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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Complete the Disengagement

Okay, so I have a rant coming soon, but my big brother just emailed me this and if my brother sends me something, I know its got to be good, but I am at work, so I couldn't read the article, so instead I asked him to give me a summary, because I do work at work... so here is what he said (but I do suggest your read the full text for yourself)

"Knock the BLEEP out of the Arabs: close their water, electricity, etc. bomb their wealthy areas, have the EU and the UN take over Gaza and its their problem. Do not allow any Arabs into Israel from Gaza NO helping them.
Period! They bomb us we do it back and harder until they realize that you
don't start with us!"

So when I read this, I was so curious who in the world was so brave to come out so strong against the Arabs and not to mention, gasp the EU and UN??? Bet you can't guess, well its Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Of course now the big challenge is to see what happens next... But at least this is a start, and maybe somethings are being moved around in the government and something good might be brewing on the horizon, so keep strong, breath, pray, believe, have faith, the good will win, and I am positive that we are good :-)

have a good one, ttfn, dftss

~ Shulamit

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Pictures from Mea Shearim

On a short walk through Mea Shearim yesterday I had my camera out - come take a look:

Inside a Jewish bookstore, a whole section just on Shmittah, the Sabbatical year for the Land of Israel

Kid's books talk about the wondrousness of the Land of Israel and the G-dly commandments which have to do solely with Land...

This page compares the Shabbat of the week to the Shabbat of the Land of Israel

In the bookstore: tons of English book for the tons of English-speakers that loaf around

A majestic palm adorns a building in Mea Shearim

...but you can't convince everyone and at least we have a vibrant democracy...

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Kahane Moment - 1977

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hayeenu KeCholmim - "We Were As Dreamers"

So Yossi Benayoun, a 27-year-old star from Dimona is following the Israeli dream - to be a success in Chutz La'aretz. What a role model for our youth. Any poor kid from Dimona will always know - one day, if your lucky, you can grow up and leave Israel - and maybe you'll get to play for West HAM!

From YNET:

Yossi Benayoun, West Ham United's midfielder, is now the highest-paid Israeli sportsman ever. Forever known as "the kid from Dimona", Benayoun, 27, has certainly grown up. He now has a five-year contract grossing him about $4.5 million a year.

"If someone would have told me, back when I was playing in Israel, that this is the way my career would be going, I would have believed them immediately...I've had a lot of dreams come true. This is one of them," said Benayoun Saturday.

In 2002 Benayoun joined Spain's Racing Santander, but he never forgot his childhood dream - to play in the English Premier League. Two years ago his dream came true, when he joined West Ham United. "I've always had people doubt me," he said, "but I only have one person to prove myself to - me," he said Saturday. "I believe I can make it even further. My dreams are far from over."

Imagine if Benayoun would have come out with a different statement:

"I appreciate the British offer, but I'm a proud Israeli, and after 2000 years of exile, I have the privilege and the responsibility to play in Israel, to put Israeli soccer on the map, and to give hope to the Israeli youth! AM YISRAEL CHAI!!!"

Alas, Binayoun has a different dream.
Hayeenu KeCholmim...

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Summer Thunder Showers... in Jerusalem

The unusual rainy spring weather continues... I didn't have an umbrella but I did have my camera!

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A Closer Look: Immigrants to Israel

This movie was made by 16-year-old Noah Ickowitz

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A Picture is Not Always Worth 1,000 Words...

Take a moment to answer the following question:

When you picture Jerusalem, what is the first thing that comes to mind?


My guess is that whatever image popped into your mind, it wasn't the Tower of David.

All around Jerusalem, one finds the logo shown in the picture above (courtesy of Jonny Stein), commemorating 40 years since the reunification of Jerusalem, during the Six Day War in 1967.

Now, If someone asked me to suggest possible themes for a logo to commemorate 40 years since the liberation of Jerusalem, the Tower of David wouldn't appear anywhere on my list.

The Tower of David was a fortress built be Herod, and later used by the Romans, Crusaders, Muslims... and the list goes on and on - but as far as symbolizing the reunification of Jerusalem under Jewish sovereignty after 2,000 years of Exile?

Not quite.

My suggestions:

* The Temple (Beit HaMikdash) - Nothing says Jerusalem quite like the Temple.

* The Kotel - If the Beit HaMikdash is too controversial, this could work (although, nothing says Exile quite like the Kotel - but that's for another post.)

* The Hurva Synagouge - particularly, the single remaining arch - Symbolizing the return of the Jewish People to their ancient holy sites...

My sense is that the Tower of David was selected precisely because, unlike any of the above suggestions, it's not overly Jewish - serving as a symbol that the Jews, Muslims and Christians of Jerusalem can all, equally, dislike.

What a wasted opportunity.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Kumah's Awards Showcase

This year (2007) Kumah picked up four JIB Awards including 1 gold medal, 2 silvers and an important bronze. We also won other awards in past years so we decided to organize all our awards in one nice clean post... let's call it our awards showcase.

We'd also like to express our gratitude to all the people that volunteered their time and put such a great effort into making these awards competitions such a success. And of course we'd like the thank our loyal readers whose voted for us! Thank you!

And a final note, during the voting we here at Kumah enjoyed learning about so many new blogs that we never heard about before. Many expressed strong neozionist ideas. So we plan on updating our blogroll accordingly. Be sure to keep an eye on it.

*** 2007 Awards ***

Kumah took the GOLD in Best Live Event Coverage for our We Return To Homesh report! Our very first Gold! Yay!

Kumah won a Silver for Best Jewish Religious Post for a post about the Shabbat Candle Ladies of Yerushalayim.

Kumah won a Silver for Best Humor Post! This was for a reader submitted post about Becoming a Real Israeli.

Perhaps one of the most important awards to us, Kumah once again (see 2006) took the Bronze for Best Group Blog!

*** 2006 Awards ***

Kumah won the Bronze Medal for Best Group Blog!

*** 2005 Awards ***

Kumah advances to the finals in five categories, Best Group Blog, Best Jewish Religion Blog, Best Life in Israel Blog, Best Overall Blog, and Best Post but comes up short among fierce competition.

*** 2004 Awards ***

Kumah won the Silver in Best Post By A Jewish Blogger for a post featuring photos from a Nefesh B'Nefesh Aliyah flight called Young and Old KEEP MAKING ALIYAH!

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Why should anyone care about Sderot?

With no end in sight to the 6 year long rocket assault on Sderot, Ari Shavit of Ha'aretz elaborates upon why those in Israel should give a damn:
It should not have been like this. Sderot is not Gush Katif. There is no debate. On the contrary: Sderot is a "Green Line" city. Sderot is a post-withdrawal city. Sderot is the righteous Israeli city after the occupation. Sderot is the future
Which leads us to Shavit's main point. Why should Israelis care about Sderot?
The attack on Sderot is a strategic attack on peace. It is an attack on the two-state solution. If the attack succeeds, there will be no chance of any future withdrawal. If the attack succeeds, the occupation will be perpetuated.
In Shavit's world,, one should care about Sderot, not because of the responsibility one Jew has for another - or even that of one human being for another, nor is he driven by the pursuit of justice. The sole reason one should care about Sderot is because if Sderot falls, so does the "peace process".

While Shavit makes the distinction between Sderot and Gush Katif clear, he fails to grasp a major distinction existing between Israel and the Arab world, which serves as the root cause for the tragedy that is Sderot.

If one looks at the "Palestinian Authority" map above, there is no green line. No distinction is made between Gush Katif and Sderot. No distinctions are needed for the simple reason that the entire Land of Israel (Palestine) belongs to them - to Islam.

If one looks at the nobility of Israeli society, what does one find? As Shavit puts it:
Sderot should have been the apple of the eye of all those preaching withdrawal in the past, and of everyone who still believes in withdrawal. Sderot should have been the city of peace writers and peace singers and peace industrialists. A "peace now" city. A city of Israeli solidarity. A city of mutual responsibility. A city where strong Israelis stand together with Israelis who are less strong in the face of Islamic zealotry.
Yet, what one finds amongst the vast majority of Israels elite is a group who questions the very right of the Jewish People to a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. After all, can it be said that Gush Katif is really anymore "occupied territory" than Sderot? Certainly there's no difference in the eyes of the Arabs. Which is why, if, as Shavit puts it, Sderot is Israel's future, then it's clear that Israel's nobility has already abandoned ship.

When Ariel Sharon said that the fate of Netzarim is that of Tel Aviv (April, 2002), he was not mistaken. Until the Jewish People recognize their absolute right to the Land of Israel and show that they are willing and able to enforce that right, there will be no peace. Not in Gush Katif. Not in Sderot. Not in Jerusalem and not in Tel Aviv.

The time has come for us - those who still believe in this fundamental and historic truth - to assume the leadership and responsibility of this country and to do so before Sderot falls.

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Outsourcing The Next Shoah

From Dan.
Yishai, Shalom - today's rant:

Why is Europe, primarily Germany, subsidizing trade with Iran (Moolah for the Mullahs)? How is subsidized trade to the benefit of the European taxpayer; it would seem to be a losing proposition. (see excerpts from an article below).

The Iranian regime is an economic basket-case with 30% inflation because the Mullahs mismanaged the oil industry and embezzled the wealth of the country. The regime would most likely collapse if not for the kind support of the German gov't. The German gov't also supports other "friendly" regimes such as those in Syria and Lebanon.

Why isn't there a Jewish/Israeli boycott of German goods. Why are we buying gadgets from these people? Why aren't there demonstrations in front of German embassies in Tel-Aviv and Washington.

Germany is conducting a second Shoah by proxy with Iran. They're outsourcing the Shoah to Iran. Why are we silent?

Kol Tuv,

Excerpts from the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal follow:

"The European Union--led by Germany, France and Italy--has long been Iran's largest trading partner ... Even more notable: Its trade with Tehran has expanded since Iran's secret nuclear program was exposed ..."

"But the real story here is that these businesses are subsidized by European taxpayers. ... has boosted Iran's economy and--indirectly by filling government coffers with revenues--its nuclear program.

"Federal Government export credit guarantees played a crucial role for German exports to Iran ... Iran tops Germany's list of countries with the largest outstanding export guarantees, totaling €5.5 billion. "

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Another Kassam Murder In Sderot

Today's victim was Oshri Oz, 36, of Hod HaSharon, an employee of the Sderot-based "Peretz Bonei HaNegev" construction company. Survived by his pregnant wife and 3-year-old daughter, Oshri was Israel's tenth fatal casualty of a Kassam rocket in the past three years - and the second in the past week.

Do you know what's sick?
What's sick is that we barely care, and will barely remember his name.

My wife lit a candle to honor his memory... Do whatever you can...

Here is a stupid idea that I came up with. Learn the following list of animal's names in Hebrew (if you do not already know them). When you use one of these Hebrew words in the future, remember that you learned that word the day when Oshri Oz was murdered in Sderot. Maybe in this small way he will be remembered, and his death won't be completely meaningless...

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Yom Yerushalayim Photo Essay

A week and a half ago was the 40th anniversary of the re-unification of Jerusalem. There were all sorts of events in Jerusalem on and around the 28th of Iyar to celebrate. I participated in a few of them - I was at the Kotel at night for a festive prayer service and dancing; went to Hebrew University's Student Night concert; joined some other Kumah bloggers, recent Olim, and yeshivah students at a festive Shacharit as Rav Kook's House, featuring Shlomo Katz leading a musical Hallel; marched for part of the RikuDegalim (flag dancing parade) from Kikar Tziyon through Sha'ar Shechem and part of the way to the Kotel. I'm saving a few pictures of some reclaimed Jewish apartments in the Arab Quarter for a later post, but here are 28 (not intentionally, but coincidentally in honor of the 28th of Iyar which is Yom Yerushalayim) pictures from these festivities.

At the Kotel the night of Yom Yerushalayim - the soldiers are volunteers from South Africa (if I remember correctly)

The Old City and parts of the new city lit up for the 40th Anniversary

This banner means "Jerusalem [with 3 letters in the middle, which by themselves mean 'mine', italicized], something special for everyone":

Hebrew University's Student Night (part of their 2 day Student Day) Concert, featuring Shalom Hanoch and Aviv Gefen, among others

Shlomo Katz leads a musical Hallel at Rav Kook's House with his guitar and yeshivah students sing and dance

RikuDegalim - flag dancing parade

It rained quite a bit (odd weather for the season) and it left a big reflecting puddle at the end of Yafo Street

Entering through the Damascus Gate - Sha'ar Shechem

Dancing through the Arab Quarter of the Old City

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Audio Corner: Do You Know What You're Missing?

Do you know how incredible it is to be in Jerusalem for the Festival of Shavuot? Do you know that you can give Nachas to G-d if you make Aliyah? Do you have the Bitachon, trust in G-d, that you need to eek out a living in Israel? Check out the latest Aliyah Revolution Show with Yishai and Malkah



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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Europe Synagogue Set Ablaze

Eventually, Hashem will widen our borders and grant us rest from all our enemies who surround us like bees and sting us mercilessly (may HaShem take vengeance on them on our behalf). When this happends, all of us will join together and become involved in the building effort (with G-d's help). For Nachum's prophecy - The gates of your Land have been opened wide (3:13) - has been fulfilled through us (thank G-d). We will disregard our newfound freedom here in exile and make sure not to use it to remain here as before (G-d forbid). For if we remain here, the nations will oppress us once again, as the prophet says: who rejoice over nothingness, who say "Indeed, with our strength we have taken horns for ourselves." For behold. I will raise up a nation against you, O House of Israel, says the Lord..., and they will oppress you (Amos 6:13-14). Thus, the nations oppressed us only because we rejoiced over our lot here in exile. We felt that we were strong, [as if] we had horns with which to gore eastward, northward, southward, and westward. But HaShem showed us that we rejoiced over nothing and that our greatness here was like a fleeting dream.

Therefore, let us learn from the past and use our newfound freedom to establish great movements to encourage all segments of our nation to ascend to Zion with happy song and eternal joy. Then HaShem will fulfill His promise to us: The Lord will be zealous for His Land and have pity on His people (Yoal 2:18). Amen, so may it be G-d's will.

- Harav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal,

Arson Suspected in Synagogue Blaze
The Associated Press

GENEVA - Fire heavily damaged a synagogue Thursday, and police said they suspect arson.

The blaze struck on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which celebrates Moses' receiving of the Torah from God.

Police did not give a motive, but there have been incidents of anti-Semitism in Geneva recently, including graffiti scrawled on another Jewish house of worship.

The blaze broke out at 5 a.m. in the Hekhal Haness Synagogue in Geneva's Malagnou neighborhood. About 40 firefighters responded and had the fire under control an hour later, police spokesman Philippe Cosandey said. No one was hurt.

Cosandey said investigators suspect arson because there appeared to be several sources for the flames.

"It's not clear whether the fire originated inside or outside the building," he said.

The main entrance was completely burnt out, with windows blown out and walls blackened by smoke. Police were removing wood and rubble from the entrance. A heavy smell of smoke hung in the air.

Still, a group of worshippers prayed in an inner courtyard to celebrate the holiday. They used the Torah scroll, which apparently survived the fire.

The first-floor library was destroyed, said Jose de Matos who works as a keeper at the synagogue. The main prayer room was not damaged, according to an Associated Press reporter who was given access to the building.

(Photo:AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini)

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A Better Israel?

Do you remember my now infamous blogpost with the pig picture? My main claim was that American Jewry has created a better Israel abroad with everything one needs to be Jewish, happy, and secure in the USA. Not only American comfort, but full-blown Judaism as well. AND NOW... Now you can have real Israeli products in America and you wont be missing a thing! Have your cake and eat it too, dance in two wedding, live in the US but eat the produce of the Land, and support Israel as well! Being an American Jew has never been better! Being an Israeli Jew on the other hand is Pikuach Nefesh, and only a measly Mitzva Kiyumis. NOT.

By the way, here is letter I recieved from someone who gets it:


Shalom Yishai,

I cannot believe I'm writing to you and I'm sure you're much to busy to read this, much less respond. But here goes.

I want to make aliyah. I know that my place is in Israel. In fact, I think the place of every Jew is in Israel, unless you are a shaliach helping others to make aliyah. We as Jews have no right to forsake what Hashem has given us and I worry that by staying in the diasporah, it is akin to spitting on His blessing. And I wonder how long Hashem will put up with it before He decides to wash His hands off for a time.

So anyway...I have no doubt that I should be there. Here's the thing...I have no family in Israel, no friends. I am married with three children--13, 11, 8. None of us speak Hebrew nor do we have college educations nor skills. My husband has only ever worked in restaurants and I have only done data entry work. We don't know the first thing about where to live or how to get jobs. We don't have the money to make a pilot trip. So when we go, it will be for good.

So, what do you think, Yishai? Should I just give up this dream and stay here in my comfortable apartment in America...going to Israel Independence Day festivals like a total hypocrite. Or do you think we'd have a chance at making it in Israel? I have no illusions of a luxurious life. I know it will be hard and difficult and lonely and I'm ready for that. But I mean in terms of basic survival --- eating, a place to live, schools.

Do you have any advice for us? Any ideas about where in Israel would be a good match for us? Anything we should do or look into (I am already looking into Nefesh b'Nefesh). Ideally, I would like to be there by next summer. But just don't know if we are cut out for it or even have anything to offer Israel beyond simply being five more Jewish souls in the land.

But yeah, anything you can help with would be great!

Thanks so much, Batya

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A Case of Bad Gas

The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel is considering signing a 15-20 year contract to purchase gas from a British energy company that would earn the "Palestinians" $1 billion. The gas would be supplied from the Gaza marine field, off Gaza's coast, which the "Palestinian Authority" has control over (as a e result of the "peace process"), thus earning them one quarter of the estimated $ billion deal.
Last month the cabinet approved continued negotiations with BG over purchase of the gas, a decision that necessitated a previous ban on buying natural gas from the PA. The change of heart, government officials said, was simply the product of economics, since buying the gas from Egypt, another option, would cost twice as much.
Now, there are many problematic aspects to this potential deal, but here are two of them:

1) Would anyone care to guess what the Hamas led PA will buy with $1 billion? In short, this would not be the first time that the State of Israel would be funding our enemies efforts to destroy the Jewish State (See: The Oslo Accords / "Peace Process".)

The fact that there isn't a law forbidding such actions speaks volumes.

2) Equally troubling is why the State of Israel, which possesses very few natural resources, would give away a gas field off it's coast worth billions of dollars?

Once again, this is not the first time Israel has made such a mistake.

Post Six Day War, after Israel had liberated the Sinai peninsula, it was discovered that there were was enough oil reserves in the Sinai to cover 100% of Israel's energy needs for a long time to come. As part of the "peace process" with Egypt, Israel gave away the Sinai and all her oil fields, leaving Israel with no peace and no oil.

Those on the left often speak of how much the "settlements" have cost Israel. Well, I think the time has come to begin asking how much "peace" has cost Israel, both in dollars, and in lives.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Calls to Re-settle Gush Katif

Getting ready for the Chag, but I thought this was a good way to start Shavot :-)
Read it here and have an amazing Chag... with faith and the desire, we shall overcome... its what we do!!!!

~Smile, and DFTSS ~ Shulamit

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Pre-Shavuos Photos

Visited the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens today. Here are some photos...

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Ezra, Tamar Yonah, and I had the opportunity to head down to Sderot to do a live broadcast with some amazing people including Rabbi David and Mechi Fendel, Noam Bedein, Shlomo Wollins, and others.

Here is a photo album of our time there.

Here are the links to our two hours of amazing broadcast:

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Fire on the Mountain

Music for Shavuot HERE (Track 5), HERE, HERE & HERE

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Confessions of a Shavuot Hater - by Benyamin

The following is an essay called "Confessions of a Shavuot Hater" by Benyamin, the same mysterious semi-anonymous contributor who won Kumah a silver metal for Best Humor Post for his "Becoming a Real Israeli" confessional.

Thoughts on Shavuot
by Baruch Ben-Galut

My earliest memories of Shavuot are of my Consecration ceremony. Although I was very young, I was nevertheless aware that Consecration was not cool. No matter how satisfying or memorable your synagogue experience was, you can probably find something disturbing. My large suburban conservative American synagogue had many. Although I appreciate the religious basis I received, there was a healthy dose of synagogue experiences that turned me off to being Jewish as well. One of these was Consecration.

Somehow I knew even back then that this was some kind of a set-up. Some kind of trick to get me to go to Sunday School or Hebrew School or both every week so I could get a quality Jewish education. Not too Jewish, because, heaven forbid, I could end up making aliyah and then I would not grow up to be a dues-paying synagogue member with a doctorate and 2.5 kids.

Consecration involved the graduating class of 1st grade Sunday School marching around the synagogue with little miniature Torah's. The thought alone of standing in front of that many people was traumatic. On top of this terror, I was convinced there was something worse.

The word Consecration did not sit well with me. It sounded way too much like the word circumcision and I was still trying to figure out what that one meant and if it made me any less of a man then my classmates in public school. Further more, the word Consecration sounded suspiciously Christian to me. It definitely didn't sound Hebrew. And I wasn't going to be tricked into being Christian. I heard some of the students in public school talking about some kind of consecration at their church. I didn't know much about being Jewish, but I knew that we Jewish folks didn't go to church and that we had some kind of unspoken obligation to think of church with aversion.

My Jewish consciousness was strong at a young age. That is until I ruined it by abandoning my people by moving to a strange Middle Eastern country on the shores of the Mediterranean where they barely had any conservative or reform synagogues let alone a Sunday School.

Being Jewish to me meant being a Grinch. I was compelled to flip the TV channel whenever a Christmas movie came on. We received presents on Hanukah, not that other holiday. That's what made me special. But the word 'special' doesn't always have positive connotations.

This brings us up to the holiday of Shavuot, the most forgotten holiday of them all and yet perhaps one of the most important. I get presents on Hanukah. I eat apples and honey on Rusha Shonah. On Passover my whole family comes over and I get to eat a big meal. On Yom Kipper, I don't eat anything, that is, if I�m hardcore enough and punk rock enough to go through with fasting an entire day.

Every holiday seems to have something. Shavuot has nothing. Nothing that is, except Consecration. I eventually went through with the ceremony but it was but a precursor to my Bar Mitzvah. I failed in finding a good way out of that as well. I also failed in my elaborately planned protest against the degradation of Hebrew School Graduation. But I tricked them all by moving to Israel and thus sparing my children from the same experiences.

Shavuot. The day we received the Torah. One of the three pilgrimage festivals. This is a big one. Surely there should be some kind of ritual to celebrate it. But there isn't. Maybe that's the point. The concepts expressed on Shavuot should be taken on their own merit without any extras.

Eventually I discovered that there more to being Jewish then the fact that I get presents on a different day then the people on TV do. I also found that my Jewishness does not end at my bar mitzvah in a 13 year old mentality. That doesn't mean that my thoughts at age 13 are not legitimate. They are. But I'm not 13 any more and my Jewishness has to grow along with me. Because you can't be proud of who you are if you're walking around apologizing for what you are.

My synagogue experience didn't make me feel particular proud of my roots, but I discovered something that did. It had something to do about fighting for a cause and protesting against injustice. I learned all about a movement to create an independent nation in the face of great adversity. It went by a name that begins with the letter Z but I also learned that we're not supposed to use that word anymore. In college it had negative connotations.

By the time I got to college I felt strongly enough that I refused to go to school on Shavuot. Instead I went to shul. Finals happened to be on the same day as Shavuot, the second day, that is. I asked the professor if I could take the test a day later. A fellow Jewish student overheard the conversation. "That's right! Shavuot IS next week, isn't it." He too asked the professor if he could take finals a day later. The professor, smiling, refused on the grounds that he knew I would go to synagogue while my classmate just wanted an extra day to study. The student admitted the professor was right. I took the test a day later and passed.

It wasn't always that easy. Once in high school, I got in trouble and had to get a note from the principal's office. The next day was Shavuot. I thought I could get away with not bothering to go to the principal's office at all. But I didn't get away that easy. At home it was insisted upon that I get the note either before or after synagogue.

And thus came the great dilemma. What would the others students say when they saw me waltzing into school with a button-down white shirt and black slacks? Should I wear the clothes I usually wore to school? But then what would the rabbi in synagogue say? Should I leave my kippah on or not? What would the other students say when they saw me in a kippah? Would I get a nasty comment? Did it make any sense for me to walk in school with a button-down white shirt and black slacks and no kippah? Would that be even more awkward?

That day, I cut school, went to shul, then went to school, got the note and then went home. The next day in school the only comments were the fact that I had cut school. In my school, it was just as likely that I was dressed up because I had to appear in court. Most of my friends just assumed that I cut for fun. My Jewishness wasn't questioned in the least. By the next school year I was wearing a kippah every day, both in school and in the street.

Although my non-Jewish acquaintances were understanding, the yom tov dilemma always cropped up. I dreaded holidays because it meant asking off from work and explaining why I couldn't use electricity. But worse then that was trying to explain why the holiday was celebrated two days in America when it seemed to be that technically it was really only one day. Shavuot was the worst, since, as discussed earlier, it is the least known and least celebrated of the holidays. Even Jewish people didn't exactly understand. In Conservative and Reform Judaism, of course Shavuot is only one day.

Two-day yomtovs are great when it means Passover with two seders and all my favorite foods two days in a row. But on a holiday like Shavuot, especially when it comes on a Shabbos, it means up to three days without showering. It was a happy occasion if The Jewish Press arrived before sunset so I could devour the screaming blue headlines that predicted utter catastrophe for Israel at any minute. And I dreamed of that far off country with blue skies and palm trees where I could fight for the struggle and watch TV on the second day of yomtov.

But those concerns are now worlds away. This year, Shavuot will take on a new meaning. We learned in Sunday School that Shavuot was a day when the entire Jewish people made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Then we were taught of the importance of not chewing gum during synagogue services. I doubt any of the students in 1st grade Sunday School believed that Jewish people in modern times actually make pilgrimages to Jerusalem for Shavuot. Growing up, travelling to Shavuot services required either the Volvo or the Honda. Today I can walk to the site of the Holy Temple where Shavuot has been celebrated for generations.

In Israel, I've barely thought for a second what the reaction would be if I wore a kippah in public or how I'm going to explain to my boss why I need off for yet another Jewish holiday. I'm still afraid, however, to use the Z word in certain circles, let alone neo-Z.

Moving to Israel did not magically transform my life for the better. It's a challenge which I've taken up. The new challenges that are far preferable to the once I grew up with. My identity issues have been transformed for the better.

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Look Mom, I'm on Google!!!

Every now and again I like to Google myself. (Yes, I just used Google as a verb - as well as a noun, in this sentence.)

I know. It sounds terribly egotistical. But, frankly, I have an inquiring mind, and I want to know where I stand in cyberspace.

Depending on how I spell my name (Zev, Zeev, Ze'ev...) I come across thousands of entries.

Here are two of the more entertaining ones.

1) From a comment on Matthew Yglesias's The Atlantic Online blog:
The Michael Rubin policy wonk neocons know full well that they're lucky to have escaped the noose for what they've done to America's place in the world vis a vis the Iraqi debacle and are afraid to go on the record again. Their real agendas can be found in the ravings of louche neocons Michael Freund, Caroline Glick, and Zev Orenstein. In short- they want to drop thermonuclear bombs on Iran, Syria, and Mecca. This is their hot and sticky dream scenario.
To be totally honest, I haven't a clue as to what the guy is talking about. But, I am flattered to be put in the same company as Michael Freund and Caroline Glick. My only guess is that he might be referring to this article of mine.

And, as far as what might constitute my hot and sticky dream scenario... since this is a family oriented blog, something things are better left unsaid.

2) Recently, I was asked to write a d'var Torah for one of the many weekly Parsha sheets that are distributed in shuls throughout Israel.

Lo and behold... While I wasn't paid for doing so, it seems that I was given the title of Rabbi...
Rabbi Ze'ev Orenstein

Written by the rabbi...

Click here for more Shiurim by Rabbi Ze'ev Orenstein
I wonder if this makes me the first louche, neocon Rabbi?


According to, louche means:
  • Dubious; shady; disreputable.
  • Of questionable taste or morality; decadent.
And, neocon means:
"Neoconservatism is the first variant of American conservatism in the past century that is in the 'American grain.' It is hopeful, not lugubrious; forward-looking, not nostalgic; and its general tone is cheerful, not grim or dyspeptic. Its 20th-century heroes tend to be TR, FDR, and Ronald Reagan. Such Republican and conservative worthies as Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and Barry Goldwater are politely overlooked." [Irving Kristol, "The Neoconservative Persuasion," in "The Weekly Standard," Aug. 25, 2003]

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Sunday, May 20, 2007


The following booklet was published in 1977. I have taken the time to OCR-scan it, and then paste the whole book into the Kumah blog. It is my privilege to act as a techno-scribe, with the help of Hillel Fendel in whose archives it was found, to bring this important book to you. May it serve to awaken an "Exodus - movement of ja people!"

[ALSO - please check out Rabbi Dr. Barry Leff's drasha on the Mitzva of Aliyah]



I am grateful to the "Mishmeret-Tzeira of the Mizrachi and Hapoel Hamizrachi Movement" and Rabbi Yohanan Fried for having assembled, in pamphlet form, statements by Torah luminaries on the duty of Aliyah to Israel. I am equally grateful to that eminent scholar and rabbi, Dr. S. M. Lehrman, who graciously devoted himself to translating these statements into English - by no means an easy task, considering the legalistic nature of Aliyah material.

Aliyah from the free world has been on the climb in the years following the Six Day War and reached a heartening peak in 1971. Since the Yom Kippur War, Aliyah from the free world has unfortunately been on the decline. Various reasons bordering on practical considerations have been given for the decline. But Torah-motivation for Aliyah and the duty of Torah-Jews to "rise and go up" to Israel in our days and in our time where there are no barriers interfering and no government prohibiting Aliyah - on the contrary, a great and glorious State of Israel is for Jews to come and settle in the Land of the Jews - Aliyah replains a serious challenge for every Jew who believes in Torah and its commandments.

Surely this pamphlet containing the glowing exponents of Torah in our era should move our brothers in spirit throughout the Diaspora to make their "cheshbon ha-nefesh" as Torah Jews and resolve to join those of us who have already made their personal Aliyah to the enrichment of their souls and their way of life.
May it be their will, even as it is the will of He who has chosen Zion as His habitation.

Mordechai Kirshblum, Co-Chairman,
Department of Aliyah and Klita Jewish Agency


The Call of Rabbi A.I. Kook, of blessed memory

"Come to Eretz Israel, dear brethren, and save your own souls, as well as those of your generations .and of our entire nation. Deliver our Homeland from waste and desolation, degradation and rot. Save it from every kind of defilement and corruption, sorrow and distress, which threaten them in all their far-flung communities, without any exception. So do come to Eretz Israel, beloved brethren, and do all in your power to blazen a trek for the return of those of our people who are hated and baited, tainted and hunted. Lead those who return, showing by your example that the road has now been concluded. It is idle to seek other paths, for there is only one way on which we must tread-that is to Eretz Israel. "

Rabbi Avraham Izhak Hacohen Kook


The Reply of Rabbi Shlomo Goren
Chief Rabbi of Israel

It pleased me greatly to learn that you are about to publish a booklet, the aim of which will be to explain the importance of the religious imperative of every Jew to take up residence in Israel. One of the basic commands of the Torah is "And you shall possess the land and dwell therein"; a command repeated in the Prophets "And ye shall dwell in the land which I have given unto your ancestors; and ye shall be My people and I will be unto you for a G-d." This assurance receives a three-fold confirmation in the Hagiographia (Ketubim): "For G-d will deliver Zion, and the cities of Judah will be rebuilt, wherein they will dwell and inherit it (the land)."

This precept though not unique nor listed among the 613 Mitzvot catalogued by Maimonides, nevertheless, takes pride of place among all the rest and is the apotheosis of their aim. All the Torah commandments are conditioned by it and it, in turn, depends on them. This fact is gleaned, forceful though it appears at first blush, from the Sifre of the School of Rav (Parshat Re'eh, Piska 80) where it is recorded: "The story is told of R. Judah b. Beter, R. Matya b. Haresh, R. Hanina b. Ahi, R. Joshua and R. Yonatan who were on their way to a place without the boundaries of Eretz Israel. When they arrived at Paltum and they remembered Eretz Israel, they raised their eyes, which were flooded with tears, heavenwards. Rending their garments, they recited the biblical verse: "And ye shall possess it (the land) and dwell therein, and observe to do (the commandments)." They, thereupon, returned to their homes and taught that: "Dwelling in Eretz Israel is equated in all the Torah precepts put together."

This opinion is echoed by the compilers of the Tosefta: "One should opt to dwell in Eretz Israel, even in a place the majority of whose residents are non-Jews rather than elsewhere, despite the fact that he will there be surrounded by a majority consisting of Jews." Does not this tend to prove that residing in Eretz Israel is tantamount to a fulfillment of all Torah precepts?"

The most eminent of our legal interpreters, ancient, medieval and modern, have proved, beyond all doubt, that this supreme, religious imperative operates even in our own times, as the Ramban clearly indicates in his Addenda to the Sefer Ha'Mitzvot (Mitzvah 4) of Maimonides, which posits the affirmation that "we have been commanded to inherit the Land and dwell therein." The Ramban concludes: "Since this Mitzvah (of Aliyah) operates timelessly, each Jew - even the one who has made the Golah his home must, at all times, strive to make this imperative a tangible reality in his own life." This is borne out in statements dotted all over the Talmud. The story, quoted above from the Sifre, which relates how the Rabbis wept when they remembered Israel when far away therefrom and forthwith decided to return to their ancestral moorings and national anchorage, is proof positive that the injunction to dwell in the Holy Land is equivalent to the observance of all the religious imperatives in the Torah. A cautionary note should here be sounded - though it is equated in significance to all the 613 Mitzvot put together, it does not abrogate any of them, nor does its fulfillment exempt the Jew from performing all, or any, of the others. On the contrary, it obligates us with the necessity to fulfill all the other commandments, in that it provides a background for their implementation. Only when all the commandments are performed, can the Torah be said to be complete and claim to be possessed of one spirit.

Our Talmudic sages indulged so much in hyperbole and exaggeration when extolling the meritoriousness of residing in Israel, that they gave the impression that all the other religious imperatives revolve pivot-like around its axis. As an illustration, one may quote the words of the celebrated Ramban who, in his Commentary in the Torah (at the end of Aharei Mot), stipulates: "that the fundamental aim of all the Torah precepts is to see the whole of Israel dwelling in the Land." Being G-d's own chosen people over all other nations carries with it the responsibility of "being affiliated to His name; it was for this reason that He gave them the Land, as it is said: "And I said unto you: "You will possess their land which I will give you as an inheritance. For I am the L-rd, your G-d, who hath singled you out from all other nations!"

There are two aspects to this Mitzvah, the offshoots of which, though aimed in the same direction, nevertheless, run their separate though parallel courses. Whereas one aspect is directed towards the community, the other constitutes a challenge to the individual. That which is directed at the community has, as its aim, the possession of the land. This receives confirmation from the Rabbinic interpretation of the verse in Joshua: "about 40,000 armed men joined in the battle before the L-rd." The passage continues: "And we will conquer the land before the L-rd and before His people." The question posed by our Sages is: "Do you really think that Israel can conquer the Land before the L-rd?" Certainly not; what the verse wishes to stress is this: "As long as they live in the land, it is tantamount to having been conquered by them, but if they are not settled in it, then it is not in a state of having been conquered by them."

To emphasize the importance of each Jew to make his home in Eretz Israel, the Sages gave this interpretation of the verse in I Samuel (26.19): "For they have driven me out this day that I should not cleave unto the inheritance of the L-rd, saying: "Go, serve other G-ds." Can you, really, imagine that King David will serve idols: Of course not. What David meant to imply was that "he who leaves Eretz Israel in times of peace and goes to reside outside it, is equaled to an idolater; as it is written: "And I have planted them in truth, in this land, with all my heart and soul." In other words, as long as they reside in the land, they are planted before me in truth, and with all my heart and soul; the reverse is the case when they abandon the land.

The sanctity of the land and its spiritual superiority is deathless; for this holiness did not begin when the Israelites conquered it. It was called "G-d's inheritance" and is linked with His name throughout the endless generations. It is ever under direct divine Providence and it exerts a sacrosanct inspiration over all the face of the earth. Is it not written: "The eyes of G-d are ever upon it?" G-d is called "The G-d of Israel," as it is written: "for they knew not the judgment of the G-d of the land." (See Ramban's Commentary on the Torah).

All expressions of alienation from settling in Israel; all slanderous expressions levelled against its inhabitants, constitute an inpardonable sin. Our Sages, of blessed memory, opined that "the decree of distinction issued against our wandering ancestors in the wilderness was solely due to the fact that they spoke evil reports of the Land. Just as the fulfillment of living in Israel is equated to all the other precepts put together, so must the sin of its non-observance be considered tantamount to the sin of commission against all Mitzvot together."

With the establishment of Medinat Israel and the "Law of Return," all must admit that this Mitzvah of Aliyah is imperative in each and every Israelite. This is clearly evident in the Responsa of the Hatam Sofer (XIV 234), as well as from the Responsa of the author of "Avnei Nezer' (No. 454) on the Gaon of Sochotchov, the Kuzari ( 23-24).

Verily, residing in Israel is not only meritorious, but also imposes duties and responsibilities, such as those of preserving its holy characteristics and supreme sanctity and spiritual inviolability. This holiness can only be attained at the price of the fulfillment of all the Torah precepts, both positive and negative, and as a reward of guarding any infringment of the many meticulous precautions issued by the Rabbis not to break down the fence. Is it not written: "Do not contaminate yourselves with all these things; for it is by these things that the nations whom I will drive out from before you have allowed themselves to be contaminated?"

The Tanna R. Meir long ago maintained that "He who makes his permanent home in Israel, and who eats his ordinary food (Hullin) in purity and who speaks Hebrew and recites the Shema twice daily, in the morning hours and after night has fallen, is assured of the life to come." This is the eternal, threefold cord which sanctifies and unifies Israel: "Israel's Torah, the Jewish nation, and Eretz Israel."


The Rishon L'Zion Rabbi Ovadiah Yoseph Chief Rabbi of Israel

"The Mitzvah of Aliyah in our Day and Age" (A Synopsis)

Nahmanides comments thus on Numbers (33.53): "And ye shall drive out the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein; for unto you have I given the land to possess it." "In my considered opinion, this is a positive command; for since He gave it to us, it would be a transgression not to obey the precept to dwell therein. This being so, it should not be considered as hyperbolic on the part of the talmudic sages to have gone out of their way to emphasize the importance of dwelling in Eretz Israel and the sinfulness implied in departing from it to take up abode elsewhere."

According to him (the Ramban), Maimonides erred in not including this positive command in his "SEPHER HA'MITZVOT." Moreover, to acquire possession of our ancestral Homeland was considered by the Talmud (Sotah 44b) as a "war in which it was necessary (MILHEMET MITZVAH) even for a bridegroom to leave his chamber and a bride her bridal canopy". In addition, the Rabbis in the Talmud (KETUBOT 112a) went so far as to say that "he who departs from Eretz Israel to live elsewhere, is equated to one serving idols". Exaggerated though the praises of living in Eretz Israel may appear at first blush, they are all triggered-off from the fact that it is one of the positive commandments of the Torah. Moreover, it is equated to a fulfillment of all the other precepts. Rabbi Ovadia Yoseph quotes Rabbi Issac de-Leon in his book "MEGILLAT ESTHER", that the Mitzvah of dwelling in Eretz Israel only operated during the periods of Moses, Joshua and David and as long as Israel had not been banished from their own land. After the destruction of our Temple and the exile of our ancestors from the Holy Land, this command is held in abeyance until the dawn of the Messianic Age. It was for this reason that Maimonides did not include the Mitzvah of Aliyah in his enumeration of the Taryag (613) precepts.

With this view, the RISHON L'ZION does not concur for two reasons: One: because the Ramban does not include many Mitzvot which did not operate for all times, such as the rebuilding of the temple - a task left for the Messiah. This being so, then why should the precept of Aliyah be omitted since the Messianic Age will also witness the resettlement of Israel in its ancestral Homeland?

Second: from the words of Maimonides (Hilchot Ishut XIII), it is evident that he concurs with the view of the Ramban that even in our times, it is a positive precept to dwell in Eretz Israel. For, writes Maimonides: "Should the husband be willing but the wife not so inclined to make Eretz Israel their domicile, then she may be divorced and even forfeit her Ketubah (marriage document which insures her in the case of divorce or widowhood)".

Many rabbinical authorities were up-in-arms at this decision, on the plea that it would provide an excuse for the unscrupulous husband to divorce his wife minus the Ketubah, on the argument that she refused to accompany him to dwell in Eretz Israel. To this, however, the answer was simple:, it was up to the Beth Din, who were asked to grant the divorce to ascertain if this was really a bona-fide case. From this discussion, it is clear that in making the decision quoted above, Maimonides concurs with the view that dwelling in Eretz Israel was a Mitzvah independent of time, operating in our day and age, just as it was in force when Israel lived in its Homeland and the Temple stood in all its pristine glory on Mt. Moriah.

The main reason, however, for it being obligatory to dwell in Israel at all times is because it is only there that the Jew is enabled to observe these precepts and of these, there is a majority that can only be fulfilled on its soil being conditioned by life in Israel (Mitzvot Ha'tluyot Ba 'aretz). To enforce this opinion, the statement of Rabbi Simlai (Sotah 14a) is quoted: "Why was Moses so desirous of entering the Promised Land? Was it because he was desirous of enjoying its luscious fruits? Of course not. His sole reason was: "Since G-d commanded many precepts, most of which depend on their implementation if one dwells in Eretz Israel, it is only natural that I wish to live there in order to be able to fulfill them." Hearing this plea, the Divine assurance came: "Since it is your desire to obtain reward for the fulfillment of these Mitzvot, then I will wed your desire to the deed." Basing himself on this statement of Rabbi Simlai, Nahmanides and those who decided the
Halacha according to his views, maintained that the primary reason for Aliyah was because it was only there that the Taryag Mitzvot could be fulfilled. Other eminent authorities, however, maintained that dwelling in Eretz Israel was a mitzvah per se, entirely independent of the fact that many of the precepts on account of being dependent on the soil of the land and for other cognate reasons, could not be observed elsewhere.

Other proofs are also cited from the Talmud and posttalmudic sources to support the view that Aliyah is binding at all times. Thus from Gittin 8b, we learn that many things forbidden on the Shabbat by the rabbis because operating them would be an infringement of the complete Shabbat rest enjoined in the Torah, are permitted if their intention be to acquire property in Israel. Another talmudic decision deserves quoting: "When one has a house in the Diaspora, he is exempt from affixing a Mezzuzah to its doors for the first thirty days only; but in the case of a house in Israel, a Mezzuzah must be affixed immediately!" For this, the main reason is that when one buys a house in Israel, it should be considered immediately as a permanent home (keva) and not a temporary asylum (Dirat Arai) (Menahot 44a).

The only instance given in the Talmud for permission to leave Eretz Israel is in order to imbibe Jewish learning from the famous academies in the Diaspora, some of which were even more renowned than those which thrived in the Holy Land (vide Erubin 47a). Outstanding examples of those who took advantage of this concession, were Hillel (Pesahim 66a), R. Hiyya (Sukkah 20a), whose main purpose was to see that the "lamp of Jewish studies" be not extinguished in Babylon. It would seem, however, that not all the Rabbis of old took this view; for eminent talmudic authorities like R. Zera and others went from Babylon to Israel and Amoraim, like R. Ami and R. Assi, commuted from Babylon to Eretz Israel and vice versa, in order to discuss the views expressed in the Babylonian and Palestinian academies. The majority of authoritative opinion, it is clear, subscribed to the view forcibly expressed by Nahmanides who listed Aliyah among the Taryag that are binding at all times, on every observant Jew. As we have seen above, the compiler of the Sifre (the Midrashim, Numbers and Deuteronomy) went so far as to assert that the "Mitzvah of dwelling in Eretz Israel is equated to all other precepts in the Torah and that even Maimonides agrees with this; albeit with the reservation that this precept, though a positive one, has only the enforcement of a rabbinical kind. But even if this be so, the Talmud rules that everything which has been prescribed by the Rabbis has the imprimatur (the stamp) of the Torah.

From the cornucoepia of Responsa quoted by the Rishon L'zion on this subject that the concencus of opinion is: "that all those who are deeply concerned with the fulfillment of the Word of G-d and His commandments should make every effort to make their home in Israel, especially in these days when assimilation raises its ugly head in the Diaspora and when there are all the means of obtaining a decent livelihood. Now, it is a paramount duty to make the "land of our fathers" the "land of our descendants". To enforce this obligation the Rabbis (with their love for exaggeration in the interests of emphasis) ruled that "one is forbidden to leave Eretz Israel and to take up domicile elsewhere, even going so far as to say that a "wife is considered as 'rebellious' (moredet) if she does not agree with her husband who is willing to erect a home in Israel!"

One need only cite a few random examples in order to be convinced of the paramount position occupied by Aliyah in our Halacha. Thus: "He who dwells outside the land of Israel is equated to one who is an atheist." (Ketubot 110b); Zohar (Yithro 79b). To live in Israel and then decide to leave it for good, is considered an infringement of the first Two Commandments of the Decalogue in that not only is he considered godless, but also as if he had set up idols of his own outside his ancestral heritage.

To sum up our discussion, for only a digest of the learned Responsa of the Rishon L'Zion would be of interest to the average English reader. Since one was allowed to emigrate from Israel to the Diaspora only because the State of talmudic studies was preponderant in the latter place, the converse now obtains. For since, sad to relate, the great seats of learning in Central Europe have been destroyed in the Nazi Holocaust and Yeshivot flourish in Medinat Israel, it is a positive mitzvah to leave the Diaspora and settle in Israel in order to bask not only in the physical sunshine but also in the "Light of the Torah".

Commenting on the words "and the gold of that land is good", our sages said: "There is no Torah comparable to that which is taught in Eretz Israel;" and that: "the Holy One said 'A small room in Israel is more beloved in my eyes than the great Sanhedrin in the Diaspora', (Yerushalmi VI 8) Happy are those who come to settle in Israel and help in its upbuilding! They will be "born again" both in the physical and spiritual sense; for say our talmudic sages: "The atmosphere of Eretz Israel makes one wise, as well as healthy", giving him peace of mind and vigour of body.....


Raise the Banner

Some reflections on a strengthened Aliyah movement By the late Chief Rabbi Emeritus of Israel Rabbi I.J. Unterman

The Talmud (Yoma 9b) records a brief but instinctive conversation between Resh Lakish, one of the celebrated Amoraim in Eretz Israel, and Rabba bar bar-Hanna, an Amora who came to Eretz Israel from Babylon, whither he returned later to teach the Torah in Pumbeditha. One day, as Resh Lakish was swimming in the Jordan, Rabba bar bar-Hanna held out his hand in greeting. Imagine his surprise, to hear Resh Lakish exclaim:

"G-d, I hate you [Babylonians]!" (It is well-known that there was but little love lost between him and the Babylonians). Explaining his rude outburst, Resh Lakish quoted the verse in "Song of Songs" (8.9): "If she be a wall, we will build upon her a turret of silver, and if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar."

It would thus seem that his interpretation of this verse was the following: "Had our ancestors in the time of Ezra obeyed the call to leave Babylon and go up to Eretz Israel in serried columns (like a fortress-wall), that is in a strong, winding procession, with hearts beating as one out of their sheer love to rebuild and repopulate the wastes of the Holy Land, they would have resembled silver which defies rust. Since, however, their return was but luke-warm and undertaken only by a few of the faithful ones, they were equated to the cedar which is prone to rot and the withering of root and branch.

A further comment on this verse will prove worthwhile and significant. So famous among his generation was Resh Lakish, that it was said of him that "when Resh Lakish taught in his academy, it appeared as if he were uprooting mountains and ground them to dirt against each other" (Sanhedrin 24). His influence was so great that it was decided abroad that that man, with whom he conversed in the open gaze of the public, was considered to be of so trustworthy a character that none had any scruples to do business with him, even in cases where witnesses to the transaction were lacking.

Hence did Resh Lakish feel justified in displaying his contempt of those who lived in Babylon, when he was greeted by Rabba bar bar-Hanna. For were they not culpable of a wilful sin of commission by not responding to the call of Ezra to go up to Eretz Israel as a "solid wall", instead of a mere trickle? The result of their negligence was that the House of Israel was likened to "cedar boards", prone to rot away, on account of the trials and tribulations they had to experience at the hands of a hostile world.

A similar rebuke is to be found in the "Song of Deborah" (Judges 5.16): "Why sattest them among the sheepfolds, to hear the pipings for the flocks?" At the divisions of Reuben, there were great searchings of heart, this being the stern rebuke levelled against the tribe of Reuben for being indisposed to participate in the battle against the army of Sesera, despite the fact that the other tribes who did join forces against the enemy snatched the palm of victory from overwhelming odds. Resh Lakish complained bitterly of all those who preferred to remain in Babylon, not exempting women and children. He was convinced that had they all, without exception, responded to the call to return with alacrity, they would have definitely prevented the destruction of the Temple and the Homeland. This appears to be the interpretation given by Rashi to the passage in Yoma 9b, quoted above. It was because of their retrograde reaction, that they blocked the dwelling of the Shechinah in the second Temple.

It is also significant to note the comments of the Maharsha (R. Samuel Eliezer Edels, 1555-1631). In his principle work "Chiddushe Halachot Ye' Agadot" wherein he endeavors to clarify in a rational manner, apparent contradictions and difficulties, he makes the following comment on the passage under discussion: "In the days of Ezra, the vital and urgent need was to return in a solid phalanx, as impregnable against the enemy as a fortress. Had they done so, the Shechinah would have once again dwelt in Israel. The bitter fact, however, was that only scant numbers obeyed the call to return and these had to protect the entrances to the city. Any wonder that the result led to the removal of prophecy from Israel, with its ultimate sequel of total destruction?"

It was this thought that brooded in the heart of Resh Lakish. It was blasphemous to complain against divine Providence for not protecting those who had setteled in Eretz Israel during the period of the Second Temple against the armed bands of the Romans, when the entire fault could be laid at the door of our ancestors in Babylon who remained imperious to the call of Zerubabel and Joshua b. Jehozadek, as well as to Ezra the Scribe, and remained, like limpets, glued to their seats. For had they all responded enthusiastically as solid as a wall, the Shechinah would have defended them against all enemies, regardless of the source from which they came. Accordingly, It was out of the bitterness of an aching heart, that Resh Lakish burst out in pained anger, when Rabba bar bar-Hanna greeted him while he was bathing in the Jordan.

Thoughts of this nature occupy the minds of many of our own day and age, when they consider the momentous times in which we now live. On the one hand, they rejoice at the Aliyah of so many of their co-religionists from the world over, thus filling them with the hope that the L-rd has once again, remembered His people, enabling them to return (0 Zion, thus to rebuild our Homeland on the solid foundations of Torah and Jewish, ethical teachings; but on the other hand, they behold cataclysmic catastrophes gathering momentum in the world at large and looming threateningly over their heads. Should these clouds, Heaven forbid, not .be dispersed, those who seek to destroy our nation, root and branch will be encouraged to wipe us off, as they threaten, in and out of season, from the face of the earth.

One cannot help ruminating on the words of Resh Lakish, cited above: "Had you only returned to Eretz Israel, when Ezra so called you to do, like a solid fortress wall, the position would have been radically different." May I slightly alter the text thus: "Had you all returned in solid array at the re-establishment of our State (on Iyar 5th, 5708), you might have succeeded in rehabilitating the Shechinah in our midst, as in the days of yore?" (This is in conformance with the interpretation of Rashi in the passage in Yona 9b). We would then have been fully protected against the various forces banded against us and bent on our annihilation.

It is still yet possible, even at this eleventh hour, to organize a massive Aliyah movement to embrace all our brethren whithersoever they be and to be imbued with faith in divine protection and the presence of the Shechinah in all the work of our hands. Great is the lesson that we can pluck from the episode which took place in the Second Temple period, and it is one which we can only neglect to our own cost. Each Jew, wherever he finds himself at present, must make every endeavor to settle in Israel, thereby fortifying the faithful who are already dwelling there and, at the same time, strengthening the foundations of our State. Moreover, his act will prove of a miraculous nature in spurring members of his family and others to follow his example. The words of rebuke uttered by Resh Lakish should ever resound in our ears, for the conditions are Mutatis Mutandis, almost similar / now as they were then. Let us, accordingly, exhort our brethren in the Diaspora to pack their suitcases and join us here in the thrilling adventure of rolling away the desert and convert it into smiling landscapes. A massive aliyah will cause the Shechinah to return to our midst and protect us from all dangers, material and spiritual alike. May it be Heaven's Will to help us re-establish the House of Israel on solid foundations of traditional Judaism so that we all may speedily rejoice in the witnessing the perfect and complete solution. Amen.


An Appeal from the Former Rishon L'Zion Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim Chief Rabbi Emeritus of Israel

So well known is the Mitzvah of residing in Eretz Israel that it is totally unnecessary to elaborate thereon. Even when the country was still wrapped in desolation surrounded by marauding bands and bad roads did our ancestors display much self-sacrifice in order to fulfiill this religious imperative.

Though there is a dispute among our codists as to whether this Mitzvah, after the destruction of the Second Temple is to be regarded as a Torah ordinance, or just a rabinical injunction not laden with the same authority as those enjoyed by the former, yet there is none who gainsays that this Mitzvah still operates in our own day. Even the Tosafist R. Hayim Ha'Cohen agrees that this Mitzvah is only brushed aside in the case of danger lurking on the journey, a view also shared by the Rimat who adds that this exemption is also operative in cases when harsh and cruel rules hold sway over Eretz Israel and life there is in jeopardy.

Despite this fact, our ancestors throughout the generations did their utmost to fulfill this religious commandment, for more that 200 years ago, the' Rishon L'Zion, R. Meyuhas Bechar Shmuel, described in his book "Pri Ha'Adamah" how our co-religionists in Morocco jeopardized their lives in order to immigrate to Jerusalem even when the ruling powers thereof did their work to stop any increase of Jews in the Holy City.

Now that we have merited to witness G-d's return to Zion in mercy and to behold the unification of Jerusalem, as well as to possess Eretz Israel in our hands as a result of the miraculous events which have brought about the defeat of our enemies, this must surely be the time when it is His Will to implement the promises which He made to our ancestors by the mouth of His prophets.

Not only has Medinat Israel opened its gates wide to every Jew who wishes to return, but is generously ready to help every would-be immigrant with every means available in its power, both materially as well as spiritually. This being so, each Jew that is stiU in the Diaspora should search his conscience with the challenge savouring of the nature of a minore, a forbore argument (Kal Va'homer), thus: "Seeing that
our ancestors were so keen on settling in Israel even when wicked and cruel men held sway over it, how much more keen should they be in doing so today when the Land is not only in our possession, but its governmental departments even go out of their way to be of practical help to all those who wish to settle therein as permanent residents? Does it not stand to reason that all those who wish to remain steadfast to their faith, to be closely linked with their national antecedents, should pack their bags and make their home in Medinat Israel - and all this, without too many questions and problems?

Let us be logical in this matter as, indeed, in all others. When one is about to fulfill any other of the 613 biblical commandments, is he prone to inflict upon himself a searching, self-examination as to whether he can implement them, lulling his conscience with the sop that there are far too many obstacles impeding their fulfillment? Does he postpone making the deed cousin to the wish by postponing the realization of his intentions to a later stage in his life? Since he does not act so in other cases, then why single out the Mitzvah of Aliyah for procrastination? Since our Talmudic sages ruled that "one must not delay the fulfillment of any Mitzvah that is awaiting the realization thereof, how much more binding is this so in the case of Aliyah - a commandment equated in importance to all tile other religious precepts put together?

Naturally, it is not easy for one to be uprooted from his native country and transplant himself to "fresh fields and pastures new", but all the most important moves in life are sparked-off after much spiritual preparation and are cradled in strenuous, physical effort. Did not our sages, of long ago, warn us that: "Eretz Israel can only become ours after much physical discomforts and spiritual vicissitudes?" This truth has been vindicated throughout the winding, colorful cavalcade of the generations and is especially applicable in our own day and age. The only difference now applying is that the obstacles barring the immediate realization of Aliyah have assumed a different pattern. For these are, to a large extent, mainly difficulties attached to uprootal and absorption which, actually, pale into insignificance when compared to the obstacles which impeded our ancestors from realizing their dream of beginning once again where our ancestors left off after the destruction of the Second Temple.

When these thoughts and facts are taken into full consideration, the difficulties hedging around Aliyah at present should be accepted in a spirit of love and pleasure. Far be it from any member of the House of Israel to groan and grumble at the difficulties attending settling in Israel, instead let him be blissfully confident that he who succeeds in the realization of his dreams is assured of a reward to come, both in this world and in the life to come.


The Mitzvah of Aliyah to Eretz Israel (an abridged translation)

By Rabbi H.D. Ha-Levi Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv-Jaffo

After quoting Numbers 33.53, the Ramban cites two precepts which are sparked off from this verse. The first is the Mitzvah of conquering the land from its possession by strangers. This is not a Mitzvah of a temporary nature, applicable only to the generation that witnessed the Egyptian Exodus, but is operative throughout the generations.

Not to reside in Eretz Israel is to worship idols, says the Ramban, basing himself on the verses quoted in the previous articles of this booklet.

In his Torah commentary, the Ramban adds, that a husband or wife that is unwilling to join the other partner in immigrating to Israel is to be treated as a renegade. Moreover, one who has the means to go on Aliyah, but does not do so, transgresses a positive, biblical precept each day he stays in the Diaspora. The only exceptions are where dangers are involved in the journey, such as obtained in former days, but which, happily, do not obtain today.

Another case, also dealt with in other articles in this booklet, is where a parent's objections are based on the fear lest his child in Israel will fall on evil ways. Happily, this fear, too, is almost groundless these days; for despite the "permissiveness" which is slowly seeping into the air of Israel, the fact is that nowhere else in the wide world is it more easy to lead the full Jewish life than in Medinat Israel. Moreover, slowly, but surely, the Yeshivot in Israel are replacing those which were destroyed in Central Europe during the beastly Nazi holocaust.

Another stumbling block which once stood in the way of Aliyah, has also now been removed; that is, that it was so hard to earn a livelihood in Eretz Israel in the days gone by. This was the position when the land resembled a parched malaria ridden wilderness, whose inhabitants .eked out a poor livelihood from the charitable contributions made by their co-religionists abroad. Now that the position has been radically changed, where the State is actually short of labourers and skilled workmen and professionals, where nobody need starve owing to the Welfare Ministry and charitable organizations whose number is legion, such objections fall to the ground and cannot block the way before a massive Aliyah.

The opposition of parents to their children's aliyah has already been dealt with by others in this booklet and need not be recapitulated here. All agree that the Mitzvah of Aliyah takes precedence over the Fifth Commandment, except in isolated cases specified above, as are detailed in Rabbi S. Israeli in his book "Amud Ha'Yemini" (XXII).

Those parents who, at first, cannot bear the parting of their children soon find that the latter have paved the way' for their own coming to Israel, eventually. Is it not, therefore, better to undergo a little travail for the sake of giving birth to eventual years of happiness? Moreover, by the time the parents reach pensionable age, their children will be rooted in the land and the former will be able to enjoy their pension while living in close proximity to their children - a thought worth pondering. A post-script: Life in the Golah is becoming increasingly harder for the Jew - one of the signs of the approaching Messianic Age. For the greater the hatred towards the Jew in the world, the surer are the steps of salvation. Hence Aliyah today is laying the foundations of Redemption. Happy are those who are now actively participating in it.


The Fifth Commandment and Aliyah

(an abridged translation) By Rabbi NZ. Freedman (Bnei Brak)

So great is the Fifth Commandment that it embraces, in its importance, all the other 613 Torah precepts, so much so, that when surveying all the divine, categorical imperatives, our Talmudic Sages equate respect for one's parents to that of reverence for G-d Himself (Sanhedrin 50b).

The question now arises: this being so, what should the child do when ordered by his parents to transgress a Torah precept? The answer to this query is supplied by the Torah itself (Lev. 19.3): "Each man should revere his mother and father, but you must all observe My Sabbaths, for I am the L-rd your G-d." The Shabbat, as well as any other religious observance, cannot be brushed aside on this account, for parents, as well as children, are in duty bound to respect the injunctions, of the Divine, as expressed in His Torah. This is formulated in Koros Shulhan Arukh (Yoreh Deah, 240), as well as in the work of the Gaon of Wilna (Tana D'be Eliyahu Rabba XXVII). This applies not only in the case where the child is asked to desecrate the Shabbat, but in every other instance as well.

As an illustration, let us quote Maimonides (Hilchot Mamrim, VI): "Should his father ask him to violate any religious command, be it based on Torah, or only on rabbinic Drdinance, he is not to obey him" (for the reasons specified above). According to the Ramban, even rabbinic decrees have the validity of Torah authority (see Deut. XIX 9-11). No matter what the religious command is, its fulfillment takes priority over the Fifth Commandment where the two are in conflict, for the simple reason that both parent and child must obey G-d's will. Hence in the case of Aliyah, which according to Maimonides (Hilchot Melachim V) is equated to the fulfillment of the entire Torah and its non-fulfillment ranked with idolatry; moreover, because of the rabbinic teaching that "he who paces even only four cubits in Israel deserves the life to come, it only stands to reason that where the implementation of this most important precept is opposed by the parents, the Fifth Commandment is eclipsed by the Mitzvah of Aliyah."

A cautionary note should here, too, be sounded. In cases where one of the contributory reasons for the child wishing to go on Aliyah is due to the desire of shaking off the reponsibility of looking after the material needs of his parents and has little, if anything to do with his desire of fulfilling the Mitzvah of Aliyah, but is triggered off mainly by the opposition of two wills - that of the child and that of the parents, in this case, the will of the child must give way to the Fifth Commandment, whose implementation is regarded as tantamount to reverence for G-d Himself.

There is another stipulation, should the objection of the parent against the Aliyah of the child be based on the fear lest the latter's ways become corrupt by evil companions and harmful influences in Eretz Israel - as has been the case in several instances lately, sad to relate - then it is the duty of the child to obey the parent, whose primary duty it is to innoculate his offspring with "the way of the Torah" (see Pesakim 50b). Does not the Book of Proverbs tell us: "Harken my son to the instruction of thy father and do not abandon the law of thy mother?"

To sum up: 1) Aliyah comes before the Fifth Commandment. 2) The exception is in the case where the intention of the Aliyah is born of the desire to rid himself of the duties he owes to parents. 3) Another exception is the one expressed above; namely, the fear of the parent lest the child go astray.


The Mitzvah of Living in Eretz Israel

By Rabbi Zvi Yehudah Ha'Cohen Kook

According to the Yoreh De'ah (240.15), one should not harken unto his father when asked to transgress a commandment, though it be only of rabbinical ordination. The Mitzvah of living in Eretz Israel is one of Torah authority and is operative in every age and clime, even in the Diaspora (Ramban in his "Sefer Ha'Mitzvot"). Accordingly, it is a categorical imperative to emigrate from the Golah in order to take up residence in Eretz Israel, even when the exchange is made from a most luxurious home in the Diaspora to one that is largely inferior in Israel. This even applies in a case where the exchange involves leaving a country in which the majority of its inhabitants are Jewish to take up abode in a vicinity in Israel wherein the bulk of residents are not of the Jewish faith (Eben Ha'ezer, 75). Moreover, even in a place in Israel of which the bulk of its residents is composed of those who are apostates. (See the "Dvar Halacha" of R. Eliyahu Klatzkin).

This is the ruling of practically all the halachic authorities, both of former and present generations (see "Pithei Tshuvah" of Eben Ha' ezer 75). Though Jerusalem, in our own day, is not deserving of preferential treatment above any other place in Israel, Eretz Israel, nevertheless, takes pride of place over any other place in the Diaspora at all times. This not so much because of the numerous, religious Mitzvot - the implementation of which can only be effected while dwelling on Israeli territory (Mitzvot Hatluyot Ba'Aretz), but because of the eternal sanctity attached to Eretz Israel, a sanctity which encroaches upon time and exhausts Eternity (see Hatam Sofer, Yoreh De'ah, 234).

How much greater is the Mitzvah when the desire for Aliyah has been triggered off by the urge to study Torah. Have not our Sages assured us that "there is no Torah that can equal, let alone excell that obtained in Eretz Israel? The study of Torah exceeds in religious importance even that of the Fifth Commandment, which exhorts us to "Honour your Father and Mother." (See Eben Ha'ezer ad locum).

This eternal and inviolable sanctity of Eretz Israel, which is at the very root and foundation of the Mitzvah of living in an ancestral Homeland, so important as to deserve ultra-vires determination, is operable also in the case of women who are, otherwise, exempt from the performance of such precepts the implementation of which is conditioned by time and circumstance. Residence in Israel enables men and women alike to fulfill meticulously the traditional observance of Judaism.

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My father (a"h) had an interesting quirk. He absolutely loved it when all his children were home for Shabbat. He would tell me: "Now that everyone is home, I finally feel at rest." No matter what time of day we arrived, he would promptly go to sleep on the couch as we three siblings palled around in the house. As he slept you could see on his face the nachas that he felt.

The Rebbe from Slonim says that there is a similar nachas for G-d Himself. He states, in his book Netivot Shalom, that just like a regular father, G-d loves it when His children love each other and are together. That is the reason why the Lord loves Shabbat - because on Shabbat His children are together in synagogues and around the table and have the opportunity to show each other affection.

What a concept - giving G-d nachas. We live in the i-pod, i-tunes, i-generation. Everything is about 'me'. All the gadgets are there to serve 'me'. So often in our religious life we ask "what does this do for me? How does this benefit me? How will I grow from this? What will I achieve? " Kashrut is good for me, Shabbat is good for me, even prayer is good for me. But what about good for G-d? How can I please G-d? This seems to be a question that is not often discussed.

Many of us think that our life's goal is to reach our greatest potential, to be the best person we can be. Maybe our goal should be to do the best service for Hashem. What does He want? What will make Him happy?

To that end we come to the issue of living in Israel. The Torah tells us that "When you come to the land of Israel which Hashem your G-d has given you, the Land shall keep a Sabbath for the Lord." (Vayika 25) The Ibn Ezra tells us that this passage contains a secret about the end of days. What is that secret? When the Jewish people will return to the land of Israel, it is G-d who will enjoy the Sabbath - all His children will be home, and He will finally feel at peace. The Torah is telling us an amazing thing: G-d gets nachas from His children, the Jewish people, being at home, in the land of Israel. Amazing.

Not only G-d is happy when the Children of Israel are home. Our grandma, Mama Rachel, the great matriarch of the Jewish people, is continuously crying and refuses to be consoled. Why is she crying?

Thus says the LORD, "A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more." Thus says the LORD, "Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears; for your work will be rewarded," declares the LORD, "and they will return from the land of the enemy. "There is hope for your future," declares the LORD, "and your children will return to their own territory." (Yirmiyahu 31)

Rachel is crying because she misses her children, she awaits their return from the Exile. Every time a Jew comes home, he or she brings joy to Rachel, helps her stop crying, because we are fulfilling her greatest wish - that we return. Have you ever considered giving some nachas to Rachel? Have you ever though about bringing joy to her who can only be consoled by the return of her children?

Living in Israel certainly has an element of self-gratification. One feels spiritually fulfilled speaking Hebrew, living with the holidays, breathing the air of Jerusalem. As Nefeshb'Nefesh says it you can "Live The Dream." But the highest level of making Aliyah is not about serving the self or even serving the country - it's about serving and pleasing G-d. The Torah tells us that "G-d's eyes are on the Land from the beginning of the year to the end of the year." (Devarim 11) He is always looking at Israel, over and above other places, to see how His children are doing. By living in Israel, and loving your fellow Jews there, you bring G-d the greatest gift of all: the nachas that all His children have returned home.

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BREAKING: Elders Hold News Conference

Pandemonium around the podium

A spokesman for the Elders of Zion, Mr. Larry Elder, is holding a news conference in which he is stating the Elders' recommended course of action in Sderot. I am liveblogging, here goes:

LE: ... the Elders recommend the following:

a) we get a normal Prime Minister instead of this meshugener shaygetz.

b) the new PM gets the IDF to build The Gazanator.

c) the new PM holds a news conference in Sderot in which he unveils The Gazanator.

d) The Gazanator is a computer connected to some Howitzers on one end and the Color Red incoming rocket alert system on the other. Basically, what it does is confirm that there is an incoming rocket and have a Howitzer fire a shell into a randomly selected point in Gaza's populated areas.

e) The PM then proceeds to load the Howitzers with shells himself, so as to make clear the responsibility for any "war crime" is his and his alone. He explains that once the Gazanator is turned on, the only thing that will make it fire shells are incoming rockets from Gaza, and the only thing that will make it stop firing shells is a cessation of incoming fire from Gaza.

f) PM turns on The Gazanator. End of story.

(silence, then commotion)

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Put your kids where your mouth is

I think that one of the reasons that this past war was such a failure is because Israels policy makers don't have to take any responsibility for their decisions. The worst that can come out of sometimes criminal policy- is that they may have to step down. Big deal. We see that Olmert and company are involved in shady and crooked dealings, and there is nothing to do about it.

All this is after Sharon burning down Shuls and desecrating Jewish graves- in order to sway the spotlight from his criminal actions involving his kids and some of his friends. Had he not been hospitalized, the worst that would have happened to him is that he would have had to leave office- with all of the millions made. No accountability. The interesting thing is that had he been running a company as a director of some sort, he would have answered to his stockholders in a criminal case, that would have resulted in monetary reparations and maybe even jail time. But when the company is the State of Israel, and the damage done is only mere dead Jews- no one holds him responsible.

I had a casual conversation with Raed- an Arab from Bet Lechem this past Friday, and among other things, he said that the reason that everyone loves Chasan Nasrallah- leader of Hizbullah, is because his Son is a "Shahid"- killed in battle by Israeli soliders. He does what he preaches- and he is willing to pay the price.

Our leaders on the other hand, make full sure that their children are well taken care of- far away from the battle fronts, when they send us suckers out to war without food or water.

I have read some of the bloggers here that do not understand why the Israeli public doesn't change the people in office. They can't. This is no democracy, and there is no reason that Olmert would feel the need to step down.


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Thursday, May 17, 2007


Once again, Blogging from work... Gasp uh.

Anyhow, so as you know from my last post, I am a bit disappointed in the people that are honored by living in Israel, but are not getting rid of their government that everyone in the world knows is incapable of governing.

But there is always hope. After reading the below article, I have hope. I know there is a sense of movement going around and sooner rather then later, it will brake into reality. This kind of pride and centered thinking is very simplistic and contagious, since it's secure in its validity and when spoken out loud, is understood to be true.

What am I talking about...? Read... Comment... Pass it on!!!

The Jerusalem Knock Out: By Moshe Feiglin

Translated from the Makor Rishon newspaper.

28 Iyar, 5767
May 16, 2007

"Shalom, this is Gideon Levi from the Ha'aretz newspaper," said the voice on the other end of the phone line. "On Sunday, I will be moderating a symposium on the topic of Jerusalem. Health Minister Yuli Tamir will be there, Faisal Husseini from the Palestinian Authority will speak, and I will be happy if you would also come," he says.

The Jerusalem Theatre is filled with Jerusalem Leftists -- all sorts of "human rights" types. A film depicting the suffering of Jerusalem's Arabs under the Israeli occupation is screened. At the end, the audience is palpably angry.

"I am honored to present the Jerusalemite who holds the Education portfolio in the Palestinian Authority, Dr. Faisal Husseini," says Gideon Levi. Loud applause accompanies Husseini as he ascends the steps to the stage and seats himself near the small coffee table at center stage. "Our second guest is Health Minister Professor Yuli Tamir." The honorable minister also enjoys loud applause as she sits next to Husseini. "And our third guest, Mr. Moshe Feiglin." I don't hear any catcalls, but the absolute silence shouts even louder. I walk between the rows of seats to the stage. But before I could ascend the stairs, Husseini gets up, stands at the top of the steps and greets me with his outstretched hand. His hand remains in the air. I ignore him and seat myself next to Yuli Tamir.

"Before we begin our discussion," Levi says, "I must ask you a question, Mr. Feiglin. A respectable, mature person gets up in your honor and wishes to shake your hand. Why don't you respond in kind?" "Mr. Husseini is my enemy," I answer simply. "He wants my Jerusalem. Would you shake the hand of someone who demands your home?"

The discussion begins. Husseini speaks about his family who has lived in Jerusalem for 600 years. He speaks of the good neighborly relations between the Arabs and Jews, depicting the pastoral Garden of Eden that existed in Jerusalem before the Jewish conquest. "When the occupation will end," he concludes his words to the vigorous nodding of Minister Tamir, "we will once again live in peace."

"You know what, Faisal?" I turn to Husseini in a friendly tone. "We have something in common that nobody else in this auditorium shares." Husseini looks at me in surprise. The audience becomes alert, waiting for peace to break out in the hall. "I think that you and I are the only people in this entire auditorium that believe in G-d," I continue. "You do believe in G-d, isn't that correct, Mr. Husseini?" Husseini nods his agreement. "Now look," I continue. "I have brought a Bible with me. This is my holy book." I take a Bible out of my briefcase and place it on the coffee table. "Jerusalem appears in my holy book more than 800 times. You can count if you would like." Husseini nods his head, looking confused.

"I also brought another book," I continue as I pull a Koran that I had borrowed from the library out of my briefcase. "This is a Koran. It is your holy book. Is that correct?" Husseini nods his agreement. I place the Koran on the coffee table next to the Bible. "Can you please count how many times Jerusalem appears in your holy book? You will not have to work hard, because it doesn't appear at all. Now tell me -- to whom does Jerusalem belong? To the People of the Bible or the People of the Koran?"

To my surprise, the audience begins to applaud. This is the language with which we will retain our sovereignty over Jerusalem.

~ I think you get what I am talking about... Enjoy, Have a good one
~ Shulamit TTFN uh

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The Zionist Revolution

Check out this powerful speech given at the Israel Day Parade concert by Yehuda HaKohen of the Zionist Freedom Alliance.

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Exclusive: Meeting of the Elders, 10/05/07

the Elders when they were a bit younger

The Elders have met again. This took place last Thursday in the vicinity of the Temple Institute. Sorry it took me this long to get the info, but you're not going to get this anywhere else so just be grateful!

Anyhow, this meeting was devoted to a Stages Plan and to updates regarding the tunnel work currently being painstakingly carried out under the Temple Mount. When I say painstaking, I am understating to the maximum degree: the digs are performed by teams that include archaeologists and explosive experts - this is not just your ordinary tunnel. Plus there are acoustic issues - it's important that the people praying in the mosques don't hear the guys chiseling away. Sipur mehahaftara as we say!

So the tunnel part is confidential, I was not even allowed to look at the protocol dealing with that.

As for the Stages Plan, here is the relevant section:

Reb Moishe ben Duvid: Hey, why do Jews have big noses?

Reb Itamar ben Fishel: Because the air is for free, yes we know that one! Go on if you want to present your plan!

Reb Moishe ben Duvid: OK OK. So here is the plan I suggest. I have been speaking with Reb Effie [Eitam] about this by the way, he is leaking the plan in bits and pieces so the public can get used to it.

Stage A as you see in this chart is to make the public discourse in Israel a bit more aggressive and violent, get the pacifists in the media to gradually shut their yaps. This is progressing nicely. The tone is less sissyish and more violent, and this is good. I am seeing graffiti that says 'Kahana Tzadak' and it is not getting wiped away as fast as it used to.

Stage B is to get 'the cocktail' in government. I say cocktail because while we do not have a leader who can cure us from our AIDS, we can, through a combination of leaders, hold off the Arabs for quite a while. The cocktail looks like it will include Netanyahu and Eitam.

Stage C is to whack the Israeli Arab population over the head as we say. This we will accomplish by staging a provocation and then getting the 'cocktail' to declare martial law throughout the major Arab concentrations, from the Galilee to the Negev. There will be a curfew for at least a year, probably much longer, and it will be strictly and harshly enforced.

Stage D will be to convince the government to start bombing the Arabs in Yehuda Shomron and Aza, and show the world that we can be as mean, crazy and underhanded as the worst of them if need be. We don't play by the rules when the other side doesn't.

Stage E will involve a 1948-style expulsion of 90% of the Yesha Arabs.

Stage F will involve resettling 2-3 million Jews who will stream here, mostly from the USA, as a result of the massive anti-Semitic wave stage E will engender.

Stage G will involve getting some serious allies with us as we prepare for Stage H, the showdown with the Mohammedans. This means Zionist Christians but also countries like India and possibly Africa [I must say I agree with him: some sub-saharan African countries were the only ones who did not boycott the Jerusalem Day event! They have a simple, true belief, they love us and we need to be less racist and accept their love - G.R.].

Stage H will be the showdown! If we lose we die. If we win - we get tons and tons of oil and we die laughing!

(general laughter)


That's all I have for now.

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Rain in Jerusalem... in May?

Is summer time rain in Israel a bad sign? Is it a good sign since we need it? Is the rain falling because it's the year before Shmeta? Is it a sign that Moshiach is imminent? (My sister reminded me that the gemara says "seasons will cease.") Whatever the answer it poured and hailed hard today... here's a video if you missed it!

muse of Me-ander also wrote about this and posted pictures.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

1967: A Year of Jewish Military Campaigns

The friendly folks over at Chabad are happy to point out that more than one important military campaign was launched in 1967.

According to Lubavitch, 2007 marks the 40 year anniversary of the great Rabbi General Menachem Mendel's Tefillin campaign, which also has helped the nation and people of Israel expand their spiritual borders.

Check out this 1 minute video in honor of the anniversary, entitled "The Tefillin Booth"

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Full post and comments... Yom Yerushalayim Video

4007 AA

Abraham about to kick someone's butt

All this talk by Yishai about it being '67 again (in the Hebrew counting) reminds me of an old idea of mine.

I think counting according to when Jesus was supposedly born, or crucified, is a bad idea. Otoh, it's hard to go from the present system to the Hebrew one. To go from 2007 to 5767 you have to add 3760. Who can do that in his head, except Chinese people? Very hard.

Saying 'CE' and 'BCE' doesn't do it for me either. The 'C' is still there, and we know what it originally stood for.

So I suggest a third way of counting. We start from Abraham, and we arbitrarily decide that 'Abraham' happened at 2000 BCE. That way, to get what year we are at After Abraham, you just add 2000 to the AD date. So we are now at 4007 AA.


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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerusalem Day 5767: Historic Footage of the Liberation of the Temple Mount

Despite forces within Israel on both the right and to the left, who do everything in their power to distance the Jewish People from connecting to the Temple Mount and yearning for Temple Consciousness - the Jewish People will not be denied.

On that note, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the Temple Mount, take a moment to watch the historic video footage that captured the dramatic moment:

After you've watched the video, head on over to Israel National News, where a special site commemorating the 40 years since the liberation of much of the Land of Israel took place. You'll find photos, videos, audio clips, essays and many other exciting and inspiring tidbits all relating to the Six Day War.

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Yerushalayim Wins the Championship!

At first I was debating whether or not to post this on Kumah, because even though this is about Israel's soccer champion, 40 people were injured, including 2 teenagers severely in riots after last week's Beitar Yerushalayim soccer game. But the championship celebration Sunday night, as the local Jerusalem team won the Israeli championship during the week of celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the re-unification of Jerusalem, was a special Jerusalem experience and showed that even in a secular setting, Jerusalemites look to G-d.

I wouldn't have even been in the area of Gan Sacher if I didn't play a weekly softball pick-up game Sunday nights from 10-midnight. We were warned that a party would be going on before and during our game so we should come early to find parking. A game that if Beitar Yerushalayim won would clinch them 1st place and the championship of the Israel soccer league against Hapoel Tel Aviv was displayed on many large screens that were set up in the park adjacent to our softball field (Kraft Stadium name for the Jewish owner of the New England Patriots who donated the money for it). During our game, Beitar Yerushalayim scored a goal in the 93rd minute to complete a comeback and win 2-1. The park erupted! Fireworks were shot off for 10 minutes, then music started blasting for the rest of the night. When our softball game ended I walked over to join the fun. There were probably at least 50,000 fans throughout the night, many who stayed very late, even a decent number of religious (even a few chareidim) celebrating. I took many pictures and as I was shooting, people kept asking me to take pictures of them that I emailed to a few of them later (1 even bought me ice cream for my services). The whole team came on their way back from the Ramat Gan stadium and ran on to the stage, and sang their theme song. I was pleasantly surprised when their theme song turned out to be Mordechai Ben David's Ma'aminim! "We are believers, sons of believers, and we don't have upon whom to rely except our Father in Heaven!" One of the singers who performed throughout the night wore a kipah and sang from Tehillim (Shabchi Yerushalayim) and Shir HaShirim. The speakers and players kept thanking Hashem and praying to be back again next
year, with Hashem's help. It was a very unique kind of "ticker-tape-parade" equivalent, just a whole community party in the park. It felt like a big family celebrating a special occasion together. I was at the Yankees ticker-tape-parade after the 2000 World Series, but I think this was more meaningful. For more pictures, go here, here, and here.

Fans wave Yellow and Black scarves (the thing to buy for an Israeli soccer team comparable to the purpose of a baseball cap in America)
Championship Banner
Players Arrive

Players Spray Champagne on Fans

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Tonight the Kotel is the place to be!!!

This video was taken on Jerusalem Day last year.

Expect more of the same tonight!

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I love you, Jerusalem!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Triple Whammy Anti-Islamists

So when I was in LA over Pesach I went to a kick-ass lecture at UCLA (register here to watch it) criticizing Islamic totalitarianism by very hardcore Islam critics who are not afraid to tell it like it is. It was organized by the "Logic" club which is the campus club for fans of Ayn Rand.

It was a triple whammy panel with Daniel Pipes, Wafa Sultan, and Yaron Brook. Pipes is the most well-known, a scholar of Islam who I think invented the word "Islamist." The "Islamists" in the room (Muslim radicals) can't stand him and always stand in the hall and boo him when he speaks, until they are eventually shooed away.

Wafa Sultan, a Muslim hozer b'she'elah (rebel) risks her life to speak the truth about her former religion. (Read my brief interview with her.)

My personal favorite, who people are just starting to discover, is Yaron Brook, an expatriate Israeli who is the head of the Ayn Rand Institute and stridently speaks out pro-Israel from a secular, "rightist" perspective, bashing both secular leftsits and the relgious right alike. (Read my interview with him from ages ago as well.)

What I like about them is that they seek to ground their arguments in secular logic.

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Rabbi Ariel Recounts the Liberation of Jerusalem

I'm not sure if this is relevant or not to the discussion about aliyah ('kosher style' etc.) because I guess conquest is not the same as settlement, but I think it may be. It is taken from an interview in Besheva with Rabbi Ariel, who recounts the liberation of Jerusalem. He was a paratrooper himself.

The soldiers' low morale was evident in their faces, and Rabbi Goren strengthened them with words of truth, as Rabbi Ariel recalls with admiration. These words became a central perception of Ariel's, as years went by and his study deepened. "He said that of all the mitzvot, the only mitzva for which a person may endanger himself lechatchila - on purpose - is the conquest of Eretz Yisrael. Shabat, Yom Kippur and other important commandments are cancelled in the face of mortal danger - pikuach nefesh - but not the conquest of the land. 'Therefore you should know,' he said, "that those who are gone died for kiddush Hashem, for the sanctification of the Lord's Name, and those who died for the Kingdom - no entity can stand next to them.'"

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Is the U.S. Really Israel's Friend?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a "friend" can be defined as:

1. A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
2. A person whom one knows; an acquaintance.
3. A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.
4. One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement
5. Friend A member of the Society of Friends; a Quaker.

According to that same dictionary, a "foe" is defined as:

1. A personal enemy.
2. An enemy in war.
3. An adversary; an opponent: a foe of tax reform.
4. Something that opposes, injures, or impedes.

Israel and the United States have always professed to be "friends" and good friends at that. Yet, a recent examination of U.S. policy toward Israel over the past several weeks, may have you checking your definitions a little more closely.

In June 1967, Israel was forced to defeat the attacking armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Israel tried to avoid war at all costs, but as diplomacy failed (as it often does here in the Middle East) Israel had no choice but to take pre-emptive action to defend its borders and protect its citizens.

In the stunning victory, Israel swiftly repossessed the Golan, Gaza, Sinai, Yehuda, Shomron, and re-unified a divided Jerusalem. The re-unification of our nation marks perhaps the highest spiritual point in Israel's brief 59 year history.

This week according to IsraelNationalNews, the United States Ambassador to Israel will not be present at celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the miraculous Six-Day War.

This week's festivities are certainly the type in which Israel would like its friends to be present. It is not that our friends are busy with prior engagements, but rather that the United States is boycotting the festivities, along with member nations of the European Union.

According to the INN report:
"The U.S. did not issue an official statement explaining why the current Ambassador, Richard Jones will not be attending the ceremonies, but Ambassador Dr. Harald Kindermann from Germany, which heads the European Union (EU) this year, specifically said EU countries will not participate because of Arab claims of sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem, which includes the Old City."

Perhaps this incident can be brushed aside as part of some grand political game the U.S. must play to appease others across the globe. But some other recent occurances are harder to overlook.

When Winograd Commission released its interim report into the Israeli government and military's mismanagement of the Summer War in Lebanon, the Jewish nation was engaged in sharp condemnation of its leaders, and calls for their resignation. Winograd dominated news coverage for a solid week, and still appears in the headlines on a regular basis.

Just two days after the report was released to the public, there was another, no less important news story in the headlines: The United States had presented Israel with a detailed timetable of commitments for Jewish State to satisfy, in line with the U.S.'s renewed push for the creation of a Palestinian state.

This seemingly important top news story only managed modest news coverage, and barely any opinion, because as mentioned, Israel was engulfed in Winograd.

One may ask whether a timetable, or the creation of an Arab state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan represent acts of friendship to Israel at all. But to present Israel with this kind of wish list when it did, was intentional.

The State Department could have easily pushed off its diplomatic attempt by a week or more, as proved by Condoleeza Rice's postponement of her scheduled trip to Israel this past week. She claimed that Israel was too busy with its own domestic issues to engage in diplomacy.

So why then was the timetable given to Israel when it was? Specifically to dodge any media criticism of the document, and to attempt to have the commitments accepted and in place, just in case Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was man enough to resign his post following the damning Winograd report.

While the timing of the document may or may not be friendly, the contents of the timetable further reveal the nature of the United States toward Israel.

The first commitment called for in the document presented by the State Department requests that Israel ease passage between Gaza and the provinces of Judea and Samaria--also known today as the West Bank.

Since the Israeli Withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, during which Israel destroyed 21 Jewish communities and forcibly expelled upwards of 10,000 residents, Gaza has turned into a terror state. Hamas has taken control of the region, sponsoring terror activities including the firing of nearly 2000 Kassam rockets into Israel. Well over 60 tons of weapons and munitions have been smuggled into Gaza via Egypt, and the rival factions in the newly autonomous area have engaged in murderous street fights that fall somewhere in between anarchy and civil war.

Now, the United States is suggesting, strongly, that Israel allow Arabs of Gaza passage into Judea and Samaria. This despite the fact that there is a large landmass of indisputed Israeli territory between the aforementioned regions, and also despite the fact that Judea and Samaria wrap directly around the borders of Jerusalem, and end within ten miles of the greater Tel Aviv metropolitan population center.

Obviously the United States knows all of these facts, particularly when you consider that they are openly arming, funding, and training members of the Fatah terror faction in their struggle for control of the Palestinian Authority with Hamas.

By the way, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of Fatah wrote his doctoral thesis on Holocaust denial, and openly calls for the very weapons donated to his cause by the United States should be turned against the Jewish people.

So to summarize, the United States is funding and arming sworn enemies of the Jewish State and asking the Jewish State to ease their travel near Israeli population centers. They ask us to do this when the media is too caught up Winograd to rightfully comment on the request.

And the U.S. who is acting squarely against the interests of safety for Israeli citizens and security for Israel's borders, won't celebrate with as friends the greatest demonstration of Israel's independent ability to protect those interests: The miraculous Six-Day War.

Many Americans and Israelis alike believe claims by their respective governments that Israel and America are friends. But actions speak louder than words.

"Well meant are the wounds a friend inflicts, but profuse are the kisses of an enemy." (Proverbs 27:6).

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Exclusive Photos: Dozens of Leading Rabbis Make Aliyah to the Temple Mount

Do-Gooder Alert: Comfort Esther Malka

You may recall that some of our cousins who didn't make the cut for Little Mosque on the Prairie recently bashed in the head of a Jewish woman driving her car in Efrat as she was on her way home (if this isn't a legitimate way to express your dewy-eyed dreams of national sovereignty, I don't know what is!!).

Today, my co-host and I did an interview with Nadia Matar of Women in Green, who is organizing on Esther's behalf. (As of this post, the specific link isn't up - check out The Weekend Edition for May 13).

If you will not be able to attend rallies for Esther, or otherwise visit her, you can send her your well-wishes (which, with G-d's help, she'll read if she ever wakes up again, B"H) and even donations - Nadia has agreed to personally deliver all correspondence.

So here's contact info for Esther Malka (Esther bat Zohara):

Esther Malka
c/o Women in Green
P.O.B. 1269
Efrat, ISRAEL 90435

Terror attacks aren't just awful, they're devastating. Even with socialized medicine, medical costs can accumulate, the victim is not longer providing income, and the family decreases its work in order to be there for the victim. This creates a financial drain that is difficult to reverse - your donations, I'm sure, would be welcome.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Rav Frand on Behar: Olim Are Not Normal

Do not let the title fool you. Rav Frand means that in the nicest way possible. The following was published several years ago.

Aspiring to not be Normal: Holy Fruit Are Consumed by Holy People
By Rabbi Frand on Parshas Behar - Bechukosai 5762

Parshas Behar contains the parsha of the Shmita [Sabbatical] year. Shmita is a mind-boggling concept. Shmita teaches us that an apple that grows in the Land of Israel has holiness. An Esrog that grows in the Shmita year has holiness. We generally think of holiness in terms of a Torah scroll which has G-d's Name written therein. An animal acquires holiness if it is dedicated to G-d. However, we (who are outside of Israel) do not usually encounter the concept of fruits, vegetables and grains that have holiness. Such is the power of the Land of Israel. Eretz Yisroel is a different land. Wheat that grows there is different wheat!

Rav Mordechai Gifter (1916-2001) related an incident involving the Ponevezer Rav (1886-1969). In a Shmita year, the Ponevezer Rav went over to a tree, kissed the tree and said "Good Shabbos to you". Just like there is a special day - Shabbos -- on which we have to feel special, so too in Eretz Yisroel during the Shmita year, it is Shabbos for the land.

Several years ago, I recall listening to "All Things Considered" on National Public Radio. To commemorate the signing of the then-recent Peace Accords, there was a segment about Israel in general. It was a piece about the difference between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. This program reminded me of the concept that Eretz Yisroel is not a normal land.

What is the difference between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem? They interviewed several people. The thrust of the responses was that Tel Aviv is a "normal city". Tel Aviv is a pragmatic city. "It is a city which is unencumbered by history. Tel Aviv is like Miami!"

Jerusalem is not Miami. Jerusalem is not pragmatic. Jerusalem is not "normal". Jerusalem is "encumbered by history" - thousands of years of history that the city must bear on its shoulders.

They contrasted the differences between a Friday afternoon in Tel Aviv and a Friday afternoon in Jerusalem. They had excerpts of the sounds of Tel Aviv: teenagers listening to 'Rap music'. They commented "this is so normal". A person on the street Friday afternoon in Tel Aviv could shut his eyes and just listen to the music and think he was in downtown Baltimore. Tel Aviv is 'normal'.

On the other hand, "the Orthodox Jews, many of them dressed in the broad brimmed hats and the long caftans, are scurrying through the streets of Jerusalem trying to prepare for the upcoming Sabbath". Tel Aviv is "normal". Jerusalem is "abnormal".

This is saying that the wish of many Israelis has been achieved. The wish of many of them has been "let us be like all the nations" [Samuel I 8:20]. We just want to be "normal". We do not want to have this burden of history, this burden of theology, this burden of Judaism. We want to be normal.

They fail to realize -- and this is sad to say what is happening -- that if the goal in life is that Tel Aviv should be like Miami, then it makes more sense to just go to Miami. If the goal is to imitate Miami, where one can find drugs and vice 24 hours a day and there is no need to worry about history -- then why shouldn't they just go to the real one?

In fact, many of them are leaving. Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, who now spends most of his time in Jerusalem, recently wrote the following:

They abandoned the Kibbutz in droves, physically and spiritually, for the less austere life and ultimately the greater comforts and the material opportunities of Canada and the United States. The most sacred tenet of secular Zionist canon - settling in Israel - is utterly ignored. As the secularists painfully know, 'Yerida' from Israel is primarily a secular phenomenon while 'Aliya' to Eretz Yisroel is primarily Orthodox.

According to conservative estimates, there are close to a half million former Israelis now living in the West. That is to say that while those raised on a religion-less diet abandon Israel for the West, those raised on Mitzvah observance apparently do not find it difficult to abandon the luxuries of the West for a less comfortable life in Israel. This has resulted in the following anomaly: Hebrew spoken in American electronic stores on 42nd street in New York and on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, while English is spoken in Israeli Yeshivos like Kerem B'Yavneh and Brisk. The Orthodox in Israel, whether they are Chassidim, Charedim, Sephardim, or Kippot Serugot ask a troubling question of the secularists. Who today, are the real 'Lovers of Zion'? That is the real irony of ironies. Who are the 'Zionists' today? Who are the 'Chovevei Tsion'? It is those who observe Torah and Mitzvos. Those are the real Zionists. Those are the people that are willing to live in an 'abnormal' land.

This is what we must understand about Eretz Yisroel. It is in fact NOT normal. It is not normal that when an apple grows, I must consider all types of ritual considerations regarding how to treat the apple. It is not normal, but that is what Eretz Yisroel is all about. This is what being a Jew is all about. A Jew is encumbered with history. He is encumbered with theology. If one fails to realize and appreciate that, there is really no reason to live in Eretz Yisroel.

There was a recent article in the New York Times that noted that the secular Israelis look upon the immigrants (olim) who come from the United States to Israel as if they are crazy. In their view, there is no sane person that is living in the United States and has a livelihood in the United States and a house in the United States who gives it up for living in Israel. They feel that anyone who makes Aliyah from the United States nowadays must be out of his mind.

In a sense these secular Israelis are right. It does take people who are not 'normal' to live in a Land that is not 'normal'. But this non- normalcy is something that we must admire and something to which we must aspire. People who are willing to give up the lap of luxury to fulfill a mitzvah - those people can live in a land where apples and grapefruits are holy.

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Little Mosque on the Prairie

I'm one of those American/Israeli Jews who never really divorced herself from American pop culture. Not that I was so into it to begin with, but I'm still more entertained by American content than by Israeli. And I have a weakness for TV. This moral turpitude has led me to discover a wide and wonderful world of programming on the internet, seeing as I'm so far away from my good friends at NBC and CBS.

Every once in a while, you not only find something entertaining, but you find something educational or important.

On one sunny afternoon, unable to soothe my TV gluttony, I perused a site and found a series whose title made me laugh out loud - Little Mosque on the Prairie.

Online Videos by

At the website, you can watch all the episodes that have been syndicated so far. Produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, this show is meant to show you how sweet, regular, and downright endearing Muslims are, and what a pleasure it would be if only you could have some in your neighborhood. A more brilliant and subtle-yet-unsubtle piece of propaganda one nary has the privilege to witness.

So I propose we come up with some counter propaganda- so far, I have "Little Third Temple on the Prairie", "Days of Our Pascal Offerings", "Afikomen Break" (a drama about a lost Afikomen and the angsty attempts of the family to find it and eat it) and "CSI" (Coming Soon to Israel, a show about how ALL the Jews want to make aliyah, and how easy, fun, and economically satisfying it is). There's also "The Cosby Show", about that nasty incident involving Pinchas and public impropriety, but I think that's a more Cinemax niche.

Touche to Arabia - nice work. Darn it.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Neo-Zionist Challenge: Shmittah & The Living Torah

Next year is going to a be a Shmittah year - the one year in every seven, where the Land of Israel must be left to lie fallow.

Since the destruction of the 1st Holy Temple in Jerusalem, until present times - over 2,500 years later - Shmittah has been only Rabbinically mandated. However, within the next 25 years, when the majority of the Jewish People will be living in the Land of Israel, Shmittah (along with all of the other Mitzvot HaTeluyot Ba'aretz - Land of Israel dependent commandments) will return to Biblically mandated status.

Below are two article presenting differing perspectives as to how modern Israeli society should be relating to Shmittah - each with their own set of pros and cons:

1) Chief Rabbinate to Reduce Use of Special 7th-Year Dispensation

2) The ground beneath our feet

Equally important as the solution that will ultimately be agreed upon and implemented is the discussion in itself.

For 2,000+ years, this discussion did not take place - could not take place - in a manner that had any practical relevance. With the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel the Torah of Israel has returned to life.

Rabbi Yotav Eliach puts it best:
The Torah sets up a constitutional blueprint for the running of a Jewish society which is anchored in a Jewish state. Parashat Mishpatim, most of Vayikra and Bemidbar, and all of Sefer Devarim, make this point very clear. Judaism is not merely interested in the ritualistic aspects of our lives. It is rather a framework for running a Jewish republic, one complete with a court system, government, army, welfare and tax system. Finally, this constitutional blueprint is not meant for implementation in any piece of territory in which the Jewish nation may happen to be the majority, but primarily in the one country whose boundaries are clearly outlined geographically in the Torah: The Land of Israel.

One of the striking ways to reinforce these points is by showing that there are four basic areas of mitzvot in the Torah that are dependent upon the Land of Israel in one way or another:

a) All mitzvot connected to the Beit Hamikdash in any shape or form;
b) All mitzvot connected to having a Sanhedrin court system functioning;
c) All mitzvot connected to the soil of Israel;
d) All mitzvot connected to the running of the government, army, and taxes.

Taken together, these four areas make up approximately 50% of the 613 mitzvot. Another graphic way to make the point of Israel's centrality to Jewish life is by looking at the Shas. Two of the six sedarim of Shas, Kodashim and Taharot, are totally dependent upon the Land of Israel, as is Seder Zera'im (with the exception of Masekhet Berakhot).

The fourth, Seder Mo'ed, is also very dependent upon the Land of Israel. All the special sacrifices associated with each holiday are dependent upon the Beit Hamikdash in Israel, as is aliyah la'regel, bikkurim, and the bringing of the omer. The fifth, Seder Nezikin, is also connected, to a large extent, to the concept of a functioning Jewish legal system existing in the land of Israel, headed by the Sanhedrin. Only the sixth seder - Nashim - can be kept almost in its entirety (the exception being Sotah) outside the boundaries of Israel.
Thank G-d for the challenges that go along with living in the Land of Israel!

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Kumah NINE Time JIBs Finalist - Vote Now!

UPDATE 5/15:

We have marked the votes that are extremely close. Like 1 vote close! So please vote for those first if that's all you have time for. Thanks!

It's official. Thanks to our loyal Kumah readership Kumah has gone to the finals in every single category that she was nominated in. What's more? Every single Kumah blogger that was nominated through another blog has also made it to the finals in every category they were nominated for. Looking around at the competition in the finals is humbling because it really is unbelievable company to be in. That said we are clearly the underdog that has already gone further than anyone thought we would. It sends a great message that people are excited about the Aliyah Revolution!

And now even more eyes are on us! So let's send an even greater message!

1.To vote click on a link below. (Repeat this for all links.)
A new window should open. (Or right click and "open in new window.")


3.Close the window and right click on the next link...

Kumah's "Shabbat Candle Ladies" post is in the finals for

Best Jewish Religious Post

And Kumah is in the finals for:

Best Group Blog - VERY CLOSE!

Best Slice of Life in Israel Blog

Best Pro-Israel Advocacy Blog

Best Designed - VERY CLOSE!

Best Contribution / Blog that Made a Difference - VERY CLOSE!

Best Jewish Humor Post for Becoming a Real Israeli

Kumah also made it to the finals twice (even with "splitting the vote") in:

Best Live Event Coverage Post - "HOMESH" one is VERY CLOSE!
(Vote for either one.)

Kumah Bloggers In the Finals

Malkah's Eyshet Chayil - Best Kosher Food/Recipe Post (listed as "Chayil.")- VERY CLOSE!

Ze'ev's Israel Perspectives - Best Right-Wing Political Blog

Also, my personal blog Point of Pinchas is in the finals for

Best Personal Blog

Best Photo/Graphics Blog - VERY CLOSE!

Best Picture or Video in a Post
This is for photos I took at a Nefesh B'Nefesh (NBN) flight arrival.


Best Series
This is for my "Only in Israel" Series.

As always, there are links to all of these posts on the respective voting pages if you have time to check them out. Polls close on May 16, 10pm US-EDT.

Thanks again for your support!

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

See, I Knew it Was 'Tipex'

So Tipex has finally explained why they started spelling their name "Teapacks":

We were originally called Tipex, as in wipeout fluid, because we are trying to wipe out differences between people. We are combining together different kinds of Israel, like Arab Jew Israel with East European kind of Israel. But we found out there are students that are sniffing this fluid and it caused brain damage so we changed our name to Teapacks. We didn't want to take responsibility for this.

I know some guys named Ehud who should maybe change their names so friends of theirs don't maybe vote guys named Ehud into power.

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From Temple Consciousness to Temple Consensus?

Ever since the liberation of the Temple Mount 40 years ago, those who have been pushing for the Jewish People to assume a greater connection with the Mount, as well as promoting Temple consciousness have been in the minority.

Until now, that is...

Increasing number of rabbis are allowing Jews to enter Temple Mount

An increasing number of religious Zionist rabbis are allowing their followers to enter the Temple Mount, contrary to the religious consensus on the matter.

This weekend, the rabbis Haim Druckman and Avraham Zukerman, of the Bnei Akiva youth movement, and Tzafania Drori, chief rabbi of Kiryat Shmona, are set to join this growing group with an ad in the Orthodox media. The rabbis, who are major figures in the religious Zionist movement, will call on Jews wishing to enter the Temple Mount "in purity, to ascend at this time to the to the places permitted for Jews to enter."

The three rabbis are known for their principle support for letting Jews on to the Temple Mount. But they had not yet expressed their stand formally, because of the religious sensitivity of the issue. Now, in honor of the 40th anniversary of Jerusalem's unification, with many right-wing movements placing the Temple Mount on their agenda, the rabbis have decided to call publicly on Jews to go to the Mount.

In publishing the ad, they will be joining dozens of other rabbis of the religious Zionist stream, among them rabbis in West Bank settlements, who in recent years have allowed Jews to go to the Temple Mount within the bounds of Jewish law.
It's taken forty years, but perhaps the relationship of the Jewish People to the Temple Mount is beginning to change for the better.

Additionally, let's not overlook the moral to this story.

For many years, there have been a handful of dedicated individuals and organizations who have devoted themselves to promoting Temple Consciousness. At first they were viewed as radicals or a fringe element, but over time, as can be seen from the above story, their efforts have begun to produce results, and their messages and ideology are slowly but surely working there way into the consensus.

Temple consciousness... Neo-Zionism... The Aliyah Revolution...

It's all just a matter of time.

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Bringing Jews to Israel is a Strategic Blunder

From a comment on Israel National Radio

There is nothing better that our enemies could wish for than to have lots of us in one place at one time.


Tony Trenton


My response:

Tony Tony Tony,

It's sad when a person feels so strongly about something so wrong. Your whole "brainy" theory rests on one simple underlying message - fear - be afraid - the big bad monster is going to kill you itsy-bitsy Jews. Tony, I have two surprises for you: 1. There is a G-d, and His will is stronger then our enemies and 2. He has finally granted the right to have our own state, and it too knows how to fight. We are coming back home, and our strength is going to come from our unity not our dispersion. You wrote: "There is nothing better that our enemies could wish for than to have lots of us in one place at one time." So why do they fight it so hard? Why are they so afraid of it? Obviously they know something you don't. The Jewish people reunited with our Land is an unbeatable force. So Tony, do me a favor, stop trying to scare us, we're not afraid.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Every Jew is responsible for one another? (Kol Yisrael areivim zeh la'zeh?)

Drivers ignore dying man on road

(Click here if video doesn't download.)




These are just a few of the words that come to mind.

Can it be that Israeli society has become so cold, unforgiving and apathetic (as Avi Dichter, Israel's Internal Security minister, asserts)?

Before casting blame and making sweeping judgements, it's important to place this tragic event in the proper context.

On the morning of March 13th, 1964, 29 year old Kitty Genovese was brutally murdered just outside her New York apartment.

For over 30 minutes, 40 of Ms. Genovese's neighbors watched the brutal attack, doing absolutely nothing. Only 35 minutes after the attack had begun did someone finally call the police.

In order to determine if New Yorkers were in fact cold and heartless, or, if perhaps there was another explanation as to why no one responded to Ms. Genovese's cries for help, a series of experiments were conducted.
The researchers consistently found that as the number of bystanders increased, the likelihood that any one of them would help decreased.
This phenomenon is known as the "bystander effect".
If we are by ourselves when an emergency occurs, we perceive ourselves to be 100% responsible for taking action. However, when there are 10 bystanders, we each perceive ourselves to have only a tenth of the responsibility. The higher the number of bystanders, the less obligated each individual is likely to feel to intervene.
Another explanation given is...
If we are unsure of our own perceptions and interpretations, or if the situation is ambiguous, we look to others for help in defining what is going on. If others appear calm, we may decide that whatever is happening doesn't require our assistance.
When these findings are applied to Israel society, I believe that we can better understand why this tragic event occurred, and how similar occurrences can be prevented in the future..

Frankly, over the last two decades, as corruption and deceit infected many of the seats of power within Israeli society - particularly the government - average Israelis came to feel that they were no longer able to make a difference. Israeli society was now ruled by the law of the jungle - everyone for themselves and the survival of the fittest - and whoever didn't play by those rules would come to be viewed as friers / (suckers) - the absolute worst thing you can call an Israeli.

It is not a matter of Israeli society being populated by cold and heartless individuals, quite to the contrary. However, the foreign values that have consciously been imported from abroad (courtesy of Israel's ruling elites), such as individualism and materialism have come to replace the authentic Jewish values of self-sacrifice and of caring for the needs of the community.

We are taught in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers, 5:22):
Whoever possesses these three qualities belongs to the disciples of Abraham our father: a generous eye, a humble spirit, and a meek soul.

But he who possesses the three opposite qualities--an evil eye, a proud spirit, and a haughty soul--is of the disciples of Bilam the wicked.
So, what is the solution?

I believe that each and every one of us needs to take upon themselves a sense of personal responsibility for making the Jewish State of Israel the best it can possibly be.

True, there are many challenges within Israeli society, and we can't possibly overcome all of them with our limited abilities and resources, but, returning once again to Pirkei Avot, 2:21:
It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task. Yet, you are not free to desist from it.

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Israel Day Parade?


So I was going to write this a couple of days ago. But a wise person once told me, to never write when your really angry, instead, chill out a bit, and see if you still feel what you want to say, because words are very powerful, and once spoken, are very hard to retract. So going against my nature, I listened...

This post will not be as sharp as it was going to be, but still voice some harsh criticism. A part of me feels that I am not in the position to say what I am about to, but I waited till the chill took over, and I still don't get it. I know I still live in America, and I know that some people think that, in itself, would nullify any views that I have about Israel and its future, however, I am a Jew, before an American, and for that reason, I feel a connection to a place that is not currently my reality (except when I close my eyes), but is still close to my heart. So for everyone reading this, take this paragraph as a warning, and if you are one of those that feel only people living in Israel should have a view regarding its land, proceed with caution.

That being said, I am proud to admit that I boycotted the Salute to Israel day Parade in NYC this lovely Sunday. Instead, I took my bike up to my nephews and went biking and had a bon fire. I have been going to this yearly salute to Israel parade for a while. Sometimes I march and other times I help activism run freely through the crowds of on lookers. But this year, I refused to be a part of it. The reason is really quite simple, but since I am Jewish, I will try to make it as confusing as possible.

Last week, I felt the Israeli people had the capacity to over throw the most corrupt government that I have ever known. Not only the ever so popular monetary issues, but also moral, and worst of all lack of common sense and direction for their nation. Before the Winograd Commission came out, most people that know how to use any part of their brain could have told you that Olmert and his club members were unqualified and incompetent with running our precious country. But that was all "here say" since no factual "proof" was at hand. Kind of like when my friends wouldn't believe me when I would tell them that leaving Gush Katif would do more harm then heal, nearly two years ago. Today we know this as a fact, and no one will deny this. But before Gilad was kidnapped and havoc ran free in the strip, no one would believe this un documented concoction I was ranting about. Well Israelis, you got your proof. Are you satisfied now? Will you listen next time? Now, after its not only common knowledge that Olmert, Pertz, and Livni have no clue what they were and are doing, but it has been documented and accepted by a "commission" What are you going to do? Ohhh, lets all shudder, as if this knowledge was just unraveled and came to light out of the blue. But okay, I don't live in Israel, so this is me NOT judging until I am in the position. But as humans, when we find something out, that we know is wrong, and it's been proved and explained via hundreds of pages, GET UP AND DO SOMETHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeh, a rally of 150,000 people, that's a nice START... but hello, it's a start, not a response. Please tell me that wasn't your response. Look in the mirror, look who you are, and what each of you can do, realize that if one time you got over 100k, then DO IT AGAIN. Stop settling, and accepting the situation that you have allowed yourselves to be placed in (this is me NOT ranting). But for this reason, I did not go to a parade in AMERICA and wave a white and blue flag, that signifies a people that accept a government that allows its soldiers
to be put in clear and present danger and NOT DO ANYTHING.

I will not associate myself with that. And although that flag signifies other stuff aside for the corrupt government, but in America, the flag represents the country. And right now, I can't. I just can't. Its one thing in America when citizens dislike President Bush and balm him for a war that some say he created. But where is my little "proof." The one thing that no one can bash. Who will admit with a clear conscience that the Israeli government has its citizen's intentions close to heart, or even near its body?

Then there is this parade, of people that wave a flag and prance around NYC all proud of supporting Israel, which I think is great, awesome, sweet, but really. I mean, really. Do you really need this kind of support, when you can't even get a government that doesn't care about you, OUT? What's up with Shas? Will they stay in a coalition that they know helped facilitate a war that was not planed from day one, and knew no victory. Israelis, who do you vote for? Who do you follow? Leaders that go toward money and when push comes to shove, will side with the corrupt rather then step down?

No I will not wave an Israeli flag in a parade down my hood. No I will not side with the corrupt government, nor with people that aren't pressuring their "leaders" to do the right thing. As you can see, you can't rely on them, now it's up to you. Or you can just follow and let our captive brothers stay where they are, and allow another war to ensue, and smile when you read about a bunch of Americans waving an Israelite flag through New York City.

I am really trying NOT to rant, and be chilled about wishing some of you could get some New York attitude in your system, and kick some... So instead, I am going to let you read the lyrics to a song, that when played really LOUD helps. I don't really like the band, but the lyrics are too perfect for what ALL Israelis should be feeling right now

You can listen to it,HERE

Partial lyrics: Dixie Chicks - Not ready to make nice:

Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I'm not sure I could.
They say time heals everything,
But I'm still waiting

I'm through, with doubt,
There's nothing left for me to figure out,
I've paid a price, and I'll keep paying

I'm not ready to make nice,
I'm not ready to back down,
I'm still mad as hell
And I don't have time
To go round and round and round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
Cause I'm mad as hell
Can't bring myself to do what it is
You think I should

I know you said
Why can't you just get over it,
It turned my whole world around
and I kind of like it
Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I'm not sure I could.
They say time heals everything,
But I'm still waiting

I think this song is VERY self explanatory toward the topic at hand. However, if you would like me to reiterate the meaning that I find in it, I will be more the happy to comply. But for now, I think this post is long enough, and I hope I didn't upset too many people. But I'm not ready to back down, and you shouldn't either. I am here in NY and I am begging you guys, to WAKE UP, and don't just "get over it and make nice" because it's your life on the line now. No amount of Americans waving blue and white flags will "save" you this time. It's your time to get up and follow a leader, that's worth following, or at least get rid of the leaders that should be ashamed to exist in your precious country.

Nighty night, Dftss, and the omer :-)

~ Shulamit

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Boro Park Bathroom Holier Than Tel Aviv

Wasn't gonna let a gem comment like this get away buried at the bottom of a two week old post...

At 9:16 PM , Der Shygetz said...

This is one kosher Jew who will never make yerida to the failed Bolshevik "Israeli Soviet Socialist Republic."

There are only 2 places in the world (and I've lived in a supposedly anti-Semitic European country where never once did I have any problems) where I have been made fun of for my typical "charedi" dress. One was Copenhagen, Denmark, and the culprits were Muslim teens. The other was Yerushalayim, and it did not happen just once, either. And the culprits were deracinated descendants of tayere Yidden who were forced to secularize by the Bolshevik regime in the medina.

The Israelis, religious, secular, and yes, chareidi, are "playing country" the way we played store or house as little children. And Daddy, made up of the USA, Jews from abroad, and a few suspicious characters like Leviev and Gaidamak (intelligence-mafia operatives), Arison (fortune inherited from Daddy who left Israel and made in the USA), Tshuva (pushtak who got lucky), etc who made their money abroad and are laundering it through Israel, are paying the bill.

Your country is kosher style. It sticks out its kosher feet which is eretz hakedoisha that it occupies, but the rest is glatt treyf. It is an occupation force that is defiling Eretz Yisroel. There is more kedusha in a bathroom in Boro Park than in most of Tel Aviv.

Talk about a fat pitch...

Any takers?

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Is Christian Support for Israel Legitimate?

Is Christian support for Israel legitimate? Israel National News has an article up about the Chief Rabbinate banning Jewish participation in a Christian group's (Bridges for Peace) women's conference scheduled for next week in Jerusalem. They claim that the organization's concentration on "Judeo-Christian values" and the study of "the Jewish foundations of Christianity" are forbidden. The rabbis ruled that these efforts are actually part of a long-running campaign to bring Israeli-Jews to believe in Jesus.

At the same time Pastor John Hagee gave a rousing "sermon" at the AIPAC conference which people are talking about.

My opinion:

I hate when people say "Israel - you are not alone".

A. We are not alone, so you don't have to worry about it, G-d is on our side, and so are people who are truly with G-d and B. We don't mind being alone. Nothing wrong with individualism. Sometimes when your leading you are alone at the head.

I hate when people say "Israel - we support you". Support means that there's a big entity and a small entity, the bigger helping the smaller. I don't think Israel needs Christian help (nor do I think Evangelical Christianity has helped Israel one iota) and detest the email I get from Christians who tell me that I should stop ripping Jesus if I want to continue receiving their support. The good people of this world do not need to flaunt their support if it comes from the heart. Have you ever heard Micronesia make demands on Israel in return for its support?

BUT while I hate "support", I do not mind cooperation and friendship. I have met Christians who are leaving their false beliefs in favor of a more Bible-oriented world-view. I have met Christians who believe in Israel with all their hearts. I have met Christians who inspire Israelis to believe in the Torah, and to our right to the whole land of Israel.

If we do not come to Christians from a position of the low-self esteem and neediness we will be able to recognize our true friends. If we impress upon them that missionizing will not be tolerated, they will learn to sublimate whatever false beliefs they have left in them. Israel does not need support, nor is Israel alone, however, Israel does know how to appreciate a good friend, colleague, or partner.

When it come to the "word" - I never stand for any Jesus-talk - I say plainly "We do not believe in that, and it goes against the Torah - do yourself a favor and rid yourself of false beliefs." Christians love when I talk this way because they know they are not dealing with someone who is trying to smooth talk them to get something. We must always know and radiate the fact that we are the Chosen people and we are the guardians of the Torah - anyone who is thirsty may come and drink. We, on the other hand, are not thirsty. This is they key to a healthy relationship.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Even Ma'an News Agency Reports Arab Uprooting of Jewish Agriculture While Haaretz Remains Silent

Palestinian Authority-controlled Ma'an News Agency beat Haaretz to reporting on Arab uprooting of vineyards and trees at Sde Boaz.

So they lied about the facts in the article, but at least the title acknowledges for the record the widespread phenomenon of Islamic agricultural warfare.

Ynet, Yediot Acharonot's news site, finally saw fit to acknowledge the campaign of uprooting and destruction waged against Jewish farmers in Judea and Samaria by Arabs and leftist activists and "internationals."

OK, they didn't phrase it that way, but reporting that the Arabs uprooted Jewish vineyards is a start. Thanks Efrat Weiss.

Of course, this stuff has appeared in Arutz-7 for years already. Check out my Friday coverage.

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Just Came Back From Meron...

Check out this awesome article featuring my photos from Meron.

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Lag Ba'Omer Night in Yerushalayim

I did not make it up to Meiron last night, but Yerushalayim has its fair share of bonfires too. I saw a lot more bonfires from my friend's car window than I was able to photograph, but here's a 3-4 story high one outside the Chevron Yeshivah (you can find history about it in this biography of former Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Yechezkel Sarna ZT"L) in Givat Mordechai, the smoke floating around Gan Sacher (actually taken 2 years ago, but I saw pretty much the same site last night), and a very small sample of Har Nof (2 out of 100s):

Small neighborhood bonfire
The Big Bonfire with a kid posing to show how large it was
Putting on the Lighter Fluid
Starting to Light
Starting to Light
Catching Fire
Bright Fire
Chevron Students Dancing and Singing Bar Yochai
People Must Stand Away as Fire Heats Up the Whole Block
People Must Stand Away as Fire Heats Up the Whole Block
Bonfire with Lights of Jerusalem in the Background
Flames Higher than Buildings
Dancing with the Flames in the Background
Burning in the Fire
Smokey Mist Rising from Gan Sacher (from 2 years ago, but same scene last night as we drove by)
Chabad Mobile in style for Lag Ba'Omer
Chabad Mobile in style for Lag Ba'Omer
Side of the Road in Har Nof
Starting to Walk Down to Ya'ar Yerushalayim
In the Middle of the Jerusalem Forest

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I think some explanations may be due.

First, I put up a post last Friday (since edited) that was a tad uncommunicative. I'm sorry if people had no idea what I was trying to say - I got a little carried away because I was really happy with my latest article. I hadn't written anything for a while, and the article came out powerful (I thought) and I was happy so I started doing my touchdown dance and forgot where I was for a moment.

I had gotten used to having articles in the press every 2-3 weeks, and then had to go without for a long time, and so when the article came out - and unlike my previous string of articles at Ynet, was not censored - I was happy. Sorry. I just love the truth and I love getting it out. I know how much the jerks out there are pained by it.

As for women and gays. Some of my best friends are... no wait, that one's been done. Women are great. Homosexuals are also great. Being considered stupid, being treated without respect, being sexually harmed or being beaten up and then having the police take this lightly - all these things stink. Women don't deserve that. Being called a fairy also stinks. Homosexuals have a hard life. I feel bad for them.

I'm all for letting people do what they want in their bedrooms and I'm all for women getting the respect and protection they deserve. But when these groups organize politically and affect my country's defense posture - I cease to empathize and I start getting angry. When these groups adopt lying radical marxists as their leaders, and other people don't realize that this is happening under their noses, I feel the need to alert them.

Men have done everything we can be expected to do and much more in support of the women's movement. Show me a single feminist law that hasn't been passed by the Knesset, with the support of a large majority, including the knit-kippah crowd.

Groups don't normally give up power willingly. Yet the men of the Knesset are doing just that, and they have been doing it for many years: passing laws that mandate 50% female representation on state-company boards of directors, for instance. Voting for a law that would give substantial benefits to parties that have at least 30% representation for women on their tickets. Changing rape laws in a way that no longer requires the presence of the use of force or even the threat of the use of force for conviction - thus creating exceedingly fertile ground for vindictive use of false accusations. Creating the sexual harrassment law, despite the ease with which it lends itself to use in blackmail. Passing the domestic violence law that has been grossly abused by women in divorces. And much more where that came from.

The number of Israeli men in jail for crimes against women has shot up by 450% in ten years. A full 25% of the people in jail right now are in there for supposed crimes against women. I say supposed, because half of them are innocent. When a specific prison population shoots up by 450% like that - you know there's a witch hunt going on.

So the last thing that can be said about Israel's males is that they have not been bending over backwards for the women's movement, and cooperating fully with its leaders and legislators.

The same goes for homosexuals: if you read what I linked to in that Zibbi and the Homos post, you'll see that they, too, realize they are in a golden age (for them, as far as their rights and power are concerned).

But when these groups' politics cross over into defense and diplomacy, and it turns out they are working for the enemy - well, I don't have to put up with that. My posts have been about foreign policy and defense matters. When a feminist clique manages to destroy our country's defenses and bring about humiliating withdrawals in Lebanon and Gaza - only an utter fool would continue defending them in any way. When the foreign office / tourism ministry helps create a site that promotes Black Laundry - we have to ask ourself what is going on.

A poster by Black Laundry. Should the government be helping this group?

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Belated Pesach Sheni Recipe

I don't know about you, but I still have leftover matzah (luckily, my husband will eat it all year round).

Because it was Pesach Sheni (aka: Redo Passover), I decided I would try and make something with matzah to commemorate the special day (it is a custom to eat matzah on Pesach Sheni). I searched the web for matzoh recipes, and found one that ROCKED THE HOUSE!

It's easy, tasty, and uses matzoh - you can't get much better than that.

If you, too, still have leftover matzoh, experiment for next year with this TOTALLY WORTH IT recipe from Epicurious:


An outstanding, unique, and easy confection. If you make only one thing at Passover, make this.

4-6 unsalted matzohs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter or unsalted Passover margarine
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup coarsely chopped chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large (or two smaller) cookie sheet completely with foil. Cover the bottom of the sheet with baking parchment — on top of the foil. This is very important since the mixture becomes sticky during baking.
Line the bottom of the cookie sheet evenly with the matzohs, cutting extra pieces, as required, to fit any spaces.

In a 3-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the butter or margarine and the brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil (about 2 to 4 minutes). Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and pour over the matzoh, covering completely.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350°. Bake for 15 minutes, checking every few minutes to make sure the mixture is not burning (if it seems to be browning too quickly, remove the pan from the oven, lower the heat to 325°, and replace the pan).

Remove from the oven and sprinkle immediately with the chopped chocolate or chips. Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate over the matzoh. While still warm, break into squares or odd shapes. Chill, still in the pan, in the freezer until set.

**Malkah's additional tips: 1. You might want to add a pinch of salt to the ingredients at the beginning. 2. You can sprinkle chopped nuts or coconut on top of the matzahs before the chocolate is set to make it super fancy.

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Caption Contest

Fox News is running a caption contest. This is the photo:

Fox uses this caption: "Maybe the taco wasn't the best idea for lunch, Tzipi."

Lots of readers have submitted their own. My favorite so far came from a reader named Heather who sent in:

"Man tough crowd... its not like I gave away our land geez!"

Read them all here.

And submit your own right here in our comments!

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Rabbi Avi Weiss about being a Zionist

Two Great Audios For You

Justice Jew asks why do we need a Winograd commission, and who should we really blame. (3 min 45 sec)

Rabbi Judah expounds on the magic of Lag BeOmer, Meron, and Rabbi Shimon (9 min 42 sec)

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Kosher-Style Continued...

Pursuant to my original post called Kosher-Style, and then Pinchas' open letter to me, and the huge discussion that this generated on the Life In Israel blog, I have a few comments:

The notion that Israelis make Yerida to the whole world is simply incorrect. They make Yerida PRIMARILY to the US. One quarter of Yordim, 250,000, live between San Deigo and San Fransisco. Why do they go to America? America is a great country to live in for many reasons, but a major factor is that the US is a philo-Semetic country - and the Jews live very well, and very Jewishly. American Jewry has created an alternative to Israel. Brooklyn's Avenue J, Teaneck's Cedar Lane, Cederhurst's Central Ave, Crown Heights, Lakewood, and many others as well. Shuls are made from imported Jerusalem stone.

Simple psychology - why should any Jew choose Israel if you can be just as Jewish in the US? American Jews are comfortable in every way: economically, politically and religiously, while Israeli Jews face war, terror, and economic hardship. The simple answer for the hard luck Israeli is a Green Card. But, the potential Yored may ask himself, what about Zionism, Eretz Yisrael and all those values? A convenient answer awaits him: If the Frum Jew of Brooklyn can live in America, feel himself totally religious, and EVEN feel that he is actually supporting Israel - then why not join him? You see, the Orthodox are SEEN as the leaders of Jewry, the most connected to G-d. So if one is so connected to G-d, but chooses to live in the Exile, it must be OK after all, this very pious-looking Orthodox American knows much more about his Jewish obligations than I do, a poorly-versed secular Israeli.

Read through the Torah. Read through your Orthodox siddur. If you still believe that the Torah does not mandate a homeland for the Jewish people... then you need to either re-read, or start editing. To be an Orthodox Jew and to reject the centrality of Israel is to stare these holy words in the face and say "no".

The time has come for American Orthodoxy to feel uncomfortable about choosing the Galut. This is NOT about making myself feel higher than others. This is about what Hashem wants - which, by the way, is a discussion that is sorely lacking in this discourse.

Here is how Yehuda Halevi saw it. In his seminal work, the Kuzari, Halevi created a fictional discussion between a Jewish sage and the king of the Khazars. During their discussion, the king asked the sage about the Jewish connection to the land of Israel: "[Since the Jewish religion is so invested in the land and all of the religions based on Judaism have inherited this attachment], don't you [Jews] fall short of your religious duty, by not endeavoring to going up the land and making it your home both in life and death? Since you say [in the blessing after reading the haftarah]: 'Have mercy on Zion for it is the house of our life' and you believe that God's indwelling presence, the Shechina, will return there... it only makes sense that your souls should yearn to go up there in order to purify themselves..." (Kuzari 2:23)

The sage replied: "Your reproach is justified, King of the Khazars. This is the reason that the Divine promise in the time of the Second Temple was left unfulfilled: 'Shout for joy, Fair Zion! For lo, I come, and I will dwell in your midst.' For the Divine power was ready to prevail in Zion as it had in the first place, if the people had willingly returned. But only a small part of the people was willing to return, and the majority and the people of rank remained in Babylon, preferring dependence and slavery, because they were unwilling to leave their homes and easy circumstances…" (Ibid. 2:24)

Halevi views the fact that the redemption has not occurred as a result of the human failure to respond to the values that they purportedly believe in. Redemption will occur, according to Halevi, only when human beings live up to their obligations to God. The US is today's Bavel and American Jewry is choosing to stay put. Non-Aliyah is bad enough, but creating an alternative Israel and attracting Yerida?

By the way, it won't last. Assimilation will do its work. My cousin has married a goy. His kid is a goy. This is happening. My intention in writing all this is to send out a hand to all Jews and to welcome them in to Hashem's greatest gift to this generation -Eretz Yisrael. If you guys want to get hung up on the idea that I am being rude or arrogant - chaval! In your comments you say that I am not aware of the hardships of Israel or in some way don't understand American Jewry. Nothing could be farther from the truth - I am just like you - I am former American Jew with an American Law degree, I know the attraction of America. I have chosen to live my life as a full Jew and now as an Oleh, I deal with economic hardships, I serve in the army and have lost people. BUT, I thank Hashem every day for giving this generation, and me within it, the opportunity to do this Mitzva of Eretz Yisrael, to live this Jewish life, and move the redemption along.

BTW - do you know how living in Israel is like Tzitit??? They are both among the handful of Mitzvot which our Rabbis say are akin to keeping the whole Torah.

Also with regard to Rafi's comment: "Yishai's post, at least as I understood it, was not just critical of the side-stepping of people who do not consider aliya seriously. It was extremely critical and harsh even against those who do consider it but for whatever reason right now cannot."

Nothing could be farther from the truth. I am not critical of those who cannot make Aliyah now at all. I am only trying to disabuse the notion of those who think that America is the final stop on the train. Aliyah is a process - we at Kumah know this very well!

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How Cool Was 1967?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Olmert is the Left's Sharon (Sort Of) + UPDATE

Olmert, to the Left, is like what Sharon was to us. Sort of. He was elected on a platform of appeasement but then changed his mind about it, just like Sharon was elected on a platform of patriotism and then changed his mind about it.

As I spoke to a friend today it hit me that the Wicked Witches of the Left were probably on the Wino Commission's tail just to make sure the committee understood its job was to topple Olmert. That is why they terrorized it. This is how they work! They are like bees!
םיצוק שאכ וכעד - םירובדכ ינובס

Well in that case, it did what it was expected to do.

What I understood after talking to my friend is that the hard Left apparently wants Bibi to be PM. It's not hard to understand why: they know he'll be up against the most pressure any Israeli PM ever faced, and that other than his little measly coalition, nobody will be on his side.

Since he is no Ben Gurion or HaRav Kook, eventually he'll break. He's caved before, and he's a pretty easy target, representing as he does the interests of the rich, and being a generally pompous, somewhat slick guy, without a hell of a moral backbone (Bibi has one surefire way of getting out of trouble: he starts saying "Yoni". He is The Knight Who Says "yo-Ni!").

This got me upset for a while because I, like most of us, have major apprehensions about Bibi anyways. But then I thought "so what?". So what if the hard Left wants Olmert down. It still doesn't mean we should not want him down. Sometimes the interests of the messianic Left and the Messianic Right converge.
PS - Olmert and Galon don't like each other. This was a very funny moment in the Knesset's history. You should see the video here. Olmert slamming Galon and Galon cackling furiously.
UPDATE: maybe it's like this - Olmert isn't giving the Left the goods (Disengagement II) so they ratchet up the pressure. Winograd, etc. Olmert meets Amoz Oz, starts promising stuff. And now, it seems, he is also starting to deliver. So maybe they'll lower the flames accordingly.


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JIBs: Kumah Advances, now Round 1 - Part 2

Thanks to everyone's help it looks like every single nomination posted here before has advanced to the finals! (Still waiting for the certified results.) But before the finals start next week there is still part 2 of round 1. More importantly Kumah has been getting more hits and more people are talking about Aliyah. Could we say it's a mitzvah to vote Kumah or would we sound like Shas?

1.To vote click on a link below. (Repeat this for all 4 links.)
A new window should open. (Or right click and "open in new window.")
3.Close the window and right click on the next link...

Kumah's "Shabbat Candle Ladies" post for was nominated for

Best Jewish Religious Post (Group A)

And Kumah got nominated twice for
Best Live Event Coverage Post (Group A)
(Vote for either one.)

Also, my personal blog Point of Pinchas
was nominated for
Best Picture or Video in a Post - Group A
This is for photos I took at a Nefesh B'Nefesh (NBN) flight arrival.


Best Series - Group B
This is for my "Only in Israel" Series.

It looks like we have a great chance at going far. There are links to all of these posts on the respective voting pages if you have time to check them out. Really worth it IMHO...

Thanks again for your support!

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Fun in the Desert

Malkah and I needed some time off so we headed to the desert. Mitzpeh Ramon sits on the Machtesh Ramon Crater - an awesome geological marvel.

While there, we checked out the local attractions, including the Alpaca Farm

Then we went on to do some desert archery - Malkah was very good!!

Archery is fun and helps with concentration

The Avdat Canyon is close by:

Nice to see you!

A little spirituality from Yishai never hurts:

Life in Israel can be tense, and that is why a bit of a vacation is in order. The emptiness of the desert allows one to defrag a bit, and reconnect with the spirit. Oh yeah, great shuls in Mitzpeh Ramon, salt of the Earth type people - I loved it.

Mitzpeh Ramon - small town with a big heart!

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