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Monday, June 28, 2004

Naomi Shemer, a"h

Naomi Shemer, prolific Israeli song-writer, passed away this Shabbat. Two articles are here:
(INN and JPost. She requested that at her funeral, no eulogies be said, but that some of her songs be sang. So, I'll oblige on the blog as well, and just leave it with my favorite passage (which my family walked down to at my wedding) from a woman who sang from the heart of Zion:

Please don't uproot that which was planted,
and don't forget the hope.
Return me, and I will return
to the Good Land.

אל נא תעקור נטוע,
אל תשכח את התקווה
השיבני ואשובה
אל הארץ הטובה.
Full post and comments...

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Return to Joseph's Tomb in Shechem

Sunday was the anniversary of the death of Joseph (Yosef HaTzaddik). Here is the Arutz-7 story and here are some of my pictures from the return to Shechem (known as Nablus by those who choose to use a mispronunciation of the Roman name Neopolis rather than the eternal biblical name)

People came from all across Israel to return to the burial site of Yosef the Tzaddik, Alav HaShalom (Peace be upon him)- son of Yaakov,Alav HaShalom - grandson of Yitzchak, Alav HaShalom - and great-grandson of our father Avraham, Alav HaShalom.

"Until When?"

Former Gov't Minister Benny Elon speaks with Yishai about the Aliyah revolution

Me, behind the structure - in the moonlight shadows of Har Grizim and Har Eival.

Some brought musical instruments, some brought their kids, one man brought a Torah scroll that used to reside in Kever Yosef.

Men and women took turns packing into the small room of Joseph's tomb - the markers have been hacked to rubble with sledgehammers.

Posters with smiling young Arab terrorists had been plastered to the dome atop Joseph's Tomb.

The Hebrew reads "Joseph still lives" - an allusion to what Yaakov was told after more than 30 years of thinking his beloved son had been killed. Evidently the descendants of Ishmael think otherwise.

Kumah clean-up

This is what it used to look like:


But Sunday, the second of Tammuz, hundreds of candles, spiritual and physical, were lit - with God's help they will illuminate the city of Shechem and bring a great light to the entire world.
Full post and comments...

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Legacy of a Redeeming Force

Today, the third of Tammuz, is the tenth anniversary of the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, ZTL. The Rebbe is widely considered to be one of the singlemost influential Jew in modern times. His momentum continues to propel the incredibly successful Chabad movement even ten years after his passing from this world.

In addition to his incredible wealth of Torah knowledge, and knowledge of the sciences and the modern world, it was the Rebbe's caring for each and every Jew in this world that defines his legacy. His incredible yearning for the arrival of Moshiach has spread throughout his movement. In his honor, we should all pray to see the arrival of Moshiach each day during our lifetime.

Though he never stepped foot in Eretz Yisrael, the Rebbe cared deeply for the State of Israel. He actively encouraged those Jews of the Former Soviet Union to make Aliyah, by committing monetary and other resources to ensure that those who wished to arrive in Israel could.

One time the Rebbe was approached with by an ardent Zionist. The Zionist challenged that as the General of a massive Jewish Army, the Rebbe himself should fulfill Aliyah and then his followers would certainly join him. The Rebbe replied something to the following "If a General is on a sinking ship, is it appropriate for him to get off the ship first and hope that all of his followers make it as well? Rather a responsible General will ensure that each one of his officers will get off the ship first, before he himself will find safety."

The Rebbe often guided leaders of Israel on Israeli politics and military strategy. His political views on Israel can be read in the short and sweet book "Eyes upon the land."

In a conversation with Ariel Sharon following the Six Day War, the Rebbe asked specific, pointed questions about military strategy involving details that could not be known by any man who was not in the battle or war room in the Knesset, establishing his status (possibly) as a modern-day prophet. In addition the Rebbe gave now Prime Minster Sharon political advice for today's times.

I certainly hope and pray that the Prime Minister is explicitly following the Lubavitcher Rebbe's advice. The Rebbe had tremendous insight into many matters (including those of the political and diplomatic spectrum), even when it would appear as though he was not directly or remotely involved.

For those of us living in America, I can say with certainty that there is a feeling in the air in Eretz Yisrael that just does not exist here. But I will suggest that one can find this feeling for a few moments by visiting the Kever of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Queens.

I believe full-heartedly that the Rebbe is indeed the Moshiach of the Lubavitch movement. He single handedly redeemed an undermobilized Chassidic Movement, turning it into the driving force for restoring Jewish awareness and performance worldwide. Today one cannot go to any city in any country with Jewish inhabitants and not find a Shaliach of the Rebbe.

I bless that the fervent nature of the Rebbe's movement will continue to spread the knowledge of Torah and fulfillment of Mitzvot worldwide, and that each of us will find our own redemptive forces, eventually realizing for ourselves and witnessing the arrival of the age of Moshiach.
Full post and comments...

Malkah's new show on Israel National Radio

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, we're keeping it in the family. I, too, have started work at Israel National Radio, with two cool shows.

One, a two hour political talk bit, plays on Sundays, and if you're listening from 8am-10am EST, you can even call in live, toll-free. It's called the Weekend Edition

The other show I'm taking over from Tamar Yonah (of The Aliyah Show fame) - The Eyshet Chayil Show. Aside from learning about how to soothe your child to sleep and how to get the perfect balance between the crunchy and the chewy cookie, you can also hear about about Women and Activism, and Women in the Workforce.

So listen in at
Full post and comments...

Sunday, June 20, 2004


This past Friday we had our first Hebrew bread bake! We used eggs from Kdumim, honey from Ofra, olive oil from the Golan, wheat from Itamar, water from the tap and salt of the earth. We learned how to knead bread, and how to braid it. It was a fun event and an inspirational one - but the best part was eating the bread Friday night. MMMM..MMMM So good and nourishing. Blessed are you G-d who brings forth bread from the LAND!

This event was sponsored by the generous donation of Cherie and Dave Deslauriers who pray to break bread with the people of Israel.

Herbie Dan the Baker and teacher

The class

The smile

The teamwork

The Yish

Mattityahu Ze'ev aka Jason

The bread!

The final product - Shabbat Shalom!
Full post and comments...

Preventing the Redemption?

Could it be that Jews lax in their enthusiasm to return home and settle our land are actually preventing the redemption?

Could it be that they are also preventing us from rebuilding the Beit Hamikdash [the Temple] on Har Habayit?

Harav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtal ZT?L writes about this idea extensively in Eim Habanim Semeichah.

Perhaps these details will make for some good future blogging. But in short, there he concludes, after bringing proof after proof, that not only will the redemption occur naturally (and not miraculously) but we Jews must initiate the process by returning Home. He writes:

A person cannot expect his field to sprout grains before he works it. That is to say, if he does not plow, sow, and prepare the field, he will not achieve his goal. He will remain empty-handed, even if he prays all day and all night. Only after he does his part by plowing and sowing, can he pray to Hashem to bless his handiwork. The same is true of redemption. After we decide to return to our Land and after we actually begin the process, the Holy One Blessed be He will complete it for us. This is true and clear. Blessed is Hashem Who enlightened me to this principle. (Page 167)

But I came across some other points about this that are not usually discussed when dealing with this topic. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan ZT"L keenly points them out in his work The Real Messiah? About the redemption he writes:

There is even evidence that the majority of the Jews will have to return to their homeland before the Messiah comes in a non-miraculous manner. One of our important traditions regarding the advent of the Messiah is that it will mark the return of prophecy. Furthermore, according to many traditions, the Messiah will be preceded by the prophet Elijah, and furthermore, he himself will be a prophet. However there is a basic teaching that prophecy can only exist in the Land of Israel, and then, only when majority of Jews live there. Thus, unless we assume this rule is to be broken, the majority of Jews will have to live in the Land of Israel before the Messianic Age commences. (The Aryeh Kaplan Anthology. Page 321.)

About rebuilding the Temple on Har Habayit he writes:

Another important consideration is the tradition that the Bais HaMikdash or Holy Temple will be rebuilt before the onset of the Messianic Age. However, there is also a tradition that Jerusalem cannot be rebuilt before the ingathering of the diaspora. This would also seem to indicate that Israel will be settled before the Messianic Age. (Ibid.)

[Rabbi Kaplan also cites scores of sources in almost a dozen endnotes for the above passages.]

So let me ask those questions again.

Could it be that Diaspora Jews lax in their enthusiasm to return home and settle our land are actually preventing the redemption?

Could it be that they are also preventing us from rebuilding the Beit Hamikdash on Har Habayit?


Does this remind anyone else of that 1984 Apple Computer Superbowl Commercial? (REUTERS/Menahem Kahane/POOL)

Full post and comments...

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

This Friday - Learn to Bake Hebrew Challah

- New Kumah Event -

Did you know that 90% of the flour in Israel comes from the US? We are not eating Hebrew bread in Israel, rather we are eating the bread of Galut!

This Friday, 18th of June, Erev Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, we will be baking Hebrew Challah!

This event will take place in Herbie's Dan's bakery in Beit El and we will use real Hebrew flour, Hebrew oil, and Hebrew eggs. At the end of the day, you will come out with two Hebrew Challahs that you baked and the knowledge to bake more at home!!!

By baking Hebrew bread with fellow Olim, you will strengthen American Aliyah and learn a skill as well!

If you are an English speaker, a student, a new or vatik Oleh, you are invited. Just take the 9:00AM 170 Egged Bus all the way to Beit El (less than an hour) and get off at Herbie's Bake Shop in the industrial zone.

You will be taking the 1:15PM bus back to Jerusalem and be back just after 2PM. The whole event will last three hours.

The price for the event is a measly 10 Shekel which you would have paid for Challah anyway! (The bus is an additional 6.60 each way for a total of 23.20NIS)

So come one, come all and please RSVP by emailing me or calling. We look forward to seeing you Friday....

This event is sponsored by the generous donation of Cherie and Dave Deslauriers who pray to break bread with the people of Israel.

Kol Tuv,

Full post and comments...

Monday, June 14, 2004

I Love a Parade!

What a parade! The Music! The dancing! The cheering! The flag waving! I'm referring of course to yesterday's Puerto Rican Day Parade. Interesting how the Puerto Rican Day Parade always follows shortly after the Israeli Day Parade. I always get this strange feeling this time of year.


Sort of like Crocodile Dundee's Paul Hogen saying "That's not a parade... THIS is a parade!"


Well help me out here folks. Is it just me, or do they get a lot more excited than we do? And if so, why? And most importantly what can we do about it?

Or perhaps it's just that those of us that would get so excited over Israel are already home?
Full post and comments...

Friday, June 11, 2004

Nothing Personal, Mickey!

Alex points out how we continue to see the sins of the spies. Even today we hear people slandering the land. "Who needs Gaza? It's too dangerous!" This reminds me of something I wrote a couple of years ago. While it was a response to a different comment, the slander - the loshen hara - remains exactly the same!

The title was "Why We Should Not Be Afraid":

What do you say? What do you say when someone, maybe a friend or a relative or simply just a another member of Klal Yisrael - how can you respond when they mention that for Pesach they were planning on going to Eretz Yisrael, the land promised to our forefathers. The land of Avraham, Yitzchok, and Yaakov Aveenu. The land ruled by Dovid and Shlomo Hamelach. The land of the Beit Hamikdosh [the Temple]; the first, second and BemiHayRah BiYamanu [speedily in our days], the third! They were planning on being Olah Regel, visiting our homeland, Eretz Yisrael, but alas, "you know, the 'situation.'" So instead, for Pesach, they are going to Florida, the land of Mickey Mouse and Goofey.



Since such feelings of despair are so widespread I suspect most of us know someone who recently altered their plans. So what did I answer? There are different ways to address this issue. We've all heard the "we can't let the terrorists win" argument. Perhaps you've also heard the "there are still more people killed in car accidents than by terrorists" one. But I didn't use either of those approaches. Nor did I point out that America has not been immune from terror. Instead I pointed to a recent article from the new "Ask the Rabbi" feature on Arutz-7. Rabbi Samson plans on addressing this issue in depth over the next few weeks. He introduces his response by quoting a story brought down by Rabbi Dichovsky, ZT"L, in his sefer, Neot Desha where he recounts his visit to the Chofetz Chaim ZT"L, in order to ask him about moving to Israel at a time of clear and present danger.

The year was 1933, just a few years after the Hevron Massacare of 1929. I highly recommend everyone read the full story at but I'll quote the very end of it here where the Chofetz Chaim responds:

'The holy Torah tells us regarding Ishmael that he is a 'pere adam,' a wild beast of a man. It is known that our Torah is eternal, and if it says about Ishmael that he is a wild beast of a man, then Ishmael will remain forever a wild beast of a man. Even if all of the cultured nations of the world will gather together and try to educate Ishmael and transform him into a cultured individual, so that he will no longer be a wild beast of a man, obviously this will be impossible in every fashion or form. They will not be able to do this through any means whatsoever, because he is not capable of being a cultured individual, for behold, the Torah testified regarding him that he is a wild beast of a man. This means that forever, for all eternity, Ishmael is by definition a wild beast of a man. Even if Ishmael will be involved in intellectual endeavor, like being a lawyer, or some similar profession, then he will be a beastly lawyer. If he will study diligently to be a professor, then he will be a beastly professor. This means that the bestiality of Ishmael will never cease.'

"Then the Chofetz Chaim let out a long, painful sigh and said, 'Who knows what this wild beast of a man is capable of perpetrating against the Jewish people in the end of days?'

"Concluding his words to me, he said, 'Nevertheless, fear not - there is no reason for this to prevent you from making Aliyah to the Land of Israel.'

"Then he blessed me, saying, 'Go in peace, and the L-rd will bless your path.' So I left him, and journeyed in peace to the Holy Land."
[End Quote]

So we know how the Chofetz Chaim felt. Still I was puzzled about why he felt this way since he doesn't seem to explain. I'd like to suggest a possible explanation. It's interesting to note that the Chofetz Chaim used the words "fear not." He also said "It is known that our Torah is eternal." Which got me thinking about how the conversation I had paralleled parts of Parshat Shalach which I quote below using Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's ZT"L translation from "The Living Torah":

"I was thinking of going to Eretz Yisrael. How beautiful it must be to be there on Pesach. But, you know, the situation. The terrorists are out in full force."
13:27-28) They gave the following report: "We came to the land where you sent us, and it is indeed flowing with milk and honey, as you can see from its fruit. However, the people living in the land are aggressive, and the cities are large and well fortified.

"But, that's no reason not to go!" I said.
13:30) Caleb tried to quiet the people for Moses. "We must go forth and occupy the land," he said. "We can do it!"

"Are you kidding? You can't go outside without having to worry about a bomb or a drive-by shooting, chas v'sholom. People are being slaughtered everyday. It's a war zone! The terrorists are more than we can handle."
13:31-32) "We cannot go forward against those people!" replied the men who had gone with him. "They are too strong for us!" They began to speak badly about the land that they had explored. They told the Israelites, "The land that we crossed to explore is a land that consumes its inhabitants. All the men we saw there were huge!

"Yes, I'm very sad about what's happening in Israel. But it's just too dangerous. Flordia, on the other hand, is nice and peaceful. It has nice weather this time of year and the hotels are so luxurious. Why should I have to worry about the Intifada? It's best to stay here in America where it's safe."
14:1-4) The entire community raised a hubbub and began to shout. That night, the people wept. All the Israelites complained to Moses and Aaron. The entire community was saying, "We wish we had died in Egypt! We should have died in this desert! Why is G-d bringing us to this land to die by the sword? Our wives and children will be captives! It would be best to go back to Egypt!" The people started saying to one another, Let's appoint a [new] leader and go back to Egypt."

Now I know how to respond as the Torah continues:

14:5-9) Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before the whole assembled Israelite community. Among the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Yefuneh tore their clothes in grief. They said to the whole Israelite community, "The land through which we passed in our exploration is a very, very, good land! If G-d is satisfied with us and brings us to this land, He can give it to us--a land flowing with milk and honey. But don't rebel against G-d! Don't be afraid of the people in the land! They have lost their protection and shall be our prey! G-d is with us, so don't be afraid!"

And this is the Emes [truth]! It doesn't matter which government is in power. If Hashem wants peace there will be peace, and only if Hashem wants peace will there be peace. "If G-d is satisfied with us and brings us to this land, He can give it to us-a land flowing with milk and honey." So yes, say Tehillim and do Tschuvah, so we are deserving, but please "don't rebel against G-d! Don't be afraid of the people in the land! They have lost their protection and shall be our prey! G-d is with us, so don't be afraid!" As the Chofetz Chaim said "fear not!"

This seems like an appropriate place to end. But I would be omitting the scariest and most important part. Since Klal Yisrael WAS afraid even after all Hashem did for us...

14:23) They will therefore not see the land that I swore to their ancestors. All those who provoked Me will not see it.

Let us not repeat the mistakes of our past.
Full post and comments...

Thursday, June 10, 2004

The fruits of a life in Israel

Today I realized, for the hundredth time, exactly what it means to live in the Land of Israel.

I picked some Mishmish (apricot) from a tree outside my office at Israel National Radio today - 13 fruits.

If you pick more than ten fruits from a tree in the land, you have to take tithes from it. But I wasn't so knowledgeable about the fine details, so I took the fruits back into the office and asked my colleagues. Two of them proceeded to give me an entire shiur (lesson) on terumot and maasrot (during Temple times, in present day, during Shmittah year, during this year (the 3rd year)), and a third actually said the required passages to take the maaser, while the second then took the fruits and took upon himself the duty of giving the portion required to the poor. Then I said a blessing and ate from the portion of fruit remaining.

It was amazing.

It was the Living Torah, the Torah of today's Jew, the modern ancient person in the flourishing holy land. The fruit of a 30 year old tree being sanctified as was the fruit of her great, great, great, great grandmother. The bottom line is that it's all happening out here. It's for real, not just on paper. It's just so alive.
Full post and comments...

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Spies, Wars, Disengagement, and Appreciation

I can't help but notice the string of symbolic events crossing paths this week. Parshat Shelach foreshadows the unfortunate theme of placing human reasoning before the immediate realization of G-d's plan. We all know the story of the spies sent on a reconnaissance mission to the land of milk and honey, meant to lay the foundation for the Jewish people's early entry into Eretz Yisrael. Their negative report (on a land even they confirmed to be quite fertile) doomed the Jewish people to remain in the Galut and wander the desert for forty years until their generation was purged, so that only the next generation would merit entering G-d's land. As a G-d loving Jew, it is difficult to sympathize with the sins of the incident, although we continue to see them throughout Jewish and modern Israeli history.

Though unattached to anniversaries or readings of this week, the Jewish people preferred to stay in the Galut during the era of the Second Temple as well. Many Jews today fervently proclaim their desire to pick up to Israel the second the Mashiach will arise and usher in the era of the Third Temple. This is easy to understand. It is difficult to understand why any Jew would prefer the Galut to an Eretz Yisrael with a Temple, as the Jewish people did during the times of Ezra and Nechemia.

I am now entrenched in Michael Oren's densely filled history book of Israel's Six Day War in 1967. In the weeks preceding the war, at a point when war was most certainly imminent, it is almost astonishing to note just how many Israeli politicians staunchly favored guarantees from the United States and the International community, versus placing our faith in G-d and taking our fate into our own responsibility. Only the military elite favored a pre-emptive attack. In fact, I was not sure whether to laugh or cry when reading of one General Arik Sharon's chastising of Levi Eshkol for attempting to 'pander' to the desires of America for material guarantees. Sharon and the Generals proved to be correct in their minority assessment, and conquering the lands Eretz Yisrael by force was indeed proven to be a part of Hashem's glorious plan.

Now, on the Gregorian anniversary of the historic Six Day War, Israeli politicians seek to give lands of Eretz Yisrael away. And, those very same lands which were boldly secured with Hashem's help in 1967. In fact, you can even read of ideas to bring back Jordanians into Yehuda and Shomron, Egypt into 'Azza, and talks of peace with Syria which may lead to a return of the Golan Heights. (I hadn't even realized that we were currently at war with Syria.)

Furthermore, Jews living abroad speak of remaining in the Galut until a time when responsibility no longer needs to be taken to secure one's fate in G-d's ultimate plan.

This disengagement talk and the stubbornness of the Galut wreaks of the same misguideness that steered the incident of the spies, the failure of Jews to return during the era of the Second Temple, and the ideas that came surprisingly close to costing Israel in 1967.

When you read Tanach, you realize that one must put faith in Hashem above all else, and recognize Hashem's plan for the Jewish people to inherit Israel (which often takes a foreceful effort). By loving and appreciating Hashem as the One with life's true logic, we can easily submit to his plan for the Jewish people and immediately realize our inheritance.

When the spies cost the Jewish people in the Midbar, Hashem's plan was not averted, only those who would realize the plan were changed. In Megillat Esther, Mordechai instructs Esther before the impending tragedy about to engulf the Jewish people (shortly before the eventual rebuilding of the Second Temple): "If you persist (in resisting your responsibility to the Jewish nation)... relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from some other place, while you and your father?s house will perish."

Esther met her responsibilities, the Jewish people were saved and the Second Temple was built soon after. In the Midbar, the spies did not meet their responsibilities and did not merit entering into Israel (except of course for Calev and Yehoshua), although the next generation of the Jewish nation would enter 40 years later.

In June 1967, Israel met its responsibilities with blessings and miracles from Hashem. I can only hope that today on the anniversary of thrilling victory, we will accept our responsibilities and destiny, appreciate G-d's love for us and our fear of G-d, and merit to fully inherit Eretz Yisrael for ourselves and the entire Jewish nation in our lifetimes.
Full post and comments...

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Great photos from the Kumah trek to Gush Katif on Yom Ha'Atzmaut, Israeli Independance Day.

Friday, June 04, 2004

What it means to be a Jew in Israel. . .

A May 24th AP photo shows Zaka volunteers praying at sunrise in a dedication ceremony of a Torah scroll in the ancient synagogue at Masada.

A wonderful chain e-mail has been circulating around over the past couple of months. All we know about the author is that it says it was written by an Israeli woman. (Malkah?) The e-mail also says Send this letter to as many people as you can. The Truth is the best means to counter misinformation. Misinformation? I think they mean LIES...

I am not the least afraid to go any place,
By bus or to a mall.
I didn't change or stop doing anything
I used to do before this mess began!

People tend to forget that twice the casualties
From terror get killed on the roads!
More people still die
From heart attack, cancer,
And other things,
They just don't show them on TV.

Don't misunderstand me,
There is a war going on,
It's not pleasant,
But, lets face it:


It's only TV and the media
That make people think
That the end of the world is coming.

Only 60 years ago,
They were leading Jews to their death
Like sheep to the slaughter!

No Country, No Army. 55 years ago!!
Seven Arab countries declared war
On the small Jewish State,
Only a few hours old!!

We were then 650,000 Jews!
Against the rest of the Arab world!
No IDF [Israel Defense Force].
No mighty Air Force,
Just tough people
With nowhere to go.

Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt,
Libya, Saudi Arabia, attacked all at once.
The country the UN "gave us"
Was 65% desert.

The country started from scratch!
35 years ago!! We fought
The three strongest armies in the Middle East,
And wiped them out in six days.

We fought against
Different coalitions of Arab countries,
With modern armies,
And masses of Soviet Russian weapons,
And we still won!!!

We have today
A country,
An army,
A strong Air Force,
A Hi-Tech Economy, exporting millions.

Intel - Microsoft - IBM develop their stuff here.
Our doctors win world prizes
For medical developments.

We made the desert flourish,
Selling oranges and vegetables to the world.

Israel has sent its own satellite into Space!!
Three satellites all together!!.

We sit proudly,
With the US, with 250 million people,
With Russia, with 200 million people,
With China, with 1.1 billion people,
With the Europeans -- France, England, Germany,
with 350 million people,
The only countries in the world
To shoot something into space!!

Israel is today
In the world nuclear power family
With the US, Russia, China, India, France, and England.
[We don't admit it, but every one knows...]
To think that only 60 years ago,
We were led,
With no hope,
To our death!!

We crawled out of the burning ashes of Europe,
We won our wars here with less than nothing
in our hands,
We built an "empire" out of nothing.

Who the hell is Mr. Arafat
To make me Scared?
To make me be Terrified?

You make me laugh!
Passover was celebrated;
Let's not forget what the story is all about.
We overcame Pharaoh,
We overcame the Greeks,
We overcame the Romans,
We overcame the Inquisition in Spain,
We overcame the Pogroms in Russia,
We overcame Hitler,
We overcame the Germans,
We overcame the Holocaust,
We overcame the armies of the seven Arab countries,
We overcame Saddam.

Take it easy, folks,
We will overcome
The present enemies too.

No matter
Which part of human history you try!
Think of it,
For us,
The Jewish people,
Our situation has never been better!!!

Let's Lift our Heads High,
Let's Remember:

Any nation or culture
That tried to mess around with us
Was destroyed - while we kept going!!!

Anyone know where their empire disappeared to?
The Greeks?
Alexander of Macedonia?
The Romans?
Does anyone today speak Latin?
The Third Reich?
Anyone heard any news about it lately?

And look at us,
The Nation from the Bible,
From Slavery in Egypt,
We are still here,
Speaking the same language!!
Right here, right now.

The Arabs don't know it yet,
But, they will learn that there is one God.

As long as we keep our identity,
We are eternal.

So, sorry for not worrying,
Not bitching,
Not crying,
Not being scared.
Things are O.K. here.

They surely can be better,
But still:

Don't fall for the media junk,
They won't tell you
That there are
Festivals going on,
That people keep on living,
That people are going out,
That people are seeing friends.

Yes, our morale is low,
So what?
It's only because we weep for our dead
While they enjoy the blood.

This is the same reason why,
We will win, after all.

You can forward this e-mail
If you choose.
To the whole Jewish community,
And to people throughout the world.

They are part of our strength.
It might help some of them
To keep their heads up high.

Tell them
That there is nothing to worry about.
Tell them to think BIG, and
To see the whole picture.

"See You Next Year in Jerusalem."

Full post and comments...

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

"THE ALIYA EXCUSE" is a website dedicated to dealing with Jewish dating related issues. Today a poster named Sammy started a thread entitled "THE ALIYA EXCUSE." This sparked several rebuttals including my own. I feel this is an extremely important issue to discuss. G-d knows how many Jews give up their dream because they were pressured into thinking Aliyah was a ridiculous requirement for marriage.

Sammy posts (reprinted exactly as it appeared there):
I notice lately, especially with the younger girls usually 22, and under there is this "i want to do aliya or we're not compatible" excuse. This is the biggest madness & the most ludicrous thing going on as of late. These girls are very immature, and just not ready to get married, so they use this excuse as to why they don't want to get married & are afraid of commitment. They dont realize the most important thing to look for a partner is someone that will make a good husband, a good good father, sholom bayis & a good provider, not where you live. That is the most rediculous thing to focus on. The only very important thing about where you live is that you should be able to support your family based on it by the job you have & if you dont want to be so far away from your family. They are here living in NYC expecting to find a guy here that is willing to quit his job, his culture, language & family to move 8000 miles away from everything. I have to say this if a girl ever mentions anything about aliya and is very serious about it, being a condition as to whether she will go out with you just end it right there, because the girl is not serious. If they are really that serious let them move there & find a guy there.

Oh boy! Where to begin? Why don't I start with the minuscule portion of this posting that I agree with. If the girl wants to make Aliyah and if the guy - who apparently is simply paying lip service when he Benches and Davens everyday - specifically cringes at the very thought of returning Home to the land of his ancestors, to his People's Heritage - then yes, the two of them should never date to begin with!

But to say making Aliyah "is the most ridiculous thing to focus on" is the true most ridiculous thing. Is it so ridiculous that she wants to raise her family in a country where December 25th is just December 25th? Is it so ridiculous that she wants her children's native tongue to be "Loshon Hakodesh?" Is it so ridiculous that she wants to live in a land where they give more emphasis to Ruchnius and less to Gashmius? Is it so ridiculous that she would prefer her children to be brought up looking at Jewish expiration dates on Milk cartons (or bags)? Is it so ridiculous that she wants to be part of her Nation in every sense? Is it so ridiculous she wants to fulfill the Mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael? Is it so ridiculous that she wants to finally come Home?

Now wait. I have long debated this issue and am fully aware the many counter arguments. These are flawed. This is a popular one: "I know so many people that wanted Aliyah when they got married but are still living in New York anyway - it's a pipe dream! Is it worth limiting your choices?" Now let's be realistic. Aliayh is a privilege and yes, while physically it may only be a short 10 hour hop-on-a-plane to get there - you accurately identified some hardships. Yes, leaving family behind is hard. Yes, learning a "foreign" language is hard. Yes, adapting to a "foreign" culture is hard. Yes, finding a job and earning a fraction of what you would is the States is hard. Guess what? Aliyah is hard!

But it is doable. It is done.

This summer, as over the past two summers, over a thousand Olim - including lots of FULL families will be coming Home with the Nefesh B?Nefesh organization.

But as Mazal would have it, not everyone who wants to come Home is privileged to return.

The Chofetz Chaim historically attempted Aliyah several times - even had a house built in Eretz Yisrael - but time after time Hashem did not permit him to reach our Homeland successfully. But he did his part. Indeed Moshe Rabbanu himself was denied this privilege as well. But not because he didn't try to get Home.

And guess what else? Sharing common interests is a very important part of compatibility. It may not be the most important thing in a marriage but it's certainly something singles are entitled to look for in a spouse. Sharing a common goal - whether or not that goal is realized, sounds to me like it could only add a lot to a union. And if your dream is to make Aliyah why would you compromise that for anything in the world? Yes I say! Date only guys or girls that are like-minded! I'll tell you another secret, call it what you want - the "biggest madness," "the most ludicrous thing going on as of late," or "the Aliyah Revolution," - Aliyah is getting more popular! And continues to grow! There is simply no longer a reason to fear you can't find a spouse in the States that also wants Aliyah!

As for making Aliyah right away single - that's not always the most responsible thing to do. This is a question that must be answered on a-case-by-case bases as personal situations vary. But Aliyah experts agree - and I've spoken to many of them (e-mail me for names) - the most important thing for making a successful Aliyah is to prepare. That may mean getting a college degree first. That may mean working a few years to pay off debts and save up money. And yes, that may mean finding a Shidduch! But if your circumstances allow you to make Aliyah single - great! Go for it! And if not don't give up!

As for those girls "expecting to find a guy here that is willing to quit his job, his culture, language & family to move 8000 miles away from everything" - well, here's one: yours truly.

p.s. And if by "everything" you mean Brooklyn - it's 6000 miles.
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