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August 29, 2016 / 25 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘nation’

Tefillah: A Meeting With Hashem – Love Our Nation

Friday, August 5th, 2016

A friend of mine related that his brother was on a business trip to Istanbul and went to pray in a local shul. He was quite surprised when one of the congregants waved to him. “I don’t know this man,” he thought. “He must be a really friendly person!” But then he noticed the man was waving to everyone in shul. And he was not the only one – every single person in shul was doing the same thing! After davening, they told him that this custom was based on the words of the Arizal, cited by the Magen Avraham (O.C., beginning of siman 46). He writes: “Before the morning tefillah one should accept upon himself the mitzvah of v’ahavtah le’reiacha kamocha – you shall love your fellow as yourself.” In order to fulfill this mitzvah properly, the custom of this congregation is to wave to each and every fellow Jew in shul.

But what is the Arizal’s reason – why is it so important to fulfill this mitzvah specifically before we start praying?

 

Plural Power

One who examines Shemoneh Esrei will notice something interesting: we speak in the plural form. For example, we ask Hashem to give us rain, to heal us, to forgive us, etc. That is, I come before Hashem as a representative of our nation – not for myself. Once a person has asked for everyone, he may add personal supplications, as long as he fulfills certain conditions (see Shulchan Aruch, O.C. siman 119). One example being at the end of Shemoneh Esrei when we say “Elokai, netzor leshoni mei’ra – My G-d, guard my tongue from evil… etc.” In general, though we use the plural form. In fact, the Gra in Sh’nos Eliyahu (Brachos 5:1) says that not only must we verbally ask in the plural form, we are not even allowed to think only about ourselves when we pray! But why not?

The Gemara (Brachos 30a) states that when a person prays he should always include himself as part of the community. Rashi explains that this will cause his prayer to be accepted. On a simple level, we can explain that one who includes himself with the tzibur will be answered in their merit, because the community usually has more merit than the individual.

However, I believe there is an even deeper reason why including ourselves with the tzibur helps our tefillos be accepted by Hashem. The whole concept of approaching Hashem in prayer is absolutely mind-boggling. How do we have the audacity to approach the Master of the Universe, who is holier and greater than anything we can possibly imagine, and expect that He is interested in hearing us? Only because Hashem tells us so in the Torah. “For who is a great nation that has G-d close to them like Hashem our G-d, whenever we call out to Him?” (Devorim 4:7). Hashem gave our nation the special privilege of turning to Him in prayer, and He has promised to listen to our prayers. And why did we merit this special closeness? Simply because He loves us, as stated throughout Tanach. The prophet Yirmiyahu (31:3) says in the name of Hashem: “I have loved you with an eternal love.” And Yeshaya (54:10) says even more: “For the mountains will depart and the hills will move, but My loving-kindness shall not depart from you, nor will My covenant of peace move away.”

Hashem’s love for our nation is so great that even though we sinned and were sent into exile, He still loves us. Hashem did not choose us because of our good deeds; rather, He has an unconditional love for us (Maharal, Netzach Yisroel, chapter 11). Therefore, even if we sin, He will not forsake us. On the contrary, He will make sure that we repent and perfect our ways, so that we will be worthy of Him dwelling amongst us.

Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus

Letter to the Nation

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Dear Friends,

 I think we’ve hit the end of the line. Since Rabin was murdered our outdoor political activity has waned. I think it’s time for renewal, for rebirth. I think our Prime Minister is waiting for the people to rise up. He works best under pressure.

True, we did not succeed with Gush Katif, that was because expelling Jews was Sharon’s personal decision, (perhaps to save his own skin) and he was out to succeed…no matter what. However, the situation with Netanyahu today is different. He isn’t out to kill, to expel, or to drive us out of Israel. He is with us, but not entirely, mainly because he is not convinced that he has a substantial majority behind him and in front of him.

This reminds me of the days when Gush  Emunim started. How and where did it start? On Rechov Ben Maimon opposite then P.M.’s residence Golda Meir after the Yom Kippur war. The youngsters (Chanan Porat and Levinger z”l, their wives, children and friends in arms) set up tents opposite Golda’s house. They lived in the street, davened in the street, and every time Kissinger hit town to talk “disengagement”, (mind you disengagement not return of Sinai, only Egyptian troop disengagement), every time Henry showed up at Golda’s residence, Golda took him to the window and said “Look here Henry, see what’s going on outside my front door…How can I agree to disengage?”

At this point I think what Netanyahu needs is a show of the people behind him, underneath his window, in front of his house, a solid grassroots movement of the Wise Women and Men of Zion that must band together, like the “four mothers” of yesteryear, to bring about dramatic change.

Mind you, I am not against our PM. I am grateful Bibi is PM and not Herzog or Lapid or Livni G-d forbid, but he works best under pressure. He works best when he knows he will garner applause for his efforts, he works best when he knows his place in history is assured. Thus it is imperative that we begin to build up pressure so that every Arab village that harbored or harbors a homegrown terrorist, will be evacuated, destroyed,  and rebuilt and settled with Jews.

I am not 19, and not 91, but I’m old enough to know that we’ve got to push Bibi into facing the world, and declaring that we are here, all over Israel and the West Bank and the Bika etc. we are here to stay, and we declare sovereignty over lands where we live and work. Any unhappy Arabs are welcome to leave our country. Unhappy Jews in France, leave France, Unhappy Brits leave Britain, same as unhappy people anywhere in the world including Israelis, leave their countries of origin and look to other places to start anew.

Please send this mail on to whomever you wish, whoever can help to get this movement started.

Yeshuat Hashem k’heref ayin, Let’s help make that happen.

Faigie Heiman

Faigie Heiman

Key Obama Adviser: We Misled Nation To Sell Iran Nuclear Deal

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

A lengthy New York Times Magazine profile of Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, portrays him as a spinmeister contemptuous of the foreign policy establishment who fed credulous journalists a misleading narrative to sell the Iran nuclear deal to the American people.

According to writer David Samuels, Rhodes oversaw a “war room” whose task was to sell the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to Congress ahead of crucial votes last fall that failed to kill the agreement.

“In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters,” Samuels wrote.

“We created an echo chamber,” he quoted Rhodes as admitting. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

According to Samuels’s piece, the strategy included the White House’s TheIranDeal Twitter feed. Rhodes used groups like the Ploughshares Fund, which advocates the elimination of nuclear weapons and lobbied for the JCPOA.

“We drove them crazy,” Samuels quotes Rhodes as saying of the opponents of the nuclear deal.

Samuels wrote that Rhodes does not think much of the journalists the war room was using to spread its narrative: “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns,” Rhodes was quoted as telling him. “They literally know nothing.”

According to the article, the administration put out a deliberately misleading narrative about the way the nuclear negotiations came about, linking them to the rise in 2013 of the “moderate” President Hasan Rouhani at the expense of “hardliners,” ushering in a supposedly new political reality in Iran.

In fact in 2012 State Department director of policy planning Jake Sullivan – a close aide of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – began holding talks with the Iranians in Oman and elsewhere, and he and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns drew up the framework of what would eventually become the JCPOA three months before the election that brought Rouhani to office.

Obama was known by insiders to have wanted to make a deal with Iran from the beginning of his presidency in 2009, but the idea that the rise of “moderates” provided the opportunity was “largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal,” Samuels wrote.

Samuels argued that the misleading narrative was useful for the administration.

“By obtaining broad public currency for the thought that there was a significant split in the regime, and that the administration was reaching out to moderate-minded Iranians who wanted peaceful relations with their neighbors and with America, Obama was able to evade what might have otherwise been a divisive but clarifying debate over the actual policy choices that his administration was making,” he wrote.

He characterized the approach as part of a broader strategy – helping the U.S. to extricate itself from existing regional alliances with countries like Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Turkey, with the ultimate goal of U.S. “disengagement from the Middle East.”

It’s an objective, Samuels said, that Rhodes – a determined critic of the Iraq war – views with a sense of “urgency.”

The profile depicts Rhodes as being comfortable in spinning the issue to the American people.

“I mean, I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote,” Samuels quotes Rhodes as telling him. “But that’s impossible.”

Rhodes holds a dim view of the foreign policy establishment, according to Samuels, referring to it contemptuously as “the Blob,” and including in that grouping Hillary Clinton; Obama’s first defense secretary Robert Gates; and “editors and reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere.”

Patrick Goodenough

Still a Nation That Dwells Alone

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Before the Nazis occupied Hungary, my revered father, HaRav HaGaon Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, ztl, was the chief Orthodox rabbi of Szeged, the second largest city in Hungary (not to be confused with Sziget).

As the clouds that had already engulfed other parts of Europe began gathering over Hungary, our home became a gathering place not only for Jews from our city but also for community leaders from the provinces. The discussions went on late into the night.

“What to do?” everyone asked.

The answer to that question, the conclusion to all such discussions, was always the same: “Surely the civilized world will never countenance such beastly evil. People will protest and Germany will find itself a pariah among the family of nations.”

I have often thought about those conversations. Why were we so blind to our horrific reality? Simply put, there was nothing much we could do. We had no weapons. We had no friends. There was no place to run. No place to hide. Hitler was determined to annihilate every Jew and he kept meticulous records of the Jewish populations in the countries he conquered.

Some years ago I was invited to speak at Fort Hood to over 40,000 U.S. military personnel. After one of my presentations some officers asked if they could invite their families to listen to me. They wanted their wives and children to know about the Holocaust. When I concluded my address, an adorable little girl stood up.

“Rebbetzin, Ma’am,” she said in her innocent sweet voice, “why didn’t you call the police?”

For a moment I was so astounded I could only stare at the precious child. What an American question! And then I explained to the little girl that there were no police we could call. The police were as cruel as the Nazis. In many cases they were Nazis. Jewish blood was cheap and could be shed with impunity. The question from the little girl continues to haunt me.

When the sinister darkness of the Holocaust finally lifted, I heard the cry “never again” – “never again will we allow such satanic evil to take place; never again.” Those words have become a clarion call. Tourists visit the sites where the death camps operated and nations build Holocaust museums to ensure that people learn from the past.

Under such circumstances, who could be a Holocaust denier? It’s there for all to see. And yet, incredibly, the Holocaust denial movement is alive and well.

But the problem extends well beyond out-and-out Holocaust deniers. Let a Jew raise his hand to defend himself and otherwise placid people suddenly become seething cauldrons of Jew hatred.

How can it be that those who protest Israel’s defensive actions always remain silent while thousands of missiles are launched at Israeli cities and villages? Or while terrorists blow themselves up as suicide bombers, taking with them innocent men, women, and children? Or, as we have seen almost every day for several months now, while Palestinians armed with knives go looking for Jews to stab?

Only when Israel strikes back do the nations of world finally find their voices.

Those of us who refuse to learn from our past can’t understand it. It’s not because we’re so naïve but rather because most Jews are liberals who want to believe in a higher civilization –one that shuns cruelty and barbaric savagery.

So what is the solution? The Torah that tells us we are “a nation destined to dwell alone…and not considered among the nations of the world.” But it is in that very loneliness that we find our strength. It is in that very loneliness that we turn to our G-d, for He is the only One who can help us – and the sooner we realize that the faster and the mightier our salvation will be.

We are one family united by our faith, our Torah. If our brethren are hurting, we all hurt. If their blood is being shed, we all bleed. If they are in jeopardy, we are all jeopardized.

We are Am Yisrael – one family, indivisible in ahavas Yisrael, in our love for one another. To us every Yiddishe neshamah is precious, and even vast oceans cannot separate us.

May we strive for the gift of shalom and may Hashem bless us with everlasting shalom. As we say in our daily prayers, “Hashem oz l’amo yitein, Hashem yevareich es amo bashalom” – Hashem grants strength to His people; Hashem blesses His people with peace.”

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

The Pita That Revived Terror

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

First Published on Sept. 25, 2012

“And all the nations will see that the Name of God is called upon you, and they will fear you” (Deuteronomy 28:10).

During the First Lebanon War, the IDF forced the PLO terrorists all the way to the Beirut port and then to Tunisia. The PLO, which had lost its stronghold in Lebanon, was shattered. Salach Taamri, the most senior and admired terrorist captured by the IDF, was imprisoned in the Ansar detention camp. He was a broken man.

Later, Taamri was interviewed by journalist Aharon Barnea for the book he would write about him, To be Captive. In Barnea’s book, Taamri describes the situation of the terror organization prior to Pesach, 28 years ago. “I concluded,” said Taamri, “that we had no chance to overpower Israel’s financial and military prowess, and that we should make do with the crumbs that they would throw us and fold up all our flags.”

Taamri, an intellectual and patriot, willingly cooperated with his captors. The other prisoners understood from their admired commander that the end had come and that the war was lost. And then, Taamri continued, a surprising event took place that turned everything upside down.

“My hands were holding the cold bars and I was looking from inside my dark jail cell toward the hall where an Israeli guard was walking. I saw him from far. He was walking slowly, holding something in his hand that he would constantly bring close to his mouth. He would bring it close and then distance it. When he was close to my cell, I called to him. I saw that he was eating a pita. He would bite, chew, bite and chew.

“You are a Jew,” I said to him. “Why are you eating chametz on Pesach? Don’t you know that it is forbidden for a Jew to eat chametz on this holiday?”

“I am not committed to the things that happened to my people during the exodus from Egypt 2,000 years ago. I have no connection to it,” said the Jewish prison guard.

Taamri continued: “I sat on the mattress in my cell and said to myself, ‘A nation of people who do not have a connection with their past; who are willing to publicly desecrate the laws of their faith, is a nation that has cut off the roots from its land. We will be able to achieve our goals.’ On that night, my approach completely changed. I couldn’t fall asleep. In all those hours of darkness, I replayed that scene with the Jewish prison guard.

“The next morning I gathered the Palestinian leadership in the prison, all those who knew my opinion over the years. I told them about my experience and the conclusions that I reached. I clarified to everyone that from that morning, we were embarking on a new course: a war for everything. Not for a small percentage and not for crumbs that they would throw us. For opposing us was a nation that lacked the connection to its roots, a nation not interested in its past. Thus, its motivation was necessarily void of any will to struggle and fight.”

Since then, Taamri says that he has told his story to tens of thousands of people and has convinced all of them that the approach must be changed to this: the Palestinians must struggle without compromise.

Taamri was elected to the Palestinian parliament and indeed convinced his friends, breathing new spirit into the war against Israel. The damage done by that pita eaten by the Israeli soldier on Pesach cannot be exaggerated.

Moshe Feiglin

Friday the Rabbi Read Isaiah 53

Friday, November 15th, 2013

In this morning’s video pick, a recording of the late Christopher Hitchens discussing the inherently immoral notion of someone dying for someone else’s sins, a kind of spiritual cannibalism, really, reader Alex Rivera entered the comment: “I take it the editor has never read Isaiah 53…”

Since Isaiah 53 is being used as one of the foundation strategies of missionary tricksters in seeking proof for their pagan ideas in our holy scriptures, I decided to respond immediately, lest this drivel have a chance to spread further.

Now, this article is directed at both Jewish and Christian readers, as an attempt to set the record straight. If you’re a Jew, I expect this should satisfy any doubt you may have had regarding the most remote possibility that the missionary claims bear any validity; if you’re Christian, I hope that this would serve as an opening to explore further the deep seated errors of your faith.

Isaiah 53 is an amazing piece of poetry, besides bearing a stirring prophetic message. I cannot understand how one would be able to get it without a thorough knowledge of Hebrew – even if he or she don’t have preconceived notions about the Christian message. This is precisely why the missionaries are able to fool our Jewish brothers and sisters who aren’t fluent in Hebrew – but now they can all come to the JewishPress.com and see the Jewish version of Isaiah 53.

To start, the original Hebrew texts had no chapters, and we read them based on their content, referring to each as a distinct episode, or a distinct poem, with their own cohesive content.

The segment in Isaiah 53 actually starts in Isaiah 52:13, flowing into Isaiah 53:1:

52:13 goes: “Behold, My slave has become wise, he has risen and become superior and very high.”

The nation of Israel, in the singular, is called God’s slave throughout the book of Isaiah. In one particular verse, Isaiah 41:8, the text refers to our nation using both names of our patriarch: “And you Israel, my slave Jacob whom I have chosen, seed of Abraham my lover.”

Both Isaiah and Jeremiah use the term “My slave Jacob” six times, four of them with the Divine’s call to “fear not.”

In both cases, the prophets are borrowing the names of our forefather Jacob-Israel, whom God addresses with that calming call on the eve of his journey down to Egypt, in the context of his becoming a great nation, the nation of Israel:

“He said, I am God, the God of your father, fear not going down to Egypt for I shall turn you into a great nation there.” (Gen. 46:3)

So that there’s no doubt in any Hebrew reader’s mind that the prophetic poem in Isaiah 52-53 is referring to us, the nation of Israel, children of Jacob. Nothing here about some guy telling folks he is the messiah.

The scene described by Isaiah is that of the nations of the world, kings and all, who are reviewing the progress of the nation of Israel—very much the way they do today, when 9 out of 9 UN resolutions are against Israel, when the president of the United States and his secretary of state cannot tear themselves away from discussing the extra bathroom the Berkowitzes wish to construct in their East Jerusalem apartment, when the faraway, impoverished nation of Iran is devoting $175 billion, at last count, to build a weapon that would finally annihilate all the Jews of Israel – this is precisely what the prophet describes, this obsession of the entire world with the children of God.

And so, God shares His own report with them:

52:13 “Behold, My slave has become wise, he has risen and become superior and very high.”

God proceeds to describe our history:

52:14-15 “Just as many were appalled by your appearance, saying: he is so disfigured, worse than any man, and his form worse than any human being, so he will humiliate many nations, kings will stand speechless over him, for that which had not been told them they’ll see and that which they had not heard they’ll ponder.”

The prophet continues:

53:1 “Who would believe what we have heard, and to whom has God’s arm been revealed?”

Yori Yanover

The Undivided Past

Friday, October 4th, 2013

There are several words used in the Bible to describe the Jewish people. At one stage we were simply tribal. Then we became an “Am”, a people, a “Goy”, a nation, a “Mamlacha”, a kingdom. Post-Biblically, if the gentiles called us Jews, Judeans, Israelites, Hebrews, Yids, or whatever, we used “Yisrael” as the name of choice, in the main, which meant a people, a culture, a religion, a relationship with God and a land, all of that in varying and amorphous degrees. We knew what it meant, even if others were confused or bemused. It takes one to know one.

Under pagan empires religion was not a factor, just loyalty to an overarching regime or royal family. If you were a serf it was loyalty to your lord and village. Neither the Persian, nor the Greek, nor the Roman Empires cared how you worshipped or behaved, so long as you professed loyalty to the empire. Then Christianity emerged as the religion of the Roman Empire and other religions were marginalized. Ironically the bloodiest battles were within Christianity, between one theological variation and another. The same thing happened under Islam. Ideals soon got perverted by politics and as today, Muslims of different sects killed more Muslims than all their enemies put together and doubled. Freud memorably described this internal divisiveness as “the narcissism of minor differences”.

In the West, most Jews that non-Jews encounter are not particularly committed to being Jewish. For Jews like a Soros or a Zuckerberg, it’s an accident of birth, a minor casual affiliation, like belonging to the Church of England. And this explains why most of those in the West who think about the matter reckon that the Jews are not really too concerned about having a land of their own and that it was only the accidental intervention of imperialist powers that explains the Jewish presence in the Middle East. It was a misjudged adventure. And really the Jews ought to pick up and leave and stop being nasty to the indigenous population.

It takes an objective observer to notice that for millennia Jews have shared a powerful core identity, even if in almost every situation except when they were given a choice, most Jews actually abandoned the community of Jews. But it took a determined minority within a minority to fight hard, relentlessly, and ultimately victoriously for its Jewish identity.

In his book The Undivided Past: Humanity Beyond Our Differences, David Cannadine writes:

“Egypt under the Pharaohs may have resembled a nation…but there was no accompanying sense of public culture or collective identity. As for the ancient Greeks, their limited pan Hellenic aspirations embodied in their shared language, Homeric epics and Olympic games foundered on the disputatious reality of their fiercely independent city-states. Similar objections have been made to claims that the Sumerians, the Persians, the Phoenicians, the Arameans, the Philistines, the Hittites and the Elamites were ancient nations, or that the Sinhalese, the Japanese or the Koreans might be so described during the first millennium of the common era. Only in the case of Israel does it seem plausible to discern a recognizable ancient nation with its precise though disputed territoriality, its ancient myths, its shared historical memories of the Exodus, the Conquest and wars with the Philistines, its strong sense of exceptionalism and providential destiny and its self-definition against a hostile “other” and its common laws and cultures. These were and are the essential themes in the unfinished history of the Jews this example has also furnished ever since a developed model of what it means to be a nation.” (p. 58)

Throughout exile we somehow did preserve a sense of belonging to a people, to a tradition, to a land, a sense of community, Klal Yisrael. This is why the problem of Israel in the Middle East, the Jewish problem, is so intractable. The overwhelming majority of Jews now living in Israel or the West Bank are committed to the notion of a Jewish people. It is not to be compared as ignorant opponents of Israel try, to a few British or white imperialists imposing themselves on a vast majority “other”. Some may try to delegitimize us by overturning a decision of the United Nations, but they cannot delegitimize or wish away the Jewish people.

Jeremy Rosen

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-undivided-past/2013/10/04/

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