Even the vicious mass murderer Ted Bundy had admirers who swore he was innocent. But in this age in which there are pictures of Dzokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev at the Boston Marathon finish line pre-explosions with backpacks and post explosions without backpacks, and also pictures of the exploded backpacks, not to mention the reported admission by Dzhokhar that he and his brother built and detonated the bombs, it is hard to believe there are those who insist the Tsarnaevs are innocent.
But there are.
And some of those who maintain this position have very carefully put together loving video homages to the Tsarnaevs, complete with pictures that have not yet been shown in the media.
Some of the pictures in the video are of the boys growing up, many are of the older brother, Tamerlan, in the gym, quite a few show Dzokhar hanging out with friends. There are some artistic renderings and some of various milestone events. In one picture Dzokhar is shown in front of the Chechen flag, in another he looks out seductively from behind a tangle of dark curls.
Interspersed between the photographs are messages in Russian, proclaiming the innocence of the Tsarnaevs. The images slide by, the music is eastern and hypnotic. An audiovisual ode to monsters.
A video uploaded to YouTube by English Spokesperson for Hebron David Wilder shows a stream of blood on the rocks of the Abraham’s Well underground spring, following a near-fatal rock attack by a local Arab on a 60 year old Jewish man who came to immerse in the spring.
Jewish tradition connects the Patriarch Abraham – the central figure connecting Judaism and Islam and one of three great Jewish patriarchs buried in Hebron – with the small natural spring, saying it was the place where Abraham and his wife Sarah would go to purify themselves.
On Wednesday, a 60 year old resident of Kiryat Arba went to perform a cleansing immersion at the site, and when he reached the bottom of the stairs, was attacked by an Arab who threw a large rock at his head. The man was found unconscious on his back at the bottom of the stairs leading to the well. He regained consciousness at a Jerusalem hospital, to which he was evacuated by paramedics.
I was informed that a giant billboard has been put up on the Brooklyn side of the Belt Parkway leading toward Manhattan warning people to guard their eyes as they enter the Sodom and Gomorrah of the Big Apple. Apparently it’s the initiative of pious Ultra Orthodox Jews in their continuing battle against the very real dangers of immodesty which surround us everywhere, now more than ever because of the Internet.
In his book, Nefesh HaChaim, Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin explains that each and every Jew is a miniature Mishkan (Tabernacle), connecting us to all of the highest spiritual worlds of the universe (Nefesh HaChaim, Gate One, Ch. 4, Addendum).
Because of this Divine connection, a Jew has to live with the moment-by-moment recognition that all of his thoughts, words, and doings have profound cosmic influence, for good, and for evil. As the Nefesh HaChaim makes clear:
“A man of Israel must understand, know, and establish in his mind and heart that every detail of his deeds, speech, and thoughts, at every second and time, all rise up according to their root source to influence the most exalted worlds. When a wise person recognizes this truth, his heart will greatly tremble in the face of his wrongdoings, realizing the awesome and devastating damage that even a small transgression can cause, even more than the destruction wrought by Nebuchadnezzar and Titus.
“For their deeds had no damaging effect on the upper worlds, for they have no portion or root source in those worlds that would enable them to cause damage there. Rather, it was our sins that polluted the celestial Temple, so to speak, and that gave Nebuchadnezzar and Titus the power to destroy the Sanctuary below…. Therefore, when a man entertains an impure, licentious thought in his heart, God forbid, he in effect brings a prostitute into the most exalted, celestial Holy of Holies, giving strength to the forces of impurity and evil in this transcendently holy place, to a much greater extent than the impurity caused by Nebuchadnezzar and Titus when they brought a prostitute into the Holy of Holies in the Temple sanctuary on earth.”
The fire that destroyed the Temple started in our hearts and our minds. Every time a person watches pornography on the Internet, he is adding flames to the conflagration that is still burning in the Heavenly Mikdash, thus preventing the Temple’s rebuilding. When he gazes at erotic images, he causes the exile of the Shechinah (Divine Presence) from within his own miniature Mishkan, thus adding to the prolongation of the Shechinah’s exile from the world. You may think that your erotic interludes are your own private affair, but the very opposite is true. Every time a Jew watches something immodest on the Internet, his fantasies and lustful thoughts pollute not only himself, but his family, his neighborhood, all of the Jewish People, and all of Creation! You have to ask yourself – is this something you want to do? In addition, don’t think yourself such a hero, that you can look at whatever you please without falling. If you feel this way, you’ve already fallen. Samson and King Shlomo were also convinced they could control their yetzer, and look what happened to them.
Remember, you’re being filmed! One must live with the awareness that God is always with us, wherever we are, outside on the street, and in every room of our homes. Just as a person wouldn’t watch pornography while someone else was watching, all the more so when he is aware that the King of kings is observing all of his deeds. Imagine that a camera was recording your every move on the computer – would you still click on immodest sites? Would you still go astray after your eyes if you knew that a video of your doings was going to be posted on Youtube for the world to see? You may not be caught in This World, but up in the big Movie Theater in the sky, when you come before the Heavenly Tribunal, your Youtube history is going to be presented on the Big Screen for all of the Celestial Judges to see.
It should be noted that the Torah prohibition, “Thou shall not follow after your heart and your eyes which cause you to stray after them,” which appeared in the Torah portion last Shabbat, applies to looking at immodest images of all types, whether it be girls in bikinis, lingerie ads, models on the runway, as well as porn. The damage it causes to the Jewish soul is the same for looking at any of them. If you find yourself tempted, remind yourself that it’s more harmful than eating pork!
“Sh*t Anglos in Israel Say”, an English-speaking Israeli meme of the popular Youtube video Sh*t Girls Say”, earned 57,000 views in two days, taking comedic aim at the life of the average young English-speaking immigrant to Israel.
With such typical oleh quips as “I’m going to the post office, I’ll be back in 4 hours,” “You’re going back to the States? Oh, can you bring me back some NyQuil?” and “You have last year’s Cosmo? Can I borrow it?” the film poked fun at the frustration, confusion, and occasional desperation of Israelis harkening from the US, Canada, England and Australia.
The video is the brainchild of Shira Rottner and Yosef Adest, a freelance video producer and photographer who made aliyah in 2003 from New York. A self-proclaimed optimist, Adest – who is now 31, single, and living in Tel Aviv – says that while his video is a critique of Israeli society, it was also a labor of love.
“The whole video is a stab at Israel and Israelis,” Adest told The Jewish Press. “It’s about what is wrong with this place, but looking at it and smiling at it. We laughed the whole time we were making it.”
The video centered around the characters’ struggle to adapt to a sometimes brusque and foreign-seeming Israeli culture while remaining within the safe and familiar environment of the Anglo community, with its recognizable products and comforts. “What we joke about in the video is all true, it’s all fact,” Adest said. “It’s not a reason that Israel is bad or challenging, it’s just how Israel is.” The key, he said, is attitude. “I feel great that I’m in a place now that I can say no, I’m not an Israeli and I’ll never be, but I completely feel like I fit in and I can call this place my home.”
“We grew up with ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – we’ll always be different,” he joked.
Yet while Anglo Israelis frequently feel themselves to be apart from native Israeli culture, they can also grow to feel that they no longer relate to the culture of their past, either. “I was in America, and people were getting in line to get on the bus, and I was like ‘really? You need a whole line? Here, let me help you with your baby’. I really felt like a foreigner,” Adest said. “And that’s crazy! I’m not an Israeli, but I’m no longer American. I’m in the middle.”
Young and old, recent and veteran immigrants to Israel posted comments and kudos on Youtube and Facebook commiserating and laughing with the cast and crew. Some commenters expressed sheepish surprise at how much the stereotypical immigrants sounded like them, while others shared their joy at being able to identify with the comical trials and tribulations of the actors.
At one point, one of the characters said “I hate it here”, which Adest said is something he has heard some immigrants say. “Myself and everyone involved, we all love Israel, but we included that statement because people really say that,” Adest said. “But I think at the same time, most people who grow frustrated with the challenges love it. I think you can get to a point where you can really appreciate it all. We can make fun of it without harming the integrity of our love for this place as our home.” Incidentally, the character expressing her frustration with life in Israel was immediately answered by a friend saying, “Oh, I love it here”.
As for himself, Adest made Israel home for different reasons than the ones he loves Israel for today. “When I made aliyah, I came for very spiritual reasons, but I’ve actually come to love the Israeli culture, the Israeli mindset as well, completely separate from the religious and spiritual significance of the place,” he said. “I think that’s when you can completely be absorbed here, when you can appreciate the whole gamut.”
JewishPress.com Managing Editor Yishai Fleisher expressed pride in Adest’s accomplishment. ”I first met Yosef Adest at Jerusalem II pizza in Manhattan when I was hosting a pro-aliyah event. Later, I greeted him as he got off the Nefesh b’Nefesh plane on aliyah,” Fleisher said. ”It was obvious then that here was a young man who was coming to Israel with great ideological passion and a tremendous love of the land and the Jewish people, and since aliyah, he has put his talents to good use. This video is entertaining, but it also shows the normalization of aliyah in American Jewish life and is a stepping stone in the process of the ingathering of North American Jewry to Israel.”
Yishai Fleisher and Yosef Adest have produced two films together – one about the mass priestly blessing which happpens at the festivals in Jerusalem, and one humorous short about shaking the lulav and etrog on Sukkot.
For more videos by Yosef Adest, visit www.yosefadest.com