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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:
Thank G-d we've had some rain recently, maybe not enough but probably more than we deserve.
Today Rosh Chodesh Shvat, as has been my custom the past few years, I went to pray Tel Shiloh, where the Mishkan Tabernacle rested for for three-hundred-sixty-nine years, from the time of Joshua until the time of Samuel the Prophet. I went with a few other women. There probably were others there at the same time or a bit earlier or later, but Tel Shiloh is very large and hilly. You can have a few dozen people wandering around and never even see each other.
Just under three months ago, there had been a fire on the western side of the Tel, and we could still see signs of it. There was even a pocket that still smelled awful, as if the fire had just been a few days ago. Thank G-d there was a nice covering of greenery.
Granted that in a better, wetter year it would have looked like this two and a half months ago, but at lease we've had some rain. Also, this year winter will be longer, at least on the calendar. There will be two months of Adar, and G-d willing G-d will give us lots of rain. Here's a picture from Rosh Chodesh Tevet.
Next Rosh Chodesh, Adar Alef, the First Adar will be Friday, February 4. G-d willing the grass and weeds will be much higher and we'll see lots of wild flowers. The Jewish "leap year" is our chance to get exra rain, G-d willing.
Sadly, I must report that things haven't changed in the HolyLand. It's still deadly dry and windy. G-d is giving our rain to peoples who don't abuse their land.Al HaPerek Siyum of Sefer Yehoshua was a wonderful treat.
I'm certain that neither the organizers nor the speakers had any idea that the two English language classes would match so perfectly. First Atara Snowbell (my Wednesday Megilat Scroll of Ester teacher) compared the leadership of Moshe and Yehoshua. Then Rabbi Yehoshua Berman led us in a very inter-active class on Achan and Group Punishment. (Sorry, but I can't find a copy of the official titles.)
Atara gave us a handout with a chart comparing Moshe and Yehoshua. The first example of the differences in the leadership was that Joshua delegated authority, while Moshe took on everything, even after his father-in-law, Yitro and later G-d suggested how to delegate, share. There's a very fine art to knowing how to do this. Moses led the Jewish People with the full help of G-d and His miracles, but once Joshua brought the People into the Land, that had to end.
We had to learn to be on our own. In Rabbi Berman's class we went over the lessons of the battles of Ha'Ai, the differences between the first failed battle and the second, the victorious one. Joshua delegated responsibility to twelve "spies" to check out Ha'Ai. In the heady aftermath of the miraculous defeat of Jericho, they reported that it would be a piece of cake and only a small fighting force would be necessary. Joshua confidently followed their instructions and sent off a few thousand soldiers. Those soldiers expected the enemy to miraculously give them their victory. But the real world is different. In shock, our soldiers fled, and when Joshua saw this he fell down in misery. G-d chastised him severely. Only then did Joshua understand. Our victories aren't our own. We defeat our enemies with G-d's help and with strong human leadership. The second battle of HaAi is a different story. It's a beautiful working relationship between man and G-d.
The comparison with today and our recent history is so strong and obvious. I hope you can hear the two classes on the Matan site. My post is my interpretation of the classes, yes, my "drash" to their "pshat."
I'll end with a bit of the music we were treated to, Moshe Musa Berlin and daughter.
It's a new week. Unfortunately, the weather forecasters were wrong. It didn't rain over Shabbat. It was very dry, and we need the rain.
Israel doesn't frighten anyone or any country. Deterrence doesn't work. The world sees Israel as a pathetic rudderless country begging its enemies for peace, willing to cut out its heart and shoot its mother. Our sticking to fictional "rules" and "moralities," we deny our very legitimacy. No other country would endanger itself this way, and it hasn't done us any good.
It's amazing, totally miraculous that we've survived so long. G-d keeps giving us more chances. G-d is merciful, and G-d loves us, even when we abuse His love.
G-d is like a mother.
There's a human mother, actually unfortunately more than one, who is begging for news of her beloved son who was kidnapped by Arab terrorists. Miriam Baumel has been informed that the British Government has been sitting on information that can shed light on what happened to her son Zachary and two others captured by Syria in 1982--almost forty years ago, but the British won't release the report. The British fear Syrian reactions. They don't fear Israel. They don't fear any moral punishment. They fear the Syrians more than they fear G-d, ours or theirs.
According to the report Miriam Baumel has unsuccessfully been lobbying the UK government to see the Lucas report for two years. She has repeatedly been rebuffed with the Foreign Office response:
"We are conscious that the release of sensitive information would cause harm to our relationship with Syria."
"I just want the public to know this is a humanitarian matter," the Chronicle quoted Baumel as saying. "We keep getting information that these boys and my son were seen in Damascus and that there were witnesses, and anyone who saw something or who could help must help. I feel the possibilities are great that he is still alive, but certainly the families of those who were seen in Damascus are entitled to closure," she added.
"I am calling on the British government to act in a humanitarian manner and let the families know by releasing this document, for us to go further in finding our children. If you have children, if one of your children would be lost, how would you feel?" Baumel added.
Generally, I find it difficult to force myself to read long serious books, even articles, but I prepared myself to make a great effort to read The Islamic Tsunami: Israel and America in the Age of Obama, by David Rubin. David is a neighbor here in Shiloh, and he asked me to review his latest book.
I'm glad to say that this book was a pleasure to read, not that the subject is pleasant. It certainly isn't an upbeat or enjoyable subject, how Islam is a danger to world stability and peace. But it is a very readable book. David is an excellent writer, and he did an amazing job with the complex and difficult material.
“It behooves us to pay close attention, not to what is said in mainstream American public forums, in which the Muslim leaders are careful about what they say and how they say it, but to what these Islamic organizational leaders generally reveal when they speak to their own people in Arabic or Farsi, or even occasionally in English. In fact, they are downright secretive and devious, for fear of being exposed for who they really are.”
“Since the inauguration of President Obama, there has been a resurgence of the plague of “moral relativism”- the belief that truth is relative and that there is no such thing as good or evil."
“There is a dynamic process taking place in history before our eyes. The frightening terrorist threats that occur at airports, in cities around the globe, the upheavals in the global economy, and the increasingly frequent clashes in the Middle East are all indicative of an historic process that makes sense and has solutions.”
In recent years, David has been traveling around North America speaking to groups about Arab terrorism and raising money for his Shiloh Children Fund, ever since he and his son, Ruby, were injured by Arab terrorists. That story is also included in the book.
The aim of the book is to make the general public aware of the danger facing entire western world because of Islam.
The Islamic Tsunami: Israel and America in the Age of Obama is well researched and easy to read, rare in the world of non-fiction. It's a history book that tells about current events and gives an excellent summary of the history of Islam and how its early leaders tried to replace Judaism.
Much of David's American audience is Christian, and he explains how he, a Torah observant Jew, relates to them. Yes, this is David Rubin's book. It reflects what is important to him. My praise of the book does not mean that I agree with every word. It's rare for me to ever agree with everything others say and write. There are many good things about the book, and I learned a lot from it.
And the bottom line... Is this a book you should read? Yes, it is.
Chanukah is now over for the year, and Shabbat is just a day away.
PS there were more women praying yesterday morning at Tel Shiloh than you can see in the pictures. Tel Shiloh is enormous; it's not claustrophobic like Kever Rachel. You can have hundreds, thousands of people and still have room and not feel crowded. The holiness is all around, not concentrated on a stone "coffin" and dead body. So there's no pushing and fighting. This is very Chana, not Rachel. The Biblical Rachel is described as physically beautiful, as are her descendants, Joseph and King Saul. There is no physical description of Chana. She is just a woman who knows how to communicate with G-d.
Just to let you know that Tel Shiloh is open for visitors and events. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02-994-4019 for more details.