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Monday, June 30, 2008

Sarah Wrote...

So we are making Aliyah this August. I waited until the very last minute to break the news to my family. It went somewhat different than I thought. I expected great tears and sobs and much weeping, in actuality what I got was "What are you leaving behind that I can snatch up before the next person comes along asking ?". Good grief! As the time grows nearer I don't think there has been a day that someone hasn't called to ask about the car, the weed eater, the microwave etc. One relative actually commented " man I feel like you are dying and we are divvying up all your stuff ". How sentimental!

We decided not to take a lift, much to the relatives advantage. We are only taking clothes and various sentimental items. They are happy to know we can't fit the bread machine and the chain saw in our 62 inch 70 pound luggage. So today sister-in-law carried off my dresser, a few small kitchen items and one fragrance lamp. I'm glad to know they all love me for my brains.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Mainlining Zionism

Shalom Folks,

I am in the States right now and will speaking in a few venues - you are invited to attend:


When: Sunday, June 29th 2:00-3:00pm
At the 1st World Conference of the Noahide Nations

Where: Ft. Lauderdale Airport Hilton Hotel
1870 Griffin Road
Dania, FL. 33004
Phone 954-920-3300

Topic: "INR Support for Future of The Noahide Movement"


When: Thursday July 3rd at 8:30pm
Where: Passaic NJ, Ahavas Israel Congregation 181 Van Houtan Ave

Topic: "How is a Jew to Celebrate The 4th of July?"


When: Sunday, July 6 at 7:30pm
Where: Baltimore, MD, Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Congregation
7000 Rockland Hills Drive

Topic: "Aliyah to Israel: A Modern Haven or Mandated From Heaven?"


More dates may follow. Hope to see you at one of these events!


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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Same city... Two different worlds

Two interesting events occurred today in Jerusalem, both of which merited mass police security and the streets being closed off... the gay pride parade and accompanying counter-protest. Since these occurrences have in the past sparked sharp criticism going both ways I decided this year I would go to both and check things out for myself.

First and foremost I would like to say that people in both gatherings seemed to be very mellow and there were no signs of violence or extremism from what I saw. Though I've heard gay parades in places such as America can tend to be extremely vulgar, there was nothing I saw that I would say was overtly offensive (unless one happens to be offended by gays in which case the whole event would be cause for slighted feelings). For the most part it was people carrying signs and rainbow flags with a few shouting rhyming chants. An exception would be a group of youths all in red carrying red soviet hammer and sickle flags and one girl in the group wearing picture of Lenin on her shirt. What communism has to do with homosexuality is beyond me, but nobody else seemed to notice or at least care.

Much more troubling than the behavior of the parade goers (which was much more mellow than I had expected) was that of the police who saw fit to talk to me several different times. Since I was just going to observe and not arouse any controversy I specifically dressed up in non-religious clothing but apparently the beard gave my disguise away. Upon requesting me to take my baseball cap off and seeing I had peos (sidelocks) underneath I was rejected from entering at that point and instructed to enter in a different location while other non-religious people were allowed to come and go as the pleased. Once inside the pre-parade gathering I was approached by undercover police, asked for identification and asked if I was religious and what I was doing there. Later on as the parade was underway, an plainclothes officer asked me where I was from although he left it at that. While I understand there were concerns that there might be people sneaking into the crowd who wished to disrupt the event and possibly even cause violence, I was still a little unnerved by the police-state like feel.

Next I ventured into Kikar Shabbat in the heart of Charedi Meah Shearim to check out the counter-protest. While people were displaying banners, some of which were extremely sharply-worded, the atmosphere itself was even more docile than the parade. There were several hundred people gathered before a platform in which a small older man was speaking through a large speaker system leading Slichot prayers.

I feel the contrast between these two gatherings is indicative of a greater diversity throughout Israeli society at large. Regardless of political and religious/moral beliefs, I found the marked differences between participants taking place so close to each other (a ten minute walk apart) fascinating. The parade was full of rainbow colors and a variety of outfits. The protest uniform black and white suits (aside from a few sackcloths). The parade was filled with smiles and dance. The protest, mourning and heartfelt pleas for forgiveness. Even the physical dynamics- the parade a large leaderless mass traveling down the street while the protest was stationary, all focused on a stage and seemingly searching for the proper guidance. Both were groups of Jews taking time out of their day to stand up for what they believe is right and for their views of Jerusalem and what it should represent, yet what incredibly different views they both have.

One may say Jerusalem is confused, or even schizophrenic, but they can't say it's boring.

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Obama and Aliyah

Or maybe... Because America isn't so different after all...

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Weapons of Mass Production

Today's New York Times features an article entitled, "Cameras Emerge as a Tool in a Conflict Over Land". A more apt headline might have been, "Cameras Emerge as a Weapon in Conflict Over Land".

The story focuses on an initiative undertaken by B'Tselem, a controversial Israeli human rights organization, providing Arabs living throughout Judea and Samaria with video cameras enabling them to document violent attacks against them.

The article then shares with us the immediate success of the initiative:
Muna Nawajaa, one of the two wives of a Palestinian shepherd from Khirbet Susiya, used a handheld video camera to film what appeared to be masked Jewish settlers viciously beating members of her family with clubs — images that have since been broadcast by news networks all over the world.

Mrs. Nawajaa, 24, said it was the first scene she had filmed.
Alongside this quote is the picture featured above, with the caption:
A still image from the video that Muna Nawajaa recorded of the attack. The men at the right appear to be Jewish settlers.
Similar language is found throughout the article.
Sitting on the floor of a tent in the family’s encampment in mid-June, Imran Nawajaa, 33, a nephew of Khalil Nawajaa, recalled the morning of the attack. He said he was out tending a flock with his young sons when two masked settlers rode up on a tractor and ordered him, in Hebrew, to leave.
And again,
The camera captured four lean men, their heads swathed in colorful cloth, striding toward the farmers, clubs in hand. In the background are the whitewashed, red-roofed houses of the settlement.
Now, what is it about the masked men in the picture above that makes them appear to be "settlers"?

Are there no other people in all of Israel who know how to say "leave" in Hebrew, aside from the Jews of Hebron?

Is it not possible that those against the presence of Jews throughout Judea and Samaria, whether out of political or ideological motivations, could have simply put on masks and carried out the actions described in the article, knowing full well that their actions were being filmed and would be broadcast around the world, further demonizing those referred to as "settlers"?
“The only weapon we have is the media,” said Khalil Nawajaa...
And it is a role that the media seemingly embraces, as can be seen from the fact that Isabel Kershner, who wrote the article for the New York Times, doesn't include any response from the Jewish community of Hebron regarding the incident in question.

In the end, we are left with an article presuming guilt on members of the Jewish community of Hebron, with little actual evidence to back it up, aside from the fact that the masked men spoke Hebrew, and the incident took place with a "settlement" in the background.

At this point, it hardly matters whether the masked men were "settlers" or not, because the guilty verdict has already been handed down by an international media willingly allowing itself to be used as a weapon of mass production against the Jewish State, in order to drive the Jewish people from their Homeland.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Jerusalem's bridge striking some "chords" with the public

Anyone who's been paying attention to Jerusalem has noticed the Chords bridge, the "uniquely" designed suspension bridge being built over the entrance to the city. I personally thought for quite a while that it looked utterly ridiculous until somebody showed me a specific angle from a specific spot under the bridge at which you can see the support cables forming a beautiful spiral. I think that's an apt metaphor for the situation described in the following article on Ynet News by Ronen Medzini- at first glance it looks like a bunch of Jews finding yet another thing to fight over. Look a little closer and you can find the beauty in the ruckus... Where else in the world does the public get vocally offended by a construction project that ends up breaking Shabbos? And where else would the company and government actually express regret and do something to hold people accountable? Even amid the bickering and problems here one can see the people of Israel inching closer to Moshiach.
The construction of the new Chords Bridge leading into Jerusalem caused controversy in the city's municipal meeting Sunday, as several of City Hall's coalition members were enraged by reports suggesting several construction workers were spotted working on Shabbat.

The bridge, which is supposed to carry the city's new light train, has been under construction for the past three years. Jerusalem's coalition members believed the some of the work was done on Shabbat in order to finish it in time for Wednesday's inauguration ceremony.

"Not only is it not worth it, it offended many people's emotions, both religious and secular," Shmuel Yitzhaky, a Shas Jerusalem councilman told Ynet Monday.

"The fact that the Jerusalem municipality sponsored this work is very grave. For what? For a ceremony? There is no reason what so ever to finish it of Shabbat."
Yitzhaky also said he believed the work was sanctioned by Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski. The people in City Hall, he added, "are only concerned with their jobs and don't care about the coalition."

Yehoshua Mor Yosef, spokesman for the Moria Company, which was tasked with the bridge's construction and who issued a statement on behalf of both Moria and the Jerusalem Municipality, said that the company sees the incident as severe.

Moreover, "The company has decided to immediately relieve the project's foreman and the construction's supervisor of their duties in order to make sure this kind of mishap never happens again."

Mor Yosef further denied Lupolianski's involvement in the decision to finish the project on Shabbat: "The mayor had no knowledge about any activities which were carried out in violation of the building contract, which clearly stipulates that, no work should be done on the bridge on Shabbat. The construction workers involved were Arab's hired by a sub-contractor, who sent them to the site against orders."

The inauguration ceremony itself has encountered some objections in the city council: Nir Bareket, who heads the municipality's opposition, slammed the costs – estimated as NIS 2 million (approximately $600,000) as unnecessarily extravagant.

"These public funds should have found their way to more important causes, such as schools and the city's beautification," he said.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Aliyah - Can You Survive?

A new reality show about the Zionist Dream in the 21st century
Highlight Films is currently in the pre-production phase of a new extreme, reality show about eight young extraordinary olim (new immigrants to Israel) who have chosen to begin their lives again in this extraordinary land. They will live and compete against one another through various extreme missions that mirror the different challenges olim faced building the State of Israel and eventually one will be crowned the Ultimate Oleh. This winner will be granted a golden ticket into Israeli society with a luxury apartment facing the beach in Tel Aviv, a brand new car, a dream job, and many more amenities to make for the ultimate Aliyah. For more information, go to:

For more information, email at

If you or someone you know is interested in participating in this groundbreaking new series that will air on Israeli television and be available globally through the internet, please Click Here to Apply

Contestants must be committed to making Aliyah to Israel and be fluent in English with little to no knowledge of Hebrew. Production is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2008.

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The Peace of the Weak

In my previous post, I proposed a paradigm shift when it came to Israel achieving peace with her neighbors.

Today, there was yet another reminder that the current leadership of Israel still has not understood that the old model of achieving peace, through displaying weakness before one's enemies, is not working.

Israeli delegation to regional conference on economic cooperation refused entry into Jordan
The Israeli delegation to the regional conference in Jordan on the subject of economic cooperation, organized by the Netanya Academic College, was refused entry into Jordan at the Allenby crossing earlier today.

As a result, the Director General of the Tourism Ministry, Shaul Tzemach, will be unable to participate in the tourism panel scheduled for tomorrow, as outlined in the Tourism Ministry press release distributed earlier today.
Of course, Jordan is one of two Arab countries with whom Israel has signed a formal peace treaty, and little is likely to change in the wake of this insult.

In truth, Jordan;s behavior towards Israel's Director General of the Ministry of Tourism is not surprising. After all, according to Jordanian law, a Jew may not own land nor attain citizenship in Jordan.

What is surprising, however, is how the Jewish State of Israel could ever have believed it possible to have peace (normal relations / co-existence) with a country whose hatred of the Jewish people is so deeply ingrained.

If we desire the respect of others, we must first have respect for ourselves (our history, Heritage, Land and People).

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Peace Process Paradigm Shift

Over the weekend, Syrian deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad stated that Syria has "other options to liberate the Golan," should the peace talks ongoing with Israel fail to achieve the desired Syrian outcome.

Or, as the headline from the Jerusalem Post put it: Syria: Peace isn't the only way to get Golan

That may be so, but Syria would be wise to remember that peace isn't the only way for Israel to attain quiet along her borders. Eventually, there will come a time when the leadership of the Jewish State will understand that, as well.

Contrary to what many believe, all those living in Israel want peace, it's just a question of the best way of achieving it.

If I were ever elected Prime Minister of Israel, I would be prepared to pursue peace with all of Israel's neighbors.

During these peace talks, I would show the map featured above, featuring one opinion of the ultimate borders of the Land of Israel, based on their description in the Bible.

I would make it clear that Israel is prepared to live in peace with all of her Arab neighbors, until the Messiah comes, in the small area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Peace, meaning that you leave us alone, and we will leave you alone.

However, it would be made clear that should any hostilities arise against the Jewish State or People from any area on the map included in the ultimate borders of Israel, then Israel would enter those areas, liberate them, and incorporate them into the Jewish State - never to leave them.

Sure enough, Syria happens to appear on the map.

Of course, being a moderate that values peace, I do not advocate pressing the claim of the Jewish people to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, or any of the other countries presently neighboring Israel.

I imagine that it would not take long for Israel's neighbors to learn that concessions are not Israel's only method for attaining peace, and such a realization by the Arab's might even bring lasting peace to the region.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Obama's Speech at AIPAC

Shalom Yishai,

I have only heard snipits of Obama's speech at AIPAC. It is hard for me to believe what he said are his true feeling. Yes, his speech sounded very favorable to Israel and the Jews. Simply, Obama was fishing for Jewish votes. For 20 years this man sat in a church listening to Rev. Wright and his very anti-semitic sermons. How could he stay other than under belief of agreement? In the past, I attended a church and became a member of that church because of agreement of that church. Later as I systematically studied the scriptures I found the importance of G-d's land and His people. As the truth of the scriptures was revealed to me the truth of the true anti-Jewish nature of this pastor was also revealed to me. I could not stay with this church and feel comfortable. It took me a matter of weeks to make my decision to leave ---- not 20 years! Remember, Obama's reason for leaving his church (of 20 years) was to take the media heat off of that church not the teachings of Rev. Wright. So I do not believe his speech came from his heart but his drive to become president. Yet so many American Jews continue to support him --- how sad! The one thing we can count on is HaShem is in control........

Good Shabbos, Geri

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Isaiah's Wail

For the first time since 1967, the Isaiah Scroll (pictured above), is on display at the Israel Museum, in Jerusalem.

The 2,100 year old scroll is the only complete scroll of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in the Qumran caves within the Judean desert, in 1947, and represents the oldest biblical manuscript in existence - dating back 1,000 years prior to the next oldest biblical manuscript, the Aleppo Codex.

The reason for the scroll having been kept from the public for so long is the concern over the effects that light and humidity will have on the very delicate scroll.

With Isaiah's Scroll finally seeing the light of day, here is a golden opportunity to, 1) strengthen the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. After all, this is very same Isaiah who was walking around Jerusalem, when the 1st Holy temple stood upon the Temple Mount, defending the unity of Jerusalem against those (Assyrians) who sought to destroy her.

And, 2) to celebrate the vitality of Judaism and the Jewish people. Here we are, in the very same places the Isaiah walked, among the descendants of those very Jews who lived in Israel (Judea) during that time. We are one nation, with one Homeland, keeping the same traditions and Torah, and in many ways, facing the same challenges that the Jewish people faced thousands of years ago, during Isaiah's lifetime.

Instead, what is being focused upon is Isaiah's message of "universal peace," and the scroll's relevance to all people.

However, is this an accurate representation of Isaiah's prophecy?

Those answering in the affirmative will quickly cite the verse that adorns the Isaiah Wall outside of the United Nations, which speaks of the messianic vision of peace:
"They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." (Isaiah 2; 4)
However, before we concede this point to the universalists, let us cite the complete prophecy, of which the above verse represents only a small segment.

"The prophecy that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw, concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

It will happen in the end of days, that the mountain of the Temple of Hashem will be firmly established as the head of the mountains, and it will be exalted above the hills; and all nations will stream to it. And many nations will go and say: 'Come, and let us go up to the Mountain of Hashem, to the Temple of the G-d of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.' For from Zion will the Torah come forth, and the word of Hashem from Jerusalem. And He will judge among the nations, and will settle the arguments of many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Isaiah 2; 1-4)
When looking at this particular prophecy of Isaiah in its complete context, it is very clear that the Messianic vision of universal peace is preceded by a few things:
  1. The Jewish people will have complete sovereignty over Israel, in general, and over Jerusalem, in particular.
  2. At the center of Jerusalem will stand, on the Temple Mount, the Holy Temple.
  3. The nations of the world will recognize the truth and righteousness of the teachings of the G-d of Israel, and will stream to Jerusalem to learn and live by them.
  4. The nations of the world will stand before G-d in judgment for their actions, and justice will be meted out.
And, only then, after all of the above have taken place, will the vision for universal peace transpire.

With Israel finally bringing the Isaiah Scroll to light, perhaps it's time that we do the same for Isaiah's teachings, and in doing so, merit witnessing their fulfillment.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Putting it on the Line for Jerusalem

There are no shortage of people in this world who have opinions, and that is doubly true within the Jewish people.

Much rarer is the individual who is prepared to stand behind those opinions - those beliefs - when they are not popular, and when it places one squarely within the minority.

King David, who, throughout his life, embodied such a quality, wrote in Tehillim (119; 46):
I will also speak of Your (G-d's) testimonies before kings, and shall not be ashamed.
Recently, over 100 million people had the opportunity to witness a more modern example of such conviction...

Dr. Mordechai Keidar, a professor at Bar Ilan University's Dept. for Arabic Studies was recently interviewed by Al-Jazeera's top journalist, Jamal Rayyan. (The interview can be found above).

In the interview, Keidar was asked if Israel's decision to continue building throughout Jerusalem - in areas over the "Green Line" - represented the metaphorical nail in the coffin for the peace process.

Keidar responded:
"To tell you the truth I don't quite understand this. Must Israel ask permission from some other authority in the world? It has been our capital for 3,000 years. We have been there since the time your forefathers used to drink wine, bury their daughters alive, and pray to multiple gods.

So then, why must we speak about this? It has been our city for 3,000 years and will be for eternity."
Rayyan then asserted Islam's claim to Jerusalem, as stated in the Koran. To which Keidar responded that Jerusalem is not mentioned even a single time in the Koran.

Rayyan decided to try a different approach:
"Let's talk politics, please. Doesn't this decision oppose the Road Map, which determines that Israel will halt construction of the settlements in Jerusalem?"
To which Keidar responded:
"The Road Map does not mention Jerusalem. Jerusalem is outside of negotiations. Jerusalem belongs to the Jews, Period! We cannot discuss Jerusalem in any way. You return to this issue time and again, but Jerusalem is not referred to in the Road Map. My brother, go and read the Road Map...

My brother, Israel does not involve itself in housing that Qatar constructs in the Qatar Peninsula. What do you want with Jerusalem? Jerusalem is ours for eternity and no one, not Al-Jazeera or anyone else, has any say in it. Jerusalem is solely a Jewish city and no one else has any connection to it."
How refreshing to see how one can assert the right of the Jewish people to a Jewish state in Israel, not through apologetics and guilt, but out of conviction and pride. To know that our right to a Jewish state in Israel is not limited to history dating back 60 years - to the Holocaust - but that our connection to this Land predates that of the Christians or Muslims by thousands of years.

And to do so in front of 100 million viewers who don't agree with a word of what you're saying...

King David would be proud.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Nicely Said!

Thomas Friedman's newest NYT article puts it succinctly:

Question: What do America’s premier investor, Warren Buffett, and Iran’s toxic president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have in common? Answer: They’ve both made a bet about Israel’s future.

Ahmadinejad declared on Monday that Israel “has reached its final phase and will soon be wiped out from the geographic scene.”

By coincidence, I heard the Iranian leader’s statement on Israel Radio just as I was leaving the headquarters of Iscar, Israel’s famous precision tool company, headquartered in the Western Galilee, near the Lebanon border. Iscar is known for many things, most of all for being the first enterprise that Buffett bought overseas for his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway.

Buffett paid $4 billion for 80 percent of Iscar and the deal just happened to close a few days before Hezbollah, a key part of Iran’s holding company, attacked Israel in July 2006, triggering a monthlong war. I asked Iscar’s chairman, Eitan Wertheimer, what was Buffett’s reaction when he found out that he had just paid $4 billion for an Israeli company and a few days later Hezbollah rockets were landing outside its parking lot.

Buffett just brushed it off with a wave, recalled Wertheimer: “He said, ‘I’m not interested in the next quarter. I’m interested in the next 20 years.’ ” Wertheimer repaid that confidence by telling half his employees to stay home during the war and using the other half to keep the factory from not missing a day of work and setting a production record for the month. It helps when many of your “employees” are robots that move around the buildings, beeping humans out of the way.

So who would you put your money on? Buffett or Ahmadinejad? I’d short Ahmadinejad and go long Warren Buffett.

Why? From outside, Israel looks as if it’s in turmoil, largely because the entire political leadership seems to be under investigation. But Israel is a weak state with a strong civil society. The economy is exploding from the bottom up. Israel’s currency, the shekel, has appreciated nearly 30 percent against the dollar since the start of 2007.

The reason? Israel is a country that is hard-wired to compete in a flat world. It has a population drawn from 100 different countries, speaking 100 different languages, with a business culture that strongly encourages individual imagination and adaptation and where being a nonconformist is the norm. While you were sleeping, Israel has gone from oranges to software, or as they say around here, from Jaffa to Java.

The day I visited the Iscar campus, one of its theaters was filled with industrialists from the Czech Republic, who were getting a lecture — in Czech — from Iscar experts. The Czechs came all the way to the Israel-Lebanon border region to learn about the latest innovations in precision tool-making. Wertheimer is famous for staying close to his customers and the latest technologies. “If you sleep on the floor,” he likes to say, “you never have to worry about falling out of bed.”

That kind of hunger explains why, in the first quarter of 2008, the top four economies after America in attracting venture capital for start-ups were: Europe $1.53 billion, China $719 million, Israel $572 million and India $99 million, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. Israel, with 7 million people, attracted almost as much as China, with 1.3 billion.

Boaz Golany, who heads engineering at the Technion, Israel’s M.I.T., told me: “In the last eight months, we have had delegations from I.B.M., General Motors, Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart visiting our campus. They are all looking to develop R & D centers in Israel.”

Ahmadinejad professes not to care about such things. He was — to put it in American baseball terms — born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. Because oil prices have gone up to nearly $140 a barrel, he feels relaxed predicting that Israel will disappear, while Iran maintains a welfare state — with more than 10 percent unemployment.

Iran has invented nothing of importance since the Islamic Revolution, which is a shame. Historically, Iranians have been a dynamic and inventive people — one only need look at the richness of Persian civilization to see that. But the Islamic regime there today does not trust its people and will not empower them as individuals.

Of course, oil wealth can buy all the software and nuclear technology you want, or can’t develop yourself. This is not an argument that we shouldn’t worry about Iran. Ahmadinejad should, though.

Iran’s economic and military clout today is largely dependent on extracting oil from the ground. Israel’s economic and military power today is entirely dependent on extracting intelligence from its people. Israel’s economic power is endlessly renewable. Iran’s is a dwindling resource based on fossil fuels made from dead dinosaurs.

So who will be here in 20 years? I’m with Buffett: I’ll bet on the people who bet on their people — not the people who bet on dead dinosaurs.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sefer Torah procession in Beit HaKarem

Recently there was a ceremony to celebrate a new sefer Torah being brought to the retirement home in the Beit HaKarem neighborhood in Jerusalem. The procession from the center of the neighborhood to the retirement home in and of itself was a great time as there were people of all ages, men and women, frum to secular, coming to join in as well as a live band and much dancing. Unlike America in which our elderly are unfortunately too often put away in the cupboard to be taken out and visited at our convenience so to speak, the residents of the retirement home benefited from all sorts of members of the community taking part in their simcha. But what made this event really incredible? The fact that when the Beit HaKarem neighborhood was founded in 1922, its charter forbade any buildings of a religious nature from existing in the neighborhood. It may have taken several decades, but now this once "devoutly" secular community is home to both a synagogue as well as a yeshiva. In a beautiful twist of irony, the procession of the sefer Torah went right past the building that still houses this charter, almost slapping it in the face with the reality of how times have and continue to change. The land of Israel and its people are waking up to the Torah, come join the excitement.

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Merkaz HaRav - a flame that can't be extinguished

This last March Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav was the site of a gruesome arab attack against the heart and soul of religious Zionism. Yet just a few months later throngs of people showed up for their annual Yom Yerushalayim celebration. At one in the morning people filled the streets as the block was closed off and the sounds of singing and dancing could be heard in all the surrounding neighborhoods. No matter what tragedy our enemies may hurl at us, people like those at Merkaz HaRav show that the Jewish people are dedicating their lives to Hashem and our land and we won't be stopped or intimidated. Kol hakavod to all the bochurim and rebbeim there, may you only hear good news from now on.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Free Food!!

Reason #21,349,067 to be in Israel from June 17-19:

Kosher food festival coming to town
Prepare your stomachs for the kosher food festival in Petah Tikva, where you definitely won’t find shrimp in cream sauce, white meat or creamed spaghetti Bolognese
Yoav Friedman (Ynetnews)

If you don’t mix milk and meat and avoid pork or seafood, you probably skipped one, two, seven or 20 booths at the annual Tel Aviv food festival. However, on June 17-19 the first gourmet kosher food festival will take place in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv, where observant food lovers can eat to their heart's content.

The organizers of the festival taking place a few days prior to summer’s official beginning promise “a quality and kosher gastronomical experience.” The festival will include dozens of kosher restaurants and musical performances by some of Israel’s most popular singers.

Former MK Shaul Yahalom, one of the festival’s initiators, said that “everyone knows that kosher food in Israel is just as tasty, sophisticated and innovative as non-kosher food and there is no reason to be embarrassed by it.

"Kosher food eaters are not fully satisfied and don’t have an opportunity to enjoy all the food offered at all the other Israeli food festivals. So...we are initiating the first kosher gourmet festival in order to allow everyone the opportunity to enjoy a huge, quality-filled and enjoyable festival,” he added.

“Eating Kosher” will take place at Petah Tikva’s large park on June 17-19, 2008 between 18:00-23:00. Entrance is free.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

When Non-Jewish Friends Visit Beit El

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Beloved Princess

A story inspired by the tales of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and the teachings of Ramchal as well as several other sources:

There once was a kingdom in which lived a beautiful princess. She had a smile and a laugh that could melt the heart of anyone and she was very beloved by the people of her country. Everywhere she went she brought success and happiness to the people and she was the main source of blessing for the country. There was also a prince in the country, and the prince and the princess where very much in love with each other. It was assumed that when they became of age, they would eventually marry each other and rule over the nation as king and queen.

It happened that the prince started to become enticed and seduced by foreign princesses from other lands and began to chase after them. He neglected his own princess and abused her. Eventually it reached the point where she had to leave the palace. She decided to go into hiding, disguise herself, and blend in with the common people. After their beloved princess had left the palace the people of the country became very angry with the prince for being the cause of her leaving. They rose up against him, threw him out of the palace and forced him into exile.

After the prince and the princess had both left the palace great darkness and despair came upon the land. Gangs of wild man started invading and took over all the areas of the land. These men were very dangerous and not only robbed and murdered the people but often fought each other. Life became very difficult for the people of the land and especially for the princess. Used to a life of having catered food, the finest clothes and jewelry, and her every need met, she now had to become accustomed to not knowing where her next meal was coming from and if there would be a roof over her head or not. She never know if she could trust somebody who claimed they were trying to help her of if they may just be trying to take advantage of her and she had to be on the look out for the gangs of wild men.

Things went on like this for many years until eventually the princess grew up into a woman, and the prince grew up to become a man. The prince decided the time had come for him to retake his place at the head of the nation so he mustered his strength and gathered his friends to him and started a war campaign against the wild men to take back his land. Though he and his allies were few and their enemies great, they fought bravely and great miracles occurred for them and they obtained many victories. Soon the prince had reconquered many of his cities and much of his land.

As the prince was walking through one of the reclaimed cities he chanced upon a woman in the shuk. She was very filthy, dressed in rags with natty hair and a face covered with dirt. This woman was his princess from years ago and when she saw him she turned away in shame so that she wouldn't be recognized, but he stopped her, lifted her face and looked deep into her eyes. Though he could barely recognize her, there was something vague yet deep within him that told him this could be her. He told her, “I'm reclaiming my land, I invite you to be first among my wives and sit as queen to the country next to me on the throne.” She replied, “Do you expect me to accept such an offer? You cannot begin to comprehend the pain and suffering you have caused me for all these years. I've spent a lifetime banished from my home in the palace and trying to survive in hiding. How I've yearned to return to my rightful place and now you offer me a show marriage as just another wife in order to advance your cause? I refuse.”

The prince left her and continued his campaign. He and his allies fought a great battle against the wild men and benefited from more great miracles resulting in them capturing the capital city. The prince returned to the palace and sat on the throne to reign as king but the people wouldn't rally behind him. They claimed, “Where is our beloved princess that you caused to leave? Without her as queen we cannot accept you as our king.” The prince was in a dangerous situation as, though he had had great victories, there were still many enemies in the land and without the support of the people it would only be a matter of time before he would be defeated. He was very worried as he knew, this time he would not only once again lose his kingdom, but also his life itself. The prince finally realized that he must be back together with his princess for without her he would never be able to fulfill his destiny properly. He sent for her to be brought to the palace and cleaned off in the royal baths. She was then dressed with fine garments and expensive jewelry, as well as being covered with beautiful perfumes. As soon as the dirt was cleaned off of the princess, suddenly her original beauty came back and radiated from her as before. The prince renounced all the other princess he had sought after and proclaimed his undivided love only for her. He spent countless nights wooing her with poetry and love songs, and profusely apologizing for having ever caused her harm. After much sincere and hard work, the princess's heart began to turn and as she rediscovered her love for the prince, eventually forgiving him for what he had done.

It happened that once the prince had won back his princess's heart, they became married to each other. The people rallied behind them and they took their place on the thrown as united king and queen. They drove all the enemies from the land and ruled in peace and prosperity all their days.

So just who is this princess? She is the shechinah, often understood as Hashem's divine presence in the world. On a deeper level, the Shechinah corresponds in the sefirot to the lowest sefirah of Malchut. Malchut is a feminine sefirah as it is a kli which gathers Hashem's divine light from all the other sefirot and manifests it into this world. That is the relationship between the masculine and the feminine- the masculine gives potential and the feminine gathers the potential and actualizes it into a reality, as with a man who can give seed to a woman with DNA in it that maps out the possibility of an entire human being, and then the woman's body takes that potential seed and forms it into an actual person. Just as Malchut takes all the power of Hashem's divine light and pours it forth into the world as actual blessing, so too the princess was the source of blessing for the whole country.

The prince of the story is the Jewish people. Am Yisrael and the Shechinah are husband and wife and that is why the prince and the princess were destined to be joined together. Just as the prince chased after foreign princesses and ended up driving his own princess away, the Jews used to be united in Eretz Yisrael with the Shechinah but chose to chase after idolatry driving the Shechinah away (as we continue to do with our varied sins today). The people of the country represent Eretz Yisrael, and just like they couldn't accept the prince without the princess and drove him out as well, once the Jewish people rejected the Shechinah the land spewed them out, and it's taught that when the Jewish people went into exile, the Shechinah went as well. When all this happened the land went into darkness and was taken over by gangs of wild men. In the land of Israel, various nations have spent the last several thousand years conquering it, losing it, and sometimes reconquering it. The last group of “wild men” to now be in the land are currently the muslims, descendants of Ishmael. In Sefer Bereshit Hashem refers to Ishmael saying he will be a wild man in constant conflict with others.

But the princess never actually left, she just went into hiding. So too the Shechinah never actually left the world but just became very hidden. She may have been covered in dirt and rags, yet underneath all that, her true beauty was present all along, and as soon as it was able to be revealed it shone forth. Ramchal teaches of this with the Shechinah in his sefer Mishkney Elyon. All things that exist in the lower world have a corresponding counterpart in the upper spiritual realms. Jacob was called Jacob, but had a higher spiritual reality to him known is Israel. In this world we have Jerusalem, and in the upper realms there is Tzion. The Ramchal teaches this is also true of the temple, in which there is a physical temple on earth and a corresponding one in the heavens. When the first temple stood, the corresponding upper temple lined up in design with it perfectly and that's why the Shechinah could dwell there, as opposed to the second temple in which it did not rest. Why is this? Because once the first temple was destroyed the heavenly one was as well, and immediately a new one was built. However the design of this one didn't match up with the physical design of the second in this world and therefore it was destined to not stand forever. So what does this upper temple correspond to in design? Ramchal teaches it is to be the third temple, and that when the proper tikkun olam is performed and the upper worlds become unified with the lower worlds it will come down through the worlds to manifest itself here in this world. At that point we will simply build a corresponding physical building around it.

With this we can now better understand the hidden but always present beauty of the princess which once it was revealed shone forth as before and prepared her to bring the blessings to her people again. The third temple, which will be the source of Malchut/Shechinah to bring blessing into this world is already here, just hidden in the upper worlds, but once it becomes revealed in this world will radiate G-dliness to everything in existence.

The prince's coming of age and conquest of the country represents the Jewish people's return to the land of Israel and founding of the modern state with it's courages battles and many miraculous victories. Though the prince wasn't looking for his princess and his main goal was to rally the people behind him and reign as king (as secular Zionism wasn't concerned with a return to Torah but simply to create a modern Jewish state within the land), once he had started his quest he chanced upon the princess. He could barely recognize her for she was still very hidden but something deep within him remembered her. As we have come back to this land G-d's presence has been calling us and almost every Jew who visits or lives in the land now can feel at least a hint of these stirrings in their heart.

Why did the prince and princess need to be united in marriage as king and queen before their destiny could be fulfilled? Within a person, there is both male and female aspects. In a proper relationship, the man will bring the femininity out of a woman and the woman will bring the masculinity out of a man. When they are together properly each one brings out the essence of the other. Furthermore, animals have relations with the female's back facing the male while human beings have relations face to face. The ten sefirot are within a person's body and like in the sefirot, the left side of a person is gevura while the right side is chesed. When a man and a woman come face to face with each other, their bodies are reversed (meaning one's left side is facing the other's right and their right is facing the other's left). Thus, the man's chesed attaches to the woman's gevura and his gevura to her chesed, and they create an all around tiferet – the beautiful balance.

Yet at first the prince wasn't interested in winning back the heart of the princess. It was only after he couldn't gain complete success in rallying the people and realized that without her in his life he would soon lose his kingdom and his life to his enemies that he figured out that his destiny was interwoven with hers. We may have made very big strides in Israel today, yet for all we've accomplished we still can not stamp out the threat of our enemies and over time the threat they pose to us just gets bigger and bigger until now we have those sworn to kill us surrounding us on all sides, some of them even pursuing nuclear weapons which will only take a mater of time to obtain. As the prince realized he needed the princess, we need to realize we will never make it on our own in this country without G-d's help and the Shechinah in our presence no matter what kind of allies or military strength we may think we possess.

When the prince first asked the princess to marry him he hadn't renounced the other princesses he had sought after and was only interested in the union in as much as it helped him. He was looking for a union akin the animal level where the female may be turned away but the male does not care because he is simply seeking his pleasure, rather than a human union of facing each other in which both mutually want to draw the other into themselves and then may line up correctly spiritually as well as physically. The princess refused because he hadn't worked to fix the damage to her he had caused and show her he really loved her. Therefore, to reveal the Shechinah in this world and bring about the ultimate union between G-d's presence and the Jewish people, we will need to put in much hard work, and with the threats we are faced with we do not have any other options. The time has come for us to let our own princess know how sorry we are for what we have done by doing t'shuva (repentence) for the sins we have committed and denouncing the “foreign princesses” of westernism, secularism, assimilation, and any other mentality or school of thought we have latched onto which is not rooted in Torah (and on a more simple level our desires for sins). As the prince had to woo his princess back to earn her love, we need to commit ourselves to Hashem and make His presence revealed in the world by trying our best to love Him and never leave Him again. May we have success in doing this and realizing our national destiny soon and in our times.

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Shmittah Calendar: Month of Sivan 5768

The month of Sivan begins Tuesday night!

The following list is not fully comprehensive at all but includes some common everyday produce most people use. It is largely based on Rabbi Marcus's "Shmittah 5768: A Pratical Guide" (which we recommend you order for yourself here) and other sources. For more information on what these dates mean see here.

Kedushat Shevi'it Starts

On 1 Sivan:


On 10 Sivan:


On 24 Sivan:


Additionally Kedushat Shevi'it for these items remains in effect (with *ed items already in Sefichim):

Butternut Squash*
Cabbage (Red)*
Corn (Fresh)*
Medlar (Shesek)
Peas (in pod)*
Pepper (Jalapeno)*
Plums (Japanese Round)
Sweet Potatoes*
Zucchini (Squash)*

Kedushat Shevi'it Ends

There are no items that Kedushat Shevi'it ends this month.
Sefichim Begins

On 1 Sivan:

Sweet Potatoes

On 10 Sivan:


On 15 Sivan:

Butternut Squash

Additionally Sefichim remain in effect for the following:

Cabbage (Red)
Corn (Fresh)
Peas in Pod
Pepper (Jalapeno)
Zucchini (Squash)

Sefichim Ends

There are no items that Sefichim ends this month.

On 1 Sivan:

Medlar (Shesak)
Peas in Pod

Note: The following items already required Biur:

On 1 Shevat 5768:

On 14 Adar Bet 5768:
Sweet Potatoes

On 15 Iyar:


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