22 Elul 5782
Since not everyone got the message at the end of the last blog post...
15 Elul 5782
Shootings, rock attacks and riots are increasing in Samaria. I began warning people over two decades ago (starting with Sondra Oster Baras) against the various "bridging" initiatives being formed to bring Jews and Evangelical (and Messianic) Christians together and the danger it presented.
I guess it is about 13 years ago now when I first began to warn that allowing Christian "visitors" and "volunteers" to establish worship of Yeshu (outright idolatry) in and around the yishuvim where they were living and working would remove the Divine protection the Jews had previously enjoyed. And I was not the only one to sound the alarm. However, nothing was done and nothing is being done, so the situation just deteriorates further.
You may be wondering what this has to do with the Golden Calf and I would say - everything!
Worship of the Golden Calf was the source of the first sin committed after receiving the Ten Commandments and it brought the entire nation down from the high spiritual level it had just attained and rendered it unfit for the first set of luchot. Would it not be logical to think that it may be the last sin to be rectified before the completion of the final redemption?
I'm going to bring here much of the commentary that the Stone Edition Chumash offers on the subject and let you take it to heart and understand how this applies to us today - right now! And then, I will, hopefully, tie it all together with a bow at the end.
…the Jews who truly worshiped it as an idol were a tiny minority of only three thousand people, …and even they were the Egyptian rabble, Eirev Rav, that flocked to join the Jews when they left Egypt. These erstwhile Egyptians proclaimed when the new god emerged from the flames, “This is your god, O Israel.” They did not refer to it as our god, because they were outsiders who were addressing the Jews.
[They "reveled" around the Calf.]
To revel. The term implies the three cardinal sins of idolatry, licentiousness, and murder. In addition to their worship of the Golden Calf, they committed immoral acts and they had murdered Hur, who attempted to restrain them (Rashi). This was the nadir of the tragic episode, the point at which error turned to wantonness.…the original intent in making the calf was not to worship it as a god, … the initiators of the project were the Eirev Rav, and … only an infinitesimal proportion of Jews actually worshiped it. However, the sin was most grievous, nonetheless. As is clear from verse 27 [Shemot, chapter 32], there were Jews, few though they were, who were guilty of idolatry. The rest of the people did not resist the Eirev Rav or the Jewish worshipers. This constituted either silent acquiescence or lack of faith, which was a condemnation of the nation as a whole.It is a stiff-necked people. This is the familiar simile for stubbornness, referring to one whose neck is too stiff to turn; consequently, he will never look backward once he has embarked on a course (Ibn Ezra; Sforno). Such a person will refuse to listen to criticism or admit a mistake. This was the trait that nearly doomed Israel. Even after describing their sin in the starkest terms (v. 8), God did not say that they should be destroyed; error can always be corrected if the will is there. But if the people are too stubborn to listen to reason, what hope is there for them?
[Moses and Yehoshua both heard the sounds from the camp up on the mountain.]
…It was a sound that was distressing to Moses, because it indicated that the people were enjoying and celebrating the blasphemous and immoral behavior to which they had sunk as they sang and gyrated around their new god (Rashi). Indeed, Sforno (to v. 19) comments that it was the rejoicing that most disturbed Moses. He despaired of changing and perfecting people who were wildly enjoying sin.Atonement. Moses had to rid the nation of its sin before he could beseech God to let them regain the Tablets and the spiritual role they had forfeited. First, he had to purge the nation of the sinners, who, though relatively few, had had an influence on the nation as a whole.
He made them drink. There were three categories of sinners and hence corresponding categories of punishments (Yoma 66b): (a) Those who had been warned by witnesses not to serve the idol and did so anyway were liable to a judicially imposed death by the sword (vs. 26-28); (b) those who did so intentionally before witnesses, but had not been warned – and therefore could not be punished by the court – died in a plague (v. 35); (c)…The unfaithfulness of the last group to God was like that of an adulterous wife, so Moses imposed upon them a test like that given a sotah, a wife accused of adultery…. He had them drink from water mixed with the particles of the ground-up Golden Calf (Avodah Zara 44a). Only those who had worshiped it died, like the sotah who was guilty of the charge (Rashi).Moses turned to Aaron,… “Granted that you may have had no choice but to make the Eigel, [after they murdered Hur] but the worst part of the sin was that they rejoiced with it, and that happened because you proclaimed a festival (v. 6). Why did you have to compound the sin by causing them to celebrate it? (Sforno) Aaron put the sin into the perspective that the long years of exposure to Egyptian idolatry has predisposed the nation toward such disgraceful behavior. Then he viewed their demand and his attempt to stall for time. Although Aaron did not wish to describe the catalogue of sins that ensued, Moses had already seen enough. Aaron had exposed the shame of the people, for not only the sinners were at fault, but those whose failure to respond had made it possible. This revealed the ignominy of the nation, for they had been disloyal to God and Moses.Whoever is for Hashem, join me! Moses asked the Jews to make a decision and stop straddling the fence. [Shades of Eliyahu HaNavi at Mount Carmel!] Their response showed the depth of their spiritual fall, for only the Levites stepped forward; though the rest of the people were loyal to God, they would not dedicate themselves uncompromisingly to His service. Haamek Davar accounts for the relatively poor response to Moses’ plea. By calling upon these volunteers to carry out death sentences against the idolaters, Moses was about to expose them to great physical danger. Only those who were absolutely loyal to God would receive Divine protection, and the Levites were the only ones confident enough to accept the risk.And on the day that I make My account. Mercifully, God consented not to punish the entire nation at that time, but He declared that whenever they would sin in the future, they would suffer some of the punishment that they should have received in retribution for the sin of the Eigel (Rashi). The sense of this teaching is that the sin of the Golden Calf cannot be completely erased, because it left an indelible stigma on the people. Thus, whenever national sins are committed, they are due in part to the spiritual residue of the Golden Calf. Sin does not take place in a vacuum; we are heirs of our history.
Moses reasoned that if it is forbidden for a heretic to eat the pesach-offering..., surely a nation of heretics (meaning the masses of the nation that stood by complacently in the face of organized idolatry) cannot be given the entire Torah (Rashi from Shabbos 87a).
...The presence of the Evangelicals has kicked up opposition from some prominent settler rabbis. Among the fears, rabbis are worried the volunteers will do missionary work and look for converts.Moshe Tsuriel, a prolific writer on issues of Jewish law and a spiritual mentor to yeshiva students, came out against the volunteers in an article published earlier this year. “On the one hand, they declare that they are helping us in our war against the Arabs,” Rabbi Tsuriel wrote. “[But] there is a big risk that [Jewish] souls will become closer to Christianity.”In an interview with the same news website, The Jewish Voice, Shilo’s rabbi, Elhanan Bin Noon, called for a halachic ruling on the issue of accepting help from Evangelical Christian groups. “When these people are invited to perform acts of assistance, for them it’s a religious worship. How can you be interested in something like that?” He also accused the group of blurring the distinction between Judaism and Christianity.Shortly before Rosh HaShanah, Rabbi Dov Lior, another prominent settler rabbi, issued a general halachic ruling against accepting material assistance beyond money from Christian groups because they practice idolatry.However, the Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, the rabbi of Har Bracha, the settlement where the volunteers are based, has said that they aren’t missionaries. Hayovel has also gotten backing from David Haivri, a spokesperson for the Samaria regional council.
Kol hakavod to Rabbi Tsuriel, Rabbi Bin Noon and Rabbi Dov Lior, as well as Rabbi Yehudah RIchter of Elon Moreh who has also protested.
What if Mashiach is announced and his first words to the public are "Mi l'Hashem elai!!?"
How will you be able to answer?
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This is likely the final blog post here at Tomer Devorah. I'll qualify it with a b'li neder. This is my intention, but if HKB"H has other plans, I remain open to that. The blog will, of course, remain here as an archive and there are fifteen years of almost daily posts to refer to on various subjects of Jewish interest.
I feel I have said everything there is to be said - and then some - and I really want to spend less time on the computer. When the month of teshuvah arrives and the New Year is on the horizon, we all begin to think more about how to improve ourselves and make changes for the better. I need this for my own growth and personal improvement. I hope the readers will understand.
It has been my distinct privilege and pleasure to share my learning and my thoughts with you over these many years and to receive yours in return. I wish for everyone who reads this a Sweet New Year, and may all your prayers be answered affirmatively. Here's hoping we meet very soon at the rebuilt Beit Hamikdash in Yerushalayim HaKodesh.
Ketivah v'Chatimah Tovah and Chag Sameach!!
15 Elul 5782
In preparation for what is very likely to be my last post on this blog, I strongly urge the readers to review these two earlier ones.
"Inquiring Minds Want to Know..." 9 Elul 5773
And watch for the follow-up to come.
Thank you and Shavua Tov!
13 Elul 5782
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Ki Teitzei
...On the phrase “when you go out to war against your enemies…”, the Midrash picks up on the seemingly irrelevant words “...against your enemies…”, and asks: “What do the words ‘...against your enemies…’ mean? [i.e., would one then go to war against his friends? ‘When you go out to war’ is by definition ‘against your enemies’.] God said: Go out against them as enemies! Just as they have no mercy on you, so too you shall have no mercy on them! See what they say: ‘Come, let us cut them off as a nation, so that the name of Israel will never again be remembered’ (Psalms 83:5) – the name of Israel, of whom it is said ‘Blessed be Hashem, the God of Israel’ (Psalms 106:48). Therefore go out against them as enemies! Israel said: Sovereign of the Universe! How long will they continue to stand against us? – as it says, ‘God, wanton sinners have risen against me, and a gang of tyrants seek my life’ (Psalms 86:14). [God] said to them: And not against you alone have they risen but also against Me, as it says ‘the kings of the earth and the princes stand firm, conspiring against Hashem and against His anointed’ (Psalms 2:2). And therefore it is written, ‘When you go out to war against your enemies’” (Tanhuma, Shoftim 15).
~ SHABBAT SHALOM ~
11 Elul 5782
I have a theory which is based on some really good evidence. I believe that a lot of the Erev Rav, who followed us out of Egypt, are found among American Jewry today. I believe that these are the ones leading the way to religiously-observant assimilation by creating a new form of "Judaism" which is most aptly termed Judeo-Christianity. As their name implies, the Erev Rav are a mixture from among the nations and their goal is to mix Klal Yisrael with the nations. They pay only lip service to the Torah and they are dangerous because they assume leadership positions in order to mislead the klal, much the same way that they did with the Eigel HaZahav.
As the moderator of Tzvi Fishman's recent Aliyah Conference, Josh Wander had the ultimate responsibility to eject the missionary/provocateur Chaim Malespin (see previous blog post), and now we know why he did not. He has no problem with idolatry or idolatrous people. And this is the way of the present-day Erev Rav.
Who Is Josh Wander?
He actually has a Wikipedia page. I have to admit that I was a bit shocked. Even I did not expect this...
Josh Wander is an American perennial candidate who was the Republican nominee for Mayor of Pittsburgh in the 2013 general election. He was also featured in a segment on the reality television Doomsday Preppers. He is also a public relations consultant representing projects in, and around the Old City of Jerusalem. He holds dual citizenship in the United States and Israel.
In an episode of the National Geographic Channel program Doomsday Preppers, Wander was quoted as saying that he was concerned "about a series of catastrophic terrorist attacks which will fundamentally change our lives as we know them." He founded the "Bring Them Home" organization to encourage Diaspora Jewry to relocate to Israel. He is a certified NRA arms instructor and gun rights advocate.In 2003 Wander started a website to mobilize support for shipping the Statue of Liberty back to France. In a National Public Radio interview he discussed the alternate possibility of decapitating the statue and sending back "just her head" because "then they'll [France] really know we're serious."
And there are just so many more like him! Israel365 seems to be a meeting place for them. All of the ones I am aware of are associated with it in some way, and they in turn are associated in some way with all the missionary groups in Israel. Go figure!
Why are we talking about this now, nearly halfway through Elul? Repentance! We are commanded to separate from the Erev Rav and not to share in their sin. (Shemot 32:33-34)
"...the war against the erev rav is the most difficult and most bitter, and we must use all our remaining forces to win this war. Whoever is not engaged in actively fighting the erev rav becomes an automatic partner to the husk of the erev rav, and whoever this may be it would be better for him had he not been created." (Kol HaTor, chapter II, part II, section II)If you feel you have been misidentified as Erev Rav, you need to repent for acting like one. The tree is identified by its fruit.
10 Elul 5782
Surely there is someone from the right who can replace Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu. Aren't you just sick of him? Of all of these career politicians?? Why are there no term limits here???
Netanyahu has a lot to answer for, but clearly he has no sense of guilt over any of his crimes and no intention whatever of paying for them. And what of the people who will continue to support him and vote for him, in full knowledge of how he has hurt the nation. I guess they just don't see it either, or else they are very forgiving people.
Not the least of his poor judgment was his rush to make Israel into the "Vacci-Nation" by paying three times the price per vial of COVID-19 vaccine in order to be the first country to fully vaccinate. And how he bragged about it to the world, acting as if he was Moses parting the Red Sea. Netanyahu, together with his buddy Bourla, must have reaped quite a reward for their efforts. Of course, there is plenty of blame to go around and plenty of people with a right to their share in it. But, he was the face of it to the world and the leader of the country. The buck stops there.
They all think they will fool God the way they believe they have fooled everyone else. It's possible they've even fooled themselves, but that won't serve as an excuse before the Throne of Judgment. What a shock awaits them.
9 Elul 5782
Israel may have a Jewish-majority population, but that does not make it a Jewish country (why do we call it a "State"?). It is most definitely NOT a "Jewish" State. If it were, only Jews would be allowed to have citizenship in it. Even while we were a nation in exile, citizenship was attained through birth or conversion - no difference really from any other country (their naturalization process includes many of the same steps as conversion). That's how it has been since the inception and that's how it will be in a truly Jewish country. And not least, Torah would be the law of the land. The sooner the majority of Jews wake up to the facts, the closer we will be to actually creating one here. It will, of course, be led by Mashiach, because only he will have the honesty, the wisdom, the courage and the faith, as well as the authority, to carry it out. Just, right now, get your heads wrapped around it.
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