Maccabee's Wars

A venting rage against the ills of our society with some hopeful observations.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Happy Chanukah!

Judas Maccabeas was always ready for a fight but the following is a bit too much. It seems ‘tis the season to be jolly; except in Long Beach.

I saw the current height of the tree vs. the Menorah and lo and behold it is no longer a tie, the tree seems to be a lot taller.

Of course on my latest visit to Prague, I saw that the Alte Neu Shul is a lot smaller then all the churches in town. To make up for that, the shul begins a couple of meters below ground to give the interior a ‘taller’ look.

Well it now 'looks' like that time stands still for no man – not even during the holiday season.

As the ‘great’ Rodney King once said “Why can’t we all just get along?”

I guess it’s because we just can’t.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Olmert’s Folly

The futility of Ehud Olmert’s regime may have finally come to an end.

After testifying before the Winograd Commission, Olmert admitted that in March 2006, he chose a moderate plan of attack which was based on air warfare with a limited ground operation.

Although Shaul Mafoz had been the defense minister at that time, this plan was later executed by then chief of staff Dan Halutz, the latter having accepted the bulk of the blame for Israel’s failure during the summer war.

Incredulously, Olmert defended his move to escalate the war in the closing days in order to pressur the UN Security Council to draft a cease fire resolution more favorable to Israel.

In the end, resolution 1701, did not adequatley address Israel’s security needs and 33 soldiers were killed in the last 48 hours.

Olmert, foolishly admitted, that the escalation would not have been necessary had the earlier ground offensives been succesful.

And who chose that plan?

As Dr. Seuss so elequently wrote regarding Marvin K. Mooney, we can now say the same for Ehud K. Olmert.

Would you just please go NOW?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Truth or Fiction?

David Assaf, a prolific historian, recently published a collection of articles in Hebrew under the title of “Caught in the Thicket: Chapters of Crisis and Discontent in the History of Hasidism.”

Most of the articles have already been translated into English but are unavailable online.

The gist of the collection is that stories which have circulated in Hasidic circles about the Hasidic masters have been in direct conflict with versions of the same stories presented by Maskilim, who were anti-Hasidic.

Assaf tries to unweave this web and present the truth as he sees it.

After brushing through the first article, I came to the realization that this was a thoroughly researched work. There were over a hundred lengthy quotes from both side of the spectrum.

However, as with all human beings and even some historians, a bias comes through. In Asaaf’s eyes, Hasidism and a select few of their leaders take a turn for the worse.

But why is that? Can’t a historian search for the truth and present it as he sees it in a true historical light?


But if time and again your search leads you to negativity about your subject matter, bias must enter the picture.

In a previous volume published in English, entitled “The Regal Way: The Life and Times of Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin,” Assaf did not present Rabbi Israel Friedman in the best light.

But if it’s the truth what does it matter?

Well, sometimes it’s not the truth and even if it is true maybe it shouldn’t be presented at all.

In the past I have been a defender of “The Making of a Godol,” by Rav Nathan Kamenetzky and all of Nosson Slifkin’s works. I still stand by those decisions. Both of these authors addressed ideas that needed to be addressed to certain audiences. Both authors gave information which helped many appreciate Torah and Torah scholars, more so than they had before.

However, I do not see the same in Assaf’s latest work. Even if there is no malice, even if the discoveries and assertions are all truthful, what’s the point? Why do we need to know? If the point is to embarrass individuals or groups, well, that’s another matter.

And if the history presented is a lie, that is also another matter.

Ariel Toaff, in his most recent book, entitled “Pasque di Sangue” (Bloody Passover), makes outrageous claims that the Blood Libel which Jews have been accused for centuries may be true.

There is more than embarrassment when publishing such lies. There is potential for rampant anti-semitism. There is potential for bodily harm as well.

Now I’m not comparing Assaf’s work to Toaf’s. The latter is a work of fiction in the guise of academic research. The former is a ‘true’ historical analysis. The damage by the latter is immense, not so the former.

But did we need either to be published?

I don’t think so.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


After reviewing the Tradition article on Torture and the Law a second time, I see that I misinterpreted R. Bleich’s position.

In quoting R. Kook’s position as to torture, it seems that a Hora’at Sha’ah would only be needed to violate murder, which would be illegal both under Noahide and Judaic law.

As to torture, however, it seems that once the person who will be subject to torture is categorized as a rodef, torture would be permissible, and may be required by law.

I regret my misinterpretation of R. Bleich’s article, as per my previous post, and do so apologize for my error.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

On the Warpath

In the recent issue of Tradition devoted to War and the Jewish Tradition, many questions were raised as to the permissibility of war, how to act in war and the permissibility of torture.

Though the guest editor of the periodical admitted that these articles were written prior to the War in Lebanon this past summer, the articles showed a liberal sensitivity that was uncalled for and neglected to mention rabbinical authorities who would otherwise differ.

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau questions whether “Israel is truly in a state of war with the collective body of Palestinians when Israel frequently hires Palestinian workers.”

He states, further, that “Palestinian children do not directly harm or plan to harm Israeli’s and therefore are not rodfim.” Nor does he feel that those who encourage terror and who “pat a terrorist on the back for killing, [should be viewed as] a rodef.”

Has Rabbi Blau forgotten all the materials gathered by MEMRI which shows the constant incitement to murder and become homicide bombers? Why does he ignore, the children who spew the same venom as adults? Is it not the children who for years have been attacking Israeli troops with rocks and whatever they can get their hands on?

Those who encourage terrorism, stand behind it and do not oppose it are not necessarily “excluded as innocents not involved in hostilities.”

Rabbi Shalom Carmy, in his article regarding the origin of Cannan and Amalek, quotes Rav Eliyahu Henkin “that Jews cannot arrive at decisions [about who holds an Amalek pedigree] on our own but only through divine command.”

Further he quotes Professor Avi Sagi and R. Avigdor Amiel that the war against Amalek is only a spiritual one and “[w]hen Judaism declared war against militarism it was not through militarism.”

Rabbi Carmy neglects to mention Rav Herschel Schechter’s view that the Palestinians are the reincarnation of Amalek. It is not the pedigree of the Nazis or the Arabs that we should be examining, but the evil spirituality which they take upon themselves. As I understand Rav Shachter, acting as Amalek is the reincarnation of Amalek and the Torah’s Mitzvah of Zacher Amalek applies to this new reincarnation.

Worse yet is Rabbi J. David Bleich’s article on the ‘ticking bomb’ and Jewish Law. To basically look to a Hora’at Sha’ah, an ad hoc emergency directive, to authorize a ‘torture warrant’ is ludicrous.

According to the author, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook would only allow torture, “if the entire Jewish people or perhaps only the entire populace of the Land of Israel” were in danger. To say that Rav Kook’s thesis would be “applicable only when the threat is of the magnitude of a nuclear holocaust” is equally ludicrous.

The entire Jewish nation and the world at large are threatened every day by terrorism and annihilation. Whether it’s the Palestinians at a local level in Israel, Hizballah in Lebanon, Iran with its nuclear aspirations or Islamic fundamentalists in Iraq and worldwide, we are all in danger.

If one person could be saved based on the torture of an individual, as heinous as it may seem to the “human psyche,” it is well worth it. When the author quotes rabbinic lore to “[l]et the law pierce the mountain” it does not mean that our sensibilities to save the world, using torture, are wrong. It means that we should use the law to find a way to save the world, even via torture.

Better to remember the phrase Kol Hamatzil Nefesh Achas M’iyisroel Ke’ilu Kayem Olam Molei then to focus on the rights of those who wish to harbor terrorism.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

South Park Redux

Headline News

Police were called to stop a high school choir from singing a Christmas carol because it was offensive to Sasha Cohen.

No not that Cohen.

Not the “throw the Jew down the well” Cohen.

This was done because the carol was thought to be offensive to Olympic medalist Sasha Cohen who’s father is Jewish (her mother is not).

If there’s any justice, this insanity should be satirized in a future South Park episode.

See the following commentary in the Washington Times.

Al-Zawraa, Al-Jazeera Zardoz?

Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes reports that Al-Qaeda propaganda is being broadcast throughout the Arab world via Egyptian television.

In essence it is the same videos of bombings of ‘enemy’ vehicles that have already been shown on the internet on Al-Qaeda websites.

There should be no surprise that Arab regimes throughout the world are always willing to show the most disgusting aspects of they’re own lives. Our examination need not go further than the Arab Media’s endless reels of violence coming out of Gaza and Iraq. If it must, then we have the virulent racism of the movie “Obsession” to cheer us up during this holiday season. If we really want to feel great, we can always watch the Holocaust denial conference which recently took place in Iran.

But with over two billion dollars of aid given to Egypt every year, totaling fifty billion thus far,

must we have the new Al-Zawraa network broadcasting from Egypt? Must our tax money pay for this? Isn’t it enough what Al-Jazeera is showing?

We’d be better off if they put on a 24 hour network showing only the movie Zardoz, one of the worst movies of all time. Maybe it would drive them so insane they’d never want to watch or advocate violence again.

Oh I forgot, they already made that movie – A Clockwork Orange.

It didn’t work.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Russian Roulette

No nation has murdered more people in the past 100 years than the Russian nation – not the Nazis, not the Arabs, not the Turks, not the Chinese; no one else.

Whether one looks at Stalin or the roots of the ‘cult of personality’ with earlier Russian ‘monarchs’ such as Ivan the Terrible, there is something inherently evil within the Russian core.

Of course, we could always focus on the Germans, the rest of Europe, or any empire down through the ages but Russia always seems to resurface.

Boris Stomakhin, editor of outspoken monthly newspaper Radikalnaya Politika, who had frequently called Russia’s presence in Chechnya an "occupation" and slammed President Vladimir Putin has been sentenced to 5 years in prison by a Russian court.

British police are currently investigating the poisoning of former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin.

Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a critic of Putin and Russia's policy in Chechnya, was hospitalized in 2004 and believed she had been poisoned. Politkovskaya was shot to death Oct. 7 in her Moscow apartment building.

Though Putin was head of the KGB, there has never been any absolute proof implicating any member of the Russian government with any malfeasance.

Boris Volodarsky in an April 7, 2005 article in The Wall Street Journal wrote a fine piece regarding the alleged intentional poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko during Ukraine's presidential election campaign of 2004.

There has been no real proof whatsoever.

But I digress.

I do not wish to focus on the actions of the Russian government but rather on the Russian soul.

When Arkadi Gaydamak, a Russian businessman living in Israel opened his Jewish heart for those suffering from rocket attacks in Sderot and agreed to pay for a week-long vacation at five hotels in Eilat, he is quickly criticized by Ehud Olmert and other members of the Israeli oligarchy.

These very same people abandoned the populace of the North during the 2006 Lebanon War and the residents of Gush Katif during 2005.

This oligarchy is still operating with the Russian soul that was instilled in them at birth, prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, or by their parents who raised them or their grandparents who handed it down to them over the years.

If this soul is not eradicated soon and their Jewish heart is not put in the forefront, the next abandonment will be one of the whole of the Jewish State, with the Jewish nation to follow.

One need only heed the words of Pastor Martin Nemoller to know what will happen if we let history pass us by and do nothing. At the very least we must recognize what is taking place.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Anatomy of A Ban

I am currently in Israel for a wedding and came across a copy of "Anatomy of a Ban" by R' Nathan Kamenetsky, author of "Making of a Gadol."

Though the book goes through all the minutiae of the disgusting actions of those who were in favor of the ostracizing of R' Kamenetsky and the manipulations of those Gedolim who came to be in favor of the ban, I found it remarkable how R' Nathan was able to restrain himself from naming those who had acted most outrageously and grievously towards him and who's names had heretofore not been known to the public at large; all this restraint being shown despite the fact that 'Anatomy' was a limited printing solely given to private individuals and never intended to be sold to the general public.

The sad part for the rest of the world and for R' Kamenetsky in particular, more so than the vilification and humiliation is the fact that in 'Anatomy' he states that he no longer has the will and energy to complete volumes 2, 3 and 4 of "Making of a Gadol."

There is continued dispute, however, as to what certain Gadolim are saying about the original volumes.

R' Kamenetsky continues to assert in 'Anatomy' that R' Moshe Sternbuch has said that there is nothing wrong with the volumes and that it is essentially a 'mitzva' to read MAOG, whereby every yeshiva bochur and G-d fearing person should have the knowledge contained therein.

On the other hand, there are those who have said that R' Moshe Sternbuch never said anything of the kind and that the books are a 'buch' which must be burned and destroyed.

I, however, find the conclusion of 'Anatomy' to be most telling about the author's current mood and temperament.

R' Kamenetsky tells the story of one of his ancestors, I believe it was R' Katzenellenbogen, who 9 generations earlier was instrumental in banning works of the Ramchal. Now the same happens to R' Nathan.

Yet like R' Yonasan Eibushitz, who was eventually vindicated in his battles with R' Yaakov Emden, so the Ramchal and other greats from the previous generations have also been vindicated. Will R' Nathan be vindicated as well?

Do we have a case of whatever goes around comes around?

Is it Mida Keneged Mida as I believe R' Nathan currently perceives it?

Is the entire episode the work of the Sitra Achar as R' Kamenetsky almost explicitly states?

Make of it what you will.

Friday, September 29, 2006


I haven't had much to write about, though I have been considering writing some articles.

In the interim, here's a blog of experiences I am sure no one has had as unique a perspective as this blogger.

It is the blog of the first woman 'tourist' astronaut who arrived back on earth yesterday.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Kidnappers Delight

Jennifer Griffin, Fox News reporter, of their Jerusalem bureau, literally took her life into her own hands when she was an adamant force in the release of reporter Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig from “unknown” terrorists in Gaza.

After much investigation, she and her Israeli bureau chief met with leaders of Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad et al in the darkened back streets of Gaza while an Israeli drone flew overhead.

It was an excellent opportunity for Israel to take out a cabal of ‘Mafioso’s.’

Luckily for the Fox team, it did not take place.

Griffin, in her discussions, realized that these ‘helpful’ leaders were taking her for a ride. They insisted they were doing everything they can for the Fox newsman.

At that point, Griffin, pointed out the name of the family who were heavily involved in the kidnapping and she demanded why they had not been arrested. With guns drawn by bodyguards on both sides, she realized she was in great danger and that the ’dons’ of the Palestinians were all in on the same game.

To this author, it’s time that the world understands that every Palestinian excuse is just an excuse. Every one involved in the War against Israel is in cahoots with each other. Hamas, Fatah etal are all on the same page. Not one of them is better than the other. There is no one to deal with now nor will there be in the future.

There is one thing, however, to be thankful for. Ever since the kidnapping, reporters in general have been unwilling to cover the Palestinian ‘story’ in Gaza.

Maybe Orla Guerin of the BBC will give it a shot with her anti-Semitic claptrap -- though I doubt it. She was nowhere to be seen in Lebanon or Gaza during the fighting. Now with Kofi Anon’s visit to Beirut, she resurfaces in the war zone.

Then again, if she were to be kidnapped, the Stockholm syndrome would probably turn her into another homicide bomber.

Oh, how I long for the years gone by when we only find out about the ‘news’ years after it happens.

Then again, I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

See below for the related Fox news story,2933,211097,00.html

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Life in the War Zone

After much jetlag, I can finally report on my recent trip to Israel.

The trip was taken with much anticipation and trepidation.

On Tuesday evening August 8th I received a call from a friend telling me about a volunteer mission to Israel sponsored by an ad hoc group named CareforIsrael. Morey Kellman was the energetic leader of this group.

About the first of August he began to plan a volunteer mission to help in the war effort. Less then 2 weeks later 100 people were on their way on Saturday evening August 12th to help in whatever way they could.

As I mentioned, I only found out about the mission a few days prior to departure. My flight was only confirmed on Thursday the 10th 2 days prior to departure and I packed my bags only hours before Shabbat. I ran out of the house minutes after Shabbat was over to be on time for the flight.

Except for the fact that the flight left in a timely fashion and that I had been without sleep for days, the flight was uneventful.

We arrived Sunday evening August 13th to Israel. Buses took us to Jerusalem to the Kings Hotel where we met with a trauma expert who advised us on how to deal with the citizens of the North whom we would be spending our time with in the next few days.

A ceasefire had been tentatively agreed to on Friday to take effect on Monday at 8:00 AM but the war continued to rage.

I could not sleep well that Sunday evening. Consequently I rose at 5:15 AM and headed to the Kotel for Vosikin minyan. Despite the fact I couldn’t catch a taxi, I found someone who stopped to give me ride. He was also heading for Vosikin, so he took me back as well.

I always find the silence that takes place at Neitz at the Kotel an eerie feeling, yet at the same time invigorating.

After heading back to the hotel for breakfast, I grabbed some clothes for three days and a sheet to take with me. I wasn’t going on a camping trip. Ten of us were heading up north to be in the shelters for three days.

It was bit nerve wracking, not knowing what would await us. Yet I had little to worry about.

As we were about to leave, Morey received a phone call from Lev Achad. They were our coordinators for what we would be doing up there and they told us not to come that day. I assume it was because the ceasefire had taken hold, but I can’t be sure.

So instead of heading North, new plans were made for the 10 of us.

We were whisked off to a soup kitchen called Hazon Yeshaya. When we arrived we were put on KP duty peeling hundreds of potatoes. If I had stayed home I wouldn’t want to peel even one, yet here I felt comfortable putting in the hours. After a few hours, we served the locals who came in for a meal. We also tried to give them Chizuk. One of the members of our group, Arnie, had a guitar. He started playing some lively music, so we joined in to dance with some of the patrons. It was uplifting to see the smiles on so many faces.

This particular soup kitchen which serves Jerusalem with some 2500 meals a day, also serves 3000 additional meals to other areas of Israel. Additionally, they made 4000 more meals to be taken up North. The head of Hazon Yeshaya shown on a video visualized to us the horrors that were taking place in the North. As they were driving through some Northern Town trying to deliver food, an air raid siren went off. They hurried off their transport and tried to head towards a shelter. The shelter however was closed, so they had to stand on the outside of it until the ‘all clear.’

Later, they delivered to shelters where one woman said they had not left it for 17 days. No one, she said had come to visit them or to bring food until Hazan Yeshaya had at that moment.

But the shelters were not the only places that needed food. Climbing up 4 stories to a top floor, the soup kitchen crew delivered food to an old couple who could not leave their home, despite the fact that shells were raining around them.

It was extremely troubling to see that the government had abandoned these people. The Israeli papers quoted government officials that they were not delivering food because they did not want the Northern population to become dependent on the State. It’s interesting that this is coming from a State that is dependent on the US, the Jews of the Diaspora and new Olim. It was quite despicable.

Following our time in the soup kitchen, we went to donate blood at Magen Dovid Adom. They took blood from most of group, but I was so weak from the trip, they told me to wait a week. Oh well, I tried.

The next day I was still jetlagged so I woke again for Vosikin. This time I found a cab. After davening which ended about 6:15 AM I walked back through the shuk. It was eerily empty except for 3 or 4 old Arabs who were opening up their stores. It was a quick walk, however, rather then going through the Armenian quarter.

That morning we headed towards an Army base in Tzrifin which is south of Ramle. We were there to pack food packages which were to be airlifted to the remaining troops in Lebanon. If only much of these packages were sent earlier. Stories of soldiers having to take water off the dead Hizballah fighters, breaking into stores for a morsel of food or eating at the local Lebanese populace homes were the stories we heard time and again.

The food was packed on an assembly line. Sixty people placed products such as tuna, canned vegetables and the lot in boxes which were for 4 Meals in a 24 hour period. Each box weighed about 4 pounds and were stacked 180 high on a gurney to be fork lifted away and then parachuted to the troops. On that Tuesday, I had to place canned chocolate in the boxes. First I was placing them gently, but the conveyer was moving so fast at times, I began throwing them in. It was almost like the famous “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy had to wrap chocolates arriving on a conveyer belt. The belt, however, was moving so quickly that she had to eat most of them just to keep pace.

Later we headed to Sderot which for some time, along with Gush Katif, had been hit by thousands of Kassam missiles. We met with the deputy mayor and saw the extensive damage. We also met with some children of the town who at first said that everything was alright. Then one of them said he was so scared that he needed his father to stand outside the toilet to hum to him, so that he knew he was safe. At all times he knew where the nearest shelter was, so that he could go there on a moments notice.

On Wednesday, the 16th, we headed up North. We met with soldiers stationed in the Golan, who had just come back from the fighting and had lost four men in the last days of the ceasefire. One of their fallen comrades Uri Grossman was the son of a leading novelist and “Peace Now” activist. The father had just been at a protest against the war prior to his son’s death.

Soldiers were now crowding around a newspaper which discussed the funeral and eulogy for their fallen comrade. Mr. Grossman said that Israel will have to ascertain what it lost during this war. He does not have time for that. He is busy with what he and his family had lost, the loss of his son.

Some of the soldiers eventually started talking of their experiences. One, tank commander, told us of the anti-tank missiles which were being shot from kilometers away. They never saw them coming. When they tried to return fire, the Hizballah terrorist surrounded themselves with children. They could not return fire.

Later that day we went to Kiryat Shemona. I was surprised by the lack of destruction. Kiryat Shemona had almost 1000 missiles fall in the center of the city. I saw only mostly blackened fields.

We went to the Hesder Yeshiva on top of the city, sitting directly on the border. One of the ‘bochorim’ showed us the blackened windows of the Beit Hamidrash, the apartment buildings which received a direct hit, and the remnants of Katyushas.

We next headed to the mall in Kiryat Shemona. It wasn’t quite as busy as the ‘Kanyon’ in Jerusalem but people were there. I didn’t notice any damage.

We next met with an officer of the ‘Home Front’ in a forest on the outskirts of Safed. He emphasized that this war was not over and that we were only at the ‘halftime’ break.

That evening, in Jerusalem, we met with Yuli Edelstein. Though he was reluctant to criticize the Olmert administration, he made it quite apparent that Israel was not in a good situation.

The next morning, we met with Natan Sharansky who basically reiterated the same trepidation as Edelstein. He also mentioned that when he resigned from the government last year, he told Sharon that he hoped he was wrong about the Disengagement from Gaza. Unfortunately, he was not.

That Thursday morning we headed back to Tzrifin to pack some more food. This time they put me in charge of the assembly line. It might sound like a piece of cake to press an ‘on’ button and then an ‘off’ button but if you have to watch people getting their fingers caught in machinery, people dropping heavy boxes coming at them at top speed, boxes getting caught in the taping machine and all sorts of problems, I felt like I needed five pairs of eyes.

That evening we heard from an IDF spokesman who said that we can look at this war as a glass half-full or as glass half-empty. It wasn’t a great analogy but it’s all I came away with.

Later that evening most of the mission went back to New York. I stayed for Shabbat to recuperate.

All in all, it was a worthwhile trip, though I am afraid that we are trailing badly at halftime. Moreover, even if we win ‘the game’ our losses which are heavy already will be far worse unless there is major change in leadership.

May this coming year be one of Guela Shlaima, a homecoming from our exile, and a healthy and happy one for one and all.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Leaving On a Jet Plane

I am, G-D willing, leaving for Israel this Saturday night for a week to volunteer with the organization known as I hope to be able to report back while I am there. If not, I will try to give a full report once I’m back.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Leftist Morality

The following is an excellent article regarding the perversity of the left.

Thanks to Friedlam again for the submission:,20867,20062213-7583,00.html

J’ Accuse!

Headline: Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks accuses Israel of moral equivalency.

Left-wing anti-Semitism continues to rear its ugly head.

It’s bad enough that Israel must suffer through moral equivalency where Hizballah is considered on equal moral ground as Israel. Now ‘reporter’ Ricks has taken this one step further. It is now Hizballah and the Arab world with the moral high ground. It is now Israel who is undermining morality by failing to wipe out Hizballah, by letting the battle move slowly, by allowing the populace in the north to be continually bombarded and killed, so that people will pity ‘poor’ Israel and consequently give it favorable PR.

What unbelievable nonsense!

Israel is always receiving horrible PR no matter how moral they try to behave. Despite the pride taken by the Israeli military in being the most moral army in the world, despite the losses they took in Jenin and now in Lebanon and Northern Israel, the world looks disdainfully at the Jewish state and twists and skews the moral equivalency in favor of the Arab world.

Further, it is Hizballah, Hamas and the Arab media who manipulate photo ops to distort the truth. It is Reuter’s photographers who ‘doctor’ images to manipulate the masses.

What’s more, the liberal media allows these manipulative tactics to be shown as truth rather than true fiction.

See below for Ricks’ asinine comments on CNN and a partial acceptance by the reporter interviewing him.

See also the moral equivalency as 30,000 Muslim protesters in London held banners saying “We are all Hezbollah” and screaming out the same unashamedly.

Also see the following report by Harold Evans from the Guardian. Thanks to Friedlam for the submission:

'We are all Hizbullah now.'

Harold Evans August 8, 2006 05:04 PM
"We are all Hizbullah now," proclaimed one of the banners at the Stop the War coalition's London march<> . Really? Is it possible that more than one person has taken leave of their senses?

It was a sign either of profound ignorance or a depraved indifference to human life. Either way, the moral idiocy of the sentiment betrayed the higher purpose of the march.

If we are all Hizbullah now, who are we? Are we the violent hijackers of the state of Lebanon who started this war without provocation and without reference to the elected government?
Are we the "democrats" who hold hostages for years and murder political opponents?

Are we the suicide bombers, Hizbullah's contribution to civilization, randomly murdering innocents in the thousands - Muslims, Jews,Christians, Buddhists, for this cause or that, it makes no difference?

Are we Hassan Nasrullah, the latest pin up boy of terrorism, who competes with Iran's mad Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the most dedicated to kill Jews? He makes no secret of Hizbullah's genocidal ambitions. "If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel," he says, "it will save us the trouble of going after them on a world wide basis." Big joke. Are we the puppets of our paymasters in Iran?

Are we the cowards condemned as such by the UN humanitarian chief, JanEgeland, for hiding our fighters and rocket launchers among women and children?

Are we not the cleverest of tacticians? If the human shield works, we are free to attack, and if it fails, Israel will bear the odium. What does it matter that our cruel deceit violates Article 58 of the Geneva Convention?

Are we the renegades who have for six years shown what we think of the Geneva Convention, international law (and UN resolution 1559) by regularly launching rockets across the border into Israel loaded with ball-bearings to shred human flesh. Yes, people died, six in a school bus, but they were only Jews and did you see the world take any notice? Nobody marched in London.

Are we the fiends who over two decades of Islamic terrorism have kidnapped, tortured and killed numerous peacekeepers?

Yes, we are all these things and we are Samir Kuntar

<> .

Perhaps the London marchers do not know of Samir Kuntar. He is locked up in an Israeli prison. It was to secure his release by blackmail thatHizbullah guerillas crossed into Israel and kidnapped two Israelis, triggering the conflict. Samir Kuntar is emblematic of Hizbullah's values, their highest priority in any prisoner exchange, so let us hear about him from a woman who opposes his release. She is a social worker in Israel called Smadar Haran he met in 1979.

"It had been a peaceful Sabbath day. My husband Danny and I had picnicked with our little girls, Einat, 4, and Yael, 2, on the beach not far from our home in Naharyia, a city on the northern coast of Israel. Around midnight, we were asleep in our apartment when four terrorists from Lebanon landed in a rubber boat on the beach two blocks away.

"Gunfire and exploding grenades awakened us. Desperately we sought to hide. Danny helped our neighbour climb into a crawl space above our bedroom. I went in behind her with Yael in my arms. Then Danny grabbed Einat and was dashing out of the front door when the terrorists came crashing in. They held Danny and Einat while they searched for me and Yael.

"I will never forget the joy and the hatred in their voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades. I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space, so I kept my hand over her mouth. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust.

"The terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rocket with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar. By the time we were rescued from the crawl space hours later, Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives I had smothered her."

We are all Hizbullah now.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

They Might Be Giants

The Israeli cabinet is again meeting to decide whether to launch the second phase ground offensive. Whether this is the way to go is a matter of debate, though this author feels it should have been part of the first offensive.

But one item should be absolutely clear to all.

There should be no debate regarding Lebanon’s offer to move troops into Southern Lebanon. Olmert should not call it an interesting offer with hesitation that it may be a subterfuge.

It is a fool’s game and Olmert wants to play.

His spinning the wheel as if this was the game of Life will only bring more death and destruction. It will end up being a true ‘win’ for Hizballah and the Arab world.

Moreover, all of Israel’s soldiers and populace lost so far will have certainly died for nought.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Four Musketeers

It may be early to put blame on who is responsible for the death and destruction in Northern Israel and the failure to obliterate Hizballah, but four names come into fruition.

First is Dan Halutz. The Chief of Staff and Air Force Lt. General in proceeding with a pinpoint air campaign instead of sending in ground forces allowed Hizballah to drop thousands of missiles and kill and injure so many. His limited war has cost and will cost Israel dearly.

Second is Amir Peretz. With no experience for the job of defense minister, he has shown nothing to prove that he has the wherewithal for the job. His greatest success is appearing in as many photo ops as possible with the troops. Their smiling faces belie what awaits them as they go out to war.

Third is Ehud Olmert who brags about the success of the Israeli armed forces with hundreds of Hizballah/Iranian/Syrian missiles killing troops and the populace. Olmert dared to even say that this war is the precursor to the removal of settlements in Judea and Samaria, almost causing a revolt amongst reservists from those areas.

Finally, let us not forget former Prime Minister Ehud Barak who allowed the mass removal of Israeli troops in 2000 from Lebanon. The move emboldened the Arab world. No intelligence seemed to remain in the area to recognize what Hizballah was doing and the resulting war is the consequence of that action.

These are the Four Musketeers.

I would prefer to call them the Four Sons but there isn’t a wise one among them.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Alien Democracy

Tucker Carlson of MSNBC has been interviewing all sorts of people including Benjamin Netanyahu. Similar to the style of Alan Colmes of Fox News’ Hannity and Colmes, ever-present in the interview is the mention that Hizballah and Hamas were democratically elected, so we should not interfere or object; despite the fact that Carlson, Colmes, and most other media elites all say that these democratically elected “officials” are the “bad guys.”

Well that’s the point! And no one, not even Netanyahu, has effectively responded.

Incredulously, Netanyahu asked Carlson, if he had seen the movie ‘Alien.’ Then Netanyahu went into a longwinded explanation of how Hizballah is the parasitic creature which engorges its host, then destroys everyone around it as it emerges from the belly of its host and for that reason according to Netanyahu, Israel must destroy the host; I assume he meant Lebanon, though he didn’t explicitly say so.

The sad truth is that this lunacy is not far from the truth. Of course, Netanyahu appears on the screen as a lunatic – not very good Hasbarah.

Netanyahu even compared the American Nazi party as being the political equivalent of Hizballah. Carlson, of course, quickly made light of the comparison since Hizballah had at least 15 members in the Lebanese government. He is absolutely correct. The American Nazi party has no such standing in the American political sphere.

However, a more effective response which no one has put forward is the following:

The National Socialist German Workers’ Party, the NSDAP, otherwise known as the Nazi party, was democratically elected. That didn’t mean that the allies should not go to war against it; that didn’t mean that every freedom loving member of the human race were under no obligation to do everything in their power to destroy that democratically elected government. It also didn’t mean that you had to be extremely careful in avoiding “civilian” losses to the detriment of the war effort.

It’s too bad that even Israeli politicians can’t squelch these media elites and nip these nonsensical conundrums in the bud.

Hizballah Victory?

The Israeli mini-cabinet of Foreign Minister Tzippy Livny, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, former Defense Ministers Sha'ul Mofaz and Shimon Peres, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, Justice Minister Chaim Ramon and Shas Party leader Trade Minister Eli Yishai in voting for a limited ground offensive has foolishly betrayed Israel’s interests in the short and long run.

In the short run, Israel will not be able to able adequately stop the rain of missiles falling on Northern Israel. Hizballah will only be emboldened to continue fighting. With the continued aerial assaults which Hizballah has no defense against, they will have no alternative but to “save face” by bombing Israeli targets.

In the long run, both Hizballah and the Arab world will be encouraged with their “victory” and do even more to destroy the Jewish state.

The fear that Syria may attack if ground forces are dispatched to the Litani River or to within 12 miles of the Syrian border was illogical. Even if they would attack, they would be no match for the Israeli ground forces and certainly no match for the air force.

The Syrian forces would be an easy target since the fighting would be “mano a mano” -- one army against another; not an army vs. a guerilla squad.

On the other hand, if Israel will not proceed, Syria will obtain more weapons and plan a full scale assault with other Arab nations in the very near future.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Missile Command

How far will the escalation continue?

With Israeli ground troops on the verge of invasion into Lebanon, what can we expect from Hizballah?

If Hizballah has longer range weapons from Syria and Iran, it’s almost a certainty they will use them on Tel Aviv.

In turn, it would seem that Israel will attack Damascus.

If Hizballah has chemical weapons, it’s likely they would use them with permission of Iran or Syria.

In turn, it would seem that Israel would attack Iran.

What would follow at that point?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Yom Kippur War Revisited?

Every day shows some surprise.

Though 5000 rockets had fallen prior to last year’s withdrawal from Gaza and many rockets have been shot from Gaza since then, it came as a surprise to some that Hamas would attack through an underground tunnel and kidnap Gilad Shalit from sovereign Israeli soil.

It also came as a surprise to some that Hizballah would do the same and kidnap two Israeli soldiers while bombarding Israeli cities throughout the North.

It further comes as a surprise to some that Hizballah is proving to be a formidable force killing Israeli soldiers not once, but twice at the very same location in Southern Lebanon.

The surprises keep mounting when after Israel sends a 23 ton of dynamite equivalent as a bunker buster to a location where leaders of Hizballah are supposedly in hiding, their leader Nasrallah appears for an interview on Al-Jazeera, the very next day.

Now there’s some talk that Hizballah is pushing for Islamic Jihad to open a third front from Judea and Samaria. Maybe that will also come as a surprise.

The Yom Kippur War was also a surprise to many. Thousands of lives were lost and Israel was in danger of being wiped off the map.

As a result, government officials lost their jobs and careers and many in government made a vow that there would be no more surprises. Israel would always be prepared.

Were we prepared for this current War? Will we be prepared for what is to come?

I hope so.

I certainly hope so.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer

A report by Martin Fletcher on NBC was extremely painful to watch.

After sirens go off warning of an imminent attack, Israelis run for the bomb shelter. One man doesn’t make it and is found dead just meters away from the shelter.

He is lying on the ground some distance away from the cameras and the shelter.

A woman standing at the entrance to the shelter is screaming into her cell phone to her husband, “where are you, where are you, why don’t you pick up.”

Off in the distance, we soon find out all too well where he is.

The ringing of a cell phone continues unanswered next to the body.

See Martin Fletcher’s report below:

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Images of War

Watching this evening’s CBS News, one wonders how the war appears to objective observers, if that is even possible.

An American being evacuated from Lebanon screams at the camera that she hates Israel and everything that is happening is all Israel’s fault.

Another American of Arab descent, prior to boarding a ship to Cypress, stands in front of her car with a bashed out rear window describing the horror of a bomb going off as they were driving to areas of escape.

A Hizballah neighborhood looks like a bombed out ghost town with some injured populace covered in debris being helped away – one particularly so covered up in dust that he appeared to be walking out of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

On the other hand, a CBS reporter is interviewing Israelis in a bomb shelter where they have been for a week and probably will remain in this stifling area without showers or water for weeks more. As they come to the surface to say goodbye, they and others in the area run back to the shelter as Hizballah missiles fall not once, but twice, within a matter of minutes destroying an apartment building killing one man only meters away from the shelter.

Israelis in Tzefat, Nahariya, Haifa and other locales are shown cowering in shock as missiles fall all around them. The same train depot where eight workers were killed on Sunday is shown with more missile strikes today.

What appears on the screen and what is perceived off the screen is that Hizballah, a militia, though a powerful one, acts with even greater strength then a sovereign state.

What appears is Israel, with the best equipped armed forces in the region, a country with some of the best minds in the world, a country noted for it’s heroism and military prowess, fighting a war against buildings, against an unarmed populace just trying to get home or live their lives, while Israel’s own populace must cower in fear and wait until Hizballah runs out of the 10,000 missiles they possess.

These are the very frightening images that we must see and perceive.

I worry about the consequences yet to be faced.

Monday, July 17, 2006

War Stories

On Friday July 14th, 2006, the New York Post reporter Uri Dan stated the following:

In response to Condoleezza Rice’s call to Israel to exercise restraint in the use of self-defense, Israeli Ambassador to the US, Danny Ayalon responded “I think they misinterpreted our restraint for the last six years.”

Who exactly made this misinterpretation?

The US didn’t.

They understand that action taken by Israel prior to the kidnapping and murder of Israeli soldiers on their side of the border might have been perceived as an over-reaction, even though it would have been a clear response to provocation by Lebanon by allowing Hizballah on its southern frontier.

The UN didn’t.

They failed to implement U.N. resolution 1559 which calls for the deployment of the Lebanese military along the border and for the disarming of militant groups such as Hezbollah. Why should they follow-up on the resolution if they want to give Lebanon a free pass and Israel does nothing about it.

The EU didn’t.

They have nothing but contempt and scorn for Israel. They are so busy bending over backwards to every Arab nation including Iran and Syria, that if Israel refuses to protect their own borders even after leaving Lebanon, why should they care.

Lebanon didn’t.

If they are so frightened from Syria, Iran and Hizballah are they actually going to be frightened from Israel, who up to this point have done nothing to protect their own interests?

Certainly Iran, Syria and Hizballah did not misinterpret Israel’s lack of response in the last six years. They saw Israel as being too frightened of America, Europe and the media to take any proportionate action; too hopeful for peaceful relations with its Arab neighbors instead of seeing them for what they are – a murderous bunch of despots who are all too willing to stir their populace to hate, murder and maim themselves and every Jew they can get their hands on.

But now Bill Clinton and others have said Israel’s current response is disproportionate.

Of course it is. They should have done more years ago and even more now.

Hopefully they will. Hopefully they will clean Hizballah out of southern Lebanon and Hamas out of Gaza.

That might be proportionate. That might be interpreted correctly. That might be enough. I doubt it, though.

Friday, June 30, 2006

When is a War Not a War?

As we continue to hope for the return, in good health, of Corporal Gilad Shalit and as we mourn over the murder of the young man from Itamar, Eliyahu Asheri, the news from Israel continues to be grim and unfocused.

Israel authorities continue to be adamant that Operation Summer Rains is basically about Corporal Shalit. As an aside, they mention the steady rain of Kassam rockets continually being fired into Israel.

The Palestinian Authority, Hamas, the Arab world at large, the UN, the EU and the media at large focus on the “occupation,” the civilian casualties, and the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian populace.

Both foci are tangential to the real issue.

The “democratically” elected Palestinian government now inculcated with Hamas “officials” is at war with Israel.

It doesn’t matter whether they are a “state,” an occupied land, a government assembly or a bunch of terrorist thugs; they have attacked sovereign Israeli soil and killed Israeli citizens.

When al-Qaeda attacked the US on 9/11 there clearly was only one response. Find the perpetrators and blow them off the face of the earth. It didn’t matter whether they were a state or not; whether they were a government.

An act of war should be responded to as war.

If Mexico attacks US soldiers or National Guardsman on US territory, that is war. If Cuba attacks Guantanamo, that’s war. If Cuba or North Korea fires missiles towards the US, that’s war.

It’s almost laughable that there is a focus on whether the Hamas leaders or the Fatah/PLO non-state of Palestine will or will not recognize Israel.

It is Israel that is the sovereign state. They don’t need to be recognized. The question is whether the world or Israel will recognize any Palestinian state, if it is ever established.

In the interim, Israel is under attack and at war. It should declare the actions of Hamas and Fatah as war. Israel should in turn declare war and respond as the US has done in Afghanistan and in Iraq. It should wage that war with all the immediacy and expedience available at its command.

It should wage that war until either the surrender or destruction of all hostile forces.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Memories of My Mentor

Rebbetzin Leah German, Leah bas Asher, ZT”L left us this past week on Sunday the 22nd Sivan, 5766.

I do not use the title ZT”L lightly. Though it is usually reserved in usage after the Petirah of a Rav, I have no doubt, it is even more appropriate as a reminder of how she lived her life; more so than anyone I have ever known.

I first met Rebbetzin German in the early ‘90s. By that time, she had already retired from the public school system as a master teacher and principal working under the most arduous of conditions in the city. As difficult as that may have been, she took on the responsibilities of what may have been an even more formidable task; principal of Be’er Hagolah.

Be’er Hagolah, established in 1979, became the first major yeshiva, for children of émigrés from the former Soviet Union. The culture of these children was based on a time warp of totalitarianism. American culture, on the other hand whetted their appetites for a type of freedom that was disingenuous to a Jewish way of life.

Though Rebbetzin’s German’s husband, Rabbi Avner German, the Menahel and Dean of Hebrew Studies, of Be’er Hagolah articulated Be’er Hagolah’s first goal as the Americanization of the students, it was indeed a formidable task. The ardent fervor needed to balance the newfound freedom of American culture with Yahadus, with Judaism, could only be provided by Rebbetzin Leah German.

Rebbetzin German, a brilliant woman, understood many things, most of all, the conflict between American culture and Jewish life in America. Growing up in America, attending public school, she saw first hand the trials and tribulations in maintaining one’s Judaism.

Yet she never wavered.

If she believed in the truth of a matter, there was nothing that could sway her from that truth. For example, after marrying her husband Rabbi German, may he merit long and happy years, with Nachas and pride from his children and extended family, she insisted in dressing in a fashion most befitting a G-d fearing woman, a wife of a Rabbi.

I never saw any woman of such culture, education and eminence who dressed and acted with such modesty; a woman who projected the firmness of granite, yet also the warmth and compassion of a mother to every human being.

Whomever she came in contact with, whether it was from the dregs of society to princely dignitaries, she reached each and every one of them on a lofty level with sometimes one word, one phrase, or one sentence.

The children, whom she came into contact with, all of whom she knew by face, name and class, whether from the public school or the Yeshiva, all loved and admired her. They knew she loved them and only were admonished by her so they could grow up to be better.

Her teacher’s were her own as well.

As a mother asks for help for their children, she would contact anyone, including her own children for help regarding Shidduchim, to potentiate possibilities for marriage.

And it would never be, ‘can you help so and so’ or ‘do you know anybody for so and so.’ It would always be “What can you do for my Yehuda?” or for anyone else who needed a Shidduch.

I heard it first hand. I heard it for myself.

But she never asked anything for herself. Any requests were always for the school, her children, her pupils, her teachers.

Even when parents would argue with her, parents who many times didn’t even pay a dime of tuition, parents who were totally in the wrong, she never lost her patience and would deal with them for hours on end.

Though many times in her working environments, she was exposed to foul language, she never accepted it. She abhorred it. As Rabbi German said, she became physically sick from its use as one can from a foul odor. Her soul refused to become tainted by it.

And she never complained.

Diagnosed with her illness eight years ago, she never let on that she was sick. She continued to work 24 hours a day until the last year of her life. Nothing was ever too much or too hard.

Her son, sitting Shiva in Starrett City, stated that she continued to cook for shabbos for countless guests, making chicken as he described it, with the ta’am of Gan Eden, the taste of the Garden of Eden, which no one in the family could duplicate, even though they had the recipe and they saw exactly how she made it.

Her husband said that in addition to her work in the school and at home, she would cook for hundreds of people in the shul, the synagogue. Her extracurricular life went from cleaning for Pesach to cooking for Pesach, to baking for Shavuos ad infinitum, all for hundreds of people, at the same time running a school for a thousand students.

She even cleaned for the cleaning lady for Pesach so that the cleaning lady shouldn’t have to work too hard; and that was the only time she ever had a cleaning lady to help out.

Lying in a hospital bed, with barely any strength, she insisted that her children first give some food first to the caretaker who had come to take care of the Rebbetzin.

And she never complained.

Her son mentioned that when she first received treatment for her illness, chemicals leaked through the intravenous, which were so harsh and acidic that it caused a wound large enough to fit one’s hand through it. Though the pain was horrendous, her description of it was so mild, no one came to help her until major damage had been inflicted.

Her husband had said that her personal physician never arrived on time for the birth of her seven children, because she never called out in pain for a nurse or a doctor. As a result, it was always thought that she was not ready to deliver.

What did I learn over the years from Rebbetzin German? How was she my mentor? She always offered constructive criticism whether I wanted it or not and I always tried to listen because I knew that she was right. But more so I learned from her grit and determination to stand up for what’s right; to be consistent, to find the truth, to hold on to it and never let it go, no matter what anybody says.

To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, Rebbetzin German was the epitome of ‘speak softly and carry a big stick.’ Yet her big stick was not a weapon of mass destruction. Her call to arms was her integrity, her fortitude, her strength and her brilliance.

She was a woman of Chesed, Gevirah and Tov; a woman of spunk and spirit. As Rabbi German mentioned how others described her – zaltz and feffer -- the spice of life.

She was woman of valor like no other.

I will miss her greatly.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

As Confucius Says “Who’s Confused Now?” Better Known As, Samuel L. Beckett’s “Waiting for the Golem.”

Dr. S.Z. Leiman in his last shiur of the season referred back to an email, he received from a gentleman, which questioned why Dr. Leiman did not address the ‘fact’ that there is evidence of a documentary nature that a Talmid of the Maharal of Prague created a Golem.

The evidence stems from a sefer entitled Yeshurun that combed sources indicating that R’ Eliyahu Ba’al Shem of Chelm, a Talmid of the Maharal, created a Golem and that people confuse that creation as one made by the Maharal himself.

Unfortunately, the real confusion is that this R’ Eliyahu could not have been a Talmid of the Maharal. He is actually a Talmid of the Marshal and possibly a contemporary of the Maharal.

Moreover, R’ Eliyahu Ba’al Shem of Chelm is also confused with R’ Eliyahu Ba’al Shem of Worms, who actually may have been A Talmid of the Maharal. In the Haskama to Gedulos Mordechai, a commentary on the Mordechai with annotations by the Maharal, R’ Eliyahu of Worms indicates that the Maharal was either his Rebbi or, by calling him Moheiranu Rabbaeinu, gives the Maharal the respect due to the Gadol Hador.

Each of the two R’ Eliyahu B’al Shems are buried in their own plots in their respective towns, so they are not one and the same. R’ Eliyahu Ba’al Shem of Chelm was an ancestor of R’ Ya’akov Emden. In Migilas Sefer, R’ Emden mentions that R’ Eliayhu created a man, which may have been a Golem On the other hand, there is no documentary evidence of R’ Eliyahu Ba’al Shem of Worms, who may possibly be a Talmid of the Maharal, creating a Golem. Neither for that matter is there any evidence of the Maharal himself creating a Golem.

Golem stories!

Oh what a tangled web we weave.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Pope’s Visit to Auschwitz – What Can One Expect?

A Holocaust survivor, who lost her family at the death camp, met with Pope Benedict, asking the Pope to apologize on behalf of the German people and, one would expect, on behalf of Christianity as well. It was not forthcoming. One should not be surprised. Neither has the Church truly recognized Israel, nor the return of it’s people as rightful heir to their land, though the previous Pope did visit Israel and prayed at the Western Wall.

Moreover, just as we find that current Islamic and Arabic regimes find Israel and Judaism to be an anathema to them, so has Christianity long held their Jewish origin in contempt.

Commenting on R’A. I. Kook’s concept of ‘Orot Genuvim’ (Stolen Lights), R’Bezalel Naor in his translation of Orot makes reference to the idea that the nations of the world will abandon the notion of the “Judean-Christian” tradition because they will recognize that the Judean traditions which they have incorporated into Christianity is antithetical to their own religion.

This will result in a massive increase in anti-semitism whereby the Jewish element of their religion will be thrown out. As a result, Judaism will ‘take back’ what rightfully only belongs to Judaism. In turn, the mass of Jews who abandoned their Judaism will find their faith, and Jewry as a whole will become stronger.

In a letter written in 1947 by R’ Kook’s disciple, R’ Ya’akov Moshe Charlap to Holocaust survivors, one can see how the above has come into fruition. Yet as R’ Naor interprets R’ Kook’s statements to ‘Ha-Milhamah’ (The War) to include World War II as a continuation of World War I, what is to prevent us from including in this amalgam the current Israeli-Arab conflict as well as the War on Terror?

If one examines the following excerpt from R’ Charlap’s letter and adjusts the Christian references to Islamic, one can see how R’ Kook’s ‘predictions’ still hold true today. We can only hope that in ‘the end of days’ the Jewish people will be the better for it.

“At that time they will be nauseated by every glimmer of light and will choose to live in darkness and the shadow of death. They will vomit that which was bestowed on them of Israel’s influence and discerning light. The beginning of their way of folly will be shaking off all contact they had with Israel – blow after blow, in order to be separated from Israel and all its qualities. This itself will be their curse, for every disengagement from Israel is a disengagement from life. For us, Israel, His holy people, it will be a blessing. Thereby will be fulfilled the prophesy, “I shall separate you from the people to be Mine.” To be separated from them and their multitudes, and also to salvage all the good, the pleasant fields of Israel, which were damaged and spiritually lessened by entering into the territory of strangers; to purify them and return them to the source of their holiness.”

The Charlap Letter, Imrei Noam, Jerusalem: Beit Zevul, 5707/1947, pp.14-16, pgs. 253-254

note 135 to page 109 of Orot, the Orot Inc. Edition, 2004

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Truth, Justice and the Chassidic Way? Look Up In the Sky. It’s Supermen!

Recently a Chassidic newspaper published an article with derogatory remarks against the author of a 3 volume work regarding the Vilna Gaon. Unfortunately the article and its author is the one deserving of the remarks while the author of the 3 volume treatise deserves accolades.

Dr. S.Z. Leiman, in his most recent shiur, said the vitriol against the Vilna Gaon books stem, in large part, from its author’s contention that the Vilna Gaon was correct in his battle against Chassidism, and in part to its author’s belief that R’ Ya’akov Emden was displeased with Chassidic practice. The newspaper said that this last notion was an outrageous fabrication.

It is not.

R’ Emden published at least 2 works indicating his dissatisfaction with Chassidic practice. In one, entitled Mishna Lechem, in a comment on the first Mishna in Meseches Peah, which states that the learning of Torah has no limitation, R’ Emden was extremely critical of those that insist on learning Zohar and Kabbalah to the exclusion of much else. At first, R’ Emden referred to the followers of the false Messiah Shabbsai Tzvi, but then to a lesser extent, R’ Emden began his critique of certain groups of Chassidim who do the same and pray for extended periods of time and move about during prayer as whirling dervishes.

Of course, today, Chassidism is well accepted and considered on equal footing with Misnagdim and the battle with the Vilna Gaon is no more. Moreover, R’ Emden, despite his aforementioned objections, is well respected in Chassidic circles. In fact, a commentary of his on Pirkei Avos was recently published with Haskamos from great Chassidic scholars. Copies of the alleged siddur of R’ Emden can be found in many Chassidic homes and their bookstores.

The issue, at hand, then is not who was right when the “war” began, but historical accuracy and the respect of Jews for each other.

Dr. Leiman, ended with an anecdote told to him personally by, I believe, the Shkolyer Rebbe. When the Ba’al Shem Tov’s soul was told to come down to earth to be born, the Ba’al Shem Tov asked, who would be alive during his lifetime. He was told that the Penei Yehoshua would be one of his contemporaries. The Ba’al Shem Tov was impressed. Additionally, he was told that the Node BeYehuda would be the leader of the Prague community. Again, the Ba’al Shem Tov was heartened. Finally, he was told that R’ Ya’akov Emden would be a contemporary during his lifetime. The Ba’al Shem Tov replied, ‘Oib Azoi, Ich Fir Zich Nisht’ i.e. “If so, I’m not going.” He knew that R’ Emden would have great fortitude in the “battle” for Torah and he did not want to be involved with him in a lengthy adversarial role.

The Ba’al Shem Tov was told not to worry. He had nothing to fear from R’ Emden. R’ Yonason Aybshutz would also be a contemporary and he would be taking up all of R’ Emden’s time.

In the end, R’ Aybeshitz was vindicated, as was the Ba’al Shem Tov, as well as the entire Chassidic movement.

Monday, May 15, 2006

We're Off To See The Wizard

Today is the 150th birthday of L. Frank Baum, the author of the Wizard Of Oz, and the 50th Anniversary of its appearance on television.

It seems people are so in love with the story that they will go to any length to find meaning in it, as well as in their own lives.

The following are some examples of the above with some "drush" or jewish interpretation of Baum's classic: