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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Olim Terrify Hamas

From Al-Ard (Ha'aretz) - a Hamas leaflet following the genocidal attack today:

"Our religion orders us to respond in kind to aggression against us. You [Israeli people] are the ones who choose your leaders and choose to be their shields. Therefore your shields will suffer more blows," the leaflet said.

"This is a gift to the newcomers who arrived recently to our land," it added in a reference to recent wave of Jewish immigration to Israel. "We say to you: 'This is your fate, so wait'."

Islamic terrorists hate Aliyah.
Islamic terrorists are terrified of the Aliyah Revolution.
Ishmael is frightened.
Another plane full of olim is arriving Thursday morning.
May the Master of the world dry the ocean of Jewish tears.
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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Harvests of Our Heritage

Seeing those pictures that Ezra posted last week of Jews harvesting grapes in the Holyland reminded me of a Divar Torah I put together on this week's Parsha, Ki Tavo, for K'Cholmim two years ago. Indeed harvesting is "waaaay better" than uprooting and as you can see below the message harvesting Holyland fruits imparts is still just as important as ever.

Same Golus, Different Zip Code?
By Pinchas M. Orbach
Elul - 5762

I was asked to contribute to K'Cholmim's Weekly Zionist Devrai Torah. As I wondered how to go about writing a "Zionist" Devar Torah it occurred to me that the Torah, even in its simplest form without any elaborate commentaries is itself fiercely Zionistic. Take this week's Parsha for instance. It begins:

When you come to the land that G-d your Lord is giving you as a heritage occupying and settling it, you shall take the first of every fruit of the ground produced by the land that G-d your Lord is giving you. You must place it in a basket, and go to the site that G-d will choose [Yerushalayim] as the place associated with his name. There you shall go to the priest officiating at the time and say to him, "Today I am affirming to G-d your Lord that I have come to the land that G-d swore to our fathers to give us." (Devarim 26:1-3)

This Mitzvah of Hava'at Bikkurim imparts an important lesson. It addresses Jewish farmers which toiled the whole year, working the land to ensure a plentiful harvest. The very first fruits that blossom are marked, harvested and brought to the Beit Hamikdosh, the site Hashem chose as "the place associated with his name." There they are given as gifts to the Kohanim. The obvious lesson is that while it may appear like the farmers are agricultural experts that turned the desert into a blooming orchard of pomegranate trees, to assert this claim would be to deny a fundamental facet of reality -- everything comes only from Hashem.

Regard this subject Rav Eliahu Dessler zt"l, wrote:

Nature itself is a miracle. Should someone protest and say that nature is rooted in a cause, we may very well ask him why that particular cause produces such a particular result. Nature is a miracle - but we have become accustomed to it.

Were we to be told that a man died, was buried, that his body had rotted in the ground and that the grave had opened and he had come forth, we would exclaim, "A miracle, a revival of the dead." Yet, when a seed is planted and grows forth after it has rotted in the ground, is that not, too, a revival of dead? Bury the lobe of a calf's ear deep in fertilizer. If a full-grown cow were to spring up, that's a miracle. When a full-branched tree grows from the planting of a small shoot, is that any more natural? But to one we are accustomed and see it as part of nature; to the other we are not and name it a miracle. (Haggadah Gedoli Tunoas HaMusser, P.104).

Since these fruit are actually miracles from Hashem it is most appropriate that we show our thanks by designating these "first fruits" as gifts for Hashem - or for his representative, the Kohan.

But aside from giving the first fruits to the Kohanim the farmer is told of another Mitzvah, Mikra Bikkurim, the declaration recited after the fruit basket is placed before the Alter and accepted by the Kohan. "Today I am affirming to G-d your Lord that I have come to the land that G-d swore to our fathers to give us." The farmers declare how before being given Eretz Yisrael we were slaves harshly afflicted under the Egyptians.

"G-d then brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, with great visions and with signs and miracles. He brought us to this area, giving us this land flowing with milk and honey. I am now bringing the first fruit of the land that G-d has given me." (Ibid. 26:8-10)

These are not only G-d's fruit. They are G-d's fruit from G-d's land. Just as it is a miracle that these fruit grew is also a miracle that we are living in Eretz Yisrael. Both are gifts from Hashem. Which explains why Bikkurim must be brought to "the place associated with his name." This declaration cannot be made anywhere else. Only by actually being in Yerushalyim can the farmer truly appreciate the message that Bikkurim is trying to send. It is only from the Beit Hamikdosh, "you, the Levite, and the proselyte in your midst shall thus rejoice in all the good that G-d your Lord has granted you and your family." (Ibid. 26:11)

Rav Menachem Zemba zt"l (from the Warsaw Ghetto) gives an interesting explanation for Bikkurim. Interpreting an insight from the Ari Z"L, Rav Zemba concludes Bikkurim are actually a remedy for the slandering of the Land by the Maraglim, the spies, in Parshat Shalach. He points out how the spies brought back the same fruit the Mishna uses to explain Bikkurim, "one cluster of grapes, pomegranates, and of the figs." (Bamidbar 13:23) Rashi explains these were used specifically for the purpose of slandering the Land. "Look, just as these fruit are giant, the inhabitants are also undefeatable giants!" These fruits were used as a tool to prevent Jews from coming to Eretz Yisrael. Therefore these same fruits, the fruits of Eretz Yisrael, which were used as "proof" that the Land cannot be conquered, are used for the exact opposite purpose. These fruits are proof that as promised, Hashem has given us "this Land flowing with milk and honey." Then, only after affirming we've come to our Homeland and repenting for slandering Eretz Yisrael, can we "rejoice in all the good that G-d your Lord has granted you and your family."

I was in a Jewish bookstore last week. There was a big sale. The owner joked about the how the sale would last until the end of the summer or until he won the lottery, whichever came first. Should he hit the jackpot he would spend his time "studying the Babylonian Talmud," he quipped. One of the customers remarked perhaps he should consider "moving to the Holy Land as well." He dismissed this suggestion with a nod of his head and a sweep of his hand, and muttered "same Golus, different zip code." He would not rejoice at the thought of living in Eretz Yisrael. So long as the third Beit Hamikdosh is not standing, in his mind, there is absolutely no difference between living in the land of our heritage or living in 11230. "It would be best to go back to Egypt!" (Ibid. 14:3)

A similar phenomenon of apathetic Jews following the Balfour Declaration, prompted Rav Kook to remark:

"There are some Jews for whom the international recognition of the Jewish people's right to its land does not inspire joy. This is because the primary focus of their mourning is the spiritual destruction of Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael, while the utter humiliation of the Land being subjected to foreign rule does not grieve them. But those who always felt deep sorrow, not only for the destruction of Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael, but for the absence of Jewish sovereignty in our land, the international declaration that Eretz Yisrael must return to the Jewish people is a source of happiness. They merit to see Jerusalem in its joy." (

I would like to share with you a little addition to this thought. A friend of mine enlightened me to a marvelous motto. "Hodu L'Hashem Ki Tov, Ki Le'olam Chasdo." It's from Tehillim 118 (with all the current events read the whole 118 now very carefully. Interesting isn't it?) "Give thanks to Hashem for he is good; for His kindness endures forever!" Truly internalize this thought and everything becomes "the hand of G-d." How wonderful it must be see life this way! Hashem through kindness makes fruit grow - a miracle. Hashem through kindness gave us Eretz Yisrael - a miracle. But the most difficult part is realizing that even when events seems to be terrible and can't get any worse - this too is the kindness of Hashem - a miracle. And the spies did not realize this - that was their sin. The owner of that bookstore did not realize this. "Give thanks to Hashem for he is good; for His kindness endures forever!"

Indeed this was precisely the farmer's declaration before rejoicing. "Hashem has indeed brought us to the land given to us as a heritage." Only after thanking Hashem "for he is good" can we "rejoice in all the good that G-d your Lord has granted you and your family." As a side point according to the Rambam, Yerushalyim still maintains the very same sanctity today as it did in the time those farmers rejoiced. "Because the sanctity of the Mikdash and of Yerushalayim is on account of the Shekhinah - and the Shekhinah is never nullified." (MT Beit haB'hirah 6:16)

Today, we must strive to emulate the message of the Bikkurim rather than the message of the Maraglim. Without perceiving Eretz Yisrael is a gift we will end up slandering the land. We must appreciate that Eretz Yisrael is not merely another zip code. It is called "Nachlah" - a land given to us as our heritage! A gift - a miracle - from Hashem! Indeed "the Land is a very, very good Land." (Bamidbar 14:7) It is a land flowing with Milk and Honey. We must return. And when we do we will merit seeing the prophecies of this week's Haftorah materialize. "Violence will no longer be heard in your land, neither desolation nor destruction within your borders; but you will call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise." (Isaiah 60:18)

"May Hashem bless you from Zion, and may you gaze upon the goodness of Jerusalem, all the days of your life." (Tehillim 128:5)

Shabbat Shalom.
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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Harvesting is waaaay better than uprooting.

Harvesting organic Chardonnay grapes in the Judean hills

Harvesting is waaaay better than uprooting.
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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Wonderful posts from the internet about the Aliyah Revolution and Movement

From: Laya
Post subject: Some of the reasons I love living in Israel

Why did I come to Israel? I get asked this a lot. By Israelis who live here with me, and Americans who don't. Both, I suspect hoping for a glimmer of inspiration in my answer. Why would I leave everything I had going for me in The Land of Plenty and move to a perceived war zone?

Initially I came at the height of the intifada, with a newfound Zionism, grand ideas and dreamer's visions. I came to be with my people in their time of sorrow, with lofty ambitions of heroism. Since that time, all I can say is I've been humbled and I've grown-up.

But why do I stay?

It's as simple as this - because Love makes you do crazy things.

Sometimes I walk down the streets of Jerusalem singing love songs to it (even though we aint got money, I'm so in love with you honey?). Being in Love with Israel is like being in Love with a person; it defies all reason and logic. At some point the initial Zionistic honeymoon ends, times get tough and you go broke. Sometimes you might turn cynical and forget what you came here for. In terrifying, fleeting moments I have even considered going back to the land of hard wood floors, bank statements in English, and drip coffee.

But all the things I miss about America are superficial. Israel is real in a way America can never stack up to. Though I sometimes feel like "Laya Through the Looking Glass," this crazy foreign country has become my home.

Zionism, I've discovered, is a hopelessly romantic pursuit. This strange little tribe, after wandering around the world for two millennia, inexplicably surviving and having never forgotten about the land they once knew, finally gets to come home. They drain malarial swamps, make the desert bloom, and stand tall and tragically outnumbered in the face of those who consistently try to destroy them.

And simply by the merit of being born a 20th century Jew, I am somehow part of this narrative, this greatest love affair in History, between a People, their Land and their God.

So we return. And the whole nature of who we are as a people starts to change. We rediscover our strength, and realize that Exile is as over as we want it to be.

Everything is more intense here, the highs keep you floating for days, and the lows are mercilessly devastating, and they often happen simultaneously, but it's Real. It?s a study in contradictions. It's life with the volume turned back up, where every taste and smell adds to the vibrancy of existence.

I love living in Israel because it pushes me to know, at all times, who I am, what I believe and where I stand before God. It pushes me to be true.

Living here isn't easy, but nothing great ever is. It is the hard that makes it great. That makes us strong. I've grown to love this country precisely because it's so imperfect. Because it is still growing up and finding itself. The choices are either run away because its not yet what you want it to be, or stay and have a voice in what it will become.

North Americans in particular seem to want Israel handed to them on a silver platter, but the whole point is that it is not. The point is that you have to fight for it.

Sometimes I read the news about Israel, and it seems like the only thing that the whole world can agree on is that they hate the Jews. That they want to hate us so badly, in fact, that they will believe any propaganda telling them that we are evil wizards and perpetrators of the biggest social injustices the world has ever seen. While actual genocides still happen and dictators continue to rule elsewhere, the world's eyes, cameras and sanctions are still upon us.

But maybe that's how it is supposed to be playing out. Maybe this is our great chance to prove to the universe how badly the Jews want to be home and how precious this place is to us.

We will continue returning. And the desert will continue to bloom.

There was Black Panther song in the late sixties "The revolution will not be televised, the revolution will be live." You know what, the world being what it is, the revolution may be televised after all, but I don?t want to watch it on TV. I want to be a part of it.

From Solomon Weiskop
Post subject: America b'Aliyah

I believe that the creative genius of the Jewish people can be most fully developed and expressed only by realizing our millennia-old dream of ending our exile and returning to Zion.

If Judaism has within itself the potential for audacious new ideas to offer the contemporary world, ideas that genuinely flow from the Jewish soul and spirit (and I believe it does), then let these ideas be authentically developed and expressed within the fullness of a Jewish society and culture and language. Let this very society and culture and language be our canvas! Let our deep roots seek and find sustenance in our native soil. Let our new thoughts take form in our old language, Hebrew, and in turn, let these new thoughts form our old language anew. Let us take our whole life (family, social, political, religious, professional etc) into our hands, like clay, and make from it something whole and beautiful and new and Jewish. Only in Eretz Yisrael is this possible.

We, the Jews of North America, should set forth on a new Exodus. Our lives here in North America are sweet and easy. No external oppression, no external slavery, no external Pharoah confronts us or compels us. Yet, nonetheless, we must demand "Let My People Go!", demand it of ourselves! We must each look deep inside. We must each confront and reject the Pharoah within. We have been in Exile far too long. It is time for us to return, to our home, to ourselves.
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Monday, August 23, 2004

Kumah Concert Rocks!!!

Our Kumah concert was a real success and an awesome event for all involved. We had 80 people show up to hear the soulfull Jewish rock of Pey Dalid and celebrate the spirit of the Aliyah Revolution. Oh yes, there will be more concerts in our future!

My pictures were not so great, due to the lighting, but here are two:
Hebrew U gang

A bit of the band

More to come....


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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

This Sunday Night! The Aliyah Revolution Concert

We've waited 2000 years for this...


Aliyah Revolution Concert
With the "Pey Dalid" band

Celebrate living in Israel with the new Olim, the Vatikim, and a Sabra or two!

When: 9:00PM - Sunday night - 22nd of August 5'th of Elul

Where: Mamilla
[Centrally located! 26 Ben Sira (end of Shlomtzion HaMalka, near David
Citadel Hotel) right past the Misrad Hapnim]

Great kosher food and drink at Jerusalem's hottest Kosher Bar and Grill

For more info please email or call 054-671-3842
(Only a 20 NIS cover!)

Full post and comments...

Sunday, August 15, 2004

"The wave of North American Aliyah has become a reality - and it's about time"

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

On Wings of Eagles!

Here are some wonderful pix (courtesy of Natan Gesher). The latest Nefesh'b'Nefesh plane landing brought many Kumah friends - people who have yearned for Zion and are now finally home.

Beth Meshel with Minister Natan Sharansky

The plane, the soldiers, and the people

Tmima Traiman sports an "I'm Making Aliyah" T-Shirt

Alex Traiman, the father, sports a "and they shall build Me a sanctuary" hat

Noa Resi is reunited with friends and family

Here I am interviewing Rabbi Fass - (listen for yourself by clicking below)


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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Keep on Making Aliyah!

At JFK, lots of smiles...

Lots of cake...

Lots of interviews...

And Balloons!

Rabbi Fass points to a Kumah T-shirt - "The Aliyah Revolution has begun!"

Even Mario is making Aliyah!

"My daughter made Aliyah last year and made me this Kippa." (Tell her it worked!)


...and kisses.

Going down...

...going up!

Last call... board the "wings of an eagle!"

You tell 'em Dorothy...

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The Temple Mount in our hands...

Israeli paratroopers storm Mount Moriah

Rav Goren with Torah scroll and ram's horn

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Sunday, August 08, 2004

The Biblical promise as described in the Haftorah - Isaiah 51:3

"For the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her wastelands, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song."
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Thursday, August 05, 2004

The Heavens hear the call of the Aliyah Revolution

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

They keep coming!

Yet another plane, filled to the brim with proud Jews rejoining their people in their Land, touched down at Ben Gurion Airport today.

Danny Farahan, who became Daniel Ben-David today, brought his own Shofar.

Nefesh b'Nefesh is officially the most effective organization in the Jewish world today.

These pictures, taken by Natan Gesher, capture the majesty of these komemiyutnikim.
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Monday, August 02, 2004

A New Oleh Makes Aliyah

Natan Gesher, among the newest olim in the Holy Land, has made yet another Aliyah.

We went up the 8th of Av, erev Tisha B'Av (9th of Av). That night, after hearing Eicha (the Book of Lamentations) we heard the following letter by Rabbi Shlomo Goren, read by Nadia Matar of Women in Green:

A few weeks [after the liberation of the Temple Mount in the Six-Day Miracle -E.haL.], on Tisha B'Av 1967, 1,897 years after the destruction of the Second Temple, Rabbi Goren, may the memory of the righteous be for a blessing, with several dozen other Jews, entered the Temple Mount plaza, where Jews -according to halacha-were permitted to be. They brought with them a shofar (ram's horn) and a Torah Ark with a Torah scroll, and they conducted the afternoon prayer service. This afternoon prayer service on the Temple Mount aroused a public storm in Israel and abroad. The media launched unbridled agitation against Rabbi Goren's initiative to renew Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, and his request to conduct a mass prayer service on the Sabbath following Tisha B'Av was categorically rejected. The government told Rabbi Goren in no uncertain terms: If Jewish worshipers were to ascend the Temple Mount, they would be evacuated by security forces.

In response to this terrible decree, Rabbi Goren wrote a letter to the Ministerial Committee for the Safeguarding of the Holy Places. His words could have been written today, almost forty years after we liberated the place of our Temple, while, to our shame, the Temple Mount is still closed to Jewish prayer. The following are a few passages from his letter:

"Honored Ministers! Your decision by which you forbid me, as an individual, and the Jews as a whole, from praying on the Temple Mount shocked me to the depths of my soul. It follows from your decision that the only place in the world in which an express and specific ban has been placed on the Jew, as a Jew, to pray, is Mount Moriah, the mount of the Lord to which all of Israel's prayers are directed, the location of the nation's Holy of Holies. [...]

"From the destruction of the Second Temple until three hundred years ago, the prayers of Jews on the Temple Mount did not cease. [...] The uniqueness of the Kotel (Western Wall) as a place of prayer is a historical innovation, and is not more than three hundred years old. It began after the decrees and limitations placed by the Muslim rulers on the Jews, and the abrogation of the 'synagogue' [...] that had existed for centuries on the Temple Mount. [...] In no manner or form is the Western Wall entitled to be a substitute for the mount of the Lord. The prayers at the Wall symbolize the exile of the people and its expulsion from the Temple Mount, while our prayers on the Temple Mount represent the return of the people to its land and the place of its Temple.

"Who could conceive that Israel's security forces would be compelled to obstruct Jews from praying before the Lord, when the Temple Mount is under the government of Israel? And is this our situation now, after our dazzling victory? Did we await this, that the government of Israel would discriminate between Jew and Muslim, and place guards lest, Heaven forbid, Jewish prayer would be uttered on the Temple Mount, about which the Prophets prophesied, 'For My House shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples' [Isaiah 56:7]?"

"Jewish history shall not forgive us for this. My request," Rabbi Goren ends his letter, "is to open wide the gates of the Temple Mount to all Jews and for everyone in the world. Save the Holy of Holies of the nation, do not hand over the Temple Mount to those who defile it. Signed in grief, in hope, and in blessing, Shlomo Goren, General, Chief Rabbi of Israel."

Luckily we brought a Shofar; and it was blown - echoing through Jerusalem's surrounding hills, calling out to the Creator to bring it all about in the best possible way.

And that is exactly the way it is coming about.
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