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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘uncertainty’

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Toldot: The Uncertainty of Parenthood

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

When we get to the blessing that Yaakov takes from Esav, we are left with a slew of difficult questions. Among the most interesting is that posed by Ramban as to why Rivkah did not share her earlier prophecy – that foresaw Ya’akov dominating Esav – with her husband. Many answers are given, but the question may not be as strong as it first appears. Let’s say Rivkah had told Yitzchak. Would it have taught him something new?

It is likely that Yitzchak also planned for Ya’akov to dominate. As per Sforno, Yitzchak’s plan was for there to be an association between the two brothers. And that association, the older would still serve the younger. But service can come in many ways. The plan was that Yaakov would provide the heart and soul while Esav would provide the muscle and practical know-how. Both would excel in their own ways and thereby use their strengths to help themselves and each other. In order for this to happen, Esav needed physical bounty and strength and that is exactly what Yitzchak’s blessing was meant to give him. With all of that, he would still only be like a powerful general serving his brother the king.

The real question, however, is why Rivkah felt so convinced that Yitzchak was wrong and equally convinced that she could not convince him otherwise. In her mind, Esav was bad and could not be counted upon to work with Ya’akov. Moreover, she saw that Yaakov would one day develop into Yisrael, someone who could take care of himself in all realms, and not need the help of his brother. It is not unlikely that Yitzchak had the mirror impression; that Yaakov would always stay as he basically was, a man of tents – a thinker and dreamer who would find it hard to make headway in the practical world, whereas Esav would show his better self as soon as his family gave him more understanding and more responsibility. It is also quite likely that husband and wife knew very well how the other felt. In short, there was not much to talk about.

On the one hand, we see that Rivkah was right about Ya’akov’s potential. On the other hand, since she had the day, we will never be sure who was right about Esav. Maybe she was right and maybe it was Yitzchak who was right. But from where Rivkah and Yitzchak were standing, there was no way to be sure about either outcome. From that juncture in time, she could have been wrong about both boys. Her actions were all based on intuition and hope. Yet it is precisely intuition and hope that are at the heart of child raising. Far from scientific, they are still usually the best tools at our disposal. To be true to herself as a mother, Rivkah had to do everything in her power to give her hopes for Ya’akov the best possible chance. (The same is true for Yitzchak who likely chose to completely ignore Rivkah’s opinion and persist with his decision to bless their more problematic child.)

Of course, there are limits to how far we can act based upon our intuition – and it is likely that Rivkah went too far. Moreover, it is wise to make room for the intuitions of others and to sometimes put our own hopes aside… but not always. There are also times when it is not unreasonable to follow our gut to the very limits.

With all the prophetic powers at their disposal, our Biblical heroes lived with almost as many uncertainties as we do. For uncertainty is a part of the way God designed the human condition. A great part of the wisdom they passed down to us is how to work through it.

Rabbi Francis Nataf

Obama, Netanyahu Exchange Thoughts About Peace at Final Meeting

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exchanged brief but courteous remarks Tuesday afternoon at their final meeting before Obama leaves office next January.

The two men met at the Palace Hotel in New York City, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly where Obama has already delivered his final address, and where Netanyahu is still expected to speak.

It’s the 17th time the two men have held any conversation since Obama entered office in January 2009, at least a couple less than Obama’s predecessor in the White House had with Israeli leaders during his tenure.

Netanyahu first thanked Obama — as he told media he would — for the $34 billion 10-year U.S. military aid package signed last week with Israel.

Israel will never give up on its attempts to reach a comprehensive peace with its neighbors, he told the American president.

He also said Obama will always be a welcome guest in Israel, and invited him to come and visit after he leaves office.

The U.S. president began his response by saying his thoughts are with former president Shimon Peres, who is still sedated and breathing with the aid of a respirator in the intensive care unit at Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv following a major stroke last week.

Obama then verified that the bond between Israel and the United States is “unbreakable,” and based on “common values.” The United States wants Israel to be secure, Obama said, especially in times of uncertainty.

He therefore could not resist adding his hope that the possibility of a “Palestinian state alongside Israel” would remain alive: specifically, an Israel “at peace with its neighbors and a Palestinian homeland.”

Obama also said he hopes he will hear more about this from Netanyahu when he delivers his speech from the podium of the UN General Assembly.

Obama’s biggest concern regarding Israel clearly remains the issue of “settlement activity” on any land where the Palestinian Authority has laid claim for its hoped-for state, regardless of its actual status.

Hana Levi Julian

As Egypt Nears Civil War, Israel on High Alert

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

The dramatic escalation in Egypt’s domestic conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military is being accompanied by an upsurge in the activities of jihadi organizations in the Sinai Peninsula.

Since Morsi’s ouster, extremist Salafi and jihadi organizations have launched waves of attacks on Egyptian security forces, and provoked this week’s extensive counter-terrorism operation by the Egyptian army.

These Al-Qaeda-affiliated forces are also seeking to strike Israel — both to satisfy their ideological demand for jihad against Israelis, and to try and force Israel and Egypt into a confrontation, thereby undermining the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

The Israel Defense Forces are therefore on high alert in the event of further attacks by terrorists in Egypt, while also facing the dilemma of how to safeguard its own national security without infringing on Egyptian sovereignty at this most sensitive time.

Two unprecedented incidents on the southern border in just the last few days, however, served as markers for the rapidly changing situation.

First, according to international media reports, an Israeli drone struck an Al-Qaeda-affiliated organization in Sinai, as it was making final preparations to fire rockets at Israel.

While Israeli defense officials have not confirmed or denied the reports, if true, they represent the first preemptive counter-terrorism strike on Egyptian soil.

If Israeli intelligence receives word of an imminent attack taking shape in Sinai, with little time to coordinate a response with Egyptian military forces, such action might be expected.

Islamists across Egypt were quick to seize on the incident to accuse the Egyptian military of being complicit in an Israeli breach of Egyptian sovereignty.

Although this incident was quickly forgotten by Egyptians as both Egypt proper and Sinai descended into turmoil, there is evidence that further attacks by Sinai terrorists against both Egyptian security forces and Israel are being planned.

An additional signal of the deteriorating security situation in Sinai was the rocket fired by a terrorist organization at the Red Sea tourist resort city of Eilat over the weekend.

Anticipating the attack, the IDF stationed an Iron Dome anti-rocket battery in the city. The prior preparation paid off: the system fired an interceptor that successfully stopped the rocket from hitting the city.

The rocket failed to hurt anyone, but it did trigger an air-raid siren and frighten tourists, sending them scatting for cover. Unlike the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, which are used to Palestinian rocket terrorism, Eilat, a resort town, is not used to living under rocket fire.

Today, a shadow of uncertainty hangs over the future of the city’s tourist industry. For now, Israeli visitors to the city are displaying trademark resilience, and are continuing to pack the city’s hotels and beaches.

Nearby, however, the IDF continues on high alert, watching every suspicious movement in the desert sands near the Egyptian border for signs of the next attack.

Yaakov Lappin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/as-egypt-nears-civil-war-israel-on-high-alert/2013/08/19/

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