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09 December 2012

Another one for the record books

25 Kislev 5773

Typhoon Bopha the Strongest ever Tropical Cyclone to hit Philippines

Storm that killed 600 threatens Philippines again

NEW BATAAN, Philippines (AP) — A typhoon that had left the Philippines after killing nearly 600 people and leaving hundreds missing in the south has made a U-turn and is now threatening the country's northwest, officials said Saturday.

There was a strong possibility the disastrous storm would make a second landfall Sunday,....

With many survivors still in shock, soldiers, police and outside volunteers formed most of the teams searching for bodies or signs of life under tons of fallen trees and boulders swept down from steep hills surrounding the worst-hit town of New Bataan, municipal spokesman Marlon Esperanza said.

"We are having a hard time finding guides," he told The Associated Press. "Entire families were killed and the survivors ... appear dazed. They can't move."

He said the rocks, mud, tree trunks and other rubble that litter the town have destroyed landmarks, making it doubly difficult to search places where houses once stood.

On Friday, bodies found jammed under fallen trees that could not be retrieved were marked with makeshift flags made of torn cloth so they could be easily spotted by properly equipped teams.

Authorities decided to bury unidentified bodies in a common grave after forensic officials process them for future identification by relatives, Esperanza said.

The town's damaged public market has been converted into a temporary funeral parlor. A few residents milled around two dozen white wooden coffins, some containing unidentified remains.

One resident, Jing Maniquiz, 37, said she rushed home from Manila for the wake of two of her sisters, but could not bring herself to visit the place where her home once stood in Andap village. Her parents, a brother and nephew are missing.

"I don't want to see it," she said tearfully. "I can't accept that in just an instant I lost my mother, my father, my brother."

She said that at the height of the typhoon, her mother was able to send her a text message saying trees were falling on their house and its roof had been blown away.

Maniquiz said her family sought refuge at a nearby health center, but that was destroyed and they and dozens of others were swept away by the raging waters.

"We are not hopeful that they are still alive. We just want to find their bodies so that we will have closure," she said.

Mary Joy Adlawan, a 14-year-old high school student from the same village, was waiting for authorities to bury her 7-year-old niece.

Her parents, an elder sister, five nieces and a nephew are missing.

"I don't know what to do," she said as she fixed some flowers on the coffin.

...Nearly 400,000 people, mostly from Compostela Valley and nearby Davao Oriental provinces, have lost their homes and are crowded inside evacuation centers or staying with relatives.

The typhoon plowed through the main southern island of Mindanao, crossed the central Philippines and lingered over the South China Sea for the past two days. It made a U-turn Saturday and is now threatening the northwestern Ilocos region.

06 December 2012

Items of Interest

23 Kislev 5773

In this post, I want to share some references which might apply to the current situation.

1. From Yeranan Yaakov, an excerpt from his blog post entitled Geula Update from Rav Fish - Vayeshev, 5773

He heard from one of the grandchildren of the late Shomrei Emunim Rebbe ZT"L who told him a few weeks before his death about the year 5773 that on Hanukka, there will be fire; in Adar, much wine will be poured; and in Nissan, there will be a great vengeance against the nations.

It is also brought down in the book "Imrei Tzvi" (Koshkelov) that the Teshuva that precedes the Geula will start at Hanukka.

A Torah Codes table is brought from Rav Glazerson with "From Hanukka", "In 5773", "Teshuva", "Mashiah" - all in the Book of Devarim, which hints to the sixth millennium.

Another Torah Codes table is brought with "The Keitz", "Be'itah", "The Land of Israel", "5773".

2. In 2004, Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok posted an interview at his KosherTorah website which he had reproduced from the original (circa 1989-1994). It described a Dr. David Golander who had brought a "message" from some "secret kabbalists."  In light of the current reports about the likelihood of Syria using gas against their enemies, I thought this was worth re-reading:

Israel will have war with seven western nations and Russia. The United States will abandon us, as they did Vietnam and Lebanon. The war will begin with a gas attack; every event in the Land will be tied to gas. There will be a lot of it. This is the sign.

3. From Yehudit's "prophecy" which pre-dates the year 2005 as presented at the Dreaming of Mashiach Blog:

"In response to kassam and rockets on Northern Israel, he will give instructions to completely exterminate a city in Syria."

In a Debka article dated 4 October 2011..."If a single Syrian missile explodes in Tel Aviv, Damascus will be first to pay the price, and if the missile offensive persists, one Syrian town after another will be destroyed."

4. Already last week, it was publicized that Israel was ready to bomb Syria's stockpiles of chemical weapons:

'Israel sought Jordan's permission to bomb Syria'

Israel asked Jordan on a number of occasions for “permission” to bomb Syrian chemical weapons sites, The Atlantic reported Monday, citing intelligence sources in both countries.

According to the report, Amman turned down requests a number of times in the past two months, saying “the time was not right.”

It'll be strange if all the hype and build up about Iran turns out to be fulfilled in a clash with Syria.

5. And what's with all the sudden resignations among the political elite? Are they abandoning a sinking ship? It's about time in the geulah process for the Erev Rav regime to give way to the rule of Mashiach.

Ehud Barak resigns as Israeli defence minister

Tourism Minister Meseznikov resigns from politics

MKs Itzik and Bar-On quit politics

[Danny] Ayalon, who was considered to be close to Lieberman, joined Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, who said on Tuesday that he was resigning from political life, and MK Anastassia Michaeli, who announced her departure from politics on Monday.

Peretz Submits Knesset Resignation to Rivlin

6. Found this interesting as well:

Netanyahu, Barak and Gantz abroad 'on state business'

The escalating conflict in Syria and the growing concern that Bashar Assad's army was gearing towards using chemical weapons did not stop three of Israel's top leaders from travelling abroad – all at the same time.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak made an official visit to Europe, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz left for a sensitive work visit to "a friendly state" on Monday, Yedioth Ahoronoth reported on Thursday.

Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon is replacing Netanyahu during his absence, while Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter is acting for Barak. Gantz is being replaced by his deputy, Major General Yair Naveh.

Sources within the army criticized the leaders' "irresponsible" behavior, noting they cannot recall a case in recent history when a prime minister, a defense minister and the IDF chief were all out of the country simultaneously....

********
UPDATE: Kedar: Israel 'Knows How to Deal With Syrian Chemical Threat'  As Syria raises the stakes over its chemical weapons, an Israeli expert says measures are being taken to minimize the threat.

"crossing a red line"

22 Kislev 5773

Remember when they said just moving it was "crossing a red line?"

Syria loads chemical weapons into bombs; military awaits Assad's order

The Syrian military is prepared to use chemical weapons against its own people and is awaiting final orders from President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials told NBC News on Wednesday.

The military has loaded the precursor chemicals for sarin, a deadly nerve gas, into aerial bombs that could be dropped onto the Syrian people from dozens of fighter-bombers, the officials said.

As recently as Tuesday, officials had said there was as yet no evidence that the process of mixing the "precursor" chemicals had begun. But Wednesday, they said their worst fears had been confirmed: The nerve agents were locked and loaded inside the bombs.

...U.S. officials stressed that as of now, the sarin bombs hadn't been loaded onto planes and that Assad hadn't issued a final order to use them. But if he does, one of the officials said, "there's little the outside world can do to stop it."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reiterated U.S. warnings to Assad not to use chemical weapons, saying he would be crossing "a red line" if he did so....

Clinton: Assad May Use Chemical Weapons in Desperation


Report: Syria Loads Chemical Weapons Into Bombs; Military Awaits Assad’s Order

US: Sarin bombs ready for Assad’s “go” order. Israel's odd silence

05 December 2012

"All the enemies of Israel will return..."

22 Kislev 5773

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said that he was Nebuchadnezar, King of Babylon, reincarnated. Many say that Iranian President Mahmoud Achmadinejad is Haman returned. Is it possible that Bashar Assad is connected to Antiochus, the Syrian-Greek bad guy of the Hanukah story? And what's more important, will Syria attack Israel (or will Syria be attacked) during Hanukah?
___________

Crash Course in Jewish History #28 from Aish.com

Alexander's vast empire did not survive his death in 323 BCE, but fragmented into three large chunks centered in Greece, Egypt, and Syria and controlled by his former generals. These three smaller empires were known as:
  • Seleucid or Syrian Greece
  • Ptolemian or Egyptian Greece
  • Macedonian or Greece proper, including the independent city-states of Athens, Sparta, etc.
Initially, Israel falls under the Ptolemies of Egypt. They are generally liberal and open-minded in keeping with the spirit of their capital city of Alexandria which is the world's cultural center.
But this changes in 198 BCE after the Battle of Panias (or Banyas-Tel Dan in northern Israel). After their victory at Panias the Seleucids of Assyria, led by the King, Antiochus III, take over control of Israel from the Ptolemies.
The picture is volatile, however. The next Seleucid king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, finds himself under a lot of pressure, holding back the Ptolemies and worrying about the rising might of Rome.
He decides that the weak link in his defenses is Israel. Israel is bordered by (1) Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea (from whence the Romans could come), and worst of all, the majority of Jews are not into Greek culture. This situation he now moves to remedy.
...Antiochus IV Epiphanes takes deliberate steps between 169 BCE and 167 BCE to Hellenize the Jews of Israel by attempting to destroy Judaism. The Book of Maccabees calls this period a "reign of terror" and describes its beginnings as:
Not long after this, the king sent an Athenian senator to compel the Jews to forsake the laws of their fathers and cease to live by the laws of God, and also to pollute the temple in Jerusalem and call it the temple of Olympian Zeus...(6)
One of the first things that Antiochus does take control of the Temple through influencing the office of the High Priest. He removes the High Priest from his position and replaces him with a Jew that he has in his back pocket. From this point on the High Priesthood becomes, to a large extent, a corrupt institution.
...After he installs his own High Priest, Antiochus tries to dissolve the Jewish calendar.
Antiochus, by this time, understands the Jews very well. To him these people are time obsessed ― they try to make time holy. Destroy time and you destroy the Jews' ability to practice Judaism. Therefore, Antiochus forbids the observance of Shabbat, the observance of the New Moon (Rosh Chodesh), and the observance of the holidays ― Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot.
Next, Antiochus forbids keeping kosher and studying Torah. Torah scrolls are publicly burned, and swine are sacrificed over sacred Jewish books to defile them. Indeed, Antiochus seems obsessed by swine, knowing that this animal is particularly repugnant to the Jews; he even forces the High Priest to institute swine sacrifices in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and also to permit worship there of a whole array of Greek gods. (See 1 Maccabees 1:41-64.)
Lastly, Antiochus forbids circumcision. To the Jews, this is the physical, tangible sign of their covenant with God. And it's the one thing the Greeks ― who worship the perfection of the human body ― find most abhorrent. To them, circumcision is a mutilation.
Jews resist, so Antiochus and his henchmen go about driving the point home in a crude and cruel fashion. 
...Women who allowed their sons to be circumcised were killed with their sons tied around their necks. The scholars of Israel were hounded, hunted down and killed. Jews who refused to eat pork or sacrifice hogs were tortured to death ... Even the smallest hamlet in Judah was not safe from the oppression of the Hellenists. The altars to Zeus and other pagan deities were erected in every village, and Jews of every area were forced to participate in the sacrificial services.

This type of religious persecution was, until then, unknown in human history. Up to that time, no one in the ancient world declared war on other people's religions, because the attitude of polytheism was "I'll worship your god, you worship mine. The more gods the merrier."

...In the polytheistic world no one died for their religion. No one, except the Jews...

You can read more here.

Getting Serious in Syria

22 Kislev 5773

Well, I wanted to concentrate more on getting ready for Hanukah, but the news about Syria is spreading. How ironic is it that it's the Syrian Greeks we were fighting 2176 years ago?

I realize that there have been reports of imminent threat to Israel from Syria for months now, but today, it seems to have more substance than ever, so I'm passing along the following:

Rebels Appear to be Closing in on Syria's Assad

Syrian opposition forces captured a military air field, as well as the army's 22nd Brigade air defense base, both just outside Damascus.

The capture, accomplished by the Free Syrian Army, was described by the pan-Arab Al-Arabiya news network as “an important military achievement.”

Rebel forces have also cut off a sprawling military base outside of Aleppo.

...As the clashes in the capital have further chipped away at the few loyalists who remain in Assad's administration, concerns are also growing over Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

...Among the chemical agents believed to be held in Syria's stockpile are mustard gas, a blistering agent, and the lethal nerve agents VX and sarin, according to various analysts. Engineers working for Assad’s regime have begun combining the two chemical precursors needed to weaponize sarin gas, an American official with knowledge of the situation told Wired.com’s 'Danger Room' on Monday.

Rasmussen echoed the warnings from U.S. President Barack Obama that the Syrian government may indeed be considering using such weaponry to end the conflict.


Syrian Civil War Spills Into Lebanon

Gunmen loyal to opposite sides in neighboring Syria’s civil war battled in the streets of northern Lebanon on Wednesday, and the death toll from two days of fighting was at least five killed and 45 wounded, officials said.

The Lebanese army fanned out in the city of Tripoli to calm the fighting, with soldiers patrolling the streets in armored personnel carriers and manning checkpoints. Authorities closed major roads because of sniper fire.

The fighting comes at a time of deep uncertainty in Syria, with rebels closing in on President Bashar Assad’s seat of power in Damascus. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged Syria’s regime against using its stockpile of chemical weapons, warning of “huge consequences” if President Bashar Assad resorts to such weapons of mass destruction....


Assad’s chemical weapons units head out of Damascus toward Aleppo

As NATO in Brussels gave the go-ahead Tuesday night, Dec. 4, for the deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missiles to protect Turkey against Syrian missiles, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources reported that convoys of the Syrian army’s chemical weapons units headed out of Damascus under cover of dark and turned north up the road to Aleppo. Their destination is not yet known.

The convoys were ferrying self-propelled cannons for firing shells loaded with poisonous sarin gas.

Syrian President Bashar Assad had evidently decided to ignore the warnings President Barack Obama issued Monday night that there would be consequences if he or anyone in Syria resorted to chemical warfare and each would be held accountable.

Our sources report that the Syrian ruler is aparently gambling dangerously on the Americans holding back from attacking the convoys as long as they deploy unconventional weapons, and would only react when they are used.

...US forces in the region, Israel, Turkey and Jordan were all braced Monday night, Dec. 3 for action against Syria in case Syrian President Bashar Assad ordered his army’s chemical warfare units to go into action against rebel and civilian targets his own country. None of the Middle East capitals are talking openly about this eventuality to avoiding causing panic.

However, oblique references to the peril and preparations for action came from US officials during Monday. White House spokesman Jay Carney said: “We have an increased concern about the possibility of the regime taking the desperate act of using its chemical weapons.” Such a move “would cross a red line for the United States.”


Without going into specifics, Carney added: “We think it is important to prepare for all scenarios. Contingency planning is the responsible thing to do.”

"Allusions to Hanukah from the Torah"

21 Kislev 5773

It's time to think about Hanukah!

Here is something interesting that I found in Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov's Book of Our Heritage on the month of Kislev:

In parashas Emor, the Torah recounts all of the special days of the year: Shabbos, Pesach, Shavuos, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkos. This account is immediately followed by the commandment to maintain an eternal light in the Sanctuary. Why are the two subjects juxtaposed? It would seem that Scripture is alluding to a future time when the lighting of the eternal light will also be celebrated in an annual festival after Sukkos.

A similar allusion to the establishment of the festival of Chanukah can be drawn from the juxtaposition of the Torah portion which describes the offerings brought by the nesi'im when the Tabernacle was consecrated [parashas Naso] and the portion regarding the obligation to light the Menorah [parashas Beha'alos'cha].

The Ramban, in his commentary to the latter parashah, writes:

In the Megillas Setarim of Rabbenu Nissim, I found the following statement. I saw in the Midrash that when the twelve tribes had each brought their offerings for the consecration of the altar and the tribe of Levi had not been included, God said to Moshe: Speak to Aharon and tell him that one day there will be another chanukah [consecration] which will be accompanied by the lighting of lights. And I will bring it about through your sons - miracles, salvation, and dedication which will be known by their name, the Chanukah of the House of Hasmoneans!

This is the reason why the account of lighting the Menorah is found next to the account of the offerings of the tribes.

I further saw, in the Midrash Yelamdenu [Tanchuma] and in the Midrash Rabbah as well: God said to Moshe: Go and tell Aharon: Have no fear. You are destined for something greater than this [i.e., the offerings brought by the nesi'im]. Sacrifices are brought only as long as the Beis ha-Mikdash stands, but the lights shall be lit forever. And all the blessings which I have given you, so that you might bless My children, shall never be nullified.

But is it not true that when the Beis ha-Mikdash does not stand and the sacrifices have ceased because of the destruction, that the Menorah has also ceased to be lit? Rather, the Sages were alluding to the lights of the Hasmonean Chanukah, which are lit even after the destruction.
Still other allusions to Chanukah in the Torah include:

When counting from the word Breishis [the first word in the Torah], the twenty-fifth word is or - light - an allusion to the light of Chanukah which is lit on the twenty-fifth day.

When counting the encampments of the Children of Israel in the desert [where they rested from their journey], the twenty-fifth encampment was in Chashmonah - an allusion to the Chashmona'im [Hasmoneans] who [also] rested on the twenty-fifth day.


In the merit of the learning of this Torah about Hanukah and in the merit of our ancestors who let nothing stand in the way of their moral duty to G-d and to their people and in the merit of the light which Jews spread at this season throughout the world, may Yehonatan HaLevi ben Malka receive a refuah shleimah and an immediate release from prison. Please G-d!  (Update on his condition.)

War by "Diplomacy"

21 Kislev 5773

If there was ever a doubt about who "Gog" is...

Israel accuses US of backing European settlement backlash
Israel has accused its closest ally, the United States, of endorsing a concerted European backlash against its plans to expand settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.


Five European countries, including Britain, have registered formal protests with Israeli ambassadors over last week’s decision by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to build 3,000 settlers’ homes and develop an area of the West Bank that could render a Palestinian state unviable.

Along with Australia and Brazil, they were joined by Egypt, threatening to destabilise its fragile regional relations.

The Egyptian foreign minister said it had registered a “strong protest” with Israel’s Cairo ambassador over the proposals.

Despite the mounting international protest however, Mr Netanyahu’s office indicated there would be no backing down over its settlement plans.

An official in Mr Netanyahu’s office told the AFP news agency: “There will be no change in the decision that has been made.”

He spoke after Israel said that, in addition to last week’s announcement, it would also revisit plans to build 1,700 homes in Ramot Shlomo in east Jerusalem, and another 2,600 in Givat Hamatos.

The Ramot Shlomo development was shelved in 2010 after it provoked a row with the US.
Britain, France, Sweden, Spain and Denmark all summoned Israeli envoys on Tuesday to protest over the settlement plans, while Germany and the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon, denounced it.

The newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, quoted unnamed Israeli diplomats as saying the outcry could not have occurred without the complicity of the Obama administration, which has profound differences with Mr Netanyahu over settlements.

“We would not be mistaken to say that Europe was acting with Washington’s encouragement,” the paper’s commentator, Shimon Shiffer wrote. “The White House authorised Europe to pounce on the Netanyahu government and to punish it.”


One Israeli official told the Daily Telegraph that while the US was unlikely to have ordered such a move, it may have signalled approval.

“It’s more likely that they [the Americans] have been informed and have not raised any objection, but also showed some understanding and maybe even more,” he said. “There’s probably an understanding between the US and the Europeans that this is the right thing to do at this point.”

The former US ambassador to Israel, Dan Kurtzer, accused Mr Netanyahu of unveiling plans to develop the previously off-limits E1 section of the West Bank to punish President Barack Obama for failing to endorse a previous American-Israeli understanding that many settlements would remain despite any future peace deal. “It wasn’t just retribution at the UN, it was retribution at the US as well,” he told the liberal Haaretz newspaper.

William Hague, the foreign secretary, dismissed the possibility of European Union sanctions against Israel but said other measures could be applied.

“If there is no reversal of the decision that has been announced, we will want to consider what further steps European countries should take,” he said.

02 December 2012

Has the final battle for Jerusalem begun?

19 Kislev 5773

And during the month of Kislev when we celebrate the victory of battle over Jerusalem during the time of the Maccabees?

TIMELINE

29 November 2012 - The United Nations upgrades the Palestinian Authority to "State" status

30 November 2012 - The Israeli government announces approval for the building of 3,000 housing units in the area of "East" Jerusalem. “This was a proportionate response to what has happened so far,” [a] source said. “We might do more.”

2 December 2012 - Abbas 'Victory Speech': Jerusalem 'Eternal Capital of Palestine'
PA Chairman promises that someday the PA flag will fly over “Jerusalem, eternal capital of the state of Palestine.”

2 December 2012 - Israel 'Completely Rejects' UN Approval of New PA Status
The Cabinet has unanimously voted Sunday to reject the UN decision to grant the Palestinian Authority nonmember observer state status.


 After UN vote, Israel to suspend PA funds
Finance Minister Steinitz says won't transfer tax payments to Palestinians in response to UN bid. 'I'll use the money to offset their debt to the Electric Corp,' he states. PM Netanyahu: We'll continue building in Jerusalem

WORLD REACTIONS

...The New York Times reported Saturday that the Palestinian Authority has begun changing its name to “Palestine” on official documents, contracts and websites, and that several nations are considering raising the level of diplomatic relations, giving Palestinian envoys the title of ambassador. (Abbas: World said no to occupation)

New York Times says Israel gave United States only few hours’ notice of decision to pursue development that could prevent creation of viable, contiguous Palestinian state. 'This is one of the most sensitive areas of territory,' says former Ambassador Kurtzer. (US 'shocked' by new settlement plan)

The United Kingdom on Saturday weighed in on a new Israeli settlement expansion plan, urging the government "to reverse the decision." The UK's Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was "extremely concerned".... (UK calls on Israel to reverse settlement building decision)

Pakistan has said the Palestinian's success in getting non-member observer state status should not incur any reprisals as Islamabad's ambassador to the United Nations called for an end to illegal settlements on the occupied territories for progress towards Middle East peace.  Pakistan's Permanent Representative Ambassador Masood Khan also voiced the hope that the new status for the long-suffering Palestinians would pave the way for Palestine's recognition as full member. (Pakistan calls for end to illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine)

Where will it lead next? Take heart! It's scary - especially if you are a Jew living in "Palestine" - but, this is very good news. It means the status quo is over. The rut we've been stuck in since 1967 has been left behind. Now, full steam ahead to the complete redemption - the extension of full Israeli sovereignty over the whole Land of Israel as well as the Temple Mount!!