web analytics
August 26, 2016 / 22 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘nation’

The World’s Leader: Israel

Monday, September 24th, 2012

We have learned that the force of t’shuva is perpetually at work, propelling all of life toward perfection. While the enlightenment of mankind is a gradually developing process, the day is soon coming when the wonder of t’shuva will capture all imaginations and hearts.

In this saga of universal redemption, where do the Jewish People fit in? What role do they play? Just as one might expect, Am Yisrael is to be the leader, blazing the trail for all other peoples to follow. Rabbi Kook writes:

The Jewish People, because of their enhanced spiritual nature, will be the first nation in the world to do t’shuva. The special spirit of t’shuva will initially be revealed in this portion of humanity.Israelis propelled from within to be united with God’s light in the world, which is free of transgression and wrongdoing. Every falling away (from its connection to God) blemishes the wholeness of its inner perfection, yet in the end, its powerful life-force will triumph over the deviation, and it will return to complete health. This complete health will start to invigorate (the nation) with great strength and the light of t’shuva will shine within her first. Afterward, Israel will be the special channel to spread life’s inner yearning for t’shuva to all of the world, to lighten the world’s darkness and elevate its stature (Orot HaT’shuva, 5:8.  See also The Art of T’shuva, Ch. 16).

As we mentioned in a previous blog, Israel’s enhanced spiritual nature lies in its unique holiness and connection to God. “For thou art a holy people to the Lord thy God; the Lord thy God has chosen thee to be a special people to Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Devarim, 7:6).

The Nation of Israel has an exalted inner content which radiates God’s blessing to the world. This segula, or unique Divine connection, encompasses all of the Jewish People. It is our national soul. Blemishes caused by sin are always external to the soul of the nation, leaving no permanent scar.

Israel’s deep, inner yearning to be connected to God, triumphs in the end, banishing all darkness. We are not speaking about a spiritual awakening of scattered individuals. THE WHOLE NATION RETURNS TO GOD. True to the prophecy of Moses, the whole nation will return to live by the Torah. Politicians and soldiers, artists and farmers, teachers and judges will have one common purpose — to sanctify life’s every endeavor. Israel will return to being itself — “A kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Shemot, 19:6).

The revelation of Israel’s holiness will bring more light to the world than the sun. Mankind will be blinded and stunned. All people will proclaim:

Surely this great Nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is so great that has God so near to them… and what Nation is so great that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all of this Torah? (Devarim, 4:6-8).

This awakened, Holy Nation will demand a new life order, the correction of all wrong, the uprooting of all evil, rescue for the downtrodden, equality for all people, food for all children, salvation from a life of paganism and sin.

Inspired by the Holy Nation of Israel, mankind will abandon its vain and misguided paths, and a mighty spirit of t’shuva will be ignited throughout the world. Nations will flock to Israel to learn the ways of the Jews, as it is written:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s House shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all the nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Yaacov; and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths, for out of Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Yisheyahu, 2:2-4).

An example of Israel’s future influence on the nations will help make this utopian scenario more clear. Rabbi Kook writes that t’shuva is ever-present in the inner fabric of existence because it was brought into being before the creation of the world. Before sin had occurred, a remedy for it had already been prepared.

Tzvi Fishman

Markets, Politics, And The True Legacy Of Adam Smith

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

We wonder about the endlessly volatile markets and also (not often enough) about plainly unequal distributions of national wealth, but are the nation’s official policy responses based on correct views of classical economic theory? In particular, what about Adam Smith and his oft-quoted arguments for “free market capitalism”? More than any other classical theorist, Smith has been embraced by conservatives.

In brief, Smith reasoned, always capably and persuasively, that a system of private property, though naturally unequal, could still permit the poor to live tolerably. Rejecting Jean Jacques Rousseau’s contrary position that in commerce, “the privileged few…gorge themselves with superfluities, while the starving multitude are in want of the bare necessities of life,” Smith saw in capitalism not only an enviably rising productivity, but also the ultimate prerequisite for political liberty.

Adam Smith published his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations in 1776. A revolutionary book, Wealth did not aim to support the interests of any one class over another, but rather the overall well being of an entire nation. He discovered, as we all know, “an invisible hand,” an unsought convergence whereby “the private interests and passions of men” will lead to “that which is most agreeable to the interest of a whole society.”

Through capitalistic modes of production and exchange, reasoned Smith, an inextinguishable social inequality might still be reconciled with broad human progress.

Significantly, however, today’s conservative defenders of Smith usually ignore, either deliberately or unwittingly, the full depth of his relentlessly complex thought. A system of “perfect liberty,” as Smith called it, could never be based upon any encouragements of needless consumption. Instead, he argued, the laws of the market, driven by competition and a consequent “self-regulation,” strongly demanded a principled disdain for all vanity-driven consumption. “Conspicuous consumption,” a phrase that would be used far more effectively later on by Thorsten Veblen, could therefore never become the proper motor of economic or social improvement.

Adam Smith understood the dynamics of conspicuous consumption, but he disliked them altogether. For him, it was only reasonable that the market regulate both the price and quantity of goods according to the final arbiter of public demand. Yet, he continued, this market ought never to be manipulated by any avaricious interferers. More precisely, Smith excoriated all who would artificially create or encourage contrived demand as mischievously vain meddlers of a “mean rapacity.”

Today, of course, with engineered demand and hyper-Consumption as both permanent and allegedly desirable market features, we have lost all sight of Smith’s “natural liberty.” As a result, we try, foolishly and interminably, to construct our economic recovery and vitality on sand. Below the surface, we still fail to recognize, lurks a truly fundamental problem that is not political, economic, fiscal or financial. Instead, as Adam Smith would have us understand, it is a plainly psychological or human dilemma, one we should acknowledge can never be resolved by either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

Wall Street’s persisting fragility is largely a mirror image of Main Street’s insatiable drive toward hyper-consumption. This manipulated drive, so execrable to Adam Smith, has already prompted certain learned economists to warn repeatedly against saving too much. Could any advice be more ironic?

Whether Democrats or Republicans, all voters believe our national economic effort must always be oriented toward buying more. No one seems to ask, Exactly what sort of society can we expect from an economic system based on imitation and conformance?

Contrived demand has not always been a basic driver of our economy. Before television, and before our latest social networking gadgets, such demand could not have had any such overwhelming power and effect.

Writing in the middle of the nineteenth century, the American Transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke presciently of “self-reliance.” Foolish “reliance upon property,” Emerson had understood, is the unwanted result of “a want of self‑reliance.”

Now, living apprehensively amid a literally delirious collectivism, the ever-fearful American wants, more or less desperately, to project a “successful” image. This projection, in turn, remains founded upon material acquisition of “all the right things.”

In the final analysis, as Adam Smith himself would have understood, it will be the relentlessly conformist call of American mass society that critically undermines our core economy.

Louis Rene Beres

Are the American voters idiots?

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Are the American voters idiots? What do you think, readers?

I still say no, even after 2008, when it took very little effort to find out everything you needed to know about Barack Obama. Steeped in ‘60s-era radicalism, a “community organizer,” and a close associate of everyone in the political-guilt shakedown industry in Chicago. This guy was everything my leftist college professors thought of as a hero.

His associates, political thugs, pried open sealed divorce and child-custody records to embarrass his opponents in the 2006 Senate race. Yet his own records – e.g., college transcripts – have remained firmly sealed. His political record, other than his years in community organizing, was of a hard-left voting pattern (coupled with a lot of “present” votes), and a recorded interview in which he decried the U.S. Constitution’s marvelous provisions to keep government from doing things to the people.

There were so many reasons to know in advance that Obama would be a poor president. Yet many of the voters were taken in by the media hype surrounding Obama. The president’s associations and recorded statements were played down. The record was there for a number of investigative authors to find, from Michelle Malkin to Stanley Kurtz and Aaron Klein. But the mainstream media presented a very selective picture of the Democratic candidate.

The MSM, in fact, has embarrassed itself to a near-fatal degree with its remarkable coverage of the Obama administration, whether it is amplifying the cries of “racism!” that erupt whenever there is criticism of the president, or credulously reporting whatever the administration puts out, word for word, as if there is no previous record or any set of facts to be counter-checked. (The latter pattern is especially strong when it comes to reporting about defense and national security. Reporters have regularly retailed administration talking points about the unprecedented “shows of strength” the Obama administration is making, when a little research would reveal that the US had already been doing whatever the “unprecedented” thing is, for 5, 20, or even – in the case of North and South Korea – 60 years.)

There has been a tremendous growth in vague, elliptical, and/or tendentious narration of what’s going on in the nation and the world. The people can be pardoned for being tired and confused.

But the inability to distinguish fantasy-news and talking points from reality is a product of the American education system. That system has taken millions of people with plenty of native smarts and indoctrinated them with a set of ideological trigger-concepts, all while declining to teach them to think critically. Developing judgment through critical thinking is one of the hallmarks of adulthood, and the U.S. education system has been making that harder for Americans, rather than fostering their abilities.

But has this actually made Americans stupid? I don’t think so. One reason is that my experience with sailors in the last 10 years of my active-duty time was that an awful lot of them were coming in “stupid” – a noticeable difference from previous years – but most of them quickly learned discipline, responsibility, and the acquisition of knowledge, once they were challenged to. Lazy, whining kids who had never before been required to actually meet a challenge found it invigorating and rewarding to do so. (New sailors who came in from disciplined backgrounds like sports or music had an advantage, even though their store of knowledge was lacking, because they had already been challenged to perform to a standard along the way.)

Indeed, throughout my life, people’s hunger for challenge, and their adaptability when they are given opportunities to learn and improve themselves, have been in strong evidence. People aren’t happy as dependent creatures, supervised and fed but never rising to challenge or opportunity. People aren’t happy in any of the pathologies so prevalent today, whether in welfare dependency, “job” dependency – having to wait for someone else to create a job, with the government’s say-so, so you can have rewarding work – or drug use or sexual excess, or constant obsession with ideas of victimization and despair.

Only the most foolish of the young can think that these things make you happy and fulfilled. Americans used to know better, and I believe we want to again. It doesn’t make anyone happy to live in a network of these pathologies – not even the politicians and advocacy professionals who make their living from exploiting them

J. E. Dyer

Rabbi Lior: No Need to Worry about Iran Threat

Friday, August 24th, 2012

The Iran threat does not scare Rabbi Dov Lior. The rabbi of Kiryat Arba/Hebron believes that it is forbidden, and there is actually no reason to leave Israel because of a life-threatening situation.

In a halachic response made public in the B’sheva newspaper, Rabbi Lior wrote that “it is clear that the goyim are always plotting and have always been plotting . . . You can go by Auschwitz and see that in the diaspora it’s not safer.”

According to Rabbi Lior, “There’s no justification in running away from Eretz Yisrael because of something like this. We firmly believe that “Hashem will not forsake His nation or abandon His heritage.”

“We believe that the Jewish nation . . . will be saved in any case,” Rabbi Lior stated. “We have a Divine promise about our nation’s existence and, therefore, we don’t have to be concerned about such things.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

Monologue: Aryeh Deri Remembers his Friend Zev Wolfson

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Former Interior Minister Aryeh Deri: I met Mr. Wolfson some 25 years ago, when I was Minister of the Interior. I used to see him hanging around the Prime Minister’s chambers, both Rabin’s and Peres’, and when I inquired with Rabin and Peres what’s the story with this Jewish guy, they told me they couldn’t reveal too much, but they didn’t know one other Jew in the world who as an individual had done more for the State of Israel.

When I pressed a little, they each told me that he had been a tremendous asset to Israel in the Senate and in the House, where he wielded a lot of power. This is before there was AIPAC and other strong Jewish organizations. He helped a lot with debt forgiveness and lowering interest rates on loans Israel was receiving from the U.S. This was in the late 1960s, early ’70s.

During the Yom Kippur War, when the IDF was running out of ammunition in the middle of the fighting, and there was a need for an airlift but Nixon and Kissinger where not quick to respond at first, Wolfson employed every resource he had in the House and in the Senate, enormous resources. He later told me that he even desecrated Shabbat for the sake of his effort, anything to save the nation of Israel.

That’s why Rabin’s and Peres’ door was always open to him. Aaron Fogel, former Director of the Ministry of Finance, told me amazing things about things Wolfson did for Israel. You know, when he was able to reduce the interest on a loan by a quarter or by half a percent, it translates into hundreds of millions of dollars for the state.

He did all this humbly, you never saw his names in the papers. He lived in terrible austerity. It took us years to persuade him to travel in business class, he always traveled in coach, even though he was a very wealthy man.

The only thing on his mind other than the state of Israel was the nation of Israel. Jewish education. Not Haredi or religious education, necessarily, but Jewish education, to stop the assimilation. And for that he turned worlds upside down. Ask anyone who knows what he has done in France, in Iran, in Morocco, with the Ozar HaTorah schools, Jewish schools which teach all the secular studies but emphasize Jewish studies. He used the power he wielded in America to help the governments of France, Iran and Morocco and get from them buildings and budgets for Jewish schools.

His flagship project in the last twenty, twenty-five years, has been Jewish and Israeli students in the U.S., France, Russia, some 40 thousand Jewish students altogether who receive a weekly stipend from the Wolfson Fund, and in return they attend lectures on Jewish tradition and history. They’re also brought in to Israel on trips–all of it to prevent assimilation. That’s all private money, the Wolfson family and a few others. No government involvement. They do it quietly, humbly. Only those who are familiar with the subject know about their contribution.

I met Zev Wolfson 25 years ago, in a somewhat stressful situation. He was a straight shooter, said whatever was on his mind. When he heard from Rabin and Peres about me, an up and coming young minister – he let me know what he thought about the religious parties… He didn’t like parochial politics… We exchanged some words, but as a result I got to know him better and we became friends. Our families were close, too. Any family celebration that we had, he and his wife and their children would come to Israel especially to be with us. He would arrange for us a grand sheva brachot party, invite the president of Israel, ministers. He honored us a lot.

He told me, Aryeh, we can’t rest. Every night before you go to sleep, think what more can I do for the nation of Israel. After 120 we’ll rest, now it’s a time for working.

Only a month ago I visited him in the U.S. in Lawrence, NY. He was lucid, but already weak. He was very optimistic about Israel. He was a faithful man, not Haredi but very faithful. But he didn’t believe in miracles. He believed in action. And he believed that the assimilation is the biggest enemy of the nation of Israel.

Jewish Press Staff

Israel And America, Bound Together

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Editor’s Note: The following is adapted from an address by Gov. Romney to The Jerusalem Foundation on Sunday.

To step foot into Israel is to step foot into a nation that began with an ancient promise made in this land. The Jewish people persisted through one of the most monstrous crimes in human history, and now this nation has come to take its place among the most impressive democracies on earth. Israel’s achievements are a wonder of the modern world.

These achievements are a tribute to the resilience of the Israeli people. You have managed, against all odds, time and again throughout your history, to persevere, to rise up, and to emerge stronger.

The historian Paul Johnson, writing on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Jewish state, said that over the course of Israel’s life, 100 completely new independent states had come into existence.

“Israel is the only one whose creation can fairly be called a miracle,” Johnson wrote. It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.

Our two nations are separated by more than 5,000 miles. But for an American abroad, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country than you do in Israel.

We’re part of the great fellowship of democracies. We speak the same language of freedom and justice, and the right of every person to live in peace. We serve the same cause and provoke the same hatreds in the same enemies of civilization.

It is my firm conviction that the security of Israel is in the vital national security interest of the United States. And ours is an alliance based not only on shared interests but also on enduring shared values.

In those shared values, one of the strongest voices is that of your prime minister, my friend Benjamin Netanyahu. I met with him earlier this morning and I look forward to my family joining his this evening as they observe the close of this fast day of Tisha B’Av.

It’s remarkable to consider how much adversity, over so great a span of time, is recalled by just one day on the calendar. This is a day of remembrance and mourning, but like other such occasions, it also calls forth clarity and resolve.

At this time, we also remember the eleven Israeli athletes and coaches who were massacred at the Munich Olympics forty years ago. Ten years ago this week, nine Israeli and American students were murdered in the terrorist attack at Hebrew University.

And tragedies like these are not reserved to the past. They are a constant reminder of the reality of hate, and the will with which it is executed upon the innocent.

It was Menachem Begin who said this about the Ninth of the month of Av:

“We remember that day and now have the responsibility to make sure that never again will our independence be destroyed and never again will the Jew become homeless or defenseless.”

“This,” Prime Minister Begin added, “is the crux of the problems facing us in the future.”

* * * * *

So it is today, as Israel faces enemies who deny past crimes against the Jewish people and seek to commit new ones.

When Iran’s leaders deny the Holocaust or speak of wiping this nation off the map, only the naïve – or worse – will dismiss it as an excess of rhetoric. Make no mistake: the ayatollahs in Tehran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object, and who will look the other way.

My message to the people of Israel and the leaders of Iran is one and the same: I will not look away; and neither will my country. As Prime Minister Begin put it, in vivid and haunting words, “if an enemy of [the Jewish] people says he seeks to destroy us, believe him.”

We have seen the horrors of history. We will not stand by. We will not watch them play out again.

It would be foolish not to take Iran’s leaders at their word. They are, after all, the product of a radical theocracy.

Over the years Iran has amassed a bloody and brutal record. It has seized embassies, targeted diplomats, and killed its own people. It supports the ruthless Assad regime in Syria. It has provided weapons that have killed American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. It has plotted to assassinate diplomats on American soil.

Mitt Romney

Olympic Opening Ceremonies and the Death Throes of a Civilization

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

I don’t think I was the only American weirded out on Friday by the bizarre “dancing nurses” segment at the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics.  There were lots of children wriggling in hospital beds, and seemingly hundreds of nurses prancing around dressed in the garments of yesteryear.  It wasn’t clear what the artist was trying to say – and then the letters “NHS” burst out in glittering lights on the field.

Oh.  This is about the National Health Service.

[Pause.]

????????????

That realization was paired in my mind with the International Olympic Committee’s refusal to commemorate the 11 Israeli athletes killed by Yasser Arafat’s terrorists in Munich in 1972.  The IOC’s position is that it doesn’t want to “politicize” the games.

That position doesn’t hold up so well considering that 9/11 was commemorated at the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.  In 1996, at the Summer Games in Atlanta, the IOC had a moment of silence at the closing ceremony for the victims of the Olympic Park bombing.

In 2010, at the Winter Games in Vancouver, there was a moment of silence during the opening ceremony for Georgian athlete Nodar Kumartashvili, who had died in an accident on a practice run just before the games began.

So in recent years, the Olympic authorities have commemorated the death of an Olympic athlete and the deaths of others in terrorist attacks, with a moment of silence each time in an opening or closing ceremony.  And guess what?  Last night, in the Olympic stadium, the victims of the 7/7 terrorist bombings in the London subway in 2005 were commemorated as part of the opening ceremony.  Granted, it was hard to catch; a photo montage was projected into the stadium during a lull in the prancing and acrobatics, but there was little narration to call it out.  I didn’t even notice it, and had to be told about it afterward by others who had seen it.

It is jarring to think of passing references being made to the victims of terrorism, sort of as part of the entertainment, during an event-palooza dedicated to performance and revelry.  The reason we usually have authorities solemnly asking for a moment of silence, at a carefully separated, showcased point in the proceedings, is that that’s what is appropriate for commemorating tragedy and sorrow.

But it was clearly important to the British planners to mention their dead from the 2005 terror attack in the opening ceremony.  So they did it.  For forty years, including this Olympics, no one has incorporated a commemoration of the 11 murdered Israeli athletes into an official Olympic ceremony.  Yet Olympic authorities have been assiduous about commemorating others.  Their relentless, determined failure to commemorate the Israelis in the same way is a failure to acknowledge the common humanity of Israeli Jews.

The opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games couldn’t have been more stuffed with politics if it had been a bell pepper.  The Republic of Taiwan was required to march as “Chinese Taipei,” although of course that is not what the Taiwanese call their nation.  There is no nation of Palestine, yet athletes walked under a “Palestinian” flag and were announced as “Palestine.”  The “quirky” performance segment of the ceremony involved numerous references to political events in the history of Great Britain, including, of course, the paroxysm of pagan worship, complete with cavorting women, for the National Health Service.  It was a really, really political night; if a commemoration for the murdered Israeli athletes might have been “political,” that would only have guaranteed that it would fit right in.

Watching the ceremony last night, I had a profound sense of sadness for the hollow revelry.  There was no dignified memorializing of the greatness, uniqueness, and courage of Britain’s past.  There was “irreverent, idiosyncratic” entertainment, and a very long segment of writhing self-abasement before the shibboleth of socialized medicine.

We seemed to be looking last night at a moment frozen in time before a great upheaval, like the last days of lingering sunlight before World War I.  A civilization based on entertainment and ritual political worship is headed for a fall.  But then, a civilization that singles out some humans, like Israeli Jews, to show less care for – less solidarity with – is a weak and unsustainable one.  Nothing else will go right with it.

J. E. Dyer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/olympic-opening-ceremonies-and-the-death-throes-of-a-civilization/2012/07/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: