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August 24, 2016 / 20 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘destruction’

Monetizing Debt: A Historically Disastrous Policy

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

As European nations seek economic lifelines, the Germans have a financial history lesson for Europe, America and the rest of the world. It’s found in a revealing self-critical painting, “Eclipse of the Sun,” created by a 1920s Berlin artist, George Grosz, which hangs at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington.

Few understand better than the Germans how economic self-destruction can bring a nation and the world to the edge of abyss. The crushing debt imposed on them at the end of World War I led to unprecedented hyperinflation as they monetized their obligations, running their printing presses to create millions of worthless marks.

Middle-class Germans became destitute as their life savings could no longer buy so much as a loaf of bread, much less secure their retirement. So corrosive was this monetized debt that the marginal Nazi Party, initially dismissed as a group of anti-Semitic street thugs, was voted into office by 1932. That is why Grosz’s post-World War I painting remains so powerful almost a century later. His contorted caricatures capture the revealing self-loathing of an economic and political landscape that would ultimately lead to the rise of the Third Reich.

“Monetizing debt” may sound like economists’ jargon, but it is an economy’s ultimate poison pill when politicians print money to cover government deficits rather than engage in difficult policy decisions. Argentina, Thailand and Zimbabwe have all used this strategy, and it consistently led to chaos. In the America of 2012, far too few appreciate the perils to our citizenry from a national debt in excess of $15 trillion and more than $60 trillion in unfunded liabilities. Some, such as former presidential hopeful Ron Paul, have suggested we return to the Gold Standard, a proposal that would be a difficult strategy to even consider, given our limited gold reserves. A far more rational idea is for us to get off the Debt Standard, but Washington can’t seem to agree on any course of action.

Economic policy has become a captive of politics, particularly in the House of Representatives, where a two-year term guarantees distraction by a constant campaign for re-election.

There was a time when if you were a Democrat, it was a given that you favored significant deficits for “pump priming” and expanded social programs. If you were a Republican, you advocated for lower taxes and the forces of a free market to create jobs and power the economy. There was room for compromise and negotiation. Our current political environment has become so venomous that an ideological holy war is holding hostage a bipartisan resolution of the debt crisis. We have become incapable of governing through compromise.

There needs to be a dramatic and strategic response to this institutional paralysis. History has repeatedly taught us that otherwise rational people have turned to monetizing debt to achieve a political “quick fix” — an action the Federal Reserve has undertaken since 2008 by printing new currency to buy up bonds. Voters need to alert elected officials on both sides of the aisle that they will judge them on their ability to resolve this emergency.

Meanwhile, though the ongoing European debt crisis seems irrelevant to our own lives, were Europe’s economy to freeze, the results would be immediate and devastating here. Unlike the Germans who now practice budgetary austerity with the pursuit of a converted zealot, there is little in our collective experience that allows us to appreciate the depth of the danger.

History has taught that the collapse of strong nations has traditionally occurred from strategic failures within. It’s a powerful lesson that our founders tried to instill in future generations when Patrick Henry offered, “I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.” Consider it a warning that our nation is in danger from a runaway debt that has the power to eclipse the sun.
Originally published by Newsday and the Gatestone Institute  http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org 

Lawrence Kadish

“By the Rivers of Brooklyn”

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

As all readers of The Jewish Press surely know, we are in the “Three Weeks” period leading up to Tisha B’Av, the day marking the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash. During these three weeks, certain customs of mourning are observed to emphasize our great sorrow and loss. For instance, weddings are not conducted, and listening to happy music, dancing, and playing musical instruments are not allowed. There is one thing, though, that you could call a break, and that is the recital of Tikun Hatzot, the “Midnight Lamentation,” can now be said in the afternoon. For people who find it difficult to recite the Tikun Hatzot supplications late at night when they are overtired, this is a chance to recite this very powerful rectification with all of one’s concentration and feeling.

Many people think that Tikun Hatzot is something only for devout Hasidim and mystics, but the practice is mentioned on the very first pages of the halachic treatises, the Shulchan Aruch and Mishna Berura, which state: “If one is able to rise at midnight and perform the midnight service, there is nothing more praiseworthy than this, as it says, ‘Rise, cry out, in the night at the beginning of the watches, pour out thy heart like water before the presence of the Lord’” (Lamentations, 2:19). Our Sages tell us that at this time, God cries out, “Woe to My children on account of whose iniquity I destroyed My House, burnt My Temple, and exiled My children amongst the nations” (Berachot 3A). It is the time when the Divine Presence (the Shechinah) weeps for having been cast into the exile with Israel. The holy Zohar compares this to a king who cast his whoring son out from the palace into exile and sent the queen )the Shechinah) along with him to guard him throughout his wanderings. How painful it is for the royal queen to be sullied in foreign impure lands where she must remain with her son until he returns to the palace. So at midnight, we sit on the floor (some don sack cloths), and cry out over the pain of the Shechinah in exile, over the disgraced and exiled Jews, over the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. I try to recite Tikun Hatzot at least once or twice a week. Our Sages formulated the prayers to instruct us how we should feel in our ignominious exile from our Land, dispersed amongst the goyim. The Tikun Hatzot begins with the Psalm:

“By the rivers of Brooklyn and Paris and London and Melbourne and Toronto and Buenos Aries and Johannesburg, we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion… How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Tehillim 137).

Make no mistake, my friends. America is a foreign gentile land. Canada is a foreign gentile land. England is a foreign gentile land. A Jew in America and Canada and England and France and Australia and South Africa is supposed to feel the terrible pain and disgrace of his outcast and ignoble situation, living as a minority amongst the goyim in a foreign gentile land. If he doesn’t experience his life in exile in this manner, feeling the spiritual emptiness and the strangeness of his foreign surroundings, while always yearning to return home to Zion and Jerusalem, then something is wrong with his Judaism and his identity as a Jew.

How much agony and anguish we are to feel over the Diaspora! Our once proud Nation has been destroyed! We have been stripped of our own Jewish Nationhood (until the establishment of Medinat Yisrael) and scattered to foreign lands. Our Holy Temple lies in ruins! And we are to feel pain for the disgrace of our mother, the Shechinah, for dragging her down into exile in countries polluted with idol worship and Xmas decorations nearly three months of the year. We read the verses that our Sages composed and tears fill our eyes. Shattered by our fallen condition in exile, a despised minority in gentile lands, and with hearts burning in shame for God, who is mocked and desecrated by the goyim who say, “These are God’s children and they are cast out of his Land,” as if to say that God doesn’t have the power to keep His promise to watch over His People in their own Jewish Land. So our Sages instructed us to wake up from our comfortable beds in the middle of the night and recite Tikun Hatzot over the pain of the Shechinah and the destruction of Jerusalem, just as they instructed us to recite this same Psalm after every weekday meal:

“By the rivers of Brooklyn and Paris and London and Melbourne and Toronto and Buenos Aries and Johannesburg, we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion….

“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?

“If I ever forget you, O Jerusalem, withered be my right hand!

“May my tongue cleave to my palate, if ever I not think of you, if I ever not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!”

We are to say this Psalm after enjoying our glatt kosher, triple-decker deli sandwiches with cole slaw, sour pickles, fries and a Fr. Brown’s Celery or Black Cherry soft drink, in order to remind us that Eretz Yisrael and Jerusalem are where we really belong, and where our true happiness lies.

How many of you recite this Psalm after eating? How many of you really set Jerusalem over your highest joy? If you do, why aren’t you here now?

The great Hasidic master, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, stated that the main devotion of a Jew is to get up every night for the Midnight Prayer:

“The exile has already lasted so long. God is only waiting for the moment to return to us and rebuild the Holy Temple. It could happen any time. Our task is to see that from our side we do nothing to obstruct the rebuilding of the Temple. On the contrary, we must make every effort to hasten it. This is why we should be careful to get up each night at midnight and mourn for the destruction of the Holy Temple. Perhaps in a previous incarnation we ourselves were responsible for something which brought about the destruction of the Temple. Even if not, it could still be that our sins in our present lifetime are holding up the rebuilding of the Temple, and this is as bad as if we had actually destroyed it. This is the reason why we must weep and mourn every night at midnight. When we do so, it is as if we were actually making a tremendous effort to rebuild the Holy Temple.”

The “Pele Yoetz” states:

“It is true that mourning over the destruction of the Holy Temple is something that should be expressed in outward actions, especially during the Three Weeks, when one should put ashes on one’s head at the place where one lays tefillin, and sit by the doorway day and night to recite Tikun Hatzot. Still, the main thing is not the outward actions, but the feelings one has in one’s heart. One should feel brokenhearted, shed bitter tears, and sigh mournfully over the pain of Heaven.

“It may be true that today we have fallen to a very low level, and no one understands the full extent of what we are missing and what we have lost, what we have caused because of our sin, and what the exile of the Shechinah really means. Our very lack of understanding and sensitivity should fill us with anguish. Even so, each person is obligated to do what he can. One should imagine how he would feel if his mother was swathed and garbed in black, and was crying bitterly and shrieking, ‘The pain in my head! The pain in my arm! I brought up children, I raised them, and they rebelled against me!’ One should focus one’s mind and heart on similar bitter images and pour out one’s soul in a bitter cry, and then one may be worthy of seeing the consolation of Zion and the building of our Holy Temple in all of its glory.”

Truly, it is not easy to feel the pain of the exile and shed real tears every time one says Tikun Hatzot. After all, the destruction of Jerusalem happened almost 2000 years ago, and tragically, many Diaspora Jews are so used to the exile, they’ve long forgotten that there can be something totally different. And for the lucky Jews in Israel who have the unsurpassed blessing of living in Israel, with the Kotel only a short ride away, Jerusalem wondrously rebuilt, and a thriving Jewish State once again sovereign in the Land, it is often difficult to enter the proper mind set necessary to experience the terrible pain of the exile.

So to help me feel the anguish of the Shechinah who weeps over her scattered and exiled children, I look at pictures. Before reciting Tikun Hatzot, I sit on the floor and look at pictures of Brooklyn and Toronto and Miami Beach and Palm Springs and Lakewood and Monsey and Moscow. I imagine the Jews there, my brothers and sisters, and I cry over their exile from the Holy Land, over their captivity amongst the goyim, over the shame and disgrace of living in foreign gentile lands (and over the horrible fact that many of them don’t feel it!), and over the terrible plague of assimilation which is devouring the Jews in exile, and they remain there, blissfully denying that it could happen to their children or grandchildren as well. When I look at the pictures of Brooklyn and Toronto, and Boca and Beverly Hills, I pray with all my heart that God open their eyes, and give them a heart of flesh to feel the horror of their plight, living in strange impure lands, living make-believe identities, as if they are Americans and Frenchmen and Australians and Germans, when they are really the descendents of Israelites displaced from their Homeland.

Alas! How foolish and shortsighted we are! For 2000 years, the gentiles made certain to remind us that we were in exile, and made sure that we felt the pain. But today, in the temporary lull, when the gentiles are still resting from the last wholesale slaughter of 6 million Jews, like a rapist who rises from his victim with his lust and violence temporarily spent, we have deceived ourselves into thinking that today in our wonderful exiles, it could never happen again, as if the Almighty has forgotten His vow to return us to Israel, with fury, if need be, dragging us back to Eretz Yisrael by our peyes – chas v’shalom.

May the day come speedily when The Blessed One Holy Be He opens our eyes and give us new hearts to feel the shame and disgrace of our exile in Brooklyn, Boston, Boca, and Beverly Hills. May the flights of Nefesh B’Nefesh begin to be full, day after day, and may this coming fast day and day of mourning turn into a feast of falafel, shwarma, and, yes, yes, even bagels and lox, Israel style, the holiest and most delicious bagels and lox in the world. Amen.

[The full text of Tikun Hatzot, with both Tikun Rachel and Tikun Leah, can be found here]

Tzvi Fishman

Jerusalem And The Three Weeks

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Mourning, repentance – and love of the Land of Israel. These are arguably the major themes of these Three Weeks of Mourning over the destruction of the Holy Temple.

The first two are well known and require little elaboration. But how does love and concern for Eretz Yisrael fit in to the picture?

The answer is based on a watershed event in Jewish history: the notorious sin of the spies, a result of disdain for the Land of Israel. Moses had sent them to scout out the Promised Land, but the Jews, fresh off being rescued from the bondage of Egypt, seemed only too eager to hear and accept their negative report.

What was the divine punishment? The Talmud puts it this way: “You cried for no good reason, so I’ll give you something to cry about. On this day – the 9th of Av – many centuries from now, the Beit HaMikdash will be destroyed.”

And since we are bidden to recognize our mistakes, learn from them, and often go to the other extreme, it is clear there is no better time than these Three Weeks to increase our love and solidarity with the Land of Israel, the holy city of Jerusalem, and the site of the Beit HaMikdash.

We must do this, first of all, by learning about them and their importance – and about the contemporary threats they face. The Beit HaMikdash compound, for instance, is currently facing a multi-pronged attack. Let us briefly list the most recent fronts of hostilities:

* The Temple Mount is under the de-facto control of hostile Muslims who restrict the entry of Jews and do not allow them to pray there.

* The Muslims are currently desecrating the site of the Holy of Holies by placing scaffolding atop the Foundation Stone, so that they can carry out “renovations.”

* Possibly most egregious of all is the ban placed by Israel’s police on Rabbi Yisrael Ariel – head of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem and one of the original liberators of the site during the Six Day War – from even entering the Temple Mount.

The first, of course, has been the case for many decades. Arab control over the Temple Mount became more pronounced right after the Six-Day War when Moshe Dayan literally “returned the keys” to the Muslim Waqf, arousing little Jewish protest. Since then, the Waqf has embarked on a campaign of destruction of all archaeological evidence of Jewish claims to this site. A Waqf sign at the entrance to the site of the Beit HaMikdash reads, “The Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard and everything in it is Islamic property.”

Can we truly claim Jewish sovereignty over a united Jerusalem if we allow this situation to continue without protest?

Supporters of Jewish Jerusalem were outraged last week when they learned the Waqf had turned the area of the Temple’s Holy of Holies into a construction site. The Temple Mount Loyalists filed suit in the Supreme Court on Sunday. They asked for an immediate restraining order to close the site, prevent those responsible for the desecration from entering, and enable the Chief Rabbinate to remove the scaffolding and end the desecration.

The petition states that the Waqf has taken advantage of its position to “harm the very heart of the Mount, in deepest offense to the emotions of the Jewish Nation…. Since the Early Prophets, the Foundation Stone has been the site of the High Priest’s exclusive service on Yom Kippur – the center of the world, according to Jewish faith, and the site on which the Ark of the Covenant was placed.”

Once again, without an international outcry from world Jewry, it is feared the request for judicial redress in the form of “quick and firm action and intervention” to put an end to this grave religious offense will once again fall on deaf ears.

And finally, many rabbis and other public figures have protested the unexplained police decision to prevent Rabbi Yisrael Ariel from visiting the Temple Mount. How ironic that Israel boasts freedom of religion and access to holy sites but bans a rabbi from Judaism’s holiest site – a rabbi who is the founder of the Temple Institute, which seeks to disseminate the principle taught in The Kuzari that “Jerusalem will be built when the Jews truly long for it.”

Hillel Fendel and Chaim Silberstein / KeepJerusalem.org

Shopping For Priestly Garments

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

I receive letters and e-mails every day from all parts of the world. Sadly, there is no shortage of problems. Pain and suffering abound. How to navigate the turbulent waters of the world we live in is a challenge for everyone.

Every once in a while, however, I receive a letter that seems so outlandish I suspect it’s fictitious – someone playing a prank. Such was the case with the following e-mail.

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

I am so confused and troubled. I am scheduled to get married in two weeks. Two months ago, my father announced he had to go to Paris for a very important business deal. My mother loved the thought of going to Paris and decided to accompany him. Although we hadn’t finished our shopping for the wedding, we scrambled to find the right gown and while we couldn’t decide which one to take, we did settle on a certain designer.

“Anything that you choose there,” my mother assured me, “will be stunning.” As for Mom, she decided to get her gown in Paris.

When my parents returned, my mother took a look at my dress and thought it was awful. I had already paid most of the money – a huge sum – and they refused to give a refund. It’s now two weeks before the wedding, and it’s doubtful whether they can have a new gown in time. I am miserable. I have nightmares about looking ridiculous at my own wedding.

As I mentioned, my mother bought her gown in Paris and, frankly, it is embarrassingly tasteless. My mom and I have been fighting. We keep blaming one another. So what do we do?

I’m curious as to how many readers think the letter is authentic. Well, the fact is – I made it up. Why did I do it? Sometimes, in order to drive home a point, you have to draw a graphic illustration. We, you and I, we are the kallah and the mishpachah. The greatest day of our lives, the ultimate wedding, is quickly approaching, and to our chagrin we are unprepared.

You and I went to a couturier for a specially designed dress. We spent a small fortune on it only to discover we won’t be able to wear the dress on which we lavished so much money. At the end of the day, G-d forbid, we will stand like schnorrers begging for entree to a great wedding hall.

We, the children of the 21st century, are victims of an obsession with money. We idolize the latest in fashion and turn to Paris, Milano, and Madison Avenue for guidance. We will discover too late, G-d forbid, that what we dedicated our lives to is an abominable waste. The wedding is just around the corner, and we are totally unprepared.

We are in the midst of the Three Weeks, which signal the destruction of Yerushalayim that culminated in the tragedy of Tisha B’Av, when our Temple was reduced to ashes.

The Talmud teaches us that when the great sage Rabbi Akiva saw the site of the destruction, with wild animals roaming the holy grounds, he smiled and comforted us: “Even as this prophecy of destruction has come to pass, so too, shall we behold the prophecy of redemption and rebirth fulfilled. Messiah will come and the Temple shall once again glow in all its splendor and majesty, illuminating the entire world with the Word of Hashem.

Many centuries have passed. Our blood has flowed freely over the face of the earth, and it was not only sword and fire that consumed us but assimilation as well, swallowing up our children in the melting pot of the nations. And now we have entered a time in our history when the footsteps of Messiah are audible – that is, if we know how to listen. Soon we will have to go to that “great wedding” and, as in my fictitious letter, we will be mortified. Our garments will be ridiculously inappropriate.

So let us stop for a moment and ask ourselves how will we feel at that wedding when we meet the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. How will stand before our King, our Heavenly Father? Will we say we had to attend to our business or that we were searching for haute couture and therefore forgot the proper dress code? Will such rationalizations fly? How will we explain it all?

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Uninvited: Border Police Storm Migron Outpost During Wedding

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

On Tuesday afternoon, a Border Guard police force raided the outpost of Ramat Migron in the Benjamin region, where two minors were detained without being arrested.

Border Guard police also raided the nearby outpost of Maoz Zion.

The raid, as has become a habit with the Border Guard, took place while a wedding was being conducted in the small village of Ramat Migron.

Local residents complained in the past that the police intelligence service’s ritual of arriving with an intent to destroy property during these celebrations stems from a desire to weaken the outpost residents and ruin their celebrations. But every destruction will be followed by construction, they vowed.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

My Pleasant Dreams – 851 Of Them

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Prior to the Knesset vote on the Regulation Law, which was defeated on June 6, I visited the protest tent where people were on a hunger strike and I realized we are again going through what we went through in the days before the destruction of Gush Katif.

The destruction of five buildings in the Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El, as ordered by the High Court, could set a precedent for more destruction. (The Regulation Law would have set a time limit for Arab claims and would have substituted compensation for destruction.)

A day before the vote I thought, What can I do to help? I suddenly began daydreaming and saw a letter from Dov Shurin to Prime Minister Netanyahu on the front page of the Jerusalem Post urging him to allow Likud Knesset members and ministers to vote their hearts so that the law might pass.

“Yeah, right,” I said to myself.” You aren’t going to pay big money for that.”

But I’m sure many of my readers can look back at important events and accomplishments in their lives and remember it all started with a dream.

So I came up with the following idea: I write for The Jewish Press, which would be a great place for the Jerusalem Post to advertise for subscribers to its International Edition.

I started making a series of calls, and a barter deal was worked out between these two important Jewish papers. I was given nearly a quarter of a page for a letter to the prime minister:

An Open Letter To Our Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu From New York radio personality And composer of the song “Zachreni Na,” Dov Shurin:

Dear Binyamin,

Zachreni Na! Remember me, your friend Dov. Know that my love for you is unshakable. That is why I beg you to allow fellow Likud Knesset Members and Ministers to have a free vote according to each one’s conscience on the important Regulation Law.

As in the Song of Shimshon, “Ach hapa’am hazeh HaElokim!” – just this ONE time, our leader!

I assure you, my dear friend, that the victory will be OURS – yours, mine, and all of the nation’s.

Do this, and you will reap the reward of leading our nation for many years to come.

With love, Dov Shurin I went to sleep that night and had another dream: I met our president, Shimon Peres. I showed him my letter to Netanyahu and said, “It’s not really going the help…”

“No, no,” he interrupted, “It will help!”

Great dream, right?

Now it was morning and I went out to buy the Jerusalem Post. The headline story was about the new law having “no chance” of passing, and underneath it, on page one, was my letter.

Well, the president told me my letter would help, but how?

I went to the protest tent across from the Knesset. The hunger strikers I’d met earlier were still inside; protesters were outside; and everyone was talking about how the prime minister had said any minister who voted for the bill would be fired. Things looked bleak.

I fell into a daydream:

Netanyahu is sitting by his desk and all the morning papers lie in front of him. He glances at the headlines and makes and receives calls. The clock on the wall is ticking hypnotically; he’s tired from a long night. His wife calls to urge him to take a nap.

“Everything will be all right,” she says. “The leftists paid legal fees to help an Arab prove his ‘ownership’ of the land. The High Court ordered the destruction, but you will build ten houses for each one destroyed, 50 more houses.”

Netanyahu finishes on the phone and takes the Jerusalem Post with him to the couch for a quick nap.

My inside sources tell me he was snoring with my letter resting on his nose.

At any rate, it was just before the Knesset vote and journalists wanted a statement from the prime minister. Suddenly, out of nowhere, he told them he’d decided to build 851 new houses in the settlements. Some 300 in Bet El, 100 in Kiryat Arba, some in Maale Adumim, Adam, and other places.

Dov Shurin

Big Men, Little Man

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

The Combat Engineering Corps is greeted by a jubilant little fellow after completing their treacherous trek for their gray berets.

The Combat Engineering Corps symbol features a sword on a defensive tower with a blast halo on the background.

The Combat Engineering Corps official motto is “Rishonim Tamid” (“Always First”). Its unofficial motto is “We’ll do the hard stuff today, the impossible tomorrow.”

The corps’ roles include mobility assurance, road breaching, defense and fortifications, counter-mobility of enemy forces, construction and destruction under fire, sabotage, explosives, bomb disposal, purifying nuclear, biological and chemical threats, and special engineering missions, which include identifying and demolishing smuggling tunnels.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/big-men-little-man/2012/06/19/

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