16 August 2018

"Time to Eradicate the Arrogance"

6 Elul 5778
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Shoftim

Rabbi Mordechai Sitorsky

Parashat Shoftim: Elul - Time to Eradicate the Arrogance

~ Shabbat Shalom ~

A Fight to the Death

5 Elul 5778

The Americans don't plan on giving up. What will Hashem have to do to them to stop their meddling?

The Three Wannabe Peacemakers receiving award from Master Missionary Mike Evans

WASHINGTON -- Senior Trump administration officials working on a proposal for Israeli-Palestinian peace issued a joint statement on their work on Wednesday, cautioning a world eagerly awaiting their plan that "no one will be fully pleased" with its contents.
The statement was issued amid intensive discussions within the administration over when to release the plan to the public.
"No one will be fully pleased with our proposal, but that's the way it must be if real peace is to be achieved. Peace can only succeed if it is based on realities," said the team, comprised of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser; Jason Greenblatt, his special representative for international negotiations; David Friedman, his ambassador to Israel; and Nikki Haley, his envoy to the United Nations.

This initiative is doomed from the start. There will never be peace between the Jews and Arabs here because neither one can compromise on the issue of who has the rights to this Land. It is a fight to the death. It's either Us or Them. 

15 August 2018

Basic Concepts: "Life and Death"

4 Elul 5778

[How appropriate that we should arrive at this subject in the month of Elul.]

Or Hara'ayon, Chapter Eleven: "Life and Death," pp. 231 - 232...

Life was not meant for tranquility, rest or relaxation. Our sages said of Jacob (Bereishit Rabbah 84:3):

     When the righteous dwell in tranquility and seek to continue doing so here on earth, Satan comes and accuses them: "Is it not enough for them that their future reward is assured, but they seek tranquility here on earth as well?" Be aware that this really occurs. Because Jacob sought tranquility, he was punished with Joseph's disappearance. It says, "Jacob dwelled" (Gen. 37:1), and "I was not at ease, neither was I quiet, neither had I rest, but trouble came" (Job 3:26). "I was not at ease" because of Esau. "Neither was I quiet" because of Laban. "Neither had I rest" because of Dinah. "But trouble came": Joseph befell me.

Life was meant not for tranquility or for our own pleasure, but for difficult and even dangerous missions through which man can ascend spiritually and suppress his evil impulse and ego. He can accept upon himself the heavy yoke of G-d and mitzvot and emulate his Creator until he ascends just short of the angels, and in fact, surpasses them because he conquers his evil impulse. Life on this earth is short and limited. It is a narrow vestibule leading to a heavenly banquet hall. "The days of our years are seventy, or even by reason of strength, eighty, yet their pride is but trouble and wretchedness. It is soon cut off and we fly away" (Ps. 90:10).

A Jew's duty, during this short period, is to live, and there is no life but that of Torah. As we recite each evening in Ma'ariv, "[Torah] is our life and the length of our days."

The day of death is the end of life, the end of man's time to do mitzvot, serve G-d and praise Him. On that day, he ceases his role, and the opportunity to be spiritually elevated, to serve G-d and praise Him comes to an end....

14 August 2018

12 August 2018

Kinyan Eretz Yisrael - A Unique Opportunity

1 Elul 5778
Rosh Chodesh II

Guest post by Chaim...

The Land of Israel is now in your hands

Rabbi Akiva said: “Ma'aseros help one to become wealthy.” (Avos 3:17)

Have you ever thought about doing all Mitzvot related to the Land of Israel?

This idea seems very remote to many people, but nowadays it’s a much closer concept than you imagine. Why?

As it turns out, today you don’t need to be a farmer to perform these Mitzvot.

Kinyan Eretz Yisrael is a non-profit organization that does just that: it allows Jews to own plots of Land and acts as their shluchim (agents) in performing all their 28 Mitzvot.

Have you ever heard of such a possibility?

Created by a team of halachic experts, including the founder, HaRav Meir Leibowitz, and HaRav Shaul Reichenberg, Kinyan Eretz Israel has 12 years of field work with farmers, mediating sales of land. Each sale consists of 4-amot, in which all agricultural work is taken care of by the farmers, while the Mitzvot are done by the Rabbis. The entire transaction is 100% in compliance with halacha.

But this should come as no surprise, seeing that Kinyan Eretz Israel has received haskamot from Gedolei Israel, including HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv ZT"L, HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman ZT"L, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita, HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky Shlita, HaRav Yehuda Ades Shlita, the Admor of Belz Shlita and many others.

How to acquire your Mitzvot

Rav Avdimi the son of Rav Yosef said: “From here you learn that whoever properly gives to the poor leket, shikechah and pe'ah is considered as if he built the Holy Temple and brought sacrifices there (see Rashi, Vayikra 23:22).

Those who are interested in being a part of this holy project can go to Kinyan Eretz Israel’s website and choose between grapes (tirosh) or grain (dagan), whether for 1 year or 3 years. After the secure transaction is finalized, you will literally (and halachically) own a piece of the Land which will be identified with your name and a registry number.

This is an incredible opportunity for the Jewish People, as it opened the doors to no less than 28 Mitzvot related to the Land of Israel that were exclusive to farmers. Now, anyone can have a shaliach from Kinyan Eretz Israel do the Mitzvot on their behalf, from the comfort of their homes! 

Alternatively, they can also go to the farm and to the Mitzvot themselves with their own produce (provided they notify beforehand).

It’s worth noting that this initiative is not new. The Vilna Gaon himself seems to have thought of such an idea, as is evident from letters he exchanged with his disciples who settled in the Land of Israel. The last years of the life of the Gaon were dedicated almost solely to bringing the redemption and, in his great love for Eretz Israel, he ventured to travel there. Unfortunately, as we know, he was not granted permission min hashamayim. The time was not ripe.

Nevertheless, according to the Ramban on Bamidbar 33:53, settling and possessing the land is a Positive Commandment. We also find in Rambam’s Sefer Hamitzvot (Addendum to Positive Commandments 4) that:

“The fourth Mitzvah which was commanded to the Jewish people was to inherit the Land… and not to leave it in the hands of one of the other nations or desolate… and this commandment in one which applies at all times.”

Besides doing the Agricultural Mitzvot of the Land of Israel, it’s evident that, in purchasing even a small plot of Land one also fulfills the above commandment to possess it.

While inheriting our full portion of Eretz Israel might need to wait until the coming of Mashiach, may we all be zoche now to purchase our own plots of Land and be found tzaddikim in the eyes of Hashem.

“From here we learn that whoever purchases four amos in Eretz Yisroel is guaranteed a portion in the World to Come." (Midrash Zuta, Koheles 7)


11 August 2018

It's Time for Iran to "Put Up or Shut Up"

1 Elul 5778
Rosh Chodesh Bet
Shavua tov! Chodesh tov!

For the first time ever, the world is ripe for the fulfillment of this medrash...
...Rabbi Yitzchok said: The year that Melech HaMoshiach will be revealed, all the kings [leaders] of the nations will be struggling against each other. The leader of Persia [Iran] will contest with the leader of Arabia [Saudi], and the leader of Arabia will go to Rome [the leading modern-day Western superpower] to get counsel from them. The leader of Persia will respond and act to destroy the entire world. All the nations of the world will be trembling and shaking and falling on their faces. They will be seized by labor-like pains.
The Jewish people will be trembling and quaking and saying: “Where can we go? Where can we go?” And [Hashem] will say to them: My children do not fear! Everything I did, I did only for you! Why are you frightened? Don’t be afraid-— the days of your redemption has arrived!”     (Yalkut Shimoni, Yeshaya, 499)
Only now have the conditions been met to effect the fulfillment of this medrash.
  • Iran's back is up against the wall: 1) its citizenry is being incited to revolt against the Islamic ruling regime, and 2) renewed US sanctions are crashing its economy.

Facing the dual threat of an American economic war and public protests, the ruling elites in Tehran are at each other’s throats. This is hardly surprising considering all that’s at stake: the survival of President Hassan Rohani’s technocratic government in the short term and succession after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the longer term.    (Source)
  • It's "put up or shut up" time for Iran. If they lose their credibility, the regime is finished.
...Washington said the imposition of new sanctions is in part due to Iran's continued programme of manufacturing and testing ballistic missiles.
Sunday's actions by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was thought to be the first time in a year that Iran has test-fired a ballistic missile.
The US was concerned by the drills, which were said to simulate the closing of the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping channel for oil.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the straits to shipping due to the new US sanctions, something that would likely trigger a war with Washington and Tehran's Arab neighbours if this happened.     (Source)
When reading that medrash, did you ever wonder how Iran could possibly respond in a way which would "destroy the whole world"? Well, this is how and the global economic situation only became ripe for this kind of collapse now...

The West worships the Almighty Dollar. This idol must fall. How ironic if its demise should be brought about, not by another secular democratic power, but by the actions of an Islamic regime that rules by religious law.

10 August 2018

"Are We Obligated to Love Every Jew?"

29 Menachem Av
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Erev Rosh Chodesh Alef
Parashat Re'eh

This video came out yesterday and is very timely to coincide with yesterday's post...


09 August 2018

Basic Concepts: "Love and Respect for One's Fellow Jew"

28 Menachem Av 5778
Yom Kippur Katan

[This excerpt is long, but it is a very important concept to understand, especially since it has been so misunderstood by so many for so long. Therefore, my plan is not to post anything that supercedes it until the first of the new week (and new month). So, please, accept my sincerest wishes now for a peaceful Shabbat and a good new month.]

Or Hara'ayon, Chapter Ten: "Love and Respect for One's Fellow Jew," pp.222-226...

G-d made us swear a great oath to love and respect our fellow Jew like ourselves, as it says. "Love your neighbor as yourself, I am the L-rd" (Lev. 19:18). Commenting on this command, R. Shimon ben Elazar said (Avot DeRabbi Natan 16:5):

     "This involves a great oath. G-d said, "I am the L-rd Who created him. If you love him, I am sure to reward you handsomely. Otherwise, I am a judge to punish you."

Nonetheless, although we must love every Jew, this does not apply to one who has brazenly rebelled against the Torah. First we find (Torat Kohanim, Kedoshim 8:4):

     "The stranger who sojourns with you shall be unto you like the native among you. You shall love him as yourself" (Lev. 19:34): Israel were told to love as themselves not only the native-born Jew [in v. 18], but the convert as well [in v. 34].

Here we have explicit proof that "Love your neighbor as yourself" applies only to love of Jews. Likewise, Avot DeRabbi Natan teaches (Ibid.):

     To what extent is hatred forbidden? One should not say "Love scholars but hate students, love students but hate ignoramuses." One must love everyone, hating only heretics, inciters to heresy, and informers. As King David said (Ps. 139:21-22), "O L-rd, do I not hate those who hate You? Do I not strive with those who rise up against You? I hate them with the utmost hatred. I count them among my enemies."

     Does it not say, "Love your neighbor as yourself. I am the L-rd" [i.e., how can one hate these when it says we must love our neighbor]? The answer is that G-d said, "I am the L-rd Who created him." If he conducts himself in the way required of our people, you must love him. Otherwise you must not.

Our sages further said (Sifri, Re'eh 89):

     "If your brother incites you.... Do not accept him or listen to him. Have no pity on him.... You shall surely kill him" (Deut. 13:7,9-10): Since it says, "Love your neighbor as yourself," I might think one should love this person, too. It therefore says, "Do not accept him."

Even if the inciter's life is in danger, one is forbidden to save him, as Sifri teaches (Ibid.):

     Since it says, "Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" (Lev. 19:16), I might think one is forbidden to stand by when [the inciter's] life is in danger. It therefore says (Deut. 13:9), "Have no pity on him."

Likewise, R. Nachman bar Yitzchak said that it is "permissible to hate" the insolent (Ta'anit 7b), and Rashi commented, "Even though it says, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Rambam writes (Hilchot De'ot 6:3):

     It is a mitzvah for every Jew to love every other Jew like his own self.... Therefore a person must praise his fellow Jew and be careful with his property the same way he is careful with his own property and desires to be treated respectfully. Whoever seeks honor through his neighbor's shame has no portion in the World-to-Come.

Sefer HaChinuch writes (Mitzvah 243 [219]), "It is a mitzvah to love every Jew deeply," and Hagahot Maimoniyot (Rambam Ibid., letter 1) teaches:

    We specifically must love the Jew who shares our commitment to Torah and mitzvot. As for the evildoer who does not accept rebuke, it is a mitzvah to hate him: It says, "Fearing the L-rd means hating evil" (Prov. 8:13); and, "O L-rd, do I not hate those who hate You?" (Ps. 139:21)

[See Pesachim 113b]

The respect one is obligated to give his worthy fellow Jew likewise stems from the mitzvah of loving him. Our sages said (Eliyahu Rabbah 28):

     So said G-d to Israel: "My children! Have I failed to give you anything? What do I ask of you? Only that you love, respect and revere one another, and that you avoid all sin, theft and unseemly behavior."

Our sages also said (Avot 2:10), "Let your friend's honor be as dear to you as your own." Clearly, this is part of "loving your neighbor as yourself" (as is also clear from Rambam quoted above).

We also learn (Bereishit Rabbah 24:7):

     Ben Azzai said, "'This is the book of the generations of Adam [In the image of G-d He made him]' (Gen 5:1) is a major principle of the Torah." R. Akiva said, " 'Love your neighbor as yourself' is a major principle of the Torah. Do not say, 'Since I was ridiculed or cursed, let my neighbor suffer the same.'"

     R. Tanchuma said, "If you do speak that way, be aware that you are ridiculing one made 'in G-d's image' (Gen. 5:1)."

The Jerusalem Talmud (Nedarim 9:4) has the following version:

     R. Akiva said, "'Love your neighbor as yourself' is a major Torah principle." Ben Azzai said, "'This is the book of the generations of Adam' is even more major."

(The same appears in Torat Kohanim, Kedoshim, Ch. 4)

Clearly, the Jerusalem Talmud's point is not, as the distorters would have it, that the mitzvah of loving everyone, including the gentile, is greater than that of just loving one's fellow Jew. Were this the case, how could Ramban and Sefer HaChinuch have restricted "Love your neighbor" to love of our fellow Jew?

Rather the source means as follows: There are two reasons why G-d commanded every Jew to love and respect his fellow Jew. The first is that every Jew was created in G-d's image, hence if a person hates or ridicules his fellow Jew, it is as though he hates or ridicules G-d. R. Yehoshua ben Levi said (Devarim Rabbah 4:4):

     A contingent of angels walks before a person and criers proclaim, "Make way for the image of G-d! Observe how many guards guard over you! When? When you guard over the Torah."

The second reason is that all Israel constitute one lofty portion chosen from mankind to be G-d's unique and holy nation. Being this way, they were marked by G-d for special affection. They alone are called "adam," because they took the place of Adam, the first man, as standard-bearers of G-d's mission here on earth. Since all Israel constitute "adam," and were created in G-d's image and chosen to be His firstborn, it is a special mitzvah to love every Jew, assuming he shares our commitment to mitzvot and to serving G-d.

Surely man's having been created in G-d's image is the most important factor here. Whoever was created in the image of the King bears on his person the glory of the King Himself. Whoever ridicules him is ridiculing G-d, as it were, and who would dare to do such a thing? Nonetheless, there is no need here for a positive act of love and respect. All that is required is a prohibition against degrading, cursing or otherwise harming anyone created in G-d's image, as long as he has not become an enemy of G-d.

Nonetheless, from the moment Israel was born as G-d's holy elect, the mitzvah of loving and respecting every single Jew was born as well. Every Jew, besides having been created in G-d's image, was also chosen to be part of G-d's special people.

It follows that there are three types of human beings, and each must be related to differently.

The first is the Jew who shares our commitment to mitzvot. It is he we are required to love and respect via G-d's command to "love your neighbor."

The second is the non-Jew who was created in G-d's image, yet who is not dear and special to G-d and not classed as "adam." After all, Adam's mission in the world passed on to Israel. Although we are forbidden to hate or denigrate such a non-Jew as long as he does not become an enemy of G-d and as long as he keeps the seven Noahide laws, there is no mitzvah to love and respect him.

The third is the person, even a Jew, who becomes an enemy of the Jewish People. It is permissible, and even a mitzvah, to hate and degrade him.

All the same, as long as a Jew remains on good terms with G-d, His mitzvot and His teachings, it is a supreme mitzvah to love and respect him with all our heart and to make great sacrifices for his sake in order to save him and help him....