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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘divided’

“A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand”

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Israel Rising website}

“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.”

-Abraham Lincoln, 1858

No matter who wins today, it is clear that by all accounts America is heading towards the 21st Century version of 1860.  True there is no longer chattel slavery, yet the feeling of deep divisions within the country can no longer be ignored or dismissed.

Millions of Americans feel the federal government is too involved with personal decisions.  These same people see an economy that only works for the 1%. Factories have closed, skills are outdated, and new jobs pay far less than before. Blue collar workers, inner cities, and millennials feel disenfranchised.

As a dual American/Israeli citizen who grew up in the USA, worked in politics,traversed the country and now lives in Israel’s biblical heartland, I look at the country where I was born and grew up in from a different vantage point.  For me looking in from the outside, America is a radically different place. It has strayed far from the compass that the Founders built for it.

It is true the United States has been on the edge before, but there were always external forces that unified the nation or a cause that empowered one side to over take the other.  With nothing of the sort, America heads for a long era of division and social disintegration.

Yet, despite all of this, the ideals  of the Founding Fathers and a moral electorate live on.  Perhaps not within the confines of a single country, but rather in those individuals seeking to strive for a better world through personal freedom based on biblical roots.

The way forward as America and the West transitions into unchartered and dangerous waters is to cling to the Creator and his light.

David Mark

When A Divided Jerusalem Became Whole

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

This Jerusalem Day will mark 49 years since the divided city, torn in two by Jordanian occupation, finally became reunited. Names that today are just part of Jerusalemites’ daily vocabulary – French Hill, Ammunition Hill, Government House – were, back in 1967, terrible battle sites where armies were pitted against each other in deadly battle.

The war, not of our making, was sparked on April 7, 1967 when the Syrians opened fire on Israeli tractors working near Kibbutz Ha’On, east of the Kinneret. The IDF returned fire and the Syrians began shelling settlements. IAF jets were sent to destroy the artillery batteries. Syrian MIGs attempted to intercept them, and there were dogfights above Kibbutz Shamir. Six Syrian planes were downed. Syria demanded that Egypt’s President Nasser issue a response; to prod him, the Syrians announced – falsely – that Israel was amassing troops on the northern border. Nasser sent a massive force into Sinai on May 14. UN peacekeeping troops were expelled. War was now inevitable.

At the front, 300,000 of our soldiers were now deployed along the Egyptian border waiting for the Cabinet to make a decision on preemptive action. There were frequent meetings between Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin. There were messages from U.S. President Lyndon Johnson calling for Israel to show “restraint.” Egypt was asked not to escalate the situation but Nasser closed the Tiran Straits – another hostile step.

War came on June 5. Israeli jets destroyed the air forces of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in a matter of hours. Israel would have complete aerial supremacy during the six days of fighting.

On the ground, the IDF entered Sinai. Then Jordan started shelling Jerusalem, firing without letup and causing many casualties, while Syrian jets raided Haifa Bay and northern settlements.

On June 6 Israeli paratroopers surrounded the Old City and at 10 a.m. on June 7 they liberated the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. Gen. Motta Gur stood near the Wall and emotionally announcing over the radio: “The Temple Mount is in our hands!”

The IDF’s chief rabbi, Major-General Shlomo Goren, arrived at the Kotel and blew a resounding blast on the shofar and said a prayer: “This is the day we have been yearning for. Let us rejoice in it.”

Israel’s sweeping victory in the Six-Day War, with Jerusalem, the entire Sinai, and the biblical heartland of Eretz Yisrael now under Jewish sovereignty, created a state euphoria throughout the country. At the same time there was terrible sadness at the toll that had been exacted.

Jerusalem was the focus of the greatest celebration. All day the radio played Naomi Shemer’s “Jerusalem of Gold” – “Yerushalayim shel Zahav.” The song had been released just weeks before the war and it quickly became a victory anthem. Shemer added a final verse upon the city’s reunification. I

It was three years later that I arrived in Jerusalem with my husband and four children. Forty-six years have passed and my love for the city has deepened every day. There were hard times, and heartache whenever our children served in the army – when our son was a paratrooper in Lebanon we even questioned whether we had made the right decision in bringing them here from the safety of Australia. Now most of their children have served or are still in the army and none of them has ever felt we made a wrong decision.

Our feet trod the stones that King David danced on. We prayed at the Western Wall where the Shechinah still lingers. We walked where kings and conquerors and priests and soldiers and holy men have walked for thousands of years, century after century. Every day we bathed in the unique golden light that countless artists have striven to capture.

Each neighborhood in Jerusalem is different – quiet alleyways that wander at random; bustling markets filled with the color and spicy smell of the Middle East; walled courtyards softened with a glimpse of greenery. Such an ancient yet such a modern metropolis where people work and play and shop and drive and argue and love.

Jerusalem is holy sites where prayers are whispered and blessings invoked. It is quiet hills silhouetted with pine trees. It is graveyards for the old and, unavoidably, military cemeteries for the young. It is parks where children laugh and dimpled babies are wheeled in prams.

This Jerusalem Day I will, as I have for more than four decades, thank God for the privilege of living here and pray that peace finally comes to Jerusalem forevermore.

Dvora Waysman

Former Israeli Minister Presents Plan to Divide Jerusalem

Monday, March 7th, 2016

Former Labor and Kadima Party minister Haim Ramon has come up with a new proposal to divide Israel’s “indivisible” reunited ancient capital, Jerusalem.

Ramon told reporters this week that Israel cannot depend on its enemies “being stupid forever.” If the Arabs were clever, “they would decide instead of the knife to use the vote,” he warned. Ahead of that disaster, Ramon said he has come up with a unilateral plan to stymie the chance of an Arab-majority win in local Jerusalem mayoral elections some day.

His plan, dubbed “Saving Jewish Jerusalem,” has had the interesting effect of at least uniting nearly all people, Jewish and Arab, against the proposal if nothing else.

IDF reserve colonel Shaul Arieli, a map specialist, helped formulate the plan, which would unilaterally separate the two populations. He sees this as an interim solution in the absence of final status talks, and told the New York Times that it shows the Israelis “nothing is holy.”

The bottom line for Arieli is as he says, “What is it we want to keep?”

MK Michael Oren likewise has proposed his own measures to address the problem, at least in an interim fashion. But he too acknowledges the issue is one of demographics: Israel has a strategic interest in maintaining a Jewish majority in the capital of the Jewish State,” he said. He added, however, there are many ways to do that.

Ramon’s plan calls for all of the areas in which Jews are living – some 200,000 people – to stay on the Jewish side of Jerusalem.

But not so for some 300,000 Arab residents who comprise a third of Jerusalem and hold permanent residency status. Despite having been offered Israeli citizenship, they have chosen to reject it for various reasons – and Ramon would now allow their choice in full.

These people would remain on the other side of the fence, where the PA has for so long demanded territory for a capital to lead the development of a new Jew-free Arab state cheek-and-jowl with Israel.

Trumpeted as a “solution” by the left-leaning Labor party and promoted by Israeli liberals, the plan would involve walling or fencing off the Arab-majority neighborhoods in the city.

The fate of their residents would be handed over to the tender mercies of the Palestinian Authority administration in Ramallah, together with the mitigating influence of the IDF’s Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria.

So far, all sides have rejected it, including leaders in the Palestinian Authority.

Former Likud Defense Minister and Israeli Ambassador to the United States Moshe Arens wrote in a column that such a move “has become essentially impossible.” Withdrawing residency rights from Arabs living in Jerusalem is “legally questionable and morally reprehensible,” Arens points out.

Former head negotiator for the Palestinian Authority Saeb Erekat (who recently advocated a “complete economic separation” from Israel) called the plan “racist.” Erekat is currently the secretary-general for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and possibly the heir apparent to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The New York Times quoted Erekat who angrily pointed out that “thousands of Jerusalemites will be separated from their schools, hospitals, religious sites and also their properties… even members of the so-called progressive Israeli camp are falling into the same policies of the Israeli right.”

The leftist ‘Ir Amin’ group also charged the plan was “detached from any understanding of the fabric of daily life in Jerusalem” – and that from a group that wants to see the holy city as a dual capital for the Jewish State and a Palestinian Authority State too.

So far, no one actually agrees with this plan; but no one has yet reached any other solution either, including the Arab residents of Jerusalem, many of who quietly confide when asked, they would vastly prefer the entire question simply disappear into thin air. None really want to move into the Palestinian Authority and live there “for good.”

Hana Levi Julian

Why Did Kayin Kill Hevel? (Rabbi Goldin Gets It Wrong)

Monday, September 30th, 2013

My encounter with Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s “Unlocking the Torah Text” this weekend nearly gave me a stroke. And all I covered was his section on parsha Bereshis.

There were two terrible passages. We’ll deal with one now, and get to the other later.

In brief, I hold there are two incorrect theories of midrash. I call them the “moron approach” and the “skeptical approach.” The moron approach, beloved by idiots who think their stupidity proves their piousness, hold that our sages were merely receiving vessels who did nothing but repeat whatever they heard from their own rebbes. They say the midrashim, in their entirety, go back to Sinai, in one long game of telephone, with not one of the Sages ever making use of his own intelligence or creative powers to add or subtract from the original teaching.

This, thankfully, is not Goldin’s approach.

Instead, Goldin embraces the skeptical approach telling us that midrashim are not really interpretations of verses. Instead, they are something the Sages used to encode and transmit Deep Ideas. Here’s how he puts it:

Midrashim are vehicles through which the Rabbis.. transmit significant messages and lessons. As such, they are not necessarily meant… to explain the factual meaning of a Torah passage.

The Goldin passage I quote above is actually a (unattributed) paraphrase of something that the Ramchal says in Maamar al Haagadot. And let me make this clear: The Ramchal’s approach is a sound way of dealing with problematic midrashim. Trouble is, too many people use this approach to deal with midrashim that are not problematic at all. And this is precisely what Goldin does.

The Midrash he attempts, in this example,  to reveal as a vehicle for transmitting secret lessons is found in Berashis Raba, Berashis 23:16 where various rabbis are quoted discussing competing reasons for Kayin’s attack on Hevel.

In summary:

(1) The brothers divided up the world, with one taking the land, and the other taking the animals. When Kayin saw Hevel standing on “his” land he objected.

(2) The brothers divided up the land and the animals even-steven but both wanted the land where the future Bes Hamikdash would stand. So they fought

(3) The brothers both wanted Chava Rishona, and fought over her. (Chava Rishona is how the Midrash solves the problem of Eve’s two creation stories. The first Chava (the one created alongside Adam in Genesis 1:27) was rejected, and replaced by the Chava created from Adam’s rib in 2:21 leading Adam to declare in 2:23 “Zos Hapaam / This time [I am happy with the Chava]!”)

(4) Hevel had two twin sisters while Kayin had only one. They fought over Hevel’s extra sister (the existence of the twins are indicated by the superfluous word “es” in 4:1 and 4:2 where Kayin’s birth announcement is accompanied with only one “es”, thus one twin, while Hevel’s birth announcement has two appearances of “es” which to the Rabbis suggested two twins.

According to Goldin, none of this should be construed at an attempt to interpret and explain the Kayin and Hevel story. Instead the Sages are “expressing global observations” regarding the real reasons why men go to war, namely territory, religion and women.

And then he makes it abundantly clear that he hasn’t even taken the elementary first step of consulting the midrash in question, writing:

Fundamentally, the Rabbis make the following statement in this Midrash: We were not present when Kayin killed Hevel. Nor can we glean any information directly from the biblical text concerning the source of their dispute.”

Only, even the briefest glance at the text of the Midrash shows this is not true! The Rabbis are not making a statement in unison about Global Facts, nor are they sharing Big Ideas. Rather they are arguing about nothing more than the plain meaning of the verse.

Each of the four suggested reasons for the fight are based on something specific and anomalous in the text, as the Midrash itself tells us, namely the seemingly extra detail about where the fight occurred.

The verse says: “While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.”

Why mention the field?

(1) Because Kayin and Hevel split the world, with one (the farmer) taking the land, and the other (the sheep herder) taking the animals. In the field, Kayin objected to his brother standing on land, which he owned, so they fought.

(2) The word “field” is often a keyword for the Bes Hamikdash  (eg Micha 3:12) The brothers successfully divided up the entire world, but when they got to the field, ie, the Bes Hamikdash they fought

(3 and 4) Field is also a keyword for women. Both are, um,  plowed (Not my pun! Its in chazal!) and also because of Deuteronomy 22:25 where it says: “If a man finds a girl in the field.” So when the brothers reached the field, ie the woman, they fought.

None of this, by the way,  is a DovBear interpretation. All of it is right there in the plain text of the midrash – which Goldin would have encountered had he checked the midrash before embarking on his unnecessary attempt to “decode” it.

Visit DovBear.


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