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December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘nation’

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

Farrakhan: Disappointed in Obama

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Originally published at The American Thinker.

Fox Nation’s byline, “Farrakhan rips Obama,” was too good to pass up.

Have we just witnessed a chink in the armor of the Black Liberation Movement?  Did Louis Farrakhan, the Lord of the Nation of Islam finally confess a sin?

Let’s review what Farrakhan’s said:

“Clearly, we are in a dire condition… even though we in 2013 are celebrating a two-term black president — the brother simply has not been able to repair the damage caused by centuries of racism [and] greed, which has now run this nation over a fiscal cliff.”

I’m beginning to wonder about Fox. Farrakhan’s statement wasn’t a rip, it was a pander.

Poor Obama just can’t seem to overcome the mountain of guilt and shame that is needed to remake [his] people into the second coming of the “Great Society.”

Farrakhan’s last sentence was priceless:

“… centuries of racism [and] greed, which has now run this nation over a fiscal cliff.”

Ya gotta love the progressives!  The blame always rests with the enemy — that would be us, the conservatives.

We must digest these hallowed words of Farrakhan again so our noodles can catch up — let me offer a candid response:

Racism is packaged and sold by the progressives much like a commodity is traded on the Futures Market. It is promoted as a scourge on America and often derives its staying power in greed.  The commodity rises in value when the best promoters [like Farrakhan] are at play.  The political hacks that use racism to influence public emotions often see bigger turnouts at their elections.  Therefore, the problem appears to be unstoppable. ‘Racism and greed’ [at least as long as the progressives run the show] will forever be embedded in our fine nation.

Accept the obvious — for the conservatives feeling a sliver of hope that Obama is losing favor with Farrakhan or the black folks, fear not!

“Blacks were the only race or ethnic group to show an increase in voter turnout in November [2012].”

Whenever the the Democrats feel the slightest threat of losing their black voting base, out pops the racism card and a promise to spend more welfare money — then, with renewed vigor, the race hustlers are good to go for another round.

Bob Campbell

Looking For God In Our Skyscrapers

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Over the last decade, Tisha B’Av, the day that we traditionally mourn the destruction of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem, has been admitted to the pantheon of Jewish holy days that are not for the observant only: holy days that speak to everyone.

Yom Kippur has always been there. It is the private holy day, special to us all. A solid majority of the Jews in Israel fast on that day. Even those who do not fast feel something special: they respect the day and search for its meaning. Yom Kippur does not just pass us by like the holiday of Shavuot, for example.

Pesach is another holy day that has always been a holiday for all the Jews. It is the family holiday. The Seder night – kosher-for-Passover or not – is celebrated by Jewish families everywhere. It is a holiday that has not been separated from the nation by the walls of religion.

What we still lack is the national dimension, the dimension that retains a void not filled by banging on plastic hammers on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Yom Ha’atzmaut always leaves us with a vague sense of emptiness.

The collective subconscious that pulls the young people of Tel Aviv’s trendy Shenkin Street to alternative lamentations on the city rooftops discovers something in Tisha B’Av. It longs for the spiritual national dimension. It searches for meaning and warmth.

Real Israeli culture, the authentic national creation that we are all looking for, the point that affords meaning and validity to our national existence, is there – in our Father’s house, from which we were exiled and to where we will return.

Return to religion enriches the returnee. But usually it is at the expense of the real achievement of the return to Zion, Israel’s rising and return from the dimension of community to the dimension of nation – at the expense of the return to reality and history.

Generally speaking (and yes, there are certainly exceptions), the returnee to religion is no longer interested in the news, politics or the state. He has found his personal happiness and leaves the rest to the Messiah. His God is not so relevant outside his home, study hall or synagogue.

The new generation, however, wants God to be relevant in all dimensions. It doesn’t want to escape into religion. It wants a grand message, rectification of the world; neither to go backward into pre-Zionism nor to be stuck in the place bereft of identity and meaning in which Zionism – which shed all regard for religion – finds itself today.

The new generation wants it all. It wants to go forward into religion, to a Torah that is also a relevant culture and to a God who is with us here, in our modernity. It wants to proceed in our multilevel interchanges, in our skyscrapers, and in our hi-tech. It is looking for a God who is with us in our most private moments, in our most national triumphs, and in our most universal aspirations. The new generation wants warmth, a sense of belonging and meaning. It wants to herald a great message. It wants a home: it’s Father’s home, the home to which we all belong.

It wants the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Moshe Feiglin

The Merit Of Eretz Yisrael

Friday, November 30th, 2012

“And Yaakov became very frightened, and it caused him much pain, and he split the nation that was with him, as well as the sheep, the cattle and the camels, into two camps.” – Bereishis 32:7

Yaakov Avinu received word that his brother Eisav was coming to greet him. He understood fully well that this was not to be a warm family reunion. Eisav came accompanied by a band of four hundred armed men, bent on revenge. The Torah describes Yaakov as “very frightened,” so he prepared for war.

The Rishonim are bothered by why Yaakov would fear Eisav. After all, Hashem had promised to return him to his father’s house in peace. Throughout the many years, Hashem was right there protecting him, guarding him, keeping the promise. Why should he now fear a mere mortal?

The Dos Zakainim answers that Yaakov was afraid of the “zechus of Eretz Yisrael.” For the previous twenty years, Eisav had been living in Eretz Yisrael while Yaakov had not. Therefore, Yaakov was afraid that if he engaged in mortal combat with Eisav, that merit might win the day for him, and Yaakov might die in battle.

This Dos Zakainim is difficult to understand on a number of levels. First, the reason Yaakov wasn’t in Eretz Yisrael was not that he had abandoned the land, but that he fled from Eisav. He spent the first fourteen years in the yeshiva of Shem, and then he worked for Lavan.

But even more pointedly, what possible merit could Eisav have from living in Eretz Yisrael? He wasn’t practicing Torah and mitzvos. Quite the opposite, he was a rasha. His entire existence was focused against holiness. Eretz Yisrael is a land that has an enormous amount of kedushah and cannot tolerate wickedness; it is highly sensitive to tumah. Eisav’s very presence in the land should have been intolerable. So what type of merit would he have from being in that land? It would seem the opposite. His many years of defiling that holy land should work against him, not for him.

The answer to this question can best be understood with a perspective on capitalism.

If a man owns a successful small business, he might do a million dollars a year in sales. But that is the gross revenue, not the amount he takes home. As a rule in business, 15 percent of revenues is a reasonable profit margin. So if his mark-ups are strong and his expenses are in line, he might bring in a net profit of $150,000. Eighty-five percent of the money he earns goes to expenses. And this illustrates an interesting phenomenon. While his only motivation may have been to earn a living for himself, he is providing a substantial gain to those he does business with. In this scenario, $850,000 of his efforts are going to vendors, suppliers, and employees. And while it may not be his intention, he is making a substantial contribution to the economy as a whole.

In the same sense, Eisav was engaged in the building of Eretz Yisrael. While his interests may have been strictly his own, he maintained sheep, owned fields, hired workmen and built fences. His efforts directly benefited the land. It was cultivated and improved because of him. And this was Eretz Yisrael, the land that Hashem chose as the site for the Jewish people to settle, the home of the eventual Beis HaMikdash. Its very ground is holy. While he may not have been a credit to the land, and may not even have felt an attachment to it, because of him the land was built up – and that is a great merit.

Yaakov did not in any sense think that Eisav had more merit than he did as a person. He was well aware of the different lives they led. But Yaakov understood that Eisav had a tremendous zechus: he was responsible for building the land, and because of this Yaakov was afraid. In times of danger a particular merit can stand up for a person, and that can change the outcome of a confrontation.

We Don’t Belong Here

This concept is very relevant to our lives. While we patiently await imminent coming of Mashiach, one of the concepts that must be in the forefront of our minds is that we are in a foreign country. We don’t belong in chutz l’aaretz. It isn’t our home. While the United States is one of the most benevolent lands that has ever offered us residence, a Jew doesn’t belong in Brooklyn. When we build up this land, whether with palaces or impressive businesses, we are building other people’s land.

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-merit-of-eretz-yisrael-2/2012/11/30/

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