Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Israel Matzav: Merry Christmas, "bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers"#links#links#links#links

Israel Matzav: Merry Christmas, "bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers"#links#links#links#links

Israel Matzav: Hamas-dominated 'parliament' introduces Sharia#links#links

Israel Matzav: Hamas-dominated 'parliament' introduces Sharia#links#links

Israel Matzav: About that Russian air defense system#links#links#links

Israel Matzav: About that Russian air defense system#links#links#links


Here's an image that was up on Y-net earlier today.
Yoav Guetta of Ashkelon, 10 years old, after his house was hit and partially destroyed by a Palestinian Grad missile earlier today.

This picture will never appear in the Guardian, or at the BBC. Actually, given that it's Christmas Eve, it won't appear anywhere outside Israel. Which is too bad not because of its propaganda value, but because it explains part of what will be in the news right after Christmas, when whatever retaliation Israel chooses creates good pictures of Palestinian suffering.

Israel's critics often erroneously assume the Israelis aren't aware of Palestinian suffering, and castigate them for not finding out. I don't remember ever seeing a piece of self reflection in which such a critic asks themselves if they've acquainted themselves adequately about the Israeli perspective.

There's an interesting discussion taking place in Israel these days. Rockets aimed solely at civilians are raining down on towns near Gaza, and also on towns that aren't so near (the Palestinian range is getting longer because while they're dismal failures at creating better lives for themselves, they're great at inventing ways of hurting Israelis). On the one hand you've got politicians from left and right facing elections, who are screaming for retaliatory actions against Gaza. On the other hand you've got Ehud Barak, Minister of Defense, apparently backed by many of the generals, who are wary of wielding the destructive power they've got, and who consequently appear irresolute and callous towards Yoav Guetta and hundreds of thousands of other civilians. In this argument I'm on the side of the hesitators, at least for the moment.

Not, mind you, because I think nothing can be achieved by violence and one must seek a rational accommodation with Hamas. It was only a few years ago, remember, when far worse Palestinian terror which was killing hundreds of Israeli civilians was stopped through the power of violence. The combination of killing or arresting most terrorists in the West Bank, followed by the justifiable assassinations of the top Hamas leaders in Gaza did the trick, not anything else, and certainly not sitting down to talk with the poor Palestinians.

Violence most certainly can achieve political goals, as human history consistently shows these past 5,000 years or so. Yet it must be wielded carefully, the violence: effectively, and morally. The West Bank isn't Gaza, and what worked in the one in 2002-2003 probably won't work in Gaza in 2009. We also ought not forget how a knee-jerk use of violence in Lebanon in 2006 ended badly: instead of kiling thousands of Hezbullah fighters, as we should have, we killed a few hundred, a number that was too small, along with hundreds of Lebanese civilians, a number that was vastly too large.

So if Barak (supported by Olmert, who is still Prime Minister) is carefully preparing an effective response to the Palestinian insistence on killing Israelis, I think it's worth waiting a bit if needed. Setting things up so that the Obama administration sees who's insisting on violence and who's being reluctant is also a worthy consideration. As long as sometime soon - say, in the fullness of not much time - something effective is done.

My preference would be to kill the Hamas leaders from the top down, rather than from the rank and file up. But then again, fortunately it isn't my brief.
taken from:Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (


Torat HaRav Aviner

Inspiring Torah from Rav Shlomo Aviner
From (

"...I highly suggest visiting the blog and adding it to your bookmarks. If you own your own blog or website, make sure to let your readers know about this new blog. There is very little material on it right now but it is sure to be a great resource for all those who wish to explore religious zionist thought."


Filed Under Parshat HaChodesh, Vayeshev, Weekly Parasha ·

Written by: Ashira Gailor


In Perek mem of this week’s Parsha, we find Yosef locked in a prison with Pharoah’s chief butler and chief baker. Both of these men, who had been thrown into the jail for offending the king, had dreams one night which had disturbed them. From previous experience, the charismatic Yosef knew he would be able to interpret the dreams, and invites the prisoners to explain their dreams to him. The former chief butler dreams of a grape vine with three branches growing and blossoming at a speedy rate, he then sees himself holding Pharoah’s goblet, filling it with juices and giving it to the king. The baker, on the other hand, dreams that he has three baskets full of food on his head. All of a sudden, a bird flies in and eats all of the baked goods from his baskets. Yosef informs both men that the symbolism of 3 in both dreams represents three days in which they fates would be decided and carried out. In the case of the butler, this would mean that he would be released from prison and reinstated in his job in three days’ time. The baker, however, was not as lucky-he too, would leave the prison in three days, but would not receive the same happy fate. Pharoah would hang him from a tree, and he would be left there for the birds to eat at his flesh.

When giving over his interpretation of the first dream, Yosef says to the butler:“Ki im ZICHARTANI itcha ka’asher yitav lach vi’asita na imadi chesed VIHIZKARTANI el paroh vihotzeitani min habayit hazeh” (30:14)I don’t have an Artscroll by me right now for a fancy translation, but the gist of the pasuk is that Yosef asks the butler to please remember him (”zichartani”, “hizkartani”) when he returns to work for Paroh, and put in a good word so Yosef can get out of jail, too.

However, the last pasuk of the parshah states:“Vi’lo zachar sar-hamashkim et Yosef, vayishkichehu”. The butler did not remember Yosef, he forgot him. A thought of Yosef did not even cross his mind after the incident for another two years, as we learn at the beginning of Parshat Miketz, when Pharoah has a dream that needs to be interpreted and the butler finally remembers the favour Yosef did for him all those years ago.A very interesting idea can be brought down here. When Yosef meets these two men and interprets their dreams, he has already spent ten whole years in jail. According to the midrash, each of those years was a punishment for the lashon hora he had spoken about his ten brothers (one year corresponding to each brother about whom he had spoken badly). Why would he have to wait another two years? The midrash answers he had to wait another two whole years as another punishment-one year for each time he asked the butler to remember him. (One year for having said “zichartani”, and one year for “vihizkartani”)

You’re probably wondering what could possibly have been wrong about Yosef asking the butler to “remember” him. The answer given, based on the midrash, is that Yosef should have had trusted in Hashem that everything would have worked out fine;he should not have been asking the butler to give him an “in” with Pharoah in order to ensure he would be freed. According to the Beit HaLevi, one should always believe that Hashem has planned out his destiny and will carry it out appropriately, and in a manner that suits our best interests. As can be seen from the two prisoners, we can never truly know what our fate is, regardless of the circumstances from which they develop. Both the butler and the baker were thrown into jail for the same reason, yet the outcomes they faced were polar opposites. Hashem always has a plan for us, and no matter which way it goes, negatively or positively, we have no way to know what it is. All we can do is keep our bitachon (trust) steadfast and know that everything will ultimately work out for the best, as Yosef should have done in this instance.

Rav Soloveitchik illuminates a slightly different dimension to this idea. When asked what would have happened had Yosef merely asked once, instead of saying Yosef would have been in jail for one year extra on top of the obligatory ten, The Rav answered that Yosef would have been freed that year, without any extra years added to his sentence. Although it appears this statement contradicts the aforementioned concept of Yosef being punished for his lack of trust in Hashem, Rav Soloveitchik continues to explain that (contrary to the idea brought down in the Beit HaLevi), one can not merely trust that Hashem will fix everything for us and not put in any effort ourselves. We must do what we can to help ourselves, while trusting in Hashem that things will pan out. According to this idea, it would have been fine, even proper for Yosef to try make an attempt to get help from the butler to get out of prison-that would be his personal hishtadlut (effort) in the matter, but then he would have to rely on his bitachon (trust) in Hashem to take care of the would have been demonstrated by not reiterating his request.

The lesson that we learn from Yosef is that it’s essential to have bitachon in Hashem and the plan that he has for our lives..but crucial not to forget to put in our own hishtadlut and make his plan pan out. May we all be zoche to find the balance between the two!!

Shabat Shalom
taken from


Written by: Nathan Light

In this week’s Torah portion, we come across the story of Joseph and his descent into Egypt. Before being sold as a slave, Joseph was thrown into a pit by his brothers and the Torah depicts this event as follows: “…they cast him into the pit; and the pit was empty, no water was in it” [Genesis: 37: 24] Of course, if “the pit was empty”, it would be obvious that “no water was in it”! Why the redundancy?

The Talmud (a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs and history) answers that something is being hinted at within the verse. The Torah was trying to say that indeed “no water was in it” but there was something else in it: Snakes and scorpions. [Tractate Shabbos Page 22a].

This teaching is found in a very peculiar location within the Talmud. This specific section of the Talmud doesn’t discuss the story of Joseph what so ever, rather it discusses an entirely different topic: The holiday of Channukah. Unlike most of the other Jewish holidays, Channukah pretty much lacks a well-known text that illustrates its historical background. One of the only places that Channukah is spoken of in Jewish literature is in this very section of the Talmud. It starts off with a short historical description of what happened on that particular day and then goes on to discuss the different laws that pertain to celebrating the holiday in our time.In the middle of teaching these laws, the Talmud all of a sudden seems to take a break from discussing the topic Channukah! Out of nowhere it discusses the very verse in this weeks parsha (mentioned above) along with its explanation of “no water was in it”. This is extremely strange! Why does the Talmud deviate from it’s discussion and what in the world does the meaning of our verse have to do with the holiday of Channukah!?

Firstly, it’s important to define precisely where in the discussion of the Talmud does this digression arise. Within the laws of lighting the Channukah candles, the Talmud says that if the candles are placed too high above ground we have not properly fulfilled our obligation in lighting them. Immediately after this comes the “deviation” of our verse along with its explanation. After this the Talmud returns to its topic of the Channukah candles, and goes on to say that it’s best to place the Channukah candles by the doorstep of our homes. So, what intrinsic connection exists between our verse and the laws describing the placement of the Channukah candles?

Briefly, the main part of the story of Channukah describes how the Jews returned to the Holy temple after defeating the Greek army (we were under the Greek exile at the time). The temple was in shambles for it had been defiled by the Greeks, and the Jews were only able to find but one jar of oil, containing just enough oil to light the Menorah (the seven branched candelabrum of the Temple in Jerusalem) for one day only. But, as we know, God caused a miracle to occur and the Menorah remained alit for eight days.

The MaHaRaL of Prague (Rabbi Judah Loew, 1525 – 1609, an important Talmudic scholar, Jewish mystic and philosopher) explains that the miracle of the oil was only meant as a sign. Its purpose was to show the Jews that their victory over the Greek army was just as much an act of God as the miracle of the oil itself. They were meant to understand that God is responsible not only for the occurences that seem completely out of this world and above the laws of nature (i.e the miracle of the oil), but even for those occurences that appear to be brought about by man, within the laws of nature (i.e the miracle of the war).

Going back to the story of Joseph: Joseph’s descent into the pit could be viewed as the first step in the later-to-be Egyptian exile. It was after being thrown into the pit that Joseph was sold and brought to Egypt where years later his family would join him and eventually be forced into slavery for 210 years!Who knows what thoughts were plaguing Joseph after being thrown into a pit by his own brothers, his own flesh and blood! And after discovering he wasn’t alone in the pit, but was accompanied by snakes and scorpions, he must’ve imagined that death was right around the corner. But the strangest thing happened: Joseph wasn’t harmed at all!

At this point Joseph realized that everything he was experiencing was a direct manifestation of the will of God. What seemed to be a planned conspiracy by his brothers was in fact a heavenly designed pathway. (*See footnote*)This event changed Jospeh’s outlook for the rest of his life and throughout his experiences in Egypt, Joseph felt safe and secure that God was watching over his every move and no matter what occurred, he was being cared for in the best way possible.

This was not only a message for Joseph during his descent into exile, but for our entire nation in our future descents into exile:In the future we may become caught in the midst of a raging war with our enemies or find ourselves in a land that is not our own, and even though we may undergo tremendous pain and suffering and feel that the greatest gap has evolved between us and God… He is infact right by our side, doing only what’s best for us, even if we don’t see it that way.

And of course this is not only a lesson for Jewish exile, but for everything that occurs throughout our lives, in our day to day experiences. The Baal Shem Tov (Rabbi Israel son of Eliezer, the founder of Hasidic Judaism) says that not a leaf falls from a tree without God carefully guiding it. We, as Jews, are supposed to believe that God is not limited in any fashion, and controls every little aspect in each and every one of our lives.

Now we can understand how our (above mentioned) verse fits in so beautifully within the Talmudic discussion of the laws of Channukah. The Channukah candles serve as a reminder of God’s supervision and how closely He cradles us in His arms. Therefore we are taught that we are not to place the candles too high above ground, symbolizing that we shouldn’t falsely believe that God only exists in heaven and merely watches over us from up high, without any involvement in our lives.Rather, the Channukah candles should be placed at our doorstep, symbolizing that when we leave the confines of our own homes into a world filled with so much danger and darkness, we should instill ourselves with faith that even down in this world our lives are being directed by the hand of God, Who is not only watching over us, but guiding us throughout every step of the way.

Good Shabbos and Happy Channukah,

taken from
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...