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Thursday, May 07, 2009

"The Identity-Impaired Jewish State"

"A Jewish State, what is that supposed to mean? You call yourselves as you like, but I don't accept it, and I say so publicly." This was Mahmoud Abbas' response to Binyamin Netanyahu's demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish State as part of an eventual peace deal. What a classic Arab response to such a lame Israeli demand.

Asking the Arab and Muslim world for verbal recognition of Israel's Jewishness is the height of irony. Fatah and the Arab/Muslim world have always recognized Israel as a Jewish State. They don't recognize us in words – but they do so in actions - as every attack on Israel is the utmost recognition of its Jewishness. They want to destroy us because precisely we are Jews in a Jewish State. They recognize who we are, they just don’t accept it...

Why do we need enemies to give us affirmation, anyway? Where is the Israeli toughness, asserting our right to exist without concern for the opinion of others?

Throughout the long Exile and in the absence of a homeland, the Jewish people needed their host nations to recognize them, grant them security, and provide a nice quiet ghetto to live in – which they rarely managed to do. The founding of Israel was supposed to change all that. "Never Again" would Jews put their fate in the hands of others - the Jewish State was to exist on its own will, without regard to the whims of other nations. Unfortunately, sixty-one years after the founding of the State, we have returned to old-fashioned Exile thinking, basing our policies and plans on the recognition and approval of those who don't have our best interest at heart.

The Israeli government's fawning behavior toward the Pope is another example of the old-fashioned exilic thinking which has crept into our country:

For the last two millennia the Jews were kept lowly and persecuted under Christendom. The Catholic Church taught that G-d kept the Jews around as a 'witness' to their own downfall for rejecting Jesus, and to be 'witness' to the 'Second Coming'. Suddenly, instead of Jesus' resurrection, Israel was reborn. Seemingly, the prophecies of the Jewish ingathering and sovereign revival had come true. In contrast to Church doctrine, the Jews were no longer losers – we were winners, posing a real dilemma for Catholicism.

However, in honor of the Pope's upcoming visit, Israel is rolling out the red carpet. The Postal Authority has commissioned a set of stamps depicting Israel's churches while the Jewish National Fund is conducting a tour of trees that "are believed to have witnessed Jesus’ deeds". Our President, Shimon Peres has even called for the transfer of six "Christian" sites over to Vatican control.
Perhaps the most enthusiastic member of the Pope's welcoming committee, Israel's Ministry of Tourism, has produced a website and movie worthy of the jealousies of any Catholic missionary. The film presents the story of a divine Jesus as absolute truth. It does not politely suggest that the stories and places accord with Christian traditions, but rather asserts that the events Christians subscribe to actually occurred, offering no qualifiers to accommodate alternative beliefs – like Jewish ones. It is chilling to think that in the Middle Ages, thousands of Jews chose to die rather then affirm the Jesus myth, yet now our own Tourism Ministry affirms it wholesale on its official website.

After watching the film, two ironic thoughts may occur to you: 1. Now you understand why the Church has always put such a premium on Jewish converts to Christianity - we are just that good! We make the best Christian propaganda out there. Nothing like a meshumad (Jew for Jesus) to peddle the Pope's wares. 2. When the pro-Pope website and movie came out, you could just hear the collective joy of missionaries worldwide: it must be Messianic times when the Jews themselves are preaching the Gospel of Jesus!

The truth is that there are no closet-Christians in our government. It is simply that the people running the show are representative of the identity-impaired ethos of our time. This ethos leads them to kowtow to, and be pushed around by, foreign interested powers. The Church, as well as the Arabs, love to take advantage of our identity vacuum and to tirelessly promote their alternative narrative of the land of Israel. This is where Jesus did this, this is where Muhammad did that…

Therefore, in this identity-crisis, the first people that need to recognize Israel as a Jewish State are the Jewish people and the Jewish government of Israel. We need to understand that demanding recognition from others is meaningless when we ourselves forget our own identity.

In the case of Mahmoud Abbas, Israel does not need his recognition of our Jewish State. Rather, we need to act like a Jewish State by asserting our sovereignty over our land, and by having a zero-tolerance policy for hate crimes and Nazi-like incitement against Jews. 'Never Again' needs to become a meaningful mantra once more.

Regarding the Pope, let him keep the Vatican and we will keep Israel. Instead of promoting Catholicism, our government should use its time, money, and effort to promote the Jewish version of the Bible, our history. Tourism will not be harmed if the thrust of Israel's marketing campaign focuses on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob instead of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost.

The world needs to be told the truth – Jewish Israel is here to stay. Yet, Jews of the world need to understand that the world's acceptance of Israel as a Jewish State is totally dependant on our creation of that fact. We Jews must be reminded that the more we stand up for our truth and our beliefs, the more we will be respected, but the more we compromise on our heritage and our destiny, the more our right to exist will be challenged by those interested in promoting their own alternative narrative.


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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

To Blog Or Not To Blog?


My name is Sean. I am writing a thesis on blogging around the world and I came upon your interesting site while researching. I would really appreciate it if you could answer any of the following questions; any response both long or short would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Why do you blog?

Y: Dear Sean - Shalom! Blog writing fills a niche that article writing cannot fulfill. Blogging tells the story of the daily life. Blogging can describe a fleeting feeling that is not necessarily your philosophy of life, but just a thought that occurred to you. In this way blogging is a companion to news sites because it gives a glimpse into the personal and the real life of a region or group of people...

How many people do you estimate read your blog?

About a thousand a day. Our movie, however, was seen by hundreds of thousands and went around the net virally.

Do you hope that your blog can influence people or accomplish something or do you just blog for the sake of writing?

Our blog is certainly geared to call on action. Our focus is Jewish immigration to Israel (in Hebrew: Aliyah). We are calling on American Jews to choose Israel as their home. However, we cannot just talk about the philosophy of Aliyah every day, or push our ideology every day. We understand that to make people fall in love with Israel we need to show them our perspective on the beauties of the country, and to get them involved in the nitty gritty of life here. We want to show them the supermarkets and the children. We also want to help defray the image of Israel that one sees in the news, which by the news' nature, is always bad.

We also try to bring our political/philosophical/religious outlook down to a people level. This means that someone can email me directly, or comment on the blog and have a discourse with a real person and not just an anonymous writer on CNN. We try to be very real and to share ourselves and our lives as much as we can so that people know that our message comes from the heart.

Do you know other people in your community who blog?

Sure. Like minded people get together and I cross-promote often. While we try to be a good blog, I do not feel any competitive aspect. Maybe another important point is that there is no money involved here. No ads, no employees, no salaries. So it's a labor of love and I think that readers sense that.

Do you get really supportive/negative feedback from your readers? Do you have any examples?

Check out this link. Feel free to write again Sean. All the best, Yishai

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bush, Carter, and Intelligent Design

Yishai, Shalom,

I enjoyed your explanation of George W. Bush visiting Massada, not to identify with the Jews, but with the Romans.
Also, you referred to the Philistines as Bush's proxy warriors. That's exactly the point, without American financial and political backing for the Philistines, there would be no terrorism.

That's why I disagree with pundits who talk about our enemies as the Islamofascists. I agree that the Ishmaelites enjoy terrorizing Jews, but they quickly lose motivation and money, and start fighting among themselves. Thus, I see the Philistines more as Edom's dobermans. They don't want to do the avodah shechora, let the Arabs do that for them. That means, the American gov't is Israel's enemy ! American Jews, you are accomplices to the crime. Come home to Israel....

As for Carter's visit to the Hamas leader, I think it's supposed to change the scale. Did you ever make a graph in Excel. Let's say you're making a graph of appeasement of terrorists by different leaders. Olmert would get a 40%, Livni would get a 45%, then comes Carter and gets a 100%. He completely changes the scale. Olmert's and Livni's bars are dwarfed by that of Carter and now take up only half of the screen. Now they can condemn Carter for appeasing terrorists and pretend to be Hawks, while they continue to sell out Israel. Now Condy Rice can supply a whole shipload of weapons to the "moderate" Abu Mazen. Thanks, Jimmy.

As for Tibi, have you ever seen Gypsies in Europe ? Here's how they work, a couple of gypsies put on a show and sing or juggle, whatever, and the third gypsy goes around the crowd and picks people's pockets. Tibi is a diversion. He makes a lot of noise and Eli Yishai and Avigdor Lieberman can pretend to be right wing by condemning him and pass laws making it a crime for Arab MK's to betray the state -- these laws have no meaning because the judicial system will ignore them -- and then while everyone is staring at Tibi's antics, Olmert and Livni "pick our pockets" and give away the land of Israel.


Intelligent Design:
I'm reading "Not by Chance" by Dr. Lee Spetner, an Oleh to Israel. He demolishes all of Richard Dawkin's arguments in the Blind Watchmaker. I read that book by Dawkins years ago and was convinced that evolution could work. I was conned ! Dawkins makes a lot of unsupported assumptions. Spetner shows mathematically that it can't work.

And you know what, "they" know it doesn't work. That's why Stephen Jay Gould suddenly came up with a theory about 20 years ago that evolution must have happened in rapid surges every million years or so, but that doesn't work either. They know it doesn't work and they keep on teaching it, just like they keep on teaching Biblical criticism even though Prof. Cassuto disproved it in the 30's. They can't let people believe that Hashem created the world or that Hashem wrote the Torah.

One example: they tell us that bacteria evolve when they become resistant to antibiotics. The bacteria do evolve, but they LOSE information. The antibiotic used to fit into the bacteria, like a key into a lock, so there arose a mutation which damaged the receptor (the lock) so the key won't fit in. But the bacteria needs that receptor for something else, so it get messed up a little, it will not work as well, and lost genetic information.

You can't evolve from a cell to a human being by losing information, just like you can't get rich by losing money and making it up on volume. Humans are more complex than cells so you have to gain information.

kol tuv,

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Know Your History!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Passaic Is Better Than Israel

Shalom Yishai,

I just got back from a beautiful Chasuna and had an interesting conversation with two fellow Jews I hold very highly from. They are both seriously committed BT's who learn a lot and both spent more than a year of full time learning in various BT yeshivas.

Anyhow, I am always trying to get people excited about making aliya even if I myself have no concrete plans (I have to justify myself here somehow). How would you respond to their main reason as to why Passaic is better than Israel:

As I think you are aware Passaic is unique on the American scene in that it his composed of seriously committed BT Torah Jews who happen to also have jobs and earn an honest living. They claim that such a phenomenon (or hashkoffa if you will) does not exist at the community level in Israel. In Israel, one is either Charadi and can't work but has Torah, or one is Dati Leumi and works but is not so "yeshivish" in the American sense or at least sincerely committed to the Torah.

As I personally have not spent any significant time there, I can only rely on what I hear from others. I must admit I hear this excuse a lot. A BT who is seriously committed and works is better off in a place like Passaic or maybe Baltimore or Atlanta. The cultural differences in Israel are just too much to contend with... Israel is too black and white.


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Friday, February 01, 2008

Israel @ 60: A Jewish 7 Democratic State? - Part I

In anticipation of Israel's 60th anniversary, taking place this spring, I was approached by a Israel education organization and asked to take part in a 3-way written debate on the theme of Israel being a Jewish & democratic state.

The basis for the debate would be a section of Israel's Declaration of Independence (see below), and each of the three contributors would have 300 words to write they're thoughts on the topic, and then another 200 words to respond to one of the other positions.

Over a series of posts I will be sharing the various contributions with you, beginning with my own.
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
Having suffered in Exile like no other nation, the Jewish people are sensitive to the suffering of others and expect the Jewish State of Israel to serve as a model in how a nation-state can treat its minorities fairly.

It is for this reason that the founding fathers of the State of Israel took pains, in the very paragraph within Israel’s Declaration of Independence stating that the State of Israel will be open to every Jew in the world, to balance that with the assurance that despite being a Jewish state, “complete equality” will be assured to all.

However, does this accurately reflect the vision of the prophets of Israel?

In this paragraph, two distinct values are expressed. First, that Israel should be a Jewish State, and second, that there should be “complete equality” for everyone living in the State of Israel.

Did the Jewish people, for millennia, yearn for a return to Zion merely to create “the only democracy in the Middle East”? Did they dream of granting “complete equality” to strangers, enabling them to turn the Jewish State into a state of its citizens, or decide on issues such as “Who is a Jew?” or “Land for Peace?”


Throughout the long Exile, the Jewish people were sustained by the “vision of the prophets” – of the eventual ingathering of the Exiles. Upon returning to their ancient Homeland the Jewish people would live as proud, strong and sovereign Jews," creating an “exemplary society” and serving as a "light unto the nations," thus sanctifying G-d’s name throughout the world.

Any non-Jew accepting Israel as a Jewish State without seeking to undermine that premise would be granted full individual rights. Issues concerning the national character and policy of the Jewish State would be decided upon exclusively by the Jewish people residing in Israel.

Treat the stranger kindly? Certainly, but the Bible didn’t intend this to be taken to the extreme of giving the stranger the keys to our national home.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

To Reverse the Rebirth

By Stan Goodenough, a Christian Zionist:

It will not surprise me at all if, when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice returns to Israel next week to invite participants to the Annapolis 'Conference on the Creation of Palestine on Jewish Land,' that the date she has chosen to convene the event turns out to be November 29.

As Rice sees things, the irony of this choice of date would be positive, injecting some sense of hopefulness into the long-hopeless US-pushed pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace.

The State Department could spin November 29 to generate optimism: It would mark a return to the past, they could say; the chance to heal the sore at its source; a reversal of the disastrous decisions that ignited and continue to fuel the unending conflict in the Middle East.

For Bible-believing Christian Zionists, to hold this conference on November 29 would support what many of us already hold to be true: that the real aim of the land-for-peace process (whether Rice and her president know it or not) is the reversal of something different: the rolling back of the process of Israel's physical national restoration which God Himself has ordained and brought about.

As such, it is doubly futile - for who do the Quartet and the UN Security Council think that they are to go against the very will and purpose of the LORD of hosts?

Certainly, if November 29 is the date drawn, it will not be a mere coincidence.

It was on November 29, 60 years ago, that all creation appeared to hold its breath.

On that day in 1947, the nations watched, the Jews prayed, and the Arabs oiled their guns.

On that unprecedented day in the history of nations, the UN voted 33 to 13 (with 10 abstentions) to divide the British-mandated area called "Palestine" between the Jews and the Arabs laying claim to it.

Like a massive final contraction after years of birth pangs, General Assembly Resolution 181 opened the way through which the ancient nation of Israel could finally be reborn on its historic homeland.

Not that the battle for her independence was over. Within hours of the partition vote Israel's enemies began searching for a way to rescind and annul that decision.

But they were wasting their time. Less than six months later, on May 15, 1948, the State of Israel came into being on it's God-given land.

It was as foretold by the prophet Isaiah thousands of years before:

"...Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day?
Or shall a nation be born at once?
For as soon as Zion was in labor,
She gave birth to her children..."
(Isaiah 66:8)

From that day to this, those who hate Zion (and in truth they really hate the LORD who has chosen Zion) have sought to destroy her.

The surrounding Arab states have attacked Israel time and time again. The "Palestinian" Arabs have waged a relentless terrorism and propaganda campaign against the Jewish state to demoralize its citizens and delegitimise it in front of the international community. The industrial powers have sided "pragmatically" with the oil-rich Arabs and have pushed Israel into prejudicing its security and surrendering its millennia-old claim to its land.

The currently Christian-led United States is leading the charge and, for the Bush administration, decision day is already past.

Some die-hard Christian Republicans still insist that Bush and Rice are sincerely acting in what they believe to be Israel’s ultimate best interests. Even if they are [which I personally have a hard time hanging on to - Ed] they have gotten into bed with other "western" leaders who long ago ran out of patience with this "shxxty little country".

Leaders like European MP and former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard, who reportedly told an audience in Cairo on June 17, 2004, that "the origin of the Palestinian problem is in the promise given by the British to the Jews to establish a nationalist state on the basis of the religious conviction that the Jews have a right to this land… It was an historic error on the part of the British to make such a promise, but this now belongs to history."

Such sentiments have also infected morer "ordinary" men on the street. On July 18, 2006, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote: "...Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now."

Yes, 60 years ago this month, a reluctant gentile world still somewhat shaken up by the horrific sights revealed by the liberation of Hitler's Death Camps, scraped together just enough compassion to support the establishment of a homeland for the Jews.

That compassion has long gone.

Israel is not much more than a nuisance; a thorn in the side of the world. The nation's Jews, then, must be made to pay, compensating the Arabs and mollifying them, so that the threat Israel's policies pose to world peace will be removed.

For the Islamic world, what the US wants to achieve at Annapolis is just phase one of the plan that will excise the Jewish cancer once and for all from their midst.

The creation of Palestine may appear to be more or less the belated implementation of Resolution 181. But not to forget, as Arafat used to say: the Arab world rejected that resolution, rendering it void.

For them, establishing a Palestinian state is not correcting that misstep. It is preparing for the correcting and erasing of the entire "mistake" that enabled Israel's rebirth.

How encouraging then to know beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the Shepherd of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps; that He is and will continue to defend her; and that He who brought Israel safely to the time of her physical rebirth nearly has promised to also bring her to her glorious, national, spiritual rebirth, right here in her land.

The only One who is going to be doing any "rolling up" is Israel's God. And it is the self-important and arrogant nations He will gather, to place inside and crush in the wine press of His wrath.

For they have scattered His people and they have divided up His land.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Anti-Zionism Lives!!!

In response to a my show entitled Likud, Satmar, and Olim (listen now or download) I got this response:


I just got finished listen your broadcast. I had heard as much as I could stomach but fortunately it was ending. I think you need to understand a few things. Satmar never Boycotted Jerusalem. They did not go to the Kosel or Kever Rochel or the ma'aras hamachpela in protest of the Secular zionist Israeli Government.

And you still don't get the picture. Judaism is about G-d, G-d, G-d, G-d. The lady in the airport that said she wishes they would say something more about G-d understands the spiritual vacuum that exists in a land that according to you "has so much potential" but in 46 minutes you didn't mention G-d once (had it not been for that lady) You didn't speak a word of torah. You spoke about the land, the land, the land. The land is dirt. without G-d it remains dirt. That is why Satmar and ALL CHAREIDIM are anti zionist, because Zionism takes the holy land and make sure it stays dirt.

For example, your reflections on the Theatre. A beautiful building blah blah. It's a place where Jews were Michallel Shabbos for decades in the holiest city in the world, and you miss it because you won't be able to watch goyish movies with arayos mamash in the middle of Jerusalem. That's your idea of Judaism? All the gedolei Torah in all generations opposed secular Zionism because it cuts G-d out of the equation. You think that because you have F16s you're protected? FOOL! If you had G-d you wouldn't need F16s. Mordechai in Shushan had F16s? Chezkiyahu Hamelech had F16s? Yehuda Hamakabi Had F16s? The Rebbe shlita made a cheshbon that when Klal Yisroel was oleh l'regal, The borders were completely open. Soldiers and "mishmar hagevul" also had an obligation to be oeh l'regal. There were as many as 109 days of the year, every year for 410 years in the bayis rishon and 420 years in the bayis shani that certain areas of the border (nahar prus) were open every year. Not one foreign soldier stepped over the border in over 800 years that the border was open for almost a third of the year. Instead of G-d protection, you think f16s will help you. Did it help when 100 Jews were killed and a third of the country evacuated because of katyushas missle strikes? Where were your f16s?

You invite a liar like Shitreet to address a NBN group? He didn't a believe a word he was saying. "We have a saying in Israel 'whoever saves a life'...." Saying in Israel? It's a gemorah Baba Basra and Sanhedrin. "Saves a life"?? Like the yaldei Teheran that were forcibly torn away from Yiddishkeit?? Like the yemeni Olim that were given a choice "come to work or go to pray" in the morning. You couldn't have both. The Zionists have spiritually and physically killed Jews, shitreet should have been shouted down for that claim. He continues "we say in the prayers". Who is "we"? This guy davens? But he's not done yet, he has to add on the ultimate kfira. "If only the state of Israel would have been created 10 years earlier..." What happened in Europe was posuk by posuk described in the tocha'ah as punishment for not following G-d's Torah. I feel sorry for you that you have such a small God, that you feel if he decrees a war or a holocaust, you can subvert his decree because you have a few F16, or you learned Karate, or you bought a gun. G-d is really really big. If he should G-d forbid decree it, you would be on the first train so fast you would have no idea how you got there.

A believer sees the hand of G-d in every step of the holocaust. G-d told the Jews do not marry a Goy. The Jews didn't listen. Germany, the most assimilated, intermarried, intertwined country in Europe passed the Nuremburg laws. A Jew cannot marry a Goy. A Jew cannot go out of Germany to get married and come back. We do not recognize such a marriage. A Jew cannot have relations with a Goy outside of marriage. G-d tells the Jew "do not cut your beard, do not cut your payos, wear tzitzis, and carve my bris into your flesh, so everyone will know when a Jew walks down the street. The Jews in Germany shaved their beards and payos, wore short jackets like the Goyim, took off their tzitzis and hats until the Goy said put a yellow star on your jacket and a number carved on your left forearm so everyone will know when a Jews walks down the street. These things never happened to anybody else in history. And Shitreet says, If the state was created 10 years earlier we would have protected you from G-d's decree. That is kefira in it's purest form.

The anti-zionist movement has not changed or slackened. It is still in full force for all the same reasons. It is you, the foolish modern orthodox, without Torah and without leadership that are being led like sheep to the slaughter. The Zionist Gov't said Come to Israel and fulfill the mitzvah of Yishuv ha'aretz in Gush Katif, and you followed and listed. Until they finished with you and threw you out. THAT IS ZIONISM. You were used, not us. The frei UN envoy from Israel stands and before the UN GA and says for "2000 years the Jew has faced Jerusalem and prayed 3 times a day for the return to israel...." and then the shaigetz runs and hides behind you, the religious zionist, and says "tell them, tell them how we pray 3 times a day..." He doesn't pray, he doesn't believe in G-d, he's using you and you allow yourselves to be used. We don't. We have nothing to do with anti-religious zionist government of Israel. They do not represent us. They do not represent G-d, they do not represent Judaism. Like the lady said "G-d is missing". From your radio show, from your country, from your government.

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Total Immersion

Today, Rosh Chodesh Elul, begins an intensive 40 day period of Teshuva- Return, spiritual cleansing and transformation...

Historically, following the episode of the Golden Calf and breaking of the Luchot, Moshe Rabbeinu ascended Mount Sinai for the second time, and after 40 days of intensive prayer, D'veikut and Teshuva, returned to Am Yisrael with the Luchot Sheniot (second Tablets)- a symbol of Tikun and Hashem's forgiveness.

Since then, these 40 days on the Jewish calendar have been tagged as "Yemei Rachamim v'Ratzon"- days where Hashem's mercy is manifest, an opportune time for Teshuva and Divine yearning, of purity and spiritual transformation: a Mikvah in Time.

According to Halachik standards, a Kosher mikvah must contain 40 Se'ah (about 200 gallons) of flowing or gathered rain water, and each Se'ah is made up of 24 "Lugg" of water...

The Taharah/purity, spiritual rejuvination and fresh start that we can attain in the 40 se'ah of a Mikvah, is represented in time by the 40 days stretching from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Yom Kipur (10th of Tishrei).

The Mikvah's 960 Lug correspond to the 960 hours of the time period we are now beginning(40 days x 24 hrs.); every moment is an opportunity for us to immerse ourselves in the Teshuvah process, to Return to our Source and be purified...

The Mikvah is a fundamental and culminating step in the conversion ("transformation")process, and the key to monthly marital rejuvination.

The idea that 40 represents a measurement symbolzing transformation and spiritual development toward a new status is a theme that runs throughout Jewish life and history:

>LIFE: 40 days from conception to the point where a fetus is considered by Jewish Law to be a life; transformed from potential to actual existence...
>THE FLOOD: The world and all of creation needed to be transformed and "fixed" during the 40 day/night Mikvah-Mabul
>MT. SINAI: Millions of individuals are transformed into a Nation while Moshe ascends the Mountain for 40 days/ nights
>MIDBAR: It took 40 years of desert transformation until we merited to enter Eretz Yisrael
>SHABBAT: The Laws of Shabbos are based on 39 categories of work performed in the building of the mishkan- the Gemarah categorizes the list of melachot as "One less than 40" (Same goes for the 40-1 Malkot/ Rabbinically administered lashes, that transform a person who is guilty into a new man with a clean slate...)

Kabbalistically, even the form of the letter "Mem" (40 in numerology/ gematriah) represents this theme: at the beginning or in the middle of a word, the "Mem" is broken, open and incomplete; at the end of a word its appearance is transformed to being a "whole" letter, closed and complete.

May Hashem help us and strengthen us, so that we may make the most of this great opportunity- to be transformed and purified- and blessed with a Chodesh Tov & Shanah Tovah.

(For more, please see Rav Aryeh Kaplan ztl's Waters of Eden)

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Time to Stop Playing with Our Balls and Strikes

This debate about baseball in Israel has gone just about far enough. Perhaps we have become so insensed by the current state of affairs in Israel, or have been so numbed by a corrupt system that remains in power, that we have decided to turn our attention to an easier target: recreation and entertainment.

Recreation is good. Professional entertainment bad. Fine. Case and point. I like baseball, and just may see a game before this summer is out, because I still retain many habits from a former life in the United States, like surfing the internet past my bedtime.

But here at Kumah, we are supposed to be shining Israel in a positive light wherever possible, pointing out areas critical for the growth of this nation, and pushing American aliyah.

I am quite worried that this hit and run on America's pasttime now in Israel, runs counter to the goals of our organization.

American Jews love American sports. This phenomenon is a little difficult to understand, even for myself who to this day thinks of the ballpark anytime I smell a freshly cut lawn.

Moving to Israel is hard. Real hard. Don't let these Aliyah junkies tell you otherwise. Most American olim consciously and unconsciously look far and wide to seek out the comforts of the old country here in our new habitat. Whether it is Hellman's mayonaise or a trip to Ikea, these creature comforts help us feel at home in our elevated environs.

I am quite afraid that this battery on baseball--a familiar face to many olim who feel as if they have left many wonderful things behind to begin a better life--might make future olim uncomfortable.

I worry that potential olim, and others reading this blog may begin to think that we have struck out swinging. We don't need to attack anything and everything that runs counter to the religious ideal. We need religious and non-religious Jews who like baseball to come make Aliyah, and help strengthen our nation.

There are a lot of problems in Israel and within American Jewry. Baseball, for better or for worse, is not one of them.

Look at the coaches signs, there is a lot of work to do here. I think we should step up to the plate, and try to hit a home run on some serious issues in this country, before our society gets picked off trying to steal a base.

And I also think that for those of us who don't like professional sports--in a land where soccer goons riot, and a basketball team routinely wins the European championship--paying any additional mind to this baseball league is simply giving more attention to another business started in Israel with private American investment.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

'The Good Olim of Our Times'

In my lifetime, I have seen the passing of several notable Gedolim, or greatest scholars-leaders of our time: The Baba Sali, Rav Soloveitchik, The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Kadouri, just to name a few.

It remains to be seen whether our generation can replace these beacons of Torah and leadership with Rabbis and leaders of equal status. This is a great loss for our nation, in our generation. It is hard to pinpoint now exactly who are the Gedolim of our times.

But when leaders are no longer present, that doesn't mean that leadership ceases. Someone or someones need to take the bull by the horns, and lead the Jewish people forward. Today, Israel and the Jewish people were blessed with the arrival of 200 plus Jewish immigrants, or Olim, adding onto the 3,000 or so that have been arriving from North America each year.

I think we should praise these good olim. They (heck, myself included) have made bold steps to lead the Jewish people against all modern conventional wisdom, to return to our biblical heritage. This cannot be overlooked. These courageous leaders can definitely be considered the Good Olim of our times.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

What the Rebbe Said (and Didn't Say) About the Holocaust

From today's

Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer on The Lubavitcher Rebbe's approach to understanding /dealing with The Holocaust.
Bauer claims that: "The (Lubavitcher) Rebbe's stance is clear: The Holocaust was a good thing because it lopped off a disease-ravaged limb of the Jewish people..."

What the Rebbe ACTUALLY Said (and Didn't Say) about the Holocaust

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Rabbi Avi Weiss about being a Zionist

Monday, February 26, 2007

Are you ready for some... Shmittah? (AUDIO)

One of the most special things that comes along with living in the Land of Israel is the privilege of being able to keep many Mitzvot that are simply not relevant to the Jew of the Exile.

Many of these Mitzvot are known as Mitzvot HaTluyot Ba'Aretz - Torah commandments that are incumbent upon a Jew living in the Land of Israel.

This coming year, 5768, will be a Shmittah year - the one year, out of every seven, when the Jew in Israel must allow the Land of Israel to lay fallow, (it's actually much more complex that that, but we'll get to that a little later on) and more importantly, being that I made Aliyah only four years ago, this will represent my very first opportunity to fulfill the Mitzva of Shmittah.

Shmittah has additional significance, as being one of the Mitzvot that only becomes Biblically mandated once the majority of the Jewish People are living in the Land of Israel - something that has not happened since the destruction of the first Temple 2,500+ years ago, and which is scheduled to happen at some point in the next 25 years.

In preparation for the upcoming Shmittah year, I helped to organize a weekly, English language, Shmittah shiur in my community. The shiur is scheduled to run from now until the start of the Shmittah year, and I will be posting each installment of the shiur, along with the accompanying source sheets.

The shiur is being given by Rabbi Gedalia Meyer of Ma'aleh Adumim, and he welcomes any questions that listeners might have ( .

The first, weekly English Shmittah Shiur can be listened to by clicking here. (MP3 format)

Tizku l'mitzvot!

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Third Voice

There are three voices in Israeli political life.

The first is a male, Zionist voice. It is cowed and silent.

The second is an Arab voice. It has a lot of nerve, is violent, shameless and successful.

The third is a marxist-feminist*-yiddishe-mame voice, the emasculating voice of MK Galon, Yehimovich & co. It is shrill and merciless, and gets along swimmingly with the Arab voice.

Yesterday, the Knesset spoke in the first voice for an hour, when it passed the "Shai Dromi laws" in preliminary hearing. It was a moment to treasure.

*I use marxist-feminist more or less in the sense that Wendy McElroy uses "gender feminist." See also here.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

New Study: 7.4 Million U.S. "Jews" (Yes, I Used Quotes)

When a study claims there are 7.4 million Jews in America Neo-Zionists get scared. Why? Simple. Because previous studies have suggested two conclusions:

1. Only Orthodox Judaism is growing. All other factions are either intermarrying into oblivion or identifying less and less with the Jewish people and

2. Overall the Jewish population in America is shrinking and has no future. (Remember Zeev Bielski and A.B. Yehoshua?)

Other studies have suggested that due to many factors the Jewish population in Israel is growing. This would mean in a few years the majority of those who are halachiclly considered Jewish will reside inside Israel and therefore many halachot will become Torah obligations, not just Rabbinic ones, and that the ingathering of the exiles can be considered complete.

Yet a study just came out that makes this remarkable "7.4 million Jews" claim. Here's how the NY Post reports it:


February 8, 2007 -- America's Jewish population is far larger than previous estimates, a new survey shows.

There are as many as 7.4 million Jews in the United States, researchers at Brandeis University said yesterday.

They said the last authoritative survey was taken in 2000-01 and erroneously put the figure then at 5.2 million Jews. It counted practicing Jews; people who said they had no religion but thought of themselves ethnically as Jewish; and anyone with even one Jewish parent.

The Brandeis survey used the same categories and came up with 6 million to 6.4 million, a figure higher than would be expected by normal birth rate. But the researchers said their figure could shoot up to between 7 million and 7.4 million by adding an additional 1 million people who "might be considered Jewish" based on their backgrounds as kids of intermarried parents.

The Brandeis researchers said the earlier survey grossly undercounted non-Orthodox families, did not include "substantial numbers of young and middle-aged individuals" and was wrong to say the Jewish-American population had been in a state of decline since 1990.

"Our analyses tell us that the Jewish community is larger and more diverse than most had thought," said Brandeis Professor Len Saxe.

On the surface this new study seems to declare that:
1. Non-Orthodox Jews are doing great too, and
2. Orthodox Jews are overrated, and
3. The Jewish population in America is growing!

For those of us that follow halacha however this study does not disprove the previous conclusions, (that the ingathering of the exiles will soon be halachically complete) and may even strengthen them.

First let's get something out of the way. What is a Jew according to this study?

The same thing that was a Jew according to the NJPS.

And I quote from that study:

"For purposes of this report, a Jew is defined as a person:
-Whose religion is Jewish, OR
-Whose religion is Jewish and something else, OR
-Who has no religion and has at least one Jewish parent or a Jewish upbringing, OR
-Who has a non-monotheistic religion, and has at least one Jewish parent or a Jewish upbringing."(page 13)

The halachic definition of a Jew is one whose mother is Jewish or one who halachically converted.

The study (which you could download and read for yourself here) relies heavily on unproven assumptions. Previous studies, they claim, underestimated non-Orthodox Jews because they must be harder to reach. That's solid logic if I ever heard it. Got a lower representation than you wanted? Just say, "oh, well, obviously there are more. We just can't reach them."

Look forward to this headline: "Pinchas proves extraterrestrial life exists." See I did a study. I called beings and asked them if they are extraterrestrial life forms but since AT&T doesn't provide long distance service to other planets they are a bit harder to reach. Not wanting to underestimate them I included them in my results.

Here's how they concocted this argument. Are you ready for this?

1. "Families with several school age children, typical of many Orthodox families, have more people available to answer the telephone and may be more likely to be at home. This makes them easier to reach." (page 19)

2. "This fits with our earlier conclusion that non-Orthodox Jews may be more difficult to reach than non-Jews (particularly for telephone surveys) because of their socio-economic distinctiveness." (page 29)

Okay, okay. I know. Purim came early this year! Now after you've stopped laughing and caught your breath it gets better. These researchers are clearly disconnected from the Orthodox Jewish reality, namely that we have a life too and don't sit at home all day waiting by the phone for that survey researcher to call us.

The researchers claim that prior studies "systematically undercounted certain groups..." Namley, "...young adults (18-29 year olds). Young adults are particularly difficult for telephone surveys to reach. An increasingly serious research problem is that these individuals are the most likely to use cellular telephones as their exclusive personal telephone." (page 20)

And we all know that non-Orthodox 18-29 year old Jews use cell phones far more than their Orthodox counterparts. After all, we Orthodox Jews all have black beards and live in Lanchester, Pennsylvania and build barns and plant corn.

What this study shows is that all new studies will begin including more and more people as Jews when they are halachiclly not Jewish at all. And that in fact the halachiclly Jewish percentage of these results will continue to shrink.

Consider this:

"There is increasing evidence, for example, that more intermarried families are choosing to raise children Jewishly. If that trend continues, it portends an increase in the Jewish population." (page 31).

To me it portends an increase in the non-halachic "Jewish" population.

The paper concludes:

"Acknowledging the controversial nature of the present findings, we hope that this report will provoke productive discourse. The larger, more diverse, character of the population suggests that debate about the future of the Jewish community in America needs to encompass multiple viewpoints that address the concerns of the different groups making up the overall community. It suggests, as well, a broadened set of discussions with other Jewish communities around the world, in particular, Israel." (page 34)

In English: Israel should become (or remain) less connected to G-d because so many American "Jews" are.

"Just as Jewish identity is regarded as fluid, and may change in intensity over the lifespan, the character of the population, too, may shift as norms about marriage, child-rearing and religious practice evolve." (ibid.)

In English: Israel should accept, if not encourage, intermarriage, having less kids, and not believing in G-d.

They are the ones that are scared. They need to keep telling themselves it's safe to be a non-religious Jew in America today. They keep telling themselves their future is bright. They should know better. They do know better.

Neo-Zionism is winning. Torah Judaism is winning.

Keep the Torah! Make Aliyah!

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Are You a Liberal Anti-Semite?

Are Jews part of a global conspiracy to destroy Israel? You won't believe it, but the AJC, the bastion of pluralism, is actually going after liberal Jews who have crossed the line in the hopes of seeing Israel go down.

A funny follow up quiz and article asking whether you are a Jewish anti-Semite can be found here.

Here is one of the questions:
Which describes your view of the Holocaust?

a) The most horrific crime in recorded history
b) A tragedy that, incidentally, gets far more hype than the Turks' slaughter of the Armenians or the white man's annihilation of the Indians
c) Child's play compared with what Iran's Ahmadinejad has planned

If you are interested in this topic, Harvard professor Ruth Weiss has written a great book titled "If I Am Not For Myself - The Liberal Betrayal the Jews."

We Jews just love to kill ourselves. I think this tendency is simply a direct reaction to the Eternal Nature of this nation. Let me explain: all things in this world are created with an opposite energy to match. The Jewish people, being attached to the Eternal, simply cannot be destroyed. Only we have the power to destroy ourselves, and that is post-Zionism, a manifistation of the urge and tendency for Jewish self-destruction.

Said Mark Twain:

If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people... His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him.

The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished...

All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Unity is a Warm Gun. The First Shot Has Been Fired.


Ever heard of it?

It's like this: You see something that needs fixing. You have some choices:

1. Complain about it and walk away
2. Claim the entire endeavor was either a mistake or the work of the devil from the very start (post-Zionism, Neturei Karta)
3. Realize that you, as one who sees the problem, are now charged with doing something to fix it. If you believe we humans were given the power to destroy, believe that we have the power to rectify.

We Jews are a people of extremes. Our 'moderates' are the most extreme of all - so fervently clinging to their moderation that they don't dare analyze new facts as they come to light, for fear of becoming part of 'the problem' (which, of course, is extremists on all sides. Duh.).

But back to Neo-Zionism. The new, reloaded Kumah mega-blog is a place where complaints and critiques of every aspect of the Jewish State and the Jewish Project will be heard (alongside all the good stuff that the Kumah blog has always provided), but with the starting assumption is that these things can and will be fixed.

Those who have converged upon Zion - particularly from the comfortable North American corner - are an opinionated and passionate bunch. Things will get heated. There are no allies in this corner of the Blogosphere. We are looking to stir things up and shake everyone out of the boxes that exist even in the roomy expanse of the Internet.

If a think-tank like the Shalem Center (parent of Blogs of Zion) touts itself as a new voice for the Land of Israel-loyal Jewish Nation and then shut its eyes during the Disengagement, making no mention of it on their web sites or journals, we will point such a thing out and ask whether it had anything to do with its cosmetics magnate-sponsor's politics.

If a certain super-lefty mega-blog is the only other voice clearly opposing the Partition Wall - we will join forces with them, even as they happily cheer the death of Zionism - because the passion of the leftist Jewish radical is so much closer to the Biblical revolutionary than the comfortable moderate who supported Oslo, Wye, Oslo II, the Disengagement (or maybe he opposed, but felt that 'a government decision simply must be respected') and is filled with hope by Bibi's second coming.

If a delicious Jewblog embraces the sheer delight of being in 'the middle' on every issue, we will be there alongside them providing them the opportunity to take a stand ,in their snarkiest finery.

Most of all, we will remind Jews that talking about unity is useless. Our unity is in our realization that we as a people have always been tribalized. There were always tribes with different super-powers from one another. One tribe may be better at noticing the injustice while a little weak in sticking up for our peoples’ rights, another may excel at reaching out to the eternal Jewish party animal and turning him or her on, while yet another may fulfill the Jewish addiction to rationalizing inaction in the name of some lofty intellectual concept - but the unity everyone talks of only happens when those tribes duke it out with words, while managing not to hate each other and get nasty.

It isn't easy, but it is going to happen. Here, and in a blog near you thanks to our long Elders of Zion tentacles.

Speaking of which - here is a music video from Reb Shmuel Skaist, who attended and performed at the Canaan Conference, back in the day.


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