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December 3, 2016 / 3 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Time’

British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Converted to Islam Just in Time for Hajj

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Simon Collins, 60, is the first British ambassador to Saudi Arabia to attend the Hajj pilgrimage, which is verboten to non-Muslims. This is because Collins has converted to Islam. He joined an estimated 100 thousand Brits who have embraced the religion of Mohammad, including, possibly, the late Sir Winston Churchill.

Inayat Bunglawala, founder of Muslims4UK, a Muslim missionary organization, told the Independent in 2011 that these figures were “not implausible.” He pointed out they mean “that around one in 600 Britons is a convert to the faith,” noting, “Islam is a missionary religion and many Muslim organizations and particularly university students’ Islamic societies have active outreach programs designed to remove popular misconceptions about the faith.”

Collins was pictured wearing the white robes of the pilgrimage. The photo was posted on the twitter account of Saudi Arabian writer and feminist Fawziah Albakr, who wrote in Arabic: “First British ambassador to the Kingdom undertakes the Hajj following his conversion to Islam. Simon Collins with his wife Huda in Mecca. Praise be to God.”

Twitter users who congratulated the Collinses included Saudi Arabia’s Princess Basmah bint Saud, who wrote: “Special congratulations to the ambassador and his wife.”

Collins was posted in Riyadh in 2015, after fleeing Syria where he represented the UK until 2012. Before that Collins was the UK’s ambassador to Qatar, after stints in the UK missions to Bahrain, Tunisia, India, Jordan and Dubai.

Are the Brits easily influenced by outside religions? You bet. In 2014 a letter was discovered by Warren Dockter, a history research fellow at Cambridge University, in which Winston Churchill is being beseeched by his future sister-in-law, Lady Gwendoline Bertie, in August 1907: “Please don’t become converted to Islam; I have noticed in your disposition a tendency to orientalize, Pasha-like tendencies, I really have.”

Lady Gwendoline cautioned: “If you come into contact with Islam your conversion might be effected with greater ease than you might have supposed, call of the blood, don’t you know what I mean, do fight against it.”

Churchill wrote Lady Lytton, also in 2007: “You will think me a pasha. I wish I were.”

Mazal tov.

David Israel

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

Thursday, September 15th, 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 Yamim Nora’im, a time of introspection and reflection as we await our annual judgment, are properly introduced by the month of Elul, which acts as a facilitator to the great task ahead. Thus, each year, with the arrival of Elul, we start the process of teshuvah (repentance).

One way we begin the intensified focus on teshuvah is with the sounds of the shofar. The shofar, which we blow throughout Elul, is mentioned by the prophet Amos: “Im yitaka shofar be’ir ve’am lo yecheradu – Is the shofar ever sounded in a city and the people do not tremble?” (Amos 3:6). Amos emphasizes the unique property of the shofar’s blasts – the piercing sound, which causes one to tremble.

Likkutei Maharich (Dinei U’minhagei Chodesh Elul 55b) states: “It happens to be the custom in all Jewish communities to blow the shofar in the month of Elul.” He cites the Tur (Orach Chayim 581), who gives Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer (chapter 46) as the source for this practice. There we read: “On Rosh Chodesh Elul Moses went up on the mountain [Sinai] to receive the second set of Tablets. They then sounded the shofar in the encampment. Therefore, our sages instituted that we blow the shofar starting on Rosh Chodesh Elul every year.”

Likkutei Maharich continues: “In Yitav Panim by the Sigheter Rav, Rabbi Yekusiel Yehuda Teitelbaum, he quotes his grandfather, Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum, author of Yismach Moshe, who provides a beautiful hint for the source of our custom.” He points out that there are 12 words containing the syllables ha-lle-lu in Psalm 150. The first mention corresponds to Nissan, the first month, and the sixth mention – “Halleluhu be’teka shofar – Praise Him with the sound of the shofar” – appropriately corresponds to Elul, the sixth month. (The practice of saying Hallel on Rosh Chodesh in general is alluded to in these 12 mentions of ha-lle-lu, writes the Beit Yosef [Tur Orach Chayim 422, in the name of Shibbolei HaLeket].)

Likkutei Maharich continues: “In Sefer Roke’ach (siman 208) we find that the original enactment was to sound the shofar from Rosh Chodesh Elul until Yom Kippur, just as they sounded the shofar all 40 days that Moses was on the mountain to receive the Tablets, but Sefer Roke’ach concludes that in ‘this country’ [i.e., the custom in his day] we sound the shofar only until Rosh Hashanah.”

The Maharshal (Shabbos 89a, in the back of our Vilna Shas) cites a dispute between Rashi and Tosafot (89a ad loc.) on whether the day Moses ascended the mountain is considered part of the 40-day count. He cites Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer as proof to Tosafot’s contention that we count Moses’ ascent on Rosh Chodesh as the first day of the count of 40 – which will be arrived at if we include his ascent on the first day of Rosh Chodesh, which is the 30th day of Av (Av is always a “full” month containing 30 days whereas Elul is always “deficient,” containing only 29 days).

However, in Bava Kamma (82a s.v. “Kedei Shelo etc.”) Tosafot states that in the year Moses went up to receive the luchot, Elul was a “full” month, containing 30 days. Thus, he would have gone up on the first day of Elul (see Bach, Orach Chayim 581).

The above dispute is relevant to the discussion concerning when to begin blowing the shofar – on the first or second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul.

Tosafot reasons that in the year Moses went up on the mountain, Elul was a “full” month. Today, therefore, when Av is always a “full” month and Elul is “deficient,” we surely do not start to blow the shofar on the first day of Rosh Chodesh, which is now always the 30th of Av.

Indeed, our minhag is to blow the shofar only starting on the second day of Rosh Chodesh, according to the Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayim 581 ad loc.), up until and including Rosh Hashana, with the exception of Shabbatot, when we are prohibited to blow the shofar, and Erev Rosh Hashanah, when we refrain from blowing so as to differentiate between tekiot reshut, optional shofar blasts, and tekiot chovah, biblically-required blasts.

As for why we only blow the shofar for 30 days, not 40, Matteh Moshe (ad loc.) and Likkutei Maharich (loc. cit. quoting Minhagim) explain that there is a hint to this custom in Psalms 81:4-5: “Tik’u bachodesh shofar bakesseh leyom chagenu – Blow the shofar at the moon’s renewal when [the moon] is covered on our festive day.” The verse seems to suggest that we blow the shofar for a month, which is generally 30 days. And that is what we do. Elul is 28 days (excluding Erev Rosh Hashanah) and Rosh Hashanah is two days, giving us 30 days.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Q & A: Elul – A Time To Repent

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

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

M. Goldman
Miami Beach, FL


Answer: The name Elul, as well as the names of all the other months of the year, are of Babylonian, not biblical, origin. They are the names the exiles brought back with them to the land of Judea after their 70-year expulsion.

The first mention of Elul in Tanach is in the Book of Nehemiah (6:15): “Vatishlam hachoma ba’esrim vachamisha le’elul lachamishim u’shenayim yom – So the wall [around the city of Jerusalem] was completed on the 25th of Elul in 52 days.” This verse appears amidst the story of the return of Ezra and Nehemiah with the exiles from Babylonia in their quest to resettle the land of Judea and restore Jerusalem and the Holy Temple.

As to its position in the calendar, Elul is actually not the last month of the year but the sixth; Nissan is considered the first month according to the Torah. Thus, we read in Parshat Bo (Exodus 12:2): “Hachodesh hazeh lachem rosh chodashim, rishon hu lachem lechodshei hashana – This month shall be for you the beginning of the months, it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Rashi (ad loc.) explains that this pasuk refers to Nissan. And if Nissan is the first month, Elul is the sixth.

It seems strange that the first day of the first month – i.e., Nissan – is not Rosh Hashanah. We read in the Gemara (Rosh Hashana 8a-b): “R. Nachman b. Yitzchak said: [The first of Tishrei is the New Year] for judgment, as the Torah states [Deuteronomy 11:12], “…einei Hashem Elokecha bah mereishit hashana ve’ad acharit shana – …the eyes of Hashem your G-d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to year’s end.” This means that from the beginning of the year, judgment is issued regarding what will occur until the year’s end.”

The Gemara asks, “How do we know that this verse refers to [the first of] Tishrei? Because Psalms 81:4 states, ‘Tik’u bachodesh shofar bakesseh leyom chagenu – Blow the shofar at the moon’s renewal, when [the moon] is covered on our festive day.’”

The Gemara asks further, “Now on which festival is the moon covered [i.e., not visible]? We must surely say this is Rosh Hashanah,” which falls on the first day of the month, when the moon is not visible, the only festival so placed in our calendar. Furthermore, the following verse (Psalms 81:5) reads: “Ki chok leYisrael hu, mishpat leElokei Yaakov – Because it is a statute for Israel, a judgment [day] unto the G-d of Jacob.” We thus see that Rosh Hashanah is the day of judgment.

As to clearly placing this day of judgment on the first (and second) of Tishrei, we read the following in Parshat Pinchas (Numbers 29:1): “Uvachodesh hashevi’i be’echad lachodesh mikra kodesh yihyeh lachem kol melechet avoda lo ta’asu yom teruah yihyeh lachem – In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, there shall be a holy convocation for you, you shall do no laborious work, it shall be a day of shofar sounding for you.”

Thus we see that the day(s) specifically set aside for blowing the shofar is the first (and the second) of the seventh month (counting from Nissan).

Why, then, is Nissan counted as the first month? Because it celebrates the purpose of Hashem’s creation – the nationhood of the Children of Israel – as we were freed from slavery in Egypt at this time (see Rashi, Genesis 1:1 s.v. “Bereishit”).

We find two allusions to the name “Elul” in the Bach’s commentary to the Tur (Orach Chayim 581), citing the verse (Song of Songs 6:3), “Ani ledodi vedodi li – I am for my Beloved [Hashem] and my Beloved is for me.” The Bach notes that if we take the first letter of each word – aleph, lamed, vav, and lamed – we get the Hebrew word “Elul.” If we take the last letter of each word – yud, yud, yud, and yud – we have the gematria (numerical computation) of 40, which corresponds to the 40 days from Rosh Chodesh Elul until Yom Kippur. During those 40 days of repentance it is traditionally understood that one’s heart is closer to the Beloved (Hashem) through repentance, and consequently that the Beloved is closer to accept our repentance with love.

The Bach notes that we find another verse alluding to Elul in Parshat Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 30:6): “U’mal Hashem Elokecha et levav’cha ve’et levav zar’echa le’ahava et Hashem Elokecha bechol levav’cha u’vechol nafshecha lema’an chayyecha – Hashem your G-d will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your offspring, to love Hashem your G-d with all your heart and all your soul, that you may live.”

The first four letter of the words “et levav’cha ve’et levav – your heart and the heart of [your offspring]” are aleph, lamed, vav, and lamed – i.e., Elul.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

ICC on the Way to Israel…Will This Time be Different?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

{Originally posted to Israel Rising. Written by Orit ben Tzvi}

For the first time since 2014 a major international investigative body is coming to Israel. In the past the ICC took one-sided stances as far as Israel and the “Palestinian” Arab, yet the International Criminal Court has promised that this time would be different.

For one, neither of the past two commissioners of previous investigations have been allowed in the country. Secondly, the ICC and Israel out of mutual interest will be carrying joint press conferences. The question for observers is why?

There are no real answers, but Bibi Netanyahu’s seeming change in approach is most likely due to the ICC coming down from its own tree. Afterall the region has changed from bad to worse, with the Syrian conflict overshadowing anything the ICC has accused Israel of in the past. Furthermore, past investigations have been so one-sided the ICC has lost a great deal of legitimacy.

Perhaps the about-face by Israel has more to do with its new-found involvement in Sub Saharan Africa and increased integration as a tech giant with many of the emerging economies. After all, most of the attacks on Israel throughout the years have been directed from developing nations that have been cajoled to support Arab causes. With this the Arab block losing its leverage on these countries, Israel has far more wiggle room in the international arena.

Don’t Trust Them

That being said, the trip is not just for PR, but to determine whether the ICC needs to step in and run its own investigation on Israel’s actions. This is the same ICC that declared its support for a Palestinian State in Judea and Samaria.

The government may feel it is in its best interest to placate the court with a warmer visit, but the ICC as an arm of Western ambitions throughout the region and the developing world does not have Israel’s interest in mind.

Part of the trip, led by chief investigator Fatou Bensouda is to find out if Israel can be trusted to run its own investigation into the 2014 Gaza war as well as the “Palestinian” territories in Judea and Samaria. Although Bensouda recognized Palestinian statehood as per the recommendation of UN General Assembly in 2015, she has since struck a far more conciliatory tone.

Fatah Deputy_Prosecutor

In an interview earlier in the year with the Jerusalem Post Bensouda insists she will only follow the Rome Statute:

“We are not looking, judging the whole judicial system of any state or any system that is supposed to have jurisdiction or that could exercise jurisdiction. We are not looking at the judicial system and how it is functioning. We are looking particularly at specific crimes and we are looking at specific conduct, we’re looking at specific persons, who bear responsibility for those crimes and what is being done with regard to that…and as I always say [we are doing this] in an independent and very dispassionate way and this is very critical whether it is in…any other situation.”

Yet, given Israel’s experience in the past and the wide ability for the ICC to operate once it is allowed to do so, should give Israel pause in how much leeway it gives the court. For now it is still deliberating on keeping the trip to a series of photo-ops or allowing the court to bring reps into Arab villages inside Judea and Samaria.

Israel Rising

Head of Search in TA Building Collapse, as 3rd Dead Discovered: Time Not on our Side

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

“Time is not on our side,” said Home Front Command chief for the Metropolitan Tel Aviv District Colonel Amir Ulu, who described the challenges facing hundreds of rescue workers at the collapsed building where three have died—the third victim discovered Tuesday morning—and 23 injured so far. On Monday night the rescuers lost contact with two victims who until then could be heard from under the layers of dirt and destruction. “The more time passes, the more problematic it becomes to find living victims, although in the past we’ve rescued collapse victims after 30 hours,” Ulu said.

Rescue worker with dog at the site of the building collapse September 5, 2016 in Ramat Hakhayal, Tel Aviv.

Rescue worker with dog at the site of the building collapse September 5, 2016 in Ramat Hakhayal, Tel Aviv.

As dark was setting at the collapsed, 4-story parking garage under construction in Ramat HaKhayal in north Tel Aviv, the rescue teams mapped the construction site, but the dimensions and sheer mass of the detritus and debris posed a significant difficulty. “It can take us hours to reach each one of the mapped areas,” Yonatan Raz, Ulu’s deputy, told Walla. “But the command’s decision is that we’re not leaving. We have the capacity to remain here for 48 hours, with the hope of finding trapped victims who are still alive.”

The rescuers believe there are four more people under the collapsed structure. Overnight the site was flooded with high voltage lights and shifts were changed frequently, to maintain the workers’ alertness. The rescuers are fearing additional collapses in two spots, which they continue to monitor. “The structure has stopped moving, which is good news,” Ulu said Tuesday morning.

Ulu related that only a week ago, commanders from the Home Front Corp, Police and MDA underwent a course intended to regulate communications between them in the event of a major disaster, “And here we are, applying what we’ve learned, unfortunately,” Ulu concluded.

David Israel

It’s My Opinion: Flying High At Bar Mitzvah Time

Monday, August 29th, 2016

My amazing grandson Jacob Abraham Benveniste has turned 13. His bar mitzvah was held recently and I am filled with gratitude to Hashem to be the grandmother of this incredible young man. Jacob’s affect is sweet, charming, and without drama. However, Jacob is so much more than the lighthearted veneer he can project. He is very smart. He is very determined. He is willing to work hard to accomplish his goals.

Jacob is a talented baseball player. Despite his grueling schedule of a dual-curriculum Jewish day school, he has remained on the local youth baseball team where he is the catcher. Every ball that comes his way is treated with the same effort and focus. Jacob gives each play his best.

Jacob is interested in aviation. His knowledge of aerodynamics is vast. He wants to be a pilot and I have no doubt he will succeed at his goal. He joined the Civil Air Patrol when he was 12 and has worked tirelessly through its daunting ranks. He earned the co-pilot seat on two flights and has actually steered and helped fly the plane.

The C.A.P. is a secular group and yet on several occasions its planned events have been changed because Jacob is shomer Shabbat and cannot attend on Saturdays. He has won the respect of his peers and officers. His presence is a Kiddush Hashem.

I offer my blessings to this wonderful bar mitzvah boy. Jacob, I wish you health and happiness and success in life. I hope and pray that no matter where life takes you, you will always go in the ways of Hashem and follow the path of Torah. I am proud to be your “baba.” Congratulations and fly high!

Mazel tov to the entire Rosenbluth and Benveniste families. May we be privileged to share many celebrations together.

Shelley Benveniste

For First Time, State Department Accuses Palestinian Authority Of Promoting Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

For the first time, the State Department has explicitly accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) of promoting anti-Semitism, a signal Jewish groups are hoping will lead to a change in U.S. policy.

According to a newly released State Department annual report on international religious freedom, official PA media “carried religiously intolerant material.” The report cited Palestinian television programs that called Jews “evil” or “denied a historical Jewish presence in Jerusalem.”

Previously, U.S. officials had labeled the PA denial of Jewish ties to Jerusalem as “material criticizing the Israeli occupation,” but stopped short of calling it anti-Semitism. Arab media channels that carried the anti-Semitic content were “nonofficial PA and nonmainstream,” according to last year’s report.

The Obama administration no longer says the PA is working “to control and eliminate” expressions of anti-Semitism in its media outlets. Officials dropped an assertion made in previous years that the PA acted to “prevent preaching” of “sermons with intolerant or anti-Semitic messages.”

For years, Israeli leaders have accused the PA and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, of inciting violence and anti-Semitism. Last year amid increasing terror attacks on Israelis, Abbas called for Jerusalem’s holy sites to be cleansed of Jews.

“Every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every shahid [martyr] will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God…. The Al-Aqsa mosque is ours. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is ours as well. They [Jews] have no right to desecrate the mosque with their dirty feet, we won’t allow them to do that,” Abbas said in a Sept. 2015 address on Palestinian TV.

With the U.S. on the record calling the PA activity anti-Semitism, it could be a step closer to a change in U.S. policy toward the PA, which is overdue, Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center in Washington, D.C., told JNS.

In 2015, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the Palestinian Authority for “promoting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric in its official statements, media, and textbooks.” The measure was authored by U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.).

Deutch told JNS he believes that many of the Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis during the past year “stemmed directly” from the kinds of anti-Semitic statements cited in the State Department report.

Several Jewish organizations are hoping the report will spur action on Capitol Hill.

“The question is whether Congress will finally move beyond condemnations and seek to make U.S. aid to the PA conditional on ending anti-Semitism in the PA media,” said Sarah Stern, president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel group based in Washington.

“It will be harder for the Obama administration to oppose such a step now that the State Department is on record acknowledging the PA’s anti-Semitism.”

Some Jewish groups, however, argue that Israel’s policies are to blame for Palestinian anti-Semitism. Paul Scham, co-president of Partners for Progressive Israel, told JNS that “while there have certainly been expressions of anti-Semitism on the part of Palestinians, and perhaps on the part of PA officials…such anti-Semitism is overwhelmingly based on the daily experiences of Palestinians with Israeli Jews in conditions of occupation by Israel and powerlessness for Palestinians.”

Though Scham said “we neither excuse nor justify any expressions of anti-Semitism and condemn them,” he believes Palestinian anti-Semitism “will die down” only with a two-state solution.

Meanwhile, others would like to see the U.S. hold the Palestinian Authority accountable, not reward it. Future U.S. and international aid to the PA “should be linked to zero tolerance for anti-Semitism,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “If not, the PA will continue [its anti-Semitism] with impunity. If there are no consequences for such actions, they will only continue and mushroom.”

Dr. Rafael Medoff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/antisemitism-news/for-first-time-state-department-accuses-palestinian-authority-of-promoting-anti-semitism/2016/08/17/

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