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      Baruch's Breeze
      by Baruch Gordon
      A refreshing and optimistic view on Israel, Torah and events.
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      Baruch Gordon founded the Arutz Sheva-IsraelNationalNews.com website in 1995 and directed its English Media Department for 14 years. Baruch studied and taught at the Bet El Yeshiva Center, later serving as Dean of its Program for Overseas Students and Program for IDF Veterans. 

      Baruch is certified by the Dor v'Dor Institute to counsel married couples and prepare hatanim for marriage.

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      Tishrei 18, 5771, 9/26/2010

      Strong Diaspora Needed to Lobby for the Jewish State

      Myth and Facts on Aliya to Israel
      Based on the book Lech Lecha The Obligation of Aliya to the Land of Israel
      By Rabbi Mordechai Atiya, of blessed memory

      A strong Diaspora community will always be needed to lobby for the Jewish State and influence key nations to support Israel's cause. A situation in which all the Jews move to Israel is not desirable.

      The return of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel is an integral part of the Divine Plan.

      Thank you America

      According to the late Jerusalem Old City Kabbalist Rabbi Mordechai Atiya, author of Lech Lecha – Sod HaShvua, all of the trials and tribulations that befall the Jewish People in their long exile are messages sent from heaven to awaken the Jewish People to leave the foreign lands they dwell in.

      On a micro level, the life of the Or HaChaim (Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar) is an embodiment of this teaching that the tragedies of the exile are divine signals to prod the Jewish People to return to Israel.

      In his native Morocco, the Or HaChaim was targeted by the government, falsely accused of things that he had no part in, thrown into jail on more than one occasion, and even thrown once into the lions den - coming out unharmed. In 1738 when hunger plagued Morocco, he began his long journey to Israel.

      In the introduction to his Torah commentary, the Or HaChaim writes:

      "Those who pursued me didn't turn back. I prayed for peace, but behold, enemy after enemy assaulted me, one trouble after another, until I was up to my neck in distress. I wondered from town to town, becoming a fulfillment of the verse, 'He that flees from terror, shall fall into the pit…' And G-d opened my eyes, and I realized that the reason for these troubles was none other than to signal me to ascend to the place of the Shechina, the city which is so exalted and so dear to G-d of the world."

      Note that the final straw that convinced the Or HaChaim to make aliya was the financial collapse in Morocco induced by famine. It was not a decree specifically targeting the Jews.

      Every Last Jew Will Leave the Diaspora,
      Rav Mordechai Atiya states emphatically in his book that sooner or later, the Diaspora will be emptied of all its Jews, adding," And happy is the man who saves himself and his family in advance by making aliyah to Eretz Yisrael [pg. 3].

      Regarding the first redemption from Egypt, the Torah says, "…afterwards he [Pharaoh] will let you go from here; when he shall let you go completely, he shall surely expel you out from here" . The Torah commentator Rabbeinu Bachyeh explains the use of the word kaleh [completely]: "when Pharaoh sends you out, he will send all of you, and will not leave a single one of you."

      So, too, regarding the final redemption, the prophet Yechezkel says, "…and I will gather them into their land, and I will not leave any of them there" . Rashi explains: "I will not leave one of them in the exile."

      Hence, the liquidation of the Jewish presence outside of Israel and the return of every last Jew to Israel follows the paradigm, "What was in the past (in the redemption from Egypt) is what will be in the future (in the final redemption)."

      Rabbi Atiya admonishes:

      "And G-d forbid that one should sit with folded arms in the exile waiting for miracles and wonders to occur, because we have a principle that an awakening of human initiative is a necessary prerequisite to Divine intervention."

      Elul 29, 5770, 9/8/2010

      Short, Inspiring Quote on Rosh HaShana

      I share with you below an excerpt from "The Art of T'shuva," a book by Rabbi David Samson and Tzvi Fishman on the writings of Rabbi A. Y. Kook on t'shuva (penitence). Take 60 seconds to read it and be inspired! 
      May you have a happy Rosh HaShana holiday, and may all your prayers be heard and accepted in the best possible way. Shana Tova

      From "Art of T'shuva"
      "Amongst the many eye-opening revelations on t'shuva [penitence] in Rabbi Kook's writings, one concept is especially staggering in its profundity. Usually we think that a process is completed when it reaches its end. We experience a feeling of satisfaction when we finish a project. An underlying tension often accompanies our work until it is accomplished. This is because the final goal is considered more important than the means.
      "Most people feel the same way about t'shuva. Until the process of t'shuva is complete, they feel unhappy, anxious, overwhelmed with the wrongdoings which they have been unable to redress.

      When will I finally rectify my character faults?

      Rabbi Kook tells us that this perspective is wrong. When it comes to t'shuva, the goal is not the most important thing. It is the means which counts.
      "Success in t'shuva is not measured by the final score at the end of the game. It is measured by the playing. The striving for good is goodness itself. The striving for perfection is what perfects, in and of itself…
      "By understanding the depth of this teaching, we can learn to be happy, not only when we attain our goals and ideals, but also at every moment of our lives."

      Elul 26, 5770, 9/5/2010

      Resumed Peace Talks: You Get What You Vote For

      The first round of renewed talks between Israel and local Arabs are over with a continuation set for September 14 and 15. On Thursday Sept 2, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted a press conference at which brief remarks were made by her, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas.

      Who Does Clinton Favor?
      US State Department

      At all international press conferences, Israeli dignitaries never mention the rights of the Jewish People to their historic and biblical homeland. They speak of security needs. The Thursday press conference was no exception. Netanyahu said, "President Abbas, I am fully aware and I respect your people’s desire for sovereignty. I am convinced that it’s possible to reconcile that desire with Israel’s need for security." Netanyahu further said, "And so achieving security is a must. Security is the foundation of peace. Without it, peace will unravel. With it, peace can be stable and enduring."

      I reviewed Netanyahu's entire speech. No mention of rights.

      On the other hand, leaders of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria always speak of Arab rights to what they have been led to believe is their land. At the press conference, Abbas spoke of "peace that guarantees freedom and independence for the Palestinian people who is attached to his [sic] land and his rights."

      Israel's own leaders broadcast to the world that the negotiations are about reconciling Arab "rights" with Israel's "security needs." With these parameters, we've lost from the outset.

      Question: When will an Israeli leader proudly assert the inalienable, historic and legitimate rights of our people to our land?
      Answer: When we vote for a leader that believes in those rights and is not ashamed to assert them.

      To all the wonderful Jews who voted for the leftwing Likud party in the last elections, you perpetuate the self-castration of our national rights by electing such leaders, and frankly, you make me puke.

      Father pumpkin upon hearing that his son voted Likud


      Elul 16, 5770, 8/26/2010

      Violate Shabbat or Get Divorced?

      The "Ask the Rabbi" section of the Bet El Yeshiva's Hebrew website has become the premier venue for secular Israelis seeking rabbinic counsel on the internet. Below is an exchange from this week.

      First my background: I got married two years ago and am a traditional Jew. We do not yet have children.

      My wife insists that we go out together [by car] on the Sabbath for the sake of strengthening our marriage relationship. . I am not willing to violate the Sabbath in this fashion.

      What is preferable: to drive on the Sabbath and thereby preserve our marriage or to get divorced? We both know that my refusal to ride in a car on the Sabbath means that we have reached a dead end in our relationship. We must resolve this before we have any children.

      I await your reply.

      Shalom Dear Amit,

      I am sorry to hear of the tensions between you and your wife, and the difficult trial that faces you. This issue is very, very complex, and I can only imagine the hard feelings involved. 

      On the one hand, your faith and your observance of the laws of Sabbath is of great import. It is your special connection with our Father in heaven – something that you truly believe in and connect with. To compromise your belief is tantamount to the destruction of your ideals and your inner faith. It is a departure from your inner essence.

      On the other hand, you are married to someone that you love, someone with whom you believe that you can build your future, have children, and establish a family.

      This dilemma is not an easy one, albeit it is one that unfortunately I come across occasionally in various forms, though not always in such an intense, yes-or-no scenario.

      A person often feels he is torn between opposing forces and must choose one. Which should he forfeit?

      However, from my experience and studies, I have learned that the truth is not to be found by giving up one side of the equation, but rather by navigating a middle road and building a bridge between the two sides.

      Often times, when a person abandons one of the values he is grappling with, feelings of great frustration settle in and negative thoughts occupy his mind leading to a sort of breakdown, in the wake of which he can lose everything he has achieved. This "black and white" approach is therefore not helpful in the end, because it can break a person until he abandons everything.

      Only a serious, wise solution.can extricate him from his predicament.

      For example, in your case, it is important for you and your wife to engage in cool, relaxed discussion about this topic. The exchange must be held when you are feeling good with each other, and love and affection are in the air.

      The stated subject of the conversation should be, "How can we preserve the beautiful relationship between us without destroying other values which are important?" This goal should be clear and defined, and the conversation should focus on this topic, with no beating around the bush.

      If you forget for a moment the target of the negotiation, it is liable to deteriorate into an argument from which there is no way out. A fight will only leave more mental scars and hard feelings. Therefore, keep focused on the stated goal.

      In this conversation, it is important to define the various aspects of the dilemma and explain why lack of a solution presents such a problem.

      Lastly, you should try and find the golden mean, for example, remaining close to home without car travel, but giving your wife the full attention and affection that she needs, such as taking a long walk together. Also, seek out enjoyable outings such as concerts that do not oppose Torah law, yet are not old-fashioned.

      In most cases, people discover that it is possible to bridge between the sides, and in hindsight, see no reason not to continue in this path. To the contrary, they find a deepening of their bonds and an increase in peace of mind.

      Give it a try, and I will be happy to be a partner in the search for good and creative ideas that will fill your hearts with joy and strengthen the the relationship between you.

      Much success in your endeavor,

      Yitzhak [A Bet El Yeshiva rabbi]

      Elul 9, 5770, 8/19/2010

      How Can I Return What I Stole From My Employer?

      The Ask the Rabbi section of the Bet El Yeshiva site has become the main venue for secular Israelis to reach out for rabbinical guidance. The letters provide a fresh perspective on Israelis seeking the spiritual roots of the Jewish nation.

      Dear Rabbi,

      I am a woman who recently became a Baalat Teshuva (returnee to Jewish observance), and I have many items that I stole from companies that I worked for. My question is, how can I return money for things that I stole? My particular concern is that I no longer know who runs or owns the company, and I am afraid that if I send a check to the company, it might reach the wrong hands, and then my teshuva (rectification) will not be complete.

      I am sorry to bother you with this but I have no one else to ask, and Rosh Hashana is approaching, and I want to resolve this beforehand. What practical steps should I take?


      Dear Revital,

      What a merit it is for me to hear of the path you have embarked upon, and the transformation you have made in your life. I encourage and bless you to continue in this way, and reveal the exhilarating light that is hidden in every mitzvah, and in every righteous act.

      According to halacha, a person must return what he stole. The best way to perform this is to return the money directly to the person you stole from. In your case, you can return money to the company, without their knowledge. Since the manager doesn't know that you stole from the company, you can rectify your deeds also without his knowledge.

      If you want to send the company a check, you can send it in registered mail, so that the manager himself, or someone reliable will open the letter. Even though this costs a bit more, it is worth it to ensure that the check reaches the right hands.

      Good luck Revital, and I will be happy to help you in any way I can. Feel free to turn to me, and I am always glad to assist.

      With blessings,


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