Monday, December 22, 2008

Not Afraid to be Unique

Peled said that Israelis want to celebrate Christmas because they do not want to feel culturally isolated from the rest of the world.

"Celebrating only Hanukka set us apart, makes us different. People don't want to feel that way. They want to be part of world," she said.

With these words, Tamir Peled, has signed the death warrant of the Jewish people. Explaining the increasing visibility of Christmas decorations in certain places in Israel, Peled says that many Israelis don't want to be different. They feel that Chanukkah sets them apart, something that they are uncomfortable with. This desire to fit in, to be alike the nations, is the slow end of the Jews.

The Greeks were one of the most tolerant and universal-minded peoples in the ancient world. It is doubtful that they oppressed or persecuted any other people besides the Jews. How did a people known for its openness and love of philosophy come to commit so many atrocities against the Jews? It is hard to understand how the people that gave the world democracy, Plato and Aristotle, were the same ones as those who murdered Chana's 7 sons before her eyes for not bowing to an idol, or martyred the saintly Rabbi Eliezer for refusing to eat pork.

Alexander the Great and his Hellenistic successors wanted to unite the world under Greek culture and philosophy. The ancient pagans were the ultimate in relativism as they syncretized gods and beliefs with great ease. The Greeks adopted the gods of the nations that they conquered and in return gave them their Pantheon. The only people who refused to do this were the Jews. The Jews insisted on circumcising themselves, alone of all the ancients, did not eat the same food as non-Jews and did not share in any of their customs. The Greeks were outraged when they discovered that the Jewish Temple contained no idol or statue. They forbade the circumcision, the mark of the covenant between the Jews and G-d. They decreed that anyone caught studying Torah, the divine laws, observing the Shabbat, the holy day, or keeping kosher was to be put to death. They outlawed the Sanhedrin's proclamation of the New Month, the obligation which gave the Jewish people mastery over time.

The Greeks did not wish to eradicate the Jews physically, nor did they wish to destroy them. Rather, the Greeks wanted to put an end to the Torah, G-d's laws which set the Jewish people apart. They desecrated the Temple, and erected a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies. They built giant sports arenas and theaters in Jerusalem and the countryside to try and entice the Jews into the Greek culture. In fact, many of the rich and elite became known as Hellenizers because of their affinity for the Greek culture. The Greeks polluted all of the oil in the Temple, reserved for kindling the Golden Menorah, symbolic of their desire to stamp out the Torah and its light.

Oil characterized the Jewish people because just as oil does not mix with other liquids, so too do the Jews not mix with other nations. Just as oil always rises to the top, Jews always rise above the mundaneness and triviality of the world, and above the attempts of those who wish to wipe them out. The prophet Bilaam called the Jews "a people that shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations." (Numbers 23:9) The essence of the Jewish people is to be separate, to be distinct and to be holy. The Uniqueness of the Divine is paralleled by the uniqueness of the Jewish people, G-d's chosen vessel through which to reveal His Oneness and Majesty. G-d chose the nation of Israel to bring consciousness of G-d to the entire world, and to spread the light of Torah.

Many Jews unfortunately do not want to be alone. They hate their Jewishness, their choseness and distinct-ness with a passion. Deep down, they are afraid of being unique. These Jews want desperately to be accepted. Little do they realize that it is their Jewish destiny to be different. Our Father Avraham was called the 'Ivri' because he stood on one ever, side, while the entire world stood on the other. In a society that worshipped the forces of nature and paid homage to tyrants, Avraham had the courage to stand apart.

Our Sages tell us that Israel was redeemed from Egypt by virtue of the fact that they retained their identity. The Jews did not change their Hebrew names, adapt their dress to meet Egyptian fashion and spoke only their Hebrew tongue. Throughout the ages, the Jews resisted assimilation and were therefore able to outlast any other nation.

When Jews wish to become like the other nations, it is the beginning of the end. As G-d says: "If you sever yourselves from the other peoples, then you belong to me; but if not, then you belong to Nebuchadnezzar and his fellows." (Midrash, Sifra 93d) In the United States, Judaism is disappearing rapidly in a Silent Holocaust of assimilation, with a 50% assimilation rate. According to research, non-Orthodox Jewry will be largely extinct within the span of 3 generations if the current trend prevails. In Israel, the absurd political situation is a symptom of people of little faith desiring to be accepted by the world. The Israeli government and a large segment of the population are willing to sacrifice land, retreat, withdraw and compromise, all to be accepted by a world that stood silently as European Jewry chocked and burnt in the gas chambers and ovens. Such a government of lemmings is leading the nation of Israel back into the ghettos of exile.

The Jewish nation did not survive 2000 years of exile in order to simply be a cultural club. We are told that G-d created the world for the sake of Israel. In order for G-d's Truth to be revealed to the world, He needs a chosen people dwelling in a holy land living by divine laws. Our ancestors rose up against the Greeks so that they should be able to keep the Torah freely, and not be overwhelmed by Greek cultural influence. "Ye are My witnesses, saith the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He; before Me there was no God formed, neither shall any be after Me." (Isaiah 43:10) That is our mission, our calling. Tamir Peled's words, which echo those of the Hellenizers before him, are a death sentence to the Jewish nation.

This Chanukkah, let us discover what makes us unique and may we spread the light of Torah around the world. May G-d illuminate the darkness that clouds of lives, speedily in our days.

Cross-posted to the Truth about Moshiach

No to a Two-State (Final) Solution

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Don't Let the Light Go Out

Don't let the light go out. This light has seen mighty empires comes and go. It saw the Greece rise up and conquer world, only to fade away. This light saw the Roman empire grown and collapse. It saw mighty rulers, fearless generals and mighty warriors disappear, without a trace. Yet the light remains.

Don't let the light go out. This light overcame the forces of Hellenism and hedonism. It shone through the darkness of immorality and vanity. It gave guidance and meaning to thousands of generations of Jews who resisted assimilation, who refused to forsake their Torah and their G-d. This light illuminated the secularism that blinded many and sought to lead the Jewish people astray. Philosophies, ideologies and 'isms' are relegated to the dustbin of history, yet the light remains.

Don't let the light go out. It was tended and nurtured lovingly by Jews throughout the ages, often at the risk of their lives. It was protected and treasured despite pain, despite poverty, despite hardship and persecution. Downtrodden, humiliated and weak, the light gave us strength. When there was no hope, the light promised us a better future.

Don't let the light go out. It shone brightly in Morocco and Poland, in Baghdad and Paris. It illuminated the streets of Minsk and Pinsk, Istanbul and Fez, Shanghai and Rome. Our enemies could not extinguish it. Withstanding the cross and the crescent, crusaders and mujahadeen, the light still burns. Under the windows of popes and kings, emperors and sultans, shas and dukes, the light proclaimed that we were still here.

Don't let the light go out. It was lit hidden in cellars, for fear of the Inquisitors racks. It was lit in ghettos and camps, in the shadow of the gas chambers and crematorium. It was lit in the freezing gulag's, the punishment for wishing to return home. It burnt long after Crusaders and Almohads, revolutionaries and fascists, Nazis and Communists, disappeared from the earth and will burn long after the suicide bomber, "holy warrior" and jihadist terrorist. For the miracles performed for us in those days, in this time.

Don't let the light go out. The light that was kindled at the rededication of the Second Temple, and will be kindled at the dedication of the Third Temple, may it be soon. The light that has returned home after two thousands years of exile, the light that blossoms in its holy land. The light that was shot out in Mumbai, massacred on the streets on Jerusalem, in pizzerias and cafes, synagogues and study halls. The light that is threatened by assimilation and ignorance. The light that has seen history, yet still shines. Don't let the light go out.

Chag Chanukkah Sameach!

Cross-posted to Goat's Barnyard and the Truth about Moshiach

Monday, December 8, 2008

"But some of my best friends are Jewish..."

I get it. You are not anti-semitic. Certainly not. That is ridiculous. I'm only charging you with that to shut you up, to slander you, to ignore what you have to say. Far be it from you to hate Jews. You eat bagels and lox and once were invited to your co-worker's Passover seder. You've seen "Fiddler on the Roof" at least 4 times. You even dated a Jewish girl in college. What more proof do I need? You have nothing against Jews; we've already established that. You just hate Israel. Jews aren't a people; they're just a religious group. There's a big difference between being an anti-Zionist and an anti-semite. Of course.

Keep talking. Maybe if you say if enough, you'll succeed in convincing someone. Certainly, only a Zionist fascist would deduce that being committed to the destruction of the Jewish state would imply hatred of Jews. Seeing as the most probable way that the State of Israel would come to an end is either through a nuclear Holocaust or at the hands of genocidal invading armies, that suggestion doesn't seem so ridiculous. And the fact that the only country you want wiped off the face of the earth is Israel sets off some alarms. Anti-Zionist, if you're simply naive rather than genocidal, know that the end of the State of Israel would mean the mass murder of its over 6 million Jewish inhabitants. But you have a Jewish doctor...

Your ranting and raving over "poor Palestinians children" every time Israel defends itself is reasonable. Just like your opposition to Jews protecting their right to exist. Hey, you read Anne Frank's diary. Now that's a Jew that you can like! Why can't we all be more like her? Anti-Zionist, let's call a spade a spade. You understand the motives behind a suicide bomber blowing himself up in a cafe full of Jews, or why someone would gun down a library full of students. You explain that its because of "poverty", "racism" or "the occupation" that they lynch Jewish soldiers and dance on their corpses, displaying their bloody hands proudly to the world. And yet no sort of reaction on the part of the attacked is permissible, at least if the victim is Jewish. For a Jew to fight back would be a disproportionate response. It would be a war crime, and you would evoke every despicable sort of Nazi comparison possible.

Anti-Zionist, are you getting the picture? Do you see the error of your ways, or is your hatred much deeper engrained? You proclaim the right of self-determination for all peoples, especially the made-up entity known as the "Palestinians", except for Jews. While every little tribe and clan should be able to make its own decisions, only Jews must be condemned to constantly live as minorities, at the mercies of others. You have no problem with Jews, as long as they know their place and keep quiet. A weak Jew is your favourite. Israel is victim to your double-standards, delegitimization and demonization. You condemn as a racist apartheid state the only country in the Middle East with free elections, based on democratic principles. The most diverse country in the region is racist in your eyes. A Jew living in Judea and Samaria is a crime against humanity. A Jew praying at his most holy site, the Temple Mount, is forbidden lest the Arabs be offended. Jews have no right to a state unless they accept a Rwanda-style bi-national state, while no other people would except such a thing. Jews should just be happy with whatever they're given- they're lucky we let them live.

Still, you're not an anti-semite. Only a fool or a neocon warmongerer would accuse you of that. After all, the Jews aren't even a people. They're just a religious group. Too bad that Jews have always defined themselves as a nation, held together by common bonds of religion, faith, culture, heritage and ancestry. You are chief rabbi now, and you have decided that we are not a people. And the only Jews whose opinions count are Neturai Karta and the loony self-loathing Left. It doesn't matter that living in Israel is equivalent to keeping the entire Torah, according to Jewish law. It is immaterial that the vast majority of the world's Jews choose to express their identity through nationalism and peoplehood. You make the rules, great rebbe and pasken. And you've decided that we don't deserve a country. In fact, such a thing is racist. Never mind that the French, Chinese, Iraqi and Zulu are entitled to one. Jews can only exist as guests in somebody else's country. Their own is racist and colonialist.

Anti-Zionist, let's not pretend here. You use the same classic anti-semitic canards in a new anti-Israel wrapping. The collective guilt of the Jews over their crimes of deicide has been replaced with Israel's original sin of land-grabbing and theft, the "Nakba", or disaster. The Zionists are responsible for the world's current ills and led the US into its disastrous war in Iraq. The Mossad was behind 9/11 and just about every other man-made and natural disaster since and before then. AIPAC and the Israel lobby are pulling the strings behind the US government. Jews no longer kidnap Christian babies to use their blood for matzot; they murder Arab babies with impunity. Jews don't poison the wells but rather Israel intentionally spreads disease among the Arabs.

Save it. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably hates Jews. You hate the Jewish state vehemently. You are obsessed with Israel/Jewish/Zionist conspiracies and see the Mossad's/Jew's hands behind everything. Check on double standards. Check on disproportionate condemnations. Check on historical revisionism and denial of Jewish basic rights. You, my friend, have all the basic characteristic of the classic anti-semite. Anti-semitism has proved itself extremely resilient throughout the ages, making itself suitable for every particular time and ideology. Anti-Zionism is simply its latest reincarnation. You're not fooling anyone. Give up the act.

Cross-posted to Goat's Barnyard and Stop Raping Israel

Friday, November 28, 2008

Let it Shine

Today is Rosh Chodesh Kislev, the beginning of the month of Kislev, synonymous with Chanukkah, light, joy and celebration. In the month of Kislev, the Maccabees rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem which had been defiled by the Greeks. This month represents the triumph of the light of Torah, goodness and holiness over the forces of profanity, evil and hatred. During the 8 days of Chanukkah, we merit the return of the Or HaGanuz, the hidden primordial light that G-d created for the benefit of the righteous. The name of the month, Kislev, literally means 'kes'- hidden, 'lev'- 36. 36, equal to the lights of Chanukkah, stands for the 36 hours in which the divine light was on the Earth, until G-d hid it away for future. On the Rosh Chodesh of the month of lights, 5 lights of Torah have been brutally extinguished.

The Torah is a book deeply devoted to life. We are told that we should live by G-d's laws, and not die by them. We refer to G-d as the G-d of Life, the G-d who desires that the wicked not die but that they repent and live. As Jews, we cherish and appreciate life deeply. That is why the gratuitous violence going on in India pains us to our core. When the Greeks ruled Eretz Yisrael, they tried to distance Israel from the Torah and to hide the divine light. That is why we celebrate our renewed independence with candle lighting. We light the Chanukkah candles in our windows, in order to publicize the miracle. We want the light of Torah to overflow all around the world. Not surprisingly, there are Jews willing and committed to spreading such light to the most nether reaches of the globe.

The Chabad-Lubavitch movement has thousands of shlichim who give spiritual comfort and strengthen Jewish communities worldwide. Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg were two of those shlichim who moved away from their families in NY and Israel and went to live in India, an extremely remote country with a very small Jewish community, in order to provide food and hospitality to Israeli tourists there. They had little financial incentive to move so far away and to put themselves in danger, yet they chose to do so in order to bring Jews closer to Torah. These two holy people, of blessed memory, were shining examples of the light of altruism, of human kindness and decency. The Chabad center in Mumbai, India, was open to anyone who needed a place to sleep, eat, spend Shabbat or study Torah.

"Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg made the ultimate sacrifice," said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch. "As emissaries to Mumbai, Gabi and Rivky gave up the comforts of the West in order to spread Jewish pride in a corner of the world that was a frequent stop for throngs of Israeli tourists. Their Chabad House was popular among the local community, as well as with visiting businesspeople.

"For five years, they ran a synagogue and Torah classes, and helped people dealing with drug addiction and poverty," continued the statement. "Their selfless love will live on with all the people they touched. We will continue the work they started."

These two holy lights were brutally put out, along with hundreds of innocent people, by evil and cowardly murderers, committed to a religion of hatred and violence. In a senseless act commanded by a demonic deity, Islamic terrorists snuffed out the lives of hundreds of innocent people. A religion that desires only death and destruction, which creates nothing but only maims and murders, has spawned tens of thousands of deadly attacks such as this. Whether in New York, Jerusalem, London, Bali or Mumbai, these terrorists brazenly kill innocent civilians. Such an ideology is the complete antithesis of that of the light of Chanukkah, one which cannot coexist with the peace of the Torah. This cruel Islamic belief of war and hatred must be combatted and eradicated.

The sign of Kislev is that of Sagittarius, the archer, keshet. In Judaism, the keshet represents the forces of prayer. As Yaakov said to Yosef on his death bed, "which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow" (Genesis 48:22), meaning with prayer. The power and strength of the Jewish people is our prayer, our keshet. The keshet of prayer is opposite to Yishmael, who is called a roveh kashet, an archer. Only when the Jewish people unite and use our bow and arrow, our collective prayer, can we defeat the wicked archer of Yishmael. Yishmael, as the Torah tells us, is a wild ass of a man, his hand in everything, and everyone's hand against his. He is cruel and violent, a terrorist who murders at will. Without remorse, Yishmael wipes out the lights of the Torah and kills those who uphold and cherish life. He has no guilt, no conscious, but lives only to destroy. Yishmael flies planes into skyscrapers, dances as teenagers are shot to death while learning Torah, beheads captives and dances on the bodies of his victims. He is truly a wild ass of a man, out of control and bent on world domination. Now more than ever must Am Yisrael destroy the archer by using our power of archery, to cry out to HaShem to save us.

Just as the Greeks fell away against the holiness of the Torah, so too will Yishmael not be able to succeed in snuffing out the light so callously. The Chanukkiah is displaying in public so that the light should spread and illuminate the darkness. In these trying times, may we speedily to see a new light shine upon Zion, and the darkness that plagues the world be lifted. May Hashem comfort the families of all those killed by the evil archer in Mumbai among the mourner of Zion and Jerusalem and may we this month be inaugurated upon us for goodness and for blessing, for salvation and comfort.

Cross-posted to Goat's Barnyard and Jewish Vengeance

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Force of History

Enlightenment-age Jews felt that with the gradual erosion of the Church's power, traditional anti-semitism would soon disappear. In anticipation of becoming full citizens of their respective countries, they declared themselves "Frenchmen (or Germans, or Americans) of the Mosaic Faith". They were Jews in their homes and men in the street. A new age of equal rights was dawning upon them.

This hopeful dream was shattered in the aftermath of the Dreyfus affair, when anti-semitism in France attacked full force, ater 100 years of Jewish emancipation. Cries of "death to the Jews" woke the Jews up from their slumber. Many realized that anti-semitism made it virtually impossible for Jews to live peacefully in foreign countries. Assimilation could never be complete as the anti-semite would always remind the Jew of his origins. These Jews decided that the only solution to anti-semitism was for Jews to forsake the lands of the exiles and build a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. However, the ultimate idea of assimilation was not lost: instead of being good socialists in their home countries, they would build a good socialist state in Israel. The socialist Zionists hoped that in Israel they would create a new Jew, cut off from the ties of the past, a build a secular, socialist society. This new Jewish state would be accepted among the brotherhood of nations as an equal member.

In a great irony of history, after having returned from 2000 years in exile, cut off from our Land, the leaders of Israel today are busy carving the Land up. They are planning to expel 100 000 Jews from their homes, G-d forbid, and to give Judea and Samaria, the Biblical homeland of the Jewish people, up to its enemies. They have fought against traditional Jewish education and raised an ignorant and rootless generation, unattached to Jewish customs, history and practice. The Israeli Left is displaying suicidal tendencies in an irrational drive to surrender and retreat. They put their own people at risk in a desire to withdraw from land and transfer it to the Arabs. What is this insane desire? Israel, an extremely tiny state, could not survive a hostile terror state carved out of its belly. Another Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza would put every singly major Israeli city within rocket range. Ben-Gurion international airport would be under constant threat and if one plane were to be shot down, aliyah, trade and tourism would be effectively over. It seems that despite any logical reasons to the contrary, the Left wants nothing more than to give up as much territory as possible. The spineless and corrupt leaders constantly bow before international pressure in order to appease the rabid anti-semites in the UN and the EU. What is the reason for these self-destructive impulses?

Just like the assimilated Jews of Europe when confronted with brutal hatred, the leftist establishment in Israel is reminded of its Jewish identity by the two-fold force of Jewish history and international rejection. The Israeli Left, inheritors of the secular, socialist vision of the new Jew, want nothing more than to escape Jewish history. All of their policies represent an attempt to flee from their own identity. After the 6 Days' War, Israel found itself in possession of an extremely large amount of territory, central to Jewish history. Instead of liberating Jewish holy places and settling the newly conquered land, the government attempted to return control to the Arabs. What nation would return land conquered in a defensive war, especially land so precious to the Jewish nation? The answer is simple: Judea and Samaria, with its holy sites and biblical locations, reminds the Israeli Left of their Judaism. All of the stories of the Tanach took place in Judea and Samaria. Avraham and David did not walk down Shenkin street, neither did they cruise down the trendy Tel-Aviv hotspots. They did, however, live and die in Judea and Samaria, in places that still exist today. The Israeli government has decided to evacuate settlers from Hebron. Hebron is the foundation of Judaism, where our Patriarchs and Matriarchs are buried. If they are able to free themselves of Hebron, so they believe, they will not be reminded of Judaism.

One could hardly think that the Jewish nation survived oppression and persecution, pogroms and Holocaust, and was returned to its own land simply to bar-hop or go to the beach. The Jewish nation has a destiny to keep the Torah and to become a light unto the nations. Judea and Samaria remind the Left of this. When they see Jews sacrificing themselves to live in these lands, Jews pouring out their souls at the Kotel, Mearat HaMachpela, Kever Rachel and all of the tombs of our forebearers, they cannot forget their mission. They know deep down in their souls how there is more to the Land of Israel than sunshine and hummus. And they cannot abide this. However disturbs their good life must be expelled.

In the past, the Jews had no choice in their identity as anti-semites were quick to point them out. When overt anti-semitism began to fade, assimilation and intermarriage became rampant. Similarly, the hatred of the United Nations and the international body towards the State of Israel lets the Left know that the are still Jews. Israel is the Jew among the Nations. That is behind the intense desire to for peace. Peace, peace, peace. Peace at any cost, any price, any sacrifice. For, according to the Left, if peace is achieved, Israel will be accepted by the world and nobody will dare remind them that they are Jews. If 100 000 Jews need to be thrown out of their homes, so be it. The end result will be acceptance by the world. The condemnations and denounciations of the United Nations has taken the place of the discriminatory restrictions against Jews. Even if they choose not to practice Judaism, the hostility towards them is enough to let the Left know that they have not fully assimilated.

The Jewish nation has a destiny. It was chosen by HaShem, the G-d of the Universe, to bring His Torah to the entire world and to make this world a dwelling place for Him. Such a perfected world necessitates a chosen people living in a special land according to a holy law. Those who oppose such a plan try to divorce Israel from its biblical heritage and mandate by force. However, Israel's identity catches up with it always. When the Jews try to flee from who they really are, the angry nations of the world are quick to remind them. We must remember our divine calling as the Navi says (Isaiah 42:6) "I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and have taken hold of thy hand, and kept thee, and set thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the nations; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house." Let us embrace our destiny rather than having it forced upon us unwillingly.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reading the Instruction Manual

"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that change darkness into light, and light into darkness; that change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter!"

Like any good product creator, G-d provided His world with a blueprint for successful and happy lives. G-d gave us His holy Torah so that we should live lives with more meaning and more blessing. The Torah is the path to reaching G-d and safely maneuvering through life's obstacles. As the Sages teach, "delve into it and continue to delve into it, because everything is in it". The secret to overcoming every problem and mishap is contained in G-d's Torah. In even the most seemingly trivial verse, there is eternal and divine wisdom for all ages. Whether we are dealing with ancient halachic problems or modern controversies, the answer lies in the Torah.

If a person buys a new gadget but neglects to read the instruction manual, he will quickly find that he has trouble working the device. A person may only watch basic cable because he never took the time to learn how to install satellite TV. When we ignore what the instructions tell us, we barely use a minimum of our potential, simply because we never knew that more existed. G-d says of His Torah: “The Torah I give you, is a good acquisition; don’t abandon it.” (Proverbs 4:2) What is a good acquisition? The Torah is the path to reaching G-dliness, to rising above the emptiness and materialism of the world and elevating the mundane into the holy. Torah enable us to find holy everywhere, to invite G-d into our lives and to become worthy of His Presence. When we follow the Torah, we can see clearly with divine intuition. It enables us l'havdil, to differentiate, between right and wrong. It is the key to a moral society, which is why all people and nations have adopted at least aspect of the Torah. Only a society based on the Torah-notion of ethical monotheism, of a G-d who demands morality and justice, can flourish and prosper.

Unfortunately, when we abandon the Torah, we abandon our moral compass. In the portion of Haazinu, Moses calls the nation of Israel a "foolish people and unwise" (Deut. 32:6). In his rebuke of Israel, he warns them that if the disobey G-d, they will be stricken with "the blindness of Egypt". What was Egypt's great blindness? In their stubbornness, their resistance to listen to G-d and their persistence in their wicked ways, they brought down their great civilization. When we have no Torah to guide us, we are empty and cannot effectively label right and wrong.

Today, we are in precisely this situation. Due to our rejection of the Torah and our insistence of following the foibles of our own heart, we have subjected ourselves to a catastrophe of our own doing. The greatest tragedies of the modern era, Nazism, Communism and the rise of Islamic fascism, all go to demonstrate what happens when man forgets the moral G-d of Abraham. The former show the dangers of a man-made morality which will eventually lead to moral relativism and wholesale slaughter, while the latter represents the evil of religion without "thou shalt not murder". It is in this sick and twisted world that murderers who shoot teenagers studying in yeshiva or rain rockets down on schools are called 'militants' while denouncing as 'disproportionate' those who seek to defend themselves.

When man does not use the Torah to guide him, he is prone to moral relativism. It is this relativism that creates a culture of permissiveness, where 'intolerance' and 'being judgemental' are the greatest slurs. It is a society in which two men are allowed to marry, where the sanctity of life is constantly under attack, whether for infants, the elderly or the disabled. It is a society that will allow anything at any time and that refuses to call people to task for their actions. In this dangerous moral void, people cringe at the word 'evil', or laugh derisively at at, considering it archaic and unenlightened. People prefer to hide their heads in the sand rather than confront terror and hate. Honour killings and female genital mutilation are tolerated in the name of "cultural diversity". Tyrants and despots are lauded as freedom fighters and human rights activists. A leader who calls for the destruction of another state and its people is cheered before the assembled nations of the world. Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that cannot draw any lines, who allow evil to fester and spread.

G-d gave mankind free will and in doing this, He abdicated Himself from responsibility. That is one of the most frightening and empowering concepts in the entire Torah. "See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil. I have commanded you today to love Hashem your G-d, to walk in his paths, and to keep His Commandments, Decrees, and Laws. You will then live and flourish, and Hashem your G-d will bless you... But if your heart turns astray, and you do not listen... I am warning you today that you will be exterminated... I call heaven and earth as witnesses. Before you I have placed life and death, the blessing and the curse. You must choose life, so that you and your descendants will live." (Deut. 30:15-19) G-d commands us to choose life, to embrace His Torah and to perfect His world. The choice is stark: either Torah and moral clarity, or be condemned to emptiness and vanity, blindness and triviality. G-d laments: "If they would have abandoned Me but kept My Torah, its inherent light would have brought them back to Me." The power is in our hands. We need to read the instruction manual.

Cross-posted to Goat's Barnyard and Jewish Vengeance

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Kristallnacht: See No Evil

Tonight is the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the most severe pogrom of the century and the beginning of the end of European Jewry. On November 9-10, 1938, SS officers and German mobs destroyed Jewish property throughout the Reich. Over 90 Jews were murdered, 26,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps, close to 200 synagogues were burnt or razed, and almost 7,500 Jewish businesses were destroyed.

While Hitler claimed that the pogrom was a spontaneous outburst following the assassination of German official Vom Rath by Jewish boy, Hershel Greenspan, the attacks were methodically planned. Kristallnacht marked the transition from discriminatory and racist measures to physical violence and terror against Germany's Jews. Despite the violence against Germany's Jews, no country was willing to open their doors to them. As Germany's Jews sought refuge from Nazi hatred and persecution, the world was closing the ways of escape. Paltry protests notwithstanding, the world was largely silent in the face of the orgy of hate that was Kristallnacht. By not heeding the warning signs, 6 million Jews were murdered as the world stood idly by. As half of the world collaborated with the Nazis to exterminate the Jews, the other half closed their eyes and ears to the evil.

If the Holocaust is commemorate once a year on Yom HaShoah, why do we mark Kristallnacht? On Yom HaShoah we mourn the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis. We contemplate the barbarity of the Final Solution, the death camps, the killing fields, the gas chambers and ovens. Kristallnacht, however, marks the beginning of the end. Yom HaShoah marks the end product while Kristallnacht is all about the process. Holocausts do not begin with deportations or gas chambers. They begin with words, with demonizations and delegitimization, accompanied by silence.

It is incredible to think that 70 years after Kristallnacht, the world has scarcely learned this lesson. A month and a half ago, the President of Iran spoke before the United Nations, an international organization founded in the wake of the genocide of Europe's Jews, and repeated all of the classic anti-Jewish canards and myths to the applause of world leaders. He told the assembled representers of the world's nations that the current financial crisis is the fault of the Jews. This man put his anti-semitism in vivid display as he repeated the lies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He denies the Holocaust while planning a second one. His hatred for the Jewish people goes ignored by the world leaders, who chose to honour him with a dinner at the Hyatt Hotel. He has called the State of Israel "a stinking corpse", "a rotten tree" and many other vile things. He pledges to finish Hitler's mission and wipe the Jewish state "off the face of the Earth". He funds terror groups around the world and incites his people to genocide. And the world is silent.

This satanic silence during the Holocaust has no better symbol than that of Pope Pius XII. Currently on the road to sainthood, the wartime Pope said and did little to protect Europe's Jews. A man whose word commanded millions of Catholics worldwide and carried moral authority, was not able to clearly condemn the Nazi atrocities against the Jews. When the Jews of Rome were rounded up from right under his window, literally, and send train-bound to Auschwitz, the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church held his tongue and allowed the damned to suffocate in the gas chambers. Today, the Vatican seeks to exonerate him from his complicity in mass murder and raise him to the level of a saint. Instead of dealing with its tragic and cowardly history, the Church prefers to whitewash the events of the past.

As the witnesses to this most dark era in human history die out, it is our duty to remember those who died at the altar of hate because the world looked away. Today, the fires of anti-semitism in the Islamic world, Europe and North America burn brightly. The most insidious hate hides behind humanitarian pretenses and seeks to delegitimize the Jewish State. The UN is getting ready for the Second Durban hate-fest. A neo-Nazi leader in Austria was given a state funeral and full miliatry honours, his death having been blamed on the Mossad. On this eve of Kristallnacht, the first nail in the coffin of European Jewry, it is the duty of every moral and decent Jew and non-Jew to protest anti-semitism and hatred in all of its various forms. Otherwise, we do a disservice to the memory of the 6 million, and invite disaster upon ourselves once again.


God full of mercy who dwells on high
Protector of widows and father for the fatherless
Please be not silent and show no restraint
on behalf of the Jewish blood that has been spilled like water.
But grant perfect rest on the wings of Your Divine Presence
In the lofty abode of the holy, pure and valiant
who shine as the brightness of the heavens
to the souls of our brothers and sisters
Six million Jewish
men, women and children
Who were put to death, slaughtered, burned,
starved, buried alive
Or who suffered other forms of unnatural death
at the hands of the accursed Nazis
and their associates - may their name be wiped out!
In Auschwitz, Treblinka, Maydanek, Malthausen
and in other death camps in Europe
And who gave up their lives in order to Sanctify God's name.
Because we are at one with their memory
and we pray for the elevation of their souls
Their resting place shall be in the Garden of Eden.
Therefore, shall the Master of mercy care for them
under the protection of His wings for all time
And bind their souls in the bond of everlasting life.
O Earth! Do not conceal their blood
and let there not be a resting place for their cry
In their merit shall the remnant of Israel
return to its rightful place
And as for the holy ones, their righteousness
shall be in front of the Lord as an everlasting memory
They will come in peace and will rest in peace
They will meet their rightful destiny at the end of days
and let us say Amen.

Cross-posted to Goat's Barnyard, Jewish Vengeance and Stop Raping Israel

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween: Treif or Treat?

It's that time of the year again. The Jack-o-lanterns, pumpkins, goblins and ghouls gave it away. My least favourite goyish holiday is here again. Halloween is celebrated in Anglo-Saxon countries worldwide and is considered a national holiday. Many Jews unfortunately participate in the Halloween festivities: trick-or-treating, decorating the house and dressing up. So is Halloween kosher?

While many Jews today prefer to focus on the universal aspect of Judaism, tikkun olam, morality, ethics, etc., Judaism demands that Jews remain a separate people. God tells Moses to teach the people:

"I am the Lord, your God. Do not follow the ways of Egypt where you once lived, nor of Canaan to where I am bringing you. Do not follow their customs (be-hukotehem lo teileichu)" (Leviticus 18:1-3, cf. also, 20:23).

Deuteronomy suggests that this prohibition is intended to prevent idolatry:

"Take heed to yourself lest you be trapped by following them, after they are destroyed from before you; and lest you inquire about their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods?' that I may also do likewise" (Deuteronomy 12:30).

While many halakhic authorities understand these injunctions to be limited to the customs of the Canaanites and Egyptians, the Rambam understands it to be a prohibition of following any non-Jewish rite or ritual. The Torah is warning us against adopting chukat hagoy, gentile customs which will lead us to assimilate. He writes:

"We do not walk after the ways of the idolaters. We do not assimilate ourselves to them; not in our clothing and not in other things like this, as it says, 'do not walk after the ways of the gentiles' (Leviticus 20:23)…Rather, a Jew should be distinct from them and recognizable through one's clothing and one's other actions, just as one is distinct from them in one's thoughts and characteristics" (Laws concerning Idolatry, 11:1).

Halloween, although today it is mostly devoid of religious significance, has pagan and Christian roots. The philosophy behind the festival is idolatrous and antithetical to the Jewish worldview. According to Wikipedia:

"Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (Irish pronunciation: [ˈsˠaunʲ]; from the Old Irish samain). The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic New Year". Traditionally, the festival was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, now known as Halloween, the boundary between the alive and the deceased dissolved, and the dead become dangerous for the living by causing problems such as sickness or damaged crops. The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, into which bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or placate them."

The Catholic Church celebrates Halloween as All Saint's Day and special services are held in churches worldwide. Why would any Jew celebrate a holiday even remotely connected to the Roman Catholic Church? Historically, many pogroms occurred on Halloween. Jews would be kidnapped, murdered or brutalized as part of the celebration, since Jews were associated with evil, the devil and witches.

The pagan worldview in which Halloween took root is completely contrary to Judaism's teachings. There are no ghosts and goblins, heavenly families, satanic adversaries or demons. There is only Him, the One and Only. Halloween, or Samhain, was a worship of nature and the spirits which rules it. Judaism, however, is insistent that all of nature is subservient to Him.

In short, there is nothing kosher about Halloween. It originates in pagan adoration of nature and was eventually appropriated by the Church as a day to celebrate all of their saints, many of whom were virulent anti-semites. In Eastern Europe, Halloween was a time when pogroms usually broke out. Jews weren't able to celebrate the holiday because they were hiding in cellars for their lives. Tainted with paganism, christianity and a bloody history of anti-semitism, Halloween is treif, treif, treif. This year, Halloween falls on erev shabbos, which makes it all the more unkosher. Instead of dressing up to commemorate pagan worship of nature, Jews should celebrate the day which is testimony to G-d's Creation. Ditch the ghosts and pumpkins and switch them for shabbos candles and kiddush.

I certainly won't be answering my door. But if you want to wish me a good shabbos, I'll be ready for your knock.

Cross-posted to the Truth about Moshiach

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Emunah and Bitachon on Sukkot

Today is the second to last day of Sukkot. For 6 days, we have sat in our Sukkah, amidst the cold and chill, shaken by wind and rain, and yet we stand. We have eaten our meals out here. During the week-long chag, we have ventured forth from our warm, comfortable homes to make the sukkah, this little temporary hut, our dwelling place.

The sukkah, its bare walls and schach roof, teaches us that life is temporary. Despite our best intentions to secure ourselves, life is just as shaky and rough as a sukkah.  There was once a man traveling through Europe in the 1800’s. He came to the town where the Chofetz Chaim had lived. The traveler stopped in to meet the great Talmid Chuchum. When he arrived at the house, he saw that the Chofetz Chaim lived in a tiny home. He knocked on the door and when he looked inside he saw a nearly empty one-bedroom apartment. The traveler asked the Chofetz Chaim, “aren’t you the great Chofetz Chaim? How can you live like this? Where are all of your possessions?” The Chofetz Chaim turned to the traveler and posed the same question. “Where are all of your possessions? All you have with you is a suitcase.” The traveler answered, “Well, I am just passing through,” to which the Chofetz Chaim responded, “I too am just passing through.”

Out here, away from our big secure brick walls, we have none other to rely on that HaShem. In the sukkah, we are literally in His presence. It makes us realize how all of the events of our lives, all of the pain, the suffering, the blessings and the harshness, how all of it comes from HaShem. We are required to look upwards and to call out unto Him. In the sukkah, there is no hiding from the Ultimate Reality: HaShem, the One and Only.

The Talmud quotes two opinions as to why we sit in the sukkah. Rabbi Akivah explains that it is because the Children of Israel sat in sukkot when they left Egypt. Rabbi Eliezer holds that it represents the clouds of glory that G-d encircled Israel in during their sojourn in the desert. The Shulcha Aruch, which never holds by the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, surprisingly agrees with him. So what are the clouds of glory? Why do we commemorate them as opposed to all of the other miracles that G-d performed for us in the desert? The answer is simply. G-d provided the Nation of Israel with heavenly manna and a travelling well of water during our 40 years. And yet we don't commemorate those miracles because G-d had to provide us with food and water. He took us out of Egypt so He had the responsibility of feeding us. But the Clouds of Glory were simply for our own comfort. G-d led us by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He flattened out the desert for us, raised valleys and lowered mountains. He did not let our foot falter. HaShem protected us from the elements, made sure that we didn't shvitz or get uncomfortable. The Clouds of Glory are HaShem going the extra mile to show us how much He loves us. So Sukkot is the celebrationg of G-d's love for Am Yisrael.

Yisrael, betach be'HaShem, ezram u'maginam hu. Israel, trust in HaShem, their Helper and Shield. Everything that happens to us comes directly from HaShem, the all Merciful Father. Despite the apparent harshness and injustice of a situation, it is all for the best. HaShem is kind to all and only wants us to grow. Harsh and sweet both come from HaShem as test for out own good.

Chag sameach!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Reflections on the Akko Riots

Once again, the bubble of coexistence has burst before our eyes. It is plain to all those who are willing to see that tolerance and respect are not universal. In the city that some believed proved how Jews and Arabs can live in peace, violent riots have broken out.

The scene is reminiscent of medieval Europe- certainly not 21st century Israel. On the holiest day of the Jewish year, when even secular Jews respect the sanctity of Yom Kippur, an Arab driver came zooming into a Jewish area of Akko, music blaring, in a deliberate provocation. Fearing an attack similar to the ones in Jerusalem involved Arabs and vehicles, Jewish residents attempted to chase the provocateur off. Soon after, a rumour spread that the Jews had murdered this Arab driver. A call from the minaret went out to avenge this attack. Hundreds of Arab youth armed with axes converged on the Jewish areas screaming, 'death to the Jews!'. Many Jews hid in their homes until the duration of the holiday, until the police arrived.

What drove this sudden outburst of hatred? Were we not told time and time again that Jews and Arabs are cousins and that are differences are merely political? We are fed a constant stream of historical revisionism about the Jewish experience in the Arabian exile and are told to calm down. And yet, the provocation was clearly religious in nature. On a day when Jews, religious and secular alike, do not drive, fast and conduct themselves in complete solemnity and seriousness, an Arab drives into the area with his music on full blast, honking and blaring. There can be no excuse for such a blatant desecration. To further incite the crowd against the Jewish residents of Akko, the same tower from which Islam's prayers are broadcast was used to call for attack on Jews. Axe-wielding Arabs attacked Jews and vandalized their property in a pogrom in the heart of the Jewish state on Judaism's holiest of days.

The rationale behind the pogrom is one deeply rooted in the theology of Islam. Arab leaders, Hamas and Fatah, Palestinian and "Israeli" citizens, condemned the Israeli "occupation" of Akko. Akko, well within the so-called Green Line borders, was being referred to as occupied territory. It is the same mentality that calls Tel-Aviv and Haifa occupied. The Arabs feel that every inch of Israel, whether pre-67 borders or past, is occupied territory. According to their faith, Jews are to be tolerated as second-class dhimmis, with all the humiliations and degradations that accompany such a status. In their mind, there is no difference between Tel-Aviv or Ramallah- the Jews are not to rule over any Islamic land. These dhimmis must accept their condition willingly or be subjugated.

Plainly put, Israel's Arab population is not merely another group of Israelis of a different religion. It is a hostile fifth-column intent on destroying the Jewish state from within. For many years when the Arabs feared Israel's reaction, they sat quietly. Now, feeling Israel's growing lethargy and indecision, they are becoming ever-more assertive and vocal. They know that after this riot, Israel's politicians will wring their hands and scurry over to Akko to appease them, like good little ghetto Jews, cooperative dhimmis. Seeing Israel's extreme willingness to compromise over any issue, to surrender land, expel Jews or release terrorists, without guaranteed reciprocal compromises from the Arab side, the Arabs feel that Israel's days are numbered. Assaults on Jews in Judea and Samaria are growing more common as the police and authorities do nothing to prevent them. The Arabs are acting like they are masters of this house.

It is time for Israel to assert its right to Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel. A renewed Zionist commitment to the Land will shatter Arab hopes for Israel's impending demise. Unfortunately, in today's climate of post-Zionism and corruption, Israel's leaders seem more interested in currying favour with the international community instead of putting Jewish interests first. No doubt, violent attacks will increase until either Israel wakes up or finds itself thrown into the sea. This being the holiday of Sukkot, when Jews leave their secure homes and dwell in wooden huts for a week, I will not put my trust in the seemingly "secure" government and security authorities. As our flimsy Sukkot indicate, our only hope comes from Above. Israel's leaders should take a cue from the Lulav, one of the four species which we shake on Sukkot, which is invalidated is its spine is broken. A spineless Jew is not kosher. That is a lesson that Israel would be wise to heed.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chag Sameach!

Wishing all of Am Yisrael, and the entire world, a chag sameach and may our simchah be completed by the arrival of Eliyahu Hanavi and Moshiach Tzidekeneinu.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Making History Judenrein

Algebra and social science aren't required learning according to the Torah. G-d doesn't require us to be experts in chemistry or in English literature. The only high school subject that the Torah commands us to learn is history. "Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will declare unto you, your elders, and they will tell you." (Deut. 32:7) Every single Jew must be aware of his history, from where he came, so that he should know where he is going. A Jew must have a proficiency in the legacies of the past, of the course of Jewish history. Only a Jew who is well versed in the history of his people can feel the true weight of his destiny, of his heritage, and to be able to carry on the Jewish mission.

The enemies of Israel know too well that without a sense of history, the Jewish people have nothing. Therefore, they work tirelessly to erase the past and to destroy evidence of Jewish history. They seek to make history judenrein, free of Jews. The incredible story of Jewish survival throughout the ages bears testimony to our triumph and vindicates our claims before the world. It is not surprising that those who want most to undermine the homecoming of the Jewish people deny the past.

The policy of the "Palestinians" (an invented entity in-and-of itself), both Hamas and the "moderate" Fatah, has been to deny that a Jewish Temple ever existed in Jerusalem. Yasser Arafat, may his name be accursed, repeated this lie before a shocked President Clinton and his aides. Children in the Arab world are consistently taught that the Jewish people are interlopers who have no history in the Land of Israel, or "Palestine". On September 23, Fatah-run "Palestinian" television featured a video clip which called for Muslims to protect al-Aksa mosque. It repeated the claim that the Temple never stood in Jerusalem. As translated by PMW, the video clip that appeared on PA TV on September 23, 2008, includes the lyrics, "Oh [Sons of] Zion, no matter how much you dig and no matter how much you destroy, your imaginary Temple will not come into being, Al-Aqsa is ours. Al-Aqsa is ours, Oh Muslims, Al-Aqsa is ours." It goes on to call for another Saladin, the Muslim conqueror of Jerusalem in 1187, according to PMW. This clip has been broadcasted by Fatah and Hamas repeatedly during the last 18 months.

The Islamic wakf which is in charge of the Temple Mount has been feverishly working to destroy all archaeological evidence of the Temple. Archaeologists have found them dumping priceless historical artifacts in the Kidron Valley. They have been Islamizing the Temple Mount while removing every last vestige of Jewish past from it. Despite the fact that for thousands of years, the Temple was the center of Jewish spiritual life, and Jews pray three times a day facing the Temple Mount, the wakf doesn't allow Jews access to their holiest site. They know full well that without historical justification, Israel has little basis as a Jewish state. With this in mind, they try to cut Jews off from their past. Jews are forbidden to pray on the Temple Mount, Muslim mobs destroyed Joseph's Tomb in Shechem and the Arabs are besieging the beleaguered Jewish community in Hebron, centered on the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

A study released this week by the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish and Community affairs, found that American elementary and high school textbooks contains gross distortions about Israel and Judaism. One textbook claims that Jesus "was a young Palestinian", and charges the Jews with deicide. Many others deny the connection between the Jewish people and Israel. They claim that the Arabs never attacked Israel and that Israel has refused to make peace with them. They teach that Israel put the "Palestinians" in refugee camps but ignore the half a million Jews forced out of their homes in Arabs lands. (The history of Jews in Arab lands is another subject of historical revisionism as revisionist "scholars" deny the indignities and brutally that they suffered at the hands of Islam.) After a vote by the Islamic Council of Education, it was decided to avoid using the name "Israel" to refer to the Davidic dynasty lest anybody make a connection between this ancient kingdom and the modern State of Israel.

The President of Iran, who is now in NY speaking before the UN and having dinner with religious leaders, denies the Holocaust before the entire world. He has said that: "They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets. The West has given more significance to the myth of the genocide of the Jews, even more significant than God, religion, and the prophets, (it) deals very severely with those who deny this myth but does not do anything to those who deny God, religion, and the prophet. If you have burned the Jews, why don't you give a piece of Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to Israel? Our question is, if you have committed this huge crime, why should the innocent nation of Palestine pay for this crime?" Ahmadinejad asked the West rhetorically why, if they truly committed the Holocaust, do they not the Jewish people a piece of land in Germany. He ignores the historical and ancestral claims that the Jewish people have to the Land of Israel and rewrites history by painting the Arabs as the natives of Palestine who were displaced by Zionist invaders. He combines Holocaust denial, anti-semitism and a commitment to destroy Israel into a frightening combination. He is just one of the growing number of voices that seeks to "revise" the Holocaust and to claim that it was exaggerated.

The Jews were once compared to a messenger who forgot his message. The G-d of history chose the Jewish nation to be His, to be a light unto the nations and to spread holiness and G-dliness all over the world. Unfortunately, many Jews have forgotten their lofty calling and contented themselves to living like gentiles, focusing on materialism and ignoring the Jewish destiny. Leo Tolstoy wrote of the Jews in 1908: “What is the Jew?...What kind of unique creature is this whom all the rulers of all the nations of the world have disgraced and crushed and expelled and destroyed; persecuted, burned and drowned, and who, despite their anger and their fury, continues to live and to flourish. What is this Jew whom they have never succeeded in enticing with all the enticements in the world, whose oppressors and persecutors only suggested that he deny (and disown) his religion and cast aside the faithfulness of his ancestors?! The Jew - is the symbol of eternity. ... He is the one who for so long had guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear. The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity." The Jewish people has survived all of its oppressors and begun to return to its land. Israel is the beginning of the Redemption, what Jews have prayed for three times a day for two thousand years, since the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans and the beginning of the current exile. They longingly beseeched G-d to return them to His land.

This week's Torah portion sets out G-d's guarantee of our return. "And it shall come to pass, when all these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you shall return to your heart [while in exile] among all the nations, where the Lord your God has driven you. And you shall return unto the Lord your God, and shall obey his voice according to all that I command you this day, you and your children, with all your heart, and with all your soul. Then the Lord your God will [re]turn your captivity, and have compassion upon you, and will return and gather you from all the nations, where the Lord your God has scattered you...And the Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and he will do you good, and multiply you above your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live. ... And you shall return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all his commandments which I command you this day. And the Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in every work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your land, for good; for the Lord will again rejoice over you for good, as he rejoiced over your fathers. If you shall listen to the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the Torah, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul." (Deut. 30:1-10) To be able to return, we must be aware of our original state and be able to know that our present reality is an aberration and not the ultimate goal. The G-d of history will have mercy on His people. Amen.

Cross-posted to Goat's Barnyard and Stop Raping Israel

Monday, September 15, 2008

Addicted to Victimhood

Dear Jews,

Wake up! Its time to leave the shtetl. Take a look around you. The ghetto walls are gone. Its time to abandon this ghetto mentality and to start standing up for ourselves. The year is 2008, not 1808. The days when we had to look beseechingly to the goyyim are gone. As a nation, we seem to be stuck in this Pale of Settlement mindset. We need to wake up to the incredible reality of a sovereign Jewish state, a Jewish army and the beginning of the Redemption.

Jews, many of us are uncomfortable with the idea of Jewish self-defense or of a Jew fighting back. During our long 2000-year exile, our beliefs have grown corrupt and perverted with galutishe attitudes and ideas. We have become so accustomed to seeing Jews downtrodden, beaten up and degraded, that we see this as normal. We squirm at the prospect of using legitimate violence to protect ourselves. We would rather see ourselves in the role of the mourning family, the perpetual victim, than as the aggressor, the strong man.

Tevieh the milkman standing in the midst of his ransacked village. The Jew locked behind the ghetto walls as the goyyim taunt him. Raging Cossacks burning down our homes and synagogues. Jews beaten up in the streets. We have gotten used to it. That's the way its meant to be. Second class status for Jews. Israel demonized, delegitimized and held to a double standard. Same old, same old. No, my friend. It is time to stand up. There is nothing Jewish about being weak, about being persecuted and oppressed. We have become the proverbial battered wife who cannot fight back, who accepts her torment silently. Suffering is just part of the bargain of being the Chosen People. How Galut has corrupted our ideals!

The recent incident in the settlement of Yitzhar demonstrates the same ghetto mentality that still grips our leaders, as well as the true Jewish response. Early Shabbat morning, an Arab terrorist snuck into a Jewish house and set it on fire. A 9 year-old boy who went to investigate was stabbed in the chest by the terrorist and flung 4 meters high over a fence. The terrorist promptly fled in the direction Asira el-Jabaliya, a hostile Arab village which gave shelter to the terrorist. The IDF sat on their hands and did nothing. A Jew stabbed? We can live with that. Business as usual. Seeing that they would get no help from the corrupt authorities, the attacked and beleaguered citizens of Yitzhar descended on the village which harbored the terrorist, fired shots and threw stones at some homes. The proud Jews of Yitzhar let the Arabs know in no uncertain terms that they are not afraid of them and will stand up to Arab attacks. The stabbing of a little boy cannot be taken lightly. The Jewish people are not the be trifled with.

What was the reaction from the authorities? Olmert condemned the Jewish response, using words such as "taking the law into their own hands," "brutality," and "pogrom." He further accused the Jews of having "used live weapons and wounded Palestinian residents," and said that there had been "no basis to assume... that [the targeted Arab] residents were at all connected, whether directly or indirectly, to the terrorist attack in Yitzhar." It mattered little to him that the Arabs of the village had set fire to Yitzhar homes seven times in the past three months, or that they had protected the man who stabbed a child. What mattered to him was that Jews had the audacity to defend themselves instead of passively resigning themselves to their fates. Such a thing could be a dangerous precedent for Olmert who might have to rethink his brilliant strategy of surrender and capitulate.

Being weak is not a moral virtue. We were sent into exile as a punishment and we must do all that we can to leave it behind. As the Sages teach: "the lowliness of Israel is the greatest Desecration of G-d's Name". While we may forgive personal affronts, we have no right to dispense with G-d's honour. Jews, we must shake off our reservations about standing up for ourselves. Rabbi Kahane taught that "a Jewish fist has to be attached to a Jewish head". We have one of the strongest militaries in the world yet we continue to allow ourselves to be murdered and maimed all out of fear of "what the goyyim will say". When Jewish blood is spilled, and could have been easily prevented, we comfort ourselves by reminding ourselves of our "Jewish values", how much more moral we are, how we are better, how we "are not like them". My friends, the Torah does not command us to go like sheep to the slaughter. That is not my Judaism. My Judaism is that of King David who fought the enemies of Israel, and who prayed that "the righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked". My Judaism is that of Samson the Brave who asked G-d that he be able to destroy the foes of his people before he died, and "to punish them for what they have to done to one of my eyes". My Judaism is that of Yehudah HaMaccabee who led a fierce revolt against the Greek occupiers and Hellenistic assimilationists. My Judaism is that of Bar Kochba who almost succeeded in expelling the Roman forces from the Holy Land and reestablishing Jewish sovereignty. That is my Judaism. That is my Torah. And it it beautiful.

Cross-posted to Jewish Vengeance and Stop Raping Israel

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Jerusalem: Closest to G-d

Jerusalem is the heart of Am Yisrael. If I forget thee Jerusalem...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Our Two-Pronged War

Its open season on Jews in Paris. Saturday, as they were walking home from Mincha prayers, three counselors of the Bnei Akivah youth group were brutally attacked by a gang of Muslims. The counselors were walking when they had chestnuts thrown at them. When they protested, anti-semitic slurs were hurled. 10-12 gang members then joined in and beat them with brass knuckles.

This was the second attack near the Bnei Akivah branch in two months. In June, another 17 year-old Jew wearing a kippah was beaten up by a Muslim gang. And a few months ago, a neighbourhood store was caught selling shirts that read, in German and Polish, "Jews forbidden in the parks". Anti-semitic attacks are very common in France. The radical Muslim population is growing exponentially, veiled women from head-to-toe are a very common sight, and mosques are popping up all over the place. The same pattern is repeating itself in the UK, in Germany and all over Europe. This Islamic fundamentalist Jew-hatred combined with "the new-anti-semitism" of the anti-Zionist Left is lethal to Europe's remaining Jews. Many Jews no longer feel comfortable enough to wear kippot in public or to identify themselves as Jews. Entire communities are under siege as going to synagogue literally becomes an ordeal amidst intense security, guards and routine checks. Synagogues, monuments and Holocaust memorials are routinely vandalized. A few weeks ago, a video was placed on YouTube (and subsequently banned) showing a group of Greek students in Rhodes urinating on a Holocaust memorial with violent rock and anti-semitic lyrics in the background. The Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin was defaced for the tenth or so time.

Europe's tragic history is repeating itself. It feels eerily like 1938 for Europe as attacks on Jews reach a fever pitch. Not only are Jews violently attacked by Muslim anti-semites but the Jewish State is regularly demonized, delegitimized and condemned. The writing is on the walls for the Jews of Europe as Muslim sonei yisrael as well as Leftist anti-semites work tirelessly to make Jewish lives miserable. The Jews of Europe face an existential threat as the radical Muslim influence is growing. In mosques all over Europe (and the world), Jews are dehumanized, compared to insects and diseases and threatened with extermination. Millions of young Muslims are indoctrinated with Jew-hatred and the terrible fruits of this preaching are being reaped in Europe, as well as against Israel. Esau soneh et Yaakov. Once again, the Jewish nation finds itself in dire straights as the world sits silently by and allows anti-semitism to take hold and grow.

We Jews are in between a rock and a hard place. As Yishmael plans to destroy our bodies, Esau deceives us into giving up our souls. The World Evangelical Alliance, "Israel's best friends", have restated their goal to convert the Jewish nation to Christianity. Coming from the city in which the Final Solution of 6 million Jews was orchestrated, the Berlin Declaration calls for the evangelization of the Jews of Europe. "Everyone needs to hear this message including the Jewish people. Proclamation to Israel was Jesus’ priority. It also reflects the apostles’ practice of going to the Jew first. Nothing has occurred since Jesus came that changes the need for Israel and the nations. "

It is astonishing that hundreds of years after the public disputation at the order of the Church in which Jews were threatened with expulsion, death or forced conversion, Jews are again called upon to defend the validity and integrity of their faith. The Jews of Europe, when not being beaten up by anti-semitic mobs, will be swamped with pamphlets and missionaries urging them to convert. The Berlin Declaration in essence says that Judaism has no value and offers no salvation. The Jew who follows authentic Judaism is worthless and is condemned to the fires of hell unless he becomes a Christian. Jews are forced to explain themselves to Christians and to stand up for their faith. Evangelicals claim to be motivate by love for the Jewish people but in reality, they only reject anti-semitism as a means to further their hold on the Jewish soul. Hardly no strings attached! A real love for the Jewish people would be accompanied by a respect for Judaism's validity and choseneness, and the recognition of the legitimacy of Jewish tradition and belief. To issue this declaration of apostasy from the Nazi capital in which Hitler's henchmen orchestrated and planned the annihilation of the Jewish people is the height of insensitivity and callousness. By teaching that Judaism is incomplete and misguided, Evangelicals offer a surefire recipe of hatred and mistrust for the Jewish people.

With barely 15 million Jews in the world today, growing anti-semitism in Europe and North America, an existential threat against the State of Israel, rampant assimilation in the United States and an obsessive drive by Evangelicals to convert Jews, the Jewish future is difficult. We are caught between those who wish to kill us physically, to rob us of life, and those who wish to destroy our unique spiritual heritage by baptizing us. Whether by gas chambers and pogroms or by missionizing and assimilation, the ultimate goal is the same: the eradication of the Jewish people from the face of the Earth. We must take heart G-d's promise in the Torah that the seed of Abraham shall never cease to be a nation. The end chapter has been written. All that remains for us to decide is how many of us will make it to the finish line. The Jewish nation will outlive all of its tormenters and oppressors, the assimilationists and peddlers of foreign faiths. G-d will surely vindicate His people.

Cross-posted to The Truth about Moshiach

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mearat HaMachpela Desecrated

In traditional Islamic thought, the pre-Islamic era in world history is known as jahiliyyah, an age of barbarism and ignorance. Essentially, all that precedes Islam is worthless. In this spirit of chauvinism and imperialism, Muslims have carelessly destroyed the holy places of the faiths which they have conquered. Around the world, from the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan to Hindu temples in Kashmir and India and churches in the Middle-East, the hole places of non-Muslims have been desecrated, humiliated and often stolen and islamicized.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan recently began and as usual was accompanied by an upsurge of violent attacks, unrest, terrorism and intolerance. The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Israel, is "shared" by Muslims and Jews with each group having 10 holy days in which they have unrestricted access to the site (at least in theory). The Tomb of the Patriarchs is the burial place of the Forefathers of the Jewish people, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as well as the Matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. It is considered the second holiest site in Judaism after the Temple Mount. Hebron has an unbroken chain of Jewish habitation since the First Temple period until 1929 when Arab pogroms forced the Jews out of their homes, ending the community. Hebron served as the original capital of King David's kingdom before he moved it to Jerusalem. The Tomb of the Patriarchs, which the Torah records as having been purchased by Abraham for a tomb for his wife for the exorbitant price of 400 silver shekels, has often been forbidden to Jews. Under Ottoman rule, Jews were prohibited from entering the site and were restricted to the 7th step of the Tomb.

Friday, as Muslims converged on the Tomb for Ramadan prayers, they urinated on a Torah scroll and left behind Hamas flags. In the past, mezuzot have been ripped off the doors and holy books vandalized. For all those who claim that Islam is one of three Abrahamitic religions, this dispels such a myth. Islam does not consider itself one of three Abrahamitic religions but rather the sole Abrahamitic religion, as proven by the desecrating of a Torah scroll. Noam Arnon, spokesman for the Jewish community in Hevron, said there is always some sort of damage discovered upon their return every time Jews are prohibited from entering the holy site. It boggles the mind to think that in the sovereign state of Israel, Jewish holy places are being vandalized and destroyed by Muslims and the authorities are doing nothing. In fact, there are plans on the table to expel the Jews of Hebron, along with those in the rest of Judea and Samaria, and give them control over Jewish holy places. Condoleeza Rice and the Bush administration are pressuring Israel to give the Arabs control over half of Jerusalem. How can anyone trust these barbarians to safekeep the synagogues, yeshivot and Tombs of Tzaddikim that exist in Jerusalem? It is a well-known fact that the Islamic wakf in charge of the Temple Mount is guilty of destroying Jewish archaeological records and dumping them in the Kidron valley.

This path has been taken before. In October 2000, as Shechem (Nablus) was transfered to PA control, a mob of Arabs desecrated the tomb of the Biblical figure Joseph. They burnt Torah scrolls, destroyed the yeshiva and razed the structure. There are currently plans to rebuild the tomb, which is now being used by the Arabs as a garbage dump.

Ephraim Bluth, a leading figure in the region, wrote the following after his night visit to the destroyed tomb of Joseph:
I recently had an opportunity to visit the Tomb of the biblical Joseph - Yosef Hatzadik - in Shechem. Given the location, in a viper's den of terrorism, such visits need be organized with the active cooperation of the IDF, which provides worshippers with several layers of security.

A disparate group of adults and teenagers, bonded by a mutual desire to pray at the tomb gathered at an army base situated near the Hawara Junction, just south of Shechem. Shortly after 1 a.m., we traveled to one of the entrances controlled by the IDF and entered Shechem from the east. A few minutes later, we disembarked the bus and streamed into the remains of what had been (until October 2000) the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva, encompassing Joseph's tomb.

The visit was a difficult venture, from an emotional point of view. On the one hand, I felt a sense of privilege to be present at the burial site of one of our foremost religious and historical figures.

On the other hand, I felt a sense of sadness and betrayal that my own government has been, and continues to be, unable and unwilling to prevent the defiling of a site that is so precious and so holy to Jews.

From the torched and scarred ruins of Joseph's tomb, amidst the rubble left behind by a local Arab mob, I was able to gaze up at the growing Jewish community of Elon Moreh and at the expanding yeshiva there which is at its core.

I drew a lesson from this experience: these visits to Joseph's tomb must continue.

More than anything else, they demonstrate to our enemies that our connection to the Land of Israel, both past and present, will never be severed. Though our own national government has failed to establish and maintain the deterrence needed to insure that Jews can travel freely anywhere in Israel, we must continue to show through determined action, that we remain true to our past leadership and the legacy they left in our hands.

Cross-posted to Jewish Vengeance and Goat's Barnyard

Monday, September 1, 2008

From the Farthest Reaches

"Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries." (Ezek. 6:8)

"If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back."
(Deut. 30:4)

"I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring My sons from afar And My daughters from the ends of the earth" (Isa. 43:6)

In our times we are literally witnessing the reversal of Jewish exile and the fulfillment of the promises of ingathering. In the past century, especially in the last 60 years, Jewish communities from Russia and Poland, Morocco and Iran and even as far flung as Ethiopia, have been gathered in the Land of Israel. Communities that were scattered over 2000 years ago with the destruction of the Holy Temple have made their homes once more in Israel. Close to half of the world's Jews live in Israel.

In the ancient city of Kaifeng in China, once home to a thriving Jewish community, close to 1000 Jews have begun to reconnect with their heritage, learn about their traditions and reclaim their Jewish roots. Several have made aliyah and more are considering going so. Their history (which can be found here) is a long one of exile and dispersion from Israel to finding a new home and thriving in China, until assimilation finally took its dreadful toll. HaShem has awakened the hearts of this historic and once-proud community to return to their origins and make their way home.

Since the summer of 2005, over 700 Jews from Brazil have made aliyah, many choosing to reside in Beer Shevah. But how did they come to be in the Amazonas? And what's Morocco have to do with it? Well, as the story goes, about 150 year ago, when the world's rubber industry was starting to develop, several Moroccan Jews – rubber tradesmen – arrived in South America.

They made their way up the Amazonas River, from Brazil to Peru, where they were able to cultivate rubber trees – or as they are called - Hevea Brasiliensis – the Pará rubber tree.

In those days, foreigners found it difficult to travel safely though the jungles and the native Indians were their guides. The Jewish merchants had no wives, and ended up marrying the local Indian women.
Only recently have many undergone halachic conversions in an attempt to return to the Jewish people. There is a growing movement among bnei anousim (known derisively as 'marranos'), Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition but kept Judaism in secret, to learn about their roots. Hundreds have attended conventions for bnei anousim and even made aliyah. A tour of 16 bnei anousim from Spain, Portugal and Italy recently finished touring Israel. Around the world, descendants of those who were forced to abandon their faith are reclaiming and embracing their Jewish heritage.

In a landmark decision, PM Olmert has given permission for all 7 232 Bnei Menashe Jews living in Northern India to make aliyah. The Bnei Menashe are descendants of the Tribe of Menashe who made their way to India following the exile of the Ten Tribes by the Assyrians. They preserved many Jewish customs and traditions. In the past two centuries, they were converted to Christianity by missionaries because they recognized elements of their ancestral religion in the new faith. However, in the past few decades, they have embraced their Judaism. Several hundreds will make aliyah every month.

HaShem is gathering His beloved children from the farthest reaches of the Earth. In anticipation of the coming of the Moshiach, Jews are returning to the Land of Israel from every corner of the world. Those who had their heritage ripped from them by missionaries and assimilation or persecution and torture have taken back what was stolen from them. They have triumphed over their oppressors and adversaries and proudly declare that they are Jews.

Blow the great shofar for our freedom and raise a banner to gather our exiled. Gather us together from the four corners of the Earth. Blessed are You, HaShem, who gathers the dispersed of His people Israel." Amen! May we be in-gathered from our exile speedily in our days.

Cross-posted to Jewish Vengeance

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The King is in the Field!

The shofar blast after prayers tomorrow will herald the opening of the heavenly gates of mercy. The sharp call of the shofar arouses us to put away whatever things have been distracting us from HaShem and to return to Him. We are awakened to rise from our spiritual slumber. We begin the 40 day period of soul-searching and self-improvement which culminates in Yom Kippur. During these yamim noraim we must take an honest look at our conduct in the past year, examine our failings and seek to raise ourselves up.

During the yamim hanoraim, the King is in the field. During the rest of the year, the King sits in His palace and only His servants, ministers and courtiers have access to the inner sanctum. It is extremely difficult to get an audience with the King. But with the blast of the shofar on Rosh Chodesh Elul, the King will leave His palace to sit in the field. During this time, all of the King's subjects can go before Him, petition to Him, speak to Him and have their requests granted. Here's how Chassidic master Rebbe Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), describes the month of Elul - the month that precedes the divine coronation on Rosh Hashanah:

"It is like a king who, before he enters the city, the people of the city go out to greet him in the field. There, everyone who so desires is permitted to meet him; he receives them all with a cheerful countenance and shows a smiling face to them all. And when he goes to the city, they follow him there. Later, however, after he enters his royal palace, none can enter into his presence except by appointment, and only special people and select individuals. So, too, by analogy, the month of Elul is when we meet G-d in the field..."
(Likkutei Torah, Re'ei 32b; see also Likkutei Sichot, vol II p. 632 ff.)

The astrological sign of Elul is Virgo, the Virgin. Elul is an acronym for Ani leDodi ve'Dodi Li', I am for my Beloved as my Beloved is to me. In this month, we are reunited with our Beloved, HaShem. He is accessible to every single one of us. The gates of mercy are opened and HaShem has compassion on each one of us. Whatever sins have cut us off from Him throughout the year are forgotten and we once again become pure and sinless.

We add Psalm 27 to the end of our morning and evening services.

1. By David. The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life-whom shall I dread? 2. When evildoers approached me to devour my flesh, my oppressors and my foes, they stumbled and fell. 3. If an army were to beleaguer me, my heart would not fear; if war were to arise against me, in this I trust 1 4. One thing I have asked of the Lord, this I seek: that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the pleasantness of the Lord, and to visit His Sanctuary. 5. For He will hide me in His tabernacle on a day of adversity; He will conceal me in the hidden places of His tent; He will lift me upon a rock. 6. And then my head will be raised above my enemies around me, and I will offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of jubilation; I will sing and chant to the Lord. 7. Lord, hear my voice as I call; be gracious to me and answer me. 8. In Your behalf my heart says, "Seek My countenance"; Your countenance, Lord, I seek. 9. Do not conceal Your countenance from me; do not cast aside Your servant in wrath. You have been my help; do not abandon me nor forsake me, God of my deliverance. 10. Though my father and mother have forsaken me, the Lord has taken me in. 11. Lord, teach me Your way and lead me in the path of righteousness, because of my watchful enemies. 12. Do not give me over to the will of my oppressors, for there have risen against me false witnesses, and they speak evil. 13. [They would have crushed me] had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14. Hope in the Lord, be strong and let your heart be valiant, and hope in the Lord.

Ketivah v'chatima tovah. May we all be written and inscribed in the Book of Life.

Cross-posted to the Truth about Moshiach