Posted by Avraham ben Yaakov
The festival of Passover is in Hebrew called Pesach, taking its name from the Pesach lamb which G-d commanded the Children of Israel to sacrifice on the eve of their departure from slavery in Egypt. They were to daub its blood on the doorposts and lintels of their homes and eat the roasted meat the night before the Exodus.
And when G-d's messenger of destruction saw the sign on the homes of the Israelites, he “skipped over” their homes the way a young lamb dances and skips across the hills, killing only the first-born of the Egyptians, who thought they owned the world, but saving the Hebrews they so looked down on. That was how God showed that He is the true Owner and Master of the world.
In Hebrew the word for “skipped over” is Pasach, which gives the Passover festival its Hebrew name of Pesach.
God's command to the Children of Israel to take the Pesach lamb was actually a flagrant assault on what today we would call the “political correctness” of the Egyptians. Their hierarchy of kings and priests believed their power came from their worship of the constellation of Aries, the Ram (a mature lamb), in Hebrew the constellation of Taleh, first of the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac and a symbol of mastery and power, since it coincides with the annual spring season of rebirth of nature.
The Egyptians revered rams and sheep and lambs because they saw them as embodying the essence of their god.
When Pharaoh had earlier asked Moses why the Hebrews had to leave Egypt to serve God instead of doing so in the land, Moses in Exodus 8:22 replied that it would not be proper to do so because they would be slaughtering the god of the Egyptians and if they did so in front of their very eyes, the Egyptians might stone them.
From this you can see how mortally dangerous it can be to flout the prevailing political correctness.
God commanded the Hebrews not only to take the gods of the Egyptians and slaughter them, but also to take care not to break any of the bones of the lambs after the Pesach feast. That way the bones would be cast out intact into the streets in the eyes of the Egyptians, undeniable evidence of the destruction of their gods.
The Egyptians considered themselves the owners and masters of the world, but God killed their first-born and showed that He alone is the master of the Universe.
The Hebrews had the courage to flaunt the political correctness of the time: they knocked down the petty tyrants. And God freed and redeemed them from servitude to mortal humans by giving them His Teaching, the Torah, which frees us from and lifts us above the bonds of this world by showing us the path to everlasting life. When we recognize and serve the true Owner and Master of the Universe, we are freed from enslavement to other humans.
Even when Israel later fell under the rule of cruel tyrants, their faith in God, Master of the Universe, kept them internally, spiritually free even while faced with the dictates of their earthly rulers. The Torah sages thus tell us that when the Babylonian tyrant Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw Daniel's companions into his fiery furnace if they would not bow down to his idol, Hananya, Mishael and Azaria answered: “You are our king with respect to paying taxes, but when it comes to matters of religious service and beliefs, you have the same status as a dog” (Vayikra Rabbah 33).
The freedom we gain on Pesach is not one of worldly glory and honor. On Pesach we eat the lean, thin unleavened Matzah crackers, which are called “the bread of affliction, humility”. Submitting to God is not necessarily glamorous. It requires the very opposite of pride: modesty.
We may be subject to unceasing harassment on all sides: from those who hate Jews, Israel, Zionism… from those who consider us extremists, racists, anti-egalitarian, primitive, oppressive… On all levels people are subject to harassment of all kinds, by tyrannical governments and public officials, the mass media and giant corporations, by their bosses, bullying associates and other self-appointed overlords, by obnoxious members of their communities or even in their own households and families.
But when we know and believe that the world has One Owner, who sits in the Heavens above and laughs at the self-defeating antics of pompous, arrogant mortals crawling around like ants on this earth, we become completely free, our souls and our minds are free, and the shackles of the worldly tyrants fall away.
Accepting and fulfilling God's Torah, Torat Emet, the Torah of truth, will set you free. Happy Pesach!!! Spread the message!!!
The Gates of Heaven
Posted by Avraham ben Yaakov
From a Rabbi in Israel
Posted by Avraham ben Yaakov
I am responding with trepidation to your request for comment on the current situation in and around Israel, since we always hope and pray for the best yet cannot ignore the disturbing signs around us. To give the wider picture as it seems to me, please allow me to elaborate:
The best advice ever given to an Israeli Prime Minister was, in my opinion, offered recently by US “tea party” Congressman Louie Gohmert – a man of deep faith – who warned that his country's administration is pushing Israel into a corner and told Benjamin Netanyahu to declare a national day of fasting and prayer for God's direction and protection. “I promise you,” he said, “God will answer that prayer, the secularists will hear, the world will see, and even people in the United States will see, and Israel will be blessed because of you doing that.”
It is sadly indicative of the secular Israeli mindset that the mainstream media here laughed off the idea as “bizarre” and “bonkers”, while many of the Jewish believers in the country were not even aware of it. So far the Prime Minister has ignored it.
What Benjamin Netanyahu really thinks about anything is hard to gauge, but I cannot forget a chilling comment about this supposed right-wing strongman made with a knowing smile shortly after the 2013 Israeli elections by the country's current President, architect of the disastrous Oslo “Peace Process”, Shimon Peres: “Netanyahu is going to surprise us all”.
The many Israeli voters who were expecting Netanyahu's Likud-Yisrael Beitenu-Bayit Yehudi coalition to champion the dream of Greater Israel are now watching with dismay the gathering signs that Netanyahu may be planning to follow late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's insane Gaza Disengagement, which has turned into an intractable nightmare, with an even greater insanity under the dictates of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's proposed “Framework Agreement”.
From all the leaks and rumors, trial balloons and disinformation, it is clear that we are rapidly approaching the “moment of truth”, when Israel will be required to take major steps to abandon our ancestral homelands together with many settlements and settlers, in order to return to the pre-1967 “Auschwitz borders” as they were famously described by one-time Israel Foreign Minister Abba Eban, and to submit to international control over Jerusalem.
Unfortunately, it is quite plausible that Netanyahu will accept, particularly since he has strong support in this not only from the highly vocal Israeli left (who always claim to represent the “center” and the “national consensus”), but also from current Israeli Foreign Minister, ex-right winger strongman, Yisrael-Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman, who since his recent miraculous acquittal from the very serious charges of corruption he faced, has become noticeably more pliable, or as he prefers to put it, “pragmatic”. Perhaps the forces that be have already promised Lieberman the premiership at some time in the future in return for good behavior.
All this is to enable US President Barak Obama to end his catastrophic presidency by carving his name into history through the utterance of spells and incantations and declaring a ceremonial end to the Middle East conflict.
This, of course, will come unstuck before the ink of the signatures has dried, because God has long since warned: “I will make Jerusalem a cup of poison to all the peoples around, and even Judah will be forced into the siege against Jerusalem. And on that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all peoples: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the nations of the earth shall be gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3 as explained in Targum Yonatan; see also Zechariah 14:14 and Targum Yonatan there on Jews constrained into fighting Jews.).
The only lasting settlement will be that brought by Melekh Mashiach – may it be quickly in our times – when all Israel will turn to God with the ingathering of the exiles and the Ten Lost Tribes, the building of the Third Temple, and the division of all the land “from the River of Egypt (the Nile) unto the great river, the River Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18) among the Priests and Levites, the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the Righteous Converts and Noahide dwellers, as prophesied by Ezekiel (chapters 40-48).
A sinister omen was discernible in Rome on January 26, 2014 , when at Sunday prayers in the Vatican square, the pope was joined by two children who released two “doves of peace” that went fluttering up into the air, only to be immediately attacked and viciously savaged by a seagull and a crow.
This reflects the fate of the entire “Peace Process” ushered in with so much fanfare by the indefatigable Shimon Peres and his allies back in the early, comparatively innocent 1990s. Today, after twenty years of the Oslo nightmare, the people of Israel are a lot wearier and somewhat wiser than to expect any true benefit from John Kerry's proposed “Framework Agreement”.
Since the year 2000, Israel has endured the “Second Intifada” and continuous terror. Until today we are suffering the catastrophic consequences of the heralded 2005 Gaza “Disengagement”, enduring ceaseless daily pounding of southern Israel by missiles and rockets from Gaza. We are eating the consequences of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's bungled 2006 Lebanon war, which has left Hizbullah more entrenched than ever and with more than enough fire-power to destroy Israel's north and center.
In the current Israel-Palestinian “peace dialogue”, all we see is the same old stubborn intransigence of the “Palestinian” leadership, their refusal to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, their ceaseless incitement against Jews and Zionism in their Arabic-language pronouncements, their untiring media and educational efforts to rear whole new generations of Jew-haters… and Israel's ever-increasing international diplomatic isolation despite all her unilateral “gestures” and concessions.
We witness the galloping anti-Semitism and Israel-hatred visible every day in the media, on Internet, Facebook and Twitter, on campuses, in mosques and churches, at conferences and demonstrations across the whole of Europe, America and many other parts of the world. We see the rampant Islamic radicalism that is setting fire to more and more places on earth. And now, in front of our very eyes, we are watching the bizarre spectacle of Iran jubilantly racing to the finish in their quest for nuclear weapons at precisely the moment when the world powers are smilingly signing on paper that she is not.
Why on earth would they want to do this now?
At first sight it is hard to comprehend why any truly patriotic Israeli government would at this time seriously contemplate taking any of the moves into which it is being pressured by John Kerry, with the full collaboration of Israel's chief negotiator, Minister of “Justice”, Tzipi Livni.
Die-hard Israeli optimists would like to believe that Netanyahu's professed willingness to accept a “Framework Agreement” that is highly damaging to Israel is mere posturing because he is banking on the “Palestinians”, who “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”, to back out, or because he is relying on Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and Iran, singly or all together, to torpedo its implementation.
Yet it is hard to believe that the Obama administration will agree to allow its two remaining years to go by without doing everything in their power to force Israel into major “painful concessions” in order to create a semblance of a substantive agreement so as to secure the president's “place in history”.
But the question remains: Why would any sane, patriotic Israeli government submit to such pressures now? It is not as if Israel is a pathetic weakling with no power to stand up for its own vital interests and say “NO!!!” The 2012 “National Power Index” recently released by the New Delhi-based “Foundation for National Security Research” (FNSR) amazingly ranks little Israel, with its tiny territory and population, at number ten on the list of the world's most powerful countries after U.S.A., China and Russia, France, Japan, the UK, Germany, India and Canada, in that order. Israel's economy, while far from immune to the cost of boycotts, is actually thriving – because people across the world are not prepared to forgo the benefits of this country's dazzling excellence in the fields of high tech, communications, defense, medicine, energy, water, chemicals, agriculture, and many more. Even against the chorus of international criticism of Israel, powerful expressions of support have recently come from the Canadian prime minister, the Australian foreign secretary and other leading figures, showing that Israel is not without friends.
Then why does Israel need to submit to the pressures of an America whose global influence is manifestly waning while much of the Middle East is caught up in a chaos not seen in decades. To Israel's north, Syria is in complete turmoil in the throes of a barbaric, murderous war that is bringing floods of “Al Qaeda” jihad warriors to our very borders. To the east, the Jordanian regime is as shaky as ever. To the south, Egypt is in dire financial and economic straits and has had to revert to military government to try to tackle the wreckage. American policies have been a manifest failure in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya etc. while the Iranian menace grows day by day despite all the Obama administration spokespersons' honey-sweet soothes and circumlocutions.
As to Israel's “partners” in the proposed madness:
To whom is Tzipi Livni so eager to surrender Israel's ancestral heartlands of Judea and Samaria, the remaining so-called “territories”? The Palestinian Authority has no authority, surviving only off foreign hand-outs, while the Gaza “Disengagement” fiasco has left their implacable rival, the Hamas terror regime, in control there.
It is ironic that after Ariel Sharon in 1982 drove out what was then the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) from Beirut, Lebanon, into exile to Tunis, that body became moribund and would have simply died a natural death had it not been resuscitated by Israeli left wing geniuses like Yossi Beilin (widely known as Shimon Peres' poodle) who were desperate to create an official “Palestinian” body into whose hands to throw away the Israeli heartlands reclaimed with so much blood, toil, tears and sweat in the 1967 Six Day War.
A further irony is that in the early 1990's, by which time the PLO terror organization was being cosmetically transformed into the proto-Palestinian “government” known as the “Palestinian Authority” (PA), that same breed of Israeli geniuses were covertly encouraging the growth and consolidation of a hitherto unknown Islamic fundamentalist “charitable” network by the name of Hamas. Israeli pundits at the time quietly lauded the clever ShaBaK (Israel “Security” Services) strategy of developing a counterweight to the PA: “Divide and rule!” Since then we all know that the radical terrorist Hamas are not only in control in Gaza but would almost certainly sweep into power with an overwhelming majority if ever elections are held in Judea and Samaria.
Both the PA in Ramallah and Hamas in Gaza have shown themselves incapable of providing their populations with even basic infrastructure, such as water, electricity and sewage disposal, let alone viable economies, despite the billions of dollars in foreign aid constantly flowing in from Arab countries, Europe and America, much of which has gone into private pockets or to finance and encourage terror.
Every sane person in Israel knows that as soon as a sovereign “State of Palestine” is instituted in the Israeli ancestral heartlands of Judea and Samaria, none of the assurances of all the world's statesmen will prevent a rain of rockets and missiles on Ben Gurion airport and Tel Aviv.
So why is the Israeli left so intent on this lunacy?
The rejected miracle gift
The answer is: They never wanted those territories in the first place. And today, all they want is to throw them away as quickly as possible, even if this has to be done unilaterally, without so much as a scrap of paper in return. They believe that Israel's cutting out its own heart and throwing it to the dogs will finally placate the dogs forever. And if not, they put their trust in Israel's fancy state-of-the-art surveillance and missile defense gadgetry to protect what will by then be the tiny Tel Aviv Coastal Ghetto Strip, boasting ever taller luxury residential towers, endless traffic jams, vibrant café life, 24/7 entertainment, massage and tattoo parlors, gay clubs and saunas, casinos, and jet flights to all destinations.
The return of Israel's ancestral territories under Jewish rule in the 1967 Six Day War was greeted euphorically at the time by many Israelis and Jewish people across the world, who saw it as a modern miracle actualizing the ancient prophecies of the end of days restoration of Greater Israel. On the other hand, the hard-core aggressively secular Israeli left found this unwanted miracle gift a huge embarrassment. For them, the vision of a Greater Israel with a rebuilt Temple and all the accompanying obligations of Shabbat and other Jewish religious observance was nothing but a nightmare of “religious coercion” that would impinge on their right to drive to the beach on Saturday and sleep with whoever they want.
Nothing could better exemplify the two-handed rejection of the Greater Israel dream than when after the liberation of Jerusalem in June 1967, then Israel Defense Minister Moshe Dayan immediately surrendered the keys of the Temple Mount to the Islamic Waqf, who are in control there until today and who regularly instigate Arab rioting and violence if a Jew dare so much as to move his lips in whispered prayer during one of the few, heavily-regulated permitted visits. This is in flagrant violation of the Jewish right to pray there, which, though it has repeatedly been upheld by Israel's Supreme Court, is in practice invariably denied by the Israeli police on the grounds of being a “threat to security”.
In the early years after the territorial gains of the Six Day War, a succession of Israeli governments did indeed exploit the euphoria of the Greater Israel dreamers, sending them to establish flourishing Jewish settlements all over the Golan, Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley, Gaza and the Sinai.
The 1973 Yom Kippur War was the first major blow to their vision. Thereafter the Israeli left – who control the country's monopoly state TV and radio, the mainstream media and also most of the country's university political and social science faculties, worked assiduously to find ways to divest from the unwanted territories. It was Ariel Sharon, a leftist in the guise of a right-wing strongman, who in 1982 perpetrated the first destruction of an Israeli settlement in Yamit, when then Prime Minster Menachem Begin, ostensibly a right-wing champion of a strong Israel, surrendered the Sinai to Egypt under the terms of the now-defunct 1979 “peace” treaty. (Begin regretted this until his death, and today Sinai has become one of the world's most thriving terror hotbeds, afflicting both Israel and Egypt.)
The “First Intifada”, which began in 1987, was encouraged, aided and abetted by the Israeli left in visible and covert ways, and within a few years they connived to bring into the very heartlands of ancestral Israel – Jericho and Ramallah – the resuscitated PLO terror organization, which had shed so much Jewish blood in Israel and across the world, and which now had official recognition from the United Nations and most of its members.
The present “Framework Agreement”, bearing all the signs of having been masterminded by Shimon Peres and his friends, is obviously intended as the next and final stage in the dismantlement of everything gained in 1967 with the surrender of almost all of the disputed “territories” to a sovereign Palestinian state.
Following the heart-rending Israeli national trauma of the Gush Katif expulsions in 2005, when nearly 10,000 settlers were forcibly evicted from their homes, even the most hardened Israeli leftist Bolsheviks today recognize the impracticability of physically evicting the estimated 85,000 Jews living in the settlements in areas of Judea and Samaria that are expected to be surrendered to the PA. Instead, according to the chilling suggestions recently floated by figures “close to the negotiations”, it is seriously being proposed that the Israeli army will simply withdraw from the territories, leaving these settlers (who in many cases have been systematically disarmed by the Israeli authorities) to the mercy of the surrounding population.
The Framework Agreement is also said to include the handing over of significant parts of Jerusalem to Vatican control, while the Temple Mount is to come under the control of under an international body which will “guarantee freedom of worship to all”.
One does not know whether to laugh or cry.
The issue is not only the horrendous pain and suffering which John Kerry's Framework Agreement, if upheld, will certainly bring upon Israel, with waves of terrible shocks and aftershocks for Jews across the world.
More than all of that, what lovers of Israel and its Torah and God-given, blessed land must understand is that the coming Framework Agreement is a frontal assault on the prophetic vision of Restored Israel. It is an assault on your land, your Israel. This applies whether you identify as a Jew or a non-Jew, a member of the returning Lost Tribes, or a fellow-traveler, a lover of the God of Israel, a lover of the Torah of Israel and of the Land of Israel.
How could we all allow a small clique that have taken control of Israel to decide the destiny of our inheritance of God's Promised Land and hand it over to fomenters of hatred and war, when each and every one of us has a personal stake in its future?
Burying the truth
Those who are so eager to surrender Israel's vital heartlands under the “Two State Solution” repeatedly claim that its purpose is to enable Israel to remain a “Jewish” state, which is said to be incompatible with ruling over a sizeable Arab population. Leaving aside the demographic lies on which this claim is based, the fact is that Israel has succeeded extraordinarily well in peacefully integrating the sizeable numbers of Israeli Arabs who remained within its borders after the 1948 Independence War, and who live until today as full citizens of the state in economic, social and political conditions that are envied by millions across the Arab world.
But the truth is that Israel, the Israel of the Torah, is indeed destined to rule over the nations. “He shall subdue peoples under us and nations under our feet”, Psalm 47:3), just as King Solomon held sway “from the river to the river” (I Kings 5:1), not through the force of his military clout, but because of his supreme Torah wisdom, which enabled him to spread peace and prosperity everywhere (I Kings 5:14ff and 10:6 etc.). Likewise, at the end of days, the same power of wisdom will shine from Melekh Mashiach, who “shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips slay the wicked… and the wolf shall dwell with the lamb…” (Isaiah 11:5-6; see Rambam, Laws of Repentance 9:2).
However, Israel's secular left have rejected the Torah and its wisdom and have little to offer the “Palestinians” except a promise of economic prosperity which it is humiliating for them to receive from the hands of the Jews, and a garishly permissive post-decadent secular Israeli culture that glorifies obscenity and is totally offensive to Islam.
Israel's secularists suffer from a massive lack of confidence in Israel's true mission and even its right to exist. This was typified by the behavior of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since 2012, when he appointed the Levy Commission, consisting of leading Israeli jurists, to investigate the actual legal status of the Israeli “settlements” in the West Bank under international law in face of the endlessly-repeated Goebbels' Big Lie mantras of Israel- haters across the world and even the country's “allies” about their purported illegality.
After an exhaustive study of the history of Israel's presence in the territories and all the relevant international treaties, laws and conventions, the Levy Report concluded that “Israelis have the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria and the establishment of settlements cannot, in and of itself, be considered illegal”. This is because the call of the 1920 San Remo Conference for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” retains its validity to the present day and constitutes a binding international commitment to make all of historic Palestine as under the British mandate into a Jewish state.
The Levy Report should have been publicized everywhere to buttress Israel's stance in the current negotiations with the Palestinians, and in each and every international forum where the legality of the settlements is denied. Instead, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu never brought the Levy Report before the cabinet, and has quietly buried it because he feared it would generate a major international controversy . That's like your defense attorney self-censoring your strongest argument for fear the prosecutors might object. Whose side is Netanyahu really representing?
The war against Torah Judaism
The war of Israel's secular left against the Greater Israel vision and its most valiant standard-bearers, the maligned “settlers”, goes hand in hand with a tireless campaign to undermine, delegitimize and demonize the very sizeable portion of Israel's population, both Ashkenazim and Sephardim, who even amidst the mind-boggling technological, social and cultural changes of our times continue striving to observe Judaism in the same tradition as our fathers and father's fathers.
( According to recent figures , about twenty percent of the Jewish Israeli population define themselves as either “orthodox” [ Hareidi 8%] or “religious” [ Dati, 12%], while another thirteen per cent call themselves “traditionally religious” [ Dati Massorti ] and another twenty-five per cent “non-observant traditionalists ” [ Massorti ]. In other words, close to sixty per cent of the Jewish population in Israel identify more or less strongly with the Jewish tradition, while only 15% are so secularized that they do not attend a Passover Seder.)
The roots of the chauvinistic Jewish secularist loathing for “orthodoxy”, the “ultra-orthodox” or “ meshuga froom ” (“madly pious”) seem to reach back to the late 1600's and 1700's, when certain leading families and trend-setters whose attachment to the Torah tradition had been undermined by Shabbateanism formed the spearhead of what developed into the huge waves of assimilation that have changed the face of the people ever since.
Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, was pragmatic enough to understand that the establishment of the Jewish state would be impossible without the involvement of the Torah-observant communities, and he agreed to leave in place the existing balance of religious and secular interests in the country under what was known as the Status Quo . However, in over six and a half decades since then, endless secular campaigning with the connivance of the self-perpetuating clique of jurists who dominate Israel's Supreme Court have dealt blow after blow to that arrangement. (It is highly significant that the outbreak of the “First Intifada” in the fall of 1987, marked by stonings of Israeli cars, coincided exactly with the rewriting of the Jerusalem municipality rules by the leftists who then controlled it, permitting for the first time since the establishment of the state the opening of cafes, restaurants and places of entertainment in the city on Shabbat, the Biblical penalty for whose willful violation is stoning .)
Sad as it is to have to say, the war against observant Jewry has reached new levels of intensity precisely under Netanyahu's present coalition with the supposedly nationalist, religious Zionist “Jewish Home” party and their unholy partners “Yesh Atid” (“There is [no] future”) under the leadership of popularist secular chauvinist firebrand Finance Minister Yair Lapid, a worthy son of the late Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, who was a genuine apikoros if ever there was one.
Following in the tradition of the devastating slashes to Israel's welfare benefits under Netanyahu's 1996-99 premiership, which pushed tens of thousands of religious Jewish families under the poverty line, Yair Lapid as finance minister in the present government has introduced a string of economic decrees curbing benefits specifically to the “Hareidi” (“orthodox”) sector of the population – ostensibly to encourage them to enter the workplace (as if many of them are not struggling right now to find work, while others are living in absolute poverty). In recent weeks Lapid has cut off government funding to the Yeshivas, the pride of Torah Jewry (while maintaining massive funding to all the secular academic bastions of Israeli self-hatred, and anti-state incitement), as part of the wider secular campaign to coerce the Hareidi population to send their children to serve in the Israeli army even though the army is quite unprepared for this and does not even want it.
I am not here to argue the merits or demerits of Hareidi service in the army. It is clear that under Torah law, true Torah scholars are exempt from army service (Rambam, Talmud Torah 6:10 and Sh'chenim -Neighbors 6:6). It is equally true that not insignificant numbers of bored, restless Hareidi youth who are artificially kept in full-time Torah study to which they are unsuited would undoubtedly benefit from shouldering some responsibility for their fellow citizens under a scheme of national service, if suitable arrangements could be made for their participation.
Unfortunately, it is also true that since the beginning of the State of Israel, service in the army “melting pot” has repeatedly been used as one of the most powerful weapons in the secular cultural offensive to undermine adherence to traditional Judaism among the country's finest young citizens. The disciplining of religious male soldiers who not long ago walked out of an army ceremony featuring girls singing (to which males may not listen under Torah law) was entirely typical of the way the army until today refuses to go more than a fraction of the way necessary to properly accommodate the religious needs of the many observant soldiers of the “Jewish” state.
Both Yair Lapid and his coalition partner, “Jewish Home” party leader Naftali Bennett, have explicitly stated that the objective of their experiments in social engineering is to induce the Hareidi communities to integrate into the wider Israeli society and culture. But if greater social harmony is truly Lapid and Bennett's goal, their actions in government (such as working to criminalize Hareidi draft evasion) have simply deepened the searing rifts within the country and provoked a persecution-complex among the Hareidim that has fostered a “fight or die” mentality. (Lapid himself greatly relishes the extensive media coverage of recent Hareidi protests as this enhances his popularity among his own secular constituency.)
Coincidentally or not, this overt war against the Hareidi communities is raging concurrently with unprecedented numbers of police investigations into a succession of very high profile rabbis in Israel for alleged misdemeanors ranging from graft, bribery, corruption and money-laundering to racism and sexual impropriety, much to the delight of the mainstream media (sign of Mashiach? “the wisdom of the scribes will stink” Sotah 49b). There is no doubt that rabbis too can fall victim to human weakness. What may be questioned is the power of Israel's Attorney General (a position traditionally held until today by left-wing lawyers) to determine singlehandedly who gets prosecuted while others surrounded by the stench of far greater corruption (such as former prime ministers Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert and present-PM Netanyahu himself) emerged unscathed.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government, judiciary and police with the collusion of the mainstream media turn a blind eye to massive Arab violations of building regulations, unremitting theft, malicious destruction of property both in Israel and the disputed “territories”, intimidation and persecution of the Jewish “settler” populations and other evils. Instead, it is the victims who are subjected to repeated harassment by the police and army, including brutal arrests and extended detentions of alleged “trouble-makers” without charges or access to family and lawyers for suspected writing of graffiti and other offenses that pale into insignificance in comparison with the escalating daily Arab terrorist violence perpetrated against the “settlers”.
Tyranny by any other name
The Israeli authorities apparently find it easier to oppress the Jews than to fight Arab lawlessness, as in auto-immune disease, when the very system that is supposed to defend and protect the body actually attacks it.
Could there have been any more flagrant affront to the Torah and the Zionist vision than the spectacle of the 2005 Gush Katif expulsions, when the Israeli government itself used the police and army not only to drive the 10,000 settlers from their homes and dig up their dear ones' graves, but to systematically blow up their synagogues and yeshivas in order to avoid the embarrassment of their being immediately destroyed by the jubilant incoming Gaza terrorists?
As John Kerry crafts his “Framework Agreement”, which if implemented would magnify the Gush Katif horror by scores of times, we are currently witnessing in Israel a poisonous atmosphere that recalls the tense times before and after the 1995 Rabin assassination, when the settlers were being provoked and persecuted by the secret services and mercilessly demonized in the media. As this continues today, Israel's “Justice” Minister Tzipi Livni, one of the leading crusaders against the settlements, is said to be drafting new legislation that will prevent rabbis who receive state salaries from criticizing the government .
Is all this intimidation and stamping out of free discussion about insane policies deemed necessary because of the magnitude of the historical catastrophe which the Obama administration is intent on imposing upon Israel and the entire Jewish people?
In Israel, the orthodox religious communities, the national religious and settler movements are each faced with dire threats, yet they are all at one another every day in the Knesset, in the media and in the streets. Where are any public protests or expressions of concern by members of any one of them for the plight of those of the others?
The fate of Judea and Samaria and their settlements is absent from the public agenda of most of today's Hareidi rabbinic and political leadership, who are deeply enmeshed in all kinds of other bitter and even violent disputes between different sects and sub-groups on matters as diverse as how to respond to the threat of forced military conscription and whether certain recently-excavated ancient graves are Jewish or gentile, with the conflicting halachic implications as to the permissibility of removing them from a commercial building site.
An uncanny example of the way extreme opposites are tending to converge in our turbulent times is how Israel's hard-core left wing anti-Zionist, anti-Israel, anti-settler secular professors deny the legitimacy of the Zionist State quite as vehemently in their way as their estranged 18 th -century-ghetto-Jew garbed Yerushalmi Neturey Karta cousins do in theirs.
Likewise in the Diaspora, the secular Jewish “liberal” pro-Palestinian activists in America, Britain and elsewhere are as opposed to Israel's existence as the Neturey Karta in Borough Park, Monsey and the other Jewish shtetalach of wider New York, London's Stamford Hill etc. etc. who are televised with their anti-Zionist placards at every Palestinian solidarity rally.
Throw in all the divisions between the ultra-orthodox, the modern orthodox, the Conservatives, the Reform, the ChaBaD meshichstim and the ChaBaD non- meshichstim and dozens of other movements, we are in what the Kabbalah calls Olam HaTohu , the World of Chaos, where each of the different limbs or attributes of the system is pulling in a different and contrary direction, as opposed to the desired and destined Olam HaTikkun , the World of Repair, where all the different individual parts function cooperatively in harmony with one another.
It is precisely this splintering among us that has given what the Zohar calls the Eruv Rav (the modern-day business-suited sorcerers who have hi-jacked the State of Israel and the established Jewish Diaspora organizations) their hold.
How will Diaspora Jewry react to the coming Framework Agreement should it ever, God forbid, be implemented? During the Gush Katif trauma, the mainstream Jewish lobbies in America and Europe and the rest of the world watched stoically as Jews were expelled from their homes and their synagogues and yeshivas were blown up, without those lobbies offering a single one of the condemnations reserved for similar Nazi atrocities. The same attitude of indifference was exhibited among many of the establishment Diaspora rabbinate. What comfort is to be expected from those who love to equate “extremist Jewish settler terror” with Arab terror and aggression?
Today, as the “Framework Agreement” scenario unfolds, American Jewish lobbies like AIPAC and the Anti Defamation League are noticeably gearing up to kotow to the US administration under god-emperor Obama, while the vocal American Reform movement is entirely in favor of “divesting from the territories” regardless of the cost.
Have you heard your rabbi publicly discuss the implications of Kerry's “Framework Agreement”? Are they being discussed in Williamsburg, Borough Park, Flatbush, Monsey or Lakewood? In Antwerp or London's Golder's Green and Stamford Hill? In Gateshead? Are they being discussed in “informed” and “concerned” Jewish households across the world??? Will people go back to tying orange bands around their wrists?
What about ChaBaD, whose Rebbe was adamantly opposed to any form of territorial compromise, but whose movement appears to have become politically neutralized, while those who might have had the power to speak in his name have either died in strange circumstances (as in the case of the late Rabbi Levi Bistrisky, Chief Rabbi of Safed, of blessed memory) or have been muzzled alive (as in the case of Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg)? What about the followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane?
Who will weep over our towns and settlements in our ancestral heartlands of Judea and Samaria, whose names are all written in the book of Joshua? Will our children in the Jewish Diaspora and exile chant their names the way Palestinian children are taught to chant the names of Acco, Haifa and other towns in Israel, holding up the “keys” of the homes from which their forefathers were allegedly driven out? Have we or our children ever read the relevant chapters in the book of Joshua giving the names of each and every Israelite city, town and “settlement” up and down the entire land? Are we aware of how the entire Bible is Israel's Deed of Possession to Eretz Yisrael, the Holy Land, “from the River to the River”???
The wider world picture
We stand today at a veritable crossroads in world history, where the ubiquitous surveillance and security measures that have sprung up since 9/11 testify to the endless third millennium global war against an ever-shifting enemy in which we are enmeshed.
As liberal egalitarianism has made deeper and deeper inroads into western attitudes and beliefs, morality, family life or the lack of it, the ever expanding governmental, financial and other forms of control over our lives have turned the mass of citizens into slaves of a system where the very rich are getting richer, the middle classes are being systematically squeezed out, and most of the population will continue working until at least the age of 75 unless they drop dead before that.
Against this backdrop, the hour is shining upon Ishmael, whose influence is rapidly spreading in Africa, Asia, Europe and America, where in the opinion of many the president himself is a Muslim. What Muslim armies were for 1300 years unable to accomplish by force in Europe, where they were barely driven back from the gates of Vienna and out of Spain, is now being achieved without opposition in the very heartlands of France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy and other countries, where the bankruptcy of establishment Christianity is causing churches to be turned into mosques, while the media and the intelligentsia look on as if bemused. The latest shock phenomenon is that of the “white widows”, western female converts to Islam who after the death of their terrorist husbands go off to recruit and train other women as fighters and terrorists to wage Jihad whether in places like Syria or even on the streets of Britain itself!
All these developments fit perfectly with the many prophesies contained in the Bible, Zohar and other Torah sources about how at the end of days, an uneasy alliance of Edom with Ishmael will hold sway over the whole world until the arrival of Mashiach.
For decades the academic, cultural and political left wing across the world together with churches, mosques, white, black, brown and other supremacist movements etc. have been unremittingly fanning the flames of anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-Jew hatred to the point where blatant anti-Semitism is now rife all across Europe and America. Jews fear to be visible as such on the streets of Paris and London. The latest “Knock-out” sport in New York and other cities where street gangs are regularly targeting Jews who are instantly felled with one sharp fist-blow into the face is typical of the society of monsters that decades of “liberalism” and softness on crime and violence have bred. All this may of course also be seen as a stunning success for all of the Holocaust Education projects across Europe and America over the last seventy years that were intended to ensure “It will never happen again!”
The rapid rise of Iran to the very center of the world stage would have seemed unimaginable at the time of the 1979 revolution, or after the heavy losses they sustained in the 1980-88 war with Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Hussein is long dead and America and her allies have obviously lost their war in Iraq, which has now fallen squarely within the Iranian “sphere of influence” together with Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and other hot spots across the world.
As war-weary America pulls out from a role as the world's policeman that began with the liberation of Europe from the Nazis, Obama's “diplomacy” seems intended to build up Iran. It will be the height of historical irony if indeed Iran will eventually destroy Europe and America, “Edom” (which seems to be the ultimate goal of the Iranian ruling clique) as prophesied in Jeremiah 49:20 and 50:45 (see Targum and Rashi there, Yoma 10a and Tosafot on Avodah Zarah 2b).
With America's voluntary abdication from center-stage, the true emerging world leader might well be karate black-belt, KGB-reared Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia has shown steady support for a strong Iran, and so too has Turkey. This seems fully consistent with the list of nations named in the prophecy of Ezekiel as being allied against Israel in the war of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38:2-6). “Meshekh” (verse 2) is Moscow, “Paras” (verse 5) is Iran, and the House of “Togarma” (verse 6) is variously identified with either Turkey or Germany, the latter being Iran's number one European trading partner.
These and many other countries across the world will be watching with great satisfaction as John Kerry does the dirty work of foisting the “Framework Agreement” on Israel to advance the collective goal of destroying it.
The full scenario of the War of Gog and Magog is given in the commentary of Malbim on Ezekiel chapter 32, verse 17.
The future of Torah Judaism
My dear friend:
Are you going to take to the streets to scream against the Framework Agreement? And will that help?
Are you going to rush to Judea and Samaria to physically obstruct the destruction of Jewish settlements? Organize a Prayer Gathering in your local community? Fast? Increase your charity? Take on more Torah study?
Will you fight by signing Internet petitions, by forwarding “must read” emails to all your friends and clicking “Like” on pro-settler Facebook posts?
The war we face is ultimately the prophesied war of the nations against the God of the Torah, the God of Israel. In this, more than in any other war, each and every Torah warrior must fight his or her fight in the exact place and situation in which he or she has been placed by God. Each must fight according to his or her best understanding of what God desires, using all possible talents, skills, resources and weapons that He provides.
In the words of Rambam (Laws of Kings 7:15):
When a soldier enters the throes of battle, he must rely on the Hope of Israel and their Savior in times of need. He must understand that he is fighting for the sake of the Oneness of God's Name. Therefore, he should put his soul in his hand and show no fear or panic … Whoever fights with all his heart, without fear, with the intention of sanctifying God's name alone, can be assured he will not come to any harm, nor will evil reach him. He will be granted a worthy family in Israel and gain merit for himself and his children forever. And he will also gain eternal life in the World to Come, as it is written (I Samuel 25:28-29): “God will certainly make my lord a faithful house, for my lord fights the wars of God and evil will not be found with you... and my lord's soul will be bound in a bond of life with God.
What is ultimately at stake for us in the war we face is the future of Torah Judaism itself with its ancient, authentic path of observance of Shabbat, Kashrut, Family Purity and all the other commandments in accordance with all their Halachot as we have received them from our ancestors and sages. For these today are literally under attack, as in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland and Poland, etc. where Shechitah, kosher slaughter, is illegal, and where, as in many other countries as well, there is constant pressure to outlaw Jewish circumcision.
The good news is that even in these dark times of hatred, persecution, literal violence and warfare against Jews, there is an enormous groundswell of Teshuvah among us, an awakening to God and His Torah on all kinds of different levels among people young and old from every conceivable background and place on earth, Jewish or partly Jewish, descendants of Spanish and Portuguese forced converts in South and North America , members of lost tribes in Africa, India and China with traditions going back millennia, people in Europe, America, Australia, Asia, Africa who were brought up as Christians, who are suddenly searching for their Hebraic roots and the restoration of the Ten Lost Tribes. There are non-Christians and people who thought they were non-believers, Moslems in Turkey and Pakistan, Buddhists in Thailand and Korea who are inexplicably fascinated by the Torah, the God of Israel and His people, all swelling the ranks of millions of unknown and unheralded non-Jewish people across the world who love and admire Israel and the Jewish people, the wisdom of their Torah and their God-given blessing and achievements.
Just as in the age of Mordecai and Esther, you and I today must see and hear in the perilous situation we face God's loud call to us to return with all our hearts and souls. As a matter of life or death, we must heed His call now .
Each person must learn to rule over his or her heart in order to fight as a warrior for the God of Israel through careful performance of the mitzvot, the pursuit of charity and kindness, the study of Torah and prayer, and by courageously playing his or her unique role in accordance with his or her God-given situation, abilities and opportunities.
Let us rise to the call of the Torah.
© Avraham ben Yaakov 5774 / 2014. All rights reserved.