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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Man’

Man At The Center Of Creation

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

I write with a sense of acute distress. It is my deep feeling that many of those who carry the banner of the Torah of Israel are taking steps in the wrong direction – a direction that ignores the many elements of Man as having been created in God’s image. This manifests itself in two ways.

First, Orthodox Judaism is slowly abandoning the Torah’s unique view of the image of God in Man. In its place, an ever more dominant religious view encourages Man to see himself as “a worm and not a man” – as one who is perpetually dependent on God; one whose actions are in essence meaningless beyond a modicum of hishtadlut (exertion). One who has no rights, only obligations.

Rabbis are glorified in descriptions of the wonders they perform and the miracles they merit. The encounter with God is sought more often in graveyards than in the land of the living – the markets and streets. The responsibility that Man should shoulder gives way to self-negation and self-annihilation. All of the above result in a trend that diminishes Man’s Divine image.

This type of relationship between Man and God has led to a decline in the believing Jew ’s attitude toward the human body, toward pleasure, and toward worldly matters. The religious world is inching closer and closer to something akin to Puritanism, constantly fighting against the aesthetic aspects of reality.

This also affects the relationship between the Jewish nation and the rest of humanity. Orthodox Judaism is consciously devaluing the notion of a universal humanity. This distancing from the rest of humankind is both ideological and existential. Anything that did not stem from “holiness” is deemed unworthy. Thus, there is no place for non-Jewish culture or for contact with it. America is viewed as an ama reika – an empty nation – and the culture of the world is considered a culture of emptiness.

This attitude is not restricted to matters of culture. It is more than likely that the overwhelming majority of the Torah world, and certainly the yeshiva world, has never been exposed to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the American Constitution, or the different types of church-state relationships that exist in Europe. This is part and parcel of not relating to Man as having been created in the image of God, a person responsible for himself and his culture.

As a result, the Torah’s influence on the world is diminishing. The utopian vision of shaping the world according to the Torah is becoming more and more distant.

My severe distress stems first and foremost from my heartfelt belief that this attitude toward Man is not the word of God. Torah and halacha are based on a different language, one that teaches responsibility and pride, freedom and merit, self-acceptance and natural morality. The Torah appeals to Man as a citizen of the world. It relates to a nation that lives a full and natural life set in reality. It describes its patriarchs as individuals whose existential world was a complete one, filled with material and spiritual wealth.

Not one syllable contained in the Torah calls upon Man to live life by abstaining from all that surrounds him. It is a Torah of life, and relates to life in its fullest.

In addition to the problems mentioned above, a new – and distressing – religious language is forming. It is a language that removes God from the picture. The life it generates is deeply spiritual, yet it lacks commitment to halacha and fidelity to the word of God.

I wrote my latest book, In His Image, in an effort to bring about a change in cur­rent trends and strengthen the notions of the image of Man, his free will, his life in this world, and his standing before God. These, I believe, are the foundations of faith.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Matot: Menashe — The Odd Man Out

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

One of the most perplexing items in this week’s parasha, is Moshe’s inclusion of part of Menashe together with Gad and Reuven in the Transjordanian settlement. There are three reasons for our surprise: First, as opposed to Gad and Reuven, we have no indication that Menashe requested to live there; second, Moshe sends only part of the tribe over the Jordan, creating an unprecedented intra-tribal division; and finally, it appears that Menashe would not have fit in with the character of the other two tribes over the Jordan (on the latter, see Netziv and my expansion on this in my volume on Bemidbar).

In this context, it is worth noting that the two requests that did came from the tribe of Menashe, one from the daughters of Tzelofchad and the other from its elders, appear to be artificially split by several chapters within the book of Bemidbar. And even without the issue of the split narrative, we would be remiss if we did not ask ourselves why these “bookends” in Bemidbar feature specifically the tribe of Menashe. After all, given the size of the Israelite camp, it is highly likely that other women were in the same predicament and apparently did not step forward.

We don’t know a great deal about the tribe of Menashe beyond the clues revealed in the narratives we are discussing. We do know that Menashe was Yosef’s firstborn, and that Ya’akov placed his brother, Ephraim, before him. We also know that this tribe later became one of the more important in Jewish history, though not always for positive reasons. Most striking, however, is Menashe’s unique geographical division that the we rad about this week, which the Torah mentions between their two petitions. Menashe’s then, is a division in the midst of a divided story, which leads us to the conclusion that the notion of division is itself central to what this tribe is all about.

Hence, Menashe’s intra-tribal division may actually be one more indication that this tribe was already been more comfortable than others with sub-tribal identity. In other words, whether as a result of familial loyalty or loyalty to their villages or provinces, the members of Menashe would have been less tied to the greater, unified tribe than members of other tribes. That being the case, it makes sense that it was women specifically from Menashe that would have petitioned Moshe for the right to hold on to their own land, even when this brought the possibility of taking away land from their greater birth tribe (should they marry men from other tribes).

But from where does Menashe get this resistance to tribal unity? The truth is that it had deep roots in his family tradition. Going back to their progenitor, Ya’akov, we notice that much of what transpired in his life was based on the principle of productive bifurcation. Thus, for example, he had two names, married two women and fathered two leaders (Yehudah and Yosef), who would ultimately be the ancestors of two different states (Yehudah and Yisrael).

On more than one occasion, the rabbis find solid evidence to suggest that Yosef, Menashe’s father, carries a special likeness toward his own father, Ya’akov (see, for example, Bereshit Rabba 84:6). Consequently, it is quite likely that Yosef mirrors Ya’akov’s central characteristic of duality, which is most crucially embodied in their respective legacies to their children. Thus, alone among Ya’akov’s children, it is Yosef whose portion is divided into two, with both Menashe and Ephraim taking on the status of separate tribes. Likewise, the portion of Yosef’s firstborn, Menashe, is also divided into two — if not by name, then by territory. It seems the legacy of continuous bifurcation must live on in this line.

Now that we have a better sense of Menashe’s character we are in a better position to note that the autonomy displayed by the daughters of Tzelofchad is not a unilateral cause for admiration. It should be remembered that the story comes in the midst of tribal consolidation — a process that represents a central element of the Israelites’ desert experience. So while there were good reasons for the sisters to ask for and receive their inheritance, their ostensible lack of concern for their tribe was a problematic element in an otherwise correct request.

And so, measure for measure, Menashe’s lack of tribal cohesion that the daughters of Tzelofchad embody means that the tribe needed to be divided in practice to match their approach in theory. Yet since Menashe’s deficiency was not on the scale of Gad’s and Reuven’s, their exile is far from total (especially since for them, division rather than exile is the main point). Thus, only part of the tribe was sent to live across the Jordan, while the majority was allowed to remain on the western side, together with the other nine tribes.

Even as this trait was problematic when it was first exposed through the daughters of Tzelofchad, the Jewish nation would require it in the future; as if no new identities were ever created the people would be ill-equipped to meet all of the challenges placed in their way. And this is why Tzelofchad’s daughters’ contribution was so important.

The daughters of Tzelofchad carried the knowledge that even at times when unity and conformity are at a premium, there must be one part of the nation that stands to the side and takes a slightly different stance. Perhaps their timing or their delivery was slightly off, but theirs was still a trait that needed to be expressed. And so, more than their father’s land, it would be this unique character that would be their true inheritance.

Rabbi Francis Nataf

Consistent Use Of Correct Hebrew Proves Man Is Foreign Spy

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

{Originally posted to the satirical website, PreOccupied Territory}

Tel Aviv, July 19 – Investigators in Israeli counterintelligence have caught a foreign agent when the man unwittingly exposed himself by being the only person who used grammatically correct Hebrew, Shin Bet sources reported today.

The man, an employee at a government-owned enterprise in the defense industry, was exposed during a twice-yearly review by Shin Bet officers who determined he could not be the native Israeli and Hebrew speaker he claimed to be, since no Israelis are particular about using the correct grammatical forms in everyday conversation, and most even disregard it in more formal contexts.

A source within the agency, known by its formal acronym Shabak, told reporters on condition of anonymity that reports of a mole within the enterprise had surfaced last year, but that clear evidence of the spy’s activities and identity did not begin to emerge until several months ago. Investigators gradually narrowed the field until it was clear materials were being leaked to foreign interests from a specific unit in the company.

In the guise of conducting an efficiency examination for quality purposes, the Shabak agents posed as consultants and interviewed several dozen staff and supervisors in the suspected unit. “It became pretty clear that the guy we were looking for was sitting in front of us when he started using the right verb form for the third-person feminine plural future,” recalled the agent, rolling his eyes. “I mean, even the radio announcers, who are required to speak a certain way, don’t say ‘telekhna’ when everyone just says ‘yelkhu’.”

Investigators’ ears further perked up when the interviewee actually used the first-person singular future prefix instead of just using the third-person form that everyone has adopted out of sheer laziness and mishearing. “He actually made sure we heard him pause between ‘Ani’ and ‘eshmor’ so we would hear that he wasn’t saying ‘yishmor’ as everyone else would,” said the agent. “That basically clinched it for us. Afterwards we conducted a more thorough background check and found a relative who works for a courier service used by one of the embassies here, and put it all together.” The relative has already confessed to involvement.

“Also, the guy made sure to use masculine numbers with masculine nouns and feminine numbers with feminine nouns,” added the agent, contrasting it with the general practice of using the simpler feminine form for all purposes. “It was just further proof that he didn’t have genuine roots in the country and society. What idiot does that?”

PreOccupied Territory

The man Who Gave Everything: Report Exposes Herzog’s Plan to End Israel As We Know It

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

A paper of understanding that was exposed Sunday night by Channel 10 News shows that MK Isaac Herzog, chairman of the Zionist Camp, who conducted extensive meetings with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas before the March 2015 elections, agreed to hand over all of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem to a Palestinian State, and reached a deal on letting Arab refugees come back to live inside 1967 Israel. The negotiations with Abbas were conducted in secret between retired Brigadier General and former MK and Minister Ephraim Sneh and a senior PA official. It should be noted that during the weeks just before the March 17 elections, the polls showed the Zionist Camp edging out Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party, and the plan back then was seen as the shape of things to come in the most realistic way.

On the issue of the borders between Israel and Palestine, Herzog agreed to giving up 100% of the post 1967 territories, with an allowance for a mere 4% of Israeli settlements staying put in exchange for comparable land in pre-1967 Israel to be handed to the Palestinians. Eastern Jerusalem was going to become the capital of Palestine, but the two halves of the city would share municipal responsibilities. Temple Mount would be turned over to an international monitoring force, but Israel would have retained its hold on the Western Wall.

The Arab refugees were going to be taken care of based on UN resolution 194, with some being allowed back into Israel and the rest receiving financial compensation for the lands they left behind.

Israel was going to maintain a symbolic presence in the Jordan Valley, including two armored bases, and terrorism would be handled by a combined force made up of Jordanians, Palestinians and Israelis.

In response to the revelation, MK Herzog’s office released a statement saying, “In my contacts with the Palestinian Authority Chairman in 2014 I made an effort to reach understandings that would have prevented the wave of terror which I predicted, just as I am working now to prevent a situation where the abandoning of a regional conference on the part of the extreme right-wing government won’t bring on us the next war. After the rounds of the almost annual wars and funerals of the past decade I am no longer prepared to listen to the mantra that says we can defeat every threat with only military force.”

Minister Ze’ev Elkin said in response to the revelations that “an abyss separates us and them and they have no place in a Liked led government.”

David Israel

Jewish Man Arrested on Temple Mount for Saying “Amen” [video]

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

Nearly half a century after the Temple Mount was declared by IDF General Mota Gur to be in our hands, the Israeli police continue to disprove that statement.

During a visit to the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day, a young Jewish man responded to well-wishes from Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, and answered “Amen” — at which point he was arrested by the Israeli police.

The young man was released a short time after, but the police have forbidden him to visit the Temple Mount again, and he must also appear before a hearing to commit to not breaking the rules against free speech and Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.

Rabbi Ariel, who greeted the young man, is the head of the Temple Mount Institute and a paratrooper who fought to liberate Jerusalem during the 6 Day War.

It appears Rabbi Ariel still has more fighting to do to liberate Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

Jewish Press News Briefs

UPDATE: Stabbing in Jerusalem, Jewish Man Seriously Wounded, Terrorist Captured [video]

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Am Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man, 60, was stabbed by an Arab terrorist Monday night, around 10:30 PM, on Haldia Street in the Muslim quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The terrorist, dressed in jeans and a black coat fled the scene and police have begun a manhunt.

The victim made his way over to the Lion’s Gate after the attack, where he reached security forces.

The knife used by the terrorist has been located.

Israel Weingarten, an MDA paramedic, told reporters: “A man of 60 was sitting near the Lions’ Gate, after having been stabbed in his upper body. He was fully conscious and told us he had been stabbed over in the alleys and ran towards the Lions’ Gate to seek help from the security force there. We gave him first aid, dressed the wound and stopped the bleeding and evacuated him to the hospital in moderate and stable condition.”

Update: Tuesday, 12:51 AM: Police believe they have caught the suspect.

Update: Tuesday, 1:01 AM: Police have confirmed they have caught the terrorist – an 18-year-old Arab from the territories. The terrorist was hiding in a basement and had changed his clothing. Police used security cameras in the Old City to track him down. He confessed during the interrogation.

David Israel

FBI Sting Gets Man Who Planned to Bomb Florida Synagogue

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

The FBI arrested a man who was planning to throw an explosive device into an Aventura, south Florida synagogue, WSVN reported. The arrest followed an FBI sting intended to foil a terror attack at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, last Friday evening. According to WSVN, FBI agents posing as terrorists stopped the suspect, who may have converted to Islam.

According to sources, the suspect wanted to throw “some type of explosive device” over the wall of the center on Friday night, which was the last day of Passover and the center was crowded.

“I think about, before we had a baby, that we used to go there for services, and God forbid, it could have been us,” local resident Stephanie Levine told WSVN. “Thank God they stopped him, but had they not, it would have been such a horrible thing to happen to this neighborhood.”

But the same sources said the center was not in danger at any time, because the suspect was taken into custody before he was able to cause any damage.

“Of course it surprised me,” local resident Richard Levinson told WSVN. “Everybody says, ‘I live in a small town. It doesn’t happen here,’ but the sad part is, it happens everywhere.”

And local resident Kim Tepper said she was not surprised, because “it’s a very scary world, and you know what? I don’t think that anybody is safe anywhere. We’d always thought, living in this area, that we could be targeted, so now you’re kind of confirming that for me. Not happy.”

The suspect will appear in federal court this week.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/fbi-sting-gets-man-who-planned-to-bomb-florida-synagogue/2016/05/02/

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