web analytics
January 24, 2017 / 26 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘action’

Parshas Vayeitzai: When Calling For Action

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

{Originally posted to Rabbi Weinberg’s website, The Foundation Stone}
The best silence of my life was in response to a public slap from a congregant. The man, a dear friend and fine human being, overheard my asking a very old man, “How is your mother-in-law?” and convinced I was making fun of the man – most ninety-year olds don’t have mothers-in-law – slapped me. Although tempted to explain that I visited the 105 year-old woman six days a week, I chose to remain silent. I felt that any words would detract from his terrible act, which was his responsibility to address. I felt as if I was living the Mishnaic teaching, “All my days I have been raised among the Sages and I found nothing better for oneself than silence (Avot 1:17).”

So, whenever frustrated with Jacob’s silence in response to aggression, I tried to honor his decision, but still feel that something is missing. Jacob has his awesome ladder dream at the beginning of this week’s portion, but does not remain silent. He makes a deal! When he confronts Laban about the switch of Rachel with Leah, and Laban – a Master of Silence – answers, “Such is not done in our place, to give the younger before the elder (Genesis 29:26),” rather than respond, “You could have said something seven years ago,” Jacob remains silent (See, “An Eloquent Silence I). He says not a word to Leah – another Master of Silence – or Rachel. He remains silent when names are chosen by the mothers for their sons, and speaks up only when first negotiating a deal with his father-in-law, a deal that Laban, “changed his [my] wages a hundred times (31:7),” while Jacob remains silent! When Rachel demanded, “Give me children, otherwise I am dead (Genesis 30:1),” Jacob responded to her plea in anger. When does Jacob choose to speak and when does he choose silence?

His final confrontation with Laban begins when the father-in-law claims, “It is in my power to do you harm; but the Lord of your father addressed me last night, saying, ‘Beware of speaking with Jacob either good or bad’ (31:29).” Jacob’s chooses to ignore the final words, “beware of speaking,” and silently swallows his response, “So why are you speaking to me at all,” and becomes defensive. Only as tensions increase, manipulated by Rachel, does Jacob stand up for himself, and become ready to confront an even more dangerous enemy, Esau, in next week’s portion. What changed Jacob from a man of silence into a man of words?

A scene from Shakespeare’s Henry IV, helped me understand that Laban, who I believe was always trying to teach Jacob, triggered Jacob’s transformation into a man of words when he quoted God as saying, “Beware of speaking with Jacob.”

Glendower claims, “I can call spirits from the vast deep,” to which Hotspur responds, “Why, so can I, or so can any man, but will they come when you do call for them (Part I)?” Jacob begins to speak only when he is confident he can use his words to call on other people to act, as in, “Jacob said to his brethren, ‘Gather stones’ (Verse 46),” ‘brethren’ referring to Jacob’s sons who, “stood up for him in trouble and battle as brethren (Rashi).”

My silence in response to a slap led to action. My assailant was sufficiently ashamed to ask the old man about my question, and upon learning the facts, publicly apologized.

“Words alone are not enough,” Kennedy planned to say that fateful day in Dallas, in words he never had the chance to speak. “If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help.”

We often choose to remain silent or to speak at the wrong times. Just as silence must be a sign of our strength, our words must be in response to Hotspur’s question, “Will they come when you call?”

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Simcha Weinberg

Rightwing Watchdog Urging Action on Fake Arab Settlement Susya [video]

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Israeli legal watchdog Regavim has appealed to its supporters in Israel and abroad to write to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to take action against the illegal squatter camp in Susya. The call comes one day after the Israeli Supreme Court has given government a two-day extension on the deadline to deal with the issue through legal means.

There has been immense public pressure on the Netanyahu government by the US State Department, the European Union and dozens of anti-Israel NGOs, to halt the legal process of evicting the illegal Arab squatters who only arrived in Susya over the past few years. The Arabs’ assortment of lean-tos and tents borders on a legal Jewish community that was established by the government in 1986. Should Israel permit this illegal outpost to remain, in Area C of Judea and Samaria which was designated for Jewish settlements, more camps like it will soon dot the landscape everywhere inside the Jewish area of the “disputed territories,” enhancing the Arab side of the dispute.

Regavim released a video call-to-action in which the organization’s International Director Josh Hasten called on supporters to rally around the government as they deliberate on the fate of the squatters’ camp. Explaining the importance of the Susya case, Hasten says the Arab squatters “have set-up shop deliberately on an ancient Jewish town that existed 1,500 years ago — this is a litmus test to see if the government of Israel is willing to uphold the laws of the land.”

Hasten urges viewers to “get involved, let the Prime Minister know that the State of Israel and people of Israel are behind him and we are here to strengthen him in making this decision which is necessary to uphold the laws of the land.”

David Israel

36 Advocacy Groups Demand Action at UC Irvine after Anti-Semitic Protest

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

In light of the pervasive anti-Semitism allowed to fester at the University of California Irvine (UCI), 36 Jewish and civil rights groups today demanded UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman immediately implement the recently passed Regents Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.

“Jewish students report that UCI administrators have consistently turned a blind eye to acts of anti-Semitism that would have been promptly and vigorously condemned were they directed against any other racial, ethnic or gender minority,” the groups wrote to Gillman.

In the letter, organized by AMCHA Initiative, the groups demand Gillman publicly disclose how he plans to combat the rampant anti-Semitism on his campus.  Specifically, they ask him to answer the following:

“How do you plan to implement the Regents statement in addressing the alarming problem of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism that has created an intolerable campus climate for Jewish students at UC Irvine? Specifically, what rules, policies and procedures will you invoke or enact, and what educational initiatives will you establish, to ensure that anti-Jewish bigotry will be treated as promptly and vigorously as all other racial, ethnic or gender bigotry, and to guarantee the safety and well-being of Jewish students, and all students, at UC Irvine?”

In March, the UC Regents unanimously approved a policy to address the growing anti-Semitism plaguing many of UC’s 10 campuses.  The policy acknowledges that anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism are no less discriminatory than racism, homophobia or sexism, and calls on UC chancellors to address them just as they would any other act of discrimination.

“Recent events on your campus demonstrate the critical importance of promptly and comprehensively implementing the Regents statement at UC Irvine,” wrote the groups to Gillman.

Incidents include a massive disruption of a recent Hillel movie screening and a speech, by Neturei Karta’s Yisroel Dovid Weiss.  During the disruption event attendees were held hostage for nearly an hour by aggressive protestors and eventually had to be safely escorted out by police.  According to witnesses and university officials, protesters shouted threatening and violent profanities and attempted to push their way inside the room. The week before, during Anti-Zionism Week 2016, Weiss, invited to speak by the Muslim Student Union (MSU) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), spewed classic anti-Semitic tropes accusing Jews of mendacity, criminality and controlling the government. UC Irvine has played host to a number of anti-Semitic events over the past decade including the disruption of a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren where multiple student protesters were arrested and prosecuted.

In March, AMCHA released an empirical study reporting widespread anti-Semitism in 2015 among the top 100 schools for Jewish students. The study found that the presence of anti-Zionist groups like SJP and MSU increased the likelihood of anti-Semitic incidents on U.S. campuses. In fact, 57% of schools with one or more active anti-Zionist student groups had one or more incidents that targeted Jewish students for harm, whereas only 8% of schools with no active anti-Zionist student groups had such incidents.

A full copy of the letter can be viewed here.

David Israel

San Diego State Jewish Students Face Disciplinary Action over Anti-BDS Flyer

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

A series of posters created and disseminated by the David Horowitz Freedom Center in April identified by name a number of prominent student and faculty Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists on the San Diego State University campus. DHFC, which says it “combats the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values and disarm this country as it attempts to defend itself in a time of terror,” described its targeted individuals as having “allied themselves with Palestinian terrorists to perpetrate BDS and Jew Hatred on this campus.”

anti-BDS poster 1

The posters contained the hashtag #StopTheJewHatredonCampus, which is the slogan of the DHFC campaign seeking to confront campus anti-Semitism agents and to refute the lies spread by pro-Palestinian individuals and groups, including claims that Israel is an apartheid state.

According to Jamie Ballard of the Daily Aztec, after a protest last week regarding President Elliot Hirshman’s failure to condemn the anti-BDS fliers on campus, students met with him Monday morning to discuss what will happen next.

Osama Alkhawaja and Rachel Beck, two of the students who met with Hirshman, said they were able to share their concerns with the administration, but were not “entirely satisfied, and feel the issue is far from over.”

“I feel absolutely betrayed by my university,” Beck told the Aztec. “I pay $30,000 to go here, and they haven’t defended me from these accusations that I am a terrorist.”

“The thing that I don’t understand is, why is it so hard for you to come out and make a statement saying that your students aren’t terrorists?” Alkhawaja said. “The university continues to defend free speech, but this is hate speech.”

According to Alkhawaja, the university said it is not willing to condemn the posters by saying that they are a form of hate speech or intimidation.

anti-BDS poster 2

Here is what the fliers say:

“There is an epidemic of Jew hatred on American campuses and at San Diego State University. This Jew hatred is incited by Students for Justice in Palestine, the Muslim Students Association and assorted leftist groups, all of whom support the terrorist organizations Hamas and Fatah.”

The fliers then explain that both SJP and MSA are products of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that they “disseminate genocidal lies about Israel whose purpose is to weaken and destroy the world’s only Jewish state.”

The posters were delivered on five California campuses, including at UCLA and UC-Berkeley, where anti-Israel activists were able to push university administrators into calling them “hate speech.”

In an email sent to San Diego State’s entire student body on Tuesday, Hirshman criticized the posters but defended their creators’ right to free speech: “First, we recognize and fully support the rights of all parties to voice their positions on political issues, whether supportive or critical. We also understand that when parties adopt a specific political position they become responsible for their actions and these actions may produce criticism.”

Alkhawaja told the San Diego Union-Tribune: “I’m shocked, I just don’t get why it’s so difficult for him to condemn the posters, to call them what they were. What we got instead was a promise to continue our conversations.”

Horowitz has been invited by the SDSU College Republicans to speak on campus Thursday. It isn’t clear whether there are any protest planned against that appearance.

“One thing that’s sometimes leveled against us is that we stifle speech,” Alkhawaja said. “We’re just not going to go. Our issue wasn’t with someone holding an opinion. The issue here was that he singled out individuals in a very threatening manner.”

Come to think of it, it’s about time somebody did.

David Israel

Beginning The Journey

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

A while back, a British newspaper, The Times, interviewed a prominent member of the Jewish community (let’s call him Lord X) on his 92nd birthday. The interviewer said, “Most people, when they reach their 92nd birthday, start thinking about slowing down. You seem to be speeding up. Why is that?”

Lord X replied, “When you get to 92, you start seeing the door begin to close, and I have so much to do before the door closes that the older I get, the harder I have to work.”

Something like that is the impression we get of Abraham in this week’s parshah. Sarah, his constant companion throughout their journeys, has died. He is 137 years old. We see him mourn Sarah’s death, and then he moves into action.

He engages in an elaborate negotiation to buy a plot of land in which to bury her. As the narrative makes clear, this is not a simple task. He confesses to the locals, the Hittites, that he is “an immigrant and a resident among you,” meaning that he knows he has no right to buy land. It will take a special concession on their part for him to do so. The Hittites politely but firmly try to discourage him. He has no need to buy a burial plot. “No one among us will deny you his burial site to bury your dead.” He can bury Sarah in someone else’s graveyard. Equally politely but no less insistently, Abraham makes it clear that he is determined to buy land. In the event, he pays a highly inflated price (400 silver shekels) to do so.

The purchase of the Cave of Machpelah is evidently a highly significant event because it is recorded in great detail and highly legal terminology – not just here but three times subsequently in Genesis, each time with the same formality. For instance, here is Jacob on his deathbed, speaking to his sons:

“Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebecca were buried, and there I buried Leah. The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites” (Genesis 49:29-32).

Something significant is being hinted at here; otherwise why mention, each time, exactly where the field is and from whom Abraham bought it?

Immediately after the story of land purchase, we read, “Abraham was old, well advanced in years, and God had blessed Abraham with everything.” Again this sounds like the end of a life, not a preface to a new course of action, and again our expectation is confounded. Abraham launches into a new initiative, this time to find a suitable wife for his son Isaac, who by now is at least 37 years old. Abraham leaves nothing to chance. He does not speak to Isaac himself but to his most trusted servant, who he instructs to go “to my native land, to my birthplace” to find the appropriate woman. He wants Isaac to have a wife who will share his faith and way of life. Abraham does not specify that she should come from his own family, but this seems to be an assumption hovering in the background.

As with the purchase of the field, so here the course of events is described in more detail than almost anywhere else in the Torah. Every conversational exchange is recorded. The contrast with the story of the binding of Isaac could not be greater. There, almost everything – Abraham’s thoughts, Isaac’s feelings – is left unsaid. Here, everything is said. Again, the literary style calls our attention to the significance of what is happening, without telling us precisely what it is.

The explanation is simple and unexpected. Throughout the story of Abraham and Sarah, God had promised them two things: children and a land. The promise of the land (“Rise, walk in the land throughout its length and breadth, for I will give it to you”) is repeated no less than seven times. The promise of children occurs four times. Abraham’s descendants will be “a great nation,” as many as “the dust of the earth” and “the stars in the sky.” He will be the father not of one nation but of many.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

What’s Your Sin? Removing the Number One Stumbling Block in Your Life

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

With the High Holidays rapidly approaching, we begin to take stock of our lives. Here are five fundamental and common sins. Which one is your biggest stumbling block?

Wronging others. We may have wronged others emotionally or financially. We frequently excuse our behavior by saying, “I didn’t intend any harm. I was just…” But good intentions do not whitewash sinful acts.

Ask yourself, “Is there anyone I offended or whose feelings I have hurt? Have I caused someone distress? Have I made fun of someone (even good-naturedly)? Do I owe anyone money? Have I reneged on an agreement? Have I enriched myself at the expense of others?”

You may think, “I’ll straighten it out later. I’ll make good in the end.” But repentance is only possible while you are in this world. Nobody knows which day will be their last. Once a person’s body shuts down, so do the gates of repentance. Whatever you can correct, do so while you still can.

Action steps: Can you recall any time you hurt someone, perhaps a friend, neighbor, family member, fellow congregant or business associate? Even if you think you have both moved on since then, you still need to make amends and/or apologize.

Hating your fellow Jew. Perhaps you do not hate anybody, but how about intensely dislike? Are there people you cannot be with and feel distaste just looking at them?

We do not have to go out of our way to spend time with people we do not like; often, it is good to limit contact with those who push our buttons. But we are forbidden to harbor personal animosity toward our fellow Jew, as the Torah cautions us (Leviticus 19:17), “Do not hate your brother in your heart…”

Some people just rub us the wrong way. When we look at them, we think about their real or imagined faults. Instead, remind yourself that you do not know everything about them and judge them favorably. In addition, think about their good points. Everyone has good qualities and has done good deeds. Search for and admire the good in others.

Action steps: Make a list of those you dislike. Write down their admirable qualities and the good they have done. Next time you see them, bring to mind what you wrote and try to give them a genuine smile and greeting.

Being callous. Sometimes, our issue is not that we have wronged others, or that we hate them, it is that we ignore them. Often, we are so focused on our own lives that we do not pay enough attention to others. We may ignore the difficulties they have, perhaps in finding a job or a spouse, coping with illness or paying bills. Although we cannot help everyone, we still have to do whatever we can. Pirkei Avot reminds us, “It is not your responsibility to complete the work, yet you are not free to withdraw from it (2:21).”

When we hear about a difficulty or tragedy, often our reaction is, “What a pity. Thank God I’m not affected.” And we go on with business as usual. But we are affected: Our brothers and sisters are struggling. We have to ask ourselves, “How can I help? What can I do?” If you cannot provide physical, financial or emotional assistance, do not minimize the importance of including them in your prayers.

Action steps: Devote a portion of your time and resources to helping others. At least each week, preferably daily, do an act of kindness. When you meet someone, show an interest in that individual and see if you can be of assistance.

Neglecting our relationship with God. Sometimes, people get so busy with daily life they forget about their Creator. God created us to have a relationship with Him. Each day we do not develop this relationship is a day lost forever.

Action steps: Every day, connect with God by: Praying to Him, performing a mitzvah mindfully, sensing His presence, thanking Him for one of His blessings and thinking about how He guides every aspect of your life for your highest good.

An essential part of having a relationship with God is not disrespecting Him. For example, we must ensure that we do not talk during davening or leave the synagogue while the haftarah is being read.

Yaakov Weiland

As Egypt Nears Civil War, Israel on High Alert

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

The dramatic escalation in Egypt’s domestic conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military is being accompanied by an upsurge in the activities of jihadi organizations in the Sinai Peninsula.

Since Morsi’s ouster, extremist Salafi and jihadi organizations have launched waves of attacks on Egyptian security forces, and provoked this week’s extensive counter-terrorism operation by the Egyptian army.

These Al-Qaeda-affiliated forces are also seeking to strike Israel — both to satisfy their ideological demand for jihad against Israelis, and to try and force Israel and Egypt into a confrontation, thereby undermining the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

The Israel Defense Forces are therefore on high alert in the event of further attacks by terrorists in Egypt, while also facing the dilemma of how to safeguard its own national security without infringing on Egyptian sovereignty at this most sensitive time.

Two unprecedented incidents on the southern border in just the last few days, however, served as markers for the rapidly changing situation.

First, according to international media reports, an Israeli drone struck an Al-Qaeda-affiliated organization in Sinai, as it was making final preparations to fire rockets at Israel.

While Israeli defense officials have not confirmed or denied the reports, if true, they represent the first preemptive counter-terrorism strike on Egyptian soil.

If Israeli intelligence receives word of an imminent attack taking shape in Sinai, with little time to coordinate a response with Egyptian military forces, such action might be expected.

Islamists across Egypt were quick to seize on the incident to accuse the Egyptian military of being complicit in an Israeli breach of Egyptian sovereignty.

Although this incident was quickly forgotten by Egyptians as both Egypt proper and Sinai descended into turmoil, there is evidence that further attacks by Sinai terrorists against both Egyptian security forces and Israel are being planned.

An additional signal of the deteriorating security situation in Sinai was the rocket fired by a terrorist organization at the Red Sea tourist resort city of Eilat over the weekend.

Anticipating the attack, the IDF stationed an Iron Dome anti-rocket battery in the city. The prior preparation paid off: the system fired an interceptor that successfully stopped the rocket from hitting the city.

The rocket failed to hurt anyone, but it did trigger an air-raid siren and frighten tourists, sending them scatting for cover. Unlike the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, which are used to Palestinian rocket terrorism, Eilat, a resort town, is not used to living under rocket fire.

Today, a shadow of uncertainty hangs over the future of the city’s tourist industry. For now, Israeli visitors to the city are displaying trademark resilience, and are continuing to pack the city’s hotels and beaches.

Nearby, however, the IDF continues on high alert, watching every suspicious movement in the desert sands near the Egyptian border for signs of the next attack.

Yaakov Lappin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/as-egypt-nears-civil-war-israel-on-high-alert/2013/08/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: