31 July 2009
After relating how "the daughters of Jerusalem would go out... and dance in the vineyards" and "whoever did not have a wife would go there" to find himself a bride, the Talmud goes on to describe three different categories of "daughters" and how each would call out to her perspective bridegroom:
What would the beautiful ones among them say?
What would those of prestigious lineage say?
What would the ugly ones say?
The institution of marriage is comprised of two integral elements: commitment and love. Beneath the chupah (Bridal Canopy), the bride and groom pledge to remain
"The process whereby a man and woman meet, become acquainted with each other and decide whether they are suitable for each other, is not only common sense -- it's actually mandated by Jewish law.
"The focus of a date is to determine whether this person one is seeing has the qualities and values which will allow the two of them to live together harmoniously and happily for the rest of their lives. Hence, successful dating is an art; it requires the mind to take control of a domain which traditionally and instinctively belongs to the heart." Dating the Jewish Way
30 July 2009
During those times, Tisha Be'av became synonymous with expulsions and massacres, and was even the date that saw the beginning of the deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto to Treblinka.
TISHA BE'AV must not be just a lesson in remembrance and sorrow, but should also be a day of reflection. We learn from our sages that the Second Temple was destroyed because of one reason: baseless hatred. We know that there were many righteous, learned and God-fearing Jews in the Second Temple period, but many had a view of the world which led them to look unkindly on their fellow Jews.
By contrast, the First Temple was destroyed for three reasons; immorality, widespread murder and idolatry. These are extremely grave sins according to Jewish law. Nonetheless, the first exile lasted for only 70 years whereas the second has lasted for almost 2,000 years.
Why the discrepancy? Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hakohen Kook, of blessed memory, had much to teach on this very point. He explained that the only punishment worthy of baseless hatred is the destruction of our national center.
This means that the Jewish people needed to experience a long hard exile that broke down our established, mistaken frameworks. These frameworks were the source of the division, and Kook asserted that while they existed, the misdeeds, mischaracterizations, baseless hatred and, indeed, the exile these brought, would continue.
After 2,000 years we have finally returned to our ancestral home but we are still suffering from severe divisions among our people, both open and hidden.
The State of Israel faces many challenges that we can only overcome as a united people. We are presented with a growing nuclear threat from Iran, terrorist groups primed to strike once again into our city centers, rockets aimed at our towns and villages in the North and South, and the increasing hatred and delegitimization of Israel around the world.
TODAY, The State of Israel is a thriving pluralist and multicultural society. However, recently we can see major strains of disunity of purpose, and discord. Many see the different elements in Israeli society as the "other" and frequently defame them. Many groups pull their weight as citizens for the good of the country, while others contribute far less. We need to achieve a national solidarity which pulls in the same direction to meet the rising challenges which we face as a nation.
It can surely only contribute to disunity when Israelis of some religions and backgrounds send their children to the front lines in the battles against our enemies and those who seek to destroy us, while others do not. We understand that for religious, ethnic or cultural reasons, many groups feel they cannot contribute fully to the physical defense of our nation. However, there can surely be contributions made in other ways, either through national or communal service. Every community has its sick, its disabled, its aged and its poor.
In a free society like Israel's, every person is entitled to their own opinion. Nevertheless, this does not include inciting violence or hatred for other groups, and especially not for Israel as a whole. Such incitement will essentially lead to the breakdown of our vital national solidarity and weaken our resistance to those who seek the destruction of every one of us.
Regaining our national home was achieved only by standing together. I have heard many amazing stories about the War of Independence in which people from many religions, backgrounds, nationalities and cultures stood side by side on the ramparts to fight for our country. While we retained the right to our differences, we remembered that we were all striving for the same goals.
Due to the tragedies that seemed biblical in their scope, many rabbis of the period declared the messiah's arrival was imminent, providing long proofs and even mathematical computations. Many false messiahs arose, like Solomon Molho, each leading to further suffering, shame and schism. But the fervor would return after each disappointment.
MAIMONIDES wrote in his introduction to the Mishna Torah that people were confused and no longer abiding by halacha, not enough students were in yeshivot and heresy was spreading. Other sages concurred, but sometimes would praise their communities as shining beacons of hope and piety.
The scholars of Yemen throughout the 14th to 16th centuries agreed that many had become less observant. For example, they argued about how to recite kiddush, and complained that nearly no one was tithing the first fruits (since the problems were so widespread, they said few Jews could be reliable witnesses).
In the 17th century there were still those who were skeptical of rabbinic authority and questioned halacha (some became Karaites, and others thought that halacha was becoming stagnant or too strict, rather than progressing with the times and promoting compassion).
ENTER SHABTAI Zvi, who pronounced God's name in public and started declaring certain halachot invalid, while also pronouncing Tisha Be'av and other days of mourning as celebratory days. He eventually converted to Islam and the messianic fervor lost its hold. Muslims and Christians chided the Jews and inflicted suffering on them for having stopped working at their trades and for causing uprisings. It was another terrible tragedy for the Jewish people.
The common denominator in periods when false messiahs have arisen was messianic fervor. Messianism is typically characterized by intense feelings of personal and collective suffering/persecution, mysticism (such as the idea that the sons of light have begun a final battle against the forces of darkness) and by a deep need for someone else (a savior) to fix life's problems.
There's massive discontentment and near hopelessness, accompanied by a desire for personal activism that can be ignited by charismatic leaders.
If there is one thing we can learn this Tisha Be'av and really remember, it is that whenever people are "absolutely sure" the messiah is going to arrive, that is when false messiahs have made things worse. In fact, any time people are absolutely sure about anything is a time to learn humility.
TODAY'S situation is not much different than in those preceding generations, which should be cause for deep introspection. In fact, we are entering the "perfect storm" of messianism, that can sweep up so many and cause violence between those who believe and those who don't. When the world is at peace, then we can know with certainty we are in the Messianic Era.
Magical incantations, the promise of instant solutions and taking esoteric literature literally has many times caused a buildup of false hope and unrealistic expectations, exacerbated fear and anger, and allowed excuses and justifications for inexcusable behavior. Our sufferings, rather than causing us to become insular, can help us become more compassionate people, who look for opportunities to benefit others. Rather than worrying about future salvation, we can instead focus on doing good in the here and now.
The haftara of Shabbat Chazon reminds us that if we want to come closer to God, the first step is the creation of a just, peaceful and loving society. God stresses justice and compassion toward His creations; this is the focus and kavana we've been commanded to have.
This Tisha Be'av, let's learn from our mistakes, like the tragedy of following false messiahs. Rather than focusing on others' angers/fears or our own suffering, or on anything that causes despair, we can instead be like Abraham, who rushed to perform mitzvot even for idolaters. A tragedy need not become a festering wound, as it can help us look outward instead, toward doing the right thing even when it is extremely difficult or dangerous, to remain peaceful, loving, inclusive, compassionate and gently-coaxing people.
The Western Wall Enters the Twitter Age
The Western Wall Twitter service opened just over two weeks ago, coinciding with the three weeks when Jews traditionally mourn the destruction of the two Temples. The three weeks end this Thursday, on the Ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, when Jews fast to mourn the day on which both Temples were destroyed.
Prayers can be posted directly to Alon’s Twitter group at http://twitter.com/theKotel. Alternatively, private prayers can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
9th of AV
"The Jews are the most remarkable people in the history of the world, for when they were confronted with the question, to be or not to be, they chose, with perfectly unearthly deliberation, to be at any price ... They defined themselves counter to all those conditions under which a nation was previously able to live ... Psychologically, the Jews are a people gifted with the very strongest vitality ... The Jews are the very opposite of decadents." [Nietzsche]
For the full article, visit Rabbi Y.Y. Jacobson at his online Yeshiva
29 July 2009
When the Nations of the world are making indecent demands of the sovereign Jews of Eretz Yisrael that they restrict Jewish growth and allow a hostile people to set up camp in the middle of our Land, that could turn against us as they have always said they want to do, I ask: WHY are the Jewish People fighting with one another? Why are some involved in un-kosher activities? Have you forgotten the deception of the “Meraglim”?
The “battle being waged in the name of Shabbos” compares to the battle concerning the “mum on the Korban” (defect on an animal sacrifice that instigated the “Romans”.
Doesn’t this remind you of Kamtza bar Kampza: the scenario from the concluding days of the Second Beis HaMIkdash?
At one point “The ... different fragments of the country [came] together...the Sadducees together with the Zealots. The most assimilated of Jerusalem’s Jews were prepared to work together with the Sages…” to save Jerusalem from being plundered.
But what eventually happened:
“The feuding Zealot parties destroyed these stores [of food] recklessly, in an attempt to force the people into a fatal confrontation … they wanted to fight and to see blood … all the negative influences that led to its fall, the Zealots, the Saducees, and fratricidal warfare between them and their various factions also perished … all that was left were the people and the Torah!” (Meam Loez, Eichah)
In the past issue of HaMishpaha, Yonoson Rosenblum wrote about a discussion he had with a Rabbi Shlomo Pappenheim. A 70 year resident of Meah Shearim. Rabbi Pappenheim founded Bayit Lepletot, a residential educational facility for girls whose families are unable to raise them.
Rabbi Pappenheim’s offered four reasons for opposing the recent demonstrations.
Three were practical, concerning their impact on the future of Torah Judaism in Eretz Yisrael, and on the participants.
The fourth was the impact on the Redemption.
He compared the civil resistance of Rabbi Amram Blau’s time, and the “resultant full-scale rioting of hotheads that occurs in our days. Participation in violence (the tools of Eisav) leaves a spiritual mark on the protestors.”
He went on to say, “never has the time been so ripe for such a spiritual arousal … the spiritual hunger of the Israeli youth … was already foretold by the prophet:
“Behold days are coming … when I will send hunger into the Land; not a hunger for bread or a thirst for water, but to hear the words of Hashem … [people] will travel for sea to sea, and from north to east; they will wander about to seek the word of Hashem, but they will not find it” (Amos 8:11-12)
“If we, who claim to represent Torah, make it appear ugly and violent … we guarantee that those who hunger for the words of Hashem will seek them not among us, but in foreign pastures?"
I found this to be a most important aspect to the infighting occurring in Jerusalem during these three weeks, and especially the nine days. Someone has to bring our people together, to work together for the betterment of all Jews, Jerusalem, Eretz Yisrael, and the world as a whole.
Either the Jews are not at peace with themselves and therefore the world will be in a turmoil; or the world is in a turmoil on account [a heshbon of sorts] of the Jews.
Something Rabbi Pappenheim said was revealing:
“Most residents of Meah Shearim DO NOT share his perspective BECAUSE 200 years ago, Torah Jewry began to feel under assault by the forces of Reform. The communities that preserved themselves were those that followed the Austritt principle and cut themselves off from the larger Jewish community… in time, this separation became a loss to Klal Yisrael.”
What is the Austritt Principle?
In essence, because of the ‘reform’ who were in controlling power at the time, the Torah-true Jews who followed Rabbi Hirsch, who said it was inconceivable that an Orthodox Jew could voluntarily belong to a body purporting to represent the Jewish Kehillah, if that body was directed or controlled by people not loyal to the very foundations of Jewry - the unchanging nature of the Torah and Rambam's Thirteen Principles of Faith. And so the Torah-true Jews withdrew and became very insular. ”Rabbi Hirsch's institutions in Frankfurt were called geselschaft - association - not a synagogue or community, in order not to be declared illegal. He fought a long and difficult battle on the legislative front to gain legal sanction for his Austritt Gemeinde (separate community).
Hasn't sufficient time passed that these 'divisions' could be healed by making an honest and ego-free attempt to come together, not in religion, but in humanity, in understanding, in compassion for the trials and errors of innocents, in respect and for the future of Am Yisrael?
Emblazon Belief in Creator on Money
Bill put forth by Shas MK Nissim Zeev proposes printing money with 'We believe in the Creator' emblazoned on them; 'it will serve as daily reminder to all Jews of our faith,' he says.
"Money and bills are the center of our life, and it is befitting that the money issued by the State of Israel will be a reminder of Jewish faith," explained MK Zeev. "Even those who don't uphold the mitzvoth will be reminded in this way of the foundation of the religion of Israel."
Zeev continued, "This declaration is a confirmation of the connection between Israel, the Torah, and the principles of the Jewish faith. It should be noted in this context that similar declarations are printed on money issued in other countries, including American bills – 'In God we trust.'"
“The goal of the bill is to remind every Jew that he needs to believe in the Creator. From my perspective, we can start with the larger bills of 100 and 200, and slowly work down to the other bills. We need to know that the bigger the bill, the greater the faith in God. Arabs should not have a problem with the wording because they also believe in the Creator."
28 July 2009
Jewish Activist Network Radio -
a place to be on Wednesday nights 12 Midnight - 1 AM 620 AM (NYC, NJ and parts of LI)
Streaming at Talkline Communications
To listen (or download) to their in-depth expository interviews, visit JewishActivistNetwork
International Voice of Justice -
Dr. Martha Smith: Tides of anti-Semitism are again rising throughout Europe and the world, as evidenced in the growing Neo-Nazi movement, Holocaust denial and nationalist political movements seeking to promote racial hatred. It is necessary that the atrocities perpetrated against the Jewish people under Hitler be commemorated and are committed to the consciousness of each new generation. It has been said that a people who forget their history are destined to repeat it.
Dr. Smith, a resident of Europe, reported on the level of anti-Semitism in Europe as it plays out in their media and how this growing and alarming trend is unreported in our media. Listen to her eye-opening Interview
No Deal Yet With Israel on Settlements :
Era when Jews were banned from living in different places has ended
"How dare he (Obama) tell the Jews where they can or can't live? The era when Jews were banned from living in different places has ended," said Rabbi Waldman.
"Obama beware. This insolence will bring about the downfall of the American leadership," he said. "Anyone who dares give an order to prevent Israeli life in Jerusalem or anywhere else in the Land of Israel is destined to fall.." article
ANALYSIS-Iran turmoil takes new twist as hardliners fall out
* Ahmadinejad alienates allies in spat with Khamenei
* Rift with conservatives may complicate cabinet formation
* Iran power struggle hampers decision on nuclear diplomacy
"This is a photo taken at the Israel Day Parade on May 31, 2009. I was standing on 5th Avenue and 58th Street right in front of the Apple store.
"First they deny The Holocaust. Then, when it suits their agenda, they invoke it. Hard to believe that the above title was a featured poster/sign which was given a prominent display by The New York City Police Department--who even guarded the demonstrators during the Israeli Day Parade on Sunday, May 31st, 2009.
"Of course we must permit freedom of speech in America. However, where does such freedom end and "screaming 'fire' in a crowded movie theater" begin?
"Providing these evil protestors with a revered spot on Fifth Avenue and 58th street, where hundreds of thousand of schoolchildren marched by, seems rather outrageous and harmful. Common sense dictates that these radical haters who taunted the parade marchers--young and old, with their heinous message, simply be moved one block west. Or is the purpose of the police force to allow and even encourage incitement?"
To read the rest of this piece, visit Close Guantanamo Bay ... Re-open Auschwitz
*"an ill wind that blows" - A loss or misfortune usually benefits someone (dictionary.com)
We need to open our eyes and take notice of the "ill wind" blowing in our direction; take it to your heart on Tisha B'Av, and make the necessary preparations.