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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘loss’

69 Years Ago Today: Loss of 35 Fighters Who Could Have Saved Gush Etzion

Monday, January 16th, 2017

On Wednesday, Shvat 3, 5708, January 14, 1948, a massive Arab force of between 400 and 600 Arab gang members and local villagers attacked Gush Etzion, a Jewish enclave of four agricultural villages south of Jerusalem, established between 1940 and 1947 on property purchased in the 1920s and 1930s. The Arab forces tried to take over Khirbet Zakaria, a small Arab sharecroppers’ village at the heart of the Gush, and thus sever Ein Tzurim and Revadim in the north from Kfar Etzion and Masuot Yitzhak south of Khirbet Zakaria. It was a well-organized attack, which pinned down the defenders of Kfar Etzion, preventing them from sending reinforcements to the southern communities. In the end, though, the Jewish forces prevailed, showing astonishing bravery, killing as many as 100 Arab attackers and wounding hundreds more.

The victory of “Battle of Shvat 3rd,” as it was hailed at the time, was extremely costly, increasing the Gush’s already dire situation in terms of number of weapons, ammunition, batteries for the com systems and medical supplies. But most of all, as the Gush Commander Uzi Narkis, who in 1967 commanded the forces that liberated it, kept sending desperate telegrams warning about the high casualties and the urgent need to replace lost men. Add to that intelligence reports that suggested the Arabs were preparing for another attack, and there was no doubt left that a convoy had to be sent to improve the situation.

Graves of the Convoy of 35 on Mount Herzl.

Graves of the Convoy of 35 on Mount Herzl.

On January 16, 1948, the “Company of 35” (which started out with 38 fighters) was sent by the Haganah to deliver the badly needed supplies to the four Gush Etzion villages under siege. It was made up of men from several Hagana units, commanded by the former commander of Gush Etzion, Daniel “Dani” Mass, who was born in Berlin and made Aliyah with his parents in 1933.

The company set out on foot from Hartuv at 11 PM, January 15. They took a detour around the local British Police station, to avoid detection. Three were sent back because one man sprained an ankle, and two accompanied him. The remaining 35 were killed overnight by Arab villagers and militiamen between the villages of Jaba’ and Surif.

Had the “Lamed Heh” (35 in Hebrew) made it to the Gush, the entire area south of Jerusalem that ended up under Jordanian occupation for 19 years could have remained intact as part of the new Jewish State that was declared in May of that year. It would have reduced significantly the size of the remaining area under Arab rule and its annexation in 1968, along with eastern Jerusalem could have been less challenging to the Israeli government after the Six-Day War.

The fate of the 35 was later reconstructed from British and Arab reports. Daylight apparently came too soon, exposing the force an hour away from their destination. Two Arab women spotted two scouts from the force near Surif. A large mob of armed villagers from Surif and other Arab villages set up an ambush in the company’s path. The battle that ensued was fought in two segments, about four hours each, until their ammunition ran out and the last fighter was killed around 4:30 PM. Among the fallen were botanist Tuvia Kushnir, US born Moshe Perlstein who fought in WW2, and three members of the Hebrew Communist Party.

The British dispatched a platoon of the Royal Sussex Regiment to investigate the outcome of the battle and were led by local Arabs to the remains of the 35, which, reportedly, had been mutilated.

According to historian Benny Morris, the Palmach launched a retaliatory attack on the village of Sa’sa’ on February 14, killing 60 Arabs and blowing up 20 houses.


Count on NY Post Not to Be at Loss for Words on UN Backstabbing

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

Both of New York’s tabloids can be counted on to say what the rest of us think, and in no uncertain terms – who can forget the Daily News’ immortal headline, “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” or the Post’s “Headless Body in Topless Bar,” two classics no self-respecting Journalism 101 course can overlook. Friday’s Obama stab-in-the-Back UN vote was no exception, but only in the case of the right-of-center Post, which dedicated its entire cover to that event: “US lets UN condemn our ally – BAM BETRAYS ISRAEL.”



The competition did mention the Obama vote on the front page, but only as a banner, “Obama Shafts Israel – Blesses UN condemnation of Jewish State.” The bulk of the page was about “Princes Leia Heart Attack – Frantic in-flight CPR saves Carrie Fisher.”

So, the Daily News cared mostly about one (half) Jew, while the Post embraced the entire Jewish State. But, to be fair, both papers’ editorial boards were appalled by the president’s cowardly act Friday.

“This obscenity, on the eve of Chanukah, when the ancient Israelites freed the Holy City and the Second Temple from pagans, should have been immediately vetoed by Israel’s ally, the United States. Instead, President Obama stood aside as the UN Security Council voted unanimously for a measure which has the force of international law,” wrote the Daily News editors, ostensibly on their way to light the first candle.

The Post was less Jewish in its rage: “Friday’s failure to veto an anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations sets a new low in the annals of American diplomacy. It was a shocking betrayal of a firm US ally, and of longstanding bipartisan US policy — a sneaky, dishonest move by a lame-duck president to express his pique at the president-elect and land a final vindictive blow on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

We rushed to compare these views to the opinion of the editorial board of the broadsheet NY paper, expecting that the Gray Lady would be delighted with the US vote – only to realize they had nothing to say about it. So, to summarize, The Post and News vote in favor of Israel, the Times abstains.

David Israel

15th Anniversary of 9/11: Volunteering to Cope With Loss

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

By Ilana Messika/TPS

Sometimes, tragedies like the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are hard for individuals to comprehend. Some would explain this to be the result of a defense mechanism to protect us from being overwhelmed by sheer atrocity.

For one New Yorker, dealing with his 9/11 loss has manifested itself by helping others.

Nancy Morgenstern was a serious cyclist with a passion for travel and a devoted Orthodox Jew. She had been working for Cantor Fitzgerald, a Wall Street investment bank, when the first plane slammed into the northern tower of the World Trade Center, a few floors below the company.

“My wife and I were on our way to Israel.” recalls Yaakov Morgenstern, Nancy’s brother. “Her job at Cantor’s was quite recent so I had forgotten that she worked there. When I eventually reached my parents I expressed relief that nobody we knew worked at the World Trade Center, to which my father answered, ‘Yaakov, Nancy works there.’ We only received a definitive call [that she had died] six months later.”

Fast forward 13 years, to the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, also known as Operation Protective Edge. Morgenstern, a physical therapist, started to get involved with organizations devoted to helping victims of terror. He felt a strong connection to wounded soldiers after Protective Edge, and an intense feeling that he needed to do more.

“After my sister died, I had to deal with my own feelings with years of therapy to figure out my own mind and attempt to move on,” Morgenstern explained. “During Operation Protective Edge, a reserve soldier, Col. Amotz Greenberg, was killed by terrorists exiting a tunnel in Gaza. He was the same age as me, with a 7-year-old son and I immediately identified with him, like being hurled by a catapult.”

The first IDF soldier Morgenstern met was Ron Halevy, who lost his leg in Protective Edge. A year later, Halevy, a professional kayaker, participated in the Milan Kayak World Championships of 2015.

“I bonded with him, both as a physical therapist and a terror victim.” said Morgenstern. “I was amazed by how he overcame this terrible experience by refusing to let his disability hold him down. We spoke about therapy, injuries, and loss. It was an extremely therapeutic experience,” he described.

“It is definitely part of a coping mechanism to deal with the loss of my sister but it also represents much more. After somebody dies, there is nothing positive left for them to accomplish, and all that remains is the legacy one leaves behind. My sister always used to help, even, or perhaps especially, in the smallest things. I am perpetuating who she was by promoting the values she applied, like my parents do through the memorial fund.”

The Nancy Morgenstern Memorial Fund was created by Nancy’s parents, by using the US government’s financial compensation, to support charitable causes in her memory.

Each life represents a whole world for those who are involved in it. When this life is lost, all the related people lose their balance, like a planet disappearing with its gravitational pull. Morgenstern’s involvement with those whose lives he affects does not end with a specific meeting or discussion. He keeps in touch with hundreds of people, creating a community of its own, supporting life after tragedy.

Elisa Gutowski, a 16 year old French girl who lost her uncle in the Hypercacher attack in 2015, participated in an event with Morgenstern.

“We exchanged stories during lunch, and later that day he added me on Facebook. We have been exchanging messages ever since,” she explained. “He brought me the comfort and support of a community when mine could not understand or care enough.”

“He also said there was a connection between all the Jews in the world,” Gutowski recalled.

For Morgenstern, that connection is the best memorial for his sister’s memory.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Total Loss!

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

May I borrow your car for the evening?” Yehuda asked his neighbor Daniel. “I want to visit a friend in another town.”

“You’re welcome to use it,” said Daniel. “It’s an old car, though, not worth much, so I have liability insurance but no collision coverage.”

“That’s OK,” said Yehuda. “I don’t expect to get into an accident.”

Yehuda stopped along the way to eat. He parked on an incline, so he applied the handbrakes.

When Yehuda resumed driving, he forgot to release the handbrakes. After driving on the highway for about twenty minutes, he smelled an odor of something burning. He stopped and checked the motor, but it seemed fine. He continued on.

Only when reaching his destination did Yehuda notice that the handbrakes had been on. “You might have damaged the brakes!” his friend said. “You can’t drive home until they cool down and you check them.”

After spending two hours with his friend, Yehuda got into the car and tried the brakes; they seemed to respond. “I’ll take a spin around the block,” he said.

“The brakes seem OK,” Yehuda told his friend. “I’m going to head home.”

On the way, Yehuda tested the brakes and they responded. But then at one point a truck slowed down in front of him. Yehuda hit the brakes – but they didn’t respond. He veered into the shoulder and crashed into the barrier.

Fortunately, Yehuda was not injured, but the car was totaled.

“You were negligent to drive with the handbrakes on,” Daniel said. “You clearly burnt the brakes.”

“It’s unlikely that the brake failure was due to the handbrakes, since they only grasp the back wheels,” replied Yehuda. “Also, I tested the brakes afterward and they responded. They probably failed for some other reason, unrelated to me.”

Yehuda and Daniel came before Rabbi Dayan. “Is Yehuda liable for the car?”

“Yehuda is liable,” ruled Rabbi Dayan, “since some possibility remains that his negligence contributed to the brake failure.”

“Can you please explain?” asked Yehuda.

“A borrower is liable – even if the borrowed item was lost through circumstances beyond control [oness] – unless the item failed through normal use [meisa machamas melachah],” explained Rabbi Dayan.” Thus, the Rambam [Hil. She’eilah 1:1] writes that if a person borrowed an animal to ride on and it died while traveling, the borrower is exempt.”

“However,” continued Rabbi Dayan, “the Rosh [B.M. 8:4], cited by the Tur and Rama [C.M. 340:3] qualifies this. He maintains that the borrower is exempt only if the animal died because of the work, e.g., it tripped or exerted and overheated. However, if there was no indication of stress, the borrower cannot swear that the animal died because of the work; maybe it died naturally. Thus, he remains liable.”

“What is the root of this dispute?” asked Yehuda.

“Beis Yosef defends the Rambam’s position, that we cannot obligate the borrower out of doubt when it may have died from work,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “Furthermore, since the animal died en route, it likely died from the work; the borrower simply swears that it died while traveling.”

“What about the Rosh?” asked Daniel.

“The Shach [340:7] sides with the Rosh and Rama,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “He explains that the borrower must swear with certainty what happened to the animal. Furthermore, since no exertion was noticed we cannot presume that the animal died due to the work.”

“Here there is a good chance, though, that the brake failure was not due to the handbrakes,” said Yehuda.

“Still, the Ketzos [291:11; 340:4], based on the Ra’ah, writes that when it is not known what happened to the item, the borrower is exempt [aini yodeia im nischayavti],” Rabbi Dayan said. “However, he agrees that if the borrower was initially negligent he remains liable [aini yodeia im p’raticha], certainly if the loss can be remotely linked to the negligence [techilaso b’pshia v’sofo b’oness], as in our case.”

“Thus,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “Yehuda remains liable unless it is ascertained that the brake failure was completely unrelated to the handbrakes negligence.”

Rabbi Meir Orlian

Analysis: Sec. Kerry’s Holocaust Memorial Day Message Minimizes Jewish Loss

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day which opened with drowning the memory of the Jewish victims—undeniably the focal target of the Nazi state death industry—by mixing them with all the many other, PC approved victims. And so, Jewish survivors and children of survivors were told by the honorable Mr, Kerry that “On this day, we pause to reflect on the irredeemable loss of six million Jews and countless Poles, Roma, LGBT people, J Witnesses, and persons with disabilities brutally murdered by the Nazis because of who they were or what religion they practiced.”

And so, with one infuriating paragraph, Mr. Kerry eliminated the memory of the years 1933-1939, in which the Nazi propaganda machine concentrated on the Jews of Germany and the rest of Europe, dehumanized them and prepared the citizens of the future Nazi empire for the systematic removal, processing and methodical killing of the most productive, prosperous and moral national group on the planet.

Everyone else — Polish civilians, Gypsies, Homosexuals and the infirm — were mere footnotes in the global Nazi enterprise of the “final solution.” By opening his remarks on Holocaust Remembrance Day with deliberately discounting the Jewish loss as being part of the overall sadness of the human condition, Kerry is, in effect, acting as a Holocaust denier, even as he mourns the Holocaust.

The Nazi Holocaust was planned against the Jews, only the Jews, and saying otherwise suggests the Nazis were merely those bad people who caused a lot of pain. But that was not the case at all. The Holocaust was an experience in which humanity was divided, essentially, into two groups: those who actively hunted and gathered Jews, and those who stood by and let the hunt last for as long as they could.

The US government was aware of the anti-Jewish Nazi atrocities starting in 1933, when they began, when Jews with US citizenship started filing up in the Berlin embassy to report the beating, flogging, torture and murder of Jewish American citizens who had the misfortune to be in Germany in those satanic years. It was followed by US rejection of Jewish refugees seeking shelter on American shores, and was culminated by the US military actively prolonging the operations of the death camps by refusing to bomb the camps and the railroad tracks used to haul the last remaining members of our Jewish families.

“We draw strength from the heroic survivors who summoned the courage to share what they endured so others might draw from their wisdom and experience and who answered evil in the most powerful way possible – by living full lives, raising children and grandchildren, and advancing the ideals of equality and justice,” writes Kerry with some eloquence. This after having spent last summer bringing back into the fold of civilized nations the Islamic Republic, which is engaged in the most public and unabashed fashion in a state-sponsored effort to annihilate Jews. Kerry was indefatigable in his ceaseless work, spanning several years, to endow the Islamic Republic with the hundreds of billions of dollars it will require to complete its Jew-killing endeavor. Has the man no sense of shame at all?

Kerry concludes: “It is our solemn obligation to not only preach compassion, but practice it – and to do all we can to ensure that ‘never again’ is a promise not only made, but kept.”

For one thing, never again will John Kerry serve as Secretary of State; and never again will he come barreling through Jerusalem and Ramallah trying to win a Nobel prize for himself on the backs of Jewish homesteaders. Other than that, statements like Never Again should be relegated to when you wake up after the all-night binge and can’t find the Alka Seltzer.

David Israel

Yesh Atid, Revise Your Platform

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

In a recent account of his first Knesset term, Dov Lipman writes that “Yesh Atid Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron is hard at work making major changes to improve the education system.” I wonder what values he brings to that project since Piron and other Yesh Atid cabinet members gave key votes to free 104 terrorists .

Looking at Yesh Atid’s statement of beliefs , one finds several sections that need to be revised and clarified given its role as a liberator of murderous Jew haters. Below are some examples with proposed revisions in italics:

“We believe that every person in Israel must have their fundamental rights met…”

Not applicable to terror victims and their families’ fundamental right to justice.

“We believe it is the duty of the state to care for the health of its citizens.”

Not applicable to health damage inflicted upon bereaved families by freeing their relatives’ murderers—depression, loss of sleep , etc.

“We believe in a unified society and the principle which says ‘all Jews are responsible for one another.’ ”

Not applicable to terror victims and their families.

“We believe that it is the state’s responsibility to ensure the safety of its citizens.”

Not applicable to incentivizing terrorism by freeing murderers.

“We believe that it is the duty of the state to care for all its seniors to enable them to live with dignity and enjoy their retirement years without worry or distress. These words are particularly focused on Holocaust survivors who live among us.”

Not applicable to the dignity of murdered Holocaust survivors and their families.


Menachem Ben-Mordechai

The Refusal To Be Comforted

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

The deception has taken place. Joseph has been sold into slavery. His brothers have dipped his coat in blood. They bring it back to their father, saying: “Look what we have found. Do you recognize it? Is this your son’s robe or not?” Jacob recognized it and replied, “It is my son’s robe. A wild beast has devoured him. Joseph has been torn to pieces.”

We then read: “Jacob rent his clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned his son for a long time. His sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. He said, ‘I will go down to the grave mourning for my son’ ” (37:34-35).

Why did Jacob refuse to be comforted? A midrash gives a remarkable answer. “One can be comforted for one who is dead, but not for one who is still living.”

Jacob refused to be comforted because he had not yet given up hope that Joseph was alive. That, tragically, is the fate of those who have lost members of their family (the parents of soldiers missing in action, for example), but have no proof that they are dead. They cannot go through the normal stages of mourning because they cannot abandon the possibility that the missing person is still capable of being rescued. Their continuing anguish is a form of loyalty; to give up, to mourn, to be reconciled to loss is a kind of betrayal. In such cases, grief lacks closure. To refuse to be comforted is to refuse to give up hope.

On what basis did Jacob continue to hope? The late David Daube made a suggestion that I find convincing. The words the sons say to Jacob – “Haker na – Do you recognize this?” – have a quasi-legal connotation. Daube relates this passage to another, with which it has close linguistic parallels:

“If a man gives a donkey, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to his neighbor for safekeeping … If it [the animal] was torn to pieces by a wild animal, he shall bring the remains as evidence and he will not be required to pay for the torn animal” (Shemot 22:10-13).

The issue at stake is the extent of responsibility borne by a guardian (shomer). If the animal is lost through negligence, the guardian is at fault and must make good the loss. If there is no negligence, merely force majeure, an unavoidable, unforeseeable accident, the guardian is exempt from blame. One such case is where the loss has been caused by a wild animal. The wording in the law – “tarof yitaref – torn to pieces” – exactly parallels Jacob’s judgment in the case of Joseph: “tarof toraf Yosef – Joseph has been torn to pieces.”

We know that some such law existed prior to the giving of the Torah. Jacob himself says to Laban, whose flocks and herds have been placed in his charge, “I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself” (Bereishit 31:39). This implies that guardians even then were exempt from responsibility for the damage caused by wild animals. We also know that an elder brother carried a similar responsibility for the fate of a younger brother placed in his charge (i.e. when the two were alone together). That is the significance of Cain’s denial when confronted by G-d as to the fate of Abel: “Am I my brother’s guardian (shomer)?”

We now understand a series of nuances in the encounter between Jacob and his sons when they return without Joseph. Normally they would be held responsible for their younger brother’s disappearance. To avoid this, as in the case of later biblical law, they “bring the remains as evidence.” If those remains show signs of an attack by a wild animal, they must – by virtue of the law then operative – be held innocent. Their request to Jacob, “haker na,” must be construed as a legal request, meaning, “Examine the evidence.” Jacob has no alternative but to do so, and in virtue of what he has seen, acquit them.

A judge, however, may be forced to acquit someone accused of the crime because the evidence is insufficient to justify a conviction, yet he may hold lingering private doubts. So Jacob was forced to find his sons innocent, without necessarily believing what they said. Jacob did not believe it, and his refusal to be comforted shows that he was unconvinced. He continued to hope that Joseph was still alive. That hope was eventually justified. Joseph was still alive, and eventually father and son were reunited.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-refusal-to-be-comforted/2012/12/05/

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