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October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘america’

A Soldier’s Mother: The Manipulation of America

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Disclaimer: I am not pro-Trump so much as I am anti-Clinton. I think America would have had to work very hard to come up with a candidate selection that is worse than this one.

The election is one month away – it’s become vicious. Not the first time. It’s filled with lies. Not the first time. It’s filled with desperation on both sides. Each is convinced that their candidate is the lesser of two evils. Few actually like the choice facing America.

From distant shores, I watch in sadness. What bothers me most at this point, is two things. The first is that America is being manipulated. The second is that, in part, it is crossing red lines to do this.

The Manipulation

Another Facebook post going around:

Why has nobody consider it very strange that a person would record (apparently without permission) a locker room conversation and then holds on to it for 11 years. That person then waits until 2 months before the elections when it looks like Hillary might lose and decides to release it. I call that very strange. Then people are ready to string him up for something he said 11 years ago.I have since seen the video that the conversation was taken from and it’s locker room conversation among men. A lot of big talk – crude yes but most men and some women too have talked that way when they’re impressing someone. And it took place 11 years ago. Let’s keep this in perspective. We all know Trump has a big mouth and very high opinion of himself.
I agree. Does no one find the timing of this disgusting Trump tape just a bit too convenient? Is what a man said in private to a friend eleven years ago enough to disqualify a man when deleting tens of thousands of emails, cursing an entire people, enabling a sexual predator and cheating billions out of charity is ignored?

Up to now, I sit back in wonder. I can’t understand how America got to this point. I can’t stand either but believe Trump to be the lesser of two evils in an election that will, almost certainly, focus on that specific point. Who will do less damage until America has another chance to right the wrong they are about to commit?

I sit here mere hours after a terror attack in Jerusalem – at a place I go to nearly every day. I was there an hour and a bit before, taking the train that came under fire (which isn’t hard because the whole light rail is only one train line). I have reached the end of my ability to care about this election…except for that red line.

And the Red Lines

The problem with red lines nowadays is most people think it’s not so hard to move them. Red lines aren’t supposed to be moved. We all have our opinions and that is America. That is democracy. What is not America, is the hate being fanned and this is where the red line comes in. There are some lines that are more red than others and very few that are more red that this next one.

A man posts a picture to Facebook furthering the absurd comparison of Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. It is the gates of Auschwitz, where my great grandmother and two great aunts were murdered. A place that lived in my grandfather’s nightmares for all the days of his life. It is the place where he lost the mother he was desperately working to save. It is where my husband lost all his grandparents, before he ever had a chance to know them. Where my mother-in-law was scared, my husband’s uncle tattooed.

I wrote to the man…could it be possible that he doesn’t understand? We are taught to give the benefit of the doubt. This is extremelly offensive and insensitive, not to mention inaccurate, I wrote to him. “Your attempt to present Trump as a Nazi falls far from the truth and only shows an incredible amount of ignorance about the Holocaust.”

His response: “He’s more like Mussolini. But I couldn’t find a meme for that.”

So because he couldn’t find a meme likening Trump to Mussolini, he has the right to belittle the Holocaust, to use and abuse the legacy of Auschwitz at a time when the Poles have already turned it into a “museum” and the Catholics believe the memory of over a million Jews murdered and gassed to death is honorably served by building a church there?

“You clearly know little about the Nazi period if that’s what you boil it down to – and you didn’t use a Nazi uniform, you used concentration camp gates. Yes, Trump was unfaithful – I seem to recall there being many men out there who were unfaithful as well. He had a private conversation that was illegally taped, eleven years ago and which miraculously is being released now – you’re being manipulated and you can’t even see it.” I wrote to him.

I tried arguing against his comments about Trump:

You are also misquoting Trump to serve your purpose. He doesn’t propose getting rid of “that group” of people – that would be Hitler – who not only proposed it but did a lot to make that “proposal” happen. Trump said – ONLY – that until you can vet Muslims, you shouldn’t let them into the country. What’s wrong with that? You ever seen a body blown to pieces? It’s not a pretty sight. You ever worry about getting on a bus, sitting in a restaurant, where your children are when a bomb explodes? Trust me – it’s not easy and it should be taken seriously. Vet them properly – that’s what Israelis do every day of the year. I drove through a check point this morning. The car in front of me was pulled over to the side. His papers will be checked. I drove right through – but then again, how many 55 year old Jewish grandmothers blow up buses? The 20 or 30-something male Muslim is in the range and so he’s pulled to the side and delayed for about 3 minutes.

Is his inconvenience in being stopped for 3 minutes justified? Hell yes. If you doubt it, I’ll put you in touch with my friend – whose 15 year old daughter was blown apart, murdered by an Arab terrorist who got through because Israel was urged to show restraint and ease the check points.

But getting back to your meme – it is offensive. My great-grandmother was murdered there behind the gates of that place you so callously use. My husband never knew a grandparents love – because all four of his grandparents were murdered there.

His response was, “if it’s offensive, I apologize. When Trump apologizes it makes everything okay. So this should too.”

I’m sorry, I should write to him, but I won’t…I’ll put it here because the chance that his mind is open enough to understand that what he did is very small.

If I were to take the time, I would tell him – your political agenda doesn’t give you the right to abuse the memory of six million Jews.

Make America Great – perhaps what is really wrong with America is that they’ve forgotten that being great is actually a good thing. Eight years ago, America rallied behind the asinine slogan of “Yes We Can” – and, oh my God, in eight years, you didn’t. He didn’t.

He didn’t solve the racial divide – he made it worse.

He didn’t strengthen America – he brought the military to the gates of collapse.

He didn’t bring men and women of honor to lead the nation – he brought the corrupt likes of Clinton and the monoric likes of John Kerry.

He didn’t. I don’t know if Trump can. I know that Clinton can’t. You want to call him a racist? You want to call her some horrible name? Go for it – OMG, you picked the worst candidates in your entire history and now you have to live with it but don’t you dare.

But don’t you DARE make a mockery of the Holocaust.

Trump will NOT tattoo people; he will not take a mother into a room and tell her she can choose ONE of her three children while the rest will die. He will not build ghettoes and starve people to death. He will not march them across miles of frozen land. He is not a Nazi; he is not Adolf Hitler

You don’t like Trump – don’t vote for him. He’s crass and crude – fine. Don’t vote for him.

She’s, oh my God, vicious, nasty, horrible – you think she’s Obama’s second coming – knock yourself out and vote for her.

I give up – maybe the saying that a country deserves the leaders it gets is true. I don’t know. I don’t care. Red lines crossed. I’m done. See you in four years, America…or maybe 8 if you can’t come up with anything better than either of these clowns.

Oh, and the biggest joke of all – the man who posted this image as his …yeah, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Paula Stern

The Influence of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in America (Part II)

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Editor’s Note: This column contains excerpts from Dr. Levines “Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch and America – an Historical View,” which appeared in The World of Hirschian Teachings, An Anthology on the Hirsch Chumash and the Hashkafa of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch (Rabbi Dr. Joseph Breuer Foundation, Feldheim, 2008, 199- 210).

Last month we outlined how Rabbi Dr. Bernard Drachman (1861-1945), who was one of foremost spokesmen for Orthodoxy in America during his lifetime, was influenced by the writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. This month we discuss two other rabbinical personalities who were influenced by Rav Hirsch.


Reb Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz (1886-1948)

The name of Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz is inextricably linked to Yeshiva Torah Vodaath and Torah Umesorah. Mr. Mendlowitz, as he insisted upon being called, was a pioneer educator who played a key role in laying the foundations of yeshiva education in America. He came from a chassidic background and studied in Hungarian yeshivas. Some may not realize that he was deeply influenced by the philosophy of Rav Hirsch.

Early in his life Reb Shraga Feivel decided he would devote himself to strengthening Orthodoxy in the face of the onslaughts of those who would undermine Torah Judaism.

For the impending battle, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch became the model. Rav Hirsch’s success in arresting the rush to Reform in Germany served as an example of what one man could do. His ability to speak the language of modern man – the product of the Enlightenment and the scientific worldview – while remaining entirely rooted in classic Jewish sources and thought was something Reb Shraga Feivel explicitly sought to emulate.

Rabbi Hirsch had not been intimidated by 19th-century thought or the rapid advance of science in his day, and neither would Reb Shraga Feivel shy away from the challenges of the 20th century. Having identified Rav Hirsch as one of the exemplars of what he hoped to achieve in life, Reb Shraga Feivel pored over his vast corpus of writings.[i]

On one occasion, while he was attending the shiurim of Rabbi Simcha Bunim Schreiber, a grandson of the Chasam Sofer and the author of Shevet Sofer,

Reb Shraga Feivel found himself the object of criticism when he was seen studying Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s works. Because Rabbi Hirsch wrote in German vernacular, his works still occasioned suspicion within the deeply conservative Hungarian yeshiva world of the day. Reb Shraga Feivel was summoned to appear before the yeshiva administration. At his “trial” he enlisted the assistance of an old Jew living in Pressburg, who testified that thirty years earlier, when his first wife’s mental disability forced him to seek permission from one hundred rabbis to take a second wife, the Divrei Chaim of Sanz had advised him to travel to Frankfurt-am-Main to obtain the signature for Rabbi Hirsch, telling him, “What I am to Galicia, he is to Germany.”[ii]

Reb Shraga Feivel often utilized ideas from RSRH in his classes.

He was alive to every facet of genuine Torah expression. “Some souls,” he used to say, “drink from Tanya. Others from the Ramchal. Still others from Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. I drink from all of them, though at any given time, I might drink from one in particular.” He had the genius to draw from every strand of authentic Jewish thought, to place those various strands in relation to one another, and to see each of them as simply another path to knowledge and service of the Divine…


Rabbi Dr. Yosef Breuer (1882 – 1980)

Rav Breuer was, of course, a foremost proponent of Hirschian ideology. He influenced thousands through his many years of leadership of Khal Adath Jeshurun, his classes, speeches and writings, and his bringing the Torah of Rav Hirsch to English-speaking Jews by having the writings of RSRH translated into English. He built a model kehilla, which others would do well to emulate. Anyone who came in close contact with members of KAJ could not help but be impressed by how the beautiful legacy of Rav Hirsch was steadfastly preserved and practiced.

One area in which Rav Breuer excelled was his insistence on consistency in all aspects of life. For him there was no dichotomy between religious observance and “mundane” activity. Let me illustrate this with an example.

The commentary of RSRH on the Chumash is more that just an explanation of the Torah. It is filled with gems that explain what Torah Judaism really is or, at least, should be. On verse 19:2 of Vayikra, “Speak to the entire community of the Children of Israel and say to them: Be holy, for I, God, your God, am holy,” Rav Hirsch writes:

Self-mastery is the highest art a man can practice. Self-mastery does not mean neglecting, stunting, killing, or destroying any of one’s powers or faculties. In and of themselves, the powers and faculties – from the most spiritual to the most sensual – that have been given to man are neither good nor bad. They all have been given to us for exalted purposes – that we may use them to do God’s Will on earth. The Torah sets for each of them a positive purpose and negative limits. In the service of that purpose and within those limits, all is holy and good. But where a person strays from that purpose and exceeds those limits, coarseness and evil begin.

As in any other art, virtuosity in this, the highest moral art can be attained only through practice – training one’s moral willpower to master the inclinations of the heart. But this training is not to be undertaken in the realm of the expressly forbidden, where any slip would result in wrongdoing. Rather, moral resolve must be tested and strengthened in the realm of the permitted. By learning to overcome inclinations that are permitted but related to the forbidden, one gains the power of self-mastery and thus makes all his powers and faculties subservient to the fulfillment of God’s Will. Each person, according to his own unique qualities, should work on his inner self; and he should train quietly, in a manner known only to himself.

That is just one example of how relevant Rav Hirsch’s writings are to our times. We live in an age of great emphasis on externalities at the expense of commitment to the quiet, private practice of Judaism. Our society is obsessed with packaging at the expense of substance, and, sadly, some have been duped into thinking that this is also true when it comes to their Yiddishkeit. Rav Breuer elucidated this when he wrote:

Genuine chassidic Jewishness strives for chassiduth which in itself is a lofty achievement on the ethical ladder which the Yehudi must attempt to climb. This is demonstrated for us by R. Pinchas ben Yair (Avodah Zarah 20b): Our highest duty is Torah and its study; this leads to carefulness which in turn leads to active striving; to guiltlessness; to purity; to holiness; to modesty; to the fear of sin; and finally, to chassiduth. Accordingly, a chassid is a Jew who gives himself in limitless love to the Divine Will and its realization and to whom the welfare of his fellowmen constitutes the highest source of satisfaction [see Hirsch, Chorev, Ch. 14]. Thus, in the Talmudic era, the title “chassid” was a mark of highest distinction and this is what it should be today.

The so-called chassid who confines his Avodah to prayer does not deserve this title if this “Avodah of the heart” does not call him to the Avodah of life where he must practice and apply the precepts of chassidus.

He does not deserve the title if he is particular regarding the kashruth of his food but fails to apply the precepts of conscientiousness and honesty to his business dealings.

He does not deserve this title if his social life is not permeated by love and the deep interest in the welfare of his fellow men; if he does not shun quarreling, envy, or even abominable lashon hara; if he does not earnestly strive to acquire those midoth for which Rav Hirsch (in his Chorev) calls so eloquently.

Certainly the mere exhibition of a certain type of clothing or the type of beard worn or even the adornment of long sideburns do not entitle the bearer to the title of honor – chassid. These may be marks of distinction but they must be earned to be deserved.[iii]

Rav Breuer lived his life as a true chassid, setting an example for thousands to follow. His uncompromising approach to yashrus in all his activities, whether sacred or chol, is something every Jew should strive to emulate.


[i] Reb Shraga Feivel, the Architect of Torah in America by Yonoson Rosenblum, Mesorah Publications, Ltd. 2001, page 38.

[ii] Reb Shraga Feivel, the Architect of Torah in America by Yonoson Rosenblum, Mesorah Publications, Ltd. 2001, pages 34 – 35.

[iii] Rav Breuer, His Life and His Legacy by David Kranzler, Feldheim, 1998

Dr. Yitzchok Levine

Tamar Yonah – How Non-Jews Can Acknowledge the Rosh HaShana Holiday [audio]

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

On this show:
1) How do non-Jews relate to the Rosh HaShana holiday?
2) America, China, Russia: Gearing up for war?
3) More conspiracy scenarios regarding the upcoming US elections and what they are telling you to do. See article here.

Rod Bryant is a former Evangelical Pastor of 31 years who turned to the Torah and Judaism and now leads an International community of Bnei Noach. He’s also a radio talk show host on INTR and hosts Beyond the Matrix. He’s here to talk about the best way for non-Jews who believe in the Torah, to observe and celebrate the Rosh HaShana holiday.

Tamar Yonah 26Sept2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

American Military Aid: Bad for America; Worse for Israel

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website,  Abu Yehuda}

See, you trust in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; where on if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him. – Isaiah 36:6

Reactions to the signing of a 10-year $38 billion memorandum of understanding (MOU) for American military aid to Israel are coming in, as predictable as the moon and the tides. The man Netanyahu calls Israel’s “worst Prime Minister ever”, Ehud Barak, claims that Netanyahu could have obtained another $7 billion a year if only he hadn’t opposed Obama’s Iran deal so strongly. Similar remarks have come from the parliamentary opposition, unsurprisingly. Others thank America for its commitment at a time that its own military budgets are being slashed. Still others curse it for helping Israel with its continued ‘genocide’ against the ‘Palestinians’, who have tripled in number since 1970.

The truth is that Israel does not need and should phase out military aid from the US. It is bad for Israel and bad for the US.

  • Israel doesn’t need it: The $3.8 billion per year that will come from the US is about a quarter of Israel’s 2015-16 defense budget of $15.47 billion. This is a lot of money, but consider that the government’s overall budget is about $89 billion, and Israel’s gross domestic product today is close to $300 billion, almost double what it was 10 years ago.

In addition, the new agreement phases out Israel’s ability to spend any of it outside of the US. In the past, up to about a quarter of the aid could be spent in Israel. Does anyone doubt that many items can be procured here or elsewhere, at lower cost? I don’t. The F-35 alone costs about $200 million per aircraft. Are there alternatives? We might be able to find out if we went shopping with our own money (possibly the F-15SE would become available).

Finally, increased investment in our military industries would improve our ability to sell our products to other countries, helping to offset the loss of US aid.

  • Aid gives the US administration too much leverage over Israeli policies and actions:  PM Netanyahu will be meeting with Barack Obama next week at the UN. Obama will certainly make demands about Israeli-PA relations, the blockade of Gaza, and more. Do we want to give him a club to hold over our heads?

During the Gaza War in 2014, Obama cut off the supply of Hellfire missiles and other items in response to (tendentious) complaints that Israel had deliberately shelled a UN school. The more we can reduce our dependence on aid, the more equipment like this can be manufactured at home.

Israel needs freedom of action to respond to threats. The aid comes with too many strings attached.

  • Aid distorts our military purchase decisions: If you can get your army boots – or fighter aircraft – “for free” then maybe you settle for something that doesn’t meet your needs quite as well as a product  you have to pay for.  The decisions about what we will be given are based in part on US policy objectives and, since the aid is in effect a direct subsidy to the US defense industry, domestic American considerations – not what’s best for Israel.

For example, it has been suggested that manned fighter aircraft will be much less important in future warfare than drones, but we get ‘free’ fighter planes from America and build our own drones; so we have lots and lots of manned fighter planes – maybe more than we need.

The F-35, with its cost and all its problems, stands out. As I wrote a few weeks ago, would Israel even have considered replacing its F-16 fleet with F-35s if the first batch weren’t ‘free’?

  • Aid corrupts our military decision-makers: The word ‘corrupts’ is a strong word, but may not be out of place. If you are a Chief of Staff, and a quarter of your budget comes from America, wouldn’t you take the US administration’s wishes into account when considering whether or not to take some particular action (say, bombing Iranian nuclear installations)? How could you not do so? Enough said.
  • Aid cripples the development of our own military industries: This may be the most important consideration of all. Although the new MOU represents an increase from the previous $3.1 billion a year, it phases out over five years the ability to spend up to about a quarter of it for locally-produced goods. If we don’t have the capability to produce our own weapons, our dependence on the US becomes even greater, and we lose the jobs and technical know-how that come from it. Buying our own would pump additional money into our economy, which helps offset the loss of American aid. Even the IDF’s boots, formerly made in Israel, are now ordered from the US.
  • Aid doesn’t necessarily guarantee a qualitative edge: One of the rationales for US military aid was that the US promised to maintain our “qualitative military edge” (QME) over our enemies, as a way of counteracting their numerical superiority. But the US has more and more been selling its best weapons to anyone who can pay for them. The way to maintain the QME, then, is for Israel to use her technological abilities to develop weapons and countermeasures for her own use that will not be available to her enemies.
  • Aid damages Israel’s standing as a sovereign state: A nation that is dependent on another for its defense is a satellite, not an ally. In order to maintain her national self-respect, Israel should pay for her own defense. In addition, Israel’s accepting aid provides ammunition for anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda in America.
  • Phasing out aid is better for America: The US is burdened by a large and growing debt. The end of military aid to Israel can only help America meet her own civilian and military needs.


Naturally, there will be objections.

Israel can’t afford expensive systems like the F-35 without aid. First, it’s not true, and second, maybe we don’t need such expensive systems, or so many of them.

But the US makes the world’s best weapons. Perhaps. If so, we should buy them with our own money. I’m not suggesting we break relations with the US. And who is to say that our home-made products won’t fit our unique needs better?

But it takes time to build up our industries. True, which is why I want to phase out the aid over a period of years rather than cutting it off sharply.

But what about the close cooperation between Israeli and the US defense industries? I’m not suggesting that such cooperation couldn’t continue, but in a framework of mutually beneficial business deals when indicated, as partners rather than clients.

But AIPAC works so hard making it possible. Yes, and Israel should be grateful to AIPAC and to its friends in the US Congress that for decades have made it possible for Israel to survive in its dangerous neighborhood against great odds. But the situation has changed. What used to be a necessity became a luxury, and then changed into a dangerous overindulgence. It’s not like there aren’t other critical issues that AIPAC could focus on.


In recent years much has changed in the world and in the Middle East. Israel, which was a third-rate power that managed to win her wars against great odds, became a first-rate power that nevertheless seems to be stymied and incapable of decisively prevailing over much weaker opponents. Although there are several reasons for this, one of the main ones is the increasing influence and control over Israeli decision-making by the US – whose government, at the same time, has become less and less supportive.

I’m sorry to say that I believe the US is in serious economic, social, political and even security trouble today – truly a broken reed. I hope it will repair itself. But like Isaiah’s Egypt, it is not a staff to lean upon.

Vic Rosenthal

‘What America Can Learn from Israel’: An Interview with Author and Commentator Pete Hegseth

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Those who love America often love Israel as well. Pete Hegseth is in a singular position to appreciate the shared uniqueness of the two countries.

A military veteran who holds two Bronze Stars and a Combat Infantryman Badge for his service in Iraq and Afghanistan, he is a former CEO of the Concerned Veterans for America and a former chairman of Vets for Freedom as well as a graduate of Princeton University with a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Hegseth writes regularly for National Review and FoxNews.com in addition to being a Fox News contributor and analyst. His new book, “In the Arena,” is an ardent plea for citizen commitment in an era of apathy. And it is an apt description of Hegseth’s enthusiasm as he eagerly entered the arena of Israel advocacy on his recent fact-finding mission to Israel attended by this reporter and organized by Dr. Joseph Frager, Dr. Paul Brody, and Odelya Jacobs.


The Jewish Press: What can you tell us about your background and how it influenced your relationship with Israel?

Hegseth: My parents come from a small town in Minnesota where I grew up as a Baptist. I never met a Jewish person until I went to college. When I did, the first thing I said to him was, “I read about you in the Bible!” It was from there and beyond that I gained a true understanding of Jews. Growing up an evangelical, I obviously had an enormous amount of respect and understanding of the historical resonance of Abraham and religions and how they’re intertwined.

After being in the military and having served in Iraq, I saw other views of the world and started to understand where Israel fits and where anti-Semitism comes from; how it is fostered in higher education and how lack of support for Israel is very indicative of other things. Through meeting wonderful people like Joe [Frager] and leaders in the senate and government, I have come to really appreciate the Jewish heritage and the Jewish state. I understand how geopolitically we are linked and how critical it is that we stand by such a strong ally.

From the perspective of a news commentator, how important is telling Israel’s story in the media?

I learned from serving in the Iraq war that you can’t refute what’s happening on the ground. Truth prevails. But it’s a matter of punching through the overwhelming wet blanket of the leftist mainstream media. I served in Iraq in 2005-2006. I came home from my tour during what looked like the darkest, most difficult days in Iraq in 2006, when the antiwar movement was at its height and when everyone said the war was inevitably going to fail. Yes, there were a lot of problems, but I saw seeds of progress. I saw that we could turn the corner with the right strategy and enough troops. I came back and led an advocacy group to make the case for a new counter insurgency strategy and more troops on the ground. Just so happened that we had a president at that moment who thankfully decided to do the exact same thing.

That taught me that even the overwhelming weight of the predictions by The New York Times and others that we were going to lose can be overcome by a concentrated view backed by a dedicated mission and the willingness to speak truth and then amplify it. But you’ve got to have people in the media and on the ground willing to amplify it. Because you can win on the ground, but if you’re not telling that story at home people will be seduced into whatever storyline they’re being told by news broadcasts and websites. You got to get the facts first so that you can beat the spin second.

Israel faces an unconventional enemy in the form of isolation through BDS, lawfare, campus intimidation, etc. With your background in the media and the military, what would you recommend to best fight this enemy?

There has been a long history of bipartisan support for Israel in the United States and I would want that to be the case now. Unfortunately, it’s become much more of a partisan issue. We have given away so many of our educational institutions that the next generation of citizens and voters in our country are not fortified with the basic beliefs and building blocks of previous generations. That is a scary thing and it makes what I do at Fox that much more important as we attempt to educate the next generation.

There are seeds of anti-Semitism that are still found in higher education. We’re taught about tolerance and safe spaces on college campuses except for things like anti-Semitism. We have to provide and support alternative viewpoints regarding Israel on campuses. We need veterans – who have actually seen the enemy and understand what our allies look like and what they’re facing – to articulate it throughout our institutions. We have to be more willing to publicly talk about Israel among citizens who think of it as an abstraction, who don’t truly understand the existential threat to it. And what can Israel do? Keep bringing more Americans to Israel in order to truly understand it and then they can go back to the U.S. as spokesmen. The more groups that can bring Americans here – evangelical Christians, Republicans, Democrats, Jews – the better. Because seeing is understanding.

How does seeing biblical and historical facts on the ground in Israel impact your impressions of the Holy Land?

It reaffirms the ties the Jewish people have to this land that have historical and real geopolitical resonance today. This is not some mystical land that can be dismissed. It’s the story of God’s chosen people. That story didn’t end in 1776 or in 1948 or with the founding of the UN. All of these things still resonate and matter today.

The facts on the ground and the truth of what actually happened can settle debates. It’s just a matter of affirming it. Because if you can rewrite history you can rewrite anything. If you can prove and demonstrate something, that changes the discussion completely.

Sara Lehmann

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s Influence In America (Part I)

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Editor’s Note: This column contains excerpts from Dr. Levines “Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch and America – an Historical View,” which appeared in The World of Hirschian Teachings, An Anthology on the Hirsch Chumash and the Hashkafa of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch (Rabbi Dr. Joseph Breuer Foundation, Feldheim, 2008, 199- 210).


Much has been written about Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch’s influence on German Jewry, and he is justifiably credited with having saved Orthodox Judaism in Germany. However, Rav Hirsch’s influence was not confined to Germany and did not end with his passing in 1888. His legacy continues to this day and is felt all over the world.

It is my intent to sketch how Hirschian ideology has fostered the flourishing Torah life we see today in America by indicating how a number of rabbis utilized this ideology. Such a sketch cannot, of course, be comprehensive. Nonetheless, it does provide perspective on how far-reaching the influence of RSRH has been on the American scene.


Rabbi Dr. Bernard Drachman (1861 -1945)

In 1899 Rabbi Dr. Bernard Drachman published the first English translation of Rav Hirsch’s Nineteen Letters.[i] Rabbi Drachman’s life story is an interesting one and is told in his autobiography The Unfailing Light: Memoirs of an American Rabbi.[ii]

Raised in a non-shomer Shabbos home, he went to public school in Jersey City, New Jersey, and then Columbia College. While in high school and college, Rabbi Drachman also attended the (Reform) Temple Emanuel Hebrew Preparatory School of New York City for six years. In 1882 he graduated Columbia with honors and decided to study for the rabbinate. Temple Emanuel granted him a scholarship to pursue rabbinical studies with the idea that he would prepare for the Reform rabbinate. He went to Germany, studied at the University of Breslau and the Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau, and earned his rabbinical degree. In addition, he matriculated at the University of Heidelberg and obtained the degree of Ph.D. Magna Cum Laude in 1885.

As a result of his studies in Germany, Dr. Drachman became completely committed to Orthodox Judaism. Temple Emanuel had sponsored his studies with the understanding that when he returned he would become its assistant rabbi. But given his commitment to Orthodoxy, Rabbi Drachman was forced to make it clear to the congregants of Temple Emanuel that he would only serve an Orthodox congregation, despite the fact that Reform rabbis usually earned considerably more than their Orthodox counterparts. The result was that “he speedily became known as an enthusiastic and energetic champion of Orthodox Judaism, one of the then very few English-speaking representatives of the ancient faith in the America of that time.”[iii]

During his summer vacation in 1883 Dr. Drachman visited Frankfurt-on-the-Main. His recollections of this visit show what a deep impression the community that Rav Hirsch had established made upon him.

In the latter place [Frankfurt] we [Rabbi Drachman and his cousin Solomon] not only saw a beautiful city but also a most wonderful Jewish community, the like of which was even then difficult to find anywhere else in the world. In size the city was not so very impressive, numbering not more than approximately twenty-five thousand souls, but in spiritual and cultural quality and importance to Judaism it was most exceptional and noteworthy.

Frankfort-on-the-Main was the city of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, inspired and inspiring leader in Israel, man of God if ever there was one. His soul glowed with profound love and loyalty to the ancient faith. From his lips poured streams of eloquence to convince the doubting, to strengthen the wavering, and to satisfy and delight the already convincedly devout. The impress of his mighty spirit was upon the whole Jewish life of the queenly city. The number of business establishments closed on Sabbaths and Jewish holy days, the large and beautiful synagogues and the throngs which entered them to worship, even on ordinary days of secular occupation, and a dozen other indications, all gave unmistakable testimony to the fact that here was a city of enthusiastically loyal Jews.

The Orthodox Jews, however, were not the majority of the Jewry of Frankfort. Rabbi Hirsch’s congregation did not even belong to the official Jewish community. Legally and technically it was not even a congregation but only a private society, Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft, “Israelitish Society for Religion,” but in numbers it was not greatly inferior to the main community and in zeal and religious fervor it was so superior, that its impress upon the life of the city was far greater and more significant.

The Judaism which Rabbi Hirsch taught, and for which he had gained thousands of adherents, in Frankfort and out, while unswervingly loyal to the Law and the traditions of Israel’s past, was yet something different, something new. It was the religion of the ghetto without the mannerisms or the world-estrangement of the ghetto. It was indeed a wondrously perfect synthesis of the ancient and the modern, of the Oriental-Sinaitic-Talmudic precepts of faith and the life and the speech, the culture, and the demeanor of the modern time and the Occidental world. It was fittingly designated by understanding observers as Neo-Orthodoxy.

Solomon and I met a number of members of the Hirsch community and they all measured up to this standard. Among them were the brothers Jacob and Julius Strauss, who were relatives of Solomon, cousins of his mother, whose maiden name was Strauss. They were wealthy people, bankers doing business in a large way under the firm name of J. and J. Strauss. They were, however, more interested in Jewish religion and culture than in their business affairs.

As their guests on Friday evening, we met in the synagogue, which was filled with devout worshippers. After service we walked together to the Strauss residence, a fine and beautifully furnished apartment in one of the best streets of Frankfort. It was a memorable evening, a remarkable combination of fervent Jewishness and aristocratic demeanor, a perfect illustration of what the rabbis of the Talmud meant when they spoke of “Torah and greatness in one place.” Everything was in accordance with the rabbinical precept that the best which the Jew is and has shall be reserved for the Sabbath. Such was the Friday evening in the Strauss home. Herr Jacob Strauss chanted the Hebrew prayers with dignity and reverence, and Frau Strauss was a most gracious hostess. After the sumptuous repast was concluded, and thanks duly given to the Giver of all good, we passed an hour or so in pleasant, informal conversation. Many questions about America were asked of me, and my answers were received with great apparent interest.[iv]

Dr. Yitzchok Levine

Michael Bloomberg Talks to America about Marrying a Prostitute

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through}

A satire?

On July 27, 2016, America witnessed an unusual piece of political theater.  It was not that a member of a competing political party addressed a convention.  It was the thrust of the argument made on the national stage by a respected politician that there’s nothing wrong with marrying a prostitute.

Let me say at the outset that I have long believed that prostitution should be legalized.  How do our laws state that pornography and massages are legal but prostitution is not?  Why do we allow people to marry for money? Why do women’s rights groups fight for women to be able to control their bodies when it comes to abortion, but ignore the call when it comes to call girls?  Lastly, nothing would better protect women in the profession than legalizing the act.

But put all of that to the side.  I’m talking about selling your vote.  About paying for favors.  About quid (the British know it means money) pro quo. About Hillary Clinton.

The former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg addressed the Democratic National Convention in July to appeal to those who dislike both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  His reasoning for backing Hillary Clinton for president was… well, you read it:

I know what it’s like to have neither party fully represent my views or values. Too many Republicans wrongly blame immigrants for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on climate change and gun violence. Meanwhile, many Democrats wrongly blame the private sector for our problems, and they stand in the way of action on education reform and deficit reduction.

There are times when I disagree with Hillary. But whatever our disagreements may be, I’ve come here to say: We must put them aside for the good of our country. And we must unite around the candidate who can defeat a dangerous demagogue.”

In other words, she’s far from ideal, but the alternative is unacceptable.  She may have a bad track record, but at least she’s experienced.  You may not love her, but she’ll get the job done.

Sort of like marrying a prostitute.

Of course, you can hold out and wait to marry for love, but the wedding is scheduled for November 8.  The Bachelor has two finalists (actually three, including Libertarian Gary Johnson that the press never discusses).  Will you marry the person who skates on the edge of the law, has spent a lifetime in her craft, and works the angles to line her pockets, that you severely dislike?  Or the novice whose voice agitates you, who’s so new to the street that he doesn’t even know how all of the equipment works?

Bloomberg declared that this election was not about love, but getting the job done.  By a professional with a rate card.

Hillary got paid huge fees for speaking to Wall Street.  Fine.  Speaking fees are legal.  Pay-for-play is the Democrats way.

Look at the recent ransom payment that the Obama Administration made to Iran to release hostages.  The administration may say it doesn’t negotiate with terrorists – except for all of the times that it does.  And who’s worse off?  The Americans are free, and all we had to do was pay blackmail money. (Hey, the terrorism the Iranians will fund will likely be against Israel and Europe, so America should be OK, so chill.)

And just like the perfected sales pitch “But wait! There’s more!”

Search the leaked DNC emails and review the long laundry list of payoffs that Democrats made for influence.  So what?  It’s an ATM Democracy.

The farce of this election is that Trump was one of Clinton’s johns.  He paid in. He knows she’s worth it. Why don’t you get that?

A prostitute and a john walk into an election cycle…and the former mayor of New York made it clear that you back the service-provider.


It was long past time that someone stood on a national stage and said it’s time to decriminalize prostitution.  Thank you Michael Bloomberg.  You made your point clearly: There’s no love to be found in this election, so ignore your heart.  Pay for the Pro.  At least you can be sure you’ll get what you ordered.

And if you don’t have money, see if Obama can get a pallet of bills over to your house before he leaves office.  The Iranians say he’s a pro too.

Related First.One.Through articles:

Liar, Liar! Hillary’s Pant Suit’s on Fire!

Hillary’s Transparency

ObamaCar to Address Garage Inequality

The Joys of Iranian Pistachios and Caviar

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Paul Gherkin

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