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October 24, 2016 / 22 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Time’

Al Jazeera (Qatar) Evicts Jews and Judaism from Jerusalem; Time to Return the Favor

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through}

In October 2016, UNESCO condemned Israel regarding its activities on the Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem and excluded all references to Judaism’s ties to the site.  The resolution was put forward by a number of Muslim states, including: Algeria; Egypt; Lebanon; Morocco; Oman; Qatar; and Sudan.

The Qatari-run news outlet, Al Jazeera (AJ), continued to proudly distort history in its coverage of the story. Consider its following statements:

“Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is the third-holiest site in Islam. It is located in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed following its invasion in 1967 – in a move never recognised by the international community – as part of its subsequent military occupation of the West Bank.

Jewish settlers and Zionist organisations have called for complete Jewish control over the mosque compound.

Jewish groups refer to the site as the “Temple Mount” and their increased incursions into the mosque compound have continuously led to Palestinian protests across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military and armed settler incursions have resulted in Palestinian deaths and injuries in recent years in particular. Muslim access to the religious site has also been tremendously limited by the army.”

The AJ media outlet published this on its own. It was not quoting Hamas (which the Qatari government supports).  For a sense of reality, here is a sample redlined report from a balanced perspective:

“Al-Aqsa Mosque sits on the Temple Mount, which was built by the Jewish King Herod 2,000 years ago. The mosquecompound is the third-holiest site in Islam and the Temple Mount is the holiest place in Judaism. It is located in the eastern half ofEast Jerusalem, which Israel annexed following its defensive war against an attack initiated by Jordaninvasion in 1967 – neither Jordan’s annexation of Jerusalem, nor Israel’s subsequent annexation were in a move never recognised by the international community – as part of Israel’sits subsequent administrative control military occupation of the West Bank. According to the Oslo II accords signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1995, and the Peace Agreement between Israel and Jordan signed in 1994, Israel handles all security matters on the Temple Mount/ A-Aqsa compound.

Non-Muslims have regular visiting hours on the Temple Mount, and some Jewish settlers and Zionist organisations have called for non-Jews to be able to pray at the site as they had done before Suleiman banned the practice roughly 500 years agocomplete Jewish control over the mosque compound.Those calls resulted in Palestinians organizing themselves against Jewish visitors.

In September 2015, Israel banned the “Mourabitoun,” the group of Muslim civilian guards who were regularly harassing Jewish visitors to the holy site.  That action further excited Muslims who feared that Israel sought to change the status quo, and sparked numerous Jewish groups refer to the site as the “Temple Mount” and their increased incursions into the mosque compound have continuously led to Palestinian protests across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.

The fighting between the Israeli military and Palestinian Arabs armed settler incursions have resulted in hundreds ofPalestinian deaths and injuries in recent years in particular. Due to the increased fighting and tensions, both Jewish and Muslim access to the religious site has also become morebeen tremendously limited, including an Israeli ban of all members of the Knesset by the army.”

As seen above, Al Jazeera is part-and-parcel of the problem of incitement in the conflict. Qatar continues to be an active supporter of violence in the region.

It is well past time to boycott Al Jazeera and its social media site AJ+.  Further, Americans should demand that the United States remove its central military command in the Middle East out of Qatar (perhaps it can help stabilize Iraq by relocating it there).

Distorting history is just part of the problem.  Incitement must have consequences.


Stopping the Purveyors of Hateful Propaganda

The Parameters of Palestinian Dignity

Visitor Rights on the Temple Mount

Palestinians agree that Israel rules all of Jerusalem, but the World Treats the City as Divided

The Cancer in the Arab-Israeli Conflict

The Arguments over Jerusalem

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Paul Gherkin

Sukkot For Our Time

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Editor’s Note: Sukkot is known in Jewish tradition as a time of rejoicing, but its customs and prayers are often mysterious to many of us today. The new Koren Sukkot Mahzor, with powerful commentary and explanatory notes by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, unveils much of the intrigue behind the concepts, minhagim, tefillot, and Torah readings relevant to the weeklong festival. The following is an exclusive excerpt from Rabbi Sacks’s beautiful introduction.


Of all the festivals, Sukkot is surely the one that speaks most powerfully to our time. King Solomon’s Kohelet, which we read on Sukkot, could almost have been written in the twenty first century. Here is the ultimate success, the man who has it all, and yet who, surveying the totality of his life, can only say, in effect, “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless.”

Kohelet’s failure to find meaning is directly related to an obsession with the “I” and the “Me”: “I built for myself. I gathered for myself. I acquired for myself.” The more he pursues his desires, the emptier his life becomes. There is no more powerful critique of the consumer society, whose idol is the self, whose icon is the “selfie” and whose moral code is “Whatever works for you.”

This is the society that achieved unprecedented affluence, giving people more choices than they have ever known, and yet at same time saw an unprecedented rise in alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, stress related syndromes, depression, attempted suicide, and actual suicide.

Of all things people have chosen to worship, the self is the least fulfilling. A culture of narcissism quickly gives way to loneliness and despair.

Kohelet was also, of course, a cosmopolitan: a man at home everywhere and therefore nowhere. This is the man who had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines but in the end could only say, “More bitter than death is the woman.” It should be clear to anyone who reads this in the context of the life of Solomon that Kohelet is not really talking about women but about himself.

In the end Kohelet finds meaning in simple things. Sweet is the sleep of a laboring man. Enjoy life with the woman you love. Eat, drink, and enjoy the sun. That ultimately is the meaning of Sukkot as a whole. It is a festival of simple things. It is, Jewishly, the time we come closer to nature than any other, sitting in a hut with only leaves for a roof, and taking in our hands the unprocessed fruits and foliage of the palm branch, the citron, twigs of myrtle, and leaves of willow. It is a time when we briefly liberate ourselves from the sophisticated pleasures of the city and the processed artifacts of a technological age, and recapture some of the innocence we had when we were young, when the world still had the radiance of wonder.

The power of Sukkot is that it takes us back to the most elemental roots of our being. You don’t need to live in a palace to be surrounded by clouds of glory. You don’t need to be rich to buy yourself the same leaves and fruit that a billionaire uses in worshipping God. Living in the sukkah and inviting guests to your meal, you discover – such is the premise of Ushpizin, the mystical guests – that the people who have come to visit you are none other than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their wives.

Sukkot is the time we ask the most profound question of what makes a life worth living. Having prayed on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to be written in the Book of Life, Kohelet forces us to remember how brief life actually is, and how vulnerable. “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” What matters is not how long we live, but how intensely we feel that life is a gift we repay by giving to others. Joy, the overwhelming theme of the festival, is what we feel when we know it is a privilege simply to be alive, inhaling the intoxicating beauty of this moment amid the profusion of nature, the teeming diversity of life, and the sense of communion with those many others with whom we share a history and a hope.

Most majestically of all, Sukkot is the festival of insecurity. It is the candid acknowledgment that there is no life without risk, yet we can face the future without fear when we know we are not alone. God is with us, in the rain that brings blessings to the earth, in the love that brought the universe and us into being, and in the resilience of spirit that allowed a small and vulnerable people to outlive the greatest empires the world has ever known.

The sukkah became in the course of time a symbol, not only of forty years in the wilderness, but of centuries of exile and dispersion. Too often, home turned out to be no more than a temporary dwelling, a sukkah.

Yet with its genius for the unexpected and its ability to rescue hope from tragedy, Judaism declared this festival of insecurity to be zeman simchateinu, the season of our rejoicing. For the sukkah, that quintessential symbol of vulnerability, turns out to be the embodiment of faith, the faith of a people who forty centuries ago set out on a risk-laden journey across a wilderness of space and time, with no more protection that the sheltering presence of the Shechinah.

Toward the end of his great History of the Jews, Paul Johnson wrote:

The Jews were not just innovators. They were also exemplars and epitomizers of the human condition. They seemed to present all the inescapable dilemmas of man in a heightened and clarified form…. The Jews were the emblem of homeless and vulnerable humanity. But is not the whole earth no more than a temporary transit camp?

Those words go to the heart of Sukkot. To know that life is full of risk and yet to affirm it, to sense the full insecurity of the human situation and yet to rejoice: this, for me, is the essence of faith. Judaism is no comforting illusion that all is well in this dark world. It is instead the courage to celebrate in the midst of uncertainty, and to rejoice even in the transitory shelter of the tabernacle, the Jewish symbol of home.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Q & A: Elul – A Time To Repent (Conclusion)

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Question: Where does the name Elul come from? Also, how can Elul be both the last month of the year and the prequel to the holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) that occur in the following month, Tishrei, the first month of the new year? Finally, can you please discuss the religious practices of Elul?

M. Goldman
Miami Beach, FL


Answer: The month of Elul as a special period of repentance is marked by the recitation of special supplication prayers, Selichot (lit. the plural of “forgiveness”). To better understand these prayers, we quote Rabbi Nosson Scherman, general editor of Mesorah Publications, in his insightful introduction to the ArtScroll Selichot:

“Within the Siddur and synagogue service, the mood of repentance is expressed in the selichos, prayers of supplication. They are of ancient origin; some of them are even mentioned in the Mishnah (Taanis ch. 2) where special prayers for rain are discussed, but almost all of them were composed between the eighth and sixteenth centuries. The composers of these selichos include some of the outstanding figures of ancient times, among them Geonim (7th-10th century Torah authorities) and Rishonim (11th-15th century authorities). Consequently, it should be clear that their compositions are not merely inspired poetry.

“The central theme of all selichos, as well as of the Yom Kippur Maariv and Neilah services, is the Shelosh Esreh Middot Harachamim, the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. This passage appears in the Torah (Exodus 34:6-7) at the time when G-d proclaimed His readiness to do away with the Jewish people after the sin of the Golden Calf. According to R. Yochanan’s interpretation (Rosh Hashanah 17b), Moses felt that Israel’s sin was so grievous that there was no possibility of his intercession on their behalf. Thereupon, G-d appeared to him in the form of a chazzan wrapped in a tallis and taught him the Thirteen Attributes, saying, ‘Whenever Israel sins, let them recite this in its proper order and I will forgive them.’ Thus, this appeal to G-d’s mercy reassures us both that repentance is always possible and that G-d always awaits our return to Him. The implication is also plain that if we emulate G-d’s merciful ways, He will treat us mercifully in return.

“When it appears in the Selichos service, the Thirteen Attributes is introduced by one of two prayers: The first time during each Selichos service, it is introduced by ‘Kel Erech Appayim – O G-d, [You are] slow to anger…’ All other times, the introduction is ‘Kel Melech Yoshev – O G-d, King who sits …’ After the Thirteen Attributes there is always a direct prayer for forgiveness, following the example of Moses, who, after being taught the Thirteen Attributes, pleaded that G-d forgive Israel (Exodus 34:8-9).

“It is illustrative to see what that repentance brought. Prior to the sin of the Golden Calf, Moses had received the Tablets of the Law from Sinai. When he saw the painful spectacle of the nation of G-d prancing around a false god, he smashed the Tablets – something he had to do because the people no longer deserved them. Then came a long period of prayer, highlighted by the vision of G-d showing Moses how to pray and what to say, and the promise that if Israel would perform this prayer – by making themselves agents of mercy to others – then they could rely on His help in the worst situations. The result was that Moses came back from Mount Sinai on Yom Kippur with the Second Tablets.

“This was a lesson for all time. Jews can lose the Torah and get it back. They can lose G-d’s mercy and win it back. G-d loves us and wants us so much that He shows us how to pray and promises that His ear is always cocked, as it were, waiting for us to call Him, to repent, to evoke His mercy, and to come back to where we were before we fell.”

As to when we commence saying Selichot, we find the following in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 581:1): “It is our custom to arise at the ashmoret (the [last] night watch, while it is still dark) to say Selichot and Tachanunim from Rosh Chodesh Elul and onward until Yom Kippur.”

This view of the Mechaber (Rabbi Yosef Caro), as we shall soon see, reflects the custom of the Sephardic and Oriental communities.

The Rema in his glosses (ad loc.) notes, “And the custom of the Ashkenazi communities [most of European Jewry] is different … to rise at the ashmoret starting on the Sunday before Rosh Hashanah – if Rosh Hashanah does not fall on Monday or Tuesday, for in that instance they start on the Sunday a full week earlier.”

The source of this dispute can be found in the Tur (Orach Chayim 581). Ritz Ge’ut (see Bach, ad loc.) is of the view that we should commence saying Selichot from Rosh Chodesh Elul, while R. Hai Gaon is of the opinion that we should start saying them on the Sunday before Rosh Hashanah and continue through Aseret Yemei Teshuvah.

Consistent with the first view, we read in Sefer HaManhig (25): “There are places in Sepharad [Spain and Mediterranean and Oriental areas] that start saying Selichot from Rosh Chodesh Elul. And I have a support for their custom, since Moses went up on high [Mt. Sinai] on Rosh Chodesh Elul to receive the second Luchot and he came down with them on Yom Kippur.”

Therefore, the custom spread among Spanish and Oriental communities to rise at the ashmoret during the entire month of Elul as well as during the Ten Days of Repentance. So states the Mechaber.

However, we find in Machzor Vitri, a reliable and early source (p. 345), that we say Selichot the week before Rosh Hashana. This is the view of Rema.

A basis for the Rema’s view is the Ran (Rosh Hashana 16a), who explains that according to the view of R. Eliezer (Rosh Hashana 11a), the world was created in Tishrei, and man on Friday. This view maintains that creation really started on the 25th of Elul. From that day there were an intervening four days before the creation of man (“techilat ma’aseicha”) on the 1st of Tishrei. Rosh Hashanah is therefore the Day of Judgment of man.

Thus, it is proper to commence Selichot a minimum of four days before Rosh Hashanah, according to the view of Rema.

It is interesting to note the Ran’s statement that in Barcelona the custom is to say Selichot from the Sunday before Rosh Hashanah. Since Barcelona is in Spain, we can conclude that in some places in Spain and other Sephardic lands, the custom wasn’t to start saying Selichot on Rosh Chodesh Elul.

Let us hope that because of our recitation of Selichot and blowing the shofar, along with heartfelt repentance, the Heavenly Creator will hasten to answer our prayers for a happy and healthy New Year, one that is marked by our speedy redemption.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Yes We Have Sweet, Edible, Seedless Pomegranates, Just in Time for Rosh Hashanah

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

Yirmiyahu Zamiri, 69, owner of Zamiri Nurseries in Yesud HaMa’ala (est. 1882 in the Hula valley, north of the Kinneret) has been laboring for eight years on developing his proprietary (there’s a patent) seedless pomegranate, Makor Rishon reported Friday. The new species of pomegranate, dubbed “Wine,” features soft edible seeds, and a much sweeter red fruit, called an aril, around the seed.

Wine, or “Yayin” as it is called in Hebrew, is an acronym for the names of Zamiri’s grandchildren.

According to Chabad.org, the common practice of eating a pomegranate on Rosh Hashanah has to do with its abundant seeds, 613 on average, which symbolize our hope that we will stand before the Almighty with as many abundant merits. However, according to the Ben Ish Chai, on Rosh Hashanah one should eat only a sweet pomegranate, because we want our new year to be sweet.

At which point our friends at Chabad.org note, “Of course, the pomegranates we have today generally have a bitter, pungent taste. It appears that in Baghdad, where the Ben Ish Chai lived (1833-1909), they had sweet pomegranates. So the website suggests that “in light of the custom to refrain from bitter foods on Rosh Hashanah, it would seem proper to dip the pomegranate in sugar to at least diminish its pungency.”

No need to do that any more. Because Zamiri and his sons have invented the Wine pomegranate which is fire-engine red and sweet beyond belief. Israeli consumers will be seeing the first commercial yield on the store shelves this coming week, just in time for Rosh Hashanah. They’re sold to the stores at about 50 cents a pound, but by the time the consumer sees it the sweet fruit’s price might quadruple.

Israel exports upwards of 25 thousand tons on pomegranates a year, and on the week before Rosh Hashanah Israelis consume about 10 thousand tons, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. Despite limited research data, marketers of pomegranate juice have “liberally” used results from preliminary research to promote their products, until, in February 2010, the FDA issued a warning letter to POM Wonderful, for using published literature to make illegal claims of “unproven anti-disease benefits.”


Q & A: Elul – A Time To Repent (Part III)

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Question: Where does the name Elul come from? Also, how can Elul be both the last month of the year and the prequel to the holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) that occur in the following month, Tishrei, the first month of the new year? Finally, can you please discuss the religious practices of Elul?

M. Goldman
Miami Beach, FL


Summary of our response up to this point: Elul is really the sixth month of the year, as the Torah counts the new year from Nissan when the Jewish nation was freed from slavery and able to serve G-d exclusively. The Gemara explains that Rosh Hashanah is when we are judged for the coming year; that’s why Tishrei is also considered the beginning of the year (Rosh Hashanah 7a). Rosh Hashanah is mentioned as the time for being judged and blowing the shofar (Numbers 29:1).

* * * * *

The Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 581:1) states the following in the name of Acharonim: “It is the custom in our countries that from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Yom Kippur, we say LeDavid Hashem Ori (Psalm 27) every day at the conclusion of the morning and evening tefillah, and then we recite Kaddish. We, however, are accustomed to say it until Shemini Atzeret, which includes the day of Shemini Atzeret as well.”

The Mishnah Berurah continues: “On days when we say Mussaf [such as Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh, or Yom Tov], we say it at the conclusion of Shacharit, before Ein Kamocha. In the evening, we say it at the conclusion of Minchah [or Maariv according to Nussach Ashkenaz]. In places where it is recited after [Mussaf] on Rosh Chodesh, it is proper to first say Barechi Nafshi [Psalm 104]. In places where it is said after Shacharit, it is proper to first say Shir Shel Yom.”

We find almost identical language in Matteh Ephraim (by R. Ephraim Zalman Margolies of Brod), Orach Chayim 581:6, where we find the commentary Elef Hamagen (by Rav Meshulam Finkelstein of Warsaw), who notes, as we stated, that some say LeDavid Hashem Ori after Maariv and not after Minchah.

It would seem that those who say LeDavid Hashem Ori after Maariv would start saying it the eve of Rosh Chodesh Elul while those who say it after Minchah would only start saying it the following day. However, Likutei Maharich, who cites Matteh Ephraim (see also Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128:2), seems to imply that either way, we only start saying it the morning of Rosh Chodesh Elul. He writes that “we say it in the morning and in the evening.” Indeed, that is our custom. Both those who say LeDavid Hashem Ori after Minchah and those who say it after Maariv only begin saying it the morning of Rosh Chodesh Elul.

Most agree that we continue saying this psalm through Shemini Atzeret.

In Otzar Erchei HaYahadut (by Rabbi Joseph Grossman, p. 246), the source for saying LeDavid Hashem Ori at this time of year is explained. Rabbi Grossman cites Midrash Shocher Tov, which states that the word “ori – my light ” in this psalm refers to Rosh Hashanah. (In Elef Hamagen ad loc. R. Finkelstein cites R. Israel Hapstein, the Koznitzer Maggid, who explains that out of fear of Hashem’s judgment, darkness descends upon man. Then, Hashem in His great mercy, shows light to man from afar.) Midrash Shocher Tov states further that “veyish’i – and my salvation” refers to Yom Kippur; “ki yitzpeneini besukko – He will conceal me in His tent” alludes to Sukkot; and “mimi i’ra – whom shall I fear” alludes to Hoshana Rabba, which is understood to include Shemini Atzeret as well.

As to why we say LeDavid Hashem Ori for the whole month of Elul, Rabbi Grossman cites Minhagei Yeshurun (13a), which notes that the word “lulei” (lit. “that I would”) in the penultimate verse in the psalm contains the letters alef, lamed, vav, and lamed, which are the letters of “Elul.” This explanation also accounts for why we recite this psalm only starting on the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, since the first day of Rosh Chodesh is actually the last day of the previous month, Av.

We find another custom relevant to the month of Elul, as cited by Ba’er Heitev (Orach Chayim 581:10): “When a person writes a letter to his friend [in Elul], he should mention at the beginning that he wishes a year full of goodness for him.”

Today we expand upon this practice during the entire month: When we meet and greet people, we wish them either a “ketiva vechatima tova – May you be written and inscribed for good,” or the variant, “Leshana tova tikatevu vetechatemu,” which means the same.

Likutei Maharich (ad loc.) notes that the Ba’er Heitev is essentially quoting the Maharil, and an allusion to this custom might be found in Parashat Yitro (Exodus 18:7): “Vayetze Moshe likrat chotno vayishtachu vayishak lo vayish’alu ish lere’ehu leshalom vayavo’u ha’ohela – Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and bowed and kissed him, and each inquired about the other’s well-being, and then they came into the tent.” The words “vayish’alu ish lere’ehu leshalom” begin with the letters vav, alef, lamed, and lamed, which form the word Elul, meaning that during the month of Elul, we inquire about each other’s well-being.

Likutei Maharich points out that some start their letters with this greeting (as seen in the introduction to Avodat Hagershuni as well as in Matteh Ephraim) while others sign off with these words as a salutation.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

ON THE FRONTLINES: For the First Time Since 1930’s Jews Returning to the Lions Gate

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

{Originally posted to the Israel Rising website}

Today’s trip into the depths of the “Muslim Quarter” brought myself and Rabbi Ben Packer to a recently reacquired pro
perty near to the Lion’s Gate. The property was found to belong to Jews when an attorney investigating another property saw this one listed in the binder.

Nestled up and to the left of the Lion’s Gate, the neighborhood has had no Jews living in it since the 1930’s when they were driven out.  In fact, the Border Patrol by the Lion’s Gate stopped us before getting permission from their commanders to let us through.

The property shares a courtyard with an Arab family who were very pleasant and received us warmly. According to reports the Arab on Arab crime in the neighborhood makes it a dangerous area altogether.  The family like others hopes that the presence of Jewish residents will bring much needed police and development.

Watch the video.


David Mark

Tamar Yonah Show – Is it Bomb Shelter Time? [audio]

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

So much news, so little time! 1) Join Paul Miller, director of www.SalomonCenter.org as he discusses the latest in the New York Bombings, the United Nations and a class/course that was canceled in Berkeley.

2) A Jordanian Arab calls into the show and sadly tells Tamar that his country hates Israel and thinks Jews are robbers and ‘occupiers’.

3) Tamar reminds people that there will be an emergency drill in Israel due to the possibility that Hezbollah will open fire on Israeli towns and cities. Israel’s Home Front Command will be sounding off a siren so citizens can practice getting to a bomb shelter in times of attack.

Tamar Yonah 19Sept2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

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