28 February 2013

The Time Has Come ...

I just viewed this on Akiva's Mystical Paths. Perhaps many have already seen this. My reaction was seeing this as a message from Shomayim that we, all Jews in Israel, need to come together, in our own individual paths, to enable Eretz Yisrael to be strong and a greater visionary for the entire non-Jewish world. Some of his perspectives probably leave a lump in the throats of many religious people, but how can one deny that he speaks words of truth and considerable contemplation.





Thank you Akiva for posting this video.

26 February 2013

Best Ever Mishloah Manot


This was the best Mishloah Manot that I received (the goodies underneath):


I know it's not spelled this way, but to me it said B'itah, in it's time!


Getting ready erev PURIM


After the Megilah reading the Moon was so ...















Robin Hood aiming at the moon:


Just a Giant Snail working his way up


Some of the Children in Costume in our Shul



























PURIM supplies hdqtrs
























































Homemade PURIM Goodies















Even the Birdies got Mishloah Manot

23 February 2013

Simchas Purim!

22 February 2013

Ha Ha Hamen Ha Ha Hamentaschen


YUM!

Israeli Purim Hamentaschen

21 February 2013

How Many Million ... Threatened by a Blizzard?


How many million people in America?
(2012 = 312,780,968 )

30 Million in Path of Winter Storm:


(photo from The Inquisitr)

"In all, about 800,000 square miles in 18 states were under some form of watch or warning Wednesday related to a major storm pouring out of California and into the Central Plains and the Midwest"

Weekend Snowstorm to Hit New England ... again.
(accuweather map)

Blizzard coming from the Plains States:


(weather channel map)

The blizzard has resulted in hundreds of delays and cancellations at major airports, while more than a foot of snow has piled up across portions of Kansas. Blizzard in Tucson, Arizona, Springfield-St. Louis, Missouri, Kansas, the Central Plains, California, Little Rock, Arkansas, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Jackson, Mississippi, Shreveport, Louisiana, Tennessee.


MEANWHILE The same 
weather channels are reporting:

Massive Sunspot Rapidly Forming

(The weather is getting more interesting, competing with the same old same old world news!)



"A giant sunspot that's at least six times the diameter of Earth has formed on the sun in less than 48 hours, according to NASA." Take a look at some of the craters left behind Meteor Impacts on Earth: Barringer Crater in Winslow, Arizona; Gosses Bluff, Australia; Kara-Kul Lake, Tajikistan; Mistastin Lake, Canada; Clearwater Lakes, Canada. Great pictures here, just scroll down (almost half way) and they appear under "More on Weather.Com".

20 February 2013

NO SO KOREA Cyber Warfare is Next Great Threat

While Cyber Warfare has been in the news for a while, it is more insidious because it can take down a nation's economic and life saving infrastructure. China has been aggressively attacking America for some time now. once they cripple a nation they can then invade that country and control its government and natural resources, which for China, includes women, for their overwhelmingly male population.

"an unrelenting campaign of cyberstealing linked to the Chinese government"


Maybe Korea will put a stop to this creeping intrusion by going to war with South Korea (China).

By way of example only:








Charts from Daily Mail and CNBC (NSS Military Balance 2010)

18 February 2013

What They Didn't Tell You ... Before Making Aliya

What Nefesh V'Nefesh and the Jewish Agency didn't tell you, BEFORE you made Aliya:

Fact One
Your children will be Israeli. A small detail but important. Not only will they be first-generation sabras, they will laugh at your Hebrew, correct your grammar and wonder why you demand they use such words as “please” and “thank you.”
Fact Two
Within five years, your Hebrew will not get better, but your English will become worse. You will be unable to speak any language correctly before 8.30 a.m. Hint — invest in a good spell checker.
Fact Three
If you are English, South African, Australian or just overweight, you will be considered American by Israelis. I made aliya from England to become an american, or “anglo.”
Fact Four
Forget ulpan; Israelis will speak English to you.
Fact Five
Hebrew doesn’t sound right when spoken with an English accent.
Fact Six
Within five years you will not be able to wait in a line. Elbows will have never-before-thought-of uses.
Fact Seven
You will look at your bank statement to check how much you don’t have in your account. The larger your overdraft the more successful the aliya. The statement “the way to make a small fortune in Israel is to come with a big one” will become less funny as reality sinks in.
Fact Eight
If you make aliya in your twenties you will have endless friends staying with you from abroad, having discovered cheap accommodation in Israel. Within ten years they will have forgotten you. Search in the David Citadel Hotel, you will find them there.
Fact Nine
Cars are taxed at 100%, Cadbury’s chocolate just isn’t the same in Israel and EastEnders is two weeks behind Britain. (Americans just remember the 100%.)
Fact Ten
You will wear sandals for five years, feeling like a combination of a Sabra and Jesus, only to realise that there are more comfortable options.
Fact Eleven
News from other countries will become inane.
Fact Twelve
Within five years you will “tut” instead of saying no, and you will drive in a way you would never believe.
Fact Thirteen
You will shout at a traffic cop. I promise you, you will.
Fact Fourteen
Despite all of the above, your children will be Jewish and will have a sense of pride. You will walk the roads where Jewish prophets and kings once walked. You will celebrate Jewish holidays and walk streets named after mega-Jews — not saints. You will become a part of Jewish history as it unfolds and, as an Israeli, you will be a Jew — not Jewish.

Source: Times of Israel


15 February 2013


Dry Bones Message to 
the Hypocrites of the World:


11 February 2013

MiSheNichnas Adar Marbim B'Simcha

Time to Get Ready! 
  MiSheNichnas Adar
Marbim B'Simcha





Hamantaschen & Cookie Recipes

Flourless Tahini and Honey Cookies
Makes 24 cookies

1 cup of sesame tahini

1/4 cup of clover honey

1 egg

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of poppy seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line with parchment paper or grease a cookie sheet. I cooked these in two batches.
2. Mix sesame tahini, honey, egg. and vanilla extract until smooth. Mix in sugar.
3. Roll walnut size balls of dough. Roll them in sesame seeds and sugar.
4. Press down each cookie with a fork on the cookie sheet.
5. Cook for at most 10 minutes.
These will be very fragile at first. Let them sit for a few minutes, then cool on a wire rack. They will be chewy and soft, almost melting in your mouth ....

Hamantaschen

Dough
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup powdered sugar
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp table salt
2 large egg yolks
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, in small pieces

Poppy Seed Filling
1 cup milk (or substitute)
1/2 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
1 cup poppy seeds
1/3 cup raisins
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tablespoon brandy
1/2 tablespoon orange liqueur
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

Glaze
1 large egg, beaten

Make the dough: Place the lemon zest, powdered sugar, flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter and egg yolks and process until the mixture forms a ball. Scrape onto a sheet of plastic and wrap it tightly. Chill the dough for an hour or overnight.

Prepare the filling: Grind seeds in a coffee grinder. Heat milk, sugar, orange zest, ground poppy seeds and raisins in a small saucepan over medium heat. On a low simmer, cook until the seeds absorb the milk, thickening the mixture, about 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice, brandy, orange liqueur and butter and cook for 2 minutes more. Finally, add the vanilla and stir to combine. Remove from heat to let cool completely. I sped this up in the fridge.

Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick; use a 3 inch round = 30,  or 2-1/2 inch round cutter = 36. Bake 10-15 minutes til golden.
Adapted from SmittenKitchen

10 February 2013

Historical FYI



"Nazi government policy and military rules of engagement permitted German Wehrmacht and SS soldiers to kill and murder millions. During 1941 and '42, mobile SS Einsatzgruppen killing units rounded up Jews and other targeted ethnic groups. Armed with a selection of weapons, including K98 rifles and P38 pistols, they murdered hundreds of thousands in killing grounds throughout Poland and the Ukraine."

"Hence, there's one conclusion to take away. It's that the K98 and P38, with no assault weapon features, were designed in their era only for killing, and yet they're not on [the] list."

"Continuing the historical "who is and isn't armed" perspective, consider the Nazi victims. I have read multiple descriptions of wartime evils unleashed on Jews, and one fact is glaringly repeated: they were unarmed. Consider the April 1943 Warsaw Uprising. Knowing that the Germans were going to deport them, Jews had been working to form the Jewish Fighting Organization (JFO). They smuggled into the ghetto what few guns and little ammunition they could."

"Imagine the shock of Aryan soldiers being killed by "sub-human" Jews. Ultimately, the Germans prevailed, but at a cost they hadn't bargained on.
In German hands, the K98 and P38 were weapons of war. Captured from dead soldiers, the same rifle and pistol in the hands of a JFO member meant prolonging life."

"The Second Amendment is in the Bill of Rights. The same military guns, designed for killing, also allowed good citizens to strike back at their oppressors instead of remaining helpless victims .... the Second Amendment guards against tyrannical government."

AND THIS

"According to the February 1, 2013 Wall Street Journal article entitled "Historic Timbuktu Texts Saved From Burning" by Drew Hinshaw, the al-Qaeda "broke into one of the world's most valuable libraries, ripping centuries-old manuscripts from shelves. Then they torched these priceless artifacts, in a scene of destruction that horrified scholars around the world." Some scholars have compared the texts to the Dead Sea Scrolls."

Timbuktu houses at least 100,000 ancient manuscripts 
that date from the 11th century, 
and account for some of the medieval world's 
most sophisticated scholarship. 
Subjects include medicine, law, 
astronomy and botany.

[photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters]

"Under Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering's control, the "largest confiscations of works of art were stolen from the most renowned Jewish collections" (Feliciano 5). In fact, "Goering's motive was egotistical. He planned for his collection to become a museum ... Hitler's plan was to "create the world's largest museum to glorify the German people." (Nancy H. Yeide. "The Plunder of Art as a War Crime: The Art Looting Investigation Unit Reports and the Hermann Goering Art Collection. Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion. Volume 8.2, Spring 2007, p. 3.)"

"It is clear that one of the manifestations of evil is in the looting and destruction of items of historical and cultural value. Such cultural vandalism marks the difference between civilization and barbarism. It is not surprising that there are so many points of agreement with Islamic jihadists and Naziism."

Finish reading here.



Other Links:
Lost Treasures of Timbuktu at Time
History of Timbuktu at Wikipedia
Are there Jews in Timbuktu? Read Renewal of Jewish Identity in Timbuktu
[There is usually a hidden purpose behind major earth-shaking events, such as to wake up "lost Jews" from their Golus slumber. The 'New Nazis' of this generation are leaving the identical footprints on the world.]

07 February 2013

Chutzpa!

And they want a piece of Our Land ...

06 February 2013

Listen to Rabbi Wein Shlit"a

Rabbi Wein calls this is Aliyah Speech:

05 February 2013

Let's Get Going ...

If Israel does not annex Area C and Continue building in the Area E-1, and the anti-semitic UN and anti-semitic nations in the world strangle Israel by carving out and inserting a terrorist state on Israel’s land, there will more of the following incidents, and chv’s missiles and rockets fired from short short range on all of us. We MUST be united, with common decency and genuine caring for one another.


Three Arabs got in the taxi near the Tel Aviv Center – Arlozorov train station. They began beating him with severe violence. One of them sat in the driver's seat and began driving the car very fast. When they reached the area of Neveh Tzuf, they threw him out of the car and kept on driving.



The Arabs were very close - about 50 meters - to the fence surrounding [Neve Tzuf]. He said he heard the calls for help as he took an afternoon [Shabbat] nap. He then went outside and together with other residents chased the invaders, who fled to a nearby hill where they started shouting and cursing at [Neve Tzuf’s residents].

According to Segal, this incident is just another one in a sequence of harassments on the part of Arabs from surrounding villages.







AFTER I WROTE THE ABOVE, I SAW THE FOLLOWING VIDEO on Baruch'sBreeze, AMAZING:



AND THIS TOO (which I hadn't seen before the election):



All I can say is WOW!
















Bayit Yehudi: Am Yisrael, Torat Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael

After reading some of the articles surrounding the coalition talks, I feel encouraged and hopeful .. but time will tell ... we shall wait and see what this political wrestling and wild dialogue flying through the air ... when these words and accusations come down to earth and settle into the next Government of Israel, what will be? In the meantime:


“The Torah is as Precious to us as it is to Shas”

“Shas has controlled the religious institutions long enough in this country, and we see what they have done with them, alienating many secular Jews from Judaism.”

It was time for Religious Zionists to have a chance to correct those problems, he said. “We are [also] not advocates of 'automatic drafts' or 'automatic conversions,'” .... “We are not here as 'second-best' to Shas, and we are perfectly capable of leading the state's religious institutions without their 'guidance,'” Orbach said.

Rabbi Ben-Dahan said that he was “shocked” at comments by Eli Yishai that implied that Jewish Home was joining forces with Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid to “orphan the Torah world. The Torah is as precious to us as it is to Shas,” Ben-Dahan said. "I Spent More Years Learning Torah Than Shas MK's"


"Sunday Vacation will Promote Shabbat Observance"

Bayit Yehudi to support a proposal to extend the weekend into Sunday, explains that it would encourage Israelis to observe Shabbat.



“There is no doubt that in recent years, the Sabbath has become the national shopping day,” said Rabbi Ben-Dahan. “Many shopping centers have opened and some even state that 50% of their weekly proceeds are made during the Sabbath.”Most cities have bylaws that keep retail shops and malls closed on the Sabbath, but kibbutzim, who are under their own jurisdiction, used that loophole to build large shopping centers on agricultural land which are open and teeming with customers on Shabbat.



Bennett: "I feel obligated to You, Hundreds of Thousands of Israelis"

'.... while the hareidim are "our brothers" and [I] love them, "the present situation, in which tens of thousands of hareidim are not studying [Torah] and are not working and serving, cannot continue .... In New York, hareidim study but also work"

"I do not feel the pressure of these [outside] elements, because I feel obligated to you, hundreds of thousands of Israelis, who elected us so that we would act in accordance with the principles we presented."

When asked by outside elements:  "… Rabbi Melamed thinks that the Bayit Yehudi should be allowed to manage its own political business during the coalition talks, without outside intervention.....The party is composed of wise and clever people, and I trust their judgment" the rabbi said. "There are high yeshivas in the religious Zionist public as well and many Torah students, and obviously, the Bayit Yehudi will protect them and the entire Torah world."


Footnote:

"MK Uri Ariel, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu demand apology for Rabbi Ovadia's "goyim" remark."

From the Edge of Space

Here is an UPDATE to a post from October: 


Skydiver Fell Faster Than First Thought

The Austrian parachutist known as “Fearless Felix” reached 843.6 mph, according to the official numbers released Monday. That’s equivalent to Mach 1.25, or 1.25 times the speed of sound. His top speed initially was estimated last October at 834 mph, or Mach 1.24.

Either way, he became the first human to break the sound barrier with only his body. He wore a pressurized suit and jumped from a capsule hoisted by a giant helium balloon over New Mexico."



Source: YeshivaWorld

04 February 2013

Ed Koch a"h

Wonderful News



Kinneret Hits Halfway Point

Kinneret Rises 78 Centimeters in One Week

Storms Brought 200% of Seasonal Rainfall


Now, isn't that Great!
.
.
.

03 February 2013

Grand Central at 100 .. 1913 to 2013

Grand Central Station Celebrates its 100th Birthday

What a transition in the life of New Yorkers

Visit the Grand Central 100 Years (scroll down to see photos).



A lineup of magnificent pictures of this beautiful building can be seen at the Daily Telegraph and at Time, especially the 38 striking photos at The Atlantic.

Here's a neat video



and another









News Update


Here's a little something about that research centre on the outskirts of Damascus that Russia says Israel attacked.

The site allegedly attacked by Israel in Syria manufactured chemical and biological weapons, according to a report in Iraqi newspaper Azzaman that appears in London. INNews.

Iran warns the US  [& London, Egypt and Saudi Arabia] .

Gala Banquet ... International Conference of Shluchos in Crown Heights Brought an Overflowing of Simcha this Shabbos


Join over 2,900 Chabad-Lubavitch women emissaries and their guests as they celebrate at the annual banquet, the culmination of a five-day 2013 International Conference of Women Emissaries ... Annual Banquet.

Live Broadcast on Jewish tv, 
Sunday night at 1:00 am 
Israeli time (GMT 2)


Visit Jewish.TV for more Jewish videos.

Earlier in the week they visited the Ohel of The Rebbe and the Rebbe's family.




This past Shabbos was the yahrtzeit, 22 Shvat, of the Rebbetzen, Chaya Mushka Scheerson obm. Pictures of The Rebbe and a story about the Rebbetzen. Also, A Loving Tribute: Our Mother, The Queen .


An Amazing Gathering of Shluchos

Photos from ColLive and Conference link from Chabad.org and Shturem.org, which has launched Shturem Radio which plays Lubavitcher Niggunim 24/6.

Visit Shturem for more about the Rebbe and the Rebbetzen, and about rare Lubavitch Judaica at a Kestenbaum and Co. auction recently held.


With so many visiting Shluchos and their families, Crown Heights B"H was welcoming and full of simcha and joy (like in the 'old days') this Shabbos (Yisro) as one can see in these photos "Around Crown Heights" at crownheights.info:





Kol HaKavod to all the Chabad Lubavitch Shluchos, who do such B"H amazing things for The Rebbe and for Hashem in bringing Klal Yisrael closer to their Father in Shamayim.



















01 February 2013

Rabbi Jacobson created theYeshiva . net to provide Chassidic shiurim al pi the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman. Please visit his online Beis Medrash for a wealth of knowledge, Chabad style.

Assad, Ahmadinejad and Hitler
The Two Great Evils of History
By: Rabbi YY Jacobson

Two Versions

The rabbis in the midrash proposed a novel answer. The Ten Commandments, they suggested, were engraved on two tablets, five on each stone, so that they would be read in two directions -- from top to bottom, and from side to side (2).

The simplest way of reading the Ten Commandments is, of course, from top to bottom:

On the first stone:

1) I am the Lord your G-d who has taken you out of Egypt...
2) You shall have no other gods...
3) You shall not swear in G-d's name in vain...
4) Remember the Sabbath...
5) Honor your father and your mother...

And the five commandments engraved on the second tablet:

6) You shall not murder.
7) You shall not commit adultery.
8) You shall not steal.
9) You shall not bear false witness against your fellow.
10) You shall not covet your fellow’s house; you shall not covet your fellow’s wife … nor anything that belongs to your fellow.

This was the way of reading the Ten Commandments vertically. Yet due to the fact that the first five commandments were engraved on one stone and the second five on a separate stone, there was another way of reading the commandments -- horizontally instead of vertically, from commandment No. 1 directly to No. 6; from No. 2 to No. 7; 3 -- 8; 4 -- 9; 5 -- 10.

This version of the Ten Commandments would then read like this:

1) I am the Lord your G-d/You shall not murder. 2) You shall have no other gods/You shall not commit adultery; and so forth with the rest of the commandments.

Yet this explanation begs the question: Why is it necessary to read the Ten Commandments horizontally? What insight can we gain from this alternative reading of the commandments?

In this essay we will discuss the juxtaposition of the first and sixth commandments: "I am the Lord your G-d/You shall not murder." The significance of this “horizontal” reading from a historical, political and religious standpoint cannot be overstated. It embodies one of the most stunning aspects of Judaism. What is at stake in this juxtaposition is nothing less than the future of human civilization.

Two Historical Attempts

Two groups have made an attempt to divorce commandment no. 1 from commandment no. 6 -- to sever the idea of a Creator, who conceived the world for a moral purpose, from the imperative to honor the life of another human being. The first group was comprised of the philosophers of the Enlightenment during the 18th and 19th centuries, the second of religious leaders in many and diverse ages. The result for both was moral defeat.

The thinkers of the Enlightenment ushered in the Age of Reason and the modern secular era, founded on the belief that the great ideal of “You shall not murder” did not require the prerequisite of “I am the Lord Your G-d” in order to be sustained. Religion was not necessary to ensure moral behavior; reason alone, without G-d, would guide humanity into an age of liberty and to the achievement of moral greatness. The sixth commandment could operate successfully independent of the first.

While religion embodied the vision of man standing in a continuous relationship with G-d, the essence of the Enlightenment represented the vision of man without G-d. It was a vision already introduced during the first days of creation near the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, by the most sophisticated animal of the time, the serpent. “You shall be like G-d," it promised Eve (3). Man could, and ought to, replace G-d. Left to his own vices, the thinking went, the human being will achieve greatness.

But the Holocaust spelled the end of this grand faith in the promise of human progress based on human reason. In Auschwitz, the belief that modern man felt a natural empathy for others was ruined forever.

The gas chambers were not invented by a primitive, barbaric and illiterate people. To the contrary, this people excelled in sciences and the arts, but nevertheless sent 1.5 million children, and 4.5 million adults, to their deaths solely because they had Jewish blood flowing in their veins. SS guards would spend a day in Auschwitz, gassing as many as 12,000 human beings, and then return home in the evening to pet their dogs and laugh with their wives. As the smoke of children ascended from the crematoriums, these charming romantics would enjoy good wine, beautiful women and the moving music of Bach, Mozart and Wagner. They murdered millions of innocents in the name of a developed ethic, and they justified genocide on purely rational grounds.

In "Schindler’s List," there is a scene during the liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto where a little girl hiding in a piano is shot dead by an SS guard. As her little angelic body lay in a river of blood, another guard sits down to play the piano.

First SS guard: Was ist das? Ist das Bach?

Second SS guard: Nein. Mozart.

First SS guard: Mozart?

Second SS guard: Ja. And they both marvel at the exquisite music.

This was Nazi Germany at its best.

Elie Wiesel who gripped the world’s imagination with his book "Night," a personal testimony of life and death in Auschwitz, once asked the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who himself lost many members of his family in the Holocaust, how he could believe in G-d after Auschwitz. If G-d existed, Wiesel asked, posing the single greatest challenge to faith, how could He ignore 6 million of His children de-humanized and murdered in the cruelest of fashions?

The Rebbe replied, “In whom do you expect me to believe after Auschwitz? In man?”

This must remain one of the lasting legacies of Auschwitz. If there is any faith at all left after the extermination of 6 million people, it must glean its vitality from something transcending the human rationale and its properties. If morality is left to be determined exclusively by the human mind, it can become a morality that justifies the guillotine, the gulag and the gas chamber. As Dostoevsky famously put it in "The Brothers Karamazov," “Where there is no G-d, all is permitted.”

The atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote: “I cannot see how to refute the arguments for the subjectivity of ethical values [resulting from atheism], but I find myself incapable of believing that all that is wrong with wanton cruelty is that I don’t like it.” Russell’s point is critical. Without G-d, we cannot objectively define any behavior as good or evil. As difficult as it is to entertain, no one can objectively claim that gassing a mother and her children is any more evil than killing a mouse. It is all a matter of taste and opinion. The validity and effectiveness of “You shall not murder” can be sustained only if it is predicated on the foundation of faith in a universal moral creator who gave humanity an absolute and unwavering definition of what constitutes good vs. evil.

Professor Abraham Joshua Heschel, who escaped Warsaw a few weeks before it was invaded and lost most of his family in the Nazi Holocaust, captured this sentiment succinctly: “If man is not more than human, then he is less then human.” Either we climb to a place beyond ourselves, or we are likely to fall to a place below ourselves. When the vision of the sacred dies in the soul of a person, he or she is capable of becoming a servant of the devil.

Religious Evil

But this is far from the whole picture.

While the Enlightenment abandoned commandment no. 1 in favor of no. 6, various religions over the ages abandoned no. 6 in favor of no. 1. Theirs has been the atrocious belief that as long as you believe in the Lord, or in Allah, you can kill and maim whomever you brand an "infidel." Whether it is a business executive in New York, or a teen-ager eating a slice of pizza in Jerusalem, or a child on the first day of school in Beslan, or a commuter in Madrid, or a tourist in Bali, or a Chabad couple in Mumbai, if the person is not a member of your faith, G-d wants him or her to die. For the religious fundamentalist, "I am the Lord your G-d" has nothing to do with "You shall not murder."

This is the greatest perversion of faith. Faith that does not inculcate its followers with the sanctity of every single human life desecrates and erodes the very purpose of faith, which is to elevate the human person to a state beyond personal instinct and prejudice. If you delete “You shall not murder” from religion, you have detached yourself from “I am the Lord your G-d.” To believe in G-d means to honor the life of every person created in the image of G-d. What the juxtaposition of the two commandments is telling us is that you can’t believe in G-d and murder (3*).

Conversely, if you truly believe that taking the life of another human is wrong -- not just because you lack the means or motive to do so or are afraid of ending up in jail, but because you recognize the transcendent, inviolable value of life -- that's just another way of saying you believe in G-d. For what confers upon human life its radical grace, its transcendent sanctity and its absolute value if not the living presence of G-d imprinted on the face of the human person?
More than 3,300 years ago, Judaism, in the most ennobling attempt to create a society based on justice and peace, established its principle code in the sequence of the two commandments – “I am the Lord your G-d/You shall not murder.” A society without G-d can become monstrous; a society that abandons the eternal and absolute commandment “You shall not murder” is equally evil. Both are capable of burning children alive during the day and then retiring to sleep with a clear conscience.

The Mountain

The Talmud captures this notion in a rather strange, but intriguing, fashion (4).

The Talmud cites a tradition that when Israel approached Sinai, G-d lifted up the mountain, held it over the people's heads and declared: “Either you accept the Torah, or be crushed beneath the mountain.” (The Talmud bases this tradition on the verse in Exodus, “And they stood beneath the mountain (5).”)

This seems ludicrous. What worth is there to a relationship and a covenant accepted through coercion (6)?

The answer is profoundly simple. What G-d was telling the Jewish people is that the creation of societies that honor life and shun cruelty is dependent on education and on the value system inculcated within children of the society. The system of Torah, G-d was suggesting, was the guarantor for life and liberty. If you reject the morality of Torah, if you will lack the courage and conviction to teach the world that “I am the Lord your G-d” and that I have stated unequivocally “You shall not murder,” the result will be humanity crushed under a mountain of tyrants.

Sixty-five years since Auschwitz and after one decade of incessant Islamic terrorism, the mountain is hanging over our heads once again. Shall we embrace the path of divine-based morality? Shall we never forget that religion must always be defined by “You shall not murder (7)?”


________

1) Exodus chapter 20.
2) Mechilta to Exodus ibid.
3) Genesis 3:5.
3*) The Midrash (Mechiultah ibid.) in discussing the connection between the first and sixth commandments presents the following parable to explain the evil behind murder: “There was a king who entered a country and put up portraits of himself, and made statues of himself, and minted coins with his image. After a while, the people of the country overturned his portraits, broke his statues and invalidated his coins, thereby reducing the image of the king. “So, too, one who sheds blood reduces the image of the King, as it is written (Genesis 9:6): "One who spills a man's blood... for in the image of G-d He made man."
4) Talmud, Shabbas 88a.
5) Exodus 19:17.
6) This question is raised among many of the Talmudic commentators. Many answers have been offered. See Tosfos, Eitz Yosef, Pnei Yehoshua, Shabbos Shel Mi and BenYehoyada to Talmud Shabbos ibid. Midrash Tanchumah Noach section 3. Daas Zekeinim Mibbalei Hatosafos on Exodus 19:17. Maharal Tiferes Yisroel ch. 32, Gur Aryeh on Exodus ibid. and Or Chodash p. 45. Sources noted in Pardas Yosef to Exodus ibid. Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Pulnah in Ben Poras Yosef Parshas Vayeishev. Torah Or Megilas Esther p. 96c; 118c.
7) This essay is based on a Yiddish letter by the Lubavitcher Rebbe written to Dr. Elie Wiesel in 1965 (published in Likkutei Sichos vol. 33 pp.255-260) and on a 1962 public address by the Rebbe (published in Likkutei Sichos vol. 3 pp. 887-895), and on other sources.