Tuesday, February 28, 2006

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What are we witnessing here?

Ha Sefaradi commented - Akiva: What are we witnessing here? Our brother in France beaten to death? Synagogues flattened (Tajikistan) and rabbis beaten to death in Uzbekistan? Worldwide reluctance to contain Ishmael?

It is this that has stood by our ancestors and us: It is not only one that has risen up against us to destroy us; rather, in every generation, they rise against us to annihilate us. But the Holy One blessed be He saves us from their hand. - Passover Haggadah

Ha Sefardi, we are witnessing them rising against us.

Update: BrooklynHabiru comments that a traffic accident news report today was actually the murder of a Chabad chossid and father of 3 shot while moving his mini-van in Crown Heights last night.

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No Surprise, But Saddened

It was no surprise for me to start reading about financial support for Hamas, after all, having invested fully in the god of democracy, one wouldn't want to let facts get in the way of one's stand. But it does sadden me that so many are so foolish or so narrow in their views (and that assumes they have good motives).

The American administration is satisfied about the European decision to transfer 120 million euros to the Palestinians. In a communiqué from the State Department, Washington declared that '' this shows the effectiveness of our collabration.'' - Guysen Israël News (among other similar stories)

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Monday, February 27, 2006

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Video: Memorial for Tortured Jew in France

Video Memorial: Ilan Halimi, French Jew tortured to death.

I received this video link of the funeral procession for Ilan Halimi, zt"l, the French Jew who was kidnapped and brutally tortured for weeks until finally being murdered by a Muslim gang in France.

He died in the name of his religion and in the name of HaKodesh Baruch Hu, the Holy One, Blessed Be He.

They tortured and murdered in the name of theirs.

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Noteworthy Sanhedrin News

About a month ago R. Nati was travelling to Tzfat (Safed) and stopped by Teveria (Tiberious) on the way to visit a friend. The friend mentioned the Sanhedrin was meeting and they could get in as observers, which they did.

At this meeting, R. Nati told me that Dr. Vendyl Jones (archeologist searching for items from the Beis HaMikdash, the holy Jewish Temple) was at this particular meeting handing over to the Sanhedrin the Shemen Afarshimon (annointing oil), the Ketores (incense), and (if R. Nati heard correctly) ashes of the Para Adumah!

(Dr. Jones has a more in depth write up of the ashes here, but doesn't state that they were found.)

The Sanhedrin now has the physical tools in hand to do their spiritual job at the moment of the geulah. This has never happened before in our history (since the destruction of the 2nd Beis HaMikdash, great Jewish Temple of G-d in the year 70, common era secular calendar).

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

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Which World?

syomynona commented: I don't doubt that the Rebbe was a Gadol. But I missed the point here. It didn't seem that this was the only thing that the man saw. It was the only thing that the man saw that bothered him. I think he makes a great point. Sometimes we get so caught up in the rush to do something "holy" that we trample other things that are "holy" and other people who are also "holy".

We live in a world where good and evil have become intermixed. Often in kabbalah and chassidus we discuss extracting the sparks, the tiny bits of good from the mundane, and elevating that with potential to be elevated.

Do you watch a video like this and see a scene of beautiful achdus (unity) and kedusha (holiness), or do you worry about the guys getting squeezed at the top of the stack?

Because both are true.

Do you see the synagogue so full of people striving to hear the words of Torah and experience the moment of unity that a couple of well used prayer books gets knocked down, or do you see an overcrowded facility not perfectly arranged and organized?

Because both are true. Which world do you live in?

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Friday, February 24, 2006

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Icky

My daughter said my blog colors were "icky". So I told her, you don't like it, you pick the new ones.

So she did! (With the help of Return of Design and Visibone.)

What do you think?

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

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To Look with a Good Eye, or Not

This story was told to me by an older chossid on Monday...

A man came to see the Rebbe (the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the grand rabbi of Chabad chassidus). During the course of his stay he was at several very crowded farbrengens (chassid gatherings of Torah talk, singing, and sharing) in 770 (the main synogogue of Chabad). With the thousands of people that crowd in for a farbrengen with the Rebbe, this man saw some siddurim (prayer books) knocked to the floor, and a few people elbowed out of the way. This bothered him very much.

Before departing for home, far away, he went to see the Rebbe. Because he was so bothered by what he saw, he told the Rebbe, "how can it be, in a synogogue, among chassidim, that holy books are knocked to the floor and someone gets knocked?"

The Rebbe responded, "What a waste of money. You came all this way, and that's all you saw?"

In a room full of thousands of inspired chassidim singing, deep Torah thoughts being given, prayers pounding the heavens, a person is focused on the floor?

Oy.


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Shrine of the Islamic Messiah Blown Up - Part 2

Well, it took a little while for the MSM to figure out what really was blown up, which I have here. But this tidbit just has to be pointed out:

President Bush pledged American help to restore the mosque after the bombing north of Baghdad, which dealt a severe blow to U.S. efforts to keep Iraq from falling deeper into sectarian violence.

"The terrorists in Iraq have again proven that they are enemies of all faiths and of all humanity," Bush said. "The world must stand united against them, and steadfast behind the people of Iraq."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair also condemned the bombing and pledged funds toward the shrine's reconstruction.
(report here)

So, assuming the country doesn't dissolve in to civil war, the West is going to rebuild the Shrine of the '12th Imam', the Shia Islamic messiah who is supposed to return to this world. Whoa.

Remember, keep your eyes on Basra.

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U.S. Politics: The Fools, Corrupt, and Disingenuous

Politics is like drinking. It's bad for you, but occasionally you have to do it, even though you know it's bad for you.

In the U.S., I associate more closely with the ideals of the Republican party than those of the Democrat party (as those ideals are identified today, 2006).

The Democrats, in my opinion, deal with international politics with a foolish naivete. Terrorism isn't taken seriously, crazed dictators are fiddled with, and the military and security are weakened to strengthen wide social agendas. (Clinton, however, did a good job on economics, tax and fiscal policy.)

But there's a point where pro-business hurts, and a point where it's corruption and disingenious. George Bush has just jumped the shark.

One would have thought that perhaps with the nomination of Miers President Bush displayed a bias to an alternate reality that none of us could see. And, in retrospect, that was indeed the case.

But in the case of renting U.S. port management to a Dubai company, which the President has decided to back with all his political might, one wonders what in the %&$^ is going on here? Who's been bought out, or who's being paid back? Public trust, yeck. National security (whether real or perceived), not a concern.

Dovbear, you're wrong, President George Bush is not an idiot or a fool. He's owned, or disingenuous, or worse (hidden agenda). But you're right, every Republican U.S. adminstration from Ronald Reagan forward has been a nightmare for Israel while lying to the face of the Jewish community in the U.S.

I support the ideals of the U.S. Republican party, but I no longer support either President Bush, his administration, or the Republican control of Congress (which has treated the U.S. budget as a piggy bank to be raided.)

Just to emphasize this change in thinking, it should be noted that I'm...

-> A member of the Republican National Committee
-> A member of the Republican Jewish Coalition
-> A member of Blogs for Bush
-> A member of GOP Bloggers

It's unlikely I'll still be a member of them next week.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

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Shrine of the Islamic Messiah Blown Up

SAMARRA, Iraq — A large explosion destroyed the golden dome of one of Iraq's most famous Shiite shrines Wednesday, (news report here)

I orginally titled this post "Islamic Respect for Religious Sites", as muslims blowing up the shrine or mosque of another group of muslims says something important that should be noted. The world will ignore that message, but at least you should hear it before you ignore it.

But, I was struck by the word "shrine" and wanted to know if this was a mosque or what? There's a very major significance here, as I've previously noted that the Haman of Iran (Haman is an ancient arch-type out to destroy the Jews and rise to greater and greater power) has spoken about the '12th Imam', the Shia Islamic messiah who is supposed to return to this world, and has reportedly spoken to him (or received messages from him or something like that).b

Shia's (type of Muslim's) believe that the (islamic prophet figure) left 12 rightful successors from his family line to follow in his role as political and spiritual leader of the Muslims.

Beneath the golden dome of one Samarra shrine are several graves of m's descendants, including those of (the 10th imam-leader) and his son (the 11th).

When the latter died at the end of AD 873, at the age of 28, he left a five-year-old son called muhammad as his designated successor.

To shield the young boy from his enemies, it is said he was hidden in the ice cellar beneath his father's house. By the start of the 13th century, the cave below the shrine in Samarra had become a place of great sanctity.

The "Hidden Imam" became known as the Imam al-Mahdi. He is believed by devout Shias to be the last of the original imams who will come again at the end of the world.

The second shrine has a dome marked by its delicate use of blue tiles, and beneath it is the cellar where the Imam is said to have disappeared.
(source AlJazeera here)

That's what was blown up today. (See it from above, here.)

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

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The Geulah is Close! Video Pronouncement

This geulah pronouncement is by Rabbi Benayhu Shmueli, shlita, head of the Yeshiva of Mekubalim (yeshiva of the kabbalists) Nahar Shalom:

(This is a translation of just the first 2 minutes, G-d willing the rest will be translated later today.)

Very soon the resurrection of the dead, Am Yisroel will rise again enclothed in bodies, but the body will be more spiritual, everything will be more spiritual, and the person will rise and rise and rise. You should know, the geulah (redemption) is close, close, close. This is no joke. Not a joking matter. The geulah is close! We will really really see, eye to eye, eye to eye, here it is! All the goyim (nations) will gather against Israel. Hamas, Iran, joining together. Who knows--Russia? All these countries...

You're waiting and waiting and waiting and hoping and hoping, because someone said something, and then nothing happens...

Video here. (Hebrew)

(Hat tip, Reb Nathan of Yiddishkeit.Org, Video from Hashem1.Net hebrew site.)

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Shut Up and Take Your Pill

A long time ago, there were boys who were different in school. They may have been a little extreme in their boyishness, or had trouble sitting still, or paying attention for too long. That's ok, schools coped, they learned, and their classmates learned how to deal with the pushy, and the inattentive, and the ones just a little weird.

Today, there's a narrow boundry of the 'normal' student. A little aggressive is not within it, very active is not within it, a lot of behaviors we would traditionally associate with 'boyishness' is no longer within the bounds of being normal.

Today, we want to make sure everyone can learn to the max. There's so much to cover we have to be intense about it. Interruptions, distractions, not being able to focus to the max is just not ok not normal.

This is the case whether in public school or yeshiva (Jewish school).

Not to worry, if your son in 2nd grade in yeshiva can't daven (pray) for 45 minutes straight (in a monotone no less), the yeshiva will inform you that appropriate medical care and a prescription will solve the problem. If in later grades he can't learn Gemora (Talmud) for 2 hours straight, not to worry, that prescription is waiting.

The school has shut down their ability to cope because the prescription is available.

That's the truly sad part of this story. Again, I'll say there are, G-d forbid, adults and children with a serious problem who need the serious help these drugs can offer. But there are many with a minor problem who have a choice between taking the prescription or being thrown out.

That's right, out. Sorry, no disruptions allowed. Now go take your pill and shut up about the loss of appetite, lack of sleep, excessive eye blinking, and brief uncontrollable emotional outburts.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

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Medicate Your Children, Click Here

If you look to the right you'll see the text sensitive Google Ads. This means the ads that appear are based on the text of the last couple of posts. Having posted about Ritalin yesterday, here's the list of ads today:

ADHD Treatment - 30 free pills, click here!
ADHD Warnings - Free lawsuit, click here!
ADHD Natural - No pills, plants instead, click here!
ADD Treatment - Biofeedback, click here, BZZZZZZZZZ.
Ritalin Online - Extra Cheap Pills, click here!
ADHD Info - News & info, click here!

Hmm, I wonder, could it be that instead of being primarily a medical concern that this has turned in to a major business? And since businesses are in the business of selling stuff, that they're busy CREATING a market?

(There are those who have serious problems who are seriously helped by these drugs. They're probably the minority of those taking them however. More on that later.)

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Israel Joins the Ritalin Revolution

It's amazing how once the pharmacutical companies focused on the problem of childhood Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity Disorder (aka ADD and/or ADHD) how much of it they found. Thank G-d we're focusing on this epidemic!

No longer do students in Israel need to be left out and suffer from this horrible disorder...

One can assume that the rate of Ritalin use among Israeli children will increase and even surpass that in the U.S.: Two years ago the Health Ministry initiated a campaign to encourage the use of Ritalin in schools.

The drug, which is prescribed for people diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), has become very popular in the past few years: Ritalin is being prescribed to 35,000 Israeli elementary and secondary school students annually, according to reports by the pharmaceutical division of the Ministry of Health. In the United States, about four million students, or nearly one child in every class, takes the drug.

That's just Ritalin. But there's now a whole host of medications addressing this epidemic, including Adderall, Concerta, Focalin, Stratera, among others.

And of course, that's just those students who are diagnosed as ADD. It doesn't begin to mention those who are nervous, or depressed, or oppositional, or hesitant, or or or...

(If you sense more than a hint of sarcasm above, you're senses are in good shape. There are those who have serious problems who are seriously helped by these drugs. But there are many who have much less serious problems who are being forced, more on that later.

And, G-d help us, many yeshiva's are at the FOREFRONT of this trend.)


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Sunday, February 19, 2006

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Meditative Paintings?

Arist PictureCheck out the kabbalah based artwork by Moshe Tzvi Berger at the Museum of Psalms and Meditation.

I've seen some of it up close (there's a couple prints up in our synogogue) and it's quite stunning.

Is this the sight of a man with vision and color and sight beyond what most of us see?

(The Museum has been added to my Kabbalah Art Links section.)

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Friday, February 17, 2006

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Divine Providence and a Good Eye

A powerful real life story of Divine Providence (divine arrangement of the world) and an Ayin Tov, a good eye (as opposed to an Ayin HaRa, a bad eye or the evil eye) for erev Shabbat, here.

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Blogging Providence

Neshama commented...

Do you realize what you did here? Could the Kavana (post) be used to "crush" and "subdue" - "uproot, break, crush" the evil mentioned in the Iran post?

Thanks for pointing that out. No, I didn't notice, I've been fighting off a feeling of negativity and fighting to stay positive. Perhaps my negative post was more positive than I thought?

The kavana is worth a try, but, haval, in the words of our master who we've lost, Rabbi Yitzchok Kaduri, zt"l, referring to Iran, "it's a hard klippah". A Haman HaRasha (the evil Haman from the book of Ester) in the making in our time, live on TV no less!

Of course, Purim (the Jewish holiday where Haman is defeated) is right around the corner.


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Thursday, February 16, 2006

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Iran - Just Ignore It

The President of Iran declares his intention to wipe Israel off the map. Russia continues to sell him war equipment while he's building nuclear weapons. Europe and the UN sits around and picks it's nose.

Can't do anything about it, and even if I could the effort would upset my comfort zone.

Forget it, just ignore it.

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A Kavana

Kavanot are meditations to perform during prayer. Some are very high level, deep and mystical and require great heights of Torah knowledge and practice to understand.

Others are 'simpler', though not simple. The following kavana (singular of kavanot) is provided by the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe (grand rabbi of Chabad hassidus) in the book HaYom Yom, from Day to Day, and provides an instruction for a thought meditation, a concept on to which to focus one's thoughts, during the Shemona Esrai, the standing prayer of 18 blessings (prayed by Orthodox Jew's 3 times daily):


In the B'racha V'lamalshinim, pause slightly between Ut'mageir ("crush") and V'tachnia ("and subdue"), in consonance with the Kavana (meditation on this hidden meaning) that T'akeir Ut'shabeir Ut'mageir ("uproot, break, crush") refer to the three Kelipot (shells of evil) that must be completely eradicated. V'tachnia ("subdue") refers to Kelipat Noga (shell of brightness) that must be subdued, but can be purified.

(From the HaYom Yom entry for 26st of Tevet 26)

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

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Can Democracy Be a Tyranny?

YNetNews opinion by David Friedman wrote:

representative democracy is based on the fact that laws are made by the people's representatives in the framework of a parliament, and they will change with the times and the needs and beliefs of the voting public.

In the US, the Amish vote, the Charedim vote, the Catholics vote, the majority sets the direction and respects and protects the minorities. That's democracy and a republic.

In Israel, the majority IN POWER wants to shove it's mindset down everyone's throat, that's democracy in the form of Tyranny of the Majority. One that DOES NOT represent and protect the people, especially and specifically any part of the population that disagree with it.

That's tyranny. And, though I hesitate to say it, there are other historical democracies that started acting the same way. Eventually they removed the "of the majority" part.

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The Temple Mount, Truth or Lies? (part 4)

The Temple Mount (former site of the ancient Jewish Temple of G-d) and the Al Aqsa mosque currently located there, Jerusalem, Israel...

TempleMount3-1877
Temple Mount 1877 - Celluloid Photo
TempleMount4-1922
Temple Mount 1922 - book The New Palestine, W.D. McKrackan


Desolate, empty, abandonded. I'm not a muslim or a historian of Islam, but you can't tell me this is the 3rd holiest shine of Islam with it looking like this. This is real, and this is history. And identifying it as the 3rd holiest shrine is a complete and total lie.

Here's how it looks today (below). Why? Simply and only to deny it to the Jews. As the Jews got close to regaining it as they regained control over the land of Israel, it gained more and more importance.

TempleMount3a-2005


Celluloid photo and book photo courtesy of Smooth Stone.
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

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Prophecy in the Open?

Dov Bar Leib commented on my Israeli government post...

...this has all been prophesied. Zecharia HaNavi (the biblical prophet) even alluded to it in Perek 11 (11:15). Armelus has his agenda, and G-d has his. One cannot help but laugh at the unbelievable hashgacha taking place at this time. The danger of the situation is balanced off by the obvious providence that Armelus is even sitting in a seat of power other than the Mayor's chair at the Western entrance to the city.


What's he talking about? This...

(Zechariah 11:15) Then G-d said to me: Now, take the instrument of the foolish shepherd. For behold, I will raise a shepherd in the land. (The only Israeli ruler known to be a shepherd by profession, ever, was Ariel Sharon.)

He will not pay attention to the ones gone astray (Malbim comments - A prophecy that Israel's leaders will not concern themselves with the welfare of their fellow Jews in exile) or search for the [lost] lamb (Malbim comments - Israel's leaders will not concern themselves with the welfare of the Jewish youth), or heal the wounded or sustain the frail. Rather, he will feast on the flesh of the plump ones (Malbim comments - A prophecy that Israel's leaders will seize the possessions of the wealthy Jews) and crack their hooves (Targum comments - A euphemism for murder the wealthy people's next of kin).

Woe! O worthless shepherd, who abandons the flock. Let there be a sword on this arm (Malbim comments - a prophecy that the shepherd will lose this strength) and on his right eye (Malbim comments - a prophecy that the shepherd will lose his wisdom). His arm will surely wither, his right eye will surely go blind. (Akiva comments - hemorrhagic stroke)

Dov Bar Leib writes about the Shepherd here.

And my wife and I previously translated an entry from HashemIsOne that predicts the Shepherd's days in this world will end on February 18th at ~4:00 PM EST.


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Monday, February 13, 2006

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Par Adumah!


As presented by my little girl.

Mooo.


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Sunday, February 12, 2006

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Breaking Israeli Law - The Temporary PM

In the U.S. there's been quite a bit of talk about whether the president has exceeded the law, a euphimism for acted illegally, in monitoring overseas calls to suspect people and locations. If the president is exceeding his legal authority in monitoring people, this is annoying and of some concern when it comes to 'monitoring'.

However, what's going on in Israel makes this look like nothing important. Recent Israeli government pronouncements, especially around events in Amona, have made clear that the rule of law is of supreme concern in Israel. So lets take a brief look at the biggest public violation of Israeli law currently going on.

Israel Basic Law: The Government : Section 30 Inability to function - “(b) Should the Prime Minister be temporarily unable to discharge his duties for a period not exceeding 100 consecutive days…”

This is the current provision under which the government of Israel, in particular the Kadima controlled executive branch, is operating. It works under the assumption that the Prime Minister is temporarily unable to discharge his duties. Which, of course, is a complete and total lie, an illegality being completely ignored! The reason for this lie is…

Israel Basic Law: The Government : Section 29 Acting Prime Minister - “(a) Should the Prime Minister die, be permanently incapacitated…the Government will empower one of the Ministers who is also a Knesset member, to serve as acting Prime Minister

Meaning, the Knesset, according to party strength (the largest party in the Knesset is Likud right now) votes in an Acting Prime Minister if the Prime Minister is “permanently incapacitated”. Let’s be clear, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, had brain surgery 3 times, is on a respirator and feeding tube, has been in an extended coma, and today had part of his intestines removed. Recovery from a minor stroke takes months to years. Everyone having a major stroke is incapacitated, in a few very rare cases they may recover some very limited communication ability. By any definition of the term, Prime Minister Sharon is permanently incapacitated from serving as Prime Minister.

The current government of Israel is illegal, plain and simple.

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What am I doing here, The Sequal

02-12 031
There are certain types of childhood excitement at it still remains easy to relate to. The thrills of speed, a shiny toy, something a little bit risky. And even though I never shared some of the interests of my lovely daughters, I can understand their joy of something for the hair, something colorful, the new doll.

But snow? Snow?? SNOW??? So they stayed up late, they spread around the snacks, they left out the board games, they watched the snow fall till they fell asleep, later than their parents. Great, thrill over.

No way! It's Sunday, and they're up at 6 AM in the freakin morning! Tatti (that's Dad in Yiddish), can we shovel? No, not yet. Can we shovel? No, not yet. Can we shovel? NO, NOT YET!!!!

Good news, all those inside projects that I've been meaning to get to are ready and waiting for me. Bad news, very very bad news, bored children.

Help me, help me, heeeelllllppppp mmmmmmeeeeee!

(Baruch Hashem, Thank G-d)

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What am I doing here?

02-12 026
02-12 029
What am I doing here? I'm sitting in the middle of a blizzard, warm and cozy inside my home. Well, not really cozy, it's after midnight and the children's excitement has yet to wane, so several of them are up still making a racket.

Blizzards have always struck me a bit funny. I've been through a couple of hurricanes and a couple of earthquakes (I do get around). Hurricanes are exciting and a little scary in build-up, but because you can prepare it makes you think you've got some control over the situation. Load up on supplies, bring in anything that could fly around, tape up a few windows and you've got it under control. (Yeah right, when parts of the roof start ripping off, you realize you're a fool.)

Earthquakes are terrifying and instant. It takes a maybe 5 to 10 seconds while you stand (or sit) there saying, 'hey, what's this?', because it's quite out of the ordinary for the ground to start moving on it's own from under you and you don't quite register what's going on. Then you get about 5 seconds of paralyzing 'OH MY G-D, IT'S AN EARTHQUAKE, WHAT DO I DO????'. Then, if you actually have a clue what to do, you try to do it, which depending on where you are and what your doing, is either impossible or really freaky (what you do is get outside, or away from things that can fall, into a doorway or under a heavy table or desk). Just about the time you've fully got a handle on it, it's over (1-2 minutes on average I think). Assuming nothing collasped around you (which it never did for me), the real fun is the following week of 'aftershocks', meaning not-quite-as-strong-earthquakes that just keep coming, which now that you actually know what is going on you're fully ready to jump up out of bed and run outside within 2 seconds.

But a blizzard, a blizzard is like watching a low speed train wreck. Oh look, it's snowing. Oh look, it's still snowing. 12 hours later, OH LOOK, IT'S COVERED THE CARS AND IT'S STILL SNOWING!!! In preparation I guess I could put up some extra wood or coal, though since I don't have a fireplace I'm not sure what good that would do. The major preparation for a blizzard seems to be: buying bread and milk. I don't know why, but whenever a blizzard is announced everyone immediately runs to the grocery store and buys 10 gallons of milk and 10 loaves of bread. I mean, if you think you're going to be trapped in the house for a week with your kids, seems to me you'd run out and buy 10 board games and 25 boxes of macaroni and cheese. (I have noticed a line of cars outside the video rental store before a blizzard as well, so I guess that's the same idea.)

What am I doing here? Some days I wonder, and the snowflakes are still falling.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

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Video: Yeshiva Humor

I guess this is what our young men do when they have too much time on there hands.

Video: here.
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Thursday, February 09, 2006

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Same Planet?

Sometimes people's point of view is just so different you wonder, do you live on the same planet? In some cases you may not relate to it, but you can at least understand it. In other cases, well, you wonder if you're actually part of the same species...

Let the Animals Live, (Tnu Lahayot Lihyot) - Israel's main animal rights group - protested against the use of horses in Amona's evacuation on Wednesday. The animal rights group's spokesperson also noted that following the evacuation, one of the Amona residents was taken to a court hearing, leaving behind a herd of 130 goats without any supervision. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 2)

Beat people, ok. Don't hurt the poor goats or horses!!! (By the way, the horses were better armored than the protestors.)

The Society For the Protection of Nature has protested the fact that the IDF left the rubble of the homes it destroyed in Amona, as well as the remains of roadblocks it erected, against the law.

"I am writing to inform you that I intend to press charges against you personally for criminal infractions violating sanitary laws due to the large concentrations of garbage left at junctions and on the sides of the road...I similarly intend to file charges regarding the piles of building materials left by your men in Amona."


Finally, someone notes the major law breaking by police in Amona. Sanitary Laws??? Oh.. My.. G-d..

..by 17-year-old Yaakov Tessler of Jerusalem: Dear Central Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, ... (here)

I feel an obligation to turn to you, as one who is entrusted with the values of the army and the rule of law on the one hand, and with Jewish values and the Torah's commandments, on the other...I would like to address the events that occurred during the evacuation of the nine houses in Amona.


Army commanders of Israel are "entrusted with...Jewish values and the Torah's commandments"???

Chardal writes a great post (here) on the relationship of Judaism and Jews to the Land of Israel, focusing on why different sects have invested in or drifted away from it. He ends with a similar conflict...

We find ourselves in a situation where we still long for an ideal state that does not exist. We refuse to give up on the mitzvah of yeshuv haAretz (settling the Land) and refuse to bow down to the secularizing forces of the state.

Clearly the 17-year old above doesn't long for an ideal state, he's wondering what happened to the one he thought he lived in.

On this planet, was it every really there?

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Guest Post: How to Respond to Amona, Go Above!

The following guest post is from Elisheva R., who writes about learning from the spiritual battle where to direct the physical battle for survival in Eretz Yisroel (the Land of Israel)...

In response to the intent and discussions of how to intensify a physical struggle and, G-d forbid, cause more violence like happened in Amona; and/or to engage in protest and letter writing campaigns against Olmert the Puppet. I say we must learn from the maamar (chassidic discourse) by the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe (grand rabbi of Chabad chassidus), Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, zt"l, titled Reishis Goyim Amalek, to Go Above Olmert!

The Rebbe wrote, "...the kelipah of brazen chutzpah; an insolent individual, as he himself is aware, is essentially a non-entity...". This is a spiritual battle of wits, not a material and physical battle of brute force. By fighting at the level of brute force, by accepting the false reality, you are participating in the fraud and feeding the evil! In short, you are not fighting the real battle.

The Rebbe continued, "In contrast to the 'side of holiness,' the kelipos derive their existence from a 'lack of Divine desire' ... Though the above is true of the sitra achra in general, it is especially true of the kelipah of Amalek, whose whole being is brazenness and chutzpah, with no inner content at all. Every other kelipah has at least some content, albeit evil, such as the 'Chesed (or some other evil attribute) of kelipah.' ... This is not the case with the kelipah of Amalek, the kelipah of brazen chutzpah; an insolent individual, as he himself is aware, is essentially a non-entity. For by their very natue, as we observe, the baser and more degraded such people are, the less do they retain their human aspect; the more do they relate with insolence, in an animal-like fashion, to people more elevated than themselves.... (Evil has) ... a marked coolness toward higher things..."

This explains what happened with Amona and Gush Katif. Not only does evil not care about our nice and orderly civil disobedience, nor all our demonstrations about owning the land, this merely entices it! You are literally fanning the flames and building the wind...

"So, too, the kelipah of Amalek, whose whole being is insolence, is essentially a non-entity. Amalek thus resembles the waves of the sea that are lifted by the wind. While water by nature descends, it is ... lifted by the wind and [momentarily] standing upright like a wall; however, as soon as the wind abates, the water collapses. So, too, kelipos in general and Amalek in particular derive their sustenance... (and without it) will "appear and disappear with the wind."

In this regard there is a difference between [Mashiach's coming] "at the appointed time" and [his coming] "in haste" [before the "appointed time"]... If the kelipos are nullified "at the appointed time" (having refused to voluntarily be rectified!) they will be utterly annihilated."


Thus, as "all the appointed times (seem to have) have passed" - we might assume that we are to witness the utter annihilation of evil. And it is fighting us with every lie it can muster! Stop feeding it!

You are fighting the puppet, not the true enemy. You are directly helping the other side if you do not openly recognize that Olmert is nothing. You must change the rules of the game. The way to disembowel Olmert is to ignore him and go to his bosses. If you protest against him, you are recognizing him. You are empowering & emboldening him!

Think of the vampire movies. Do not invite him in! When you interact with him directly, that is what you do. You validate the fraud. You give it energy. Protest that he was installed! Demand that his installers remove him, leave and take their terrorists with them.

THE WAY TO DEFEAT EVIL IS TO NEGATE IT! Shine a light on the sham, make anyone who says it is real look stupid. One puppet can easily be replaced with a new one. This is what "they" did with Peres and Sharon. We had them on the run. How? by exposing the corruption and the links to the bosses! Here you are letting the bosses off the hook!

Olmert is a puppet. As a puppet, he does not exist. This is absolutely classic Chassidus on "evil". As we have seen over these ugly years, anything good we do with them is distorted against us. If you are peaceful, it does not result in peace, as has been seen again in Amona. They just lie about what happened.

You must fight the bosses. And this is a war which we can win. Why? Because we can win a battle for truth, as we are the sole possessors.

Go above Olmert! Call the sham. Stop interacting with a lie as though it were real - it only feeds the evil lie more.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

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JM in the AM: You Don't Care

(In the New York area, there's a Jewish morning radio program, JM in the AM hosted by Nachum Segal...)

JM in the AM host Nachum Segal has been fed a lot of information about Amona. However, none of it has made it to the air, because, he says, you don't care. (Here he says it, right here.)

Destruction of Jewish neighborhoods, vicious police, Israel, is he right?

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Speaking of Others...

It's said in the name of the Baal Shem Tov...

Why did G-d, who created everything for a purpose, give us the ability to be illogical? The answer is: So we could justify the faults of others. Most of us twist logic to justify our own behavior, but we should actually use our irrationality only to justify others.

Never speak ill of anyone, or when the Soton accuses him, he'll call you to be his witness. When the Soton accuses before the Throne of Glory, his single accusation is not accepted as true, because the Torah says: 'According to two witnesses shall the matter be established.' Therefore, the Soton waits until he can find a partner to defame the person.

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Video: Amona, The Joy of the Violence

Shlomo of IsraelReporter presents a massive photo montage of Amona.

See it here.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

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A Question about Advice

I asked the following of A Simple Jew:

In Sichos HaRan, #35 and #220, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov warns us of a time of great atheism, to strengthen us against the great temptations in the times before Moshiach. He follows this with #36, stating that "There will come a time when a simple religious man will be as rare and unique as the Baal Shem Tov."

Given that Sichos HaRan #220 talks of spreading atheism in that day, and comparing the generation following the passing of Rabbi Nachman to today I would consider when this was written to be a time of great faith (compared to today), what practical instruction does Rabbi Nachman provide to us to resist these great temptations and further, perhaps more importantly, to provide to our children? Clearly, if (G-d forbid) Moshiach does not come immediately, the challenges will continue to increase. Has the Rebbe predicted with the statement from #36 above that almost none of our children will be left hanging on to their emunah (faith) when Moshiach arrives? (G-d forbid!)

A Simple Jew responded:

Akiva, I am flattered that you would ask me these questions about Rebbe Nachman of Breslov since my knowledge of his teachings is miniscule in comparison with that of my teachers. Even though I learn Likutey Moharan every day, I understand very little. Nevertheless, since my neshoma is drawn to his teachings, I will try to answer your questions.

One of the best sources for Rebbe Nachman of Breslov's advice can be found in the sefer Likutey Eitzos. Likutey Eitzos contains a chapter entitled Hischazkus (Encouragement) that provides guidance relevant to your question about how to strengthen our faith in these days before Moshiach. To begin with, Likutey Eitzos (Hischazkus #17) encourages us to view our present reality with a different set of lenses; with the lenses of simple faith rather than those of sophistication:

"When G-d appears to reject us, His purpose is really to draw us closer. A person who wants to draw closer to G-d often finds that all kinds of hardship and suffering and other obstacles descend upon him, at times with great force. He may start thinking that he is deliberately being rejected. But really these experiences are very beneficial and they serve to draw him closer. The most important thing is to be very firm and resolute, to stand up to the test and not let oneself be deterred by the suffering and obstacles and the sense of rejection. It is a mistake to think that one is being rejected. He should have simple faith that whatever he has to go through is for his own good -- to bring him to strengthen himself and draw even closer to G-d. The whole purpose of this apparent rejection is to draw him closer to G-d."

Indeed, it may seem difficult for people on our lowly spiritual level to maintain this elevated state of consciousness. Likutey Eitzos (Hischazkus #18), however, suggests there is a way that we may accomplished it:

"The way to remain firm is by using the power of speech. Even if you fall, be resolute and speak words of truth -- words of Torah and prayer and the fear of Heaven. Talk to G-d. Talk to your friends also, and especially your teacher. Speech has a great power to remind a person of G-d's presence and give him strength even in situations which are very far removed from holiness"

From the above teaching, we see that Rebbe Nachman's advice is three-fold. To strengthen your simple faith you must:

1) Make time for hisbodedus and talk directly to Hashem in your own words*;

2) Attach yourself to friends who bring out the best in you; friends to whom you can speak of your spiritual struggles and accomplishments; and

3) Attach yourself to your teacher (see Rabbi Lazer Brody's posting "Vertigo" for more on this topic, click here.).

Finally, you asked, "Has the Rebbe predicted with the statement from #36 above that almost none of our children will be left hanging on to their emunah (faith) when Moshiach arrives?" Akiva, given my little knowledge, I do not feel qualified to answer your question about what will happen before Moshiach arrives. While Rebbe Nachman of Breslov told us that it will be a time of great atheism, he also encouraged us to do everything in our power to ensure that this atheism doesn't take root in our own minds.

I don't think that Sichos HaRan #36 predicts that none of our children will be left hanging on. Rather, Rebbe Nachman predicted that the majority of our people would not be able to maintain their faith -- which tragically is the case today. And maybe that even many of those who remained Torah observant would lack the qualities of simplicity and whole-heartedness, which are the foundation of everything in Yiddishkeit.

--
* For more on the subject of hisbodedus, I highly recommend the book Outpouring of the Soul, see it here.

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Amona: Preparing to be Assaulted

Shlomo of IsraelReporter.Com has a video-pictorial: here.
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Monday, February 06, 2006

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Amona: A Young Jew Has His Say

My son, a pre-bar-mitzvah young man, has something to say about Amona. Here's the words of a young man just forming his opinion, one who's also paying attention and knows the two boys I wrote about here...

You know what's happened in Amona. Jews against each other.

Why are they giving away the land? They want peace. But how do you get peace? Brothers versus brother is not it. You think if you say to the Arab "we can't keep doing this" and give and give it will get them off our backs? You think it will stop suicide bombers. But does it? NO!

What idiots the Israeli government is. Why keep evicting brothers and sisters from their homes? Will it stop suicide bombers? Did it? NO!

What you get is Arabs who want more and more. No stop in giving away, giving away, giving land.

Stand strong and fight!

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Amona Political Summary

I realize I'm a bit in Israel / Amona overload. Tomorrow, G-d willing, I'll swing back to some of the normal themes.

The best political / national summary of what happened in Amona that I've seen, from Treppenwitz here.

(Pointed out by Mentalblog.)
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Israel to Settlers: What Blood?

Below are excerpts from today's Israeli Government Cabinet communique. It's a bit long in original, it's here, for anyone who wants to wade through it. Sorry, even the trimmed edition below is long, but scary and worse, real.

From: "Israel Government Press Office"
Sent: Sunday, February 05, 2006 10:13 PM
Subject: CABINET COMMUNIQUE

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 5.2.06:

2. ...Attorney-General Meni Mazuz, Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and other senior officials briefed ministers on ... the evacuation of the wholesale market in Hebron and the demolition of homes at Amona.

...The briefings detailed the scope of the injuries in the violent clashes at the site... It was noted that this not a disengagement operation but rather an action to enforce an order of the High Court of Justice.

Attorney General Mazuz added that this was neither a disengagement action nor a political evacuation decision but a routine action to enforce the law in a situation involving the highest degree of illegality. ... This was an illegal outpost, i.e. construction without a Government permit, without a permit from Defense Minister Mofaz, in contravention of plans, and without a work permit. Most severe - this was simply the theft of land, squatting and building on private land belonging to private individuals. The severity does not end there, but also encompassed gross contempt for proceedings and orders regarding the site. Therefore, this was neither a diplomatic nor a political question but one of carrying out demolition orders...

Attorney-General Mazuz emphasized that in the wake of the violence during the demolitions, there have been several arrests and approximately 17 indictments have been presented; ...There is no intention to act with forbearance towards offenders in this case and there will be no forgiveness for violence. This was neither a demonstration nor a protest and no kind of freedom of expression was involved; this was wanton violence of the worst kind against the security forces; there will be no forgiveness for these actions and severe indictments will be issued in all cases warranted by the evidence. Regarding complaints against police personnel, the Justice Ministry Dept. for Investigating Police Personnel is dealing with this issue. The Dept., at its own initiative, began one investigation the same day. ... The Attorney General noted that he disagrees with the calls for a commission of inquiry and added that whoever thinks that police personnel used unreasonable violence should submit complaints, which will be thoroughly checked. He does not see any basis for the establishment of a commission of inquiry because the facts here are open and transparent and were filmed by dozens of photographers.

3. Foreign Minister and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni ...

* It was made clear that the dismantling of illegal outposts does not require additional Cabinet decisions but may be carried out according to the decision of Acting Prime Minister Olmert...

* In accordance with the instructions of Attorney-General Mazuz, Government ministries are prohibited from transferring state funds to illegal outposts.

* The courts will be authorized to discuss offenses that were perpetrated by Israelis for which they (the courts) hitherto lacked jurisdiction: Planning and construction offenses, moving mobile structures and a refusal to heed evacuation orders. Further legislative amendments are awaiting security establishment approval.

So, to summarize, Hamas and terror attacks, that's not so illegal, building a Jewish house, that's the HIGHEST CRIME IN ISRAEL. While there, 3,000 police were only able to make 17 arrests but were able to bash over 500 heads. Defensive violence against the security forces may result in 20 years in prison, pre-planned violence by the security forces didn't really happen, no need to review it. But if it did, just file a complaint (you did stop and write down the badge number's that weren't there while you were getting bashed, didn't you?) and it will be taken care of.

The Justice Minister has changed the rules of the game mid-flight, now the Prime Minister can single handedly decide to evacuate whatever he wants, all government funding (like normal town mayoral budgets) will be cut off (because one way or another they all can be declared illegal, even though the government built 3/4 of them), and the courts are now retroactively authorized to jail people for building, even if the government previously let them or even encouraged and funded them.

It's almost as good as George Orwell's 1984, except this is real world. Perhaps the only difference between this and the Soviet Union is we get a transcript real time!


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Video's: Blood, and now Anger

Under Attack in Amona: More Video from Amona, with Music - warning, graphic -

Tonight's Rally: Standing Strong, Not Afraid, with Music

In the second, notice the age of the particpants, 95% youth. I'll say it again, the government of Israel has no idea what they have done.

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

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Terror, Murder

Here.

Petach Tikva, Israel. Where are the black-clad policemen?
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A Word from the Sanhedrin

The following is some thoughts from one of the members of the Sanhedrin. For those who don't know what that is, it's the supreme religious authority of Judaism. It was dissolved over 1,000 years ago, but an attempt to recreate it is in progress for the last 2 years or so. This is an excerpt from a letter send out, some of which I also saw reposted on Israel National News as a position statement:

We act the way we, as a group of rabbis representing the many faces of normative Judaism, see as the best and proper way to act for His Name's sake.

I have learned in life that there are many people who don't agree with me and that doesn't make them blind, stupid or my enemy, just different people with different perspectives, and usually different knowledge. In the atmosphere of Torah scholars, I can try and convince them of my perspective, and they can try to convince me of theirs, and in many cases opinions are changed and modified, when the people engaged in such discussions and debates are searching for the Truth, and not simply trying to justify or fight for their own "truth."

...when we sit around the table with those that have come from Habad or Litvak or other background, we leave all of those labels aside and try and seek the Truth, together as scholars and rabbis trying to serve Him. With our tools, the ones honed from years of learning, we listen to each other and in the end come to a decision together. That decision is the decision of the Sanhedrin, not the Litvaks, the Sefardim, the Brestlovers, or Habadniks or any other group, but of the Sanhedrin.

The Sanhedrin, by design, can not be subordinate to any one group of Jews or even an individual, but the opposite. Even the Nassi (head) of the Sanhedrin has but one vote. If Rebbe Schneerson of blessed memory were here, he would certainly sit on the Sanhedrin, but he would have one vote. If the Mashiah ben David were revealed to us, he would sit in the council and have one vote. Because of one's Torah his voice might have more influence, but that is because of Torah, not ideology. Torah and ideology don't sit well together.

Sounds to me like they're off to a good start. Their new website, here.

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Frightening

MK Tzvi Hendel, an expelled resident of Gush Katif now living in Yad Binyamin, said that Acting PM Olmert's political advisor said outright that his job is to get the public to "hate the settlers."

If it's true, that's seriously frightening. The advisor says it isn't, but a report says he spent the last year helping a seriously anti-semitic party in Romania try to get elected (is that true or just terrible slander, I don't know).

Israel National News, here.
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Illegal but Approved

Since the Amona violence, settler leaders reportedly have been attempting to negotiate the peaceful dismantling of some other illegal outposts in exchange for the retroactive legalization of others. This sort of deal would seem to be a compromise with the rule of law, but is difficult to rule out in light of the long, if questionable, tradition of such legalizations in the past. An important addition to such an arrangement would be the adoption of the many recommendations in the Sasson report designed to plug the legal loopholes that have created our current bizarre reality of outposts that are "illegal" but have also obtained different stages of bureaucratic approval.

That's right, the West Bank Jewish towns and neighborhoods being destroyed are "illegal but approved". None of them were built without some level of government approval, and most with multiple levels and layers of government approval (some directly funded by the government). But today, they're illegal.

If that leads you to say, "Huh?", you're not alone.

Jerusalem Post, Here.

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Friday, February 03, 2006

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Reports from Our Sons!

Moshe's son is from America. A family who's returning, and has returned farther than many born into it, he's learning in yeshiva in Israel. He called his father, "The land is in trouble, can I stand for Israel?" His father answered from New York, "If I was there, we'd go together." The yeshiva called to verify, permission given? Yes.

He made it with classmates to Amona, together they entered the last of the 9 Jewish homes to be destroyed. They blocked the door and sat, laying their bodies on the line for Eretz HaKodesh, the Holy Land.

The black clad policemen came, shouting voices and faces twisted in anger and hatred. They did not come to remove those defending the land, they came to break them. They smashed through the door and broke through the windows. They waded in to the seated defenders, boys of 14 through 18, billy clubs swinging. "Achim! (Brothers!)", the boys called, "stand fast!" as boy after boy was smashed on the head, blood splattering everywhere.

After so many heads that his hand was drenched in sweat, the club slipped away from the officer before Moshe's son was hit. Moshe's son saw and dove for it, fearing not the risk of being shot to prevent another boy being struck. The policeman saw him and dove as well, coming up with the club first. Standing two feet away, Moshe's son stood fast, ready to be struck. Staring in to, in his own words, "a look of hatred such as I have never seen", the officer grabbed him and threw him out the 2nd story window!

Amazingly, in a miracle, he landed stunned but unhurt. He came away whole, but more than just whole. "Achim! Brothers!" he repeats, "now, now we are brothers!" He has risked his life for the Holy Land, and stood with his people. He's no longer the boy he was yesterday.


Leah's family lives in a Jewish town in the Shomron (West Bank). Her son also heard the call. But, the government was prepared to stop the 'settlers'. You probably haven't heard, but they closed the roads, blocked the intersections, stopped the buses, closed the gates. This did not deter the boys of the Shomron.

Her son answered the call, put on his boots and headed cross country. A 20 minute drive was a 6 hour hike. And hiked they did. Through the wadi (valley), over the hilltops, past the Arab villages. Fear was set aside, both of the wild animal and the vicious enemy. Comfort was of no concern.

He was chased, not by animals or the enemy. Soldiers were in the passes waiting. The boys scattered, the religious soldiers seemingly could not keep up, they quickly ran out of breath, or fell, or dropped equipment and had to stop for it. Not so the ultra-secular soldiers, they chased and chased. Yet in the end, they too failed at their task. Each pass was passed, the objective was reached.

Leah's son's hike was long, he arrived after things were already heated up. He was unable to get into Amona, but there was an unreported battle on the border as well. The police and the boys for the Holy Land faced off, pushed and pushed back.

Both boys, unknown to each other, struggled together yesterday, for the same cause, for the same place, for Eretz HaKodesh, for the Holy Land, believing in the literal word of G-d and his Torah, not interested in the lies of politicians, the government, interest groups, supposed representative councils.

Today thousands of young Jewish men and women of Israel are no longer boys and girls, they are young men and women dedicated to G-d, His Torah, and His Holy Land. They are Brothers and Sisters bonded in blood.

The government of Israel has no idea what they have done this day.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

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Kindness to the Cruel...

Yechiam ben Rachel
Pray for Yechi'am ben Rachel
beaten by Israeli Police in Amona
and cruelty to the kind.

My dear daughter called me in tears today, "Tatti, is it really true what you posted, and the pictures???" Yes, my daughter, it's true, but it's even worse in context...a week's events:

A suicide bomber strikes in Tel Aviv. Hamas wins the PA elections.

Prime Minister in coma for 2 weeks after severe stroke and multiple brain surgeries still on respirator (machine breather) gets a permanent feeding tube, but is still declared to be only temporarily disabled, since if he was permanently disabled the temporary Prime Minister (Olmert) would be replaced by the leader of the Prime Minister's elected party (meaning Likud and Netanyahu). Court refuses to interfere.

Kassam missles continue to strike S'Derot, injuring man and child. Defense Minister declares army unwilling to take steps to stop them, too violent to contemplate.

Court declares Jewish owned, titled and occupied land in Hebron to be in violation of the rights of the admitted squatters. Orders evacuation order enforced. Soldiers move in.

Hamas declares no peace with Israel, no disarming, no stopping of attacks.

Government orders destruction of neighborhood in the West Bank town of Amona, specifically instructing no sensitivity, no quarter to be given, force is to be shown, bones are to be broken.

Government celebrates their week of success.

The most seriously injured at Amona was Yechi'am ben Rachel, who is fighting for his life with a serious brain injury and damaged skull, from the hand of the Israeli government. Please pray for his complete and speedy recovery.

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This article is from the Mystical Paths blog, MPATHS.COM. If you're reading it somewhere else, check it out at the source, Click Here!
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

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Brother on Brother


With tears in my eyes I watch brother on brother. The lines have been crossed in Israel.

Today it was blood, tomorrow the authorities promise it will be life and death.

For what? Oslo, Wye, the Roadmap?

What insanity following the PA election of Hamas brings the Israeli government to continue this path of forcefully evacuating land? The Holy Land, the Land of Israel for which the Jewish people have not turned away and yearned for.

Tzemach at MentalBlog (click here) has a great set of photos, with more here. So does Sultan Knish (click here).

And here's a short video clip from YNetNews (click here).

But I guess they're not great, they're horrible: pain, anger, force, for nothing.

But it's not true. For those forcing, it's all about force, power, control. Those in the West, don't be fooled by government pronouncements about illegal building, permits and so forth. In Israel, whatever the government wants to happen is legal, and whatever it doesn't want to happen is illegal. They'll find the law, permit or judge to back that up.

For those watching for the Geulah, the battle with the Erev Rav has begun. Gaza was a skirmish, this is the battle, and Jerusalem will be the key. Armilus has revealed himself today.

Ribono Shel Olam (Master of the Universe), we knew it would be with tears, but does it have to be with blood? G-d forbid, will it be with lives?

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This article is from the Mystical Paths blog, MPATHS.COM. If you're reading it somewhere else, check it out at the source, Click Here!
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Inside A Fortune Cookie

A Simple Jew queried:

A few months ago I ate at a local kosher Chinese restaurant. At the end of the meal, the waiter brought me a fortune cookie that contained this saying inside, "Discontent is the first necessity of progress."

Reflecting upon the fortune cookie's message, it struck me that this sounded a lot like the Alter Rebbe's teaching in Chapter 31 of Tanya about the difference between the destructiveness of atzvus (depression) and the potential benefits of merirus (bitterness).

Could you please explain what the application of this teaching from Tanya is to us in our generation?

Akiva from Mystical Paths responded:

With his question, my dear esteemed blogleague (blogging colleague), A Simple Jew, reveals himself to be anything but. He follows the Baal Shem Tov's aphorism to look for lessons of Torah and see Hashem in everything. Hashaga Pratis (divine orchestration) in a fortune cookie? Absolutely, for those who are looking for it.

The question appears rather straightforward as secular society goes on at length about the dangers of depression, such that a whole division of the medical profession and drugs have been created to 'treat' it. But looking in to the Tanya reveals a completely different depth and perspective on this question.

Chassidus teaches that Torah and mitzvot need to be performed with joy. To quote the Baal HaTanya, quoting from the Talmud Shabbos 30b, 'The Shechina (Divine Presence) abides only in joy…as is the case also in the study of Torah.' Great emphasis is placed on approaching Torah and mitzvot as a privilege and pleasure, not, G-d forbid, a burden.

Yet we are also instructed to spend some time in self reflection. What is our state, what is our lot? How far are we from what we could be? When doing so, it's quite normal to come to a state that's the opposite of joy.

The Tanya teaches us, that's ok if directed correctly. Further, not only is it ok it can be absolutely necessary. For while great levels can be reached with Chesed, the attributes and sefirah of kindness, some heights, or rather, some depths, some drives, can only be counteracted and raised upwards through Gevurah, the attributes and sefirah of strictness / severity.

This is the path of bitterness. By becoming bitter with our situation, how far we have fallen from where we should be, how distant we are from our Father in heaven compared to where we could be, it drives us to strive harder, to push farther, to reach where otherwise we wouldn't. It pushes us to focus on what's important, our connection with the divine, and push away from what's not, the gross needs of the body and the physical pleasures of this world. It doesn't elevate the body or it's natural life force (and the Tanya teaches that only the tzaddikim, the righteous saints, can reach the point of really doing so), but rather brings us to constrain it and provide pure focus on our connection with G-d, our nefesh elokus, which is the best that the benoni (the intermediate man) can achieve.

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This article is from the Mystical Paths blog, MPATHS.COM and A Simple Jew's Blog. If you're reading it somewhere else, check it out at the source, Click Here!
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