Photo Credit: courtesy, Sivan Rahav Meir
Sivan Rahav Meir

The headlines about what occurred last week in Los Angeles sound horrific: a violent attack against a synagogue; the mayor, governor and President Biden all issuing strong condemnations.

But maybe we need another perspective on this event. Gidon Katz, CEO of IMP (International Marketing & Promotion) company, provided me with another version of this story.


Katz organizes real estate fairs in the diaspora for people interested in making Aliyah, along with his partner, Emanuel Vatari. Since Simchat Torah, the demand for these fairs has reached its peak, and he’s been involved in producing these events in New Jersey, Montreal, New York, and now in Los Angeles.

Without minimizing the severity of this attack, Katz believes that the main story is the event itself. We need to pay attention to the focus of these angry protests, says Katz:

“While a violent crowd was screaming outside, more than 350 Jews were gathered inside the synagogue; young people, adults, families, a throng of Jews who came to find apartments in Israel. They are seeking to purchase homes throughout Israel, and in this way, they are reinforcing what was said in last week’s parasha: “The Land is very, very good.” They are repairing the sin of the meraglim, and thousands of years after leaving Egypt, they have chosen to leave the U.S. and to make Aliyah.

Some participants in this event had to make their way through this ugly demonstration, as they were cursed and physically assaulted by the protesters; others entered through the back door.

The Hamas demonstrators were very clear about their intent, shouting: “From the River to the Sea,” in other words, that Jews have no right to live in Israel. And what happened outside the synagogue is precisely the reason why so many people have decided to move to Israel. I witnessed how this alarming rise in anti-Semitism has yielded an unintentional result: it is strengthening our presence in the Land of Israel.”


Information Sources And The Minority That Differs

Who are the sources of our information regarding the war? After five get-togethers and lectures in the United States that included difficult questions on the situation in Israel, I understood how important it is to check our information sources.

This is precisely the question that arises from the Torah portion we read last Shabbat. 10 spies out of 12 return from the Promised Land with a negative report and most of the nation simply believes them. Similarly, today, most of the world believes in the overwhelmingly negative portrayal of Israel that is broadcasted on the news.

The Torah relates that the two spies – Yehoshua and Kalev – who brought back a positive report were of a “different spirit.” They dared to express an alternative evaluation of the land, opposing popular opinion and standing strong as a minority voice. In the end, of course, they understood better than the other spies the promise of the Promised Land.

Yesterday at an event in Milwaukee, media outlets were quoted as saying that “atrocities” and “genocide” have been committed by Israel in Gaza. Much of the world hears and believes this sort of “news.”

The above accusation needs to be addressed but, first and foremost, it underlines the importance of our information sources. Whose story regarding Israel do we believe? What’s the agenda of the one telling the story? And how do we connect today to the wavelength of Yehoshua and Kalev when hearing the news?


Antidote To Jealousy: Rejoicing In Our Lot

In this week’s Torah portion, there is a description of Korach’s opposition to Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon HaKohen. Korach is jealous of their lofty roles and stature to which he feels entitled as well. The punishment that Korach and his followers receive is symbolic: The earth opens up and swallows them whole since jealousy does nothing for anyone except to “bury” or remove them from this world, even while they are still alive.

As the sages say: “Jealousy, lust, and (pursuit of) honor take a person out of the world,” and when the sages ask “Who is rich?” the answer is: “Whoever is happy with his lot.”

A truly rich person is thankful for what he has, sees and appreciates the many blessings in his life, and does not envy what others have. It’s a serious challenge these days to be content with what we have under the constant assault of social media and the accompanying fear of missing out.

Yet if jealousy removes us from the world, joyfulness and gratitude attach us to all the blessings the world has to offer.


Translated by Janine Muller Sherr and Yehoshua Siskin.

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Sivan Rahav-Meir is a popular Channel 12 News anchor, the host of a weekly radio show on Galei Tzahal, a columnist for Yediot Aharonot, and the author of “#Parasha.” Every day she shares short Torah thoughts to over 100,000 Israelis – both observant and not – via Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Translation by Yehoshua Siskin.