20 April 2018

"You Shall Be Holy"

5 Iyyar 5778
20 Days of the Omer

It has come to my attention that some people still do not understand my complaints against Christianity and some sects of Hasidism, so I'd like to take this opportunity to try and bring some clarity to the issue. I'll try to make it short and succinct so there can be no misunderstanding.

HKB"H: "You shall have no other gods before Me."

  • Christianity is an idolatrous religion, worshiping a man-god who is supposedly the physical offspring of the Creator, God forbid! 
  • It is a missionary religion intent on bringing the entirety of humanity - especially and including Jews - into that idolatrous worship.
  • They compiled a book of "scripture" which they added to our Tanach and call the entire thing the "Bible" - the "inspired Word of God," God forbid!

This is a horrible, treacherous crime against HKB"H which carries a horrendous penalty - death. It got the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel exiled and permanently cut off from the nation, as well as the first Beit Hamikdash destroyed. We have an obligation from the Torah to our fellow Jews and to HKB"H to prevent its practice and proliferation in Eretz Yisrael.

Some elements in some sects of modern Hasidism are coming closer and closer to the Christian religious model. It is this tendency which I decry and distance myself from.

  • Rebbe 'worship' to the point of believing that a rebbe is still alive or communicating with his followers from the grave or otherwise directing their lives or intervening on their behalf from above.
  • Viewing a particular Hasidic sect as superior to other Jews and "encouraging" others to adopt this path.
  • The addition of a particular Hasidic text which can even supercede the Torah as an object of study. 
That's not to say that other sects of Judaism don't have their own issues. There is plenty of correction and improvement called for all around. But, these seeming similarities between Christianity and some sects of Hasidism are too close for my taste or my comfort.  

In this week's Torah portion [Kedoshim] we are commanded: "You shall be holy, for holy am I, Hashem, your God."

The commentary says...
It was God's will to rest His Presence among the Jewish people so that it could rise to its calling to be a holy nation of His servants (Exodus 19.6). In order to make this possible, Israel was enjoined to avoid the spiritual contaminations that would result from the sexual and religious practices listed in the previous several chapters. This sidrah begins by explaining that the reason for these prohibitions was to make it possible for the nation to become holy by emulating its Creator as much as possible. Furthermore, the purpose of this holiness is for people to become elevated in their lives on this world, and the way to do this, our passage teaches, is by scrupulous adherence to the commandments found on the first tablet of the Ten Commandments....
The first of which is, "I am Hashem, your God, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery." And the second one is, "You shall have no other gods before Me."

More commentary...
"...before Me." (in My presence), i.e., as long as I exist. Since God is eternal, this prohibition, too, is permanent (Rashi)  To defy a human king to his face is the worst form of treason, and since God is omnipresent, idolatry is an unpardonable affront. (Ibn Ezra, Sforno)  ...The Torah uses the expression jealous only with reference to idolatry and to a suspicious husband's claim that his wife was unfaithful (Numbers 5.14) The term refers to an abuse of trust and someone's refusal to give up something that is rightfully his. In the context of idolatry, God alone is entitled to the veneration of human beings and He will not countenance worship of other beings. Mechilta teaches that God says, "For idolatry, I zealously exact punishment, but in other matters I am gracious and merciful." In the context of the jealous husband who claims that his wife has lived with another man, he refuses to give up the faithfulness to which he is entitled.

19 April 2018

"ABOVE AND BEYOND"

4 Iyyar 5778
19 Days of the Omer
Yom Ha'atzmaut (commemorated)
"Would you risk everything – your future, your citizenship, even your life – to help a brother in need?

In 1948, just three years after the liberation of Nazi death camps, a group of Jewish American pilots answered a call for help. In secret and at great personal risk, they smuggled planes out of the U.S., trained behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia and flew for Israel in its War of Independence. As members of Machal – “volunteers from abroad” – this ragtag band of brothers not only turned the tide of the war; they also embarked on personal journeys of discovery and renewed Jewish pride. ABOVE AND BEYOND is their story.

The first major feature-length documentary about the foreign airmen in the ’48 War, ABOVE AND BEYOND brings together new interviews with the pilots, as well as stunning aerial footage, to present a fascinating, little-known tale filled with heart, heroism and high-flying chutzpah. The film follows the pilots on their circuitous route from the United States – where they met and trained in secret and struggled to stay two steps ahead of the FBI – to Panama, Italy and Czechoslovakia, where they flew versions of the very Nazi planes they had tried to shoot down in World War II. More than a retelling of the ’48 Arab-Israeli War, ABOVE AND BEYOND examines the motivations of the foreign volunteers – both Jews and non-Jews. It mines the tensions between the Israelis and Machal soldiers. Would the foreign pilots stay in Israel after the war? Were they Americans first or Jews first? The film recounts the personal stories of the young pilots, whose experiences in Israel were life altering. And through their stories, ABOVE AND BEYOND reveals how under-equipped and isolated the Israelis were, how desperately they needed planes and pilots and how critical the actions of these young American men were for the country’s survival."

18 April 2018

There Is No 'Reverse' In The Geulah Vehicle

4 Iyyar 5778
19 Days of the Omer
Yom Ha'atzmaut Commemorated

On the Founding of the Modern State of Israel - Too often we are called upon to point out deficiencies and to provide warnings of inherent dangers in the path we follow on our way to redemption in our Holy Land. Today is a day for setting those important tasks aside and to marvel at the miracles which have accompanied us thus far and to give thanks for all the good that we have been blessed with along with the daily challenges.

All of history has been moving forward in this direction and with this goal since the very beginning. Sometimes the process speeds up and sometimes it slows down, but it never reverses.
...Just as there is a measure of sin which, when full, causes wrath and calamity to befall the world, so too is there a measure of retribution which, when full, brings forth Divine grace and radiance to the world, whereby God bestows compassion even upon those of His children who have suffered the full measure of His fury. Even if we lack the merit of deeds to bring the redemption, the Jewish people in our time indeed possess the merit achieved through suffering.
And perhaps the very intensification of sin and moral decline are themselves sufficient cause for the redemption, for the very act of salvation is an impetus towards repentance and renewed allegiance to His covenant. This idea is found in the words of the Prophet (Yechezkel 16.62-62): And I will establish my covenant with you and you shall know that I am Hashem...so that you might recall and feel ashamed, never opening your mouth again because of your embarrassment after I forgive you for all that you have done. The Prophet (Ibid. 36.22-25) further tells us: Therefore say unto the House of Israel, thus says Hashem your God: Not for your sake do I do this, O House of Israel, but for the sake of My holy Name which you have profaned...and I will take you from among the nations...and I will bring you into your own land, and I will sprinkle you with the waters of purification and you shall be cleansed of all your impurities.
In Yeshayahu (44.22) we read: I have erased your transgressions as if they were vapor, and your sins as if they were a cloud. Return unto Me for I have redeemed you.
There are many allusions in our sources to the idea of redemption and forgiveness preceding repentance and purification. The precise nature of this, however, remains beyond our perception, for who among man can fathom the essence of the Divine plan?
...Let your mouth be filled with song and praise to God for what He has done, for what He does, and for what He shall yet do on behalf of His chosen Nation, the seed of Israel, from now and until the End of Days.
-The Book of Our Heritage, The Month of Iyar by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov

According to the [Vilna] Gaon, all the work involved in gathering in the exiles, building Jerusalem and broadening the settlement of the land of Israel so that the Shechina will return to it, all the principles of the work and all the major and minor details are connected to the mission and role of the first mashiach, Mashiach ben Yosef. Mashiach ben Yosef is the miraculous power who will assist every act done when the awakening starts from below, in a natural manner, because he comes from the earth.
- Kol HaTor

THE AWAKENING FROM BELOW...

"Will The Real Superman Please Stand Up"

3 Iyyar 5778
18 Days of the Omer
Yom Hazikaron commemorated

17 April 2018

Safe In The Hands of the ONE Above

3 Iyyar 5778
18 Days of the Omer
Yom Hazikaron commemorated


Our dependence and reliance on HKB"H is not something to be cryptically hinted at or poetically alluded to any more than it should be ignored altogether. It should be announced loudly, clearly and unequivocally, leaving no one in doubt as to what is being said. Like this...

From the Introduction to the "The Ingathering and Independence Scroll" by Dr. Hagi Ben-Artzi:
...There is no question that the Jewish people revealed their power and courage in this wondrous process, and that is how all the history books tell the story. "The Ingathering and Independence Scroll" exposes another factor, without which the entire development of Zionism would have ended in abject failure - the God of Israel, who is guiding the Redemption of Israel so He can fulfill His promise and covenant.
Indeed, the miraculous aspect of Israel's revival is even more astounding in that it all appears in the visions of Israel's Prophets and Sages. Everything promised in the Tanach is coming true in our days - step by step, stage by stage, precisely according to the Divine plan.
The Zionist story is not complete without the integration of the Divine and the human. Divine supervision with huge self-sacrifice and dedication....
Had the Prime Minister simply consulted his brother-in-law before speaking, he would not have made such a serious error in his remarks to Keren Hayesod.

From the Foreword by Rabbi Doron Perez to "The Ingathering and Independence Scroll":
"In your blood you shall live." (Yechezkel 16.6)
Just like the newborn is covered in blood when granted the gift of life, so too at the time of our national birth - both the original birth when we came out of Egypt and our rebirth in modern Israel - were great gifts of life accompanied by blood.
...The War of Independence, fought over 15 months in two stages, would be the most costly and bloodiest war in Israel's history. it would exact the dreadful price of 6,373 dead and 15,000 wounded, soldier and civilian alike. Approximately 1% of Israel's population was killed during the war, a shocking statistic by any standard. In today's terms, that would be the equivalent of - God forbid - 85,000 deaths in Israel or 3.5 million in the USA.
Yet, God had told us: "In your blood you shall live; in your blood you shall live."
As we face the ever-present prospect of yet another war, we Jews who live in the Holy Land of Israel remember those who preceded us and paid the ultimate price for our right to live as Jews in the land God gave to our forefathers and to us. We will keep faith with them (and with HKB"H) by continuing the struggle and occupying this land forevermore.

Whether we remain in this world or go on to the next one, we are safe in the hands of the ONE above. It is He and He alone who enables all our efforts. Blessed be He and blessed be His Name. Shalom al Yisrael!


Not Something to Celebrate

2 Iyyar 5778
17 Days of the Omer

It's a very bad practice at any time, but especially when we are in such a dire situation with our enemies, to take all the credit for ourselves and to leave HKB"H completely out of the picture. 
Israel ‘more powerful’ than ever, says PM, responding to Iran threats
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday asserted that Israel was “more powerful” than ever, after Iran threatened to retaliate for an raid on an Iranian military in facility in Syria that killed 7 soldiers and that has been attributed to Israel.
“The founders of modern Zionism did not say the attacks on the Jewish people would cease once we establish a Jewish state, Netanyahu told the Keren Hayesod-UIA Annual World Conference in Jerusalem.
“They said that we could defend ourselves against those attacks. And that’s exactly what the State of Israel has done,” he said. “It’s restored the capacity of the Jewish people to defend ourselves, by ourselves, against any threat.
He continued: “And we are as powerful as we’ve [ever] been before. We’re economically successful as we’ve never been before. And we take our economic power and our military might and we weld them together to have unprecedented diplomatic flourishing of Israel’s relations around the world.”
Someone should remind him of what a former great leader of Israel once wrote:
"Before destruction comes pride, and before stumbling [comes] a haughty spirit." (Mishlei 16.18)
During the week in which Israel prepares to celebrate 70 years of "independence," it's never been clearer to the average Israeli how very dependent we have become on the help of "allies." For all Netanyahu's bluster about Iran, it sounds to me like he's whistling in the dark when he needs to start praying. 

16 April 2018

"No Jew will be left behind? DON'T BET ON IT!"

2 Iyyar 5778
17 Days of the Omer

Speeding Up The Geulah

1 Iyyar 5778
Rosh Chodesh Bet
16 Days of the Omer

Just like at the time of the Mabul, and Migdal Bavel, and Sodom and Amorah, the wicked are fast bringing about their own end.
"...And Hashem said, '...should it not be withheld from them all they propose to do?'" (Breishit 11.5-6)
Battle Over Gene-Edited Food

Genetic editing is like playing God – and what’s wrong with that?

Playing God: should we revive extinct species?