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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘opportunity’

Esav’s Lost Opportunity

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Esav could have been a great spiritual leader, an important partner in the building of the Jewish People. But it was not to be.

Due to Esav’s misdiagnosis of his own spiritual potential, he gave up on bridging the physical world with the spiritual, of sanctifying the material world, the ultimate goal of Torah.

In this week’s haftarah we read from Sefer Ovadia. As we once pointed out, Chazal tell us, as Rashi notes in his first comment on this sefer, that Ovadia was a convert from the nation of Edom, of Esav. HaKadosh Baruch Hu sent him to deliver a message to the nation of Edom that because they had spiritually failed as a nation, they would be punished. This is the basic thrust of our haftarah. It is clear that Ovadia, a person who came from a wicked nation and environment but came close to Hashem and Torah by converting, was someone who could lecture his former nation about their evil failings.

There is one pasuk toward the end of the haftarah which summarizes the most significant way in which Esav failed.

“The house of Jacob shall be fire and the house of Joseph a blaze, and the house of Esav shall become stubble, and they shall ignite them and consume them, and the house of Esav shall have no survivors, for Hashem has spoken” (Ovadia 1:18).

The pasuk stresses that the spiritual power of Yosef is what causes Esav to fail. Rashi stresses this point Parshas Vayeshev (30:25) saying that when Yosef was born, Yaakov felt ready to face the challenge of Esav. Yosef is call sitno shel Esav, the adversary of Esav, and Rashi cites the above pasuk. Yosef is the flame which consumes Esav. Why is this? Esav maintained that it was impossible to be successful in both the material and spiritual worlds, and thus he gave the spiritual world to Yaakov and took the physical world for himself.

The life of Yosef displayed very clearly how wrong Esav was. Yosef was extremely successful, reaching the cusp of world power as viceroy of Egypt, while maintaining his great spiritual levels.

There are stark differences between Yaakov/Yosef and Esav.


Rav Yisrael Simcha Schorr quotes an Agra d’Kallah (from the Bnei Yissaschar) that cites a Zohar at the end of Parshas Pinchas which states that Yaakov and Esav divided the months between themselves. Yaakov symbolizes the middas harachamim, compassion, while Esav symbolizes the middas hadin, justice. Certain months are connected more to din and others are connected to rachamim. Esav wanted to take all the summer months, Tammuz, Av, and Elul. As we know, Tammuz and Av are difficult months for us, times of din. However, Yaakov would not allow Esav to take the month of Elul, as it would be too hard on Klal Yisrael to come into the din of Rosh Hashanah without the rachamim of Elul. We need Hashem’s compassion for a full month in order to face the great Day of Judgment.

The Zohar sees this dispute in the pasuk in Parshas Toldos (25:26), “veyado ochezes b’akeiv Esav.” Yaakov was holding on to the heel of Esav – the end of the calendar year, the summer months. Esav had grasped them, but Yaakov was trying to get a hold of Elul from him. Yaakov was, in fact, successful and Elul became a month of rachamim.

The Agra d’Kallah quotes the Chida on that pasuk who says that “yado,” his hand, also refers to the letter yud. As Rashi says in Parshas Beshalach, yud represents machshava, a thought. The yud is small and so too is thought in the physical realm – it is unseen. The yud was in the heel of Esav, thus, thought was not a foremost value in Esav’s identity. Esav was asuy, fully formed, with the yud coming at the end. In Esav’s world, thoughts follow action. Do first, think second.

Esav name should have been Asuy, but Yaakov took the yud from the end of Esav’s name and put it in the front of his own. Yaakov should have been called Eikev for holding on to Esav’s heel, but taking the yud demonstrated that he was all about thought first and action second. As the Chida writes, sof maaseh b’machshava techila; for Yaakov the actions are always preceded by the thoughts. Avos D’Rav Nosson says that the heel is the least sensitive part of the body. For Yaakov, even the heel, even the most distant part of himself, is always directed by the yud, by thoughts.


The Torah (Bereishis 39:11) says, “Yosef came to the house to perform his work.” Rashi tells us that Potifar’s wife did not attend an idolatrous holiday celebration event with everyone else, pretending to be sick, in order to catch Yosef alone and tempt him to sin. How did she know that Yosef would be at home? Even if it she knew he wouldn’t attend the idolatrous event, he could have been someplace else. Why did she assume he would remain at home?

The Yalkut Shimoni seems to answer this question. Says the Midrash (remez 146): What does it mean that Yosef went to the house to do his melacha, his work? Something like a gezaira shava, a parallel-word connection, is made to the pasuk (Bereishis 2:3) which says we cannot do melacha on Shabbos because Hashem refrained from doing so. Says the midrash: What kind of work was Yosef doing at the house? It was Shabbos and he was specifically not doing work. So what was his melacha? Torah study! Every Shabbos, Yosef would review all the Torah which Yaakov taught him.

Indeed, even in the bitter exile, Yosef maintained his spirituality and kept Shabbos.

Indeed, Bamidbar Rabbah (14:2) on the famous pasuk in Parshas Miketz which alludes to Chanukah, “U’tvo’ach tevach vehachein,” says that Yosef had instructed his workers to slaughter some animals and prepare a meat meal. (The hint to Chanukah is in the last letter of tevach, and the word vehachein, which are the letters of Chanukah.) The midrash again uses something like a gezaira shava, and connects the word vehachein to “Ba’yom ha’shishi v’heichinu,” a pasuk (Shemos 16:5) that relates how Klal Yisrael have to prepare all food for Shabbos on Erev Shabbos, including the cooking and baking of the mon. The midrash says that Yosef was having his workers prepare food on Erev Shabbos to be eaten Friday night at the seudah. When Yosef and the brothers ate together, it was a Shabbos meal! (Of course, the brothers did not yet know it was Yosef they were eating with.)

Once again, we see that Yosef kept Shabbos, not only in refraining from work, the shamor mitzvos of lo saaseh, but he in observing the positive mitzvos of enjoying oneself, the mitzvos of zachor.

Yosef is the flame which consumes Esav. Yosef demonstrates that Esav’s attitude toward the world was a colossal mistake and a giant opportunity lost.

Rabbi Boruch Leff

Bennett: US Elections an Opportunity for Imposing Israeli Sovereignty

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Habayit Hayehudi Chairman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, on Tuesday morning told Israel time Israel should take advantage of the elections season in the US to impose Israeli law on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria such as Ariel, Maale Adumim, Gush Etzion and Ofra.

“It’s time to take an active step instead of constantly being on the defensive,” Bennett said.

When told that while President Trump would probably endorse such a move, President Clinton would likely reject it, Bennet said, “We can’t expect the world to be more Zionist than we are. We must be the ones initiating the action.”

Responding to a question about the world’s reaction to such a move, Bennett noted that Labor Prime Minister Levy Eshkol did not cower before world opinion when he unified Jerusalem in 1967, nor did Likud Prime Minsiter Menahem Begin when he passed the law making the Golan Heights part of Israel.

“I’m not suggesting it would be easy,” Bennett said, “but we need to do that which is proper for us. We must chart our vision and we must start working to apply it.”

Bennett admitted that his party’s line is in conflict with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call at the UN for making the Two State Solution a reality. “Creating a Palestinian State along the 1967 border, with some swapping of territories, would be a horrendous mistake,” he said. “Currently we only have eight seats in the Knesset. When we have 30 seats we’ll be able to apply our entire agenda on this matter.”

When asked if he didn’t think it was time to end the cycle of violence once and for all, Bennett suggested that so far violence has been the result of Israel handing over territory, and not from annexing territories. “When we handed over the Gaza Strip we got rockets; when we handed over Judea and Samaria we got the second intifada.”

“The rules in the Middle East are sometimes counterintuitive,” Bennett said. “To maintain peace here, we must be very strong. As soon a you’re too soft in this neighborhood, you catch a blow. When everyone around understands that we are determined not to hand over even one square inch, the appreciation for our position would only grow, and we’ll see fewer conflicts and confrontations. They’ll accept it.”

Regarding the issue of the Amona community, which the Supreme Court has ruled must be evacuated and demolished by early December, Bennett said, “We’re working on it. Yesterday we launched a team of several judicial experts to examine several proposed alternatives, not just regarding Amona but concerning a long line of settlements in Judea and Samaria.”

“The Supreme Court must obey the law and must follow government policy,” Bennett said, explaining that “in recent years, before Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) became Justice Minister, and before we were part of the government, unfortunately governments have gone to the Supreme Court and stated, ‘Of course, we must demolish.’ And so the high court responded, saying, ‘Do go ahead and demolish.’ They asked for extensions, but eventually the time expires. The high court very much relates to government policy. And we must turn this policy by 180 degrees, which we will do.”

Reminded that the AG Avihai Mandelblit is on the record as saying the proposed “Arrangement bill” to compel Arab claimants who can prove ownership over Jewish land to accept market value compensation, Bennett said, “Maybe that’s what he’s saying, and he is an advisor (the AG is also the government’s legal counsel). When I was a hi-tech CEO I had legal counselors, but I made the final decisions. The government rules, the legal counselor gives legal advice. Usually we prefer to accept their positions, but on occasion we don’t. Otherwise, the legal counselor becomes prime minister, which isn’t what the citizens of this country want.”

“Otherwise, why waste our time having elections, let the legal counselors run the country,” Bennett concluded.


Palestinians Accuse Peace Negotiators of Treason

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

At the request of the Palestinian Authority leadership, the first round of peace talks with Israel, which was launched in Jerusalem on August 14, was held away from the media spotlight.

The Palestinian Authority leadership requested that no journalist or photographer be permitted to cover the meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

Even the location of the peace talks was kept a secret, again at the request of the Palestinian Authority leadership.

The Palestinian Authority’s request for secrecy in the peace talks does not stem from its desire to secure the success of the negotiations.

It is not as if the Palestinian Authority is saying: We care so much about the peace talks that we prefer to avoid media coverage in order to make sure that the peace process succeeds.

The main reason the Palestinian Authority does not want the media to cover the peace talks is related to its fear of the reactions of Palestinians and the Arab world.

Mahmoud Abbas is already facing widespread opposition among Palestinians to his controversial decision — which was taken under heavy pressure from US Secretary of State John Kerry — to return to the negotiating table with Israel.

When the heads of the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams, Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat, met in Washington earlier this month to announce the launching of the peace talks, many Palestinians and Arabs seized the opportunity to ridicule Erekat and accuse the Palestinian Authority leadership of treason.

A photo of Erekat and Livni standing together in Washington has since been exploited by Facebook and Twitter activists to hurl insults and profanity at the chief Palestinian negotiator.

Palestinian sources in Ramallah said that Erekat felt so offended by the insults and obscene language directed against him that he decided that there was no need for “photo op” with Livni or any other Israeli.

Both Abbas and Erekat are fully aware of the growing opposition among Palestinians and Arabs to the resumption of the peace talks with Israel under the terms of the US Administration.

That is why the two men do not want to be seen sitting in a room with any Israeli representative. They know that any photo of Erekat and Livni shaking hands or sitting together would provide their enemies with additional ammunition.

Those who think that the opposition to the peace talks is coming only from Hamas and other radical groups are either ignorant or turning a blind eye to the reality.

When Abbas agreed to resume the peace talks with Israel, he went against the recommendation of the PLO leadership, whose members rejected Kerry’s attempts to force the Palestinian Authority president to abandon two of his pre-conditions — namely, that Israel accept the pre-1967 lines as the basis for negotiations and freeze all construction in settlements and east Jerusalem neighborhoods.

Last week, the PLO officials once again reminded Abbas of their opposition to the peace talks.

During an August 15 meeting in Ramallah, several PLO leaders told Abbas that they remained opposed “in principle” to the idea of resuming peace talks with Israel under the current circumstances.

The only Palestinian official who has come out in public to voice support for Abbas’s move is the powerless Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah.

Abbas and Erekat know that Hamdallah’s public endorsement of the peace talks does not carry any weight. After all, Hamdallah is an unelected public servant with no grassroots support or political base.

To further complicate matters for Abbas and Erekat, several Palestinian factions are now in the process of forming a “national alliance” the main goal of which is to thwart any deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This rejectionist front will consist of various PLO and other factions and organizations and could create many problems for the Palestinian Authority.

But there is another reason why the Palestinian Authority leadership does not want media coverage of the peace talks. For many years, the Palestinian Authority has been supporting boycott campaigns against Israel, as well as organizations combating “normalization” with Israelis.

If Palestinian children are condemned for playing football with Israelis, why should it be acceptable for Erekat to be talking with Livni?

Palestinian Authority leaders can only blame themselves for the growing opposition to the peace talks with Israel. Palestinian leaders have simply not prepared their people for peace. These leaders have, instead, delegitimized Israel to a point where it has become a “crime” for any Palestinian to be photographed talking to, or negotiating with, any Israeli.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Murderer of Arabs Asks to Be Released with Palestinians

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Ami Popper, in Israeli jail for the murder of 7 Palestinian day workers in 1990, sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding to be set free, along with the rest of the Jewish security prisoners in jail today.

“Mr. Prime Minister, in recent years thousands of Palestinians with and without blood on their hands have been set free,” Popper wrote. And while they’re given an opportunity to continue or to start a new life outside the prison walls, they simply misuse this wonderful opportunity, repeat their terrible deeds and return to jail, knowing full well that their release will soon come.”

Popper noted that it was difficult for him to write the prime minister and to come to terms with his own terrible deed.

On May 20, 1990, Popper put on IDF uniform trousers he had stolen from his brother, then stole his brother’s assault rifle and five ammunition clips, and went to a bus stop where he asked men waiting for the bus in Rishon Letzion for their ID cards. After confirming that they were Arabs, he lined them up and opened fire, killing seven. Seven more Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces during riots that erupted after the murder, and 700 were injured.

Popper, whose admittedly horrible acts are overmatched by the murders of Jews committed by some of the prisoners being released on Tuesday, asked Netanyahu to treat him and his fellow Jewish security prisoners equally and release them as well.

“Such a great act of releasing myself and my friends, would show the world the exulted qualities of the nation of Israel, merciful and children of merciful, giving a second chance not only to the enemy but to their own as well,” Popper wrote.

It should be noted that while the vast majority of Palestinian murderers slated to be let free have shown no remorse, Popper is contrite about his actions. He begs:

“Please, Mr. Prime Minister, receive my supplication and my regret and the outcry of my family, and give us a chance in this season, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, which is intended for repent for the entire world.”

Considering the fact that Popper has served more than 20 years behind bars, his request seems at least as reasonable as that of the Palestinians.

Yori Yanover

Vatican: Papal Visit to Show IDF ‘Imprisoning’ Christian Population

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Fr. Peter Vasko, President of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL), heralded Pope Francis’ announcement that he may visit the Holy Land next year as an opportunity for the “whole world to see the plight of Christians in the area.

Vasko said the pontiff’s presence would also “shine a light on the dwindling Christian population in the Holy Land, and hopefully help ease living conditions in the area.” Christians, once a majority in the area, have diminished to less than two percent of the population as restrictions on travel, education and work have increased.

In Palestinian controlled areas, including Bethlehem, what remains of the Arab Christians population are virtual prisoners in their own homes. At the same time, Israeli controlled areas are the only places in the entire Middle East where the Christian population has been rising.

Pope Francis said the visit – his first as head of the Church – would mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s trip to Jerusalem in 1964. The announcement came on the heels of Israeli President Shimon Peres’ recent visit to the Vatican. During that visit, Peres urged the pope to come to Israel, adding, “The sooner you visit the better, as a new opportunity is being created for peace, and your arrival could contribute significantly to increasing the trust and belief in peace.”

Peres added, “I turn to you and ask that within your sermons in front of millions of believers in the world you include the hope for peace in the Middle East and the whole world.”

Vasko said the Vatican has long supported FFHL programs, which provide education, housing and work opportunities for thousands of Palestinian Christians. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI visited Israel during their tenures.

Pope Francis accepted Peres’ invitation, but no date has been set for the trip.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/vatican-papal-visit-to-show-idf-imprisoning-christian-population/2013/08/08/

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