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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Joseph’

American and Biblical Forefathers

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Malcah Zeldis: New York Artist

Through October 18, 2010

American Folk Art Museum

2 Lincoln Square, New York

www.folkartmuseum.org

 

 

 

Malcah Zeldis’ watercolor painting “Jacob’s Dream” (1982) is the only representation I know of the patriarch that represents him as bearded man with no moustache. The pink-skinned dreamer in Zeldis’ painting wears a robe that evokes the technicolored dream coat his son Joseph would wear, and he sleeps on a hill using what the Bible describes as rocks (but Zeldis renders more as books) for pillows. In the background of the work, which belongs to the genre of na?ve art, one can spot the bundles of grain and the celestial objects that would later figure into Joseph’s dream. As Jacob dreams of the changing of the angelic guard, Zeldis seems to say, he lays the foundation for Joseph’s dreams of his own rise to power. The angels that ascend and descend the “ladder” – which is very flimsy and would surely not comply with fire codes – are red-headed and blue-eyed, and their wings sag at their sides like sacks over their shoulders.

 

Malcah Zeldis. “Jacob’s Dream.” 1982. Watercolor on paper. 11

Renaissance Rabbi

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

This essay is largely based on the book Ish Yehudi by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, who over the years has served as mashgiach and rebbi at a number of Torah institutions.

The term “Renaissance man” is used to describe a person who excels in a wide variety of subjects or fields. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach’s biography of his father, Rav Dr. Yoseph (Joseph) Tzvi Carlebach (1883-1942), provides fascinating information about the life of a man who deserves to be described as a Renaissance rabbi.

In Ish Yehudi (Shearith Joseph Publications, 2008) a book richly adorned with photographs and documents depicting personalities and places of historical significance in pre-Holocaust Europe, the reader learns about an extraordinary man who was the respected rav of a number of prestigious communities in pre-World War II Germany, a towering Torah scholar, a talented orator, a dynamic educator, a prolific writer, an intellectual who earned a Ph.D. in mathematics and philosophy from Heidelberg University, an expert in astronomy, a scientist, a connoisseur of the arts and humanities, and so much more.

When it came to acquiring knowledge, Rabbi Joseph Tzvi Carlebach was never satisfied.

* * *

Joseph Carlebach was born on January 30, 1883 in Luebeck, Germany, where his father, Dr. Salomon Carlebach, served as rav from 1870 to 1919. Joseph’s father was a talmid chacham and an outstanding orator.

Joseph obtained his early Torah education at home from his father and from Rabbi Mordechai Gumpel (a disciple of Rabbi Jacob Ettlinger, the renowned chief rabbi of Altona and author of Aruch Laner), whom his father employed as a tutor for the Carlebach children.

At the age of 18 Joseph went to Berlin to study Torah at the rabbinical seminary founded by Rabbi Dr. Ezriel Hildesheimer. Simultaneously he attended the University of Berlin, where his studies focused on mathematics, physics, chemistry, astronomy and philosophy.

While at the university, Joseph came into close contact with the world-famous physicist Max von Planck, in whose laboratory he worked, as well as with the (then well-known) astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster and Wilhelm Dilthey, a respected historian, psychologist, sociologist and philosopher.

Joseph also somehow found time to be an instructor at the religious school of Adas Yisroel Congregation.

Despite his extensive secular studies, Joseph never failed to devote several hours each day to Torah study. The Jewish community of Berlin was blessed with many unique men who left an indelible impression on young Joseph, among them such Torah luminaries as Rabbis David Tzvi Hoffman, Joseph Wohlgemuth, Jacob Barth and Ezra Munk.

Jerusalem Years

Joseph passed his state examination in March 1905, graduating summa cum laude. He was now qualified for a high school teacher’s diploma in mathematics and natural sciences.

Ephraim Cohn, principal of the Laemel Teachers’ Seminary of Jerusalem, happened to be in Berlin when Joseph received his diploma. He had come to hire an instructor in mathematics and natural sciences for his institution, and an Orthodox young man, with a diploma from Berlin University in these subjects, was exactly what he needed. He offered Joseph the position.

Joseph had some qualms about accepting the job, since Jerusalem at the time was embroiled in a battle regarding the teaching of secular subjects in Jewish schools. Indeed, a ban had been signed by many of the most prominent Jerusalem rabbonim forbidding anyone from teaching secular subjects in Jewish schools. Those who did risked being put in cherem.

Joseph turned to his father for advice. After consulting with a number of Torah authorities, his father sent him a letter urging him to go. In addition, the faculty of the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary unanimously encouraged him to accept this position.

Thus it was mathematics and science that brought Joseph to Jerusalem in 1905 at the age of 22. The time he spent there was to shape his entire outlook and give his worldview a new horizon.

During his three-year stay in Jerusalem, Joseph was befriended by the chief rabbi, Rav Shmuel Salant, who made Joseph feel welcome both at his shiurim and in his home. Interestingly enough, Rav Salant was one of the signers of the secular studies ban, but he apparently put that aside when it came to his relationship with Joseph.

Joseph met a number of other distinguished rabbis, among them Rav Avraham Yitzchok Kook, who in 1921 would become the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Palestine.

While in Eretz Yisrael, Joseph acquired a good working knowledge of both Hebrew and Yiddish.

The students at the Laemel School soon realized their instructor was a man of unusual talents and methods. In addition to his dynamic classroom presentations, he would take his students for excursions around the environs of Jerusalem. They soon discovered he knew the name of every star in the sky and every plant and shrub on earth.

He knew the hiding places of the animals and would show his students how they lived and fed. He would explain how clouds were formed and he even forecast the weather. When they came upon a historic site, he would dramatize the events that had occurred there.

Furthermore, while walking he had the boys sing songs praising God for the beauty of this world and His abundance.

In 1908, when the time came for Joseph to return home to Germany, the most prominent rabbonim of Jerusalem expressed their deep appreciation for his work with their youth. Indeed, Rav Salant tried to persuade him to marry while he was in Germany and then return to Eretz Yisrael.

Back to Berlin

Shortly after returning to Berlin, Joseph was hired as an instructor for mathematics and the natural sciences at the prestigious (secular) Margareten High School for Girls. His selection for the position was a testament to his qualifications – no Jew had ever held such a post at the school, and Joseph was of course an Orthodox Jew who would be absent from classes on Shabbosim and Jewish holidays.

At the same time he assumed his former position as a rebbe in the Adas Yisroel School and also attended the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary. This was not enough, however, to fill the time of the industrious young man, so, from 1908 to 1910 he worked as well on his doctoral dissertation. His thesis focused on the scientific and mathematical achievements of Rabbi Levi ben Gershon (1288-1344), known as the Ralbag or Gersonides.

In 1919 Joseph married Lotte Preuss, the oldest daughter of Dr. Yitzchok (Julius) Preuss, a physician and scholar of history and Hebrew literature. Dr. Preuss’s Biblical and Talmudical Medicine was an encyclopedic work that reviewed every medical reference in Tanach, the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud, the Midrash, and ancillary works.

During this period Joseph received semicha from Rabbi Dr. David Hoffmann, rector of the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary and author of halachic responsa Melamed Leho’il as well as a number of commentaries refuting the criticisms of those who questioned the historicity of the Torah.

Joseph was now known as Rabbiner Doktor Yosef Carlebach.

Rabbi and Innovative Educator

World War I began in 1914. Serving in the German army, Rav Carlebach was charged by the German Occupation Authority in Lithuania with organizing a secondary school system. After consultations with some of Lithuania’s foremost Torah scholars and with their agreement, he founded a high school based on the principles of Torah im Derech Eretz (TIDE) that featured both Torah and secular studies in the curriculum.

The language of instruction in the Carlebach Gymnasium in Kovno (as this high school came to be known) was not Yiddish or German but modern Hebrew. Within three years the separate boys and girls schools had a combined enrollment of almost a thousand students. Two other TIDE high schools were established in Telshe and Ponevezh within a short time.

(TIDE elementary schools were also set up throughout Lithuania where they were known as Yavneh schools.)

When Rabbi Dr. Salomon Carlebach of Luebeck passed away suddenly in early 1919, Rav Yoseph was offered his father’s position. He did not know what to do in light of the fact that many of the leading rabbis of Lithuania were urging him to continue his work there. His mother pleaded with him to return to Luebeck, and her own sudden passing not long after his father’s death clinched his decision. He became the rav of the city of his birth.

In order to raise the level of Torah study in his hometown, Rav Yosef convinced Rabbi Shmuel Joseph Rabinow to settle in Luebeck. Rabbi Rabinow was an outstanding young talmid chacham who had studied at the famed Slabodka Yeshiva in Kovno. These two rabbonim laid the foundations for an advanced yeshiva in Luebeck that eventually attracted a number of outstanding students.

(When Rav Carlebach moved some years later to Hamburg to become the city’s chief rabbi, both the yeshiva and Rabbi Rabinow also relocated there.)

Final Years in Hamburg

In 1922 Rav Yoseph was offered the position of director of Hamburg’s Talmud Torah Real Gymnasium. This school had been started in 1805 by Rabbi Mendel Frankfurter, a grandfather of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch.

Here Rav Joseph’s full talents as a forward-thinking educator and administrator shone. Hebrew language and grammar were introduced as major subjects, as well as Hebrew literature, with special emphasis on the medieval poets and philosophers. New physics and chemistry laboratories were built. He himself gave a course in the history of the fine arts to the students in the highest grade. He was also concerned with the physical fitness of his students and made participation in swimming and outdoor sports compulsory.

One of his boldest innovations was the one- or two-week excursion to distant parts of the country. Day outings had been part of the school curriculum in the past, but Rav Carlebach took this idea to new heights. On these trips students visited museums and historical sites and were introduced to the geological and biological characteristics of the countryside.

Furthermore, each day on these excursions started and ended with physical exercise. If there was a river nearby, the day began and ended with a swim.

His students enjoyed his classes to the extent that one former student recalled, “We used to turn the clock back ten or fifteen minutes so that his classes would last longer!”

In 1926 Rav Carlebach became chief rabbi of Altona, one of Germany’s oldest and most venerated kehillos. It was here that his extraordinary oratorical powers became known to thousands. In fact, he soon acquired the reputation of being the foremost rabbinical orator in all of Germany.

Blessed with a strong, clear voice, he incorporated his many artistic talents into his delivery. His fluent use of words was enhanced by a style of delivery that employed appropriate arm, hand, and body movements coupled with relevant facial expressions.

He never, however, misused his talents for cheap or demagogic oratory, nor did he ever give an interpretation of a biblical or Talmudic text that was either forced or artificial. He had the rare ability to speak in a manner that enlightened both learned scholars and ordinary congregants. His sermons were always a stirring experience for those who heard them, and his remarks were often the main topic of conversation on Shabbosafternoons.

Rav Carlebach also somehow found the time to publish hundreds of scholarly articles on a myriad of subjects from rabbinics to mathematics, the humanities and the arts.

On April 4, 1936 Rav Carlebach became chief rabbi of the Synagoge-Verband (Synagogue Association), in the Bornplatz Synagogue. Fourteen other rabbis, more than two hundred guests of honor, and 1,500 others attended his installation ceremony.

Despite the growing threats to Jewish life from the Nazis, Rav Carlebach refused to abandon his flock even when he had several opportunities to do so. A contemporary (name unknown) of Dr. Carlebach’s described his role as chief rabbi of Hamburg:

His sermons were masterpieces of diplomacy and wisdom in the face of the increasing focus of the Gestapo. The Gestapo had frequently attended the synagogue over the years. Those who were attentive enough heard with admiration, and also often with fear, how he castigated the current situation, without provoking intervention by the Gestapo. . . .

When numerous community members were arrested in connection with the Pogrom Night of 9/10 November 1938, he asked to share their fate. The Gestapo refused as there was no order to arrest him.

The years 1936 to his deportation to Riga on December 6, 1941 became legendary. The Nazi persecution of the Jews made the Jewish community into one large family, with Dr. Joseph Carlebach as its “pater familias.” He was its courageous spokesman and its tireless religious leader: he visited civil service departments, prisons, concentration camps, and hospitals, always in danger of being insulted and thrown out, but never lost the least of his dignity.

As for Rav Carlebach’s last days, the less said the better. Far preferable to remember his brilliance and praise his achievements than to dwell on his martyrdom. Suffice it to say that on March 26, 1942, Rav Carlebach, his wife Lotte, and their three youngest daughters were murdered by the Nazis.

May his memory long be remembered.

(Rav Carlebach’s older children had been part of a Kindertransport to England before the family’s deportation. His youngest son, Rav Shlomo, the author of Ish Yehudi, survived after spending four years in various concentration camps.)

Dr. Yitzchok Levine served as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey before retiring in 2008. He now teaches as an adjunct at Stevens. His regular feature, Glimpses Into American Jewish History, appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.

The Tiger Woods Saga And its Jewish Lesson

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

His tragic saga was all too familiar. His mesmerizing talent rapidly captured the world’s attention. His impeccable image of integrity gained him the respect and affection of multitudes. His solid control of the media was remarkable.

Suddenly, though, reality caught up with Tiger Woods. His illustrious image exploded, his once-shining light dimmed, and all because of one singular sin: infidelity.

Tiger Woods is just one of many public figures who recently have fallen from grace for the identical reason. The question, of course, is why their hearts lead them astray. Were they miserably married? Was it the great influence they’d gained? Was it the abundant wealth they’d accumulated? Was it the national stage they’d conquered?

Why would a seemingly happy, seemingly moral, unquestionably prosperous individual consciously bring irreversible destruction to the essential fundaments of his life?

It appears the climb to power brings along a frightening yet indissoluble friend: solitude. People with power are indeed lonely. The distance they are forced to maintain by virtue of their lofty positions enwraps their world in an uncomfortable sense of solitude that is very difficult to handle.

The innate nature of a human being drives him to interact with society on a regular basis. This phenomenon is evident when children are afraid to sleep alone at night, or when adults spend an exorbitant amount of time and financial and emotional resources to create bonds with strangers for the sole reason of escaping the threat of loneliness.

Aristotle put it best: “Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.”

Yet if solitude stands as a contrast to the basic human characteristic of social interaction, how can people cope with it efficiently? Should we battle it and strive to eliminate it? Should we compel ourselves to continuously engage in social activities and hope that our state of solitude eventually dissipates? Or should we embrace our inner lonely state, regardless of its sense of discomfort?

History has shown that both paths are misleading. Those who have chosen the path of social detachment have often fallen into the traps of futility, hopelessness and despair. Because when one chooses to be alone in the world, he rejects the mission God has given each and every human being: to make the world a better and more divine place, specifically through social interaction. This idea led the Talmudic Sages to exclaim (Babylonian Talmud, Taanit 23b: “Either friendship and peer study or death.”

By contrast, the second path encourages a person to battle solitude by actively interacting with society. The followers of this path hold that a man must fully interact with his surroundings. Yet, despite the superiority of this approach, there lies within it two prominent dangers.

First, society can influence a person’s conduct negatively. As Maimonides wrote, “It is natural to be influenced, in sentiments and conduct, by one’s neighbors and associates.”

Second, if one is not morally and emotionally equipped, it is very easy to fall for the illusion of love offered by the opportunists in our midst. Tiger Woods’s plunge epitomizes the vulnerability of human beings when faced with seducing exploiters who wear fake masks of love and care. Unfortunately, by the time Woods and so many others discover the real faces behind the masks of their exploiters, it is all too late.

So what is the secret formula to human interaction? How can we mingle with society without being influenced or exploited by it? Perhaps the answer is found in the fascinating biblical story of Joseph.

When Potiphar’s beautiful wife tried to seduce Joseph, he hesitated. But at the last minute he overcame the immense temptation thanks to an omnipotent revelation that suddenly captured his sight: “The face of his father, Jacob, appeared before him,” Rashi’s commentary states.(According to the Jerusalem Talmud (Horayot, chapter 2) Joseph also visualized the face of his mother.)

It was the vision of his saintly father that pulled Joseph back to his roots and values. This sheds light on the exemplary education Joseph received. The image of one’s father does not appear to him by mere happenstance. It can only appear and have such miraculous effects if it has been established in a person’s mind, over a long period of time, as a loving authority that shiningly personifies God’s values and ethics.

Siona Benjamin’s Blue Angels

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Blue Like Me: The Art of Siona Benjamin


October 15, 2009 – January 29, 2010


Washington DC Jewish Community Center


1529 16th Street, NW, Washington



 

 


A blue-skinned woman with at least one wing carries a caged dove in her right hand and has just released a golden bird from her other hand. Her hair is covered by a shawl that rests over a curved dagger (like the Yemenite jambiya) with a sheath decorated with the stars and stripes of the American flag. A corner of the shawl becomes a pair of tzitzit whose strings are wrapped around a lion’s arms and midsection, perhaps restraining it. The woman, who represents a self-portrait of the artist Siona Benjamin, stands on a white ball, which unravels to reveal not string but floral patterns that border the painting. Beneath her yellow skirt, the woman wears striped pants that evoke either the uniform of a prisoner or a concentration camp inmate.

 

Benjamin’s Jewish-Arab-American take on the cat playing with a ball of string is packed with symbols that could either bear fruitful metaphorical subtexts or dead-end red herrings. The lion could refer to Judah (called a “lion cub” in Genesis 49:9) or to Samson, who killed a lion and, upon seeing honeycomb in its mane, learned the lesson: “from the powerful ensued sweetness” (Judges 14:14). Or it could just be a lion. The strings of the tzitzit could protect the figure from the ferocious cat, or they could be the woman’s undoing, if the lion is pulling the woman down by her garment. Doves sometimes suggest peace, but a caged peace symbol could be ominous. The floral borders could suggest a beautiful garden, or a barrier that keeps the golden bird enclosed in an arena with the lion.

 

The work, Finding Home #9 (Fereshtini), is part of Benjamin’s larger series called Fereshteh, Urdu for “angels.” The angels of the series are the women of the bible, whom Benjamin positions as contemporary protectors who tackle modern problems: wars and violence. Benjamin, who grew up as a Bene Israel Jew in India, was educated at Catholic and Zoroastrian schools and lived in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim society. Now based in Montclair, New Jersey, Benjamin brings this hybrid identity into her works.

 

 


Finding Home #9. 2007. 9″ x 11″. Gouache and 22K gold leaf on board

 

 

Another work from the Fereshteh series is Finding Home #86 “Chavah,” which represents the world’s first woman as the symbol of her sin which led to her banishment from Eden: a tree.

 

The tree is blue (of course), and it has seven female, human heads – six attached to the branches, and one in the roots. In Benjamin’s painting, Eve has become one (or seven) with the tree. In a statement, Benjamin notes that misogynistic accounts of the biblical text often focus on Eve as “empty headed” and a “temptress.” But Eve is thus named for being “the mother of all life” (“Chava” from the root “chai,” Genesis 3:20), so she cannot be viewed as a destroyer. “The eating of the forbidden fruit can be looked upon as not negative or impulsive,” Benjamin writes, “but as a woman full of curiosity, who reaches out for the gifts of life: pleasure, beauty and wisdom.”

 

Miriam, depicted in Finding Home #73, is a very different sort of woman. She lies (asleep? dead?) in a large wine glass. She is blue-skinned and wears a golden sari. Behind the glass is a grey mushroom cloud of demonic faces, and a wire is plugged into the base of the cloud. The wire winds around the stem of the glass and emerges as part of the intravenous therapy being administered to Miriam. Two needles seem to be drawing blood from Moses’ sister, who holds a switch in her left hand. “Will she turn off the switch in time to stop the violence, the demons?” Benjamin wonders in a statement. “Is she asleep? Sick? Oblivious? Controlled?”

 


Finding Home #73, “Miriam.” 2006. 10″ x 7″. Gouache and gold leaf on wood panel

 

 

Although Benjamin suggests there is hope that Miriam might turn off the mushroom cloud – surely a reference to nuclear weapons – one wonders if the nuclear power is not also fueling the biblical character, who had the boldness to address Pharaoh’s daughter, to lead the women in song at the Red Sea, and to criticize her brother Moses (for which she was struck with leprosy). Miriam was also responsible, the midrash tells us, for well filled with water that traveled with the Jews in the desert. Instead of supplying her people with the water necessary for survival, Benjamin’s Miriam does not have control of her own bodily fluids.

 

The Miriam of Finding Home #72 is only in slightly better shape. In the triptych, Miriam lies tangled on a spider’s web. Even her wings are stuck in the web. In fact, Miriam’s wings, arms, and legs seem so carefully and intentionally tied that she could not have simply flown into the web. In the bottom right corner, a demonic figure with a tail, fangs, and sharp claws sleeps. She is flanked on either side by Jonah, who holds an American flag as he is strung upside down in front of a fish, and by Joseph, who stands on a podium dressed in bright colors. The two figures are in poses reminiscent of the soldiers tortured at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

 

 


Finding Home #72, “Miriam.” 2006. 18″ x 15.3″. Gouache and 22K gold leaf on wood

 

 

It is not clear what Miriam has in her character that makes her the patron saint of tortured prisoners, but even if she could help Joseph and Jonah, she is trapped in the demonic web. That’s what I find most impressive and exciting about Benjamin’s angels. They have been summoned to respond to modern problems – which are of course timeless problems at the same time – but it is hardly clear that they will succeed. Just because angels have been dispatched to respond to a problem does not immediately resolve the problem.


 


Menachem Wecker welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com. He is a painter and writer, residing in Washington, DC.

Time To Retake Joseph’s Tomb

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

It was supposed to be temporary.

Nine years ago last month, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered the Israeli army to withdraw from Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus) in one of the most humiliating retreats in the nation’s modern history.

The move came after Palestinian policemen and Fatah terrorists had launched a coordinated assault on the Israeli soldiers who were bravely guarding the sacred burial ground of our biblical forebear.

Displaying their customary respect for Jewish holy sites, the Palestinian attackers had surrounded the compound, strafed it with automatic-weapons fire and attempted to seize it by force.

Rather than standing firm in the face of the Palestinian onslaught, Barak chose instead to make history of the most dubious sort. He issued an unprecedented order for the IDF to pull out under fire and surrender territory to the Palestinians as a direct result of violence.

The abandonment of Joseph’s Tomb, we were assured at the time, was not permanent, but rather a tactical move dictated by the situation on the ground. Back on October 7, 2000, just hours after the last IDF soldiers had evacuated from the area, the website of Yediot Aharonot reported in a banner headline, “Israel pulls out of Joseph’s Tomb – ‘Temporarily.’ ”

But here we are, nearly a decade later, and the Tomb still remains “temporarily” abandoned by the Jewish state, in what has become a mark of shame for our people and our country.

Indeed, who can forget the painful scenes that followed the withdrawal, when a frenzied mob of Palestinians armed with sledgehammers hacked and smashed the tomb to pieces?

And what about the prayer books and other Jewish religious objects that were set alight, as the throng celebrated the destruction they had wrought?

Coming just a week after the start of what came to be known as the Second Intifada, the pullout from Joseph’s Tomb fanned the flames of Palestinian rejectionism, which continue to smolder to the present day.

The withdrawal set a dangerous example for the Palestinians that resorting to carnage and terror does pay, which only continues to inspire them to dream of ejecting us from the region through violence and mayhem.

And that is precisely why it is so crucial that Israel reassert control over Joseph’s Tomb. We cannot and must not allow this affront to Jewish history to stand, especially now when so much pressure is being brought to bear on Israel to make still more concessions to the Palestinians.

It is therefore time to turn back the clock and reclaim this part of our ancestral patrimony.

Don’t believe those in the media and on the Left who cast doubt on the authenticity of the tomb, mockingly suggesting that it belongs to an unknown Arab sheikh. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For example, the late Dr. Zvi Ilan, one of Israel’s foremost archeologists, described Joseph’s Tomb as “one of the tombs whose location is known with the utmost degree of certainty and is based on continuous documentation since Biblical times” (Tombs of the Righteous in the Land of Israel, p. 365).

The Book of Joshua (24:32) states explicitly, “The bones of Joseph which the Children of Israel brought up from Egypt were buried in Shechem in the portion of the field that had been purchased by Jacob.”

Ancient rabbinic texts such as the Midrash mention the site, as did the early Church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, who visited it nearly 1,700 years ago. Arab geographers, medieval Jewish pilgrims, Samaritan historians and even 19th- century British cartographers all concur regarding the site and its location.

Prior to the Palestinian takeover in October 2000, the tomb’s compound was host to a yeshiva, and it was visited by thousands of Jewish worshipers annually.

So there is no doubt that Joseph’s Tomb really is the tomb of Joseph, son of the biblical patriarch Jacob. And we owe it to him – and to ourselves – to take it back and raise the Israeli flag once again over the compound.

Twice in Jewish history, Joseph was forsaken by his brothers and handed over to foreign control. The first time was in the biblical story, when he was tossed into a pit and sold to traveling merchants. The second time was in October 2000, when his tomb was surrendered to Palestinian rioters.

It is not too late to right this historical wrong. Doing so will send a message to our enemies that we shall never again retreat under fire, and that we will defend our right to live and worship in this land as we see fit.

So let’s at last do what should have been done long ago – take back Joseph’s Tomb, and with it, our self-respect as well.

Michael Freund served as deputy director of communications & policy planning in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office under Benjamin Netanyahu from 1996 to 1999. He is founder and chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people.

Time To Retake Joseph’s Tomb

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

   It was supposed to be temporary.
 
   Nine years ago last month, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered the Israeli army to withdraw from Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus) in one of the most humiliating retreats in the nation’s modern history.
 
   The move came after Palestinian policemen and Fatah terrorists had launched a coordinated assault on the Israeli soldiers who were bravely guarding the sacred burial ground of our biblical forebear.
 
   Displaying their customary respect for Jewish holy sites, the Palestinian attackers had surrounded the compound, strafed it with automatic-weapons fire and attempted to seize it by force.
 
   Rather than standing firm in the face of the Palestinian onslaught, Barak chose instead to make history of the most dubious sort. He issued an unprecedented order for the IDF to pull out under fire and surrender territory to the Palestinians as a direct result of violence.
 
   The abandonment of Joseph’s Tomb, we were assured at the time, was not permanent, but rather a tactical move dictated by the situation on the ground. Back on October 7, 2000, just hours after the last IDF soldiers had evacuated from the area, the website of Yediot Aharonot reported in a banner headline, “Israel pulls out of Joseph’s Tomb – ‘Temporarily.’ “
 
   But here we are, nearly a decade later, and the Tomb still remains “temporarily” abandoned by the Jewish state, in what has become a mark of shame for our people and our country.
 
   Indeed, who can forget the painful scenes that followed the withdrawal, when a frenzied mob of Palestinians armed with sledgehammers hacked and smashed the tomb to pieces?
 
   And what about the prayer books and other Jewish religious objects that were set alight, as the throng celebrated the destruction they had wrought?
 
   Coming just a week after the start of what came to be known as the Second Intifada, the pullout from Joseph’s Tomb fanned the flames of Palestinian rejectionism, which continue to smolder to the present day.
 
   The withdrawal set a dangerous example for the Palestinians that resorting to carnage and terror does pay, which only continues to inspire them to dream of ejecting us from the region through violence and mayhem.
 
   And that is precisely why it is so crucial that Israel reassert control over Joseph’s Tomb. We cannot and must not allow this affront to Jewish history to stand, especially now when so much pressure is being brought to bear on Israel to make still more concessions to the Palestinians.
 
   It is therefore time to turn back the clock and reclaim this part of our ancestral patrimony.
 
   Don’t believe those in the media and on the Left who cast doubt on the authenticity of the tomb, mockingly suggesting that it belongs to an unknown Arab sheikh. Nothing could be further from the truth.
 
   For example, the late Dr. Zvi Ilan, one of Israel’s foremost archeologists, described Joseph’s Tomb as “one of the tombs whose location is known with the utmost degree of certainty and is based on continuous documentation since Biblical times” (Tombs of the Righteous in the Land of Israel, p. 365).
 
   The Book of Joshua (24:32) states explicitly, “The bones of Joseph which the Children of Israel brought up from Egypt were buried in Shechem in the portion of the field that had been purchased by Jacob.”
 
   Ancient rabbinic texts such as the Midrash mention the site, as did the early Church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, who visited it nearly 1,700 years ago. Arab geographers, medieval Jewish pilgrims, Samaritan historians and even 19th- century British cartographers all concur regarding the site and its location.
 
   Prior to the Palestinian takeover in October 2000, the tomb’s compound was host to a yeshiva, and it was visited by thousands of Jewish worshipers annually.
 
   So there is no doubt that Joseph’s Tomb really is the tomb of Joseph, son of the biblical patriarch Jacob. And we owe it to him – and to ourselves – to take it back and raise the Israeli flag once again over the compound.
 
   Twice in Jewish history, Joseph was forsaken by his brothers and handed over to foreign control. The first time was in the biblical story, when he was tossed into a pit and sold to traveling merchants. The second time was in October 2000, when his tomb was surrendered to Palestinian rioters.
 
   It is not too late to right this historical wrong. Doing so will send a message to our enemies that we shall never again retreat under fire, and that we will defend our right to live and worship in this land as we see fit.
 

   So let’s at last do what should have been done long ago – take back Joseph’s Tomb, and with it, our self-respect as well.

 

 

   Michael Freund served as deputy director of communications & policy planning in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office under Benjamin Netanyahu from 1996 to 1999. He is founder and chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people.

Part 21 – Therapy For Marriage And Parenting Issues

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

There are some marital issues that are too sensitive for a couple to handle alone.  These issues might include mistrust; lack of marital satisfaction; conflict involving in-laws, friends, siblings, and children; verbal abuse; and so on. When dealing with such problems, the best course is to ask a professional outside party for advice and opinions.

 

Why You Should Receive Expert Advice

Many people hesitate to receive expert advice because they are unfamiliar with it and feel uncomfortable. But professional advice is helpful and important because relationship experts have studied and dealt with similar or identical situations to yours, and can assist you in seeing your situation from many perspectives with several solutions, of which one or more will best suit you and your marriage.

No matter what your marital trouble may be, always remember these important steps:

 

  • Acknowledge and accept the problem.
  • Ask yourself why the problem troubles you.
  • Approach your spouse with your thoughts and feelings.
  • Talk it out.
  • Stay rational.
  • Seek an expert’s opinion and advice.

 

If after evaluating your marriage, you have found unresolved areas of tension, it’s important to try to resolve them before they spill over into the life of your children.  Improving your marriage may be the most important thing you can do to help them.

Therapy in Action

A few years ago, a couple, Sarah and Joseph, came to see me about their son, Moshe, 16, who was experiencing extreme difficulty in school. Moshe did not have any serious learning problems.  In fact, he was exceptionally bright and capable of succeeding in school.  His problem was that he was frequently missing class.  Recently he had started leaving school and spending time in an unknown location. Moshe’s parents were naturally concerned for his future.

When I first met Sarah and Joseph, I was immediately struck by how unhappy their marriage seemed to be.  Joseph was quiet and reserved, compared to his wife, who was extremely worried about whether everything was all right with her son. When they tried to explain to me why they thought Moshe was in trouble, the discussion always seemed to turn into an argument. Joseph believed that his wife’s inability to nurture their son was the cause of Moshe’s school issues.  Sarah, on the other hand, believed that the source of the problem was Joseph’s inability to communicate in a warm way with their son.

Here is a dialogue from one of our sessions:

Daniel Schonbuch (DS): Tell me more about the general atmosphere in the house.

Sarah: Well, our family time is not very enjoyable.  I would say that Shabbos meals are the most difficult time of our week.  To start with, Joseph doesn’t run a very nice Shabbos meal. He is so tired from work that when Shabbos rolls around, he goes to shul, makes Kiddush, and then totally withdraws into himself.

DS: Is Shabbos that hard for you?

Joseph: Look, it’s not that I don’t care about my family; it’s just that I feel so burnt out after work.  When I come home, the kids are always yelling and I just want some peace and quiet.  I guess on Shabbos I just need a break.

Sarah: It’s worse than that.  You never have time for the kids or for me.  When you’re home, you just surf on the Internet, and on Shabbos you read the newspaper. Don’t you realize that Moshe needs to talk to you?

DS: I guess things are hard during Shabbos. What about your own relationship outside of your children?  How well do you get along?

Sarah: To be perfectly honest, we don’t have much of a relationship.  Joseph isn’t very excited about talking to me and we never go on vacation anymore.

Joseph: That’s not true. Last Pesach we went away to Florida for the first days of Pesach.

Sarah: We barely talked the entire week. I think you enjoyed being with your friends more than you enjoyed being with us.

Joseph: What do you want from me?  I tried my best.  I can’t stand when everyone is nagging — your parents, the kids, you.

DS: Have you been having trouble relating for some time?

Sarah: Yes.  I would say for about the last three years.

DS: Why?  What was going on in your lives three years ago?

Sarah: Well, my husband is in computers, and after 9/11 his company started downsizing and he lost his job.

DS: What did you do?

Joseph: I was on unemployment for about four months until I found another job.

DS: Are you happier now?

Joseph: Not really.  It’s an average job, and I don’t really enjoy the work I am doing.  However, it does pay the bills.

DS: That’s a big burden, having to support your family doing something you don’t enjoy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/part-21-therapy-for-marriage-and-parenting-issues/2009/07/03/

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