Dr Mark Baker and the Neturei Karta boycotters of the Left Wing

I was sent this article, written by Mark Baker, an academic at Monash University (and family friend). Mark is alleged to have posted the article below on his facebook page. I received it by email and have never visited Mark’s facebook page. My reaction, over a few days, was that we had the mirror image of the boycott tactics used by Neturei Karta against the State except unlike Neturei Karta, this wasn’t about religion (Halacha doesn’t get a guernsey in Marks article). Rather it was the exasperated groans of a left-winger indelibly married to two “states”, even if one is effectively the mamzer Amalek.

I interspersed his facebook commentary with my understanding of why some of Mark’s views are blind post-liberal, and left-wing economic terrorism. The tone sounds an awful lot like the failed rhetoric we hear from J-Street, Bernie “the shhh I’m a Yid” Sanders, American reform and the Tikun (sic.) Olamniks of this world. They stem from superimposing a left-leaning view of the world, into some plasticine-like Zionism (and Judaism) as opposed to the other way around. In the other way around, Zionism and Judaism are already defined. They react to the world. They do not metamorphose to become something else to fit into some world views.

I will variegated Mark’s emotive outbursts with a critique of his post-liberalism. The rhetoric sounds like the extreme left views we hear from J-Street and Bernie “I’m not sure if my grandchildren will even be reconstructed cultural Jews” Sanders, feel-good American Reform clergy,  and of course, the Tikun (sic) Olamniks of this world. I don’t mention the infamous Norman Finkelstein because Mark appears to be even more radical than Norman on BDS. Norman, one of many communist inventions of the Holocaust, actually opposes the very BDS that Mark claims he “quietly supports”. The left-leaning start with their vision of the Olam (world) which they conjure to appease an already morally corrupt world and then mould (sic) Judaism into having plasticine-like spinal characteristics that can be contorted any which way.

My comments are interspersed and not in italics. The original article from Mark is in italics. This should not be understood as an ad hominem attack on Mark; I’m sure he believes what he says and he is no Norman Finkelstein anymore than I am a Dershowitz or Benny Morris.

I was living in Israel in 1995 with my family. From our apartment, we could hear the crowds at Zion Square baying for Rabin’s blood, and holding up placards of the PM dressed as a Nazi and a terrorist. Bibi Netanyahu was standing on the balcony, whipping up a frenzy, which culminated in the assassination of Rabin.

Long time ago! This description is mendacious.  Both the left and the right engaged and engage in spirited demonstration, but  implicitly opening with a remark that is designed to ascribe the assassination of Rabin to Bibi is confounding and offensive, while it is woven indirectly as a deflection. Clearly  this imagery and its conclusion is out of context. It was designed to paint the entrance to the rest of the article. First, “Bibi is responsible for Rabin’s assassination”. Now we’ve got you hating him for that episode, let’s continue.

Nothing has changed about Bibi in 22 years, except that he has stood at the helm of a government that has led the country literally into a dead-end.

People who don’t change their views in the face of unchanged oppression and rejectionism should not be held to ridicule. Let’s see what else hasn’t changed in 22 years.

  1. Arafat hopelessly let his people down (apart from Mrs Arafat’s fat bank account and the years of siphoning money to his cronies and the 1 Billion spent on the 1st intifada, 1/2 of which was funded by Saudi Arabia, and the massive corruption, which makes James Packer’s gifts insignificant. Even now, it is a brave person who claims that Abbas actually distributes international money to non political causes.
  2. He had Rabin, not Bibi, and Arafat still couldn’t bring himself to sign on for a two-state solution! Wasn’t there a proposal for this in 1948 too and before that? Note: it was in Arafat’s hands; not Bibi’s. What do we learn from that? That Israel didn’t offer enough? Come now! Everyone knows that simply wasn’t true. Arafat wanted to live another day. Peace would have meant his savage opponents would lop his head off-ISIS style. In the end, I believe this is why Arafat didn’t sign. Mark, perhaps tell us why you think Arafat didn’t sign off? Was it because he was actually born in Cairo and didn’t think he had the authority. Goodness me.
  3. They still want ALL of Israel. Is anyone in any doubt? When push comes to shove, Arafat, Abbas, all of them, simply do not accept the concept that there is a distinctive JEWISH Homeland. Does Mark really believe they don’t want to push us into the sea? What does “the” occupation mean? Mahmoud “Holocaust denier” Abbas, calls the idea of a Jewish Homeland “Racist”. A Chutzpa. Let him try to live in Jordan where most of his DNA-brethren live and where his genome is found.  Perhaps he’d like Saudi Arabia or Yemen; maybe Syria?
  4. Post-holocaust, especially, endangering Israeli sovereignty is not negotiable. Not 22 years ago, while Mark sat on balconies sipping coffee, and not now. Since most Arabs still don’t accept that reality, we are delusional if we think otherwise. Instead they engage in diplobabble. Mark, falling for this, is no different to someone who takes all of Trumps rhetoric seriously.
  5. They should seek to confederate with the Hashemites in Jordan, most of whom are their blood cousins. Why do you respect Jordan so much Mark? When does Monash’s library make a big deal of that tribe. Is the Palestinian in Jordan different somehow or are you as afraid of the Hashemites as they are. Call the historic truth, not some temporal Ottoman historical relic.
  6. Israel is probably at its strongest point (although it should have listened to Bennett in respect of the Hamas tunnel tactics and not Bibi. Certainly Mr Morality Ya’alon is now finished in politics for his clumsy left-wing handling of the mortal threat of death tunnels.
  7. One cannot talk about a two state solution! One must talk about a three state solution. When someone can make Abbas, Hamas, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Hizbollah, Da’esh and Turkey’s dictators kiss and make up, they can cut the number to consideration of two states. Don’t hold your breath. Make sure you have done a course on disentangling diplomatic babble before you fall for the type of nonsense, that Rabin and Clinton did.
  8. And yet, we don’t hear anything about “the right” of return. Is this deemed acceptable by Mark? Is he expecting Abbas to move back to Tzfat and vote in the municipal elections and avail himself of Kupat Cholim for his hemorrhoids? Maybe he wants not an international Jerusalem, but an international Israel where we pay jizya or become Dhimmis. (Who were the first to call for an “international Jerusalem”? Of course, it was the Pope. Study Xtianity and the chosen people and you will understand why they had to say that).
  9. Palestinian PhD students in Melbourne who I talk to, make it VERY clear. They don’t want a Palestinian state under Abbas. I was actually shocked. They say they want ONE state (not two). They say that Abbas and Hamas and the lot of them are corrupt criminals. They say they are happy to live along Israelis and Jews and vote in elections. Sorry guys, that’s not a Jewish Homeland. We aren’t stupid. I didn’t say that in response, of course. I just listened to their view.

While he wasn’t the first to build settlements, he has deepened and permanently institutionalised the occupation, eroded Israeli democracy, continued to whip up racism against Arabs, propagated the myth that there is no peace deal to be made, turned Israel into a partisan issue in Congress and among Diaspora Jews, launched brutal wars that could have been avoided, created a diversionary campaign to fight the delegitimisation of Israel when he more than anyone has contributed to its delegitimisation, alienated Israel from world leaders by shunning international law, abused Holocaust memory by playing the victim card, exploited real threats in the region for his own political expediency, undermined the civil rights legacy of his own Likud party in exchange for a fascist impulse; created a settler state and given free rein to Jewish thuggery; and worst of all, he has paid lip-service to the two-state solution while creating a one-state reality, leading Israel (as warned by every PM before him) down the path of apartheid.

Now that’s a looong expectorating sentence, even if interspersed by stray semi colons. Lets take the allegations one by one so they can be swallowed slowly.

  1. Bibi wasn’t the first to build a “settlement”. I guess that’s a feather in Bibi’s cap. Indeed, tell us please what a settlement is. Is Efrat a settlement or are you upset only about 10-20 families in caravans on a hill-top? I trust you boycott Rabbi Riskin as well as Gush Etzyon. He’s here now. Go and demonstrate against him? Define your terms. I believe 2-3% of land is taken up by “settlements”. Are you going to tell Rabbi Riskin to pack up and go back to Lincoln Square because Arabs listened to their mufti in 1948 during a war?
  2. “The occupation”? I’m sorry, it’s disputed land. You live in an occupation. This is Aboriginal land. Have you bought it from them? I don’t know which of your teachers failed to teach you that Jews are the closest thing to indigenous natives, and Palestine is a recently promoted modern term used to confuse the neurone-deprived UN. Warren Mundine knows it. Why doesn’t Mark Baker?
  3. How is Israeli democracy eroded? Have people gotten into power unelected? Perhaps Trumps victory has you so upset that you’ve forgotten he was democratically elected. Maybe you want a new J-Street constitution?
  4. Where does Bibi whip-up racism against Arabs! He’s been hobnobbing with Sunni Arabs who are all too eager to join him and not face the brutal Shiite regime of Iran and its satellite terrorist puppets. Perhaps if God forbid one of their rockets hit your balcony in the 90’s you would have a more sober view of them. I know: Sunni, Shiite, what’s the difference, they are all fine people, full of democracy and tolerance. Did you know Iran is building underground factories for Hezbollah. You think Hezbollah care about Palestinian Arabs or Lebanon? The only thing that unites these people is hatred for YOU, yes you Mark Baker. Go back and look at the beheadings from ISIS. Do you think these savages would spare you?
  5. “Launched brutal wars?” What newspapers were you reading Mark, the Anarchist nonsense given out near Melbourne University or the Trade Union? Did you forget what the D in IDF stands for? That is the motive behind every interlocution. Oh, and don’t forget to read how the soft and fuzzy democrat Ya’alon and his mate Gantz let Israel down with their dismissal of the Hamas Tunnels. Would you ask them to resign. The report is out. Only Bennett comes out looking normal. You won’t enjoy reading how it placed Israelis in grave danger.
  6. “Abused Holocaust memory by playing the victim card.” Nobody is playing cards Mark. Did you borrow this line from Finkelstein? His parents were communists. Yours aren’t. This is for real, just like the Holocaust. How many times do you need “we will drive them into the sea repeated to you? Don’t you watch memri.org or is that also just a load of baloney? Guess what? Holocaust survivors like your parents Mark, actually like Bibi and support Jewish strength; not the pathetic ‘my grandchildren will never be Jews, Bernie Sanders nebachs’, and the libertarian, egalitarian Diaspora pontificators.
  7. You’ve chosen to only focus on the political machinations in the Likud. You think that the Labour party or the Mapai or the Mapam would stop at any political method to keep power? I have no doubt your new darling is Yair Lapid. Why? Because the left-wing is so morally bankrupt, even left wingers don’t take them seriously. Only Shimon Peres could get some attention with his one liners, but we know his part in Oslo. That wasn’t about power either, was it? He was as power drunk as the next politician. Jealous of Rabin?
  8. Alienated leaders? Oh spare me. Is Obama now your love child? Obama will go down as one of the most useless Presidents that existed. Yes, a nice fellow, smart, and great orator, but anyone who can stand and watch 450,000 Syrian casualties (those who do need Tikun Olam) and the best Obama can do in response is send the odd drone, smells morally corrupt and makes Obama a gutless wonder: take your pick. Oh, did you notice how the Africans are now lining up. Perhaps Mark you’d be more impressed if that English anti-Semite Corbyn or the genius Richard Gere was “happy” with Israel.
  9. What is a settler state? Define your terms. Stop with hyperbole. Maybe you mean the Charedim of Betar? Oh, we better not mention Betar. It’s a Jewish place, after all, and the Charedim are iconic “settlers”! I think it’s four minutes to cross Israel by plane. I imagine your microwave achieves more in less time, Mark.
  10. Free reign to Jewish Thuggery. I am a scientist. Perhaps you will quote some figures for us. Let’s go with statistics. You know you are wrong, and that’s even if the soldier who shot the dying terrorist was pardoned. Ask your acquaintance Zev Slonim why Zev’s son was held in prison without representation and democratic rights. He’s a right-winger. I thought Bibi only did that to lefties. Think again. Was that a ruse?
  11. Apartheid. Let’s see. I didn’t see it in Jerusalem. Did you see it while you were watching with your family on the porch, as you stated or while walking down Mamila? You obviously have a better understanding of how to defend ISRAELI cities and civilians from thugs, terrorists and murderers. Those who live their lives peacefully do so and nobody is bothered by them. There are plenty of Palestinian settlements (and Jewish ones) that are peaceful.

He is a liar like Trump, who will speak in Australia tonight by using his oratory skills to trade in fear, eternal victimhood, and despair – while claiming the high-moral ground that Israel is a beacon of light unto the world.

Trump is a liar. Okay, maybe, perhaps he is also a fool. Or maybe he is a clever non politician who has read the mood of the American people better than unelectable Clinton. I decided to judge Trump on what he does. What he says, is all part of the political game. Perhaps you think that Malcolm Turnbull was a sycophantic fool when he acknowledged that Israel had high democratic standards. I think your rhetoric Mark is more akin to the liar Richard Di Natale and his band of merry tree-hugging anti Semites or the repetitive letter writers in the  Jewish News (e.g. Henry Herzog). I hope no Jew ever votes Green. The assimilated ones will. I have no doubt. The tree will be more important than the rotted root. The tree lives on. The rotted root stays that way. (By the way Mark, do you consider Mark Dreyfus Jewish? You claim to be “Orthodox” albeit partnership style. Ask Melanie Landau? )

He will go down in history as having unleashed the dark demons of hyper-nationalism that will kill the Zionist dream.

I can see exactly what Trump and Bibi are doing. I’m surprised you can’t. Either Abbas will come to the party (he’s gutless so forget that) or the status quo will continue. The Palestinians will have their own Arab global warming. They will fight: Fatah and Hamas and Dahlan and say “enough is enough” we don’t hate Jews like you’ve taught us.

It is not the anti-Zionists who should be shunning him, but those who care deeply about Israel and its future.

Those who care deeply about Israel can support Bibi whole heartedly unless he is found guilty of breaching ministerial standards.  Why is the implication that only a Zionist lefty is a true Zionist. Now, that’s apartheid and bias. That’s the killing of democracy. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, about a “two state” solution. That arose in 1948 and was rejected by Hitler’s Mufti.

Nothing has changed for the better, it’s only become worse. Can I suggest concentrating on supporting the indigenous people of Australia? That’s where you and I live. Maybe we should give back their land, and their right of return (as Jews deserve in Israel).

Leave the defence of Israel and its decision-making to those who put their lives on the line–not me, nor you. We are just pontificating, opinion-bearing people. We are irrelevant.

Hey Mark, watch this video. Give me a mark out of 10 for the pathetic apologist.

But none of this is as expressive as your mentor, Mark, the venerable David Ben Gurion. Watch him here. If he heard you admit that you boycotted Israel “quietly” I suggest he’d call you a fool. As to why you continue to be funded through the community at Monash. That’s a mystery to me and I call on the community to redirect their money away from extreme left wingers.

Mark, what do you have to say about the difference between Ben Gurion and Bibi as per this video?

Perhaps, Mark, it’s time you stopped pretending and joined Noam Chomsky as a fully fledged egalitarian member of the Jewish Community where the notion of identity is erased, as per a communist manifesto and has little hope of surviving the next century.

PS. Anyone whose Hebrew isn’t good enough to understand Ben Gurion’s interview above MUST find someone to translate it to them. He didn’t sit on balconies sipping coffee.

 

 

 

 

 

רפואה שלמה ליהודה בן טובה גיטל תיכף ומיד

 

A great editorial about the Israeli Higher Court Deliberations and Delineations.

Read this editorial from the left wing Yediot  from ynet by Professor Daniel Friedman

Professor Daniel Friedmann
Professor Daniel Friedman

who makes important points.

Would the Australian High Court judge whether Pauline Hanson was permitted to be a candidate in an election? Would a High Court decide whether a vote of politicians, a referendum, or a plebiscite is the appropriate mechanism to decide the acceptability of secular gay marriage?

There is certainly a friction between the courts carrying the law, and their seeming assumed role to define  the parameters of Israeli life, culture, politics and values. The latter are safe in a sane democracy, which Israel is, albeit with the usual political compromises (one only has to watch Malcolm Turnbull in Australia have to encounter a range of single views in order to pursue the mandate he was given). When one puts the High or Supreme courts on pedestals that extend their brief, one is entitled to question this phenomenon.

It’s a very fundamental editorial and one that those from the left and right wing of our Society should think deeply about.

Stuck in a time warp

I couldn’t believe the article I read in yediot, where the Aguda’s Rabbi Litzman had reservations about the legislation to limit the volume of the call to prayers, mainly used by Muslims, but also to usher the Shabbos.

When I travelled to India, I disliked my trips to Hyderabad. My hotel was decent, one of the few, but each morning I was woken by a cacophony of calls for prayer coming from outside, far away. I also heard this in Kochin (where the Muslims and Hindus said it at the same time and it was a war of blaring stupid sounds). Why should anyone who is asleep be woken by an antiquated method to remind people of the time(s) of prayer? At 3am and 4am and whenever?

People used to have a “Shabbos Zayger (timepiece)” which was more ornate so that they could wear it in a place where there was no Eruv because  it was a piece of Jewellery as well as being functional and according to most opinions permitted to wear. I know that some Charedim forbid “smart phones”, but even dumb phones can get an SMS. I can think of many other ways of alerting people to Shabbos. There could be lights that go on and off, and change colours. They could even indicate when Shabbos was out according to both opinions. These don’t cost the earth. They could easily be installed in the entrance of Shules and Shtieblach for those who are chronologically challenged and unable to discern that the widely known time for Shabbos coincides with the timepiece on their hand.

Charedi/Muslim Entrepreneurs this is a business opportunity!

In days of old, there was a custom for someone to knock on the doors of each house to announce Shacharis, the morning prayer. It made sense. They didn’t all have clocks, and even today, an alarm clack is used by many, even in the guise of a smart phone alert. When I learned at Kerem B’Yavneh, the last people on guard duty knocked on each door to arouse us from our slumber. Okay. That’s fine. It didn’t wake up the people in Kibbutz Yavneh a few kilometres away.

There is no place, in my view, to disturb anyone’s sleep in today’s age, because of one group (be it any religion—the Hindus do it in India to counter the Muslims) wanting to announce prayers. Let me correct that, there is a place: in a village where everyone wants it, and the sound doesn’t disturb neighbouring areas, that’s acceptable. But if one person objects (they might even be sick!) then they should desist and find another solution.

All this does is reinforce in my mind, that people have taken mimesis to a level that goes well beyond the concept of Mesora. There are Halachos which pertain to sounds: shofar, trumpets for war etc. These are not daily occurrences nor are they simply mimetic. It seems that it’s not only the medieval style of dress, which Moshe Rabbeinu didn’t wear, and which is Kodesh Kodoshim is now being extended to a siren as THE only way to make sure people are aware that Shabbos is happening. Halachically, it might even be better not to blow such a siren in areas of irreligious. It’s better they do things unknowingly, than knowingly.

Rabbi Litzman should go to Machon Tzomet, and arrange for a pocket tiny device to be put in the hat and tichels/sheitels of those who wish to have personal shabbos alarms, send them a mild electric shock heralding that Shabbos is coming in. It could be sold to Muslims to insert for their times of reminding. Come on, we aren’t living in the dark ages. We are fully able to observe Shabbos without disturbing anyone else, and Muslims are fully capable of finding ways to wake up for prayers without someone yelling across the mountains from a fancy modern sound system which is hooked up (heaven forbid) to electricity (another new innovation).

Ultra-Orthodox minister blocks ‘Muezzin Bill’

The “Muezzin Bill,” which aims to prevent mosques from using loudspeakers to announce prayer times, is raising a great deal of opposition, with Arab MKs and activists protesting Tuesday in the Arab city of Sakhnin and planning additional protests on Wednesday in Jaffa and the Arab city of Baqa al-Gharbiyye.
A surprising bit of opposition, though, has emerged from among the ultra-Orthodox community, with Health Minister Yakov Litzman filing an appeal on Tuesday to prevent the Knesset from voting on the Muezzin Bill, thereby sending it back to the government for further review. This will also force Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has already voiced his support of the bill, to weigh in on the matter.

In his appeal, Litzman referred to the similarities between the muezzin calls and the call announcing the beginning of Shabbat. “For thousands of years, different instruments have been used for this purpose, including the shofar and trumpet. With the advancement of technology, loudspeakers are now used to announce the beginning of Shabbat while respecting the allowed volume and in accordance to the law.”

The appeal continued by saying, “The bill in its current phrasing and following the discussions that it will bring on may harm the status quo, and so in accordance to governmental protocol, this appeal is hereby submitted for further review.”

While Litzman’s concern is mainly over breaking the status quo, the bill has angered both Arab MKs, Arab activists and the country of Jordan. The Jordanian Head of Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs and the Ministry of Religious Endowments, Abdullah Al Awadi, expressed his objection by saying, “In accordance with international law, the occupier cannot make any historic changes in the city that it occupies and it is required to leave things as they are,” he continued. “This proves that any Israeli decision on Jerusalem is null and void.” MK Hanin Zoabi (Joint List) objected to the bill, as well. “This is a law against Palestinian presence in our homeland. It isn’t the noise that is harmful, but the outspoken presence of the Arab language that emphasizes the place’s identity, along with a certain level of controlling the space. It is a fight over it and control of it. If the will pass, we won’t respect it. We won’t lower our voice in our own space.”
Another MK to raise his voice was Jamal Zahalka (Joint List), who targeted Netanyahu in his objection. “Netanyahu has shown clear signs of chronic Islamophobia and needs immediate help, because his episodes are beginning to become dangerously combustible.” He added that “This isn’t Europe. This is where the muezzin has been making his voice heard for over a thousand years, and where Muslims will go on living …

Whomever can’t stand the sound of the muezzin is welcome to go back to where they won’t hear such sounds.” The Palestinian Authority also criticized the bill. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s office warned against the ramifications of voting the bill into law and threatened to turn to the UN Security Council and other international organizations if this were to happen.

I can’t wait for Abbas to bring this issue to the Security Council. He’d better dress up his representative as a clown when he brings the issue forward. Can people get real. Freedom of prayer is sustained. Methods of waking people up have and do change and are not part of ANY religion that I know of. Sheesh.

Maybe Rav Litzman thinks he needs a Beis Din to annul the Siren minhag on Shabbos because it is halachically a practice akin to a “vow”.

Maybe Abbas needs Arafat to rise from his grave and address the security council about this grave matter (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun)

Probably in Gulf states they have sound proof rooms for international guests or give them sound cancelling ear plugs 😦

Oh, and don't make smart comments about Schnapps. I've heard much louder bands of late :-)
Oh, and don’t make smart comments about Schnapps. I’ve heard much louder bands of late 🙂

Guest post from R’ Meir Deutsch in response to my post on R’ Cardozo on Tisha B’Av

R Meir’s reactions to my original post (which is in italicised black) are in red. My reactions to R’ Meir are in blue

About your article concerning Tischa b’Av, here are some of my observations.
About your AL CHETs (“Who can” and “Who cannot”); you mention daily events at present, not Tisha B’Av ones. Maybe we should read it on Yom Ha’Atzmaut or on its eve, Yom Ha’Zikaron to remind us that we were a nation before and take care at present that we remain one?

These are just my thoughts.

I see all terrible things, whether remembered or not remembered encapsulated in the overarching Galus. Galus, is of course not just a geographical location. It certainly includes geographic considerations which are reflected by more than 200 Mitzvos which only apply, many Rabbinically at the moment, only in our Holy Land. I stress our Holy Land because it remains Holy to this day according to Halacha. However, even with the Second Beis Hamikdosh, while some Jews lived in the Diaspora (something I find difficult to comprehend) and others actually defiled it in horrible ways that are beyond belief (as described in the Medrash), my personal feeling has always been that whilst steps are taken, miracles happen, and renaissance occurs, all of that is secondary to the eschatological final redemption. On Tisha B’Av, bdavka, I can’t help but think that גלינו מארצינו has both aspects, and is a sad reality. It is one day of mourning, akin to Shiva, where we remember עטרת ראשינו which is not perched in its proper place. And while we have דומה דודי כצבי and are sometimes seemingly teased in directions of euphoria, we then find ourselves, yes even the second-rate ones like me sitting in Australia, depressed about the state of our existence. It extends through the trio: תורת ישראל, עם ישראל and ארץ ישראל all of which portray levels of Galut which should not make it sensible to join our fellow Jews, and recite Eicha together, in a low light, and mournful tone. The qualitative aspect cannot be seen to be ideal today, and just like one doesn’t read Bereishis literally, someone of the stature of Rabbi Cardozo, would surely be able to see between lines, and interpret poetically and midrashically, without the feelings of (not a quote) “what am I doing in Shule with everyone saying Eicha, let me say it alone at home, as it’s challenging to swallow”

I read with incredulity the continuing slide to the left

What do you mean by that? .ימין ושמאל תפרוצי. What is meant by left. by respected people, such as Rabbi Dr Nathan Lopez Cardozo

Rabbi Dr Cardozo is a thinker. This is a hallmark of those with intellect. At the same time intellect may preclude a level of Bittul. I don’t have his intellect, but I’m often accused of not being able to exhibit Bittul. Indeed, this week’s parsha includes a wonderful vort from Rav Soloveitchik which sums up this concept. I wrote it for another forum and will put it up before Shabbos. It tends to be those who are more inclined to mould judaism into new trends, that I refer to as the left. Open Orthodoxy and Partnership Minyanim, and things of that nature (as opposed to Yoatzot Halacha) are the types of things which I call “left” wing. Rabbi Benny Lau is another who I see sometimes express himself this way. I don’t see Rabonim who live in this world and are not cloistered in an attic, like Mori V’Rabbi Rav Hershel Schachter, as ‘right wing fundamentalists’. He is at YU and heads Psak at the OU, and in all my correspondence with him, I have found him to be as straight as an arrow, and moderate, maintaining the strong Menorah base transmitted to him from Rav Soloveitchik. One thing he isn’t, is a philosopher.

Who can not find a day to be sad when a Jew from Jerusalem is called up to the Torah and is asked “what is your name”, and they answer “Chaim”. And after being asked “Ben?” they say “Ben Esrim V’shmoneh”? It’s not funny.

On the other hand, a relative of mine was called up in the diaspora. He said his name: Ra’anan Lior ben Avraham, the Gabai said: not your secular name, your Hebrew name.

I find that just as sad. It’s not a contest. It’s a reflection of the poor quality of Jewish Education that the Mapai have managed to infuse into Israeli society and which the religious zionists ignored for too long while they were perhaps over focussed on outposts at the expense of spreading good Jewish education in Tel Aviv etc

I am not sure how Rabbi Cardozo qualitatively defines the Messianic era, but it seems to me, if he enunciated that, he’d have no issue, on the saddest day of the year, to join in the Shiva, that we all take part in. Don’t we eat meat and drink wine during the Shiva? On Yahrzeit we have a Kiddush (not our minhag). It is true, that our Rabbis also promised us that this will be transformed to a day of Yom Tov. We still do not have a Temple, but we have a Yerushalayim. Is it the time to transform it to a Yom Tov?

We changed the “l’Shana ha’Ba’a Bi’Yrushalayim” to “l’Shana ha’Ba’a Bi’Yrushalayim HABNUYA” the addition is for the Temple – we already are in Yerushalayim.

I feel this is syntactic and in fact supports my comments and not opposes them. Halachically, it is true, that there are ramifications being in Yerushalayim: for example Korban Pesach.

Rabbi Cardozo, surely you aren’t suggesting you see the Yom Tov, but are blind to the myriad of reasons to be sad?

I attend Yom Hashoa out of solidarity, but my real Yom Hashoa tacks onto Tisha B’Av. Each one with his own feelings and customs.

I ask myself: Why would G-d destroy HIS home? It was a place where the Jews worshiped G-d, and not a home of his people. I do not know G-d’s intentions, but shall try my understandings or reasoning. Can one imagine anyone bringing today sacrifices? How would Judaism look if they did? Can it be that G-d’s intention was to stop those sacrifices, and the best way was to destroy the building? ונשלמה פרים שפתינו.

These are questions beyond our human understanding. The Rambam who to my knowledge is the only one who codifies the Halachos of Beis Habechirah and the times of the Mashiach, is certainly not suggesting that there won’t be sacrifices. I know there are those who interpret Rav Kook as implying there may be Korbanos Mincha. At the end of the day, as the Rambam notes, we lack a certain Mesora for these times, because they were hidden from us, and could not have been passed down. He says explicitly words that “all these details we will truly properly know at the time when they happen”

About Yom Hashoa: I was interviewed by GINZACH KIDUSH HASHEM (the Charedi Yad Vashem), and asked: how can you explain the Shoah? My reply was:

We have quite a limited view of the world and its future, as against G-d who has a wider one. At the destruction of the Temple, the Jews were driven out of their city Jerusalem, many were killed others dispersed among the Nations, and many were sold to slavery. They did not enjoy those days, they suffered quite a bit. They probably said Kinot. But G-d had a wider view; my children are going to dwell all over the globe, learn different trades and cultures. Had we stayed in our country, with the Temple, I (or probably also you) would surely dwell in my tent in the Negev as a shepherd looking after my flock – just like a Bedouin. The same with the holocaust, I can still not see the whole picture, but one is that the Jews, after the terrible holocaust, are again a NATION with their own country. Would the world grant us a piece of land if there was no holocaust? Would the Jews come to Eretz Yisrael, the land of desert and camels? Maybe it isn’t yet a full Geula, but surely a beginning. Why did we need six million sacrifices? Would not one million or fewer be enough? Please do not put this question to me. I am not G-d’s accountant.

By the way, in one of the Agudat Yisrael Knesiot (5679 Zurich) there was a discussion whether Jews are a Mosaic sect or a Nation! Because of such a question my father in law, and other German Rabbis left Agudat Yisrael. I thought that Yetziat Mitzraim was our transformation from a nomadic tribe into a Nation. Was I wrong?

I’m a second generation holocaust generation, but feel it acutely, likely due to the fact that for most of my life, I was surrounded only by holocaust survivors, who would challenge my religiosity, even when I was 10 years of age and ask me questions that I could not and dared not answer. It is certainly the case that history would record that an outcome of the holocaust was the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland. These are happenings that I don’t understand either. Do I have to pay 6 million lives to acquire something that we have already been promised? Did God not have other more gentle ways to somehow not interfere and yet interfere in the ways of the world so we would have the same outcome? Why didn’t he send Eliyahu down before the final solution and say ENOUGH. ושבו בנים לגבולם. I don’t know and I don’t believe anyone knows, despite the Satmar and other rhetoric. Indeed, on Tisha B’Av, as we sit on the eve of the full redemption, we can only sit exasperated while more human korbanos occur, and anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism, and Tisha B’Av encompasses all that.

Sure, on Yom Ha’atzmaut and on Yom Yerushalayim, when I was a student in Israel, I celebrated. I went to Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav, and euphorically danced all the way to the Kosel, and for the entire night danced until we davened Vatikin. We know how important it is to sing and give praise. Chizkiyahu Hamelech would have been Mashiach if he had sung, as openly stated by the Gemora in Sanhedrin (from memory).

I just expressed my humble thoughts.

And I thank you so much for sharing them. I heard second-hand, that Rabbi Cardozo felt I had not understood his points. That maybe so. As it is the Yohr Tzeit of the famed R’ Chaim Brisker now, I’d like to express that his Neshomo should have an Aliya. He revolutionised Torah learning.

Satmar in Melbourne. Is it different?

I’m accused by what I suspect to be elements of the Adass Israel Congregation of being “anti charedi”. Let’s be clear. The term “anti charedi” use used to maximise the impression of an irrational opposition to a specific approach to Judaism. It should be noted that Rav Kook זצ׳ל was definitely also Charedi. Whilst there is a common element encapsulated in the term Charedi, and that is something that sociologists observe, as well as halachists, the use of catch calls like “anti charedi” is creating a diversion from the specificity of philosophies and actions which occur among specific groups, that may be described as Charedi.

The Adass Israel community in Melbourne is unique,  I believe, in our current Jewish world. Borne by founders who may not recognise some of the direction that it has now taken, it represented a specific firm adherence to religious tenets and approaches that were brought from Europe to Melbourne. It was very common that the children of the founders of Adass, were encouraged to obtain secular education. If my memory serves me correctly, a number attended Prahran Technical School in order to obtain certifications required to make a living which didn’t require seeking handouts in order to survive. I see some  of those people, today, and  interact with them freely and in a friendly manner. They tend to understand the world and the different types of people comprising the world, not to mention the Chochma BaGoyim (the wisdom of a gentile population) as opportunities as opposed to hindrances to their development. Certainly, many of the original members were clean shaven (often with a moustache) and their children, often sport a neat beard, or no beard. Some have morphed into Litvaks. They do respect the Chassidic Adass community that eventually integrated into Adass, but they don’t necessarily share the more extreme range of views expressed by elements of that community. They generally, and sometimes diplomatically, keep their thoughts to themselves. For reasons of cohesiveness, and indeed economic survival, this may well be a necessarily formula, and a secret of success.

The relatively smaller size of the Melbourne Community, together with the economic reality of needing to live within such a community, means that Adass incorporates a cornucopia of different types. The reverence for Rav Beck is a hallmark and something to be admired. There have been a number of leaders ranging from the charismatic Rav Ashkenazi to the Genius Halachist Rav Betzalel Stern, the B’Tzel Hachochma.

Bearing this in mind, we read about different communities around the world where there is homogeneity. Especially in the USA, and to some extent the UK, particular Chassidic groups are grouped entirely amongst themselves. There will be a Satmar, Belz, Munkatcher, Vishnitzer, et al community. They will have their own organisations and pray in their own Shules and Shteiblach.

Melbourne is unique in that all these groups are housed and cooperate together, and the economic reality perhaps dictates that they must remain so, at least for the foreseeable future. It is true there has been one more radical breakaway (Divrei Emina). This may portend future developments, although I prefer an eschatological reality, where we are united in Yerusholayim Ir HaKodesh, well before such events occur.

A number of my readers sent me the article where young groups of both Satmar Chassidim (there are two Rebbes who are brothers) were displaying acts of loathing and violence towards anything to do with the State of Israel. I had seen these and found them a repeat of many other regrettable approaches to education that are used to channel children into a line of thinking where the love of a fellow Jew, dissipates into a hate-filled, dark room of horror. On occasion when I’ve been at Adass, I’ve discretly listened in to lessons to young children and have been disturbed by the time spent on running down the “sinners” and effectively sending them to a fiery hell.

Would the acts reported in the electronic media happen in Melbourne? My answer is that while there may be small pockets of like-minded people, it is unlikely that the collective whole, which comprises Adass, would allow this to occur. Let us not forget that many are also reliant on business dealings with the very same people they consider beyond the pale. There is no doubt this is at least one reason why a documentary featuring especially chosen people from Adass featured on Melbourne Television. (I didn’t watch it; about the only television I watch is a St Kilda or Liverpool game or cricket). Economic reality is a potent force. In addition, Melbourne has been a veritable bastion of pro-Israel sentiment, especially due to the sadly dwindling, but once enormous group of charismatic and determined Holocaust survivors, many of whom sported long payos, and untouched beards before the war.

Adass, like any community, has its occasional crisis or issue. At the moment, there is a concern about the number of divorces and, to their credit, Adass have brought out two experts, to address issues related to this as a means to stem the tide. These experts would have been chosen in the context of meeting the specific environment that Adass couples live within.

If Adass were to splinter, and say, a Satmar group became self-sufficient and had its own organisations, I expect that the same sort of offensive behaviour we have seen splashed over web pages, of children throwing eggs and more, may indeed become part of the Melbourne landscape.

I think its in everyone’s interests that Adass stays together. One group has a grounding and moderating effect on the other; it’s like a semi-forced integration. The concept of being true to one’s ideals and yet be able to compromise on things that are not seriously important, is a plus.

I wouldn’t like to see Adass splinter. Indeed, I have the same view of the Chabad offshoot “Cheder Levi Yitzchok”. In my own dealings with a paraprofessional who helped me health wise when I sustained some serious ankle injury, I am amazed, that due to our respectful interaction, he now sees me as his “oracle” on matters Jewish. I will receive texts out of the blue asking me questions, and where I am able to answer without consulting expert Rabbi’s I do so. I am able to do so because I know him. I know his way of thinking, and I know his challenges. This comes through interaction. At the same time, I also know and recognise some of his qualities. Splintering means the side effect of cutting oneself off from the broader community. With apathy and assimilation from the children and grandchildren of challenged and sometimes disturbed holocaust survivors, it has been my view that one needs to find “kosher” ways of reaching out and incorporating people into Yahadus. I feel this is essentially the process of Teshuva, and indeed, the formula for Geulah. It is clearly stated in Shas and the Rambam. We can sit on our hands, and focus on Bein Odom Lamokom, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the Aybishter is quite interested in our ability to relate to Chavero, their fellow Jew. We don’t know how to admonish, and in any case, admonishments have zero effect today.

The answer is not, of course, to make plasticine out of Judaism, and find academic loop holes, some of which are questionable, in order to make Judaism fit the modern world, the world of Science, the world of Philosophy, the world of Linguistics, etc none of which I see as a threat to my belief system and the practices that flow from it. Rather, the answer is to mould people,  and that can only done by engagement, interaction, and above all setting an example. That example has been damaged through the open world we live in, which is able to promulgate every act of every crooked religious person, and thereby lesson Kavod HaTorah. It is easy for the not yet committed Jew to feel let down by people they thought were respectable.

Especially in a world which looks at religion as the cause of all terror and misery, it is critical that we, as Jew, work in the opposite direction.

How many of us, will pass a Jew, let alone a gentile, and simply not say Good Morning? Why not? These small acts, have potentially great outcomes.

The Gay Pride March in Jerusalem

If one is Orthodox and as a matter of belief, the Torah is the word of God, then one cannot escape that certain acts of sexual relations are forbidden, including some of those being exposed through a march.

In Halacha, there are several categories of people who perform acts which constitute sin, many unrelated to sexual acts, where their capacity to act as Torah ordained witnesses is diminished. There are some who do this out of want, and others who do this out of rebellion against the Torah.

I have no doubt that there are many people who struggle with the fact that their desires, sexually, are considered a matter of shame to the extent that they don’t wish to disclose this information, except in trusted (safe) environments. Berating someone for having such desires, or call it a disposition (research on this will emerge over the next ten years, have no doubt), is not of value in this day. Indeed, it could cause someone to feel that they are so hopeless, that they make take their own life in the worst case, or become so depressed that they cannot function as a human being.

It is known that many contemporary sages have said that we no longer have the skill of “telling someone off” for straying from Torah. I believe this is true. The best way to influence someone is to be a living and shining example of what a Jew with unconditional belief, and intellectual submission to the Torah means, and that such a person can be pleasant and sensitive, as can the Judaism they practice.

Intellectual submission to Torah in the form of Emunah is something that is axiomatic for the practicing Orthodox Jewish person. Belief, by its nature transcends intellect. Reasons for commands are there primarily to explore the “what can be derived” from Judaism, as Rav Soloveitchik explained, however, reasons, do not have a place in the “why must I do this command”. The why question exists only when there isn’t submission. In Chassidic terminology this may be termed Bitul.

I understand, and I am happy to be corrected that there may be two motives for a parade of this sort:

  1. To promote the life style as being acceptable
  2. To express the view that nobody should live in fear, or be cut off, as a result of their orientation.

Promotion of such a life style is not compatible with Torah. To put it crudely, one would also be against a march which said “It’s okay to do away with Shabbat”. The common element is that they are immutable Torah imperatives, and the quest to seek adherents to such views is anathema to a Torah observant Jew. Indeed, we find great Halachic difference in the Jew who breaks the Sabbath in private versus the one who honks the horn when passing the Rabbi walking to Shule, with the aim of showing that “I don’t care about Sabbath”, or the person who eats prawns because they “just love the taste”.

In terms of the Gay Pride march, if the aim is point 2 above, then I think its existence transcends religion. There are various types of people who don’t accept this reality for other reasons. It is important to make sure that all those who have predilections and quandaries, are not made to feel that they are “outside the tent”. They are in the tent. A more sophisticated approach would be how to engage them, should they personally wish to be engaged on the topic, and make them feel that there are hundreds of Mitzvos that are applicable to them, as much as anyone else. On this point, it would be useful if Rabbis of skill got together and devised some guidelines.

With that in mind, I felt the statements of some 300 Religious Zionist Rabbis achieved nothing positive in respect of the marchers, except for Nir Barkat choosing to remain Pareve and not attend for what he called “sensitivity” reasons. If those Rabbis thought that there was a lack of knowledge about various sins and how they are treated in Judaism, then there are other ways to interact with the various groups. The religious group need a different approach than the one of the non practicing variety. Those approaches need to be advanced and not simple. Quoting a verse, for which the irreligious marchers have no regard, is a waste of time. Do they not know this already?

Point 1 though is something that I do not think should happen from a Halachic viewpoint. I do not see a reason to seek recruits to swell the numbers engaging in such a life style.

The gay pride movement is not without blame here, either. They have much to answer for. Jerusalem is the Holiest City, as such, sensitivity, indeed the same sort of sensitivity they demand when respecting their sexual orientation, should imply that this is definitely not the City where one chooses to march. In the process, they are trampling on sensitivities that they do not understand and in some cases are antagonistic towards. Why do this? It only creates antipathy and division. Of course, this does not mean that there are people in Jerusalem who are confronted with the issue of being gay (or GBLTIQ). They are in Rishon LeTzion, Haifa, and not confined to some geographic point in Israel.

If they have had an Israel march in Tel Aviv, then it’s happened. It can be marketed as such: the location of the march doesn’t signify that it is only for those who live in Tel Aviv. There is no need to offend the Torah based sensibilities in Jerusalem, the Holy City, when sensible alternatives which achieve the same aim are possible. Some of the responsibility for the rhetoric that has occurred, rests with those who also wish to remove the notion that Jerusalem is any holier a place, in Israel. Ironically, that’s what the Arabs do. It is not what Jews do: be they practicing orthodox or otherwise. If they throw a spark into flammable material, then expect a raging fire.

I would have liked to have seen two outcomes from the march:

  1. Jerusalem is considered a no go zone for such marches as the outcome is to cause more antipathy, and that’s precisely what they are trying to overcome. It will actually heighten the problem for GBLTIQ people who will feel minimised.
  2. The Rabbis, need to be more sophisticated in the statements that they put out in response to such events. There should have been meetings beforehand between the organisers and Rabbinic leaders and I expect that a better outcome would have occurred. Of course any Orthodox Rabbi will quote the Torah here if asked. The Torah’s views are not hidden, nor are they unknown. However, I do not know what is achieved by calling such people names as a method to reduce the occurrence of people performing forbidden acts of the Torah.

It is a democracy. That also implies that the Jews of Jerusalem should have a say about the compatibility of the event occurring also in Jerusalem. If the motive is to preach secularism, then it is secularism, not being Gay, that is the issue here. Silent peaceful marches against creeping secularism where Israelis are identifying as nothing different to a non-Jew who lives in Israel (and sees Israel as their secular home country). This may even come to resemble the French Republican model.

It is at times like this, that we need the wise counsel of the lover of all Jews in Israel, Rav Kook. He knew how to ignite the spark of Judaism in Jews who were adopting other isms in Israel and he did so through positive acts. It is time the Rabbis examined their methods of protest and became more advanced in their way of expounding the real basis and foundation for which Jews live in Israel in the first place.

Some will sophomorically claim that this is just the Charedi Leumi section of Religious Zionism, and that they are no different to other Charedim in 90% of their outlook. Rav Kook was a Charedi; there is no doubt about that. One does not have to become a wishy-washy, left-wing, tree-hugging, apologetic Rabbi with a community of people who are lax in increasing numbers, to be qualified to respond to these events.

Unfortunately, our generation doesn’t have a Rav Kook. It doesn’t have a Lubavitcher Rebbe or a Rav Soloveitchik. Apart from Rabbi Sacks who is wonderfully adept at expressing Torah views without causing others to become anti-Torah, we are lacking Rabbinic leaders who understand people, and not only the four sections of the Shulchan Aruch.

On the nature of interfaith relationships

Many years ago, the indisputable Rabbinic Doyen of Centrist Orthodoxy (call it Modern or Torah U’Maddah if you like), Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik, issued clear rulings under which interdenominational activities must be underpinned. Note, unlike, more right-wing streams of Orthodoxy, Rav Soloveitchik, was not an extremist advocating zero contact. At the time, the Rav’s focus was on Xtianity, as this was the prevailing pressure in the USA. To think that his advice would not equally apply to other religions, such as Islam, or Hinduism, or Buddhism is a non sequitur.

Rav Soloveitchik stated (emphasis is mine):

1. “We are a totally independent faith community. We do not revolve as a satellite in any orbit.” Jews must not concede at all to the notion that their covenant with God has been superseded. This refusal should be recognised by all participants as an ongoing point of disagreement between the faith communities, not an issue to be ironed out by apologetics or revisionism.

2. “The logos, the word in which the multifarious religious experience is expressed does not lend itself to standardization or universalisation. The confrontation should occur not at a theological, but at a mundane human level. There, all of us speak the universal language of modern man.” Because the theological language of the respective faith communities expresses religious sensations too intimate to be comprehended by those of another faith, dialogue must remain in the realm of the “secular orders.”

3. “Non-interference is a conditio sine qua non for the furtherance of good-will and mutual respect.”No Jew must ever suggest changes or emendations to Christian rituals or texts, and the converse is a requirement as well.

4. Any response to Christian overtures that even hints toward a willingness to compromise the fundamental matters over which millions of Jewish martyrs were sacrificed is an affront to their memory. To willingly equivocate where they stood firm demonstrates utter insensitivity to the “sense of dignity, pride, and inner joy” that their memory ought to inspire.

With this in mind, let us examine a letter from Rabbi Ralph Genende (emphasis is mine) of Caulfield Shule as an Orthodox Rabbinic member and President of JCMA

To Our Muslim Sisters And Brothers

Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia Statement

11th July 2016

We watched with sadness and horror the tragic events of the last days of Ramadan and can’t imagine how difficult they were for you.

We know that there is wide consensus that these terrorist attacks are largely political and that Islam is being distorted and manipulated for political and ideological purposes.

The victims, the families and friends of the victims, are all in our prayers.

In Australia, we heard with pain the divisive and hurtful comments of Pauline Hanson about Islam and Muslims.

Know that we share in your sorrow and distress and that we stand with you in the struggle for love and compassion.  May they overcome bigotry and hatred and violence.

May the blessings of peace, Shalom, Salam speedily grace our planet.

Rabbi Ralph Genende

President JCMA on behalf of JCMA

I have a number of questions of Rabbi Genende.

  1. Does he accept Rav Soloveitchik’s principles as outlined above? If he does, I am comfortable with that. If he does not, I posit that he is acting outside the boundaries set by Rav Soloveitchik for the RCA. [ Yes, I am aware of revisionists from both sides (left/right) who want to strengthen or weaken what Rav Soloveitchik ruled, but I treat these as speculation of little substance]. We have what the Rav said explicitly. It is clear and unambiguous.
  2. If he accepts the Rav’s views, did he formally write the parameters to his colleagues through which dialogue could proceed, as enunciated by the Rav above. In particular, did he write words to the effect that“As Jews we will never concede at all to the notion that our covenant with God has been superseded by other religions and we formally seek your acknowledgement of this point before any dialogue can proceed. You may have your viewpoint, but I seek your explicit agreement that you acknowledge that we will never see our covenant as superseded by other religions, and there can be no apologetics or revisionism in this regard.”
  3. Can Rabbi Genende tell us whether he received condolence style letters of apology from his Muslim colleagues ever. If not, why might that be? If yes, surely, it is critical that he actually publish those letters. Such letters, more than Rabbi Genende’s letter, act as a counter balance to incitement.
  4. We experienced the recent murder of Rabbi Marks and the stabbing of the young girl Hallel Ariel about whom the State Department made no statement despite her being a US citizen, let alone a human being. I assume Rabbi Genende heard the brave tear-jerking speech at the grave by Hallel’s mother. Muslim men of the cloth, in such a forum, need to distance themselves from Arab politics, and issue unambiguous condemnation of cruel, disgustingly opportunistic cold-blooded murders. Surely, one basis of this group is that violence is to be condemned at all times, except if attacked in a war situation where one is defending oneself.
  5. If Rabbi Genende received no such letter of condolence from his Muslim friends of the cloth, then I see no reason for him to continue with letters of “Salaam”. What is the point? The only outcome from such things is  Queens Day honours for the committee for their tolerant platitudes and joint acts of breaking bread.
  6. I am not an expert on Pauline Hanson’s platform, however, a significant number of Australians voted for her viewpoint. In a democracy, this counts for votes in determining how we are governed. There is rhetoric and views from Hanson’s acolytes that are to be condemned. There are other statements that state the obvious, but neither the Labor Party or the Liberals would ever say those for fear of losing votes.  Whatever Hanson’s views are, I do not see it as the role of this committee via Rabbi Genende to make pronouncements about a political party unless Hanson’s party has a platform which is universally considered amoral. Rabbi Genende doesn’t mention which comments of Pauline Hanson he as our representative objects to, but I think that should be the focus and not Hanson herself. He should focus on what was said that is offensive, and if need be, condemn such statements where they offend common human decency. In a vacuum though, the letter simply reads as a political rejection of everything Hanson’s party stands for. It’s not the party per se. It is explicit policies, which may emanate from any party, including the Greens, that might be horribly objectionable to all three religions because they breach a basic covenant of morality. The issues, not the parties, should be the focus.
  7. I invite Rabbi Genende to publish letters initiated by either Xtian, Muslim or other colleagues in respect to violence against civilians in the wider world, including Israel. Paris anyone?
  8. I invite Rabbi Genende to ask his colleagues to openly condemn the current outrageous UNESCO proposal where they brazenly rewrite history, announcing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is an exclusive Muslim holy place which has no connection to the Jewish people or their religion whatsoever! Does Rabbi Genende not remind his co-religionists that this is blatant lying, and lying is a common mundane human act that all religions should condemn? It is precisely the type of pronouncement (from UNESCO) about which Rabbi Soloveitchik warned.Last week UNESCO adopted a resolution which refers to Israel as the “occupying power” in Jerusalem and on, what UNESCO calls, the al-Haram al-Shariff (Temple Mount). The Western Wall (Wailing Wall) that is today Judaism’s holiest site is referred to as “Al-Buraq Plaza” in the resolution.The UNESCO resolution claimed “Israel is planting Jewish fake graves! in other spaces of the Muslim cemeteries” near the Temple Mount and falsely accused Israel of “the continued conversion of many Islamic and Byzantine remains into the so-called Jewish ritual baths or into Jewish prayer places.”. Will Rabbi Genende’s committee distance themselves from such lies publicly? If not, why not? How does one sit on a committee with anyone who denies the Jewish foundation of Jerusalem?UNESCO especially mentioned the damage caused by Israeli Forces since Aug. 23 “to the gates and the windows of the so-called Qibli Mosque inside al-Aqsa Mosque.”. The organisation claimed that Israel doesn’t respect the integrity, authenticity and cultural heritage of al-Aqsa Mosque as “a Muslim Holy Site of worship and as an integral part of a World Cultural Heritage Site.” Rabbi Genende knows this is an abhorrent rewriting of history, or to use the words of Rav Soloveitchik,“Jews must not concede at all to the notion that their covenant with God has been superseded.”

    Given that this implicitly and explicitly concedes our covenant, let alone provable history, on what religious basis is Rabbi Genende continuing dialogue unless his co-religionists openly reject the notion in a letter initiated by them?

    Aug. 23 is the date that 67 Jews were murdered in Hebron in 1929 during riots that began after similar lies about a Jewish threat to al-Aqsa ignited the Arab street in British-ruled Palestine. Talmudic Geniuses from the Yeshiva in Hebron were among those murdered. Will Rabbi Genende not also focus on this parallel or does he confine himself to personhood statements of grief when one group of Muslims murders another group of Muslims?

    The UNESCO resolution doesn’t utter a word about the daily riots that already started on the Temple Mount in the summer of 2015 and continued into the autumn after the Palestinian Authority and Hamas spread false rumors that Israel intended to change the status quo on the mount. There is overwhelming video evidence of who started the fighting at the Temple Mount and of Muslims barricading themselves in the al-Aqsa mosque. Video evidence doesn’t count in a world of lies, and if men of the cloth don’t condemn such lies, why are we sitting with them on one table?

  9. One has to wonder: apart from appeasement in the name of “we are all one” what Rabbi Genende’s involvement on this committee actually achieves. I’d argue that sending all Victorian students to the holocaust centre achieves much more than such letters.

I also read the growing trend of experiencing the religious practices of other religions in moments of “unity”, with nice accompanying pictures (Rabbi Genende amongst them). I ask again, how is this consonant with Rav Soloveitchik’s ruling that things be restricted to secular orders. Rav Soloveitchik, effectively meant, looking after the poor, the needy, and Noachide-style edicts of having proper courts, order, etc.

I have no doubt that Rabbi Genende has the best intentions, but I believe that unless we see letters initiated by his co-religionists of this committee, then we are not getting a proper picture of what this committee does or what it hopes to achieve, and whether it achieves it or whether its terms of reference should be refined or changed.

I, for one, would have no regret in condemning  those Jews in Israel who burnt the Palestinian youth and criticising it as an act which is contrary to Halacha and normal moral law. Did Rabbi Genende write such a letter? We all know that  such Jews are minuscule in numbers, and that the Shin Bet is on their heads and tails, sometimes with justification and sometimes without. Jews act to quell violent radicalism.

Be under no illusion, Rabbi Genende. Even today, Xtians believe that all Jews should convert to Xtianity and Muslims believe that all Jews should convert to Islam. Under that factoid, it seems to me that confining activities to joint acts of the more secular, as enunciated by Rav Soloveitchik is the correct and only approach to take. Any more is platitudes that achieve very little.

The politics and policing of curbing incitement is the domain of politicians and the law, not a religious committee that ought to work together to foster those secular good acts that benefit society.

Congratulations to Rabbi Danny Mirvis and his family

Danny Lamm has not taken long before his committee (how many Lamms are on that committee, and people complain about Yeshiva!) has offered the position of Senior Rabbi to Rabbi Mirvis.

He ticks the boxes.

  1. He is a Religious Zionist from a Hesder Yeshiva
  2. He isn’t a Chabadnik (yes, I don’t believe Mizrachi would ever appoint a Chabadnik)
  3. He was educated in the more politically moderate Yeshivat Har Etzion
  4. He and his wife are charming and seem to be well-liked
  5. He will likely complete a four-year stint before returning to Israel (preferably the stint will be a lot less due to Geulah being in place)
  6. I have only shared a few lines of conversation with him, and heard him speak twice. He does his homework and is a likeable person. I do not know how he traverses the philosophies of Rav Amital vs Rav Lichtenstein, the former apparently having more of an influence on his outlook. Rav Amital and Rav Lichtenstein had enormous respect for each other but were very different, with Rav Amital having his own strong disagreements with R’ Tzvi Yehuda Kook on Rav Kook’s approach and the approach needed today.
  7. Perhaps most tellingly 🙂 when I introduced myself he said “Oh, Jackie Bassin’s Zayda”. I was expecting, “Oh, Adina Waller’s brother”. I learned from that, that he obviously had exposure to our grandson, and appreciated him, and that this was perhaps more my Yichus than being my sister’s brother :-). If he’d known my father and not mentioned that I was his son, I might have had some misgivings. Rabbi Sprung knew my father and often asked him what his secret was. Sadly, Rabbi Mirvis won’t, but happily he will see some of my parents’ great grandchildren one on one.
  8. He will give a more meaningful approach to Judaism than the more tree hugging, Tikun Olam, we embrace everything style of leadership or the “I do it different and I will shock you style from ARK”, and will respect Kashrus and support established authorities and ignore the communal maverick.

Prior to that, the name “Mirvis” only registered with me in respect of his Uncle Johnny. Johnny who is no doubt also a Rabbi, was in fifth year of Hesder at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh, when I joined Kerem B’Yavneh. I didn’t have much to do with him, partly because of my reclusive nature, and partly because he concentrated on the English and American Bochurim, for whom he was given a particular mashpia style role. I only knew of his father when he was appointed Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth, although I need to declare that I am not a Monarchist, and consider both Philip and Elizabeth anti semites. The latter would visit a toilet in Ghana before stepping into Israel, and the former cantankerous oddity only goes to visit his mother’s grave, in a private capacity. Charles is hardly pro-Jewish either. Let me repeat what I have stated in other posts. If one claims to be against anti-Semitism and can’t call Israel the JEWISH State, they are an anti-Semite in my eyes, irrespective of where one sets borders.

Good luck. It’s not an easy community. You will be pushed around (older generation) by pseudo-Mevinim, but the youth will rally around you, and in that way, you will be successful. Now, if you can get the grandfathers and great grandfathers out of “Beit Haroeh” and hand it over to Ohr David, that would be a great start. Beit Haroeh has passed its used by date long ago and its time they grew up and moved into the Main Shule.

I also hope they let you influence Yavneh in respect to its Torah learning programs, and not write you out of that equation as they did with previous Rabbis.

From an interview at Har Etzion:

After numerous years as Director of the Yeshivat Har Etzion Center for Torah Leadership (CTL), Danny Mirvis is stepping down ahead of moving to Australia to assume a new position at the Mizrachi community in Melbourne. Dublin-born and London-raised, Danny has held numerous positions in the Yeshiva including Madrich of MTA, Racaz of the Overseas Program and most recently, Director of CTL. We asked him some questions about his time with CTL and plans for the future.

How has CTL changed over the years?

CTL started off as an exciting dream with many great ideas. Over the years, those ideas have been developed and organized to create three focused areas of activity:

1) Partner Projects – Supporting a broad range of educational and social initiatives of alumni from Yeshivat Har Etzion and Migdal Oz, including a focus on women’s learning.

2) Torah Leadership – Developing the connection with alumni actively involved in the Rabbinate and Chinuch across the world through ongoing contact, regular conferences and supporting different Torah publications.

3) Future Leaders – Identifying and investing in students and alumni with significant leadership potential, through leadership programs and CTL’s Winter Fellowships.

What have been the highlights of your time with CTL?

Rabbi Doniel Schreiber, the Dean and Founder of CTL, is a man of tremendous passion and vision. To work together with him and see how that vision has become a reality has been a privilege and pleasure.

For me, CTL’s proudest achievements have been the partner projects we identified and supported in their early stages, which have gone on to blossom and thrive on their own two feet. To give just a few examples, Garinei Ayala is now three times the size it was when they first came to our office to ask for assistance. The Shiurim in Givat Shmuel and Katamon are now self-sufficient and continue to grow and attract large crowds. The late night Beit Midrash at Penn turned to us for assistance at its inception and has gone on to become a fully-fledged part of Penn’s learning program.

How do you see CTL developing in the future?

CTL’s primary area of focus – the alumni of Yeshivat Har Etzion and Migdal Oz – is a talented, dynamic and growing group. It is through these alumni that CTL aims and hopes to make a positive impact and genuine contribution to the world around us. As our alumni progress and grow in number, new opportunities will develop for CTL to expand its programs and activities.

The same can be said for our alumni in Chinuch and the Rabbinate. I see great potential for CTL to increase its interaction with this group as it continues to grow in influence and number.

You have held numerous positions in the Yeshiva. How does it feel that your next position will be on the other side of the world?

Though I have held numerous positions in the Yeshiva, they have all shared the sense of mission of working towards the Yeshiva’s goals of being immersed in Torah and engaged with the world.

Mizrachi in Melbourne is a wonderful community with strong ties to the Yeshiva, a genuine appreciation for Torah and a deep love of Israel. Though it could not be much further away geographically from the Yeshiva, I see my role there as a continuation of the same mission.

What will you be able to take with you from your experiences with CTL to assist you with your future role?

First of all, thanks to CTL, I will belong to a global network of Rabbinic alumni from Yeshivat Har Etzion, which I will be able to draw on for ideas and advice.

I also hope to employ CTL’s educational and organizational philosophy in my new position. At CTL, we have not aimed to build our target audience around our programs and activities, but to build our programs and activities around our target audience. This is something I hope to continue in the future.”

PS. I had promised to show him my Shas, printed in Dublin on linen paper. He was astounded that such a thing existed. I suggested his father would know. It even has Chiddushim of the Satmar Rebbe at the back, and yes, there are still pages stuck together in my Shas, I never used it for Daf HaYomi 🙂

Missing the point about Jews, Judaism and Zionism

We are used to worrying about the BDS boycott, and various academic boycotts and the like. There has been no talk of boycotts in my University. If the National Tertiary Education Union went down those stairs and/or the University, there would be mayhem.

What attracted my attention today is a statement we hear over and over, in various guises and contexts. The statement is attributed in the Jerusalem to former Chief Rabbi Sacks, a brilliant speaker and writer. He is alleged to have said

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Sacks said that some politicians in the British Labour Party had courted the Muslim vote and had adopted anti-Israel attitudes which have morphed into anti-Semitism.

I could not DISagree more. Where is the clear thinking. Anti-Israel attitudes expressed in the context of ‘we must solve the problem of Palestinian Arabs’ is nothing more than anti-Semitism. This is not anti-Zionism. The logic is exceedingly simple. There is no body, none, that will agree that Jews deserve a homeland, and that homeland is Israel. This narrative is elided too often. Some will quibble over the definition of borders and security provisions and so forth. They are issues that should be discussed. However, since 1948 and before that, there is still no recognition that Jews need a homeland. In this I include the entire spectrum of Jews in Israel except for the hand full of lunatics led by Moshe Ber Beck, the Iranian nuzzler. He is welcome to live there, and be happy. They are not religious Jews. They have seen that all their sycophantic activities amount to nothing but Bitul Torah while protesting and travel.

No, Rabbi Sacks. Nothing has “morphed“. This is classic fallacy filled British diplomacy . The anti-Semitic Ken Livingstone types of this world should be dethroned, but to allow the semblance of thought that Jews are not entitled to their homeland, as above, and call this entitlement Zionism, is bizarre, I find it difficult to comprehend. Nay, this is an attack on Judaism 101. We assert our right to live in peaceful boundaries. Those who seek to deny this right, whether emanating from explicit charter, whispering, obfuscation or diplobabble (the French Connection) are anti-Semites.

As Rav Kook so eloquently put it:

“It is only the anticipation of redemption that preserves Judaism in Exile, while Judaism in the Land of Israel is the redemption itself.”

This redemption is what we aspire to.

[ Only an ignorant would interpret this to mean Rav Kook’s Judaism in Exile was not infused with Torah. ]

 

Challenges

There are a number in Melbourne. I won’t elaborate but 

חיה ביילא בת לאה בתיה 

Is one which hits home personally and she should get back to full health quickly.

I was at a Simcha tonight, and all I heard was ‘it’s terrible what’s going on in Melbourne lately’

Then somebody sent me THIS CHILLUL HASHEM

If I was there I would take the parents and teachers and air drop them into Gaza. That’s obviously their home. Disgraceful low lives.

Chabad Principal Rabbi Smukler attends and dances at Yom Ha’aztmaut service

The yearly prayer event which coincides with Ma’ariv is something I have attended for more years than I care to share. I do not recall but I believe I was unable to attend last year. In some years I was lecturing at the time, but I have attended almost every year.

I learned in a Hesder Yeshivah of note; the first Hesder Yeshiva in Israel. The Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht had the written and personal approval of the Chazon Ish. We dressed in our better finery and had a special dinner celebration of thanks. I lost my two Israeli room mates to War. I think about them often: Chovav Landau and Ze’ev Roitman HY’D. Chovav Landau’s wife was pregnant with their only child at the time. They were both in their fourth year of the five year program when I met them. I was closer to Ze’ev than Chovav. Ze’ev had lost his father to Yellow Fever, because a Doctor in Rechovot, had not changed needles after injecting an Arab patient. I felt his tragedy acutely. They both had machine guns locked in our room, and both perished when their tank was hit during the first Lebanon war.

The text of Ma’ariv in our Yeshiva was not the one adopted by the Kibbutz HaDati Movement (there was one next door) nor was it the text of newly published Koren Yom Haatzmaut Machzor. It was standard  Ma’ariv.

The Yeshivah formally followed the ruling that full hallel be said in the morning but without a blessing. There was no Tachanun.  This was not a statement of ‘less’ religious zionism. Rather, it represented delicate rulings related to liturgy and halacha.

As I recall, Ma’ariv had no additions. There was no Shofar etc I’m happy to be corrected. I do not know what current practice is followed. The Yeshivah did not affiliate with Bnei Akiva formally because of a concern for mixed gender functions. In my day Bnei Akiva in Jerusalem was gender separated.

Halachically, what one says before Ma’ariv and after the concluding Aleinu prayer is of lesser importance. When said in a Shule proper, there is also halachic  import.

That being said, I was to learn, later in life that the famed Rav Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik, otherwise known warmly as ‘the Rav’ was implacably opposed to additions to liturgy. This extended to the Holocaust and Kinos. He famously stormed out of RIETS when some ignored his ruling on Yom Haatzmaut.

Chabad’s Yeshivah and Beth Rivka Schools follow their choice. Chabad make no liturgical change and do say Tachanun. Whilst certainly not religious Zionist, they are not noted for the extreme anti Zionist rulings of the Adass Israel Congregation where Tachanun is especially said on Yom Ha’atzmaut even in the presence of a Bris Milah lest someone conclude that Adass saw any religious importance  in the State of Israel’s Independence Day.

For decades, Chabad’s boys school principal would not attend the Chabad dominated Rabbinical Council of Victoria’s gazetted service at Mizrachi. Thee council is, I believe dominated by Chabad Rabbis. This is not surprising in Melbourne where the survival and resurgence of Judaism is due in major part to Chabad.

I have been opposed to the service only being held at Mizrachi as I do not consider Mizrachi to be the ‘owner’ of this style of service. I am certain, that, for example, Caulfield Shule would gladly offer their Synagogue.

Chabad now has only one Principal: the controversial Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler.

It was then interesting for me to note Rabbi Smukler’s  front row appearance at Mizrachi last night, including his dancing circomvolution around the Bima. I concede that this may not have constituted halachic dancing (during Sefiras Haomer). He didn’t clap like Rabbi Cowen of Mizrachi’s Elsternwick Shule (Rabbi Cowen is considered a Chabad Chassid) nor did he sit on the Mizrachi wall like Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick, who spoke as President of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (and who is also a Chabad Chasid) and R Leor Broh (also a Chabad Chasid) of Mizrachi’s Beit Haroeh Shule (populated by once young marrieds, now grandfathers :-).

To be complete, unlike a general Yom Tov or a Chabad Yom Tov such as Yud Tes Kislev, I didn’t notice any Chabad Rabbi in attendance wearing their longer black Kappote).

We live in very interesting times.

May the State of Israel metamorphose into the Eretz Yisrael of our redemption, speedily, in our days, with the continued grace of God.

How many Jews in Melbourne hold these perverted views?

Does the Adass breakaway, “Divrei Emineh”?

Do Satmar and the Neturei Karta in Adass?

How many only disagree in as much as they shouldn’t be saying this (out loud), but actually subscribe to this discredited view of R’ Yoelish of Satmar? Emphasis is mine. Text is from my Mashgiach, Rav Rivlin שליט’’א

The Gemara in Ketubot (111a) derives from the triple mention of the pasuk, “I have bound you in oath, O daughters of Jerusalem” (Shir Hashirim), that Hashem bound Am Yisrael and the nations of the world with three oaths. The first oath is, “shelo yaalu bachoma,” that the Jews should not forcibly, “break through the wall,” and enter Eretz Yisrael. The second is that the Jews should not rebel against the nations. The third is that the nations of the world should not oppress Yisrael too much over the course of the exile. According to R. Zera, there are three additional oaths which relate to the ultimate redemption. The Gemara concludes with the threat that if Israel violates these oaths, their flesh will be made free like wild animals in the field, i.e., Hashem would bring upon them great suffering and physical destruction.

The Satmar Rebbe, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, claims in “Vayoel Moshe” that Hashem brought about the Holocaust because the Zionist movement caused the Jews to violate the “Three Oaths.” Since the Jewish people forcefully went to resettle Eretz Yisrael, Hashem brought upon them massive destruction, as the Gemara warns in its conclusion. Rav Shlomo Aviner compiled thirteen answers to this claim, amongst them the following:

1) Rav Teitelbaum’s claim rests on the fact that there was a “choma,” that the nations of the world prohibited the Jews from settling in the land of Israel. The Avnei Nezer writes that this oath does not apply when the nations give Yisrael permission to return. Following the Balfour Declaration and the San Remo Conference, in which the nations of the world determined that the Jewish people have a right to settle the land of Israel, the oaths do not apply. The Midrash hints to this idea, that if Bnei Yisrael have permission to enter the land they do not violate the oaths.

2) Another answer is that once there is a sign from Hashem to return to the land, the oaths no longer apply. In addition to the permission given by the nations, the national reawakening and birth of modern Zionism can be viewed as a sign from Hashem that it is permissible to return to the land. The oaths were not an “issur” (absolute prohibition), but rather national tendencies that Hashem instilled within Klal Yisrael which would cause them to remain unmotivated to return to their land. Also, throughout most of the exile, it was very difficult physically for Jews to return to Eretz Yisrael. Once a wide scale movement with an objective to return to Eretz Yisrael began, and it was physically possible to begin Aliya to Eretz Yisrael, it became clear that the oath was no longer in effect.

3) The Gemara in Sanhedrin (98a) says that when Eretz Yisrael gives forth fruit abundantly, it is a sure sign that the redemption is coming. Eretz Yisrael, in the time of the Zionist movement, began blooming and giving forth fruits unlike any previous time since the destruction of the land. This sign of redemption showed that the oath was no longer in effect.

3) Rav Teichtal, in his work, “Em Habanim Smeicha,” offers another explanation. Although the Jews were sworn not to enter Eretz Yisrael forcefully, the nations of the world were also sworn not to persecute the Jews too much. Over the course of the exile, the Jews were severely persecuted by the gentiles. Because the gentiles violated their oath, the Jews were no longer bound by their oath.

4) According to some opinions, the only way to violate the oath would be if people came to Eretz Yisrael in very large groups. Since the Jews entered the land slowly, and over the course of many years, they did not violate the oath.

5) The author of the “Hafla’ah” maintains that the oaths only apply to those who are in the exile of Bavel, and not in other lands.

6) R’ Chaim Vital explains that the oath only applied for 1000 years, not longer.

7) The Gra writes that the oath applies only to building the Beit Hamikdash, not to entering Eretz Yisrael.

8) Elsewhere in the Gemara there are other, conflicting, sources. Furthermore, the Gemara regarding the “Three Oaths” is aggada, and we do not decide halacha based on aggada. [I add that this isn’t even from Torah and Neviim, but from Kesuvim, the weakest link in determining Halacha]

Based on all of these explanations, there is ample basis to say that the movement to return to Eretz Yisrael was a positive, not a negative, one. In fact, others maintain just the opposite, that the Holocaust was because Jews became entrenched in galut and did not return to Eretz Yisrael. Since we are not living in a generation of prophecy, it is very difficult for us to determine exactly why Hashem brings specific punishments to the world. However, the Gemara does teach us that when we are afflicted with punishment, we should look into our actions, and try to fix our bad deeds. By looking at the Akeida, we may gain some insight regarding the Holocaust.

One of the most famous tests of Avraham was Akeidat Yitzchak. We constantly mention the Akeida in our prayers, and we still reap the benefits of this test. The question is asked, what is so special about this test? Avraham did not even do any great action of sacrifice, because in the end he did not slaughter his son. There were many other tests which Avraham actually fulfilled which are not so commonly mentioned!

Furthermore, Rav Dessler questions the very concept of “zechut Avot” (merit of the Patriarchs). If two criminals violated the same law, one coming from a dysfunctional family and one from a normal background, logic dictates that the one from a normal background should be punished more severely. When we come to Hashem and tell Him that we are descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, this should work against us! Why is there zechut? In fact, Rabbeinu Bachya says that sometimes it is best not to mention zechut avot. After the sin of the spies, Moshe pleaded to Hashem and did not mention that Hashem is “notzer chesed la’alafim,” that He rewards for good deeds for generations to come. Moshe did not want Hashem to say, “If Bnei Yisrael came from such great people, why did they sin?”

Perhaps this insight can explain why we ask Hashem to remember the Akeida, as opposed to other tests of Avraham. Many times Am Yisrael does not live up to the other tests which Avraham was tested with. Through our entire history, however, Am Yisrael lived up to the test of the Akeida, and on many occasions Jews were willing to die “al kiddush Hashem” (in sanctification of G-d’s name).

The Torah introduces the story of the Akeida with the phrase, “It happened after these things.” (Bereishit 22:1) The parsha directly before the Akeida is the story in which Avraham makes a peace-covenant with Avimelech. The Rashbam explains that Avraham was tested with the Akeida because he did not have a sufficiently strong connection with Eretz Yisrael, and was willing to make a pact with Avimelech, thereby forfeiting some of his right to the land. The Tanna D’vei Eliyahu writes that any nation which has a serious conflict with Yisrael, does so only because of the pact which Avraham signed with Avimelech. Hashem always had a two-part covenant with Yisrael: descendants and Eretz Yisrael. Because Avraham was willing to give part of Eretz Yisrael, Hashem said, “I will take the other half of the pact — your son.”

Although we are not prophets, and we cannot determine which punishments correspond to which sins, we must try to learn lessons from events which happen in this world. Today it is clear that our bond to Eretz Yisrael still needs strengthening. If we pray and strengthen our connection to Eretz Yisrael, there will be an end to all of the Akeidot.

For those who want to seriously understand why Satmar and these clowns are dead wrong, read this from the Seforim Blog.

I note they don’t mention Gog and Magog, and the Jewish Redemption where their friends will be beholden to the Beis Hamikdash and Elokus. Politically, they don’t mention that, because they are of course afraid. These are the Jews about which the Torah says “stay home, you are afraid to go to war and you are an impedance”. Help your wives with the washing, cooking and food provision.

I notice Issy Weiss of Neturei Karta wears the palestinian scarf. Why doesn’t he put a Kaffiyeh on and add tzitzis to the corners. Now there’s solidarity.

 

Don’t support Satmar ever

These chassidim occupy a religion which has many connections to orthodox judaism, but they are also the biggest group that causes problems. Purim wouldn’t have occurred if Mordechai was a Satmar Chosid or Esther was one of them. He would have been told to cower to the enemy and suck it it all up and Esther would have been hidden in a bunker. These people who base their religion on R’ Yoelish’s discredited V’Yoel Moshe continue to be a thorn in the side of Jewish continuity and unity. They are everywhere and their polemic is offensive and untimely. While rockets rain from Gaza this is what they say.

In Melbourne, they are in Adass Yisrael. Don’t forget it. On Yom Ha’atzmaut, their Rabbi commanded that they say Tachanun at a Bris!

When they come to collect “Peerim Gelt” ask who they are. If they are Satmar. Give them ten cents. Give your money to poor people in the community who don’t follow this perverted philosophy. Which philosophy? The one which gives strength to the enemy. They haven’t learned that sucking up to those who actually don’t like you, will never help in the long run. Read this from ynet, and tell me if it doesn’t annoy you as much as it does me (emphasis is mine).

I don’t know which permission Rabbi Teitelbaum used to visit Israel and then leave. It seems to me that this is patently against Jewish law. I know of no permission to do so because of a grandson’s bar mitzvah. Love to read his halachic defence. It’s all politics; not halacha.

Disclaimer: I don’t have a clue how many in Melbourne’s Adass community follow him versus his (beloved) brother Zalman, but they both share the same hate for the Jewish State and do enormous damage with their sharp unbridled tongues.

Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum visits Israel and rails against settlers and ultra-Orthodox recruits who join the ID.
Kobi Nachshoni
Published: 03.11.16, 17:33 / Israel Jewish Scene
As terror attacks continue to strike Israel, Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum said on Tuesday that “the real culprits are the settlers in Israel who agitate the nations of the world in the country and throughout the world, which causes serious hatred of Israel and the severe wave of attacks.”

Rabbi Teitelbaum, also known as the Satmar Rebbe, and his brother lead the world’s largest Hasidic movement, landed in Israel on Tuesday and spoke sharply to his followers, at his grandson’s bar mitzvah in Jerusalem. The city had which suffered a serious attack shortly before that, alongside two other attacks that night. “In recent months, the blood of Israel is spilling like water,” he said. “We cry every day for those dead and wounded. ”

The rabbi also addressed the growing numbers of ultra-Orthodox recruits in the IDF. “It is true that there is no coercion,” he said, “but via soft words there is an increase in recruits to the IDF, which is a source of evil , and especially when the young men are not as strong spirituality. What is new is that no one here screams out loud that there is a prohibition to enlist in the IDF, which is is a place of destruction.”

The anti-Zionist rabbi attacked in his speech all the ultra-Orthodox political parties that participate in state institutions, are partners in the government, and enjoy its budgets. “You are always hearing about what’s happening here in Israel, and especially the conscription law, there there are agreements with the government,” he said. “We will stand firm so that the yeshivas will not be destroyed. ”

“The agreements – there are some who say they are good, some say they are bad, and they need a lawyer to teach them, but the reality is that since that law there has been a rise in ultra-Orthodox recruits. One should know that the main sin in enlistment is
those who go there will not return (i.e. will become alienated from religion – KN).”

Top court rules public ritual baths open to all Jewish conversions

The following story appeared in multiple news outlets. Reform and Conservative will see it as a “victory”. I see it as stupidity if they do:

It’s a secular civil matter involving money of the state. As such, Xian, Hindu, and Arabs would also be able to apply to use such Mikvaos for ritual cleansing if they applied and were Israeli Citizens. Melanie Landau might delight in this “equality”, but the difference is that Open, Conservative and Reform versions are simply closer religions to Judaism. That’s all. Their converts are not accepted as traditional Jews any more than RMG Rabi’s are.

The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously ruled that people undergoing a non-Orthodox Jewish conversation are entitled to immerse themselves in a public ritual bath as part of the ceremony, striking down a lower court’s decision to the contrary.

The justices accepted an appeal by the Masorti Movement and the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel against a ruling which banned non-Orthodox converts from using state-funded mikvehs.

The Supreme Court’s decision was hailed as a victory for non-Orthodox streams and a blow to the Chief Rabbinate. Israel’s Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef called it “outrageous.”

The court made clear that while it ruled on a specific case against the religious authorities in Beersheba, where the case was first discussed, its ruling applies throughout Israel.

The appellants argued that immersing in a mikveh as part of the process of conversion ought to be considered a “religious service” and as such should be provided by local religious authorities by law, with no distinction between conversion or other ritual needs. The appellants added that the attempt to distinguish between people using the mikveh when converting in the state’s official program and those converting via an alternative stream constituted illegal discrimination.

They contended that in so doing, the religious authorities in Beersheba also discriminated in granting services, products, and entry to public facilities.

Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, who ruled in the case along with Salim Joubran and Chief Justice Miriam Naor, wrote in the decision, according to Haaretz: “Once it established public mikvehs and put them at the service of the public – including for the process of conversion – the state cannot but be evenhanded in allowing their use.”

“The State of Israel is free to supervise the use of its mikvehs, so long as it does so in an egalitarian manner,” he added. “The state’s choice not to supervise immersion done as part of private conversion programs does not justify the prevention of such immersion.”
Chief Rabbi Yosef said the court’s “miserable decision to allow reform Jews and Conservatives to immerse in mikveh baths intended to serve the entire public is outrageous. Reform Jews are making use of halacha for their needs when it is convenient and are undermining the Jewish identity of the State of Israel. The court cannot on the one hand satisfy a small minority, and on the other gravely harm thousands of Jews interested in Jewish life according to halacha and in keeping the true Jewish identity of the state.”

Representatives of the non-Orthodox movements commended the court’s decision.
Director of the Masorti Movement Yizhar Hess said that the ruling “echoes from Jerusalem to the edge of the land, and will resonate across the wide Jewish world,” calling it “a clear decision that Conservative and Reform Jews are not stepchildren in the State of Israel.”

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of Reform Jews in the country, said the verdict “is another significant step on the road to full recognition of Reform and Conservative Judaism in Israel.” He promised: “We will continue the effort to complete this journey in the coming years.”

CANCEL your subscription to Mishpacha Magazine

Anyone who wants to know what divisiveness is, anyone who wants to know what love of a fellow Jew is NOT, anyone who wants to know why Haredim are derided, anyone who wants to remember Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, anyone who wants to know why Al Aqsa isn’t the Beis Hamikdash should read this outrageous, monstrous and contumelious post

The haredi Mishpacha newspaper created a social media firestorm on Thursday after it published an opinion article in which the first paragraph, printed in Arabic and in Hebrew, asked that since members of the haredi public do not go up to the Temple Mount “could you please stop murdering us.”

The article, written by Mishpacha Magazine deputy editor Aryeh Ehrlich, explained how the haredi community refrains from going up to the Temple Mount since the haredi rabbinic leadership prohibits visiting the site.

Almost all leading haredi rabbis and arbiters of Jewish law rule that Jews may not visit the Temple Mount since they may enter areas that are forbidden to enter without undergoing purification rituals which cannot be conducted today.

“Us, the haredi community, we have no interest in going up to the Temple Mount in our time,” Ehrlich writes. “We oppose this vehemently. Moreover, Jewish law see this as a severe prohibition – punished by spiritual excommunication.”

So even if you have solid information on Israeli desires to change the status quo at the Dome of the Rock – something which is incorrect to the best of our knowledge – the haredi community has no connection to it. So please, stop murdering us.”

In the rest of the article, the Mishpacha deputy editor observed that several victims of the recent spate of terror attacks have been from the haredi community, and wrote that he was trying to understand why this was the case.

He went on to detail a conversation he had with an Arab worker at a Rami Levi store and he tried to convince him that members of the haredi public do not go up to the Temple Mount.

Ehrlich was subjected to fierce condemnation on social media once awareness of the article spread.

“How wretched and ghetto like can you be? Is this your version of ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’? Of loving your fellow Jew,?” asked one person on Twitter. “Are you are calling on Arabs not to murder haredim because they don’t go up to the Temple Mount but insinuating ‘go and murder those who do? Disgusting. What about just calling on them not to murder. It would be more humane and more Jewish.”

One talkbacker on haredi website B’hadrei Haredim exclaimed “What about other Jews who aren’t haredi, them you should kill?????”

“The Mishpacha newspaper is turning to murderers to ask them not to murder haredim…everyone else is okay apparently. (He forgot that the pogrom in 1929 was because Jews went to visit the Western Wall),” tweeted far-right former MK Michael Ben-Ari.

Following the outrage prompted by his article, Ehrlich took to Twitter and said that he was trying to explain in his article that the Islamic Movement in Israel was trying to create a religious war and has urged Palestinians to attack people with a religious appearance.

“My article in the Mishpacha Magazine says: This religious war is wild incitement based in imaginary rumors. Most people who observe the religious commandments don’t go to the Temple Mount, if only because of the religious prohibition. The article was trying, naively it must be admitted, to tear the away the mask from the murderous Palestinian aggression which has been going on for decades, and to neutralize the false Islamic incitement.”

It is beyond belief that these morons from Mishpacha think they can affect anything. As if the Arabs don’t know this. They know it’s a beat up. They dress up as Haredim wanting a lift so that someone will stop and give them a lift, and then pull a knife on the Jew loving driver who thought he was picking up a harmless Haredi.

These people need to find

מחילה ברקיע השמים אצל מלך מלכי המלכים, הקדוש ברוך הוא

Things we can do for Israel

Somebody sent me this link from chabad.org and noted that the one thing missing was actually being part of the non spiritual army, and fight and protect. I couldn’t agree more. That being said, I’m in Chutz La’aretz and therefore hypocritical. I also imagine that link was directed to those in Chutz La’aretz.

At the end of the day, the Rambam which was quoted by the LR and which is often repeated, says that you GO OUT TO MILCHOMO even on matters of Straw and Produce. B’Pashtus, as is the Pashtus of the Rambam in Hilchos Melachim, is that this is physical war (albeit assisted by good deeds and mitzvos and tefillos)

Avraham didn’t fight those kings with Kaballa or Chassidus. He SMOTE them AL PI CHAREV.

Timely Dvar Torah on Noach

(Hat tip BA)

בס”ד

Protecting Ourselves from the Destruction and Confusion of Our Times

Shiur on Parashas Noach by Adina Becker (based on the Nesivos Shalom) 

During the last week, I was in the vicinity of two terrorist attacks, and experienced first-hand the gut-wrenching fear for my life, for my future, for my family. The fear of physical danger was accompanied by a feeling of confusion, as if the purpose of the world suddenly became cloudy and almost impeded my ability to function. I read the statements of the gedolim in Israel, exhorting us to increase Torah study and acts of chesed, and to take Shabbos in earlier. Nevertheless the feeling of confusion remained.

When preparing a shiur on Parshas Noach, I came across the Rashi that interprets the word mabul (flood) as either flood, destruction or confusion (bilbul).” Most of us in Israel have been living in a cauldron of destruction and confusion, and of course our friends and relatives overseas feel it as well.

Hashem saw fit to include the Noach and the Mabul narrative in great detail in the Torah, particularly regarding the building of the teivah (ark). This inclusion is not arbitrary. According to the Nesivos Sholom, the teivah was both a means of surviving the deluge and a tikkun (rectification) of the cause of the destruction, which would stop it spreading and enable future rebuilding. The concept of teivas Noach is more relevant than ever, particularly in these times.

The Nesivos Sholom (Rav Sholom Noach Berezowsky, zt”l, the previous Slonimer Rebbe) elucidates three aspects of teivas Noach as applied both to the individual and the world.

  1. Noach = Shabbos

According to the Zohar, Noach parallels or hints at the Shabbos. How are we to understand this? Firstly there is a clear connection between the name Noach, and the fundamental concept of “menuchah – resting” from productive work on Shabbos (Vayanach bayom hashevii).

Further, Noach’s essential nature parallels the idea of Shabbos. Chazal compares Noach’s tzidkus with that of Avraham Avinu. While Noach didn’t exhibit the drive to exceed his potential like Avraham Avinu and influence positively those around him, Noach stood firm whilst living in three highly corrupted generations and did not become sullied.

In fact the Midrash on Tehillim interprets the first few pesukim in Sefer Tehillim as referring to Noach.

“Ashrei ha’ish asher lo halach be’atzat reshaim -happy is the man who has not walked in the ways of the wicked)” – this refers to Noach not being negatively influenced by dor Enosh (idolatrous generation of Enosh).

“Ubederech chataim lo amad – nor stood in the ways of the sinners” – this refers to Noach not being negatively influenced by the dor hamabul (generation of the flood).

“Ubemoshav leitzim lo yashav – nor sat in the seat of the scornful” – this refers to Noach not being negatively influenced by the dor haflagah (generation of the dispersed builders of the tower of Bavel).

Noach represents stability, standing firm, not being corrupted by outside influences. He was a constant. The Zohar parallels Noach with Shabbos that is a constant in the world, a gift of kedushah fixed in time that comes every week and is incorruptible and accessible no matter what is going on around it.

Shabbos, according to the Nesivos Sholom, can be understood as a “teivah” that Hashem put into the world to both protect us from danger and reconnect us to Hashem in times of great spiritual confusion.

How does Shabbos protect and reconnect? As Chazal tell us (Gemara Shabbos daf 118), “Whoever keeps Shabbos properly, even if he worshipped idols like in Enosh’s generation, he will be forgiven.” This is astounding! The power of Shabbos is so great that it protects Jews even in the worst of times. As we sing in the Shabbos zemiros, “Ki eshmera Shabbos kel yishmeraini – since I keep (preserve) the Shabbos Hashem will watch over (preserve) me.” Or to paraphrase: more than the Jews have kept Shabbos, Shabbos has kept the Jews!

How does Shabbos reconnect us? According to Chazal, the root of the degenerate behavior of dor hamabul (that ultimately led to their destruction) which is also the root of all aveiros is bilbul hadaas – confused/scattered/upside down thinking. Since their thinking, and subsequently their actions was so upside down and inside out, the midah keneged midah consequence was that the whole world was turned upside down. If bilbul hadaas is the root of all aveiros, then the tikkun to stop destruction, reconnect to Hashem and rebuild the world is the opposite: yishuv hadaas – clarity of thinking and peace of mind.

How can one find yishuv hadaas while terrorist attacks and pernicious spiritual influences abound? If we think about the words we use to mekadesh the Shabbos on Friday night, we will have a glimpse of the answer. “Vayechulu Hashamayim vehaaretz vechol tzeva’am – and the Heavens and the earth were completed and all of their host.” According to the Midrash Rabba, while Hashem was still in the midst of creating, there was still the concept of tohu vavohu (pre-creation chaos and emptiness), and only after everything was completed and tohu vavohu erased, could the world actually be defined as “Shamayim veHaaretz”.

In other words, the point in time where the purpose of creation and its Creator became clear was on Shabbos. Shabbos, according to the Nesivos Sholom, is the root of the ultimate yishuv hadaas where we disconnect from all the outside influences and worries that cause bilbul hadaas and we can reconnect to the Creator and see clearly the purpose of Creation. To understand the power of this yishuv hadaas, ask any Jewish mother the difference in her composure two minutes before candlelighting and one minute after! Shabbos has arrived, and the stressful mundane matters of a moment ago are now irrelevant.

Teivas Noach had three levels: the upper level for people, the middle level for animals and the bottom level for waste matter. In Teivas Hashabbos, this is represented by three spiritual floors that we can gain access to, depending on our level of emunah. The bottom level is represented by keeping a halachic Shabbos or refraining from doing melachos.

The middle floor is for those for whom the Shabbos permeates their speech – “Let your speech on Shabbos be different to your speech during the week” (Gemara Shabbos 113). This could be manifest by not talking lashon hara, mundane matters or politics on Shabbos at the Shabbos table, or by being careful to compliment and not criticize those around us. In previous generations in the Diaspora, many families maintained the custom of only conversing in lashon hakodesh or Yiddish on Shabbos and not the language of the country in which they resided.

The upper level of Teivas Hashabbos is for those for whom Shabbos permeates their thoughts, which will lead to a true feeling of the pleasantness and sweetness of Shabbos. According to the Nesivos Sholom, the more we have clarity of emunah, the more accessible this level becomes to us. The three levels of Shabbos are also manifest in the three levels of the soul, the nefesh, ruach and neshamah. As we sing in Rav Aharon of Karlin’s Kah Echsof, “Hashabbos noam haneshamos vehashvii oneg haruchos veden hanefashos.”

  1. Torah = Teivas Noach

Like the Shabbos, the Torah also functions as a teivas Noach. Chazal tell us “barasi yetzer hara barasi torah tavlin – I created the yetzer hara and I created the Torah as the antidote for it” (Gemara Kiddushin daf 30). This means that the merit of learning and keeping the Torah protects from descending to the level of the dor hamabul. The Nesivos Sholom parallels the three floors in the teivah to three stages in a person’s life: youth, middle age and old age. Each stage has different nisyonos, distractions and obligations that require continuous mental adjustment. The Torah is a constant, a slice of kedushah and taharah that is incorruptible. When a person sets a fixed time for learning Torah, he is actually creating a safe place for kedushah to enter and ensure he doesn’t fall prey to impure influences. The only advice for surviving the different stages in life is to ensure one has a connection to Torah.

According to Chazal, Hashem set a condition for creating the world, that the Jewish people would keep the Torah. If not, He would return it to the state of tohu vavohu. Thus Torah also represents the power of maintaining the clarity of purpose of the world, the yishuv hadaas, and the tikkun for the tohu vavohu-like bilbul hadaas that causes physical destruction and spiritual confusion.

  1. Chesed = Teivas Noach

There was no shortage of options for the means of saving Noach, his family and the animals from the flood. Chazal tell us that Eretz Yisrael wasn’t destroyed in the flood. Hashem could have sent the Noach family and the animals to create the first biblical zoo in Yerushalayim and wait out the deluge in comfort. Instead he threw together the people and the animals in an enclosed space for a year. Noach’s family even had to share the upper floor with the birds. Just as there was no private space, there was also no private time. The family spent the entire time feeding and looking after the animals.

Why was keeping out of harm’s way not enough? As aforementioned, the teivah functioned as a tikkun to stop the spread of destruction and enable rebuilding. While the dor hamabul were idolatrous, adulterous and murderous, the point of no return occurred when the earth was full of robbery. In most criminal systems, robbery would not require a life sentence or a maximum security prison. Yet we learn out from Parshas Noach that if everyone is a thief, society cannot continue. A thieving society is no longer a society as the worldview of that society is totally self-centered. Each person is only for themselves, their needs, their desires. There is no room for others. Ultimately this leads to chaos and destruction.

Noach’s family needed to rebuild the world on different lines, a world of giving. Thus they were encapsulated in a crucible of achdus and chesed for 12 months, where they had to share space, accept everyone and live with them with all their foibles and give to others constantly. Avraham Avinu once asked Shem the son of Noach how they merited to survive the flood. The very question implies that even Noach’s tzidkus did not guarantee survival. In times of great destruction and hester panim, as we all know, the righteous are destroyed along with the wicked.

Shem answers Avraham Avinu: “We were worthy to survive by merit of constantly being involved in chesed!” Thus chesed not only protects from great destruction, it is also the ultimate tikkun to rebuild the world.

Through increasing Torah study, acts of chesed and shemiras Shabbos, we are building our own teivos to protect us from danger and confusion, and hopefully enable the ultimate tikkun of Moshiach to come. Bimheira beyameinu Amen.

The Obama Administration’s linguistic gymnastics

To hear this video and to continue to support Obama as a US Jew, is simply unfathomable.

In Melbourne, we have the NIF patrons

from simonstudio

: Martin Indyk and Ronni Kahn. I know Ronni, from doing gigs in Sydney where she worked to collect left over food. Martin Indyk, unlike Dennis Ross has shown himself on many occasions to be out of touch with reality.

In Melbourne, we have Ameinu: Ostensibly led by my friend Johnny Baker (although their web site could do with some fixing)

Of course the old Habonim, Hineni Reform, Conservative, Deconstructionist, and other left wing groups that have been around for eons, and now the all singing Shira Chadasha strain of conservadox judaism.

Watch this video and tell me if you detect any sign that the Obama administration is fair. Or, do you share my opinion that they are left-wing apologists for Muslim terrorism unless it affects their uber strategic assets.

This is a good article if you can get your hands on it.

Religious women in the combat army

I am not a Rabbi, let alone someone who ought to be making definitive statements about this issue. I sit in relative comfort in Australia with the threat of terrorism, but without the threat of survival.

It was in the last year that I discovered, via Kurd tactics, that for a Muslim to be killed by a female soldier in combat, implies that this Muslim doesn’t acquire their mythical ‘olam haba’ let alone the bevy of virgins supposedly assigned to him as a result of his death during Jihad.

I do not think the following religious girls were motivated by such, but one can think of it as burying their dead in pig skin, although our world of political correctness which would demand that women have the same right to defend Israel as the LGBT rainbow movement, ought to be more comfortable with this concept.

Accordingly, I would argue that for יחידות who have a specific היתר from their parents and רב המובהק, who would need to be an outstanding Talmid Chacham, I make no comment except that every time they succeed, they will be putting the fear of being killed by a female, firmly in the mind of the terrorist who is hell-bent on the destruction of our State and People.

This is from Yediot by Dr Ruchama Weiss and Rabbi Levi Brackman. Note: Ruchama is Reform, to my knowledge, whereas Levi is the real mccoy.

In 2010, 935 young religious women joined the IDF. In 2013, the number jumped to 1,616. Every year, the army receives more and more religious female recruits, who are not only enlisting for traditional roles in the Education Corps, but are also joining combat units.
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This new trend should not be taken for granted, given the fact that one of the main statements issued by the Chief Rabbinate Council when Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef took office was that the Rabbinate “forbids IDF enlistment in any way, continuing the tradition of the previous chief rabbis.”
Serving with Pride
A woman of combat who will find? / Yossi Yehoshua
Thought religious women skip the draft or rush to get married? Meet married women who are insisting on completing their mandatory service.

But it seems reality is stronger than halachic rulings. Meet Ornella, Sari and Hila, three religious female fighters who are convinced that despite the many difficulties, a religious girl who wishes to contribute to her people belongs in the army.
A fighting family

When 21-year-old Sari Michael of Netanya joined the Caracal Battalion in March 2013, she received surprised reactions from her close and distant surroundings. She studied at the Bar-Ilan religious girls’ school, where she says the educational staff conveyed a clear message that the best place for a young woman from the national-religious sector is national service.

Sari Michael. Serves in the Caracal Battalion (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)Sari Michael. Serves in the Caracal Battalion (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)
“I come from a fighting family,” Michael says. “My grandfather was an instructor in the Navy’s Shayetet 13 special forces unit, I have an uncle in the Givati Brigade, another uncle who is a combat medic, another relative in Intelligence Unit 8200, and they each contribute as much as they can. I have a female cousin who joined the Caracal Battalion a year before me, and when we meet on Saturdays we share our experiences from the service.”

At her parents’ request, Michael began doing national service at the Defense Ministry, but realized after several months that her goal was significant combat service. So she left and joined the IDF, where she was sent to serve in the Air Force. “I said to them, ‘I want to be a combat soldier. I want experiences.'”

‘I became more religious in the army’

She got her share of experiences at the Caracal Battalion, which mainly deals with securing the Israel-Egypt border. About two-thirds of its soldiers are women.

Asked whether she experienced any crisis following the move from convenient national service to an exhausting basic combat training, Michael replies sincerely: “There isn’t a single combat soldier who doesn’t experience a crisis, but I received support from Captain Einat Cohen, who is responsible for the enlistment of religious girls in the army. “She fought for my rights. She also gave me her personal cell phone number, and I know that even if I call her at 2am – she will pick up the phone.”
And what do you do when you have religion-related questions?

“There is the battalion rabbi, and I also consult my father. There are clear orders in the army. One of them deals with human dignity. It doesn’t matter if you’re religious or not, Jewish or Christian or Druze; you respect your fellow man and he will respect you. My friends are considerate. They don’t listen to loud music on Shabbat, but use headphones. In my unit there are many traditional people and five religious girls – which is a lot.”

As for her difficulties as an observant Jew, she says: “It’s clear that during action it’s more problematic and harder to implement, but I believe that any soldier who wants to be religious can be religious. It all depends on you, and I have actually become more religious in the army.”

This may sound strange to some soldiers, but Michael doesn’t have a hard time when she is forced to stay in the army on Shabbat. “My mother always told me that on Shabbat a person has an elation, and I enjoy Shabbat in the army. There is the Kiddush, there are prayers in the synagogue, we sit through the meals and laugh. We also have time for ourselves, and Shabbat is really good for the soul.”

‘Israel means more to me than anything’

Ornella, 21, immigrated from France a little over a year ago in order to join the IDF. Her father was born in Israel, her mother in France, and her family lives in 15th arrondissement of Paris. As there was no Jewish educational institution near her home, she studied in a public school with many Muslim students.

Ornella. Serves in the Lions of Jordan Battalion (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)Ornella. Serves in the Lions of Jordan Battalion (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)
“I am familiar with anti-Semitism,” she says. “I was the only Jewish girl in school. I didn’t hide the fact the I was Jewish and walked around with a Star of David medallion. Many of the students didn’t like it, and they were always looking for a fight.”

Asked whether she hesitated before making aliyah and joining the IDF, she replies decisively in an enchanting French accent: “I have been very Zionist ever since I was a little girl. The State of Israel means more to me than anything.”

Ornella’s brother, who also immigrated to Israel, didn’t serve in the army, so her decision to sign up for combat service raised eyebrows in her family. “It scared them. They don’t know any girls in combat service. But now I’m about to end my military training, and they are proud of me and believe that religious girls can also serve in combat roles.”

3 religious soldiers out of 80

Ornella says God helped her with the basic training difficulties. “My faith helped. As they say, ‘Think positive and things will be positive.’ If I want to, I can.”

She joined the IDF in November 2014, and began her basic training in March in the Lions of Jordan, a new infantry battalion where men and women serve side by side. Asked about her service alongside secular soldiers and how she deals with the issue of desecrating Shabbat for operational reasons, she replies: “My commanders always let me pray the morning and afternoon prayers, and let me leave the light on before I go to sleep so that I can read the Shema prayer. Although we are three religious soldiers out of 80 in the battalion, the boys know I am religious and respect me. “The Shabbat problem is less problematic right now, because I am in advanced training and we haven’t reached the line yet. But the question of desecrating Shabbat began with securing communities, when we have to travel by car. Every time I had a question, I turned to the Paratroopers’ base rabbi and he answered me. I also consult my brother.”
‘You can’t please everyone’

Hila Lev Ari, 20, from Moshav Bareket, serves in the Home Front Command’s rescue battalion. These days, she and her fellow soldier have been stationed in one of the hottest areas in Samaria. She studied in the Sha’alvim religious girls’ high school and later in Yigal Alon High School.

Hila Lev Ari. Serves in the Home Front Command’s rescue battalion (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)Hila Lev Ari. Serves in the Home Front Command’s rescue battalion (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)
She was motivated to join combat service following a terror attack in 2002, in which terrorists fired at hotels in Netanya, murdered two and injured many. She experienced the incident as a little girl, but says it changed her.

“My family wasn’t hurt, but these are the kinds of things that build you. I decided that if there was something I could do to prevent others from going through what I did, and turn the country into a safer and better place, I would devote myself to it.”

Lev Ari is an only child. “At first, my parents tried to convince me to do national service, but I realized that this is my life and that I can’t please everyone. My parents understood, and now they are proud of me.”

Naomi Chazan’s repeated nonsense

While Moshe Feiglin was shunned, and was a previous Deputy Speaker of Knesset, so is Naomi Chazan, a previous speaker of Knesset, except she is most welcome in Melbourne. Feiglin and Chazan both see the problem except Chazan’s eyes are now in the back of her head, after 20 years. She has added nothing of value or new ideas to the debate. She’s be better off making Shiva calls.

Here is her blog post from the Times of Israel.

The only comment I can make to Chazan is very simple: there was a thing called the (failed) Oslo Accords. Yasser Arafat, whose wife lives in lavish a plenty, decided he didn’t want to sign. My guess is he, like Mazen, would be dead 24 hours after they signed! They would be killed by the Hamas and its ancillary organisations. Guess what Naomi: that was 20 years ago. If Arafat had signed, do you think you would have a blog to write? My answer is perhaps surprisingly yes. The difference would be that you would be moaning and groaning about the existence of “settlements” (a euphemism for towns) only on one side of the green line, and quite comfortable with Arab Palestinian settlements on the other side, within Israel. There is no united Jerusalem. There cannot be until Chazan and her ilk stand up for democracy and INSIST that Jews have a right to pray at the Temple Mount. I’m not sure Chazan asks a Rabbi for permission or if she prays, but I’m sure she’d defend the right of a Jew to do so?

I don’t think she ever will and for that, to me, she will always be a flawed left winger like the rest of them, albeit an academic one.

Win-win is the most viable solution

by Naomi Chazan

The current spiral of violence between Israelis and Palestinians is profoundly detrimental to all involved. The passions and actions it unleashes now radiate well beyond their point of origin in Jerusalem. By its very nature, this cycle defies deep-rooted assumptions and cannot be mitigated by the institution of methods employed in the past. It requires a thorough reassessment of by-now disproven guiding assumptions and the formulation of a new, and substantially different, approach. The alternative is a regression into uncontrollable clashes which will only wreak further havoc and engender nothing but anarchy.

The biggest — and least sustainable — illusion of the Netanyahu era has been that the status quo is durable and can be maintained indefinitely. This assertion has never been acceptable to Palestinians, who continue to reject Israeli overrule and insist on the right to determine their own future. Since 1967 they have pursued this goal by almost every means conceivable: from passive resistance, popular uprisings, terror and random violence to negotiations, diplomacy and repeated appeals to the international community.

Israelis, too, have lived with the ambiguity of their own creation without really believing that it can last forever. A good portion of the population (polls still point to a majority) seek an end to the conflict through the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel; others — heavily represented in the present government — have never really given up on the dream of a greater Israel. For all, the present is merely a necessary holding operation on the road to a more permanent state down the road.

It follows, therefore, that the notion of conflict management which has guided Israeli policy in recent years is thoroughly detached both from the aspirations of the two peoples and from realities on the ground. For many Israelis it is at best a convenient default option; for Palestinians it is a daily reminder of the challenges they face. It persists because it serves the short-term interests of the Netanyahu coalition: it allows it to continue to exercise control, to contain tensions as much as possible and, above all, to defer any serious attempt to find a solution to the conflict.

The major prop in the implementation of this situation has been the threat and, when necessary, the use of force. In lulls between cycles of violence in the West Bank and Gaza, various forms of security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority or brokered understandings with the Hamas have bought periods of relative quiescence. When these have been punctured by violence, they have been met with strong-armed measures — set in motion to deter further escalation. Over the years the result has been a series of (ever-shortening and constantly rising) spurts of violent engagements.

The present round — emanating from Jerusalem but now spreading rapidly not only into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but also into the heart of Israel — is on the verge of taking on more massive proportions. Propelled by extreme religious sentiments and by deep-seated frustrations stemming from the absence of any prospects on the negotiation front, it is nevertheless characterized by a shift from a spattering of random individual acts to a steadier, more organized, increasingly frequent and broader stream of outbursts which have felled a growing number of innocent victims on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli divide.

Raw nerves and heightened emotions frame the current storm. Many Palestinians have given up hope: some (especially the youth) are unwilling to resign themselves to this condition, lashing out not only against Israeli repression but against the passivity of their elders. Hatred, despair, idealism and honor intermingle to spur on violent action. Israelis, in turn, combine fear with uncertainty, a quest for security with a desire for retribution, paranoia with pride, and no small measure of arrogance with vengeance to fuel the flames. As more people are drawn into the maelstrom by their leaders and the engaged media, rational analysis and associated policy calibration have fallen by the wayside.

Nobody has emerged untainted from the events of recent weeks. Leaders on both sides have fine-tuned mutual provocations. Incitement is rampant: in official quarters, on the streets, in the press and, most viciously, on the web’s social networks. Abu-Mazen, the self-proclaimed champion of nonviolence, has fallen unusually silent. Netanyahu has declared an all-out assault on Palestinians — once again in the name of the need to restore a semblance of calm. The Old City of Jerusalem has been cordoned off to non-resident Palestinians and an effective closure of the West Bank has been imposed — backed by a stream of additional forces on the streets and the hilltops, massive administrative detentions, an easing of restrictions on the use of live fire, stepped-up house demolitions and expanded punitive measures. This is the stuff on which more violence thrives.

If the past is any indicator, today’s spiral will eventually subside when fatigue with the present human devastation sets in. The parties will pause, take stock, reorganize and then try again — a clear signal that the force of familiar habits — however destructive — will prevail unless a different logic is designed and implemented. It is harder to disentangle entire societies from the spell of their operative truisms than perhaps anything else. But this is undoubtedly, more than anything else, what is needed at this juncture.

The starting point for such an undertaking is a cold, clear-headed, revision of working assumptions. The first — and by far the most vital — is the jettisoning of the adversarial premise of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship in favor of the rather counterintuitive yet systematically manifest understanding that the two peoples are locked in a binding symbiotic relationship. What happens on one side of the equation affects the other; a mutual dependence (too often of a destructive nature) underlies their very existence. Recent history has been replete with multiple instances of lose-lose situations.

This does not mean, however, that a win-win formula cannot be found. Acknowledgement of the mutual dependence between Israelis and Palestinians is a precondition for the resurrection of hope — that elusive ingredient so necessary for halting the inexorable pattern of ongoing confrontation. Along with hope must also come its essential corollary: a commitment to the resolution of the historical conflict between the peoples who — almost in equal numbers — reside on the land. No amount of management in the short or long-term can begin to relieve the profound animosity that exists. With the opening of a realistic, time-bound, equitable possibility of a restructuring of the relationship, it might just be possible to set out on a new course.

This is the foundation for the creation of that restraint which is so absent under present circumstances. The vehicle for its realization is a non-violence pact (to which both Abu-Mazen and Netanyahu are ostensibly committed) which could facilitate the launching of a workable diplomatic process under a reconstituted international umbrella consisting not only of the Quartet, but of regional actors as well.

This is not a pipe dream. It is an imperative that depends on the courage and conviction of true leaders and the backing of all those Israelis and Palestinians who — above all else — aspire to live normal lives and give themselves and their offspring that predictability which will enable them to survive and to thrive. It also rests on the capacity to abandon the winner-takes-all mentality that has polluted the air and replace it with an understanding that if both sides don’t benefit everybody will suffer. A studied, determined, principled reorientation is the best way to avoid further violence and avert a descent into frightful chaos. It can be put in place now. The alternative is unspeakable.

Pass this on especially to your non-Jewish friends

Actually, pass it onto J-Street, Ameinu and all the left wingers who think you can TALK to these “things”.

When the word radicalisation comes up, send this video (from memri). Ask them what Australia has to do with this savage stream of religion.

Click Here

Make no mistake my friends, this is the work of Mahmoud Abbas and his predecessors and is a direct result of the profoundly failed Oslo Accords.

So how controversial was Moshe Feiglin of Zehut?

In a previous article, I questioned why a religious zionist (modern orthodox) congregation such as Mizrachi would apparently not permit Moshe Feiglin to speak at Shalosh Seudos, prior to his main talk the next day at the Werdiger Hall. In response to some who have suggested “why don’t you ask your brother-in-law”, which is a valid question, my answer is simple: Whilst he is President of Mizrachi, and has been for many years, and from what I have witnessed has done a sterling job (I might be biased),

  • I suspect it would/should have been a committee decision
  • He may have a personal opinion which he may not wish to share
  • Simply because he is married to my sister ought not mean that my questions shouldn’t be asked in my blog
  • I don’t particularly want to put him on the spot, as he is משפחה at the end of the day

Now, Moshe Feiglin is certainly not the most controversial figure to speak in Melbourne at a Jewish Organisation. The left seem to be able to bring any and every type of anti-Jewish, questionably Zionist, type here with impunity. Ironically, the Holocaust generation, would have nothing of such people, but their tree hugging, reformulated Judaism as תיקון עולם not necessarily with the מלכות שד׳י that follows it, children are exactly those who are comfortable sitting with those who want to make Israel like “all the nations”.

Israel will never be like “all the nations”. As long as it follows the constant הלכה of והלכת בדרכיו where we are meant to emulate God, through his values, his published traits, his wishes, and his admonishments, we will share lots with many good countries, but we will depart on various issues. Indeed, this is why Jews and Judaism have survived. A Talmud that allows an Amora to say אין משיח לישראל doesn’t strike me as a Talmud that is afraid. Yes, I’m aware of the different explanations for this statement, my point being that, and not leaving it out, דרוש וקבל שכר …. listen and learn and understand and you will at least be rewarded for that.

The annual learnathon conducted in Melbourne has included people with views far more radical (of course to the left, never to the right) than Moshe Feiglin. Moshe Feiglin is above all a libertarian. I would now describe him as a radical libertarian. He has his own unique views on the crises facing Israel, and that Zionists, religious or otherwise basically abandoned him at the Werdiger Hall on Sunday night, is a blight on their Zionism.

The people happiest about such a phenomenon are the Benedict Arnold movements, Ameinu and J-Street, both of whom pander to left wing Western “sensibilities and politics” in the arcane belief that this will solve or should I say dissolve the problems.

I heard first hand what Moshe proposed, and although I was unwell and unable to attend, none of it shocked me or made me think he was a radical. We as a community need to ask ourselves some questions:

  • Is the view that the Oslo Accords are dead, and that a two state solution is not the answer, that of a Zionist heretic? Is it necessarily the view of someone who is violent? Can one be a pacifist and subscribe to the notion that there already is a Palestinian State and its name is Jordan
  • Is it anathema for someone whose Rabbi permits them to go to parts of the Temple Mount (note the Jewish Temples which preceded Al Aqsa) to be forbidden to pray! What sort of (Western) democracy is this? How do the magic words “status quo” which we see right at this minute with the lying induced violence conjure up an “Abracadabra” spell on thinking people? Why? Is it because we will lose American support? That’s the only reason I can think of. Surely thinking people would recognise that it makes no sense that a Jew cannot pray but someone from another religion can throw rocks, create fires, and destroy archeology?

Moshe Feiglin has his views. He was asked by an Arab MK when he was Deputy Speaker, and still a member of Likud, “What are the borders of Israel” and Feiglin replied quoting the Chumash, implying a wider, larger Israel. Is he not entitled to have or express such a view? The two state solution is the biggest lie we have seen. There is no partner, there is nobody serious on the other side. They are just a group of bickering tribesmen who are politically at each others throats and far away from even having a semblance of freedom.

I saw an article in the paper that was “shocked” because kids as young as 5 were shown programs about carrying guns in ISIS and their “friends”. Well, hello. Anyone who follows memri.org and I highly recommend it, will know that Palestinian Arabs have done this for decades. It is in an Australian paper because Australians have unfortunately also suffered at the hands of “radicalised ones”. Someone define what non radicalised means? Is that 1/2 Sharia or is it Australian Law?

Feiglin’s philosophy is very similar to that of many Australians. In fact, I read Prime Minister Turnbull make the same statement. There is Australian Law. There may be other legal systems. If you are uncomfortable with living in a country under an Australian legal system, then by all means go to a country that conforms with your definition of law.

Let it not be concluded that I necessarily agree with Moshe Feiglin’s views willy nilly. I’d need to read more and then form my own views. However, not allowing him to speak, is to me a great בזיון for this community which people like Isi Leibler laud as huge Zionists. Unfortunately, Leibler is long gone and doesn’t realise how that the old boat is sliding to the left more and more, while the sanguine views of the previous generation, are buried in Springvale and Lyndhurst.

If anyone felt that Feiglin said something that should preclude him from speaking, or from being granted a Visa, pray tell me why.

What made Mizrachi back flip on Moshe Zalman Feiglin’s planned talk at Shalosh Seudos?

I hear there are powerful forces that insisted that Moshe Feiglin’s talk at Mizrachi’s rather tame Shalosh Seudos, be cancelled. He was due to speak there by error or naturally. Mizrachi in Melbourne have certainly allowed right-wing revolutionaries from Ateret Cohanim to speak there, but Moshe Feiglin was cancelled. Was it because of the marxist left wing conservadox organisations like Shira Chadasha or is that Hadasha who had the Chutzpa to join the Reform and others and advertise their opposition to free speech. To them, I say go hug a tree. You will feel fulfilled. Go find a rabbi who fits your pre-defined view of Zionism and Judaism and give it a logo. Off you go. What was so damned offensive about Moshe Feiglin, someone tell me. I heard him on Friday night and knew little about him. He sounded fine to me. Are these the same dark forces that considered Rabbi Sprung too right-wing and who complain bitterly when Rabbis (for whom they have no respect) decide that certain whisky should be avoided. These are people who think they own Judaism. Guess what? They don’t. Ex nihilo is nonsense. The world was always filled with God. It was a matter for him to form a world such that והלכת בדרכיו not the ways of the humans who decide what is and is not moral, what is left and what is right.

So, I looked him up. I found this. Nothing objectionable:

Although Manhigut Yehudit is an educational organization that does not endorse political candidates, we believe that you will find Moshe Feiglin’s words at the Zehut Founding Conference to be enlightening and inspiring:

Dear Friends,

I must admit that I am very moved. I have participated in quite a few events in my life and have made quite a few speeches. But when you begin to understand the depth of the crisis and upheavals facing Israel and the world; when you understand that what we are doing here this evening is laying the foundation for the only leadership that is capable of understanding reality and thus, for dealing with it; when you understand that – you understand that tonight’s event is formative; it is an historic event.

A New Leadership Movement: From Zionism of Existence to Zionism of Destiny

Make no mistake. This is not a group of a few hundred Israelis who have decided to form another political party. What is happening here tonight is nothing less than a revolution.

Tonight, we are founding a new leadership movement for the Nation of Israel. Tonight, we are founding the only leadership that has the tools to truly deal with the approaching tsunami – from within and without!

Tonight, we are creating national leadership that will bring the State of Israel from one era: Zionism of Existence, to a completely new era: Zionism of Destiny.

The Vision: Identity, Meaning, Liberty

Everything so sorely lacking in Israeli politics can be found in this movement. First and foremost, what we have completely forgotten:

We have vision!

Our vision includes:

Loyalty to our identity

A message of meaning

A battle for liberty.

True answers can only be found within this vision:

Answers based on liberty to deal with all our current challenges: Housing, education, cost of living, health and of course security and foreign relations.

Only those who have vision and know the answer to ‘why?’ can provide the true answers to ‘how’.

Without Destiny, Existence is Endangered

Seventy years ago, the crematoria of Europe were extinguished and our Nation began to rise from the ashes. The State of Israel’s first seventy years are also about to be completed.

There is no doubt that the State of Israel is a success story. It has realized the vision of the prophets and has been the conduit for the unequaled historical miracle in which all parts of the Nation of Israel have participated.

But it is specifically the physical success that has made us vulnerable to a gnawing, paralyzing weakness that threatens all the achievements of the Return to Zion.

From a physical standpoint, we have never been greater and stronger; both economically and militarily. But internally – we have never been so weak.

Sometimes I feel that I should apologize to my children: I had so much fun growing up in this country. Israel was a country that radiated security and faith in the justice of its cause. What confusion and lowliness we are bequeathing the next generation – exactly at the most critical time!

Our parents, the generation of the War of Independence and the Six Day War, the generation of the Yom Kippur War and Entebbe, gave us a state that stood proud. They gave us a state in which a drizzle in Sderot meant that autumn was coming – not rockets coming out of the sky.

Missiles on Tel Aviv? Who would ever have thought?

Our parents gave us a state in which there was no need for security guards at the entrance to every shopping mall and train station.

They gave us a state whose existence was not questioned by any cultured person in the world.

They gave us a state in which every soldier in uniform understood what he represented and nobody dared attack him.

They gave us a state that would immediately obliterate any entity developing nuclear weapons to destroy us – with no warning, no speeches and no lobbying the Congress.

Our parents gave us a state in which every young couple could afford housing; a state that no matter what school you attended, you emerged an Israeli patriot.

They gave us a state in which little girls could play hopscotch on the corner unguarded.

A state without ‘protection’.

A state in which every Jew could walk freely – everywhere.

And what are we giving our children?

A threatened, helpless community that begs the world and the US air force for help?

A state that has lost its faith in the justice of its cause, a state that – more and more – the world considers a mistake?

A state in which young couples can only dream of owning their own home.

A state in which the schooling falls far short of our potential.

A state in which parents are forced to guard their children while they play outdoors.

A state in which personal liberties are being eroded.

The world is not exactly waiting patiently while we return to ourselves. The entire old order is crumbling before our eyes.

ISIS is replacing the Arab states.

Nuclear ayatollahs set the world agenda.

Europe is quickly becoming Moslem.

America stands by those who attempt to destroy us.

Where is the leadership of old? Leadership that would know how to present a vision and strategy in the face of the existential challenges falling upon us?

This is the new leadership that we are building today, here in Tel Aviv.

No more state that flees its message

No more state that flees its meaning and history.

Today, we are heralding the connection of all of these to the liberty of man.

Dear friends,

The era of religious and non-religious is over!

The era of Right and Left is finished!

All the ridiculous molds that divided us time and again are a thing of the past.

The Israeli young people yearn for the meaning taken from them.

They crave to dig deeply into their identity and liberty.

Israel’s young people desire leadership that will give them all these things. Leadership that will truly solve:

The housing shortage, the collapsing educational system, the high cost of living – leadership that will restore security to our streets.

We have all those gifts – and more – to give:

Housing: We know that liberty means that the land belongs to the citizens – not to the state. Land must be allotted by lottery to all army veterans in Israel.

The bureaucratic red tape must be cut and people must be allowed to build as they please on their land. And most important of all, we know that this is our Land and we should build throughout our country.

Education: We know how to truly solve the problem with education in Israel. Because we know that liberty means that we are responsible for the education of our children- not the State. The State will give vouchers to the parents of every child and the parents will decide where to redeem them.

Just imagine countless ‘boutique’ schools competing for your vouchers – just like the maternity wards compete for the social security funds that they receive for every new mother who gives birth in their hospital.

Every teacher will be a private tutor. And every student will be a king!

Cost of living: We know how to truly deal with the high cost of living and how to propel the economy forward. Simply, we must:

Open the Israeli market to competitive imports
Close the Standards Institute
Cut down the government mechanism to at least half
Nullify the tax on companies
Return the state payment for army veterans to social security
Stop funding our enemies.
War can never be over when the Israel Defense Force vocabulary does not include the word ‘victory’.

It is impossible to win when it is not clear who the enemy is (The rocket? The tunnel? Terror?)

If you cannot figure out who you are, (A Jew? An Israeli? A citizen of an amorphous state?) you will clearly not discover who your enemy is. Maybe we were sent here by the UN?

Now we can understand that a person or country that has no identity will never enjoy peace.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen: Only Zehut will bring peace!

We have the answer to the ‘why’? And thus, we can provide all the answers to the ‘how’?!

Dear friends, now it is in our hands!

The energies, the people, the clear plan and the will and preparedness to lead are all in this hall. They are in no other place and so, the responsibility is on our shoulders. We have all the tools with which to bring about a true revolution.

We have a year – not more – to reach every corner of this country.

Now friends, it is in our hands. And we have good reason to be excited at the eve of the New Year. To be excited and to thank the Creator, Who has brought us to this momentous and historic time, in which we have merited to establish leadership with vision for our Nation.

Shanah Tovah

I heard in Shule that he’s “homophobic”. Sorry, what does that mean. Does that mean that he beats up gay people or does it mean that he happens to accept Torah that the act of homosexuality is a SIN. Are the politically correct anonymous powers behind Mizrachi afraid to say the word תועבה … if so, they should join Shira Chadasha, the “Shule of Song”. Too far? Uncomfortable seats? Only for the young? Do me a favour people get a life.

Okay, so I looked for more, and found this.

While other Knesset members will ride off into the political sunset after their successors are sworn in to the parliament Tuesday, outgoing Likud MK Moshe Feiglin will go to the Party Registrar’s Office to officially create his new political home.

Feiglin left the Likud after he failed to get selected for a realistic slot on the party’s list for the new Knesset. He announced that he would form a party at an event held at the same time that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated with his party’s new candidates.

Feiglin’s faction will be called Zehut, which means identity in Hebrew. It will push for Israel to decide what it means to be a Jewish state.

Speaking at the Knesset after he received his “former MK card,” Feiglin boasted how people waited in line to pay NIS 500 to join the list of party founders that would be submitted to the registrar. He said 60 percent of the initial 500 founders were not religious and that Zehut would not be sectarian.

“Establishing Israel’s identity is the key to its future,” Feiglin said. “The loss of its identity is the problem, and returning it is the solution.”

Feiglin said he turned down offers of realistic slots on multiple party lists, preferring to sit out the current Knesset and build a new party from the bottom up.

“The Likud is not the answer to anything,” he said. “I prefer to advance my ideas on my own. My ideas attract curiosity and appreciation. I didn’t need a stage. What I want is to provide an alternative of leadership.”

Feiglin said that if MK Yair Lapid could start a new party and win 19 seats and Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon would win 10, he could win 20 in the next election, which he believes will take place soon after what he called a “Pyrrhic victory” for Netanyahu.

His political predictions proved right in the past. He wrote on Facebook ahead of the 2013 election, when Bayit Yehudi was polling 16 seats, that it would fall to eight when the Likud would warn its voters that the Left could come to power.

Zehut will be registered as soon as the Interior Ministry verifies the Israeli residence of everyone on its list of founders in accordance with the law.

Feiglin hopes the current Knesset will pass a bill allowing Jews abroad who are not citizens to join Israeli political parties.

Many secular people attended a pre-Passover toast Feiglin hosted Sunday night in Jerusalem.

Uri Noy of Petah Tikva, who was one of them, said he was surprised to see so many people not wearing kippot.

“The upheaval is really happening,” he said. “I came to Feiglin because I saw that in the [2006] Second Lebanon War, Israel did not fight back. I got turned on by him, and I’ve supported him since then.”

Noy said he was in Likud with Feiglin and he was glad they left because the Likud has not been true to its political platform that calls for keeping and settling the land of Israel.

He said there was nothing wrong with a secular Jew supporting the building of a Third Temple, noting that Zionist founder Theodore Herzl wrote in favor of it in his book Altneuland.

“Leaving the Likud is not giving up,” said Binyamin Nakonechny, a former Likud central committee member who was the first person who joined Zehut. “Feiglin has faced political setbacks throughout his career but he hasn’t given up. He has just started over.”

Okay, I can’t see anything that would cause the Marxist tree huggers to try and muzzle free speech. Then I saw he was sentenced to prison for opposing the Oslo Accords (sounds like Russia to me). Well, even the left-wing moustached types cannot say anything good about the useless 20 year old Oslo Accords. They were and are bullshit. Sorry, that is fact. Try a few stabbings to remind you. Then I thought to myself, maybe he was into religious coercion etc and I found this on wikipedia

Feiglin, responding to a report that Israel’s first permanent Arab Supreme Court judge Salim Joubran had refused to sing Israel’s national anthem, asserted Joubran: “must return his Israeli ID card and make do with the status of ‘permanent resident.’

Guess what, I agree with him. It’s a joke. The Marxist libertarian left wingers in our Jewish people are so self righteous that they don’t understand basic logic.

If someone supports a Kahane policy that doesn’t make them Kahane!

Try and get that through elementary logic.

Feiglin said:

Feiglin referred to U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden as a “diseased leper” in a 2010 op-ed column published by Israel’s third largest news outlet, Maariv.

Was he wrong? Is Obama any different? What good has Obama done for Israel except kiss the orifices of Iran since he came to power.

Then I heard he was a homophobe because:

“”Throughout history,” Feiglin explained, “from Rome to Europe in our day, the approval and spread of homosexuality presaged the decline of nations and cultures. If one reads the Torah portion ‘Noah’ – this comes as no surprise. . . .The organizers of a pride parade do not wish to gain rights. They strive to force homosexuality as a culture upon the public sphere. . . . A minority has no right to take over public assets. Let the marchers kindly go back to their individual closets. And let them do it without whining, because no one interferes with their affairs in there. Let them give up their attempts at takeovers, and leave the public sphere to normal people. . . .Feiglin added in an additional post: “I have no problem with homosexuals, most of whom are, most likely, good and talented people and no one wants to interfere in their private lives. I have a problem with homosexuality as a culture. This culture subverts the status of the family. And without the family there is no nation, and without a nation there is no civilization.”

Okay, he has no problem with what people do in their private lives, but opposes Pride parades and the creation of Pride cultures. Guess what. So do I. Does Shira Chadasha or Mizrachi embrace Parades in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I don’t tell people what to do in their bed rooms.

But then I found the answer. It’s got to be the pathetic political correctness of our good tree hugging leftists.

Feiglin is banned from entering the United Kingdom due to a decision by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, made public in March 2008, excluding Feiglin on the grounds that his presence in the country “would not be conducive to the public good.” A letter to Feiglin from the Home Office said that Smith based her decision on an assessment that his activities “foment or justify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs; seek to provoke others to terrorist acts; foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts and foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.”Feiglin responded, “Seeing that renowned terrorists like Hizbullah member Ibrahim Mousawi are welcomed in your country in open arms, I understand that your policy is aimed at encouraging and supporting terror.”

So what terrorism has Feiglin fomented. Since when do we follow anti-Semitic Britain? To all you libertarian democrats and supporters of free speech I say hang your heads in shame. There are far worse right wingers in the Likud, and Mizrachi would haven did let them in to speak, that was when old Mr Lamm ע’’ה was alive. Alas, his son, Danny obviously no longer has influence. As to my own views, I am outside Israel, but as long as he isn’t advocating terrorism (like the Muslims who advocate terrorism AND live in Australia) what is wrong with free speech? I was also gob-smacked when Australia wouldn’t allow that anti-abortion campaigner in. Unless there is something about him that I don’t know, we are heading towards totalitarian Russia, where if you have charisma, they certainly won’t let you in to talk.

This is political correctness gone mad

Remembering Shira Banky הי’’ד

To refresh memories, this unfortunate 16 year old girl was murdered because she attended a rally. It is true that the rally’s agenda was against the ethic and laws of the Torah, without any question. This is to my knowledge the position of all Orthodox Movements. I would imagine the more right-wing Conservative and Conservadox movements (such as Shira Chadasha) also share this view. Reform of course don’t believe the Torah was the word of God, dictated to Moshe, let alone the primacy of Mesora through Tannoim, Amoraim, Geonim, Rishonim and now Acharonim so it’s undoubtedly not an issue for them.

Shira Banky attended the rally to support the views of a friend. She was 16. I might not agree with Shira’s views and condemn those views with vigour, but the minute feelings translate to violence and in this case an unnecessary murder which created nothing more than more hatred for Orthodoxy, especially Ultra Orthodoxy is there anything more that Orthodox Jews can do to palpably show their distance from despicable murder which is not only against the laws of Israel, they are against the laws of the Torah. Her murderer, Mr Shlissel, is a recidivist. In my view, he should never be released and treated in a home for psychopaths. Apparently a number of Shules have performed the following to express their revulsion at murder “in the name of God”

My thanks to R’ Meir Deutsch for drawing this to my attention. Wouldn’t it be a great expression of regret if every Shule in Melbourne did the same? I call on the RCV to recommend such an action. The picture says it all.

ShiraBanky

More on Same Gender issues

There is an interesting piece in Tablet Magazine where Rabbi Benny Lau, considered a moderate by many, makes a powerful speech.

Like many, I am horrified that anyone should seek to murder another over this (or indeed any other reason except for self-defence). I wonder, though, what his speech would have been had nobody been murdered. He would have needed to “tip toe through the tulips”. Indeed, one wonders whether he would directly answer the question of whether such marches are appropriate in the Holiest City of Jerusalem? Would he approve of these at the Kotel or Har Habayis? Would he speak at a March there?

Make no mistake. I do not conjure hatred or invoke enmity against those with disposition towards the same gender. At the same time, I am completely bound to the Torah prohibition regarding the actualisation of such a disposition. That is inescapable for any Orthodox Jew. Though Rabbi Benny Lau certainly agrees with that, I think he would choose not to mention it. He would have halachic precedent to not mention it. The command to admonish is not in effect:

  1. Where one will definitely not be listened to; and
  2. Unless someone knows “the way” to admonish.

On the second point, many Acharonim say that we do not know the way to admonish any longer. That should not be equated with silence. This post is not silence. In any democracy, the only way to foster love of Torah is to teach authentic Torah according to one’s audience’s level. This is inescapable.

Ironically, Religious Zionists in Israel as opposed to Centrist/Modern Zionists around the world, are far less equipped to deal with the new generation. I have witnessed a profound lack of sophistication in their educational approach. The preponderance of attention to land over people is only partially to blame. The other part is the feeling that they need to strive to be “like” Charedim. There is no need to do so and there never has. One ought not be concerned by what cloistered enclaves choose to do or not do. That is their approach.

One does as the Torah commands, and speaks בדרכי נועם.

As Chacham Ovadya Yosef taught:

אין טעם כלל לזעוק בקריאות כל שהן כלפי מחללי שבת בפרהסיא, הנוסעים במכוניתם בשבת, שהרי בקריאות “שבת! שבת!” כנגדם לא מתקיימת מצות תוכחה, אם מפני שאינם מבינים כלל את דברי הזועק, ואם מפני שחונכו בדרך לא טובה, ועל כן לא השכילו להבין את חומרת הדבר של חילול שבת. וכל שכן אם הם אנשים יודעי תורה, ואף על פי כן הם מרשיעים ונוסעים בשבת, שבודאי אין חיוב כלל להוכיחם

The Australian Labor Party and Israel

We are in Australia. We don’t live the life of an Israeli. It was reported yesterday that the majority of Israelis were and are against the previous evacuation of Gush Katif (Aza or Gaza).

Are we, as Jews not living there going to tell them they are wrong, while we lounge in the relative comfort of Melbourne?

And so, I will confine my views to those emanating from the Australian political landscape,

I am friendly with Michael Danby, a stalwart within the Labor Party and a shining star. Mark Dreyfus or his office never respond to my communication.

At the end of the day, to talk about a two state solution as observers in Australia is complete and utter baloney, and grossly misses the point.

There is currently NO PARTNER FOR PEACE. I do not think it is necessary to justify such a fact. It is self-evident and is the view of the Israeli Government.

IF AND ONLY IF there is partner, one can begin to talk about two states.

That reality is lost in the labor party’s discussions where the left clearly hold sway.

The transparent remarks as typified by the weekly letters to the Australian Jewish News, that we should be applauding Michael (and Mark) and two others is correct, however, the suggestion that THIS is the front page news is an attempt to deflect from the primary issue. The primary issue is not about two states. It is about whether there is a partner for peace, and what the Labor party did not say.

In my opinion statements which elide this primary issue as enunciated by the elected Government of Israel are defective and deflective of reality.

I do not know what the Liberals will say, but the Greens already have shown their lying yellow colour, when their leader changed his mind a few days after being elected. The Greens are the up and comers and the most dangerous party in respect of support for the only true democracy in the region. They are the Marmara of Australia, often wearing the clothing of the mujahideen under their vegetable-derived suits.

More on the Rav Riskin Conversion issue

Rav Riskin has suggestions about making it easier for giyur because of the problem with the volumes of non Jewish Russians in Israel.

He has written these in a book. This is the way of Torah.

He has conditioned his suggestions on the agreement of other major poskim.
The information that I have is that he has not actually acted on any of his proposals with respect to Giyur, although, as I mentioned in a previous post, there are a myriad of instances where Charedi Batei Din do quicky conversions which are quite obviously based on marriage considerations!

One of the issues with Rabbi Gil Student’s post is that he doesn’t deal with the suggestions that Rav Riskin puts forward.
Instead of arguing with his suggestions some rabbis prefer to just silence him.

I’m aware that Rabbi Yoram Ullman of the Sydney Beth Din, did deal with some of the proposals, however, I was not in a state to be at his talk. If he has published a Tshuva, or anyone can encourage him to do so and pass it onto me, then I’d be obliged.

If I was Rav Riskin, I’d take my arguments to Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg and Rav Hershel Schachter (but that’s just me). If they both gave approbation to one of his suggestions, I’d accept it with 100% confidence. If they don’t then I would not. Neither of these Gedolim have an agenda (although Rav Hershel may adopt the approach of his teacher Rav Soloveitchik and be unwilling to Pasken for Israel specifically)

  

Rav Yuval Cherlo on the Rabbi Riskin controversy

[the following is an edited, summary of a talk by Rav Cherlo, from Rabbi Dr Eli Turkel and is printed here with permission]

Who is Rav Yuval Cherlo?

He speaks English. He is a Posek of note from the centrist camp, who writes Tshuvos. He is a Rosh Yeshivah in Petach Tikvah. He was a founder of the moderate Tzohar. He served in the army and attended Har Etzyon. He is considered a sound moderate religious Zionist who sits in the centre and is widely respected. He is inclusive but maintains strict fidelity to authentic Halacha.

Rav Yuval Cherlow שליט’’א

During the controversy between the politically puppeteered Chief Rabbinate about extending the tenure of Rabbi Riskin of Efrat (see here and here) Rav Cherlo made the following comments. These need to be considered seriously considering the source.

Rav Cherlow gave a 1 1/2 hour talk last night on the chief rabbinate and R Riskin.
Rav Cherlow is the head of a hesder yeshiva and very active in medical ethics on several government committees.
Enclosed is a brief (from 90 min) summary.

 

There are 2 main purposes to the Rabbinate in Israel:

1) represent the Jewish Religion to the nation; and

2) halachic decisions – involving mainly kashrut and marriage & divorce (conversion is not officially listed as being done by the rabbinic courts)
The beginning of the end of the chief rabbinate began with the fight between Rav Goren and Rav Ovadya Yosef,  which brought the chief rabbinate to an effective stand still and more of a titular position.

Today the majority of non-religious Jews have little interest in the rabbinate. The Charedim mainly want to weaken and control the rabbinate but don’t respect it. That leaves only the Dati Leumi (Religious Zionists) who potentially care.
The low point was the election of Rabbi Meltzer over Rav Ariel in the previous election. The two are not in the same ballfield with Rav Ariel a far superior candidate on all fronts, but Rabbi Meltzer won on political grounds [me: he had a deal with his old friend from Kerem B’Yavneh, Rav Yossi Efrati who was the right hand man of Rav Elyashiv, to follow the views of Rav Elyashiv ז’ל. Rabbi Meltzer used to sit not far away from me in the Beis Midrash, but he was older and in 5th year as I recall when I arrived.]
I don’t really want to talk about chief rabbis that are being prosecuted.

Rabbi David Lau the current Ashkenazi chief rabbi is extremely capable, but won’t take any controversial stand. When asked about pushing for organ transplants he says Rabbi X objects to it. In terms of influence in the country his cousin, Rabbi Benny Lau has a greater presence. Rabbi Riskin is also an inspiration to others (when the radio wants a spokeman or there is a public debate Rabbi Benny Lau or Rav Cherlow are usually chosen).

To my surprise Rav Cherlow claims that the largest public religious events in Israel are the various programs on Shavuot night!
The chief rabbinate is slowly losing all of its power. Today some 100,000 Non-Jews are Israeli citizens recognised by the Law of Return (chok hashvut) with no hope or interest in converting.

In Cyprus the wedding places are all set up for those Israelis who can’t or don’t wish to marry through the rabbinate. This is in addition to all the couples living together without formal marriage. Soon, a minority of couples living together will have been married through the Rabbinate. This obviously means that they also will not be divorced through the rabbinical courts when they separate.
Hence, conversion causes less of a problem as they marry elsewhere and being Jewish isn’t important to them. Rav Cherlow brought a story that a brother of the Rav from Ponovezh was intending to marry a non Jewess. A conversion was arranged for the woman within 3 days!

According to Israeli law only the rabbinate can give a certificate of kashrut. Presently the various badatzim (Charedi Batei Din) only claim supervision without actually stating that it is kosher. There is a movement of other local groups that will start their own kashrut supervision. There is currently a case in front of the court requesting that any Rabbi be able to give a kashrut certificate.

In general many functions of the rabbinate are being taken over by Tzohar which not only performs marriages but also organizes many events for the public.
Many of the Dati Leumi Knesset members are in parties other than bayit hayehudi (the Religious Zionist party). Many of them are willing to dissolve the rabbinate as they feel it does more harm than good. An example is Rabbi Shai Piron who is a leading member of Yesh Atid. Others are in the Likud.

What about the future: There are two options:

1) dissolve the rabbinate and have a situation similar to the US [of separation of religion and state] (however the government will still fund religious events). This will happen by law or informally over time

2) make the current Rabbinate more inclusive and serving larger elements of the population.

Rav Cherlow personally is in favor of the second option. Now, much of Israeli society is traditional. They go through the Rabbinate because it is the accepted way and they have no problems. Once the rabbinate loses its monopoly many of these will choose other options.
The rabbinate claims to have problems with R Riskin because he criticises the Rabbinate and doesn’t always follow the rules. However, many town rabbis from the charedi side do the same thing but are never criticised for their actions. In fact two sets of religious courts have recently released agunot on very controverisal and contradictory reasons.

Town rabbis officially have no retirement age – the only government workers with that rule. Recently a law was passed requiring town rabbis to prove they are healthy at the age of 75 to continue. Until now that law was a formality. Rabbi Riskin is the first town rabbi to be called in for a formal hearing!

R Cherlow says that he has many disagreements with R. Riskin. However, should the chief rabbinate decide that they have the power to say that an orthodox rule is illegitimate (not just wrong on certain issues) then that is the straw that would force Rav Cherlow to object to the entire establishment. Many town rabbis just collect a salary and don’t do anything. To take a rabbi who is an inspiration to many and throw him out because he is too liberal, is simply too much for Rav Cherlow.

Interestingly the chief rabbinate announced that they will not be swayed by public opinion. That itself is a symbol of their problem. What the people of Efrat feel is irrelevant. In the end the Dati Leumi population will vote with the feet and already the other groups have no respect for the rabbinate. That institution will be left with zero support.

Beautiful D’var Torah on Shlach

[hat tip MT]

“And [the spies] began to speak badly about the land that they had explored.” (Num. 13:32)
A dispirited discussion took place at Beit HaRav, Rav Kook’s house in Jerusalem, not long after the end of World War II. The Chief Rabbi had passed away ten years earlier; now it was his son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehudah Kook, who sat at the head of the table.
One participant at the Sabbath table had brought up a disturbing topic: the phenomenon of visitors touring Eretz Yisrael and then criticising the country after returning to their homes. These visitors complain about everything: the heat, the poverty, the backwardness, the political situation – and discourage other Jews from moving here, he lamented.
Rav Tzvi Yehudah responded by telling the following parable, one he had heard in the name of the famed Rabbi Shmuel Mohilever, the rabbi of Bialystok.
The Failed Match
There was once a wealthy man who sought the hand of a certain young lady. She was the most beautiful girl in town, and was blessed with many talents and a truly refined character. Her family was not well-off, so they were eager about a possible match with the prosperous fellow.
The young woman, however, was not interested in the match. Rich or not, the prospective suitor was known to be coarse and ill-mannered. She refused to meet with him.
The father asked her to at least meet with the young man in their home, so as not to embarrass him. After all, one meeting doesn’t obligate you to marry him! To please her father, the young woman agreed.
The following Sabbath afternoon, the fellow arrived at the house as arranged, and was warmly received by the father. Shortly afterwards, his daughter made her entrance. But her hair was uncombed, and she wore a faded, crumpled dress and shabby house slippers. Appalled at her disheveled appearance, it did not take long before the young man excused himself and made a hurried exit.
What everyone says about this girl – it’s not true, exclaimed the astonished young man to his friends. She’s hideous!
Rav Tzvi Yehudah stopped briefly, surveying the guests seated around the table. Superficially, it would appear that the brash young fellow had rejected the young woman. But in fact, it was she who had rejected him.
The same is true regarding the Land of Israel, the rabbi explained. Eretz Yisrael is a special land, only ready to accept those who are receptive to its unique spiritual qualities. The Land does not reveal its inner beauty to all who visit. Not everyone is worthy to perceive its special holiness. It may appear as if the dissatisfied visitors are the ones who reject the Land of Israel, he concluded. But in fact, it is the Land that rejects them!
A thoughtful silence pervaded the room. Those present were stunned by the parable and the rabbi’s impassioned delivery. Then one of the guests observed, Reb Tzvi Yehudah, your words are suitable for a son of your eminent father, may his memory be a blessing!
Seeing the Goodness of Jerusalem
Rav Tzvi Yehudah’s response was indeed appropriate for Rav Kook’s son. When visitors from outside the country would approach the Chief Rabbi for a blessing, Rav Kook would quote from the Book of Psalms, “May God bless you from Zion” (128:5).
Then he would ask: What exactly is this blessing from Zion? In fact, the content of the blessing is described in the continuation of the verse: “May you see the goodness of Jerusalem.”
The rabbi would explain: The verse does not say that one should merit seeing Jerusalem; but that one should merit seeing ‘the goodness of Jerusalem.’ Many people visit Jerusalem. But how many of them merit seeing the inner goodness hidden in the holy city?
And that, he concluded, is God’s special blessing from Zion.

Parshas Shelach

from Rav Motti Greenberg, Rosh Yeshivah, Kerem B’Yavneh

“We cannot rise up against the nation because it is stronger than us… And the whole nation that we saw there are very big.” [Bamidbar 13:32]. Rashi explains this to mean that the people were tall and large. However, the SHELAH brings a surprising interpretation: that the people had good traits. (This is also brought by the Kli Yakar.) However, why should the scouts want to praise the moral traits of the Canaanites, to tell us that they behave in a righteous and proper way? Evidently this is meant to imply that “the sin of the Emorites is not complete” [Bereishit 15:16], and it will be difficult for Bnei Yisrael to conquer them and take the land. And that is why the scouts added, “We were in our eyes like grasshoppers” [Bamidbar 13:33]. Not as Rashi explains, that the scouts felt as small as grasshoppers, rather that they felt the opposite of those “people with good traits,” for they were honest and good while we were like locusts and grasshoppers which come and steal away the produce of honest owners of the fields. As is written in the Talmud, “If one steals a field which is then ravaged by locusts” [Bava Kama 11 6b] he can give it back to the original owner (see the Talmud and Rashi’s commentary). Thus, the claim of the scouts was that the current residents were behaving in a proper way, and that Bnei Yisrael had come to steal their land (does this sound familiar to our ears?).

 

This claim can be countered by the words of Rabbi Yitzchak quoted by Rashi in the beginning of Bereishit. “Why did the Torah begin with Bereishit? The answer is because of the verse, ‘He told the nation about the power of His deeds, to give them the heritage of the other nations’ [Tehillim 111:6]. If the nations claim that you are robbers in that you conquered the lands of the Seven Nations, you can reply: The entire land belongs to the Holy One, Blessed be He, He created it and gives it to whomever He sees fit. When He wanted to He gave it to them, and when He wants to He takes it from them and gives it to us.”

 

At first glance, this reply is hard to understand and even sounds unjust. Every robber can use this claim, to say that the Master of the World took possession of an object and gave it to him. If this is so, how can any sense of order be maintained?

 

The answer to the above question is that the claim of Divine intervention is only valid when it is absolutely clear that the Holy One, Blessed be He, is the one who took the land from them and gave it to us. When it can be seen that we who are small and weak, a nation which was just freed from slavery, who conquered “a great and mighty people, children of giants” [Devarim 9:2], it is clear that we are not robbers, and that the Master of the World took the land from them and gave it to us. As Rachav said to the scouts sent by Yehoshua, “We have heard that G-d dried out the waters of the Red Sea before you… And what you did to the two kings of the Emorites… And we heard this and our hearts melted… For your G-d is the G-d of heaven above and of the earth below.” [Yehoshua 1:10-12].

 

In our generation too, it is impossible to deny that the hand of G-d has wrought all that has taken place. On one hand Jews were led to slaughter, but a magnificent nation was established right after the tragic events. Rabbi Amital wrote that if the world would have been destroyed and later on studied by historians in the distant future they would certainly have come to the conclusion that many hundreds of years passed between the two events, the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel.

 

A hundred years ago, when Theodor Herzl asked for help from the Pope to return to Eretz Yisrael, he replied that he could not agree to our return to the land because this was against the Xristian religion. If only we could uncover the eyes of that Pope and show him that when his successor visited our land a few months ago he placed a bouquet of flowers on Herzl’s grave – almost as if to say: You were right and we were wrong.

Support for Rabbi Riskin

I had blogged on this Here

(hat tip nb) Rav Melamed is considered one of the leading Poskim for the Chareidi Leumi group (right wing religious zionists)

 

I’m writing to update you on events surrounding the Israeli Chief Rabbinical Council’s refusal to automatically renew Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s tenure as Chief Rabbi of Efrat. As I wrote last week, Rabbi Riskin has instead been summoned for a hearing, at which the Council will examine his qualifications and credentials for continuing the work to which he has devoted his life since the very establishment of the city.

I am delighted to report that Rabbi Riskin has been blessed with an incredible groundswell of support, which testifies to the meaningful, lasting impact he has had on world Jewry. 

He has been especially touched by the solidarity and encouragement expressed in letters, emails, phone calls, tweets and facebook posts from individuals spanning the globe. 

In addition, prominent members of Knesset and Israeli government ministers, communal and spiritual leaders in Israel and the Diaspora and countless organizations have spoken and written eloquently on his behalf, demonstrating the highest levels of respect he has earned from a broad cross-section of the Jewish world. 

Below is one such article, authored by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, spiritual leader of the community of Har Bracha and a leading figure in the “Chardal” (ultra-Orthodox Zionist) community. In addition to beautifully encapsulating so much of what has been written and said over the past week, the poignancy of his heartfelt advocacy stems precisely from the fact that he holds fundamentally differing views from Rabbi Riskin on many issues. 

I invite you to read and be inspired by Rabbi Melamed’s expression of steadfast support on behalf of our beloved rabbi.

With warmest regards and Shabbat Shalom

David Katz

International Director, Ohr Torah Stone

 Op-Ed: On the Rabbi Riskin Saga:

Don’t Disqualify the Torah Scroll (from Arutz Sheva)

by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed 

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is a man who raised himself from poverty to dedicate his life to Torah and more – differences in philosophical or even halakhic approaches should not be used to disqualify one rabbi or another. 

It was recently reported that the Council of the Chief Rabbinate has expressed doubt as to whether to permit Rabbi Shlomo Riskin from staying on as chief municipal rabbi of Efrat despite recently turning 75.

The hearing ordinarily would have been nothing more than a procedural matter. But several members of the council evidently aimed to prevent Rabbi Riskin from continuing in his capacity as a result of their objections.

This, then, is the appropriate time to take a stand and praise Rabbi Riskin, a righteous, wise leader who has done extraordinary things.

Rabbi Riskin was born into a non-religious, poverty-stricken family. But from a young age, of his own free will and with the help of his grandmother, he began making his way toward the Torah and religious observance. Being a prodigy and an outstanding student, he was accepted to Harvard, the most prestigious university in the world, with a full scholarship. By choosing to study there, he would have guaranteed his professional and financial future: no door is closed to Harvard graduates.

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, a temptation that few could resist. Yet Rabbi Riskin declined the scholarship and instead made his way to Yeshiva University, which also took notice of his abilities and granted him a full scholarship.

Since then, he has dedicated his life to Torah.

As a young, gifted, and charismatic rabbi, a captivating speaker with the ability to lift up the souls of his audience and draw them near to Torah and religious observance, Rabbi Riskin earned special esteem in the United States. Successful, educated individuals also found meaning in his words of Torah and were privileged to become acquainted with Jewish tradition under his guidance. “There was truthful Torah in his mouth, and he brought many back from sin.” The future that awaited him was that of a leader of the American-Jewish community.

Yet before even turning 40, inspired by pure faith in God and His Torah, he gave up his position in the United States and made a decision to immigrate to Israel.

In so doing, he gave up what had been his main skill in his work: his command of the English language, which had brought him the success he enjoyed in the United States. True, he learned to speak Hebrew excellently. but they say that in English few can parallel his rhetorical skills. Thanks to his vision, abilities, and leadership, he was able to bring many members of his community to Israel in his wake. He established an Israeli city at the heart of whose cultural life are the study of Torah and religious observance, whose residents enjoy a high standard of living and contribute to the economic, scientific, and social development of the State of Israel.

His ‘aliyah’ to Israel was felt by hundreds, even thousands, who followed in his footsteps to new homes in Efrat and throughout Israel, while also benefiting from the enhanced religious life implicit in such a change. Never slowing, Rabbi Riskin successfully established yeshivot and educational institutions for boys and girls in Gush Etzion and Jerusalem. Drawing on incredible sources of energy, he still makes his way to all of these institutions, where he teaches, speaks, illuminates, and imparts to his students the excitement of a life centered on Torah and Judaism.

Yet when he arrived in Israel, he was guaranteed nothing. He came with little more than the shirt on his back.

Western Aliyah to Israel

Unfortunately, though we are not always aware of it, the vast majority of those who have immigrated to Israel in modern times have come from countries where Jews were subject to persecution and poverty. Immigration from Western countries, particularly the United States, is perhaps the most impressive of all.

I therefore have a deep appreciation of Rabbi Riskin as well as all other immigrants from the United States.

A Difference of Approach

There are most definitely different approaches to various issues in Jewish law. This always has been the case in Jewish discourse, whether between the sages of the Mishnah, those of the Gemara, the luminaries of Geonic Babylonia, the scholars of the medieval era, or those of the modern period. Sometimes the differences stem from people’s different characters, as with Shammai and Hillel. Other times they stem from differences in background or intellectual method. Concerning these issues, our sages said (Ḥagigah 3b), “‘Masters of assemblies’ are those scholars who sit, some in this faction and some in that, and occupy themselves with the Torah. Some say it is impure; others say it is pure. Some forbid; others permit. Some declare it invalid; others declare it valid.

Lest a person say, ‘Then how can I study the Torah?’ the verse states that all were ‘given by a single shepherd’: a single God gave them, a single leader said them, from the mouth of the Lord of all creatures, blessed is He, as is stated, ‘God stated all of these things.’ So you, too, make your ears a funnel and develop a discerning heart so that you can hear the words of those who say it is impure and the words of those who say it is pure, the words of those who forbid and the words of those who permit, the words of those who declare it invalid and the words of those who declare it valid.

American Jewry

Rabbi Riskin’s American background plays an important part in his pursuits: American Jews and immigrants from the United States stand at the forefront of the struggle with Western culture and its principles of liberalism and equality, including feminism.

Out of their faithfulness to the Torah, Rabbi Riskin and his colleagues have forged a path to contend with these major and important questions. Among American rabbis, too, there are different approaches: how much to open up and how much to close, what to bring near and what to keep distant.

Sometimes, other rabbis, including myself, prefer other solutions. Sometimes this preference stems from habits of observance to which we are devoted, sometimes from the fact that we believe a certain way is more appropriate. For the most part, these differences of opinion and practice pertain to questions of education and society, rather than to questions of practice per se. Time will tell what advantages and disadvantages each path contains. In any event, we must not seek to delegitimize Rabbi Riskin’s path, which is one of the most important approaches to religious observance in our day. 

A Whole Torah Scroll

If a single letter is missing from a Torah scroll, it is unfit for use, and the same holds true for the pan-Jewish religious world: every true Jewish scholar has a letter in the Torah, and any person who excludes one of these scholars makes his own Torah scroll unfit for use. Any offense against Rabbi Riskin’s service in the rabbinate is equivalent to the obliteration of whole sections of the Torah.

I imagine that it was only out of ignorance that the Council of the Chief Rabbinate entertained doubts with regard to Rabbi Riskin. I am confident that once they have heard a bit of his reverence, erudition, and rectitude, the majority of the members of the rabbinical council will take his side.

If, heaven forbid, they reach a contrary decision, Rabbi Riskin’s dignity will not be harmed. His standing in his community and his institutions will keep rising, and his influence will become even greater. However, the public standing of the Chief Rabbinate as the public representative of the Torah of all Jews will be weakened when it becomes known that the Torah scroll it represents is deficient and unfit.

Policy of the Chief Rabbinate

Some have argued that the Chief Rabbinate should draw a line that all rabbis must follow, and Rabbi Riskin is not following the line that was drawn concerning such issues as conversion.

True, it is desirable that the Rabbinate take a position in pressing matters of public importance-but in order to do so, it must engage in a deep, serious discussion of each of these issues, a discussion of Talmudic, medieval, and modern literature that analyzes the reality of the matter at hand in all its dimensions. In order to expedite such a discussion, rabbis who are active in the given area would have to study various books and articles ahead of time, and then the discussion of every issue would continue for at least a few whole days.

Unfortunately, today no serious discussion is held concerning any important matter, whether in the Rabbinate or in any other religious entity. For instance, when it comes to conversion, Rabbi Ḥaim Amsalem wrote a very respectable book that is deserving of discussion. True, I draw different conclusions from his, but in objecting to what he wrote most of his opponents offer worthless arguments that rely on violence such as is accepted in Haredi circles.

I must add that despite the great value of arriving at a consensual position on every issue, such a position must not come at the expense of rabbinic discretion. Even when the Great Sanhedrin held session, local courts enjoyed a certain degree of authority, because fundamentally this position is not a thin line, but a divinely sanctioned field, a field in whose scope there are different practices and approaches thanks to which the Oral Torah becomes richer and greater.

All the more so today, when there is no Great Sanhedrin that traces its authority directly to Moses, must the Rabbinate not set a rigid line that seeks to disqualify religious perspectives of substance. The lesser the standing and authority of the Chief Rabbinate, the more it must take the various perspectives into consideration in arriving at its position. This is how the rabbis of the Jewish people carried themselves in previous generations.

“One Law Shall There Be for You All”

Aside from anything else, a single law must apply to all. When the Council of the Chief Rabbinate declines to react to profound challenges to its views and its dignity on the part of rabbis belonging to the haredi stream, who violently reject its kashrut supervision and treat the chief rabbis and municipal and neighborhood rabbis with contempt, it must also act tolerantly and fondly toward rabbis such as Rabbi Riskin, who respect the Chief Rabbinate but sometimes take a different track.

In today’s reality, the Rabbinate does not go out of its way immediately to dismiss rabbis who, contrary to the rules of Jewish law, disqualify conversions performed by representatives of the Rabbinate. It continues to recognize kosher supervision services, marriages, and conversions by “rabbis” who have the gall to publicly dismiss commandments of the Torah, such as the duty to settle the Land of Israel and defend the nation of Israel through military service, or deprecate the good that God bestowed on us with the establishment of the state and denigrate those who recite the Psalms of Praise on Independence Day.

In such with today’s reality, the Rabbinate must restrain itself from taking action against a rabbi whose reverence, deeds, and erudition are greater than those Haredi “rabbis” whom it is overly careful not to slight. 

Two Views on Rabbi Riskin

It was predictable, that the hard-hitting and often “on the money” Isi Leibler would come out in full support of Rabbi Riskin. Isi, if I’m not misquoting him, is also a supporter of Rabbi Benny Lau, who is a controversial figure.

What Isi fails to notice is that Rav Soltoveitchik was a Charedi in his outlook on Torah and Mitzvos. The difference was that Rav Soltoveitchik could make a Psak (many were often contradictory for good reasons) and “take on” any Gadol BaTorah in the entire world and flatten him with his learning and brilliance. His use of the philosophical world was to broaden the understanding of Torah.

Rabbi Riskin is a very impressive man. I enjoyed his latest book immensely. One thing that was clear though that Rabbi Riskin, when in doubt, always went to seek advice from some mentors. He used to go to Rav Soltoveitchik and then to the Lubavitcher Rebbe (especially when the latter enfranchised him to work underground for Soviet Jewry).

Now, Rabbi Riskin is his own man. He is not young. He got one-off Hetterim from both Rav Soltoveitchik and the Lubavitcher Rebbe for certain activities. In his fantastic book he is clearly in awe of them, and if you asked him today whether he reached either of their ankles, he would tell you “No way in the world”. That being said, unlike another moderates like Rav Aharon Lichtenstein ז’ל, Rav Aharon actually also had a posek. That Posek was none other than Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ז’ל, a cousin of Isi’s wife, Naomi. The saintly Rav Avigdor Nevenzahl also went to discuss difficult matters with Rav Shlomo Zalman. Why? Because whilst being a Charedi, Rav Shlomo Zalman was not behoved to any politics or political machinations. He was an independent, a pure soul, who understood both Rav Aharon, and Rav Avigdor (and like Rav Elyashiv would get angry at anyone who remotely said anything negative about Rav Kook ז’ל)

I feel that Rabbi Riskin is now missing his mentors. Who isn’t? His last few more controversial steps are argued among the real students of Rav Soloveitchik, of whom I consider Rav Hershel Schachter שליט’’א, the carrier of Rav Soloveitchik’s Torah Mesora and דרך הלימוד ופסק par excellence.

Far be it from me to be one to proffer advice to Rabbi Riskin, (I don’t come to his ankles) but the one Rabbi I would go to discuss issues of grave halachic import in Israel with, is actually Rav Shlomo Zalman’s son in law, Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. He is very much attuned with the real world, as was Rav Shlomo Zalman himself. He is a wise man, very attuned to the real world, and void of politics.

I’ll close with Isi’s article, and that of Rabbi Gil Student. You decide. Regarding the Chief Rabbinate, I agree. The calibre of Rabbi is not what it should be. Rav Ovadya Yosef was recently described as מיוסף עד יוסף לא קם כיוסף where the first Yosef is R’ Yosef Caro the author of the Shulchan Aruch. I agree with this whole heartedly. Sadly, political appartchiks are now in the seat.

Indeed, reading what Rav Soltoveitchik wrote about the Chief Rabbinate, is as true now as it was 30 years ago. He was utterly opposed to the concept.

Here is Isi’s article, followed by R’ Gil Student.

The despicable effort by the haredi-controlled Chief Rabbinate to purge Rabbi Shlomo Riskin because he does not conform to their stringent halachic approach may prove to be a blessing in disguise. The anger this outrageous initiative generated could be the final straw needed to dissolve this corrupt institution, which is held in contempt by most Israelis — including, ironically most haredim.

Rabbi Riskin is one of the outstanding role models of the religious Zionist community. I am privileged to have known him for over 30 years and consider him one of the greatest and most beloved Modern Orthodox rabbis of our generation. He is also an extraordinary creator of Jewish institutions.

A student of the great Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, in 1964 Riskin became the rabbi of Manhattan’s Lincoln Square Synagogue, which he transformed into one of New York’s most successful Orthodox religious centers.

In 1984, at the peak of his career, he moved to Israel and became founding chief rabbi and a leading developer of Efrat, which is today a highly successful community.

In addition to acting as a communal rabbi, he launched the Ohr Torah Stone institutions, which include one of the best networks of Modern Orthodox schools in Israel, ranging from junior high school through to graduate programs. He also created a special program to inculcate young men with the knowledge and skills to be effective rabbis and educators throughout the Jewish world.

He displayed innovation by seeking to blend Halachah with the requirements of a modern industrial Jewish state.

He strove to upgrade the status of women and to this effect launched Midreshet Lindenbaum, a college designed to educate religious women. He also created a five-year program designed to train women to act as religious advisers paralleling rabbis. This and his efforts to address the issue of agunot (women in unwanted marriages whose husbands are unwilling or unable to grant them divorces) outraged the ultra-Orthodox.

Rabbi Riskin also had a major impact in the field of marriage, divorce and above all, conversion, where he established independent conversion courts that were bitterly challenged by the haredi establishment. Riskin considers the issue of conversion — especially related to immigrants from the former Soviet Union — as one of the greatest religious, national and societal challenges facing Israel.

He was at the forefront of efforts by the moderate Tzohar Rabbinical Council to decentralize the appointment of rabbis and provide Israelis with choices beyond the extremist ultra-Orthodox candidates appointed by the Chief Rabbinate.

When at the age of 75, Rabbi Riskin’s tenure came up for a five-year extension — an automatic procedural formality, the Chief Rabbinical Council took the unprecedented step of refusing to reappoint him. It was only due to a plea from the recently elected chief rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Aryeh Stern, that the council reluctantly agreed to interview him. He only learned about his provisional rejection from the media.

This was not merely an attempt to publicly humiliate one of the doyens of Modern Orthodoxy. It was a ploy by the ultra-Orthodox fanatics to assume unprecedented total centralized control of religious leadership and to marginalize those with different approaches.

But choosing to impose their agenda on Efrat, a bastion of national religious Zionism, is likely to backfire and the crude effort to oust Rabbi Riskin against the wishes of his community, exposes crude agenda of the Chief Rabbinate.

As far back as the Mishnah, there were robust debates in the interpretation of Halachah between the more liberal Beit Hillel and more stringent Beit Shamai schools. And this process of debating the “70 faces” of Torah ensured that a plurality of interpretations prevailed at all times. Now even the ultra-Orthodox compete among themselves to impose the most stringent interpretations of implementing Jewish laws.

This is being extended to the Diaspora with the Israeli Chief Rabbinate insisting that that conversions to Judaism by Orthodox rabbis lacking their endorsement should no longer be recognized as Jews by the government of Israel and thus ineligible for aliya.

This is outrageous and entirely beyond the jurisdiction of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. Former chief rabbis like Rabbi Isaac Herzog, Rabbi Shlomo Goren and others were outstanding religious scholars, moderate and devoted religious Zionists in stark contrast to the mediocrities and corrupt individuals who succeeded them when the haredim hijacked the Chief Rabbinate.

It is significant that the current Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau ensured his election by giving an unqualified undertaking to haredi groups that he would resist any proposed reforms relating to conversions or rabbinical administration without their prior approval.

To make matters worse, the level of corruption and scandals associated with the Chief Rabbinate reached bedrock when the former chief rabbi (whose appointment was orchestrated by the haredim to block a national religious candidate of genuine stature) was arrested and charged with purloining millions of dollars from illegal activities and corrupt practices.

Not surprisingly, the attempts to humiliate Rabbi Riskin created enormous outrage. The Tzohar Rabbinical Association stated that “above any effort to depose Rabbi Riskin flies a clear red flag of revenge directed against his positions and halachic decisions” and accused the rabbinical council of initiating this solely “for political considerations and to enable them to appoint insiders in his place.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the religious Zionist Habayit Hayehudi party, stated that the Chief Rabbinate was behaving in an “unacceptable” manner and that he would not stand by and permit this.

Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky, described Riskin as “a Jewish leader and an Israeli patriot,” insisting that there can be “no questions about his qualifications for his continued service.”

The Efrat municipal council unanimously voted to extend the rabbi’s tenure and condemned the intervention. Rabbi Riskin made it clear that if necessary, he would appeal to the Supreme Court but that so long as the Efrat community wished to retain him, he would continue to serve them as rabbi without payment.

The abject silence of Diaspora Orthodox institutions was disappointing, encouraging Rabbi David Stav, the head of Tzohar, to call on Jewish communities in the U.S. to stop inviting Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef as their guests if the Riskin provocation is not withdrawn.

The Rabbinical Council of America, once a robust Modern Orthodox group, expressed the hope that the differences would be amicably settled. One of its executive officers, Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, actually accused Rabbi Riskin “of violating the trust of his employer and contravening the rulings of the most pre-eminent halachic authorities of this and previous generations,” alleging that “the employer had more than ample reason to maintain that his employee was not adhering to the policies and values that he was hired to uphold.” This obscene depiction of Riskin as an employee of the Chief Rabbinate reflects the distorted mentality of those currently controlling the institution.

In view of the waves of protest, there is every probability that the Chief Rabbinate will back down. But now is the time for Israelis and Orthodox Jews throughout the world to raise their voices and say enough is enough. Despite the repercussions of a division, breaking away and setting up independent religious courts directed by moderate Zionists is the only means by which to terminate the exclusive control of the haredim.

Throughout the Exile, the rabbinate never imposed centralized religious control and there was always a plurality of differing halachic interpretations. The issue is not whether we should be more or less stringent in the application of Jewish law. Any Orthodox community should be entitled to select its choice of spiritual leader. Haredim are entitled to practice their religion as they see fit. Indeed, there are aspects of their spirituality and lifestyle that our hedonistic society could benefit by emulating. But that does not provide a license to enable the most extreme elements to impose their limited worldview on Israeli society.

The Chief Rabbinate is regarded with contempt and despair by the vast majority of Israelis, including most haredim, who merely exploit the institution for their own purposes. The greatest impediment to the current religious revival is the deplorable status of the rabbinical bureaucracy, which alienates rather than attracts Israelis to their Jewish heritage. The scandalous effort to degrade one of the most beloved and successful Orthodox rabbis of our generation should be a wake-up call to introducing highly overdue, radical changes in the rabbinate.

Here is Rabbi Gil Student’s take:

If you want to know why Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is apparently being forced into retirement by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, you have to read his recent book, The Living Tree: Studies in Modern Orthodoxy. I don’t claim any insight into the complex politics of Israel’s governmental organizations, of which the Chief Rabbinate is one. I don’t know enough to understand the power struggle that is occurring. However, in terms of ideology, I see why the Chief Rabbinate Council would express concern over R. Riskin. His book is more radical than many might expect. This is not the same Rabbi Riskin you may remember from the 60’s and 70’s.

The most surprising thing about the book is what is missing from it. On multiple occasions, R. Riskin wrote programmatic essays about what Modern Orthodoxy needs to do to succeed. These were essays full of passion, exhorting both faith in God and Torah as well as devoted observance of the commandments. While the book consists almost entirely of previously published articles, these programmatic essays were replaced with a new introduction titled “What is Modern Orthodoxy?” This introduction is a call for radical change in halakhic decision-making. For example (p. xiv):

The Modern Orthodox decisor must orchestrate the interplay between both of these directives, taking into account the guiding principles used by the sages of the Talmud in their religio-legal discussions, the meta-halakhic principles such as, “for the sake of the perfection of the world,” “in order to respect the integrity of the human being created in the divine image,” “for the sake of freeing a wife chained to an impossible marriage the sages found leniency,” “in order to provide spiritual satisfaction for women,” and “you must love the stranger and the proselyte.”

If you are familiar with rabbinic literature of the past century, you will immediately recognize that these are legitimate principles that can and have been (ab)used to overturn wide swaths of Jewish law. The essays in the book provide many examples of R. Riskin’s applications of these principles. There are two things going on here. First, R. Riskin is promoting his own fairly radical agenda, as would be expected. Second, he is setting the stage for future rabbis to make even more changes to Jewish practice according to their own understanding of what is needed, regardless of what traditional texts allow.

Another troubling trend I find in this book seems to be the result of an editorial oversight. Most of the essays were written over the course of decades, as R. Riskin’s experiences and outlook changed. While the essays were edited for consistency and maybe updated a little, the conclusions were largely left intact. Here we see a troubling difference in how R. Riskin reaches conclusions. Regarding changing the daily blessing “Who has not made me a woman,” R. Riskin writes: “I would not permit even so minor a change without the approval and approbation of several leading halakhic authorities” (p. 159). While R. Riskin advocates annulling marriages, he does not plan on doing so unilaterally. Rather, “this should be effectuated by a special Beit Din for agunot in Jerusalem with impeccable halakhic credentials who would render judgments, and rule on urgent issues of mesuravot get throughout the world” (p. 188). In his call for theological interfaith dialogue with Christians, R. Riskin repeatedly invokes Rav Soloveitchik, albeit in what I believe is a twisting of his words but at least as an appeal to an eminent authority.

However, in his essay on women halakhic scholars and judges, R. Riskin does not submit his proposal to leading authorities. The most he does is quote a responsum of Rav Eliyahu Bakshi Doron, who is alive and well and could be consulted. Instead, R. Riskin started a program for ordaining women on his own. (R. Riskin writes that his program’s first two graduates published a book of responsa that “has received much praise, and — at least to my knowledge — no negative reviews” (p. 132). We published a negative review by Rav Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer to which one of the authors responded.)

When it comes to women dancing with a Torah scroll on Simchas Torah–which I acknowledge lacks the gravity of some other issues under discussion–R. Riskin likewise does not mention consulting with other scholars. When discussing establishing a Hesder yeshiva for women–a matter of great communal importance–R. Riskin also omits discussion with great authorities.

What I see is a rabbi whose agenda has become increasingly radical. Realizing that he was engaging in activities for which he would not gain approval of his elders, he stopped asking. Instead, he moved forward on his own authority. A young R. Shlomo Riskin regularly consulted with Rav Soloveitchik, Rav Moshe Feinstein and the Lubavitcher Rebbe. When they passed away, he was no longer restrained.

In America, R. Riskin was a defender of Orthodoxy against the Conservative movement and a defender of Judaism against Christian missionaries. That is not the R. Riskin you will find in this book. Maybe in Israel he found himself in a different situation which has given him a new perspective. He now has Christian supporters in his role as a defender of modernity against Charedi Judaism. Maybe he simply underwent a personal evolution.

However, this is all speculation. Regardless of why, R. Riskin has taken some communally radical actions and created surprisingly unorthodox institutions entirely on his own initiative. Some people love him for it. We should not be surprised that others believe he has gone too far on too many issues. Whether that is cause for him to be forced into retirement I leave to his employers and constituents.

Disclaimer: Isi’s son is my brother-in-law.

Hamodia’s grievous sin of G’Neivas Daas

I don’t have a subscription to Hamodia. Occasionally my wife buys it. One Erev Pesach I saw it at a shop and it looked so thick, I thought I might but it. In the worst, at least some might enjoy it.

The problem is that nothing has changed. The paper is Sheker VeChozov. It is chock full of lies and unbridled revisionism. It is a paper of indoctrination for the Oilom Goilom who follow in single file.

There was a wonderfully researched piece about R’ Yissochor Shlomo Teichtal הי’’ד whose Yohr Tzeit was around that time. I learned some interesting facts that I did not know. So far so good. Apart from his famous שאלות ותשובות משנה שכיר there were two enormous factors that made R’ Teichtal stand apart from other greats in his generation

  • Despite being probably the Talmid/Chossid Muvhak of the Munkatcher, he had not trouble saying “Rebbe, you were wrong, very wrong” about the holocaust and israel
  • He abandoned his Munkatch way of life, stayed frum and his אם הבנים שמחה which was hidden from the world by his family for decades is now a classic that everyone should read and has been translated into English.

But no. Hamodia told us everything up to that point. How could they mention the contents of that incredible ספר and the challenge it raised to the charedi establishment. So instead of reporting the truth, and teaching it the way it was from a גאון עולם a giant of the last generation, they decided “No, we won’t tell our readers that this man underwent an enormous transformation where he rejected the teaching than someone as great as the Munkatcher, and pointed out chapter and verse where he thought the Munkatcher was incorrect.

This is the problem with Hamodia and the problem with Artscroll. They have no fidelity to the truth. Artscroll in its newly published מקראות גדולות had the Chutzpa and temerity to refuse to publish words of the Rishon, the Rashbam! They censored him. Hamodia is no different. They take their stories put them through the ‘Aguda Cleaner Solution’ so that everyone can only read a sanitised lie or half truth.

There is nobody with any faults in Hamodia. Anyone who passes away was incredible, an impeccable Tzaddik.

Tell it the way it was. Stop the stupidity of banning books by R’ Nosson Kaminetszky, such as the ‘Making of a Gadol’. On the contrary, when we see that people are people and not Malochim we stand a better chance to aspire to their lofty heights.

Hamodia has created a monster: a self perpetuating ‘everything is beautiful’ monster in the frum world. It isn’t. There are pedophilles, adulterers, money launderers, fraudsters as well as the genuine article. Stop sanitising our underwear. Hamodia thinks we will be exposed to the real world and not get shocked at cattle prodding dayonim who take thousands to electrify someone till they give a gett. And they have the Chutzpa to complain about הגאון הגדול מאחיו מורי ורבי רב צבי שכטר when he invokes Rabbeinu Tam.

They talk about “off the Derech” and the “Shidduch Crisis”. Maybe they should start pursuing Emes and stop hiding behind transparent bushes.

I finished the article about R’ Teichtal and threw the paper away. I didn’t want to soil my hands with such blatant omissions which amount to ball faced lies and plain old indoctrination.

J Street: the enemy within

They are in the USA. They are in Melbourne. They would never have existed in the period where holocaust survivors made up the majority of Melbourne Jewry. Sadly, their social justice oriented, tree hugging, greens voting establishment is having a conference immediately after the democratic Israeli election; you know the one where people who actually live and die for the country actually live and have spoken.

The arm chair experts have decided they will have a conference now (great timing if you have anarchist proclivities). Now who did they invite?

Former Secretary of State James Baker who said

“F**k the Jews, they didn’t vote for us anyway.

Note “Jews” not Zionists. They are interchangeable, remember. Even R’ Yoel of Satmar was a Zionist; he just had a crooked way of looking at things according to most Rabbinic Scholars.

In 1990, Baker

barring Netanyahu from entering the State Department’s building.

Then in 20056 he write a paper that suggested that

 the US tilt its foreign policy away from Israel and towards Syria and Iran

Clearly a clever man. Perfect for J Street.

But wait there is more: J Street are inviting the Menuval Saeb Erekat, who bleated about the “massacre” in Jenin which runs a close second to 72 virgins in the minds of Muslim Disney Land.

Next time you speak to a J Street supporter in Israel, tell them to go to Auschwitz and explain their policies there.