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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Holy’

Vatican: Papal Visit to Show IDF ‘Imprisoning’ Christian Population

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Fr. Peter Vasko, President of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL), heralded Pope Francis’ announcement that he may visit the Holy Land next year as an opportunity for the “whole world to see the plight of Christians in the area.

Vasko said the pontiff’s presence would also “shine a light on the dwindling Christian population in the Holy Land, and hopefully help ease living conditions in the area.” Christians, once a majority in the area, have diminished to less than two percent of the population as restrictions on travel, education and work have increased.

In Palestinian controlled areas, including Bethlehem, what remains of the Arab Christians population are virtual prisoners in their own homes. At the same time, Israeli controlled areas are the only places in the entire Middle East where the Christian population has been rising.

Pope Francis said the visit – his first as head of the Church – would mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s trip to Jerusalem in 1964. The announcement came on the heels of Israeli President Shimon Peres’ recent visit to the Vatican. During that visit, Peres urged the pope to come to Israel, adding, “The sooner you visit the better, as a new opportunity is being created for peace, and your arrival could contribute significantly to increasing the trust and belief in peace.”

Peres added, “I turn to you and ask that within your sermons in front of millions of believers in the world you include the hope for peace in the Middle East and the whole world.”

Vasko said the Vatican has long supported FFHL programs, which provide education, housing and work opportunities for thousands of Palestinian Christians. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI visited Israel during their tenures.

Pope Francis accepted Peres’ invitation, but no date has been set for the trip.

Temple Mount Closure And EU Boycott

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

On Tisha B’Av Prime Minister Netanyahu dramatically declared that Israel would not allow foreigners to interfere with our borders. This may have sounded like good news to local ears, but on the very same day the prime minister contradicted his own policy.

On the morning of Tisha B’Av, hundreds of Jews, among them three Knesset members, attempted to enter the Temple Mount – but were denied access. The next day Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin made a second attempt to enter the Mount but was turned away. When MK Yariv Levin asked about this fiasco in the Knesset plenum, Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich answered, as usual, that there is no policy change regarding the Mount and that anyone who wishes to enter can do so. He said that Jewish visitors enter the Mount every day with no problem and that the closure of the Mount to visitors (including Knesset members) was the security decision of the local commander.

Aharonovich knowingly lied to the Knesset. Everyone involved with the Temple Mount issue knows that since Netanyahu acquiesced to the demands of the Muslim wakf and denied me access to the Temple Mount, police control of the holy site has rapidly deteriorated. The Temple Mount has become a staging ground for a vicious struggle, with cries of “kill the Jews!” becoming routine there. Jews are consistently distanced from the Mount and Israel’s police project unprecedented spinelessness, fear and defeatism in the face of the burgeoning brazenness of the Muslim wakf.

Israeli police have all the means at their disposal – if they choose to use it – to disperse the Arab rioters within minutes and to make it possible for the Jews to visit their holiest site. But, as it is wont to do, Israel’s police adopted the role of security fig leaf for the prime minister, who is giving the holy Mount’s sovereignty to Jordan and the Muslim wakf – while talking mightily about not allowing foreigners to interfere in Israel’s sovereignty.

Aharonovich claimed that the Mount was closed, due to security considerations, as per the decision of the local commander. But there is a truly reliable side to this story contrary to his version of events. Here is the relevant part of the Jordan News Agency’s July 16 report from Ramallah:

Israeli Police Prevent Jewish Extremists From Entering Al-Aqsa Compound Due To Demand By Jordan

Following the pressure exerted by [the] Jordanian government on the Israeli authorities, the Israeli police on Tuesday closed the Mughrabi Gate, one of Al-Aqsa Mosque’s doors, and prevented Jewish extremists from entering it.

Director of the Islamic Waqf in occupied Jerusalem, Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, told Petra [News] that the Israeli police closed the gate and prevented extremists and foreign tourists from entering Al-Aqsa compound today, “the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple,” after Jordanian pressure and intervention by the Department of Islamic Waqf and [the] Jordanian ambassador in Tel Aviv, Walid Obeidat.

He confirmed that the ban came as a result of the intensive communications undertaken by Jordan to prevent the desecration of Al-Aqsa during the holy month of Ramadan. Al-Khatib praised the vital Jordanian role in protecting Jerusalem and the holy sites.

This report, verified by additional sources, is nothing new. The prime minister has used the police, the attorney general’s office and the courts before in his quest to implement a political decision when wanting to cede sovereignty on the Temple Mount to the Muslims. And he’s done this without the Knesset’s authorization. This is how issues surrounding the Temple Mount have been disposed of since it was liberated. Netanyahu has simply expanded the practice.

The capitulation on the Temple Mount leads to the construction halt in Jerusalem. In other words, the organs close to the heart become infected with the same illness: the loss of sovereignty syndrome. In this manner, our existential legitimacy in the entire land is crumbling before our eyes.

What do we expect of the European Union? After all, for 46 years we have been saying that the land of Israel is theirs – not ours. We hurried to give the heart of Jerusalem and the nation, the Temple Mount, to the Muslim wakf. We refused to declare Israel’s sovereignty in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. We recognized another, conveniently invented “nation” as indigenous to the land, recognized its terrorist liberation movement, and armed it with Israeli weapons. We vowed to retreat so as to enable the establishment of a state for this make-believe “nation” in the heart of biblical Israel. We expelled and destroyed entire Jewish communities. We committed ourselves to the two-state principle.

But over the past 20 years not one of our leaders, at any level, has said that this is our land – no ifs, ands, or buts. This straightforward phrase simply does not exist in the lexicon of Israel’s political and military leadership.

So why are we surprised that the Europeans are tired of this entire subject? It took them 46 years to be convinced that we are serious that this really is not our land, that we are nothing more than foreign conquerors in Palestine. Perhaps the Arabs are not nice, they think, but they are very, very right on this issue. After all, Israel’s political Left and Right have both bowed to their claims and recognized the justice of their cause. Yitzhak Rabin shook the hand of their murderous leader, while Netanyahu hugged him with both his hands. So what can we expect: that after we have admitted that we are the problem, the Europeans will allow us to continue to threaten world peace?

We no longer have anywhere to run from the scales of justice. When you do not put your weight on one side of the scale, the other side is heavier. You can be prettier, nicer, more European – and even a peace seeker. But if you have abandoned your side of the scale, the other side will always win.

We lost the justice of our cause when we gave the Temple Mount to the Muslims. The only way to restore our justice is to remove the Muslim wakf from the Mount and to empower our holiest site as the center of holiness and exclusive sovereignty of Israel.

My Week in Israel with Dr. Oz

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Everything over the past week was memorable and magical as Dr. Mehmet Oz, America’s foremost daytime TV host and the world’s most famous doctor, toured Israel. From dancing the horah outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, to dancing Friday night at the Western Wall with Israeli soldiers and thousands of worshippers, to meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu for ninety minutes of substantive conversation about Israel, Turkey, and the United States, Dr. Oz and his family showed the Jewish state extravagant love and admiration.

Mehmet is a remarkable man and seeing him up close reinforced the high regard in which I have always held him, ever since we started working together for Oprah at her radio network. First there was his attention to his children, all four of whom accompanied him, along with his son-in-law. Mehmet would go nowhere without them and pulled them in to hear every last explanation about Israel’s ancient and modern history.

Then there is his dedication to his wife Lisa, a remarkable and brilliant woman in her own right, and vastly knowledgeable of the Bible. Lisa was correcting me constantly on Biblical quotations (I purposely got them wrong so she could feel superior). Mehmet is a man who honors his wife at every opportunity.

Of course, there were the legions of fans – Jews and Arabs in every part of Israel – that pleaded for a picture and he turned noone down.

But more than anything else there was his attachment to the Jewish people on display at every moment. Mehmet is a Muslim, perhaps the world’s most famous Muslim who is not a head of state. He is a righteous and proud Ambassador of his faith and feels an innate kinship and brotherhood with the Jewish people.

He praised Israel constantly, from lauding its treatment of its minority citizens at our joint lecture at Rambam hospital in Haifa, to noting Israel’s phenomenal medical breakthroughs at several news conferences, to highlighting his amazement at Israel’s capacity to turn deserts into thriving cities.

In Hebron, at the tomb of the patriarchs, we prayed together publicly for peace and understanding between the children of Abraham. At the tomb of Maimonides we noted the role reversal. Maimonides, a Jew, was the world’s most famous physician, and he served the Muslim ruler Saladin. Now, a Muslim doctor – the world’s most famous – was visiting his Jewish brothers in the Holy land 900 years later.

Joined with Natan Sharasnky at the Jerusalem Press Club for a public discussion, the three of us debated whether there was an obligation to hate evil. Mehmet maintained that hatred harmed he who harbored it, even for the best of reasons. On this Sharasnky and I disagreed. Natan spoke of the evil he encountered in the KGB. I spoke of Hamas’ genocidal covenant and Hezbollah’s commitment to annihilating Israel. Terrorists deserved our contempt. Only by truly hating evil are we prepared to fight it. In the end we compromised in agreeing that hating evil should not be obsessive and internal but rather externally directed at neutralizing those who slaughter God’s innocent children, whoever they may be.

As I walked Dr. Oz and his family through the old city of Jerusalem on Friday night, we passed through Zion gate, still riddled with bullet holes from the heavy fighting of 1967 that liberated the city. At Shabbat dinner at the home of Simon and Chana Falic, my friend Ron Dermer, Israel’s newly appointed Ambassador to the United States, explained to Mehmet that even after Israel conquered the Temple Mount in the Six Day War it left control of Judaism’s holiest site to the Muslim waqf and that such an action had no precedent in all human history. Ron said that there could no greater illustration of Israel’s desire to respect its Muslim citizens and seek peace.

At the Christian holy sites, like the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, and Muslim Holy Sites like the Dome of the Rock and the vast Muslim crowds that filled mosques for Ramadan, Dr. Oz saw first hand how Israel is a country of thriving religious liberty.

But the highlight of the visit was the conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu where Ambassador Dermer joined Mehmet and me as we heard the Israeli leader deeply engage Mehmet about Israel’s search for peace and the challenges it faces with the destabilization of Syria and Egypt on the one hand, and the changes in its relationship with Turkey, on the other.

Protesters: Police in Cahoots with Arabs over Jewish Access to Mount

Monday, August 5th, 2013

The Joint Committee of Temple Mount Organizations has announced a protest vigil this Wednesday, August 7, at 7:30 AM, by the Mugrabi Bridge connecting the Western Wall plaza with the Mughrabi Gate of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

According to the organizers, which include journalist Arnon Segal and Women in Green founders Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katsover, the vigil will be held in response to an announcement last Tuesday by the Police official in charge of the holy sites, Commander Avi Bitton, that the Temple Mount would remain open only to Muslims and closed to Jews and to tourists at least until after the Muslim holiday of Idl-Fitter, next Sunday, the fifth of Elul or August 11.

This is breaking the rules, cry out the organizers, members of organizations promoting Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, warning that Jerusalem Police has already violated the long held status quo by shutting off the Temple Site to non-Muslims throughout the month of Ramadan.

This past month, the vigil organizers complain that on those few days when Jews were allowed to go up to the Mount, they suffered constant abuse by the Muslims and by the police.

Two weeks ago, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin was chased away from the Temple Mount by a crowd of Muslims. According to the vigil organizers, police did not intervene to prevent the “screaming and harassment and threats by the Muslims against Elkin and his family.”

But the biggest complaint of the organizers has to do with the fact that the Arabs have, apparently, discovered the surefire method of keeping the Jews off the Mount – all they have to do is threaten violence, and the police immediately folds, and rather than responding to the bullies by imposing law and order—a fairly basic expectation of our law enforcement agencies—they join forces with them to block Jewish access.

It’s been ten years, the protesters say, since the Temple mount was re-opened to Jewish visitors—not for prayer, mind you, God forbid—and now they fear the permanent sealing off of the holiest Jewish site bar none appears closer than ever.

“It seems the police is throwing a trial balloon,” reads the organizers’ email. “They try to see if the Temple Mount is important to a large Jewish population, or only to some ‘crazies.’ It is obvious that if this passes quietly, it will get worse for the Jews.”

And so the Joint Committee of the Temple Mount Organizations have decided to hold a mass protest vigil to remind the police, the politicians, and—most important—ourselves, that the holiest place for the Jewish People is not the Kotel, with all due respect, but the Temple Mount.

As one organizer put it, according to Matar, celebrating Rosh Chodesh at the Kotel and not on the Temple Mount is tantamount to celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, in the Knesset parking lot, while the building itself would be chock full of Arabs.

They invite “all to whom a Jewish presence at the Jews’ most holy site in the world is important, to wake up early Wednesday morning and come.”

Wouldn’t it be interesting if, this coming Rosh Chodesh Elus, Wednesday morning, all the Jews will find their way up to the Temple Mount, leaving down below only the Women of the Kotel?

Don’t forget to dip in the Mikvah first, in case they actually let everybody up.

Looking For God In Our Skyscrapers

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Over the last decade, Tisha B’Av, the day that we traditionally mourn the destruction of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem, has been admitted to the pantheon of Jewish holy days that are not for the observant only: holy days that speak to everyone.

Yom Kippur has always been there. It is the private holy day, special to us all. A solid majority of the Jews in Israel fast on that day. Even those who do not fast feel something special: they respect the day and search for its meaning. Yom Kippur does not just pass us by like the holiday of Shavuot, for example.

Pesach is another holy day that has always been a holiday for all the Jews. It is the family holiday. The Seder night – kosher-for-Passover or not – is celebrated by Jewish families everywhere. It is a holiday that has not been separated from the nation by the walls of religion.

What we still lack is the national dimension, the dimension that retains a void not filled by banging on plastic hammers on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Yom Ha’atzmaut always leaves us with a vague sense of emptiness.

The collective subconscious that pulls the young people of Tel Aviv’s trendy Shenkin Street to alternative lamentations on the city rooftops discovers something in Tisha B’Av. It longs for the spiritual national dimension. It searches for meaning and warmth.

Real Israeli culture, the authentic national creation that we are all looking for, the point that affords meaning and validity to our national existence, is there – in our Father’s house, from which we were exiled and to where we will return.

Return to religion enriches the returnee. But usually it is at the expense of the real achievement of the return to Zion, Israel’s rising and return from the dimension of community to the dimension of nation – at the expense of the return to reality and history.

Generally speaking (and yes, there are certainly exceptions), the returnee to religion is no longer interested in the news, politics or the state. He has found his personal happiness and leaves the rest to the Messiah. His God is not so relevant outside his home, study hall or synagogue.

The new generation, however, wants God to be relevant in all dimensions. It doesn’t want to escape into religion. It wants a grand message, rectification of the world; neither to go backward into pre-Zionism nor to be stuck in the place bereft of identity and meaning in which Zionism – which shed all regard for religion – finds itself today.

The new generation wants it all. It wants to go forward into religion, to a Torah that is also a relevant culture and to a God who is with us here, in our modernity. It wants to proceed in our multilevel interchanges, in our skyscrapers, and in our hi-tech. It is looking for a God who is with us in our most private moments, in our most national triumphs, and in our most universal aspirations. The new generation wants warmth, a sense of belonging and meaning. It wants to herald a great message. It wants a home: it’s Father’s home, the home to which we all belong.

It wants the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

The Miracles Of The Ramban

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Rabi Moshe ben Nachman, widely known as the Ramban was born in the year 1194 in the town of Gurunda, Catalina. He became famous as a great scholar and sage and wrote interpreta­tions on the Torah and on many Gemaras, and authored many seforim, which are revered to this day. The Ramban was also a philosopher and a physician and his ser­vices were in great demand.

One day, while the Ramban was study­ing, an elderly man was ushered into his chambers. The man was a mystic and well versed in the Kabbalah, He introduced himself to the Ramban and proceeded to urge him to study the Kabbalah. The Ramban avoided this study, as he believed it was unnecessary in this world. When the man became persistent the Ramban ordered him to leave.

“You’ll see,” said the Kabbalist, “how necessary it is to study this mysticism. I am urging you to do this for your sake, because you are a great man and you never can tell when you may need it.”

The elderly man left the Ramban’s house and walking into a church began to smash the statues and do other mischief. He was caught, judged to be a heretic, and sentenced to be burned at the stake that Shabbat.

The Kabbalist Performs Miracles

When the Ramban heard he was aghast. He visited the condemned man and upbraided him for his bad behavior, which served as a reflection upon all Jewry. The elderly man seemed un­concerned and asked the Ramban to please prepare his three Shabbat meals. The Ramban thought he was men­tally unbalanced and left him.

Shabbat morning the man was led to a tremendous burning pyre. As the soldiers prepared to throw him into it, the Kabbalist uttered the Holy name and they were suddenly struck blind. Miraculously a goat appeared on the scene and the soldiers grabbed it and threw it into the fire, thinking it was the elderly man.

Walking home, the Kabbalist entered the Ramban’s home in time to answer Amen to the Ramban’s kiddush. The Ramban was amazed and after hearing the entire story he decided to learn the wisdom of the Kabbalah. He spent many months with this elderly man and then he went to study with the sage, Rabi Elazar of Worms, world-renown Kabbalist and author of the sefer HaRokeach. After a few years, the Ramban became proficient in the wisdom of the Kabbalah.

Ramban Launches A Ship

The following year all of Spain turned out to witness the launching of one of the largest warships of the time, in the city of Barcelona. The king and queen were there as well as the entire court. The leaders of all nations were also present. As the chief spokesman for his people, the Ramban was also invited to attend.

While the trumpets blared, the workingmen released the wedges to permit the ship to slide down into the water. But something went wrong and the boat would not move. The workingmen frantically began to push the boat and used every method but it wouldn’t budge. The pop­ulace began to groan.

The Ramban, seeing this predicament, remarked to one of his pupils that with the use of the Holy Name he could move the boat and if need be, even mountains. A neighbor hearing this rushed to the king and repeated the conversation. The king commanded the Ramban to be brought before him and he ordered him to fulfill his boast.

Realizing his predicament, the Ramban requested a dinghy with a pilot to accompany him in the harbor. This was granted. The Ramban then uttered the awesome Holy Name and commanded the ship to slide down into the waters. Wonders of wonders! The boat began to move slowly and soon with a rush it splashed into the harbor water. The crowd cheered. However, before the king could sum­mon the Ramban to reward him, the Bishop approached the king and accused the Ramban of witchcraft.

Ramban Escapes

Hearing this the Ramban wrote out the Holy Name and the symbol of travel, on a piece of paper and placed it in a corner of the little boat. Immediately, the boat jumped forward as if guided by a tremen­dous power. The pilot had been asleep so he didn’t notice the boat racing through the waters. In a matter of minutes the boat covered half the coast of Spain and he entered a port near his home.

Don’t Confuse Torah with Buddhism, My Friends

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

This blog should be a permanent post on the homepage of The Jewish Press, and people should read it every day to remind themselves who they really are as Jews and what real Judaism is all about.

Don’t try to brush it off by saying, “What does Fishman know – a former screenwriter from Hollywood?”

Get ready to hear the Torah explained by the greatest Torah teacher of them all – Moshe Rabeinu, as we begin his review of the Torah in the Book of Devarim.

As we approach Tisha B’Av, it is indeed a fitting time to take a new/old look at the Torah and at its eternal truths, which are as true for our time as they were in the times of Moshe Rabeinu. That’s one of the basic principles of the Torah – it doesn’t change.

Sometimes people ask me. “Why do you waste your time trying to teach Diaspora Jews, over and over again, that the Torah is meant to be kept in the Land of Israel, rather than in Brooklyn, Boca, or Beverly Hills?”

The answer is because I love them. When you love somebody, you want the best for them. Even if you saw a total stranger about to fall off a cliff, you’d scream out to warn him – all the more so regarding someone you love.

Now, there are those who say, “What do you mean ‘fall off a cliff?’ Jewish life is great here in Brooklyn and Boca!”

It may seem great to them now, but at the end of their wonderful 120 years in Brooklyn and Boca, when they get to the gates of the real Gan Eden, they are going to be surprised to learn that they have to return back to Earth and live life all over again until they finish their tikun. It won’t help them if they’ve learned the whole Talmud ten times over. They’ll have to go back for another reincarnation. Why? Because they, we, the whole Nation of Israel, were thrown into exile because we transgressed the Torah when we lived in the Holy Land long ago. So our rectification, atonement, and tikun is to return to the Land of Israel and keep the Torah, there, in the Land of Israel, the way it was meant to be kept. Souls are reincarnated over and over again until they get things straight. The lucky ones, that is. For those who aren’t giving the chance, when the Resurrection of the Dead comes around, their bodies will have to roll all the painful way through underground tunnels from their Diaspora graveyards to the Holy Land, because, as the Zohar explains, the Resurrection of the Dead only takes place in Israel.

As we mentioned in a previous blog, our Sages inform us that the roots for the Destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem were planted long before the Destruction itself, on the night the Spies in the Wilderness returned from their ill-fated mission and convinced the Jewish People not to journey on to live in the Promised Land. That night was the 9th of Av. Their rejection of the Land of Israel was the rotten foundation which brought about our later National Destruction as an independent Nation in our own Land.

Afterwards, stripped of our own Jewish Land and Israeli Nationhood, we became minorities in foreign lands. Up until the Destruction, the religion of the Jewish People was the Torah, a combination of Divine laws and commandments that covered our individuals lives and the life of the Jewish Nation, laws concerning the king, the Sanhedrin, the army of Israel, the Beit HaMikdash, national sacrifices, and the agricultural laws unique to The Holy Land. But when we were cast out of our Land, the Torah lost its earthy component, and our physical Nationhood ceased. Instead of being the Divine Constitution of our Nation, the Torah was reduced to moral teachings and a handful of individual commandments, like the bones of a large salmon at the end of the Shabbos morning Kiddush. That’s when “Judaism” started. Stripped of our own Land, and Israelite monarchy, our own Jewish Nationhood was lost. Exiled in other peoples’ countries, we were left with the few ritual precepts that we could still perform, like putting on tefillin, keeping kosher, learning Torah, and observing the Sabbath. Instead of being our National Constitution, the Torah was truncated into being just a religion without its many fundamental National, Political, and Geopgraphic obligations and demands.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/dont-confuse-torah-with-buddhism-my-friends/2012/07/22/

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