15 March 2018

Vayikra: "Torah of the Cohanim"

29 Adar 5778
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Erev Rosh Chodesh Nisan
Parashat Vayikra-HaChodesh

Rabbi Mordechai Sitorsky

Parashat Vayikra: Vayikra/Nisan


14 March 2018

"Frightening Similarities Between the American and Egyptian Exiles"

28 Adar 5778


Ending Israel's Attachment to the "West"

27 Adar 5778

Yesterday, there was a headline that proclaimed Israel as having the highest birthrate "in the West." Geographically-speaking, Israel is not part of the West, but through it's attachment to Eisav/Edom, it has become a Western outpost in the Middle East. This is the very thing the Arabs despise the most about us. More properly, Israel is the crossroads or the meeting point between East and West. Where better to be a lighthouse shining the truth to a world darkened by oppressive false religions on both sides? But, Israel's spiritual light is overshadowed by the Western sun of empirical materialism.

Israel's western alignment at the End of Days was predicted by no less than the Maharal of Prague.
(Excerpted from "Who is the Messiah?" by Rabbi Aryeh Carmell):
...So long as the kingdom of the Messiah has not yet reached perfection, the kingdom of the Messiah is attached to Edom (nigar el Edom) ...The holy kingdom of Israel... must grow out of the non-holy kingdom that preceded it.
Maharal, in a telling parable, describes the relationship between the embryonic "kingdom of Israel" and its "Edomite" environment: Fruit grows within a husk; when the fruit ripens the husks falls off... So it is with Israel. Their kingdom emerges and grows from within the kingdom of the nations i.e., from the existential power of the kingdom of the nations, and from their level, it raises itself to a higher level. And when the kingdom of Israel reaches complete maturity the kingdom of nations is removed, just as the husk is removed, and falls off when the fruit reaches its perfection.
The Messianic revolution will take place in the hearts and minds of the people. The "falling off of the husk" does not refer to a political or military event, nor does "kingdom of the nations" refer to a political entity. The husk refers to the value system of the Western world. The falling off of the husk signifies the victory of spirituality over materialism, faith in G-d over unbounded trust in one's own power, and awareness of divine providence over belief in blind chance.
Today, it feels like the "husk" is so firmly attached that it might never come off, r"l.
Israel and U.S. Militaries Increasingly Joined at the Hip
U.S. And Israeli Forces Conduct Military Exercises In Juniper Cobra Drill
American troops 'here to defend Israel'
...The David's Sling commander also recounted how moved he was by joint briefings at the end of each day. "American tactical officers take to the stage, and say they're here to defend the State of Israel and its sovereignty as if they were fighting for their own country. They say they'll do anything to defend Israel. It's moving," he said.
Lt.-Col. Richard Clark, commander of the American force, said that US Army forces are prepared to leave Europe and arrive in Israel within two or three days from the moment they are called upon.
Think "Rome" and understand that they want to protect the Erev Rav regime which is the epitome of their "twin" and that the Kingdom of Messiah will properly be perceived as the greatest threat to them and their hegemony here.

Even while Israel's ruling regime re-entrenches itself, the ties appear to grow tighter still.
With anti-Iran, pro-Israel stances, Pompeo may become Jerusalem’s new darling
Preoccupied by the political crisis that threatened to bring down the ruling coalition, politicians in Jerusalem on Tuesday overwhelmingly ignored the news of the United States getting a new secretary of state.
...Pompeo is a known hawk on Iran. His views on the 2015 Iran deal perfectly align with those of Trump — and Netanyahu. They all think the deal was a catastrophe and needs to be dramatically improved or thrown out altogether.
Pompeo indicated in late 2014, before the deal was signed, that he believed military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities would more effectively thwart Tehran’s quest for atomic bombs than diplomacy.
“Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, has become an even more emboldened and disruptive player in the Middle East,” he said at his Senate confirmation hearing in January 2017.
Unsurprisingly, friends of the Islamic Republic on Tuesday rang the alarm bell over the appointment.
Pompeo in Foggy Bottom would increase the chances of “a new war in the Middle East,” the National Iranian American Council warned, calling him “one of the most ideological opponents of diplomacy with Iran.”
This is no less than yad Hashem making a move on His heavenly chess board. East and West - the US and Iran - are destined for a final showdown. When it comes, the husk will weaken significantly, to the point of allowing the Messianic Kingdom to emerge and throw off its remains. I look forward to that day.

13 March 2018

The Government Is Tottering

26 Adar 5778

Will it stabilize or will it fall. It's being battered about by earth-shaking events and political ill-winds. Can it survive? Do God-fearing Jews even want it to survive in its current form? Anything might be better than being stuck in the rut of the status quo. I, for one, would not shed any tears on its demise.

I wonder what would be if we could pass a law that no one who had ever held office before could run in the next election and open the entire field to newcomers. Turn the political ill-winds into a refreshing wind of change. Ahh!

And why are there no term-limits in this country??? In fact, I think all politicians should be limited to one term. That way, they can concentrate on the job they were elected to do rather than spend most of their first term trying to secure a second term. If four years is not enough, perhaps the term itself should be extended to five or six years, but no one holding office should be investing their time in trying to get re-elected when they should be serving their constituents. And, in my opinion, there should never be such a thing called a "career politician."

11 March 2018

Please Vote in the Blog Poll

25 Adar 5778

Just to the right of this blog post.

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Do You Have a 'Golden Calf' in Your Life?

24 Adar 5778

We're closing in on Rosh Chodesh Nisan at the end of this week. Better start cleaning out all the chametz we've collected since last year. Look carefully inside yourself - into all the corners of your heart and mind - and if you find some remnant of the 'Golden Calf,' get rid of it!

08 March 2018

"It's the Job of the Jews"

22 Adar 5778
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei-Parah
The Job of the Jews!
...At an ecumenical gathering of spiritual leaders from the across the globe, they were deciding in which way to unify their minds for some noble purpose. It was proposed that they take some meditative moments together to transcend this world and to reach beyond the mud of daily life and the constant tug of physical desire. In the final instant a new and surprising suggestion was offered by one of the clerics, “Instead of trying to get beyond worldliness, why don’t we raise the physical and create a space for G-dliness here on earth?!” The suggestion was immediately dismissed by the moderator of the exercise, “Nah!” he said, “That’s the job of Jews!” Observing the quantity of details and the quality of communal effort that went into creating the Tabernacle is an emphatic reminder of the importance our unique mission on this earth and the critical task we have of transforming our own little corner of creation. It remains, after all these years, “The Job of the Jews!”
See the full text of this D'var Torah by Rabbi Label Lam here.


Their Torah Is Worthless

21 Adar 5778

Here we go again.
Jerusalem Faction plans mass protest against IDF serviceTwo weeks after the passing of their leader, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, radically anti-conscription sect gears up to flood Jerusalem streets, 'cause a noise the world will hear' in bid to demonstrate undiminished resolve to continue struggle.
Even if you agree with them, the ends here in no way justify the means. Were it a one-time event, one might be inclined to forgive the blatant disregard for their fellow Jews' welfare, but it's not a one-time event. And despite the multiple times the public has been grievously inconvenienced by this magnificent display of sinat chinam, nothing has been accomplished but a massive chillul Hashem.

Consider this. A single-mother who works to physical exhaustion every single day, but who cannot afford Jerusalem rents, must make a long bus ride home each night. Unfortunately for her, the bus route runs through Bar Ilan Street and every time there is a hareidi demonstration or a gadol's funeral, she can be left high and dry waiting for a bus that never comes because the road has been closed somewhere along the way. When she sits slumped tiredly on the bench with her groceries at her feet and looks down at her watch for the fifth time and realizes the bus is not coming and it will be another hour before the next one is due, a tear slips slowly down her cheek.

Rabotai, that single tear has just nullified all the Torah learning of all these demonstrating students. And how many times and how many ways and how many other mothers, fathers and children have been aggrieved by these ill-conceived actions? Add them all up. Do you think HKB"H is proud of them? I don't!

Israel Has Been Conquered by the West, Who Will Liberate Her?

21 Adar 5778

One can't help getting the sense in this country that it has become just one big marketing scheme. Everything is for sell in one form or another - even the Torah! It's pitiful and pathetic to be sure and a far, far cry from the vision of our holy prophets.
“We are very good at many things in Israel – hi-tech, medicine – I think it is also time for us to be good at something that is fun and enjoyable."
...US entrepreneurs have been in contact with officials in Israel in recent months about the development of the amusement park, Channel 10 News reported on Monday night.
If this doesn't break your heart, then maybe it is in the wrong place. 

06 March 2018

"Peace Requires Compromise"

20 Adar 5778

Viewing the speeches at the AIPAC conference, one might be forgiven for thinking the redemption has already arrived, or at the very least is well underway. However, all is not as it might appear.

One clue about what is really going on here can be found in VP Pence's speech where he says, "...any peace will undoubtedly require compromise." This is meant as a friendly warning for Jews to be prepared to accept some not-so-nice demands upon Israel. And it is a further allusion to this illuminating midrash...
"That was Esau's intention when he told Yakov, 'Let us travel together and I will go before you' (Breishit 33.12). He wanted them to join together in both this world and the world to come, to meet each other halfway, with each modifying his conduct until they were alike (Yalkut Shimoni, Breishit 133).
That's the meaning of compromise. And when they say there is "no daylight between Israel and the US," that means compromise has already been made

But, for real Jews, there can be no compromising on the Torah or the destiny of Klal Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael. Therefore, we are on a collision course with those requiring compromise. 

Mashiach is no compromiser and he will not be the leader of a nation of compromisers!

V'Nahafoch Hu?

19 Adar 5778

It started on Ta'anit Esther when it was announced that Jared Kushner's security clearance had been downgraded.
Roles Reduced, Jared Kushner And Ivanka Trump’s Fate Uncertain At The White House
They spent their first year in Washington as an untouchable White House power couple, commanding expansive portfolios, outlasting rivals and enjoying unmatched access to the president. But Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have undergone a swift and stunning reckoning of late, their powers restricted, their enemies emboldened and their future in the West Wing uncertain.
Kushner, long the second-most powerful man in the West Wing, is under siege. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law has lost influential White House allies. He remains under the shadow of the Russia probe and has seen his business dealings come under renewed scrutiny. He has been stripped of his top security clearance, raising questions how he can successfully advance his ambitious agenda — including achieving Mideast peace, a goal that has eluded presidents for generations.
Kushner’s most powerful patron, the president himself, has wavered recently on whether his daughter and son-in-law belong in the White House anymore.

...“Kushner’s vulnerable and in an accelerated fall from grace.
Just the opposite of what happened with the Jews in the Purim story. 

That last statement could be applied to American Jews in general - vulnerable and falling from grace.

Read the handwriting on the wall people! Don't keep sitting there like the proverbial frog in the pot of hot water as the temperature increases!

A picture of the American Jewish experience on the eve of disaster.

VP Mike Pence speech at AIPAC Policy Conference. March 5, 2018

02 March 2018

What A Shame!

15 Adar 5778 - Shushan Purim
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Ki Tisa

Shame is out of fashion. It is an emotion to be avoided at all costs. The modern world makes it out to be extremely negative, even harmful - not healthy. But, like everything God created, it has its purpose and its place and there are times when it is appropriate.

Despite the joyous outcome of the Purim story, we have to feel a bit shameful in regard to how our ancestors behaved at Achashverosh's banquet. It was a celebration of the (perceived) failure of the prophecy of the return of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael. And to top it off, the king wore the clothing of the Cohen Gadol and ate and drank from the keilim used in the service of the Beit Hamikdash. I'm sure he reasoned (erroneously) that since the Jews would not be returning, they would have no further use for them anyway.

Right on the heels of that story, we move into Shabbat - Parashat Ki Tisa which recounts what I consider to be one of the two most shameful events of our history - the incident with the Golden Calf. (The second being the crying and refusal to enter Eretz Yisrael on the first Tisha b'Av.)

We have to hang our heads in shame when we recall our abominable behavior at the moment which should have been the pinnacle of our success in the aftermath of our redemption from Egyptian bondage. And what we put poor Moshe Rabeinu through after all he had sacrificed for the nation!

Unfaithfulness, ingratitude, fearfulness - these are traits to be ashamed of for sure. But, shame is only a negative when it fails to elicit the desired response for which it was created. It is supposed to inspire us to act - to change these negative traits into their positive opposites. If it inspires teshuvah, as it was intended to, then it serves the purpose for which the Creator intended and everyone benefits.

It is entirely appropriate at this moment in time to ask ourselves whether we are still eating from Acheshverosh's table today; are we still dancing around the Golden Calf today?

As we read the parashah, we should allow ourselves to experience the shame of failure to live up to HKB"H's ideal for us and then allow it to infuse us with a new determination to rectify that failure and begin - today - to live up to the ideal.

~ Shabbat Shalom ~