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Kislev 27, 5769, 12/24/2008
DOWN WITH CHANUKAH! This is a piece written by Rabbi Meir Kahane z"l back on December 15, 1972. I think it is a very important piece to dwell on and internalize, especially since this holiday is one of the holidays that most diaspora jews choose to celebrate. The problem is that the meaning of Chanukah gets lost in the Diaspora, seeming to compete with Christmas, losing its most important message, that of the fight for religious freedom to be a Jew. A video follows below that I think is important to watch, though I am not suggesting who to vote for, as I myself have not decided where to cast a vote and to my knowledge, this United Torah Block does not yet exist. If someone knows otherwise, please post about it below.
Kislev 24, 5769, 12/21/2008
This is a re-post of a blog I wrote last year, however, it is still appropriate for this Chanukah.
Why do we take it? How is it that a society chooses to sleep, rather than wake up from their bad dream and fix things? Sometimes it takes a 'the shock factor' to do what 'rationalization' smothers. The little known Chanukah story of how the Hasmonean revolt started, was actually because of a very brave woman!
The background of the Chanukah story recalls the struggle for religious freedom from the Hellenistic Syrian-Greeks in the year, 165 B.C.E. Antiochus, who was the occupying King at those times, sought to crush our Jewish identity and passed decrees against the practice of Judaism. We were forbidden from studying the Torah, we were forbidden to keep the Shabbat (Sabbath) and we were forbidden from making a brit milah (circumcision). To do so meant the death penalty.
"Hellenistic rituals and sacrifices were instituted in the Bet HaMikdash (the holy Temple in Jerusalem), thus desecrating the sacred center of Jewish ritual life. Many Jews were impressed by the culture and power of their Greek conquerors and adopted their customs and practices. These Jews came to be known as "Hellenists". – Sound familiar to our situation today?
“Other Jews were infuriated by the oppressive decrees aimed at destroying their religion, and vowed revenge. They were led by Mattityahu, a Chashmona'i (Hasmonean) who lived in Modiin with his five sons, who came to be known as the Maccabim. This name is derived from the first letter of each word in the phrase "Mi kamocha ba'elim Hashem?" ("Who is like You, O L-rd, among the mighty?". After three years of guerrilla warfare in the hills and forests against the strong and powerful armies of the Syrian-Greek King Antiochus, the relatively small and poorly armed Maccabim won, and recaptured Jerusalem. But WHAT started this revolt? What shocked the Maccabim into action?
One of my favorite stories of Chanukah is the story about Chana (Hannah). Not the extremely powerful story of Hannah and her 7 sons, but a different ‘Chana’.
This 'Chana' used what I think is an important strategy to wake people up from their stupor. Shock.
Too many of us do not want to change our daily routine. We are comfortable in our lives and we don’t want disruption, and so it easier to bear burdens if they come in servings that we are able to swallow. If an evil regime passed all their terrible laws at once, people would be convinced they must fight. But if the laws are ushered in one by one, in bite sized pieces, we learn to adapt. We act this way because it is easier to be a little uncomfortable than have to go to battle and face having to risk it all, to lose everything we have worked for and even possibly risk our lives and that of our children. No one likes disruption, and so we swallow the evil.
Sometimes we need someone to slap us, to wake us from our stupor and fight the evil that has embedded itself in our midst. A young woman who lived many years ago did just that. And we should all thank her.
The story from the Midrash goes like this:
The Marriage of Chana, Daughter of Mattathias (Mattityahu)
As part of their campaign to break the spirit of the Jews, the Greeks decreed that every maiden must spend her wedding night in the bed of the regional governor, and that only afterward would she be permitted to her husband. They wanted to destroy Jewish sanctity and degrade the Jews. As a result of this decree, the Jews stopped marrying. For three years and three months, no wedding was held in Judea. Then it came time for Hannah, daughter of Mattityahu the Hasmonean to marry. In spite of the decree, Mattityahu held a great celebration, inviting the leaders of the nation, for Mattathias' family was extremely prominent. The bride sat, as was customary, at the head table, but suddenly stood up, clapped her hands together, and tore her expensive wedding dress, exposing herself.
But Hannah exclaimed to them all, 'now you are so zealous as to shield your eyes?, for THIS you are zealous, yet you are willing to have a Greek see me naked and have his way with me?' She added, "Why, when I shame myself before my relatives and friends are you so filled with embarrassment and anger that you wish to kill me, but you agree to surrender me this night so the heathen governor can lie with me? Why do you not learn from Simon and Levy, sons of our forefather Jacob, who avenged the rape of their sister Dinah (in Genesis, chapter 34)? They were only two brothers who fought and took a whole city to free her, I have FIVE brothers - and where are you?'
This, my friends, is what spurred the revolt of the Maccabees on the Syrian-Greeks and led to the first holiday commemorating religious freedom and the lift of the yoke of Hellenism and Greek occupation.
The story of Hannah goes on:
"Everyone realized that Hannah was right; her brothers discussed the matter and came to a decision. They dressed their sister in the finest garments and brought her with great ceremony, at the head of a large procession, to the King. Hannah's brother's declared, "We are the sons of the High Priest, and it is not fitting that our sister be given to the governor. Our sister is fit only for the King himself!" The brothers' words found favor in the King's eyes.
The brothers accompanied Hannah to the royal bed chamber, and thereupon, seized the King and killed him. Afterward, they stormed out killing ministers, guards, and servants, who were in the palace. So began the Hasmonean revolt. "
A sequel to this story is the story of yet ANOTHER Jewish Heorine named Yehudit (Judith). Yehudit was a beautiful woman who single-handedly saved the Jewish town of Bethulia during the Hasmonean revolt.
"Answer me, O L-rd, as You answered Yael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, when you delivered the wicked general Sissera into her hands. Strengthen me this once that I may bring Your deliverance to my people whom this cruel man vowed to destroy, and let the nations know that You have not forsaken us..."
Yehudit then unsheathed Holofernes' heavy sword which was hanging near his bed and brought it down upon his neck with all her might.
She leaves his bloody corpse soaking his mattress and takes the head and her maid away from the slumbering enemy camp to Bethulia. She tells the Jews of Bethulia that victory will soon be theirs. She takes the head of Holofernes and puts it on a stake in public view to strengthen the will of the people. She then tells the Jewish men to wait for dawn to make a surprise attack. The enemy's camp is not prepared for a Jewish onslaught on them. When the morning comes with the charge of the Jews towards their camp, Holofernes's men run to their commander's tent where they find his headless body on the blood soaked mattress. In their shock, fear and confusion, they flee for their lives. The Jews won the revolt and Yehudit was their hero.
This Chanukah, we must remember the valor and strength of the Jewish women who risked their lives, to keep Israel Jewish. To Chana and her 7 sons, to Yehudit, and to Chana the daughter of the high priest who shocked the Jews into action, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Kislev 19, 5769, 12/16/2008
Who would you like to throw your shoes at? One reporter in Iraq answered THAT question. Since then, the video tape has been seen around the world. His name was Muntadhar al-Zeidi. He was tackeled at the scene and is now being held under close guard. An Iraqi official said that Iraqi security were interrogating al-Zeidi about whether anybody paid him to throw his shoes at Bush. Rumors are that Laura Bush may be the culprit. "He gets me so angry sometimes, but my aim is bad and I always miss." However, other sources say that McCain, Palin, or even Dick Cheney may have been behind it. Scratch that, Cheney was just heard saying that if he had aimed, he wouldn't have missed his target. His wounded hunting-buddy concurred. "Even when Dick isn't aiming, he always get's his target."
Dan from Jerusalem writes:
Regarding the Iraqi who threw a shoe at President Bush... The following reactions were reported in the media:
Since shoes are a dangerous weapon, it will now be forbidden to wear them on international and domestic flights.
Only soft slippers will be permitted.
For Muslims who choose to go barefoot, there will be foot-washing basins at the entrance to the airplane.
"He throw the shoe because Bush passed the bailout bill and it says in Amos 2:6 'because they have sold the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of shoes' "
Shoe Bomber Richard Reid:
"Why didn't I think of that? Fewer parts to go wrong"
"Call up the shoe attacker. I want him to endorse our new line of aerodynamic running shoes."
Here's some of my own additions (all in jest):
A female reporter at the press conference in Iraq who used to pitch in little league said, "I've got pointy heels on my shoes. If I'd have thrown them, I'd have taken an eye out. That Iraqi reporter? LOSER!"
A reporter next to al-Zeidi was heard whispering, "A little to the right."
The Shabak says:
All Israeli soldiers will be forbidden from wearing combat boots when they are at ceremonies with political dignitaries. They will have to remain only in their woolen socks. ..and of course they will be disarmed beforehand, just as soldiers were when Shimon Peres came to visit their base several years ago.
Singer Tom Jones was heard saying, "I'm glad in my days it was just their hotel keys and panties they were throwing up on stage,,,"
At a carnival booth:
"But mommy, I want to knock down Bush!"
"When I use up all my bean bags, I'll just use my shoes."
"The size is good, but how fast can they 'throw'?"
And a photo that was emailed to me by a reader:
And this is NOT a Joke: Thousands rally for the release of the Shoe-Thrower
From the AP: BAGHDAD - Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets Monday to demand the release of a reporter who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush, as Arabs in many parts of the Middle East hailed the journalist as a hero and praised his insult as a proper send-off to the unpopular U.S. president.
To read more, click HERE.
Now it's your turn. Have fun, add your own remarks about the Bush-shoe incident.
Kislev 17, 5769, 12/14/2008
Bibi is looking an awful like Arik Sharon this last week as he steamrolled 'democracy' in favor of his own desires. The Likud primaries held last week were supposed to be a show of democracy and respect for the voters of the Likud. It was instead, a repeat of the Sharon fiasco that took place prior to the expulsion of almost 10,000 Israelis from their homes in Gush Katif and the northern Shomron back in 2005.
Like Sharon, Binyamin Netanyahu, in the framework of the Likud, set forth a type of 'referendum' of who would take what number on the Likud party list. The Likud member's votes, after all the work and expenses and campaigning, were tossed to the wind. They were not respected.
To those who remember back a few years, Ariel Sharon, was elected on the platform against unilateral withdrawal, and then turned around and embraced it wholeheartedly and implemented it. He won the national elections in a landslide because he was AGAINST his opponent, Amram Mitznah's unlilateral withdrawal plan. But then, after Sharon won, he took on the same platform he ran against, to the horror of those who voted for him. After this betrayal of democracy, he then agreed to let the Likud party members decide about the fate of Gush Katif since he did a 180 degree turn on his own party's platform. He agreed to a referendum and said he would honor what the Likud voters decided. Well, the referendum was an overwhelming success in support for holding on to Gush Katif and northern Shomron. However, when the results came in, and Sharon realized he lost, he decided that he would not honor the referendum that he agreed to. He dissed the voters of his own party that he was supposed to serve. He was going to have it HIS way. Democracy shemocracy.
A similar scenario took place last week, as Moshe Feiglin, a right wing Likud candidate was voted into slot number #20 on the list. The Likud is expected to take at least 30 seats in this next election, so it looked like a sure thing that Feiglin would get in and his Likud supporters were celebrating. Unfortunately, Netanyahu, acting similar to Sharon, flew in and nixed the votes of the party he is supposed to serve and arranged a re-shuffling of the seats, citing some lame reason as to bring up the 'district reps' on the ticket. This invasive act plunged Feiglin all the way down, more than ten seats, to a slot somewhere in the 30's, which may be unrealistic in getting him a seat in the next Knesset.
Netanyahu disrespected the voters, AND the democratic process he seems to hold so high. Is this democracy? Is this Netanyahu, or Sharon? Is this what we can expect in the next government when he gets elected and is suspected to want to cede the Golan Heights, Judea & Samaria and possibly Jerusalem? - What if Likud voters say no?
If he runs on a platform for keeping Jerusalem united, and then after being elected says that 'things have changed' and he now believes we need to cede parts of our capital to our enemy, or some other part of the Land of Israel, and then we yell 'No!", and remind him of his campaign promises and/or that of the Likud party's principles, how can we know he will respect them? How do we know he will respect ANY democratic vote the people of Israel or his own party make?
Are we seeing another tyrant-acting and un-democratic Sharon, in Netanyahu? "Hey, it worked for Arik, so why not me?" he might think.
Does Netanyahu strut wearing democracy on his chest, but discard it as easily as taking off one's coat. Does this steamrolling of democracy show that Bibi will be just another Arik? I don't want to see mudslinging and dirty remarks about Bib in the talk-backs here. I just want to bring this to your attention, so that if anyone does decide to vote for the Likud, they understand who they are getting. ...Just another Sharon.
Kislev 14, 5769, 12/11/2008
Two general announcements:
1) Message from Daniel Pinner re: Noam Federman
2) New Show Segment
1) Message from Daniel Pinner re: Noam Federman
ARE YOU SEETHING WITH FRUSTRATION AT THE POGROM AGAINST NOAM FEDERMAN AND HIS FAMILY?
It was at 1:30 in the morning of 27th Tishrei (26th October) that the black-uniformed pogromchiks of the Yassam (Special Patrol Unit) attacked Noam Federman and his family, smashed the windows and broke down the doors of their home in Kiryat Arba, threw the entire family out onto the cold streets, and crushed their house into rubble. Everything they had - wedding albums, clothes, oven, fridge, the children's toys and games, furniture - eighteen years of their lives - all was ruined in a matter of minutes.
Noam and Elisheva Federman
Noam, his wife Elisheva, an their 17-year-old daughter were attacked by the police, and then arrested for the crime of trying to defend their home.
The pogrom is described at http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/128076.
Even Arab terrorists, even the families of suicide terrorists who openly applaud their dead sons' murderous attacks, are not treated this harshly. They, at least, have a few days to appeal to the courts - or at the very least, a few hours to salvage their possessions, dress their children, and find somewhere else to live.
A month later, on 27th Heshvan (25th November), a Jerusalem Peace Court Judge, Moshe Drori, rejected the State's request that Noam be barred from entering Judea and Samaria - including his own home! He castigated, in spectacularly harsh terms, the Supreme Court ("a court of Sodom"), the Prosecution who made this outrageous request ("disproportionate" and "unconstitutional"), and the police who carried out this pogrom.
The Federman family is still living in a tent, they still lack the basic needs, and winter is already here.
(Below) Daniel Pinner
HOW CAN YOU HELP?For a change, this is NOT an appeal for money. Noam wants to publicise Judge Moshe Drori's ruling as widely as possible - particularly in the USA. For this, he wants the judgement translated into English.
Noam emailed me the entire judgement - 70 pages long - and I am working on translating it. Because the Federman family are unable to pay for tranlsation services, I have taken this pro bono. However, the result is that translating a 70-page document will take weeks.
If you are able to translate a page or two and are willing to donate a few hours of your time, please contact me at email@example.com. Tell me how many pages you are willing to translate, and I will email you the appropriate amount. Please do not be daunted: even a bad translation will speed up this crucial project. Rely on me to do the final proofreading and editing, so even if you do not fully understand Hebrew legal terms, or do not know English legal terminology, or write English as a second lamguage, email me a partial translation, or a translation with gaps in it.
This is a very practical way, that will cost you nothing, that you can help Noam and his family get their lives back. More - by publicising the outrage in the USA, by involving famous lawyers such as Alan Dershowitz, we can [maybe] embarass the Israeli government sufficiently to prevent them perpetrating this kind of anti-Jewish terror in the future.
I am turning to you, the readership of Arutz 7, confident that some of you can help me in this holy task. Please do not disappoint me.
With love of Israel,
2) New Show Segment
Shifra Hoffman from Victims Of Arab Terror and Shuva will be joining the Weekend Edition radio show with me. The new segment every week is called, ""Jewish Activism with Shifra Hoffman". Shifra is a grandmother, yet fiestier and tougher than most women half her age. If you go to a demonstration, you'll most likely find Shifra Hoffman there - with a sign. She's been arrested, roughed up, but not beaten! Make sure to turn in every week to hear what activism she and others are doing here in Israel. The Weekend Edition airs every Sunday 8-10am Eastern and 3-5pm in Israel.