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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
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Mashiach, Mashiach, Mashiach, Da Da Da Da DaDa

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Who is Mashiach? What is Mashiach? What’s he all about? Strange as it may seem, we learn about Mashiach from the wicked Bilaam, in the Torah portion of Balak. While the verses are obscure, the Rambam explains them in The Laws of Kings and Their Wars. Since many Diasporians picture the Mashiach to be some type of fairytale hero who will whisk them back to Israel on some kind of magical carpet when he flies down to earth dressed like Superman, with super powers and X-ray vision, we will try to present a more realistic, down-to-earth picture.

The name Mashiach (often translated as the Messiah) is derived from a Hebrew word meaning the “anointed one” – Hashem’s anointed king. The belief in the Mashiach’s coming is one of the Thirteen Fundamental Principles of our faith (13 Principles of the Rambam, Principle 12). Since in our very time, the Almighty has been gathering our scattered exiles to Israel from all over the globe, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook made a point to explain the concept of Mashiach to his students at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, emphasizing that the Mashiach wasn’t only the ideal Jewish king, but also a gradually developmental process which evolves over time.

The Rambam writes:

“Anyone who does not believe in the Mashiach, or who does not anticipate his coming, not only denies all of the prophets, he denies the validity of the Torah and Moshe Rabenu, our teacher, since the Torah gives witness to him, as it says, ‘When all these things will come upon you (all the tribulations of exile), then the Lord your God will turn your captivity and have compassion on you, and return and gather you from the nations’” (Rambam, Laws of Kings and Their Wars, 11:1).

Believing in the Torah means believing in the Mashiach and yearning for his arrival. As part of the 13 Principles of Faith, we say, “I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Mashiach, and even though he may delay, nevertheless, I look forward to his coming every day.”

This means that when a Jew in the Diaspora is eating a bagel and lox and reading The New York Times, or The Jewish Press, or when he’s going to watch the new Woody Allen movie on Motzei Shabbat, he should be yearning for the Mashiach to come. In the Gemara, Shabbat, it is written, “At the hour when a man faces heavenly judgment, they say to him, did you yearn for the salvation of Israel?” (Shabbat 31A). Yearning for the coming of Mashiach, and the salvation he will bring, is complete Emunah/faith. Thus, the Ramban writes, someone who does not believe in him, or anticipate his coming, denies the prophets of Israel and Moshe, our teacher, since the Torah gives witness to him.

How does the Torah give witness to him? The Rambam answers with the verse, “When all these things will come upon you (all the tribulations of exile), then the Lord your God will turn your captivity and have compassion on you, and return and gather you from the nations” (Devarim, 30:1-3).

Please notice, my friends, that the ingathering of the exiles is proof of the Mashiach. As the Rambam makes clear, the incredible ingathering of our outcasts to the Land of Israel, an occurrence we have witness in our time, this is a revelation of Mashiach, an actual stage in the days of Mashiach, through the concrete aliyah of Jews from all over the globe, and not through miracles.

During the long generation we spent in galut, Mashiach became a misunderstood concept. Partly due to the pernicious infiltration of Xtian doctrines into our collective subconscious, Mashiach was envisioned by many people as a religious superhero who would arrive on the scene in a flash of miracles and wonders, and lead all the Jews out of the ghetto and back to the Promised Land. Helpless and impotent in galut, and constantly at the mercies of the goyim and their governments, we had no way of actualizing our dreams of returning to Zion, and thus this Superman fantasy of Mashiach seemed to be the only way we could be redeemed from the harsh realities of our lives. When centuries passed in waiting and disappointment, a philosophy of passivity arose. We were to pray and wait, and the Mashiach would do all the work when he came. The demand arose that the Redemption occur all at once, and be complete from the start, and not in a gradual, natural, process of historical development and events which came to completion with the passage of time (See our book, Torat Eretz Yisrael, Chapters 11 and 12, from which this essay is condensed.)

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Life’s petty annoyances…

Dear Rachel,

What can I do about a sister-in-law who dresses like a slob? When she comes to visit us for Shabbos, it is embarrassing for me to be seen with her or to have other company over. I’ve even offered to take her shopping, but she finds excuses not to take me up on it and doesn’t really seem to care. Truth is she lives in Brooklyn and we are in Long Island, and so we don’t get to see one another much on weekdays.

I should say that her husband (my brother) isn’t too bothered by his dowdy-dressing wife so soliciting his help wouldn’t do a thing. My husband says live and let live and doesn’t understand my obsession with this or why it gets to me at all.

Do you see any way for me to knock some style sense into her?

Chic she’s not

Dear Chic,

You’re trying too hard. Designer labels are not for everyone and the fashion police won’t issue her a summons for failing to be fashion conscious. The reality is that some people simply can’t be bothered fussing with a wardrobe and are perfectly content and comfortable wearing loose-fitting and casual clothes that may strike another as colorless and boring. As the saying goes, to each his own.

Instead of focusing on your sister-in-law’s exterior, try concentrating on her inner qualities and talents. For her birthday you can make the effort of presenting her with a nice sweater or top that was “on sale” and that you thought would go well with the color of her eyes or that skirt she seems to favor. Other than that, give it a rest; surely your energy can be put to better use.

Dear Rachel,

There is a couple in my neighborhood whose marriage is on the rocks and from what I’ve been led to believe, her relentless nudging may be a contributing factor. They’ve only been married a few months but it seems that the wife is constantly berating her husband for not going to shul on time on Shabbos mornings.

How would I know? Her husband confided in mine, and I would just like to put the message out there for wives to stop berating their husbands and treating them like babies.

The worst thing a wife can do is to make her man feel inadequate or worthless. Chances are he’s been getting up early all his life and was nudged by his mother in his single years about getting to shul on time. Now is his chance to be independent, to do his own thing, and his wife should let him.

In time, especially with kids in the picture, he is bound to come around and get up on time on his own. Right now, the wife should mind her own responsibilities and keep mum about his. He is a grown boy and knows what he has to do.

Marriage is not about nagging

Dear Nagging,

Right you are. The last thing a husband wants is a mother figure in a wife. If nothing else, voicing her displeasure is not likely to motivate him to get to shul on time.

She can try getting up early herself to fix him his favorite morning beverage and then prepare to join him enthusiastically on his walk to shul. He may even start looking forward to making it on time. What is certain is that you can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.

Dear Rachel,

How do I stop a yenta from minding everyone else’s business? I work in a large office with many other girls and this one woman is always questioning me about my personal life. At first I thought this was just her way of being friendly, but before I knew what was happening I was bombarded by twenty questions, from my age and where I live, to how many kids I have, when I got married, where my husband’s from and what my sandwich consists of (no kidding; we were in the lunch room).

Am I being too sensitive? I am sort of a private person and old school; details of my personal life are no one’s affair unless I volunteer to share them. How do I handle this type of situation and what should be my comeback to Ms. Busybody when she next intrudes on my lunch break?

The nerve!

Dear Nerve,

Interacting With Coworkers

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:

I am very happy and successful in my line of work. However, I am having trouble with a coworker and hope you can help me.

A few months ago, a new woman began working at my office. We share a workspace and often have to work together on projects. This woman seemed nice, but there have been several awkward situations between us that are really bothering me. First, she often acts like I am cutting her off during a conversation. Whenever I talk she makes a loud comment or sigh, indicating that I have done something wrong. Thus, I am always feeling like I hurt her or upset her in some way. I try to be very sensitive, but inevitably there is that sigh telling me I must have done something “wrong.”

She also tells other coworkers that I can’t make early morning meetings because I have a hard time getting to the office early. This is true, as I am married with several young children. But it’s the manner in which she says it – as if to make me look unprofessional. She could just say that since we are not required to be at work until 9 a.m., it does not make sense to schedule an 8:30 meeting – just in case anyone has outside obligations. Why must I look like the one who “cannot get here early” when we aren’t expected to be in then anyway?

I know it may seem as if these are not major issues, but I am having a hard time working with this woman and do not know how to improve the situation. She tries to be nice and there are times that we work very well together. But then there are other times.

Another coworker recently asked me why I am always apologizing to this woman. I replied that I might have said something to hurt her and feel badly because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. This coworker urged me to stop worrying about it, because it was clear this woman was not treating me well. I know that my co-worker is right, but I am the type of person who wants to get along with everyone. Additionally, I have a hard time hurting anyone, even inadvertently.

In short, here’s my dilemma: I don’t want to be consistently taken advantage of, nor do I want to hurt anyone’s feelings. How do I walk this fine line?

An Exasperated Coworker

Dear Exasperated Coworker:

It appears that your new coworker may be somewhat jealous of you. Perhaps she is envious of your success at work or the fact that you have a family. With her behavior seemingly inappropriate, something else may be going on that is causing her to act this way. Is she going through a difficult time personally? Is she an insecure person? Perhaps the answer to both questions is yes, as insecure people generally need to put down others in order to feel good about themselves. Maybe your new coworker tells others that you cannot make early morning meetings as a subtle putdown.

Writing about your quandary demonstrates that you are obviously a caring person who wants to do the right thing. If you feel that your new coworker would be receptive to discussing this issue with you, initiate a meeting with her. You can say something like, “Am I doing something to hurt you? I feel like you are often upset with me and this confuses me because I always try to do nice things for you and treat you with respect.” Ideally, your coworker will realize what she is doing and will begin to change her ways.

However, be prepared that this may not happen, as jealousy is a powerful emotion. Even if your coworker has no idea why she is subtly disparaging you or making you uncomfortable, jealousy is probably one of the main reasons.

If you must continue to work with this woman, it would be a good idea to “kill her with kindness.” You need not continuously apologize to her, but you can try to be extra nice to her, even buying her a small gift on occasion. I know this might sound odd, but when you give to someone, you begin to like that person more. For their part, most people who receive preferential treatment and presents from others tend to have a hard time criticizing the givers.

Israel: A Peacetime War or a Wartime Peace

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/israel-peacetime-war-or-wartime-peace.html

In the library’s history section all the shelves are crowded together. In the Middle East, opposing polemics are wedged up against each other. Alan Dershowitz rubs shoulders with Tony Judt who leans onto George Gilder who balances out Norman Finkelstein who flakes bits of paper on Benjamin Netanyahu. Though located in the history section, most of these books are not history. They are long opinion pieces, arguments for and against the Jewish State.

On the left there are vituperative diatribes and on the right there are earnest defenses. The Holocaust Industry contends with The Case for Israel, The Jewish Lobby with Start Up Nation. Every few months brings new combatants to the shelves. Shlomo Sand is swapped out with Peter Beinart who is swapped out with Noam Chomsky like a baseball team that is forever calling the same players off the bench to make the same plays.

Next year there will be another four books denouncing Israel for its settlements and its trickery in making the terrorists look like they don’t want peace by negotiating with them for twenty years. And next to them another four books asserting that Israel wants peace and has the right to self-defense.

The four-hundred thousand word argument can be summed up as, “Israel is bad and those who live there are bad people” and “No, they aren’t.”

The first argument is easier to make then the second, because all countries and people have their flaws, but the second argument has gotten easier to make once the first argument switched off to, “Israel is the worst country that ever existed (with the possible exception of South Africa) and those who live there are the worst people that ever existed.”

When the torchbearers of the Anti-Israel argument are the likes of Norman Finkelstein and Tony Judt, then anyone who appears less filled with violent hatred suddenly seems moderate by comparison. It allows opponents of Israel like Peter Beinart to rebrand themselves as Liberal Zionists because at least they aren’t claiming that the Prime Minister of Israel ritually eats four babies for breakfast every morning.

Few of the books are concerned with the reality of Israel. They are concerned with it as an ideal. The left tears apart the ideal. The right defends the ideal. There is a growing body of books by Jewish leftists who visit Israel, stop by a supermarket outside their hotel, visit one or two sites, cringe at the guns, take in a nightspot, visit the Western Wall, visit the Separation Wall, and transmit the whole thing into a miniature memoir expressing their disappointment with the experience.

The latest such offering, Harvey Pekar’s Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, a 70 year-old son of a Communist mother and Orthodox father who visited Israel for the first time and discovered that it didn’t live up to whatever mixed-up ideal his parents promised him. Pekar is already dead, but there is an entire conveyor belt along which the younger set rides to write critical books, graphic novels, blogs and tweets about their disappointing experience in the Jewish State.

Whatever books are on the shelves two years from now, it is likely that very little will have changed. The world as a whole, not just the occasional liberal brat, will continue being disappointed in Israel for not having magically and non-violently resolved the dilemma of people shooting at it no matter what it does. After all there’s already a book titled, How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months or Less on the shelf. Why not just read it and do what it says?

Regardless of who wins the presidential election, two years from now a Secretary of State will be icily dressing down Israel for building houses in provocative places, using drones to kill terrorists and refusing to make peace. As the history section will bulge with eight more pro and con books; another member will have joined the choir invisible of James Baker, Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. While the Democrats have been worse on Israel, each administration regardless of its affiliation, has accepted the precedents of the previous administration and eventually managed to top its attacks on Israel’s sovereignty.

Jerusalem Late Nite 101 for the Younger Set

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Here’s a list of something exciting to do in Jerusalem each night of the week. This doesn’t have to be taken literally – choose your favorites or mix and match, depending on how long you’re here. Post below with any other ideas of your own!

Saturday A classic and possibly overdone routine for Birthright groups: there’s a reason Ben Yehuda Street is always upbeat. Take a walk down and feel the love from the street performers with their unusual talents. Some do caricatures, some sing, play the harp, dance, swallow fire – there’s really no telling what to expect. There are delicious treats to pick up along the way, especially if frozen yogurt or crepes are your guilty pleasures. Along the train tracks you can stop by and grab a drink at some of the bars off of Yaffo street. Mike’s place is good to hang with the American crowd, Kings is good for dancing, and further down the street there are places to smoke hookah with a more laid back atmosphere. But don’t limit yourself to that area either. Explore some of the side streets. My friend and I decided to get creative and found another place hidden behind them with funky, Mediterranean music and a more Israeli vibe.

A street performer at a festival on Emek Refaim street in the center of Jerusalem

A street performer at a festival on Emek Refaim street in the center of Jerusalem

Sunday Emek Refaim is a place where on some days you can find a street fair with live music, art and theater. At night, take your taste buds for a tour of the area. Known for its great restaurants, you can eat your way through the neighborhood. Whether it’s Oriental, pizza, bagels or ice cream, there is an option for every craving. It’s like a little city in itself; a great way to have a more low-key night and ease into the week. Also, not far from the center of the city, you can take a starlit walk to the old city to burn off some of those calories when you’re done.

Israelis shop for food at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem.

Israelis shop for food at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem.

Monday The Mahane Yehuda market is a hub of chaos during the day. But every Monday night when the dried apricots are safely tucked away and all seems quiet, the street is resurrected. With only the lingering smell of the fish stands, the shuk turns into a late night party. A very hipster crowd packs the aisle and a DJ drops dance tunes. When I was there, it was a 90’s theme (score!) and people from all over the world moved to all the favorite childhood pop songs. A bar opens up in one of the stalls, with a rugelach and baked goods stand on the opposite side of the street. Take some to snack on for the way home, or pack some for the morning. The whole experience changes the perspective of the shuk and certainly makes for an entertaining evening.

The Mamilla shopping mall in Jerusalem at evening time.

The Mamilla shopping mall in Jerusalem at evening time.

Tuesday For a night with slightly more sophistication, check out Mamilla. The shopping area is beautiful with its giant stone buildings and twinkling lights. The Mamilla Hotel Bar will make you feel like a guest on a classy business trip. The hotel looks like a castle, and the bar is lit with candlelight, and features a giant projector and international beats. When I was there, the manager claimed to be featuring a DJ from Europe who cost 10,000 euro a night! Apparently a company brought him in for the night. Although it’s a little on the pricier side, the atmosphere is good for an intimate group of friends. Sip a glass of wine while watching the game or get up and dance. It’s a cool and classy way to take a trip to another country without even leaving Jerusalem!

The Delmon Young Saga

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Every time Delmon Young come to bat, gets on base or makes a play in the field, we are reminded of his anti-Semitic rant in New York back in April.

As you recall, an inebriated Young encountered four tourists from Chicago giving money to a panhandler wearing a yarmulke and sporting a star of David around his neck. According to police reports, it was about 2:30 in the morning outside of the New York Hilton where the Tigers team was quartered when Young yelled anti-Jewish epithets and tackled one of the tourists, who suffered a minor elbow injury.

Young ran into the hotel and made his way up to his room. A security guard called police who arrested the 6-foot-3, 240-pound ballplayer in his room.

Tigers president and general manager David Dombrowski was traveling with the team at the time and was informed of the situation. He rushed to Young’s room, talked to the police and summed up the situation later to the media.

“He [Young] was apologetic at that time, although not in a very good state.” Dombrowski said. “Later on, he reached out to me and the organization so I know that he’s very apologetic and knows there is no excuse for what he did.”

The police took Young to Roosevelt Hospital where he sobered up and was charged later with second-degree aggravated harassment, which includes assaulting or threatening to assault someone “on the basis of the victim’s race or religion.”

Major League Baseball suspended the Tigers left fielder/designated hitter who is earning a whopping $6.75 million this season despite being a mediocre player who did get hot right before this week’s all-star break. The seven-day suspension cost Young approximately $258,000 in lost wages. Young does have an anger management problem. While playing in the minor leagues six years ago, he was suspended 50 games for throwing a bat at an umpire who had called him out on strikes.

The Tigers are Young’s third major league team in six years and he’ll be on his way again after the season as his contract is up and he’s a free agent. The incident will cost him dearly as many teams will shy away from him. Besides, he’s a below average fielder and runner and is a liability when stationed in the outfield. And he’s proving to be just an average designated hitter.

After his arrest in New York, Young issued an apology. More likely the Tigers public relations department wrote an apology attributed to Young:

“I sincerely regret what happened last night. I apologize to everyone I affected, the Ilitch family [Tigers owners], the Detroit Tigers organization, my teammates, my family and the great Tigers fans that have supported me since day one. I take this matter very seriously and assure everyone that I will do everything I can to improve myself as a person and player.”

Young is undergoing treatment in an alcohol program. The Tigers allowed Young to talk to the media after the suspension and here’s some of the things he said regarding the incident:

“I made a lapse in judgment, but I can tell you that I am not anti-Semitic.” He added that “being perceived as an anti-Semite is hard to deal with. That’s the toughest part, being branded as a racist or bigot, especially when that’s just not true. I have a lot of diverse friends and live in a diverse area.”

Diverse friends? Diverse area? What does that mean? It could mean that some are single and some are married; some are Republicans and some are Democrats. Anyway, I’m not convinced. Something about Jews or something Jewish caused Young to go ballistic.

We should know a bit more on August 2 as the case was adjourned until then to give Young’s lawyers more time to prepare his defense. In the meantime, a Detroit area Reform rabbi not known for wearing a yarmulke but known to be a Tigers season ticket holder, is buddying up with Young and advising him about Jews and Judaism.

Young’s agent, who is Jewish, should be busy this off-season trying to find a new team for him to sign with. One thing’s for sure: he won’t be earning what he’s earning this season.

When Rules Don’t Count, Anything Goes

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

UNESCO proved once again that UN rules mean nothing if they get in the way of furthering an anti-Israel agenda.

It will be recalled that last October, an overwhelming majority of UNESCO members voted to recognized “Palestine” as the organization’s 195th member despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority did not, by any measure, meet the established standards for statehood. Last week, UNESCO again broke its own rules and indulged the Palestinians by accepting a Palestinian bid to list the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and to have it located in “Palestine.” The PA is nominally in control of day-to-day governance in Bethlehem but Israel remains in overall authority as to who and what goes in and out.

This prompted a statement by Hanan Ashwari, who leads the PLO Department of Culture and Information, applauding the development as “a welcome recognition by the international community of our historical and cultural rights in this land.”

Further, not only were the rules for statehood again ignored by the “Palestine” reference, but the church was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, which UNESCO’s technical and administrative staff advised was wholly inappropriate, since it in no way met the operative standard of “imminent danger.” And while UNESCO fictively attributed the “danger” to damage from water leaks, Palestinian officials spun the listing that the site itself is endangered by Israel.

Thus, Ms. Ashwari said in a statement that the UNESCO decision

emphasizes that Israel must be bound by international law and treaties, particularly pertaining to its illegal and detrimental measures as a belligerent occupant and as a major threat to the safety and the responsible preservation of that important segment of human civilization in Palestine.

Palestinian officials briefing reporters also claimed the UNESCO action represented a vote in favor of self-determination and cultural rights for the Palestinian people.

Predictably, the PA is now saying that following its UNESCO success respecting the Church of the Nativity it will seek to have additional religious West Bank sites recognized by UNESCO as endangered World Heritage sites. And given past experience, they will be successful. Regrettably, these obvious farces have gained legitimacy in the anything-goes universe of anti-Israel activism.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/when-rules-dont-count-anything-goes/2012/07/11/

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