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Gerald A. Honigman
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Torah Tidbits Audio
Batya Medad made aliya from New York to Israel in 1970 and has been living in Shiloh since 1981. Recently she began organizing women's visits to Tel Shiloh for Psalms and prayers. (For more information, please email her.) Batya is a newspaper and magazine columnist, a veteran jblogger and recently stopped EFL teaching. She's also a wife, mother, grandmother, photographer and HolyLand hitchhiker, always seeing things from her own very unique perspective. For more of Batya's writings and photos, check out:
Iyar 13, 5769, 5/7/2009
People love to rationalize that we must adhere to all sorts of "moral standards," because they claim that we're supposed to be a "Light Unto The Nations."
If so, do it properly. Be a "sun" and not a "moon." Israeli politicians like Israel's President and veteran politician Shimon Peres haven't a clue as to what the true Jewish Light is. You can see/hear it in his fawning attitude towards the United States. He's speaking like a moon, not a sun with its own light source.
If we acted like a sun, following Judaism, rather than fad of the day philosophies and the world's public opinion, we'd be a genuine light to the nations.
"Light" in this context is leadership, and leadership means that we use our needs and sources to make decisions. We shouldn't look for anybody's approval but G-d's.
Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, ZaTzaL, used light as his main image in Orot Hakodesh, Holy Lights.
The "light" of Judaism, as described by HaRav Kook is not the light the world is seeing from us today.
Iyar 11, 5769, 5/5/2009
For many years, Israeli politicians have been trying verbal acrobatics and contortions, teasing the world with promises to work for a Pseudistinian State, claiming that:
Sorry, but I disagree. I consider it playing with fire.It reminds of me of the old joke, variously attributed to George Bernard Shaw or Winston Churchill and Lady Astor.
And another dangerous game Israel is playing is having a Deputy Foreign Minister, Daniel "Danny" Ayalon, who is married to an Evangelical Christian. I wish I was kidding. Read all about it!
Iyar 9, 5769, 5/3/2009
This week's Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week, Acharei Mot-Kedoshim (Leviticus 16-20) is chock full of G-d given Mitzvot, Commandments. It's interesting that while many of them concern relations between human beings, the phrase "אֲנִי, יְהוָה," "I am the LORD," is repeated very frequently. IMHO, this is to illustrate that we aren't to look for logical, sociological, biological, health or botanical reasons for these Mitzvot. It's forbidden to search for rationales and excuses to ignore them. In Israel and in the Jewish world, unfortunately, there are periodic reports of Torah, Orthodox converts discovering that other Jews will not recognize or even have "cancelled" their conversions.
לג וְכִי-יָגוּר אִתְּךָ גֵּר, בְּאַרְצְכֶם--לֹא תוֹנוּ, אֹתוֹ. 33 And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not do him wrong.I like to think of it that way, but I'm troubled by the line which follows:
לד כְּאֶזְרָח מִכֶּם יִהְיֶה לָכֶם הַגֵּר הַגָּר אִתְּכֶם, וְאָהַבְתָּ לוֹ כָּמוֹךָ--כִּי-גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם, בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם: אֲנִי, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם. 34 The stranger that sojourneth with you shall be unto you as the home-born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.Ironically, when I mentally planned writing about this, I had no doubt that I would use verse 33 to 100% defend the convert. But the qualification in verse 34 makes me wonder. We, the Jewish People, didn't live in Egypt to become Egyptians, nor did the Egyptians treat us well after the initial enthusiastic welcome. Maybe we should delve more deeply in this, as in the "contract" between Pharaoh and Joseph, like the "contract" between a convert and the Beit Din, Rabbinic Court which approves/certifies the conversion. The Egyptians broke the contract when they made us slaves. That aspect makes sense, when you read the next two verses:
לה לֹא-תַעֲשׂוּ עָוֶל, בַּמִּשְׁפָּט, בַּמִּדָּה, בַּמִּשְׁקָל וּבַמְּשׂוּרָה. 35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure. לו מֹאזְנֵי צֶדֶק אַבְנֵי-צֶדֶק, אֵיפַת צֶדֶק וְהִין צֶדֶק--יִהְיֶה לָכֶם: אֲנִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר-הוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם. 36 Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.Yes, that must be it. The word of the Beit Din, to consider a person Jewish is a contract, and once it's signed, it's forbidden to change the conditions.
Iyar 6, 5769, 4/30/2009
As a religious Jew, I see/recognize the Hand of G-d in everything. Most religious people have the same attitude, unless they're just going throught the motions.
To me there's a fundamental irony, or even hypocrasy in the attitude of Chareidi Jews who refuse to thank G-d and celebrate the fact that Sixty One Years ago, the Zionist leadership dared to declare a Jewish State. You may notice that I put "Jewish" in italics. Because, yes, I recognize that the state is imperfect, far from authentically Jewish. But that's the fault of the religious establishment in 1948 and to this day, both the Mizrachi (NRP) and Agudat Yisrael, because they relegated themselves, ghettoized, restricted their government involvement to their separate school systems and the religious establishment. They should have made efforts to be involved in every aspect of the country's development including, agriculture, military, entertainment and televison when it came to Israel.
Judaism demands constant striving for improvement, for Tshuva, Repentance. We must never accept status quo as permanent, engraved in stone. And we must never give up our struggles to make our country, better, stronger, more self-reliant and independent. The Declaration signed sixty-one years ago just heralded a new begining, not an end.
We must thank G-d for it and ask Him for the strength we need to continue and make Israel a more Jewish State.
Iyar 4, 5769, 4/28/2009
I left a bit late to get to the ceremony at the cemetery this morning. The siren began, and I stood still. I looked around. Everyone stopped whatever they had been doing. People stepped out of their cars. Tractor drivers got down from their tractors, as you can see in the picture.
The cemetery was full of people sitting and standing during the memorial ceremony. The graves in this picture are mostly of old people who died from "natural causes."
I never like photographing my neighbors during such events. I try to be discreet.
We've adopted the custom of reading T'hillim, Psalms, of the letters of the soldiers and terror victims' names at each grave. I stood with the parents of someone buried in a different cemetery. We found ourselves standing around an empty chair. It spooked me. An empty chair, such a simple and direct symbol of their dead son.
Hashem Yinkom Damom