Friday, 23 August 2019

Who Were the Morioris?

As someone who loves history and hopes not only to learn it but also teach it and as someone who hopes to learn not only from the mistakes of our Jewish People but also from those of others, I wish to share with you the following.
In the late 1990's, I moved to New Zealand where I lived for 10 years.
A great country indeed. Nice friendly people, breathtaking scenery and a relaxing peaceful atmosphere.
There, I heard and read much about the maltreatment of the Maoris by the British during the colonial period. Fortunately for them, nowadays, much is being done to rectify that.
What is yet even more unfortunate is that in the process of remedying that, few, if any remember another group that had lived there BEFORE the Maoris. They are called the Morioris.
Though both the Maori and Moriori tribes are of Polynesian origin, there seem to be differences in practices and their way of life.
Unlike the Maoris and other Polynisian societies, where "bloody tribal warfare was common—in mainland New Zealand, cannibalism remained a feature of many clashes between Māori iwi, or tribes, the Morioris adopted pacifism." It was known as "Nunuku’s law," named after Nunuku-whenua, one of the Morioris ancestor who decreed that "Manslaying must cease henceforth forever."
According to Moriori custom, "if physical conflict were truly necessary, men could hit at one another with tupurau, poles the width of a man’s thumb and a couple of feet in length. But the moment blood was shed or skin broken, they were obliged to stop. Nunuku offered a warning for those who disobeyed his law, King writes: “May your bowels rot the day you disobey!”
In 1832, some Maori tribes set to move to the Chatham Islands where most Morioris settled and "walk the land."
The Morioris decided to adhere to Nunuku law and not fight.
That decision proved detrimental. “They commenced to kill us like sheep,” one survivor said later, “wherever we were found.”
Over two hundred Morioris were killed, many were children.
"Recordings of a council of Moriori elders from 1862 lists all adult Moriori alive on that day in 1835. One cross meant they had died or been killed; two crosses meant they had been cooked and eaten, a Māori custom common to land disputes on the mainland. Those who had not been killed were enslaved, separated from their families, and prohibited from marrying. Many died of illness, overwork, or kongenge, meaning dispiritedness or despair. The historian André Brett argues that what took place was not mass killing, but systematic genocide: “Māori viewed Moriori as a different and inferior people and killed individuals on the basis of their membership of the Moriori group.”
The last full blooded Moriori, Tommy Solomon died in 1933. His descendants live in the Chatham Islands which were annexed to New Zealand in 1842.
I only learned about this history when I lived in New Zealand and even there it is not discussed much.
How unfortunate that along the timeline of history, some try to bury injustices in the hope that they will fade away into the creases of the collective subconsciousness of humanity. We simply refuse to learn the lessons of history and bury them, merely to keep repeating them.
Shabbat Shalom and a peaceful weekend to all

Monday, 19 August 2019

חזקת החפות

 כמורה בישראל, קשה לי מאוד להיות עדה לאמירות אשר נאמרות מבלי שמץ של מאמץ לבדוק את אמיתותן (כן, גם אני מעדתי בעבר בנושא זה והיכיתי על חטא).

"ביבי מושחת," היא אומרת לי.
"וכי למה?" אני שואלת.
"תראי את כל כתבי האישום שהוגשו נגדו," היא עונה לי בהבעת "ניצחון."

ממתי לגלם תפקיד של תוכי הוא עילה לשאת ארשת ניצחון?

אז למען "למד את בני יהודה קשת" (השכלה וידע, כלי נשק חשובים עד מאוד),
החלטתי לעשות את אשר לצערי מערכת החינוך אינה עושה ובוודאי ובוודאי שהמדיה בארץ ובעולם אינה עושה, לבדוק נושא בצורה הוגנת ושקולה אשר בעקבותיו יבואו המסקנות.

ובכן, כצעד ראשון חשוב להגדיר מהו כתב אישום.

זהו מסמך הפותח את ההליך הפלילי, קובע את מסגרתו ומוגש על ידי המאשימה-המדינה.

עלפי הנחיית פרקליט המדינה,

.תכליתו של כתב אישום להביא בפני בית המשפט והנאשם את מכלול העובדות והנתונים המתייחסים לאשמתו לכאורה של הנאשם, ובכלל זאת: פירוט העובדות המבססות את סעיפי העבירה; הוראות החיקוק בהן מואשם הנאשם; רשימת עדי התביעה ונתונים רלוונטיים נוספים, הכל כפי שיפורט להלן. מטבע הדברים מדובר במסמך פורמלי, שיש לנסחו בקפידה, בדייקנות ובשפה ראויה. בנוסף לכך ראוי שכתב האישום, ככתב טענות המוגש מטעם התביעה, יציג את עמדת המדינה באופן סדור ומשכנע.  (

עצם הגשת כתב אישום א י נ ה הוכחה לאשמה.

במדינות דמוקרטיות אדם חף מפשע עד אשר הוכחה אשמתו מעל לכל צל של ספק כפי שהדוגמאות הבאות מצביעות:

"כך נאמר על חפות הפשע בבית המשפט העליון של ארצות הברית אשר למדה מהתיקון ה-14 לחוקת ארצות הברית:
“The principle that there is a presumption of innocence in favour of the accused is the undoubt law, axiomatic and elementary, and its enforcement lies at the foundation of the administration of our criminal law"

מגילת הזכויות הקנדית (הצ'רטר) קובעת: "חזקה על אדם שהנו חף מפשע, כל עוד לא הוכחה אשמתו".
השופט יצחק קיסטר טבע בלשונו: "אדם הוא בחזקת כשרות כל עוד לא הורשע, גם אם הועמד לדין".
השופטת שושנה נתניהו סברה כי: "לפי העקרונות שלנו, אדם הוא בחזקת זכאי כל עוד לא הוכחה אשמתו."
פרופ' שניאור זלמן פלר קבע במאמרו "...כך הוא בהתאם לכלל in dubio pro reo; זכותו הבסיסית של כל אדם להיות מוגן מפני הפללה כל עוד קיים ספק סביר שמא בכל זאת הוא חף מפשע".
בישראל קיימת הצעה לחקיקת חוק יסוד, היא הצעת חוק יסוד: זכויות במשפט, המבקשת לקבוע בסעיף 4 שלה, את "חזקת הזכאי" כזכות יסוד הגורסת - "כל אדם בחזקת זכאי כל עוד לא הורשע בדינו".

עדיין חושבים שביבי או כל אחד אחר אשר כנגדו הוגש כתב אישום,  אכן אשם?
בבקשה קראו שנית את הכתבה וחישבו על תכנה..

Friday, 16 August 2019


“Where does the word ‘Zion’ appear first?’” I asked one of my Facebook friends during a discussion over the subject of “Zionism.”

“In the dictionary,” came the surprising answer from a fellow Jew whom I consider intelligent and educated.
After the waves of the initial shock had subsided and at the risk of me, a secular Jewess, being accused of “religionization,” I decided to cite the sources for that name, that place that is so central to our Jewish lifeblood, a name that has developed into an enriching concept which, unfortunately, more often than not, gets misunderstood and misused.

The name “Zion” first appears in the Tanach, in 2 Samuel 5:7: “Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion – which is the City of David.” In a later chapter and in the Book of Chronicles, we are told that David paid money for land which Ornan, its owner, was willing to give him for free. In fact, “Zion” appears in the Tanach 152 times as a title for Yerushalayim.

The answer I received above for my opening question, raises for me a rather serious issue that is symptomatic of the challenges facing our People nowadays. And I love challenges!

As a first step and out of curiosity, I decided to look the word “Zion” up. Since I hold my Facebook friends in high esteem, I decided to look it up not on just any online dictionary. I decided to go to one of the best and more highly regarded, the Oxford dictionary. Here is its definition:
“1. A hill in Jerusalem, on which the Temple was built (used to symbolize the city itself, especially as a religious or spiritual center).
2. The Jewish People
3.Palestine as the Jewish Homeland and symbol of Judaism
4.heaven as the final gathering place of true believers
5. A city in Illinois.
I hope that, as a Jew, my FB contender would not consider the last three points of the definition as relevant to the Concept of “Zionism,” which is derived from “Zion.” As the verse above shows, “Zion” is the name of a place. It is a few millennia old and has been the spiritual center of the Jewish people almost as long. The Oxford definition even ventures to take it further and identify it with the Jewish People.

I hope this settles the issue of where the word appears first and that we can all agree then that “Zionism” or “Zion” are not just some words, or entries in some dictionary where strangers define that which only Jews can. Rather, it is a notion that goes hand in hand with the Jewish People only along its odyssey through major milestones in our history, tradition, culture, art, literature, prayers, writings and, above all, our essence.

It was that concept which pushed Jews only to weep “by the rivers of Babylon… when” they “remembered Zion.” It is also the same concept that vibrates in Jews only when we recall the destruction of Yerushalayin (AKA Zion) at the height of our joy under the Chuppah and pledge, “If I forget you Oh, Yerushalayim..”
It is the very same belief that animates Jews only to rise from the Passover table and vow, “Next Year in Yerushalayim,” pray towards Yerushalayim three times a day, and what pushed Rabbi Yehuda Halevi in the 12th century, to lament,

“How can I find savour in food? How shall it be sweet to me?
How shall I render my vows and my bonds, while yet
Zion lieth beneath the fetter of Edom, and I in Arab chains?
A light thing would it seem to me to leave all good things in Spain--
Seeing how precious in mine eyes to behold the dust of the desolate sanctuary.”

Zion and Zionism, that which is at the core of our Jewish spirit, cannot be reduced or watered down to merely an item in a dictionary. That is a slap in the face of all our brothers and sisters whose blood is flowing in the rivers of history while struggling to keep the vows and remain loyal to that which we are.

If you wish, however, to show support and endorse the political movement established by Herzl in the late 19th century, a movement that bears the same name as the concept, please accept my gratitude but please also understand that it is merely a fraction of what Zionism, the few millennia old Jewish only notion, is.

All I ask of you, dear readers and supporters, is that you respect it.

Thank you and Shabbat Shalom. ❤️🇮🇱❤️

Sunday, 11 August 2019

The "just-not-Bibi" Party

The following article appeared in Israel Hayom on March 18, 2019. It was written in Hebrew by Tal Gilad, who is a regular columnist there. Like all of his article, this one is excellent and we decided to translate it into English so that the its very important message is extended to include a wider readership.

Though it is too early to determine, it seems that cracks are forming in the initial commotion surrounding Blue and White. It should not surprise us as we are not talking about a political movement that grew from grassroots. Rather, we are talking about an artificial plant that looks good until one touches its leaves and discovers that they are made of plastic; something that was hastily put together in order to win first prize in an exhibition except, it does not have roots.

The adage attributed to Lincoln (some say it belongs to the founder of the Barnum Circus), “you can fool all of the people some of the time, or some of the people all of the time, but not all of the people all of the time,” fits perfectly in the case of Blue and White. How long can such a rickety structure last, without a clear agenda other than “we are for good and against evil?” How long can conflicts between the four heads – which have emerged - be avoided.

The older parties – Likud, Labor, Meretz, Shas, The Jewish Home and others – grew out of the public, out of a need and on an established ideological basis with very clear goals.

Blue and White is not even a party of antithesis; it is a list of patches and ranks. It is made up of people who do not always share the same views or their political and economic stance. Their only common denominator is “just-not-Bibi.”

How will they run a state with such a world view? Will they offer a “just-not-Bibi” economic plan, build a “just-not-Bibi” security policy, conduct “just-not-Bibi” political discussions and foreign relations?

Which headlines will we see – the government discussed the budget and reached a consensus on “just-not-Bibi” ? In response to the Trump plan, the spokesperson to the government announced that we have only “just-not-Bibi” comments?

What is known about Blue and White is the clear Leftist tendencies of one of its heads and the populist tendency in every direction of the second head. Even its selected name is typical of efforts by the Left to sway voters – just like waiving the Israeli flags during a demonstration (lest they may be regarded as enemies of the state), just like the Clint Eastwood Show show which they are pumping now, as if they are about to launch a powerful attack against Gaza.

Seems like a cumbersome effort to play the new Rabin, kind of the New Left. Of course, they would not have any other consideration – strategic or economic – except for blood in their eyes, or whatever sounds good to the nervous voter.

Each one of the four seems unreal, in a way that even Lapid stands out among them. Ganz is distressed at the mere thought that he might be elected and then will be forced to act or understand what subsidies mean; Lapid is not worried, he will explain to him that subsidies are beautiful goddesses in the Greek mythology; Ashkenazi….ok, let’s move on; and Ya’alon acting as the Right wing fig leaf. Something induces discomfort with this foursome that toils so hard to look like part of the crowd that is out to have a good time.

Why not debate them on the heart of the matter? Gladly, but they must determine first what the heart of the matter is. If the four of them travel together in a car, they probably share jokes. However, when someone raises a political issue – “Guys, we have agreed, no politics.”

Friday, 9 August 2019

The Art of Leadership

Dvarim, (AKA Deuteronomy) is the fifth book of the five books of Moses. Dvarim means spoken words.

The book is also called “Mishneh Torah,” the Second Law. Ramban explains that it is called that because in it, Moshe explains to the generation who is about to enter the Land, the Mitzvot that are associated with Eretz Yisrael. According to Chazal, Moshe wrote the first four books of the Chumash as G-d dictated them to him. In Dvarim, Moshe writes them in his own words. Hence the reference to first person here as opposed to third person in the first four. It is the wisdom of G-d as verbally expressed by Moshe.

This week’s Torah portion which bears the same name, Dvarim, starts with a brief summary of the past 40 years of wanderings. Moshe who is 120 years old knows that he will not be able to enter the Promised Land. Moshe is not only old; he is also tired. Bnei Yisrael have fatigued him. He reproves them for their disobedience, their repeated transgressions and their many complaints. He also warns them prior to entering the Land of the need to follow G-d’s words.

As part of his reproof, Moshe recounts and dwells on only two episodes out of the many that occurred in the desert. One is the account of the spies. The other, the appointment of judges.

There is a clear message in it for Am Yisrael.

As we may recall, it was Bnei Yisrael who requested that Moshe send the spies to tour the Land. Twelve spies were selected for this mission. Only two spoke in favour of the Land, Yehoshua and Calev. For that, they are the only ones of the twelve who have become part of the annals of history and will be remembered for eternity.

Unlike Yehoshua and Calev, those who spoke against the Land that G-d promised Avraham and his descendants and refused to enter it, thus rejecting the mitzvah of settling in it, were fated to die in the desert. The rest of Am Yisrael was destined to continue their wandering for many more years. In other words, the spies’ episode turned out to be calamitous for a nation in its infancy.

The account of the judges, as opposed to the story of the spies, details the success of an endeavour to conduct rewarding and constructive guidance and control. It details the art of leadership.

In an perfect state, the leader should be governing and, at the same time, inspiring. An important ingredient to their success which leaders need to have is the support and consent of their people. When in the Book of Shmot (AKA Exodus), Moshe follows the advice of Yitro and suggests naming judges,  the support of his people for such a submission was crucial in making it a successful undertaking.

When the process  is reversed, as in the case of the spies, failure is unavoidable. Here, the suggestion to send spies is initiated and raised by Am Yisrael, Moshe accepts. He is not involved in the course of selection.

In other words, by juxtaposing the two stories, that of the selection of the spies and appointment of judges, Moshe was hoping to teach Am Yisrael a useful lesson. A leader needs to be the one who is in charge, the one who directs and leads with the unequivocal help and approval of the people. That is the recipe for guaranteed success
If, on the other hand, the leader is directed by the people and is reduced to merely approving their decisions and lets them carry them out, they are all doomed to failure.

Shabbat Shalom

Monday, 29 July 2019

Tanach, the Elixir of Jewish Life

Today, I met with a fellow student who is doing her doctorate in Tanach studies.

She needed help with translating some research for her dissertation.

What a refreshing break it was. What a bliss to be able to unchain myself from the daily chores, from a world that is slowly draining itself off any trace of decency and dignity, where personal agenda replaces the imperative to make the world a better place and where the commandment to choose life is crushed by cultures of death. .

As someone who grew up in an observant home with a father who was very knowledgeable about the Tanach , I developed a wonderful and very rewarding love affair with this great book.

It, therefore, deeply saddens me to witness our Jewish people (the ones I care about first and foremost) distance themselves from the BEST piece of writing ever presented to mankind.

I do not prescribe to the belief that the Tanach was written by G-d. Humans, like you and I, I believe, made of flesh and blood with emotions, wants, desires, faults and imperfections, wrote it. They did, however, have one trait in common. They were very wise.

The Tanach is not just about the righteous or people that lived by or adhered to the strictest of moral codes. It is about reality and, like any reality, where humankind is involved, it is composed of the good, the bad, the beautiful the not so good, the not so bad and the not so beautiful. It tells stories of betrayal, sacrifice, love, deceit, power struggles, conflicts, pain, joy and some victories.

Its narrators were very crafty.

Each tale, each experience was meant to teach, to educate. Their lessons are so great, woven so intricately into each book, each chapter and each verse. Their eternal message is, sometimes, camouflaged in the form of parables, adorned with the finest of pearls, and sometimes hidden in plain sight, just waiting to be uncovered.

As I read and re-read them, they unfold new angles, new insights, and new understandings. They are the fountainhead of unending wisdom, a river of pure, clear water that refreshes one's tired soul, the elixir of Life, if only we opened ourselves to absorbing them and their teachings.

It is a book that recounts the sagas of a unique and determined nation, from its infancy through adulthood. It describes its various stages of growth and spiritual development as it never fails to list its contributions to a, often, hostile world.

So, my dear fellow Jews, when your tired spirit seeks a respite, longs for a quiet corner away from the madding crowd or wishes to take a break from a troubled burdening world, heed my advice. Shake off your shackles and delve into the most soothing ancient cradle called Tanach.

 Let it lull your troubled essence on the verses of Psalms and reignite any fading spark which is begging to be revived. Imbibe the wisdom of Solomon and reconnect with the treasure of our Jewish soul. Allow its pillar of fire to guide you back onto our glorious path washed out by the foamy and angry waves of a grim history.  Let it nourish your every cell with renewed vigor and be awaken to a bright new dawn in our Eternal Covenant.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Against all Odds

As a child, Alina was always skinny, sickly and constantly bullied by her friends. They mocked her for her small size and pale complexion.

“One day,” she used to retort back at them, “I will be on top of the world. Where will you be?”

The dream to shake off the image of her dreary childhood, in the city of Khabarovsk, her birthplace, located in the far eastern part of Russia, took hold of her heart and shaped Alina’s essence. Though she ended up living a very comfortable life, earned a business management degree from one of the top and most prestigious universities and had all her needs taken care of, something was missing in her life. Life in that remote part of the world was empty and seemed to hold no future. The dream, however, refused to extinguish itself. Parts of her spirit and soul were begging for a change.

It was her Jewish ancestry, of all factors, which helped revive the dream, bring about the change and help fulfill her wish.

“Why don’t you travel to Yisrael?” her mother asked her one bright day trying to cheer her up. “Since my father is Jewish,” she suggested to Alina, “ under the Law of Return, you can move there without any problem. Give it a try. You can always come back home.”

Despite warnings against the difficulties that Yisrael poses to new immigrants and in spite of the doubts expressed by those that were close to her about her ability to adjust to life here, Alina took her mother's advice. In 1999, she arrived in Yisrael. She was immediately placed in an absorption center in Tiberias where, a year later, she was joined by her mother.

From Tiberias, they both moved to Eilat.

In 2004, Alina moved to Herzliya where she commenced her studies towards earning a Personal Training Certificate at the American-Israel Fitness college. Life, it seemed, was finally beginning to smile at her. She was on her way to realize her childhood dream.

In October of that year, Alina was preparing for her final exams in the course. She needed a break and, along with her mom, went on holiday at the Hilton Hotel in the resort town of Taba in the Sinai Peninsula. She was planning on doing her studies in the tranquility of the relaxing desert atmosphere. That vacation changed her life and shaped its destined path in every respect.

Many Yisraelis may recall October 7th of 2004 as the day in which two devastating terror attacks took place in two resorts frequented by Yisraeli travelers. The Hilton Taba was one of them.

Alina was sitting just outside the hotel lobby reading her course notes when a powerful blast ripped through the hotel. It was caused by two separate car bombs each carrying 200kg of explosives detonated in the lobby. He mother was upstairs in the room.

The scars caused by the many pieces of flying glass that hit Alina are etched on her body. They are an eternal reminder of that devastating day, a day that marked a turning point in her life.

With each passing moment of her long and painful recovery, following the terror attack, Alina felt weakness leaving her body. She was getting stronger not only physically but also emotionally. The “skinny and sickly” young girl from Khabarovsk was fading away into parts of a very remote past. Determination to defy all odds filled every cell in Alina’s body. If she can challenge death, she decided, she can overcome any of life’s tests.

Her attempt to study for the final exam of her course were one of those tests. The blood-soaked notebooks and her scarred body refused to let the waves of grief that threatened her troubled soul to subside. At the same time, Alina was determined not to let victimhood dictate her life. She would study and pass her exams! Failure was one term that evaporated from her vocabulary. Her efforts paid off. She passed her exams with flying colours and earned her certificate.

Something else happened to Alina on the day she survived the terror attack. She realized WHY she survived. “Mom,” she called her mother one day, “I am going to convert to Judaism. My maternal grandfather was Jewish. His People became a nation on Mount Sinai. I am coming back Home.”

Alina embarked on the journey of Halachic conversion to Judaism. Several months later, her mother joined her.  The sliver of hope on the cloudy skies of Alina’s life was getting wider.

In 2007, Alina gave birth to a beautiful boy. “I named him Roniel,” she told me as she turned around, exposed part of her upper back and pointed at one of her scars. It was in the clear and defined shape of the Hebrew letter Reish. “Roniel is my precious gift. He is part of my reward and the soothing balm to my bruised soul.”

Alina’s regained inner strength has pushed her to take her dream even further. This year, she has participated in three body building competitions. The first, Nabba - Israel where she earned first place in the 40+ category. The second WBF – Israel where she earned second place in the bikini 35+ category. She also earned second place in the NAC competition of bikini 40+.

“Though my resolve to turn my life into a success came from within me,” she told me when we met for lunch last week, “I am very grateful to my partner, Oded Saba, for his ongoing support and encouragement through this journey.”

The balance of beauty, wisdom and determination that Alina has been blessed with are the traits that have brought her thus far and have made her a role model to many.

We wish her the best of luck and every blessing! 🇮🇱 🏆 🇮🇱