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It was a chilling scene. Hundreds of people lay on the ground, helplessly awaiting their fate, which would be decided arbitrarily by a single man. This man looked them up and down as his armed followers awaited his instructions.
The prisoners had heard tales about this man, how he would unhesitatingly kill his enemies by the scores at the slightest provocation. It was startling to many of them that a man known to be so cultured, so artistic, so gentle and kind in other situations could also be so ruthless. The prisoners didn’t understand this man, but they feared him more than death itself.
“Split them into two equal groups!” he ordered. “Measure them with a rope. One group will live and the other will die. Let the living ones carry testament back to their people.”
This, of course, is the story of King David defeating the nation of Moav and taking vengeance upon it for killing his parents. David thereby achieved peace and Moav subsequently paid tribute to him (Samuel II Chapter 8).
Not long after, King David sent emissaries to offer condolences to the prince of Ammon upon the passing of his father. This was in violation of the Torah’s command not to make peaceful overtures to this nation that had traditionally demonstrated cruelty to the Jews. The prince, now king, was advised by his counselors that David’s emissaries were really spies. He accepted their words and sent the emissaries back to Israel in humiliating fashion, with their beards half cut and their garments torn to their waists.
In the pantheon of insults and degradations that Israel and its ambassadors have suffered, this hardly tops the list. Nevertheless, King David responded swiftly and decisively. He waged war with Ammon and Aram, a mercenary nation, and killed more than 40,000 soldiers. Subsequently, Ammon and its allies, “seeing that they had been defeated before Israel, made peace with Israel and paid tribute to them” (Samuel II Chapter 10).
If David were known to the world and most of his ignorant fellow Jews as more than a harp-playing underdog who slew a giant, what would be said about him? The first anecdote would produce shrill cries of “Nazi” and “savage” and every other manner of condemnation, while the second would make today’s timid, image-conscious Jew shudder and look over his shoulder.
Most Jews would be perfectly comfortable discarding King David as a Jewish role model, eager to sacrifice him on the altar of enlightenment, compassion, and tolerance. Those with a smidgen of attachment to their heritage might redefine David as a primitive man in a primitive time, one who if he lived today would respond more diplomatically in our more complicated, modern world.
Even the most observant Jews would not be comfortable discussing David’s wartime accomplishments, let alone take pride in them – certainly the organizations that represent observant Jewry would never do so, for fear of blandishments and a cut in their allowance.
Perhaps this is why the study of Navi has become relegated to women and children, lest the lessons of Jewish history become burdensome on those with a budget and contacts in high offices.
Yet one small fact will not go away. We Jews pray three times every day for the leadership of the House of David to be speedily restored. Reform Jews will have no trouble slicing this passage out of their prayer books if they ever become aware of its significance (assuming they have not already done so), but what about observant Jews? Do they really know what they are praying for, and if they did, would they continue to do so? Do they pray for a gentle caricature of David in a vague fantasy world instead of the real thing?
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The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.
The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.
The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.
In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities
Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.
But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.
If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.
Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.
One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.
While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.
We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .
Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.
A great human tragedy is taking place before our eyes, yet few can see it.
A singles event in Jerusalem, co-sponsored by no fewer than five groups or organizations, advertised the following:
“Ask yourself this question: Do you really want to get married? If the answer is NO, then carry on having a good time going to all those parties, Shabbat meals, lectures, supermarket aisles . If the answer is YES, then we’ll see you at the MEGA EVENT.”
Since creating EndTheMadness seven years ago I have received all manner of correspondence, and it should come as no surprise that for every gratifying e-mail I receive there are plenty more that are disturbing in one way or another. But what if I asked you to guess which e-mails disturb me the most, even momentarily shaking my optimism that there really is hope for our society?
I’ve long maintained that the large number of people having a difficult time getting and staying happily married is only a symptom of deeper problems in the community. Consequently, efforts to get more singles to go out on more dates will be largely unsuccessful unless the deeper problems are addressed. This thesis has been validated in recent years, as more attention to the “crisis” and various schemes to create shidduchim have yet to result in meaningful change or much cause for optimism.
Moshe was looking for employment (he wasn’t cut out to learn full-time), and was having a difficult time finding the right fit. Sometimes he went weeks without even landing an interview, and he rarely made it past the first round. People began to speculate that there was something wrong with Moshe, and his self-esteem took a blow every time he heard of someone else who found a job.
It’s all too common nowadays for people to defend the widespread method of shidduchim by pointing to the biblical story of Eliezer finding a wife for Yitzchak. Apparently the Torah mandates this method as proper, and therefore there is little else to discuss beyond perhaps fine-tuning the way singles are set up by shadchanim and further shielding them from outside influences and one another.
I find the Orthodox Jewish approach to problem-solving fascinating, in a dark sort of way. It consists of a series of steps that looks something like this:
“And you shall rejoice in your festival” says the pasuk at the end of Parshas Re’ei (16:14), and this is actually a mitzvah. I suspect this is not intended to be one of the more difficult mitzvot for us to fulfill, yet for many hard-working Jews the Yomim Tovim are far greater sources of stress than joy.
Nothing is more elusive than perfection, yet perfection is a notion that frequently surfaces in the realm of shidduchim. For example, singles are often told by people on the outermost fringes of their lives, “I know someone perfect for you.” How preposterous, how presumptuous! Yet singles permit themselves to be excited by this declaration so that they may be further disillusioned when the shidduch invariably turns out to be anything but perfect.
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