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I was watching the Holocaust Remembrance ceremony with three of my children this evening. While standing at attention, I looked over to my youngest son who is almost 11 years old. He was named after one of my father’s cousins that was killed in the Holocaust. The boy’s name was Yechzkiel (Ezekial) and he was also about 11 years old. He hid for a long time, but the Nazis finally caught him and his older sister, and killed them. I looked at my son and thought, how could a man, a soldier, kill in cold blood, a little 10-11 year old kid? (Listen to an interview I played this week with a holocaust survivor. It is very moving and has a surprise ending).
Germany is often known as ‘das Land der Dichter und Denker’ (the land of poets and thinkers). How could it be that one of the most sophisticated cultures in Europe could carry out the mass extermination of the Jewish People - men, women, & children?
There used to be a whole world of Jews throughout Europe. There were Jewish community centers, synagogues, schools, neighborhoods, - they are all gone now. These Jewish communities were around and thriving for well over a thousand years. Much longer than American Jewry. Could one imagine America today Jew-less?
One of the best books I have ever read was called, “Go My Son”, by Chaim Shapiro. I highly recommend this book, it is a no-putter-downer. In the book, he describes how he came from a very upper middle class home in Poland in a mixed neighborhood of Jews and Gentiles. Life was good. He was around 16 years old and his parents had a lovely home, rich wooden furniture, and he went to one of the best yeshivot (institute of higher Torah learning) in Europe. They had it made. One day, a Mr. Hoffman, who was a German business acquaintance (and not Jewish) came to their home in Poland and warned them about the atrocities against the Jews that was happening in Germany. He said that the Germans would be invading Poland soon, and that they should think about trying to get out before the German soldiers arrived.
I will never forget what Chaim’s mother, Mrs. Shapiro, said to Mr. Hoffman. I loaned the book out so I can’t quote her exact words, but she looked at Mr. Hoffman incredulously and said something like, “Mr. Hoffman, I could imagine that maybe the Cossacks or (some other people) would do these atrocities to the Jews. But the GERMANS? They are the most cultured people in Europe!”
Within a few weeks, all had changed in Chaim Shapiro’s town. It was an average day, peaceful and humming as usual. Then, they heard from above a humming sound. They looked and saw the sky dark, filled with German planes coming from overhead. As they approached, they let go of their bombs. The city was under attack. Everyone dashed out of their homes to run down the street where there was an underground shelter. Explosions were heard one after another. Everything shook. Homes caught fire and black smoke billowed up into the sky.
After the raid, people started to push out of the shelter, they were cramped and had to get air. Chaim’s little brother, not yet 13, was near the door and was pushed out of the protection of the shelter. The crowd behind him was shoving forward. Just as he was pushed out, another bomb exploded, sending shrapnel flying and he was hit in the head.
Profusely bleeding, they grabbed him, picked him up and brought him into the street looking for a place to lay him down. Most of the homes on the once pleasant street a few minutes ago, were now heaps of rubble. They found the nearest house still standing and broke in and put him down on the couch. There he lay bleeding. In the frenzy, his family ran to find a doctor, but they couldn't find anyone who would venture out during the bombing. Chaim's little brother's life was ebbing away from him. He looked up at his older brother Chaim, and he asked him, “Chaim, will I not even live to see my Bar Mitzvah?”. Several minutes later, the boy succumbed to the head wound, and died.
Chaim had gone back to his house with his family to see what was left, to grab their clothes, and anything they could carry and flee, but there was no house left. All was on fire. No clothes, no furniture, no nothing. In just a matter of a couple of hours, Chaim’s life, and the life of his family had changed dramatically. He went from having a peaceful and well to do life in the morning, to having lost his house, his belongings, and his little brother, by the afternoon. How could this happen so fast? To find out how he survived the war, order the book now. You won’t be sorry.
And now, are you going to be a Mrs. Shapiro? Are you going to deny that the cultured western world governments could not possibly commit such atrocities on the Jews? Are you going to be in denial and think that your life will go on forever as it is now? Things can change in an instant. What do you think will happen if the West doesn’t get gas for their cars and heat for their homes? When it comes to a nation to decide ‘our Jews’ or ‘our Oil’, guess what they are going to choose? If the stock market crashes and life fortunes and savings are lost, who are they going to blame? Who is going to be their scapegoat? Look what Obama’s reverend is preaching about white people? When they start to burn down neighborhoods in riots, guess what neighborhoods are the easiest targets? “Let’s get those Jews! Why do they live in these nice homes while we can’t even afford to heat our own? Yah, those nebbish geeky mama’s boys.” Those Jewish accountants, lawyers and doctors who probably don’t even own a gun for protection. Little mama's boys.
Did you know that the U.S. Government has built several ‘detention camps’ all over America? Who will these camps be used for? See this government letter below which states:
"Enclosed is the information you requested pertaining to the army's policy and guidance for establishing civilian inmate labor program and civilian prison camps on army installations. This information has not yet been published."
Watch this video below.
Why do they even exist? I am not saying that there will be a holocaust in the United States, but it sure makes me, the daughter of a holocaust survivor very uncomfortable that these camps exist and are ready and waiting – for someone. Aw, but it can’t happen in America. Why, Bush is a friend of Israel, and the enlightened Western Democracies are so careful to be politically correct.
Throw the Jew down the well.
I’m not saying it is going to happen. But it could.
What? Not ANOTHER conspiracy! Yes, my friends, as we delve into the Passover story, we read how Pharoah felt threatened by the Jews, and decided to act treacherously with them. “He said to his people, “Behold! The people, the Children of Israel, are more numerous and stronger than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them…” Exodus 1: 9-10
You see, even in those days, a Pharaoh wasn’t able to do whatever he wanted. Political correctness existed in that time as well. Pharaoh would have had a very hard time having his soldiers commit genocide against the Jewish population who had flourished in Egypt and grew to be a strong part of Egyptian society. And let us not forget that a Jew, Joseph, was the prime minister of all of Egypt, so the Jews had it 'really made', much more so even, than Jews in America today.
"Come, let us deal wisely with them. Let us amputate the Land of Israel, divide Jerusalem, and plant a terror state in its belly, and we will call it 'peace'."
Yet there were those that hated the Jews. They were suspicious of this people who came down to Egypt and prospered so well. “Those Jews," they stated, "we open our doors to them and they become even greater than us.”
And so a new king arose over Egypt, one who did not know Joseph. -They apparently forgot about the Jew Joseph who saved the Egyptians from sarving to death during their 7 year famine. And so this new Pharaoh called a meeting, not unlike the Nazi's Wannsee Conference where they organized to plan the extermination of the Jewish People in Europe.
Pharaoh said to his ministers: “Come, let us deal wisely with them’. Pharaoh had to devise a plan where he could squash out the Jews without the press writing horrible headlines about him and his administration. Of course I write this example in jest, but there was too much of a chance that his people wouldn’t cooperate, nor would the Jews themselves cooperate. And so Pharaoh ‘dealt wisely’. He conspired to enslave the Jews -with the cooperation of all.
Our sages state that Pharaoh’s treacherous solution to the ‘Jewish problem’ was to deceive the Jews into showing their patriotism by building cities to safeguard the country’s wealth. As the Midrash teaches, Pharaoh set the example by joining the labor force to symbolize that everyone must help Egypt in its time of need. Once the Jewish volunteers were mobilized, in actuality donning their own chains - it was easy for the next step, which was to enslave them.
Next week, Pharaoh Bush will be coming to Israel. His arrival should be well prepared for, with a strong public stance stating where the red lines are and what lines he cannot cross over when he is here. But we know what the agenda is. We know that Bush is coming here not just for a 60 year birthday party of the Modern State of Israel, but in fact, he is coming in order to deal wisely with us. Behind the handshakes, photo ops and smiles, he is pushing hard for the establishment of a Palestinian terror state carved out of the belly of Israel, before the end of his term is up. He wants to wrest the Jewish people’s land, and hand it to her enemies. He calls this ‘peace’ and he deals wisely with us. Jews are being shot, shelled and bombed, and he tells us that this is the right way to end the bloodshed. He is dealing wisely with us.
Jews in Israel are holding the fort, building new communities, and keeping the land alive with Jewish life. Will our brothers who are still embeded across the sea do their small part? Will American Jewish organizations be bold enough to write a public letter to their president stating firmly their objections to the division of Israel and Jerusalem? Will Jews in America sit by idly as their president comes to Israel demanding an end to Jewish building in our Biblical homeland, the uprooting of Jewish communities and the arming and training of our enemies?
If Jews in America truly believe they enjoy more freedom than we do here in Israel, will they be brave enough to march in the streets, protest, demonstrate and otherwise send a strong message, “No dividing the Land of Israel”, “No to an Arab Palestinian Terror State.” Or, will they sit quietly in their living rooms, afraid of being accused of dual loyalty, especially after the arrest of Ben-Ami Kadish? Are the Jews in America really as free and protected as they believe, or are they also part of the Pharaoh conspiracy, thinking they are good patriotic Americans/Egyptians yet are truly salves to their own red-white-and-blue master?
I would like to post this article written by Rabbi Davidh Bar-Hayim, a visionary, here on my blog, since most places have not published his piece: it goes against the political, as well as rabbinical, establishments. Instead it is requested that people send this around in a grass-roots method, by email, posting to email lists and groups, etc. I read this and can strongly agree with every point here. It is refreshing to see rabbis who want to improve the system, rather than preserve something whose function has long outgrown its use. It may be lengthy for a blog, but I ask you to read it, as it will tell who you are, a visionary, or a person of the status-quo. You will either find yourself thinking in the Galuth (Exile) mode or Geulah (Redemption) mode.
________Going Nowhere Fast________
Israel is lost and directionless. Its political leaders lack vision and aspire to nothing.
Judaism is lost and directionless. It rabbinical leaders lack vision and aspire to nothing.
Revisionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky once illustrated his criticism of mainstream Zionism with the following analogy: “I see a man limping down the street, using only one leg, even though it is apparent that nothing is wrong with the other one. I turn to him and ask: ‘Why don’t you walk on both legs?’ He replies: ‘Is there something the matter with the one that I am using?’”
Jabotinsky referred of course to the policy of “one more dunam, one more goat”, whereby the Zionist Establishment focused on building up the land piecemeal, living from day to day, all the while refusing to enunciate its vision, the goal for which it was ostensibly striving: a sovereign state for the Jewish people in their historical homeland within clearly defined borders. Thus the most fundamental issues – what kind of state were the Jewish people demanding, where would its borders be, and within what time frame? – remained unaddressed. Jabotinsky’s insight was that the leadership preferred it that way, like a man who opts to use only one of his legs.
The result of this (lack of) policy was that the typical Zionist spoke fervently of the Jewish people’s right to the Land of Israel but could not explain, even to himself, where the borders of his beloved homeland lay or on what basis he defined that territory. In the end, observed Shabtai Ben-Dov, it was the acceptance of the armistice lines of 1948 that “clarified” for most Zionists where the Land of Israel for which they had fought actually was. It was only “logical”, therefore, for one time Education Minister Shulamit Aloni to refer to Hebron as “Hutz Laaretz” (overseas), and for the post-Six-Day-War Left to view a return to the very heart of our homeland as an “occupation”.
I once came face to face with the results of just such a Zionist education. The year was 1993 and I was doing reserve duty on the Jordanian border. Four of us were in a command car patrolling the border, and the discussion turned to then Prime Minister Rabin’s stated willingness to negotiate with the Syrians about relinquishing the Golan Heights. The driver announced that he supported handing over the Golan for peace, at which point I asked him: “Tell me, all other considerations aside, to whom does the Golan belong, us or them?” He thought for a moment and replied truthfully “I have no idea.” Why would he? Was he, a product of the State school system established by Ben-Gurion, ever taught what territory the Jewish people claimed and why?
Israel’s political leaders... truly don’t know where we belong or why, nor where we are supposed to be headed. Everything is negotiable, nothing is clear, the future is a black hole.
Israel’s political leaders are just like that driver: they truly don’t know where we belong or why, nor where we are supposed to be headed. Everything is negotiable, nothing is clear, the future is a black hole.
Israel lost its way not in 1967 but in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, before there was an Israel, by thinking small, by refusing to see the big picture, by denying the Jewish nation’s destiny. By choosing mediocrity over greatness.
Israel and Torah Judaism: Missing in Action
The same can be said for Judaism. Have you ever noticed how some religious Jews refer to themselves as “Lithuanians”? Or that there is a Jerusalem suburb named “Poland Heights”? Treat the reality of over 5 million Jews living as a sovereign nation in their homeland for the first time in 2000 years as a continuation of Dvinsk, Minsk or Pinsk; insist that Jews in the Land of Israel must all behave, in terms of their customs and Halachic practice, as if they were still in Warsaw, Sanna or Marakesh; preach that the divisions of the Diaspora must be maintained today and for all time, thus perpetuating a seriously flawed Galuth mentality indefinitely; convince yourself that the Judaism of the Galuth is the real McCoy, that there is nowhere to go from here – and that’s precisely where you’ll go. Nowhere. No greater purpose. Nothing.
When the Beth HaWa’adh beth din (Jewish court) of Machon Shilo announced last year that all Jews in Israel may consume kitniyoth (rice, corn, legumes etc.) during Pesah, some thought that it was all about doing whatever is convenient. Not so. It’s about getting Torah Judaism back on track.
At the core of any authentic conception of Torah Judaism is its Halachic system. Halacha is the practical implementation and realization of those values and concepts that the Torah teaches and that the Jewish nation holds dear. An Halachic system always reflects the philosophy and vision that a particular ideology aspires to actualize in the real world. Halacha is never neutral; it is either a help or a hindrance. It either drives the Jewish people upwards and onwards, or it weighs it down and holds it back.
One who refrains from eating rice, or soy beans, or corn starch on Pesah is not a better Jew than one who does. Halachically there is no question that it is permissible. On the other hand, one is not required to consume these items on Pesah, or at any time during the year. So what’s the problem? It focuses the mind on a non-issue. And the more meaningless Pesah stringencies are promoted, the more meaningless Judaism becomes.
Galuth Mode or Geulah Mode?
Human beings are limited. We cannot be different people at one and the same time. A Jew can function in either Galuth mode or Geulah mode; you can’t have both. If we concern ourselves with maintaining our Galuth-based identities, we have no time or inclination to wonder how it is that each Pesah we beseech Hashem that next year we might participate in the Pesah sacrifice and yet do nothing whatever to actualize this deep-seated aspiration in the real world. We have to make a choice: authentic, full-flavoured Torah, or a pale, watered-down substitute.
Judaism’s rabbinical leaders are just like that reserve duty driver: they truly do not know who and where we are or where we are supposed to be headed. They have no clue how to move on to the next stage. They are unsure of themselves, vague and uncertain about everything, preferring the familiar, downtrodden Galuth version of the Torah for the majestic, vibrant and uplifting Torah of the Land of Israel, the Judaism of Abraham, Moses, David and the Maccabees. Little wonder that when Jews once again controlled the Temple Mount in 1967, the rabbinical establishment had nothing to say other than to forbid all Jews from going there. If the truth be told, they breathed a sigh of relief when it was tossed back to the Moslems like an unwanted bone.
Judaism lost its way not in 1967 but 2500 years ago when the Jewish nation declined to take up the offer of the Persian emperor Cyrus to return to its homeland. By thinking small, by refusing to see the big picture, by denying the Jewish nation’s destiny. By choosing mediocrity over greatness, Galuth over Geulah. From that day to this, as R. Yehuda HaLevi wrote in his masterpiece The Kuzari (2:24), “our prayers for redemption are like the mindless cawings of rooks and ravens”.
If we think small, we shall indeed be so, particularly in the eyes of our enemies.
If we think big, we shall indeed be great – in the eyes of Hashem, in our own eyes, and in the eyes of the whole world.
-Which Mode Are You In?
I have been slaving away with other Jewish women (and men) cleaning and preparing for the Pesach (Passover) Holiday. My hands are cut and raw from scrubbing. My back aches. My time is pressured. Why do we do it? Seems that most Jewish holidays are summed up by the common joke:
"They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat".
Yet we carry on every year, commemorating these holy days, that we should not forget. One may ask, why is it so important? What's the point? Why not just live a happy-go-lucky, fun life? As long as you don't hurt anyone else, what's the big deal? However, we know there is a bigger picture involved here.
Mankind is on a journey. I believe we are coming to a very important time in history when the world will finally get the answers to the above questions, and more.
Our history is rich in stories showing us how much G-d loves us. Please view this appropriately nice pre-Pesach (Passover) video. While watching this re-enactment of the miracles G-d did for us, keep in mind how much He loves us. He really loves us! He didn't do this for any other nation in the world.
Were you inspired? Even just a wee bit? We are commanded at the Pesach Seder to feel as if we personally were taken out of Egypt. The Jewish holidays that we celebrate are to remind us, to teach us, to improve us. Please see below another short video clip which might bring you to answer the question regarding the title of this blog.
I have to say here, that I liked the video below, however, I was perturbed by the ending. It should have ended with a conclusion. But perhaps that's the point. Perhaps they ended the video like this so that people could answer the question for themselves....
So, what's so special about the Jews?
In continuation of a previous article I wrote talking about False Prophets, I would like to continue with who the real, true prophets are today.
While I agree that we do not have prophets today on the scale of our prophets of the Tanach (Bible), we still have many holy and righteous people proclaiming the word of G-d – to their peril.
If being a prophet of G-d was easy and prestigious, then we would not have had the story of Jonah and the Whale, where Jonah (Yonah) tried to run away from G-d and hide, in order NOT to be the one to have to relay G-d’s message to Nineveh. We also wouldn't read about Jeremiah being thrown into jail, and we wouldn’t have seen Elijah have to hide from King Ahab. It’s not fun being a prophet.
So, who are the people today that are proclaiming G-d’s words to the public, and how are they treated?
Rabbi Meir Kahane Z"L, who many believe was a modern day prophet, warned the Jewish people and the world about what would happen in the future regarding the Arab threat. Today we see that what he stated has come to pass. Read this book to find out what he said.
Today we see graffiti all over Israel spray painted on walls which states: "Kahane was right". Yet, what was Kahane’s life like as a modern day prophet? Let’s see, hmmm, Rabbi Kahane, in order to make ends meet, had to wake up before dawn and drive around in an old car and deliver news papers early in the morning. He had to take on extra work as a taxi driver (can you imagine hailing a taxi in New York and having Rabbi Kahane as your driver???). He became a sports writer - all this just to make ends meet. And finally, after starting the Jewish Defense League (JDL), he worked after hours, not in a plush complex, but in a small office in an old building, furnished only with a few worn wooden tables and chairs, an old typewriter, and for decoration, a few posters of Israel taped to the wall. Stacks of mimeographed JDL flyers sat stacked on the tables and a couple of telephones to make calls to organize protests sat on a desk. Rabbi Kahane was often roughed up and arrested by police at demonstrations and he had numerous court cases and charges brought against him for his activism on behalf of Soviet Jewry. Police broke his finger and battered his arm, and he had the FBI following him and making him trouble. In short, he didn’t have an easy or cushy life. He suffered for the mitzvah of 'Ahavat Yisrael', love for one's fellow Jew.
Who are the other prophets of today, people who are proclaiming G-d’s word?
The Tzvia Sariel’s of today. Tzvia is a young woman who recently turned 18 in jail here in Israel. She was arrested for her activism and was put in jail and held for 3 months because she refused to recognize the authority of the Israeli justice system which runs on laws that were left over from previous occupation forces like Britain and the Ottoman Empire. She boldly stated that she only recognizes Jewish law in Israel. Because of her strong stance, she was left in jail as a punishment, an ‘example’ to anyone else who might wish to reject the set of laws still existing in Israel today. Tzvia is a modern day prophet. She is someone who is not afraid to proclaim the truth that this Land was given to the Jewish people by G-d and that we have the right to settle in it anywhere we choose.
The thirteen to fifteen year old girls who were also in jail for refusing to identify themselves to the police, because they do not recognize their authority, are modern day prophets who are fighting and making a stance that G-d and His Torah are truth, and not this secular government which runs on foreign laws.
Nadia Matar, co-Chairman of Women in Green who organizes protests and fights for the Land of Israel, she is a true prophet. She was brought up on charges for insulting a public official, one who had voluntarily taken on a job which entailed transferring Jews out of their homes in Gush Katif in order that it be given over to the enemies of the Jewish people. She doesn't have an easy life. She gets castigated and roughed up by security forces for her activism. She is like a Deborah or Yael of yore, a brave Jewish woman who leaves her comfort zone to go out and protect the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.
All those today who stand for G-d and proclaim His word, no matter if they are scoffed at, have their bones broken, or sit in jail – THESE are the true prophets of today.
One would think that a prophet is someone who wears a long robe, has a long majestic beard and stands on a hill top and proclaims the word of G-d to an entranced crowd that shows him great honor. It is not so.
The true prophets of today do not have the title “President” in front of their names, like Shimon Peres has. They do not walk down red carpets. They do not socialize with the ‘Beautiful Elite People’. They do not receive honor, wear thousand dollar suits or receive fancy invitations to international galas. The true prophets of today are spat on, kicked around, castigated, arrested and sit in jail. They are people working three jobs, driving taxis, living on hill tops in tents or make shift housing because they live their belief of settling the Land of Israel. They are the people who get beat up at demonstrations and sit in jail. These are today’s true prophets.
In closing, I’d like to explain a passage from the book of Jeremiah. In 36:4-7, it talks about Jeremiah telling Baruch the son of Neriah, to transcribe all the words that G-d had spoken to Jeremiah on a scroll. Then Jeremiah tells Baruch: “And Jeremiah commanded to Baruch saying, “I am detained; I cannot go to the Temple of Hashem. So you go and read from the scroll, on which you have written the words of Hashem from my mouth, in the ears of the people…”
Now, what does it mean when Jeremiah says he was ‘detained’? What possibly could be more important than doing G-d’s word, going to the Holy Temple and reading to the people G-d’s word and imploring the people to repent? What was he detained with? Did he have an appointment with his manicurist? Did he have a lunch date with a business partner? Did he have a 12 step group meeting for Prophets Anonymous? What could be more important than doing G-d’s work?
The Radak, (Rabbi David Kimchi, one of our great Torah commentators) lets us understand about Jeremiah and his being ‘detained’. He writes: “As often happened, Jeremiah had been ARRESTED for his ‘demoralizing and seditious’ statements.”
So, here we see that the King’s guards were sent to arrest the ‘rabble rouser prophet’ who preached unpopular messages to the people, messages the King and his ministers did not like. And in our day, Rabbi Kahane, Nadia Matar, and all the others who stand for G-‘s word, they too, like Jeremiah, are castigated, arrested, and have to sit in jail. It's not fun being a prophet.
Not much has changed, has it?
**** Additon to blog, by request of Michelle to include this picture. See talk-back #52 (This photo taken by Oded Balilty won a Pulitzer Prize)