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Posts Tagged ‘strength’

The Hebron Expulsion

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

The highly publicized IDF expulsion from Hebron’s Beit Hamachpela of Jews who purchased and were residing in it was an extraordinary event. And it does not bode well for what we can expect from the Israeli government regarding historical Jewish sites.

For one thing, the forced evacuation came about after Prime Minister Netanyahu asked Defense Minister Barak, who has the final say on such matters under Israeli law, to delay any evictions. For another, there does not seem to be any doubt that the Jewish claimants actually owned the property. Mr. Barak was invoking a narrow technicality plainly at odds with the place of Hebron in Judaism.

The IDF had ordered the Jews to leave the Beit Hamachpela apartment building, adjacent to the Cave of the Patriarchs in a Palestinian neighborhood under Israeli military control, not because there was a question about the legitimacy of the purchase but rather because the occupants had not received final approval from the IDF – which has to consider whether certain developments might be “disruptive of the public order” – to move in.

The Jewish occupants had moved into Beit Hamachpela claiming to have purchased it from a Palestinian who was under a Palestinian Authority death sentence for selling land to Jews, and saying they were fearful the empty building would invite Palestinian squatters.

Significantly, Mr. Barak said in a public statement on the issue, “I won’t allow settlers to dictate how the government runs the country.” He went on to say the eviction must be enforced immediately because of the importance of maintaining the rule of law in Israel and that he would not allow “settlers to establish facts on the ground” while his ministry investigated the sale.

He said nothing about the legitimacy of the Jewish claim to the property.

At any rate, the treatment of the Beit Hamachpela purchasers is starkly inconsistent with what should have been expected.

On December 7, 1994 then-MK Netanyahu said:

We dwell in Hebron not out of benevolence but as a right. Hebron belongs to the Jewish people eternally as a result of our right and as a result of our strength, our strength of faith, strength to stand up for what is legitimately ours…. We must protect the foundation of Eternal Israel. Hebron is ours, Jerusalem is ours, the entire Eretz Yisrael is ours.

And the following are quotes from then-MK Netanyahu when he led a delegation of 14 Likud MKs to Hebron on September 7, 1995 to demonstrate solidarity with the Jewish residents there:

The Jewish settlement will remain in Hebron permanently. If someone tries to take it away, my friends and I will be here, and they will have to take us away as well…. It will be fatal mistake to bring hundreds of armed Palestinian policemen here, and there will be a small area where the Jews can pass and where the police and IDF can operate. If there will be a conflict, the IDF will not be able to function and will quickly collide with the Palestinian forces. This is a prescription for tragedy…. There is one body responsible, and that has to be the IDF.

Will the real Benjamin Netanyahu please stand up?

Pesach – Season Of Emunah

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

“And you shall remember that Hashem…is the One who gives you the strength to amass this wealth.” – Devarim 8:18

Historically, one of man’s greatest shortcomings has been taking credit for Hashem’s work. Only too often does a man find success and, in his arrogance, feel his power and his might created his empire. The Torah warns us, Remember: it was Hashem who brought all this to be.

While this may sound like a straightforward concept, the Targum adds an intriguing twist. He defines the words, “Hashem gave you the strength,” as “Hashem gave you the advice to acquire that merchandise.”

In other words, if you take credit for prosperity, remember that Hashem gave you the counsel that led to it.

This Targum is difficult to understand. The role of Targum is pshat – straightforward meaning. The Torah said, “Remember that Hashem gave you the strength to make this wealth.” But it is far more than advice that Hashem gives. Hashem created the heavens and the earth. Hashem wrote the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology. Hashem created and maintains all of physicality – from the constellations down to cellular functions. Why would the Targum so limit the explanation to this one issue of Hashem giving advice to acquire merchandise?

The answer to this can be best understood with an example.

A Farmer in the Field

Imagine a simple farmer standing in his field, ready for harvest. Looking out, he sees rows and rows of ripe corn standing tall, stretching as far as his eye can see. He feels joy in his heart as he revels in the abundance of his bumper crop. And then he looks out at his neighbor’s field. Meager. Undergrown. Spotty.

The farmer thinks to himself, “What a fool that boy is. How many times did I tell him, plant corn this year! Not wheat. The rains came late. The frost was still on the ground in April. Any man worth his salt knows wheat wouldn’t grow properly that way. If only he’d have listened to me…”

And the farmer can’t help but feel a sense of pride. After all, it was his wisdom that led him to choose corn, not like that fool of a guy next door who planted wheat.

The farmer, as naive as he is, understands he didn’t bring the rain. It wasn’t his acumen that stopped the pestilence. And it wasn’t he who made the sun shine bright in the sky, providing the warmth and energy the corn needed. Nevertheless, he feels smug because it was he who made the wise decision that brought him to where he is.

This seems to be the answer to the Targum. This was the dor deah, the generation that knew Hashem. They experienced the splitting of the sea. They lived in the desert surrounded by miracles. They saw Hashem on a daily basis. And they understood that Hashem runs the world. As such, they couldn’t possibly take credit for “growing the corn.” They knew that if their flocks increased, it was Hashem’s blessing. If their crops flourished, it was because Hashem willed it to be.

The one area for which they could take credit was their wisdom. “It was my decision to purchase gold and not wood. I thought about it and realized that cattle feed would do well. I came to the conclusion that water rights would be valuable.”

The Targum is telling us this is the only mistake they could have made. Of course, everything is from Hashem – that was never a question. Yet they still could become arrogant, thinking it was their wisdom that brought their success. The pasuk says to them, “Remember: those thoughts were brought to you by Hashem. The reason you made that choice is because Hashem guided your thinking.” The Torah is saying: recognize that even ideas are directed by Hashem.

Seeing Hashem In Our World

This concept is very relevant to us. As maaminim we recognize that we don’t control market conditions. One worldwide depression and we’re all of out a job. So that isn’t a test for us. The challenge is the area that seems to in our control. The decisions we make, the choices we opt for. Real estate or oil? Treasury bonds or mutual funds? Should I buy short? Should I invest in gold now?

The Torah is teaching us that this too is in Hashem’s control. He guides our thinking, putting thoughts into our minds that bring us to where we are supposed to be. It is hard to know why sometimes we have a good feeling about a business opportunity and sometimes we don’t. It is difficult to define why certain people find favor in our eyes and some don’t. Ask a young man going out why one woman catches his fancy and another doesn’t. Granted some of it is natural attraction, but there is far more going on. Often a more attractive, more presentable girl will not sway him, yet “somehow” the other one did.

Ten Years Later, Emotional Reunion For Families: Victimized By Park Hotel Terror Attack

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

NETANYA – “The expression ‘time heals all wounds’ is simply not true, even a decade after the Pesach terror attack at the Park Hotel,” Batya Weinberg, a caseworker for the OneFamily organization said on the eve of last week’s 10th anniversary memorial gathering of victims and families who were directly affected by the atrocity.

The attack, which killed 30 and wounded 140, galvanized the Jewish state at the height of the Second Intifada. The day after the massacre, the IDF launched Operation Defensive Shield, a full-scale anti-terrorism operation in the Palestinian-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria.

More than a hundred victims and their families returned to the Netanya hotel for a memorial gathering and therapy session within the framework of the ongoing treatment and care provided by OneFamily.

“The trauma and the yearning for lost family members remains,” Weinberg told The Jewish Press. “At the annual yahrzeits some people cry as if the tragedy occurred yesterday. It’s hard for some of them to deal with their losses, especially in the case of a child. A widow or widower can remarry and repair part of the pain but there is no replacement for a dead child.”

During last week’s memorial service, which was attended by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, the OneFamily Bereaved Fathers Choir sang verses from Tehillim, while relatives of the victims lit memorial candles for their loved ones.

Corrine Hamami, the widow of Amiram Hamami, the manager of the hotel who was killed in the attack, spoke about her determination to keep the hotel open despite the serious physical and psychological hurdles.

“Overnight I found myself alone with six children. I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I found strength in my family and decided then that the terrorists would not defeat us,” she said.

“Returning to the Park Hotel is an integral part of the healing and rehabilitation of the victims, offering them the opportunity to remember and display their resilience in the face of such tragedy,” noted OneFamily founder and chairman Marc Belzberg. “We will continue to support the victims into the next decade, for as long as they need us.”

Several Park Hotel families have provided comfort to the families victimized in the recent terror attack in Toulouse, France.

“Even though every tragedy returns people to the same moment, it’s also important for them to provide strength to one another,” said Weinberg. “OneFamily provides the moral, social and economic framework for the victims to piece their lives back together again, no matter how long it might take.”

The Joy of the Soul – Remembering 13 Year Old Shlomo Nativ HY”D

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Three years ago on the 8th of Nisan, 5769, an Arab terrorist with an axe ran into the center of our community of Bat Ayin and killed a 13 year old boy named Shlomo Nativ.   Every year at this time before the anniversary of this terrible event, our community comes together to remember and honor Shlomo and his family and to connect with one another.  This year a new film has been produced by Shlomo’s family in collaboration with filmmaker Yosef Muskal.  (The full one hour film can be viewed in the JewishPress.com video section – Editors)

I’ve written before about the higher level of life force that pervades this land.  For the most part, this higher level of life force manifests in ways that are clearly and outwardly life affirming – the natural beauty, the clean air, the spiritual richness, etc.   Today, we faced an ugly and uncomfortable side to that higher level of life energy, one that brought us face to face with an incomprehensible paradox.

The attitude of the community is that Shlomo was not a victim.   Rather he was a holy Korban (sacrifice), whose death brought us closer to Hashem (G-d), drawing a greater light and life force into the world.

I was struck today by how deeply paradoxical this attitude is from a people with such profound respect for life.   Almost every one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah is pushed aside in order to preserve life.  Taking a life, whether that of another or one’s own, is considered among the worst betrayals of our relationship with G-d.   On a gut level, the cruel and horrific taking of a young boy’s life seems anything but life affirming.    Yet there is some peculiarly Jewish spiritual instinct that is aroused by such events, that takes us over, and that stubbornly insists on viewing events like Shlomo’s murder as life-affirming for all of us.

For me that was the main lesson of the day that I absorbed from my fellow Bat Ayin residents.  Many people related stories of personal salvation and strength that they attributed to Shlomo’s elevation.  The stories unfolded from the moment of his passing down to the present, 3 years later.

It’s a beautiful time of year in these hills.  Every living green thing, from the biggest trees to the smallest grasses, is flowering and in the midst of a wondrous celebration of life.  The seasonal transition of this landscape from the intensely brown and barren Fall to the wildly green and colorful Spring is incredibly dramatic.

For me this year, the great drama of Spring in these hills is intimately bound up with the lesson of Shlomo’s life and elevation.  It’s as if the natural world takes us to a summit of appreciation for life in all its green and flowering glory.   Shlomo’s yahrzeit gives me an appreciation for life beyond what nature has the power to easily reveal, a level of life that transcends its embodied state, life beyond the distinction of life and death.  It’s a level beyond intellect that we can’t possibly understand and explain but somehow can experience through events like Shlomo’s elevation.

Sometimes I feel like I’m very much a part of this community (having moved here two years ago), and sometimes, feeling a small taste of what this community has been through, I stand apart from it in awe and admiration for a level of strength and dignity that’s way beyond me.  That distance is closed when I contemplate a personal element that binds me to Shlomo Nativ, the day of his yarzheit is also the day that another Shlomo, me, came into the world exactly 52 years ago.  I stand on the hills of his boyhood with my two young sons growing in the fresh air of the ancient Judean hills.  May we raise families and grow a community that is an honor to his special soul.

Toulouse Widow and Bereaved Mother Issues Plea to Jewish People

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Eva Sandler, wife of Rabbi Jonathan and mother of young boys Aryeh (5) and Gavriel (3) – 3 of the 4 Jews murdered in a shooting attack by Mohammed Merah in Toulouse on March 19 – has issued a public letter responding to the thousands of people seeking ways to support her in her time of suffering.

Following the burial of her husband and her two sons in Har Menuchot cemetery in Jerusalem, Eva penned a letter to the Jewish people, telling them how to help her and her daughter Leora.  The letter was distributed virally through e-mail and also published on the Chabad.org website:

My heart is broken. I am unable to speak. There are no ways for me to be able to express the great and all-consuming pain resulting from the murder of my dear husband Rabbi Jonathan and our sons, Aryeh and Gavriel, and of Miriam Monsonego, daughter of the dedicated principal of Ozar Hatorah and his wife, Rabbi Yaakov and Mrs. Monsonego.

May no one ever have to endure such pain and suffering.

Because so many of you, my cherished brothers and sisters in France and around the world, are asking what you can do on my behalf, on behalf of my daughter Liora and on behalf of the souls of my dear husband and children, I feel that, difficult though it may be, it is incumbent upon me to answer your entreaties.

 My husband’s life was dedicated to teaching Torah. We moved back to the country of his birth to help young people learn about the beauty of Torah. He was truly a good man, loving, giving, and selfless. He was sensitive to all of G-d’s creatures, always searching for ways to reveal the goodness in others.

He and I raised Aryeh and Gavriel to live the ways of Torah. Who would have known how short would be their time on this Earth, how short would be the time I would be with them as their mother?

I don’t know how I and my husband’s parents and sister will find the consolation and strength to carry on, but I know that the ways of G-d are good, and He will reveal the path and give us the strength to continue. I know that their holy souls will remain with us forever, and I know that very soon the time will come when we will be together again with the coming of Moshiach.

I wholeheartedly believe in the words of the verse: “The L-ord has given, and the L-ord has taken away; blessed be the Name of the L-ord.” I thank the Almighty for the privilege, short though it was, of raising my children together with my husband. Now the Almighty wants them back with Him.

To all those who wish to bring consolation to our family and contentment to the souls of the departed: Let’s continue their lives on this Earth.

Parents, please kiss your children. Tell them how much you love them, and how dear it is to your heart that they be living examples of our Torah, imbued with the fear of Heaven and with love of their fellow man.

Please increase your study of Torah, whether on your own or with your family and friends. Help others who may find study difficult to achieve alone.

Please bring more light into the world by kindling the Sabbath candles this and every Friday night. (Please do so a bit earlier than the published times as a way to add holiness to our world.)

The holiday of Passover is approaching. Please invite another person into your homes so that all have a place at a Seder to celebrate the holiday of our freedom.

Along with our tearful remembrance of our trials in Egypt so many years ago, we still tell over how “in each and every generation, they have stood against us to destroy us.” We all will announce in a loud and clear voice: “G-d saves us from their hands.”

The spirit of the Jewish people can never be extinguished; its connection with Torah and its commandments can never be destroyed.

May it be G-d’s will that from this moment on, we will all only know happiness.

I send my heartfelt condolences to the Monsonego family for the loss of their daughter Miriam, and I pray for the speedy recovery of Aharon ben Leah, who was injured in the attack.

Thank you for your support and love.

 

 

A Heartfelt Plea for Increased Light by Chava (Eva) Sandler of Toulouse

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

My heart is broken. I am unable to speak. There are no ways for me to be able to express the great and all-consuming pain resulting from the murder of my dear husband Rabbi Jonathan and our sons, Aryeh and Gavriel, and of Miriam Monsonego, daughter of the dedicated principal of Ozar Hatorah and his wife, Rabbi Yaakov and Mrs. Monsonego.

May no one ever have to endure such pain and suffering.

Because so many of you, my cherished brothers and sisters in France and around the world, are asking what you can do on my behalf, on behalf of my daughter Liora and on behalf of the souls of my dear husband and children, I feel that, difficult though it may be, it is incumbent upon me to answer your entreaties.

My husband’s life was dedicated to teaching Torah. We moved back to the country of his birth to help young people learn about the beauty of Torah. He was truly a good man, loving, giving, and selfless. He was sensitive to all of God’s creatures, always searching for ways to reveal the goodness in others.

He and I raised Aryeh and Gavriel to live the ways of Torah. Who would have known how short would be their time on this Earth, how short would be the time I would be with them as their mother?

I don’t know how I and my husband’s parents and sister will find the consolation and strength to carry on, but I know that the ways of God are good, and He will reveal the path and give us the strength to continue. I know that their holy souls will remain with us forever, and I know that very soon the time will come when we will be together again with the coming of Moshiach.

I wholeheartedly believe in the words of the verse: “The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.” I thank the Almighty for the privilege, short though it was, of raising my children together with my husband. Now the Almighty wants them back with Him.

To all those who wish to bring consolation to our family and contentment to the souls of the departed: Let’s continue their lives on this Earth.

Parents, please kiss your children. Tell them how much you love them, and how dear it is to your heart that they be living examples of our Torah, imbued with the fear of Heaven and with love of their fellow man.

Please increase your study of Torah, whether on your own or with your family and friends. Help others who may find study difficult to achieve alone.

Please bring more light into the world by kindling the Sabbath candles this and every Friday night. (Please do so a bit earlier than the published times as a way to add holiness to our world.)

The holiday of Passover is approaching. Please invite another person into your homes so that all have a place at a Seder to celebrate the holiday of our freedom.

Along with our tearful remembrance of our trials in Egypt so many years ago, we still tell over how “in each and every generation, they have stood against us to destroy us.” We all will announce in a loud and clear voice: “God saves us from their hands.”

The spirit of the Jewish people can never be extinguished; its connection with Torah and its commandments can never be destroyed.

May it be God’s will that from this moment on, we will all only know happiness.

I send my heartfelt condolences to the Monsonego family for the loss of their daughter Miriam, and I pray for the speedy recovery of Aharon ben Leah, who was injured in the attack.

Thank you for your support and love.

(text provided by Chabad.org)

The Megillah: How-To Manual on Defeating Anti-Semites

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Throughout the entire Scroll of ESTHER, God’s Name does not appear even once. Upon a casual reading, it would seem that Haman, Ahashverosh, Mordechai, and Esther are fully responsible for the events taking place within the narrative. Intrigue, human jealousies, and political machinations all account for the twists and turns within the Megillah as events of great significance to the Jewish Nation unfold.

After completing the story, however, it becomes clear that the juxtaposition of all the coincidences is nothing short of miraculous as God’s Hand becomes visible through the thin veil of history. It is important to note that the events described in ESTHER took place over a period spanning roughly ten years. Ahashverosh’s party took place in 3395, Haman drew the lots in 3404 and Israel won our victory in 3405 (dates according to Seder HaDorot). Living through that period, one would probably not have noticed anything extraordinary taking place as everything was unfolding according to the laws of nature. There was nothing especially supernatural about the process that we retroactively understand as having been miraculous.

Our Sages teach in the Jerusalem Talmud (Brachot 1:1) that we must look at the Purim story as a model to understand the final Redemption process. Through the epic story of mankind, HaShem weaves the Redemption of Israel. When making the effort to closely examine our own times, we can see God orchestrating the historic events – large and small – that have brought Israel back to our borders and are bringing the world ever closer to perfection.

We celebrate Purim today with great joy because we are familiar with the story’s victorious ending. The Hebrews of ancient Persia, however, had clearly found themselves in a very frightening situation. Persia’s Jews were faced with the threat of complete annihilation. And Mordechai – who Israel today praises as a national hero – may have been much less appreciated in his own generation. A superficial reading of ESTHER can even lead one to attribute Mordechai blame for placing his people in such a terrifying position.

“All the king’s servants at the king’s gate would bow down and prostrate themselves before Haman, for so had the king commanded concerning him. But Mordechai would not bow and would not prostrate himself.” (ESTHER 3:2)

The rabbinic leadership of Shushan at the time strongly condemned Mordechai’s refusal to bow before Haman. Comfortable with life outside of their homeland, they feared Mordechai might provoke Persian Jew-hatred and spoil their enjoyable Diaspora existence. But according to our commentators, Haman either engraved the image of an idol on his robes (Ibn Ezra) or attributed to himself the powers of a deity (Rashi). Because it is well known that the Torah commands one to die rather than bow before a false god, the condemnation of Mordechai seems somewhat unjustified.

The Maharal of Prague clarifies the rabbinic position in Ohr Hadash by explaining that Mordechai went out of his way to appear before Haman in order to purposefully demonstrate that he would not bow, thus creating an otherwise avoidable confrontation. The Sages record how the Jews of Persia reacted.

“They said to Mordechai, `Know that you are putting us at the mercy of that evil man’s sword!’” (Agadat Esther 3:2; Megillah 12:2, commentary of the Radvaz)

“So the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordechai, `Why do you disobey the king’s command?’ Finally, when they said this to him day after day and he did not heed them, they told Haman, to see whether Mordechai’s words would avail; for he had told them that he was a Jew.” (ESTHER 3:3-4)

A close reading of the Megillah reveals that Mordechai’s refusal to bow before Haman was not an isolated incident. Rather, he had gone out of his way several times in order to walk near the minister and publicly antagonize him. Because Mordechai could have easily avoided the situation but instead engaged in actions that were deliberately confrontational, Shushan’s Jewish leaders seem justified in their condemnation.

Even when Mordechai saw that “Haman was filled with wrath” (ESTHER 3:5), he continued to intentionally provoke the viceroy. Based on his actions and the Talmud’s teaching (Pesachim 64b) that a person is forbidden from relying on miracles, one could easily argue that Mordechai behaved irresponsibly with the lives of his people. The Maharal, however, defends Mordechai (in Ohr Hadsash), asserting that challenging Israel’s enemies ultimately leads to the sanctification of God’s Name.

The Midrash recounts that Mordechai explained to Haman that the reason he would not bow was that he was born of kings from the tribe of Binyamin. Haman countered, “But Yaakov, Binyamin’s father, bowed before Esav, my ancestor.” Mordechai answered him in turn, “Yes, but that was before Binyamin was born. He was born in Eretz Yisrael, and his soul, therefore, was an elevated soul. He would not bow down before others.” (Esther Rabbah 7:9)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/purim-a-paradigm-for-confronting-antagonists-of-the-jewish-nation/2012/03/07/

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