Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Physical Strength and Faith, the perfect blend for Yisrael's survival







One of the themes in last week’s Parasha, B’shalach, was the war against Amalek. The Torah tells us that while the Yisraelites were camping in Refidim, they are confronted by Amalek, the eternal enemy of Am Yisrael. The former wages a war against them.

The former slaves, who have not yet become a nation, are still nothing but a mere collection of uneducated and untrained multitude are, naturally, confused, worried and terrified. They have witnessed some of G-d’s powerful wonders, the supernatural ten plagues that were dealt to Egypt, one of the most powerful empires of its time. They saw the splitting of the Red Sea. They tasted the delectable flavour of the Mana. Despite all these manifestations of the glory of G-d, they are still shrouded in uncertainty and ask, “Is there a G-d among us?”

This is the nature of doubt. There is doubt that is based on rational questions. There is doubt that stems from the subjective wishes and intentions of the skeptic; but there is also a pure and simple form of doubt, the irrational kind, an uncertainty that is much more powerful than logic. It is the kind of distrust which neutralizes the most convincing arguments and the inspiring experiences by a simple cynical shrug of the shoulders.

It is this perception of doubt that left the Yisraelites exposed to the imminent attack by Amalek. Spiritually, Amalek is the embodiment of that baseless and illogical indifference.

What the Yisraelites seem to lack is faith. They are also in a need for an army and a military leader to conduct and oversee the war against the ferocious enemy they are about to face. Without these two very essential elements, they will be defeated.
Moshe knows it. He, therefore, appoints Yehoshuah, his student, and instructs him to select able men and go fight Amalek the tangible, the military kind of war. At the same time, he positions himself on top of the hill along with Aharon and Hur. His task is to keep the faith and the belief in the omnipotent and ever presence of G-d among His Chosen People. His role is symbolic albeit vital.

Each time Moshe raises his hands towards heaven, the Yisraelites prevail. When he lowers them, the Amalekites prevail. His hands are getting heavy and relies on the support of Aharon and Hur. Eventually, Amalek is subdued.

Fast forward to the modern state of Yisrael. Last week, I was exposed to an excellent article written in Hebrew by the Yisraeli journalist, playwright and scriptwriter, Tal Gilad which was published in 2015 in Hidabrut. There, Gilad discuses a new law, a law that bears the populist title of, “The Law of Equal Burden,” which Gilad describes as one that forces Hareidi Jews, the guardians of our few millennia old faith, to leave the Yeshiva, leave the spiritual realm and enlist to the IDF solely for “making them dig foxholes and then filling them up again.” (https://www.hidabroot.org/article/178741)

Reading Gilad’s article resonated, for me, with the recount of the Yisraelites first war ever, the one with Amalek which is described in the Parasha. I am specifically referring to the two facets of that war and thereafter with every war that the Jews have been forced to fight for their survival. Thy first is the military- the physical, the kind that Yehoshua was leading. The second is the spiritual, hanging on to our faith and the belief in the G-d of Yisrael. The two are interrelated and are both essential to Jewish survival.

Now, as then, I believe, Am Yisrael and the Jewish People need to maintain that blend. That should be the optimal “Law of Equal Burden.”

Today’s IDF Chief of staff’s role is akin to that Yehoshua fulfilled in the Amalekite war. The Hareidi, yeshiva members among the citizens of Yisrael, on the other hand, are the Moshe who displayed the need to trust G-d, his unending powers and miraculous deeds.

We need BOTH!

Shabbat Shalom.



Sunday, 9 February 2020

Saving Yisrael, our Only Home








.The following is the English translation of Tal Gilad's recent FB post which was written in Hebrew



He is not the Garbuz of these upcoming elections. Garbuz uttered his words in different circumstances and different timing and caused them to lose many votes.


The Left today is entangled in a wrathful inertia of hatred, the kind that has not been seen since the Russian revolution. They no longer bother to hide the fact that they deeply despise "the others," because as far as they are concerned, it is some twisted form of carrying out justice and mostly revenge of years of defeat. They hate the Right' enthusiastically and enjoy it. Finally, they can shout it out openly, and to the cheers of their camp, that which they held in their stomach the whole time.

They no longer hide that they lie, mislead and cheat. They no longer hide hat they tailor files, lie in the media, distort information, engage in awareness engineering, control the prosecution department, the police, our educational system that they have the power and will do as they wish. Everything is open and they do not care, because the end justifies the means – and what can we do. We have no 
weapons, no media, no police and no justice system.

Yoez Handel is not alone. We hear more and more such statements because they feel stronger.
Handel spoke directly to his voter base, to the hard core, frenzied lynch enthusiasts. His words empower them. The day is not far when they will admit openly to abducting the Yemenite children and will present it as a heroic deed of saving those children from their inferior parents.

There is only one way of stopping this horror – vote, vote, vote. Arrive from every place and unde 
any condition just as one does during wartimes, no matter where from, fill the planes flying to Yisrael with each running to join their units upon arrival without thinking "one more, one less, who cares

We are in a war over our Home, over Liberty, Freedom of Expression, individual freedom. We are in a war over Democracy.

If you do not vote, you will never forgive yourself.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

The Underlyng Essence of the Yisraeli Elections



The following is a translation of Face Book post by Tal Gilad.
He says it like it is.


There is not a single person in the state of Yisrael who is voting for Gantz because they believe he is suitable to be PM.

Each Gantz voter you enter into a debate with does not speak about this amorphous mass, has nothing to say about him and does not care. All they do is speak against Netanyahu.

This is the essence of th difference between the Left and the Right since days gone by, throughout history. The Right is in favour, the Left is against. The Right wants to build, the Left wants to destroy.

Where did the Left begin? The French Revolution, with the desire to destroy. It evenappears in the Socialist International anthem. "An old world, we shall destroy to its core" (translation of the Russian version which, unfortunately was written by a Jew). Therefore, it never has any  candidate which it really wants or one he really believes is worthy. It is there merely an organism with a pulse againt whoever it hates - and it always hates. It fdoes not have any good words about its own candidate, it only has many bad words against its opponent,

The original Yisraeli Left is the only one that did something positive. And so much, big time. It created the infrstructure for founding the State, set up institutions, kibbutzim, agricultural settlements, created facts on the ground and established a substantial fighting and defense system. It understood what its successors of today do not, that one does not build a state through demonstrations, but by doing. And let us not enter now into the destructive steps it took on the way commencing with the "Saizon" and culminating in the sordid affair of the "Yemanite children." But since then, especially since it lost power, it has been going downhill and turned into another shouting angry Left, like its counterparts the world over.

A Leftist and a Right wing person see a rich man. The Right wing person wants to lean from him, the Leftist wants to take from him. The Left is not an idiology, but jealousy and laziness which someone defined in a set of points, so it looks good. Speedy solutions of three year olds. Print money, take from the rich, give away, hand out' don't think, don't try, all will be well, let us sing together, serenade to love. But first, let us hate, let us send to the guillotine anyone who does not sing with us a song dedicated to love.

Netanyahu is everythying the Left despises: successful, positive, optimistic, intelligent, hardworking and a winner, Successful - and the Left hates success - strong- and the Left hates strong people since it reminds them  how weak and dismal. Patient - and the Left hates patienc. Either Peace now, or it throws a tntrum and throws the bowl along with the cornflakes.

Builders versus destroyers, that is what th elections are all about. Positive versus negative, maturity and responsibility as opposed to "they took what's mine."
You decide which side you are on.   

Thursday, 30 January 2020

"Yisrael, My Firstborn Son."









This week’s Parashah, Bo, is another stirring chapter in the saga of the Exodus from Egypt. It details the last three of the ten plagues that were poured upon the Egyptians.
Of special interest in the tenth plague the smiting of the firstborn son of every Egyptian family. It is, the Torah tells us, the last straw which prompted Pharaoh to let the Yisraelites go.
A bird’s eye view of the host of plagues reveals that the tenth plague was different from its predecessors. Firstly, it is already hinted at before Moshe was to meet Pharaoh when G-d sent this message to him in Shemot 4:23-24 : “Yisrael is my firstborn son, and I told you, Let my son go, so he may worship me.” In other words, the confrontation will reach its pinnacle when it will be Pharaoh’s first-born son against G-d’s first-born son, Am Yisrael.
Secondly, the tenth plague does not bear the usual structure of the previous nine plagues. There was no warning. There is no description of the plague and unlike the others, Pharaoh did not protest or request that it be removed. Instead, Moshe presents him with a fact: “About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die….” (Shemot 11:4).
Were the same sequence of the other plagues to follow, we could expect the next part to describe the plague. Instead, the next section Shemot 12:2 starts with the following: “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of the year.” This segment includes the commandment of the Passover sacrifice as well as the laws associated with this Holy Day and as part of these laws comes the description of the forthcoming tenth plague: “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt.” (Shemot 12:12). What connects the two is the commandment to slaughter the Passover sacrifice and the decree to smear its blood on the doorposts of the Yisraelites so that G-d could pass over the homes of the Yisraelites and spare their firstborn.
A very brief description of the tenth plague is given in two verses (Exodus 12:29-30) “ At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.” One might ask, why was there a need for the blood on the doorposts? After all, G-d would know which homes belongs to the Yisraelites and which to the Egyptians.
The answer has to do with the unique nature of the tenth plague. While the plague was aimed at hurting the Egyptians, it is also the one that brought about the release of Am Yisrael from the House of Bondage. Surely, G-d could have picked other ways to reach that result. It seems that in this plague did not only subjugate the Egyptians, it was also meant to put the Yisraelites through the test.
The commandment to engage in the Passover sacrifice forced Am Yisrael to employ another Mitzvah, that of Brit Milah or circumcision. Shemot 12:48 forbids uncircumcised males from partaking in the Passover sacrifice: “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it.”
It seems that the Torah is more interested in stressing the passing over the homes of the Yisraelites and turning the tenth plague into an instructive experience for them than on killing the firstborn of the Egyptians. Hence the little attention the text gives to describing that plague. Rather, its main concern is in ensuring that the Yisraelites understand the Passover laws, internalize them and live the unique role that G-d has assigned to them to be “My firstborn son Yisrael.”
Shabbat Shalom

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Asking the Right Questions




This article was written in Hebrew by Tal Gilad and translated into English by Bat-Zion Susskind-Sacks

Listen and listen well’ you inquisitors, naggers, serial “insultees,“ head hunters, lynch pursuers and KGB operatives of the politically correct.

We are fed up, so fed up with you.

Let is be clear, first and foremost, that I have no issues with gays, bisexuals, multisexuals, lesbians, transgenders or anyone who wishes to have breast implants on their foreheads if this is what makes them happy. As far as I am concerned, let each one do what is good for them, let them enjoy and dance as long as they hurt no one. I have a problem, though, with people why forbid others to speak and think.

Minister of Education Peretz responded very moderately to a provocative and rude question. He is a religious man. Is it possible not to ask him questions related to sex or sexual tendencies? There are those who do not wish to talk about sex all the time. Is it ok? Thank you. However, since you asked, what kind of an answer exactly did you expect? This is his view and it has nothing to do with his role as a Minister of Education. I am unaware of any conversion lessons introduced by him. This is his opinion as a private citizen, the question was phrased and addressed to him as a private citizen and he would not have said anything if he had not been asked in order to utter something that one could have a field trip over.

What was the big deal about it?
“And if one of your children will display a different sexual tendency?”
“My children grew up in a natural and healthy way.”

Wow is me, just horrible, how can a religious man hint that in his view to be heterosexual  is to be normal. The sticker song – to fire, annihilate,  remove,  throw out,  banish, destroy, kick out, insult attach to a pole with a sign that reads:
“ I am a backward person who believes that a family is a mother and father.” Rotten eggs and tomatoes straight to his face.

But try to understand something even deeper, robots of the thought dictatorship. When you ask a person about his children, he does not think about virtual collective of children, the kind you imagine in your progressive eyes that are in constant search of all-think-together. He sees in front of his eyes “his” children.

His children are the apple of his eye; they are the most important thing in his life. He raised them according to his values and world view, raised them, watched over them against any danger and was ready to sacrifice his life for them. As far as he is concerned, they are the purest thing on earth.

One does not ask a father, a religious father, questions the deal with the sexual tendencies of his children. This is impertinence, unlike any other, discourtesy, insensitivity, disrespect, tactless and lacking basic education. Get out of people’s vein, leave their children alone. In fact, that should be considered harassment. On this, one needs to have a lesson plan, what not to ask a father and why questions which start with “and if your child- “  and so on, are hurtful, and unnecessary. Manners before PC

No one disturbs anyone from doing what they feel like doing, how he is doing it and who with. It has been a while since anyone really cares who is gay and who is not and it does not stop them from getting ahead in any area. Involving the children on such topics stems from the same way of thinking according to which children are the property of all, their education is the respo9nsibilityh of society which needs to turn them into “thinkingwell” in the language of Orwell.

Calm down with this Pavlovic shock over each word, each breath, each thought. If I were a gay person reading the words of Minister Peretz, I would shake my head and move to the next page. What is this urgency to get offended, what is this constant need for an adrenaline shot?

Perhaps it is time that people in Peretz’s stature answer simply : ”I request that I not be asked such questions as it hurts me. However, it is easy to suggest it when we are not in the place
 of some sniveling person surprises him with a provocative question in order to get his fiftee4n minutes scandal.

Time for you to recognize the right of a person “to think” differently, especially a religious one, espedcial.ly when it is expressed in re4sponse to a question that was meant exactly that and was phrased for that purpose – to find that shred of the politically incorrect in order to feed professional violently - shaken and awareness engineers.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Am Yisrael, the People destined to Eternal Life





This week’s Torah portion dwells mostly on the death of Ya’akov, his funeral and burial. It is entitled “Vayechi…” -  and he lived. 

As many know, the Torah portions generally get their name from the first word of the portion. That is the case in this week’s portion.


Considering the main subject and the content of the reading, which deals with death and the rituals associated with it why was the name “Vayechi” chosen?

And herein lies the beauty of Judaism.


“You shall choose Life,” is an inalienable principle in Judaism. Death is inevitable, as we all know. The question that we all need to ask is, “Have we lived a life to its fullest? Has it been lived and guided by a proper moral compass, padded with values, and saturated with gratitude for its gifts?”

The good work that people do in their life continues to live long after their physical death. If children internalize and imitate the good example of their parents, then their teachers, be it parents or strangers, continue to live through them.

That, dear readers, is the reason Ya’akov summoned his children to his death bed. The Torah portion tells us what he told each one of them. The Oral Torah, however, gives us an account of what happened behind the scenes.

It seemed, according to Chaza”l, that Ya’akov was worried about posterity and wanted to know if all his offspring  observe their faith and, like him, follow his belief in the G-d of Yisrael, a concern he expressed on that occasion. The Oral Tradition further tells us that his children responded by saying, “Hear oh, Yisrael, the Lord, our G-d is One.” Thas way, they confirmed and reassured Ya’akov that his G-d, the G-d of Yisrael will always be their G-d. That calmed and soothed their father who, in turn answered “Blessed be the name of His kingdom forever and ever,” (which is part of the Shema and its blessings but, interestingly enough, never appears anywhere in the Tanach). It was, so we are told, a form of relief and acknowledgement of their piety.

Ya’akov’s name, as we all remember was changed following his nocturnal struggle with a strange man. Following that encounter, he received a blessing, "Your name will no longer be Ya’akov, but Yisrael, because you have struggled with G-d and with humans and have overcome." (Genesis 32:28). He was blessed with the gift of eternity for no matter who or what his adversaries or those his descendants face are, they shall always prevail.

With Ya’akov’s children remaining devoted to his legacy and his faith, he could join his forefathers knowing that it was not merely for the sake of remembering him. It was the gift of eternity that was bestowed upon him and his progenies after him. By following the path that Ya’akov paved, his contributions, genuine and virtuous way of life and his life’s work will continue to thrive through them and eventually through us as well. His spirit will never die.

The title for this Parasha is, hence, most appropriate. Yisrael (AKA Ya’akov) will linger and continues to live among us. His legacy will guide us and light our course, in what can more than often be a world shrouded in darkness, and ensure that we continue to fulfill what we were destine to be, the People of Eternity


Shabbat Shalom. 

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Humility




“Before Honour there is Humility.” – Proverbs 15:33

Humility, in my opinion, is one of the lessons of Parashat “Miketz.”

The story begins with Yosef’s childhood.
As it unfolds, we learn that, unlike his brothers, Yosef has been blessed with sublime foresight, wisdom and abilities. Unfortunately for him, since he was not the oldest, he had little, if any, say in everyday life or important matters that pertained to him as well. Imagine how frustrating it must have been for him having to follow the advice and directives of those who did not share his level of acuity. His older brothers must have felt it as well.

To add insult to injury, Yosef was also Ya’akov’s favourite son. The reason could be double fold. The first might be related to Yosef being his son from his beloved wife, Rachel. The second, he must have recognized Yosef’s talents from early on and thus preferred him over the others. Or was it perhaps because “he had been born to him in his old age,” as Bre’sheet 37 :3 tells us? Whatever the reason, Ya’akov never made his preferential attitude towards Yosef a secret much to the disdain of his older children. As a token of his love for Yosef, Ya’akov made an “ornate striped robe” for him.
That gesture by Ya’akov, naturally, was resented by his other sons. It developed into great, unbearable hatred which, as the story in Bresheet tells us, ignited in the brothers a burning desire to hurt Yosef and wish to dispose of him.

There is a question that is begging to be asked here. Why would an “ornate striped robe,” propagate such a deep-seated hatred towards Yosef?

Rachel Sivilia undertook the task of finding out. In her article entitled, “Joseph’s ornate robe, brotherly jealousy just because of a robe?” (http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/ktav_et/maamarim/sivilia6.pdf) Sivilia, states that she decided to research the clothing closet of that period according to their soc ial class . What prompted her to engage in it was a picture she saw of a wall painting in a tomb from ancient Egypt. It depicted a group portrait of a family or tribe who were on their way to Egypt to purchase wheat. What caught her attention was their garb. They were all wearing ornate striped robes of different fabrics and different colours.

According to Sivilia, different robes, their texture, their splashy hues were the marks of the social class of those who wore them. She, therefore, concludes that the robe given to Yosef was not only exceptional to the status of Yosef’s brothers but to that of Ya’akov as well. It classified him as nobility. He was their superior. It gave him the confirmation that he was above them.

It did not, however, stop at merely feeling superior. Yosef was not apprehensive about expressing his overflowing pride, arrogance and vanity through his dreams of dominance and preeminence.

It was evident that Yosef had not yet mastered the art of humility.
We can only imagine the frustration, jealousy and sense of revenge that brewed through his brothers like a burning fire. The eruption was imminent. As we know, they sold him to a convoy of Yishmaelites who took him to Egypt where he was sold as a slave to a man named Potifar.

The turning point Yosef’s life’s journey, the journey towards reaching maturity, adulthood, ridding himself of his vanity and above all reaching that point of rare integration between his exceptional talents and humility seems to have happened when Yosef was in prison. He was jailed following following the episode with Potifar’s wife who accused him of sexual harassment.

Even after all the hardships that he has endured, Yosef does not lose his faith in G-d. In prison, he ascends to a higher spiritual level when he realizes that his special gifts and abilities come from G-d. “The answers lie with G-d,” he tells Pharaoh’s wine steward and chef when they ask him to interpret their dreams. From the depth of his awareness of the source of his powers, sprouted his salvation.

I cannot do it," Yosef, similarly, replied to Pharaoh, "but G-d will give Pharaoh the answer he desires" (Bresheet 41:16) is what Yosef answers Pharaoh when the latter asks him to explain  his dream. He has undoubtedly learned the importance of being modest and humble. Just then, when Yosef insists that his solution does not come from his ability but from G-d, just then Pharaoh finds him worthy of being freed from prison and serve as his right-hand man.

Is Yosef, perhaps, what Pharaoh was looking for, not just a talented man but a man of honour, a man who practices humility “
one in whom is the spirit of God
?” (Genesis 41:38).

Shavua tov and Chodesh tov.