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      The Eye of the Storm
      by Batya Medad
      A Unique Perspective by Batya Medad of Shiloh
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      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:

      Shiloh Musings



      Shevat 1, 5768, 1/8/2008

      Our Problem Doesn't Begin With Bush

      Articles like, Bush clueless about Palestinian street - Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No. (26) - 56.9% support armed action, are really irrelevant.

      Our problems come from within the Jewish People and Israel's Government and media, the "movers and shakers."

      They're moving us in the wrong direction and shaking us so that our brains are turning to mush. A few of us are somehow immune to their attempts at mind control. What makes us different? I honestly don't know. But I've always been an "odd one out." I'm not good at following the latest styles. Recently, I've wondered if I could ever be hypnotised, since whenever I'm at one of those "sessions" which end with:

      "Close your eyes, and imagine that you're on the beach. The sun is warm, and the..."
      While everyone else is relaxing and going into a very pleasant "place," I find my eyes wide open and my body going into a hyper-anxious mode. Omert's spell just doesn't work on me.

      Tevet 29, 5768, 1/7/2008

      U. S. President Bush Supports Dictator

      Ehud Olmert and his government are breaking Israeli Law by offering sovereign Israel territory, including its Capital City, Jerusalem, to Arab terrorists who publically state that their aim is to destroy the State of Israel.

      U. S. President Bush is interfering in internal Israeli affairs by refusing to meet with opposition leader, Netanyahu.

      Bush's visit will severely inconvenience Israeli citizens, when many roads will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians, implying that Israel is unsafe.  No one is planning on killing him.  Our problem is Olmert and Peres and their followers.  

      Bush isn't welcome at all!

      Why should we welcome him, when his goal is to establish an Arab terror state in the heart of the Land of Israel?

      Olmert's approval rating is barely in double digits.  He is the least popular Prime Minister Israel has ever had.  If Bush was smart, he'd stay away. A smart politician wouldn't want to be tainted by someone like Olmert, who is accused of so many corruption charges, you'd think he was papa doc.

      Bush, be smart and stay home.

      Tevet 25, 5768, 1/3/2008

      What a Surprise!

      I must have tested close to one hundred students during my last four "days off," including a Friday.  The test was part of the English Bagrut requirements; that's the national high school matriculation exam.  There are three written tests and one interview.

      The interview is based on a "project," a sort of research paper.  The students are supposed talke about their project for three minutes, and then I ask them questions for another minute or so.  One of my standard questions is:

      What surprising thing did you learn about doing this project?

      One of the answers surprised me.  The student did her project about the Rambam, who not only was a great Jewish scholar who "was the first person to write a systematic code of all Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah; he produced one of the great philosophic statements of Judaism, The Guide to the Perplexed; published a commentary on the entire Mishna."

      The Rambam was a doctor, a "physician to the sultan of Egypt; wrote numerous books on medicine; and, in his "spare time," served as leader of Cairo's Jewish community."

      The student answered:

      "I was surprised that the great Rambam had a profession, a job. 

      I thought that all of our scholars only learned Torah." 

      The Rambam wasn't the only great Torah scholar in our thousands of years of history to have worked at a job or damanding profession.  Until very recently, it was the norm. There's no long history of full-time yeshiva students.  It's against the grain.  Judaism combines "Kodesh and Chol," the Holy and the Profane.  Every single job, from the "elite" of medicine to the simplest clerk or cleaner must not only know Halacha but understand it.  Halacha isn't "just theory."  To be a rabbi, posek, in the modern world, one must study and understand modern technology. To be a rabbi and posek, one must be part of the real world.

      Research shows that when students take breaks, do other things, learn other subjects, during their studies, they learn and absorb more than if they just spend the whole day on one thing. 

      Tevet 23, 5768, 1/1/2008

      Did I Say The Wrong Thing?

      I have a feeling they don't like me too much any more.

      Yesterday morning I got an email from someone, who's really on the right side of things, but...

      The person lives abroad but is a very strong supporter of Jewish life in YESHA.  The theme of the letter, sent to many people, was that the "G'dolim" there should be protesting against the Olmert government and policies.  The letter writer reminded everyone of the "G'dolims'" silence before Disengagement.  Now, I do agree that rabbis should protest what's going on here and have written many similar things

      But I responded a bissel off-topic.  I said that there aren't any "G'dolim" in Chutz LaAretz (out of Israel*.)  Living in Chu"L goes against the entire spirit of Judaism. 

      *Now, I put the word "Israel" in italics in the previous paragraph, because I don't want to get into semantics about what to call our Holy Land.  The State of Israel and its borders are modern and controversial for various reasons.  Some people say those of us in our historic and holy Judea and Samaria should establish our own independent rule.  Let's suffice with the term "Eretz Yisrael," the Land of Israel, which includes all Land which has been under Jewish rule thoughout the millenium.


      I have said before that rabbis who do not live in Israel are incompetant to judge questions concerning aliyah (moving to the Land of Israel.)  Most rationalize their being abroad, which is against Halacha, and that colors their advice to their followers.

      Israel is a technologically advanced country with some of the best, and certainly most reasonably priced, medical care in the world.  The more Jews here in the HolyLand, the stronger the economy will be, and the more G-d fearing, Torah-observant Jews here (and in the IDF) the more Jewish the country will be.  Staying away on your high golden horse will not make things better and in the end won't keep you any safer.


      And then in the afternoon I went to work, and in the Teachers Room... I found myself getting very disgusted with the turn of the conversation.

      We were discussing the admittedly terrible state of affairs here, Olmert and his announcements that he's giving the Arab terrorists our homes and Land, etc.  Some of us said that we must fight it in every way, and one teacher said that it's "the will of G-d."  A teacher insisted that Disengagement happened because "G-d willed it."  I and others disagreed.  The problem is that we didn't do the right things to stop it.

      "Why are you shouting?" I heard the teacher ask.

      "We're supposed to shout," I answered back.  Read last week's Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week:

      כג  וַיְהִי בַיָּמִים הָרַבִּים הָהֵם, וַיָּמָת מֶלֶךְ מִצְרַיִם, וַיֵּאָנְחוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל מִן-הָעֲבֹדָה, וַיִּזְעָקוּ; וַתַּעַל שַׁוְעָתָם אֶל-הָאֱלֹהִים, מִן-הָעֲבֹדָה. 23 And it came to pass in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died; and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.
      כד  וַיִּשְׁמַע אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-נַאֲקָתָם; וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים אֶת-בְּרִיתוֹ, אֶת-אַבְרָהָם אֶת-יִצְחָק וְאֶת-יַעֲקֹב. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
      כה  וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַיֵּדַע, אֱלֹהִים.  {ס} 25 And God saw the children of Israel, and God took cognizance of them. {S}

      "I'm not like you," I said.  "If I had sat quietly waiting, I'd be like the rest of my peers, married to a goy and living somewhere deep in America."

      That's not the life I chose.

      We cannot stay silent.  If we do, G-d will stay away, and the Moshiach won't redeem us.  Didn't we learn anything from the Holocaust?  The Judenrat was like today's rabbis who enforced the Nazi laws and kept the Jews silent.

      Honestly, I don't care if they don't like what I say.  I can't be silent only to please others.  I only care about pleasing G-d.

      Tevet 19, 5768, 12/28/2007

      SH'MOT, A New King

      This Shabbat we begin reading the second book of the Bible, שמות, Names, or Exodus, as it's called in English. After reading the list of the names of the Hebrews who went down to Egypt, we read:

      ז וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, פָּרוּ וַיִּשְׁרְצוּ וַיִּרְבּוּ וַיַּעַצְמוּ--בִּמְאֹד מְאֹד; וַתִּמָּלֵא הָאָרֶץ, אֹתָם. {פ} 7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. {P}
      ח וַיָּקָם מֶלֶךְ-חָדָשׁ, עַל-מִצְרָיִם, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדַע, אֶת-יוֹסֵף. 8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph.

      Notice that it says "king," not Pharaoh. Then it continues:

      ט וַיֹּאמֶר, אֶל-עַמּוֹ: הִנֵּה, עַם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל--רַב וְעָצוּם, מִמֶּנּוּ. 9 And he said unto his people: 'Behold, the people of the children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us;
      י הָבָה נִתְחַכְּמָה, לוֹ: פֶּן-יִרְבֶּה, וְהָיָה כִּי-תִקְרֶאנָה מִלְחָמָה וְנוֹסַף גַּם-הוּא עַל-שֹׂנְאֵינוּ, וְנִלְחַם-בָּנוּ, וְעָלָה מִן-הָאָרֶץ. 10 come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there befalleth us any war, they also join themselves unto our enemies, and fight against us, and get them up out of the land.'
      יא וַיָּשִׂימוּ עָלָיו שָׂרֵי מִסִּים, לְמַעַן עַנֹּתוֹ בְּסִבְלֹתָם; וַיִּבֶן עָרֵי מִסְכְּנוֹת, לְפַרְעֹה--אֶת-פִּתֹם, וְאֶת-רַעַמְסֵס. 11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Raamses.

      I guess I'm influenced by what's happening today, when the Israeli Government treats us--the most loyal in the Land--as enemies and follows the dictates of those who wouldn't care if our country went up in smoke.  Olmert Caves in to US: No Construction in Har Homa, Atarot.

      Maybe the "king" isn't the newest pharaoh.  Maybe he's a Jew, like Joseph, working for the government.

      Re-read verse 7.  The Jews were very successful, and gave the impression to those who didn't like them that they had taken over the country.

      You know, like in the United States. People think that the Jews control everything, and the Jews in high positions try to "out pope the pope."

      Back to the Bible, it was the Jewish/Hebrew People who forgot Joseph.  They became " עֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ לְפַרְעֹה בְּמִצְרָיִם, 'We were Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt;" and G-d had to make them suffer more and more until they cried out to Him.

      What are you waiting for? 

      Come home!  We need you here!  We need you now!

      Shabbat Shalom U'Mevorach!