Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
The Jewish Press is proud to announce a new monthly column by the founder of the Shas Party, Member of Knesset Rabbi Nissim Zeev. In 1983, Rabbi Zeev, principal of Nevat Israel, Jerusalem’s first Sephardic Girls’ Seminary, initiated the creation of the “Sephardi Torah Guardians” as a local political party in Jerusalem with the aim of becoming a national party in 1983. Since that day his name appears as in the official registrar documentation as the Chairman of Shas, although he has delegated that role in the political sphere to Rabbi Peretz, then Arieh Deri and later to Eli Yishai. M.K. Rabbi Zeev is the “voice of Shas” worldwide. Upon the establishment of American Friends of Shas, M.K. Nissim Zeev joins the cadre of Jewish Press columnists to bring our readers insights and inside information on Shas activities and policies.
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The weekly Torah portion “Vayeitzei” recounts the journey of our Patriarch Jacob who departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran on a journey which would lead him to start a new family in a personal exile. On the way, he encountered “the place” which the Midrash says is Mount Moria, the site where Abraham bound Isaac on the altar and where the Beit Hamikdash would later stand. It is there that the Almighty appeared before him in a dream and said: I am Hashem, G-d of Abraham, your father and G-d of Isaac; the ground upon which you are lying, to you will I give it and to your descendant. Your offspiring shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out powerfully westward, eastward, northward and southward; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your offspring…Behold, I am with you; I will guard you wherever you go, and I will return you to this soil; for I will not forsake you until I will have done what I have spoke to you about”.
In these few verses, the Torah outlines the story of the history of the Jews and the times of exile from the Holy Land. Sforno comments that Hashem’s reference that the Jewish people will be “as the dust of the earth” is connected to the text in Isaiah 51:23 – only after the Jewish people have become as degraded as the dist of the earth – “shall they spread out powerfully westward, eastward, northward and southward”.
As the founder of Nevat Israel, the first Sephardic Girl’s Seminary in Jerusalem in 1979, I realized that without political influence, the Sephardic community in Israel would not be able to develop its educational institutions. I established the Shas Party in 1983 as a national movement which at first ran very successfully for the elections in the Jerusalem Municipality, where I served for many years as Deputy Mayor, and later became national and ran for elections in the Knesset. The goal of the Shas Party from the onset was to be under the spiritual guidance of the Rishon Letzion, Rabbi Ovadia Yoseph and the Council of Rabbinical Sages under his leadership. Rav Shach z”l was instrumental in agreeing to this initiative and supporting it. This is what differentiates the Shas party from previous Sephardic movements. The goal of the Shas Party is to serve the interests and all edot hamizrach, Sephardic Jews – while striving for unity among all of Am Yisrael. As noted by the journalist Abraham Rabinovich in a feature article in the Jerusalem Post: “Shas represents an indigenous product sprung from the religious-political soil of modern Israel”.
While Shas has had great achievements in its goals for the Sephardic Jews in Israel in all areas of education and education and social justice, may challenges lie ahead in its activities in Israel. At the same time, Am Yisrael in the diaspora is facing great spiritual and physical threats and Am Yisrael is again being degraded as noted in the Sforno commentary.. The Jewish identity of the young generation needs to be strengthened through education and spiritual guidance, and the Jewish communities face renewed threats of anti-semitism and the rise of fundamentalist Islam. It is time for Shas to spread its wings and work with its brethren who are spread in the “west, the east, the south and the north” of the globe. We are taking the first step with the launching of American Friends of Shas in New York this week. I invite all our brethren to join forces with us “so that the nations of the world shall bless themselves through Am Yisrael” in the words of the Torah…..
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About the Author: Member of Knesset Rabbi Nissim Zeev is a founding member the Shas Party and a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem.
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Sometimes, like the tamei individual who must stay away from the Mikdash, we have our limits and disabilities, and we must remember not to attempt those goals which are beyond our reach.
Such a misunderstanding would render our words worthless, for we would not be declaring that Hashem is truly the Master of the Universe.
Operating the crane is Joe. Joe is overweight and a chain smoker. Another worker approaches Joe and says, “Joe, look at you! 80 pounds overweight, smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. You must do something about your health. Go the gym, work out, and get in shape.”
A Grafted Esrog
‘Passul When Missing Even a Tiny Bit’
The day after Purim, Mordechai Freilich received the mishloach manos package with a note: “This mishloach manos was meant to be delivered on Purim, but delayed due to the storm. Please accept our apologies.”
Esther’s name, which means “hidden,” reminds us that at the outset she hides her Jewish identity.
Nasi is the generic word for a leader: a ruler, king, judge, elder, or prince. Usually it refers to the holder of political power.
He exhorted all of us to continue to reach out to one another each and every day because that is what our tafkid (life’s goal) should be. And because that is what Hashem requires of us.
My ex despises me and is bent on destroying me. He has done everything to torture me.
Rav Akiva Eiger questions why semicha is considered a mitzvas assei she’hazman gramma. While it is true that it must be performed during the daytime, this is not because the semicha per se cannot be performed by night.
Question: When performing a mitzvah, what is more important: doing it right away – “zerizim” – or doing it with a large crowd – “berov am”?
Although the Torah only commands us to pick up the arba minim, the rabbis require that we wave them in all four directions of the compass as well as upward and downward.
Besides the lack of appreciation and understanding on the part of knesset Yisrael, Sefer Vayikra has been derided and held in contempt by the nations of the world and other religions.
The 10-day period from Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur is, as is well known, a time to begin personal introspection – an occasion to look back at one’s mistakes of the past year and plan the needed changes to improve oneself in the New Year. In the U.S. it is also a time for Americans to make positive “resolutions.”
In our time we must always take advantage of the opportunity for a second chance to revive our identity as Jews in Eretz Yisrael, for without the identity of Israel as a Jewish state, we are truly at a spiritual and physical loss.
The American Jewish Orthodox community has probably been overwhelmed by the events of the past few weeks in Israel regarding the extremely hostile attacks that have been aimed at the haredi community by the secular press and politicians from across the political spectrum.
The Jewish Press is proud to announce a new monthly column by the founder of the Shas Party, Member of Knesset Rabbi Nissim Zeev.
As Jews in Israel and all over the world prepare to celebrate Shavuot, it is incumbent upon us to take the time to reflect on the meaning of our traditional values and history with regard to our current challenges and goals.
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