Thursday, May 31, 2012

All Jews are Equal

By Elitzur Segal

Illustration courtesy of The Temple Institute

This week's Torah portion, Naso, is the longest in the Torah. The length is due to the fact that the Torah itemizes all the gifts brought by the prince of each tribe to the dedication of the Holy Tabernacle. Each of the 12 princes brought the same gifts. Why couldn't the Torah write the list once, indicating that these gifts were brought by each of the 12 princes?

In repeating the gifts of each of the princes, the Torah emphasizes that every Jew is equally important. Every tribe has its own role to play. Even though they may look the same, each tribe's contribution is essential and unique.

The same is true of individuals. The Torah commands every Jew to bring a half shekel to the Tabernacle: no more and no less. We are all part of the whole and we are all equal before G-d in His Temple. This is the message of the equality of the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Shabbat Shalom

Likud Members Concerned Over Sharon-Style Split by Netanyahu

Israel National News: 26 Iyar 5772 (May 18, '12)

Likud Members Concerned Over Sharon-Style Split by Netanyahu
By Elad Benari
Likud members expressed concerns on Thursday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may split the Likud party and perhaps even join Kadima.

The concerns were raised after Netanyahu decided to postpone a Knesset vote on a bill for legalizing Jewish outposts and disputed neighborhoods. The vote on the bill had been scheduled for Wednesday but Netanyahu, who objects to the bill, refused to allow ministers to vote freely on the issue, a fact which would have caused the bill not to pass.

One of the disputed neighborhoods is the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El, which the Supreme Court recently ruled must be demolished by July 1. Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz, now a minister in Netanyahu's government, has already said that he opposes a law that would ensure that the residents the Ulpana neighborhood could remain in their homes.

Likud Minister Dan Meridor has also said that the neighborhood must be torn down and that legalization is not an option.

Moshe Feiglin, the Chairman of the Manhigut Yehudit faction of the Likud, told Arutz Sheva that while there are only rumors of a potential split in the Likud at this point, they are substantiated. Such a split would be similar to the move by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who broke away from the Likud in the face of intense internal opposition and formed Kadima, in order to push through the unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005.

“There has been talk in the Likud of the possibility of such a split,” said Feiglin. “This is a general feeling that transcends sectors and camps within the Likud. Netanyahu could take Likud to a similar place as Sharon did.”

He added, “I hope I'm wrong and that these fears are false, but we need to also prepare for this possibility. We must not be caught surprised.”

Sharon’s split from the Likud caused it to collapse and achieve only 12 seats in the 2006 elections. Under Netanyahu’s leadership the party recovered and rose to 27 seats in 2009.

Feiglin encouraged all Likud supporters to request clarifications from Likud ministers regarding a potential split.

“We must ask at every meeting with Likud members of Knesset to publicly commit that they will remain in the Likud,” he said. “It is important that the leaders know that the party is what gave them their jobs, this understanding is important. Unfortunately Sharon became a bit dizzy, and I hope this never happens to Netanyahu.

Feiglin noted that Netanyahu “has many rights, is a talented man and I'm not saying he is planning such a move right now, but we should nevertheless be prepared. We’ve seen such a scenario happen before."

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Naso 5772

Parashat Naso 5772
A message to the young Jewish adults in the galut
אוירא דארעא דישראל מחכים
"The very air of Eretz Yisrael makes one wise" (Zohar)
My last message related to the tens of thousands of frum, chareidi Jews who congregated in Met’s Stadium to discuss the spiritual dangers of the internet. A gentleman who was present at the occasion informed me that women were excluded from the event. To my query, "How would women know what was discussed there?" he answered very seriously, "It’s all on the internet"!
We, the smartest people HaShem has forged in His world, act, at times, very strangely and indeed foolishly. Forgetting the unfortunate "oversight" of that holy assembly to at least mention that it was the 45th anniversary of the reunification of Yerushalayim, tens of thousands of Jews, led by influential religious leaders, cast aside their Jewish sensitivities of tzniut (modesty). While the matter of bitul Torah (wasting precious time that otherwise could be used for Torah study) is certainly a problem in which internet plays a role, the major issue is pornography. A community that values modesty treats these problems with embarrassment and definitely in private. It does not announce to the world that the chareidi community is plagued with this depravity.
In my opinion, this conduct cannot be labeled as anything less than insensitive and less than intelligent behavior.
Now the question is: What causes otherwise clever people to do very unclever things?
The Torah states (Devarim 4:9)
רק השמר לך ושמר נפשך מאד פן תשכח את הדברים אשר ראו עיניך ופן יסורו מלבבך כל ימי חייך והודעתם לבניך ולבני בניך:
Take heed of yourself, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes saw, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of thy life; but make them known unto your children and your children's children.
To which Rashi comments:
If you will remember the mitzvot and abide by them, you will be considered to be wise; however, if you forget them you will be considered as fools.
There are other areas in our lives that make us look less than intelligent. Specifically: On the day following a Yom Tov (a festival) which is a regular work day in Eretz Yisrael, when we drive our cars, shop and do all the other things that daily life demands, we witness tourists from abroad who extend the last day of the festival, as if they were in Cleveland, Las Vegas and all other locations in the galut.
There are three halachic opinions regarding Yom Tov observance for tourists in Eretz Yisrael.
Some authorities state that a tourist acts no differently than a resident of Eretz Yisrael and keeps one day. Others say that a tourist acts just as if he was in the galut, keeping two days, and a third opinion states that a tourists acts as he was in the galut, except that on the last day one dons tefillin.
When people ask me what to do, I give the three opinions and say that since there is no overriding authority as to which opinion is to be accepted, you may choose the one you wish, but you must be consistent.
Most chareidim choose the severe opinion and act in accordance to what they do in the galut, but they forget a very important detail.
When King Achasverosh returned from his walk in the garden and found that Haman, in an attempt to save his life, had fallen on the bed where Esther was reclining, the King said in rage, "Do you wish to conquer the Queen even when I am present in the palace?!"
When in Eretz Yisrael, if one feels it necessary to act in accordance with the customs of the galut, it must be done privately, with an insular minyan and a feeling of embarrassment. To walk the streets with a machzor in your hand making your way to say kiddush in a hotel, is to violate the honor of Eretz Yisrael, no less than what Haman did while the King himself was in the palace.
This, too, is part of the less than intelligent syndrome that the galut imposes on its victims.
The words of Rashi, "If you will remember the mitzvot and abide by them, you will be considered to be wise; however, if you forget them you will be considered as fools," ring loud and clear. To forget the Land, or to consciously disregard the return to our Promised Land, or to come as tourists and behave as if in the galut is a regression in Jewish intelligence.
But the most unintelligent, contradictory behavior occurs in shuls, yeshivot, and homes across the lands of the galut when three times every weekday, they beseech HaShem in the Amidah (shmoneh esray): "Blessed are You HaShem, who gathers in the dispersed of His nation Israel." What are they waiting for? That HaShem should provide each one with a private jet or yacht to Eretz Yisrael!
In birkat hamazon (grace after meals) they thank HaShem for granting the Jewish people, "a desired, a good and abundant land." For what purpose? To visit?!
But then the 140+ I.Q., which is not uncommon in our people, invented the way to circumvent these minute technical details, by factoring into the spiritual equation the Mashiach element - that no one may, or needs to leave, the divine galut until HaShem sends the Mashiach.
I have reason to believe that many readers will take objection to what I have written. They will claim that it is audacious, brazen and arrogant to criticize the Jews in the galut in such a way.
But let me explain. My wife and I came to Eretz Yisrael in 1962. It was a poor, besieged, and underpopulated country of about 2 million Jews. Now, after having lived in the Medina for half a century, we now number 6 million Jews (over half the halachic Jews in the world), and after military victories which can compete with any of the miracles in the Tanach, and experiencing the Torah’s growth and the development of this great land, the only conclusion has to be that the hand of God is upon His people in Eretz Yisrael.
So how can a believing Jew stay away?
Moshe Rabbeinu stated (Devarim 32:6)
לה' תגמלו זאת עם נבל ולא חכם הלוא הוא אביך קנך הוא עשך ויכננך:
Is this the way you repay the Lord, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?
Moshe did not say that the people of his time were evil. He said that after seeing all of HaShem’s wonders performed for them, their conduct was "foolish and unwise".
It is a common expression stated in the Zohar and many other sources that:
"אוירא דארעא דישראל מחכים
"The very air of Eretz Yisrael makes one wiser"
And its converse: The very air of galut makes a Jew act foolish.
I am directing this week’s message to the young adults in the galut. Come home! Granted, life in Israel is challenging. But here you can make your mark while living a full Jewish life, with the knowledge that you have closed the book on your 2000-year exile.
Life is a continuous chain of difficult choices. After the agonizing struggle for clarity and the choice having been made, implementation is usually relatively easy. History has shown time and again, that the galut is a terminal black hole for the Jewish people. It draws one into a destructive future, ending in eventual spiritual assimilation or physical tragedy.
On the festival of Shavuot, we read the Book of Ruth. The Midrash states (7:1):
אמר רבי ברכיה... בעז עשה את שלו ורות עשתה את שלה ונעמי עשתה את שלה, אמר הקב"ה אף אני אעשה את שלי
Rabbi Berachya said: Boaz did what was required of him. Ruth did what was required of her. Naomi did what was required of her. And the Holy One Be He said, "Now I shall do what is required of me."
Now the big question. Don’t look to your parents. Don’t look to your rabbis. Look into your own Jewish conscience. Are you doing what is required of you as a Jewish man or woman, in this extraordinary time in the history of our nation?
Do you want the God of Israel to consider you wise or foolish?
Shabbat Shalom
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5772/2012 Nachman Kahana

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

From Yad Vashem Zionism to Temple Zionism

By Moshe Feiglin

9 Sivan, 5772
May 30, '12

Translated from the Makor Rishon newspaper

Some people still think that the reason that our national train continues to speed down the Oslo track is because of the people at the helm. Begin surrendered the Sinai Peninsula because he was tricked. Netanyahu hugged Arafat because he is pliable. Sharon destroyed Gush Katif because he is corrupt. And the list goes on. But the truth is just the opposite. The Right continues to slide down the slippery slope of the "peace process" not because of the weakness of its leaders but despite the fact that its leaders are eminently capable. Who can compare to Menachem Begin's dedication to the Nation of Israel? Who is a greater war hero and builder of the Land than Sharon? And can we really compare the human gallery that the other parties have to offer to the talent of Binyamin Netanyahu? Netanyahu likes to boast of the achievements of his ministers, and he is right. The executive arm of this government is functioning well and Israel enjoys one of the most professional and effective governments that it has ever known.

We should not be searching for the failure of the Right in its chosen leaders, but rather in its ideology. The ideology of the classic Right must ultimately drag it to destruction. For the political Right is the right hand of Zionism. And Zionism's current creed, that it "has no connection to religion" is really much more appropriate to the Left than to the Right. That is the root of the reason why Zionist legitimacy remains with the Left despite the fact that the majority of Israelis are rightist and traditional.

What was the idea, the tremendous force that established the State of Israel against all odds? What was the spirit that restored the Nation of Israel to history? It was the shaking off of religion that was considered – justifiably – to be the noose hanging the Jew above reality, never allowing the Jewish Nation to connect with the ground under its feet.

And here I must provide a short explanation for those readers who have raised an eyebrow: When the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the national Jewish connection to reality was sundered. The Temple, the perfection of the world in the Kingdom of the Almighty, is the ultimate purpose of our national existence; it is also the axis around which the daily lives of the individual and the collective revolved. The Temple provided a timeline, the thrice yearly ascent to Jerusalem, an entire annual cycle of life.

Jewish sovereignty without the Temple is like a state without a capital, a parliament, national holidays – without anything. Religion in its present configuration was the most successful start-up in history; the virtualization of the Nation of Israel; it was the preservation of its national existence outside reality until its return to Zion and the building of the Temple.

But in the course of 2,000 years the virtualization became an existential consciousness. The Lamentations that we recite on the 9th of Av have their set place on our bookshelves, ready and waiting for the next year. The Mashiach has been transformed from the symbol of vibrant Judaism interacting with every level of reality into a non-intrusive Santa Clause who makes no demands. And who is also the greatest delayer of the coming of the Mashiach.

The Zionists who cut the religion umbilical cord suddenly felt the earth under their feet; they sensed it responding to the national flexing of muscles. Suddenly, we were a normal nation. A monumental redemptive energy that was suppressed for 2,000 years burst forth after the disconnection from religion. That energy carried the Zionist revolution on its back. It inflated the sails of the ship until after the Yom Kippur War, Entebbe and the Right's victory in the 1977 elections - and that was the end.

It was only logical that when the Zionist spirit dissipated, it was specifically the Right that led the great retreats. For while Begin did retain the strong nationalism of Jabotinsky, what connection did he have to the Sinai? Not the Left's plow and not the Bible. He hurriedly called upon Laborites Moshe Dayan and Ezer Weitzman to join him so that he would enjoy legitimacy for the move that looked like the end of Zionism, but was really its natural outcome; the actualization of the dream of normalcy. The self-destruction mechanism built in to Zionism was triggered. IDF bulldozers destroyed an entire chain of settlements in the Sinai. Now they are on their way to Ulpana Hill. Moshe Dayan was replaced by Ehud Barak, Weitzman by Shaul Mofaz – the principle was determined then.

When the floodgates were opened by Begin, the Left had nothing to do but to become more and more radical. So in a right-left-right-left movement – the right hand dismantling and the left hand pushing and pulling - Zionism was pushed closer and closer to the edge of the abyss.

In truth, when G-d is outside the game, this is the only possible outcome. We can consider ourselves great heroes, real "killers" who will always defeat the entire world. But there is a limit to how much the lone sheep can continue to live surrounded by all the wolves.

Much more important: When there was (Zionist) spirit, the pre-State Palmach fighter thought that he would always prevail – and he was right. But when Zionism melted and G-d remained outside, the only thing that brings the people out into the streets is the lower price of Israeli chocolate in London, normal and comfortable existence and nothing beyond that. When no alternative leadership holds up a vision of destiny, the only thing the public can expect from the leadership is to calm the situation at any price; to sustain its connection to the world; to preserve normalcy; to neutralize any landmines that may smear our uniqueness right back into our faces. Simply put, the public expects its leaders to retreat, retreat and retreat from any possible battlefront. Ulpana Hill, security prisoners, Ahmadinijad, the Shalit deal: Without destiny, all that is left is to retreat to the constantly shrinking remnants of existence.

Now we have the broadest coalition ever in Israel searching for meaning. It wants maximum governability and minimum destiny; maximum economy and security and minimum international legitimacy.

It is not the leaders of the Right. It is much bigger than them. It is the spirit that is missing. We must progress from the Zionism of existence to the Zionism of destiny; from Zionism of Holocaust memorial Yad-Vashem to Zionism of the Temple. 

Time for Mr. Netanyahu to Speak

By Tuvia Brodie

Is Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an observant, Shomer Torah U'Mitzvah, G-d fearing man? We don’t know.  He does not appear in public doing anything ‘religious’, other than the occasional photo-op for an observant audience or a Jewish holiday.

Why is he silent about his religion?

The Jerusalem Post reports (May 25, 2012) that Mr Netanyahu recently hosted a Bible-study group to analyze the Book of Ruth just days before the holiday of Shavuot. During that meeting, he spoke of the Bible as “a parable for humanity”.  Does this mean that he understands the connection between G-d and the Jewish nation? We don’t know.

We know very little about our Prime Minister’s religious belief. He certainly doesn’t talk about it. Besides a few remarks here or there, and some standard references we occasionally see, this Jewish leader of the world’s only Jewish state appears before the world completely silent about his G-d.  Why is it that the last person to publicly invoke G-d's name in the Knesset stating that Israel's existence is testimony to G-d's promise was former United States President George W. Bush?


How many people in the world believe in G-d—three-an-a-half billion? Every one of these individuals believes that G-d exists. They believe that someday they will see miracles. They believe in prophecies that will, they hope, come true. They hunger for a G-d who is real. They hunger for a G-d like ours, One who literally turns His Prophesies into reality--through the miracles associated with modern Israel. Doesn’t it therefore make sense that the leader of such a people should speak to the world of such a G-d?

Who else can offer so much proof that their G-d keeps His Promise?

The world hungers for such a G-d.

As a result of the creation of modern Israel, we have become the world’s political focal point—and our Jerusalem attracts the attention of three-a-half billion G-d-seeking people. Both Israel and Jerusalem are universal icons. The nations cannot stop talking about either one.  They seem fully aware of what the G-d of Israel has wrought. They look to Israel. They look to Jerusalem.  We are the epicentre of their religious universe.

This is the pulpit that Mr Netanyahu stands upon. He commands the world’s attention. Why does he publicly ignore what is so obvious—his G-d’s majesty? Everyone waits to hear him speak-- and he is silent. 

This is a problem for Mr Netanyahu because, whether or not he understands or accepts G-d, he is the spokesperson for G-d because he leads the Jewish nation. He represents G-d’s people to the world. He is, in other words, connected to G-d whether he likes that or not; and the world knows it.

Worse for him, the world will not let him forget his G-d.  The world obsesses over his G-d.  Some powerful people are offended because the Promises of the G-d of Israel have become reality. The G-d of Israel is a competitor. They believe that in the race for G-dhood, there is no second best.  There is room on the podium for only One—and they don’t want that One to be the G-d of Israel. They would like to destroy that competitor G-d. But they know they cannot do that—so they choose to do to the next best thing: destroy His people.

To wage their war against G-d, they war against Israel.

Others reject G-d altogether. They say He is not real. They proclaim Man to be the Master of the Universe.  G-d is a myth. Only Man is real. Their greatest competitor—their only competition, really—is the G-d who has proven He is real: the G-d of Israel. These people have the same goal as those above. They cannot destroy that G-d so they seek to destroy His Chosen, His beloved.
To deconstruct the G-d of Israel, they delegitimize the nation of Israel.

These two groups are eager to attack. Each believes he can achieve his goal by attacking in his own way. Each preaches his gospel with a religious fervour.

Whether Mr Netanyahu likes it or not, he defends Israel in a war against G-d. It really doesn’t matter what he believes about G-d. His job is to lead the fight for G-d. His problem is, while he may understand how to wage a political or diplomatic war, he may not understand how to fight a religious war.  The Prime Minister we see is politically competent; he has proven that. But is he spiritually competent? Does he understand the role G-d plays in this international drama against Israel? Is he ready to fight for G-d—or is G-d, for him, just a character in a parable?

The world watches us. Everyone wonders: why is the leader of G-d’s people so silent?

Deep down, three-and-a-half billion people understand that Israel fights in a war against G-d. They want to hear from the leader of G-d’s people.

They wait.

It is time for Mr Netanyahu to speak. If he will not, then there are those waiting who will.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Education of Thomas Friedman; or, why Americans should be Careful about Someone Else’s Home

By Tuvia Brodie

(Disclaimer: any reference here to Thomas Friedman’s private behaviour is 100% fiction. I know nothing about his personal life or his credit cards)
On May 22, 2012, Thomas Friedman published (in The New York Times) yet another essay placing full responsibility for peace in the Middle East (or the lack thereof) exclusively upon the shoulders of Israel. Poor man: he’s like a American businessman who went to a prostitute while travelling in the Middle East, got his pocket picked and doesn’t realize his American Express card is missing. Having become one of the West’s most ardent defenders of the ‘Palestinian cause’, he cannot repeat often enough how oppressed the Arab is and how terrible the Jew is. If love is blind, Mr Friedman is in love, for he consistently ignores the secret of dealing with Arab: before you open your mouth, learn Arabic--or get a reliable translator. This is important because the Arab is not like Westerners. He is smarter.  He can, poetically speaking, pick your pocket before you realize what has happened. The Arab might look stupid; but if you have ever been to the Arab Shuk, you know that looks can deceive. Apparently, Mr Friedman hasn’t noticed this. As his appearance on the American game show, Jeopardy, reveals, his general knowledge-base is not exactly encyclopaedic. The same might be said of his knowledge of the Arab-Israel conflict.
Mr Friedman believes that the Arab is a victim of Jewish ‘colonialism’. Israel ‘oppresses’ the Arab—and thereby threatens her standing as a democracy. Israel must give the Arab what he wants. Peace will come only when the Jew surrenders land--immediately. Mr Friedman may not use these exact words to defend his ‘Palestinians’; but these words appear to capture the essence of his message.
It’s a good story, this tale of  ‘Palestinians’ oppressed by Jews.  Misleading pictures portraying Jews as Nazis are terrific, and lies-as-news sell extremely well. A writer can make a living defending the Arab. It’s a good deal for Mr Friedman.
There’s just one problem: that stupid-looking Arab you are helping isn’t stupid. He knows a good deal, too; and if (poetically speaking, of course) he convinces you to proclaim to the world the virtue of his town prostitute, he could then earn a commission on her increased business; so he will not silence you. Instead, he’ll tell you that the prostitute is his sister who once wanted to join a convent but couldn’t, because the Jews ruined her reputation.
Why wouldn’t he tell you that?  The more eagerly you promote his claims, the more he gains.
That prostitute is not his sister. He doesn’t have a sister. Instead, he has a lie: the Jews stole his ‘Palestinian’ homeland. How do we know this is a lie? We know because we do something Mr Friedman doesn’t do—or can’t: we listen to what the Arab says in Arabic: Palestinians are not the indigenous population of modern-day Israel who yearn to regain their family homes (what they apparently tell Mr Friedman); rather, they are what Hamas Minister of the Interior and National Security Fathi Hammad (no minor functionary or ordinary Gaza citizen) recently told his Arab brothers  (h/t calevbenyefuneh.blogspot): “we all have Arab roots, and every Palestinian, in Gaza and throughout Palestine, can prove his Arab roots—whether from Saudi Arabia, from Yemen, or anywhere. We have blood ties…Brothers, half of the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half are Saudis” (see also, Caroline Glick, Column One: the eternal liberation movement, Jerusalem Post, April 5, 2012).
The Arab knows the truth: there are no indigenous ‘Palestinians’. ‘Palestinians’ are Arabs who came from someplace else. ‘Israel is ours’ is a lie. Their ‘homeland’ is a lie.
When Mr Friedman refuses to do his homework well or honestly he ends up (poetically speaking) promoting the virtue of a town prostitute who, because the spotlight Mr Friedman gives her increases her business, supports that entire town. Her fictitious virtue becomes the town’s pride. His fictions turn her into a civic income source. Naturally, this being the Middle East, the more the men of her town promote her fictitious virtue to an eager Mr Friedman, the more money she pays them from her increased business—and the more they expect from her in return. It’s something like American capitalism, Arab-style.
This entire enterprise depends upon Mr Friedman’s Western friends who, the Arab understands, depend upon Mr Friedman. That’s a relationship the Arab men of town understand: everyone depends upon someone else—until the men with money get what they want.
The Jews are central to the success of this enterprise. Without Jews to play the role of villain, the town prostitute goes out of business; and if she goes out of business, the men with money not only lose their recreation, they lose their cash flow.
The prostitute and her handlers understand this form of capitalism. It’s simple. It’s personal. It works. Mr Friedman is the perfect American traveller. He brings to the Middle East a sharp eye for beauty, reduced inhibitions because he is out of country-- and little knowledge of local customs. He is the perfect customer for enterprising locals with a story to sell.
Too bad he hasn’t thought to look for his American Express card.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ominous Deja Vu

By Moshe Feiglin

Unease. Déjà vu from Sharon's great Expulsion. It began with an article by Hagai Segal, who depicted the insistence of the residents of Migron not to move from their current location as a sort of childish stubbornness; as if they were picking a fight instead of accepting a solution. After all, Kedumim was founded after it was moved from its original location and ultimately it grew into an anchor settlement with satellite settlements around it. So how dare those 'children' of Migron, who never heard of settler leader Zambish, think otherwise?

After reading that article, I already began to feel that we lost: Migron, Ulpana Hill, it doesn't really matter what exactly will happen on the ground. Just like in Gush Katif, the on the ground struggle is really just make-believe. The real decisions on the fate of the settlements are being made in an entirely different place where the principle has already been determined – or to be more specific – preserved. Now it is just a question of price. The deal is really being closed between the settler leaders with the same old Sebastia/Kfar Maimon mentality and the Prime Minister's advisors.

I spent this week running to meetings with the Likud ministers, trying to convince them to vote in favor of the "Ulpana Law". They are all truly in favor of settlement. They genuinely do not want to see it destroyed. They want to help any way they can. But somehow, I left each meeting with a sinking feeling. Now as then, the real battlefield is above our heads, in a completely different place.

In a lively two-hour conversation, one of the ministers analyzed the entire scheme of considerations and pressures with which the government is dealing. He left no stone unturned as he explained the facts in detail and analyzed them once again. But he gave me no answer.

When we got up to leave, I said to him, "You know, there is a certain moment in which all the right answers are no longer relevant. The political outcome is really not important. The interests of A and the apprehensions of B make no difference; how C will react and what will transpire this way or that are irrelevant. There is a certain space that you enter, without even realizing that you are there. But if you continue from that space to make all of these logical calculations, you lose everything."

"That is true," said the minister (a truly brilliant man) "but we are not in that space."

And then I understood the problem. The problem is that "we are not in that space." And we are not there because of the same mentality that plagued us in Gush Katif. The destruction of Migron and the Ulpana Hill don't move us into that space: They are still being represented by the same Yesha Council, whose very existence will always ensure that we do not reach the space in which the settlers and their tens of thousands of supporters will embark on a genuine struggle to save their Land.

We all had a role to play in Gush Katif. We thought that we were going to Kfar Maimon to battle the Expulsion. But in truth, we were all actors in a make-believe struggle. Everything was already decided before we started out. Our role was to play a bit with the army. The army's role was to be sensitive and determined. Afterwards, we cried. It was everything but a struggle. The role of the Yesha Council was to ensure that we would never get to that space – to the genuine struggle.

The entire settler establishment is dependent on government funding. Even more, it is mentally dependent on the government. It is dependent on its ability to provide the goods; to ensure that the minister will always answer, "We are not there yet."

They refuse to understand that Judea and Samaria are "out;" that the reality has changed since the good old days of Sebastia and Menachem Begin. Today, an underground tunnel is being dug for a train between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The most logical and direct route for the tunnel is along highway 443. But that highway is in "Palestinian" territory and thus the tunnel will tortuously wind through the hills ascending to Jerusalem.

Judea and Samaria no longer exist in Israel's long-term plans. All they are is a huge white blotch in the middle of the map of Israel. This is the reality in which we have allowed the Left to corner us. They built a political border fence in the name of security; they created a new reality on the ground without asking anybody. All that is left now is to slowly gnaw away at the settlements until the opportunity for the final blow presents itself. The only new settlement currently being built by Israel is Ruabi – for the Arabs.

True, in the midst of this strategic process, Zambish can still get authorization for a public building here and to finish construction that had already been approved there. But the strategic picture is the negative of the gleeful days of Sebastia. The enticement to remain on good terms with the establishment, the source of the Yesha Council's power, blinds them to the necessity to fight it.

Currently, the settlement leadership is legitimizing the establishment that strives to destroy it. This situation requires us to fight against even the smallest blow to the settlements; to relate to the demand to move one caravan one centimeter as if it was the destruction of Ma'aleh Adumim. The settlers are being led to their destruction by leadership that is incapable of understanding reality. They will always agree to all types of arrangements; they will always buy short term relief in exchange for long term existence; they will always hasten the end instead of distancing it; they will twist and turn with Begin in Migron and will bring the bulldozers closer to the Ulpana Hill.

When Migron will G-d forbid be destroyed, or when the homes on Ulpana Hill will be sealed or even worse (or whatever "creative solution" they will reach there) the Yesha Council will decry the destruction. Nobody expects otherwise. Their role is to ensure that there will be no genuine struggle; that there will be no public atmosphere of doing everything possible for the cause. They will ensure that we will once again be dragged from our homes like harmless sacks of potatoes, while the country will continue with business as usual. Our rightist journalists will write terrible things about Netanyahu. Our Likud members will run from one minister to the next. The hilltop youth will continue to hate the state; our wonderful children will sneak into Migron in the middle of the night and wage a heroic and boring battle: Everyone will play his role in the grand drama whose finale has already been written.

What can you do? Circumvent Zambish. If you need funding for your settlement, turn directly to the relevant minister. Stop paying taxes to Amanah (the settlement organization). Do not vote for a local candidate who does not commit himself to stop funding Amanah. Understand that what made the Expulsion possible then, is making it possible today. 

Sign the Contract

From a letter to Moshe Feiglin, written this week by one of Manhigut Yehudit's "secular" members:

Dear Moshe,

I once again studied our contract with G-d and the reality described in the book of Leviticus chapter 26. After the promises of the benefits we will receive if we uphold the contract (And you will eat your bread to satiation and you will dwell securely in your Land) and before the promise that even if we do not uphold the contract and we are expelled from here, G-d will still keep the Land for us (And I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies that dwell there shall be astonished) come the warnings about what will happen to us if we do not uphold the contract. Among all the other calamities, are the words: And your strength will be spent in vain.

And your strength will be spent in vain is our reality today. Our national gear box is in neutral. We have a government with unprecedented power, an economy that is burgeoning even as the rest of the world economies sink, we have the potential to blow up the entire Middle East and the ability to turn off half the world's electricity with just a few clicks of the computer in Glilot. Nevertheless, we are drifting along, abstaining, giving in and unable – neither physically nor spiritually – to deal with our problems: Not only are we incapable of dealing with Iran or the Arabs; we can't even figure out how to deal with the Africans infiltrating our country.

We have a contract that is clear, logical, worthwhile and simply necessary within the framework of reality in this Land. The contract even includes a supernatural insurance policy that guarantees us a reserved space here even if we abrogate it. And today, after millennia of experience, we are supposed to understand that it is best if we keep our end of the deal; it is simply the right thing to do.

It is up to us to choose.


The holiday of Shavuot is the time when we renew our contract with G-d. May we be loyal to all its clauses!

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Shavuot

Thursday, May 24, 2012

HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Bamidbar 5772

The Book of Bamidbar and Parashat Bamidbar 5772
Four sections.
In our parasha Moshe, Aharon and the tribal leaders conduct a national census of men between the ages of 20 and 60 (excluding the tribe of Levi) with the final tally of 603,550.
Of these 603,550, only 2 entered the Holy Land - Yehoshua bin Nun and Calev ben Yefuneh. All the other 603,548 died in the desert because they followed their tribal leaders in turning their backs on Eretz Yisrael, denying the dictates of HaShem through Moshe Rabbeinu.
The tribal leaders returned from the Land with a pessimistic appraisal of the Jewish people’s chances to defeat the powerful Canaanite occupiers. They influenced the rank and file of the nation to oppose entering the land, and they all died.
What makes the Jews in today’s galut believe that their leaders are more righteous and more clever than the tribal leaders in the time of Moshe Rabbeinu? The spiritual level of the leaders is very much different, but the crime is the same!
The Zohar states
ישראל ואורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא חד
Yisrael, and the Torah and the Holy One Blessed Be He are one
This does not refer in any way to the Christian Trinity which falsely divides God’s essence into three, the very idea of which is avoda zara (idolatry). Our three refer to the holy triangle for which HaShem created the world and in whose merit the world exists.
They are also the essence of our three holidays: Pesach, Shevuot and Sukkot.
Pesach, when the Holy One, Blessed Be He, took us out from Egypt, was the first side of the triangle, as HaShem made His presence apparent through all the miracles of the exodus.
Shevuot, the second side of the triangle, was when HaShem revealed to us His Torah.
Sukkot is chag he’asief - the holiday of the harvest, when we raise up the four species in prayer that HaShem bless the land with abundance. Sukkot represents Eretz Yisrael, where the people of Israel are commanded to live as a unique national-religious entity with the Torah as the law of the land and the Bet HaMikdash as its spiritual center.
Sukkot closes the triangle, of being HaShem’s chosen people to abide by His Torah IN the land of HaShem.
When any one of the three sides of the triangle is broken, the world descends into tohu va’vaho (chaos). When all three are in place the world will be uplifted and the final redemption of humanity will occur.
Even within the copious, far reaching potential of Jews to perform the unexpected, as in the case of the Golden Calf or the meraglim (spies) in the desert who refused to enter the Land; some situations are so out of orbit that when disturbed Jews perform them a rational Jew feels embarrassment, even pity, for HaShem.
As every day for the last 18,500 days (50 years) I lift my eyes and heart with thanks to HaShem for permitting my wife and me to come home to give our lives’ energies to rebuild our Jewish homeland. This despite the many years of galus chareidi philosophy that I was exposed to in yeshivot. A philosophy that teaches God’s chosen people 1) to consciously remain in the galut (Satmar & co.), 2) to view Eretz Yisrael is a voluntary, non-essential factor in our spiritual development (all the rest of the orthodox and chareidi Jews), until the time when the Mashiach will "unfortunately" break up the party and force them all to return to Eretz Yisrael.
On Sunday of this week, there were two gatherings of many tens of thousands of Jews; one was held in Yerushalayim and the other (lehavdil) in the Met’s baseball stadium in New York.
The one in NY was organized to warn the innocent Jews there of the dangers inherent in the internet (pornography). As it turned out, it was a big commercial for the computer companies that offer filters for the internet content. I compare that convention to a man who was swept into the bottom of the ocean while driving his car; and the first thing he did was to turn on the window wipers! American society is so decadent that one less internet down load will not contribute much to clearing up the dishonesty in the chareidi society, or the enormous drug problem in their yeshivos, and all the hidden secrets recently becoming revealed in their communities. History has shown that as the local goyim go, so goes the local Jewish community, because the dominant gentile culture permeates the pores of the Jewish community.
The proof of this is the convention itself. Tens of thousands of chareidi men coming together on the 28th of Iyar, and no one even mentioned that it was the 45 anniversary of the re-unification of Yerushalayim, under Jewish sovereignty, for the first time in 2000 years and the birthday and yartzeit of Shmuel HaNavi!
Geologists state that the continental plate of North American is moving away from Europe at a rate of several inches a year. I state that the spiritual connection of the Jews in the United States has long ago passed the point of no return from the Jews in Eretz Yisrael, and it can be rejoined only through a catastrophic event befalling the Jews in the galut.
In direct contrast, on the day of the internet convention in NY, tens of thousands of Jews converged on Yerushalayim to celebrate through prayer, song and dance in the streets on their way to the Old City. Not to mention the millions of celebrants throughout the land. Men and women, boys and girls. Their numbers swelled the narrow lanes of the Old City, with not a Moslem or Christian in sight.
HaShem peers down from on high to perceive His children. On the one side the interneters in NY with the wide brim black hats, 90% of whom never stepped foot in HaShem’s Holy Land, and never intend to do so, versus the knitted kipot young men, long skirted young women, and soldiers in olive drab military uniforms singing His praises for the wonders He has performed in Eretz Yisrael - in our own time.
I wonder. When comparing His children in Eretz Yisrael to His children in the voluntary galut, is our Father in Heaven thinking the thoughts and feeling the grief of Avraham when he compared his two sons Yitzchak and Yishmael; or the thoughts and feelings of Yitzchak when he compared his two sons Ya’akov and Aisav? I don’t know if the Jews in today’s voluntary galut are like Yishmael or Aisav, but I am sure that we in Eretz Yisrael are following in the ways of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov.
I say this with great pain because the good Jews in the galut are being led by their leaders to a bleak and desperate "no future". They are looking at an impending breakdown of civil order, where they will be caught up in the madness, while being blamed for all the ills in society. But by then it will already be too late to escape.
Permit me to divulge a nasty, little secret.
I have friends and acquaintances among American pulpit rabbis and rabbanim who teach in yeshivot, of all kinds. Many admit that they do not encourage aliya, not because they are opposed to living in Eretz Yisrael (God forbid), but if they would do so, the first question which would be thrown at them would be, "So, Rabbi, why don’t you go?"
Then they open their hearts and say to me, "What would I do there? They don’t need American rabbis."
This is an enormous admission on their part, to which I answer, "Dig ditches. Work in the building trades. Pave roads."
I admit that this sounds ludicrous, and I would never have said it had I not been witness to a conversation between a distinguished rabbi in the USA, who said to his very educated and erudite son who had returned from Eretz Yisrael after failing to find employment in his field, "You should have dug ditches, but not leave Eretz Yisrael."
There were many tannaim and amoraim (rabbis who are quoted in the Talmud) who were artisans, menial laborers, shoemakers, black smiths,etc. I know two physicians from the former Soviet Union who worked in sanitation in Kiryat Arba and others who joined the police force while waiting to be certified.
Nothing is impossible if you love enough.
There is a minhag (custom) among certain communities to decorate the bet knesset and one’s home with flowers and green leaves on Shevuot.
Whatever the reason for this minhag, in a wider sense the flowers, fruit and vegetables that grow in Eretz Yisrael serve as a definitive sign of the redemption of the Jewish people, as the prophet Yechezkel (36:8) states:
ואתם הרי ישראל ענפכם תתנו ופריכם תשאו לעמי ישראל כי קרבו לבוא:
"And you, mountains of Israel, produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home.
Rabbi Abba explains the intention of the prophet when he voiced these words (Sanhedrin 98a):
אין לך קץ מגולה מזה, שנאמר +יחזקאל ל"ו+ ואתם הרי ישראל ענפכם תתנו ופריכם תשאו לעמי ישראל וגו'.
There is no more revealed sign of the redemption than what is stated (the above verse) "And you, mountains of Israel, produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home.
One need not dwell in the high realms of Jewish philosophy in order to unravel the secrets of the Jewish future. Simply walk through Shuk Machneh Yehuda (the food market in the Machneh Yehuda section of Yerushalayim) or any of the markets from Metula to Eilat and you will see HaShem’s blessings on this holy land.
All the claims and "proofs" rejecting the claim that we are living in the period of our redemption melt before the simple food stalls displaying our agricultural produce.
Happy is the person who can appreciate HaShem’s wonders.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Samayach
Nachman Kahana

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Likud Ministers and MKs at Feiglin Wedding

Mazal tov to Moshe and Tzippy Feiglin on the marriage of their son, Aryeh, to Todayah Avigal. The Feiglin's younger son, David Yosef, still recuperating from a serious car accident, made the seventh blessing under the chuppah, leaving virtually no dry eye in the large hall. The joyous wedding was also attended by an all-star Likud roster, as reported in the Jerusalem Post:
(Pictured right to left: Shmuel Sackett, Moshe Feiglin, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Communications Minister Moshe Kachalon, Minister of Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Hagai Greentzeig)

Jerusalem Post: 24 Iyar 5772 (May 15, '12)

New Clout Draws Ministers to Feiglin Wedding
By Gil Hoffman
Eight Likud ministers and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin attend the Likud activist's son's wedding, showing growing influence. 

Ahead of the last two general elections, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took every political and legal step possible to prevent Likud activist Moshe Feiglin and his closest political allies from entering the Knesset.

When two top Likud MKs were on their way to an event hosted by Feiglin in 2007, Netanyahu's office called them, threatened them, and the MKs made a U-turn and went home.

But seven years later, Feiglin has entered the Likud mainstream. Netanyahu's advisers said that had the Likud held an election for its Knesset slate next month as had been planned before early elections were canceled, the prime minister intended to ignore Feiglin this time.

In the ultimate sign that Feiglin is no longer considered controversial, no less than eight Likud ministers as well as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin attended the wedding of Feiglin's son Aryeh and his bride Todayah on Sunday.

Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Environment Minister Gilad Erdan, Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein, and Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat all attended to honor Feiglin.

Livnat was the most surprising attendee because she had vocally bashed Feiglin in the past. Even Netanyahu reached out to Feiglin last month, calling him to express condolences when Feiglin's father died.

"No one questions our allegiance to the Likud anymore,” Feiglin said. “Everyone sees that it is much more natural that the national camp in Likud decides races in the party than non-Zionist Arab voters making the difference in Kadima and Labor.”

Feiglin's move to the mainstream can be dated back to his son David's life threatening car crash in June 2010. David is better now but one of the lasting effects of his injury was that it softened his father.

Following Netanyahu's announcement that he had formed a national-unity government with Kadima last week, Feiglin praised the move on his Facebook page, even though it likely meant another year and a half before he could enter the Knesset.

Had the early election taken place, Kadima strategists intended to portray the Likud in Feiglin's image. Former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni recently warned that Israeli politics will fall prey to a "Dark Feiglinist dictatorship."

Livni's comment stars in ads for Feiglin's annual fundraising dinner in New York in three weeks.

“We don't think we're so dark,” the ad said. “In fact, we throw pretty good parties! Come join us for dinner on June 5 and help Livni see the light.”

Labor MK Daniel Ben-Simon said he was saddened by the ministers attending the wedding. He said they instead should have sent him a message that his politics were unwelcome in Likud.

"This is the new face of Likud: Feiglin and Sons Ltd," Ben-Simon said. "In the last few years his impact has been so dominant that in another decade his spirit will dominate the Likud party. This popular movement founded by Menachem Begin will become radical and extremist. It's a bad thing for Israel.

Political Party or Empty Shell?

By Moshe Feiglin

2 Sivan, 5772
May 23, '12

Is the Prime Minister's "brilliant move" just the opening shot? Is his next move an attempt to inject the Kadimah MKs into the Likud? Or is the PM planning another Sharon-style bombshell, such as enticing MKs from the Likud to join him, Kadimah and Barak's party to form a new balloon party?

We all hope that these are not Netanyahu's plans. We cannot, however, ignore the worrisome signs and the great temptation that threatens to push the PM to make such a move.

The simple and logical solution for the Ulpana Hill neighborhood is to enact legislation to legalize the construction there. But that solution is being torpedoed by the PM. This means that his grand coalition has not afforded him enough power to stand up to the pressure of the media and the Left. From our past experiences we know that in situations like this, the Likud's leaders usually turn sharply left.

"Perhaps your power is your downfall?" Avri Gilad asked me in an interview on Channel 2. "Maybe Netanyahu will leave the Likud because of you, establish a new party and leave you with the empty shell?"

"That is exactly what Sharon did to Netanyahu," I answered. "Everyone talked about the empty shell that Sharon left for Netanyahu. But now it is plain to see that the Likud is actually the party that rebounded, while Sharon's Kadimah is the empty shell.

Nothing can last long without meaning; certainly not a political party that is supposed to be predicated on an ideology. That is why a party like Kadimah, founded on opportunism and essential corruption, or a party based on hatred of the Haredi public - cannot survive for long.

What gives the Likud its surprising vitality and resilience? Its members. The Likud is a traditional, popular party that faithfully represents the Nation of Israel and takes responsibility to lead it.

Sometimes, a leader can become confused and think that it is not the party that carries him, but just the opposite. A person who rules on the basis of that erroneous presumption can certainly succeed at first. But in no time, it will turn out that he is not equipped with the roots of a real party that will hold him strong in the stormy wind.

How can we prevent these dark predictions from coming true? First of all, at this point we are talking about no more than concern. As long as nothing comes of it, we will strengthen and assist the Likud government and its head in all of their positive undertakings.

However, we must make our concern public: Let our Knesset representatives know that we are attentively watching and waiting to hear what they plan to do if the above scenario plays itself out. The more that this potential move is publicly discussed and the more the ministers and MKs publicize their positions, the less chance that a new "big bang" will actually take place in Israeli politics. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Yom Yerushalayim Quiz

By Michael Hirsch

As today we celebrate Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim), I thought it an opportune time to provide readers with the following quiz. As we, the Jewish people –especially those of us residing in Eretz Yisrael, are in a joyous mood today, I will supply the answers as well.
1) How many times is Jerusalem mentioned in Jewish prayers/religious texts? A: Even excluding all references to “Zion,” which may or may not be referring to Jerusalem, well over 600 times.
2) How many times is Jerusalem mentioned in the Koran a/o Moslem prayers? A: ZERO! Attempting to relate Mohammad flying to Heaven from some far-off mosque, which some in Islam would like us to believe refers to Jerusalem, does not fly (pardon the pun), as neither the Dome of the Rock nor Al Aqsa Mosque had been constructed as yet by the time of Mohammad’s death.
3) How many Jewish holidays are tied to Jerusalem? A: Three–Succot, Pesach, and Shavuot; aka the Sholosh Regalim. At the time of the First & Second Temple, Jews resident throughout Eretz Yisrael were expected to come to Jerusalem by foot (“regel,” plural “regalim”) to celebrate those three festivals.
4) How many Moslem holy occasions are celebrated in Jerusalem? A:ZERO!
5) In which direction do Jews around the globe face during prayers? A: Jerusalem.
6) In which direction do Moslems face during prayers? A: Mecca. (There is a fascinating photo on-line of Moslems praying on the plaza adjacent to the Dome of the Rock, kneeling towards Mecca, so that their backs are turned toward the Dome! Case closed.)
7) What city serves as the capital of the State of Israel? A: Jerusalem.
8) When eastern Jerusalem was under the control of Palestine I (aka Jordan) from 1948 until 1967, how many foreign dignitaries were hosted in Jerusalem? A: ZERO! (Background: according to the San Remo Treaty of 1920, all of what is known today as Israel + Jordan was designated as “The Jewish Homeland.” The British, a party to that Treaty, had second thoughts (specifically, Winston Churchill). In 1922, they carved out 80% of that homeland east of the Jordan River, designated it as Transjordan, and imported Emir Abdullah, a Hashemite, from Hejaz (now part of Saudi Arabia) to rule. To this day, over 75% of the population of what we now call Jordan is Palestinian. Which is why I refer to it as Palestine I.
I believe by now the point should be clear. Beyond a reasonable doubt , PALESTINIANS/MOSLEMS HAVE NO TIES AT ALL TO JERUSALEM!! So why, you may ask, has the status of Jerusalem become such a divisive point in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians since Oslo ’93? The simplest answer is to recall a common incident: a group of children playing in a schoolyard, a ball laying to the side of no interest to any of them. One of them goes to pick up the ball. Suddenly, he is mobbed by his friends all grabbing at the ball–”That’s mine!”, “That’s mine!”, “That’s mine!”
Such is Jerusalem to the Arabs/Moslems. Of no interest, except if someone else “picks it up.” Whether it be the Crusaders, or modern day Israel post-1967. Only then do we see an interest by our neighbors in controlling our capital, our holy city.

The King

By Tuvia Brodie

In case you misunderstood what happened when Israel Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu united with his opposition, Kadima, America’s Time magazine can help you: it has placed Mr Netanyahu on its May 28, 2012 cover. It calls him, “King BiBi”.
The ink on Bibi’s agreement with Kadima is hardly dry. But the fallout from it has already begun. So far, three story-lines have opened: the international, the national and the Jewish. Time captures it all.
While many who discuss Netanyahu’s new unity government focus on its impact on Israel national politics, some look instead at its impact on Israel’s international status. For some, this alliance spells trouble. The Time story highlights the problem: now that Netanyahu has secured unprecedented power to act without opposition, will he adhere to Israel’s supposed intransigence, or will he write a new narrative for a Middle East peace? The implication is clear: with apparently no opposition to stop him, Mr Netanyahu has no more excuses for delay. Mr Abbas has recognized this, declaring almost immediately, ‘if I were him [Netanyahu], I would do it [sign with the Palestinian Authority] now, now, now.’
His emphasis is telling. The world believes that Mr Netanyahu can now do anything he wants any time he wants. There is no longer any reason for delay.  Delay will mean instant and intense condemnation. We have already seen the beginning of this intensity: just days after Mr Netanyahu’s alliance announcement, European Union (EU) Foreign Ministers harshly criticized Israel for behaviour ‘threatening the two-state solution’. That harshness was repeated two days later in remarks by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, that suggested an utter contempt, impatience and disregard for the Jewish State.
The pressure against Israel increases. Mr Netanyahu backs Israel into a corner, and the EU salivates. He can no longer claim the Knesset will not support him; he now controls a majority bloc. He may have actually narrowed his options with this alliance. For a politician who prides himself on his ability to keep options open, this narrowing could be disastrous.
The second story-line opened by the Time coverage concerns national Israel politics. When this alliance was first announced, Israel’s elite media supported it, claiming it would bring ‘stability’ to an otherwise chaotic Israeli political environment. With the Kadima-Likud alliance giving Netanyahu a new 94-seat majority in a Knesset where 61 seats control, they had reason to draw this conclusion. But while they might be right, this supposed ‘stability’ could also tear Likud apart. Likud is, essentially, a Rightist pro-Judea/Samaria Party. Kadima is Leftist and anti-Judea/Samaria. Netanyahu, despite his Likud home, already leans Left. Now he brings Kadima to his side. Why?  Rumours circulate that he might imitate his Likud predecessor, Ariel Sharon. Sharon turned hard-Left, abandoned Likud and surrendered Gaza. If Netanyahu makes a similar hard-Left turn—or tries a similar abandonment-- in order to surrender central Israel and part of Jerusalem, this could make Likud the victim of consecutive betrayals by its leaders. Would voters trust another Likud candidate in the next election? In addition to this problem, some in Likud believe that a cadre of members appear to hate Likud’s most powerful pro-Judea/Samaria leader, Moshe Feiglin. If Netanyahu chooses Left over Right, will animus towards Feiglin be the ‘straw’ that breaks Rightist Likud? What will that do to Israeli politics?
The third story-line generated by the Time article is ‘Jewish’. Raising the subject of a ‘King’, Time reminds us that our past and future are tied to Kingship. Read your Tanach. Our past—and our destiny-- is Kingship.  Moreover, to call a current leader, ‘king’, prompts some to recall from Tanach that, when Jewish kings in Israel commit to G-d, Israel is strong and honoured. When Jewish leadership rejects G-d, Israel receives contempt, curse and trouble (sound familiar?).  This is the formula that rules our Destiny. It is all in our Tanach which, if you have been counting, has a better track-record for accurate predictions than all those Leftists who pressure Israel by promising  ‘peace’ if only we surrender G-d’s land. How do we read this reference to kingship n the non-Jewish Time? Is it simply a ‘cute’ essayist flourish; is it coincidence—or is it one of those ‘natural’ occurrences that remind us of our Destiny?
Israel faces its greatest existential threat. With this Likud-Kadima alliance, the nations’ contempt for Israel is energized: they can see their anti-Israel goals now closer than ever to fulfilment; their urgency increases; they become impatient for Israel to surrender for ‘peace’.
 What will happen if King Bibi decides to lead the Jewish nation with a commitment to his Jewish G-d? What will happen if he rejects that choice?
Perhaps “Time” means you should read your Tanach; then, you won’t have to wait for the movie to find out what happens.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Curse or Hidden Blessing?

By Moshe Feiglin

And I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies that dwell there shall be astonished. And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will draw out the sword after you; and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste. (From this week's Torah portion, Bechukotai, Leviticus 26:32-33)

After the Torah chapter promising blessing if we keep G-d's laws, another, longer chapter promises horrific curses if we do not conduct ourselves according to G-d's directives. But there is one curse that conceals a blessing: "And I will bring the land into desolation:" Even when you are exiled from the Land of Israel, the Land will remain loyal to you and will not allow any foreign nation to flourish in it.

Just as promised, until the Jewish People returned to the Land of Israel a century and a half ago, no other nation successfully became established in the Land of Israel. Travelers to the Land over the centuries describe desolation and abandonment – until the lost children of the Holy Land awakened.

Politically, however, the wondrous fulfillment of "And I will bring the land into desolation" continues to this very day. There is no pebble in the entire world that is not claimed by a nation. Indian and Pakistani soldiers freeze to death to preserve the sovereignty of their respective countries on the frozen peaks of uninhabitable mountains. But here, in the fruitful heart of the Land of Israel, we have the "territories". The Arabs covet them and some of the Jews despise them, never missing an opportunity to be rid of them, making every effort to ensure that they will be transferred to foreign sovereignty. The entire world has invested a fortune of money and endless energy for years to establish a "Palestinian" state in these "territories" – but it simply doesn't happen.

Never has a group of people received so much international aid to establish a state for itself. But yet, nothing happens. Why not?

The answer to this riddle is in the "curses" in our Torah portion.

We have already experienced all the curses; we have already witnessed their reality. With G-d's help, we will continue to see the fulfillment of our destiny through the prism of the blessings and we will actualize our sovereignty over all parts of the Land of Israel.

Shabbat Shalom