Sunday, 16 October 2011

Israel Matzav: It's better to be alone than in bad company

It's better to be alone than in bad company

Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, says that it's better to be alone than in bad company. Nevertheless, he denies recent claims on the New York Times' editorial page that Israel is alone.
Israel, in fact, is significantly less isolated than at many times in its history. Before the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel faced a belligerent Egypt and Jordan and a hostile Soviet bloc, Greece, India and China — all without strategic ties with the United States. Today, Israel has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan; excellent relations with the nations of Eastern Europe as well as Greece, India and China; and an unbreakable alliance with America. Many democracies, including Canada, Italy and the Czech Republic, stand staunchly with us. Israel has more legations abroad than ever before and recently joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which comprises the most globally integrated countries. Indeed, Egypt and Germany mediated the upcoming release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held hostage by Hamas for five years.

Israel is not responsible for the upheavals in the Arab world or for the lack of freedom that triggered them. Israelis did not elect Turkey’s Islamic-minded government or urge Syria’s army to fire on its citizens. Conversely, no change in Israeli policies can alter the historic processes transforming the region. Still, some commentators claim that, by refusing to freeze settlement construction on the West Bank and insisting on defensible borders and security guarantees, Israel isolates itself.

The settlements are not the core of the conflict. Arabs attacked us for 50 years before the first settlements were built. Netanyahu froze new construction in the settlements for an unprecedented 10 months, and still the Palestinians refused to negotiate. Settlements are not the reason that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a unity pact with Hamas in May, or why, in his address to the U.N. General Assembly last month, Abbas denied the Jews’ 4,000-year connection to our homeland. As Abbas wrote in the New York Times in May, the Palestinian attempt to declare a state without making peace with Israel was about “internationalization of the conflict . . . to pursue claims against Israel” in the United Nations, not about settlements.

As for borders and security, Israel’s position reflects the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza. After uprooting all our settlements, we received not peace but thousands of Hamas rockets fired at our civilians. In Lebanon, a U.N. peace force watched while Hezbollah amassed an arsenal of 50,000 missiles. Israel’s need for defensible borders and for a long-term Israeli army presence to prevent arms smuggling into any Palestinian state is, for us, a life-and-death issue. Moreover, in a rapidly changing Middle East, we need assurances of our ability to defend ourselves if the Palestinians who support peace are overthrown by those opposed to it.
Well, yeah.

Israel Matzav: It's better to be alone than in bad company

Israel Matzav: Look who wants to unite the World's religions against atheism

Look who wants to unite the World's religions against atheism

Hypocrisy, thy name is Abdullah.

By the way, they won't even let me in to Saudi Arabia.

I wonder what he said to the Pope.

Israel Matzav: Look who wants to unite the World's religions against atheism

Israel Matzav: Turks rally against NATO

Turks rally against NATO

No, you didn't misread the headline. Iran's Press TV is reporting that there was a rally against NATO in Turkey on Saturday (and no, that is not a picture from it) (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
Activists from different political parties are going to participate in Trabzon rally scheduled for 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

The organizers of the protest say that the implementation of the planned project will not only be harmful to Turkey, but also to the whole Middle East.

Turkish newspaper Aydinlik published interviews with some of the political officials that will participate at the rally.

Yavuz Karan, the provincial head of the Republican People's Party (CHP) told the newspaper that “we don't want our country to be a shield for other countries. This is why we will join the demonstration.”

Zekeriya Vural, the provincial head of the Democratic Left Party (DSP) said that the “missile system project will harm Turkey. That is why we will participate at the demonstration and fully support it.”

Sabri Dilber, the provincial head of Turkey's Workers' Party, said that “our plan is to make all the Trabzon people aware about the plan. We invite all people in the region to join the rally.”

The missile system is reportedly planned to be stationed at Kurecik district of Malatya province in eastern Turkey.
I think it would be great if Turkey withdrew from NATO. Heh.

Israel Matzav: Turks rally against NATO

Israel Matzav: Planner of Seder Night massacre among those to be released (including the entire list)

Planner of Seder Night massacre among those to be released (including the entire list)

Somebody find Naomi Ragen (she was at the Park Hotel that night) quickly and tell her about this.
The list contains includes Walid Anajas, who was convicted for his involvement in the bombing of the Moment Cafe in Jerusalem in 2002. Twelve civilians were murdered and 54 injured in the attack.

Also on the list is Nasser Yataima, convicted of planning the 2002 Passover Seder suicide-bomb attack on the Park Hotel in Netanya, in which 30 civilians were killed and 140 were wounded.

Also included is Chris al-Bandak, the only known Christian member of the Fatah Tanzim terror group, convicted of several shooting attacks which claimed the lives of two Israelis and seriously injured a third in 2002.

Musab Hashlemon, of Hebron, sentenced to 17 life sentences for dispatching two suicide bombers to Beersheba, will be released. Sixteen civilians were murdered when the bombers detonated themselves on two buses in central Beersheba in 2004.

Hashlemon was released in the previous prisoner exchange deal for Elhanan Tenenbaum, when Hashlemon was a minor Hamas operative, according to Maariv. He will be deported to Gaza.

Ibrahim Jundiya, sentenced to 12 life sentences for dispatching a suicide bomber to a Jerusalem bus in 2002, will also be deported to Gaza. Eleven bus passengers were murdered in the bombing which occurred in Jerusalem's Kiryat Menahem neighborhood.
I'm posting an Excel sheet with the full list of those to be released below. Concentrate on the ones marked LS (for Life Sentence). The numbers in front of LS are the numbers of 'life sentences' to which they were originally sentenced.

List of Terrorists to Be Traded for Gilad 161011
Israel Matzav: Planner of Seder Night massacre among those to be released (including the entire list)

Love of the Land: IMRA - Observation: Realistically Thinking About Post Shalit Deal - Blood and Revenge

IMRA - Observation: Realistically Thinking About Post Shalit Deal - Blood and Revenge

Dr. Aaron Lerner
16 October '11

If there are terror attacks after the Shalit deal is completed those who pushed for the deal won’t have remorse. They will either say that terror is inevitable regardless of the deal or that the only way to end terror is to give the Arabs what they want (or both). Some might even criticize the security services for failing to thwart the attacks. And if the attack takes place beyond the Green Line then the victims will be to blame for being there in the first place.

And If there are kidnappings then unless the parents of the hostages scream for the heads of the terrorists rather than for PM Netanyahu to release another thousand, there is every reason in the world to expect, once again, a full press by the media for Israel to once again open the prison gates.

Is it possible to actually change any of this?

Are we locked into a perpetual spiral of concessions?

How can Israel respond differently to a post-Shalit terror attack that will give the nation the feeling that we are not in some terrible free fall?

How can the next kidnapping be handled so that we are not demoralized?

Blood and revenge.

Yes. It sounds primitive.

But it is the lingua franca of the neighborhood.

And, In truth. Not just the neighborhood.

Blood isn’t shelling empty buildings in an ever growing target bank.

Then again, blood can very much be the mysterious disappearance and or death of terrorist commanders and leaders.

A lot of blood.

After all, literally within walking distance there are hundreds – if not thousands – of legitimate candidates.

Blood certainly doesn’t necessarily require an official press release from the IDF Spokesperson’s Office.

As for kidnapping, we should be prepared to actively seek out the whereabouts of the victim by bringing in the terrorist leadership associated with the kidnappers. Of course, if these leaders resist while being taken into custody their deaths will be on their own heads.

As for “revenge”, there is today one clear and indisputable form a “revenge”: Jewish settlement construction.

Blood and revenge.

Certainly preferable to surrender.

If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Love of the Land: IMRA - Observation: Realistically Thinking About Post Shalit Deal - Blood and Revenge

Love of the Land: Tobin - FDR Didn’t Try to Save Middle East Jews

Tobin - FDR Didn’t Try to Save Middle East Jews

Jonathan Tobin
12 October '11

One of the staples of American Jewish history is the periodic surfacing of books or articles dedicated to reviving the tarnished reputation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The one-way love affair that characterized the relationship between FDR and Jews has never quite recovered from the publication of Arthur D. Morse’s seminal 1967 book, While Six Million Died: A Chronicle of American Apathy, and it was pretty much destroyed by David S. Wyman’s more scholarly and equally important 1984 work ,The Abandonment of the Jews: American and the Holocaust 1941-1945. Both books and the subsequent scholarship they inspired constructed an ironclad case pointing to FDR’s indifference and the impact of his failure to act on the fate of European Jewry.

Yet that hasn’t stopped FDR’s defenders from sallying forth every now and then to restore a bit of the luster to his legacy with varying success. But as wrongheaded as some entries in this genre may be, you’d have to go far to find one as foolish and patently disingenuous as the piece that appeared in the most recent issue of the Forward by former Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau and New York University Law Professor Frank Tuerkheimer. They claim Roosevelt’s “Germany first” war policy saved the Jews of the Middle East. But the notion the fate of the Jews had even the tiniest impact on his decision is not only unproven; it is absurd.

It is true that had the United States decided to concentrate its forces for a counter-attack on Japan in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor that may well have prolonged the war in Europe. It is also conceivable though not likely such a decision would have led to a complete British collapse in North Africa. If that had happened, it might have led, as Morgenthau and Tuerkheimer assert, to the fulfillment of the dreams of Haj Amin Husseini, Germany’s Palestinian Arab ally, who wished to bring the Holocaust to Palestine. Had Germany held North Africa longer, it might also have led to the complete destruction of the Jewish communities of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.

But before we begin the hosannas to FDR’s choice that saved the Jews, it should be understood that the documentary evidence shows Jewish considerations played no role whatsoever in this decision. “Germany first” was based on military and political criteria that centered on the survival of Britain and the realization that Hitler’s Germany was a far greater threat to the United States than Imperial Japan. This did go against the grain of American public opinion in December 1941, which thirsted for revenge against the Japanese. But FDR had settled on this policy even before America entered the war. Neither at that time nor in the early months of the American war effort was there any interest in Washington in the life or death of Jews in the Middle East or those already in the clutches of the Nazis for that matter.

As for Husseini’s Holocaust fantasy, though the documents about his plot that have recently been uncovered give proof positive of Palestinian Arab complicity with the Nazis, the chances of their fulfillment were minimal. Though Rommel’s victories scared the Allies, the inability of the Germans to maintain a secure supply line to his forces via an Allied-dominated Mediterranean Sea doomed his chances of ever entering Cairo, let alone Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Germany’s priority during this period was the invasion of the Soviet Union, where their conquests led directly to the slaughter of two million Jews.

When faced with specific requests to act to save Jews, the United States consistently failed to act until early 1944 when Morgenthau’s father secured FDR’s reluctant approval for funding of a War Refugee Board that dissident Jewish activists had clamored for. Despite little support from the administration and scarce funding, that Board did wind up helping to save hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the last year of the war. But rather than serve as evidence of Roosevelt’s good will, the efforts of the War Refugee Board only illustrate that had the U.S. acted decisively earlier in the conflict, far more Jews would have been spared.

American involvement in the war in North Africa was decisive in the rout of the Axis on that continent, and thus saved many Jewish and non-Jewish lives. One can similarly argue had the United States not fought in Europe at all, many Jews who survived the Holocaust would have perished. But though Americans can be said to have helped save civilization during World War II, the impact of this victory on the Jews was purely incidental.

Given the political and strategic choices facing the United States in December 1941, any decision other than “Germany First” was unlikely. Franklin Roosevelt deserves great credit for his leadership in defeating the Axis. But his goal was to help save Britain (though not its empire) in order to achieve that victory. Helping the Jews or limiting the impact of the Holocaust played no role whatsoever in his thinking. To imply anything else or to assert that this decision makes him some sort of hero to the Jews is an absurd distortion of the historical record.

If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.

Love of the Land: Tobin - FDR Didn’t Try to Save Middle East Jews

RubinReports: The Middle East Today: Ha, Ha, Ha! Stop! It’s Too Funny! I Can’t Take It Any More!

The Middle East Today: Ha, Ha, Ha! Stop! It’s Too Funny! I Can’t Take It Any More!

By Barry Rubin

There’s a saying that goes something like this: When things are bad, a Jew cries. When they get even worse, a Jew cries more. And when they even get worse, a Jew laughs. As indelicate as this may seem, the current situation makes me want to laugh.

That’s so because things are more ridiculous than they are scary. As the advice and claims of others get increasingly absurd, you have no desire to listen to them. You just have to do what you know is right and stop having any doubts about it precisely because the arguments on the other side are just so historically inaccurate, factually false,.and illogical.

Rea it all:

RubinReports: The Middle East Today: Ha, Ha, Ha! Stop! It’s Too Funny! I Can’t Take It Any More!

RubinReports: Syria: A Tragedy; Afghanistan: Blindness; Obama's Moment of Truth; Iran's Opposition

Syria: A Tragedy; Afghanistan: Blindness; Obama's Moment of Truth; Iran's Opposition

By Barry Rubin

1. Syria: A Tragedy

By far the best source of news on the Syrian revolution is Syria Revolution Digest  by the heroically tireless Ammar Abdulhamid. Every day he puts in a little summary of the situation. Here is what he wrote for October 11:

"As [the dictatorship of the] Assads take back Syria, one neighborhood and one town at a time, opposition groups continue to wrangle over seats in a stillborn [leadership] council, as the world considers options that have no bearing on reality.

"Several thousand people have been murdered yet despite all the fine words, there has been little serious international action as the violence has continued for months.

"As [the] Assads take back Syria, one neighborhood and one town at a time, opposition groups continue to wrangle over seats in a stillborn council, as the world considers options that have no bearing on reality....

2. Obama Administration Seeks Political Arrangement with Anti-American Terrorists
3. The Iran-Mexico Affair
4. Remember the Iranian Opposition?

Read it all:

RubinReports: Syria: A Tragedy; Afghanistan: Blindness; Obama's Moment of Truth; Iran's Opposition

Oral Q&A on the Decision to Trade Terrorists in return for Gilad Shalit's Release

Oral Q&A on the Decision to Trade Terrorists in return for Gilad Shalit's Release

1. It is a mistake to release some 1,000 terrorists in exchange for a captured solider. The price is too high. The State of Israel does not need to capitulate to kidnappers. According to the organization of Terror Victims, approximately 180 Israelis have been murdered by terrorists who were released in earlier exchange agreements. One of every two released terrorists is involved in new murders. It is therefore impossible to save one person by endangering others.
We have an army, and they should go to war to save even one single person. The Americans are prepared to attack for the sake of saving captives, even if many soldiers are killed in the process. This is the proper way to act. The security establishment also opposes such exchanges. Simply put: if one does not capitulate to pressure, our enemies will stop kidnapping soldiers because they will understand that we will not exchange terrorists for them.

2. Some claim that if terrorists are released there will be tragedies. It is forbidden to predict bad things. One should not open his mouth to Satan. We are not prophets. Rather, we must act with intellect and knowledge.

3. Some claim that this whole deal is politics. There is chaos in Egypt. The State of Israel does not want to ruin its good relations with Egypt, and is therefore agreeing to the deal in order to maintain good relations. They feel, so the claim goes, that it is therefore worthwhile to release 1000 terrorists, but connects the deal to Gilad Shalit rather than to politics.

4. If Gilad Shalit is released, we will certainly recite Shehechiyanu. We will be joyous that he is returning home, and at the same time we will be sad over the release of the terrorists. The Halachah is that if one's wife gives birth to a boy and dies during child-birth, a person recites two blessings: "Blessed be the True Judge" over his wife's death and Shehechiyanu over his son's birth. And if a person's father dies and he receives an inheritance, he recites: "Blessed be the True Judge" over his father's death and Shehechiyanu over his inheritance (Berachot 59, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 223:1-2).
Taken From : Torat HaRav Aviner: (

A Soldier's Mother: A Child's Murderer

A Child's Murderer

I have some friends who have lost children - to sickness or accidents. I am amazed by their ability to put one foot in front of the other, to eat, to talk, to walk, to live. To laugh? Beyond my ability to even comprehend and yet somehow they do.

But what about when your child doesn't die because of an accident? An illness? What about when your child is taken from you on a sunny day when suddenly the world explodes - her world, and yours? The letter below is written by just such a parent. This is the father of Malki Roth, who was 15 years old, when she joined her friends at the Sbarro Pizzeria in the center of Jerusalem to enjoy her summer vacation - in August, 10 years ago.

A Palestinian woman helped plan an attack. She helped scope out the place, acted the girlfriend of the killer as they joked and fooled soldiers at the checkpoint looking for the typical suicide bomber. And finally, after escorting him to Sbarro...made her escape as he entered, positioned himself between families and teens, and destroyed forever dozens of lives and families. Ahlam Tamimi is her name - the female terrorist who has gone on record as saying that she doesn't regret her actions and when told that children had been killed...eight children...her response was to smile.

She said she is proud of what she did - and that she would be released, despite being sentenced to multiple life terms. I would have said she was wrong; that Israel would never release this woman. I want to call her so many names - none of them can I write here. The anger of now, Tamimi is right. She is about to be released for Gilad Shalit and this is causing the families such incredible pain. Once when their children were killed. Once when Tamimi was caught, tried, and sentenced and they had to live it all again; and now again, when Tamimi is freed and Malki Roth's family and other victim's families have to suffer through a moment they prayed would never come, knowing their loved ones are lost to them forever.

I received the following letter and request to sign a petition from Malki's father and received his permission to reprint it. I hate online petitions - and yet I have signed this one and ask you to please sign it as well. You, members of your families, friends, contacts - anyone and everyone. Please take a moment to sign it - if not for justice, than for Malki and for her parents.

From Frimet and Arnold Roth:

Dear friends,

Please pass this heartfelt request along urgently to your contacts. It's a request to sign a petition, online here:

Under normal circumstances, requests to sign a petition are unlikely to lead to any significant outcomes. In this case, we are hoping to do something important.

The petition asks for the removal of one specific name from the list of more than one thousand terrorists, including hundreds of convicted murderers, to be published by the government of Israel tomorrow, Sunday. That list is the basis of a transaction by which Israel will get back Gilad Shalit, held hostage by the terrorists of Hamas for more than five years. The deal involves Israel throwing open the gates of its top-security prisons and issuing wholesale pardons. My wife Frimet and I have expressed our principled objection to the deal. While others are busy trying to stop it in the courts, we are focusing our energies on one specific person, and getting her off the list.

Her name is Tamimi. An article in today's New York Times [ ] provides some background:

Among those is Ahlam Tamimi, a 31-year-old woman who was a key figure in the pizzeria attack. She is often described as the driver of the car that brought the suicide bomber to the Sbarro restaurant and killed 15 people. But the Roths say her role went far beyond that, to the actual planning of the attack. In interviews from prison, Ms. Tamimi, who was a journalist, has told of having brought the suicide bomber to Jerusalem and then going on Palestinian television’s afternoon broadcast to announce the news of the attack without acknowledging her involvement. “I’m not sorry for what I did,” she told an Israeli news organization in 2006. “I will get out of prison, and I refuse to recognize Israel’s existence. Discussions will only take place after Israel recognizes that this is Islamic land.”
The Roths said their anger over the prisoner exchange was focused on Ms. Tamimi, who is being sent to Jordan. She is young, fervent and charismatic, Mr. Roth said, and proud of what she did. In a documentary on Palestinian prisoners, she was asked whether she knew how many children had been killed in the attack. She did not. When told the number was eight, she smiled.
There is a fuller background about the circumstances in which our daughter was murdered on the Keren Malki website:

And there are many articles on the web tonight showing her family and supporters celebrating her impending return to freedom and to a full and active life as a heroine and inspiration.

Even if you do not normally sign petitions, or pass them along to friends, we ask you to seriously consider signing this one. Once again, it's online here:

Time is very limited. We really only have until Sunday (16th October) to get a significant number of signatures. If we succeed, we can then put pressure on the Prime Minister's Office and the Justice Ministry and publicize this in the media.

Finally, allow me to mention that Keren Malki, the not-for-profit we created in our daughter's memory in 2001, does very work in our murdered daughter's name for the benefit of families raising a special-needs child. Your support for that work will be much appreciated. More at

Thank you for reading this far. Together with our friends and their friends, we hope - despite the odds - to do something constructive in the face of the terrible transaction being done with the terrorists of Hamas.

Arnold Roth

A Soldier's Mother: A Child's Murderer: I have some friends who have lost children - to sickness or accidents. I am amazed by their ability to put one foot in front of the other, t...

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: YOM HA K'PURIM: A YOM KIPPUR THOUGHT


by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

When the Torah calls the holiest day of the year Yom HaKippurim, on a deeper level it saying that the day is actually Yom K'Purim, meaning "a day like Purim." And if Yom Kippur is likened to Purim, then on some level one could actually say that Purim is even deeper, in that it is the root holiday after which Yom Kippur is modelled.

Yes, Purim is historically post-Biblical, while Yom Kippur, being Biblical in origin came earlier, but in matters of Divine Truth there is no past or future. It's all happening in the eternal moment. Time is but a function of our human dimension. It lacks relevance from the perspective of the other worlds. Time slows down as we approach the speed of light. And at the speed of G*d there is no past present or future, just as G*d lives simultaneously in the past, present and future. You can be reincarnated into the past just as easily as you can be reincarnated into the future. As we stand before the Aron Kodesh, with our whole future before us, so too is our whole past stretched before us on the heavenly surround sound wide screen projection video.

On Purim we celebrate the vanquishing of evil. Haman is always in pursuit of Mordechai. Mordechai, always one step ahead, escapes his clutches. Esther represents that part of us which takes the leap of faith. Like Esther, we put ourselves on the line, throwing ourselves at the mercy of the king for our very lives. With every fiber of her being and every ounce of energy she summoned her holy chutzpah to plead for her deliverance. Haman, representing evil incarnate, must nevertheless pay homage to Mordechai, who triumphantly leads him through the streets of Shushan.

So too, on Yom Kippur, we realize that while we despair at the sins we may have committed, in the end they may ultimately be harnessed in the service of the good. In the end, the crimson thread turns to white as the High Priest proclaims our atonement. In the place where a Baal Teshuvah stands, holding in his hands a tattered, well-worn valise of sins, no Tzaddik can stand. Still, we are wont to give in to despair because as we aspire in holiness and piety the evil inclination is never far behind.

We often become discouraged in our spiritual strivings because the higher we ascend in our spiritual progress, like Mordechai's ascent in the court of the king, so too do the forces of negativity seem to increase their vigor, and like Haman, nearly succeed in dragging us down into the abyss. The secular world claims the religious sin because of hypocricy, perhaps to justify its antinomian predilections. But the truth is that the greater the Tzaddik, the greater the evil inclination, as its sole desire is to distract and weaken and eventually annul the tzaddik's soul desire. Our mission is to overcome and not surrender.

And yet we revel on this day in the sure knowledge that in the end the evil decree will be anulled, the evil inclination will be vainquished, and like Esther we will soon be dining at the feast of the Great King. On Yom Kippur, the King of Kings holds out His golden sceptre to each of us, thereby anulling the evil decree. That is why Yom Kippur is the most joyous of all holidays. Solemn, perhaps, but certainly joyous. May Hashem's messengers on horseback race to the far ends of the kingdom proclaiming that each and every one of us are sealed in the Book of Life.

Gemar Chatimah Tovah!

© 2000 - 2011 by Rabbi Baruch Binyamin Hakohen Melman

P.S. The tzaddik in the above is one who valiantly wrestles with his yetzer hara, as opposed to a complete, true Tzaddik, a Tzaddik Gamur, who is in the rarified ranks of those who have completely dominated and subjugated their evil inclination. Among them are the lamedvavniks, 36 in all, clothed in secrecy, whose existence is said to sustain the world. They are the pillars of the world, known for their kind and unassuming natures.

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 and in memory of my beloved mother, Esther Melman, obm, Esther bat Baruch z"l.

Chabibi stands for CHidushei Baruch Binyamin ben Yisrael Yehoshua
(a chidush, from the word chadash, means a new, original or fresh perspective)

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: YOM HA K'PURIM: A YOM KIPPUR THOUGHT



By Rabbi Avraham ben Yaakov Greenbaum

Torah Reading Shabbat October 22, 2011: Gen. 1.1-6.8

With G-d's help, UNIVERSAL TORAH is a weekly series sharing thoughts and lessons we may draw from the current parshah having universal significance -- both for the Children of Israel, the appointed Guardians of G-d's Torah, and for all the families and nations of the earth. In our troubled times, when the world is facing war, violence, crime, illness and destruction on an unprecedented scale, mankind is in desperate need of the oldest living system of wisdom in the world: G-d's holy Torah. For "G-d is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should change His mind. He spoke -- will He not do it? He pronounced -- will He not fulfill it?" (Numbers 23:19). "For I am G-d, I have not changed." (Malachi 3:6). "Go and let us ascend to the Mountain of G-d, to the House of the G-d of Jacob." (Isaiah 2:3).

* * *


"How fortunate we are that Moses our Teacher showed us the right way. The Torah begins without any philosophical proof, with the simple words, 'In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth.' We are commanded to believe in G-d through faith alone, and not to enter into speculation." (Rabbi Nachman of Breslov).

"In the beginning G-d created.": In the three opening words of the Hebrew Torah, G-d "signs" Himself as the G-d of Truth. The last letters of these three words, BereshiS barA ElokiM, are: Sav [according to the Ashkenazic pronunciation, or "Tav", according to the Sefardic pronunciation] - Aleph - Mem, forming an anagram of the word EMeS, TRUTH.

The Rabbis taught that Teshuvah ("coming back to G-d") was created even before the world. This means is that the world is not merely random. Everything that exists in the entire universe is part of a vast, unfathomable system serving a purpose that goes way beyond the system itself, a purpose that existed before the system itself in the "mind" and "will" of the One Who created it. The purpose of the system is to bestow good on all G-d's creatures. We can receive this good only when we "return" to G-d -- by seeking out and following the wisdom of God's teaching to mankind: the Torah.Teshuvah!

Today the world seems to be on a helter-skelter path to self-destruction. The only way for us to stop it is by "coming back" to G-d.

* * *


At the climax of the account of the creation is the story of the creation of Adam. The Hebrew word ADAM cannot simply be understood as "man" or "human being", "homo sapiens" or the like without further elaboration. The fact that there is a resemblance between the physical form of a human being and that of an ape does not mean they are both in the same category or on the same level. The defining qualities of homo sapiens are precisely those that differentiate him from the ape: his uniquely human powers and abilities. Similarly, the fact that two humans resemble each other in physical structure does not mean that they must be equal and identical in all respects. One may be highly intelligent, creative, loving, etc. while the other could be a psychopath, a terrorist or even a demon incarnate in a human body. What makes the two different is the mind, soul or spirit that inhabits each of their bodies. One may have an elevated soul. The other may have a "fallen" soul or the spirit of a demon. Are they both homo sapiens? Are they both Bney Adam, "Children of Adam"?

While the human body is the physical manifestation of ADAM, what makes him unique is the soul that animates his body. The soul that G-d breathed into Adam came from His very essence. Adam's soul was created by G-d to be a separate creature, giving him the ability to connect with G-d OF HIS OWN FREE WILL. Adam's destined role in the creation is to lead the entire world to return to G-d. He was appointed ruler over all: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the world and conquer it and rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and over all the living creatures swarming over the earth" (Gen. 1:28). Man has responsibility for the whole world. His task is to attain global peace and ecological balance and harmony, in which all are united in the service of G-d.

Adam was created to attain this exalted destiny of his own free will. As part of G-d's plan, Adam therefore had to be confronted with a choice: to serve G-d by obeying His command, or to follow the "serpent" in his own heart, who tells him he can disobey G-d, do what he wants, and still get away with it. G-d says "If you disobey you will die". But the serpent in the heart lies to us: "Do what you want -- you won't die!" Time after time, man falls for the trick.

Adam was created to rule the entire world, but he cannot even rule over his own heart -- and sins. When a person comes to his senses and understands what he has done by eating the forbidden fruit of evil, he discovers the painful truth. "With the sweat of your brow you will eat bread until you return to the earth, for from it you were taken, for you are dust and to dust you will return" (Gen. 3:19). After Adam's sin, life is a constant struggle, leading only to the grave. Only with death can sin be finally atoned. "To dust you will return". This is because everything must "return"! Everything must come back to G-d! Teshuvah! Man's task is to return to his destiny, which is to conquer the world and join it back to G-d. "Who is mighty? He who conquers his evil inclination" (Avot 4:1).

* * *


"And the L-rd G-d commanded the Man saying, from all the trees of the garden you may surely eat" (Gen. 2:16). The Rabbi's taught that G-d's commandment to Adam implies six universal laws which are all allusively contained in the Hebrew words of this verse (as discussed in Midrash Rabba Bereishis 45:5 and Talmud Sanhedrin 56a; see Rambam Mishneh Torah Laws of Kings 9:1):

1. Idolatry is forbidden.

2. Blasphemy is forbidden.

3. Murder is forbidden.

4. Sexual immorality is forbidden.

5. Robbery is forbidden.

6. Men must govern their affairs under a system of law and justice.

These six laws, together with the prohibition of eating a limb from a living animal (see next week's Parrshah, Gen. 9:4) make up the Seven Commandments of the Children of Noah, also known as the Seven Universal Laws.

* * *


In the intricate, endlessly profound tapestry of the holy Torah, the Seven Universal Laws are deeply bound up and meshed in with the 613 commandments that apply to the Children of Israel. Thus every portion of the Torah has profound significance for all humanity and each one contains lessons that may deepen our understanding of the Seven Universal Laws.

Of the seven, one that stands out particularly in Parshas Bereishis is the prohibition of murder. The Torah is the "book of the generations of man" (Genesis 5:1): man was commanded to "be fruitful and multiply" -- to breed children and children's children, to cherish and nurture LIFE. The antithesis of life is death. The Rabbis taught that when "G-d saw all that he made and behold it was VERY good", the word "very" teaches that even death is beneficial (as it atones for sin). However, death is in the hands of G-d: "See now, for I, I am He, and there is no god with Me; I kill and make alive, I smote and I will heal and there is none to redeem from My hand" (Deut. 32:39). A person who arrogantly takes G-d's prerogative into his own hands and appoints himself as the angel of death to kill another is a shameful, counterfeit ADAM, a criminal who should be stoned and then hung ignominiously on a tree before being buried (see Deuteronomy 21:22-3 and Rashi there). Such a man is a "curse of G-d" (ibid). In the words of Rambam (Laws of Murder 1:4): "There is nothing to which the Torah takes greater exception than bloodshed, as it is written (Numbers 35:33): And you shall not pollute the land. for blood -- that is what pollutes the land."

The story of Cain's killing of Abel over the inheritance of the world is the story of human history. Mankind's task is to learn how to settle disputes amicably instead of fighting and killing one another. In our times, it is particularly important to emphasize the criminality of murder because of widespread insensitivity to the seriousness of killing. Many voices can be heard defending killers, and protesting against their execution as prescribed by the Torah. Many in the world even rationalize and justify wholesale murder and violence when committed for the sake of a "cause", and celebrate terrorist attacks against their enemies. This simply illustrates the depths to which "Adam Beliya'al", the Worthless Man, can descend, as in the story of Cain and Abel.

The Torah clearly teaches that murder is an abominable crime which must be requited with death in order to punish the villain and protect human society. Yet at the same time as seeking to impose justice, our societies must also ask themselves why killing, murder and violence are so rampant. These are not inexplicable scourges that have no cause. Our rabbis revealed what causes murder to become rampant: "The sword comes into the world because of the failure to execute justice without delay, because of the perversion of justice and because of those who issue Torah rulings which are not in accordance with the halachah" (Avot 5:8).

Developing a system of law and government that is just and free of corruption (in fulfillment of the Seventh Universal Law) is the key to cleansing the world of the scourge of murder and violence.

Is it our responsibility to attempt all this? That is the question of Cain: "Am I my brother's keeper?" The lesson of the story is that the answer must be a resounding YES! As brothers and sisters, Children of Adam, Children of Noah, we are and must be our brothers' keepers. We must take responsibility. We must seek the welfare of our brothers and sisters everywhere. How can we best do this? Through studying, practicing and promoting G-d's Torah, which is the master plan for universal peace and harmony.

Shabbat Shalom! Chodesh Tov UMevorach

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum

PO Box 50037 Jerusalem 91500 Israel
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...