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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘choose’

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Kedoshim: We Need to Choose

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

With our lives only getting busier, convenience carries a great attraction. And this has found its way into the performance of mitzvot as well. In some supermarkets in Israel, not only are all products certified kosher, there are certifications by niche organizations acceptable to the customer. And it is not only kosher food that we no longer have to check for, it is also a kosher lulav and etrog – here too pre-certified by only the “best.“ The same is true for pre-made schach and why stop there? For a few more dollars, one can get the whole, halalchically pre-approved, sukkah delivered and built right outside our door. And all this requires is the push of a few buttons on the keyboard. What once took hours is now reduced to a couple of minutes. For some, this may sound like a taste of the world to come. But perhaps this is actually a problem.

If we take a careful look at the end of this week’s parsha, we get a sense that the ‘Instant Mitzvah Fulfillment’ approach is not such a positive development. In this week’s parsha the Torah further develops the statement that opens Parshat Kedsohim, the need to be kadosh. Translating the word kadosh as holy takes a difficult, abstract Hebrew word and turns it into an even more abstract English word. As such, it takes us in the wrong direction. Happily, however, the Torah connects kedusha with havdalah, with separating, and tells us that the way to be like the God (Who separates us from others) is for us to be involved in separating as well.

Rashi sharpens this point by citing an important observation in Torat Kohanim (20:116) about what the process of separating actually means. On the verse wherein the Jewish people is told to separate between animals that we can eat and animals that we cannot eat (20:25), the midrash posits that this is not speaking about the difference between a cow and a donkey. The reason is that such distinction is already pre-existent. Hence no act of separation would truly exist on our part. Rather, the verse must be speaking about the difference between a proper slaughter and an improper slaughter, wherein the difference can be a hair’s breadth in the cutting of the animal’s throat. One could easily say that the case is too close to call and we should err on the side of safety by simply rendering the slaughter unfit. And yet this midrash is telling us just the opposite. We only become holy people when we make precise distinctions, defining just exactly how far the realm of the permissible – and hence, blessed – extends. Of course, one should be careful not to err. But such care is very different than avoiding risk by default.

It is in confronting the dividing lines that we grow as people. Hiding from these lines by having every decision made for us by others may be convenient, but it is not in sync with the calling of the Jew in this world. That calling is one of confrontation, where one has to regularly make distinctions. For as we separate between that which is proper for us and that which is not we develop the consciousness of a refined individual, a consciousness that the Torah urges us to develop. It is only then that can we continue on the path of being a holy nation.

Rabbi Francis Nataf

Continuing the Vision

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Eretz Israel , the Land of Israel , is on the international negotiating table. Nothing else. Only Eretz Israel . The world is interested in the welfare of Arabs only where it is possible to attack the Jews. Syria is drowning in rivers of Arab blood, demonstrations in Egypt end with many dead, all of Europe is swept by an extremist Islamic wave that threatens to drown it, the entire Middle East shakes and seems to be hanging by a thread, and the world is so good as to utter a few pretty, hypocritical condemnations, and then quickly goes on as usual – to the “most problematic conflict” in the world – the “territories,” a code name for Eretz Israel.

What is in Eretz Israel that draws so much attention?

Water? Mineral deposits? Open spaces? Oil? Gold? Diamonds?

How is it that, despite all that it does not possess, it is one of the most flourishing countries in the world, in the development of modern industry, medicine, agriculture, high-tech?

It’s because its children have returned to their G-d given promised land, and transformed the desert and wasteland into a settled land, whose fruits are in abundance on roadsides and in stores, its towers reach to the sky, our science is purchased and advances underdeveloped lands.

In light of all this, Israel should have been proud and certain of its capabilities, guarding its borders well, finely understanding its historical role. But, just look, Eretz Israel is on the negotiating table. It stands there alone, its defenders have grown weary, its politicians, instead of safeguarding it, play a dangerous game with it. In the bad-case scenario, this is just “playing with fire,” at the immoral and unbearable cost of releasing 104 terrorists and nothing more – “because in the end the Arabs will torpedo the negotiations and save us from an agreement” as many people wish; and in the even worse-case scenario, this “playing with fire” is liable to leave much more serious burns. We still can smell the stench of the burns from Yamit ,Sinai, Gush Katif, northern Samaria , Hebron. With eyes wide open, our leaders continue to jump into the fire, to receive burns of even higher degree.

It is possible to change course: to leave the path that leads to concessions, and, at long last, to enter the Eretz Israel path of preserving our historical possessions, the path of the application of sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, and the actualization of our sovereignty and the guarding of our rights everywhere – in all of Jerusalem , and especially on the Temple Mount, in Galilee, the Negev, south Tel Aviv.

The choice is in our hands: to choose the path that leads, Heaven forbid, to the loss of values and physical destruction , or to choose the vision, the path that leads to the values that Israeli society already held dear in the beginnings of Zionism, in the establishment of the State of Israel, in the settlement enterprise, in the draining of swamps, in the ingathering of exiles, in Operation Entebbe….

We in Women in Green choose to continue and increase our activities for the redemption of lands and the guarding of state lands on the hills of Judea . Along with this, we wish to advance a national campaign for the application of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria . We need partners for this.

The ideology of the left – that is, dispossessing us from Eretz Israel – was advanced with tremendous international financing, with perseverance, by well-planned and sophisticated campaigns, and with massive media support. Thus, despite the opposition of the majority of the people of Israel that believes that the Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel , the left has succeeded in infiltrating its positions into the Israeli consciousness, as if this were the only ideology that can, and may, be discussed. Every other vision is dismissed by those who champion the “two-state theory” as being delusional and proven to be wrong.

The time has come for the national camp to awaken. The time has come to present the alternative that states, clearly and decisively, that this is our land, and to do so professionally and correctly.

Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/continuing-the-vision/2013/08/14/

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