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Posts Tagged ‘exile’

Arab League States Propose Exile for Assad

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Arab states have floated a proposal to US and European diplomats whereby Bashar al-Assad would agree to resign and he and his family would be sent into exile, according to a report by Reuters.

There is heavy skepticism that Assad would agree to such an arrangement, but the proposal reveals the extent to which Arab states and the West agree that the only and inevitable solution for the 10-month turmoil in Syria is Assad’s ouster.

While the exile option may be premature – considering the ongoing UN Security Council debate on a draft resolution – three countries have already expressed willingness to give Assad sanctuary in order to end the crisis. Although a European diplomat insisted that there was “no way we’d have him in our countries,” sources said the United Arab Emirates is among those states that would.

Should Assad even agree to exile, the issue of immunity would pose another problem, as Syrian opposition and human rights organizations would likely oppose any deal that grants him immunity for the brutal violence perpetrated in the name of his regime.

“We understand that some countries have offered to host him should he choose to leave Syria,” an Obama administration official was quoted as saying, but “there are significant questions of accountability for the horrible abuses that have been committed against the Syrian people.”

The current Arab-Western draft resolution urges Assad to transfer power to his deputy to allow for a peaceful transition to unity government. Russia insists that it would veto any resolution on Syria that does not explicitly rule out foreign military intervention.

The violence in Syria has resulted in the deaths of almost 5,000 people in the past 10 months, and dissidents reported this week that the regime’s forces have intensified operations on Syrian opposition positions.

Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk (Part III)

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Wherever the two holy brothers went on their self-imposed exile they generated a spirit of repentance. Their standard routine was to admonish themselves out loud for their supposed crimes, when in fact their “sins” were precisely the ones that the villager within earshot needed to rectify.

“Mellech, Mellech,” Reb Elimelech would reprimand himself, “how will you ever be able to face your final judgment knowing that you took advantage of your customers’ naiveté?”

“I am certainly no better,” Reb Zusha would join. “How could I,” he mourned, “have avoided davening with a minyan?”

The two of them used their clairvoyant abilities to determine exactly what it was that the locals had transgressed, and then elaborated as to how they would personally be punished for those very same sins. Invariably, this caused the true sinners to be filled with remorse and rectify their sinful deeds. Countless individuals improved their lives this way without having their dignity compromised or having been humiliated in the process.

Wandering from town to village, the holy brothers neglected their physical needs and were sustained solely by meager coins or scraps of food that were donated along the way. One Sunday night they found themselves in a new town on a cold wintry night. The tavern keeper offered to lodge them behind the fireplace that heated the pub.

The two of them took their places on the floor, with Reb Zusha, as always, offering his older brother the preferred spot nearer the fire. No sooner had Reb Elimelech and Reb Zusha retired their weary bones when the tavern began to fill up with Gentiles who had come to celebrate nothing other than their inebriated state. Wobbling and singing as drunkards do, they made themselves merry until they stumbled across a real cause for celebration.

Right before their eyes, innocently sleeping on the floor, was a Jew who could serve as the evening’s entertainment. As many of them were wagon drivers, they were equipped with whips and staffs that could readily enlist the sleeping Jew’s cooperation.

“Up and dance!” they ordered, as they snapped their whips and beat their staffs to ensure immediate compliance. Reb Zusha sprang to his feet and danced energetically for the leering drunks. The wagon drivers were not looking for a quick performance – they had all night – and they unsparingly utilized their appurtenances to assure protracted amusement.

Eventually, however, the drunkards grew tired and allowed Zusha to collapse to the floor. But it wasn’t just one Jew that they had savagely beaten. Reb Elimelech felt every blow on his own back and urgently pressed his brother to exchange places with him. “They’ll be back and then it will be my turn to suffer their indignities.” But in no way did Reb Zusha feel that he was getting the worst part of the deal. Being beaten simply because he was a defenseless Jew was good for the soul, he maintained. And he knew his brother did not dispute this point.

Still, Reb Elimelech would have none of it. He was insistent that they switch places so that when the drunks would decide again to be entertained, he would be the butt of their vile behavior.

And indeed the wagon drivers returned, eager for another dance performance. Not for naught had they entered a tavern.

But in a display of uncharacteristic egalitarianism, they announced that it would only be fair to wake the Jew lying nearer to the fireplace, for the outer one had already made his contribution to the night’s festivities.

Reb Elimelech stood up and explained, or at least tried to explain, that the outer Jew was previously the inner one, for they had switched places. But his entreaties fell upon drunken ears.

Reb Zusha sanguinely accepted his lot and commented, “Mellech, don’t feel bad. You see that one who deserves to be beaten cannot avoid it. Your desire to switch places was willed from Heaven.”

Eventually the wagon drivers tired of their entertainment and they crashed to the floor in a drunken stupor. The brothers arose to recite tikun chatzos and to thank the Almighty for having separated them from inhumane derelicts. Blessed were they to be servants privileged to worship the Almighty.

The holy brothers never forgot those that extended themselves on their behalf while they were in their period of exile. One such individual was Reb Aharon in the village of Ludmir who served as their host whenever they visited this town. Reb Aharon lived in abject poverty, but this never stopped him from extending hospitality and sharing his meager crumbs.

Once Reb Elimelech and Reb Zusha were revealed as famous tzaddikim, and their followers were everywhere to be found, they returned to Ludmir – this time in a horse-drawn carriage. Just as in the past, they turned to Reb Aharon for lodging, which he graciously offered, as always.

Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk (Part II)

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

The parents of Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk, Eliezer Lipman and his pious wife, Mirish, emanated from families that could trace their lineage all the way back to Rashi, Rav Yochanan Hasandlar of Talmudic fame and even King David. They lived in the townlet of Lapachi, not far from Tiktin.

As Mirish was illiterate in the holy tongue, she would recite her blessings by heart. Reb Zusha testified that at the time that his mother prayed, the Divine presence could be found in the home. On Erev Shabbos she would travel to Tiktin to dispense alms.

One story tells of a group of destitute beggars who came to her home, including a leper covered in ghastly boils. While everyone else distanced himself or herself from this wretched discomfiture, Mirish reached out and saw to his needs. Just before the group’s departure the leper blessed her: “May your children be like me.”

Before she could respond to this worrisome blessing, the entire entourage vanished. She then understood that she had been tested from Heaven.

One day, the Baal Shem Tov – who would travel from town to town and address assemblies of the commoners regarding the value of prayer and the sanctity of the synagogue – visited Eliezer and Mirish’s village. This marked a turning point in their lives. From that day on, they faithfully provided candles to the shul and were meticulous in prayer, as they beseeched the Almighty to open the hearts of their four sons and one daughter to the Torah.

On the sad day that Eliezer Lipman passed from this world, his children gathered for the week of mourning. At the conclusion of the shiva the sons divided their father’s inheritance in the following way: Avraham received the cash and the house was given to Nosson. The jewelry and housewares went to Elimelech and the outstanding debts were to be collected by Zusha.

The division had been thus contrived for Zusha, who was very clever at disguising his ways and who appeared to have plenty of time on his hands. It only seemed fitting that he should be the one to go out and collect the debts.

However, Zusha was in no way suited for this mission, and without a penny from the inheritance, was left destitute. Bereft of any means of support, he decided to travel to his uncle who was an assistant to the Maggid of Mezeritch.

Lodging with his uncle meant constant exposure to the Maggid and, in no time, Zusha became an ardent chassid. In the meantime, Elimelech had moved to his wife’s hometown of Shineva.

After his stay with his uncle in Mezeritch, Zusha departed for his brother, Elimelech. The very long and arduous journey took its toll on Zusha’s attire. His worn-out tatters were far shabbier than those that clad the poorest of beggars.

Ever vigilant of the honor of his in-laws, Elimelech was ashamed to allow his dreadfully-appearing brother into his home. He therefore arranged accommodations for him at the home of a local baker.

However, Zusha’s night was not earmarked for mundane sleep. Those precious hours were devoted to learning, prayer and the loud recitation of tikun chatzos. Zusha’s nocturnal agenda effectively brought an end to his tenancy at the baker’s house and Elimelech had no other recourse but to invite his brother into his own home.

It was there that he was able to observe Zusha’s ways first-hand. This sparked within Elimelech the desire to draw close to the Maggid of Mezeritch.

Reb Zusha convinced his older brother to join him in a self-imposed exile that they would devote to elevating the people that they would encounter. Attired in the clothes of exile, they would travel from village to village to persuade, direct and inspire the people to desist from sin and return to their holy roots. The exile would also, as the Talmud teaches, purify their souls.

Again? Yes, Again

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

“Not again!” you may say. To which I respond, “Yes, again!” I say this as I write once again about the most heinous tragedy that could have befallen us, so even though it may not be popular – even though your reaction may be, “We heard it already” – I am nevertheless writing because I fear we have returned to business as usual.

Hashem has been sending us wakeup call after wakeup call, but we remain deaf to all of them and have yet to sound the alarm, have yet to see the hand of G-d beckoning us. This time, however, is different. This time, no one can avoid seeing that what has befallen us is so incomprehensible, it can only be interpreted as a message from the Almighty Himself.

A Jewish child is slaughtered by another Jew – in, of all places, Boro Park, a glittering stronghold of Torah.

And before we can even catch our breaths, a sage in the holy land of Israel, in an enclave of Torah, is savagely murdered – by a Jew.

Is there anyone among us who should not be trembling? Is there anyone among us whose heart should not be shattered – whose eyes should not overflow with tears? With these murders, something has changed, something that never occurred before, something that should frighten each and every one of us.

Every yeshiva child knows our First Temple was destroyed because of three cardinal sins, as a result of which we were taken into the Babylonian exile. Through the mercy of Hashem, after seventy years of exile we returned to our land and rebuilt the Temple.

The Second Temple would eventually be destroyed as well, though for an altogether different reason. While we were careful in our observance, unwarranted hatred permeated our lives. Walls of animosity, controversy and jealousy divided us. It was this fragmentation that catapulted us into the Roman exile, and it is in this exile that we still languish.

For almost two thousand years we have been suffering in this darkness. We have traversed the four corners of the world, tasted the bitter sting of the lash, experienced oppression, torture, inquisition and the Holocaust. Centuries have passed and we remain in exile. Why did G-d not redeem us as he redeemed our forefathers?

The answer to this question is painfully simple – we never repented. Stubbornly, we clung and continued to cling to our hatreds and animosities and in every generation, in every society, we found different reasons to justify it…so much so that the hatred has taken on a life of its own. We no longer see anything wrong with it and consider it a normal way of life.

But these recent heinous, unprecedented events alter our reality.

Our generation continues to stubbornly cling to the sin of unwarranted hatred that is at the root of our present exile, and we concede we are guilty of two of the cardinal sins that led to the destruction of the First Temple: immorality and idol worship (idol worship does not only connote “idols” but anything that is like an idol (money, etc.) and removes us from the true worship of G-d.

Nevertheless, we were secure in the knowledge that the third sin – murder – never penetrated our sanctuary.

Now, with the savage murders of an innocent child and a Torah sage, that illusion has been forever shattered. Overnight, we became the generation that carries on its shoulders the heavy burden of the sins that led to the destruction of our two Temples and sent us into exile. Just take a moment to think about it. It is a catastrophe that has never befallen our people. The sins that led to those destructions are now identified with us. Is that not reason enough to tremble? Is that not reason enough to examine our lives before it is too late?

The Rambam taught us that when suffering is visited upon us, we are commanded to cry out, awaken our people, sound the shofar. Everyone must be alerted to probe his or her life and commit to greater observance of Torah and mitzvos. The Rambam warned that if we regard the tragedies that befall us simply as “the way of the world” – “natural happenings” – we will be guilty of achzarius, cruelty.

At first glance, it is difficult to understand why the Rambam would choose to ascribe “cruelty” to those who view trials and tribulations as “natural happenings.” Such people may be unthinking, apathetic, blind or obtuse, but why accuse them of cruelty? The answer is simple. If we regard our pain and suffering as “mere coincidence,” we will feel no motivation to examine our lives, abandon our old ways, andchange. So yes, such an attitude is cruel, for it invites additional misfortune upon ourselves and others. It would be the height of cruelty to dismiss what is occurring in the world today as mere happenstance.

As Jews, we all know (even if we do not want to admit it), that nothing on earth occurs by accident. G-d’s guiding Hand is always there. In the holy tongue, the very word “coincidence” is kara, meaning kara me Hashem – “it happened from G-d.” G-d has sent us a wakeup call so loud that even a deaf person must hear it. But somehow we manage to console ourselves with distractions and blame some mental or emotional sickness to explain away this savage brutality.

We are a generation that no longer recognizes terms such as “bad” or “sinful.” Rather, we tend to rationalize it all away with psychological jargon. At the end of the day, however, no matter what psychological illness we attribute to these heinous deeds, the tragic, shameful fact remains – they happened! And they were done by our own! Now if this is not enough of a wakeup call, what is?

In the face of all this, what are we to do? What can we do?

(To Be Continued)

Q & A: Cheshvan Or Marcheshvan?

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

   QUESTION: I see that some people refer to the month of Cheshvan as Marcheshvan. Which is correct?

Nachman M.

(Via E-Mail)

 

   ANSWER: The Gemara (Jerusalem Talmud, Rosh Hashana 1:2) cites Rabbi Chanina who states, “The names of the [Jewish] months were brought up with them [the exiles who returned to the Land of Israel] from Babylonia.” Indeed, these were not the original names, as we see in the various biblical verses that refer to them only in a numerical fashion. The Gemara supports Rabbi Chanina’s statement by citing the following months and their scriptural sources (all post-exile), Nissan in Esther (3:7), Kislev in Nechemia (1:2), and Tevet in Esther (2:5).
   Though not included in the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah, through a scriptural search, we find as well Shevat in Zecharia (1:7), Adar and Nissan in Esther (3:7), Sivan in Esther (8:9), and Elul in Nechemia (6:15), which are all post-exile references found only in the prophets and Hagiographa.
   However, we find no scriptural mention of Iyar, Tamuz, Av and Marcheshvan. Our tradition, based on the Gemara’s statement (“The names of the months were brought up with them…”), is that these names too were brought up from Babylonia. Indeed, when the exiles came to Babylonia they found a society that used a lunar calendar similar to ours and that were quite knowledgeable of astronomy.
   Thus, they eventually adopted the Babylonian names for the months. While all remain essentially the same as the Babylonian names, three differ slightly: Sivan (from the Babylonian Siman), Tamuz (from Tuvuz), and Marcheshvan (from Arachshamn, most probably originated from Arach Shaman – i.e., Eighth Month.) In each of these three changes, it is noticeable that a corruption occurred with a mem somehow replacing a vav or the opposite.
   True, the Gemara cited above (Jerusalem Talmud, Rosh Hashanah) only cites three of the names: Nissan, Kislev, and Tevet. However, we find that the sages of the Talmud refer to these months as well as the others elsewhere. Almost all of the months’ names are referred to in Tractate Rosh Hashanah (Babylonian Talmud). An exception is Marcheshvan, which is mentioned in a mishna in Mesechet Ta’anit (10a) in the dispute between Rabban Gamliel and the tanna kamma about the proper time of year to start requesting rain via Shemoneh Esreh‘s blessing of Mevarech Hashanim.
   The tanna kamma posits to start at the 3rd of Marcheshvan, and Rabban Gamliel says the 7th of Marcheshvan. The latter’s reasoning being that the 7th is 15 days after the festival (of Sukkot), which provides sufficient time for the last of the olei regel – those who traveled to Jerusalem for the holiday – to have returned home unhampered by inclement weather.
   The Gemara explains as well that in the Diaspora, where there is less need of rain (or minimized dependence on rain for survival), the prayer request commences 60 days from the festival of Sukkot (today that is usually December 4th, 5th, or 6th, depending on the year and the day of week). Rambam (Hilchot Tefillah 2:16) rules according to Rabban Gamliel and puts the start of the request for rain on the 7th of Marcheshvan in Eretz Yisrael.
   It is relevant that the month in your question is consistently referred to in halachic discussions as Marcheshvan, not Cheshvan.
   Rabbi Sperlingin Sefer Ta’amei Haminhagim U’mekorei Hadinim (Inyonei Simchat Torah siman 836) stresses the minhag of using the name Marcheshvan when blessing the new month. Rabbi Sperling explains that this is extrapolated from the Midrash Tanchuma (Parshat Noach 11). There we learn that from the time of the mabul – the flood – and afterward, Hashem enacted that from the start of that month (Marcheshvan), there will always be heavy rains.
   This is what “mar” refers to. Mar means a drop (of rain), as in the verse in Isaiah (40:15), “Hen goyim k’mar midli… – Behold, all the nations are like a drop [of water] from a bucket…”
   Rabbi Sperling notes as well (infra 838) that even the names of the months used pre-exile in the scripture, for example, “Bul  (I Kings 6:38), reflects this same concept. Bul, from the word “mabul,” implies that this is the month of the flood. (However, it is at odds with the above rationale for the use of “mar.”)
   Additionally, Rabbi Sperling notes the midrash (Yalkut to Melachim p. 27) that tells about this season including heavy rains for the 40-day period. When King Solomon built the Holy Temple, the edict of heavy rains for 40 days was rescinded. Thus the name “Bul” represented the edicts having been rescinded with the removal of the mem, the numerical equivalent of 40, the 40 days fixed in the original edict.
   Consequently we might add, as far as the Babylonian name Marcheshvan is concerned, that the addition of the word “mar” (letters mem, resh) refers to this change, that the rains of that season will not necessarily be consistently heavy, but at times only “mar” – as drops of rain. Indeed that is what we pray for: A normal, bearable blessing of beneficial rain.

(To be continued)

 

   Rabbi Yaakov Klass can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

It’s My Opinion: Celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

            Reading through one of our local Jewish newspapers, I was delighted to see a full-page advertisement publicizing a celebration for Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day.  The 62nd anniversary of the resurgence of the Jewish State is certainly worthy of a party.  In fact, after 2,000 years of bloodstained exile, it is an incredible, modern-day wonder.

 

A local supper club in Aventura, Florida was organizing the event.  Live music would be provided.  Two Israeli singers were scheduled to perform.  The evening seemed to be planned as a gala affair.

 

My eyes scrolled down the page and then stopped.  I was horrified to see the rest of the agenda for the evening.  A “Hot Bikini Contest” was proudly touted as part of the festive program. And to think the hot debate in many communities is whether or not to say Hallel on this special day.

 

One does not have to be a haredi rabbi to understand that a competition like the one planned to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut was unsuitable.  A bikini contest is a totally inappropriate way to observe the commemoration of such a miraculous time in Jewish history.  In fact it was bizarre. 

 

This lack of insight to the fundamental order of life is quite disturbing.  What is wrong with people who are so out of sync with the basic concept of appropriate boundaries? Unfortunately, this behavior is endemic to a segment of secular culture.  It is a tragic problem.

 

Certainly, those who organized the Independence Day program meant no harm.  They simply wanted to create a happy and upbeat party atmosphere.    Nonetheless, we are once again reminded of the truth of the adage, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” 

Peace at Home And Among Our People (Part Two)

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Special Note: In my last column, I discussed the tragic consequences of  Sinas Chinam jealousy and hatred of the brothers toward Joseph that cast us into our first exile in Egypt, which continues to plague us to this very day. The following is a continuation of that column:

It is well known that the story of “Kamtza and Bar Kamtza” was pivotal to our exile but we have yet to learn the lesson of that shameful tragedy. The very title of the story is puzzling, since the controversy was not between Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, but between Bar Kamtza and the anonymous host of the party. Why is Kamtza implicated?

To refresh our memories: A gentleman in Yerushalayim made a party. He had a best friend named Kamtza and an enemy whom he despised named Bar Kamtza. He sent his servant to invite Kamtza to his party, but his servant mistakenly delivered the invitation to his enemy, Bar Kamtza. Happily, Bar Kamtza came to the party only to be ordered to leave.

Mortified, he pleaded to be allowed to stay. He even offered to pay for the cost of the party, but his host remained adamant and had him thrown out. So, the question remains – why is Kamtza, the good friend, who never even made it to the party, implicated? Why is he named as a central player?

As a best friend, Kamtza had to be aware that his friend’s heart was filled with animosity and hatred. It would have been his responsibility to warn his friend not to allow such venom to overtake him. So too should the rabbis and all the other guests at the party have taken a strong stand and protested. But everyone remained silent and thereby countenanced this shameful act. Those same people would surely have protested had they seen their host serving treif, so how could they have remained impervious to his reprehensible behavior, which was a pure manifestation of sinas chinam – a treif manner of behavior?

We are all familiar with the teaching of Chazal that calls upon us to be among the disciples of Aharon, Kohen Gadol, and pursue peace among our fellow man. In Judaism, the pursuit of peace is so critical we are even permitted to bend the truth for its sake. When there is a conflict between emes and shalom, emes must take a back seat, for there is no greater good than shalom. So, it is that Aaron had no problem telling two warring parties that the other regretted his actions and wanted to make peace even though that may have been far from the truth.

We, however, not only fail to generate peace, but consciously or unconsciously, we often incite further discord. It behooves all of us to ask ourselves whether we are among the disciples of Aaron or those who attended the infamous party from which Bar Kamtza was ousted.

This question is all the more pertinent to us, for we are the generation that has been destined to live in this trying period of Chevlei Moshiach when, with every passing day, our trials and tribulations intensify. So the question remains B how can we spare ourselves this intense pain that is endemic to this period and speedily bring about the geulah?

But how do we go about making peace and fostering it among our family, our community and our people? Obviously, every conflict, every situation, is different, but the first step is to unlock the heart sealed by hatred. Experience has taught me that the best way to accomplish this is through Torah study and a story that has the power to reach the heart.

In one of my books, I tell the story of the Maggid of Kelm. On one occasion, he challenged his congregation and asked, If, chas v’shalom, Moshiach does not come in our lifetime and we are buried here in Kelm and then one day, we receive an invitation to arise from our graves and return to Kelm for half-an-hour, what would you do? Where would you go? And what would you say?”

Very often, I challenge my audiences with this very same question. What would you do? Where would you do? And what would you say? Would you check on your business, go shopping, to the gym? Would you visit your family? And if you did, what would you say?

On 9/11 we found out. For the very first time, something happened on that day that we had never encountered. Thousands of people were trapped in the Twin Towers. They knew that they were going to die, and somehow, they succeeded in sending out a last message. Tragically, there is nothing new about people being killed and dying, but this was the very first time that we had a recorded message from those facing death. Amazingly, they all got through on their cell phones.

Incredibly, they all left the same message B three little words, I love you…I love you Mom…I love you Dad…I love you, my husband…I love you, my wife…I love you, my children… I love you Grandma I love you Grandpa – I love you all so much!

I allow the people to digest the story and then I ask, Should we not say, “I love you” before it is too late? All the things that we fight about – money, kavod…Is it really worth it? In the end, when all is said and done, it’s all shtuot – nonsense. So once again I ask, Is it really worth it? Is it really worth destroying those who are nearest and dearest to you?” When these two preparatory steps are taken you can anticipate that you will succeed in making shalom. I learned this lesson long ago from my revered father, Harav HaGaon Rav Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l.

At the end of WWII we were taken to a DP camp in Switzerland. A group of Polish young men, all of whom had undergone horrific, torturous experiences in Auschwitz arrived at our camp. They were orphans, angry, bitter, and openly expressed their hostility toward Judaism and Hashem. No one had much to do with them, but my father could not bear to see Yiddisheh neshamos so affected. He didn’t argue with them or admonish them, nor did he give them mussar. Instead, every night, my father went to their dormitory and said the Shema with them. Then he would go to each bed, give each boy a brachah and a kiss. Thus, my father converted their anger, and bitterness into faith, commitment and love.

The lesson of my father has guided me in my efforts to make shalom and unify family members. But those lessons should guide all of us, for they belong to our people.

(To Be Continued)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/peace-at-home-and-among-our-people-part-two/2009/04/22/

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