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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Yitzhar’

Yitzhar’s Cinematic Moment

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Rabbi Shneur Zalman coined the phrase, “living with the times” which means to live life in the light of the weekly Torah portion; and to see it as an indicator for all that happens to us throughout the week—both on a personal and national level. Thus, while some headlines may take effort to source in the weekly Torah portion, the recent story of police disguised as IDF in Yitzhar was relatively easy.

This Shabbat we will read the Torah portion of Shlach which recounts the sin of the spies. The lesson for us today is when scouting out an area within the Land of Israel, we need to be careful how we respond to what we see. This is especially so during the week of the Torah portion of Shlach.

In our recent reenactment of the story, before the ‘spies’ could even return from their ‘report,’ the ruse was discovered. To capture the storyline using modern terminology, the drama became a comedy and the ‘audience’ who witnessed this event unfold started to laugh.

The intention is not that the police should become a ‘laughing stock,’ but that we should all view this event as an opportunity to take stock, and laugh from the great delight achieved in rectifying the sin of the spies. Thus our hope is that the police will also desire to turn the drama into a comedy. That both police and residents, and the entire Jewish nation, will soon laugh together in friendship and camaraderie.

Show Business

The spies’ mistake was that they interpreted what they saw and they over-dramatized what they thought was negative. Moshe sent them to see the Land of Israel and to report back only what they had seen (nothing more nothing less).

Initially, the spies may have gazed at the land with their right eye and see it for what it was—a land of milk and honey, overflowing with the abundance of God’s blessings. But, they also chose to gaze at the land with the power of their left eye—they chose to interpret their findings. The metaphoric images used by the spies to describe the military strength of the Canaanite inhabitants of the land are some of the most powerful in the entire Torah. The spies said: “The land we explored devours its inhabitants. All the people we saw there are giants. We saw the Nephilim [strain of giants] there. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

To undo the damage, we must first fix our left eye. In other words we must learn how to portray reality correctly and in a positive way. As the prophet Isaiah stated a few hundred years after the spies’ mission: “If you shall yearn for it [the Land of Israel] and hear [the word of God], then you shall eat the good of the land.” The last part of the verse—“then you shall eat the good of the land”—reflects the result of the final state of rectification when we shall merit to return to our holy land and enjoy its bounty, freely and without fear.

From Drama to Comedy

We mentioned that the spontaneous laughter that occurred after the ‘soldiers’ were discovered to be police should not be viewed as a reason to make the police into a laughing stock, but to provide for an opportunity for us all to take stock. But in addition to fostering a sense of friendship and camaraderie within the Jewish people, there is another thought to have in mind. That the laughter that results from transforming a drama into a comedy should lead to the ultimate joy of eating the “good of the land” freely and without fear.

Police Entrapment in Yitzhar Fails, Yeshiva Seizure Extended (Video)

Friday, June 13th, 2014

Police, disguised as soldiers, tried to entrap residents of Yitzhar while secretly video taping them. Additional police were waiting outside the town for mass arrests. Residents, recognizing the ambush for what it was, made fun of the latest failed attempt to entrap them.

The town’s yeshiva, Od Yosef Chai, has been under occupation by the Israeli Border Police since April, and a constant and large police presence is always active in the town. The occupation of the yeshiva began after the IDF destroyed five homes and buildings in Yitzhar in April, and some angry residents retaliated and damaged an IDF outpost and slashed army jeep tires in response.

Police suspect, but for the most part, have been unable to find any evidence, that residents of Yitzhar, or Yeshiva students from the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva have been involved in violence against Arabs and the IDF, as well as “price tag” graffiti around the country.

Police have been escalating “catch and release” frivolous arrests of Yitzhar residents, including minors, in what the citizens claim is an attempt to harass them following the police’s ongoing failure to prove the town is the hotbed of “price tag” attacks that the government claim it is.

On Thursday, Defense Minister Ya’alon extended the occupation of the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva by another 3 months, and residents believe the attempted video ambush was connected to that. They believe the government wanted to make a video to show off to the media of “violence from Yitzhar” to justify extending the seizure.

Residents claim that the IDF is trying to provoke them into responding, and the only one committing price tag attacks is the government with their home demolitions, harassment of citizens and frivolous arrests.

Meanwhile, the only videos of law-breaking coming out of Yitzhar lately are of police and soldiers ignoring traffic signs, the ongoing damage done to the Yeshiva by the military, and yesterday’s video of the police ambush being exposed.

There might very well be law-breakers who live in Yitzhar, but the way the government and the police are treating innocent citizens and trampling on democracy and the rule of law is far worse. But it’s no wonder they do that, when so many senior police, army and government officials are under investigation for one crime or another.

Yitzhar Yeshiva Dean: Jewish State’s Spiritual Malady

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Last week I released a statement explaining that our Holy Torah should be the moral “compass” by which our nation is run. Recent events regarding the abuse and intimidation tactics carried out on a Yitzhar couple have only strengthened this sentiment.

If such interrogation were done in America — where they were prevented from seeking out legal counsel, threatened that they would not see their children again, prevented from going to the bathroom, subject to multiple body cavity searches, etc… — one or many civil liberties organizations would stage demonstrations and begin lawsuits. But where is the oversight in these and other cases? Where was the prison sentence of the officer who mercilessly tasered Boaz Albert?

Unlike what some have inferred from my statement last week, the answer to this situation is not to say that members of the establishment — government and army — are the enemies. God forbid. This is why the statement from the sages, “We are all sons of one man,” was quoted at the beginning.

Instead, as explained further in the statement yesterday, there is a spiritual malady causing our people to turn against each other. At a time when we should be defending against the real and present enemies of the Jewish people, instead we are fighting from within.

But while the statement from last Friday clearly spoke out against acts of violence from Yitzhar residents against the army, etc… (as was reiterated yesterday) such infringement of what’s called in America “civil liberties” cannot be tolerated.

This past week the United States Supreme Court upheld the tradition of prayer to open government meetings. When even the American Supreme Court recognizes the importance of spiritual tradition, then how much more so should the Torah be the governing light for the Jewish people living in the Land of Israel.

Police Arrest Pregnant Yitzhar Woman for Inciting Against IDF Soldiers

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

In the hours before dawn on Wednesday, Israel Police awakened and arrested an eight-month pregnant woman in Yitzhar on suspicion of incitement to violence against security forces.

The woman, age 22, had allegedly advocated throwing rocks at Jews “even if the rock causes the death of a soldier” during discussions in an online Yitzhar residents’ email forum called “Yitzharniks.”

A second, 17-year-old resident also commented there is “no halachic problem in killing a soldier during a nighttime eviction” since according to halacha (Jewish law) one may kill anyone breaking and entering, thus posing a possible threat to life.

The conversation containing the incriminating comments was apparently forwarded to police and IDF Central Command by one of the participants, according to a report published by the Hebrew daily Yediot Acharanot.

The newspaper also interviewed the young woman’s mother, who commented, “The young generation is tired of walking around crouched and afraid. My daughter told me in conversation that just like Arab women walk around freely in Israel, there’s no reason that a Jewish women shouldn’t be able to as well… My daughter isn’t stupid. She’ll take responsibility for what she wrote even if she’s wrong.”

The opinion is not unanimous, however, despite a violent incident last month in which residents expressed anger at the demolition of buildings near the outskirts of the Jewish community, located in Samaria (Shomron).

“We have denounced this kind of talk in the past and will do so in future as well,” Yitzhar community spokesperson Ezri Tuvi told media in a statement. “This involves a minor and a woman whose emotions caused their tongues to slip and who already retracted their words.

“On the other hand, we demand the media fully denounce all talk of violence and incitement to hatred and physical harm against the settler public.”

Leftist Yesh Atid chairman and Finance Minister Yair Lapid responded that “Words easily turn into deeds. Some of Yitzhar’s residents have already proven that they have no limits or red lines. A threat to harm IDF soldiers is an action against the state’s sovereignty and against a hallowed basic value of the State of Israel.”

A Public Call to Increase Peaceful Protests

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

From the widespread protest in support of a soldier who cocked his gun in self-defense, to the outspoken cries of bereaved family members at yesterday’s memorial event, we are witnessing an unprecedented awakening. But we must do our part to continue and increase these peaceful protests. Now that we have witnessed these displays and calls for truth and justice, we must continue to do more.

The defense system must do its work of loyally fighting the enemies of the Jewish People. The memory of the martyrs who fell in the wars of Israel for the sake of sanctifying God’s Name impels us to continue their work by steadfastly fighting the enemies who rise up to destroy us, as our Holy Torah instructs us, “If someone gets up to kill you, rise early to kill him [first].”

Unfortunately, the heads of state have lost their sense of direction. On the one hand, they tie the hands of IDF soldiers behind their backs, preventing them from retaliating effectively in the face of real terror by a real enemy, who murders Jews and attempts to rob us of our land (another recent story explained how a gun safety measure almost cost an officer his life).

On the other hand, the Defense Minister stands up and tells the bereaved families that what is needed is “to fight with an iron fist against the terror that is mistakenly referred to as ‘price tag’” – a miserable phrase that practically tells the families of IDF martyrs that their sons’ murderers are no worse than those who spray graffiti on walls, and puncture tires.

The task of the defense forces at the national level is to act like the immune system in the human body. However, when the immune system is unwell, it attacks healthy parts of the body instead of dangerous invaders in the form of bacteria and viruses etc. Unfortunately, the defense system has currently deteriorated to act in this manner (including the ongoing seizure of our yeshivah in Yitzhar). This is reminiscent of the sages’ statement, “Anyone who is compassionate towards the cruel will eventually be cruel to those who are compassionate,” God forbid.

The defense system must be healed, as a result of which the current predicament will automatically be solved.

We must return to the values of Jewish morality, and the ability to distinguish between friend and foe, in a proper state of awareness that is able to relate to issues with the correct proportions and in their correct context. This is why I encourage everyone to peacefully speak out for truth and justice, morality according to our Holy Torah, in whatever way possible.

Originally published at Gal Einai, Gateway to the Inner Dimension of the Torah

Government Chickens Out and Re-Opens Yitzhar Yeshiva

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Border Police stationed at the Ode Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar in northern Samarian allowed it to re-open Tuesday, almost as scheduled, after a month-long Passover vacation but with limitations on how many students may enter and when they can enter.

The Jewish Press reported here last week that the Border Police’s headline-grabbing takeover of the yeshiva, following alleged violence by yeshiva students, was a PR exercise in which the media establishment duly cooperated by not reporting that the yeshiva was empty, as always in the month of Nissan, which includes the Passover holiday.

Students in most yeshivas in the country returned to study Monday or Tuesday, the evening before the beginning of the month of Iyar.

IDF Brigade Commander Col. Yoav Yarom said Tuesday that the Border Police now will allow students to enter, but with limitations. Only 50 students may pray there at once, and the military official is in control

If they really are brave, perhaps they will guard the students inside the yeshiva during Torah classes and learn a thing or two about Jewish law.

That is not too say that those who are hell-bent on violence don’t belong behind bars, where perhaps they will learn a couple of laws in the Torah they missed out on in yeshiva, such as not destroying property, whether it be of Arabs or Jews.

The military also will determine when the students may pray and learn.

It is assumed that they will consult the timetables provided by the Chief Rabbinate and on the Internet for the proper time for praying, according to Jewish law.

If for any reason there are less than 10 students and rabbis, the minimum number for public prayer, the yeshiva has lots of reserves standing by to complete a minyan.

Throwing Stones of Love

Friday, April 18th, 2014

While this article was prompted by the stonings outside Tekoa, Hevron, and continued tension (stone-related and otherwise) on the Temple Mount today, Hasidism teaches that we can sweeten these bitter, difficult events by initiating the opposite. If our enemies are throwing stones of hate, then we should counter by throwing stones of love.

But our ‘stones’ are not physical. Instead the stones that we would like to mention in brief are the spiritual stones of Rebbe Yichiel Michel of Zlotshov, one of the Ba’al Shem Tov’s most well-known disciples.

Rebbe Michel said that if he were to see a Jew coming out of a house of iniquity, then the love towards him would not decrease at all. On the contrary it should increase,because he now has compassion for him.

Although there is a time and place to rebuke a fellow, as explained in Hasidism, this is only if this person will listen. When will he listen? We can learn this from a gematria, numerical equivalence, as “stone throwing” is the same numerical value as “You shall love your fellow as yourself” (both 820).

When is it okay to throw stones?

Say that you see another Jew desecrating the Shabbat, or in Rebbe Michel’s example, coming out of a house of iniquity. Is it ever okay to stone him?

We are not speaking now of physical stones, but words of rebuke. When is it permissible to rebuke (read: “throw stones at”) a fellow Jew?

The answer relates back to our gematria. When words of rebuke are conveyed with boundless love, like the love of Rebbe Michel, then it is okay to throw these ‘stones.’ But unless we have reached this level, then it is better to pray for this Jew’s wellbeing without any rebuke at all.

Why did I bring this particular meditation?

This meditation was discussed prior to Rosh Hashanah this year at a yeshiva in the news today. The location where this teaching was delivered is the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar, a building that was recently seized as an army base. (For those interested, the English transcript of the class is viewable here.)

But the lesson of how to throw ‘stones’ of love remains. There was an event today in support of the yeshiva and the residents of Yitzhar, and once again, Rabbi Ginsburgh emphasized the importance of loving one’s fellow Jew.

This is the antidote. The cure by which we will overcome the real enemies of the Jewish people. When we are united with unconditional love, then we will merit to witness the time when no stone will be raised against us from our enemies in hate.

When our “stones of love” don’t appear as rebukes at all, but compassionate words of love spoken from a close friend. then we will have completed the sweetening of the bitter version of “stone throwing”.

The cure for physical stones thrown by our enemies in hate is positive words of reproof spoken out of love.

May we merit to experience this transformation today.

Note to Reader: Before commenting on this article, it is worthwhile to have the 820 meditation in mind. Regarding the situation in Yitzhar. The idea is not there is one side all faultless and one side all guilty, but that a proper sense of familial love and compassion would have resolved this situation before it ever escalated.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/throwing-stones-of-love/2014/04/18/

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