web analytics
December 3, 2016 / 3 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘learn’

Lieberman – Learn Some Torah!

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook writes that the absolute unity of the Nation of Israel and the Land of Israel can only be fully understood by the deep and holy thinkers amongst the Jewish People. Obviously, Avigdor Lieberman is not among them. In his first address as Israel’s new Minister of Defense, he stated, “When there is a conflict between the values of the unity of the Nation or the wholeness of the Land, the unity of the Nation comes first.” He said this to justify his support of a two-state solution. Besides showing his disdain for the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who fervently believe that all of the Land of Israel should be under Israeli sovereignty, he doesn’t understand the deep spiritual connection between the Nation and the Land.

Just as Hashem is One, the Land of Israel and the Nation of Israel are one. Just as you cannot divide the Torah, you cannot divide the Nation, nor the Land. If you do, G-d forbid, you shatter the light of Hashem in the world. The wholeness of the Torah and the wholeness of the Nation, and of the Land of Israel, go together, like the wholeness of Hashem.

Rabbi Kook chose to begin his book, “Orot,” his classic study on the Nation of Israel in our time, with a chapter on the Land of Israel. In his very first sentence, he writes:

“Eretz Yisrael is not a peripheral matter, an external acquisition of the Nation; it is not merely a means toward the goal of the general coalescing of the nation, nor of strengthening its material existence, nor even its spiritual.

“Eretz Yisrael is an independent unit, bound with a living attachment with the Nation, bound with inner Segulot with the Nation’s existence.

“As a result, it is impossible to comprehend the essence of the inner Segula of the holiness of Eretz Yisrael, and to reveal the depths of its love, through any form of human conceptualization; but only through the Spirit of Hashem which acts on the Nation as a whole… and which beats in the hearts of the holy thinkers and those who are involved in the deep contemplations of Israel.”

In this essay and our next, we will try to explain this very deep concept, which is explained in greater depth in our book, “Eretz Yisrael,” which I wrote with Rabbi David Samson. https://www.createspace.com/3604549

To comprehend the depths of Rabbi Kook’s writing, we first must recognize that the world has both a physical and spiritual dimension. A world perspective encompassing the physical and spiritual worlds does not come easily. Much work is needed to activate our inner natures, and to cultivate our spiritual powers. This is our task as Jews and as a holy Nation – to link the physical world with the Divine. As Rabbi Kook makes clear, Eretz Yisrael is the G-d given place ideally suited for this task.

Upon a superficial examination, one might think that our attachment to Eretz Yisrael is based merely on a historical relationship, or on the need for a homeland to bring our oppressed and scattered people together. Rabbi Kook rejects this understanding outright. He calls upon us to probe beyond surface explanations toward a much deeper contemplation. Our connection to the Land of Israel, like the connection of the soul to the body, transcends rational explanations. The connection is a deep spiritual bond. Rabbi Kook tells us that Eretz Yisrael is an intrinsic and inseparable part of the Nation, a deep inner root of the Nation’s existence – and not merely a branch.

For instance, our connection to Eretz Yisrael is not dependent on history. Eretz Yisrael was given to Avraham Avinu without previous historical connection. The bond between Avraham and the Land was

not based on any external reason. The Brit between Avraham and the Land was Divine. Only in the Holy Land can the NATIONAL life of the Chosen People be totally uplifted to G-d. Prophecy, and the many mitzvot which are unique to the Land, and the Beit Hamikdash’s exclusive location only in Jerusalem, are all manifestations of this Divine connection. It is an attachment based on Ruach Hakodesh, Divine Inspiration, beyond scientific inquiry and rational explanation. This first essay of Orot introduces us to this higher vision and to the need to perceive Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael in a deeper, more poignant light. Thus, Rabbi Kook writes:

“Eretz Yisrael is not a peripheral matter.”

The Hebrew word, “Hitzoni,” in this important first sentence has the meaning of external, superficial, peripheral, secondary; a side matter lacking central importance – something which is not integrally vital to existence. Before explaining what the Land of Israel is in positive terms, Rabbi Kook tells us what the Land of Israel is not. He first rejects the mistaken understanding which views Eretz Yisrael as a means to a goal, and not as a goal in itself. He wants to negate the opinion which maintains that while the Land of Israel has historical and even strategic importance, it is not something vital to Jewish existence. People like Avigor Lieberman who don’t understand this are willing to let foreign peoples, and enemies of the Jewish People, rule over large chunks of the Land of Israel.

A simple example will help us understand the difference between an external matter and the central matter itself. When a person wakes up in the morning, he dresses and begins his daily routines. The clothes he chooses to wear are an important part of his day, but they are not the person himself. While there is a popular expression, “The clothes make the man,” one readily recognizes the superficiality of this phrase. Though a person may feel more attractive wearing a blue shirt than a

black one, his choice of attire does not represent his essential self. Joseph Cohen remains Joseph Cohen whatever suit of clothes he wears.

In the case of the Jewish People and the Land of Israel, the relationship is not an external one. The connection between the Jewish People and the Land of Israel is not a peripheral matter. On the contrary, the Nation of Israel and the Land of Israel are inseparably united. As Rabbi Kook will explain, the Land of Israel is an absolute foundation of the Jewish Nation. The Jewish people without the Land of Israel are not the essential Jewish People, but rather a mere shadow of their inner potential.

The thought that Eretz Yisrael is an accessory to Judaism, and not a central pillar in itself, is a tragic distortion which was caused by the nearly 2000 year exile of the Jewish People from the Land of Israel. After years of wandering in foreign countries, scattered among the gentiles, and separated from our Homeland, our orientation to the Land of Israel became distorted and confused. Instead of being a day-to-day reality integral to our lives, Eretz Yisrael became a faraway dream. In our Diaspora existence, the most important aspects of Judaism were the matters which affected our daily lives – Torah study, prayer, the Sabbath, Kashrut, and the mitzvot which we were still able to perform. Eretz Yisrael became something of secondary importance – a place to which we would one day return, but not an essential part of the Jewish experience.

This misconception results when we misunderstand the true culture of the Jewish People. The foundation of our culture is not just the holidays and the performance of precepts, but in our being the Nation which brings the word and blessing of G-d to the world. As we will learn, our NATIONAL attachment to G-d, and the blessing it funnels to the world, can be achieved exclusively through the Land of Israel.

Eretz Yisrael is the Land where the Shechinah appears, and where prophecy is transmitted to the Jewish People. Eretz Yisrael is the only place on earth where the Torah can be observed in all of its fullness. The commandments themselves were only given to be performed in Israel (See Ramban, Vayikra, 18:25). Our Sages teach that the commandments which we perform in the Diaspora are only reminders so we won’t forget how to do them until we can return to Israel to observe them properly (Sifre, Ekev, 11:18). The true value of the mitzvot is only in Eretz Yisrael. Outside the Land, the precepts have an educational value, but the Torah repeatedly tells us that Eretz Yisrael is the place for their performance. Accordingly, our Rabbis have told us that dwelling in Eretz Yisrael is equal in weight to all of the commandments of the Torah (Sifre, Reah, 80).

The Gaon of Vilna writes that in the Diaspora, we are like bodies lacking spirit – the physical shell of a people without inner life, scattered individuals and not our own sovereign Nation (Likutei HaGra, end of Safra D’Tzniuta. Ezekiel, 37, 12-14).

This seems preposterous. After all, the Jewish People survived in exile for nearly 2000 years. Many of our greatest Torah scholars lived in galut. Profound Talmudic works were written there. Orthodox communities thrived all over the world. How can this vast Jewish achievement be considered a mere physical shell lacking spirit?

First, it must be made clear that the lack of life and spirit referred to is not on the individual level, but in reference to our national life as Clal Yisrael. A proper understanding of Clal Yisrael, of the Jewish People as a whole, is vital to an encompassing understanding of Torah, and to the writings of Rabbi Kook. To understand the life-giving connection between the Jewish People and the Land of Israel, we first have to comprehend who we are as a Clal. The normal definition of a Clal is a collective, a gathering of individuals for the purpose of furthering a common goal. In a partnership, when the goals have been achieved, the

partners can split up and go their own way. The partnership or collective never takes on a life of its own, but rather only exists to serve the needs of its members. This is not the case with the Jewish People. Clal Yisrael is not just the sum total of the Jewish People at any one time. It is the eternal soul of the Nation, past, present, and future. It is a Divine creation, above time and physical space, which was formed before the world came into existence. The soul of the Jewish People, the Torah, and Eretz Yisrael are one. Their roots exist in transcendental unity in the most exalted realms of the Divine. They cannot be divided. For the Shechinah and Hashem’s blessing to appear in the world, the Torah, and the Jewish People, and the Land of Israel must be whole – all of the Jewish People, living a full life of Torah, in all of the Land of Israel.

The new Defense Minister doesn’t understand any of this, so he spouts what he spouts. Before continuing in his new job, he should sit down in the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva and learn a little something about the Land and the Nation he is supposed to defend – rather than being so willing to surrender our Homeland it to others. Rachmonis!

(To be continued…)

 

Tzvi Fishman

Here Are The Lessons Israel Needs To Learn From The Holocaust

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Once a year the entire nation of Israel commemorated the six million that were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. At exactly 10:00 am, sirens sound throughout the Jewish State and most of Israel’s citizens (Except the Arabs who deny the Holocaust and some radical Ultra Orthodox Jews who call themselves religious) stood in silence to remember and give respect to those who were murdered, burned, gassed and dehumanized by the Nazis and their collaborators.

Some keep their eyes shut in total silence remembering a family member who was murdered and some whisper a prayer in honor of the six million innocent Jewish souls that were violently ripped from this world.

Most years, I belong to the second group, but this year, I was lost in thought asking myself, why? Why remember?

What is it about that horrible time in Jewish and human history that is so important to remember? My grandmother (Z”L) who survived numerous camps and saved other Jews will never be forgotten by me, so why is it important to have a national memory of such a tragedy? What exactly am I remembering?

Is there someone who actually believes that our memory will prevent another Holocaust from happening? Look around!

Syria is murdering tens of thousands of people by gas and chemical weapons, Russia is conquering Ukraine and let’s not even get started with the amount of people who are being slaughtered throughout Africa!

Has the world learned anything?

My answer is an absolute NOT A THING!

Obama is a joke and has threatened Syria time and time again that if they dare use chemical weapons, the US will be forced to react. Hello? Does Obama watch the news?

Some say that the Holocaust should not be mixed up with politics, I say WRONG! Only when we remember just how low human nature can stoop will one have total political clarity.

It is very important to remember an American President who flew fighter jets over the train tracks that led millions to their death in Auschwitz but refused to bomb them because he didn’t want political “trouble, or the silence of the world as millions of Jews were burned, gassed and shot. These facts gives us total political clarity and reality, Israel will protect itself!

On July 7, shortly after the U.S. War Department refused requests from Jewish leaders to bomb the railway lines leading to the camps, a force of 452 Fifteenth Air Force bombers flew along and across the five deportation railway lines on their way to bomb Blechhammer oil refineries nearby

To remember a British leader who met, shook hands and was actually on the brink of signing an agreement with Hitler because he didn’t believe Hitler was a real threat!

The Munich Agreement – “Peace In Our Time”

And let us not forget our Muslim neighbors who seek “peace” with the Jewish State and claim that all our problems started when the modern day State of Israel was born in 1948.

Taken in 1943! No State No Settlements Just Islamic Anti Semitism!

Brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers were burned, gassed and treated like animals and the world said NOTHING! Nothing from France, nothing from England, nothing from America, nothing from anyone!

What do I learn from the Holocaust? I learn that the State of Israel is the ONLY true safe haven for Jews and we cannot trust anyone with our safety, security, military or Jewish survival.

Barack Obama and John Kerry say they are our friends, but they have been pressuring Israel into handing over more parts of the Land of Israel to Muslim occupiers and have recently forced us to to agree to a ceasefire with a fanatic Islamic terrorists organization called HAMAS!

Instead of the US President and Vice president siding with the Jewish State that has the same basic values as the US, they have taken sides with the people who hold the same terrorist ideology that was responsible for the murder of over 3,000 people when they blew up the Twin Towers!

When Abu Mazen signs an agreement with the terrorist organization Hamas, John Kerry blames Israel and warns that if Israel doesn’t make peace (give in to their demands) soon, the Arabs will start killing Jews! Really? Does that sound like a friend to you? To me it sounds like blackmail!

This Is Hamas!

Then Kerry says it was Israel’s refusal to release terrorists as well as the building of houses and kindergartens in JERUSALEM that is to blame for the failed peace process. Of course the fact that Abu Mazen has completely refused to recognize a Jewish State has absolutely nothing to do with it, right John! I am not even going to get started with the Hamas missile fire that the White House said nothing about till Israel reacted!

When I say NEVER AGAIN! I mean it and the time is now! Unfortunately not only is the world ignoring the dangers Israel is facing, Israel’s leaders themselves are ignoring the imminent dangers and are dreaming of signing a “peace” deal with those who idea of peace is war.

Bibi, the Arabs have no right to this land! Can they live here in peace? Yes! The Druze do, The Christians do and yes, there are plenty of Muslim Arabs who just want to live, but the second they talk of a national country within the Land of Israel, it’s time to say it loud and clear, NO WAY!

Read Also: The History Of Palestine 101

The motto ‘NEVER AGAIN’ has nothing to do with the Nazis. They like the Romans, Greeks and the Mussolini’s are all gone.

Never again means we will never again be so naive to believe the world when they say they will do something about the powers of evil, especially when those powers threaten Israel or the Jews!

We now know that even our greatest allies and friends will fly right over our heads and ignore the flames that burn our flesh!

We know that their political standing is more important than morality and certainly more important than a couple of Jews burning or being blown up by Muslim terrorists.

What do I learn from the Holocaust? There is only God to rely on and he is given us back the Land Of Israel as well as the IDF so that NEVER AGAIN will this little boy march to his death with his hands up in the air!

Don’t forget to join me on the IsraelShield Facebook Page as well as on @israel_shield on Twitter  to join the online debates!. We Always Win, We Can’t Afford To Lose!

@israel_shield

Authors Compose ‘Silly’ Sentences To Help English-Speakers Learn Hebrew

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Can’t recall that the Hebrew word for lightning is “barak”? Yael Breuer and Eyal Shavit have the perfect solution for you. Just remember: “The fastest car in the world belongs to Barack Obama. It goes like lightning.”Kitchen-050616

Breuer – born in Israel but currently living in Brighton, England – has been helping students learn Hebrew with such sentences for over two decades. “They’re silly,” she admits, “but that’s why they’re so fantastic. These kind of ridiculous, funny little sentences just stay in your mind and you remember the word.”

Several years ago, Breuer met Shavit at a gathering of Israeli ex-pats in Brighton and told him about her “silly” sentences. The two soon began composing and exchanging additional sentences for fun, and before they knew it, they had enough material for a book. In 2014, they published Hilarious Hebrew: The Fun and Fast Way to Learn the Language, containing mnemonics for 235 Hebrew words alongside playful illustrations.

“I think it’s a very enjoyable and valuable book,” said Shavit, who is a musician by profession. “It really turns people on to learning Hebrew.”

Mnemonics are especially helpful for English-speakers studying Hebrew, Breuer said, because “there’s no common ground between the languages. It’s not like if you’re Italian learning Spanish or French, where all these languages are connected. It’s completely alien. So, by using this method, the words actually stick in your mind.”

Elephant-050616Breuer said she recently bumped into a student she taught 22 years ago. When she asked her if she remembered her quirky sentences, the student replied, “Are you kidding me? These sentences are going with me to the grave!” and immediately cited one of Breuer’s oldest creations: “That’s a lovely house! I think I’m going to buy it” – bayit being the Hebrew word for house.

With Hilarious Hebrew now in its third printing, Breuer said she is unsure whether she and Shavit will collaborate on a volume two. The duo, however, occasionally post new mnemonics on their book’s Facebook page and Twitter account. One of their most recent, she said, is “I really feel like going to Bali” – “ba li” being slang for “I feel like.”

Additionally, Breuer said the pair are assisting a French woman who approached them about composing a similar book for French speakers. “Someone suggested we do a Chinese one. So who knows?” Breuer said.

In the meantime, the two are enjoying the positive response their work has received – the Jewish Agency in London liked it so much that it gave the book to new olim last summer as a gift, Breuer said – and continue to compose additional mnemonics.

“We are making up new sentence all the time,” Breuer said. “We can’t help it basically.”

For more information, visit www.HilariousHebrew.com.

Elliot Resnick

Attacked by Haredi, Officer Impounds his Hat, Forces him to Sit and Learn

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

IDF Major Rabbi Shraga Dahan this week arrived at the Chabad synagogue in Beit Shemesh dressed in his uniform, and was attacked verbally by a youth who called him “Hardak,” Haredim 10 reported.

The term Hardak is an offensive slur which represents both an acronym for Haredi Kal Da’at or Vain Haredi, but is also a combination of the words harak and haidak, which mean, respectively, insect and germ in Hebrew. The term was featured in an anonymous campaign that was begun back in 2013 by Haredim opposed to the draft, to attack their kin who decide to enlist. The purpose of what eventually became a nasty and occasionally violent campaign, was to create a public pressure that would discourage young Haredim who are contemplating service in the Army. The Hardak campaign also encompassed an attack on Haredi individuals who use smartphones, who were dubbed Modern Haredim. Beit Shemesh, a city outside Jerusalem which is split down the middle between Haredim in one section and Modern Orthodox and secular Jews in another, has been one of the most vocal hubs of the campaign.

Hardak campaign poster

Hardak campaign poster

According to Major Dahan, this was not the first time he had been attacked this way, but this time he decided to respond. “A year ago I was walking around [Haredi] Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet and they threw stuff at me, cups, etc, and cursed me out.” On a different occasion, Dahan was attacked when making a shiva call in Kiryat Malachi, despite the fact that he was accompanied by the neighborhood rabbi.

Dahan, a Chabad Hasid who serves as military chaplain, said he started to fear even walking through the Haredi neighborhoods of Jerusalem, such as Geula. “It’s not normal,” he said. “I’m not ashamed of what I do, should I apologize for representing Judaism in the IDF?”

Finally, being attacked inside his own synagogue was the straw that broke his camel’s back. He walked over to the catcalling youth and took away his hat. “I didn’t want to beat him up, I wanted him to understand what he had done,” Dahan explained. He then ordered the youth to sit down and recite a chapter of Tehilim for the wellbeing of IDF soldiers, if he wanted to get his hat back.

After 40 minutes of recitation, Dahan approached the youth again and offered to study together Chapter 32 in the Tanya, the foundation text of the Chabad Lubavitch movement. The chapter deals with loving one’s fellow Jew — suggesting all of Israel are called brothers because their souls are rooted in the same, singular God, only their bodies are distinct from each other. However, there can be no true love and fraternity between those who regard their bodies as primary and their souls secondary, it would only be a love based on an external factor (Source: Chabad.org).

The young man was reluctant at first, but eventually understood that if he wanted his hat back (it costs between $50 and $100 new), he’d better sit down with the rabbi in uniform and learn.

“To his credit, in the end he understood his mistake and heartfully begged my forgiveness,” Major Dahan said. “I asked him if he regretted his actions and would commit to never repeating them in the future and he answered yes.” Dahan believes this is the only way to reach Jewish extremists — learn with them about loving all of Israel.

“Let my reward be that I managed to bring some love of Israel during the period of the sefirah,” he concluded.

The period of 33 days beginning on the second day of Passover is considered a time of misfortune in Jewish history. It is part of the Sefirat Ha’Omer, the counting of the 49 days from the night after the seder leading up to the holiday of Shavuot, when the new grain will become permitted for eating.

JNi.Media

Nigeria’s Igbo Jews

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

By Shai Afsai

With noon temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, visitors to Habakkuk Nwafor’s family compound in Abuja seek shelter in a palm-fronds hut adjoining his private shrine. No grass grows through the sandy soil of the walled compound, while a mighty cashew tree that once offered shade was felled in a storm several years ago. A few paces from the hut and shrine is Tikvat Israel, the synagogue headed by Nwafor.

With no Nigerian rabbis, men like Nwafor, who began practicing Judaism in 2002, have assumed the mantle of religious leadership in Igbo Jewish communities. A competitive boxer in his youth, Nwafor, now in his mid-50s, works in construction and also raises goats and chickens, which roam freely about the compound.

Bearded, lean and muscular, he has a distinctly raspy voice and an intensely religious fervor. In the distance, beyond his synagogue, a towering and tree-lined mountain is visible, and it is there that Nwafor retreats by foot to fast and meditate in seclusion.

“Only hunters and animals are on the mountain. They do not trouble me,” he says. “I go there to talk with God.”

Like Nwafor, Tikvat Israel’s congregants are Igbo, who believing themselves to be descendants of Israelites who many centuries ago arrived in what is now Nigeria, identify themselves as Jews.

The Igbo, whose traditional homeland — Igboland — is in the southeastern portion of the country, are Nigeria’s third largest ethnic group. Most are Christian, but many Igbo, even while practicing Christianity, nonetheless consider themselves Jewish. In the past few decades, several thousand Igbo have taken this self-identification a step further and embraced Judaism, which they see as their lost heritage.

The phenomenon of Igbo identification with Jews dates to the 18th century, following the Igbo’s encounter with Christian missionaries and their introduction to the Bible, in which they found similarities between Igbo customs and those of the ancient Hebrews. Some Igbo, such as the 18th-century writer Equiano Olaudah, concluded “that the one people had sprung from the other,” an opinion shared by the worshipers at Tikvat Israel.

Earlier this year, Nwafor invited me to Abuja to celebrate the annual Purim holiday — the Jewish Festival of Lots, based on the biblical Book of Esther — as well as to learn more about Nigerian Jewry.

Upon exiting Abuja’s air-conditionless airport terminal, I was met by Nwafor, who was wearing a blue and white Tikvat Israel T-shirt. A waiting car took us to Kubwa, the neighborhood where Nwafor and his wife, Amaka, live with their children. For the next week I was their guest, and as my host, Nwafor never left my side, accompanying me on all my trips to homes, synagogues and sites in Abuja.

Among the many visitors who flocked to Nwafor’s compound after my arrival were four prayer leaders and Hebrew teachers who traveled over eight hours by bus from Igboland to meet with me. The knowledge and proficiency of these four men, three of whom were in their 20s, was remarkable given that they had managed to learn so much of Jewish tradition through the Internet.

Late into the night, they chanted Hebrew prayers and played religious songs they had downloaded to their iPhones.

The power often goes out in Abuja, especially at night, and residents rely a great deal on flashlights and generators. So we sat in Nwafor’s courtyard, the thick darkness illuminated only by the blue glow of their cellphones, the air filled with music and talk of Judaism in Nigeria, the United States and Israel.

The eldest of the four visitors, a musician in his 40s named Chislon Eben Cohen, was among the first Igbo Jews to master Hebrew, which he did in part by obtaining materials through the mail from the Academy of the Hebrew Language in Israel.

Eben Cohen has taken the next step of passing on his knowledge, and among his first students was Nwafor’s now-15-year-old son, Hezekiah. Hezekiah usually leads the prayer services at Tikvat Israel — often with melodies he has composed himself — and he hopes one day to become a rabbi.

The lack of Nigerian rabbis sometimes leaves Igbo Jews uncertain about traditional Jewish practice elsewhere and has led them to rely a great deal on the Internet, as well as on books obtained from abroad.

Guest Author

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/nigerias-igbo-jews/2013/08/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: