Thursday, 14 January 2010

Love of the Land: PA Minister defends glorification of terrorists: "It's the least we can do"

PA Minister defends glorification of terrorists: "It's the least we can do"

City square named after Dalal Mughrabi, murderer of 37 Israelis

Itamar Marcus/Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW)
14 January '10

The Palestinian Authority is defending its practice of honoring terrorists who have killed Israelis by naming public places and events after them.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu protested to the US this week over the continued hate and violence incitement by the Palestinian Authority. Israel's protest was prompted by Palestinian Media Watch's exposure of a birthday celebration and naming of a square in Ramallah, both in honor of terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who killed 37 Israelis when she and other terrorists hijacked a bus in 1978.

PA Minister of Culture, Siham Barghouti, defended this terrorist glorification:

"It is our right to preserve and maintain [the memory] of our fighters who sacrificed their lives for our sake and for the sake of the Palestinian cause. Honoring them in this way [by naming public places after them] is the least we can give them, and this is our right." [Al-Ayyam, Jan. 11, 2010]

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: PA Minister defends glorification of terrorists: "It's the least we can do"

Elder of Ziyon: Quick review of the Nexus One

Elder of Ziyon: Quick review of the Nexus One

Israel Matzav: The truth about the Middle East

The truth about the Middle East

Victor Davis Hanson lists five truths about which it's not politically correct to speak. The fifth one deals with Israel.

5) The “Middle East” is a Fraud

Why do we beat ourselves up over Israel and the Palestinians? Why not occupied Cyprus? Or the Kuriles? Or South Ossetia? Or the divided city of Nicosia? Is there a “Falklands Question”?

Why are not Germans blowing themselves up in Gdansk, the former East Prussia, the Alsace, or old Silesia to recover “lost” land?

Were there no Israeli-Arab wars before the “occupation” of 1967? Does anyone think that, should the West Bank simply take a 30-year break from the violence, emulate Western business and government, draw in Gulf capital, a few thousands acres here or there would then be still be relevant?

Are the far poorer people of Chad blowing themselves up? Is the world crying for those in the slums of Lima? Does want and famine drive those in rural China to capture the world’s attention by virtue of their terrorist acts? Do we send special envoys to occupied Tibet? Is there a Green Line there?

Sorry—take away three things, and the Mideast “crisis” is relegated to Cypriote status. If there were no oil in the Arab Middle East; if there were no Islamic terrorists; and if there was no endemic global anti-Semitism, we would be as likely to have a “Mideast czar” as we would an “Ossetian Czar.”

He's right with almost any President of the United States until now. But Barack Obama is a zealot when it comes to pressuring Israel, and I suspect that he would have had a Middle East czar even if there were no oil and no terrorists. The same goes for Jimmy Carter.

Israel Matzav: The truth about the Middle East

Love of the Land: Let My People Go, So That They May Serve Me

Let My People Go, So That They May Serve Me

Manhigut Yehudit
28 Tevet 5770
14 January '10

And G-d said to Moses, 'Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him: Thus says G-d, the G-d of the Hebrews: Let My people go, that they may serve Me. (From this week's Torah portion, Va'eirah, Exodus 9:13)

"So that they may serve Me." This small phrase turns all the modern significance that we would like to attach to the story of the Exodus on its head. On the surface, the story is made for Hollywood (and it was!): It has the good guys and the bad guys. It has Moses, the underdog leader fighting for justice who defeats Pharaoh, the strong and evil king. The good guys win, the bad guys lose, the good guys live happily ever after, the bad guys drown in the sea, justice has been done, happy end.

There is just one small problem. That is not what is written. We were not redeemed from Egypt so that we could live happily ever after. We were redeemed from Egypt to serve the King of the world. Were it not for that fact, we would have remained there.

The famous verse from this week's Torah portion, "Let my people go" became the slogan of the struggle for Soviet Jewry trapped behind the Iron Curtain. It was a great struggle to be in; the Soviet Union was the bitter enemy of the United States and what could be nicer than fighting against the evil empire and dovetailing with the ethical and enlightened Western world?

The problem is that while we adopted the values of the US, the "good empire", we omitted the all-important phrase, "So that they may serve Me." All that we remembered was "Let my people go." Let my people go for the sake of freedom, for the sake of democracy, for the sake of Zionism, for the sake of the values of the Western world. Let my people go to the Pax Americana of which Israel is part.

But we – and the Americans – are in the process of collapse because we have forgotten that our purpose is to serve G-d.

We have lost our sense of justice for our existence and as a result, arrest warrants are already waiting for our elected government officials if they dare venture into Europe's capitals. In a sense, they are right. We did not leave Egypt to enjoy the desert climate and we did not establish the State of Israel because the world lacks democracies. Without the "serving G-d" factor, there is no significance to the Return to Zion – it only creates friction in the world. As far as the nations are concerned, if we do not carry the message that the world has been waiting for, we are extraneous – even a nuisance.

The Americans had a president who looked for meaning. He was inspired by the good Jew who helped to open the Iron Curtain. "Natan Sharansky's book, The Case for Democracy, is always at my bedside," said President Bush. And so, the American Nation followed Sharansky's message. But unfortunately, Sharansky's book did not include the connection between liberty and the service of G-d. The attempt to force democracy upon Iraq failed, naturally and the defeat of America was remolded into the image of Obama.

Shabbat Shalom
Moshe Feiglin

Love of the Land: Let My People Go, So That They May Serve Me

Love of the Land: The Palestinian Issue – A New Paradigm: Focusing on the Humanitarian rather than the Political

The Palestinian Issue – A New Paradigm: Focusing on the Humanitarian rather than the Political

Dr. Martin Sherman
Jerusalem Summit

A. Assessment

1. The conventional-wisdom paradigm for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has failed woefully, bringing nothing but misery and despair to both sides – but particularly to the Palestinians as individual human beings.

2. This conventional paradigm has attempted to solve the conflict by means of a Political Approach involving the establishment of a self governing Palestinian entity on territories in Judea Samaria and Gaza which have been under Israeli control since 1967 i.e. on the basis of a "Land for Peace" approach.

3. Dispassionate assessment of the history of the conflict and its current development will strongly suggest that persisting with attempts to attain a political solution on the basis the conventional paradigm are at best futile - and at worse harmful. Accordingly, alternative modes of resolution must be pursued.

B. Analysis

1. Analysis of Palestinian deeds and declarations over the years make it difficult to avoid the conclusion that they are in effect both unwilling and incapable of achieving and maintaining statehood.

(a) Palestinian Unwillingness: This is reflected in the fact that the Palestinians have rejected every single viable proposal which would have afforded them a state - from the 1947 partition plan to the 2000 Barak proposals.

(b) Palestinian Incapability: The Palestinian national movement has enjoyed conditions far more favorable than almost any other national independence movement since WW-II - widespread international endorsement of their cause, unmitigated support of a superpower in the decades of the Cold War, highly sympathetic coverage by the major media organizations, and over a decade of Israeli administrations who have acknowledged (and at times even identified with) the Palestinians declared national aspiration. In spite of this, the achievements of Palestinian national movement have been more miserable than almost any other national independence movement – bringing nothing but privation and penury to its people.

(Read full synopsis)

Love of the Land: The Palestinian Issue – A New Paradigm: Focusing on the Humanitarian rather than the Political

Love of the Land: Hamas Placing IEDs in Densely Populated Areas

Hamas Placing IEDs in Densely Populated Areas

Honest Reporting/Backspin
14 January '10

Gaza residents are enraged with Hamas because the terror group their democratically elected leaders have been placing powerful IEDs in densely populated areas "far from the border with Israel." Memri adds:

It was reported that this is infuriating the residents and sparking clashes between them and Hamas members.

We know Hamas has stored weapons in mosques, hospitals, residential buildings, even media buildings.

Will any enterprising reporters look into this new war crime, or will the MSM blame the inevitable collateral damage on Israel?

Love of the Land: Hamas Placing IEDs in Densely Populated Areas

Love of the Land: Secular western tolerance for Muslim intolerance

Secular western tolerance for Muslim intolerance

Point of No Return
14 January '10

Secular liberals are quick to condemn any expression of 'Jewish bigotry', while ignoring the antisemitism rampant in the Arab press and media. They provide no contextual counterbalance, such as a discussion of the history of discrimination of Jews in Muslim Society, where Jews were treated no better than in Christendom, and often worse. This must-read piece by Matthew M Hausman comes as cold shower of realism to anybody who believes in the Golden Age myth of tolerance between Arabs and Jews. Via Israpundit:

Former Israeli Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef recently took a public flogging for allegedly describing Islam as “ugly,” specifically with respect to its laws concerning marriage and divorce. The liberal blogosphere had a field day, calling the Rabbi a bigot and labeling his comments hate speech. But the bloggers provided no contextual counterbalance, such as a critical discussion of the defamation of Jews and Judaism that occurs routinely in the Arab press or the historical discrimination of Jews in Muslim society. Nor do they ever. Although these folks cry themselves hoarse concerning their right to free speech whenever challenged for their demonstrably biased reporting on Israel – or for lambasting comments such as those by Rabbi Yosef – they are silent whenever the subject is Arab or Muslim incitement or intolerance. (...)

The mainstream media in the United States is quick to denounce any perceived affronts to Arab or Islamic culture, and just as quick to condemn any alleged expressions of Jewish or Israeli chauvinism. But the media is reluctant to criticize antisemitic expressions from Arab or Muslim sources, draw any connection between Islamism and terrorism, acknowledge the history of Arab expansion and colonialism, or discuss the supremacist implications of jihad – even as it openly plays out in Europe. Rather, liberal pundits often wax dreamily poetic when discussing the so-called “golden age of Islam” or the myth of Islamic tolerance. Moreover, they tend to rationalize any antisemitic or anti-Western expressions in the Arab world as reactions to Israeli intransigence or American colonialism.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: Secular western tolerance for Muslim intolerance

Love of the Land: No easy riding for Gaza bikers

No easy riding for Gaza bikers

Djallal Malti (AFP)
12 January '10
HT to Solomania

GAZA CITY — When Munzer Diyya wants to get away from it all, he sits astride his motorcycle and takes to the open road -- all 45 kilometres of it. Diyya has the misfortune of being an open road enthusiast living in the Gaza Strip, a tiny territory sandwiched between Israel and Egypt and blockaded by both. (See AFP Discovers that Gaza has Two Borders)

So when he and his buddies gun their engines and head out on the highway, they are reduced to riding only the length of the impoverished and overcrowded Palestinian enclave -- a mere 45 kilometres (28 miles).

"I ride slowly to make it last longer," Diyya says. "When I ride my bike, I spread my wings. I feel like I'm flying."

The ability to spread one's wings is sorely needed but very hard to accomplish in sealed-off Gaza.

(Continue article)

Love of the Land: No easy riding for Gaza bikers

Love of the Land: An Alternative to a 'Palestinian' State

An Alternative to a 'Palestinian' State

Moshe Feiglin
Manhigut Yehudit
21 Tevet, 5770
07 January '10

At a recent lecture in Los Angeles, I was asked about my alternative to a 'Palestinian State'. The solution that I propose, promotion of Arab emigration, is predicated on the following points:

A. The Land of Israel belongs exclusively to the Jewish Nation.

B. There is no "Palestinian nation" and aspirations for a "Palestinian State" are strictly for Arab propaganda purposes. The Arabs of Israel and their terror organizations are being offered a state on a silver platter – something that has never happened to any other group in history. Nevertheless, they have repeatedly rejected this gift. The reason that they reject this more-than-generous offer is because their real and exclusive goal is not Arab sovereignty, but the destruction of Jewish sovereignty. Thus, any plan that relies on a third side, and particularly on the good will and cooperation of the Arab countries, is unrealistic.

C. The solution for the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza must be based on the facts on the ground and not on the fantasies of Oslo.

There are three facts on the ground that support this position:

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: An Alternative to a 'Palestinian' State

Love of the Land: Learning From The Turkish Wringer

Learning From The Turkish Wringer

Batya Medad
Shilo Musings
14 January '10

Turkey has now crowned its growing list of antisemitic, anti-Israel acts by upgrading diplomatic threats in response to a silly faux pax by Danny Ayalon, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister.

There's something to learn from this.

No, it's not to treat Turkey (and other countries) more diplomatically. It's how we should be responding to diplomatic insults, antisemitic and anti-Israel acts and statements by other nations.

First of all, Israel must recognize that most, if not all, of our "close friendships" with other nations are very one-sided. We consider them great friends and they just like our tourist and import money. If our business is good for their economy their palms are open, but their hearts are closed. The Israeli mentality just doesn't get it. This is a very dangerous syndrome. It just causes more abuse, diplomatic slights and worse.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Learning From The Turkish Wringer

Love of the Land: Moshe Feiglin on Responding to Bibi's Abandonment Strategy: Straight Talk

Love of the Land: Moshe Feiglin on Responding to Bibi's Abandonment Strategy: Straight Talk

Love of the Land: Past Anti-Israel Diplomacy Makes Obama's New Peace Push "Doomed From The Outset" Because Of Inflated Palestinian Expectations

Past Anti-Israel Diplomacy Makes Obama's New Peace Push "Doomed From The Outset" Because Of Inflated Palestinian Expectations

Mere Rhetoric
13 January '10

On one side of the vaunted Palestinian territories, Hamas absolutely refuses to negotiate with Israel, thereby confirming every single thing they've ever said. On the other side Fatah can't handle their own terrorists let alone go after Hamas or Islamic Jihad infiltrators. It's an open question whether they even want to any more:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday spurned a new US effort to revive Mideast peace talks, sticking to his position that he will not resume negotiations unless Israel freezes settlement construction. With Abbas digging in, an upcoming diplomatic mission by US Mideast envoy George Mitchell could be doomed from the outset... the US has failed to get Israel to halt construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, lands the Palestinians want for their state... Abbas said on Tuesday he will not resume talks under the current conditions... "We won't agree to resume negotiations without a full settlement freeze, especially in Jerusalem, for a certain period." The Obama administration has recently suggested bypassing the settlement issue by getting the two sides to discuss the borders of a Palestinian state. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said that by focusing on the endgame, such talks would defuse the problem of settlements.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Past Anti-Israel Diplomacy Makes Obama's New Peace Push "Doomed From The Outset" Because Of Inflated Palestinian Expectations

Israel Matzav: P5 minus 1

P5 minus 1

China has found a new way to stall on implementing new sanctions on Iran. China has decided to stay home. So much for all that bowing that Obama did there.

But a diplomatic source tells POLITICO that China is saying its political director may not necessarily be able to come to a meeting of the P5+1 -- the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany -- that is scheduled for next weekend in New York.

It couldn't immediately be confirmed if China does not plan to attend, or plans to send a less senior representative. The State Department did not immediately respond to a query on the matter.

The P5+1 was expected to meet at the end of December, but China also couldn't come then.

On the other hand, Laura Rozen writes at Politico that the advantage of the more focused sanctions sought by the Obama administration is that they don't need Security Council approval.

More targeted sanctions on an expanded list of designated IRGC connected entities is also perhaps useful for the administration because they can be authorized without any additional UN Security Council resolution, which China is in a position to block, should it choose.

But the European diplomat also said that while the Obama administration may have stopped publicly talking about "crippling" sanctions on Iran -- a phrase Secretary of State Hillary Clinton previously used -- the list of entities to consider designating for sanctions that the Obama administration is sharing with its P5+1 counterparts is the same list as before.

I find it hard to believe that the multilateralist Obama is going to go ahead and implement sanctions without UN approval.

But more importantly, while all of this dithering over what sanctions to implement, when and by whom goes on, Iran's centrifuges keep spinning. The time for sanctions to even have a chance is rapidly running out.

Israel Matzav: P5 minus 1

RubinReports: It’s Starting to Look As If The Obama Administration Has Learned Nothing from Its First Year

It’s Starting to Look As If The Obama Administration Has Learned Nothing from Its First Year

Please subscribe for ongoing coverage of these issues

By Barry Rubin

In the United States, about half the population and most of the policy elite thinks that President Barack Obama’s administration is a great success internationally. The other half doesn’t. A key reason for the first group’s attitude is its obsession with the highly visible popularity issue, the idea that America is more liked in the world. The problem is that, at the same time, it is less respected and that is the factor that counts.

As we move into 2010, with the administration’s first, “learning,” year behind it, a turn toward learning the lessons of that experience is not yet visible. This is especially so on the two most high-profile Middle East issue.

Originally, the administration suggested that it would raise sanctions against Iran in September 2009 if engagement yielded no fruit. Then that was pushed back to the end of 2009. Now we have a new estimate: July 2010. Maybe. And we also have the defining of those sanctions long in advance as ineffective, narrowly—and symbolically—focused on a ruling elite which will never feel any pain as a result.

This, then, is the way the Obama Administration views threats, which will make its adversaries see them as hollow. In a Brussels speech, U.S. ambassador to the European Union William Kennard explained:

"You'll hear over the next six months a lot more about our efforts on sanctions."

Hear about them? Haven’t we been hearing about them for a year? And at the end of six months will we actually see them?

This all makes the following scenario quite imaginable:

Fill in the month; fill in the day; fill in the year: Iran Has Nuclear Weapons

Same month; same day plus one; same year: U.S. announces low-level, ineffective sanctions to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, a parallel scenario is affecting the administration’s “peace process” policy. There are lots of stories in the media. Envoys zig and zag over the map. Meetings are held; plans are hinted at. But none of this matters. None of it.

Here’s the only thing that matters: Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas says he won’t even go to talks unless Israel stops all construction right now, including the apartments being completed and the ones being built in Jerusalem. The news media likes to say that both sides are “defying” the United States. But in fact what Israel is doing was approved by the United States, even highly praised by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Obama’s Administration is urging that negotiations restart based on the fantasy that all the tough issues will be quickly resolved. Resolve borders, security guarantees, recognition of a Jewish state of Israel, end of conflict, settlement of refugees in Palestine, status of Jerusalem, and lots of other incredibly difficult issues? The administration can't even get the two sides to the table!

Here's a basic aspect of the problem. While Israel won’t give up everything Abbas demands in negotiations, Abbas is unprepared to make the slightest concession on anything. First, because he doesn’t want to do so; second, because he is unable to do so, since he lacks a strong base of support; third, because he is afraid to do so because he would lose power, his Fatah movement would splinter, and he might even be overthrown by Hamas.

Therefore, in July 2010, and by January 2011 for that matter, the administration is unlikely to make any progress.

Very possibly the administration will fool the American media by constant activity and claims that it is getting somewhere; somewhat possibly will it fool a large proportion of the American population. But people in the Middle East aren’t fooled at all.

RubinReports: It’s Starting to Look As If The Obama Administration Has Learned Nothing from Its First Year

Elder of Ziyon: Israelis have 16,805 patents. Arabs have 836.

Elder of Ziyon: Israelis have 16,805 patents. Arabs have 836.

Elder of Ziyon: More exports from Gaza; world media silent

Elder of Ziyon: More exports from Gaza; world media silent

Elder of Ziyon: Qaradawi kerfuffle

Elder of Ziyon: Qaradawi kerfuffle

DoubleTapper: IDF Women

IDF Women

DoubleTapper: IDF Women

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Ah... but which words? And if you can chose them arbitrarily, how valuable can the picture really be?
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Interactions With Arabs

Interactions With Arabs

Heard the one about how the Zionists were European colonialists determined to screw the poor Palestinians? And how by now, they're the only colonialists still standing, but even they will sooner or later succumb to the inexorable logic of history? I have no doubt you have.

Of course, there were always a few scratches on the neatness of the story. The Jewish language, for example, is not only Semitic, it's Western-Semitic, meaning it originated at the east edge of the Mediterranean. There's the single most widespread best-seller in the annals of Man, the Bible, which rather clearly puts the Jews in the land no-one was then calling Palestine. There are the many archeological finds, some of them very old even by the standards of archeology, in the Jewish language, confirming the Jewish story. There's the fact that most Zionists didn't come from European colonial states, there was no home state they could rely on and be colonials from... in short, Zionism looks exactly like an elephant except it doesn't have four legs, no trunk, no floppy ears, no thick gray skin, isn't the right size, isn't an animal at all, and doesn't have tusks. Other than that the resemblance is striking.

Every now and then there's another little gem. If the Jews were here so long ago, you might ask, didn't they ever interact with Arabs? Not, obviously, 3,000 years ago when there were no Arabs here to interact with. But later, perhaps?

I refer you to Bava Batra. The discussion is about farmers who neglect to clear their vineyards from other crops, thus transgressing on the prohibition of mixing crops. Rabbi Eliezer takes this so far as to forbid the use of a vineyard where thistles haven't been removed. The Gemarah asks in what way can thistles be construed as a second crop, alongside the vines? Rabbi Hannina explains that Rabbi Eliezer saw how Arabs ("arvaya" in the Aramaic) collected thistles to feed their camels.

Bava Batra156b.

This thread started and is explained here.
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Disaster in Haiti

Disaster in Haiti

Given the magnitude of the destruction and suffering in Haiti, we should pause a moment from our daily matters and hope the aid workers can still save as many lives as possible.

Coincidentally, this week the daf yomi project is passing a number of mishnas which deal with earthquakes, and how inheritances are divided when buildings fall on families and it's not possible to know which family member died first, thus notionally bequeathing their property to other family members who also died. The legal issue could have been demonstrated with other scenarios, of course (what happens when families die in a war and we don't know details, for example). Yet earthquakes have always been with us and always will, so they're an easily recognizable tag for the more abstract "What happens when simultaneous sudden death strikes?"

Bava Batra 157-158
Originally posted by Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Israel Matzav: Obama's first year on Israel

Obama's first year on Israel

At HuffPo, Steven Sheffey defends President Obumbler's first-year record on Israel (Hat Tip: Shmuel Rosner) (a solid B+?). I will go through and point out some of the areas where I believe that Sheffey is mistaken.

Only last month, we learned that Israeli officials have been singing the praises of President Obama for his willingness to address their defense concerns and for actions taken by his administration to bolster Israel's qualitative military edge-- an edge eroded, according to Israel, during the final year of the George W. Bush presidency. (The Bush administration violated security related agreements with Israel in which the U.S. promised to preserve the IDF's qualitative edge over Arab armies.)

As I noted last week, these violations were undertaken at the request of then-Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert.

I'm sometimes asked what it would take for me to conclude that Obama was not pro-Israel. If Obama had forced Israel to withdraw from territory it justifiably held, if Obama had suspended arms sales to Israel , if Obama had backed UN resolutions condemning Israel, if Obama had honored the graves of Nazi soldiers , if Obama had used loan guarantees to pressure Israel , if Obama had denied Israel arms and airspace to attack Iran, if Obama had pressured Israel to allow Hamas to participate in Gaza elections, thus conferring on it a legitimacy it could never have otherwise earned , I'd be concerned. Previous Presidents have done exactly that (click on the links for details). But not Obama.

We don't know everything that has been said between the Obama administration and Israel. But we do know that enough pressure was brought to bear on Prime Minister Netanyahu during his first trip to Washington that he suddenly became a chasid (admirer) of a 'Palestinian state.' We do know that Netanyahu had a White House meeting at which he was treated like a thief in the night, and that shortly thereafter he agreed to a 10-month 'settlement freeze.' We do know that enormous pressure was placed on Prime Minister Netanyahu to extend that freeze to those parts of Jerusalem that are over the 1949 armistice line, but that thus far he has resisted that pressure.

We also know that President Obumbler claimed that the justification for the State of Israel's existence is the Holocaust, thus ignoring 3,000 years of Jewish history (even Harry Reid recognized that). We know that he compared the plight of 'Palestinian refugees' to the plight of Jews in the Holocaust. We know that he chose to give the Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu, both of whom are virulently anti-Israel. And all of this in his first year in office, when he is constrained by both midterm elections and his own re-election bid in 2012. Imagine what he will be like in 2013 or in 2015 if God forbid he is re-elected!

• Steve Rosen, AIPAC's director of executive branch relations for 23 years, wrote that Obama's appointments are no cause for concern from a pro-Israel perspective.
• Rosen was very concerned about Chas Freeman, but that appointment by Dennis Blair was never final and was rescinded--exactly what we'd expect from a pro-Israel administration that listens to the pro-Israel community.

Chas Freeman was forced out by some powerful bloggers (including yours truly). Just ask him. In a truly pro-Israel administration, Chas Freeman would never have been nominated.

• On May 1, Obama renewed sanctions against Syria because it posed a continuing threat to US interests. Obama, in a letter to Congress notifying it of his decision, accused Damascus of "supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining US and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq."

Obama renewed sanctions against Syria because Assad refused to 'engage' with him. Obama had no choice.

• Obama was the first President to host a seder in the White House. To my right wing friends who try to read "signals" the way the ancients read animal entrails: What signal do you think Obama was sending to the world?

Obama was embarrassed about the seder and would have had everyone enter and leave through the back door (like he did to Netanyahu a few months later) had word not got out.

I could go on refuting Sheffey's claims point by point, but you all get the picture and I have work to get done. The multi-cultural Obama is not pro-Israel. He is a dangerous rival of Israel's and of Jews everywhere.

Israel Matzav: Obama's first year on Israel

Israel Matzav: Bolton on Obama's foreign policy

Bolton on Obama's foreign policy

Paul Mirengoff attended a talk given by John Bolton (pictured) in New York on Wednesday, in which Bolton discussed President Obumbler's approach to foreign policy.

Ambassador Bolton argued that several elements have combined to induce President Obama to enroll in the essentially European project of global governance. Among these elements are Obama's underlying lack of interest in foreign policy and national security (to him, they are distractions), his sense that America is too powerful, and his desire to eschew old-fashioned patriotism in favor of a "post-American" presidency.


olton also cited our approach to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. With respect to North Korea and Iran, we have deferred to the "global community" and now rely on a policy of begging these countries to negotiate with us. Although negotiating is a good tactic for a nation like Iran that still needs time to develop nuclear weapons, Iran has resisted because it knows there will be no adverse consequences. Thus, Iran does not even need to negotiate in order to avoid U.S. action. And by holding out, it can expect to receive additional inducements to come to the table, if it comes ot that.

Ultimately, says Bolton, Iran and North Korea are understandably confident that they can "roll" Obama. In the meantime, the rest of the world sees a weak U.S. And when we ultimately fail to stop either nation, the floodgates of nuclear proliferation will open.

Bolton argues, as we have almost since we started blogging, that the only way to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons is to attack its nuclear facilities. For Obama such an attack is out of the question, so that leaves Israel. Bolton did not predict whether Israel will attack Iran, but he noted that it will be forced to make its decision soon.

Bolton holds out some hope that the opposition movement in Iran will succeed. And he bemoans the fact that during the past decade, we did so little to help it. In recent years, power has flowed to the revolutionary guard, making an overthrow of the government more difficult in some ways.

In any event, Bolton questions whether a change in government, even to a democratic system, would cause Iran not to develop nukes. And he believes that, even with such a change, the Saudis and others in the region would feel the need to develop nukes.

Bolton may not have predicted whether Israel will attack Iran, but six months ago he said that there was 'compelling logic' for us to do so and two years ago he told us that we need to see ourselves as a 'last resort' for striking Iran. A year ago, he told us to do it sooner rather than later.

America's in good hands: What could go wrong?

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Bolton on Obama's foreign policy

Israel Matzav: Hamas war preparations: Powerful IED's next to densely populated buildings

Hamas war preparations: Powerful IED's next to densely populated buildings

A website close to Fatah claims that Hamas militias are placing powerful IEDs near densely populated buildings in Gaza in regions far from the border with Israel, as part of preparations for war with Israel.

It was reported that this is infuriating the residents and sparking clashes between them and Hamas members.


They don't use human shields, do they? Richard?

Israel Matzav: Hamas war preparations: Powerful IED's next to densely populated buildings

Israel Matzav: Boycott Bar Refaeli?

Boycott Bar Refaeli?

A high-ranking IDF officer has called for a boycott of products advertised by 'supermodel' Bar Refaeli.

The Israel Defense Forces human resources chief Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir yesterday called for a boycott of products advertised by Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli.

Speaking at a lecture at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Zamir was asked why the army did not act against Refaeli, who married under false pretenses so she could evade military service. Zamir said that, according to law, he could not act against Refaeli. "She went and married a 37-year-old guy, so what can I do?" he said.

"At the end of the day," according to Zamir, "she is the one who has to look at herself in the mirror. We are a society that has an army, and Bar Refaeli doesn't have to participate in ads for Fox [clothing] - and if she advertises Fox then you shouldn't buy their products."

Refaeli's mother came to her defense.

"The remarks made by the head of human resources are ridiculous and shameful," the model's mother, Tzipi Levin, said in an interview on the Web site Walla. "Before they attack Bar, let them look through their own house and see who they don't draft. Bar will continue to succeed and they will continue to talk and annoy us. We are among those who act and succeed, and they will continue to talk."

For those who have forgotten, this was how she enraged Israelis two years ago.

In her interview, the Israeli model said she was not against army service, even though she never enlisted, having married an acquaintance to evade the draft. The couple was soon divorced.

“I really wanted to serve in the IDF, but I don’t regret not enlisting, because it paid off big time,” she said. “That’s just the way it is, celebrities have other needs. I hope my case has influenced the army.

“Israel or Uganda, what difference does it make? It makes no difference to me. Why is it good to die for our country? What, isn’t it better to live in New York? Why should 18-year-old kids have to die? It’s dumb that people have to die so that I can live in Israel,” Refaeli added.

Until two years ago, no one in Israel had heard of Refaeli. If she can't stand the heat here, she should go back to America and stop highlighting the fact that she's Israeli. In America, almost no one will care that she consummated a sham marriage to evade the IDF.

Israel Matzav: Boycott Bar Refaeli?

Israel Matzav: American Jewish contractor arrested for spying in Cuba

American Jewish contractor arrested for spying in Cuba

The New York Times reports that 60-year old Alan P. Gross of the Washington DC suburbs was arrested last month in Cuba and charged with spying for the United States.

Details about Mr. Gross and his work in Cuba slowly began to emerge this week. Mr. Gross studied social work at the University of Maryland and the Virginia Commonwealth University, and he had a long career as an international development worker that took him to at least 50 countries.

In 2001, he started a company called Joint Business Development Center, whose Web site says it has “supported Internet connectivity in locations where there was little or no access,” including Iraq, Afghanistan, Armenia and Kuwait. Records show his company earned less than $70,000 last year.

One friend, Howard Feinberg, said, “The Alan I know is someone who is concerned only about helping improve the human condition, not meddling in people’s politics.”

President Obama came to office promising a new era of engagement with Cuba. But after lifting some restrictions on travel and remittances, he has been reluctant to take further steps, citing continuing reports of human rights abuses in Cuba. Some Cuba experts have said that Mr. Gross’s arrest may harden Mr. Obama’s stance.

Cuba, meanwhile, said the episode signaled that Mr. Obama was just as committed to overthrowing the government as his predecessor was.

Havana has used Mr. Gross’s arrest as an opportunity to raise an old grievance: America’s long prison terms for five Cuban agents convicted of spying on Cuban exile organizations. Havana maintains that the agents were in the United States to prevent terrorist acts against Cuba and has called on the Obama administration to release them.

As for Mr. Gross, Cuba has said little. The government has not formally charged him with a crime. Cuban authorities have provided the United States almost no information, nor have they made any demands.

As a result, Washington and many American experts on Cuba have been left speculating about Havana’s intentions.

“The Cuban regime is obviously looking for some kind of U.S. concession, callously using the contractor as a bargaining chip,” said Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican of Florida, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

I guess Obama's bowing to dictators hasn't helped a whole lot with Cuba. Hope and change same.

Israel Matzav: American Jewish contractor arrested for spying in Cuba

Israel Matzav: Israel still doesn't get it

Israel still doesn't get it

Writing in YNet, Yair Ettinger explains that it's time for Israel to stop kowtowing to the rapidly unpopular Barack Hussein Obama and to stand up for its rights. But apparently, Binyamin Netanyahu just doesn't get it.

Since assuming power in January, 2009, Obama has received slaps in the face from Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, Venezuela, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He has also been targeted by French and West European cynicism. However, Jerusalem is acting as if it is facing an Imperial President.


In 1992, at the height of the Shamir-Bush battle over loan guarantees, I was told by then Majority Leader, Senator George Mitchell: "Doesn't Israel know that the US is not a monarchy, that the president is not omnipotent and that the Legislature is equal in power to the Executive?!"

In 2010, Israel still does not get it. Instead of leveraging critical public and Congressional platforms of support – which will determine the success or oblivion of Obama's policy – Israel approaches Congress as the best supporting-actor in Washington, DC. Jerusalem is intimidated by Emanuel's warning to "avoid bypassing the Administration via Congress." Jerusalem fails to realize that kowtowing to Emanuel's warning amounts to a slap in the face for US democracy, the US public and its representatives on Capitol Hill, while severely undermining Israel's own cardinal interests.

Senator Mitchell's PBS interview reflects Obama's determination to dictate to the Jewish State a full withdrawal to the 1949 and 1967 ceasefire lines, the uprooting of Jewish communities in the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria, the repartitioning of Jerusalem, the negotiation of the "claim of return" by 1948 Arab refugees and the exchange of land.

Such an approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict is a derivative of Obama’s worldview, which highlights the UN as a quarterback of international relations, considers Europe as a role model and Foggy Bottom bureaucracy as luminaries on international relations, burdens the West with partial-blame for international terrorism, regards the Jewish State as part of the exploiting West and the Arabs part of the exploited Third World.

In facing Obama's pressure, Israel should follow in the footsteps of all Prime Ministers from Ben Gurion to Yitzhak Shamir (1948-1992): Advancing Israel's national security while fending off US presidential pressure. For instance, Ben Gurion declared independence in 1948 and constructed Israel's nuclear reactor in defiance of brutal pressure by Secretary of State George Marshall and President Kennedy respectively. Levy Eshkol and Golda Meir built the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramot, Neve Ya'akov and Gilo in response to presidential pressure. And, Menachem Begin destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor irrespective of painful US, European, global and domestic pressure. He initialed the Israel-Egypt peace process by overcoming opposition by President Carter, who preferred an international conference over direct negotiations.

Israel Matzav: Israel still doesn't get it



by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Clothing may at times betray our deepest wishes. And at times it may betray our deepest fears.When we dress for success it reflects the former. When we veil our women it reflects the latter.

In the Tamar and Yehudah narrative, Genesis 15:38 states:

"vayireha Yehudah vayachshevaha lezona ki chista paneha-

Judah saw her, and because she had covered her face, he assumed that she was a prostitute."

Note that because her face was veiled, he had assumed she was a prostitute. In fact, that was WHY she dressed that way. She WANTED him to assume that!

Note the odd vowelization in the word for "he assumed," or "thought"-vayachshVAHA. It might ordinarily be vocalized as vayachsheVEHA instead. But here it is not. Now VA means "in it"or "in her." This may signify that there is an element of psychological projection occuring. Not that he is assuming x,y, or z about her based on objective criteriae. Rather, his own fears are projected onto (into) her in his quick yet faulty summation of who she was.

He was driven by fear and guilt for having abandoned his brother Joseph. Guilt for and fear of abandonment had become defining forces in his personality makeup. He had spared his youngest son, Shelah, from the possibility of an untimely death only through abandoning Tamar and postponing/foregoing his levirite obligations. Er and Onan had died. Would Shelach be next? By abandoning Tamar and withholding her due, he would thus save his son. But at what price?

Now the levirite laws were intrinsically righteous in nature in ensuring the social security of a widow in her old age. It was the world's first social security program! Psalm 71 declares: "al tashlicheni la'et ziknah, ki'chlot kochi al ta'azveni. Do not cast me off me in my old age. When my stength leaves me do not abandon me."

Having a child would serve to protect her from abandonment in her old age. Onan's deepest sin, when he "spilled his seed," therefore, was in avoiding his obligation to protect his widowed sister-in-law in her old age (as well as perpetuating his dead brother's name). This misreading of the text in its proper context "fails to see the forest for the trees." This focus has been the source of much guilt, anxiety and depression through the ages. True onanism in its deepest sense is really then the willfull neglect of the widow, the elderly and all society's vulnerable!

We see in our parsha the recurring theme of abandonment. Joseph is abandoned in the pit, then abandoned in Egypt, and lastly - abandoned in prison. He wrestles with sexual temptation in the context of committing adultery with Potiphar's wife, thereby resulting in the potential abandonment of his sole connection to his family's moral code, a succumbing to the alien allures of Egyptian pagan culture. That he did not succumb was the reason he became known as Yosef HaTzaddik, Joseph the Righteous.

Prostitution reflects the disconnect between sex and obligation. It embodies abandonment at the deepest taboo level. Fear of abandonment leads to hatred of that which symbolizes it. That which is hated must be covered up or put away. Rather than seeing someone covered as modest and demur, he projects onto her the opposite, a reflection of his own inner demons and struggles.

A face connotes personality. Veiling the face reduces her to a sexual object, violating her humanity. Many Muslim women would protest this assertion, but they have bought into their own oppression in a Stockholm Syndrome-like way.

In Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as in most of the Islamic world, the Taliban and the imams fear the freedom and sexuality of women. More to the point, they fear their own sexuality and its associated drives and passions. They project their fears onto women and turn them into objects of fear and loathing so intense that they punish the victim for the sins of the predator! Rape victims are lashed at best, and killed for the family's honor at worst. They justify their veiling practices to fend against the predatious demons of male society in the name of guarding their women's sexual purity.

Ironically, according to the sartorial descriptions of the Torah as read in this week's parsha, their women thus assume the costume of the prostitute who must dwell in the utmost darkened cave-like fringes of society. Their society is thus shut off to the ideas and values of female energy and insight. Islamic society became unbalanced when it was open only to the aggressive tendencies of male energy, and thereby lost its vital center and devolved into an orgy of hatred and a lust for warfare.

The beauty of traditional Jewish notions of Tzniut, or modesty, lies in finding a balanced attitude towards sexuality. Embracing a wholesome view of sex, it sees it as intrinsically good and worthwhile. Yet while its energies are viewed as basically positive, there is a recognition that it best be channeled through the vessel of consecrated marriage, or Kiddushin, lest its urges become destructive and all-consuming.

The Eishes Chayil song/poem, which is sung at the Shabbat table each and every week, validates the woman of the marketplace, whose wisdom and insight nurtures and sustains both the family as well as the greater society, and whose industriousness contributes to society and helps provide for the poor and destitute. Men and women equally must learn to focus on their internal as well as external qualities, and thus both equally develop their truest potentials and input society with a harmonious balance of male and female energies.

And as the moral compass of Yehudah reasserted its sense of justice in doing right by Tamar and reversing her very real sense of abandonment, so too will the Jewish People come to reassert the centrality of Israel in their lives and give succor and support to her people through visiting. When family members are in trouble one goes to be with them in their time of need. And Israel must come to see that Jerusalem is the heart and vital center of world Jewry, just as Mecca is for the Moslem world and the Vatican is for Christendom.

The G*d of Israel saw Joseph overcome his sense of abandonment and led him breathtakingly up from his lowly slave status to the rank of grand vizier so as to be a conduit of salvation for his people. And just as the G*d of Israel saw justice for Tamar, reversing her abandonment and causing the ancestors of the messianic Davidic redeemer to descend from her womb, so too will the G*d of Israel today protect and redeem His people in their time of travail as woesome as any in their history.

Shabbat Shalom! Good Shabbos!

© 2000 - 2010 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

These words of Torah are written in the merit of my beloved father, Israel J. Melman, obm, Yisrael Yehoshua ben Harav Ya'aqov Hakohen Melman, z"l

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua

(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)
Dedications are available.




by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

A unifying theme to this week's parasha is the seemingly paradoxical idea of the acquisition of inner strength through the display of outward vulnerability. Jacob faces his fear of encountering his brother Esau, and instead of unifying his camp which would make himself stronger and thus more able physically to defend himself, counterintuitively opts to divide his camp segmentally to face him. This display of vulnerability won over his brother's heart.

Some take risks for love; others for safety. At last he made a peace with his brother and could now move on with his life. He could never realize his life's mission as long he was dominated by his fear of Esau. He was so sure of his parents' unconditional love for him that he was willing to risk vulnerability in the pursuit of his father's blessing.

His brother's love for him was not guaranteed, however. Deena perhaps emulated her father Yakov's sense of risk for venturing out from the safety of the family compound to visit the local girls. Yakov perhaps needed to grow spiritually by venturing out in order to compensate for his youthful predilection for dwelling in tents. His personal challenge was to leave the comforts of home. As a bearer of the Judaic vision, he could only learn to do so by venturing out from the protective confines and relative safety of the home (yoshev ohalim).

But his challenge was not necessarily her challenge. Each person needs to reflect on the personal growth challenges which he alone needs to face. Yakov won Divine blessing for choosing to go forward to meet his brother rather than to hide and live in fear. Facing his fears actually made him stronger. That being said, however, she had every right to live her "normal" life and visit in town. She wasn't looking for trouble. She wanted to make friends.

Let us not blame the victim for the crime. Shechem was brutal. Three verbs are used in the Torah to describe his actions. He seduced/took her (vayikach), he lay with her (vayishkav), and then he raped her (vayaneha). Only later did he "love" her. His brutality necessitated a strong response.

But on account of the love he felt for her as a result of the peace council whereby they agreed to be circumcised an agreement was made. All the males circumcised themselves and made themselves vulnerable. Jacob must have respected their acceptance of vulnerability as a result of his past experience. It made him open to the possibility of rapprochement.

Where Esau's righteous anger could be abated by a display of vulnerability on Jacob's part, so too could Jacob's own righteous anger be abated by vulnerability on Shechem's part. Now if we examine and contrast Chamor and Shechem's words with respect to Israel and his family, and their words which they used with respect to their own people we see an eery foreshadowing of today's conflict.

To Israel they say (Gen 34:10):

"You will be able to live with us, and the land will be open before you. Settle down, do business here, and the land will become YOUR PROPERTY."

But to their own people they say (Gen 34:23):

"Won't their livestock, their possessions, and all their animals eventually BE OURS?"

Whereas Shimon and Levi saw through the ruse and disallowed their own potential vulnerability which would lead to their demise, their father perhaps was unduly influenced by the need to validate his own past experiences which gave form and meaning to his life. Jacob, who in his youth found it all so easy to trick others (hence his name), now found his own life an endless sequence of others, from Laban to Shechem to his sons' future claiming of Joseph's death, now tricking him.

So we can learn in our parsha that vulnerability plays out in two possible ways- reconciliation or ruse. They seem to cancel each other out. But the parsha also suggests a third way. At Beit El, the place of his initial Divine/angelic dream encounter, G*d swore to him (Gen 28:15):

"no matter where you go I shall protect you- ushmarticha bechawl asher telech").

When Jacob is now in great fear of Canaanite retribution for the slaughter in Shechem, G*d tells them to exchange a false protection for a True protection. They must make themselves seemingly MORE vulnerable by discarding and burying all the idolatrous artifacts - elohei hanechar- even the rings in their ears (25:4), which were in their midst.

Just as the sukkah is a reminder that becoming vulnerable and trusting in G*d is our truest, most reliable protection, so is our parsha this week "pre"iterating that notion, albeit in a proto-Sinaitic context. While the Torah wisely mandates the apparatus of police and a court system, it also recognizes and endlessly repeats the message that true security rests in Hashem alone. We dare not shut off the possibility for love in our lives by encasing ourselves in psychic armor.

Vulnerability leads to possible hurt, but also to possible love. And the truest love and security of all is Divine love. As we begin on the path to follow and observe both the letter and the spirit of G*d's Torah, we make ourselves vulnerable to the possibility of ridicule or rejection by others who claim to know what's best for us. But other people come and go. To follow the easier path of social comfort may be easier but not necessarily the more fulfilling one. G*d's path may be less comfortable physically, but it behooves us to recognize that the Torah of Hashem is eternal and its truth endures forever.

Shabbat Shalom




by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

Many of us travel many miles until we meet our soulmate. Sometimes our true soulmate was always there but we didn't notice. Sometimes we get it right the first time around. Sometimes the one who we think is our soulmate isn't, and the one who we don't think is our soulmate is. Sometimes we might find our soulmate. And then we might find our deepest truest soulmate. Sometimes it is necessary in life to go through certain experiences before we can appreciate the treasures we are destined to encounter. And sometimes we need to go through certain experiences in order to appreciate that which we already have, to see with opened eyes the soulmate we always had.

Not in vain do we meet certain people, for they are often the keys to meeting yet others. If Avraham had never met his servant Eliezer, he may never have met Rivqa. The soulmate encounter was made by the well. Water often symbolizes Torah. This teaches us that relationships that are based on Torah, that are based on plumbing the deepest depths from the wellsprings of Torah, have that built-in liquid interface to help reduce the heat and friction that naturally builds in any relationship.

We had learned that Rivqa offered to water the camels to the one who in the end led her to her true soulmate. A similar soulmate encounter occured at the well in Parshat Vayeitzei, as Yaaqov seeks out *his* soulmate. This time it was *he* who brought the water to the woman, to Rachel. But unbeknownst to Yaaqov, it was also Rachel who was out looking for a soulmate as well, but not necessarily for herself. More than Yaaqov was looking for a soulmate for *himself,* she was looking for a soulmate for her sister Leah. As was the custom in her land, the younger could not marry before the elder, so she did both herself and her sister a favor by searching on her sister's behalf. And that's what's so special about our mother Rachel. She is teaching us that the deepest blessings come to us when we are helping others achieve*their* deepest desires, bringing blessings to ourselves even as we bring blessings to others.

Rachel hoped for a sign from heaven that she might find her sister's soulmate, or even her own one day by the well. Rachel means lamb, one of the b'hemot hat'horot, the animals fit for an offering. But what is a korban? A vessel for drawing near. Rachel was the vessel to help Yaaqov draw near to help him find his truest soulmate. And what was the purpose of the sign? Perhaps it was to find one whose inclination was like Avraham's, one whose nature was to contravene convention in serving G*d, and thus was able to bring down from heaven the greatest blessings.

So here Yaaqov insisted on rolling off the big rock from off the well while it was still the middle of the day- so unconventional! Yaaqov saw all of Lavan's sheep alongside Rachel, thirsty in the heat of the day. How could he *not* help her, despite the protestations by the other shepherds, slaves were they to convention, living by the exigencies of the clock, instead of living in the moment!Thus he fulfilled her sign from heaven. A soul mate was at hand. Just as Esav "lifted his voice and wept"- (Gen 27:38), so too does Yaaqov when he meets Rachel (Gen 29:11): "Vayisa et qolo vayevk."Identical language! What can we learn from this?

We all have a "low" voice, which we use in our material pursuits. But we also have a "high," or raised voice which we use in our deepest spiritual moments. Not high in volume, but high in vibration.

With Esav it was a plaintive cry of sorrow. But with Yaaqov it was a cry of joy. But just as Yaaqov is identified by his voice- his "qol," by lifting up his voice, Esav was finding his Yaaqovness within, that holy spark within himself, however late, that was worthy of a blessing from his father. And on the deepest level, by his words, he was "lifting up" his brother Yaaqov, euphemistically praying to heaven for Yaaqov to marry. By thus blessing his brother and wishing him joy, he merited blessing from his father, Yitzhaq, who found in his quiver of blessings one more left forEsav.

So just as Rachel looked for a soulmate for her sister, Leah, and ended up finding one for herself as well, so too did Esav pray on behalf of his brother Yaaqov, and benefited himself in the process. This is the deepest meaning of vayisa et kolo vayevk.

Now Rachel was *also* Yaaqov's soulmate. She was the "outer" soulmate, while Leah was the "inner" soulmate. Just as Sarah was characterized by her outer beauty, which was actually merely a reflection and expression of her inner beauty, so too was mother Rachel- yefat toar viyfat mareh (Gen 29:17).

When Yaaqov meets her he kisses her, which is actually a clever play on words with giving water- vayashaq vs. vayishaq (Gen 29:10,11). This really is saying that when you give someone water, i.e., when you teach him Torah,you're touching the innermost soul part of that person. As water nourishes on the physical level, Torah nourishes and gives life on the soul level. Later we see kissing to be intrinsic to reunions of those who were separated and then reunited. Esav and Yaaqov weep when they later meet again. Similarly Yosef and his brothers weep when they reunite as Yosef reveals his true identity in Pharaoh's palace.

"Vayishaq" (and he kissed) also alludes to a kind of death, in the sense of passing from one state to another. A neshiqah, a kiss, is really a drawing out of the soul to encounter its soulmate. A nesheq, or a gun,in modern Hebrew, is really the means by which to draw out the soul of a person from THIS life and enable him to cross over into the next life.

But Yaaqov and Rachel had never before met. How could this phrase in the text of kissing indicate any sort of reunion? Indeed it means that they were really soulmates who had once been together, separated, and now were reunited. Kissing always implies reunion. But how could this be, that they were *both* meant to be Yaaqov's wives? We see it from what comes later, and we see it from what comes earlier- from after and from before.

We see it in that twelve tribes descended from them and from their respective handmaidens. All twelve were beneficiaries of the Abrahamic blessing. As Ishmael had twelve descended entities, so too did Yitzhaq achieve parallel blessing through his son, Yaaqov, both blessed"seed descendants" of Avraham. This is the argument from "later."And we see it in the argument from "sooner," in the earlier Qain and Abel narrative, where the three sons of Adam and Eve (Cain, Abel and Seth) parallel the three patriarchs.

Abraham is asked to kill Yitzhaq, but doesn't, thus achieving a tiqun, or a fixing for Qain's killing of Abel (first born killing the second born). Lamech had two wives (Gen 4:23), Adah and Tzillah. Chazal teach us that one was for beauty; the other, for procreation. Similarly, one of Yaaqov's wives was more loved (Rachel); the other was more for procreation (Leah). Indeed, Lamech says to them , shma'an qoli- listen to my voice. Qol, or voice, is always associated with Ya'aqov (haqol qol Ya'aqov).

There is a strong connection between the earliest Hebrews and the earliest humans, even relating specifically to the love between Yaaqov and his wives. Here is a hint:

Lamech says, (Gen 4:23): "I have killed a MAN by wounding, and a CHILD by bruising."

This is an allusion to Yaaqov's future deceit and clever trickery. First against his brother (the child)- when he cajoles and buys the birthrite from Esau in a famished state when he was out of his mind from hunger, while still a youth. And later on, years later when he tricks his father Yitzchaq (the man) by gaining the actual birthrite blessing via gross deception.

The final touch is when he then says "If Cain shall be revenged seven times, then for Lemech it shall be seventy seven times." That is, if someone were to seek vengeance for my misdeeds, the price shall be seven/seven. Esav sought to kill Ya'aqov. The result is now seven/seven. Seventy seven is also written as seven and seven. Seven years for Rachel and seven years for Leah!

The story of Lemech may be only a literary prefiguration for Yaaqov and the other Avoth. But it may also hint of a reincarnative/metempsychotic connection between the first humans and the first Hebrews!

Now that we understand that both Rachel and Leah were destined soulmates for Ya'aqov, we see in the text four hints of Leah's special connection toYa'aqov. The first hint is in Leah's name, and in the previous parsha's description of Ya'aqov as an "ish tam yoshev ohalim...a "perfect" man (Targum) who dwelled in tents. Why is ohel, or tent, expressed in the plural? The text could have said "yoshev ba'ohel,"i.e., in the singular. This plural expression may hint to his future association with Leah, for ohel in Hebrew, is an acronym of Leah!

One ohel so as referring to his actual proclivity for dwelling in tents, the other ohel suggestive of his soul's proclivity for reuniting with Leah. A second hint of Leah's special soul connection to Yaaqov was in the Torah's description of Leah, referring to her eyes:(Gen29:17) ve'eynei Leah rakot...and Leah's eyes were "lovely," or "soft."

Traditionally, we usually associate eyes with the inner, soul level, while beauty and good looks, are usually associated with the outside level (or at times as a manifestation or expression of an inner beauty). Leah's description focuses exclusively on her eyes, the proverbial windows to the soul.

The third example is based on a comparison with other Biblical women who conceived and had children before their "competetive" wives or concubines. Hagar mocks and ridicules Sarah. Likewise in Judges, Peninah mocks and ridicules Hannah, who remained barren for many years. Not so Leah!

Although she outpaces Rachel many times over before she (Rachel) could have children, nevertheless the text gives no indication of any scorn or mockery on her part towards her sister. This is quite laudatory, and is so valorized by the text. As a result, she partakes in the blessing of fulfilling the Abrahamic line and blessing through *her* children as well. Her experience lies outside the typical pattern, whereby usually the woman who remains barren for many years and subsequently gives birth has exclusive claims to blessings of her lineage. This was not the case with Leah, and so is further evidence of a soul connection with Yaaqov and bearer of the seed of Abraham (zera Avraham).

The fourth hint of Leah's special soul relationship with Yaaqov is in a class all by itself, worthy of its own careful treatment. The four sons of Leah reenact in miniature the struggle of merit versus birth order that is played out in many Biblical fraternal conflict scenarios- Yitzhak and Ishmael, Ya'akov and Esav, to name just two. Here the first two by birth order, Reuven and Shimon, are played against Leah's second pair- Levi and Yehudah. Each of the first two are eventually cursed by their father,whereas the last two are held out for special blessings. Each pair of brothers correlates to the traditional single brothers in their birthrite primogenitural struggles.

With regard to the first pair of Leah's sons, Reuven is cursed for allegedly moving his father's bed; Shimon is cursed for his wanton, gratuitous unrepentant violence committed against Shechem.

And with regard to the second pair of Leah's sons, "Levi" does teshuvah on the tribal level for partaking in the same act as Shimon, by rechanneling his passion at the Golden Calf episode. He goes on to wear the mantle and robes of Israel's priesthood. Yehudah initially fails by his actions in the sale of Yosef, then redeems himself through his actions with regard to Binyamin later in the Joseph narrative. He subsequently wins his father's blessing and would later wear the mantle and crown of Israel's future monarchy. As this struggle is played out with Leah's sons, but not with the sons of Rachel, it suggests a special kind of relationship between Ya'akov and Leah, akin to that of the other patriarchal marital units. Hence they all similarly share burial privileges in Machpelah- the cave of the "couples."

While we all seek our soulmates in life, we should understand that our truest soulmates are staring back at us in the mirror. We need to look forward to that day when we reunite with our true selves, and become the righteous person each of us was meant to become when we took the angelic oath upon leaving the womb (BT Niddah). As long as we keep standing near the well of Torah, we increase our chances of discovering that true-self soulmate.

We may break many hearts when we go through life. And our hearts similarly may become broken many times. Our expectations may be dashed, our hopes may be shattered. But then we realize that all the doors we go through are but ladders to ascend up to the next level of experience, where we may hope to achieve a healing.

Indeed, we also learn that to heal ourselves, we best start with first healing others. And in the process we move beyond our own pain and bring healing and blessing to everyone. May the weeping and crying we experience from sadness, become soon a weeping and crying that we experience from joy. As the psalmist says, "Hazorim bedimah berinah yiktzoru - may they who sow in sorrow, soon come to reap in gladness." May our tears of sadness become tears of joy! Amen.

Shabbat Shalom. Good Shabbos!

© 2000 - 2007 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

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