Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Would you buy a used car from Israel's Left?

By Philip Brodie

Since Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to the US Congress last week, Leftists in Israel have announced that the EU and the US should pressure Israel to withdraw back to 1949 borders ( called, euphemistically, the 1967 lines). At the same time, Opposition leader Tzipi Livni calls for Israel to move quickly to a two-state solution.

However, something is missing from these calls--details. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but every time Leftists call for peace and withdrawal, they never discuss details. Have you noticed that? But if peace is our goal, we had better ask questions—and get answers-- before we sign anything.

You wouldn’t buy a used car without asking detailed questions. Why would you sign a peace accord that way?

Here are some questions the Left needs to answer:

1. We see the word, ‘peace’ in the news virtually every week. Sometimes, in a good week, we could see the word ten times. It’s wonderful. We have so many Israeli columnists who love peace. The problem is, I can’t seem to find the same enthusiasm in our designated Arab peace partners. Instead, what I see from them are such words as, ‘there will be no Jews in our new State,’ ‘we will destroy the Jewish entity’, ‘we will not recognize the Jewish State', and ‘Jerusalem is ours’.

Question: How do you explain to the Israeli public that what appears to be an obvious disconnect between what Israel says about peace and what the Arabs say really means we have a trustworthy peace partner?

2. The Arabs have declared that they want a Jew-free State. This would mean removing up to 400,000 Jews from the West Bank. This is a problem because the Charter of the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi Germany’s leaders, after World War Two, stated clearly that the deportation or complete transfer of a population can be both a war crime and a crime against humanity—and the UN endorses this concept.

Question: Given the fact that we are already in trouble at the United Nations, why is it a good idea to tell the UN to help the Arab commit a government-sponsored crime against humanity?

3. Recent history tells us that the Israeli government has not yet successfully rehoused, retrained and re-employed some 8,000 Jewish Gush residents who had been removed from Gaza in 2005.

Question: If Israel cannot successfully move 8,000 people, how are they going to do a better job moving and rehousing up to 50 times that number?

4. Every month, we see in news reports that the government has budget difficulties. Apparently, our government is not exactly flush with cash.

Question: How will our government pay for moving up to 400,000 Jews?

5. My friends have trouble buying a house. They say real estate prices have skyrocketed because there aren’t enough houses to go around.

Question: What will happen to real estate prices—and our economy—if, suddenly, there were 90,000 displaced Jewish families looking for a place to live?

6. The Arabs demand that Israel must move back to pre-1967 borders. Members of the IDF Command have claimed that such an arrangement would make defending ourselves almost impossible, for a variety of reasons.

Question: How do you explain to the public that the IDF Command is dead wrong?

7. The Arabs claim that there can be no peace with us unless we accept their ‘law of return’. This will bring up to 6 million Arabs into Israel.

Question: Where does the money come from to support the sudden influx of 6 million new immigrants who have no jobs, no place to live, cannot afford to pay for health care and have never been to Ulpan?

8. It seems that every time our government appears serious about peace, Mr Abbas of the Palestinian Authority seems to hold up another map of a new state of Palestine that displaces Israel.

Question: How do you explain to the Israeli public that these new maps mean peace for Jews?

9. Whenever someone on the Left says, 'peace', someone on the Right says, 'peace is not possible', and when someone on the Right says that, the Arabs publish something that sounds like they want to kill Jews.

Question: How do you explain to the Israel public that (1) the Right is wrong, and (2) the Arabs are not really talking about killing Jews?

10. Our religious heritage teaches us that the land of Israel belongs to G-d.

Question: how do you justify giving away something that your own religion says does not belong to you?

Peace is wonderful. Nevertheless, before you jump to join the Left, I have a suggestion: don’t buy anything until you get satisfactory answers to these questions.

You don’t buy used cars without details--and you don’t buy ‘peace’, either

"Lift Up Your Voice": In honor of Yom Yerushalayim

By HaRav Shaul Yisraeli, ZT"L

Passover and Shavuot - Bound Anew

In the cycle of the years, in the order of the generations of Israel, there exist two holidays that are uniquely bound to one another - Passover and Shavuot. It is the bridge-like link of the Counting of the Omer that bonds these two festivals together.

In this very same period we have merited the appearance of two more days of significance which possess similar meaning, a meaning which is especially relevant in our times and brings to life the ancient traditions of the giving of the Torah and the Exodus from Egypt: The fifth of the Hebrew month of Iyyar - Israel's Independence Day, a day of pride for the Jews, both in Israel and in the Diaspora; and the twenty-eighth of Iyyar - Jerusalem Day, a day which symbolizes freedom, holiness, the union between the Jews and their Torah, and the union between the Jews and the holiness of the Land of Israel. The two holidays that were, and continue to be linked to one another - Shavuot and Pesach - are bound anew by virtue of Independence and Jerusalem Days.

Two Levels: A Jewish Approach

"I am God your Lord. I brought you out from Egypt, where you were slaves. I broke the bands of your yoke, and led you forth with your heads held high" (Leviticus 26:13). Scripture makes use of the Hebrew word "Komamiyut" in order to express the term "heads held high." The word "Komamiyut," though, lends itself to other understandings as well. The sages of the Talmud interpreted it to imply "two levels." These two levels reflect a distinctly Jewish approach. It is our plea and our hope, the dearest of values: that the great House of Israel should consist of two levels. The first level is that of the state, a level of independence and physical freedom. The second is a spiritual level that rests upon the physical existence and rises above it, sustaining it and giving it validity, meaning, and purpose. The one cannot exist without the other.

We existed in the lands of the Diaspora as well, but as Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook zt"l explains at length, that was an abnormal existence That was an existence of the upper level without the lower level, a spiritually erect existence without national vitality. That is not a normal existence. That is not natural. That is not the way God wants the Jews to appear in the world, and that is not the way God wants the Jews to present themselves. Two levels together constitute the true stature of the People of Israel.

On the twenty-eighth of Iyyar, this bond revealed itself once more. For almost twenty years, we were cut off from our life source; we were cut off from the Wailing Wall, cut off from the most holy of places - Jerusalem. We saw her from far off, yet we could not touch her cold stones, those stones which evoke the tears of every Jew, regardless of background. We witnessed this for ourselves when the paratroopers, who merited being the first to reach the Wailing Wall, kissed those cold stones. They claimed that their tears came forth without their even realizing it, without knowing what drew them to the Wall or what it was about her stones that moved them.

There was a wall in the heart of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, at that time, was divided in two and cut off, until at last the wall fell, the wall that divided between Israel and the holiest of places. It fell, and we hope that it will never return. We pray that a wall like that one will not rise again. We hope that a wall will rise, but not a wall that divides Jerusalem. Rather, "a wall of fire surrounding her, and I will be the glory in her midst" (Zechariah 2:9).

"Lift up your voice with strength"

The Prophet Isaiah speaks words of prophecy and words of consolation,
"Go up onto the high mountain, bearer of good tidings for Zion; lift up your voice with strength, bearer of good tidings for Jerusalem; lift it up and do not fear, say to the cities of Judah, 'Here is your God!'" (Isaiah 40:9).

"Lift it up and do not fear." Yet, what was there to be afraid of? Why did Isaiah need to encourage the nation so at that time? When the Prophet Isaiah prophesized of the second redemption - which, had the Jews been worthy, would have been the final redemption - there was concern that they would be afraid to say, "Here is your God!" Therefore, Isaiah had to encourage the Jews, saying to them, "Do not fear, say to the cities of Judah..." - Announce it loudly, do not be embarrassed. "Lift up your voice with strength, bearer of good tidings for Jerusalem."

There is Zion and there is Jerusalem. Zion represents the Jewish kingdom. Zion is the City of David. It is the seat of the kingdom. "Go up onto the high mountain, bearer of good tidings for Zion." Zion is the state, the government. Zion is the kingdom, and as such, it is recognized though its flag. The kingdom must be recognized from afar; its presence must be felt. "Go up onto the high mountain, bearer of good tidings for Zion."

Jerusalem is holiness. The kingdom serves as a mere foundation for her. Jerusalem is the upper level. We see that the government celebrates Independence Day with drums, flags, and parades. Jerusalem day, though, bares a different, calmer character. A more inverted nature. It possesses more of a meditative, contemplative nature. "Lift up your voice." Here, concerning Jerusalem, there is a need to speak up, a need to encourage. Here there is a need to infuse new spirit into those dry bones.

"Lift up your voice with strength." With strength. With that very same strength which we find being revealed in the passage, "The voice of God is with strength" (Psalm 29). Back then, each and every one of us felt and knew that not
our strength and not the power of our hands were responsible for what had come about. It came as a surprise, that the little Jordanian king should have seized the opportunity. When he noticed that we were busy on the other front, he too awoke. I remember those days. I recall walking home from "Heichal Shelomo." I remember shots from the direction of the Old City slicing the air from time to time. They were the shots of the Jordanian legion who, seeing their opportunity, pounced at the heart, the center, the seat of Jewish rule, thinking "Destroy it, destroy it to its very foundations" (Psalm 137:7). It was at that point, with no desire whatsoever, and with great difficulty that we were dragged into confrontation. Yet God was at our side, for, "The voice of God is with strength." That was the strength that we possessed. "Lift up your voice with strength, bearer of good tidings for Jerusalem." Today, too, we must make it known and emphasize that it was divine strength that assisted us. We did not initiate the war. Israel never looks for war. Today as well, we are not interested in war.

Yet, we cannot part with our life source, the site of the Holy Temple. Our prophets and sages dreamed concerning this place. This is the place from which the Torah must go forth. We refuse at all costs to relinquish it, and all such plans will end in failure. No such plan will ever succeed in materializing. Jerusalem will remain with us forever, and the Land of Israel will reach the boarders that God promised us. So it was and so will it be, and God will be with us. This is the message which Jerusalem's liberation carries for us. This is the message that Jerusalem Day delivers us as it links up with Independence Day, and fills it with spirit and soul.

"The word of God will stand forever"

At present, the national spirit is worn and something must be said. "Do not fear!" says the verse. What precedes this passage? "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of God will stand forever" (Isaiah 40:9). Why the broken spirit at present? Why are our hands irresolute? Do we not see that God has been guiding us continuously right up until present? Can we possibly be lacking the ability to sense and understand this? At that time, the period of Koresh's rule when Isaiah was prophesizing concerning the return from Babylon to Zion, there was a moment of awakening, during which Koresh was being referred to as Messiah. It appeared as if we were about to receive a state and everything that accompanies it. Then, suddenly, adversaries slandered and spoke against Jerusalem. Consequently, a royal decree was received, ordering the discontinuation of the building of the Holy Temple. It was then that Isaiah the Prophet spoke, saying, "Who are you that you fear a mortal man and the son of man who is made like grass?" (Isaiah 51:12). "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of God will stand forever." This is the lesson that we must remember today as well; this is the message of Jerusalem Day and Independence Day.

There are those who would like to fold up the Israeli flag and to diminish her borders in retreat. Yet, they are not aware of the true implications, that, as our sages teach: "flight is the beginning of the end." We must stand firm with the resolve of the eternity of Israel. That which was in our power until now will continue to be so.

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they who love you shall prosper" (Psalm 122:6). The peace of Jerusalem will be accompanied by the peace of all the Jews. May God place peace upon us, so that we merit witnessing the unification of hearts as we witnessed the unification of Jerusalem.

May God allow us the merit bringing the entirety of the People of Israel back to the entirety of the Land of Israel, speedily in our days, Amen.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Rav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Bamidbar 5771


BS"D Parashat Bamidbar 5771


A: Monday, the 19th of Iyar 5771

It is 2:00 PM and I am sitting in my study, peering out of the window onto the main square in the south-eastern part of the Old City of Yerushalayim, pondering the past, present and future.

The square holds the newly rebuilt Churva bet knesset (synagogue) with its imposing white dome. The square is where Jews congregate when coming to the Old City, from the very elderly to the very young, and unwittingly, the beautiful, uplifting words of the prophet Zecharya (8:3-8) comes to mind:

כה אמר ה' שבתי אל ציון ושכנתי בתוך ירושלם ונקראה ירושלם עיר האמת והר ה' צבאות הר הקדש:

כה אמר ה' צבאות עד ישבו זקנים וזקנות ברחבות ירושלם ואיש משענתו בידו מרב ימים:

ורחבות העיר ימלאו ילדים וילדות משחקים ברחבתיה:

כה אמר ה' צבאות כי יפלא בעיני שארית העם הזה בימים ההם גם בעיני יפלא נאם ה' צבאות:

כה אמר ה' צבאות הנני מושיע את עמי מארץ מזרח ומארץ מבוא השמש:

והבאתי אתם ושכנו בתוך ירושלם והיו לי לעם ואני אהיה להם לאלהים באמת ובצדקה:

Thus does HaShem say: "I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty, the Holy Mountain."

Thus does HaShem say: "Once again elderly men and women will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age.

The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there."

Thus does HaShem say: "It will seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, and seem marvelous to me," declares the LORD Almighty.

Thus does HaShem say: "I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west.

I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness."


On days like today, one can almost feel the closeness of the Mashiach. Because exactly 63 years ago on this day - the 19th of Iyar 1948 - the Old City of Yerushalayim fell to the Jordanian Legion under the command of Glubb Pasha, better known in his homeland England as Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb.


On this day 63 years ago, the two eminent batei knesset (synagogues) which distinguished the skyline of the Old City - the Churva and the Nisan Bak synagogue - were blown up, and in the ensuing days all the homes, yeshivot and Jewish property in general were destroyed.

Of the few defenders of the Old City, most were killed in the fighting. Those that survived wee taken prisoners.

So, I sit here in the comfort and serenity of my study, overlooking HaShem’s step-by-step return to Zion, through the laughter of the young boys and girls and sighs of nachat (nachas) from the elderly. The Churva is rebuilt, the Nisan Bak shul will soon be rebuilt, and the beautiful apartments are home to 600 families, with many hundreds of students attending the yeshivot and ulpanot here.

And a childhood memory comes to my mind (as I recorded in by book With All Your Might 2):

"The ‘Churva’ Synagogue is magnificent by any standard. Twice in the past, it was destroyed by Arabs. In 1724 by the locals, then rebuilt in 1864 by Am Yisrael, destroyed again in 1948 by the Jordanian Legion led by British officers.

I have a very personal connection with this bet knesset.

My father z"l was the rabbi of the Sha’arei Tefila synagogue in Flatbush. The synagogue’s main sanctuary was in use on Shabbat and holidays and the bet midrash on the lower floor was used for weekday services. On the eastern wall of the Bet Midrash was a beautiful fresco (oil mural painting directly on the wall) of the Old City of Yerushalayim.

When I was four years old, my father brought me to the bet midrash, seated me in front of the painting and said (perhaps prophetically), "This is your place".

The painting depicted the Jewish Quarter with all its interesting domes and intriguing alleyways, but the eye-catching subjects were the main synagogues - the Churva and Tiferet Yisrael (Nisan Bak synagogue).

At some point in my young life, I was determined that one day I would live there. In 1948, when I was 10 years old, I learned that the Old City had fallen and was destroyed by the enemy. The following morning, I went to pray at my regular place, but I could not imagine that everything I saw in the fresco was gone, taking with it my dream to live there one day.

The years came and went. In 1962 my wife and I came on Aliya (return to Israel). We would frequently go to Mount Zion from where it was possible to get a small glimpse of the old Jewish Quarter. Destruction - not a stone on a stone was left.

The Six Day War broke out on Monday June 5, 1967. Two days later, on Wednesday, the Israeli flag waved from atop the Temple Mount and, in the words of General Mota Gur when his troops reached the Mount, "Har Habayit Be’ya’daynu" - "The Temple Mount is in our hands."

A short time later, the government established the Company for the Reconstruction of the Jewish Quarter, and the mechanism was put in motion for the return of Jews to the Quarter.

My family merited by HaShem to move into the Quarter in 1976, in the fulfillment of my dream and my father’s statement to me many years ago, "This is your place."

The homes, yeshivot, shuls and shops were rebuilt, but the grand bet knesset "HaChurva" still lay in ruin and destruction.

This Tuesday, rosh chodesh Nisan 5770, after two days of ceremonies, the restored bet knesset was opened to the public for prayers. The huge breathtaking dome, the frescos, the glorious marble and stone works - I am certain that this will be the last imposing structure to be built in the Old City before the building of the Bet Hamikdash.

My wife and I went to the first minyan (prayer quorum) at 5:00 AM. There was not an empty seat in the building.

At the chazon’s (cantor) repetition during the shacharit (morning service) the Kohanim, myself included, ascended the bima (stage) to bless the assembled.

The Torah was taken out from the holy ark and placed on the reader’s table.

At that moment, I heard my name called out, "Harav Nachman ben Harav Yechezkel Shraga Hakohen", to be the first person called up to the Torah in 62 years.

As I approached the Torah, I envisioned that little boy sitting in front of the painting of the Churva long, long ago in time and far, far away in a foreign land, now being called as the first kohen to resume the holy service in the Bet Knesset, whose destruction by the Jordanians was to presumably end continuous Jewish presence in the Old City of Yerushalayim."

Yerushalayim is engraved in our souls, in our minds, in the oceans of blood that were shed by its Jewish defenders from the time of King David until the heroic battles of the Six Day War.

The holy city, with its many terms of endearment, is cited over 650 times in the TaNaCh (24 books of the Bible) and many times in our tefilot (prayers), while it is not mentioned even once in the unholy Koran, and was abandoned many centuries ago by the Christians in favor of Rome and other cities in Europe.

It was the hope of Jews over the last 80 generations to return to the city that housed the Holy Temples, the political capital of the Jewish commonwealths and as stated by our father Ya’akov (parashat vayaitzeh) "sha’ar ha’sha’mayim" - "Gateway to Heaven".

But, we are not alone in the desire to be the sovereigns over the Holy City.

The Christians of Europe, under the patronage of their Popes, embarked on crusades to conquer Jerusalem from the Moslems, while not neglecting to slaughter countless numbers of Jews on the way.

Upon arriving in Yerushalayim, the City of Peace, they slaughtered the Jews who were here, and laid down the religious-ideological platform which served as fertile ground for Hitler’s murderous orgy of six million Jews centuries later.

Islam sought and seeks to replace Yitzchak with Yishmael as the chosen one of HaShem. They too murdered many Jews in their desire to possess the Temple Mount, where Avraham was commanded to offer his son Yitzchak as a sacrifice, in their attempt to distort the Bible and the facts of history.

In our time, 63 years since the establishment of Medinat Yisrael, the religious leadership of Christianity and Islam are still in a state of shock and outrage at the Jewish people who not only refuse to die, but are returning to Eretz Yisrael to continue to cling to HaShem’s holy Torah.

Christians and Moslems will continue to apply political, economic and military coercion on the Medina in their mutual desire to prove that we are not HaShem’s chosen people. But as stated in parashat Shemot, the more the Egyptians dealt cruelly with the Jews the more did we increase; so too with our beloved Medina, the more pressure applied to us, the more we increase in every way.

This process will continue until a breaking point between Christianity and Islam. At that time, the differences between our enemies will come to the fore, and they will mutually destruct.

These are the thoughts that come to my mind as I sit in my study and perceive Hashem’s Hand at work, as He weaves the threads of history into the magnificent tapestry known as Jewish history.

B: Tuesday, the 20th of Iyar 5771

Today, our Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (ha’Levi) addressed a joint session of both houses of the US Congress.

It was a good speech coming from a man who is undeniably patriotic but whose patriotism is anchored in many waters except the most fundamental one - the Creator of heaven and earth demarcated the borders of the Holy Land and commanded the Jewish people to live in all its far flung areas. As in the words of the great RaMBaN (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman) in his comments on the Sefer HaMitzvot of the RaMBaM (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon):

שנצטווינו לרשת הארץ אשר נתן הא-ל יתעלה לאבותינו לאברהם ליצחק וליעקב ולא נעזבה ביד זולתנו מן האומות או לשממה

"We were commanded to inherit (to possess) the land that was given by God to our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov, and not to leave it (any portion of it) to any other peoples or even to lay it fallow."

But despite this "oversight" on the part of our PM, it was picked up by the Vice President of the United States who accorded it a very meaningful response. Right in his opening sentence, our PM turned to the Vice President and said nostalgically, "Mr. Vice President. Do you remember when we were the new guys on the block?" And the Veep smiled, and with his hand made a cross on his chest.

Our PM touched on all the right points, which when taken together add up to the impossible chance for peace between us and the Arab occupiers of our lands. His speech was politically correct not to bring up the matter of the lands which once belonged to the American Indians and to Mexico but were severed from them by brute force and are now occupied by a country called The United States of America.

Our PM was chosen by HaShem to present our case before the US Congress and the world - and I was not. But had I been so chosen I would have said something to the effect:

When a Jew presents a Halachic problem to a rabbi, the rabbi searches for the answer in our later halachic works, such as the Shulchan Aruch. If there is no reference to the matter in that Halachic literature, he turns to the responsa literature (She’ailot v’Tsuvot) of earlier rabbis. If the matter is not discussed by the earlier rabbis, or in the Mishna or Gemara (Talmud), the rabbi has no choice but to find some direction in the Torah (Bible) itself.

The great national dilemmas that are facing us today have, to my knowledge, no precedents in the Halachic literature, so we I turn to the incidents recorded in the Bible itself, and perhaps find some direction of thought.

This week’s Torah parasha, Bamidbar, records the preparations which were made in order to enable Am Yisrael to return to and settle the land of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov - Eretz Yisrael - on tribal lines. It was at that junction in our history, that the Jewish people who came from the far flung Auschwitzes, Treblinkas and Buchenwalds of the then Egypt as an unruly, undisciplined boisterous mob, re-discovered their family ties of the holy tribes of Reuven, Shimon, Levi etc.

We entered the land under the leadership of Yehoshua Bin Nun, defeated the Canaanites and distributed the land according to the method described in the Torah.

About 200 or so years after entering the land, the King of Amon, demanded the return of lands which were captured by the Jews on the eastern side of the Jordan before crossing the river, or face a bloody war.

Yiftach, who was the military and political leader at the time, rejected every one of the demands and went to war.

The Book of Judges (Shoftim chapter 11) relates:

וישלח יפתח מלאכים אל מלך בני עמון לאמר מה לי ולך כי באת אלי להלחם בארצי:

ויאמר מלך בני עמון אל מלאכי יפתח כי לקח ישראל את ארצי בעלותו ממצרים מארנון ועד היבק ועד הירדן ועתה השיבה אתהן בשלום:

ויוסף עוד יפתח וישלח מלאכים אל מלך בני עמון:

ויאמר לו כה אמר יפתח לא לקח ישראל את ארץ מואב ואת ארץ בני עמון:

כי בעלותם ממצרים וילך ישראל במדבר עד ים סוף ויבא קדשה:

וישלח ישראל מלאכים אל מלך אדום לאמר אעברה נא בארצך ולא שמע מלך אדום וגם אל מלך מואב שלח ולא אבה וישב ישראל בקדש:

וילך במדבר ויסב את ארץ אדום ואת ארץ מואב ויבא ממזרח שמש לארץ מואב ויחנון בעבר ארנון ולא באו בגבול מואב כי ארנון גבול מואב:

וישלח ישראל מלאכים אל סיחון מלך האמרי מלך חשבון ויאמר לו ישראל נעברה נא בארצך עד מקומי:

ולא האמין סיחון את ישראל עבר בגבלו ויאסף סיחון את כל עמו ויחנו ביהצה וילחם עם ישראל:

ויתן ה' אלהי ישראל את סיחון ואת כל עמו ביד ישראל ויכום ויירש ישראל את כל ארץ האמרי יושב הארץ ההיא:

ויירשו את כל גבול האמרי מארנון ועד היבק ומן המדבר ועד הירדן:

(כג( ועתה ה' אלהי ישראל הוריש את האמרי מפני עמו ישראל ואתה תירשנו:

הלא את אשר יורישך כמוש אלהיך אותו תירש ואת כל אשר הוריש ה' אלהינו מפנינו אותו נירש:

ועתה הטוב טוב אתה מבלק בן צפור מלך מואב הרוב רב עם ישראל אם נלחם נלחם בם:

בשבת ישראל בחשבון ובבנותיה ובערעור ובבנותיה ובכל הערים אשר על ידי ארנון שלש מאות שנה ומדוע לא הצלתם בעת ההיא:

ואנכי לא חטאתי לך ואתה עשה אתי רעה להלחם בי ישפט ה' השפט היום בין בני ישראל ובין בני עמון:

ולא שמע מלך בני עמון אל דברי יפתח אשר שלח אליו: פ

ותהי על יפתח רוח ה' ויעבר את הגלעד ואת מנשה ויעבר את מצפה גלעד וממצפה גלעד עבר בני עמון:

וידר יפתח נדר לה' ויאמר אם נתון תתן את בני עמון בידי:

והיה היוצא אשר יצא מדלתי ביתי לקראתי בשובי בשלום מבני עמון והיה לה' והעליתהו עולה: פ

ויעבר יפתח אל בני עמון להלחם בם ויתנם ה' בידו:

ויכם מערוער ועד בואך מנית עשרים עיר ועד אבל כרמים מכה גדולה מאד ויכנעו בני עמון מפני בני ישראל: פ

12 Then Yiftach sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: "What do you have against me that you have attacked my country?"

13 The king of the Ammonites answered Yiftach’s messengers, "When Israel came up out of Egypt, they took away my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, all the way to the Jordan. Now give it back peaceably."

14 Yiftach sent back messengers to the Ammonite king,

15 saying: "This is what Yiftach says: Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites.

16 But when they came up out of Egypt, Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and on to Kadesh.

17 Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, ‘Give us permission to go through your country,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. They sent also to the king of Moab, and he refused. So Israel stayed at Kadesh.

18 "Next they traveled through the wilderness, skirted the lands of Edom and Moab, passed along the eastern side of the country of Moab, and camped on the other side of the Arnon. They did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was its border.

19 "Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, ‘Let us pass through your country to our own place.’

20 Sihon, however, did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. He mustered all his troops and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel.

21 "Then the LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and his whole army into Israel’s hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country,

22 capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.

23 "Now since the LORD, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out before his people Israel, what right have you to take it over?

24 Will you not take what your god Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the LORD our God has given us, we will possess.

25 Are you any better than Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever quarrel with Israel or fight with them?

26 For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn’t you retake them during that time?

27 I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the LORD, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites."

28 The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Yiftach sent him.

29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came onYiftach. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites...

32 Then Jiphthach went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands.

33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.

My speech before Congress would have stressed the following points:

1- There is not, nor was there ever a nation called Palestinians.

2- The entire area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan and between the Jordan and the Euphrates is divinely given Jewish land, which is being occupied at the present time by non-Jews.

3- There will not be two political states, but only one - the State of Israel, where full citizen rights and privileges will be bestowed exclusively on Jews, with limited non-citizen privileges given to gentiles who could live here after declaring that the Holy Land is the exclusive possession of Am Yisrael.

4- There will begin mass building in Yerushalayim and in every area of Shomrom, Yehuda and the Golan, to meet the demands of millions of Jews who will soon join us.

5- Judaism is the only officially recognized religion. Non-Jewish Missionary work is prohibited with a death sentence imposed on perpetrators. All external signs of other religions i.e. statues, crosses mosques are banned.

I would not get the 31 standing ovations given to our PM, but it wouldn’t matter, because even if I would they would be muffled by the applause of infinite angels in the Shamayim.

Shabbat Shalom

Nachman Kahana


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Words of the Prophets Coming Alive

By Michael Fuah

"And the number of the Children of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, that cannot be measured and cannot be counted and instead of being said to them, 'You are not My nation," it will be said to them, "the children of the Living G-d."(From this week's haftarah, Hoseah 2:1)

We are in the days between Independence Day and Jerusalem Day. After two thousand years of exile, we are living to see the realization of the words of the prophets. The Nation of Israel is returning to its Land, and our Land, in turn, gives us its abundance.

Unexpectedly, though, the physical process of redemption is not immediately accompanied by a symmetrical spiritual awakening. This situation cannot continue and at a certain stage Israel must recognize the fact that it is G-d behind our success. The path to this consciousness can be very unpleasant, as Hosea describes later in this chapter. But there is a better alternative, in which the Nation of Israel recognizes G-d and motivated by love for Him, renews its conscious connection with Him, as described by Hosea in the verses that follow.

There is also a third possibility, in Hosea chapter 3:
"For many days the Children of Israel will dwell, there will be no king, no minister, no ritual sacrifice, no pillar and no ephod and trafim. Then the Children of Israel will return and seek Hashem their G-d and David their king and they will come trembling to Hashem and His goodness in the end of days."

The feeling of emptiness and void will motivate the Nation of Israel to seek spiritual meaning for their unique existence in the world. We have the merit and the obligation to choose the path upon which we can complete the spiritual process of redemption. Let us choose the proper course of action and pray that we will accomplish this in joy and in the correct manner!

Shabbat Shalom

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dear Limor (redux)

(editor's note: This post has been updated and rerun from the previous April posting due to the events surrounding the shloshim to mark the brutal murder Ben Yosef Livnat, HY"D).

Dear Limor:

First and foremost I wish you raichumim (condolences) on the brutal and savage murder of your nephew, Ben Yosef Livnat. This week marked the shloshim or 30 days since his brutal murder. I did not know him but the passing of any young Jewish soul is tragic and all the more so because of the senseless, hateful act that took him. Your sentiments at the time were absolutely correct. This was cold-blooded murder, pure and simple by terrorists who happened to be wearing police uniforms. No excuse of lack of coordination can condone the act of "shoot first and ask questions later" especially when the subjects are four Breslov Chasidim who only wanted to pray at Kever Yosef (Joseph's Tomb).

Do not expect any justice in this situation. The lies that were propagated was that this was an "unauthorized infiltration" that the Jews threw stones, that settlers are not normal people, etc., etc. There will be no justice. No suspects will be found or if they are, they will be given a mock trial under "Palestinian Justice", sentenced immediately to an upscale prison or hotel and then found to have mysteriously escaped when someone left the door/window open with keys in the waiting car. No, there will be no justice for Ben Yosef Livnat from the Arabs unless Israel decides to enforce it. And this, as you are well aware is doubtful at best as Israel is loathe to enforce its sovereign rights to protect Jewish worshipers as Jewish holy sites such as Joesph's Tomb or Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount) while allowing Arabs, Christians, Druze etc., full and unrestricted access to their sites. It was not enough that your nephew was killed and the other three wounded. No, in an orgy of unrestrained replacement theology, the Tomb was set on fire after the murder and the dome on top painted green.

As you may be aware, the holiday of Pesach that we celebrated some five weeks ago documents the only time in history one nation was born while in the clutches of another. The nation of Israel was born despite the servitude to the Egyptians. Now of course, this was a miraculous occurrence via Gd and yet the government you sit in (along with those that came before them) are insisting in doing its version of imitatio dei by trying to birth an illegitimate Palestinian state carved out of the living heart of Israel (please see Gandhi, re:Pakistan from India for more information). The horrific murder of your nephew along with the recent butchering of the Fogel family should give you and the current Likud leadership pause in what your Prime Minister just proposed to the US Congress. The rationale of course being that if we don't do it ourselves, the world will do something worse (see Sharon and the rationale for the Gaza retreat that Israel is still paying for).

It was a disgrace of national proportions this week when a planned visit to Shechem of various Knesset MK’s to commemorate the shloshim was cancelled because the IDF feared Arab threats of rioting and could not guarantee the safety of these MK’s. To quote INN, “Yesha Council head Danny Dayan was reminded of the shameful and tragic incident in 2000, in which an Arab mob overran the Tomb and ransacked it. A wounded IDF soldier, Medhat Yousef, was left behind at the tomb rather than risk a large scale confrontation with the mob. The PA promised to rescue him but did not, and Yousef bled to death”. And “Samaria local authority head Gershon Mesika said that it is “absurd and unacceptable” that "the political leadership prevents the IDF from exercising Israeli sovereignty and guarding Knesset members who wish to pray at a spot like the Tomb of Joseph because of sundry threats”. Strangely, you have been very silent on all this.

Limor, the sad reality is that Israel has no peace partners. It has people with a mythical nationality given legitimacy by a series of mistakes and weakness of successive Israeli leaders. And most of these people, as studies regularly show, want nothing more than to push the Jews into the sea. The more you give, the more they want and the more they murder. Israel must stand on its own feet but in order to do that, it will need the leadership with the will to be strong against the pressure that the world will bring, especially in light of the Arab world meltdown that is currently playing itself out. That leadership is to be found inside the Likud embodied in a man that because of bad advice from those around you, you tried to eject from the Likud. It may now be time to embrace that man as you did when his son lay critically injured in the hospital.

May you and your family only know simchot (happiness) in the future. And may you find the strength to do what needs to be done to insure Israel's survival continued growth towards the true Jewish state.

The Arab Spring is a Great Opportunity for Israel

By Moshe Feiglin

21 Iyar, 5771
May 25, '11

Translated from the Makor Rishon newspaper

There is a strange factor common to the developing revolutions in the Arab world: They present no real alternative to the existing regime; no ayatollah in exile in Paris is waiting to take the reins of government in any particular country.

The 22 pseudo-states that the West established in the Arabian expanse - states that never really functioned - are simply crumbling before our eyes. Everybody is waiting to see what will develop, but there is just one possibility that is not being considered: The possibility that nothing will develop. In other words, it could be that what we are witnessing is not a process of change - and certainly not a democratic spring, but rather a process of disintegration. It could be that no other national regime will replace the regimes that have fallen or are falling and that the house of cards that somehow functioned for the 70 years since the British and French left the Middle East will simply collapse in a cloud of dust, to be replaced by the old tribal disarray.

It is now approximately seventy years since the notion of artificially attaching state-nation status to Arabian tribes was invented. It has held up for about the same amount of time that the Soviet Union prevailed, and it seems that it will end the same way that Bush's attempt to suture democracy to the Iraqis ended. It will be quite comical to see how the UN will decide to establish an additional Arab state in September, when the 22 others are in advanced stages of collapse.

What does all of this portend for Israel? Great danger and an even greater opportunity.

If we can internalize the fact that we are facing one, large, tribal Arab nation that does not think in terms of national sovereignty, but rather in terms of religious sovereignty, we will be able to develop a completely new foreign policy. The question is not where our border with Syria will lie, but what dominant forces will rule the region.

If when the dust settles, all that will be left of the Arab states is one large Moslem expanse, there is no doubt that Ahmadinijad, Erdogan and other good meaning fellows will be more than happy to stand at the top of the new Moslem caliphate that will stretch from the Euphrates to the Nile. Somehow, I think that this is exactly what they are considering right now. Historically, both these nations have ruled the Mid-East.

September is not the danger. September is simply a milestone in the process of surrounding Israel. The collapse of the Arab state structure will release potent energy and re-arrange the way things have worked until now. Every ruler who will attempt to unite the Arab world around him will use the one proven method to achieve his goal: hatred of Israel.

The economically shaky Western world will want its foothold in the oil-rich expanse and will come to the aid of the Palestinians. If Obama will be re-elected, he will have no qualms about creating a peace coalition that will set sail in our direction. The dissenting congressmen in Washington will not impress him much. Here in Israel the leftist elites will be waiting for the Obama flotilla with open arms.

We can prevent this entire horror movie from playing itself out if we go on the diplomatic offensive. In the immediate political sense, Likud MK Danny Danon's proposal to declare Israeli sovereignty over the settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria is an excellent place to begin and has the backing of many other Likud MKs.

Nationally, we have to internalize the fact that there is life after America. Israel is a regional power in its own right. It is stronger both militarily and economically than any other force opposing it and can extract an intolerable price from any nation in the world that will threaten its sovereignty.

The world will "do business" with whoever takes regional responsibility and knows how to protect itself from external threats. How does America relate to leaders who do not do so? Just ask Mubarak.

Rav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Bechukotei 5771

BS"D Parashat Bechukotei 5771

It was in 1967, two days after reading parashat Bechukotei that the Six Day War erupted. Two days after that, on Wednesday, HaShem restored the holy city of Yerushalayim to its rightful owners - the Jewish people. Two days after that, on Friday, all the area east of the Jordan River was liberated by the holy soldiers of Medinat Yisrael. and the following day, Shabbat, the entire Golan Heights was liberated.

Forty three years later, on Thursday, two days before parashat Bechukotei, Barak Hussein Obama, the US President, faced the world and declared that we must relinquish the holy soil of Eretz Yisrael that was liberated with the blood and courage of our holy soldiers.

Every Jew in whose veins flows the blood of those who stood at the foot of Mount Sinai when HaShem declared that we are His chosen people, is devastated at the very thought that the major areas of the TaNach could be Judenrein, when handed over to those who openly declare that they would finish what Hitler began.

But like all things in life we try to find a Torah source for what occurs.

Not what Obama is saying interest us. What is essential is what HaShem is telling us through the words of this man.

So I submit.

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 97b) quotes the great Tanna Rabbi Yehoshua who says:

הקדוש ברוך הוא מעמיד להן מלך שגזרותיו קשות כהמן, וישראל עושין תשובה ומחזירן למוטב.

HaShem appoints (over the Jewish people) a king who decrees are as brutal as those of Haman, and the Jews will do teshuva and return to the ways of the Torah.

No one can predict the future. It is possible that Obama is not the man referred to by Rabbi Yehoshua and his words will pass by like last year’s snow. But it is possible that he was sent by HaShem to place the Jews in Eretz Yisrael in the impossible position, beyond borders which Abban Eban once called "Auschwitz Borders."

If the time that Rabbi Yehoshua referred to has indeed arrived, Jewish suffering will not be limited to us in Eretz Yisrael; it will be felt by every Jew in the world because the purpose of this evil is to bring the Jews to teshuva. And teshuva for Jews in the galut is their return to the holy land of Eretz Yisrael.

Nachman Kahana

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Jewish Response to President Obama by Moshe Feiglin

Lag Ba'omer 5771 / May 22, '11

This film is in Hebrew with English subtitles.
English transcript of film below.

A Jewish Response to President Obama

President Obama,

In your speech to the people of the Middle East, you referred time and again to the principle of liberty. It is on this principle that you aim to base US policy in our region; a region that you rightly defined as the cradle of human culture.

Your words reflected your understanding that it is not only humanity's past that is bound up with this area, but its future, as well. The instability in the Middle East generates great danger for humanity, perhaps the greatest danger since World War II. The fate of humanity is inextricably linked to the expanse upon which Abraham, our forefather, started out on his trek to human liberty. As such, America's attempt to stabilize our region on the foundation of these values is commendable.

Yes, the Nation of Israel and the American nation share very deep values. But as you mentioned, these shared values must not prevent us from telling the truth. And the truth, as every Christian and Moslem well knows, is that the entire Land of Israel belongs exclusively to the Nation of Israel. The Creator promised it time and again to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – to them and their descendants.

The simple truth is that there is not a "Palestinian nation" and there never has been. Under every stone that you turn over in the Promised Land, you will find remnants of the history of the Nation chosen by the Creator to proclaim His message of liberty. In no place in the Holy Land will you find "Palestinian" history, simply because it does not and never did exist.

If liberty is truly what you want for the nations in our region, you must understand that genuine liberty cannot be founded on falsehood. There is truth, with which most Americans identify and which they sense; and there is falsehood, which they abhor. There is good to which the unique American nation wishes to cling, and there is evil, which it wishes to eliminate.

The American nation did not hesitate to dance in the streets when the evil Bin Laden was eliminated. Values like peace and liberty cannot thrive on a foundation of falsehood and surrender to evil. He who desires these values must be capable of clinging to the truth, and if necessary, of fighting evil.

You demand of the Nation of the Bible, of the nation chosen by G-d from amongst all the nations, the nation to which G-d gave the Land of Israel from which to proclaim liberty to the entire world – to retreat from the heartland of the Promised Land. You demand that we leave the proclamation that is supposed to emerge from Zion in the hands of those who invented the suicide bomber! In the hands of those who went out to celebrate in the streets when Bin Laden destroyed the Twin Towers! In the hands of a culture that sanctifies death!

Do you honestly believe that this is what will bring peace to the world?

Please note, Mr. Obama, that before we, the Israelis, succumbed to American pressure and recognized the Arab demands on the Land of Israel in the Oslo Accords, the world had never heard of a suicide bomber. From the moment that this culture of death got a foothold in Jerusalem – the genie was out of the bottle. There, on the White House lawn, the fate of the Twin Towers was sealed.

How then, should the free world relate to the situation in the Middle East?

The attempt to suture democracy to Islamic Arab culture has led to a horrifying trail of blood and has accelerated the economic downturn in your country. Wouldn't it be wise to learn this lesson before another attempt to duplicate it with the rest of the Arab nations? Why do you think that what was a resounding failure in Iraq will succeed with the other Arab nations, whose Islamic culture is diametrically opposed to the values of liberty?

We must make an honest attempt to understand the significance of the events and changes in the Middle East, to admit the truth to ourselves and to act in accordance with reality - and not with wishful thinking.

Yes, the popular uprisings in the Arab countries have engendered amazement and global sympathy. But historical precedent and the reality on the ground show that this process will likely result in an outcome completely opposite to what you are trying to effectuate. The revolution that brought Khomeini to power in Iran also began with freedom-seeking young people, and we all saw how that culminated. Today, as well, we can clearly sense where the current revolution in Egypt is leading. It is steering Egypt to more religious extremism, to the undermining of the peace accords, to mass demonstrations of hatred outside the Israeli embassy, to the empowerment of the Moslem Brotherhood and Islamic fundamentalism – that all have nothing to do with the values of liberty.

All the revolutions taking place now in Arab states are missing the main actor – the alternative. There is no Khomeini waiting in Paris to take the reins of government, as there was thirty years ago in Iran. All the current revolutions aim to overthrow the existing regime, but offer no alternative regime. If elections do take place there, it is completely clear that they will be a one time affair, because the winners will be the most extreme Moslem factors.

It is very likely, Mr. Obama, that we are not witnessing an Arab spring. It is more reasonable to assume that we are witnessing the disintegration of the Arab nation-states. The modern structure of nation-state that was forced upon the nations of the region by the powers that won World War I never really fit with Islamic culture. It could very well be that our region is simply returning to its natural structure; a tribal Moslem expanse – Dar al Islam as they define it, instead of the national political expanse that the Western nations attempted to create for it.

The vacuum that is being created is an irresistible enticement for rulers like Ahmadinijad. The modern-day Hitler is already planning the new Islamic caliphate that will stretch under his control from the Euphrates to the Nile, including the Land that G-d promised to Abraham.

Mr. Obama, there is no chance that with your approach, the United States will be able to stop this process. With the course that you are leading, the free world will rapidly find itself facing an Iranian Middle East. From this horror scenario, it is just a short distance to a terrible war that will encompass the entire world. You may want peace, but I regret to tell you that just like Chamberlain, you are also pushing the world down a slippery slope to the most horrifying of wars.

Only a significant force that will extend its influence over the area, motivated by a set of values opposite to those that Iran is attempting to dictate; only an entity that is here to stay and not to flee after another failed attempt at Arab democracy – can save the free world from this nightmare.

There is a force like that in the Middle East. There is a nation in the region that is here for eternity; a nation that miraculously returned to its Land after 2000 years of exile; precisely as our G-d promised in His Torah - and our prophets - throughout the Bible.

Israel's tremendous contribution to humanity; its contribution of values, technology and security – is immeasurable. Israel is the strongest power in the Middle East – economically, militarily and most importantly – ethically, Israel is the most just and strong.

So, Mr. Obama, before you pressure Israel to relinquish the Promised Land to the Arabs, it is important for you to look at the wondrous Jewish history and to understand that if the US wants to succeed, it must stand at Israel's side. The flip side of that is that every action that opposes the Creator's promise to His Nation – will bring about catastrophe.

"And I will bless those who bless you," said the Creator to Abraham. This is the secret of America's success to date. "And those who curse you I will curse," G-d adds and warns.

The Creator's promise to His Nation will be completely fulfilled – and we will yet see the Holy Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – there is no doubt about that.

All that is left is for me to bless your nation: May you be wise enough not to pressure Israel. May you free our brother, Jonathan Pollard, who has been imprisoned in your country for half a Jubilee. And in the future, may you stand on the blessed side of G-d's promise to Abraham.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Parashat Hashavuah: What Remains When All Is Lost?

Harav Shaul Yisraeli - from Siach Shaul, pg. 352-353

[This sermon was delivered toward the end of World War II, when a stark picture of what was happening in Europe was taking form. The combination of the period and a parasha foreboding destruction are fertile ground for harsh soul-searching and very relevant to what is happening today.]

“And even with all of this… I [Hashem] did not despise them and rid Myself of them to destroy them” (Vayikra 26:44). The midrash(Yalkut Shimoni, Bechukotai 675) asks: what consolation it is for Israelto not be despised if all their blessings are taken away from them? It answers that they are left with the Torah.

What is left for us, and what purpose do we have in life? What is the value of the signs of a reawakening in Israel if the all of the life-sources of our nation are destroyed with such barbarianism and venom? Is there a purpose for our hopes and indeed for our lives? May we take comfort in anything or is that dancing on the graves? In fact, we have but one consolation – the Torah.

While so many gifts were taken from us and smashed cruelly with millions of Jewish lives, there is one thing that was not taken away from us, and in some ironic measure, was even returned. Granted, it was not returned in a gentle manner, but it was returned, as we will explain. There was a time when the nations of the world claimed that they have a nicer theology than we have. Some claimed that our sense of morality was insufficient, and that there was a need for a more complete person than the Jew. Now it is all clear. The ruthless killing machines of our enemies have returned things to their previous status, as the masquerade of our rivals’ challenge to our moral status has been removed.

A world that is divided into murderers and those who stand idly by with cynicism, arrogance, and chutzpa as blood is being spilled cannot be the proper world. Our entire life and soul cannot agree to such a thing. We believe that man was given a lofty soul that goes far beyond base instincts. This belief brings us to believe in a Creator and Leader of the world. It can be no other way. If so, matters are different. We should not allow our spirits to drop because of the torture our nation is undergoing. If the evil can see success, then certainly we can see success. If those who follow His word can be afflicted, then certainly those who violate His word will have to pay the price (see Bereishit Rabba 65:22). We may have to wait with the patience of steel, grit our teeth, and look for better days in the future. We still have the Torah, and we know more clearly than ever what the source of the hatred toward us is. We know why we need to suffer and that the day of redemption is close.

“If in the path of My statutes you shall go” (Vayikra 26:3) refers to the statutes upon which Hashem created the heavens and earth (Vayikra Rabba 35:4). The laws of the Torah are the laws upon which the world was created, and the world will be built based on Torah. If we do not understand the earlier stages of world history, at some future point all will become clear.