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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

In Hebrew: ‘To Complain’

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

לְהִתְלוֹנֵן, לְקַטֵּר

Visit Ktzat Ivrit.

Rachel’s Tomb: A Jewish Holy Site Since Ancient Times

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Rachel’s Tomb, located in the northern outskirts of Bethlehem, about 400 yards south of Jerusalem, is the third holiest site in Judaism after the Temple Mount and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. For the past 1,700 years, the site has been identified as the burial place of the Jewish matriarch, Rachel, and Jews were known to pray at the site for over the past 3,000 years. Rachel, the beloved wife of the patriarch Ya’akov, died during childbirth as the family was traveling to Hebron.

Rachel’s Tomb in the Hebrew Bible

According to Genesis 35:16-21,

They set out from Bayt-El; but when they were still some distance from Efrat; Rachel went into childbirth, and she had hard labor. When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Have no fear, for it’s another boy for you.” But as she breathed her last –as she was dying– she named him Ben-Oni, but his father called him Benyamin. So Rachel died. She was buried on the road to Efrat — now Bethlehem. Over her grave Ya’acov set up a pillar, it is the pillar at Rachel’s grave to this day.

Photo by Rachel Avraham.

Whenever the Jewish people faced sorrows, throughout the generations, they would traditionally pray for Rachel to cry for them at Rachel’s Tomb, believing that her tears to God have special powers. Since she herself was childless for many years, many Jewish women visit her grave in order to pray to have children, although other members of the Jewish community who face troubles also visit her grave. Thus, as the third holiest shrine in Judaism, Jews across the Diaspora maintained a spiritual connection to Rachel’s Tomb over the centuries and paid for the holy sites upkeep.

According to Jewish tradition, the matriarch Rachel has always cried for her people whenever the Jews needed her. Ya’akov reportedly buried Rachel in Bethlehem, instead of in the Tomb of Patriarchs in Hebron, because he foresaw that his descendants would need her prayers en route to exile in Babylonia. Additionally, Yosef, Rachel’s eldest son, was the first Jew to pray by her grave. According to a Midrash, Yosef broke away from his captors temporarily en route to bondage in Egypt and cried out at her grave,

“Mother, my mother who gave birth to me, wake up, arise and see my suffering.” Rachel replied, “Do not fear. Go with them, and God will be with you.”

As Jeremiah 31:15-17 states,

Rachel, weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children who are gone. Thus said Hashem: “Restrain your voice from weeping, your eyes from shedding tears; for there is reward for your labor” declares Hashem. “They shall return from the enemy’s land and there is hope for the future” declares Hashem: “Your children shall return to their own country.”

Islamic Attitude

Photo by Rachel Avraham.

Historically, the Muslim world considered Rachel’s Tomb a site holy to Jews. According to a report written by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the sixteenth century Arab historian Mujir Al Din wrote that Rachel’s Tomb was a Jewish holy place. He recorded that Rachel’s Tomb was built with “eleven stones and covered with a cupola which rests on four pillars, and every Jew passing writes his name on the monument.” The same JCPA report states that in 1830, the Ottoman Turkish authorities decreed that Rachel’s Tomb was a Jewish holy site, proclaiming,

The tomb of esteemed Rachel, the mother of our Lord Joseph…they (the Jews) are accustomed to visit it from ancient days; and no one is permitted to prevent them or oppose them (from doing) this.

Another Ottoman decree, dated 1831, orders that all obstacles be removed that were in place that interfered with members of the Jewish community that sought to visit Rachel’s Tomb.

In 1615, Mohammad, Pasha of Jerusalem, had rebuilt Rachel’s Tomb on behalf of the Jewish people. In 1841, Jewish caretakers were given exclusive ownership of the place. And in 1845, the entire Rachel’s Tomb compound was redone with the permission of the Turkish authorities by Moses Montefiore.

PA Resurrects ‘Palestinian Authority Descending from Jesus’ Gospel

Monday, May 20th, 2013

The official Palestinian Authority daily has figuratively crucified the New Testament to show that Jesus not only was “the virtuous patriotic Palestinian forefather” but also that “the Zionist movement… wanted to falsify historical facts, to exile and crucify the Palestinian Arab nation and then murder it.”

It has to be true because ‘The Bible tells me so,” if the over-60 crowd remembers what Pat Boone used to croon, except that Boone and the Palestinian Authority have different versions.

In the past, Muslim clerics in the PA have rewritten the Torah to explain that the forefather Abraham actually led Ishmael and not Isaac (Yitzchak) to be sacrificed. For the uninformed, Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, as related in the Torah, actually is a Muslim holy place, although Islam was founded more than 2,000 years after she died.

And, of course, the Biblical accounts of the First and Second Temples never existed.

Now, thanks to a translation by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) of an article in the official Palestinian Authority Al-Hayat Al-Jadida two weeks ago, the world knows that the entire story of Jesus “reflects the Palestinian narrative.”

The headline “The resurrection of Jesus, the resurrection of the state” makes it clear that Jesus and the Palestinian Authority are one, forever united – a wonderful way to convince Christians that they actually are Muslims whose heritage dates way back to Ishmael and that the modern  Zionist movement has robbed the “Palestinians” of their ancient history. That might be true if  Yasser Arafat were the 3,000-year-old man, but on second thought, he was born in Egypt, so that won’t work.

Remember the Christian holiday Easter? It is not about colored eggs at all. It also not just for “Christian Palestinians.”

Easter is a holiday for Palestinian nationalism, because Jesus, may he rest in peace, is a Canaanite Palestinian,” according to op-ed that was translated and reported by PMW.

“His resurrection, three days after being crucified and killed by the Jews – as reported in the New Testament – reflects the Palestinian narrative, which struggles against the descendants of modern Zionist Judaism, in its new colonialist form, that conspires with the Western capitalists who claim to belong to Christianity,” the official PA daily’s op-ed stated.

Jesus “rose from the dead…to spread his teachings that still exist and will exist as long as mankind exists.”

And what is his gospel?

His story is the “Palestinian people’s story,” the article continues.

Is the Palestinian Authority twisting history?

No, God forbid. The guilty party is “the Zionist movement – tool of the capitalist West – [that] wanted to falsify historical facts, to exile and crucify the Palestinian Arab nation and then murder it by means of ethnic cleansing… “

And now the pièce de résistance.

“The Palestinians, Jesus’ descendants, rose from the ashes, like the phoenix, from the ruins of the Nakba.” the Arab term for the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.”

Pat Boone must be crying in his grave.

Rav Soloveitchik’s Clear Stand on Homosexuality

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

A rabbi who studied at Yeshiva University recently posted a blog where he commented on the prohibition of homosexual relations in Vayikra 18:22, “[E]very time I encounter these two verses, I feel I understand them less.”

Y.U. recently commemorated the twentieth yahrtzeit of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik (zt”l), the rosh yeshiva most associated with this institution. A man of immense integrity and Halachic loyalty, Rav Soloveitchik had no such problems understanding the clear, Divine language of the Torah. Speaking in 1974 about how “it’s quite in vogue to be heretical,” Rav Soloveitchik related the following:

A philosophy of [homo]sexualism is being preached throughout the Western world, to such an extent that a certain rabbi came to me and said, “How can we defend ourselves against it?” I told him, take out a Chumash and read a pasuk. V’es zachar lo sishkav mishk’vei ishah. [Vayikra 18:22] We are on the defensive, you understand. Why? And the same is true of abortion and so forth.

Rav Soloveitchik likewise observed in Man of Faith in the Modern World:

We think we know the motivations for the prohibitions against stealing, murder, adultery, and false testimony and for the positive commandments which reflect a sensitivity to the rights and welfare of others. They seem to be morally uplifting and socially stabilizing. In fact, however, their moral reasonableness is often in question in our modern world. The campaigns to legitimize abortion, euthanasia, adultery, and homosexuality are examples of the unreliability of the social conscience…

Specific to sexual morality, Rav Soloveitchik emphasized the universal nature of such standards. He noted in The Emergence of Ethical Man with reference to the Seven Noahide Laws,

It is worth mentioning that both prohibitions (bestiality and homosexuality) apply to non-Jews too and form part of a universal religion that is based upon the concept of man and personality.

Rav Soloveitchik elaborates in Abraham’s Journey on our duties to the gentile world in this area:

Our task was and still is to teach the Torah to mankind, to influence the non-Jewish world, to redeem it from an orgiastic way of living, from cruelty and insensitivity, to arouse in mankind a sense of justice and fairness. In a word, we are to teach the world the seven mitzvot that are binding on every human being.

What Rav Soloveitchik said in 1974 is truer than ever: normative Judaism is on the defensive in the modern world. The answer to this hostility is not to abandon our internal and global duties. The answer is not to pretend that HaShem is ambiguous where He is perfectly clear—an act equal parts arrogance and cowardice. May Rav Soloveitchik’s example give us focus and strength in days ahead

Plague of Locusts Returns to Israel for Shavuot

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

The plague of locusts that Israel defeated just as the Passover holiday approached has come back in a fury seven weeks later on the eve of Shavuot.

Approximately 30 million locusts have landed in the Western Negev and threatened to wipe out Israeli farmers’ crops. The Agriculture Ministry is using helicopters and pickup trucks to combat the insects with spray and prevent a total disaster to farms that have carried out the dream of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, by making the desert bloom.

“They are easy targets now, but in two or three days when their wings develop, it will be a disaster,” Lior Katari, one of the Agriculture Ministry’s coordinators, told NBC.

Experts think that despite the spraying of the locusts two months ago, the insects already had mated and laid eggs in the sand and which now are hatching.

The appearance of the Biblical plague has ironically made the desert green, the color of the locusts.

Organic farmers have little hope. NBC quoted organic farm owner Golan Cohen as saying that volunteer workers have helped  out at the herb farm by banging on pots to keep the pests away.

“They were eating the weeds at first, they were small, so we ignored them,” said Golan Cohen,

After the threat of devastation grew worse, workers tried the noise-making method. “It worked,” said Dror Cohen-Chen, a worker on the farm. However, “The next day we came back and they had destroyed everything.”

“Three thousand years ago God sent the Egyptians a plague of locusts; now we are getting them back,” said a one local resident.

Kerry’s Dream and Abbas’ Nightmare Meet in Biblical Beit El

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

The Israeli government has announced a new step in plans to build 300 new homes in Beit El, in  northern Samaria, just as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to convince Mahmoud Abbas to return to talks if Israel slaps a freeze on building for Jews in Judea and Samaria.

Reports from Israeli sources earlier this week stated that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has buckled under pressure from Kerry, and probably President Barack Obama, to freeze construction to bring Abbas back to the so-called negotiating table.

“Negotiations” in Arab Doublespeak means that Israel must accept Palestinian Authority territorial and political demands or they will be forced down its throat, either by the United Nations or by “resistance,” another Doublespeak word, which means terror.

No government  official has denied the reports of a “de facto” building freeze, and Prime Minister Netanyahu is conveniently in China.

Kerry hosted the government’s unofficial Minister for the Peace Process, Tzipi Livni, in Washington last week and continued discussions with her in Rome this week, where he said he will return to Israel in two weeks.

Journalists covering the State Department asked why he is returning after having been here last month, but the reports of the unofficial freeze provide the obvious answer.

But smack in the middle of Kerry’s Big Momentum – run as fast as you can with the ball so that everyone is too dazzled to see that the ball is a bomb – the government announced the next step for building 296 more homes in Beit El.

The town is not just another community in Samaria. More than 6.000 national religious Jews live there. Beit El is a symbol of the national religious movement in Judea and Samaria. A yeshiva bearing the town’s Biblical name has wide influence across the country. It is home to two of the most prominent national religious rabbis in Israel, Rabbi Zalman Melamed, head of Yeshiva Beit El, and Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, who is widely respected and consulted by many Jews who are not part of the “club.”

After the announcement of the preliminary approval of the homes, the Palestinian Authority immediately said everyone can forget about trying to dig up the bones of the peace process.

As with almost every announcement of building new homes, the one in Beit El refers only to one of several bureaucratic steps before the bulldozers can start digging, not less than a year from now.

Israel has been through this time after time, the most famous incident being the announcement of another bureaucratic stage having been completed for building homes in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, claimed by the Palestinian Authority.

The news broke just as Vice President Joe Biden was landing in Israel, causing high tension between Jerusalem and Washington for a long time.

Coincidental or not with Kerry’s dream for resumed direct talks between Netanyahu and Abbas, the Beit El housing project proves that Israel is trying to “sabotage” Kerry’s efforts, according to senior PA negotiator Saeb Erekat.

“We condemn this new decision which is proof that the Israeli government wants to sabotage and ruin the US administration’s efforts to revive the peace process,” he said. “This is a message to the American administration and a blow to the peace process. This aims to drag the region into violence instead of peace and stability.”

Violence.

Erekat did not even have the diplomacy to say “resistance.”

It is out-and-out violence, and obviously Kerry would blame Israel if the Arabs kill more Jews. Otherwise he would have to go back on his statement earlier this year that the proof that Abbas is such a great peace partner can be found in the fact that not even one Jew was murdered by Palestinian Authority terrorists in 2012.

What about 2011? Well, that is history. Let’s look at the present and not the past and talk peace.

And what about the present the year 2013? Uh, yeah, well, sure, a Palestinian Authority terrorist stabbed to death a father of five, but that was an isolated incident, and after all, the murderer was not a member of a known terrorist gang.

Kerry does not have to defend himself. He has Livni to do that for him. Both of them desperately need a peace agreement, Kerry because he wants to be president and Livni because she needs something to justify her being politically alive. The latest polls shows that her party would win zero seats in if elections were held today.

New Jersey Bible Quiz Co-Champion

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Fifteen-year-old Yishai Eisenberg of Passaic, N.J., and a Beit Shemesh high school student were the first-ever co-champions in the International Bible Quiz held in Israel on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day.

Eisenberg and Elior Babian of Beit Shemesh, located west of, stunned the judges by their perfect knowledge of the Bible. When it became clear that neither could top the other without a marathon event, the judges gave up and declared both of them the champions.

Both contestants were asked to complete verses from the Bible. When challenged with the verse, “The king establishes the land by justice,” Eisenberg immediately responded correctly, “But he who receives bribes overthrows it.”

Babian completed the proverb “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint” with “But happy is he who keeps the law.”

Eisenberg is a student at the YeshivaUniversity’s Yeshivat Beit Hillel of Passaic-Hillel.

The influence of American-born Knesset Member Shai Piron was felt at the quiz, which at his insistence featured simultaneous sign language translation for the first time.

Counting and Remembering the ‘Dust of Jacob’

Monday, April 15th, 2013

“Who can count the dust of Jacob or number the seed of Israel.” Numbers 23:10

The sun sets above the hills. The siren cries out and on the busy highways that wend among the hills, the traffic stopsthe people stop, and a moment of silence comes to a noisy country. Flags fly at half mast, the torch of remembrance is lit, memorial candles are held in shaking hands and the country’s own version of the Flanders Field poppy, the Red Everlasting daisy, dubbed Blood of the Maccabees, adorns lapels. And so begins the Yom Hazikaron, Heroes Remembrance Day, the day of remembrance for fallen soldiers and victims of terror– Israel’s Memorial Day.

What is a memorial day in a country that has always known war and where remembrance means adding the toll of one year’s dead and wounded to the scales of history. A country where war never ends, where the sirens may pause but never stop, where each generation grows up knowing that they will have to fight or flee. To stand watch or run away. It is not so much the past that is remembered on this day, but the present and the future. The stillness, a breath in the warm air, before setting out to climb the slopes of tomorrow.

Who can count the dust of Jacob? And yet each memorial day we count the dust. The dust that is a fraction of those who have fallen defending the land for thousands of years. Flesh wears out, blood falls to the earth where the red daisies grow, and bone turns to dust. The dust blows across the graves of soldiers and prophets, the tombs of priests hidden behind brush, the caverns where forefathers rest in sacred silence, laid to rest by their sons, who were laid to rest by their own sons, generations burying the past, standing guard over it, being driven away and returning each time.

On Memorial Day, the hands of memory are dipped in the dust raising it to the blue sky. A prayer, a whisper, a dream of peace. And the wind blows the candles out. War follows. And once again blood flows into the dust. A young lieutenant shading his eyes against the sun. An old man resting with his family on the beach. Children climbing into bed in a village beneath the hills. And more bodies are laid to rest in the dust. Until dust they become.

In this land, the Maker of Stars and Dust vowed to Abraham that his children would be as many as the dust of the earth and the stars of heaven. In their darkest days, they would be as the dust. But there is mercy in the numberless count of the dust. Mercy in not being able to make a full count of the fallen. In remaining ignorant of that full measure of woe. Modern technologies permit us terrible estimates. Databanks store the names of millions, village by village and city by city. Terrible digital cemeteries of ghosts. But there is no counting the dust. And when we walk the length and breadth of the land, as the Maker told Abraham to do, it the dust that supports our feet, we stand upon the shoulders of giants. We walk in the dust of our ancestors.

Some new countries are built to escape from the past, but there is no escaping it in these ancient hills. IDF soldiers patrol over ground once contested by empires, tread over spearheads and the wheels of chariots buried deep in the earth. The Assyrians and the Babylonians came through here in all their glory. Greek and Roman soldiers and mercenaries pitted themselves against the handful of Judeans who came out of the Babylonian exile. The Ottoman and the Arab raged here, and Crusader battering rams and British Enfield rifles still echo in the quiet hills.

Here in the silence of remembrance the present is always the past and the sky hangs like a thin veil fluttering against the future. The believers cast their prayers out of their mouths against the veil. The soldiers cast their lives and their hearts. And still the future flutters on above, like the sky near enough to touch, but out of reach. Beneath it, the sky-blue flag, the stripe of the believer’s shawls adorned with the interlocked star of the House of David.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/daniel-greenfield/counting-and-remembering-the-dust-of-jacob/2013/04/15/

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