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PA Mourns Failure to Take over Rachel’s Tomb as Muslim Holy Site

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Tens of thousands of Jews are visiting Rachel’s Tomb Tuesday, the anniversary of her death as described in the Torah, to pray for Rachel to cry for them that their prayers be answered.

No tears need be shed for the Palestinian Authority, which can mourn for itself for not being able to hoodwink the world to believe Rachel’s Tomb is a Muslim holy site.

The Torah states in Genesis (B’reisheit’), “And Rachel died, and was buried on the way to Efrat, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day.”

Before the Palestinian Authority campaign to rewrite the Bible and ancient history, Muslim authorities for centuries had acknowledged that Rachel’s Tomb is Jewish.

Excited by their blood-letting suicide bombings, firebomb and shooting attacks on Jews in the 1990s, the Palestinian Authority suddenly stopped referring to the site as “Rachel’s Dome” and called it the Mosque of Bilal ibn Rabah.

The manufactured tradition became more popular as Muslim clerics in the Arab world pounded the pulpit that the binding of Isaac (Yitzchak) actually is the binding of Ishmael, that the Holy Temples never existed and that the Western Wall really was the hitching post for the Muslim prophet Mohammed’s horse, may his and it memories be forgotten.

More amazing than the fibs that the Palestinian Authority invented was the acceptance of them by the anti-Israel crowd, especially  UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Last year won UNESCO support that the ancient site also belongs to Muslims even though the Tomb, “Kever Rochel” in Hebrew, existed long before Islam came into existence.

In December 2012, UNESCO director Irina Bokova accepted the view of its chief critic of Israel, Robert Serry, who also serves as UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. He warned that Israel’s defining Rachel’s Tomb and the Patriarchs’ Cave in Hevron as holy sites would be bad for the sacred ghost known as the peace process.

UNESCO said Rachel’s Tomb also belongs to Christians and Muslim, which at one time built over the Tomb. That is like saying that JFK airport is a Jewish site because there is a synagogue there.

Two years before UNESCO’s sentence to the Jewish site, Palestinian Authority  chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned that there would be a “holy war” over Rachel’s Tomb if Israel did not accept the Muslim claim that that is was an ancient mosque.

Iran went one step further  with its foreign ministry declaring that Israel’s decision to make Rachel’s Tomb a national heritage site “rises from the regime’s strategy for cleaning all the sanctities of the Muslims and Christians in the occupied Palestine to give them a Zionist identity.”

The Palestinian Authority succeeded 13 years ago in taking over Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem, a direct violation of the Oslo Accords, but the efforts of Jewish leaders in the Shomron (Samaria) the past two years have enabled Jews to worship there under IDF guard.

The Oslo Accords interim agreement in 1995 states that security arrangements must “ensure free, unimpeded and secure access to the relevant Jewish holy sites.”

The Palestinian Authority has no problem with that. All it has to do is drive out the Jews with terrorist attacks and then convince UNESCO that Rachel’s Tomb is not a Jewish holy site.

That is the impetus for the Palestinian Authority to call Kever Rachel the  Bilal ibn Rabah mosque.

Jews traveling to pray at Rachel’s Tomb on her yahrzheit Tuesday can thank none other than former Haredi Knesset Member Menachem Porush that they are able to do so.

During the height of the Oslo mirage in 1995, Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau and MK Porush appealed to Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin not to go through with his plan to turn Rachel’s Tomb over to the Palestinian Authority.

Rabbi Lau told the Prime Minister, “One does not part from one’s mother, and MK Porush broke down in tears, crying on Rabin’s shoulders.

Rabin surrendered, and today, the Palestinian Authority can mourn to Mohammed that truth has triumphed over at least one of its lies.

Thousands of Jews at Rachel's tomb on the even of the anniversary of her death.

Thousands of Jews at Rachel’s tomb on the even of the anniversary of her death.

Promised Land? Earn $50,000 and Be a Jew in Rural Alabama

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Jews are not a common sight in many southern rural towns, such as Dothan, Alabama, but a local businessman Larry Blumberg has a solution.

He has been offering Jews elsewhere $50,000 to move to Dothan to help keep the Jewish community alive. His condition for the grant is that families stay for five years.

His $1 million fund has brought six families with 18 people from New York, Florida and elsewhere, and the once-dying Jewish community now is alive and vibrant.

Now that $900,000 has been paid out to bring Jews to the rural south, the community soon will be on its own to draw more families or reproduce quickly, unless Blumberg has more money to invest in the project.

One of the newcomers is the small city’s new Reform congregational leader, Lynne Goldsmith. She moved from Connecticut to Alabama to lead the reform Temple Emanu-El about a year before the program began and thinks the idea could spread to other towns.

But Dothan is special.

Its name is the Hebrew word in the Book of Genesis (Bereisheit). It is the area where  Joseph’s brothers heeded their sheep before they kidnapped him and threw him into as pit, the event that put into gear the 400-plus year process that resulted in the aliyah of Jews from Egypt to Israel, with a 40-year layover in the Sinai Desert.

What does Dothan have to offer Jews?

It is the peanut capital of Alabama and hosted the National Peanut Festival every year, complete with beauty pageants, agricultural displays, and an arts and crafts show, amusement rides and plenty of non-kosher food stands.

There also is the Press Thornton Future Masters Golf Tournament in Jul and the annual Tri-State Barbecue Festival, pork ribs and all.

Goldsmith told CNN soon after she moved to Dothan “If you need a robust Orthodox community, we don’t have it. But if you want a community where your neighbors are friendly; where people smile at you in the grocery store even if they don’t know you, then Dothan’s for you.

That sounds like Israel.

Maybe Dothan, Alabama is the American Jews “Joseph’s pit,” 400 years before they move to Israel and live in the original Dothan, located in the area of the Jezreel Valley between Beit She’an and Afula

Didn’t Blumberg every think about moving to Israel and offer Jews $50,000 to make aliyah?

The Undivided Past

Friday, October 4th, 2013

There are several words used in the Bible to describe the Jewish people. At one stage we were simply tribal. Then we became an “Am”, a people, a “Goy”, a nation, a “Mamlacha”, a kingdom. Post-Biblically, if the gentiles called us Jews, Judeans, Israelites, Hebrews, Yids, or whatever, we used “Yisrael” as the name of choice, in the main, which meant a people, a culture, a religion, a relationship with God and a land, all of that in varying and amorphous degrees. We knew what it meant, even if others were confused or bemused. It takes one to know one.

Under pagan empires religion was not a factor, just loyalty to an overarching regime or royal family. If you were a serf it was loyalty to your lord and village. Neither the Persian, nor the Greek, nor the Roman Empires cared how you worshipped or behaved, so long as you professed loyalty to the empire. Then Christianity emerged as the religion of the Roman Empire and other religions were marginalized. Ironically the bloodiest battles were within Christianity, between one theological variation and another. The same thing happened under Islam. Ideals soon got perverted by politics and as today, Muslims of different sects killed more Muslims than all their enemies put together and doubled. Freud memorably described this internal divisiveness as “the narcissism of minor differences”.

In the West, most Jews that non-Jews encounter are not particularly committed to being Jewish. For Jews like a Soros or a Zuckerberg, it’s an accident of birth, a minor casual affiliation, like belonging to the Church of England. And this explains why most of those in the West who think about the matter reckon that the Jews are not really too concerned about having a land of their own and that it was only the accidental intervention of imperialist powers that explains the Jewish presence in the Middle East. It was a misjudged adventure. And really the Jews ought to pick up and leave and stop being nasty to the indigenous population.

It takes an objective observer to notice that for millennia Jews have shared a powerful core identity, even if in almost every situation except when they were given a choice, most Jews actually abandoned the community of Jews. But it took a determined minority within a minority to fight hard, relentlessly, and ultimately victoriously for its Jewish identity.

In his book The Undivided Past: Humanity Beyond Our Differences, David Cannadine writes:

“Egypt under the Pharaohs may have resembled a nation…but there was no accompanying sense of public culture or collective identity. As for the ancient Greeks, their limited pan Hellenic aspirations embodied in their shared language, Homeric epics and Olympic games foundered on the disputatious reality of their fiercely independent city-states. Similar objections have been made to claims that the Sumerians, the Persians, the Phoenicians, the Arameans, the Philistines, the Hittites and the Elamites were ancient nations, or that the Sinhalese, the Japanese or the Koreans might be so described during the first millennium of the common era. Only in the case of Israel does it seem plausible to discern a recognizable ancient nation with its precise though disputed territoriality, its ancient myths, its shared historical memories of the Exodus, the Conquest and wars with the Philistines, its strong sense of exceptionalism and providential destiny and its self-definition against a hostile “other” and its common laws and cultures. These were and are the essential themes in the unfinished history of the Jews this example has also furnished ever since a developed model of what it means to be a nation.” (p. 58)

Throughout exile we somehow did preserve a sense of belonging to a people, to a tradition, to a land, a sense of community, Klal Yisrael. This is why the problem of Israel in the Middle East, the Jewish problem, is so intractable. The overwhelming majority of Jews now living in Israel or the West Bank are committed to the notion of a Jewish people. It is not to be compared as ignorant opponents of Israel try, to a few British or white imperialists imposing themselves on a vast majority “other”. Some may try to delegitimize us by overturning a decision of the United Nations, but they cannot delegitimize or wish away the Jewish people.

Did Your Shul Pocket $660,000 from Maftir Yona?

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

“Auctioning” off the honor of being called to the Torah and for the privilege of reading the “Haftorah,” or “Maftir” section of the Prophets, is common in the Diaspora and also in many urban and more affluent communities in Israel, but it takes a lot to top an unidentified Moscow millionaire, or perhaps billionaire, who paid $660,000 for the honor to read the Book of Yona (Jonah).

Hadrei Haredim reported that the money was pledged at Moscow’s central syangogue for Jewish institutions and a yeshiva.

Several Israeli Hassidic synagogues did not do as well but can’t complain. Tzvi Frank of the United States paid $17,000 to read ‘Maftir Yona” during afternoon prayers on Yom Kipper at the Navdorna yeshiva synagogue, according to Kikkar Shabbat. Navdorna is a town that was in Poland between the two world wars and now is Ukraine.

At the Erlau Hassidic synagogue, the same honor was “sold” for $28,000 but Bnei Brak’s Luvlin yeshiva settled for “only” $6,200. However, one person paid nearly twice that sum for opening the Holy Ark continuing Torah scrolls.

Proof of ‘Solomon’s Copper Mines’ Found in Israel

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

Tel Aviv University archaeologists claim that recent excavations prove that copper mines in Israel thought to have been built by the ancient Egyptians in the 13th century BCE actually originated three centuries later, during the reign of the legendary King Solomon.

The description of “King Solomon’s copper mines” is based on a novel that placed them in the Israeli kingdom, but archaeologists, until now, have dated them to ancient Egypt.

“The mines are definitely from the period of King Solomon,” says Dr. Ben-Yosef. “They may help us understand the local society, which would have been invisible to us otherwise.”

Based on the radiocarbon dating of material unearthed at a new site in Timna Valley in Israel’s Arava Desert, the findings overturn the archaeological consensus of the last several decades. Scholarly work and materials found in the area suggest the mines were operated by the Edomites, a semi-nomadic tribal confederation that according to the Bible warred constantly with Israel.

Now a national park, Timna Valley was an ancient copper production district with thousands of mines and dozens of smelting sites.

Last February, Ben-Yosef and a team of researchers and students excavated a previously untouched site in the valley, known as the Slaves’ Hill. The area is a massive smelting camp containing the remains of hundreds of furnaces and layers of copper slag, the waste created during the smelting process.

In addition to the furnaces, the researchers unearthed an impressive collection of clothing, fabrics, and ropes made using advanced weaving technology; foods, like dates, grapes, and pistachios; ceramics; and various types of metallurgical installations.

The world-renowned Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at the University of Oxford in England dated 11 of the items to the 10th century BCE, when according to the Bible King Solomon ruled the Kingdom of Israel.

The archaeological record shows the mines in Timna Valley were built and operated by a local society, likely the early Edomites, who are known to have occupied the land and formed a kingdom that rivaled Judah. The unearthed materials and the lack of architectural remains at the Slaves’ Hill support the idea that the locals were a semi-nomadic people who lived in tents.

The findings from the Slaves’ Hill confirm those of a 2009 dig Ben-Yosef helped to conduct at “Site 30,” another of the largest ancient smelting camps in Timna Valley. Then a graduate student of Prof. Thomas E. Levy at the University of California, San Diego, he helped demonstrate that the copper mines in the valley dated from the 11th to 9th centuries BCE — the era of Kings David and Solomon — and were probably Edomite in origin.

The findings were reported in the journal The American Schools of Oriental Research in 2012, but the publication did little to shake the notion that the mines were Egyptian, based primarily on the discovery of an Egyptian Temple in the center of the valley in 1969.

The Slaves’ Hill dig also demonstrates that the society in Timna Valley was surprisingly complex, and the smelting technology and the layout of the camp reflects indicate that thousands of people were needed to operate the mines in the middle of the desert.

“In Timna Valley, we unearthed a society with undoubtedly significant development, organization, and power,” says Ben-Yosef. “And yet because the people were living in tents, they would have been transparent to us as archaeologists if they had been engaged in an industry other than mining and smelting, which is very visible archaeologically.”

Archaeologists would probably never have found evidence of its existence if it were not for the mining operation even though the society likely possessed a degree of political and military power.

Ben-Yosef says this calls into question archaeology’s traditional assumption that advanced societies usually leave behind architectural ruins. He also says that the findings at the Slaves’ Hill undermine criticisms of the Bible’s historicity based on a lack of archaeological evidence.

It’s entirely possible that Kings David and Solomon exerted some control over the mines in the Timna Valley at times, he says.

Can One Be a Shomer Torah u’Mitzvos and Accept Bible Criticism?

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Another voice has entered the online discussion about Bible Criticism and orthodox Judaism. Professor Jacob L. Wright is an orthodox Jew who has studied, taught, and written extensively on Bible Criticism.

He made waves Pesach time when he published a provocative article on the Huffington Post where he talked about “The Myth of Moses.” In his article he explained that his view of the Bible is that it is a composite work with each layer added for a specific reason. In the Moses story, there was a need to justify the existence of an Egyptian prince named Moses who saved the Israelites and establish him as a bona fide Israelite. So the Bible tells the story of a boy who was cast off by his mother into the Nile. This story has very obscure references as the names of the major players in the story are not mentioned. Later, the story was viewed as salacious so new details were added as a prologue to the story.

If it weren’t the Bible and I weren’t orthodox, this would be a great theory to explain anomalies in the text. But it is the Bible and I am orthodox so it hardly sits well with me when the Bible is explained away as myth.

Professor Wright was interview by Professor Alan Brill on his Kavvanah website. The interview is worth your time and consideration if you don’t mind reading what is widely considered to be absolute kefira.

The first important thing in the interview is the introduction where Brill outlines the current status of Biblical Criticism. It’s required reading so I copy it in full here:

As background, the problems of the Bible go back to the tenth and eleventh century Islamic critiques of the Bible by Ibn Hazm and others. Second, modern figures such as Spinoza and Jean Astruc sought to understand the Bible as a human book using the same tools that we use to understand Greek and Roman books. And in the 19th century, Wellhausen popularized a theory that the Pentateuch had four authors. But the important part of his theory was that the ritual and priestly material was a priestly Pharisaic digression from the original pure faith of the prophets necessitating Christianity for a restoration. Hence, Solomon Schechter called it higher anti-Semitism, David Zvi Hoffman showed that Leviticus is not in contradiction to the rest of the story, Kaufman showed that the prophets assumed the priestly material, and Cassuto showed based on Sumerian and Akkadian sources that the divisions fail.

Well, Wellhausen was writing a century ago, with the aforementioned defenses all formulated in a post WWI climate. For at least forty years the field was already given to authors such as Gunkel who assumes the Bible is legend, the way Gilgamesh is legend. And Martin Noth who assumed most of the narrative was formulated originally as oral traditions- read here. Questions of redaction were not tied to Wellhausen, or even literary documents, but to oral traditions.

What do historians currently think about the context of the Bible? They assume that it was written between 720 BCE and 587 BCE, between the destruction of the Northern Kingdom and the destruction of Jerusalem, with some editing until the end of Ezra’s life circa 440 BCE. (Minimalists make it more recent and Evangelicals defend the chronological dates.) They work from parallels to Assyrian texts, the nature of script, linguistics, and reconstructed context of author. Little of this has anything to do with literary doublets. If you want to reject historical criticism, then start learning ancient linguistics and texts contemporary to the Bible. No harmonization of passages changes this dating nor does anything from Cassutto or Hoffman affect it. (However, Prof. Josh Berman is seeking to shift the discussion from Assyrians to the Hittites in 1300 BCE, an effort that may be accepted by the Orthodox but does not promise to have much of an impact on the experts. But it is better than refuting Kugel, who is not a historian of ancient Israel or source critic so the critique does not help.)

This past May there was a major conference at Hebrew University on“Convergence and Divergence in Pentateuchal Theory;” if you are interested in these topics, then that was the place to be. The conference opened up with a clear statement that there are three approaches: a Documentary approach (not based on Wellhausen but on Noth and others) where there are separate documents; a Supplementary approach,where a single document get more and more complex; and a Fragmentary approach, where we cannot separate out authors or layers anymore.

Deny Israel’s Existence and You Can Win $100 (Video)

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

The Palestinian Authority’s official television authority is broadcasting entertainment programs that offer the “Arab on the street” $100 for correctly identifying Israeli landmarks and borders as being “Palestinian,” another step in educating people that Israel does not exist.

The program, of course is broadcast in Arabic, so U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry does not watch it. He also probably does not read the Jewish Press or the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) website, which translated and published the program’s dialogue.

Unlike the chosen people who know that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is talking out of both sides of his month when he backs “two states side by side,” the Obama administration remains ignorant of the program, which shows that Yafo (Jaffa), Tzfat (Safed), the port of Ashdod and metropolitan Tel Aviv all are really cities in “Palestine.”

“On the beach of which Palestinian village did the whale spew out the prophet Jonah? Naturally, it’s a coastal city,” the “reporter on the street” asked an Arab, who immediately answered, “Ashdod.”

Give that man $100 for the “correct” answer.

Here is another question that won a lucky respondent $100: “Which city did [Palestinian writer] Mustafa Dabbagh call ‘The city that fell from Heaven?’”

The man asked if the city is “in Palestine or outside of Palestine?” When he got the big clue that, of course, it is inside Palestine, he came up with the “right” answer as “Maybe Jaffa?”

The reporter gleefully told him, “Correct answer. Jaffa. You win $100 from [the sponsor] Wataniya Mobile.”

Here is more of the transcript provided by PMW.

PA TV reporter: “A lake in Northern Palestine drained by the Israeli occupation. What is the name of the lake?”

Man: “The Sea of Galilee? Kinneret].”

PA TV reporter: “Think.”

Man: “The Hula [Lake].”

PA TV reporter: “You’ve earned $100 from the [sponsor] Bank of Palestine.”

The reporter also asked, “Name the Palestinian village in Northern Safed whose name means ‘beetle’ in the Syriac language, and whose residents are mostly Druze.”

PA TV reporter: “The correct answer is Hurfeish, the Palestinian village in Northern Safed whose name means ‘beetle’. Congratulations. You win $100.” The answer would be a big surprise to the residents of Hurfeish, who are Druze.

PA TV reporter: “What is the highest mountain in Palestine?”

Man: “Mt. Meron.” (Mt. Meron is in Northern Israel.) The reporter also asked respondents to identify which “country has the longest border with Palestine?”

The answer “Jordan” won a person $100 for identifying the country and eliminating the existence of Israel in one swipe.

The program is not the first time Palestinian Authority television has educated its viewers that Israel does not exist, but to do so at the same that the Obama administration is pushing Israel into direct talks to establish the Palestinian Authority as an independent country raises the validity of Abbas’ position that the talks should be based on the 1967 borders.

The program shows that he favors that the borders remain as they are, from the Golan Heights and the Lebanese border to the Egyptian border and from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

One small change he wants is to change the word “Israel” to “Palestine.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/deny-israels-existence-and-win-100-video/2013/08/06/

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