Wednesday, 27 May 2009



By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Torah Reading: Numbers 4:21-7:89
Haftara: Judges 13:2-25


Parshas NASO, with 176 verses, is the longest parshah in the whole Torah, and the Midrashic commentaries, particularly the aggadic Midrash Rabbah, are also exceptionally lengthy. It is fitting that this parshah is usually read on the Shabbos after the festival of Shavuos celebrating the Giving of the Torah, when our love of the Torah is renewed and we receive new vigor and energy to devote ourselves to our studies. We are now enjoying the longest days of the year, and the long Summer Shabbos should give us plenty of time to explore the beautiful mysteries of this Parshah.

* * *


As noted in a number of previous commentaries, the sequence of parshahs and sections in the Torah is not always chronological, and Parshas NASO is one of the prime cases.

The opening of our parshah, dealing with the census of the Levitical families, is a direct continuation of the previous parshah, BAMIDBAR, the closing section of which started the narrative of the Levitical census. The command to Moses to conduct the census of the people was given "on the first day of the SECOND month" of the year after the Exodus (Numbers 1:1) and Moses did so forthwith. After completion in parshas NASO of the account of the census, the Torah JUMPS BACK chronologically to the first day of the FIRST month of the year after the Exodus -- the day of the inauguration of the Sanctuary.

The chronological jump is not obvious immediately. However, the section after the Levitical census deals with commandments that relate to the newly inaugurated sanctuary: sending the ritually impure out of the camp, the sacrifices of the SOTAH (the wife suspected of infidelity), and the NAZIR (who vows not to drink wine, cut his/her hair or become defiled by the dead), the priestly blessing (which was given in the courtyard outside the Sanctuary, and was instituted by Aaron on the day of its inauguration). The lengthy closing section of NASO narrates in detail the dedications and sacrificial offerings of all the Princes of the Twelve Tribes of Israel on the twelve inaugural days of the Sanctuary, starting on the 1st Nissan. Although the date is not written explicitly in our parshah, it says: "It was on the day of the completion by Moses of the erection of the Sanctuary." (Numbers 7:1). We are already familiar with this most auspicious day from our studies in Exodus and Leviticus.

The Torah continues dwelling on 1st Nissan and associated themes into the following parshah, BEHA'ALOSCHA, and there the date is given explicitly: "And G-d spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai in the second year after their going out from the Land of Egypt IN THE FIRST MONTH" (Numbers 9:1). Rashi (ad loc.) tells us that this verse indeed is the written proof that there is no "before" and "after" in the Torah.

In other words, the various parshahs and sections of the Torah are not necessarily arranged in chronological sequence but thematically. This indicates that adjacent passages in the Torah whose subjects may not on the surface appear to be interconnected do in fact have profound interconnections. This gives rise to the rabbinic method of interpreting passages in the Torah according to their SEMICHUS, "proximity" to one another. Our parshah contains a case in point in the rabbinic comment on why the section about the NAZIR, who vows to abstain from wine, comes directly after that about the SOTAH, the unfaithful wife. "Everybody who sees the damage done by and to the Sotah will want to abstain from wine, which is what brings to fornication" (Rashi on Numbers 6:2).

* * *


As noted earlier, NASO is always read on the Shabbos after Shavuos, anniversary of the Giving of the Torah. Clearly there is a deep link between the Giving of the Torah and the Inauguration of the Sanctuary/Temple and its associated commandments, which is the theme of the greater part of NASO. On this, one of the longest Shabboses at the height of summer, when the world is in full bloom around us, the Torah keeps our minds focussed on the 1st of Nissan, the "New Year", time of rebirth, the day of the Consecration of the Sanctuary.

On the day the Sanctuary was consecrated, the Torah descended from Sinai with its awe, thunder, lightning and earthquakes and was brought in the golden Ark of the Covenant, under the wings of the Cherubs, into the ultimate serene tranquillity of the Holy of Holies. This was the vision of Jacob, the founding father who built the House of Israel: that the Torah should come down from its lofty heights and dwell inside the Sanctuary -- not only in the actual, external Sanctuary, but in the home of every Israelite and the heart of every Israelite. When we bring the Torah into our homes and our hearts, it becomes the vessel of peace and blessing that radiates light all around us, just as the blessing of the priests radiates from the Sanctuary (and today, during the priestly blessing in the synagogue, from before the Ark, housing the Torah scrolls): "May the Lord bless you and keep you.". For the study of Torah itself confers blessing. For the entire Torah is woven of the names of G-d, and "in every place where I shall cause My name to be mentioned I will come to you and bless you" (Exodus 20:21).

* * *


At the center of parshas NASO are two lengthy sections that bring the Torah of the Sanctuary directly into our very homes and hearts: these are the sections dealing with the laws of the SOTAH, the wife suspected of infidelity, and the NAZIR, who vows to abstain from wine, cutting his/her hair and defilement from the dead.

At the very center of the true Torah home is the love between husband and wife, which is the very foundation of the BINYAN -- the "building" or structure of the family. True love between husband and wife is very jealous: true love brooks no outsiders and third parties. The unity of husband and wife must be complete, face to face, without a trace of a shadow in between.

It is hard even to speak of the purity of love between husband and wife in a world in which third parties are accepted as a normal part of life. It is this rampant immorality that breeds broken homes, broken hearts, children who grow up between one home and another, knowing little or nothing of family, roots and kinship.

Completely opposite is the morality emanating from the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy Sanctuary: "This is the Torah of the Sotah." Strange as it may seem ithe context of contemporary (im)morality, the ceremony of the Sotah, the wife suspected of marital infidelity, one of the most awesome rituals of the Temple, is intended as a bulwark of family purity.

In normal everyday life husbands and wives are constantly coming into contact with all kinds of other people in various different contexts, and it is only natural that relationships can form even in societies that are sexually segregated (as in Temple times) let alone in contemporary mixed society.

The Sotah ritual -- administering the bitter waters to the wife even as she protests her innocence in the face of suspicions of infidelity -- was intentionally very frightening to the woman involved and to all who saw it. Here we see the Temple, where the ritual would take place, as a kind of theatre where a spectacle is held up to the entire nation in order to teach a deep lesson.

The bitter waters are the truth-tester of the Torah (quite different from lie-detectors). Mixed with the water was earth from the floor of the Sanctuary (archetype of the Israelite home as it should be) and the dissolved ink of the letters of Torah verses and curses written on the scroll of the Sotah, including the holy name of G-d. What is the truth? Did she or didn't she? Is she lying or is she telling the truth?

The actual Sotah test in Temple times only works when the husband himself is absolutely beyond reproach on any level in all of the commandments relating to sexuality -- the foundation of the Covenant. On such an ideal level of purity, love is fierce and love is jealous. Suspicions may arise. The holy waters of the Sotah can dispel them. For this it is worth dissolving and washing off even the holy name of G-d: to make peace between man and his wife, or to make them separate.

Today, in the absence of the Temple, the Sotah waters take on a different significance, more allegorical. In actual life, without ideal levels of purity, suspicions and strange thoughts do often creep into the best of relationships. It is not infrequently through the bitter waters of suffering that the truth really comes out, one way or the other. And when the bitter waters prove that there was never any disloyalty at all, the resulting rebirth of love and vigor brings new, stronger children into the world, strengthening the home with the joyous mother of children at its center.

[In the Midrash, the Sotah is the Jewish nation, suspected of infidelity to G-d because of their dalliance with the nations, tested by the bitter waters of suffering.]

* * *


The Hebrew word NAZIR is today used for a monk, but the Torah has no place for such celibacy, and only the prophet Moses and certain true Tzaddikim were permitted to separate themselves from "the way of the world". The Torah NAZIR was not one who separated himself from the world as a recluse from normal life. (On the contrary, the laws of NAZIR are bound up with family life: a man may make his son a NAZIR, he may invite his wife to take the vow of NAZIR, nullify her vow, etc.) The Nazirite vow is one that would in Temple times be taken on by a regular, normal person who did not want to separate himself from the entire world but did want to set extra limits on his own behavior over and above what the Torah requires of everyone.

Following on from the above-quoted Midrash -- "Everybody who sees the damage done by and to the Sotah will want to abstain from wine, which is what brings to fornication" -- the NAZIR living in the real world full of immorality wants to set for himself or herself extra personal boundaries against anything that may even lead to such immorality -- wine and anything connected with wine, and even fancy hairstyles! The Nazirite may not defile himself with the dead, for while death exposes the folly of worship of the body, fears of aging and death often drive people to seek out the pleasures of the body compulsively.

The section dealing with the NAZIR sets forth the detailed laws of the Nazirite vow, yet implies that taking on specific vows is not encouraged by the Torah. Among his sacrifices the Nazirite has to bring a sin-offering for abstaining from permitted pleasures, as if what the Torah itself prohibits is not enough. When we take on vows, sometimes the tests become overwhelming, and may cause us to break them unwittingly (like the Nazirite who becomes unwittingly defiled by contact with the dead.).

What the Torah wants from us is the true labor of the heart: commitment. A vow is an explicit verbal commitment that we make, creating a Torah of our own, something that goes beyond the letter of the law. It may be in the form of a personal boundary. It may be in the form of a specific commitment. Jacob, the founding father of Israel, builder of the home, was the first one to make a vow. At Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount where Jacob dreamed of the ladder (SULAM = SINAI = Giving of the Torah), he woke up and set up the Temple foundation and vowed to give a tithe of all he received to G-d. The Torah that came forth from the Sanctuary (Leviticus 1:1) begins with a vow -- that of a person who wants to offer a sacrifice in the Temple: "When a person would offer an offering" (Leviticus 1:2).

The Nazirite vow is much more demanding than a one-time sacrifice: it is a commitment to a very strict discipline -- complete abstinence from grapes and wine, no haircutting to emphasize the opposite of body-oriented immorality, etc. In the present day world in which we lead our lives, the actual Nazirite vow is not a practical possibility, but we certainly all know ways in which it is desirable to hedge ourselves in with personal boundaries that help separate ourselves from that which is negative and evil in this world of Good and Evil.

What is asked of us is to make our personal boundaries and adhere to them without expressing them in the form of specific vows. The danger of the vow is that during the initial enthusiasm in which in which it is made, we may not see prospective difficulties that could make it impossible to adhere to it. What is asked of us is not to tie ourselves up in verbal commitments that we cannot keep, but rather, to make an inner commitment -- the commitment of the heart -- to what we know to be good, and then do everything in our power to adhere to our commitment.

* * *


The concluding section of NASO deals with the sacrifices of the Twelve Princes on the twelve inaugural days of the Sanctuary. It is striking that these were one-time sacrifices, yet we read these portions of the Torah several times during the year: they are publicly read in the Synagogue during Chanukah, and in some Synagogues they are read from a Torah scroll on the first twelve days of Nissan.

In last week's commentary discussing the names of the Princes and numbers of the tribes of Israel in the Wilderness, I made reference to the fact that in the Hebrew Torah, all of these are ciphers, codes and letter-permutations that bring entire worlds upon worlds into being. The same is true of the portions dealing with the sacrifices of the Twelve Princes, each of whom brought identical offerings on twelve successive days.

One of the reasons why the Midrash Rabbah on NASO is so lengthy is because not only does it contain extensive drashos on the SOTAH and NAZIR, etc. It also contains very lengthy drashos showing that although each of the Twelve Princes brought identical offerings, in each case they had an entirely different meaning and intention, each wondrous, each amazing.

And so too each Israelite dons the same Tallis and Tefilin, abstains from the same forbidden labors on Shabbos, gives Tzedakah, does Chessed. But in each case the meaning and intention of each act is entirely different. The hidden intentions in the heart of each one. the hidden efforts.

And G-d has joy from them all. All are His children. All are members of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the House of Jacob.

Shabbat Shalom!!! Chag Sameach!!!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum

PO Box 50037 Jerusalem 91500 Israel

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Chesler Chronicles » Jerusalem on the Upper East Side: Starbucks, Riverdale, and Me.

Chesler Chronicles » Jerusalem on the Upper East Side: Starbucks, Riverdale, and Me.

Social Media in a Nutshell - Part 1

Social Media in a Nutshell - Part 1 - HonestReporting

The Torah Revolution: Re: to author & to talkbackers

Re: to author & to talkbackers


One solution you all overlook: Hashem's Peace Plan for the Jews also know as the Torah. We don't have to invent the hot water here. We are the only nation in the world that has the Torah and thus knows EXACTLY what to do and how. Here are the major points: Am Israel should be on the Land of Israel and should possess it fully. Not only parts of it, partially. All of it and completely. This means two major diferences respect of the current situation: no hostile Arabs living in Israel and no hostile Arabs living in Judea and Shomron. Then, there is the institutional question. Instead of the "democratic" system we've learned from the nations, we should have our Jewish institutions:
Read All at :

The Torah Revolution: Re: to author & to talkbackers


But Isn't He an Extremist?

Avigdor Lieberman, our Foreign Minister, has confirmed an item in Maariv this morning: Yes, he has told Netanyahu the government should officially adopt the Roadmap, the document from 2004 that has underpinned whatever negotiations have taken place between Israel and the Palestinians in recent years. The Roadmap to Peace, I remind you, started with George Bush's speech of June 24th 2002 calling for two sovereign states, Israel and Palestine, was drawn up by the Quartet (America, Russia, the EU and the UN), and it specifes practical steps towards achieving the goal. By accepting it, the entire side show of "Is Israel under Netanyahu serious about peace" would be shut down, and it might be possible to go back to the more significant issues of whether there are any Palestinians to talk to.

Yes, Lieberman. But isn't he supposed to be a fanatic Rightwinger, facist, extremist, evil settler, racist, and all those things, I hear you asking? After all, that's what the entire world media has been telling us for months already? Also Israel's Left, they've been saying it also?

Quite. The same Lieberman. Go figure.
taken from:Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations (

Israel Matzav: Israel beats the war drums while Democrats in Congress fiddle

Israel Matzav: Israel beats the war drums while Democrats in Congress fiddle

Israel Matzav: You mean it could be worse?

Israel Matzav: You mean it could be worse?

Israel Matzav: Obama's Stockholm Syndrome?

Israel Matzav: Obama's Stockholm Syndrome?


Struggle to Change the Lebanese Regime

Hizbullah’s Struggle to Change the Lebanese Regime-->

by Dr. Shimon Shapira
Published May 2009

The Jerusalem Viewpoints series is published by the Institute for Contemporary Affairs, founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation.
No. 571 May-June 2009

Hizbullah's Struggle to Change the Lebanese Regime

Shimon Shapira and Yair Minzili

The publication of Hizbullah's subversive plan against Egypt and the exposure of a Shiite group headed by a Hizbullah activist that planned to act against Egyptian targets diverted attention from the challenge that Hizbullah has made against the very foundations of Lebanese authority.

On April 3, 2009, Hizbullah published its political platform in advance of elections to the Lebanese parliament scheduled for June 7, 2009. The document calls for the abolition of sectarian politics and for the enactment of a new election law that would alter the equation of sectarian forces in

In this manner, Hizbullah seeks to destroy the foundations of the sectarian regime in Lebanon agreed upon in the National Pact of 1943 that has been preserved by the Lebanese state ever since. The abolition of the existing political system will advance Hizbullah toward its fundamental goal: the establishment of an Islamic state and a complete
Iranian takeover of Lebanon.

The scholarly analyses that define Hizbullah as a Lebanese national movement are baseless. What Lebanese national interests are served by subversive activity in Egypt? What Lebanese interests seek the transfer of Iranian arms from Sudan and Sinai to
Gaza? What national Lebanese ideology seeks to subvert the delicate sectarian structure upon which the modern Lebanese state is predicated?

A Pattern of Hizbullah Subversion

The publication of Hizbullah's subversive plan against Egypt and the exposure of a Shiite group headed by a Hizbullah activist, that planned to act against Egyptian targets under the cover of "logistical assistance" to the Palestinians, diverted attention from the challenge that Hizbullah has made against the very foundations of Lebanese authority.
One can safely assume that Hizbullah activity in Egypt was performed with the full knowledge of Iran. The weapons shipment that departed Iran for Gaza was dispatched with Tehran's blessing. Iran was undoubtedly aware that the Egyptian security authorities could uncover Hizbullah's subversive activity, but believed that the Egyptians would prefer to turn a blind eye and allow the passage of the weapons inventory to Gaza. Even if this was not the case, the Iranians posited military assistance to
Hamas as a supreme interest of the Islamic Revolution and were prepared to pay the price of a deterioration in relations between the countries. The attacks by Hassan Nasrallah against Egypt, including a summons to the Egyptian army to overthrow the Mubarak regime during Israel's Gaza operation, would not have been made had Nasrallah not understood that in this fashion he was serving the wishes of his masters in Tehran.

Ever since the disclosures, the mass media in the Arab world and in the West has been preoccupied with the dispute that has erupted between Hizbullah and Egypt, and have almost totally ignored the struggle that Hizbullah has initiated to change the face of the Lebanese regime.

While Britain adopted the questionable decision to open a dialogue with the "political wing" of Hizbullah and in practice recognized Hizbullah as a legitimate movement, it would appear that the artificial distinction drawn by the UK between the political and the military wings of Hizbullah has totally collapsed with the discovery of Hizbullah's subversion in Egypt, which merely compounds what was previously discovered in Morocco. In that Sunni Arab kingdom, the king severed ties with Iran in March 2009, accusing it of supporting Shiite Islamic missionary activity.

Hizbullah's Election Platform: Setting the Stage for an Iranian Takeover of Lebanon
On April 3, 2009, Hizbullah published its political platform in advance of elections to the Lebanese parliament scheduled for June 7, 2009. The document calls for the abolition of sectarian politics and for the enactment of a new election law that would alter the equation of sectarian forces in Lebanon. (The English text of the 2009 Hizbullah platform appears at the end of this essay.)

The 2009 election platform joins a series of basic documents of the Hizbullah movement: These include the Open Letter (Risala Maftuha) from 1985, the first Hizbullah election platform for parliament from 1992, the Hizbullah political document ratified at the movement's Third Congress in 1993, Hizbullah's election platform for the 2000 parliamentary elections, and its platform for the municipal elections of 2004.

These two components - the unequivocal call to abolish sectarian politics and the enactment of a new election law - were placed at the very beginning of the platform in order to emphasize Hizbullah's priorities. In the electoral platform of 2000, Hizbullah had called for establishing a national body for the abolishment of political sectarianism, but only in the fourth section of the platform. It is assumed that in this manner Hizbullah seeks to advance its aspiration to destroy the foundations of the sectarian regime in Lebanon agreed upon in the National Pact of 1943 that has been preserved by the Lebanese state ever since, amidst repeated crises. The abolition of the existing political system will advance Hizbullah toward its fundamental goal: the establishment of an Islamic state that provides political expression to the Shiite majority and a complete Iranian takeover of Lebanon.

What is missing in the new Hizbullah platform? There is no reference to its militia and weapons, as well as to the call from inside Lebanon to dismantle Hizbullah's military capability and to integrate it into the Lebanese Armed Forces. Hizbullah ignores this aspect and insists on keeping its independent military wing as a "resistance" force against Israel.

However, it is clear that the preservation of Hizbullah's military strength is intended primarily to allow the movement to translate its military power and demographic weight into a fundamental change of the Lebanese political system. In addition to this purpose, and no less important, Hizbullah's military power serves as the cutting edge of Iran on Israel's northern border, enabling the Islamic Republic to employ the military power that it erected in Lebanon to serve its strategic interests.

In recent years, and in the course of the severe political crises that have struck Lebanon since the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in March 2005, Hizbullah has not concealed its intentions to realize the mission entrusted to it by the Iranian Revolutionary regime. The movement is to seize power in Lebanon and thus create another stable and trustworthy link in the Shiite axis of evil under Iranian leadership. In the Lebanese political realm, Hizbullah has labored to reinforce "the (Shiite) Opposition Camp" by aligning with powerful factions beyond the Shiite community against the Sunni-Shiite coalition headed by Saad al-Hariri. In practice, Hizbullah scored a major success by attracting to its side the Christian Free Patriotic Movement headed by Gen. Michel Aoun, and has strengthened its alliance with extremist Salafist Sunni groups. In a show of force, Hizbullah undertook an unprecedented brutal action when it effectively took over Beirut on May 7, 2008, in response to a government attempt to bring about the dismantling of Hizbullah's independent communications infrastructure within Lebanon.

Hizbullah's call for ending political sectarianism, coupled with the enactment of a new election law, came after this demonstration of power and self-confidence, and constitutes the apogee of its indefatigable efforts to attain power in Lebanon. The formulation of an electoral program in a manner that awards Hizbullah the deceptive image of an authentic Lebanese party operating on the basis of Lebanese interests was calculated to attract maximal representation and perhaps even a majority in parliament. However, its political rivals at home will seek to exploit Hizbullah's recent entanglements in subversion against Egypt in order to expose Hizbullah as a disruptive force operating in the service of Iran and

Once again, it has been demonstrated that all the scholarly analyses that define Hizbullah as a Lebanese national movement are baseless. What Lebanese national interests are served by subversive activity in Egypt? What Lebanese interests seek the transfer of Iranian arms from Sudan and Sinai to Gaza? What national Lebanese ideology seeks to subvert the delicate sectarian structure upon which the modern Lebanese state is predicated? The responses to these questions may be found in the framework of relations between Revolutionary Iran and its protégé in Lebanon, and between Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his loyal and obedient representative Hassan Nasrallah. The essence of the tie between them is not simply religious, but has far-reaching political implications influencing the range of Hizbullah behavior in the Lebanese arena and beyond, and symbolizes the growing influence of Iran in the Arab world.

The Hizbullah Platform for the June 2009 Parliamentary Elections


Mohammed Ra'ad, the head of Hizbullah's parliamentary bloc, presented Hizbullah's election platform on April 3, 2009:

With the approach of the parliamentary elections on June 7, we are seeking to reformulate the political process and deal with the collapse of authority that has resulted in crises that have adversely influenced national life and have plunged this country into a cycle of instability.

UN Resolution 1559 of 2004 [which calls for the disbanding and disarmament of all militias in Lebanon] constituted in some respects a portal for an internal civil war and opened the gates to regional and international intervention that occasioned bitter divisions. These divisions were exploited by international forces headed by the United States in order to transfer the Lebanese arena to their tutelage.

When Hizbullah joined the national dialogue, we expected that this would serve as an opportunity to reformulate a national consensus, and step away from the division into camps, for we believe that we cannot safeguard the homeland and its unity unless a spirit of mutual understanding and dialogue triumphs. We were always those who sought Islamic unity and national unity. Subsequently, mutual understanding was achieved between Hizbullah and the Christian Free Patriotic Movement [led by Gen. Michel Aoun] as a pioneering step on this track.

The Zionist war of aggression in July 2006 touched off an unprecedented international attack upon Lebanon. It strove to liquidate the Lebanese desire to maintain the resistance and subordinate Lebanon. However, the major achievements and acts of bravery of the holy warriors (mujaheddin) of the Islamic resistance turned the criminal aggression supported by international and regional forces into a disgraceful debacle which found expression in the downfall of the political and military team of the Zionist entity, and the evaporation of illusions of an American takeover of the region. Lebanon's victory in this war was recognized throughout the entire world.

The resistance is determined to complete the liberation of the remaining occupied lands, and particularly the Shebaa Farms and the hills of Kfar Shuba. We believe that any strategy of defense must integrate the current capabilities of the resistance and the capabilities of the Lebanese army, enabling it to stand up to Israeli aspirations regarding our lands and our water sources.

We affirm our enmity to Israel, our support and assistance to our Palestinian brothers to liberate their land and the holy places, and our assiduous efforts to establish excellent ties of fraternity with the Syrian Arab Republic.

In the Field of Political Reform 1

A. Cancelling Political Sectarianism

Forming the National Committee for Cancelling Political Sectarianism in accordance with the Lebanese national consensus document, so that it will start its work and take the practical measures to implement the recommendations that it will reach.

B. Electoral Law

The sound way to effect reform lies in enacting a modern electoral law based on proportionality. At the same time, the constitutional amendment concerning lowering the voting age to 18 years must be finalized, in addition to finalizing another amendment related to the separation of the parliamentary membership from the cabinet membership.

C. Equitable Development

The principle of equitable development constitutes one of the pillars of political reform. For this purpose it was enunciated in the contractual preamble of the constitution. In order to realize this, we demand the restoration of the Planning Ministry, drawing up five-or 10-year plans that monitor the needs of all areas in various sectors.

D. Administrative Decentralization

In its preamble, the constitution stipulates a revision of the administrative divisions, taking into consideration national unity and the preservation of coexistence. The administrative decentralization means granting expanded administrative powers to smaller units - municipalities, districts, and governorates. The aim is to strengthen development opportunities and facilitate the quick handling of paperwork and administrative duties.

E. The Judiciary

Since the Lebanese constitution has stipulated that the judiciary is an independent authority, side by side with the legislative and executive branches of power, and since the fair and impartial judiciary is a guarantee for the establishment of the state of law and preserving the rights of both the individual and the society - and hence there can be no political reform without it - we are of the opinion that work is necessary to enact and implement laws that help organize the judiciary under a higher independent judicial committee.

Administrative Reform

Administrative reform constitutes a major challenge in all societies. Trim and efficient administration is the characteristic of modern states where administrative reform aims to reduce the burdens on the citizens, mobilize resources and capabilities, and carry out duties with speed and efficiency. In this regard, work should proceed in accordance with the following principles:

A. Drawing up a comprehensive blueprint for the administration and its needs, making an inventory of the shortages and vacant positions and filling them.

B. Stressing scientific qualifications and practical skills.

C. Introducing modernization, automation, and information networking, and fighting bureaucracy.

D. Activating monitoring and accountability and strengthening and bolstering monitoring establishments - Civil Service Commission, Central Inspection, and the Public Disciplinary Council, in addition to the Auditing Commission.

E. Developing laws and regulations in the field of administration and the budget, ensuring speed in the performance of work, stopping waste, and ending bribery.

F. Adopting a scientific and methodological plan in the appointment of employees, especially the senior officials (grades one and two) within efforts to enhance efficiency and good performance in the official administration.

G. Enhancing efforts to implement the creation of the two governorates of Baalbek-Hermel and Akkar, and completing the issuance of the applicable decisions in this regard.
Economic and Financial Reform

Since independence, Lebanon has been suffering from the absence of carefully studied economic and developmental visions that are based on the available resources, national requirements, and regional harmony. For these reasons the process of improving and developing economic performance has been proceeding in a haphazard manner. This led to the deterioration of some productive sectors, the termination of others, and the growth of others in an illogical manner. The Lebanese economy has been steered to promote services and realize profit. This resulted in harming economies that were considered productive and providing employment for skilled people, such as agriculture and industry.

In order to begin a genuine economic reform, we must first draw up a natural role of the state and move from an indifferent state with limited social and economic contributions to a state that is responsible for realizing growth and justice. Therefore, it is necessary to work along the following tracks:

The development track, through an equitable development of the various sectors and areas, a partnership in development between the public and private sectors, and fair distribution of profits.

The economic track, by realizing a sustainable and firm growth in domestic production, raising production competitiveness in the economic sectors, and merging with the regional surroundings (the Arab and Islamic markets).

The social track, by lowering the unemployment level, fighting poverty, and developing the means of redistribution of income and providing basic services.

The financial track, by ending the vicious circle of public debt, reducing the servicing of debts, reducing the budget deficit, fighting dissipation, and carrying out fair taxation reforms.

In this connection, emphasis must be laid on the need to develop and sustain the policy of activating the productive sectors such as agriculture, industry, and tourism by ensuring loans on easy terms, providing taxation incentives, encouraging small businesses to merge, strengthening cooperative work, providing guidance, extending support through needed equipment, increasing irrigated areas, studying the needs of the domestic and external markets by aiming at agricultural industrialization, developing the animal production sector, and backing various types of exports.

The ultimate aim is to fight poverty and social marginalization, and this requires joint efforts by the public and private sectors in concentrating on economic activities that provide job opportunities and which are directed at the countryside and remote areas.

Education and Learning Sector

The Lebanese University is the most important higher education institution in Lebanon in terms of its size, its specialties, and the number of its students, especially those who come from limited income families. It is supposed to contribute to building the future of the homeland's generations. This requires backing and developing by implementing the law that pertains to it, which protects its financial and administrative independence, ensures its development, and strengthens its scientific research resources. Unresolved issues must be resolved such as the problem of full time teachers and their protection, supporting the Contracting Fund, and reviving the Lebanese University's Students National Union.

As for the public education sector, duty calls for drawing up a comprehensive educational plan, stressing a higher level of educational qualifications, providing the necessary needs for schools, ensuring heating fuel during winter, backing the School Fund Program, revising the map of the distribution of schools in conformity with the requirements of equitable development, in addition to developing educational institutions, stressing the powers of educational inspection, implementing the system of compulsory and free education, enhancing academic, vocational, and technical education, and treating the chronic needs of the teachers and instructors in various stages in a responsible and positive way.

Civil Society Organizations

Within the framework of enhancing the national sense of responsibility, efforts must be exerted to develop party and trade union activities and open the way for civic society organizations to be active and to become a vital supporter and an effective monitor of the performance of the ruling authority's departments. This will lead to enhancing the awareness of society to the need to shoulder its duties in managing public life. In this regard, we emphasize the following:

1. The media

Freedom of expression must be preserved and protected, as stipulated in the preamble of the constitution, considering it an unchanging right that cannot be infringed upon within the framework of the law. Thus, emphasis will be laid on freedom of the media and the revision of certain laws, especially the Publications Law, thus lifting the threats against the media.

2. Women

Efforts should be exerted to strengthen the role of women and develop their participation in the political, cultural, educational, media and social fields, and to exploit this role in establishing a balance in society in terms of psychology and values.

3. Youth

Taking care of the rising generations and the young, developing their resources and talents, guiding them towards sublime national and humanitarian objectives, and protecting them from corrupt thought and the tools and means of deviation and immorality.

4. Fighting the deviations and the harmful ailments in our society, whether through the media or by other means, emphasizing educational and media guidance, warning against the spread of corruption and dissolute values, and augment the monitoring of scenes and pictures that infringe on public morality and harm the humanitarian image of women.

5. Protecting the privacy of citizens by preventing indiscriminate wiretapping of their telephone conversations, and respecting the laws that pertain to these issues and bringing the violators of these laws, whoever they may be, to account for what they do.

Improving and Developing Social Services

In light of our conviction that the state cannot shirk its caring role nor behave in an indifferent manner or be apathetic towards the needs of the citizens, it is the duty of the state to improve services in the fields of health, education, housing, and social care. Of these duties, we mention the following:

A. Activating the public health sector, generalizing the principle of healthcare and preventive medicine, putting an end to monopolization in the drug market, and unifying the hospitalization funds.

B. Backing efforts to develop and reform the National Fund for Social Security and expanding the circle of its beneficiaries.

C. Drawing up a housing strategy that takes into consideration the comprehensive development of all areas, in addition to enhancing the state's support for housing loans.
D. Continuing the process of land planning and specification, enhancing the work pertaining to the annexation and demarcation of land, and treating property problems and issues pertaining to joint possession of property, and dealing with violations of the law by owners of buildings.

Energy and the Protection of Resources

Squandering water and natural resources is one of the chronic problems in Lebanon. Despite huge precipitation and multiple sources of water, the hardship continues to be great, especially during the dry season. Therefore, work should be done on the following:

A. Protecting water resources, especially the ones that are being threatened by the Israeli enemy.

B. Completing Canal 800 of the Litani River project.

C. Exerting serious efforts to complete the dams and lakes projects in accordance with a specific timeframe.

D. Expanding and rehabilitating the irrigation networks, especially in agricultural areas.

E. Completing the establishment and the rehabilitation of the domestic water networks.

As for the electricity sector, what is required is work to complete the electric power lines, modernize the production plants, treat the technical waste, fight transgressions on energy sources, and expand to create new and environment-friendly means of production.

As for the communications sector, we are required to preserve this national resource by developing this sector and improving its services, offering the consumers further services and observing the rule of providing the best service at the least cost.

Environmental Protection

The environment in Lebanon has been exposed to a large-scale process of destruction and violations, such as forest fires, indiscriminate felling of trees, lawlessness in opening quarries and gravel facilities, polluting the rivers with sewage water, and indiscriminate burial of sold waste. All of this makes us sound the alarm and declare a state of national emergency to do the following:

A. Adopting a guiding scientific environmental plan on sites for quarries and gravel production.

B. Enhancing the completion of building sewage systems in all areas.

C. Drawing up a modern study for the best means of getting rid of solid waste and transforming it into energy instead of burying it under the ground.

D. Providing effective means of firefighting, imposing strict measures to prevent tampering with the environment, and combating transgressions on the seacoast and rivers.

E. Launching a national campaign to enhance the green picture of Lebanon by cooperation with all organizations, both local and foreign, that care for the environment
* * *
1. This translation of the Hizbullah platform appeared on the "Now Lebanon" website, based on the speech by Mohammad Raad broadcast on Hizbullah-affiliated Al-Manar TV on April 6, 2009,
* * *
Brig. Gen. (res.) Dr. Shimon Shapira is the author of
Hizballah: Between Iran and Lebanon, 4th ed. (Tel Aviv: Dayan Center, Tel Aviv University, 2006). He is a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Yair Minzili is a senior researcher in the fields of economics, political policy, and Islam in the Middle East.
taken from : B'NAI ELIM (


The American Way...

Blogmaster's remarks: The essay below is primarily directed to Americans, but is valuable to all who wish to remain a free people in a country ruled by the people. Read and applies as much to Israel as to the United States.

The American Way

by Alan Korwin

May 21, 2009

I was fortunate to be invited to a meeting of thirteen deep-thinking well-educated men recently, and for two-and-a-half hours over lunch we examined some of the critical issues of our time, from our perspective.
The question came up, "What Is America?" and I ask you today, "What is America?"

It seems to me this is a question without an answer, because America is as many things as there are people to define it. It is a complex and huge topic that could fill encyclopedias and not scratch the surface.
But it dawned on me that a few fundamental principles of America stand out. These are the principles that have made America great. These are the reasons America is a shining beacon of real hope for the entire world, such as the world has never known. These are guidelines that people have adopted in their hearts, instilled in their families. These are understandings that drive people from their homes across the entire planet and to our borders. These fundamental principles are The American Way, and this can be described.
I've been a champion of The American Way for as long as I can remember, and way before I even knew that this was what I was championing.

The American Way is hard work. It is keeping the benefits of your hard work. It is ownership of private property, and the sanctity of a contract between people.

It is the idea that you and you alone own the fruits of your labors. It is the idea -- of paramount importance -- of self ownership. You and you alone own and are responsible for you. It's a tautology. The king doesn't own you. The state doesn't own you. You own you.

This is not a right you demand, or get from the state, or earn. It is a fundamental right of the fact that you exist. It is a right that comes from your Creator, by nature. It is the natural order of things. And it is honored here like nowhere else -- that's why we've achieved so much.

The American Way is the idea that all you Americans can make something of yourselves, because you are free to do so. This is the great magnet that draws people here. In 2006, net immigration into 78 nations from Albania to Zimbabwe was below zero -- people were fleeing. In America in that year, more than two million people, risking life, limb, family and arrest, walked across blinding miles of blazing snake-infested desert to get here. That says something. Half got caught and sent back. Half snuck in. Those are problems for another time, but that raw drive speaks volumes about what we have accomplished that their native lands have not.--In one of the documents that helped start our country, Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, published in the year of our founding, 1776, he described principles that drive The American Way (although it was too early for him to call it that). Wealth of Nations, in the country's infancy, identified what has led to unprecedented opulence, prosperity abundance, opportunity and freedom that is The American Way.

Smith recognized that private property, free trade, self interest, limited government and division of labor were the basics of capitalism and cornerstones of personal freedom and economic security.--So these are the factors that make you and me special, and make the land we live in special, and attract many non-Americans to this special place, seeking to be Americans. But along with the teeming masses yearning to be free are undesirable miscreants seeking to leach off our success, eat out our substance and do us harm, who must be resisted. Col. Jeff Cooper put it plainly: Some people prey on other people. I don't like it. That's just the way it is.

So I ask you: Do you intend to preserve, protect and defend these special attributes that make us what we are? You bet we do! Will you resist the constant forces that seek to diminish, denigrate, defeat and delete these special attributes? You bet we will!

The American Way can be summed up, not perfectly, and not for all cases, but it can be summed up for our purposes: The American Way is the idea that the people are the rulers and the rulers are the servants. Have we strayed from this? Yes. Does that make it less true or less valuable or less right? Not at all.

The American Way is the rule of law, individual responsibility and government of limited delegated powers only. It is free markets, free enterprise, low taxes, entrepreneurship and capitalism. The American Way is moral and just and yes, has a strong religious underpinning, whatever your religion may be -- so long as your religion does not include forcible coercion of others. It is "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you," but definitely not, "You better submit to our way," no matter how strongly convinced that your way is right.

Convince people to follow and you follow the precepts that drive much of what we are. Force people, and you are by definition the enemy of The American Way. Neither political party has a really good score card on this.

The American Way is what has generated the most opulent, abundant, prosperous, generous, productive, creative, inventive and loving society the world has ever known, light years ahead of whatever is in second place. Our politicians have lost support because they've abandoned our goals.

The idea that such a land could even exist was beyond the comprehension of earlier societies -- the ideas that made it possible had not been invented yet. The uniquely American ideals of freedom were born here. They were birthed by a lucky confluence that skeptics might say were coincidental. True believers might say it was destiny, or divine providence. And who knows who's right. The important thing is that it happened.
Our natural geography, limits of technology, self-selected pioneers and thinkers in a brave new land, the abuses and usurpations of a tyrant, the homogeneous nature of voluntary leaders, simultaneous existence of so many geniuses in one place and one time, an abundance of natural resources, existence of such vast expanses of untapped wilderness -- all contributed to the damn lucky creation of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights that set us on our way.

When people are turned free to do what they will, they do what we have seen here. Acting in your own self interest, you persevere, plant and harvest great seeds of innovation and wealth. And great wealth results from the work of your loins. True Americans, recognizing the great blessings that have been bestowed upon us, share those fruits, like no society before us has ever done. Americans donate and share more food, more wealth, more health care, more humanitarian aid, more power of righteous self defense, than the world has ever seen -- without exception.

And what of guns? Guns, guns, guns, they are so American. All nations have guns, but only in a scant few do the people have guns. And only in America is there a wildly western tradition of a gun for everyman. Only in America is there broad understanding that guns save lives. Guns stop crime. Guns keep you safe. Guns deter evil. Guns are good.

Colt, Remington, Winchester, Browning, Smith and Wesson -- is it just coincidence that Americans have guns, and use guns, and have invented some of the finest firearms ever known -- and the fact that America has been the freest nation on earth? It is not coincidence. Guns are why America is still free.
We know and easily accept that you can't let slaves have guns and expect them to remain slaves. Does that mean that if the forces of darkness were to succeed in their endless effort to disrupt our long-standing balance and disarm peaceful, innocent Americans, that America would be devolve into slavery? Is it safe to confiscate guns from the innocent? I'm not eager to find out!

Why is it safe to give all those dangerous guns to other people, just because they have government jobs and are paid with your tax money? Why can they be trusted any more than any of you who actually earn the money that pays them? What magical writing says guns are OK but only if rulers have them all? Where does it say that a man in government is more trustworthy than a man in his own home?

We know that just the opposite is true. It is our resistance to the bad idea that only leadership should have power that put power into the hands of the people and created The American Way. It is the understanding that the power to govern is only legitimate if it comes from the consent of the governed. When the power to govern is disconnected from consent, you have classic tyranny, no checks on leadership, only those latitudes leadership arbitrarily decides to offer. That, my friends, is the Anti-American Way.

Guns are indeed why America is still free. Guns in the hands of the masses help assure that leadership cannot just run wild. It stops them short. Guns are power to the people.

Slaves must be disarmed. Americans must never be disarmed. A disarmed docile subservient America would cease to be the magic magnet it is.

Now, there's corrosion in the aging machinery of The American Way. Jefferson's warning that the natural tendency is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground is true, and 200 years of yielding and gaining have taken us to a strange place.

Our great strides forward are at grave risk today. The idea of true human freedom, freedom from the state, freedom from arbitrary rule, appeal to a power higher than any government or man can exert -- these are what give us what we have. Today, far too many people, influenced by dastardly powers, reject the very things that give them the power to speak out against us.

We are now infested with czars -- a drug czar, an education czar, an environment czar, and now even a border czar. Czars are horrors yet we're embracing them, welcoming them into our midst. Czars are toxic waste, destroyers of freedom, autocratic tyrants who have no place in our system. Yet they are praised and promoted with glee by our failed "news" media. Tolerance of czars is a repugnant result of the insidious success of political correctness. Czars should be removed and replaced with representatives.

But our representatives need to be replaced with representatives, because they've long since left the scene.
We have reached a point where our laws are written by secretive government operators and clandestine conspirators, creeps working in deep basements without the light of public scrutiny, who draft endless edicts that cannot be read by a person of decent education. The edicts are thrust upon our elected hollow men, who are coerced and intimidated into signing before they have read what they are handed, and saddle us with unacceptable, anti-American crap whose contents they don't know.

Think about that. The laws are now written by people you don't know, can't name, can't see, signed by people without reading or understanding, and then held against you at the point of a government gun and prison. That, my fellow Americans, is corrupt. It is tyrannical. It is intolerable.

Our elected participants should fall to their knees in shame and tears for what they are complicit in forcing upon this great nation and its people. But they show no shame. They justify, and excuse and continue. How much further must that travesty go on before a few heads are on pikes on the K Street bridge? A bridge, by the way, actually named after Francis Scott Key, the author of the Star Spangled Banner.

Tyranny has its appeal. Especially in the young, a desire to follow rather than lead burns hot. It's easy to be sheep, to obey, to stand in line, take what's handed you, care not for the higher values. They are far from the roots that got this tree growing. And their schooling, run by the very government that schooling is supposed to tame and keep in check, encourages the collectivist antithesis of The American Way.

Freedom is hard work, but worth it. Socialism, the Anti-American Way and our arch enemy, seems easy, because it runs on other people's money and sweat. Too many Americans today have had their values turned upside down and actually crave socialism, or can't even tell the difference between craven collectivism and freedom's liberation.________

We have our share of difficulties, and our ability to surmount them looks increasingly grim. And when you're the big dog, as freedom has made America, people and groups and nations and even ideologies nip at your feet.

The have nots, the do nots, the know nots, freeloaders and the useful idiots wound up into a frenzy by people of ill will and a disgraceful media, seek to take you down. Seek to hurt you. Seek to diminish your accomplishments, cast aspersions on your greatness, work to undermine your success, mean-mouth your achievements, deny, rewrite and twist history to say it isn't so. They would rather pick at the nits than recognize how far America has drawn humanity out of the primordial goo.

Americans know our greatness. America haters hate our greatness. Too many of our own countrymen are misled, misguided, propagandized and brainwashed into hating -- blind fuming hatred -- of the very hand that feeds them.

America haters are the most pernicious, deceitful and hate-filled enemies of all that is good and prosperous and productive and beneficial to humanity. Too many exist within our midst, in our Congress and schools and newsrooms and within the bureaus of the czars. And they are clever, and devilish in their cunning, and left unchecked they will indeed ruin the greatest society the planet has ever seen, and then dance in the bloody gore of the havoc they reek.

If you believe in The American Way, if you have benefited from The American Way, if you want your children and their children and generations to come both here and abroad to bask in the glory of The American Way, then you need to rise up -- in all your righteous glory and indignation -- and denounce the siren song of those who would rend and ridicule what we have achieved.

You need to always say the obvious, and flatly refuse to participate in the debilitating socialist disease of political correctness! Don't joke about it, which reinforces it, denounce it! You need to substitute e pluribus unum -- "From Many, One" for the leftwing sickness of multicultural divisiveness. You need to know that belief in limited government, low taxation, delegated powers, free markets, free enterprise, gun ownership, religion and personal responsibility makes you a moderate not an extremist. Those who tell you to reject these core American values, they are the extremists. The extremists are calling the moderates extreme, and the media helps sing that song. Clinging to The American Way makes you a centrist, a moderate centrist. Only a vile and corrupt media could see it otherwise and then promote an upside-down cake of the truth.
You must loudly and publicly reject laws that violate the separation of Congress and the States, laws that violate the 10th Amendment by delegating forbidden powers, laws that grow government illegally, laws that use color and sex and language to force compliance, quotas, and deceptive non-equality. Equal treatment under the law, not enforced treats and benefits through income redistribution. Special treatment to favored groups is the behavior of tyrants. We are and must remain a nation built on merit and compassion, not central dictates and giving away your money to other people.

You can do all these things, and keep America at her heights of glory. You can for generations to come preserve all the things that made America great and this shining beacon of liberty it has been for more than two centuries. You need to ask yourself, of every proposal that comes down the pike from central government, state government, local government, media pundits and all others who profess to know what's right for you, "Does it maximize freedom?"

Does it maximize freedom, that's the question. That's the benchmark.

If it maximizes freedom, it's good. That's what our Founders knew. That's what got us to this great pinnacle of success from which we are now slipping. If it would do good but does not maximize freedom, it must be rejected. If government could take action -- but has no authority to do so, it must be rejected. There is always another way. The American Way.

Thank you, and may God bless America.

Alan KorwinBloomfield Press"We publish the gun laws."4848 E. Cactus, #505-440Scottsdale, AZ 85254602-996-4020 Phone602-494-0679 Fax1-800-707-4020 Ordershttp://www.gunlaws.comalan@gunlaws.comCall, write, fax or click for our f r e e full-color catalog
If you can read this, thank a teacher.If you're reading this in English, thank a veteran.
"No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little." --Edmund Burke
Guns Save LivesGuns Stop CrimeGuns Are Why America Is Still F r e e

taken from : B'NAI ELIM (

For our American Jewish Service Men and Women and all who serve to protect the United States and Israel

For our American Jewish Service Men and Women and all who serve to protect the United States and Israel

Blogmaster's comment: I received the message copied below from a friend who is now living in Israel. Although the original article was dated last January, I think that it is significant and appropriate to publish on this American Memorial Day in which we remember and honor Military...the fallen who gave their all for freedom, and those who serve today to make this world a safer place for us all.

On the 14th of January 2008 the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) dropped anchor in the tranquil waters of Santa Barbara, California and was warmly welcomed by the citizens of town with the help of the Santa Barbara Chapter of the US Navy League.

The thousands of sailors were treated to wine tasting, jeep tours, a free concert, dinners out and several banquets. These events and the ship visits were organized, coordinated and ran by the board of the Navy League, the members and dozens of volunteers. One of the smaller events was a traditional Shabbat dinner catered for a small group of Jewish sailors aboard the ship.

The genesis for this event occurred at one of the Navy League Tuesday night mixers. I learned that the USS Reagan was returning to Santa Barbara. I suddenly felt compelled to reach out to any Jewish crew members on aboard. As a Merchant Marine member of the Santa Barbara Navy League and proud Hebrew, I know first hand the uniqueness of being on the ocean while Jewish Holy Days are being celebrated on land by those you love.

This compulsion to act comes from my own experience. After one Passover, when I was in transit from the Caribbean to Canada, 100 miles off the Jersey shore I wish I had a just one box of Matzo. Now with the USS Reagan coming to town I felt I had the opportunity to make sure no other Jewish sailor felt left out. Since I was privy to information about the arrival of this ship, I had to keep in mind the old axiom “loose lips sink ships.” Since US warships can not announce their arrival till 24 hours before docking, this turned the planning of this simple event into a clandestine operation.
First some background: The USS Ronald Reagan is a 1092 foot, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that sails with over 5,000 crew members and can stay at sea potentially for years at time. She is essentially a four and a half acre floating American city that can go anywhere in the world. The Santa Barbara Navy League has adopted the ship and her crew and when she arrives in port helps to create truly a unique experience for both the sailors and townspeople.

In the US armed forces military members are free to practice their faith and uniformed chaplains are serving alongside these men and women to help and guide them with their religious needs. In the Navy there are rabbis, clergy and imams working amongst the sailors. With help from the Santa Barbara Navy League Officers and Directors they provided me with the resources to help me orchestrate this small event. My goal was to bring a small group of sailors to the local UCSB Hillel and to the Chabad of UCSB for a delicious Shabbat dinner.

Shabbat for the Jewish people is the day that G-d rested after creating the Universe and commanded us to do the same. In our tradition each new day starts at night and Friday night is the beginning of this weekly Holiday. Friday night Shabbat dinners are a corner stone of the Jewish experience and several occur each week at Rabbis homes and at Jewish temples in the Santa Barbara area each week.

All the feedback I got from SBNL President Karen Crawford was very positive and with her approval Vice President Doug Crawford, SBNL Chaplain Director Sister Christine Bowman, and Legislative Affairs Director Michael Roberts were able to help me coordinate and run the event.

What was needed though was getting through the proper Navy channels in order to get permission and to advertise the Shabbat dinner on shore. Surprisingly there are many resources such as Harold Robinson of the Jewish Chaplains Council, the Jews in Green website, the nine commissioned Navy rabbis and the numerous and interspersed Jewish lay-leaders. These organizations helped me find Navy Rabbi Captain Irving Elson and Chaplain Axtell.

On the ground I was coordinating with the Hillel and Chabad Rabbis of the University of Santa Barbara and the students who would make this interaction of sailors and civilians so moving. At the Hillel, Program Director Amber Shields was getting me in touch with students who would shuttle the Sailors. Rabbi Mendel and his wife from the Chabad of UCSB provided a colorful flyer that was to be posted aboard the ship inviting the sailors to their home.

Down at the docks the sailors were being shuttled to shore. One of the USCB students Jarrod Goldberg, who is also a member of the ASI (American Students for Israel) and a junior member of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) provided transportation. We greeted the six sailors around 500 and after some introductions headed over to Hillel to blend in with the student population.

Sailors CSSA Melissa Gumm, SK2 Bella Yusupova and their curious non-Jewish galley mates quickly made themselves at home with the College students, some who were stunned to see women and men in uniform at their weekly Friday night services. At the Hillel three simultaneous Shabbat services are available, a Reform one led by Rabbi Allison Conyer, a Conservative service lead by students and an Orthodox minyan lead by Rabbi Loschak.

The sailors and the students had a great interaction with each other and planned on getting together later that weekend. In one amazing game of Jewish Geography played that evening was that one sailor shared a parallel life story to one of the community members. Many of the students had never met their uniformed counterparts and for the sailors it was a great atmosphere to decompress. One community member and friend of mine, Larisa Traga, MSW and SK2 Bella Yusupova both had a common history. They had escaped the oppression of communism in their home country of Uzbekistan with their parents as children and made their home in Brooklyn. Now they would be here over this special Shabbat dinner. As the evening came to an end and the sailors and students said their good-byes I realized how great our constitutional democracy is and how fortunate are our fighting men and women are to have enthusiastic civilian organizations comforting to their spiritual needs. Surely the significance of this event would not be lost to either President Ronald Reagan or the Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (z”l), who both worked in their lifetime’s for democracy, religious freedom and to bring down the oppressive regime of the USSR.

taken from : B'NAI ELIM (

DoubleTapper: IDF Elite Unit

DoubleTapper: IDF Elite Unit
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