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July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘land of israel’

At Any Price

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Over the past few days I’ve seen numerous articles, effectively open letters to Obama, suggesting courses of action while here in Israel. I believe it much more important, not to advise the President, rather to speak to Israeli leaders, those now holding the reins of power in our country.

Most groups that I guide here in Hebron visit, among other places, the museum in Beit Hadassah. This site allows people to receive, over a few minutes, a comprehensive education about the history of Jewish Hebron, over hundreds of years.

One of the most emotional places in the museum is the memorial room, dedicated to the memory of 67 Jews slaughtered in Hebron during the riots in August, 1929. In words and photos, people can understand, in a relatively short period of time, the background to the atrocities committed by their next door neighbors, and the subsequent consequences.

A day prior to the beginning of the massacre, Thursday, August 22, a group of Jews belonging to the Hagana, the Jewish defense organization, visited Hebron and met with the Jewish community leaders. They offered them weapons, saying that Mufti Haj Amin El Husseini was inciting and trouble was about to erupt. Hebron’s Jews refused to take the weapons, explaining that this would only act as a provocation, that they’d already met with the city’s Arab leadership, who promised to protect them. As a result, when, the next day, the rioting commenced, they had no means of protection. The results are history.

Upon conclusion of this explanation, I express two thoughts to my audience: First, in 1967, during the Six Day War, Israel did not conquer and occupy a foreign city when arriving in Hebron. Rather, they had come home. And second: We must be able to protect ourselves. Not only on an individual basis; rather on a national level. When Israel puts its security in the hands of others, the only thing we receive in return are dead Jews. Oslo left Israeli security with Arafat. The result: some 2,000 people killed by Arab terror. Israel abandoned Gaza to the Arabs and have paid a price of some 13,000 rockets and missiles shot into Israel from the land we gave them.

These are the same two thoughts which Israeli leaders must recite to themselves, as well as to their guests, in the coming days. Israel is our homeland. Hebron is the heart of Israel. Beit El is the path via which the Patriarch Abraham toured our land, and was literally a stairway to Heaven. Shilo was home to our most sacred sanctuary for hundreds of years. And of course, Jerusalem is our eternal capital.

Israel is facing a seemingly lethal threat from Iran. Syrian weapons of mass destruction may fall into the hands of Hizballah and Hamas. We cannot and must not allow responsibility for our security to be in the hands of anyone else but ourselves. Not at any time.

While speaking of ‘settlements’ in Judea and Samaria, while discussing Jerusalem and the other holy cities in our Land, our leaders can pose simple questions to Obama and Kerry: ‘Would you, in return for a peace accord with Al-Qaeda, give them Boston or Philadelphia?” “Would you grant them total autonomy or sovereignty in a section of Washington D.C.?”

And while discussing Syria’s chemical weapons, and Iran’s nuclear weapons program, “would you allow Canada to decide if and when the United States should attack and destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons’ facilities?

Rafael Medoff, in an op-ed piece titled, Obama, FDR and Zionism in today’s Jerusalem Post, basically expresses the bottom line: 

By 1942, FDR was so averse to being seen as pro- Zionist that he rejected even a request to permit the Palestine (Jewish) Symphony Orchestra to name one of its theaters the “Roosevelt Amphitheatre… [We] asked the President about refugees, the White Paper, etc. What he proposed to do about these things. [We] made a number of suggestions to him as to what [we] thought he ought to do and the answer to all of these suggestions was ‘No’… David Niles, a close adviser to FDR, once remarked that if Roosevelt had lived (and thus Harry Truman remained vice president), he probably would not have supported the creation of Israel, and as a result the Jewish state might never have been established.

This was the ‘almighty FDR,’ who, in 1933 said:

The German authorities are treating the Jews shamefully and the Jews in this country are greatly excited. But this is also not a governmental affair. We can do nothing except for American citizens who happen to be made victims.

And what about the ‘almighty BHO’. How will he be quoted fifty or sixty years from now? “I really was very sorry, but there wasn’t anything we could do, it was too late…”

Aliya: What’s it All About?

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

The Hebrew term “Aliya” literally means “elevation.” The term is widely used in the Jewish culture to describe being called up to recite the blessings on the Torah reading in the synagogue, as well as to describe immigration of Jewish people to the land of Israel. Each of these Aliya opportunities is considered to be a great honor.

In Jewish thought, the land of Israel is considered to be higher than the lands of the other nations. The diaspora is considered a punishment – banishment from our homeland, the special land singled out from among all others in the Bible and allocated by God himself for a nation which was also singled out for a special mission: to be a light unto the nations.

Some ponder the reason God Almighty would give this land, of all others, to the people that he loves so much. Could he not have picked one with at least some natural resources? The Arabs got the oil, the Africans precious stones and metals. What does the land of Israel have to offer?

With that in mind, the special connection of the people of Israel with their homeland is a phenomenon which is hard to explain in rational or pragmatic terms. But the fact remains that for 2000 years, the Jewish people retained their devotion to their land in a manner unique throughout all humanity. There is no other people in history that survived an exile for so long, while retaining their national identity and yearning to return to their homeland.

The Jewish people spread our in a diaspora which reached every location in the world. Three times every day, all through that time, we would turn towards the holy capital city, Jerusalem, and pray that God would have mercy on us and allow us to return to our land and rebuild our country and again live as a sovereign nation.

This new blog is about Aliya and living in the land. I will use this platform to share my own experiences and enthusiasm about this wonderful historic opportunity, as well as to discuss the unique challenges in making Aliyah and some practical aspects, in hopes of encouraging other Jews to make the move and return home to Israel.

Please feel free to ask questions.

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Twenty-Eight: Waiting for the Baron

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

When word arrived that Baron Edmond Rothschild was coming for a visit, with none other than the famous Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the colony turned into a frantic beehive of activity. Since the death of Theodor Herzl, Weizmann had become one of the driving forces behind the Zionist movement in Europe. The Russian-born chemist had become a leader of the World Zionist Congress, and his diplomatic skill, erudition, per­sonal magnetism, and dedication to the Zionist cause had won the respect of political leaders throughout the world. The rumor of the pending visit was started by the driver of the monthly supply wagon on one of his trips out of Zichron Yaacov. He said that the Baron and Weizmann were due to arrive in Palestine for an inspection of all of the settlements, and that the Morasha region was being considered as the next major development area of both the Keren Keyemet, Jewish National Fund, and the Jew­ish Colony Association. That meant a possible investment of millions and millions of francs to turn the quiet village of Morasha into a bustling agricultural center. The billionaire phi­lanthropist and the charismatic political leader were known to be friends, and if they were impressed by what they saw on their visit, it was almost certain that the Baron would spread money like fertiLazer throughout the hillsides of Morasha.

In the excitement, no one bothered to ask how the driver of the monthly supply wagon was privileged to such exclusive information. As the news spread from settler to settler, the dream of transforming the struggling yishuv into a model metropolis seemed absolutely assured. Someone said that the scientific-minded Weizmann planned to build a university on the crest of the Morasha hillside. Another said the area was slated to be turned into a modern industrial park. It was even rumored that the Baron Rothschild was thinking of Morasha as the site of a new summer mansion.

Hearing these wild fantasies, Tevye scoffed.

A boobe-miseh if I ever heard one,” he said. “And I sup­pose that the Mashiach is on his way too.”

His reference was to the Jewish messiah, whom the Jews had expected for two-thousand years. Faithful to the promises of the Prophets and Sages, the Jews waited for his coming every day. The Hasidim were especially on alert for his arrival. If nightfall came without a sign of his appearance, they took solace that certainly the Mashiach would come the very next day to usher in the awaited age of salvation. It was a dream Tevye had fostered every day of his life. He believed it with all of his soul. If only the Jews would return to their Maker in repentance, surely the scion of King David would come to rescue the downtrodden nation.

Tevye was far more skeptical regarding the coming of Baron

Rothschild.  But when the Company manager, LeClerc, arrived with the very same news, Tevye also caught the fast-spreading fever. His imagination proved as fertile as his neighbors. Not only would Morasha become the Paris of the Middle East, Tevye could very well become one of the wealthiest men in the region. Stranger things had happened in life. Hadn’t Joseph, the simple shepherd boy, become ruler of the mighty land of Egypt? Every schoolboy knew the story. And what was the secret of Joseph’s success? His dreams!

LeClerc assembled the settlers together outside of the barn as the sun sank over the distant ocean. The historic visit, he said, was just three days away. Because of political developments in Europe, the entourage had embarked sooner than planned. After brief stops in Rishon Le Zion and Zichron Yaacov, the Baron and the Doctor of Chemistry were arriving in Morasha to scout the site them­selves to determine if the expansive, virgin region could be transformed into a center of Jewish immigration for the hundreds of thousands of Jews whose lives were being threatened by the worsening persecutions in Russia.

Needless to say, LeClerc continued, it was imperative that the Morasha colony and its settlers put on their finest appear­ance. To this end, a shipment was due to arrive the next day with building supplies, paint, flowers and plants, new clothes for the settlers, and enough food to prepare a banquet for a king.

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Twenty-Seven: Hodel Leaves Perchik

Monday, February 18th, 2013

   Overnight, Tevye’s new cottage became a warm, haimisher home. In reality, the hastily built structure was merely a hut with a roof, but in the eyes of the newlyweds, it was a royal abode. The morning after the wedding, as if in a dream, the aroma of freshly baked bread awakened the groom. With a feeling of wonder, Tevye watched his beautiful wife prepare him a breakfast of goat’s cheese, olives, and the traditional Yemenite bread, malawach.      “You missed the morning minyan,” she said.

“That’s to be expected,” Tevye answered with a smile. “After all, I am a new chatan.” Indeed, he felt like a groom.

“Are you happy?” she asked.

“Very,” he answered. “I am the happiest man in the world.”

Carmel blushed and went back to the tiny brick oven in the corner of the hut which served as a kitchen. Tevye pulled a curtain along the cord which divided the sleeping area from the salon. He dressed and stepped outside to wash his hands and his face in a basin of water. Nachman and Shmuelik were learning in the synagogue when Tevye stepped in to pray. They stood up and shook Tevye’s hand and wished him more mazal tovs.”

“May your own wedding be soon,” Tevye said to Shmuelik.

“From your lips to God’s ears,” the bachelor responded.

“Why didn’t you wake me to pray with the others?” Tevye asked as he donned his tefillin.

“A chatan is a king for the first year of his marriage,” Nachman answered. “And a king deserves his rest. So we decided to go ahead without you.”

“Some king,” Tevye answered. “There is work to be done.”

“A one-day vacation won’t kill you. Take it easy. Go on a long walk with your wife. Don’t worry. Your work will be waiting for you.”

Tevye grumbled. It was true, he needed a rest. He felt like a ragged shmatte. With all of the tumult leading up to the wedding, his mind was as drained as his body. But, thank God, the demon had fled. Blessed with new insight, he realized that even that madness and the crazy scheme of the Muktar had been sent by the Lord, to rescue him from the barn and bring him to wed. Praise be the work of the Lord.

After davening, he returned to the house. With a shy, nervous blush, Carmel set his breakfast before him as if she were serving a king. Silently, she poured him a hot cup of tea. Before he had finished eating, she had already swept the floor. Then, without stopping for a moment, she hung a yellow curtain in the window and spread an embroidered quilt on their bed. Tevye had to rise up his feet as she unrolled the hand-woven rug which the Muktar had given them for a present. Not to sit idle and stare, Tevye unpacked the candlesticks he had brought from Anatevka and set them on the dresser which Reb Shilo had made. Originally, the candlesticks had belonged to his mother. When Tevye had married, she had given them to Golda.

“Every Sabbath evening, my wife, Golda, would light the Sabbath candles and say a special prayer, recalling my father and mother,” Tevye told his new wife.

“I will recall them also,” Carmel said softly.

Alongside the candlesticks, Tevye placed his Bible and the six volumes of Mishna which Nachman and Ruchel had given to the newlyweds as a gift. To help bring the blessing of Torah into Tevye’s new house, Reb Guttmacher had volunteered to come over every evening to study with the “chatan” as he liked to call Tevye. And, amazingly, Tevye felt like a groom. For the first time in ages, he looked forward to the mornings, as if he had a new lease on life. After all, would God have given him such a tender young ewe if his own end was near? Overnight, he felt strong and invincible, as he had as a youth. The Lord God of Israel was with him, filling him with a confidence and joy that he wanted to share with the world.

He even accomplished twice as much work in the field. Miraculously, his back stopped aching, and instead of crashing to sleep on the floor of the barn immediately after the evening prayers, the whole first week of the wedding, he and his bride feasted and celebrated with friends hours into the night. His joy was so great, he failed to notice that behind his Hodel’s smile was a deeply troubled heart. All through the week, she was silent, not wanting to spoil her father’s great joy. Of course, when Carmel’s brother, Yigal, had come to Shoshana to fetch her to the wedding, she had been astonished and pleased with the news. But it was hard to wear a smile when her own marriage was falling apart.

‘Moral Authority,’ Jewish Style

Monday, February 11th, 2013

There’s an interesting article in the Jewish Press by Joe Settler which hinges on the concept of “Moral Authority.”

When a drafter of Israel’s Constitution says there is a problem because too many IDF commanders are religious, we need to worry about what kind of Constitution he is drafting.

“I meant, that as long as there is no solution for the source of the authority in the IDF in general, and specifically, including the integration of women [because listening to women sing, is the biggest problem the army faces], the problems will grow and increase. As the number of religious soldiers and commanders grow, since the authority of their Rabbis is what rules for them, the size of the problem will get larger. More and more officers and soldiers will find themselves indecisive when they face this conflict.” Dr. Arye (Arik) Carmon, head of the Israel Democracy Institute For many years, I’ve been troubled by the fact that even Torah observant (aka Orthodox) Rabbis, especially American Yeshiva University educated ones, such as Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein, have somehow added non-Jewish concepts/ideologies of Liberalism and Democracy to the 613 mitzvot, Torah commandments.

We Jews have a much more veteran and well documented social and political philosophy/ideology in our Torah and Talmud.  It actually contradicts many modern “moral” philosophies/ideologies, because it’s timeless.

I was especially disturbed in the troubling times leading to the Disengagement expulsions when so-called Torah observant rabbis said that a Knesset vote could over-ride the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel and even banish Jews from their homes, communities and businesses.

ישוב הארץ Yishuv Ha’Aretz, the Settling of the Land is a cornerstone of Judaism, and a large portion of the Torah is centered on it.

The Torah is our MORAL AUTHORITY.  Without it, we Jews couldn’t have had survived as a People during the thousands of years of exile from our Holy Land.  Our Land and our Torah are what has kept us a people.

Last night, I was at a shiur by  Inbal Amiton – “Believe and plant: The Redemption of Land as a Reflection of the Redemption of the Nation, According to Yirmiyahu 32”  in Matan.  Amiton said that according to Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah,) first G-d will return us to the Land and then we will do Teshuva, repent.

I see the process of Torah observant Jews growing in the IDF (Israeli Army) as proof that it is happening today.

Israel’s secular and quasi-secular/religious  leaders don’t understand that our true Moral Authority is G-d given.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Twenty-Six: Tevye Takes a Wife

Monday, February 11th, 2013

  Both of Elisha’s two grown daughters were golden-skinned, beautiful, devoutly religious, and nearly half Tevye’s age. The eldest daughter, Carmel, was naturally the first choice of the parents, but Elisha told Tevye he could marry whomever he picked. Embarrassed by the whole distressing business, and wanting the matter to be concluded as discreetly as possible, Tevye told him that Carmel would be fine.      Tevye had never been a man to pay much attention to women, except for his wife, Golda, of course, but now and then on the settlement, he had noticed that Elisha’s eldest daughter far surpassed all of the other young women, not only in beauty, but also in the industrious way that she worked. Whether it was in the dining tent, the chicken coop, or the fields, she seemed to do twice as much work as the others. Now that a match was in the making, Tevye helped himself to a few extra looks. Being a man with a great lust for life and a healthy appreciation of the Almighty’s Creation, he could not help but notice how truly pretty she was. But her youth made him feel so uneasy, he wanted to forget the whole crazy scheme. As if to make sure, he snuck into Ruchel’s house and searched for a mirror. A long time had passed since he had seen his reflection, and now when he stared into her looking glass, he could only shake his head sadly at the old bearded goat that stared back. True, he had not turned grey completely, but white hairs were beginning to sprout in his beard and along the sides of his head like patches of weeds. Catching him with the mirror, Ruchela teased him for being so vain. She said that the “silver” in his hair lent him an air of nobility and wisdom. Laughing, she told him to stop worrying about getting old. But it was not only his age which bothered Tevye. Suddenly, he noticed that his belly had grown rounder and softer, his teeth had yellowed and chipped, and his back ached so painfully that some mornings he had to summon all of his strength to get out of bed. “It’s all in your mind,” Ruchel said. “Besides, Carmel is a woman already with a mind of her own.”

To make certain that Carmel was not being forced into the marriage, Tevye sent his daughter on a mission to speak to the bride. He wanted her to know what a broken-down husband she was getting. Tevye himself was too embarrassed to go. Since the day he had agreed to the marriage and shaken hands with the father, Tevye had hardly spoken a word to the young girl herself. For one thing, she was shy, and whenever she glanced at him with her dark, sparkling eyes, Tevye was flabbergasted completely. Suddenly, Tevye, the orator, had nothing to say. Whenever he was next to her, he became as tongue-tied as Moses had been when he had discovered the burning bush.

Ruchel came back with a glowing report. Carmel was all smiles, the happiest girl in the world. For months, she had been casting secret glances at Tevye, her father’s best friend. If her father thought highly of him, that was enough for Carmel. The difference in their ages didn’t bother her at all. On the contrary, she told Ruchel that Tevye’s great wisdom would help them build a proper Jewish house. What bothered Carmel the most, Ruchel said, was her own insecurity in being so young. After all, Tevye hardly ever said a word to her, certainly because he was so learned and worldly, and she was so naive and unschooled.

“What did you answer?” Tevye asked.

“I said that while it was true that you ranked with the likes of Rashi and the Rambam, you also enjoyed talking to horses and cows, and that she shouldn’t let your big beard make her think you were as old as Methusalah.”

Tevye nodded. It was good that a wife should feel some awe for her husband. True, Golda hadn’t. But she had lived with Tevye for twenty-five years and seen him in his weakest moments, like when he had let her cousin Menachem Mendel squander all of their savings on stocks. He realized that Elisha’s daughter saw him as a philosopher, a statesman, a pioneer builder. It was important, therefore, that he remain bigger than life in her eyes, and not let her find out that he was really an ordinary nebick like everyone else.

When Tevye Healed the Muktar’s Daughter

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

For readers who think I’m exaggerating when I claim that “Tevye in the Promised Land” is unquestionably one of the greatest Jewish novels ever written, here’s an excerpt from this week’s Jewish Press serialization.

When the daughter of the Muktar from a neighboring village becomes bedridden with hepatitis, the Arab chieftain sends an emergency delegation to bring Tevye to heal her. In order to promote peace between the Arabs and the Jews, Tevye goes to the village and tries a proven, old-fashion remedy on the Muktar’s beautiful daughter….

From Chapter 25:

Before letting the Jews start on their way, the Muktar begged Tevye to pray for his daughter.

“Allah answers the prayers of the Jews,” he said.

What choice did Tevye have? The Arabs were their neighbors. The Muktar, in a way, was his friend. There was nothing in the Bible which forbade a Jew from praying for the health of a gentile. On the contrary, Abraham prayed for the Philistine king, Avimelech, and the king and his wife were healed. And the liturgy of Rosh HaShana, one of the holiest days of the year, was filled with prayers for all of mankind. So Tevye prayed, “May the Almighty heal the Muktar‘s daughter.”

Ten days later, the Abdul Abdulla showed up once again in Morasha. This time his daughter was with him. Like a princess, she rode in a wagon, swathed in a shawl and a veil which covered her cheeks. Flowers, the color of a sunset, were braided into her hair like a crown. Tevye was working in his garden when the Muktar rushed up and embraced him. His daughter had miraculously recovered. His friend Tevye had saved her from death. The very same day that Tevye had come to their village, the sick girl had stood on her feet. The next day, her color had returned to her face.

“See for yourself,” the happy Muktar said, pointing at his daughter.

With the veil hiding the lower half of her face, it was hard to tell how she was feeling. But the look of deep gratitude in her black, flashing eyes told Tevye that she had recovered.

The Muktar barked at his daughter, obviously commanding her to lower the veil for the doctor. When her fingers pushed the silk strands away, Tevye understood why Abdulla was so passionately concerned about his eldest daughter. She was, by all standards, a beauty.

“I can never repay you enough,” the chief said. “But to show you my gratitude, I want to give you my daughter in marriage. She will convert to your religion. She will learn to speak Hebrew. I promise you, she will be an obedient wife.”

Tevye was dumbfounded. For one of the few times in his life, he couldn’t find words.

The Arab held out his hand for his daughter to come down from the wagon. A slender golden leg appeared from the folds of her sari-like gown as she stepped down to the ground. Flustered, Tevye glanced away at his garden.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” the Muktar asked, proudly displaying the girl, as if she were a horse in the market.

Gracefully, like a snake in the grass, the girl moved forward in her long flowing dress. She was young, yes, but a woman all the same. Long black hair cascaded over her shoulders. Embarrassed, Tevye couldn’t find words.

“Please,” Abdulla said. “Take her. She’s yours.”

With the Muktar grabbing his arm, it was impossible for Tevye not to gaze at the girl. But even if a flood of raging waters were to smash the dam inside him, he would never, never give in. Some things were unthinkable. Some things could never be condoned. How could he ever face God? And how could he ever look at his daughters? What would become of all he had taught them if he himself were to be conquered by the wild beating in his heart? No, he would rather spend his life in the barn with the horses and cows than take some strange Delilah for a wife.

“Save me, dear Golda, save me,” he thought, clinging to her memory with all of his might.

“I will give you a rich dowry with land and with horses when you take her,” the Arab chief promised. “The marriage will be like a peace treaty between our two peoples.”

Tevye shook his head. No, no, it never could be. But he couldn’t find the right words to answer.

“Isn’t it written in your Bible that a man should not live alone? Allah heard your prayers and brought my girl back to life. Now she is yours forever.”

Tevye shook his head. He glanced at the girl, and her eyes flashed a look of unabashed gratitude, so bold and direct that Tevye felt as if a bomb had gone off in his head. He looked down at the ground, but even the mere sight of her sandaled foot made him shudder.

“Golda, save me,” he prayed…
HAPPY READING!

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