseph, they did not recognize him, because they had erased him from their consciousness.
How can such a complete rift ever be mended? Two conditions must be met:
First, Joseph must become a leader. Instead of his fate being in the hands of his brothers, their fate must be in his hands. But that is not enough. It does not bring the brothers to the point at which they remember that they actually have another brother. For that, the second condition must be fulfilled.
The second condition is that Joseph will remember their common roots - in this case, their father. "Does my father still live?" Joseph asks immediately upon revealing himself to his brothers. It is a strange question. Throughout Joseph's dialogue with the brothers, their father is mentioned time and again. It is obvious that he is alive. But Joseph does not ask if our father still lives. He does not address his question to his brothers, at all. He addresses it to himself. Does my father still live within me? After all these years of distance and pain am I capable of becoming once again a son of the same father as these other men? Do I have the fortitude to once again become part of the family - a brother to the people who hurt me so badly?
Leadership and brotherhood are the secret of mending the gaping hole.
And specifically in that order.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
"And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph, does my father still live?" And his brothers could not answer him because they were afraid of him." (From this week's Torah portion, Vayigash, Genesis 45:3)
Va’yigash and Chanuka 5772
Parashat Be’ha’alotcha, in the Book of Bamidbar, opens with the appointment of Aharon and his kohanic descendants to light the menorah in the Bet HaMikdash.
Rashi raises the question: Why does the issue of the menorah follow right after the Torah’s description of the 12-day Mishkan consecration ceremony, when each of the 12 tribal heads, on his particular day, brought offerings to the Mishkan?
Rashi explains that the appointment to light the menorah was to compensate Aharon for his feelings of rejection when he saw that realized that neither he nor anyone of his family was allotted a day to bring their personal offerings to the Mishkan, as was afforded the tribal heads.
Ramban rejects this explanation and suggests another for the proximity of the two issues. The compensation to Aharon was not the lighting of themenorah every evening in the Bet HaMikdash, but HaShem’s declaration that 1500 years later Aharon’s descendants, the Chashmonaim, would reconsecrate and purify the Bet Hamikdash, and rekindle the menorah.
I would like to suggest an alternate idea.
Aharon was greatly agitated when seeing the tribal heads bringing their gifts, while he was excluded. But it was not the gifts that evoked Aharon’s feelings of being marginalized, because without Aharon to offer them up on the altar, the gifts would not have had any relevance.
Aharon’s feelings stemmed from the very nature of the national hierarchy, as it presented itself at the time. As described in the Gemara (Shavuot 14a) the national government was divided into four branches: 1- The Monarchy that was entrusted with civil matters, ranging from the military to commercial and foreign and internal affairs. 2- The Sanhedrin that dealt with Halachic interpretations of the Oral Law (It was not an appeals court because there is no recourse to an appeal in Halacha). 3- The reigning prophet of the time. 4- the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and the Temple service, and, of course, the will of the people to accept their leaders as expressed through the tribal heads.
Within this hierarchy, the Kohen Gadol had little or no input in the day-to-day affairs of state. This is similar to a rosh yeshiva today who is relegated to the four walls of the bet midrash, with the affairs of state decided on by the political leaders.
(Aharon’s disappointment was real, despite the fact that he wore the Urim ve’tumim [breast plate] which would answer questions of great national importance presented by the king, or the av bet din [leader of the Sanhedrin] or any personage who the nation is dependent upon. But the conditions required for this process were so limiting as to make it impractical).
In response to Aharon’s frustration with the Kohen Gadol’s limited input in national affairs, HaShem alluded to Aharon through the lighting of the menorah the profound and even decisive influence he and his descendants would have on our nation’s history, as follows:
Ya’akov upon his death bed (Bereshiet 49:7) says to Shimon and Levi regarding their hot temperament and zealousness:
ארור אפם כי עז ועברתם כי קשתה אחלקם ביעקב ואפיצם בישראל
Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; And their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.
Shimon and Levi were zealous in their quest for justice. They destroyed the inhabitants of the city of Shechem for being delinquent in not bringing to justice the man who assaulted their sister Dina. Shimon and Levi also initiated punishing Yosef for his dreams, which they deemed to be undermining the family order and discipline.
With the intent to molify the zealousness of these two brothers, Ya’akov laid down the rule that they would be dispersed among all the tribes. Levi was not given a tribal area as were the other tribes, and Shimon who did have a tribal area, became the teachers of Israel. This required them to be disbursed among all the other tribes.
There was a two-fold purpose in their dispersion: 1) To mitigate their extreme reactions in spiritual matters which would result from their interacting with the larger population, and 2) To arouse the usually dormant, passive and peace loving nature of the Jewish people to act with zealousness in defense of their beliefs.
The message given to Aharon was encrypted in lighting the candles: His descendants, the Kohanim, by being dispersed among the entire nation, will have a profound influence on the behavior the Jewish people. And just as a little flame can ignite things vastly larger than itself, so too would the Kohanim lift up the holy spirit in every authentic Jew to fight the battles for physical and spiritual survival; and lead the nation in its desire to return to our glorious past centered around the Bet HaMikdash on the Temple Mount and the renewal of the holy sacrificial service.
A dear, respected friend of mine, who also is a kohen, wrote the following letter to the Jerusalem Post. It is the letter of a man who most certainly could have joined the kohanic army of the Chashmonaim, as follows:
In his article, "The Power of One", Daniel K. Eisenbud criticizes the recent Israeli government’s advertising campaign to encourage Israelis living in America to return home.
I disagree with him that the ads conveyed that, "Diaspora Jews are inferior to Israeli ones", but it conveyed the message that if they do not return in time, their children and certainly their grandchildren, will assimilate and be lost to Israel and the Jewish nation.
More important, I disagree with his premise that Israel needs Jews in the Diaspora to help defend us in the "global struggle". As he says: "To think that we can do all the heavy lifting from our small speck on the map of the Middle East is impractical and self-defeating".
That all Jews should be living in Israel is one of the foundations of Judaism. HaShem gave us Eretz Yisrael; HaShem gave us the Torah; HaShem gave us the Torah to be kept in Eretz Yisrael.
But what if all the Jews were to live in Eretz Yisrael, how could we defend ourselves?
Rabbi Nachman Kahana, in his book, "With All Your Might 2", expresses it best in his commentary on last week’s parsha Miketz and Chanuka: "It is the unremitting, enduring, everlasting, incessant, relentless, unceasing, uninterrupted, unvarying knowledge resonating in every pure Jewish heart that we are God’s Chosen People".
This is not a racist concept. It is not that we Jews are better than the rest of humanity, but that HaShem chose the Jews for an intimate relationship, as a bride and groom.
One need look no further than the brief history of the State of Israel, to bear witness to the intimate relationship between HaShem and His people.
We are all aware of the miracles that allow us to live our lives in Israel. This does not take away from the men and women who sacrifice daily to keep us safe. But our relationship with HaShem requires action on our part so that HaShem can act on our part.
Chanuka is celebrated to commemorate two miracles: The military victory and the miracle of the Menorah. Rabbi Kahana points out that the visible military victory "was for the world to realize our special connection with the Creator, whereas the miracle of the Menorah took place in the privacy of the Holy Temple’s Sanctuary (the Kodesh), which only the Kohanim (priests) could see, in order to express the intimate relationship between HaShem and His people."
Eisenbud’s title should have read "The Power of One". The One is HaShem. The battle was meant to be and will be fought from our "small speck on the map". We Jews must have faith that if all the Jews lived in Israel, then, together with HaShem, we will become a Nation of Kohanim.
Thank you, dear Kohanic friend.
The Iranian navy is now engaged in intensive maneuvers in the Straits of Hormuz, the narrow waterway that connects the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, through which flows over 30% of the world’s oil. Today’s headlines announced that Iran gave notice, that if the UN, led by the United States, extends its economic sanctions against it, they will cut off the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz.
This year, on the week of parashat Lech Lecha, I quoted the Zohar, at the end of parashat Beshalach:
"The descendants of Yishmael (defined as those nations who practice circumcision by religious law or custom - Islam) are destined to cause three great wars: one on sea, another on land and another close to Yerushalayim".
And I wrote: "The battle on the sea will be when the Iranians take control of the Straits of Hormuz (entrance to the Gulf of Arabia from the Indian Ocean) through which flows 40% of the world’s oil".
If this materializes, then the world will find itself in dire straits, and the difficulties the Jews in the galut will encounter are alluded to in Yishayahu 24:13
כי כה יהיה בקרב הארץ בתוך העמים כנקף זית כעוללת אם כלה בציר:
When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done.
Rashi explains that the prophet is referring to the dwindled number of remaining Jews at that time.
Despite all the harsh prophecies, the Jews in Eretz Yisrael will have a more glorious future, as the prophet Yoel 3:5 says:
והיה כל אשר יקרא בשם ה' ימלט כי בהר ציון ובירושלם תהיה פליטה כאשר אמר ה' ובשרידים אשר ה' קרא:
And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.
And the prophet Ovadia 1:17
ובהר ציון תהיה פליטה והיה קדש וירשו בית יעקב את מורשיהם:
But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and Jacob will possess his inheritance.
Copyright © 5772-2011 Nachman Kahana
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Moshe Feiglin Looks Forward to Crucial Head-to-Head Election versus Benjamin Netanyahu on January 31st
December 28, 2011...
On January 31, 2012, the Likud Party will be holding its election for Party Chairman. The winner of this primary will be the candidate who will run for Prime Minister of Israel from the Likud at the next general election. If the challenger - Moshe Feiglin - defeats current Prime Minister Netanyahu, the government coalition will most likely fall and the general election will be held within a few months.
As all current polls show overwhelmingly that the Likud will win the next election, in essence, this vote is to determine who will be the next Prime Minister of the State of Israel.
There are only two candidates vying for this position - Moshe Feiglin and Benjamin Netanyahu, and they have wildly differing viewpoints.
Mr. Feiglin, President of Manhigut Yehudit - the largest faction of the Likud party - wishes to create a strong, proud Jewish State by ending the fraudulent Oslo Process, ending the taking of all foreign aid, and re-attaching Israelis to their Jewish roots.
Feiglin, who won 24% of the vote at the last election, and about whom former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg said last week is the 'most important man today in Israeli political discourse', wishes for Israel to be a Light Unto the Nations, as opposed to Mr. Netanyahu’s stated desire to find Israel's Place Among the Nations. Mr. Feiglin feels that when Israel’s decisions are made taking into account that Israel should be run according to Jewish values – as opposed to being run according to secular, socialist or globalist values – then Israel will make better decisions and will be on course toward a brighter future.
On the other hand, Mr. Netanyahu is actively trying to create a Jew-free state of ‘palestine’ inside the biblical heartland of Israel. He pursues this policy even though earlier in his career he stated that the ‘palestinians’ already had a state called Jordan and that they had no right to have another one at Israel’s expense. At that time, Mr. Netanyahu also agreed with Newt Gingrich’s recent comments about the ‘palestinians’ being a modern invention created solely to oppose the state of Israel.
The false peace of Oslo has brought nothing but death, destruction and the loss of belief in our own cause to Israel and to Jews worldwide. Israeli withdrawals and statements like the recent one from Mr. Netanyahu that he will "be creative when it comes to [dividing] Jerusalem" only serve to raise the confidence of anti-Semites and terrorists around the globe. It is time for Israel to reverse course before it fades away.
In little more than a month, on January 31, nothing less than the fate of the state of Israel may be decided.
Moshe Feiglin is the president of Manhigut Yehudit and a candidate for Chairman of the Likud party. He led the Zo Artzeinu non-violent civil disobedience struggle against the Oslo Accords. Moshe graduated from Or Etzion yeshiva, served as a captain in an IDF combat unit, and is the author of the books Where There Are No Men and War of Dreams. Moshe and his family live in Karnei Shomron, Israel.
The Moshe Feiglin Campaign website is www.MFLikud.com
Disclaimer: Donations to the Moshe Feiglin Campaign are not tax-deductible. Manhigut Yehudit neither endorses nor financially supports any candidate or political party.
Moshe Feiglin is running for Chairman of the Likud party. He strives to
Restore Jewish Values, Pride and Integrity to the State of Israel.
Am Yisrael Chai.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
The David of old who became King of Israel proved his mettle for leadership when he did what all in Israel were afraid to do: he stood up to the giant who publicly insulted the Jewish nation. David stood firm and declared that his faith was in the G-d of Israel, not the accumulation of power. The powerful Goliath of that world intimidated Jewish leadership. He spoke as he pleased. He hectored. He spurned. As he showed his disdain, Israel remained silent, passive.
We were recently reminded of that ancient Goliath as we watched US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, US Secretary of Defense John Panetta and US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman stand up within a single four-day period in early December 2011 to insult Israel by accusing her alone among the nations of the Middle East of diplomatic intransigence, women’s rights repressions and assaults against democratic freedoms—and for being the cause of Muslim Jew-hatred. Given the relentless oppression of the Arab Middle East (and their refusal to negotiate), these accusations were as over-reaching as they were absurd. But they were spoken—with a Goliath-like arrogance.
The question now becomes, how should Israel’s leadership respond—not so much to these individual speeches, but to the overall hardening of American attitudes towards Israel. To date, Prime Minister Netanyahu has played a complex boxer’s game with the US: if the Obama administration takes a punch at Israel, Mr, Netanyahu dances-like-a-butterfly away from the attack; then, if the US continues to press, he yields—and harasses religious nationalists and rabbis to demonstrate his allegiance to the Goliath who bullies him.
The problem with this strategy is that it fails to address the key issue—that the prime enemy of peace in the Middle East is the jihad-embracing Arab—while it encourages ever more pressure on a back-pedalling Israel. Israel can back-pedal only so far; indeed, compared to four years ago, Israel has practically ‘given away the store’: we have committed to a continuing unofficial building freeze in Judea and Samaria (except for the occasional token few building permits), which has allowed the US to create a housing and social crisis in Israel; we have seen an increasing number of Jewish homes demolished on the altar of international ‘political correctness’; we have seen an increasing number of Jewish arrests and harassments in Judea and Samaria as crimes by Arabs and Leftists go uninvestigated; and, perhaps worst of all, we have accepted (for the very first time) 1949 borders for Israel even before negotiations for peace begin. In addition, other developments pressure Israel which did not exist four years ago: an Iran closing in on a nuclear weapon; announcements by China and Russia that they will side with Iran; a unilateral request for a new Arab state; the shocking reality of an overwhelmingly hostile United Nations; and the real possibility that, if Barack Obama is re-elected US President next year, the United States will turn ever more hostile to Israel. Meanwhile, Mr. Netanyahu’s passive-silence/passive back-pedaling approach to all of this does not appear to have produced tangible results: since four years ago, Israel is far closer to being delegitimized than we could have imagined in 2007.
As David the king-to-be faced his Goliath, he did not back-pedal. He did not react with silent acquiescence. He also did not end up further in the hole as a result of a studied passivity. He stood firm. He proclaimed his faith in the G-d of Israel—and we saw his courage not just facing Goliath; we saw it also in his public commitment to G-d.
If you don’t believe it takes courage to commit publicly to G-d as you face your enemies, look at today’s leaders: Netanyahu, Peres, Barak, Livni. None speaks publicly of G-d. In fact, the last leader to speak Gd's name publicly in the Knesset was former US President George W. Bush. We want courage from our leaders—and right now, we see back-pedalling, not courage. This is not a hypothetical issue because, as this nation turns increasingly Right--and observant--Likud members know that Moshe Feiglin has announced his candidacy to replace Netanyahu as head of Likud; and Feiglin, unlike Netanyahu, is not afraid to commit publicly to the G-d of Israel. This commitment is important because Jewish history is clear: G-d, Jewish Leadership and our survival are, for this unique nation, uniquely interrelated--and David-the-future-King showed us that courage makes this interrelationship—and our survival--possible. Without that courage, Israel back-pedals. Moshe Feiglin understands this because he understands faith and Jewish history. Netanyahu only understands it because he fears Feiglin (recall the last internal Likud elections). Now, as Likud turns further Right, Netanyahu wants to change Party rules to stay in power. Will Likud members continue to allow him to back-pedal away from the Likud Platform? Israel's immediate future will depend on their answer.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Another two years in the dungeon for Joseph. Twelve years in all. And why is he in the dungeon in the first place? Because he didn't want to sin with the wife of the Egyptian minister? This is his reward for doing G-d's will?
Joseph does not break. He clings to his faith. From the depths of the dungeon, we cannot possibly understand the entire story. Only after the fact do we understand that every moment in the Egyptian dungeon honed Joseph for the position that he would take. When the moment came "and they hurried him from the dungeon." When the moment comes, nothing can stand in its way. Not trickery and not the situation that seems completely hopeless. When a person clings to his faith, does the right thing and does not give in to despair he is positioned so that when the moment comes, reality hurries him out of the dungeon.
We are now celebrating Chanukah. Much will be recalled this week about the miracle and the Maccabees' victory over the Greeks. We have a lot to learn from their dedication, perseverance and the leadership qualities of Matityahu and his sons. Just like Joseph, they clung to their faith, persevered and led the nation until they established the independent Jewish state both physically and spiritually. But no less important than studying their successes is to study the end of the independent Hasmonean state. The Jews' loss of identity caused the disintegration of the Israeli kingdom after the reign of Queen Shlomzion. Israel under Hasmonean rule became a protectorate of Rome.
The Holy Temple was still standing and the enlightened Romans allowed for freedom of worship almost. But the core principle was missing. The idea of perfecting the world in the kingdom of Heaven had become meaningless. For if the Nation of the King of kings is ruled by others, if the holy service in the royal palace the holy Temple is being performed with permission from the Roman king then what kind of perfection of the world is taking place? It is nothing more than a caricature of G-d's supreme reign, nothing more.
To be 'religious' one does not need a nation. One can be a Moslem or a Christian from any state. But to make G-d supreme over His world, He must rule over the Nation, the Land and the royal palace. This is the vital Jewish connection between nationality and religion. When the Jewish Nation is not free, Judaism is detached from its destiny and merely exists as moth-balled religion.
The other side of the coin is true as well: When the Nation is free but is not loyal to the commandments of the King, Judaism exists only as moth-balled nationalism. Historically, the religious mothballs preserve Judaism longer and better than the nationalist moth-balls. One way or the other, both nationalism and religion are limited and cannot guarantee the existence of our nation and certainly not the fulfillment of its destiny. We must re-connect the loose ends and mold them all into Jewish sovereignty on the Temple Mount: sovereignty and religion all wrapped up into one; the fulfillment of Jewish destiny and Manhigut Yehudit's goal.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Chanukah
Parashat Miekatz and Chanuka 5772
A: Pirsumai Nisa
The concept of פרסומי ניסא (to promulgate a miracle) is a major factor in several mitzvot, such as the public reading of Megilat Esther which records how HaShem intervened in a miraculous manner to save the Jews from Haman and Achashverosh of Persia-Iran, and the requirement to recline while eating at the Pessach seder to proclaim HaShem’s miraculous deeds when He took us out of Egypt.
But none are so emphasized as the mitzva of lighting the Chanuka candles. For this mitzvah, our rabbis ordained a three-tiered protocol of פרסומי ניסא.
The basic level is one candle every night for each of the eight nights, totaling 8 candles for the entire holiday (not counting the shamash). The next level of פרסומי ניסא known as mehadrin (to upgrade the proclamation) is one candle every night for each member of the family, so a family of 5 would light 5 separate candles every night, totaling 40 candles for the entire holiday. The highest level called mehadrin min hamehadrin is the common custom today of increasing the number of candles each successive night, totaling 36 for the entire holiday.
What was it in the events of Chanuka that evoked the Rabbis to place a special emphasis on proclaiming the miracles?
The miracle of the oil, so central to the holiday, transpired in a chamber of the Beit HaMikdash called the Kodesh (a section that stands immediately before the Kodesh Hakodashim - the Holy of Holies). Hence, a Levi or Yisrael, who never entered the building of the Beit HaMikdash, but who only went as far as the Azara (courtyard where the large mizbei'ach [altar] was located), did not witness the miracle. Even the number of kohanim who entered the area of the Kodeshwas limited. Now, if God wanted to impress Am Yisrael with a miracle, why did He not perform it publicly in front of the entire nation?
The rebellion against the religious tyranny of the Greeks and our Jewish Hellenized "brothers" began in a town called Modi'in, situated between Yerushalayim and what is now Tel Aviv. A Greek officer erected an altar there, and a Jew offered up a pig on it to one of the many gods the Greeks worshipped. At that point, Matit'ya'hu had had enough. He jumped up onto the altar, killed the officer and his Jewish underling and then called out mi la'Shem ay'li -- "whoever is on the side of God, come to me." And with this, he, his five sons, and a handful of loyal Jews withdrew to the hills and declared war upon Greece.
This was a bloody, savage war lasting 25 years. Furthermore, it was unlike what Hollywood would have us believe that after redeeming the Beit HaMikdash and the miracle of the oil, they all lived "happily ever after." The fact is that the bloodshed continued for another 5 years.
I imagine Matit'ya'hu and his military staff sitting at night, reading the weekly reports. "On Sunday, 1000 Jews were murdered and 10 towns destroyed. On Monday 5000 Jews were murdered, 50 batei knesset were burned to the ground, and 100 tons of wheat were destroyed." And this scenario went on for years. The war was not a surgical strike but a long protracted episode, which cost the Jewish people tens of thousands of casualties. At some point, Matit'ya'hu and his sons, who were God-fearing Torah Jews, must have asked themselves who gave them the right to drag the nation into such a catastrophic conflict. They were not prophets. God did not appear to Matit'ya'hu as he did to Yehoshua, Gidon, Yiftach and others to declare war. This war was the result of a decision made by one family, which affected the entire nation. So perhaps, at some point, Matit'ya'hu may have had misgivings. This war, however, was not only justified. It was essential for our survival as a Torah nation and demanded total defeat of the enemy. But how did Matit'ya'hu and his staff of Kohanim know this?
Furthermore, there must have been a great deal of fierce criticism on the part of the war’s opponents, declaring that Matit’yahu had no right to plunge the nation into this deadly war. There certainly were draft dodgers, leftist ideological refuseniks and many who claimed that military service would interfere with their Torah studies.
After 20 years of battle, HaShem deemed that it was the appropriate time to inform the Kohanic-military leadership that their judgment had been correct, and that every able-bodied man was indeed required to participate in this historic war.
Since prophecy had ceased about 200 years earlier, it would have to be a sign from heaven directed to the Kohanic military leadership and from them to the nation at large. In order for the sign to be recognized by the Kohanim, it had to be in the depths of the Beit Ha'Mikdash, where only Kohanim were permitted to enter. Hence, the miracle of the oil in the Kodesh.
At the end of the year, a rabbinic ordinance was evoked making it mandatory to declare one’s loyalty and dedication to the national war effort. As is customary in ideological-based matters, where there are varying degrees of compliance - especially at that time when the Jewish Hellenists were so influential - the rabbis provided an avenue for people to express their total dedication to the war effort to free Eretz Yisrael from the Greek predators. This was done by providing the level of mehadrin min hamehadrin to declare their absolute compliance with the Kohanic-military leadership.
The concept of פרסומי ניסא as with all things in Jewish life, has its roots in the Torah - but where?
I submit that the expression of this concept is found in the parasha Miketz, which most often occurs in or around Chanuka:
The brothers arrived in Egypt. At Yosef’s command, the border police were to bring to him all arrivers from Eretz Canaan, and Yosef’s brothers now find themselves accused of being spies for a foreign country.
It was Yosef’s original intention to severely punish the brothers, but something happened in the incidents recorded in the parasha to change Yosef’s mind from punishing them to exalting them and caring for their welfare.
In this week’s parasha, Yosef reaches the pinnacle of his career. He is the viceroy of Egypt, and no one raises a hand in the land without his authorization.
When reviewing the life of this man, one cannot but wonder from where he received the spiritual strength to endure all that happened to him.
Yosef was 17 years old, orphaned from his beloved mother Rachel, rejected by his brothers and with only his father Ya’akov and younger brother Binyamin to bring him comfort and solace.
The brothers go to Shechem with the family herd, and Yosef is sent by Ya’akov to see how they are faring. When he draws close, the brothers rip off his many-colored cloak and throw Yosef into a pit swarming with snakes and scorpions. At the same time, the brothers sit down to eat bread, as the Torah states, while the young helpless Yosef calls out for help.
He is sold into slavery, put to the test with Potifar’s wife and thrown into prison for many years.
At any point in his early life, Yosef could easily have concluded that HaShem had abandoned him.
Were it not for one subtle, elusive seemingly insignificant incident.
When Yosef was in the pit, a caravan of Yishmaelim approached. This was a caravan on its regular route from Gilad to Egypt with its usual cargo of kerosene. Upon Yehuda’s suggestion, Yosef is taken out from the pit and and sold to the Yishmaelim to be resold as a slave in Egypt.
The Torah takes the trouble to inform us that on this particular run, the caravan was not carrying kerosene but three very pleasant-smelling spices of tzarie, nachot and lot (צרי נכאת ולוט ).
Rashi explains that HaShem created a mixup in Gilad, and the kerosene was replaced with the spices was so that the Tzaddik Yosef would not be troubled by the foul smell of the fuel.
How bizarre of the Torah to inform us of HaShem placating a 17-year-old boy - betrayed by his brothers and tied to a camel with iron chains to be sold as a slave in Egypt - with pleasant smelling spices!
A visit to the famed Louvre Museum in Paris can help decode (פיענוח) the mystery. Among the paintings in the great chambers of art is one of a smiling young woman. How much would you pay for the painting and its handsome frame – 1,000 shekels, 10,000 shekels?
As you get closer to the painting, you will see on the lower right side a scribbled signature of Leonardo Da Vince. This is, indeed, the magnificent Mona Lisa worth tens of millions of dollars. What elevated the portrait to its incomparable worth is no more than a scribbled signature on the side, which has no intrinsically esthetic value. The price informs the viewer that it is the handiwork of one of the world’s greatest artists.
Yosef’s situation was miserable. His present state was bleak and his future even darker. But within the darkness of his suffering, he saw the signature - the sweet-smelling spices instead of the foul-smelling kerosene. This was HaShem’s signature signaling to Yosef that HaShem would protect him.
In this week’s parasha Miketz, Yosef sits on the throne as the second most powerful man in the superpower of that day - Egypt. Laying prostrate before him are his ten brothers. He recognizes them, but they do not recognize him – a fulfillment of what Yosef had dreamed of 20 years earlier. Yosef now embarks on the systematic plan he has worked out over the years to inflict psychological torment on those who had caused him such mental anguish and physical pain.
Yosef sends them back to their father’s home with the directive that they must bring to him the youngest brother Binyamin.
Ya’akov is extremely distraught with the tide of events which had begun as a simple errand to purchase food. Now it had reached a stage where he must send away the last living memory of his beloved wife Rachel. When the brothers prepare to return to Egypt together with Binyamin, father Ya’akov gives them gifts for the cruel viceroy.
The gifts include varieties of spices - tzarie, nachot and lot, the very same spices transported on the caravan that took Yosef into slavery.
The plot thickens as the brothers, together with Binyamin, stand before the viceroy and present him with the gifts from Eretz Yisrael. Yosef opens the package of unique spices. Suddenly, the years fade away and he sees himself again chained to the camel, with the sun intensely beating down on him, and smells the unique mix of these three spices. At that moment, Yosef realizes that all that was done to him by his brothers was part of HaShem’s master plan, as told to grandfather Avraham, that his descendants would be enslaved 400 years in a foreign land and then return to Eretz Yisrael.
And just as this subtle sign from HaShem ushered in Yosef’s period of slavery resulting in his rise to greatness; so too is this a subtle sign ushering in the period of exile and slavery of the Jewish people, which will result in the exodus, receiving the Torah and rise to greatness as HaShem’s chosen people.
Yosef realized – and later his brothers and father Ya’akov - that HaShem was personally directing the affairs of the family and the future Jewish nation. It was cause for immense exhilaration and the necessity to proclaim this before all the House of Israel in all ages. Yosef performed it by totally forgiving his brothers, and caring for their well-being by providing them with the best that Egypt had to offer.
Here was born the principle of txqeni piq`
to promulgate the eternal presence of HaShem in the affairs of Am Yisrael; is there any greater miracle than this?
B: Religious leaders in the Galut
As we consider the history of our people over the last 2000 years, we find parallels with the young Yosef. We were exiled from Eretz Yisrael, sold into slavery, beaten, starved by crusaders, pogroms, expulsions, inquisitions and concentration camps.
At the end of the Second World War, the Jewish people were destitute physically and spiritually. How would we survive?
And then HaShem gave us a sign – Medinat Yisrael was the signature that He was with us through the entire history.
We were a small signature, a scribble on the map of the world - like the sweet, small smell of tzarie, nachot and lot.
When the Medina was finally established in 1948, this small splinter of a state had to defend itself from attack from seven established armies.
The United States warned Ben Gurion not to declare a State and to show they "mean business" the US imposed an arms embargo on the fledgling Medina.
In 1967, during the Six Day War, we were no longer a small splinter but a big stick; and in six days, the area of the Medina increased threefold. For the first time in 2000 years, the Jewish people were sovereign in Yerushalayim.
In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, we wielded a powerful club with which to beat the enemy – including not only the Arabs but many Soviet advisors and weaponry.
David Hamelech says in Tehilim (23):
גם כי אלך בגיא צלמות לא אירא רע כי אתה עמדי שבטך ומשענתך המה ינחמוני.
Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
A stick can be used for two purposes: as a shevet (club) to strike an enemy or as a mish’enet (cane) to lean on for support.
Medinat Yisrael is both for the Jewish nation. It gives us comfort and support after 2000 years of wandering in the galut, but it is also a powerful club to strike out at our enemies.
Of all the responsibilities to fulfill the mitzva of pirsumai niesa incumbent on everyone who has chosen to be a religious leader in the galut - pulpit rabbi, yeshiva teacher, rosh yeshiva, grand rabbi - the most awesome mitzva of pirsumai niesa is to teach and promulgate the sign from HaShem of His presence within our history is the return of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael.
Perhaps this is what is meant by Mashiach ben Yosef, because Yosef’s destiny is that of the Jewish people - from a small signature to the pinnacle of power.
A rabbi, wherever and whomever he may be, must view himself as a small candle whose mission is to ignite the flames of others; or like the starters in a car whose sole purpose is to create a spark that will ignite the motor, it is our duty to ignite the spiritual motors of the people who surround us.
The most essential duty imposed on a rabbi in the galut today is to encourage the Jewish people to come home to the land promised us by the Creator Himself.
A rabbi who shirks this responsibility will pay the spiritual and material price. not unlike the Le’vi’m, who were the spiritual leaders of the Jews in the exile of Babylon, who did not return in masse to Eretz Yisrael, and Ezra the Scribe penalized them with regard to their rights to receive ma’aser shaini. I believe HaShem will not be so lenient as Ezra.
Every sermon must be a message to come home. Every shiur must stress the centrality of the holy land to the keeping of the Torah.
And Foremost, the rabbi and his family, must be the example for your community and come on aliya.
During this very special holiday of Chanuka, let us all pray
אבינו מלכנו תהא השעה הזאת שעת רחמים ועת רצון מלפניך
Our Father, our King, may this moment be a moment of compassion and a time of favor before you.
Copyright © 5772-2011 Nachman Kahana
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
By Tuvia Brodie
How convenient. On the night of December 12-13, 2011, fifty ‘youth’ attacked an IDF ‘army base’. Who were these hooligans? According to the media, the politicians and the army, the answer has been so obvious that no investigation is necessary. The culprits were Jewish West Bank ‘settlers’ who are so elusive that they cannot be found, captured or identified. Apparently invisible, they attempt to destroy us. Who has time to investigate? They are terrorists!
Meanwhile, on the night of December 17, 2011, a man identified as an Arab stabbed a security guard stationed at the entrance gate to Maale Adumim. No one complained. No one warned of the dangers of Arab terrorists.
What evidence exists that those who attacked that IDF ‘base’ were West Bank ‘settlers’? There is plenty of evidence. For one thing, they got away. Arabs never get away. For another, the IDF—in the dark—identified them as ‘hilltop settlers’. The IDF always knows how to identify a ‘hilltop settler’, especially in the dark. Then, as Caroline Glick has already pointed out in an essay (Jerusalem Post, October 21, 2011) on another occasion of media failure, the media repeated here what it had done with the Oslo Accords: it opted to manipulate (in favour of the Left) instead of analyse as headlines screamed: Jewish terrorists! Politicians on the Left weighed in, condemning Religious Nationalists. A former Cabinet Minister suggested that the IDF should ‘shoot-to-kill’ all Rightist protesters (even as the IDF has warned that any soldier who shoots at Arab protesters will be subject to arrest). Finally, the Prime Minister declared his own outrage by announcing that he would not allow ‘extremists’ to spark a civil war!
Civil war? Absolutely. On December 15, 2011, Tzipi Livini declared that, if anyone thinks there is no connection between the ‘riot’ at the IDF ‘base’, and a recent incident involving religious soldiers and singing women—they’re wrong! They are both part of a religious wave to wash Israel away!
Is that what this is all about-- the Left declaring that Religious Nationalists want to tear Israel apart?
How convenient: as Likud begins its primary season, head of Likud Netanyahu is reported to want to lock-out Rightist West Bank settlers from upcoming Likud primary elections so he can continue his increasingly anti-Nationalistic and Leftist policies. Then, just as West Bank Rightists in Likud are perceived to have increased their powerbase, they choose to project this influence by torching mosques, attacking their own IDF and providing Israeli media all the headlines Israelis needed to reject everything ‘Religious Right’? We are fortunate indeed to have discovered the truth about these terrorists before those primaries. We can now see their true colors. They are not loyal Israelis: they want to destroy us.
How convenient. Although Jews as a group generally do not believe in inconsistencies and coincidences, we are surrounded here by some questionable inconsistencies and coincidences: the attackers’ mysterious and perhaps miraculous escape from one of the world’s best armies; the media’s failure to question how wonderfully these unsubstantiated reports help Netanyahu’s Likud hegemony; and the settlers’ uncanny ability to select (primarily) empty/ unused mosques to torch and roads to block.
How convenient. Just as Netanyahu expresses a demonstrable fear that Rightist ’settlers’ might flex too much power in a Likud primary, the ‘settlers’ demonstrate an uncontrollable need to attack targets perfectly selected to enrage a willingly enrageable media.
On December 15, as the outrage and anger towards Religious Nationalists reached a crescendo, Eliyahu Zalmanovitz, writing in the Haredi (ultra-orthodox) newspaper Hamevasar, noted the inconsistency between the outrage over the so-called ‘hilltop settlers’ (who caused few personal injuries) and the silence over more than 130 IDF and police injuries at Arab/ Leftist protests in just one Arab community, Bil’in, over the last several years. These violent demonstrations have not provoked the same ire—or the same cries of ‘terrorism’--as these unidentified attackers. Zalmanovitz wrote, “IDF soldiers and Border Police were injured in demonstrations in Bil'in just last Friday [December 9, three days before the ‘attack’ on the IDF ‘base’]. If you have not heard an outcry and seen ministers moved to the 'depths of their souls' at the injury of our soldiers, it is because the protesters were Leftists” (see Arutz Sheva, Who dares raise his hand against a soldier?, Gavriel Queenann, December 16, 2011).
We are lucky that the ‘settlers’ have chosen to be so accommodating in their own demonization just weeks before their successful behind-the-scene accumulation of power is about to bear fruit. Why should these ‘settlers’ settle for replacing Netanyahu as head-of-Likud when they can torch unused mosques and attack the IDF in the dark?
Something smells here. The media, the politicians and the army have already decided who will be lynched. The stench is familiar. It's from the dark days of Oslo. The Leftist government then (accompanied by a lap-dog media) fought an all-out propaganda war to pass that malodorous Accord no matter what (see Caroline Glick, above). They launched a concerted campaign to demonize and de-humanize the religious/nationalist Right by laying the blame of all Israel's troubles, including the eventual assassination of Rabin, at the feet of the "settlers".
History replaying? How convenient for Mr. Netanyahu.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
(from Israel National News)
Presenter Oded Ben Ami asked Feigin -- whom he referred to only by his last name -- who he thinks is responsible for the recent wave of violence. A transcription of most of the ensuing conversation follows beneath embedded video (which is in Hebrew, without captions).
Feiglin: I just want to remind you that with the last mosque that was set on fire, it turned out that it was the Arabs from the village itself, at Tuba Zangariya [who set it on fire], so we must not jump to conclusions hurriedly.
Feiglin: Ask the head of the Appointed Council of Tuba Zangariya who estimated with a high degree of certainty that that was the story there.
Feiglin: And it will not end, because this is precisely the conclusion. But with your permission, I would like to ask Ahmed Tibi, who is seated in front of you, and who represents a population from whose midst came most of the most murderous terror attacks in Israel, what he says about this. How can it be that Ahmed Tibi is present here as the man who has been attacked, and not as the man who supports terror.
Feiglin: And this justifies murder, Mr. Ahmed? Does it justify murder?
Ben Ami: Let me just remind you that his name is MK Ahmed Tibi.
Feiglin: Yes, I forgot for a moment.
Tibi: Try not to make wisecracks and let me continue. The attempts to deflect attention, in this debate, too, from the of mosques and the actual occupation, one of whose tools is the settlers – I refuse to accept the attempt by the state or the media or these settlers [to say that] there are good settlers and bad settlers. There is a good army and settlers who oppose it. There is a system of occupation that is the hothouse for these settlers who have burned 9 mosques since the beginning of the year.
This is Jewish anti-Semitism and this man who is seated here is a symbol of the Jewish anti-Semitism.
Feiglin: This is my country and you will not remain in it.
Tibi: You will not decide for Channel 2 whether or not to invite me. I am the homeowner here.