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Tamar Yonah is one of Israel's most popular English-speaking radio show hosts. She made Aliyah from Southern California and after serving in the Israeli army began a prolific career in radio, including production, news and program development. She was the original creator and producer of 'The Aliyah Show' and still works whenever she can in that field. Tamar is a political activist, wife and mother residing in Judea and Samaria and currently hosts the top-rated shows of The Weekend Edition & The Tamar Yonah Show. Her award winning blog covers current events, religion, politics and anything else that's on her mind.
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The Clothes Make the Man of God
by Mori Michael Shelomo Bar-Ron
This is the week of TeSawweh (that’s Tetzaveh for the un-initiated in ancient Hebrew pronunciation) – the Torah portion about sacred clothing, the clothing that would distinguish the Kohen-priests, particularly the High Priest, in their sacred duties. It is also the week I was interviewed by Tamar Yonah (a true honor) about the dubious origins and halakhic problems (according to Torah law) with the relatively late, European custom of dressing up in costume for Purim. How fitting it is for me, then, to teach about one of the more poorly-known aspects of Torah: the importance of a distinct, Jewish dress.
"After the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelled, you shall not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, to where I am bringing you, you shall not do; neither shall you walk in their statutes."
The following is a summary of the Oral Torah (the actual halakhah) on this Divine Commandment from the Mishneh Torah, the Code of Jewish Law (Laws of Idolatry chapter 11:1)
"One is not to walk in the statutes of the gentiles, and not to resemble them—not in their dress, and not in their hairstyle, nor in anything else of this sort, as it is written: “neither shall you walk in their statutes.” And it is written, “be careful of yourself, lest you be ensnared after them.” "All this is warning about one thing: That one not resemble them; but rather, that the Israelite be distinguished from them and known in his dress and in his other ways, just as he is distinguished from them in his wisdom and his character. And thus it is written, “and I shall make you distinct from the nations.”
In the miSwath (mitzvah, commandment) lo-tha`aseh (Torah Prohibition) #30 in Sepher ha-miSwoth, we learn that the prohibition against copying the statutes of the gentiles not only pertains to their present customs, but those of their ancestors as well. Now it is possible that RaMBaM changed his opinion since his youth, when he wrote sefer ha-miSwoth, deliberately leaving this detail out of Mishneh Torah. This way the Hamburg-hatted, frock-coated Hassidim and Lithuanian-style Jews could claim that today they have a distinct Jewish look — certainly now that the Christian clergy have moved on to new modes of dress.
To me, it’s a stretch. I could be mistaken, but I see no reason to fight what seems clear: Jews are not to dress in uniquely gentile dress — neither that of the present, nor that of the past. (Note: Whatever I say about Haredi dress is said with the deepest respect for the Haredim and their [our] fierce dedication to Torah. I am one who personally identifies as a Haredi Jew, living in a Haredi neighborhood with children learning in a fine Haredi institution.)
One friend of mine shared with me an additional insight: The black garbed Polish 'look' and black hats/streimels [(and I add to that the modern, tight-fitting Western styles of non-Haredim)] make us look foreign to this land. It is hostile clothing to Israel's climate and we look like aliens, or G-d forbid, foreign oppressors who don’t belong here, imported from Europe. The Arabs and the rest of the world claim this as well. Noting our non-native styles, they can say, “See? These Jews came and stole our land. They don’t belong here – go back to Europe!”
What I believe the nations understand subconsciously, somewhere deep in their souls, is something that pains them greatly: This is not the look (and in many cases not the behavior) of the “kingdom of priests” Israel is supposed to be for us. Barukh HaShem (thank God), I see numerous signs of positive change underway.
How, then, are Jews to ideally dress? Believe it or not, the traditions of our unique dress have not all disappeared. We can still learn them from the Jews of the Orient, very few of whom maintain them to this day. From my own great-great-great grandfather HaRav Yehudah Ha-Levi from Dubrovnik, Serbia, to the senior Hakhamim of Baghdad (below ) to the Torah teachers of Yemen: formal-wear for Jewish men varied little.
Among our warriors, the style differed. Below is a photograph of YaHia Habbani of blessed memory, close family to Ya`aqov Mosha (Awad bin Brihim), father of the esteemed Aluf Abir, Mori Yehoshua Sofer shlit”a. The late uncle is dressed in classical Habbani style, which goes back millennia.
The Aluf Abir himself, an expert on ancient clothing of the Near East, once taught me in the name of his father (who is presently well over 100 years old, may HaShem preserve him in good health) that a picture of Arabs 100 years ago would be nearly identical to the way Yishmaelites looked one thousand years ago, and so on back to the times of the Tanakh (Bible). It was no different among his own clan, whose distinguished lineage hails back to the times of Dawidh ha-mmelekh (King David). The style varied per activity, including casual styles such as a very long over-shirt over loose, short white pants — much like the breeches of modern Hassidim.Sometimes the large `tallith was worn as a main garment; among the Habbani warriors it could be wrapped to gird up the entire torso like a rope-belt, criss-crossing the body. 
Whatever the style, from the Beth Midrash to the battlefield, across the Middle East, we maintained our distinct dress. If we are to receive the lesson from our ancient Oral legends (midrash), this is a matter of no small importance: It was partly in the merit of our steadfast loyalty to our traditional Hebrew dress, that HaShem redeemed us from Egypt. The sages even ordained a special blessing for us to make each morning specifically when we wrap our heads turban-style: “Blessed are You, HASHEM our God, King of the Universe, who crowns Israel with splendor.” The Babylonian Talmud (tractate Berakhoth 60b) is clear, and so is Mishneh Torah (Book of Love, Laws of Prayer 7:4) the blessing is made when one “puts his sheet [or cloth] on his head”. (Note that both Talmud and Mishneh Torah do mention hats in other places. This blessing appears to be specifically for authentic Israelite headgear.)
Now before you run for your nearest tailor and wager how quickly you are likely to lose your job, your friends, or worse; what is the practical halakhah (Jewish law)? Today, modern dress is standardized all over the world into a basic, universal “human dress”. In our day, most modes of dress that are uniquely gentile, are also outlandish enough to be a Purim costume. Besides that, although we maintained a distinct style, the truth is that Jews though the ages wore what was comfortable to them in their surroundings. My understanding is, according to my training, that for men – on a basic level – so long as one’s clothes are sufficiently modest, the kippah on our head and fringes at our sides give us a clearly unique and distinct look, and satisfy the basic halakhah (practical Jewish law).
However, to my humble understanding (with no disrespect intended towards those who disagree), there may be two common exceptions to this for men: the 3-piece suit and tight pants — particularly tight jeans. Unlike casual suits, the 3-piece suit is a traditional garment also known as the “Sunday’s best.” Reaching its present form in the last century, it appears to have been — in its original cultural ambient — a special garment set aside by the common gentile for weekly, Sunday idol worship. As for tight pants or jeans, unless they are way oversized so that they sag like the ‘gangbanger’ look (which itself may constitute a distinctly gentile style), this is specifically mentioned in Talmud as prohibited to Jewish men. To my reading, RaMBaM had no need to mention this – would it not be included in the general prohibition of imitating gentile customs?!
As for myself, I am personally unsatisfied with the universal “human dress” code; my soul yearns for more. It doesn’t sit well with me that for over 3,000 years our fathers, our great rabbis, prophets and warriors had distinct Jewish dress styles and haircuts that we can comfortably toss aside in favor of the styles of yuppie-ville and the American mall. In a modern Israel where Buddhist monks, nuns, and Ethiopic Christian priests roam freely in their traditional garbs, must I, a Jew, feel confined to styles out of GQ magazine, that are technically permitted?
Now I rarely delve into mysticism in my articles, but I cannot hold back this time.Tefillin , by Aryeh Kaplan, is one of the most inspiring books I ever read as a Jew growing into Torah observance, years ago. In it, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan of blessed memory writes:
"Physical space exists only in the physical world. In the spiritual domain, there is no concept of space as we know it.
But still we speak of things being close or far apart in the spiritual world. What does this mean? We cannot be speaking of physical distance, for there is no physical space in the spiritual realm. But in a spiritual sense, closeness involves resemblance. Two things that resemble each other are spiritually close. On the other hand, two things that differ are far apart in a spiritual sense."
It follows that if we desire to be spiritually close and similar to the greatest men of all time, Avraham our forefather, Mosha Rabbenu, Dawidh ha-mmelekh, Rabi `Aqivah and so on, we should resemble them as much as possible. That is, of course, first and foremost in our deeds: how we relate to others, how we pray, how we learn and practice Torah, how we fight. But it is so difficult in a mundane world where we are so categorized, labeled and limited by those around us. Yet, as I explained above, we create our image – the way we are perceived – and invite those labels, to a degree, by the way we dress and cut our hair.
The foremost reason why, in the Haredi world, Jews wear black hats and suits, is the foremost reason I try to dress more Hebrew: They know how much clothes make the man of God. When passing by a thumping disco alone, a young teen wearing a black hat and suit will feel and react differently than a young man in jeans with a half-dollar sized kippah on his head. Dressing more Israelite can have the same effect. The difference is that the black galuth (diaspora) garb subliminally gives him the feeling of a European arrival from 60 years ago, an exiled man in his own land. Carefully ironed, restricting clothes meant for air-conditioned rooms and paved sidewalks give us a different sense of what is natural and what is foreign.
Moreover, as I discussed above, any dress besides our ancestral one fits a certain negative stereotype in the eyes of the nations, to whom we are to be “a kingdom of priests.” Whether it is as small a step as wearing a large `talith while relaxing and working at home, wrapping one’s head for prayer for Morning Prayers when one is alone, or making a bigger change such as growing one’s beard and side-locks, I highly recommend it. Should you choose to put on tephillin (phylacteries) even for a short while outside of prayer to learn some Torah, you are actually fulfilling the Torah commandment to strive to be in tephillin throughout the day. If you are living outside of Israel, just wearing a large kippah to distinguish yourself as a Jew can be an awesome step.
May the day come soon when kohen-priests will daily don their priestly garments in a rebuilt Beth ha-miqdash (Holy Temple) and Yisra’el (the rest of the nation) will don ours for all the wonderful activities there are for us to do in our ancestral heritage. In the meantime, let’s increase our awareness of the Godly type of people our traditional clothing can help us aspire to become.
For credits and more information on this article, click HERE.
You've read and seen photos about strange crop circles popping up overnight around the world. Here's something stranger. A Star of David is seen below in this photo from a satelite picture above Israel, looking into the Gaza region.
This satelite photo was taken in early January 2009 around the time of Operation Cast Lead, where Israel finally acted against the Hamas terrorists who had been shooting rockets into Israeli population centers for the last 8 years or so. The photo came into the public's eye from the United Nations Goldstone UN Fact Finding Mission report.
The U.N. says that they believe that this apparent 60 meter long Star of David was carved into the ground in the southern part of the Gaza Strip by some type of Israeli army vehicles or tanks. No one knows for sure where the star came from. It could have been Israel, but 'carving' seems to be more of an Arab past time. Here's a photograph of an Arab carving a Star of David into the chest of a dead Arab who was accused of collaborating with Israel.
However, if the Arabs didn't do it, and Israel didn't do it, then maybe.... maybe this is the Middle East version of a crop circle, and the design was left by Aliens, Jewish Aliens. And maybe their message to us and the world, was that, Palestinian Authority or not, Hamas terror government or not, Israeli pull out of the Gaza region or not, this land is Jewish land, and they wanted to remind us of that.
A picture is worth a thousand words!
It is with this methodology that retired mathematician and Jerusalem resident, Reuven Wolfeld, discovered for himself the Torah's prediction that there would be a devastating natural disaster in Haiti. Wolfeld is the author of the book, "Truth In Numbers: Revealed Secrets in the Bible", and he also wrote a Torah-codes program for his computer some years ago. In an interview on The Tamar Yonah Show, he spoke about the earthquake that took place in Haiti on January 12th, however, it wasn't until a couple of days later that the devastation was widely understood by the world. It was then that Wolfeld decided to go to his computer and enter the word 'Haiti' into the Torah codes program he wrote. He specifically chose to look in the book of Shmot (Exodus) in the chapters that preceded and succeeded the date of the quake. These were the Torah portions of Va'era, Bo and Shalach. What he came up with in the search was astounding. In the Torah portion of 'Bo', he saw the words 'Haiti', 'earthquake', and 'many dead'. The letters also spelled out the word 'Port' which makes up part of the name of 'Port au Prince', the city which suffered the most devastation.
Torah code proponents know that one cannot predict the future with Torah codes because every future possibility is already encoded into the Torah. It is up to the free will of Mankind as to which future will materialize, therefore one may find a code that could portend an upcoming event, but it may or may not happen, and therefore, Torah codes should not be used to foretell events. However, in one case, a future prediction did indeed take place, and that was the prediction of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. Michael Drosnin, an American journalist and author of the book,"The Bible Codes" found words encoded in the Torah portending the murder of the prime minister in 1994. He made an attempt to pass a letter along to Rabin through a contact of his named, Chaim Guri, but the warning was not heeded and Rabin was indeed assassinated in 1995.
In this same vein to try to be prepared for a future calamity, Wolfeld says that he found additional words encoded in the book of Shmot (Exodus) that give a possible hint of what may develop in the near future. Words found in the the Torah's text included 'machala' (disease), 'cholera', 'dengue' (a mosquito- borne viral illness & fever usually found in the West Indies), and the word 'dimoom' (bleeding or hemorrhaging). Wolfeld believes that these words could be clues as to what may next plague Haiti, and has sent a notice of his findings to the World Health Organization - with no reply from them, as well as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) which did reply. Wolfeld stated that the CDC got back in touch with him about his findings and have stated that they've notified their doctors about what to possibly look out for in the near future. With water supplies in Haiti contaminated and the lack of hygiene existing because of the devastating conditions there, an outbreak of disease is a real possibility.
In further searches, Wolfeld says sequenced letters found in the Torah portion of Parshat Bo, contain words that could possibly point to a predicted hurricane or other large tropical storm which could hit later this year around August-September which would devastate Haiti even more. The sequenced letters which appeared in to the Torah codes program spelled out the words; 'Haiti' (written backwards), 'sufah' (storm), Elul (the Hebrew month which is Aug/Sept), and 'ruach yam chazak meod' (a strong wind from the sea).
Wolfeld admits his expertise is in mathematics and gamatria (the secrets of the numerical values of Hebrew letters) as his book " Truth In Numbers: Revealed Secrets in the Bible" focuses on. However, the words he found encoded in the Torah about Haiti, disease, and storm, give him hope that maybe what is written there could save lives in the future.
Mysteries, auras, the after-life and Jewish Mysticism. I want to present to you a wonderful video that I received a link to on my email today. It talks about the things we can't see in life, but none the less they exist and are only there for us to use our other senses to discover. Our eyes are two tiny organs in our body, and to trust only them to tell us what is the truth is a real pity. There is so much beauty and magnificence 'out there' in the universe and in our own world. If we only remembered to trust in the wisdom of our great sages, geniuses who lived before us, as well as our great ancestry, we too will discover the importance of our lives and how act we do, makes a dent in the universe. Our actions, result in consequences - good and bad in how we live our lives. Please watch this video. It's in Hebrew, but has English translation. It starts off a bit slow, but stick with it, it really starts to get fascinating. Stay with the video till the very end, as it may look like the video is over, but there are more beautiful stories of secular Jews, even top male models, making 'tshuvah', returning to Judaism, and the before and after pictures are amazing. Enjoy!