Inside Israel 8:07 AM
Global Agenda 10:29 AM 4/16/2014
Jewish World 9:12 AM 4/16/2014
The Jay Shapiro Hour
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.
|Chaim the Bet Shemesh Barber/Political Commentator|
It is my custom to go the Kotel some Saturday nights to recite tehillim (Psalms) and attend a Torah lecture.
Like always, I took a shortcut this past Saturday night to the Kotel via Jehosephat Valley (Vadi E-Joze), an Arab-populated Jerusalem neighborhood. Minutes beforehand, at the entrance to Jerusalem from Bet El, I picked up two "yeshivish" yeshiva students hitchhiking their way to the Old City.
Boom! It sounded like an explosion... Click here for continuation and more pics
This week, history was made in Bet El when the Baruch Gordon household delivered a powerful boost towards Israel's Energy Independence. You see, every time I flip on a light or turn on a household appliance, I am handing money on a silver platter right into the coffers of Egypt, Columbia, Russia, South Africa and other nations from whom Israel buys coal and residual oil to create electricity.
That's about to change.
My wife and I signed a contract... Read the continuation here
After decades of attending Torah classes, it's rare that I get a real head rush of inspiration from a rabbi's shiur (lecture). Don't get me wrong - the Torah is an ever-uplifting ladder of spirituality, which infuses my everyday with meaning and fulfillment. But it's simply not a daily occurrence that I walk out of a Torah learning session blown away from what I had heard.
Last week I was blown away.
I attended a debate between an orthodox Rabbi and Christian Minister entitled "Is Jesus the Promised Messiah?"
The Christian Pastor, Paul Humber, opened the debate with impressive quotes from all over the tanach (Jewish bible) supporting his Jesus narrative to the point that I actually felt uncomfortable. As he continued his 10-minute round of analysis, I felt deep concern that if a Jew on the street were to hear this well-trained missionary, he would be shaken to the core and left helpless - unable to defend his religion against the compelling proofs that JC is the Jewish Messiah. Equally disheartening was the realization that I couldn't defend it well, either.
The pastor continued to fire away from his extensive arsenal of bible verses. A creepy feeling of kfirah (blasphemy) crawled into my system. My rock-solid Judaism was being challenged, and it hurt. I felt that even when the rabbi makes his counterpoints, still some doubt may linger.
I was wrong.
Rabbi Tovia Singer of OutreachJudaism.org pounded back with a slam-dunk, decisive victory. His comebacks were so clever and convincing that I began to feel embarrassed for the pastor who was being ground to mince meat.
Several times throughout the debate, when Rabbi Tovia revealed the utter stupidity of the church's warped understandings of the Jewish bible, he turned to the pastor saying, "Don't take this personally, it's not against you, it's what the whole church believes." My emotions switched from concern for my religion to concern for the pastor who was an invited guest at a Jewish center and being made to look like a buffoon.
Within the rigid time limits of the debate, Rabbi Tovia systematically reviewed each source, explaining it in its original biblical context and showing how it had no connection to JC. It was so convincing that it became humorous, and the crowd burst out in laughter numerous times at the rabbi's delivery.
For example, the pastor explained that according to a verse in Isaiah Chapter 7, a child will be born from a virgin and this, he said, is a prophecy of the immaculate conception and birth of Jesus. Besides showing that "virgin" is a mis-translation, Rabbi Tovia said that anyone who reads the entire chapter and not just the verse sees that the child must have been born some 650 years before Jesus' time. Otherwise, the whole chapter doesn't make sense!
I walked out with a feeling of Jewish pride and smug assurance that when one digs deep in the tanach, Christian theology collapses like a house of cards. Yes, I knew this before the debate, but now this knowledge was a living part of me, filling me with inspiration and confidence.
The punch line is that while Rabbi Tovia told me that he thought Pastor Humber was good, Tovia said that he himself could have done a better job arguing for Christianity.
One of the greatest dangers facing our nation today is the multi-billion dollar (!) missionary offensive to convert Jews. Rabbi Tovia Singer is the vaccination that fights this disease. He told me that when he was a teen, he first heard a Christian missionary preaching to some Jews on a Brooklyn street corner. Since that time, he has dedicated his life to this topic.
Any adult or youth who attends one of his many entertaining appearances is likely to emerge unscathed from a future missionary confrontation. "If Rabbi Tovia were here," he will tell himself, "he would score a slam dunk and complete, decisive victory against this offensive." That's an important memory to evoke, and I hereby encourage every Jewish organization to rush to plant it in the minds of its members.
Rabbi Tovia Singer can be contacted via his website: OutreachJudaism.org If you are looking to learn more about this topic, Rabbi Tovia has posted over 20 hours of free, downloadable, audio classes on his website.
[Hattip to Clifford Bargar of Newton, Mass for his input on this post]
Though the Hebrew calendar date of Israel Independence Day was decided upon by the Israeli government a year after the establishment of the State, their choice of day – the 5th of the Hebrew month of Iyar – received a divine stamp of approval in that this very day filled the missing link in a Rabbinic puzzle of centuries.
The story begins in the 14th century, when Rabbi Yaakov Ben Asher, better known as the "Baal HaTurim," revealed a code for determining what day of the week various Jewish holidays would fall upon, based on the days of Pesach (Passover).
In Siman 428 (OH) of his classic work "Arbaa HaTurim," he writes that if you take the first 6 letters of the Hebrew alphabet (ascending) and line them up with the last 6 letters of the alphabet (descending – in essence this is use of the "atbash" juxtaposition of letters as appears below in the chart), an amazing parallel between the days of Pesach and 6 Jewish holidays emerges:
|Days of Pesach||א||ב||ג||ד||ה||ו||ז|
|Corresponding holiday||ת |
The Baal HaTurim writes that whatever day of the week the first day of Pesach falls on, so too Tisha B'av will fall on the same day of the week. For example, this year, 5771 (2011), the first day of Pesach came out on a Tuesday. Look ahead in your Hebrew calendar and you will see that Tisha B'av will also fall on a Tuesday this year.
Whatever day the second day of Pesach falls on, so, too, the holiday of Shavuot will fall on the same day of the week.
As per the chart of the Baal HaTurim, we see that:
3rd day of Pesach falls on same day of the week as Rosh HaShana
4th day of Pesach falls on same day of the week as Kriat HaTorah (which is Simchat Torah)
5th day of Pesach falls on same day of the week as Tzom (Yom) Kippur
6th day of Pesach falls on same day of the week as the previous Purim
The above code is beautiful and works like a charm every single year on the Jewish calendar, but it is missing a holiday which is parallel to the last (7th) day of Pesach. The Baal HaTurim couldn't find a Jewish holiday that starts with the Hebrew letter ayin and which always falls on the same day of the week as the last day of Pesach.
This same code appears in the book "Avudraham" by Rabbi David Avudraham who lived in the same period as the Baal HaTurim. He too came up empty handed and left the last day of Pesach blank with no corresponding Jewish holiday to fit into the chart.
For centuries, this puzzle – the lack of a holiday to parallel the last day of Pesach – remained unsolved.
In 1949, the government of the fledgling State of Israel with the approval of the Chief Rabbis established the 5th of the Hebrew month of Iyar as Independence Day of the modern Jewish State. Call it what you may - a freak coincidence or the Divine Hand of Hashem – but the Hebrew name "Atzmaut" Independence Day starts with the Hebrew letter ayin and always falls on the same day of the week as does the 7th day of Pesach. The missing link of the code formulated by the great Gedolei Yisrael and passed down for generations was completed with the establishment of the modern State of Israel and the affixing of Iyar 5 as Independence Day. [Quoted in the book Goel Yisrael in the name of Rafael Feltner]
In 1948, we achieved an independent state, but the struggle for true independence continues to this day. The Western imperialist powers have tried for the last 38 years to deprive the Jewish people of portions of our ancient homeland. At the urging of the United States State Department, the European Union, and the United Nations, the superpowers of the world have persisted in their attempts to suppress the inalienable rights of the Jewish People to live with freedom and dignity on the entirety of our ancient and holy soil.
But just as our people resisted Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, we, the indigenous Jewish natives of this land, will continue the struggle for Jewish freedom in our land with all of our faculties and powers.
I join my brothers here in Israel as we call upon you – young and old Jews– to resist the Western oppression. Answer the cry for justice for our people by taking action: visit Israel, study in Israel, purchase apartments here, and move to Israel to guarantee freedom and dignity for our people in our ancient and historic homeland.
May we all join in celebrating this divine Jewish holiday and express our thanks to the G-d of Israel for the miracles He performed for us in our time with the establishment of the State of Israel.
To understand how the establishment of the Jewish State is the fulfillment of one of the 613 positive Torah-ordained commandments, and to understand a Kabbalistic twist from the writings of the Arizal on the above code, contact me below and invite me to speak to your group or synagogue.
Happy Israel Independence Day,
Director of Development
Bet El Institutions
Bet El, Israel