This video is beautiful. The words are:
"We are believers, the sons of believers, that we have no one else to rely on besides our Father in Heaven. Israel, trust in G-d, you Helper and Shield!"
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
In anticipation of Israel's 60th birthday on Yom HaAtzmaut, the writers at Tzipiyah have envisioned an amazing project which they have asked me to contribute to. I have been asked to write about the 4 accomplishments of the State of Israel of which I am most proud. Since I will be leaving in a week, and it will be yom tov in a few days, I have decided to post them now and leave them until Yom HaAtzmaut.
1) JEWISH PRIDE
They came running through the streets like lions, dropping from the skies, guns blaring, fire burning. They ran, in the spirit of David and Joshua, Judah the Maccabee and Bar Kochba, full of courage and bravery. Their enemies fell before their in fear and shame, as they streamed towards the Kotel, the most holy and awesome place which had been denied to them for so long. Who were these men? What sort of people were they? Were they the Jews, the people of the gas chambers and ovens? Were they the same people that had long been associated with death and persecution, with helplessness and passivity, fighting their enemies? Is it possible that a nation that had been taunted for so long, that was rounded up from all of Europe for annhilation, asserted itself and stood up strong?
The establishment of the State of Israel and the amazing turn-about of Jewish fortune following the Holocaust is nothing short of miraculous. There is no parallel to this sort of reversal in all of the annals of human history. One third of the Jewish People had been consumed in the cruel fires of the Nazi war machine. The survivors were downtrodden and ashamed. "Even all the nations shall say 'Wherefore Why has HaShem done this to His land? What is the meaning of the heat of this great anger?'"(Deut 29:24) From this crushing defeat there would be no respite. The downtrodden Jew would finally disappear into the dust of history. And yet in the ashes of such an evil blaze, like a phoenix, the Jewish nations rose again. "'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say: Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off... Thus saith the Lord G-D: Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, O My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up out of your graves, O My people. And I will put My spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I will place you in your own land; and ye shall know that I the LORD have spoken, and performed it, saith the LORD." (Ezek. 37:10-12) The Jewish nation arose once again, and like a firebrand plucked from the fires of the Holocaust, defeated a mighty army of one million well-trained Arab soldiers committed to driving the fledgling state into the sea. The world saw with crystal clear vision, and again in 1967, that G-d had never divorced Israel. For two thousand years of exile, the Catholic Church had taught the hideous doctrine of the Witness, that the Jewish People were designated to be a sign to show how wretched life would be for those who rejected their god. G-d had replaced Israel and now they were dejected and low. The miracles and triumphs of 1967 was the best refutation of such a perversion ever. The State of Israel shows that G-d still loves His people and that He has great things in store for them.
2) THE INGATHERING OF THE EXILES
As we head towards the Kotel, we are joined by thousands of our brethren from hundreds of dispersions, from Poland and Russia, Morocco and Tunisis, Ethiopia and India, all going towards the same place, the Holy Wall. Three times a day for two thousands years, Jews in the cramped ghettos of Warsaw and Lublin, the squalor of the Pale of Settlment, the melahs of Casablanca and Fez, had turned like spiritual magnets towards Jerusalem to beseech the Holy One, Blessed be He that "our eyes may behold Your return to Zion in mercy." Never did they forget to pledge "Next year in Jerusalem!" at the close of every Passover seder and Yom Kippur feast. Despite promises of emancipation and acceptance, we never forget that we were but strangers in a strange land, ever waiting the day when we would come home.
Following the Establishment of the State of Israel, one millions Jews from Arab lands who had lived there since time immemorial were expelled, leaving behind many millions of dollars in property and goods. The State of Israel took them in and despite many problems and setbacks along the way, successfully integrated them into society. On the streets on Israel, one can see the most amazing diversity: black-hatted hareidim with Yiddish accents alongside gutteral Sepharadim, Jews from America and the UK with native born Sabras, Jews from the former Soviet Union, liberated from Communist oppression with the Jews who worked so hard to ensure their freedom, fine-featured and delicate Ethiopian Jews with lily-white Ashkenazim. Oh, the Jewish nation has come home!
3) TORAH AND JEWISH RENEWAL
In the Diaspora, Judaism is in a very dangerous lethargic state. With rampant assimilation and intermarriage, great ignorance, a proliferation of cults and missionaries and rising anti-semitism, prospects are not looking good. Despite all of the problems in Israel, it is the only Jewish community that is growing, and flourishing. The Torah community is very strong and the land is full of yeshivot and Torah learning. There is truly a fulfillment of the verse: "For out of Zion will go forth Torah and the word of G-d from Jerusalem." Israel is the only place in the world where a committed Jew can live a full Jewish life instead of compartmentalizing his identity to when it is most appropriate.
4) ISRAEL'S TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES
Israel is one the world's most technologically advanced societies. Just the other day, a scientist invented a method of being able to write halachically on Shabbat. Since the prohibition is on writing permanently, this shabbos pen allows you to write something down and it will disappear three days later, once one has had enough time to photocopy the info.
Here are some facts about Israel's scientific advances:
Israel has more museums per capita than any other country.
Medicine... Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized,no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentation for breast cancer.
An Israeli company developed a computerized system for ensuring proper administration of medications, thus removing human error from medical treatment. Every year in U. S. hospitals 7,000 patients die from treatment mistakes.
Israel's Givun imaging developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill. Used to view the small intestine from the inside, the camera helps doctors diagnose cancer and digestive disorders.
Researchers in Israel developed a new device that directly helps the heart pump blood, an innovation with the potential to save lives among those with heart failure. The new device is synchronized with the heart's mechanical operations through a sophisticated system of sensors.
Technology... With more than 3,000 high-tech companies and start-ups, Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies in the world (apart from the Silicon Valley).
In response to serious water shortages, Israeli engineers and agriculturalists developed a revolutionary drip irrigation system to minimize the amount of water used to grow crops.
Israel has the highest percentage in the world of home computers per capita.
Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, with 145 per 10,000, as opposed to 85 in the U. S., over 70 in Japan, and less than 60 in Germany. With over 25% of its work force employed in technical professions. Israel places first in this category as well.
The cell phone was developed in Israel by Motorola, which has its largest development center in Israel.
Most of the Windows NT operating system was developed by Microsoft-Israel.
The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel.
Voice mail technology was developed in Israel.
Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the US in Israel.
The AOL Instant Messenger was developed in 1996 by four young Israelis.
A new acne treatment developed in Israel, the ClearLight device,produces a high-intensity, ultraviolet-light-free, narrow-band blue light that causes acne bacteria to self-destruct - all without damaging surroundings skin or tissue.
An Israeli company was the first to develop and install a large-scale solar-powered and fully functional electricity generating plant, in southern California's Mojave desert."
Am Yisrael Chai!
Cross-posted to Goat's Barnyard
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Whew... things have been busy. Until about yesterday, I've had a high fever and have been pretty sick. That certainly helps enhance the passover experience. Thank G-d, I'm feeling better now.
Right now, I'm getting ready for my big trip, the March of the Living. Pesach finishes next Sunday night, and I leave Tueday morning. We have an 8 hour drive to NY, from where we leave to Krakow. We'll be visiting the remnants of Jewish life there, the synagogues and cemetaries, and then we'll go to the Placzow work camp featured in Schindler's List. The next day will be Holocaust Remembrance Day and we'll walk the 2.5 miles between Auschwitz and Birkenau where thousands went to their deaths. During our time in Poland, we'll see Lublin, where there was a famous yeshiva, Treblinka, Majdanek and Warsaw. The last place we visit in Warsaw will be the Umshachplatz, the train depot where the Jews were collected to go their deaths. Instead, we'll be flying from Israel to there.
In Israel, we'll visit Jerusalem and on Yom HaAtzmaut, we'll march through the streets to the Kotel. We have a party planned at Mini Israel for Yom HaAtzmaut night. We're going to visit the mystical city of Tzfat, see Caesarea and swim in the Mediterranean. We'll spend a magical shabbat on the shores of the Kinneret. Towards the end, we'll float around in the Dead Sea. On the last day, we'll climb the fortress of Masada at sunrise, where the Jews committed suicide rather than fall into the hands of the Romans. We'll spend the day there, party until late in a Bedouin tent and sleep there. The next morning, early, we'll catch a flight back to NY.
I can't wait for these most amazing 2 weeks. I've been dreaming about this moment for a year. I'll put pictures up when I come back. Wish me a safe trip!
Posted by Avi at 10:24 AM
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
I wish all of Am Yisrael, and the entire world, a happy and kosher Pesach. May HaShem fill every empty seat at the table and send us eternal joy. May HaShem be pleased with our fulfilling of the mitvzah of recounting the Exodus from Egypt. In the merit of our commemoration of the redemption from Egypt, may HaShem send us the Geulah Sheleima in mercy and may our seders be brightened with the glowing countenance of Eliyahu HaNavi and our Righteous Moshiach.
Chag kasher v'sameach!
With love of Israel and Torah,
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
According to reports, President Bush is shying away from visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem, when he is in Israel for its 60th Yom HaAtzmaut, Independence Day. The Western Walll, the only remaining defensive wall of the First and Second Temples, was deemed too controversial for Bush.
What is it that is so controversial? The Western Wall, since Jewish prayer on its holiest site, the Temple Mount, is severely restricted, has been the focal point of Jewish worship during the most recent return to Zion. Jews have worshipped there since the destruction of the Second Temple. It was off-limits to Jews under Jordanian rule following the 1949 armistice and was liberated in the 1967 Six Day War. This is where the famous picture of Israeli paratroopers looking up at the Wall in awe comes from.
Muslims have recently been staking a claim not only to the Temple Mount, but to the Western Wall as well. They call it Al-Burak and say the religion's founder, Mohammad, tied his horse there during a midnight journey that took him to "the farthest mosque" - which they say is a reference to the Jerusalem mosque later given that name. However, such a claim is extremely weak compared to the millenia of unbroken Jewish worship on the Temple Mount and later the Western Wall. The Qur'an's Night Journey was only associated with Jerusalem decades after the Mosque of Omar was built. The Mosques on the Mount are inscribed with beautiful Arabic caligraphy with many verses from the Qur'an and yet the Night Journey is conspicuously missing.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs, Mearat HaMachpela, in Hevron, is also mentionned explicitly as being too controversial for Bush to visit. He would certainly not want to upset the Arabs by giving the impression that the Tomb of the founders of the Jewish Nation, of Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov, and legal inheritors of that parcel of land, has any connection to Jews. Hevron is the second holiest Jewish site and a hallowed place of prayer beginning with Calev, who prayed there during his touring of the Land, that he should not fall into the conspiracy of the Spies. Under Ottoman rule, Jews were not allowed to pray past the 7th step leading to the Tomb. Certainly, such a thing would be too controversial and offensive to Arab sensibilities.
Instead, Bush has opted to visit the fortress of Masada, where one thousand Jews chose to commit suicide rather than fall into the hands of the Romans.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library:
The only written source about Masada is Josephus Flavius’ The Jewish War. Born Joseph ben Matityahu of a priestly family, he was a young leader at the outbreak of the Great Jewish Rebellion against Rome (66 CE) when he was appointed governor of Galilee. He managed to survive the suicide pact of the last defenders of Jodfat and surrendered to Vespasian (who shortly thereafter was proclaimed emperor) – events he described in detail. Calling himself Josephus Flavius, he became a Roman citizen and a successful historian. Moral judgment aside, his accounts have been proved largely accurate.
According to Josephus Flavius, Herod the Great built the fortress of Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. Herod, an Idumean, had been made King of Judea by his Roman overlords and was hated by his Jewish subjects. Herod, the master builder, “furnished this fortress as a refuge for himself.” It included a casemate wall around the plateau, storehouses, large cisterns ingeniously filled with rainwater, barracks, palaces and an armory.
Some 75 years after Herod’s death, at the beginning of the Revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 66 CE, a group of Jewish rebels overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (70 CE) they were joined by zealots and their families who had fled from Jerusalem. With Masada as their base, they raided and harassed the Romans for two years. Then, in 73 CE, the Roman governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the Tenth Legion, auxiliary units and thousands of Jewish prisoners-of-war. The Romans established camps at the base of Masada, laid siege to it and built a circumvallation wall. They then constructed a rampart of thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth against the western approaches of the fortress and, in the spring of the year 74 CE, moved a battering ram up the ramp and breached the wall of the fortress.
Josephus Flavius dramatically recounts the story told him by two surviving women. The defenders – almost one thousand men, women and children – led by Eleazar ben Ya’ir, decided to burn the fortress and end their own lives, rather than be taken alive. “And so met (the Romans) with the multitude of the slain, but could take no pleasure in the fact, though it were done to their enemies. Nor could they do other than wonder at the courage of their resolution, and at the immovable contempt of death which so great a number of them had shown, when they went through with such an action as that was.”
The Zealots cast lots to choose 10 men to kill the remainder. They then chose among themselves the one man who would kill the survivors. That last Jew then killed himself.
It is quite telling that Bush, instead of visiting sites associated with Jewish renewal and connection to Israel, chose to visit a fortress where the Jews took their own lives, determined not to fall into enemy hands. Especially on the heels of Bush's suicidal policies towards the State of Israel, he could not make a more symbolic choice. Hopefully, Bush will learn the lesson of Masada and realize the determination of the Jewish people to be a free nation in our own land. Let him know that Masada will not fall again!
Cross-posted to Goat's Barnyard
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
by Rabbi Akiva Tatz
Both Rosh Hashanah and Passover are beginnings of the year. Rosh Hashanah is the occasion of new creation of the human as an individual; Passover is the occasion of new creation of the Jewish people. What can we learn from this observation?
The spiritual forces operating at Passover time each year are such that the Jewish people -- and in fact any individual Jew -- can achieve the impossible if these forces are used. An attempt to leap up, to reach a whole new level of sensitivity, of personality development, can have a degree of success if undertaken on Passover which may be far more difficult at any other time.
There is a special Divine assistance offered at this time which makes achievement of many levels of growth possible in one leap. Under normal circumstances such levels must be painstakingly acquired in gradual sequence. The very word Pesach -- the Hebrew term for Passover -- means "leaping over"; at a deeper level, the connotation is that of leaping over levels of growth which would ordinarily have to be attained one at a time.
This energy is particularly strong on the first night of Passover. It is a time of most intense inspiration. Mystical sources indicate that on all other nights our ma'ariv (evening prayer) builds certain connections in the higher worlds. On the first night of Passover these are built automatically, our work is not needed.
Why do we pray the evening service on Seder night, then? In order to connect ourselves with what is happening in the higher worlds! To bring down some of those very high energies to our level. This night needs none of the usual protection which night makes necessary -- it is a leil shimurim, a "night of protection." We are Divinely guarded to an extent which never occurs on any other night of the year. It is truly "different from all other nights!"
A DIFFERENT NIGHT
So let us ask, with deeper insight, the old question "Why is this night different from all other nights?"
Using the principles we have discussed previously, we can begin to understand that this night must have unparalleled power: on this night, the first Passover sacrifice was eaten. The culmination of the ten plagues, the smiting of the Egyptian firstborn, occurred at midnight. Our homes were "passed over" by God as He smote the Egyptians, Himself personally and not by means of angelic agents. The Exodus began, the redemption was manifest. The redemption occurred with lightning speed -- k'heref ayin -- like the blink of an eye. There was not time for the bread to rise and it was taken out of Egypt as matzah.
Such events are surely the physical expression of indescribable energies released on the higher plane. What can we understand of the nature of these events and their root? What is the deeper meaning of this speed? Of the nature of matzah?
Let us start by asking a question which has bothered some of the more recent commentaries. There is a well-known idea that the Jewish people in Egypt were on the 49th level of impurity and had to be redeemed, because had they remained in Egypt any longer they would have sunk to the 50th level from which there is no return. The redemption occurred when it did because there would have been no Jewish people to redeem had G-d delayed at all. We were saved at the last moment possible. This idea understands that at the very last moment in Egypt, the moment just before the Exodus, our existence was critically in the balance -- one moment longer and it would have been too late.
The problem is, though: How could one more moment of time in Egypt have caused us to disappear spiritually, to fail and fall into Egyptian impurity? That last moment was the greatest moment we had ever experienced, it was the instant of highest revelation, supercharged with awareness of God's closeness. That moment of midnight was incandescent with purity. It was the climax of a process which had begun months before with the first of the plagues at which time the slave-labor had ended. The subsequent plagues were appreciated by the Jews as ever-increasing revelations of God's guidance of world affairs. This night was the pinnacle of that process.
How is it possible to conceive of the imminent disintegration of the Jewish people into impurity and oblivion by a prolongation of that state of being? It would seem that more of that intensity of revelation would have transformed people into angels!
The sources which deal with this idea understand that what is being referred to here is literally one more moment in that state. Not more time in the previous phase of slavery and persecution in general, but very specifically more time on that last night in Egypt. What is the answer to this problem?
An approach to this question is found in the deeper Jewish sources. There is an idea that one can live in the physical dimensions of space and time and be subject to them, part of them. Or one can live within them and yet transcend them. To do this, one must minimize the contact between oneself and the physical elements. In the time dimension, this is known as z'rizus -- zeal or alacrity -- in performing God's commandments.
The 16th century Maharal explains that if one moves fast, minimizes the time taken for action, one can overcome the stifling effects of time. Of course there is always a finite time needed for action, but the point is that spirituality is contradicted by unnecessary expansion of the physical dimensions of space and time. The minimum time needed is not a contradiction to spirituality at all, In fact zealous action elevates the physical dimensions to a spiritual level. Since the spiritual world is above time, explains the Maharal, we can make contact with it by coming as close as possible to it by our efforts, by shrinking the physical component of our actions to the absolute essential minimum.
Put another way: Laziness, or the slowing down of action, the expanding of the physical dimensions, makes us part of those dimensions. Sluggishness is the opposite of spirituality. Laziness is incompatible with spiritual growth.
What is meant here is that spiritual life is generated in the almost infinitely short-lived moment of the flash of conception, the male phase of reality. The work of the female phase is to maintain the spiritual energy of that first phase and to bring it into the finite world. But this can be done only if the creative conception phase is electric, alive, unburdened by physical heaviness.
Let us return to that moment of midnight in Egypt. The problem with more time in Egypt would not have been the contaminating effects of Egyptian impurity. That danger had long since ceased. No, the problem with more time in Egypt would have been more time itself!
Let us strive to understand. The redemption had to occur k'heref ayin, in the blink of an eye, because that alacrity is necessary for an event to remain spiritual. Had we left Egypt slowly, naturally, in a relaxed fashion, we would have been a natural people! The Jewish nation was being born then; the moment of birth had to be transcendent because "Everything goes after the beginning." We became and remain a spiritual people because our beginning was spiritual. Our moment of formation occupied the absolute minimum of time, and since then we have lived on the edge of the physical universe, at that edge which interfaces with the transcendent, the Divine.
The terrible danger of more time in Egypt would have been the time itself; that is the impurity which is meant here, the impurity of a nation destined for spirituality becoming merely physical, merely natural.
And that is the secret of Passover -- riding the wave of minimum time. Overriding time. We left Egypt too fast for the natural to take effect. Too fast to be in danger of becoming slowed by friction with the natural world. Too fast to be slowed into the material and the finite. Too fast for dough to rise, for the food which sustains our lives to expand into the swollen, bloated dimension.
A people only just within the physical, sustained by a food which is only just the sum of its ingredients.
If we think a little further: what is matzah, one of the central commandments of Passover? What is the difference between chametz (leaven) and matzah? Only time! Not a difference in ingredients, only a difference in time. Flour and water if baked within a certain minimum time become matzah. A second's delay beyond that minimum: chametz.
And what a difference: eating matzah is a positive mitzvah of the Torah, its reward is immeasurable. Eating chametz is a prohibition of the Torah and its punishment is spiritual excision! Literally the difference between life and death, rooted in a few seconds of time.
MITZVOT AND MATZOT
This is the secret of the statement of the Sages: Mitzvah haba'a leyad'cha, al tachmitzena -- "When a mitzvah, a commandment, comes to your hand, do not let it become stale" (literally "do not let it become chametz, sour"). U'shmartem es ha'matzot -- "And guard the matzot," which can be read as "And guard the mitzvot". No mere play on words; the idea here is that just as matzah becomes chametz if left too long, so too a mitzvah, spiritual life for the one who performs it, becomes chametz, fermented, sour, if it is allowed to become part of the natural.
A mitzvah is a physical action containing unbounded spiritual energy, but it should be performed thus. If it is performed as no more than a physical action, it may lose its connection with the spiritual world. Mitzvot are like matzot: performed at the higher level, with zeal and alacrity, they are transcendent. Performed sluggishly, slowly, they sour.
The first night of Passover. Incredible energy, incredible opportunity. A time of transcendent beginning. A time to inspire children, beginners in spirituality. A time to be inspired. A time to reach for the impossible, to reach above time.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
During the Rambam's time, there was a proliferation of heretical sects and Jews were often called upon to explain their beliefs in comparison to other faiths. The Rambam, in response, decided to set down 13 Principles of Faith which encompass the crux of Judaism. Let every Jew, and non-Jew, learn and take these Principles to heart for without them, one's spiritual growth will be stillborn. It is taught that one who denies them has no share in the World to Come! The First Principle is especially important as we approach Pesach, when G-d demonstrated to the entire world His power.
"I believe with perfect faith that G-d is the Creator and Ruler of all things. He alone has made, does make, and will make all things."
To believe in the existence of the Creator, and this Creator is perfect in all manner of existence. He is the cause of all existence. He causes them to exist and they exist only because of Him. And if you could contemplate a case, such that He was not to exist…then all things would cease to exist and there would remain nothing. And if you were to contemplate a case, such that all things would cease to exist aside from the Creator, His existence would not cease. And He would lose nothing; and oneness and kingship is His alone. Hashem of strength is His name because He is sufficient with His own existence, and sufficient [is] just Him alone, and needs no other. And the existences of the angels, and the celestial bodies, and all that is in them and that which is below them…all need Him for their existence. And this is the first pillar and is attested to by the verse, “I am Hashem your God.”
G-d's existence is the foundation of life. HaShem created the entire world from absolute nothingness through His speech. Before the world, He reigned alone, and after the world, He will reign forever.
HaShem is an absolute and everything else is dependent on Him. He exists because He exists, and it is inconceivable that He not be. Everything that is in existence only exists by virtue of the fact that He will it to exist. There is no power outside or besides Him. He is the Prime Mover and the First Cause.
Recognizing G-d is the most basic and crucial aspect of life. Once we accept that the Creator is Absolute, we can accept that His law is Absolute. We must come to know that we each play an important role in the vast mechanism of creation. The Almighty is the Mekor Chaim, the Source of Life, and to be able to live a proper, moral and meaningful life, one must recognize the Source. The Torah tells us: "Be careful lest your heart be misled and you turn aside and serve other gods" (Deuteronomy 11:16). "Turning aside" means straying from the Torah; once you stray from the Torah you will cleave to and serve idols (Rashi quoting Sifri on Deuteronomy 11:16). There is but one choice: to serve G-d or to serve idols. Once man strays from G-d's Truth, the Torah, he creates new rules for himself and invents new moral standards. One who does not worship HaShem worships himself, placing his trust in his own frail abilities, in his talents, skills, money, or strength. These things are emptiness and vanity! They have no strength other than what HaShem gives them! If a person does not serve G-d, he serves an illusion, the fancies of his own limited mind.
By accepting G-d's supremacy, man fulfills his purpose in creation. Rashi comments on the first verse of the Torah- Bereishit barah Elokim- for the sake of Reishit, the Beginning, G-d created the world. "The world was created for the sake of the Torah which is called 'The beginning of His way' (Proverbs 8:22), and for the sake of Israel who are called 'The beginning of His grain crop.'(Jeremiah 2:3)". The entire world was created for the sake of the Torah, G-d's Blueprint in creation which He gave to guide people towards Him, and for the sake of Israel, the nation that testifies to His existence. When a Jew declares morning and evening "Sh'mah Yisrael, Hear O Israel, HaShem is our G-d, HaShem is One", and accepts the yoke of heaven upon himself, he brings the world to a higher degree of perfection.
The difference between this world and the World to Come is that in this world, G-d is in hiding. He is not apparent and one must search hard to find Him. In the World to Come, HaShem will be apparent. There will be nothing that separates us from Him.
I've been tagged by Eitan to post 10 things which I would ask personally to HaShem. Here goes:
HaShem, my G-d and the G-d of my Forefathers, my heart is alight with love of You. I beg you that:
1) I develop complete, firm and unshaking emunah sheleimah in You, to know with a full heart that You rule the entire world, and that there exists no power besides You. Let me know that You control and manage everything and that everything You do is for the good. Let me be able to accept the harsh and the sweet from You with love.
2) HaShem, help me pray with kavanah, to serve You with devotion and love, to accept ol malchut shamayim, the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven. Help me bring others close to You, to bring Am Yisrael back to its Torah and to spread knowledge of You to the entire world.
3) Help me rid myself of anger. If you rule the world, why get angry? You certainly know better than me!
4) Help me fulfill the mitzvah of ahavat Yisrael, and let me see each Jew as a child of Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov. No matter hor far they've strayed, they always have their pintele yid, their Jewish spark.
5) HaShem, it says of You that You are good to all and that Your mercy extends to all of Your creatures. Who can love the Creator without loving the creations? Let me develop Your divine qualities of mercy and compassion for all of Your creatures.
6) Please, send us the Moshiach now. We are in such danger. Let us return to You, without the need of harsh punishments or decrees!
7) Let me subjugate my yetzer harah to serve You. All I want is You, and nothing else.
8) HaShem, convert all evil into good. Let us unlock the sparks of the klipah and elevate them into kedusha.
9) HaShem, help me develop a tranquil heart and a peaceful soul. My G-d, stop my tongue from evil and my lips from falsehood. And to those who curse me, let my soul be tranquil and my soul be as dust.
10) I want to serve You in the rebuilt Beit HaMikdash, speedily in our days, amen!
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Founded by Soccer Dad, Haveil Havalim is a carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It's hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Jack. The term 'Haveil Havalim,' which means "Vanity of Vanities," is from Qoheleth, (Ecclesiastes) which was written by King Solomon. King Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other 'excesses' and realized that it was nothing but 'hevel,' or in English, 'vanity.'
Go and check this wonderful selection of Jewish blogs. There is even something from yours truly.
Posted by Avi at 10:02 PM
Friday, April 11, 2008
A few weeks ago, before Purim, the son of an Israeli missionary in the city of Ariel was hurt in a bomb blast, disguised in a Purim basket. While this attack is certainly disgusting and cannot be justified, without any shred of proof, members of the Evangelical, Baptist, Anglican and Messianic churches have leveled a number of serious and anti-semitic accusation against the Torah-observant community.
Pat Robertson's, our supposed "friend", newspaper, Christian World News, has published an article accusing Orthodox Jewry of attacking the missionary's son and other attacks against Christians in Israel.
(excerpt from CBN):
News of this terror attack has reverberated throughout Israel and around the world.
Some see the bombing against the Ortiz family as an unprecedented attack on Messianic believers - Jews who believe Jesus - or Yeshua - is the Jewish Messiah and see no contradiction between being Jewish and believing Jesus was the Son of God.
"One of the most difficult things for the family is that when the press originally brought the story out in Israel in Hebrew, they said that someone from a radical missionary cult was injured," said Calev Meyers of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice.
The Ortiz family asked Meyers to act as a family spokesman.
"The reason the press treated it this way is that the Messianic community in Israel are the victims of ongoing vicious propaganda against the community - especially in the ultra-religious media," Meyers said.
"The ongoing vicious propaganda that comes against families like this and against the Messianic Jewish community lays the basis for radical events or attacks like this against the community and that's what we're really trying to fight," he said.
Meyers said, "One of their messages would be, 'We're not giving up and we're going to continue to build the Kingdom of God in Israel, even in the face of this kind of aggression."
Not one of these libels are true. Fatah terrorists have already taken credit for the attack, according to the Bethlehem-based Maan news agency. Of course, this hasn't stopped our "friends" from repeating vicious slander against the Jewish people. The article mentions the Narkiss church fire of last October, and a few other church attacks, and points a finger at the Jews. Despite all of the attacks, police are yet to have any suspects or leads. These accusations are nothing short of a blood libel. Pat Robertson is publicly accusing Orthodox Jews of plotting to murder the son of a pastor.
It is reprehendible how the Christian community has twisted this attack to serve their purposes, to demonstate how "oppressed" they are. They neglect to mention their total disregard for Jewish faith and beliefs. In fact, this month, the World Evangelical Alliance launched a major campaign calling for renewed efforts at Jewish conversion. They took out full page ads the New York Times and other major newspapers. That organization claims 420 million evangelicals in 128 countries. Christian money continues to pour into Israel, to build houses, communities, and most importantly, to "witness" to Jews. There is a veritable epidemic in Israel of Christian missionization, a plague that we have brought upon ourselves. The Jewish nation, parallel to the physical threat, faces the danger of shmad, spiritual annhilation. Let's see how fast the money vanishes when we state that we are not interested in their false messiah.
Watch this video about "persecution" of cultists in Arad. Notice how the Christians refer to Torah-observant Jews as "Pharisees" and mock their black coats and beards, taunts which they learnt from their god.
And look how soon Christian "love" turns on us when we demand respect for our faith. The missionary is attempting to run over a Jew while wearing a t-shirt that says 'J lives me'!
It is time to make fences around the Torah. No more missionaries! Any friend of Israel must respect our Jewish faith. That is our condition.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I was recently priviledged to read a fascinating book detailing the amazing parallels between ancient Jewish sources regarding the Exodus and Egyptian archaeological records. I highly recommed The Riddle of the Exodus by James D. Long.
While the book presents proof and evidence that is far beyond the scope of this post, I wanted to show proof the the Ten Plagues. In an ancient papyrus, the Egyptain priest Ipuwer presents a lengthy diatribe to the Pharaoh (who certainly is the cause of the Plagues) and laments a series of catastrophes that have shaken the core of the nation. "And Pharaoh's servants said unto him: 'How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God, knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?'" (Shemot 10:7)
The Torah records:
7:20 "…all the waters of the river were turned to blood."
7:21 "...there was blood thoughout all the land of Egypt …and the river stank".
7:24 "And all the Egyptians dug around the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river."
"Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere."
"The river is blood."
"Men shrink from tasting - human beings, and thirst after water."
"That is our water! That is our happiness! What shall we do in respect thereof? All is ruin!"
The Torah says:
9:23-24 ...and the fire ran along the ground... there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous.
9:25 ...and the hail smote every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field.
9:31-32 ...and the flax and the barley was smitten; for the barley was in season, and flax was ripe.
But the wheat and the rye were not smitten; for they were not grown up.
10:15 ...there remained no green things in the trees, or in the herbs of the fields, through all the land of Egypt.
"Forsooth, gates, columns and walls are consumed by fire."
"Lower Egypt weeps... The entire palace is without its revenues. To it belong [by right] wheat and barley, geese and fish."
"Forsooth, grain has perished on every side."
"Forsooth, that has perished which was yesterday seen. The land is left over to its weariness like the cutting of flax."
The plague of pestilence:
9:3 ...the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field... and there shall be a very grievous sickness.
9:19 ...gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field...
9:21 And he that did not fear the word of the Lord left his servants and cattle in the field.
"All animals, their hearts weep. Cattle moan..."
"Behold, cattle are left to stray, and there is none to gather them together."
10:22 And there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt
"The land is without light."
The Slaying of the Firstborn:
12:29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive that was in the prison.
12:30 ...there was not a house where there was not one dead.
12:30 ...there was a great cry in Egypt.
"Forsooth, the children of princes are dashed against the walls."
"Forsooth, the children of princes are cast out in the streets."
"The prison is ruined."
"He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere."
"It is groaning throughout the land, mingled with lamentations."
The Pillar of Fire:
13:21 ... by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.
"Behold, the fire has mounted up on high. Its burning goes forth against the enemies of the land."
The Spoiling of Egypt:
12:35-36 ...and they requested from the Egyptians, silver and gold articles and clothing. And God made the Egyptians favour them and they granted their request. [The Israelites] thus drained Egypt of its wealth.
"Gold and lapis lazuli, silver and malachite, carnelian and bronze... are fastened on the neck of female slaves."
There are many more parallels and proofs of the Exodus. Of course, the greatest proof is that for 4 000 years Jews have sat down by the Seder table and repeated the exact same story to their children. This is a chain of a direct unbroken tradition passed down from fathers who saw the events, to their children who in turn passed it down to their children, who passed it down to their children... As soon as the Jews left Egypt, they were commanded to rememeber the Exodus. All of the holidays are designed to commemorate the Exodus. Jews wear tefillin every morning which records the Exodus and have mezuzot on every door to remember G-d passing over the houses of the Jews.
Have a chag kasher v'sameach!
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The coming of the Moshiach is a fundamental concept in Judaism. Somebody who denies the coming of Moshiach has no place in the World to Come. The Talmud relates to us that one of the first questions that a person is asked in Heaven is: "Tzipita la'yeshua? - Did you anticipate the Redemption?". It is not merely waiting passively for the Redemption, but anticipation, getting excited over it. King David writes of the Geula: "My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen for the morning; yea, more than watchmen for the morning." Just as a watchman stands guard and looks for any sign of the breaking of dawn, so too must we keep watch for the coming of the Redemption. Every single event must be interpreted as a sign of the coming of the Moshiach.
Being the month of Nissan, it is fitting to increase our yearning for the Moshiach. To be able to desire his coming properly, we must first learn about the whole concept of Moshiach. A fantastic resource is Moshiach.com.
Traits of the Moshaich:
He will be descended from King David:
"And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a twig shall grow forth out of his roots." -Isaiah 11:1
He will be a man of this world, an observant Jew with a fear of G-d:
"The Spirit of the L-RD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the L-RD." -Isaiah 11:2
He will ensure that All Israelites are returned to their homeland:
"And He will set up an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the dispersed of Israel, and gather together the scattered of Judah from the four corners of the earth." -Isaiah 11:12
He will include and attract people from all cultures and nations:
"And it shall come to pass in that day, that the root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the nations seek; and his resting-place shall be glorious." -Isaiah 11:10
Once he is King, leaders of other nations will look to him for guidance; He will Ensure peace among the Nations:
"And he shall judge between the nations, and shall reprove many peoples: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." -Isaiah 2:4
Evil and tyranny will not be able to stand before his leadership:
"But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the land; and he shall smite the land with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked." -Isaiah 11:4
He will be a messenger of peace:
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger of good tidings, that announceth peace, the harbinger of good tidings, that announceth salvation; that saith unto Zion: 'Thy God reigneth!'" -Isaiah 52:7
He will then perfect the entire world to serve God together:
"For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent." -Zephaniah 3:9
In the Time of the Moshiach:
The Sanhedrin will be re-established:
"And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning; afterward thou shalt be called The city of righteousness, the faithful city." -Isaiah 1:26
The peoples of the world will turn to the Jews for spiritual guidance:
"Thus saith the L-RD of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, shall even take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying: We will go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you.'" -Zechariah 8:23
Knowledge of G-d will fill the world:
"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the L-RD, as the waters cover the sea." -Isaiah 11:9
The whole world will worship the One G-d of Israel:
"And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; and the L-RD alone shall be exalted in that day." -Isaiah 2:17
The ruined cities of Israel will be restored:
"And thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, and thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate."- Ezekiel 16:55
The Temple will be rebuilt resuming many of the suspended Mitzvot:
Nations will end up recognizing the wrongs they did to Israel:
"Behold, My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high." -Isaiah 52:13
Weapons of war will be destroyed:
"And they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall make fires of the weapons and use them as fuel, both the shields and the bucklers, the bows and the arrows, and the hand-staves, and the spears, and they shall make fires of them seven years." -Ezekiel 39:9
Death will be swallowed up (i.e. cease to exist) forever:
"He will swallow up death for ever; and the L-rd G-D will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of His people will He take away from off all the earth; for the L-RD hath spoken it."- Isaiah 25:8
All of the dead will rise again:
"Thy dead shall live, my dead bodies shall arise--awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust--for Thy dew is as the dew of light, and the earth shall bring to life the shades." -Isaiah 26:19
The Jewish people will experience eternal joy and gladness:
"And the ransomed of the L-RD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." -Isaiah 51:11
Monday, April 7, 2008
As history has shown, the natural trend of the Jews is towards assimilation. We don't want to be different. We want to fit it, to belong, to be like everyone else. Even when Jews are prepared to assert themselves, we want allies and friends. Many Jews do not see themselves as members of the Jewish nation but rather "Americans (or Canadians, or British, or French) of the Mosaic Persuasion". As the old saying goes, be a man on the street and a Jew at home. Such was the tragic thinking of the Jews in Egypt.
On Pasuk, (Shemot 1:7) "And the land was filled with them (the Jews)," the Yalkut stated: "If the Egyptians went to the theater, it was full of Jews; if they went to the circus, again, the place was full of Jews." As soon as Levi, the last surviving brother, passed away, the Jews moved away from the customs and ways of Ya'akov and moved out of the shtetl, into cosmopolitain Egypt. The Jews began assimilating in ernest. Pharaoh used their desire for integration and acceptance to his own benefit, as he said (1:10), "Come, let us outsmart them." Pharaoh announced a new public works project for the good of Egypt and invited all of the Jews and native Egyptians to participate. Being loyal citizens, the Jews joined with the Egyptians in this new and glorious project. Pharaoh even set the first brick! As all the Jews had gathered to work, free of charge in order to gain acceptance, Pharaoh brought in the taskmasters who forbade the Jews to stop working. He tricked Am Yisrael into slavery!
To the degree which the Israelites tried to integrate into Egyptian society, they were violently thrown out. Being rejected, they turned insular and returned to their roots. The Midrash tells us that in the merit of the Jews keeping their Jewish names, Jewish language and Jewish garb, they merited the Redemption. Assimilation brought slavery and oppression while separation and self-identification heralded divine compassion and great miracles. G-d took the Jewish people out of Israel to separate us from the other nations, to remove us from the influence of idolatry and of wickedness, to end the foreign influence over us.
"And you shall be holy to Me, for I, the Lord, am holy, and I have distinguished you from the peoples, to be Mine." (Vayikra 20:26)
"So I said to you, You shall inherit their land, and I shall give it to you to possess it a land flowing with milk and honey. I am the Lord your G-d, Who has separated you from the peoples." (Vayikra 20:24)
Sadly, the nation of Israel seems intent today on committing the same foolish sin. Hillel, the Jewish organization on campus, has recently announced that it is opening its doors to non-Jews for membership. According to the report, "the organization is throwing open its doors to everyone, designing programs that appeal to Jews and non-Jews and hyping its contribution to university -- not only Jewish – life." Reportedly, more and more non-Jews are serving on Hillel boards. Whereas the group's mission statement before 2006 was to increase the number of Jews "doing Jewish with other Jews," it now seeks to "enrich" Jewish student life, the Jewish people and the world.
"Most of the students that we have are not interested in doing Jewish with other Jews," a Hillel campus head told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. "They're interested in doing Jewish with their friends who are doing Catholic and Puerto Rican and Turkish -- their friends and their family. The challenge for us is how do you create expressions of Jewish life that students will deem to be authentic at the same time as they are not exclusive or tribal."
Hillel, which purportedly claims to seek to enrich Jewish life on campus and to bring Jews together, is opening the door to assimilation and spiritual destruction. Already, in the United States, every second Jew that gets married is opting out of Judaism, and marries a non-Jew. What is it about Jews that we want to seem tolerant and accepting at all costs, even putting ourselves at jeopardy? (Could it be that being in exile too long has led us to forget that we too have rights?) This is the same dangerous thinking that leads Jews to shun Jewish schools because they are too "sheltered", for the Israeli government to continue its suicidal tendencies at the behest of the United States or to persue policies that put Jewish life in danger in order to gain acceptance by the anti-semitic United Nations. It is this mindset that demands that we continue to allow non-Jews, Evangelical Christians, to support us, even though this gives them a foothold in the Land and brings on the more serious problem of missionization and spiritual erosion.
Jews, we cannot be part of the United Nations, to assimilate among the goyyim. We are a "people that dwells alone and among the peoples is not reckoned" (BaMidbar, 23:9). This is a mitzvah! By relying on non-Jews, we postpone the Ultimate Redemption which will only when we are so pitifully alone, when it will be obvious that Israel has no one to rely on except for HaShem. Rabbi Meir Kahane HY"D wrote: "For so long as the Jew has even one ally, he will be convinced - in his smallness of mind - that his salvation came from that ally. It is only when he is alone - against all of his own efforts and frantic attempts - that he will, through no choice, be compelled to turn to G-d." We do not want acceptance or to integrate. We do not want to be the same or to fit in. Jews, we cannot give up our heritage. Such is a crime and postpones the coming of the Righteous Moshiach. The Redemption from Egypt only occured when it was clear that no one would stand up for the Jews, when Pharaoh arrogantly boasted: "Who is HaShem that I should obey Him and let Israel go?" (Shemot 5:2). Only then did HaShem unleash His full fury and wrath against Egypt and humble the wicked. The plagues and the splitting of the Sea proclaimed to the entire world "There is none like Me on all the earth! (9:14)"
"Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe, Who separates between holy and secular, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, between the seventh day and the six days of labor. Blessed are You, Hashem, who separates between the holy and the secular."
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Our Sages teaches that just as we were redeemed in Nissan, the month of the Exodus from Egypt, so too are we destined to be redeemed again in Nissan. A hopeless and pathetic rabble of slaves, a broken and lifeless collection of individuals and tribes, were transformed by G-d's mighty hand into a powerful nation. A people that appeared dead were energized and filled with life by the Almighty. Just like the growing crescent of the moon, the nation of Israel was redeemed and renewed. By giving us the power to determine the timing of the New Moon (since a New Moon could only be declared if the court in Jerusalem ruled it so), G-d gave us mastery over time. While other greater and more powerful nations have come and gone, leaving behind only dust and traces, the Jewish people remains. Time has no effect on us as time only exists in this world, while we belong to a different world.
'Will these dry bones live again?', asks the poor Jew. G-d answers him that He has chosen this nation from all others, and that its success is in His hands alone. Today, we are surrounded by a sea of bloodthirsty foes whose hatred knows no bounds. We may seem lethargic or apathetic as assimilation and intermarriage reeks its horrible toll, creating a spiritual genocide. Nonetheless, know that like the moon, we will be renewed. Once we are re-energized, there will be no limit to the accomplishments of Am Yisrael. The nations will stand in amazement as the people that they took for dead, that they did their best to murder and destroy, rape and pillage, convert and assimilate, stands proudly once again and asserts its rights. Our redemption is now. It is a time for comfort.
"Turn Thou us unto Thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old."
Thursday, April 3, 2008
(This graphic is reprinted with the permission of Yehuda HaKohen. This is a hechsher for kosher sites. Should anybody wish to reuse it, e-mail Yehuda and ask for his permission. Otherwise, it is stealing.)
We are commanded in the Torah to make separations between the holy and the impure. "For I am the LORD your God; sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy; for I am holy... to make a difference between the unclean and the clean." (VaYikra 11:44,47) Purity and impurity cannot coexist. One cannot have a piece of bacon at a shabbat table. In the same way, mixing Judaism with idolatry does not make it kosher. In fact, it makes it all the more repugnant, detestable and loathsome.
Being a Torah-oriented site, I strive for kashrut and kedusha in all of my writing. Unfortunately, this site is often hijacked by avodah zara, idolatry, evil and impurity. That being said, all For Zion's Sake readers must conform to some new rules:
1) I don't care how much you love Israel or support the Jewish people. It doesn't matter if you drop Yiddish phrases, eat bagels and lox or "Judaize" your faith. There is no Yeshua, nor is there a Brit Chadasha. I doubt that any of you were taught in Sunday school about the Rav Shaul or his 12 talmidim. These are simply attempts to kasher up treif and to mislead gullible Jews. You can wrap it in a tallis, immerse it in a mikveh and get an OU stamp on it but if it believes in JC as Lord and Saviour, it ain't kosher.
2) There is to be no mention of foreign gods, especially the name of Yeishu HaNotzri, yimach shemo. I have no need for your pagan saviour-gods, or for men deified by votes during the early centuries CE.
3) No missionary texts are to be quoted. It is pointless to quote the Christian Bible to me or to any Jew as we do not hold it as authoritative. You might as well quote Harry Potter, an equally good (I think better) work of fiction.
4) Anybody, Jew or non-Jew is free to comment and discuss, but should any attempt be made to missionize or to share avodah zara (idolatry), the result will be automatic suspension or being banned from my site.
5) If you claim to support the Jewish people, then that must extend to respect for the Jewish faith and belief. I will not tolerate any accusations of following "the laws of men" and no slander of the rabbis will be permitted. (A favourite is calling them "a brood of vipers.") I don't need your faith to be "saved". I have the Torah and you cannot take that away from me.
6) Messianic "Jews" need not apply.
This is not out of anger or hatred. It is merely a request for common courtesy. I simply want respect of my religion on this blog. Many non-Jews comment here and have been nothing but respectful. I do not want them to leave. Feel free to ask any questions that you want as long as there is no intent to missionize.
"Therefore we put our hope in You, HaShem our G-d, to soon see the glory of Your strength, to remove all idols from the Earth, and to completely cut off all false gods; to perfect the world in the kingdom of the Almighty. And for all living flesh to call Your name, and for all the wicked of the Earth to turn to You. May all the world's inhabitants recognize and know that to You every knee must bend and every tongue must swear loyalty. Before You, HaShem, our G-d, may all bow down, and give honor to Your precious name, and may all take upon themselves the yoke of Your rule. And may You reign over them soon and forever and always. Because all rule is Yours alone, and You will rule in honor forever and ever. As it is written in Your Torah: "HaShem will reign forever and ever." And it is said: "HaShem will be Ruler over the whole Earth, and on that day, G-d will be One, and G-d's name will be One."
Amen, may that day come soon.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Brothers, Am Yisrael is in dire straits. The sword of heavenly judgement is on our necks. Our people is in grave danger and our lives literally are held in the balance.
- The Hezbollah have around 30,000 rockets (according to the minister of security advertised on the news) and Iran and Syria are continuing to supply them with weaponry.
- Among the weapons are advanced, long-ranged Iranian rockets that are a threat to all major populated areas in Israel; power stations, airports, harbors, etc. the range extends all the way to the nuclear plant in Dimona ("Ha'aretz", March 2, 2008).
- There is an even greater threat from Iranian and Syrian missiles carrying biological or chemical weapons, something for which Israel is completely unprepared.
- Syria is boosting up forces along its northern border and calling up reserves in anticipation of a possible conflict with Israel. On Wednesday, the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi reported that Damascus was preparing for a large-scale Israeli attack against Syria and Hizbullah and has begun increasing its presence along its border with Lebanon, as well as calling up reserve forces.
- Al-Qaeda No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, pledged Wednesday night to do his utmost to strike Jews all over the world and to extend the Jihad to Jerusalem. "We promise our Muslim brothers that we will do the best we can to harm Jews in Israel and the world over, with Allah's help and according to his command," he said.
- Israel's leaders are still exhibiting suicidal tendencies in a misguided "peace" process, wanting to tear tens of thousands of Jews out of Judea and Samaria and to bring Arab rockets even closer to Israeli cities.
What can we do? How can we save ourselves from these threats of destruction?
Let us recognize that we have no one to rely on except HaShem. The US cannot save us, and neither can the Israeli army. Our only strength and protector is the Rock of Israel, HaShem.
We are taught that whenever evil decrees are upon Am Yisrael, we must all don sackcloth and ashes, fast and most importantly, pray for salvation and do teshuva. We must immediately return to HaShem, do complete teshuva, confess our sins and recommit to HaShem's Torah. The sword is upon Israel's neck, slated for destruction, G-d forbid, and nobody has any answers. The government has admitted that Israel is completely unprepared for an Iranian or Syrian biological or chemical attack. Our lives are in danger! There is no time to lose!
Simulataneous prayer services are being help in 40 cities in Israel and in Monsey, NY, Thursday. Traditionally, whenever the Jewish people have suffered tremendous tribulations, we have put on sack and ashes and fasted. The Patriarch Jacob, Moses, the nation as a whole several times during the period of the Judges, Mordechai and Esther- these are but a few examples of the proper response to divine judgement.
This is also what is written in Shulchan Aruch:
"All the people [of Israel] gather together, covering themselves in sacks… one of the people takes the ashes… each and every person takes from the ashes and places it upon his head. After that they bring one of their older wise men… and he says capturing words (words that capture the hearts of the listeners and arouse them to teshuva)… until their hearts surrender (to HaShem) and they then do complete teshuva."
Please my brothers, we have no time to lose. We have tried every secular option- of surrendering 'land for peace', of fighting the terrorists, of negotiating, of bombing our enemies- yet all have failed. We cannot make peace without HaShem.
"Oh that My people would hearken unto Me, that Israel would walk in My ways! I would soon subdue their enemies, and turn My hand against their adversaries." (Psalm 81:14-15)
While most of us cannot pick up a weapon and fight against our enemies, there is something that we each can do. The strength and weapon on Israel is prayer and mitzvot. The Arabs may have tilim (rockets) but we have a far greater power: tehillim (Psalms). A mitzvah, a G-dly deed, has the power to reach deep into the core of our being--where we are all one, and the physical distance between us is of no consequence. At this core, a positive deed on our part will help bring salvation to a brother and sister in distress. As the Rambam taught, a single good deed is enough to tip the scale in our favour and turn the tide.
Here are some suggestions. You can make a difference.
- Torah Study: The Torah is our true strength. HaShem promised that if we study and follow the Torah, our enemies will have no power over us. (Daily study)
- Heartfelt prayer: Say some Tehillim, pour out your heart and beg HaShem to have mercy on His people. "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will make mention of the name of the LORD our God." (Psalm 20:8)
- Charity and acts of kindness: Put a coin in a charity box, give a gift of money to a fellow in need or to a charitable cause, or extend a helping hand to someone who needs it. G-d loves nothing better than Jewish unity.
- Tefillin: The Torah promises that in the merit of the mitzvah of tefillin, "all the nations of the world will see that the name of G-d is called upon you, and they will fear you" (Deuteronomy 28:10). Every Jewish male must don tefillin every morning when praying.
- Mezuzah: If you have not placed mezuzot on your doors, do so. As our Sages have said: "A human king sits inside his palace and his servants guard him from the outside. But you sleep on your beds, and G-d guards you (i.e. through the Mezuzah on your doorposts) from the outside." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Avoda Zara 11a.)
- Shabbat candles: We are told by HaShem: "If you kindle for me the lights of shabbat, I will kindle for you the lights of Zion". Before sunset on Friday nights, every Jewish woman must light candles in honour of the holy shabbat.
"Bring us to Zion, Your city, with joy and to Jerusalem, Your Holy Temple with the joy of the world."
*** Please help publicize this important message.
Cross-posted to Jewish Vengeance
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Hear O Israel, HaShem is our G-d, HaShem is the One and Only. HaShem is G-d. HaShem reigned, HaShem reigns, HaShem will reign for all eternity.
HaShem is the One and Only power in this world. There is none other besides Him. He sent us down to this world with the purpose of us getting to know Him. He's waiting for you. You need only take the first step and recognize His majesty.
"And you shall know today, and set it firmly in your heart,
that Hashem is the G-d in heaven above and on earth below, there is no other." (Deuteronomy/Devarim 4.39)
"The Holy One said, open for me a door as big as a needle's eye and I will open for you a door through which may enter tents and camels." (Midrash Rabbah, The Song of Songs, 5.3) Open the door for Him.