What’s the Halacha Rabbi Goldstein?

Many of us read the English version of various Israeli press outlets on a daily basis. It is to be expected that some reports or articles will upset us and we will disagree with others. This morning, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein castigated the Israeli Government for tightening entry rules on account of the COVID pandemic, especially in light of the Omicron mutation, which is reportedly rife in South Africa. The article disturbed me. Not wanting to rely solely on a newspaper report, a search of the Chief Rabbi’s website, however, elicited no alternative statement.

This Israeli Government is certainly not to everyone’s taste. A veritable pastiche of political extremes, sandwiched in a central mid-riff, it is an interesting and curious example of how compromise and cooperation can function in a utilitarian manner. At the end of the day, it is the result of a rigor mortis induced by successive inability to clearly choose one direction: either Netanyahu’s Likud aggregation or that of his opponents.

The Israeli Government was voted in by Israeli citizens, most of whom are Jewish. The connection to Israel from the Diaspora is inalienable, Halacha-based and subsequently enshrined in the Law of Return. Though imbued with Halacha it does not extend to proffering a formal vote to Rabbi Goldstein or indeed to any of us “Diasporans”, who find themselves awaiting the final redemption. Indeed, traditionally, when it came to rendering formal Halacha, the great sages of our generation, such as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ז׳ל and others, avoided issuing rulings which affected the Jews of Israel and deferred to the Poskim of Eretz Yisrael.

We are free to make comments, though the wise man will always consider his or her audience lest opinion is hijacked by a political enemy who has no respect for the Jewish State.

The aftermath of the tragic murder of Eli Kay הי’’ד, where some visitors from South Africa were denied entry to Israel and forced to transgress Shabbos on account of unacceptably hyper vigilant airport officials was calamitous and inexcusable. Apparently, complaints from many, including Rabbi Goldstein, have not elicited any response from Prime Minister Bennett, himself a Shabbos observer. Silence is not acceptable. A proper review of the incident is warranted. Prime Minister Bennett needs to address this shameful and reprehensible incident.

Based on the report, Rabbi Goldstein would like the COVID protection regime of “right of re-entry” to apply to all Jews and not solely to Israeli citizens. He would like the Government to reframe its protection of Israeli society and its institutions to apply to any Jew who wishes to visit the country. If an Israeli citizen returning from South Africa, for example, is permitted to land in Israel then according to Rabbi Goldstein “any and every” Jew from South Africa should be afforded the same privilege. Rabbi Goldstein’s thesis is essentially that the right of return should be extended to a “right to visit during a pandemic”.

Despite the unbecoming bragging from then Prime Minister Netanyahu that Israel was leading the way with Vaccines and defeating the Virus, the reality is that the vaccination rate in Israel is poor when compared to other Western countries, and Vaccines remain the most potent defence against the virus. The potential for a catastrophic Omicron-based outbreak is tangible and something that needs to be considered by those who are responsible for running the country in concert with the best medical advice. Rabbi Goldstein professes to know that medical advice is that “it’s okay to allow tourists”, though he doesn’t provide a source for this advice.

Whilst Rabbi Goldstein and many of us in the Diaspora pray for the success of Israel and the health and safety of its citizens on a weekly or even daily basis, we are not responsible for running the country and we are not privy to the ability or otherwise of the Israeli Medical system to deal with an Omicron outbreak. One thing is certain: each country forges its own path trying to minimise risk to human life and does so in a very delicate balancing act.

What is the nature of the equality between Israeli citizens and Jewish tourists and their “rights” to land in Israel during a health crisis? Rabbi Goldstein refers to this as a moral issue. Is this a western-cum-egalitarian notion of morality or is this a Jewish-Halachic concept? Given that the comments emanate from the office of a Chief Rabbi, once would and should expect that the view is firmly rooted in a Halachic imperative. I do not know of any Halachic imperative or quasi Halachic morality that should lead to the conclusion that a Jew has the “same rights” as an Israeli citizen. Indeed, the Diaspora Jew doesn’t even have the designation of a Ger Toshav.

Is Judaism afraid to differentiate between different types of Jews, vis a vis the Halacha? Decidely not. Even the laws of Charity are framed in a manner that discriminates openly between Jews. If I live in Israel and have a choice between giving my last dollar to a poor man visiting from outside of Israel versus a poor man who lives in Israel, the Halacha is clear: you give the poor man who lives in your neighbourhood.

Making decisions often involves discriminating and not all discrimination is wrong. A world without discrimination is (halachically) amoral.

So what are the choices here? One extreme is to not even allow one’s own citizens to land in a country when a pandemic is threatening to grow, uncontrolled. This extreme was the one we experienced here in Australia. It resulted in some very cruel outcomes because there were no allowances for compassionate cases, which could have been handled, objectively. The Government here was trying to be “equal to all, with no exceptions” — an extreme form of nonsensical egalitarianism and a hallmark of a misdirected society. Another extreme is to open up to all citizens and Jewish tourists. A middle ground, however, the one which Rabbi Goldstein objects to, is to permit one’s own citizens until such time as it is possible to reopen. This middle ground is the one apparently being considered by the Israeli Government. Does Rabbi Goldstein truly think that if the Government had a magical way to deal with a tourist influx during a pandemic that it wouldn’t do so?

If there is a Halachic justification behind Rabbi Goldstein’s view, I’d appreciate being exposed to it.

Even if one were to agree to disagree with Rabbi Goldstein, what prompted this blog post was his other alleged comment that

“The consequences, if nothing is changed, will start to emerge over the coming months and years, because the relationship has been changed. You can’t fundamentally change the relationship between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora and then expect everything will proceed as usual”


Got Fun Avrohom! On the one hand Rabbi Goldstein appeals to the innate, intangible and God-given relationship between the Jew and the Land–Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael–to the extent that he expects equal rights between citizens and Diaspora Jews. But such a relationship is transcendent–it cannot be changed. It cannot be tainted. It cannot be lessened. It cannot be “mutilated” by a temporal pandemic. If a Jew becomes estranged from his country because he doesn’t agree with or understand a health-based decision that is designed to keep its medical institutions afloat, then the basis of his relationship was not a Divinely inspired one. Without any Divine imperative in the first place, it beggars belief that “equal landing rights in a pandemic” are some axiomatic, God-given, halachic imperative, let alone a moral one.

Malka Leifer and Extradition

There is zero tolerance for the Leifers of this world. There is great sympathy for those who have suffered under the hands of the Leifers of this world. Who would not like to see each Leifer prosecuted in a fair trial? I have blogged exasperatingly about Leifer and the situation which led up to her perpetrating and leaving, from day one.

Notwithstanding all the above, is it reasonable to imply that the Israeli Court System and its Judges are in any way inferior to the Australian Court System?  Can one rule that Israeli psychiatrists are in any way less able to make an informed judgement on Leifer’s state of mind and ability to take part in a fair trial than Australian psychiatrists? Is not any nuanced comment that ultimately reflects negatively on the Israeli judicial or medical system misplaced, and when stated by someone who was not a victim, offensive?

It is very important, for many reasons, that Leifer stand trial as soon as possible. The decision rendering her unfit, should be revisited regularly without an expiry date. Reading about ‘pressure’ on Israel over this issue leaves me with a bad taste. This is not a decision of Government. There is no Charedi judiciary, and the psychiatrists are not (all) Charedi either (seemingly).

As horrible as it is for victims and more, the pursuit must not be given up, but the notion of “applying pressure” needs to be retired. Is it really proper for Dan Andrews, a Premier of Victoria to pressure Israel? Is it right that Malcolm Turnbull or Mark Dreyfus make guarded comments?

We have full faith in the Israeli Judiciary and Medical Fraternity and look forward to Leifer facing the music, sooner than later.  Politics has no place in this domain, and should be rejected.

Taking things for granted: Trump’s advice

I am as guilty of this phenomenon as anyone. When one stops to think for a moment, these choices are the last any ‘diplomat’ would feel comfortable with.

What do

  • Jared Kushner
  • Yael Kushner
  • Jason Greenblatt, and
  • David Friedman

have in common.

  1. They are Yidden
  2. They are Frum
  3. They all work for President Trump
  4. They all work on Middle East Peace

It’s amazing and I’m not sure we stop and think about it and soberly give הכרת הטוב adequately.

If you were Abbas, you could be forgiven for thinking that things aren’t going your way. That being said, happenings, as opposed to the ineffective wait and see of Obama, and useless shuffling of John Kerry, have caused realpolitik to materialise.

  1. It is no secret that the West Bank and Gaza cannot agree to become one entity with shared policies.
  2. Gaza is now led by Yahya Sinwar, a terrorist, who is open about his alliance with Hezbollah and Iran, and his total anti-recognition of Israel is not hidden.
  3. Sinwar sat in an Israeli prison and has realised that pretending is not effective and he is best to state that he seeks the destruction of Israel, openly.
  4. The latest episode where other countries have a vote to decide against the wishes of the American people, is ridiculous. Everyone knows that unless Trump decides to place the embassy in East Jerusalem, that this policy is entirely consistent with what the left and right contend. It has no real bearing on peace.
  5. The only real thing ruled out by Trump’s move is for Jerusalem to be an ‘international‘ city. That will not occur under any Israeli Government, and I consider such a notion grossly anti Semitic.
  6. History plays no role in today’s crooked politics.
  7. Sinwar is waiting for Abbas to die. There does not appear to be a replacement. The only replacement is sitting in prison for multiple murders. He will not be released. Dahlan is a possibility but time will tell. Much will depend on the pace with which any Reform takes place in Saudi Arabia.

All these happenings appear to be consistent with an eschatological redemptive process. I find the lack of precedent for such a quartet of advisors, truly stunning. The anti Semitic elements in the State Department will be doing everything to undermine Trump.

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.

Consider sending this to your non Jewish friends who might appreciate it

(It’s also one of my all time favourite ballads 🙂

Incredible Charedi woman

(Hat tip krakower)

It won’t change overnight nor is it for everyone. Clearly she has talent to burn, but that talent can’t and shouldn’t be bottled up. The common denominator she follows Halacha and that’s the key.

Watch this Video and be inspired whether you are male or female.

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.

Conversions: Now the Israeli Bureaucracy are Poskim

[Hat tip BA]

This, from the Times of Israel by Ben Sales, is another level of conversion madness.

TEL AVIV (JTA) — In 2012, Anna Varsanyi was married in an Orthodox Jewish ceremony conducted through Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

Two years later, the Hungarian immigrant has made a life in Israel, settling with her husband in the central city of Modiin and working a desk job in a hospital. She is weeks away from having her first child.

But the baby won’t be Jewish, according to the State of Israel.

Varsanyi, 30, is the victim of an unusual bureaucratic mix-up.

Israel abounds with immigrants who are considered Jewish by the state but not by the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate under its stricter qualifications. Varsanyi is the rare case in which the opposite is true.

Born to a Jewish mother, Varsanyi meets the Chief Rabbinate’s standards for who is a Jew. But Israel claims Varsanyi isn’t Jewish because her mother converted to Christianity.

‘This woman’s basic rights are being violated, and those of her unborn child are being violated’
Varsanyi says her mother is Jewish and it was her great-grandmother who converted — in 1930.

“It’s like they tell you, ‘Come, make aliyah, you’re Jewish, you’re one of us,’” Varsanyi said, using the Hebrew word for immigration to Israel. “But when you’re already here, they say ‘You’re second-class, you’re not one of us. So you might as well leave.’ ”

Born under Hungary’s Communist regime to a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father, Varsanyi grew up barely aware of her Jewish heritage. But a growing interest in her Jewish roots led her to study Yiddish literature and culture at university and to register for a 10-day Birthright Israel trip. Next came a year abroad at the University of Haifa, where she met her Israeli future husband. After a stint working for the Jewish Agency for Israel in Budapest, she immigrated in 2011.

Varsanyi gained citizenship under the Law of Return, which requires only one Jewish grandparent for an immigrant for automatic citizenship. Varsanyi’s maternal grandfather was unambiguously Jewish.

But when Israel’s Interior Ministry saw a document concerning her great-grandmother’s conversion, they refused to register her as Jewish, claiming she was raised Christian. To be recognized as Jewish, the ministry told Varsanyi, she needed to convert.

Except Varsanyi can’t convert because she is already Jewish according to Jewish law, which doesn’t recognize conversions to other religions. The chief rabbinates of both Israel and Hungary consider Varsanyi, her mother, her grandmother and her great-grandmother to be Jewish.

“It’s hard to imagine anybody more committed to the Jewish people than someone like Anna,” said Rabbi Seth Farber, the founder of Itim, an Israeli organization that guides people with religious status issues through Israeli bureaucracy. “They’re simply not looking at the facts. This woman’s basic rights are being violated, and those of her unborn child are being violated.”

At first, the Interior Ministry’s decision had little effect. Varsanyi already had citizenship and was married, the two areas in which issues of personal religious status are most likely to cause problems.

But last year she began petitioning the ministry for a change in status, worried that her future children would not have their marriages recognized by the government.

‘If I didn’t have principles or problems I’d say let them win’
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Varsanyi said. “Why would they force me to convert when I’m Jewish? If I didn’t have principles or problems I’d say let them win. But I wouldn’t be able to face myself.”

The ministry has rebuffed her requests, claiming that her mother converted from Judaism before she was born. Varsanyi says this is not true, that it was her great-grandmother who converted.

The ministry also has refused to rely on the Chief Rabbinate’s recognition of Varsanyi as Jewish, despite a 2012 law allowing it to do so. Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabin Haddad told JTA that the ministry has asked the rabbinical court that declared Varsanyi Jewish for an explanation but has yet to receive a response.

After several rejections, Varsanyi has come to feel like the ministry’s employees “don’t give a crap.” She said she once met with a ministry official, who after reading her papers said, “I don’t know what you want because you’re not Jewish.”

“It was traumatic — I almost cried,” she said. “Like, ‘Welcome to Israel: You’re not a Jew.’ ”

Is Shlomo Sand lacking the vision of Bilaam’s donkey?

Frankly, his job as a professor lends no credence to his views. They have demonstrably been shown to be false, if he opened his eyes and just looked at Israeli society. His is the sad wish of someone who wants to assimilate because then he won’t be from the “chosen people”.

His Zayda would disown him. The most telling comment was his use of the word “occupation”. That gave it all away for me. Globalisation, my foot. If anything, the internet has strengthened my knowledge of Judaism enormously.

His inane comment is as silly as the one I saw in Rabbi Donenbaum’s booklet over Succos where someone put in a dedication (anonymous! Why? Tzidkus, humility?) because his Chavrusa has turned the internet off on his iPhone. I have a better idea. Let his Chavrusa give me his iPhone and I’ll give him one of those old Nokias. The Yetzer Hora won’t even touch him that way. Anyway, here is the article reported about Shlomo Sand. I suggest he change his name to Steve Sand?

A controversial Israeli historian has declared his wish to cease considering himself a Jew, expressing disgust at the “ethnocentricity” which he feels is the prevailing worldview among many Israelis

In an opinion piece published in the Guardian on Friday – which is an extract from his new book, How I Stopped Being a Jew — Prof. Shlomo Sand of Tel Aviv University says he has been “assimilated by law into a fictitious ethnos of persecutors and their supporters.”

“I wish to resign and cease considering myself a Jew,” he writes.

Sand asserts that Israel is “one of the most racist societies in the western world” due to its strict characterization as a Jewish state. “Racism is present to some degree everywhere, but in Israel it exists deep within the spirit of the laws,” he says.

He expresses his disillusionment with Israel dues to its continued occupation of the Palestinian territories, which he says “is leading us on the road to hell.”

Despite his scathing critique of Israel, Sand acknowledges that he is also deeply tied to the nation. “The language in which I speak, write and dream is overwhelmingly Hebrew,” he says. “When I am far from Israel, I see my street corner in Tel Aviv and look forward to the moment I can return to it… when I visit the teeming Paris bookstores, what comes to my mind is the Hebrew book week organized each year in Israel.”

Sand states his belief that the ethnic differences which have divided the world for millennia will become insignificant as the world moves more and more towards globalization. “The cultural distance between my great grandson and me will be as great or greater than that separating me from my own great grandfather,” he hypothesizes.

The Tel Aviv lecturer has long been the subject of controversy. His 2008 book “The Invention of the Jewish People” claimed that the Jews were not a nation expelled from its homeland but a religion of converts spread throughout the world. The Jewish people as an ethnic group, he asserted, was a myth created by Jewish intellectuals in the 19th century. In a 2009 sequel, “The Invention of the Land of Israel,” Sand similarly deconstructs the Jews’ historical right to that land.

Where is the sense in left wing Israeli Politics?

I just don’t get it. Even the ultra left humanitarian tree huggers of J-Street saw what happened in Gaza, and were shocked with the plan for a massive Rosh Hashana action that would have devastated all Jewry. Settlers? These were Kibbutzim in line.

We have the physics master telling us God doesn’t exist (do we believe him because he is disabled and we tend to subconsciously ascribe more genius to him as a result out of Rachmonus) Where is his cure for cancer, he could have turned to that, it might have been more useful than models that don’t seem to stand more than ten years before a better model emerges.

We have a President in his last stage, whose entire path seems to be that he “won’t repeat Bush’s mistakes”. In  pursuing this one-minded agenda he has deluded himself that he actually has friends in the Arab world and that they don’t ultimately treat him as a denier. He has failed to apply proportionality. Why doesn’t he take a prisoner from Guantanamo Bay (that he was desperate to close down) and behead him on TV. Now, that’s proportionality. A head for a head. Even the Bible doesn’t say that, so he can’t be accused of being partial. I see that civilians are killed in his bombings. Isn’t his army perfect?

He knows full well that the aged Shimon Peres, our picture/news seeking missile, that Mahmoud Abbas hasn’t got the strength or the political belief to make peace ever. Abbas just wants to go to his grave as a “great leader” like Arafat, ימ’’ש and not be shot in the head by Hamastan.

Yerusholyaim is not for sale, in the words of Mordechai Ben David, except where Arabs sell their land to the Jews and even then we are “settlers”. It’s a pejorative. Settling the City of David is a pejorative?

We buy it legally and live therein. Is there something particularly historically Arab about Silwan. Any honest historian knows the Palestinians are at best nothing to do with a long history, but an existentialism (no different to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria et al) that were “created” ex nihilo by the Turks and British. Is that some sort of Klipa that we have to honour?

No, there is only one answer, and that is a strong, unforgiving, determined, and lasting Israel. No compromise on anything. If you give an inch, they take a mile. There is no Rambam that says that the COMMENCEMENT of the ingathering of the exiles can’t preclude Moshiach.

בונים בחול ואחר כך מקדישים

Our politicians are a disgrace. No sooner than the rockets have stopped temporarily, and we are surrounded by the biggest threats since the establishment of the State and they pretend like political marionettes that they have a “peace” partner in Abu Mazen, the infamous holocaust belittler. They have no morals. Even Yair Lapid has more morals than they, and Tzippi Livni seems to have finally come to her senses.

The only way forward is the no nonsense and unambiguous approach of Naftali Bennett. Don’t like him? He’s more moderate than the Iranians, and the Qataris and all the riffraff that Obama and his side kick and delicately coiffured Kerry pretend they have respect for.

The word diplomacy needs to be rested. It has no place in the current climate. The only thing that will change the status quo is the realisation of those who want to eradicate us, that we are not budging. We are expanding on all fronts, and their time for farnarkling through multiple processes where they could have built a viable demilitarised state is running out. They must make the move. The UN is just a prostitute.

On Yom Hashoah we say “Never Again”. I wouldn’t trust those words with the left-wing in Israeli politics. The Meretz types, the opportunists and the seat piners and liners. This is no joke.

Let me say it in plain English.

They do NOT accept a Jewish State. End of Story. No Jewish State, means we have NOBODY to talk to. If you put deodorant on a stinging wound, it will still stink to high hell, and will likely also hurt. No deodorants, no more, pardon my language, it’s all bull dust. Close the doors and open them when someone normal is standing at the gate. Two State Solution? They don’t recognise one state!

If Hezbollah have a notion of starting with us, then we must not dillydally. We must ignore the world, and destroy them for their aggression in a very aggressive quick and no-nonsense all out attack. THIS is “Never Again”, not the lovely poetry and fancy speeches on Yom Hashoa.

Wake up Yidden! Stop falling for all the diplo-crap. We might be going into temporary dwellings over Succos, but those observing most of the Mitzvos of the Torah deserve quiet and solid dwellings for the rest of the year.


Issues tangential to the tragic death of Aharon Sofer ז’’ל

I have been ill with a virus, consumed with the Gaza operation and all the news surrounding it, and yet, I most certainly knew that this 23-year-old Yeshivah student, who was hiking with friends near Yad Vashem, had disappeared in the Jerusalem forest. I had read it in the Israeli papers. I read it in the Jerusalem Post, Yediot, Times of Israel and I’m sure more.

Was it a secret? No? We all knew about it, and it was on the front page over a few days.

And yet, in another example of Charedi ignition, we are exposed to a shrill article in Matzav, which not only asserts that the Israeli media ignored the disappearance, but probably did so because he was Charedi. The first point is patently false. When I first heard about it, my immediate reaction, call it a gut feeling, was that he had lost his way and was dehydrated somewhere.

This is not the first time in recent times that a Charedi kid has tragically died in avoidable circumstances. Perhaps his phone battery was low, or it was a kosher phone unable to connect to the internet for a distress signal, but not having water when you hike appears to be more common among Charedim. Aharon may have had water. I don’t know. It’s baffling.

What I do expect though is that a proper educational approach take place where Yeshivah boys are warned and re-warned, that you don’t travel without a charged phone which has a way of sending a distress signal, and you must have water with you. Will such obvious advice be splashed on the walls all around Israel’s Charedi enclaves? I don’t know. I sure hope so. If they don’t it’s questionable whether the Rabonim should be held to account according to the Din of Egla Arufa that we just layned.

No doubt, we will hear one of “God’s accountants” who says that it happened because he wasn’t in the Beis HaMedrash. I sincerely hope not. The Rebbes and Rabbonim who went to Marienbad and similar to get some Menuchas HaGuf were also not in the Beis HaMedrash, and it is entirely acceptable to take a rest and have some fun Bein Hazmanim. In Israel of course, based on the Medrash?, walking 4 cubits suffices to acquire Olam Habo! I guess according to Satmar and other Hungarians that statement is whitened out.

I’d like to turn this issue on its head, from a Melbourne perspective. Yesterday, in light of the fact that a few days had passed and he hadn’t been found, it was planned to have an evening of Tehillim in the Adass Hall. The poster was politically correct. It also mentioned that the Tehillim was for the “matzav” in Eretz Yisroel. My questions were, for the “Matzav in Eretz Yisroel” there had previously been no such poster let alone a call to the Rabbinic Council to lend their approval.

A boy of 4, Daniel, had just tragically been killed in a mortar attack. The Rabbi of Adass will not allow a Tefilla for the welfare of the soldiers of the IDF (Tefila L’Chayalei Tzahal) to be said in his Shule! The automatons follow this ruling. Yet, when a boy from Lakewood, who tragically met his demise becoming lost while hiking, the “Matzav” in Eretz Yisroel gets a sudden call up. I ask, where was the picture of little Daniel whose parents were in the midst of Shiva. Where was a call to divide the learning of Mishnayos for Daniel’s soul? There was not. You see, Daniel, wasn’t wearing a Yarmulke and his parents were Kibbutzniks so his Neshama wasn’t important enough to make a brouhaha and cause a kiddush Hashem by using this night to also divide the learning of Mishnayos.

Why do the Rabbis of Lakewood in Melbourne and those from Adass ask for support from the Rabbinic Council of Victoria (RCV) if they consider that council to be something akin to a Chabad dominated circus of ignoramuses? Let’s not kid ourselves. They have no respect for the RCV.

Let’s get serious. Matzav.com had no business making such false accusations, and the Melbourne community really shouldn’t have had to wait till after a ceasefire and when this boy Aharon tragically lost his life before attempting to organise joint ventures in “good faith.”

Perhaps my cynicism is greater than ever, but for me, every soldier, child etc who is killed is a human tragedy. Whilst the RCV had an evening of prayer (twice, I believe) and whilst some Charedim attended, most did not and would not. No, Matzav.com, the argument goes the other way, why does it take the untimely tragic death of a Lakewood boy to spur the Charedi world to organise a special night of Tehillim for the community. The answer is, I believe, that Aharon was frum. He was learning. Soldiers protecting lives and little boys killed by mortar are on a “lower madrega”, one which doesn’t call for a special gathering.

Ironically, who visited family Sofer to give them encouragement? It was the Dati Leumi mother of one of the three boys kidnapped and murdered by terrorists.

In summary, who could have a problem with an Asifa to say Tehillim for a missing kid, but to effectively make differences between frum and not yet frum is distasteful.

Let me also remind my Charedi friends that there was a soldier who went missing for days and days and was ultimately found dead. The strong rumour is that abuse when he was a child led to his untimely death. Again, I can’t remember the Charedi Lakewood or Adass communities organising, let alone getting the RCV involved, to publicise their event for that tormented soldier.

I’m sorry for those Charedim who send me unnamed comments telling me I’m fostering Sinah. People, wake up. The Sinah is perpetrated palpably not by me, but by the actions of hypocrites who love non Charedi financial support in terms of business and donations, but think we are second-rate.

Well, I don’t accept being considered a second-rate citizen: neither Rav Shach or Rav Kotler was my Rav,  and I don’t follow the anti Israel views of R’ Yoel of Satmar.

We are in Ellul. A bit more Ahavas Yisroel is needed. Tonight there was meant to be a community Avos uBanim program. Adass not only said that they aren’t participating, but they actually removed the posters advertising the event, lest one of theirs is “led astray” and sits and learns with his son in a large room with those who don’t follow the closed Hungarian Charedi world. Shame on them!

I will finish with a most sincere wish that Aharon’s parent’s are blessed with nechama, and the resultant trauma doesn’t consume their lives, בתוך שאר אבילי ציון וירושלים. I can’t even begin to imagine their pain.

The emperor with no clothes

Barack Hussein Obama is quoted here. The rhetoric is basically as useless as his attempts to  broker peace. It’s not about a ceasefire Mr Obama. It is about demilitarisation. Unless Gazastan is not demilitarised, there can never be a lull that lasts and any diplomatic efforts are futile. Why don’t you let Israel damage their infrastructure in a grander scale? It’s not because of your care for civilians. You don’t care when your drones kill Terrorists and their families. You are simply a hypocrite who started as an idealist and quickly became a back seat driver.

The facts that Obama knows this and ignores it, is a sign that Obama has never been a true friend of Israel except when it is important to his strategic Machiavellian play in the world field. He is a fraud, with a capital F. That Yidden voted this fraud in, would have to go down as one of the biggest mistakes they have ever made.

He cannot be trusted and his delay in denouncing the kidnap and murder of the three Jewish boys, is a proof, more powerful than Scientific extrapolation: there are less unknown variables.

Jews in America who don’t go on Aliya, have a very important role to play. The right-wing “Aliya at all costs” don’t understand that.

One thing I have learned, is that my “mild-mannered Islamic Alumni” all of a sudden become rabid anti-Israel haters overnight. They are also false.

Barking up the wrong tree

Instead of disarming Hamas, all we read about is the number of rockets, number of intercepts by the Iron Dome, and stress and number of near misses and trauma.


Just go in and disarm HAMAS and destroy their infrastructure. That’s the ONLY response, and the ONLY language they understand. If that sparks Hezbollah then flatten Lebanon.

Modeling faith and love

[Hat tip to Bobbie, this is from Israel Hayom]

The Fraenkel, Shaer and Yifrach families modeled for us spiritual strength and brotherly love.

By David M. Weinberg

Published in Israel Hayom, July 1, 2014.

So it turns out that the families of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach knew almost from the beginning of this ordeal that one or two of the three boys were likely to have been killed in the course of the kidnapping on June 12.

There were gunshots on the recording of the SOS call made by Gilad, which was played for the families. There were bullet casings and blood found in the burnt shell of the getaway car, and the families were told this too.

They were told that the lack of demands from the kidnappers was a sign that the boys might no longer be alive.

And yet all three families exuded optimism, faith and positive energy for 18 long days. They went before camera and after camera, reporter after reporter, concert after concert, and prayer assembly after prayer assembly, and asserted their confidence that just a bit more effort could bring a positive result. They met every youth group, every foreign diplomat, every UN assembly, every IDF commander they could, thanking everybody for their efforts, in their upbeat, affirming and unassuming way.

What amazing people! What noble people! How they raised the spirits of an entire nation; united an entire nation; comforted an entire nation!

They taught us how to harness all our temporal powers to drive towards a national goal in unison. They taught us all what it means to believe in powers greater than our own.

Perhaps the most profound thought uttered over the past three weeks was expressed by Racheli Fraenkel at the Western Wall last week. In a clip shown on Israeli television, and seen I think by just about every person in this country, Mrs. Fraenkel is approached at the Wall by a group of very young girls who want to wish her well.

Instead, Mrs. Fraenkel bends down to them and offers theological reassurance and warm wisdom. “I want you to promise me,” she softly says, “that no matter what happens, you won’t be crushed or broken. That you won’t lose faith. After all, we must remember that G-d isn’t our ‘employee.’ He doesn’t always do as we wish.”

With these crushingly humble words, Racheli Fraenkel captured the hearts of an entire nation. Her words resounded through every living room and every workplace. People repeated them, reflected upon them, debated them. Agree or disagree, nobody could deny her strength of spirit. Nobody could avoid being awestruck at her clear-sightedness; at her breathtaking display of faith within realism.

As I stood at midnight last night outside the Fraenkel home (down the street from my home in Nof Ayalon), Naftali’s uncle Yishai Fraenkel shared with me that behind the mask of embarrassed smiles and sunny demeanor we saw on our television screens, Racheli Fraenkel was being torn apart. “Inside the house, she doesn’t smile. Inside the house, inside her soul, she is dealing with a great personal burden of pain. And of course, she must simultaneously be mother to her other children. She may be a superwoman, but she has no super-natural powers. She says that she draws strength from the People of Israel; from the outpouring of care and prayer that has come from all corners of the Jewish world.”

Such modesty aside, I feel that Mrs. Fraenkel and the other five now-bereaved parents modeled for us not just indomitable personal character. They modeled for us spiritual strength; a healthy blend of religious devotion and rationality. Of this world-ness and other-world-ness. Of pragmatism and values. Of self-interest and selflessness. Of coolly calculated tactics and naturally-flowing love.

They gave Israelis a model for religious commitment, national unity and brotherly love not only in times of crisis but also in everyday life; throughout all regular seasons of our rough-and-tumble spiritual-social-political life.

For this, we are in their debt.

Guest post on the propriety or otherwise of R’ Meir Rabi’s business practices

[The post is from EK, I have asked Meir and his business partner Kalman if they have any objections= to me posting this, and the answer from Meir was no.]

Several months ago, I brought to the attention of readers of “Galus Australis” that Rabbi Meir Rabi is responsible for the appropriation of the artwork of a famous Hungarian / Israeli / Australian graphic artist: Georg Hamori. Rabbi Rabi has not responded to the specific allegations. Unfortunately, Galus Australis is in the habit of removing all comments from articles that are inconvenient to its contributors. I have included some new comments together with an updated version that incorporates updates I made before Galus Australis obliterated them.

I regard all Australian “Kosher Authorities” as being equally interested in empire building and / or financial gain. Indistinguishable and multilateral examples of this include: “Laffa Matzo” brouhaha; non-direct and non-continuous supervision of “Kosher” eateries; bogus shechita by not observing Kohanic gifts. Even so, I like Rabbi Rabi and some of his positions on Kashrut.

To put my position in perspective for the readers, as far as we know, my family originally lived in Ottoman Palestine and Egypt, India and China. Rabbi Rabi is on the right track about soft matzos. The problem is that the wheat or barley should have been observed from harvest to grinding into flour. Then the dough must be rapidly prepared to prevent fermentation and immediately baked. Worldwide, there are many soft and hard flat types of bread that contain no leaven or aerating compounds and are thoroughly baked before fermentation occurs. I agree with Isaac Balbin that there should only be one Australian Hechsher. The board that operates the hechsher must be representative of all degrees of observance and must be transparent in all its operations.

I’m keenly interested in stamp collecting. Why is this relevant? The other week I was perusing Rabbi Rabi’s It’s Kosher website and found an image of the certificate he uses for providing to manufacturers and retailers. I am reliably informed the certificate is displayed at “It’s Kosher” retailers.


The core image of the certificate is the APPROPRIATED design of the Israeli 150 Pruta stamp commemorating the “Memorial Day for the Fighters for Independence” and “The Seventh Independence Day” by the late; world famous, graphic artist George Hamori. He designed a vast number of stamps, many of which were issued by Australia and Israel. He was born in Hungary, survived the holocaust, immigrated to Israel and later moved to Australia. The Hamori family continue to live in Australia.

The Israel Post Office released this stamp on the 26 April 1955.

Records show that Israel Post had a license to produce a stamp design almost identical to the Israel State Emblem. Looking at the stamp gutter is more information. For comparison, an exact image of the Israel State Emblem is depicted. The stamp design differs to the Israel State Emblem in that the lighting angle is the opposite, the rounded base and stem of the menorah truly depicts the menorah on the Arch of Titus (not stylized as on the Emblem), the font for “Israel” is different and of course there is the addition of flames.

Fact: you or some one working for you must have acquired the image of the stamp and then used software to remove “Israel” in English and Arabic along with the denomination “150″. You should know that the Israel FLAG AND EMBLEM LAW 1949 (5709) ss(3) & (8) and possibly s5 would apply to you and what you have done. There are penalties specified by the Act.

I found this on the Kosher Ve Yosher website of Rabbi Rabi in the legal section:

“COPYRIGHT … We therefore grant permission to publish and disseminate any texts (NOT IMAGES) found in this website …without the prior written consent of Rabbi Meir Rabi.

Publishing information from this site requires:
• that it be used and presented such that it clearly pursues the same objectives as are presented on this website.
• that full credit be attributed to Kosher VeYosher or its Kosher! together with and on the same page as, the relevant texts.
• that the full internet address of the this website and the name of Rabbi Meir Gershon Rabi appear on the same page as the relevant texts. That these attributions be clearly observable on the relevant page.”

Your self-admission that you thought the copyright had expired is telling. This article provides a scholarly discussion of the Halacha in relation to appropriation.

Click to access NetanelNimme.pdf

Rabbi Rabi, I feel you are a hypocrite and have demonstrated zero respect for Mr Hamori. Using the State of Israel Emblem for the gain of your Hechsher is reprehensible. Why instead didn’t you create your own original artwork with a menorah? I feel very strongly that you need to discontinue the appropriation of Hamori’s design for the following reasons:

[1] The stamp was designed to commemorate the sacrifice of the Fighters for Independence, to establish a homeland and state for Jews and protect them in the shadow of the holocaust and earlier pogroms. It is entirely wrong that this ideal is vandalised for commercial or personal gain.

[2] Misappropriation of intellectual property: either belonging to the Hamori family or the Israel Post Office.

[3] No attribution was provided to George Hamori on the certificate.

[4] Shock to the Hamori family who might see the certificate image at an It’s Kosher certified retailer.

The Hamori family deserve an explanation and apology

Poll: One-quarter of haredi youth see themselves as Zionist

This is from Yediot.

[Note: Davidi Perl was a B’nei Akiva Shaliach, in recent years, and is quoted therein. His father is Rov of Alon Shvut. and his wife Shomit, is a real Tzadeykes, a friend of my wife]

Ultra-Orthodox youth say they have no intention of joining the IDF or national service but are proud of being Israeli citizens and have a national-patriotic worldview, according to a survey conducted ahead of the Zionist Youth Congress, which opened Monday in Gush Etzion.

The survey, commissioned by the Zionist Council in Israel, further revealed that further revealed that high school students are against Israeli concessions in Jerusalem and that if they could vote in the Knesset elections – there would be a tie between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.

The poll was conducted by the Midgam company among 501 members of Internet panel iPanel, who make up a representative national sample of the Hebrew-speaking Jewish population in the 15-18 age group.

Seventy percent of the youth see themselves as Zionist, but a breakdown according to religious definitions revealed that only 26% of haredi youth gave that answer. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they define themselves as Israelis, including 68% of the haredim.

Seventy-six percent of Jewish Israeli youth, but only 13% of haredi respondents, plan on joining the IDF.

The level of identification with the saying “it’s worthwhile dying for our country” is 6.4 on average (on a scale of 1 to 10). It is higher among the religious (7.9) and traditional (7.2) respondents than among seculars (5.4) and haredim (4.4).

If the Knesset elections were held today, and youth aged 15 to 18 were given the right to vote, 18% of them would have voted for the Likud led by Netanyahu and another 18% would have voted for the Bayit Yehudi party led by Bennett. Five percent would have supported Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and another 5% would have voted for right-wing party Otzma LeYisrael (Strength to Israel) led by former Knesset Members Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari.

Two-thirds recite Kiddush prayer

Fifty-nine percent of the survey’s respondents said they would prefer to purchase products made in Israel, 75% visited Jerusalem in the past six months (including 68% of seculars) and 16% in the past year, and 85% are against any concessions in the capital – even in return for true peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

As for high school students’ Jewish identity level, the survey found that 60% make sure or try to eat in restaurants which have a kosher certificate. Ninety-two percent of the boys were called up to read from the Torah on their bar mitzvah (including 85% of seculars), and the families of 67% of the respondents recite the Kiddush prayer on Shabbat (only 31% among the secular public). And where does the Jewish Israeli youth want to live in the future? Nearly 35% prefer central Israel, only 17% want to settle in the Negev or Galilee, 9% in Jerusalem, 5% in Judea and Samaria, 1% in Eilat and 12% abroad. Among the seculars, 41% prefer central Israel and 23% want to live abroad.
Socially involved

About two-thirds of the teenagers engaged in voluntary activity in the past, with a particularly high rate of 81% recorded in the religious sector, and some 55% volunteered in the past year outside the school system – including 73% of the religious youth, 72% of Judea and Samaria residents and 62% of girls.

Moreover, three of four teens are willing to donate money – most of them say they are ready to give 5% of their income (pocket money or salary). Among the seculars and residents of the Tel Aviv district there is a relatively small percentage of donors, and one-third of the Jewish Israeli youth are unwilling to donate any sum. Yaakov Hagoel, head of the Department for Activities in Israel and Countering anti-Semitism of the World Zionist Organization, said in response to the survey results: “The vast majority of the youth are interested in establishing a life in Israel, and this year 1,000 teens will participate in a congress filled with Zionism. Our youth is showing an interest, and we are certain that Zionism is still alive and kicking among Israel’s youth.”
Davidi Perl, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council which is hosting the congress, said that “Gush Etzion is a piece in the cultural mosaic and the place of birth of the Jewish people. The congress will be attended by hundreds of teenagers from all around the country who will get to know Gush Etzion, its story and heritage, and in addition will learn about Israeli heroism from the days of our forefathers to this day and age.”

Vote No!

I received this, and am passing it on.

Please can you take a few seconds to go on online and vote “no” to this criticism of Israel (poll at foot of article): http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/poll/2014/jan/28/communications

You will probably be aware of the controversy in recent days because of the actress Scarlett Johansson agreeing to be the advertising face of Sodastream, the manufacturer of machines for making carbonated drinks at home.

Sodastream is an Israeli company which has a manufacturing facility in Area C of the West Bank, at a site which may well become part of Israel in any peace deal. Because it operates in the West Bank it is the subject of intensive boycott campaigning by anti-Israel protesters, including protests at its store in Brighton, here in the UK. The company employs hundreds of Palestinian workers, with pay and conditions well above the Palestinian average. Their livelihoods are at stake if the boycott succeeds. You can read more about Sodastream’s operations in the West Bank here: http://forward.com/articles/170873/boycott-israel-push-against-sodastream-could-hurt/

Scarlet Johansson is also a global ambassador for Oxfam. The boycott campaigners are calling for Oxfam to drop her from this role, in line with Oxfam’s critical position towards Israel.

The Guardian website is running an unscientific online poll about whether Oxfam should break its links with Scarlett Johansson.

At the moment it is running 85% in favour of this attack on Scarlett Johansson’s links to an Israeli company.

Please can you take a few seconds to go on online and vote “no” to this criticism:http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/poll/2014/jan/28/communications

Please then forward this email to your friends and family and ask them to vote “no”.


Michael Danby’s critique of OXFAM can be seen here

Calling on the leftist intelligentsia: why only Moshiach will result in peace

I have long known about this rule of Islam and it never ceases to amaze me that “the west” remains deluded into thinking it will ever change

this is an excellent analysis and should be not only compulsory reading for all Jews, it should be compulsory reading for anyone.

I also reproduce it below from the Jerusalem Post in case the link moves.

The World From Here: Will Abbas defy Islam for peace with Israel?

by Dan Diker and Harold Rhode

“Can Israeli concessions influence the Palestinians to sign an historic peace deal that ends the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all?”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at a PLO meeting in Ramallah, October 2, 2013. Photo: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman Israel’s release of convicted Palestinian terrorists and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s reported agreement in principle to concessions in the Jordan Valley beg an important question: Can Israeli concessions influence the Palestinians to sign an historic peace deal that ends the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all?

The experience of former prime ministers Barak and Olmert with their Palestinian counterparts may be helpful in understanding that even the most far-reaching Israeli concessions have failed to end the conflict for an historically under-appreciated reason: Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas would be required to defy Islam’s view of territorial sovereignty to arrive at a compromise with Israel. In short, once Islam conquers territory, it remains Muslim forever.

Two recent historical examples illustrate the problem. Following the collapse of the ill-fated Camp David Accords in 2000, former prime minister Ehud Barak summed up his experience negotiating with former PA chairman Yasser Arafat and the PA leadership in a “tell all” interview with Israeli historian Benny Morris. Barak said, “What they [Arafat and his colleagues] want is a Palestinian state in all of Palestine….Arafat does not recognize the existence of a Jewish people or nation, only a Jewish religion.”

According to the Barak interview, “Arafat denied that any Jewish temple has ever stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and this is a microcosm of his denial of the Jews’ historical connection and claim to the Land of Israel/ Palestine, which from his point of view has been Muslim since it was conquered by Islam in 637 CE. Hence, in December 2000, Arafat refused to accept even the vague formulation proposed by former US President Bill Clinton positing Israeli sovereignty over the earth beneath the Temple Mount’s surface area.” Dennis Ross also noted in his book, A Missing Peace, that Arafat even refused to concede the ancient Jewish Western Wall to Israel.

Abbas is also “claimed” by Islam’s view of territory. As Arafat’s loyal deputy at the time, and as Arafat’s successor, Abbas similarly denied the existence of Israel’s ancient temple as recently as July 2012, telling an Israeli Arab daily, “Anyone who wants to forget the [Islamic] past [i.e., the Israelis] cannot come and claim that the [Jewish] temple is situated beneath the Haram [the Muslim shrines].”

Abbas’s dedication to Islam’s uncompromising sovereignty over Muslim territory also explains his rejection of Olmert’s equally far-reaching peace offer in 2008. Olmert would later recall in a 2009 interview Abbas’s zerosum stance on Jerusalem, saying, “I would never agree to an exclusive Muslim sovereignty over areas that are religiously important to Jews and Christians.”

Barak and Olmert’s recollections provide context to Abbas’s approach to the current negotiations with Israel. The prime ministers’ post mortems also illustrate a tenet of Islam that has been frequently overlooked by western mediators and negotiators, but which claims fealty in the Muslim world regardless of personal levels of religious observance.

Islamic jurisprudence dictates that once Muslim lands have been conquered by non-Muslims, it is prohibited for Muslims to let non-Muslims rule those lands. Muslims must ultimately reconquer them.

Professor Bernard Lewis, the preeminent western scholar of Islam and the Near East, remarks in his most recent book, Notes on a Century, regarding the view of Islam on territorial rule, “that Muslims should rule over non-Muslims is right and normal. That non-Muslims should rule over Muslims is an offense against the laws of God and nature and this is true whether in Kashmir, Palestine, Lebanon, or Cyprus.”

Lewis recalled his own visit to a local Islamic Center in Cordoba whose members are still seeking to reconvert Spanish Christians to Islam and reconquer Spain that Islam lost over 500 years ago.

If after 521 years Islam still rejects Spain as Christian, It is unsurprising that 65 years of reestablished Jewish sovereignty in Israel collide with Abbas’s refusal to accept Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. In Abbas’s view, Israel, like Spain, Lebanon, Cyprus and the other lands of the Middle East, remain Islam’s inheritance forever. If he were to concede territory to Israel, he would subject himself to the Middle Eastern concept of “eib” or humiliation and shame whereby others blame him for shaming the Palestinians, the Arab world and Islam as a whole by what is called “compromise” in the West.

Arafat claimed that he would be assassinated for signing a final peace deal with Israel. This is just as true for Abbas. As Egyptian commentator Ali Salim observed recently, “PA President Mahmoud Abbas undoubtedly knows that the minute he signs a peace deal with Israel, the Palestinian terrorist organizations will assassinate him.” Ironically perhaps, Saudi Arabia and Egypt had reportedly pushed Arafat to sign a deal with Israel in 2000. How is it possible that Arab Muslim leaders would seemingly compromise on this immutable Islamic principle that Muslim territory cannot be conceded to non-Muslims? Had he agreed to a peace deal with Israel, only Arafat personally would have been humiliated, which would not have mattered to the Saudis or the Egyptians. That is why they only pressured Arafat privately, not publicly. Otherwise Egypt and Saudi Arabia would have been shamed as well.

Peace process observers may remember a humiliated Hosni Mubarak calling Arafat “a dog” when Arafat balked at signing the Gaza Jericho agreement with Israel in Cairo in 1994.

In sum, Islam cannot permit non-Muslims to rule territories permanently that are or were once Muslim. Nevertheless, Muslims can make temporary agreements when they are weak, modeled after the agreement made by their prophet Muhammad made after his military loss at Hudaybiya in 629. Later, when Muhammad was stronger, he abrogated this agreement and defeated his enemies.

Hudaybiya therefore has ramifications, not only for Spain and Israel, as explained above, but also for other countries such as India and northwestern China which had been ruled by Muslims for centuries. Hudaybiya is equally relevant to Abbas. Like the Muslim prophet, he may agree to an interim accord due to his current weakness. But as former prime minister Barak noted in 2002, the Palestinians will always look for excuses to refrain from signing an end-of-conflict agreement.

As Israel Radio reported on December 31, 2013, Abbas now insists “all Palestinian prisoners must be released to reach an agreement.” He simply cannot agree to a permanent peace treaty that ends the conflict and all Palestinian claims and recognizes Jewish sovereignty over any part of what was British Mandatory Palestine.

Dan Diker is a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Counter Terrorism, IDC Herzelia, and a Foreign Policy Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Dr. Harold Rhode is an Islamic affairs expert.

Amazing Medrash Rabba on Moshe

Over Yom Tov, I was discussing this Medrash (9:9) with family and friends.

In one of the saddest episodes in the Torah (at least the way I read it), Moshe is pleading at the end of Haazinu to enter his beloved Land of Israel. Hashem appears implacable, despite the notion of צדיק גוזר והקב’’ה מקיים, that Hashem “listens” to Tzadikim. In an almost “teasing” twist, Hashem asks Moshe to go up and have a good look at the Land. On the one hand, it’s an expression of “this is as close as you will get”. On the other hand, psychologically, it must have made Moshe pine even more. He was so very desperate to enter the beloved promised Holy land.

The Medrash then relates that Moshe tried a clever “Talmudic” twist. He suggested to Hashem that as the Leader, the Manhig, of B’nei Yisrael, there was a decree that he could not enter the Land. Would it be acceptable to Hashem then, if Moshe decided to become an “ordinary citizen”, a veritable Talmid of the new Manhig, Yehoshua, and in that way, he could enter the land. Hashem responded that this would be okay! However, he’d need to assume the role of a Talmid. Moshe readily agreed. Standing on the left hand side of Yehoshua, like a Talmid behind his Rebbe, Moshe followed Yehoshua until Yehoshua had an interchange with the Shechina/Hashem. Moshe stood at the distance while Yehoshua spoke with Hashem. When Yehoshua had completed his “discussion” Moshe asked him what the discussion was all about. Yehoshua promptly responded that when he (Yehoshua) was the Talmid and Moshe was the Manhig/Leader, he had never been privy nor asked about the private interchanges between Moshe and the Shechina. What business/right did Moshe now have (as an ordinary Talmid) to become privy to the Godly meetings between Yehoshua and Hashem!

Moshe could not cope with this new reality, and abandoned the idea of demoting himself to being a Talmid, and as we know, Moshe passed away and was buried in an unknown location.

Tradition has it that the Tzadikim/Manhigim in each generation carry a kernel of Moshe’s Neshama into each generation, and this somewhat imbues their leadership status. Could you imagine a Rebbe who realised that his life would soon end, assign the role of Rebbe to his living son (or prime Talmid?). I am not sure if this mode of succession planning has ever taken place? Yet, Moshe, the greatest ever Prophet and Leader (who never aspired to leadership in the first place) was happy in theory for a succession plan, while he was still alive, just so that he could enter the Holy Land.

What can we derive from this?

  1. The desire to experience life in the Holy Land, was more important to Moshe than being the leader of the Jewish people!
  2. Moshe, once exposed to a high level of Godliness, could never assume a level of ordinary Dveykus with Hashem at the lower level of an ordinary Jew/Talmid (this point was made to me by an anonymous Rebbetzin)
  3. Perhaps there is some merit in the concept of succession planning after all, even when so-called Leaders are still alive, but at the end of their physical tenure?
  4. A true leader doesn’t consider his leadership mantle as his most prized possession
  5. There ought to be no Yerushah (inheritance) when one Leader passes away, and a son automatically becomes the new Leader. After all, Yehoshua was a Talmid. Moshe’s sons weren’t seemingly up for the job.

Your thoughts?

Finally, some decent Hasbara

It’s time that גאון יעקב aka the Yiddishe Kop used its creative juices to deal with the הלכה: עשיו שונא את יעקב phenomenon—we live alone—עם לבדד ישכון. I came across this youtube video last night, and I would suggest that if, like me, you felt it was effective, that you post it to your Facebook pages, and email it to colleagues and friends from the אומות העולם so that the message spreads.

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