Sunday, 23 October 2011

RubinReports: Is the Obama Administration Betraying the Syrian Democratic Revolution?

Is the Obama Administration Betraying the Syrian Democratic Revolution?

This article appeared in the Daily Caller.
By Barry Rubin
Let’s assume that it’s the middle of the Cold War. In an Asian country there’s a revolt against a dictator. The opposition wants international recognition so it seeks U.S. help. And the American government turns over direct management of this process to…Communist China! The resulting coalition is largely dominated by Communists, China’s allies, far exceeding their proportional role in the revolution. Some anti-Communist activists walk out in protest but it makes no difference.
Wouldn’t you be shocked that a U.S. government has done something so stupid, indeed, disastrous for U.S. interests? Treason or gross incompetence? After all, that means U.S. aid is going to be funneled into a largely Communist-led movement and it becomes more likely that Communists would run the country if the revolution wins.
Oh, and not a single mass media organ pointed out the above situation even though it was a matter of public record.
Well, that’s just what’s happened with Syria.   
The names of nineteen of twenty-nine members of the Syrian National Council has just been announced and as I explained in this article
10 of the 19—a majority—are identifiably Islamist. At least 4 of them are members of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Moreover two-thirds of the 15 Sunni Muslim Arabs are Islamists. Note that the Sunni Muslim Arabs are only 60 percent of the population. Making the reasonable assumption that no more than 20 percent of the Sunnis are Islamists that means Islamists are overrepresented by 500 percent. You can challenge that assumption but I believe that you’d end up with at least a 400 percent overrepresentation.
Let's remember that the U.S. goal should be to push down Islamist representation even below a level that would be proportionate with its base of support within the country. That is how effective diplomacy would work. 
At most, only 4 of the Sunni Muslim representatives—just one-quarter—are liberals or leftists! And the non-Sunni Muslim Arabs are underrepresented by 300 percent.
Remember, this is not some spontaneous choice made by the Syrian masses or even by external opposition groups. This was stage-managed by the Turks on behalf of the American government.  
It should be well known by this point that the current Turkish regime is an enemy of the United States. That government not only rejected sanctions against Iran last year but tried to sabotage them. It has consistently supported Iran, Hamas, Hizballah, and—until recently—the Syrian regime. And the Turkish regime has also become so hostile to Israel that some observers in Turkey think it is going to the verge of war with the Jewish state.
But that’s not all. Wikileaks show that the U.S. Embassy in Turkey has repeatedly warned about that regime’s radicalism, anti-Americanism, and Islamism. Yet despite this, the Obama Administration continues to treat the Turkish government has a valued ally. For example, the Obama Administration chose Turkey of all the world’s countries on September 11 to be co-founder of an international counter-terrorist group described as the main U.S. initiative in that field marking the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks on New York and Washington DC!
Now the U.S. government and its Turkish Islamist friends have produced a largely Islamist council to represent the Syrian people, manage incoming aid, and perhaps to be the future government.
There are two issues here. First, why is the Obama Administration so in love with the pro-Islamist, anti-American Turkish regime? Because despite State Department warnings the White House refuses to comprehend what’s going on here to a point that has gone far beyond stubborn blindness into the realm of willful self-sabotage.
The “Turkish model” that it is trying to spread is a design for disaster. It means installing anti-American, anti-Western regimes that are allies of some or all the following list: Iran, Hamas, Hizballah, and the Muslim Brotherhood. They will move their domestic societies toward Islamism. Their only virtue is that they aren’t al-Qaida. And in Afghanistan the administration is even willing to work with the Taliban.
Second, why has the administration just empowered a largely Islamist Syrian leadership when Syria a country where Islamism is relatively weak in regional terms? Why didn’t it insist on more Kurdish, Druze, Christian, and Alawite representation? Why are there only two (one might argue there are three or four) moderate Sunni Arab Muslims on the list?
Again, the administration is oblivious to the fact that the great threat to the Middle East today and to U.S. interests (perhaps globally) is revolutionary Islamism. Until this situation changes, the world, the Middle East, and the United States are going to be heading toward increasingly dangerous trouble.

RubinReports: Is the Obama Administration Betraying the Syrian Democratic Revolution?

RubinReports: SCOOP: Obama Administration Does it Again!: Empowers Largely Islamist Leadership for Syrian Revolution

SCOOP: Obama Administration Does it Again!: Empowers Largely Islamist Leadership for Syrian Revolution

By Barry Rubin

The leadership of the Syrian revolution, or at least those who are recognized as such by the United States and the European Union, has released the names of 19 of the 29 members of the General Secretariat and five members of the Presidential Council. A lot of research should be one done on the individuals but let’s do a quick ethnic and political analysis based on this information.

But first let me give you my analysis: I believe that the Turkish Islamist regime deliberately helped produce a Syrian leadership that is more Islamist and more Muslim Brotherhood controlled than was necessary. Since Turkey's government was empowered to do this by the Obama Administration, the White House is responsible for this extremely dangerous situation.  It is a blunder or a betrayal--in effect, the motive and cause don't matter--of the greatest dimensions. The Obama Administration may "only" have paved the way for the triumph of Islamist regimes in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia--we don't yet know the final result--but it has been actively involved in helping promote an (avoidable) Islamist revolution in Syria.

Of the 19 members of the committee whose names have been published, 4 are identified as Muslim Brotherhood and 6 more as independent Islamists. That means 10 of the 19—a majority—and hence 10 of the 15 Sunni Muslim Arabs (two-thirds) are Islamists!

Of the non-Islamist Sunni Arabs, two are leftists, two are liberals, and one represents the tribes.

Thanks, Obama Administration, for putting Islamist Turkey in charge of the negotiations!

It could have very easily done otherwise.

Read it all:

RubinReports: SCOOP: Obama Administration Does it Again!: Empowers Largely Islamist Leadership for Syrian Revolution

RubinReports: My Interview on Qadhafi's Death and Libya's Future

My Interview on Qadhafi's Death and Libya's Future

Interview with National Review on the end of Qadhafi.

--What is his legacy?

A horrible dictator who combined repression at home with terrorist sponsorship and subversion abroad. Qadhafi's weakness was that he never had a secure superpower patron which combined with Libya's small size made him the most vulnerable Middle East dictator. Nevertheless, the West almost always let him get away with his aggressive behavior against it. Even the Lockerbie story which began with a "tough" demand to turn over those responsible ended with the scapegoat intelligence official (so Qadhafi could pretend it was a rogue operation) released by the British (with American approval) in exchange for oil agreements. Message: the  West is weak, stupid, and corrupt.

--How should Americans remember him?

See above paragraph.

--Is this a huge victory for the Obama administration? Who deserves credit, assuming this is a good thing?

Obviously the NATO forces--Europe, and especially Italy, pushed for this and the Obama Administration enthusiastically went along, bypassing Congress and the War Powers Act. Since Qadhafi was unpopular, of course, the administration got away with ignoring U.S. law and procedures. But credit will depend on what comes next.

--Is it a good thing?

Well, it is good to see a ferocious and murderous dictator overthrown but what comes next? I see a bunch of politicians in nice suits who know how to talk to the West and win its support and a bunch of guys with guns who don't care what the West thinks, have no gratitude for the NATO help, and a lot of whom are Islamists or aspiring future dictators. Moreover, the energy wealth of Libya makes it a tempting target for political looting and whoever has it doesn't have to worry about what the West thinks. Not to mention the real problems of regionalism, hatred of black Africans, and potential Arab-Berber conflict.

Reminds me of the 1943 anti-fascist film, "Hangmen Also Die."

--Is this a warning to Assad?

Yeah, a warning that he better be willing to kill people without end or face the end for himself.

--Is this important for the myth or reality of an “Arab Spring?”

Simple answer: governments only get overthrown by Western intervention (Iraq, Libya) or their own armed forces (Egypt, Tunisia). Everything else is mythology or failed revolts put down with bloodshed.

--What happens now?
The battle for power within Libya begins.

RubinReports: My Interview on Qadhafi's Death and Libya's Future

RubinReports: What Qadhafi's Death Teaches the Middle East...And Should Teach the West

What Qadhafi's Death Teaches the Middle East...And Should Teach the West

 By Barry Rubin

 What can we learn from the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi? First, we should note that he is the second Arab dictator to die in the last decade, the first being the Iraqi Saddam Hussein. Both met their demise due to direct Western intervention.

There are three lessons for the region:

 1. To get rid of a dictator, you need either Western intervention or the support of the armed forces....

2. The events of the last year have reinforced this worldview—repress or die....

3. (Ironically) You Can’t Trust the West So Be Tough and Defend Yourself

 Read it all:

RubinReports: What Qadhafi's Death Teaches the Middle East...And Should Teach the West

Israel Matzav: The ten most notorious terrorists?

The ten most notorious terrorists?

Foreign Policy has a list of the top 10 terrorists released as part of the terrorists for Gilad exchange. I'm not sure I agree with their list. In any event, what they don't list is how many of the top 10 (and how many of the others) have threatened (or worse) to return to their previous activities. They only mention two terrorists saying or hinting that they will return to terrorism (Yehya Sinwar and Ahlam Tamimi) and we know that many more have said the same thing. If you see any reliable statements from terrorists released last week that say that they have or are planning to return to terrorism, please send them to me. A hat tip could await you.

Israel Matzav: The ten most notorious terrorists?

Israel Matzav: Freeze would be ethnic cleansing

Freeze would be ethnic cleansing

Remember how angry Prime Minister Netanyahu was when Deputy Prime Minister Moshe "Boogie" Yaalon aligned himself with Moshe Feiglin? Well, it may be on its way to happening again.
Speaking to a packed audience at Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue, Ya’alon referred indirectly to a Haaretz report that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is willing to freeze all construction on government land in West Bank settlements if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas resumes direct diplomatic negotiations.

“The demand for territory without Jews anywhere else would be called ethnic cleansing,” Ya’alon said. “We cannot accept a demand for ethnic cleansing in the land of Israel.”

Ya’alon said that Israel was under pressure from people who incorrectly believe the cause of the Middle East conflict is the building of homes in Judea and Samaria. He denounced that theory as “a corrupt way of thinking” and explained why the true cause of Middle East instability was the Islamic fundamentalism emanating from Iran.
He spoke about other topics too - read the whole thing. Finally an honest politician? I hope to hear soon what Feiglin thinks.

Israel Matzav: Freeze would be ethnic cleansing

Israel Matzav: Netanyahu is in great company now

Netanyahu is in great company now

Prime Minister Netanyahu has gotten himself into some great company. Guess who else thinks trading 1,027 terrorists for one kidnapped soldier is a great idea? Of course, Jimmy Carter.
In a telephone interview with Haaretz, Carter said that national leaders must act according to the individual circumstances of each case, and he believes he would have acted as Netanyahu did in the Shalit case.

The former American president said that as far as he knew from following negotiations in the case closely, Netanyahu could have reached a similar deal on Shalit's release two years ago. He said he was not being critical of the Israeli prime minister, however, explaining that it was in the nature of negotiations.

Carter is very familiar with the Shalit case. He attempted to assist in efforts to free him, and convinced Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal to allow an exchange of letters between Shalit and his family.

In a letter from Gilad Shalit that the former U.S. president sent to the Shalit family in June 2008, the captive soldier begged for his life. Carter said at the time that Hamas officials told him that Shalit was being held under better conditions than Palestinian prisoners in Israel.
Aren't you all glad he was a one-term President?

Israel Matzav: Netanyahu is in great company now

Israel Matzav: Incredible: Obama pulling all training material used by law enforcement and national security to remove references to Muslims

Incredible: Obama pulling all training material used by law enforcement and national security to remove references to Muslims

This is incredible.

The Obama administration is withdrawing all training material used by US law enforcement and national security agencies to purge all references to Muslims.
Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole confirmed on Wednesday that the Obama administration was pulling back all training materials used for the law enforcement and national security communities, in order to eliminate all references to Islam that some Muslim groups have claimed are offensive.

“I recently directed all components of the Department of Justice to re-evaluate their training efforts in a range of areas, from community outreach to national security,” Cole told a panel at the George Washington University law school.

The move comes after complaints from advocacy organizations including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and others identified as Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the 2004 Holy Land Foundation terror fundraising trial.

In a Wednesday Los Angeles Times op-ed, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) president Salam al-Marayati threatened the FBI with a total cutoff of cooperation between American Muslims and law enforcement if the agency failed to revise its law enforcement training materials.

Maintaining the training materials in their current state “will undermine the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim American community,” al-Marayati wrote.

Multiple online sources detail MPAC’s close alignment with CAIR.


Some believe the Obama administration’s Justice Department will go even further.

“The Attorney General has announced what sounds like reprogramming if they find people who have actually received training” that Islamist groups find objectionable, Center for Security Policy president Frank Gaffney told The Daily Caller. Gaffney is co-author of a report, published by the Center, titled “Sharia: The Threat to America.”

Dwight C. Holton, the U.S. Attorney in Oregon said he had spoken with Holder directly about the issue of the terror training materials. Holton is the federal prosecutor who announced the arrest of so-called “Christmas tree bomber” Mohamed Osman Mohamud in 2010. That announcement made no mention of Mohamud’s Muslim faith.

“I want to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for,” Holton said Wednesday. “They will not be tolerated.”

Such training materials “pose a significant threat to national security, because they play into the false narrative propagated by terrorists that the United States is at war with Islam,” he added.
What could go wrong?

By the way, I was assured this evening by someone in the know that Obama is definitely not a Muslim. He's just a fool with a naive view of Islam based upon his childhood in Indonesia.

Israel Matzav: Incredible: Obama pulling all training material used by law enforcement and national security to remove references to Muslims

Israel Matzav: Your tax dollars at work: Abu Mazen pays grants to released terrorists

Your tax dollars at work: Abu Mazen pays grants to released terrorists

'Moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen's 'Palestinian Authority,' which is almost entirely financed by Western aid money, has decided to pay grants to 'Palestinian' terrorists released by Israel in the terrorists for Gilad exchange.
[PA Minister for Prisoners Affairs Issa] Qaraqi said that all prisoners would benefit from the grants, including those who were deported to the Gaza Strip and a number of Arab countries and Turkey.

He said that the PA governors and some "national institutions" have begun distributing the money to the released prisoners In accordance with PA regulations and laws.

Qaraqi did not say how much each prisoner would get from the PA government.

Abbas's decision follows a similar move by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who granted each prisoner a sum of $2,000.

The prisoners who were deported to the Gaza Strip are now staying at a five-star hotel at the expense of the Hamas government.
In other news, Hamas has announced that it will kidnap more IDF soldiers and officers, because this kidnapping has proven so successful. Meanwhile, David Meidan, who was Prime Minister Netanyahu's last negotiator for Gilad Shalit's freedom, will meet with the Shamgar Commission, which after three years may finally issue recommendations about how many terrorists we will release in exchange for soldiers kidnapped in the future. As if anyone expects those guidelines to be followed.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Your tax dollars at work: Abu Mazen pays grants to released terrorists

Failed Femaile Crotch Bomber Wants to Try Again Blogging from Israel on Guns, Security, Defense by DoubleTapper

Failed Femaile Crotch Bomber Wants to Try Again

Her target, Israel says, was a hospital where Wafa al Bis had been given permission to seek treatment for burns she sustained in a gas tank explosion. She never got there. Stopped by suspicious Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint on Gaza’s border, she was discovered with 22lb of explosives sewn inside her underwear. Wafa al Bis tried to blow herself up but the detonator malfunctioned.

Speaking in her bedroom, the shelves of which were lined with soft toys, Bis yesterday maintained that the six years she spent in an Israeli prison cell had left her with no regrets other than her failure to kill herself and her captors, although she insisted that her target was only ever going to be a military one.

“I wanted to be the first female martyr from Gaza to kill Israeli soldiers and I wanted to kill as many as I could,” she said. “I had wanted to be a martyr since I was a kid. I regard what I did as an honourable thing. It was my dream to be a martyr but God didn’t let me.”

If given the opportunity, she added, she would fulfill her destiny to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces. “As long as there is going to be occupation... martyrs will be there to resist and to fight, and I will be among the first of the strugglers,” she said. “This is an honourable thing and I would be a suicide bomber three times over if I could.”

Bis’s mother Salma said she had no idea of her daughter’s mission — but added that she felt she had no choice but to encourage her in her chosen course of life. “This is Jihad, it is an honourable thing and I am proud of her,” she said.

More at Telegraph

Failed Femaile Crotch Bomber Wants to Try Again Blogging from Israel on Guns, Security, Defense by DoubleTapper



By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Torah Reading: Noah: Gen. 6.9-11.32

Parshas BEREISHIS told the story of the first Ten Generations of the Children of Adam, establishing fundamental facts about the world and man's existential situation within it. The Parshah of NOAH spans the second Ten Generations, from Noah to Abraham. The Parshah teaches profound lessons about "the generations of Noah", the families of the earth -- the Seventy Nations, their fundamental characteristics, how they interact and are destined to interact until the successful conclusion of human history as we know it in accordance with G-d's plan.

"G-d will beautify Yafet, and he will dwell in the tents of Shem." (Genesis 9:27). The genius of human civilization as expressed in Yafet's art and technology will eventually be devoted to the service of G-d in and through the "Tents of Shem", houses of prayer and worship of the One G-d -- especially in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the House of Prayer for All Nations.

Human history is that of the rise and fall of civilizations. One after the other, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome. reached the heights of power and arrogance, only to enter into decline -- just as we see contemporary "civilization" in its decline, with the widespread breakdown of security, social order and moral integrity. The parshah of NOAH teaches us about the global, ecological disaster that comes about in the wake of human arrogance, excess and immorality. When man breaks down the boundaries of restraint, the natural order also breaks down in response. This is expressed in the "bursting forth of the springs of the depth and opening of the windows of heaven" that brought the Waters of the Flood upon a corrupt civilization. The breakdown of ecological harmony is caused by the corruption of civilization. [In our times, the breakdown of the natural order in response to chaos in the human social order also finds expression in the widespread incidence of cancer and similar diseases, which are caused when cell growth exceeds the proper boundaries.]

At the core of the disease of "civilization" in the time of Noah were sexual immorality and violent robbery, both flagrant affronts to the dignity of man, ADAM, created in the image of G-d. "And the land was corrupted and the land was filled with violent robbery. All flesh corrupted his path on the land" (Genesis 6:11-12). The Midrash teaches that the latter sin was that of the spilling of seed -- sexual immorality. When man abuses his sexual urge for self-gratification alone rather than elevating it to breed future generations who will glorify G-d, the entire earth is corrupted. The violation of the proper boundaries of personal moral conduct leads to a mentality in which everything is permitted, including violent robbery -- HAMAS.

Noah was one who was fighting against the tide of his entire generation: a lone surviving torch-bearer of the religious truths handed down from Adam: belief in the One G-d, HaShem, the Supreme Power -- and obedience to His law. Noah alone in his generation saw its corruption. However, Noah lacked the power to rectify it -- Noah "went with" G-d, but unlike Abraham, he did not go on ahead "before" Him. Instead, Noah salvaged a remnant: his own family, together with choice representatives of the various species of animals and birds. After the corrupt world was washed clean by the purifying waters of the flood, Noah would build a new world on sound foundations that could endure.

* * *

The Ark -- The Word: Prayer and Mystical Wisdom

In order to survive the waters of the flood, Noah was commanded to built an ark. The Hebrew word for the "ark" is TEIVAH [not to be confused with TEVA, which means "nature"]. TEIVAH also means a "word": a word is a vessel that sails the airwaves between my mouth and your ear, bearing a cargo of meaning: the message.

Noah was commanded to bring his wife, his children, their spouses, birds, animals, food, fodder -- everything needed to survive -- into his "Ark", the TEIVAH. This teaches us that to survive the stormy waters of life in this world, we too must bring our lives and all our affairs -- down to the smallest details -- into HA-TEIVAH, "the word", i.e. the words of our prayers. In order to connect our alienated world back to G-d, we have to bring everything into our words of prayer. We should speak to G-d about everything.

The Holy Zohar, repository of the mystical wisdom of the Torah, teaches that the TEIVAH of Noah also alludes to the mystical teachings of the Kabbalah, which are a vital lifeboat for those seeking to the survive the chaos of the end of time (see RaMChaL, Adir BaMarom). The Kabbalah (which includes Chassidus) reveals the mysteries of the Unity of G-d, teaching us the meaning, purpose and end-goal of the misery-filled, conflict-torn world in which we live. As we navigate the dark, stormy seas of life, the Kabbalah gives guidance, comfort and light: the light of the TSOHAR (=Zohar), the "window" of the Ark (Genesis 6:16).

The theme of words, language and communication is apparent towards the end of the Parshah, in the story of the building of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). As the population of the world expanded in the generations after Noah, man set himself a new goal: to unite in rebellion against G-d. "Let us build for ourselves a city and a tower with its head in the heavens and let us make for ourselves a NAME." (ibid. 4). Man wanted the "name" for himself -- for his own glory -- instead of giving all the glory to G-d. However, G-d confounded man -- by sowing confusion through the very faculty that is uniquely man's: speech. Instead of helping people to communicate with each other, the torrents of words they directed at one another simply led to incomprehension, misunderstanding, hatred and violence.

In order to overcome hatred and war, man must develop a new language and a new way of speaking. This will be a feature of the messianic period in the future. "Then I will turn the language of the nations into a pure language so that all of them will call on the Name of G-d to serve Him with one accord" (Zephaniah 3:9). Then all mankind will unite in prayer to the One G-d in the "House of Prayer for all the Nations" in Jerusalem (Isaiah 56:15). This House of Prayer is the Tent of Shem in which Yafet will dwell.

* * *

Noah's Sacrifices

Underlying the present parshah of Noah and the ensuing parshiyos, which tell the story of the patriarchs, is the quest for the Holy Mountain of G-d, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Adam's body had been created from the dust and earth of the Temple Mount. And "to dust you will return!" -- mankind must return to this spot and bring sacrifices in order to attain complete atonement for the "sin of Adam", which is man's intrinsic selfishness.

Noah set off on his quest having no idea where he was going. He was commanded to take seven each of all the pure species of animals into the ark. However, it was only after the flood waters subsided that Noah understood through his own powers of reasoning what G-d wanted him to do with them.

"And Noah built an altar to G-d, and he took from all the pure animals and from all the pure birds and offered elevation offerings on the altar" (Genesis 8:20). G-d in His bountiful mercy gave man command over all of nature, allowing him to take what he wants for his needs and desires. What G-d wants of man is to learn and understand Who is the source of this bounty -- by restraining himself from taking everything, and offering part of the bounty back to G-d, in acknowledgement. "And G-d smelled the sweet savor." (ibid. v. 21).

The essence of the concept of KORBAN, a "sacrifice", is that the offered animal -- symbol of our earthly, animal side -- is "brought near" (KAROV) and elevated by being brought into the service of G-d in the form of the sacrifice. The sacrifice of a representative of the species elevates the entire species and brings it divine blessing. Noah's offering after the flood established an archetype for the whole of mankind, his descendants. The ultimate fulfillment of what Noah began will be expressed in the sacrifices in the Future Temple in Jerusalem as prophesied by Ezekiel (ch's 40ff.).

When man carries out the will of G-d, the purpose of creation is fulfilled and G-d maintains and protects the creation in accordance with His Covenant. In response to Noah's willingness to fulfill his mission, G-d established His Covenant with him (Genesis 9: 11). The establishment of the Covenant was accompanied by a "Giving of the Law" to Noah and his children, restating their mission in the world and the laws according to which they must conduct their lives. Prominent among these laws are the prohibition of murder (as discussed in BEREISHIS) and the prohibition of the consumption of a limb from a living animal. The sign of G-d's Covenant with Noah and his offspring is the rainbow, symbolic of how all the different powers of creation -- the "colors" -- are actually refractions of the unitary "white light" of G-d.

* * *

Man's side of the Covenant

Another of the fundamental laws of G-d's Covenant with Noah is the prohibition of sexual immorality, which was one of the prime causes of the flood. Allusions to the rectification of sexual immorality are found throughout the Parshah. In order to correct the excesses of the generation of the flood, it was necessary for Noah and his family to practice complete abstinence during the flood itself (Rashi on Genesis 6:18). This is in accordance with Rambam's teaching (Hilchos De'os, Laws of Attitudes and Personal Conduct 2:2): "If a person was at a far extreme, he has to distance himself from his previous behavior to the opposite extreme and conduct himself this way for a long time until he can return to the good path, which is the middle way."

"These are the generations of Noah."The names of Noah's three sons are repeated several times in the course of the Parshah, indicating that Noah understood that the true purpose of the sexual urge is to create new life and breed children to glorify the name of G-d.

However, Noah himself was unable to rectify the entire world, and after the flood, he himself fell -- he planted a vineyard, became drunk from the wine, and was uncovered in his tent. The theme of sexual immorality is uppermost in the story of how Ham "saw his father's nakedness". Rashi comments: "Some say he castrated him, some say he had relations with him." Ham is the archetype of the unbridled sexual heat and passion, which brings man to the depths of degradation. Sexuality has its necessary place in the life of man, but its holiness is preserved only when it is appropriately covered with a cloak of modesty and dignity. This is expressed in Shem and Yafes entering backwards into Noah's tent, averting their eyes, and covering his nakedness without looking, earning them Noah's eternal blessing.

* * *

The tyranny of Nimrod

After the fall of Noah, the ensuing generations again degenerated. The subtle allusions contained within the Biblical text are discussed and elaborated in the Midrash, which provides many details of the world in the period between Noah and Abraham. This was dominated by Nimrod, the archetype of the G-d-denying tyrant. With the world again falling deeper and deeper into chaos, the Parshah concludes by tracing the lineage of a new prophet. This was one of Noah's progeny who WAS able to accomplish the rectification of the world, albeit not by himself, but with the help of his progeny, Isaac, Jacob and Jacob's children. Abraham did not fall. At the end of Parshas NOAH we see Abraham (or Abram as he then was) setting off on HIS journey of destiny -- to the Land of Canaan, and eventually to "the Place", the Mountain of G-d in Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum

PO Box 50037 Jerusalem 91500 Israel
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