Seventy-five years ago on November 10 the Nazis unleashed a wave of terror, destruction and death known as Kristallnacht upon Germany’s Jews, a fearsome presage of the Holocaust. On that day, the childhood of my then-12-year-old father, Kurt Lion, of blessed memory, was abruptly and savagely ended.
When Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September to make the case for U.S. intervention in Syria, he offered a historical analogy.
There are many specific and readily identifiable reasons for the failure of “Oslo,” a term that – though originally signifying the accords signed twenty years ago between Israel and the Palestinians – has become a commonplace shorthand for the Middle East peace process.
In recent years an important mitzvah has been largely forgotten by Klal Yisrael. Actually, it is not just a mitzvah that has been lost but an entire Torah value that impacts the very way we understand our world.
The exchange was brief and simple in its content, yet profound in its implications. One morning this past summer, I davened at a shul in Passaic, New Jersey. Passaic was our new home as of mid-July, following nearly a decade of school leadership in other communities. After tefillah, I opened a conversation with someone who had also just concluded his tenure as a principal out of state. He informed me he had left the field of education entirely and had moved to the tri-state area to go into business with a relative. In the course of our talk, he mentioned that another colleague, also young by comparative standards, was not returning to the school he had helped found out west.
During the Yom Kippur War and its immediate aftermath, Rav Amital would travel from base to base, visiting his students. His frequent visits brought him into close contact with senior IDF commanders, and soon after the war he was asked by the upper command echelons of the IDF to be the rabbinic liaison between the army and the hesder yeshivot. The military even allowed him unfettered entry, in uniform, into IDF camps.
As the Torah teaches, poverty will never be eradicated, nor will our obligation to assist those in need.
They were lining up for gas masks in Israel. Apparently, at the very time of year we are supposed to be full of simcha, Hashem wants us to be aware of the possibility of danger. Indeed, during the Yom Tov of Sukkos, we read cataclysmic haftaras dealing with the ultimate war, the Milchemes Gog Umagog. Where does that war take place? In the Holy Land, of course, where the eyes of the world are always focused.
A fisherman living near the banks of a river was making his way home one evening, exhausted from his long labors. As he trudged along the path, he dreamed of what his life might be like if he were suddenly rich. Just then, his foot brushed against a leather pouch. He picked it up only to discover it filled with small stones. Falling back into his reverie, he absent-mindedly began throwing the pebbles into the water.
Throughout our nation’s long history we have resided in countless countries and lived under numerous governmental regimes. For the most part, our existence in the diaspora has been difficult at best, intolerable at worst.
Achdus, unity, is a term that warms the heart. It is an ideal we all aspire to achieve but often find so elusive.
For two thousand years, Jews exiled from their homeland and lacking political sovereignty were easy targets for elitist rulers on the right and the pseudo-egalitarian mob on the left. When Emancipation came and Jews exited the ghettos, Jewish self-made pitfalls were no less horrific, as many embraced the trendy “isms” of secular society only to spiritually assimilate and disappear from history. Yet despite the persecutions, on the one hand, and the enticements of some host countries’ cultures, on the other, the Jewish nation lives.
Do you know what you are? I, for one, am not sure what to make of myself. Recently, while filling out a questionnaire on an Orthodox-content website, I was asked to identify myself by choosing one of several options – haredi, chassidish, Lubavitch, yeshivish, Sephardic, or Modern Orthodox.
With the constant drumbeat of articles about “Orthodox” female rabbis appearing in the media almost weekly – essentially the same articles making the same points to the same eager audience, all to make the phenomenon of such “rabbis” seem commonplace – it is important to take a step back and examine how we arrived at this destination.
At the mikveh they were discussing Egypt. So many things seem to be unraveling. It’s not just Egypt but the entire Middle East. No, it’s not just the Middle East; it’s the entire world.
Eighty years ago, in January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Barely a month later Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated president of the United States. For the next twelve years, until their deaths eighteen days apart in April 1945, they personified the horrors of dictatorship and the blessings of democracy.
A thousand years ago, the great Rabbi Sa’adia Gaon taught that our Torah is reasonable and that the human intellect, by itself, can discover the great truths taught in Scripture. Given enough time and brilliance, the human mind can, unaided, arrive at the precepts and concepts revealed by God at Sinai.
We are still in galus. Another year has gone by, a difficult year in many ways, but Mashiach has not yet arrived, the Beis HaMikdash has not yet been rebuilt and we are still languishing in exile.
A Jerusalem chassidic rabbi banned uniformed IDF soldiers from his group’s study halls, synagogues and yeshivas.
The prophet Jeremiah lived in the dark, tumultuous period that led to the destruction of the first Temple in 586 BCE. He lived a painful journey from hopeful youth who dreamed of the reunification of the kingdoms to rejected prophet who tried desperately to eradicate the corruption and social injustice rampant in society.