31 December 2016

Those Inspiring Maccabees: Zot Hanukah!

3 Tevet 5777
8th Candle of Hanukah

Following is a sampling of inspiring speeches made by the Maccabean leaders which aroused the Jewish neshamahs of their followers to greatness in the Name of Hashem. Excerpted from The Chanukah Scroll by Hagi Ben Artzi:

[To the Greek officer who bid him come and sacrifice a pig on the altar to Zeus,]...Matityahu's response was delivered in a loud and confident voice, and was clearly heard throughout the city square. Matityahu said: "Even if all the nations in the Kingdom of Antiochus hearken to him and abandon their traditions and customs and follow the paths of the Greeks, I, and my sons and my brothers will continue to walk in the ways of our Forefathers, and will not betray the covenant of our God. We dare not leave our Torah and our national tradition! We will not follow and will not hearken to the words of King Antiochus, for the God Who dwells in Heaven is our King."

..."Jews, we are going out to war! Whoever is zealous for the Torah, whoever is loyal to the covenant with our God, follow me to fight for our faith and our Torah!"

[Even from his deathbed, Matityahu persevered]..."My sons, be zealous for the Torah; give your very souls for the sake of the covenant of your Forefathers. Remember the actions of your fathers, how they gave their lives and brought salvation to their nation. Remember Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov; remember Moshe and Pinchas; remember Yehoshua and Calev; remember David and Eliyahu; remember Daniel, Chanayah, Mishael and Azaryah.

Carefully reflect on the previous generations; learn from them that one need not fear an evil man, even if he is strong and threatening. Our fathers trusted in God, and He came to their salvation. You, as well: Beleive in God, and become strong with Torah - for only this way will bring you pride. In your war with the enemies of our nation, Yehuda will be your Chief of Staff and commander, and Shimon will be your advisor and father. Gather to you all those who uphold the Torah, and avenge the honor of your people. Give the Gentiles what they deserve, and hold fast on to the Torah's commandments."

With these words, Matityahu passed away....

...when Yehuda's few men saw the great Syrian army marching towards them, great fear fell upon them. They called to their commander Yehuda: "We are few and weak; how will we be able to fight this great camp?" Yehuda then gathered all the men together, and strengthened their spirit with words of faith.

Thus he said to them: "Nothing can prevent God from saving us, whether we are few or many. It is not great numbers of soldiers or heavy weaponry that brings victory in war. It is rather a spirit of valor, one that stems from true faith. We are fighting for our nation and our Torah, whereas they are coming upon us with haughtiness and evil, to destroy us, our wives and our children, and to take our property. The God of our fathers will not abandon us; He will smite them before us.

Arise, my brothers! Go out and fight without fear!"

When Yehuda finished speaking, a spirit of valor overtook his men, and they fell upon their enemies with great force.

[When the war had continued many years, Shimon, the last of the Maccabees] ...gathered a large crowd in the courtyard of the Temple in Jerusalem, and encouraged them and raised their spirits. He said to them: "You know that which we have done - I, my brothers, and my father's house - on behalf of the Torah and the Temple. All my brothers died in the great war, in which they gave their lives for their people; I, alone, remain. Do not fear that their deaths have caused  me to be afraid or to seek my own personal safety, for I know that I am no better than my brothers. Just as they did, I will continue to lead you in the way of the Torah and to fight the wars of God."

[When Antiochus sent a demand for the return of captured 'Greek cities' in Eretz Yisrael] ...Shimon rebuffed these demands..., and responded in resolute and firm terms: 

"Not foreign land did we take, and not over property of foreigners did we take control. We have returned to the inheritance of our forefathers, from which we were unjustly banished by our enemies. And now, with the help of our God, we have returned to the inheritance of our fathers."

And the Spirit of the Maccabees lives on...

29 December 2016

Rosh Chodesh Tevet - Hanukah - Shabbat Parashat Mikeitz

1 Tevet 5777
6th Candle of Hanukah
Erev Shabbat Kodesh

Rabbi Mordechai Sitorsky on Chodesh Tevet

Shabbos Chanukah
Parshas Miketz - Chanukah
Posted on December 28, 2016 (5777) By Rabbi Pinchas Winston

Now Yosef recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. (Bereishis 42:8)

Shabbos Chanukah. In a sense, it is almost an oxymoron. Shabbos is one of the holiest days of the year, outdone only by Yom Kippur, the “Shabbos of Shabboses.” Chanukah is the most “profane” holiday of the year, because even Purim has some work restrictions.

Put Shabbos and Chanukah together, however, and you get something very different, something very Yosef-like. This comment probably makes little sense. If you understand Shabbos, Chanukah, and Yosef well, it will actually make a lot of sense. 

See the rest HERE.

Shabbat Shalom - Chodesh Tov - Hanukah Sameach!

"Five Points About Chanukah On The Fifth Night"

29 Kislev 5777
5th Candle of Hanukah

Guest post from Jewish Path...

What Were the Maccabees Fighting For?
by Rabbi Nachum Braverman, Aish HaTorah Los Angeles
( modified and used without permission )

It is ironic that Chanukah is so widely observed in America, because it's not clear that Jews today would side with the Maccabees. The Jews didn't battle the Greeks for political independence and Chanukah can't be recast as an early-day version of Israel against the Arabs. Chanukah commemorates a religious war. The Greeks were benevolent rulers bringing civilization and progress wherever they conquered. They were ecumenical and tolerant, creating a pantheon of gods into which they accepted the deities of all their subjects. Their only demand was acculturation into the melting pot of Greek civilization and religion.

The Jewish community was divided in response to this appeal. Some believed assimilation as a positive and modernizing influence and they welcomed the release from Jewish parochialism. Led by Judah Maccabee was a small group opposed to the Greek ideal, and prepared to fight and die to preserve the exclusive worship of Judaism. (The name 'Maccabee' is an acronym for the Torah Verse - Who is like you among the gods,

This was no war for abstract principles of religious tolerance. It was a battle against ecumenicism fought by people to whom Torah was their life and breath.Today Chanukah calls to us to combat assimilation in America and to fight for our heritage.

There were many who passively acquiesced. What is the use in opposing the force of history, they reasoned. We can't halt assimilation any more than we can stop the ocean tides or the passage of the seasons. Who would be so foolish as to oppose the inevitable? What chance do we have of convincing our children not to intermarry? Jewish particularism is a past value swept away on the waves of liberalism. With the barriers of anti-Semitism down and the land of opportunity beckoning, the day of cohesive Jewish community seems gone. It ís with resignation that we accept the spiraling intermarriage rate which spells our destruction as a people.

Remember the end of the story? Finally triumphant, Jews captured Jerusalem and rededicated the Temple. (The word Chanukah means dedication and refers to this act.)
They found just one flask of oil but the flame which should have lasted one day burned for eight. It testified that our determination was enhanced by some ineffable power suffusing our efforts with transcendent glow and power. Light the candles, says the holiday to us. Act vigorously, teach, reach. Courageously and with determination. And G-d will invest our efforts with a power, permanence, and glow -- far beyond our capacity to convey.

It's one of those quirks of the calendar: Chanukah and Xmas almost always coincide in December. The advertising industry will make sure that you don't forget it. As a result, many will be caught up in the mix of tides coming from Judaism and Christianity.

This is but a minute reflection of many of the paradoxes served up by the American melting pot. So why not hold it up to the light of history to see what the facts really are? You owe it to yourself before you dive into those December parties.

You could be fooled if you consider some superficial similarities: Two thousand years ago in ancient Israel under the occupation of an oppressive foreign power, a small family stands up for itself and launches a spiritual revolt. Armed with the belief that G-d is on their side, they succeed in establishing a new religious identity. As a symbol of the miraculous nature of their victory, a new holiday is instituted that revolves around candles and light. Not merely one night of celebrations, but more than a week of joyous, glowing, holiday lights. Once again, the Jewish people proves that it is a Light Unto The Nations.

You see what I mean? It's easy to confuse the Maccabees with the early Christians. So much for the history. For many young Jews today, Chanukah is joyously combined with Xmas to produce such observances as Chanukah Bushes, Christmas menorahs, Xmas Chanukah gifts, Chanukah Xmas parties and celebrations. As more and more Jews intermarry, these things become accepted as the norm and the true meanings and origins of both religions are completely ignored.

A nice, happy connection is made where none ever existed. Consider the facts:
For two thousand years, there was never a connection between Xmas and Chanukah because they were celebrated by two different religions. Christians somehow saw Jews as Christ-killers (not saviors) and heretics; hence the blood-baths of the Inquisition, blood libels, pogroms, and finally, the Holocaust. Way before the American 'melting pot', - the European 'beheading pot' existed with mostly Jewish skulls floating around in it.

The strongest argument against mixed Jewish and Christian celebrations comes from modern day, Chanukah-like occurences. As American Jews enjoying the greatest liberties ever enjoyed by Jews in their 2000-year exile from their true homeland in Israel, we should ponder well the fate that awaits us if we choose to emulate the 'mainstream' as opposed to the message of the 'few against the many.' This Chanukah, make sure you move into the correct light.

Happy Chanukah!

And nothing illustrates these conclusions more clearly than this: Open Orthodoxy’s New And Dangerous Halachic Quest.

(Excerpt) The YCT rosh yeshiva wrote: “’Should we be bending the halakhah to conform to our modern notions of egalitarianism?’ is a reasonable question to ask and a hard one to answer.”
Another very important YCT graduate wrote about his agenda with halacha while he was in YCT: “My immediate goal for my years in Rabbinical School is to acquire the tools that are necessary to overcome the halakhic and social impediments to change.”
And from Rabbi Katz again: “One of the most pressing tensions in the community is how to reconcile our values with our convictions; what to do when halakha points us in one direction and our values in another direction. We are tempted to follow our values but pulled to abide by our halakhic commitments. A proper resolution requires an emboldened stance towards tradition, one that allows us to cajole the tradition to reconcile itself with our modern sensibilities. [Using, of course, legitimate halakhic mechanisms developed by our predecessors when they were confronted with similar challenges.]”
These startling statements are not from Reform or Conservative rabbis; they are from people who call themselves Orthodox – Open Orthodox to be exact – and they are on an aggressive campaign to spread their poison and set themselves up as poskim. They have no inhibitions, as they lock horns with gedolei haposkim of earlier generations and feel confident to argue against them: “I rule like Tzitz Eliezer…,” “As a matter of p’sak, I am inclined against following Taz’s approach,” and, “There is no halachic issue with congregational Torah reading for women, nor any need to be concerned with kavod hatzibur when taking part in this kind of minyan. It is permissible for women to be called up to the Torah, to read from it, and to recite its blessings.”
These are quotes from some of the “teshuvot” of YCT’s heads.
Hashem yeracheim.
Open Orthodoxy’s veering so far off the course of Torah and mesorah is breeding a generation of assimilated followers and even clergy, for whom being part of secular culture trumps being a Torah Jew. A popular graduate of YCT, who sends his four-year old daughter to public school in New York City, wrote last week about his daughter’s experience during this “holiday period”:
“Our 4-year-old is learning that different people celebrate differently and that some Jews celebrate [X-mas] and some Jews celebrate Shabbat. She felt confident enough to ask and to ask openly. I hope she continues to trust her instincts, love her faith and culture deeply, and never stop seeing the interconnectedness in everything.”
This is what Open Orthodoxy is reaping, and it’s now sowing seeds and claiming the mantle of halachic authority.
One must ask oneself why it is that America - bastion of Western Civilization - is the breeding ground for all the assimilationist 'Jewish' movements.

27 December 2016

The Light of Hanukah and the Battle Against Darkness

27 Kislev 5777
3rd Candle of Hanukah

The first expression of the Creator's will was "Let there be light!"  Light represents all that is good and beneficial. Light over darkness is viewed historically as the ultimate triumph. 

Hanukah is also called "The Festival of Lights", as an eight-branched menorah or hanukiah is lit progressively over eight nights, adding a new candle each night, thereby increasing the light each day of the festival. The Maccabees fought for the supremacy of the true light of Torah over the false enlightenment of Greek culture.

Light/Goodness/Truth vs. Darkness/Evil/Falsehood - Perception is Everything

Rabbi E.E. Dessler wrote the following:
"...Rambam explains that before the sin, man, with his majestic intellect, could distinguish between truth and falsehood, but morality's concepts of good and bad or proper and improper behavior were meaningless to him. Such ideas entered his consciousness only after his sin.
...Since everything exists only by virtue of God's will, it follows that what He rejects has no true existence. Good is what He desires, and therefore only good can be called true and real. Adam, before the sin, saw this so clearly that he saw the whole world only in terms of truth and falsehood. What God wanted was true, and what God did not want was false and unreal.
Before the sin, it would have been impossible to see the world in these terms. it was clear that there was only one reality: a life with God. All else was false, unreal, illusory. Only after the sin could we begin to see the world in terms of two competing realities - good and evil."
It was then that good and evil became inextricably mingled in the human psyche.
On our current level, we generally recognize that there is a cosmic battle between good and evil, but the fact that it is in reality a contest between Truth and Falsehood is often obscured. Recognizing this makes the newest meme called "Fake News" even more ominous.
What we are now calling fake news—misinformation that people fall for—is nothing new. ...What is new is the premise of the conversation about fake news that has blossomed since Election Day: that it’s realistic to expect our country to be a genuine mass democracy, in which people vote on the basis of facts and truth, as provided to them by the press.
The Fake News Scare Is, Itself, Fake News
..perhaps we should define fake news as the process of intentionally producing false stories for rhetorical reasons, in order to persuade people to shift perspectives. ...But fake news is not worthy of the attention it has gotten following the outcome of 2016 Presidential election.

...While well-meaning people run around trying to protect children (and gullible adults) from so-called “fake news,” anyone in the United States who actually leans totalitarian must be ecstatic. ...Once the citizenry accepts the conceit that some news is real” (and therefore, good) while other news is fake” (and therefore, bad) they’ll voluntarily submit to censorship.
Freedom of the press can easily be replaced by sanctioned propaganda.
You can just tell that this is the next step in the overall scheme to enslave mankind because of the attention it is getting. And if we weren't taking the warning seriously, the global elite arranged a little demonstration of how dangerous "fake news" really can be. Google "fake news" and this is the top story right now...
Fake news story ignites Pakistan-Israel feud on Twitter
A fake news story touched off a tense Twitter confrontation between nuclear power Pakistan and Israel, widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal of its own, in an episode that underlines the potentially harmful impact of such stories on sensitive global affairs.
In an apparent response to a fake story claiming Israel's former defence minister threatened a nuclear attack against Pakistan if it sends troops to Syria, Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif reminded Israel that "Pakistan is a nuclear state too."
Israel's Defence Ministry tweeted back Saturday, saying the original story on the site AWD News was "totally fictitious."
In response to this newly perceived "danger", western governments are wasting no time in enacting legislation to combat the scourge of "fake news"...
Berlin plans ‘center of defense against fake news’ ahead of elections – report
The German government is seeking to create a center of defense against disinformation ahead of next year’s elections, in the wake of ongoing “fake news” and "Russian hackers" hysteria generated during the election cycle in the United States.
The Federal Press Office in the Chancellery, which has a staff of over 500 professionals, will take the leading role in establishing the fake news defense center, Der Spiegel reported quoting a note from an anonymous Interior Ministry staff member.

Buried Inside the 2017 NDAA Is a Little-Known 'Disinformation' Provision — and Obama Just Signed It
President Barack Obama on Friday signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act into law. But days later, one of the lesser-known provisions included in the bill is gaining attention.
...By the stroke of Obama’s pen, the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act also became law as it was included in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.
...With all the reports of Russia attempting to interfere with the 2016 election, the topic of “fake news” has been a hotly contested subject.
Some critics on social media have made it clear they don't want the government involved at all in the filtering of information. The government, of course, vows it only seeks to “proactively advance fact-based narratives that support U.S. allies and interests.”
And it's not just governments...
Facebook's plan to tackle fake news raises questions over limitations
Facebook’s new effort to flag news deemed to be “fake” began on Friday, as new questions emerged about the limitations of the system the social media giant has put in place to outsource the fact-checking process.
This Hanukah we seem to have come full circle, with the Yavanim once again setting themselves as the arbiters of what constitutes the truth. We see from UN Resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlements that the clash with Torah Truth is no different today than it was 2180 years ago. 

The answer for us is to hold fast to the Torah - it is the ultimate Truth and Good and Light in this world. Ponder this as the candles grow and glow tonight.

26 December 2016

The Root of All Our Troubles

26 Kislev 5777
2nd Candle of Hanukah

This headline on YWN illustrates precisely the root of all our troubles.

Israel Places Hopes in Trump

And this is why Donald Trump and the United States as a whole are doomed to failure. All of the idols (anything we place before HKB"H) in which we have put our trust MUST be eliminated for the geulah to come.

If the lessons of Hanukah do not teach us to place our hope ONLY IN HASHEM, what will????

Obama Was Right: The UN Vote Is A Failure of Leadership

26 Kislev 5777
2nd Candle of Hanukah

I digress a bit from Hanukah today to address the UN vote condemning Israeli "settlements" that appears to have the entire world in an uproar. First let me say that in the grand scheme, this is "much ado about nothing". That's why I ignored it until today. It was entirely predictable. It was bound to happen sooner or later. The significant thing in my mind is the Jewish reaction to it.

Bristle if you like, but Obummer was right about one thing - "Netanyahu brought the US abstention on himself." And on all the rest of us, along with every government since 1967 which did not annex these "territories".

You can't keep talking like this... 
“I remain committed to making peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors. The Arab Peace Initiative contains positive elements that could help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians. We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in our region since 2002, but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples,” said the prime minister.
Lieberman, often maligned as an extremist, said he agreed with Netanyahu’s points, “including the two-state solution. I often spoke about recognition of the solution of two states for two peoples.
...and expect the rest of the world not to get upset when you fail over and over again to make good on your promises.

If these lands had been annexed and Israeli sovereignty extended over them immediately after the Six-Days War, no one would have made a peep. So, the failure of leadership then and now has brought us to this inevitable situation. 

Only when a leader of the calibur of Mattityahu HaChashmonai will arise to state unequivocally that these are our lands and there will never be a "Palestinian State" on it will we find our way out of this mess. 

Baruch Hashem, HKB"H, Israel's Greatest Advocate, is clearly tired of the status quo and He is pushing and prodding both us and the nations to get the geulah train back on the fast-track.

25 December 2016

"Chanukah: A Celebration of Zealotry"

26 Kislev 5777
2nd Candle of Hanukah

Guest post...

Chanukah: A Celebration of Zealotry
If the Maccabees were fighting today, how would the JEWISH world view them?
By: Donny Fuchs

The original hero of Chanukah, Matityahu the Kohen Gadol of Modi’in, was a true Jewish zealot and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. He was an extremist by any definition. Make no mistake about it. I use these terms complimentary, despite the fact that modern ears hear these terms and associate them with negative ideals. As the great Pinchas was a great Jewish zealot who rose up alone at the moment of truth, so too was Matityahu one of those rare men who seized the moment. Zealousness has its place and time in Judaism, and were it not for the heroic actions of Matityahu and his sons, the spiritual integrity of Judaism would have been destroyed on the treif altar of Greek idolatry and hedonism. True Jewish zealousness has no commonality with the “zealous actions” of your average hothead. To be zealous for Hashem is to be pure in Torah thought, and repulsed by the manifestation of chillul Hashem on this earth. Far from mindless rage, thinking leads to action. The faculty of emotion is fueled by reason.

Most self-identifying Jews today, regardless of denominational affiliation or ideological leaning, regard the Maccabees as true Jewish heroes. As is often the case over time, history became distorted, and the Chanukah of today has become something different than it once was. Most Jews celebrate a false Chanukah that has nothing in common with historical reality. It has become sanitized. In a warped sense of irony, modern day Jews celebrate the Maccabees for everything they were not; multi-culturalists, defenders of religious liberty, religious pluralists, etc. The stark reality is that most Jews would have deemed them terrorists by today’s standards. Chanukah isn’t a universal “festival of lights” for Jews to share with gentiles. The Maccabees were Jewish zealots who waged a brutal war against the Greeks who tried to destroy the Jewish soul. Chanukah is not a celebration of universalism. It is the very epitome of Jewish exclusivity.

From a contemporary context, one should consider the following:

  • Were the Maccabees around today, Netanyahu would send an army of Yassamnikim thugs to destroy them.
  • Being registered on the Maccabee internet mailing list, would mean a surprise visit from the Shabak.
  • Leftists would scream for Maccabee blood and applaud brutal crackdowns, as would Israel’s media elite and her morally relativistic peers in Israeli academia. Secular Jewish organizations worldwide would revile the Maccabees.
  • The Anti-Defamation League would use their vast resources to monitor the Maccabees and any Maccabee affiliated offshoots. True to form, their intel would be shared with the U.S. State Department, CIA, FBI, and various Israeli government agencies.
The secular wouldn’t be alone in their demonization of the Maccabees. Mainstream religious Jewish organizations would condemn them. Rabbis would declare that their actions constitute a chillul Hashem and are contrary to Halacha. They would argue that the Maccabees were guilty of incitement, and endangering the physical and spiritual welfare of Jews worldwide. Representatives of the Maccabee movement would be banned from speaking in religious institutions, and barred from entering most countries. In Israel, the state worshiping religious loyalists would condemn them with the harshest terminology. Many chareidim would join in.

Because it wasn’t just the Greeks. The Maccabees fought violently against Jewish hellenists who tried to destroy Torah. When Matityahu saw a Jew publicly defiling The Almighty’s name in the town of Modi’in, he didn’t stand by and tolerate the man’s freedom “to worship as he saw fit.” He slaughtered him with his sword and started a revolution. Yahadutlionizes him and his sons for sanctifying the Almighty’s name and saving Judaism from extinction. History is for the victors. We celebrate Chanukah because Judaism survived because of the Maccabees actions. The irony is that Hellenists revised history, and needing heroes they coopted them, sanitized their legacy, and Chanukah is considered parve today. Hence, the Maccabees, the zealots of Masada, and Bar Kochba can be accepted as heroes by the State of Israel today.

Should You Keep Chanukah this year? The following TRUE or FALSE quiz will be helpful. Do you believe?…

  • That interfaith-dialogue with Christians is a noble endeavor that serves to bring the two faith communities closer.
  • That Jews should take any and all aid from Christian evangelicals and messianic Christians.
  • That Israel should continue to grant equal rights to all of her citizens and allows all faiths to worship as they see fit.
  • That in the absence of any danger to the mother, a woman should have the right to abort a fully formed fetus.
  • That homosexuals should have the right to parade through the streets of any city in Israel. Or that homosexuals should have the right to marry in Israel.
  • That a Halachic definition of “who is a Jew” has no place in state affairs.
  • That Israel should continue to endanger our own soldiers to protect Arab civilians in order to retain a moral high-ground.
  • That havlagah or “self-restraint” is a Jewish ethic that must be a part of the IDF’s ideology.
  • That even theoretically, a Halachic state (by truly G-d fearing people of Torah) is contrary to democracy.

If you answered TRUE to even one of these questions, then in the spirit of intellectual integrity, you should boycott Chanukah this year. Chanukah symbolizes Judaism’s complete rejection of the profane influences of the world. It represents the commitment to oppose those foreign ideologies that threaten the nation and if necessary to use the sword in defense of the Jewish body and soul. This is the Chanukah that leftists want to destroy.

Missionaries In Our Midst

I have written several articles about the spiritual threat of missionaries in Eretz Yisroel, in particular, the danger of evangelical Christians who have infiltrated religious Jewish communities in the Shomron. Many kipah wearing Jews have been actively bought by the endless sum of Christian dollars that the enemy is able to throw at Jews and their various projects, in exchange for a ticket into their daily lives. Some of these Jews are misguided and naive. Others are not so innocent. Hakadosh Baruch Hu knows what is in every man’s heart.

The problem is that these spiritual threats would have never been able to infiltrate into the Torah world without the aid of self-appointed leaders who will have to answer for their sins. Some are wont to spout the nonsense of a nonexistent Judeo/Christian ethic, which by its very definition is an oxymoron and contrary to everything we stand for. The Jewish ethic is by its very nature contrary to Christianity. No such concept exists. And to align with idolatry in the war against the Arabs is to sacrifice the Jewish soul for the illusion of a united Christian front against the Arabs. There are two kinds of death for the Jew. And throughout history, the death of the Jewish soul is the greatest tragedy of all.

If you support interfaith-dialogue with Christians, taking money from evangelicals, and allowing Esau to pick grapes in the liberated vineyards of Judea and Samaria, then you share the values of a Jewish hellenist. I don’t care how well you know the laws of shmitah, or whether you attend a daily daf yomi. Those with seichal know precisely whats going on, and no Rabbi on earth can kasher a pig. To those who have befriended the notorious Waller family and their cohorts, they are aligning themselves with idolaters who want to harm Am Yisroel. The actions of such groups as Hayovel run by the Wallers are as dangerous an assault as anything Am Yisroel has ever faced. Those who support them are Jewish hellenists. Matityahu would have loathed the Wallers, and he would have had no patience (to say the least) for those who are aiding them.

MesiratNefesh and Pragmatism

From a purely survival instinct, if someone demands that you worship Baal or have your throat slit open, the “pragmatic” thing is to save your throat and bow down to the idol. Judaism requires something else sometimes. The Halacha requires you to refuse, even if it costs you your life. The Halacha isn’t always pragmatic or “wise” from a conventional standpoint. At times, the Halacha requires us to fight to the death, even when the odds are against us. The battle of the Maccabees was neither smart nor pragmatic through a conventional standpoint. They made things worse in the short term. And in the long term we won, even if the later descendants of the Maccabees betrayed their own legacy.

The day will come when we extricate all physical and spiritual contagions from Eretz Yisroel. The legacy of the Maccabees lives on. One day soon, Jews will embrace it and incorporate the Maccabee model as the solution to destroying the Arab enemy, dealing with all spiritual threats, and sanctifying the State of Israel. Every truly religious Jew believes this. The challenge of the Maccabees looms before us. Will we join Matityahu and fight for the L-rd, or will we serve Baal, Asheirah, or the erev rav elite who deify themselves?

One day soon, a new generation of Maccabees will arise. Am Yisroel will never die, and there will always be a select few who rise up to define and defend the Torah truth.

With Fire and Blood. Chanukah Sameach!

Donny Fuchs

An Open Letter to the Hellenists of the CJCUC

25 Kislev 5777
First Candle of Hanukah

To the CJCUC, regarding your recent mailing...

"Anti-Christian Ruling by Israeli Campus Rabbi is Destructive and Wrong" say CJCUC Staff

The staff at the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Jerusalem are appalled by the recent ruling of Rabbi Elad Dukov, the Technion’s synagogue rabbi, forbidding Jewish students to enter the student hall where a decorated Christmas tree is present and calling it paganism as well as an anti-Jewish symbol.

I am "appalled" every time a purported Jew or 'Jewish' organization (like yours) attacks a fellow Jew for daring to uphold the Torah and the integrity of Yahadut.

According to the overwhelming majority of Jewish law (halakhic) decisors, (including eminent figures such as Rabbi Jacob Emden and Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch) Christianity is not idolatry and Christmas trees are neither worshiped by Christians nor used in their worship services. Furthermore, the Technion Student Center is not a place of worship and placing a tree within it in no way designates the student center as a Christian house of worship.

With all due respect to the named "decisors", ask any real convert from Christianity and they will tell you that Christians do indeed worship J---- as God. Better yet, ask some professing Christians outright and they will tell you, "yes, J---- is himself God". They do, in fact worship him as such and the New Testament that they hold as authoritative and "inerrant" states as much - over and over again.

It is tragic that when extremist Islam is targeting Christianity as the infidel who must be destroyed, Rabbi Dukov would add fuel to the flames. 

Please, don't make this an either Yishmael or Eisav matter, since we, as Jews, belong to neither camp. According to Judaism, both Muslims and Christians are themselves "infidels" because they departed from the Noahide Code of Law and created new religions for themselves to follow and added their own books of lies to the Holy Torah. Furthermore, historically both upstart religions have represented themselves as the Only Truth which supplanted the actual truth of Torah Judaism, up until this day.

It rather behooves us Jews to welcome the Christians in our midst as being our brothers and sisters, gerei toshav, who share our belief in ethical monotheism and live in accordance with the seven universal laws of morality. 

On the contrary, we have a Torah obligation to separate from the Christians. In no manner, shape or form are we related to them. They are not our "brothers and sisters" (at least they are not mine, but perhaps they are yours?). As to them being "gerei toshav" and the rest of what you claim here, it is simply wrong and if you can't see that, I would not know how to begin to explain it to you. Wishing it doesn't make it so.

We must respect their religious symbols; imagine if the Christian majority in America would forbid Christians from eating in a room with a Hanukkah menorah? 

The Hebrew prophets chastised the People of Israel for not demolishing and removing the religious symbols of false religions and condemned us for imitating their ways. In fact, Yeshayahu 27.9 says: "Therefore, through this shall Jacob's iniquity be atoned for, and this shall be the fruit of his sin's removal: When he makes all the altar stones like ground chalk stones, and Asherah-trees and sun-idols arise no more."

Moreover, there is no comparison between our religions and theirs, since ours is true and theirs is a lie, but, in any case, a Hanukah menorah has no business in a gentile setting. It belongs in a Jew's window or by his door and not someplace where it is seen to be in competition with the gentile's holiday.

As to what follows below, there is only one word that can describe this perversion of the prophet's words and the blatant misrepresentation of Hashem Himself as revealed in His Holy Torah and that is - evil.

The God of Israel and the world believes in absolute morality and cultural pluralism, as is powerfully stated by our prophet Micah, "Let all the nations walk each one in the name of his god and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever." 

[For all peoples shall go, each one in the name of his god - Rashi: "Shall go to destruction because they worshipped idols. So did Jonathan render it."] 

Let us respect and work together with those nations who accept the morality of God's covenant with Noah and let us use our energies to fight the terrorism running rampant in a world in which a large segment no longer sees peace as the highest ideal.

Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin, Founder
David Nekrutman, Executive Director
Rabbi Pesach Wolicki, Associate Director
Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn, Academic Director
Rabbi Abe Reichman, Community Relations
Rabbi Alan Yuter, CJCUC Lecturer
Limor Riskin, Director of Operations
Sara Kremer, Marketing Director
Roy Doliner, CJCUC Lecturer

[If anyone out there would like to give Rabbi Elad Dukov a big yasher koach and some chizuk, you can call him at (04) 832-4723. (I am told he understands English.)]

"Hanuka - The Holiday of Jacob or Israel ?"

25 Kislev 5777
First Candle of Hanukah
Hanukah Sameach!

Rav Richter Shiur on Chanuka December 14th Part 1 of 3

Rav Richter's Shiur on Hanukka Part 2 of 3 

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion in Part 3.

22 December 2016

Listen While You Prepare For Shabbat

23 Kislev 5777
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Vayeshev
Shabbat Shalom!

Chanuka - The war with Yavan (Greece) - Then and today - Rabbi Alon Anava

See alsoHilchot (Oral laws) of Chanukah - Rabbi Alon Anava - Part 1

The Final Exile: The Exile of the Mind

22 Kislev 5777

At Hanukah, our attention is focused on the Greek "exile" which is the third of four exiles prophesied for Am Yisrael to endure through history.
  • Babylon - The first Beit HaMikdash was destroyed and Am Yisrael was forcibly removed from Eretz Yisrael.
  • Persia/Media - They conquered the Babylonian Empire and became the rulers of Eretz Yisrael. Their king enabled the Jews to return and rebuild the Beit Hamikdash. The Purim story took place during this time period.
  • Greece - Alexander the Great conquered the Persian/Median Empire and before dying at a very early age, he divided it between his four generals. The Syrian-Greeks ruled over Eretz Yisrael during the days commemorated in the Hanukah holiday.
  • Rome - As Rome grew in power, it began to take apart the Greek Empire piece by piece. Eretz Yisrael had its independence after the Wars of the Maccabees, but internal friction led to Rome being invited in to adjudicate and it never left. Uprisings and revolts against Roman rule proved unsuccessful. The second Beit HaMikdash was destroyed and the Jews who survived the slaughter were enslaved and removed from Eretz Yisrael.
The transition from Greek to Roman dominance followed an unusual and interesting pattern.
...Classical Greek culture, especially philosophy, had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire, which carried a version of it to many parts of the Mediterranean Basin and Europe. For this reason Classical Greece is generally considered to be the seminal culture which provided the foundation of modern Western culture and is considered the cradle of Western civilization.

...Although the establishment of Roman rule did not break the continuity of Hellenistic society and culture, which remained essentially unchanged until the advent of Christianity, it did mark the end of Greek political independence.
...Greece was a key eastern province of the Roman Empire, as the Roman culture had long been in fact Greco-Roman. (Source)
The Greco-Roman Empire, known today as Western Civilization, whose values are popularly touted by many as "Judeo-Christian", continued to rule in one form or another for the next 2000 years.

In the nineteenth century, Jews began returning to Eretz Yisrael in great numbers. This large-scale Jewish immigration continued into the twentieth century, due in part to rising anti-semitism and the resulting Holocaust. In 1948, the Jews were able to regain political independence for the first time since the successful Maccabean revolt against the Greeks.

Today, every Jew in the world is free to travel to Eretz Yisrael in the space of a day and to make his home there if he so chooses. Torah-minded Jews, if they had sufficient numbers, could take over the secular regime by way of the political process and change everything for the good. So, what is stopping them? What is stopping half of the Jews in the world from making their home in Eretz Yisrael? And what is stopping the vast majority of Jews in Eretz Yisrael from creating a Torah-mandated society within it? There is nothing physically preventing it.

It's the last and hardest exile of all - the one that was not prophesied, because it was never supposed to be. It's the exile of the mind. We remain in exile, even in our own land and even though we rule ourselves, because in our own minds, we are in exile. Some of us even like it that way. We prefer our illusions to reality. To the extent that we admire and have assimilated Western (Hellenized) thinking, Western (Hellenized) norms and Western (Hellenized) "values", we have enslaved our own minds and mired ourselves in an exile of our own making.

Who is in exile in this report and who is not?

Xmas Tree Adorns Haifa’s Technion University?
MKs Calls To Investigate A Rav Of Technion University Who Opposes A Xmas Tree

When will it end? The moment we wake up.

As we add a new candle each night of the Hanukah holiday, I pray that its increasing light will make continued slumber impossible. May we all be enlightened through its brightness to leave our personal and communal exiles - NOW!

21 December 2016

At Hanukah Our Thoughts Naturally Turn to the Temple in Jerusalem

21 Kislev 5777

What would Hanukah be without the Beit Hamikdash? The very word "hanukah" means dedication and it was the rededication of the Beit HaMikdash and the restoration of the service of kindling the menorah lights with pure oil which stands at the center of the holiday.

As a consequence, at this time of year, Jews are especially prone to having their heartstrings tugged by appeals like the one portrayed in the Temple Institute's new video: Just in Time for Chanukah: Holy Temple Myth Busters: Part I - Introduction.

But, despite what the video wants us to believe, and as much as we wish the time were right, the reality for those without tunnel-vision on this subject says clearly that we cannot and we should not attempt to build the Holy Temple now. 

Quoting Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook in Torat Eretz Israel, p. 283:
When people approach me with this proposition [to rebuild the Temple], I say: ...Just as there is a precept to build the Temple, there is a sequence to its fulfillment. The Gemara says, "Israel was commanded with three precepts when they entered the Land: To appoint a King; to annihilate the seed of Amalek; and to build Hashem's chosen house. And the Gemara continues, And how do I know which comes first? You have to say raise up a King. And how do I know whether to build the Temple first, or to annihilate the seed of Amalek? You have to say first annihilate the seed of Amalek. The Gemara is speaking of the initial entry into the Land and of the construction of the first temple, but the Rambam decides that this is generally true. 'Israel was commanded with three precepts upon entering the Land...the King's appointment precedes the war with Amalek, and the annihilation of Amalek precedes the building of the Temple.' This is a clear order not a haphazard arrangement."
It makes perfect, logical sense. First, we have to have a REAL Jewish government, not a Hellenized imposter. And that government must defeat and remove the enemy who holds sway on the Temple Mount. Only when the Arabs are gone and the Dome is gone and the government rules according to Torah Law, will a HOLY Temple which can never again be destroyed be built. And, yes, that will very likely only be during Mashiach's time (which is not so far off).

Until then, the only kind of Temple we will see built on Har Habayit will be some kind of perverted, UNholy structure dedicated to humanity and their New World Religion. God forbid!! Would we really want to see Women of the Wall carrying on at the Holy Temple as they do at the Western Wall? Would we really want to see the Holy Temple standing a half-mile from the annual Pride Parade? God forbid!!

When the previous two Temples were built, there were still prophets in our Land. We had strong, righteous, recognized leaders. Mattityahu HaChashmonai was the Cohen Gadol! Today, "most of the rabbis are from the Erev Rav"!

I want to see and experience the world that has the Beit Hamikdash at the center of it, but as it says in Shir HaShirim: "...do not stir up, do not arouse love, until it please."

20 December 2016

Then and Now: Religious Freedom For Everybody But Jews

20 Kislev 5777

In our long history, few individuals have threatened the spiritual survival of the Jewish people as did Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who ascended to the Seleucid (Syrian-Greek) throne in 175 BCE. In an effort to solidify his empire and fashion his own everlasting legacy, Antiochus IV worked diligently to hellenize all of the peoples living under his control. However, no nation felt the effects of this effort more than the Jews living in the small province of Judah.
Early on in his tenure, Antiochus, with the help of his personally appointed high priest Jason, had a gymnasium erected in Jerusalem, within direct sight of the Temple. This gymnasium would serve as a center of hellenistic education and athletics, where nudity and immoral behavior was the norm. Pagan statues and altars were present as well; sacrifices were offered to Greek gods prior to the commencement of sporting events.
These changes attracted many Jews, particularly Jewish youth. Many priests were also influenced by this new culture, neglecting their sacrificial duties in favor of these new centers of diversion.
...At approximately the mid-point of his reign, Antiochus intensified his efforts at hellenization. He outlawed such core Jewish practices as sacrifices, Sabbath observance, circumcision, and the study of Torah, at the pain of death. Simultaneously, he introduced pagan activities and worship amongst the Jewish populace.
...What is most compelling here is the fact that paganism has always been a tolerant, inclusive religious system. Polytheism by its very nature accepts the presence of other religious ideas and forces. Upon no other group did Antiochus impose such religious limitations. Clearly, he perceived that most Jews would continue to stubbornly resist any attempts at hellenization. (Source)
On Monday 19 Kislev at noon R”L, participants gathered on the Hebrew University campus to light their Xmas tree. This is the same department, the law school, that refused to accommodate frum students seeking a mechitzah but was fine accommodating Ramadan for Muslims.

The student union of the law school put the word out on Facebook, inviting all to take part in lighting their tree to celebrate the birthday of Yeshu, speaking of a message of “love and peace throughout the world”.
Hebrew University response: “The Hebrew University attaches great importance to a person’s right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion within its walls. Institute an Israeli academic, leads, international and multicultural promotes university values ​​of equality among all religions and allows freedom of action in this area while maintaining public order, University rules and laws of the State of Israel.” (Source)
The reason is always the same. The Truth makes no allowance for The Lies, so The Lies must stamp out the The Truth. 

19 December 2016

Hanukah and What It Means For Us Today

19 Kislev 5777

In this week leading up to our celebration of Hanukah and its commemoration of the sacrifices made by our forefathers in those times, I'd like to dedicate the coming blog posts to serious discussion about Hellenism and its threat to our very existence - then and now.

Most readers will be aware that Hanukah celebrates the victory of the few righteous Jews who remained steadfast and faithful to Torah truth against the many Hellenized Jews, who wanted to assimilate Greek culture, and their Greek overlords. This is quite a broad and deep subject, so we will only be able to deal with small, but I think very essential, pieces of it.

The first casualty of the war declared by Mattityahu the Cohen Gadol was a Hellenized Jew. So, just what is Hellenism? How is it defined? What makes a Jew a Hellenist? And does it still exist in some form today?

What Is Hellenism? How Is It Defined?

Hellenism (noun)

1. ancient Greek culture or ideals.

2. the imitation or adoption of ancient Greek language, thought, customs, art, etc.: the Hellenism of Alexandrian Jews.
3. the characteristics of Greek culture, especially after the time of Alexander the Great; civilization of the Hellenistic period.

Greek Hellēnismós an imitation of or similarity to the Greeks.

Very simple and straightforward, yes? Our forefathers were praised for the fact that they did not adopt Egyptian names, dress or language, but maintained their unique and separate identity. As pointed out inthe previous blogpost, Eisav only wants us to meet him halfway and become like him while keeping our own traditions. This unholy "mixture" is at the heart of evil throughout time.

What Makes a Jew A Hellenist?

Hellenistic Judaism

Hellenistic Judaism was a form of Judaism in the ancient world that combined Jewish religious tradition with elements of Greek culture. ...The decline of Hellenistic Judaism started in the 2nd century CE, and its causes are still not fully understood. It may be that it was eventually marginalized by, partially absorbed into or became progressively the Koiné-speaking core of Early Christianity centered on Antioch and its traditions.

The conquests of Alexander the Great in the late 4th century BCE spread Greek culture and colonization—a process of cultural change called Hellenization—over non-Greek lands, including the Levant. ... It witnessed close ties, indeed the firm economic integration, of Judea with the Ptolemaic kingdom ruled from Alexandria, and the friendly relations which existed between the royal court and the leaders of the Jewish community. This was a diaspora of choice, not of imposition.

...Jewish life in both Judea and the diaspora was influenced by the culture and language of Hellenism. The Greeks viewed Jewish culture favorably, while vice versa, Hellenism gained adherents among the Jews. While Hellenism has sometimes been presented...as a threat of assimilation diametrically opposed to Jewish tradition,...

Adaptation to Hellenic culture did not require compromise of Jewish precepts or conscience. When a Greek gymnasium was introduced into Jerusalem, it was installed by a Jewish High Priest. And other priests soon engaged in wrestling matches in the palaestra. They plainly did not reckon such activities as undermining their priestly duties.
— Erich S. Gruen[6]:73–74
The main religious issue dividing Hellenized Jews from traditional Jews was the application of biblical laws in a Hellenistic (or Roman or other non-Jewish) empire.

...Under the suzerainty of the Ptolemies and later the Seleucids, Judea witnessed a period of peace and protection of its institutions. For their aid against his Ptolemaic enemies, Antiochus III promised his Jewish subjects a reduction in taxes and funds to repair the city of Jerusalem and the Temple.

Relations deteriorated under Antiochus's successor Seleucus IV, and then, for reasons not fully understood, his successor Antiochus IV Epiphanes drastically overturned the previous policy of respect and protection, banning key Jewish religious rites and traditions in Judea (though not among the diaspora) and sparking a traditionalist revolt against Greek rule....

It's like a law unto itself. Every time Jews begin to assimilate, HKB"H raises up a leader or a nation to remind us of our proper place and to firmly put us in it. That's why it doesn't take a prophet to understand where the current climate is leading us today.

Does Hellenism Still Exist In Some Form Today?

Given that Hellenistic culture devolved into Roman culture which has come down to us today in the guise of "Western" culture, best epitomized by American culture, I'd have to say a resounding "yes". In fact, you know it today by names such as Judeo-Christianity and Zionism. Any mixture of Judaism or Jewish nationhood with Western culture, values or ideals is a direct descendant of ancient Hellenism, even if you stick an "Orthodox" or "Kosher" label on it.

Here are some examples. See if you can figure out why I place these things under the Hellenistic category.

Bacon Goes Kosher

As bacon has boomed, kosher imitation bacon has increased in variety, quality, and religious acceptance.

“Very often, kosher trends are not really in lockstep with things that are trending in the general culinary world,” said Miri Rotkovitz, About.com’s Kosher Food Expert. “But in the case of bacon and cured meats it seems to be a lot closer—it seems to be happening parallel to the greater bacon trend.”

Kosher “bacon” is made with a variety of non-pork ingredients; some types are vegetarian, while others use beef, lamb, duck, and sometimes turkey to recreate pork’s flavor.

Rabbi Moshe Elefant, CEO of the Orthodox Union’s Kashrut Department, estimates his organization, the world’s largest not-for-profit kosher certification agency, certifies hundreds of imitation bacon products—everything from vegetarian strips to bacon-flavored Ritz Crackers—with its “O.U.” seal. “I grew up in a world where if you kept kosher, you knew your diet was very limited. That world no longer exists,” Elefant said. “People who are keeping kosher now are saying, ‘We don’t want to be limited in what we can eat because we’re keeping kosher.’ ”

The Maccabeats - Hasmonean - A Hamilton Hanukkah 

And as if that were not painful enough, perhaps the ultimate irony is "Chrismukah"...

Chrismukkah is a pop-culture portmanteau neologism referring to the merging of the holidays of Christianity's Christmas and Judaism's Hanukkah. The term was popularized by the TV drama The O.C., wherein character Seth Cohen creates the holiday to signify his upbringing in an interfaith household with a Jewish father and Protestant mother (although the holiday can also be adopted by all-Jewish households who celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday). Chrismukkah is also celebrated as an ironic, alternative holiday, much like the Seinfeld-derived "Festivus". USA Today has described it as "[t]he newest faux holiday that companies are using to make a buck this season".

And it all originates in America. To the extent that American (Western) culture, norms, values and ideals are mixed together with Judaism or Jewish things, they can be said to have become Hellenized and the Jews who like it and approve of it are Hellenized Jews. Does this describe you or someone close to you? If so, ask yourself what you have to celebrate this Hanukah.

18 December 2016

"Esau Will Don A Tallit"

18 Kislev 5777

Before we leave Eisav behind and move on with the story of Yosef in the weekly parshiot, here is a reminder of who Eisav has become. According to the Midrash...

In the future, Esau will wrap himself in a tallis, sit down next to Yakov and say to him, "You are my brother"....Yakov will say to him, "My brother, you will not be like me. I will lead you to death, I will be the pestilence that leads you to Sheol (Hoshea 13,14). Had I upheld decrees that you promulgated against me, I would have been guilty at the eyes of Heaven. Had I violated them, you would have killed me (Yalkut Shimoni, Yirmiahu 333).

"That was Esau's intention when he told Yakov, 'Let us travel together and I will go before you' (Genesis 33,12). He wanted them to join together in both this world and the world to come, to meet each other halfway, with each modifying his conduct until they were alike (Yalkut Shimoni, Genesis 133).
In other words, if they can't beat us (over 2000 years), they'll join us (insincerely, of course) in order to subvert us from within and assimilate us into non-existence.


17 December 2016

Jewish Zombies

18 Kislev 5777
Shavua tov!

I fear Western Jews (and Western-minded Jews) are past the point of waking up. Is it still possible to get through to them once they have become zombies?

First, let me say that the term "Orthodox" has lost all meaning. How can a Jew who speaks fluent Hebrew and owns a home in Jerusalem, yet has dedicated his life's work to a foreign country - to strengthening Eisav - call himself an "Orthodox" Jew???

The saddest part of this is that millions of Jews who identify as "Orthodox" will not be able to understand what I'm getting at. They can't see it. And if ever there were a time when they possibly could, it should be during Hanukah. But, Hanukah has been perverted and corrupted and twisted all out of shape so that its true essence appears to elude the modern Westernized (Hellenized) Jew.
Trump’s Shomer Shabbos U.S. Ambassador to Israel Says He’s ‘Looking Forward To Working In U.S. Embassy In Jerusalem’

...Mr. Friedman, a renowned attorney who has been counselor to some of the world’s top businessmen and companies, was one of the President-elect’s principal advisors on the US-Israel relationship during the campaign.
The 57-year-old, who hails from Long Island, is an Orthodox Jew.
...Friedman is the president of American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva, whose offices are located in Forest Hills, New York.
He has been married for 35 years to Tammy Sand of Miami Beach, Florida. In addition to their home in Woodmere, they own a residence in the affluent Jerusalem neighborhood of Talbiyeh, where they typically spend the Yomim Tovim along with their children and grandchildren twice a year.
When Israel proclaimed itself an independent republic in 1948, the United States was the first country to extend formal recognition of the new government. From that moment forward, the two nations have enjoyed a special relationship based on mutual respect and a dedication to freedom and democracy.
...With Mr. Friedman’s nomination, President-elect Trump expressed his commitment to further enhancing the US-Israel relationship and ensuring there will be extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries.
“The bond between Israel and the United States runs deep, and I will ensure there is no daylight between us when I’m President,” said President-elect Trump. “As the United States’ Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman will maintain the special relationship between our two countries. He has been a long-time friend and trusted advisor to me. His strong relationships in Israel will form the foundation of his diplomatic mission and be a tremendous asset to our country as we strengthen the ties with our allies and strive for peace in the Middle East. Nothing is more critical than protecting the security of our citizens at home and abroad.”
Mr. Friedman, whose bar mitzvah was held at the Western Wall in Jerusalem 45 years ago, is a fluent speaker of Hebrew and a lifelong student of Israel’s history. On Thursday, he expressed his resolve to be a rock-solid partner with the Israeli leadership as our two countries seek to advance our mutual interests and keep our people safe.
The United States, like every other nation on earth, makes its decisions based on self-interests, not moralistic ones or even humanitarian ones. When they supported the establishment of the State of Israel, they were calculating the future benefits to themselves. It was a gamble that paid off royally. They had everything to gain.

But, can you imagine being pulled so close to the US that "there is no daylight between us"? This is not the affectionate brotherly hug you imagine, but a deadly chokehold meant to prevent our escape - of acting independently or actually fulfilling our God-mandated destiny!

When, and yes, I do say "when", the day arrives that Israel ceases to be "dedicated to freedom and democracy", do you know what will happen next??? The distancing wrought by Obama was a hidden blessing. The further we drifted apart, the easier it would have been to break free in the end. But, now that we are going to be reined in and tied down, the break will be that much more violent and painful.

If you celebrated the election of the new US president and if you cheer his selection of court Jews for high positions and think this is going to bring good times for the rest of us, you are in for a stunning and upsetting surprise. But, you should have seen it coming. If you understood the true essence of Hanukah, you could have seen it coming.