31 January 2014

Parshat Teruma 5774

30 Shevat 5774
Rosh Chodesh 'א
Erev Shabbat Kodesh

Parashat Terumah – The holiest object on earth – Rabbi Meir Kahane

“They shall make an Ark of acacia wood” (Ex. 25:10)

G-d established the whole framework of a holy Temple, holy objects and holy people (Kohanim and Levi'im) to create a miniature world, perfect and complete, holy and pure. It was meant to symbolize the larger world and to guide us in how our world is supposed to look. One of our most important principles is: “To the L-rd belongs the earth and everything in it” (Ps. 24.1). Everything belongs to G-d, and nothing that ostensibly belongs to man is really his. Rather, it is only given to him to use. The concept of holiness provides a concrete example to help us understand the essence of property here on earth – that it belongs exclusively to G-d and not to man.

The ark is the essence of the Tabernacle and the Temple, both of which were established for its sake. As Rashbam wrote (Ex 25:10), “For the sake of the ark, which is the essence of “they shall make Me a sanctuary”(Ex. 25:8), it was necessary to make a Tabernacle.”

This accords with Shemot Rabbah, 34:2:First it says, “Have them bring Me and offering” (Ex. 25:2), and then, “Make an ark of acacia wood” (v. 10). Just as the Torah preceded everything, so too, in the fashioning of the Tabernacle, the ark preceded all the other vessels.

The reason that the ark came first was that the two tablets and the Torah scroll were inside it. The ark was the only object standing inside the Holy of Holies behind the partition [parochet]. G-d made it the holiest object on earth, when He confined, so to speak, His Divine Presence, and spoke to Moses from between the two cherubs: “I will commune with you there, speaking to you from above the ark cover, from between the two cherubs that are on the Ark of Testimony”(Ex. 25:22); and, "Moses would hear the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubs on the ark cover over the Ark of Testimony. The L-rd thus spoke to him”(Num. 7:89).

G-d made the Ark “His place”, so to speak, in this world, thereby making it a symbol of His omnipotence, isolation and aloneness, a symbol that we must trust in Him alone, as Hezekiah said when he prayed to G-d to save the city from Sennacherib (II Kings 19:15): “O L-rd, G-d of Israel, Who sits upon the cherubs. You are G-d, alone, of all the kingdoms on the earth. You made heaven and earth.”

Indeed, the ark was the earthly seat of G-d, “Who sits upon the cherubs”, and it became a symbol of G-d's omnipotence and Israel's obligation to trust in Him. R. Shmuel bar Nachmani said (Pesikta DeRav Kahana 123a):Wherever Scripture uses the term “Master” [adon], it alludes to G-d's uprooting one group and bringing in another. The prototype is, “Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Master of all the earth” (Josh. 3:11). There G-d uprooted the Canaanites and brought in Israel.Thus the Ark is the symbol of the L-rd of all the earth, its Creator and Master, Who removes nations from lands – the Canaanites and Ishmaelites – and brings in other nations – Israel – and none can protest.

Yet the ark symbolizes more than that, for it also symbolizes G-d's ability to control and alter all the laws of nature, laws He established. Following is Bereshit Rabbah, 5:7:“Joshua said to the Children of Israel, 'Come hither'” (Josh 3:9): R. Huna said, “He made [the Children of Israel] stand between the two poles of the ark.” R. Acha bar R. Chanina said, “He made them lean between the two poles of the ark.” The Rabbis said, “He made them fit precisely between the two poles of the ark.” Joshua said to them, “From the fact that you all fit between the two ark poles, you know that the Divine Presence is among you.”G-d transformed the ark into the symbol of His control over the laws of nature, for here, the smaller contained the larger. Where was this? “Between the poles”, the poles with which the Levi'im carried the ark.

Our sages likewise said (Sotah 35a):As soon as the last Israelite ascended from the Jordan, the water returned to its place: “As the Kohanim who bore the ark of the covenant of the L-rd came up out of the Jordan, as soon as the soles of their feet were drawn up onto dry ground, the water returned to its place” (Josh. 4:18) [...] It turns out that the ark and its carriers and the Kohanim were on one side, and the rest of Israel were on the other. The ark carried its carriers, and it crossed...For this Uzza was punished, as it says, “When they came to the threshing-floor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark” (I Chron. 13:9). G-d said to him, “Uzza, if the ark carries its carriers, surely it can carry itself!” And the L-rd's anger was kindled against Uzza, and He smote him there for his error” (II Sam. 6:7).

Thus, here, too, the ark took control of the laws of nature when it carried its carriers, demonstrating to Israel the Law of Faith and Trust: G-d's ark does not need carriers. Rather, it carries itself as well as all those who ostensibly carry it. For this reason, it was forbidden to carry the ark in a wagon. Being able to carry itself, it needed no help. Yet, G-d decreed that the ark must be carried on shoulders to emphasize that if Israel “carried it on their shoulders” (i.e. accepted the yoke and burden of the ark), then the ark would carry them always.Whoever forgets this law and tries to “help” G-d is punished, all the more so that someone who thinks the ark and its Master lack the power to help, and instead trusts in the nations, commits an unbearable sin.

The ark is the symbol of G-d's place int the world, and the poles that carry it are the concrete symbol of G-d's unlimited power, His omnipotence, greatness and majesty. G-d desired that these poles – symbolizing G-d's greatness and our duty to trust in Him infinitely – would be before the eyes of Israel always. He therefore decreed a wondrous decree:The Kohanim brought the ark of the covenant of the L-rd to its place, into the Temple sanctuary, into the Holy of Holies, even under the wings of the cherubs... The ark poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the holy place, even before the Sanctuary, but they could not be seen outside. (I Kings 8:6, 8)Our sages comment (Menachot 98 a):“The ark poles were long”: I might think they did not touch the partition. 

It therefore says, “They were seen.” If they could be “seen”, I might think they tore through the partition to the other side. It therefore says, “They could not be seen without.” How can this be? They pushed and protruded against the partition like a woman's two breasts, as it says, “My beloved is unto me as a bag of myrrh that lies between my breasts” (Song of Songs 1:13)The Talmud's point is that G-d wished every Jew who came to the Sanctuary to always see the poles and remember what they symbolized: that we are obligated to have perfect, complete faith in G-d's omnipotence. Yet since the partition separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple, G-d established that the poles should stretch so far that they abut the partition, protruding like a woman's breasts. Thus, whoever passed by saw the protrusion and drew the lesson.

[...] Woman is the symbol of man's love and desire, for there is no love in man's nature greater than his love for woman. Precisely for this reason G-d created man and woman, so they would be bound together with fierce love and desire, ready to sacrifice for each other and to give of themselves to an extent unheard of in any other relationship. They would be willing even to sacrifice their lives for each other, so strong is that love. Being so fiercely bound to another human being is the apex of man's breaking down his selfishness, arrogance and evil impulse. G-d created this bond so that man would understand from it – at least in part – how powerful must be his love for G-d. Thus, if a husband is ever unfaithful to his wife, it constitutes betrayal of the true concept of love and a dreadful lie looming over the marital relationship. G-d decreed that this must be an exclusive relationship founded on mutual trust, a symbol of the prohibition against the dreadful sin of polytheism, worshiping idols as well as G-d (Ex.20:3).

Observe the fierce love between Israel and G-d, which is always compared to the love between a man and woman, the fiercest love man can imagine. G-d compared the ark poles to a woman's breasts. This would seem to be the reason that one of G-d's names is Shad-dai [Hebr. shad = breast]. Likewise, as we have written, the cherubs hug each other, like the love between man and woman.

How fortunate one would be to reach this level of love for G-d!
[Source: compiled by Tzipora Liron-Pinner from “The Jewish Idea” of Rabbi Meir Kahane HY”D]

30 January 2014


30 Shevat 5774
Rosh Chodesh 'א 

Moishela told us last week...

 "...You're going to see even more tragedies than we've seen this week. ...if you don’t change there's going to be more and more tragedies, Hashem Yishmor, more and more hardships, Hashem Yishmor, and in the end only those Jews that get the message straight, and really change their ways are going to greet Moshiach Tzidkainu."

Hodu l'Hashem ki tov, ki l'olam chasdo!  Clearly, someone did teshuva and mitigated these decrees.  These events could have had much worse outcomes.  

Three Buildings Nearly Implode in Bat Yam

Serious Accident Involving Bnei Torah

Two-year-old Severely Injured in Fall on Mt. Gerizim

Sderot: Two Youngsters Electrocuted; in Fair Condition

Jewish Girl Abducted by Arabs in Broad Daylight, Escapes

If everyone will cooperate, we can bring Mashiach!

New Facebook Campaign Against Kerry Plan

29 Shevat 5774
Yom Kippur Katan

A new Facebook Page was created today to counter this...
Kerry Considers Speaking to Israel Public
US Secretary of State John Kerry is considering arranging a trip to Israel in order to make a special speech to the Israeli public, in the style of a "State of the Nation" address, according to a report by Ben Caspi of The Jerusalem Post.
We are in a war for hearts and minds and one of the main battlegrounds is cyberspace. Thanks to Edward Snowden's revelations, no one need have any more illusions that his thoughts and feelings remain concealed. The Powers That Be (TPTB) already know who you are and where they can find you. There is therefore, no reason to fear taking a public stand on the most critical issue of our time - the destruction of the Third Jewish Commonwealth.

Make no mistake, this is exactly what is at stake. And lest you think it is enough simply to pray, remember the lesson we learned at Yam Suf.  The miracle only took place when Nahshon Ben Aminadav jumped in. As has always been the case, we do what we can do and HKB"H will finish it.

There always comes a time when each of us must make a stand.  That moment has come for me and I hope you will join me...
Dear John Letter - A "Dear John" letter is typically written to end a relationship. This is a "Dear John" letter for United States Secretary of State John Kerry from Israel.
On 30 January 2014, Israeli news reported that US Secretary of State John Kerry is considering a direct appeal to the Israeli public in support of his plan to uproot Jews from their homeland.

This "Dear John" letter is meant to pre-empt that event and give the initiative to the Jewish people whose land he is attempting to award to murderers and outlaws.
Dear John (Kerry),
Understanding how easily the mass media can be manipulated to make it appear that your plan has the support of a majority of the Israeli public, we, the undersigned on this letter, are here to tell you that no true Jew anywhere in the world will ever accept this.

The relinquishment of parts of Eretz Yisrael which includes, but is not limited to, cities such as Shechem, Jericho, Beit Lechem, Hevron and, of course, the Temple Mount, will NEVER be acceptable to any true Jew wherever he may reside in the world.
Not all of us have made it home yet, but all of us understand that this land is held in trust for all generations of Jews. It is a debt we owe to past generations and a promise to keep for future generations.
These lands were restored to us at the cost of our brothers' blood and despite what the world believes, Jewish blood is not cheap, nor will you find it so if you persist in your efforts to uproot us from our land.
You want to know how much support your plan has among the Israeli public? It's irrelevant. It does not have the support of the Master and Creator of the World and that is what should concern you most, John Kerry. And all true Jews are here to tell you that you will never have our support for such a plan either.
Dear John, don't fall into the trap of believing in the media-created virtual reality which has no real substance or basis in truth. It's all an illusion, as well as any "support" you might think you have among the Israeli public. You are on a path to destruction. Abandon it now while you still can.
Please join the page and pass it along to as many others as possible. And may HKB"H bless all of our efforts to annul the evil decree!!

29 January 2014

The Last Days of the Secular State

28 Shevat 5774

When Ariel Sharon - the ultimate symbol of the secular state - finally passed from the scene, it was a sign, in my mind, that the state itself would not be far behind.

This is wonderful news, because the "medinah" is the unholy side - the klipot - of the kingdom to come which arises from the side of holiness.

According to Rav Aryeh Carmell in The Messianic Process: " The 'Holy kingdom of Israel' - Maharal's term for the reign of the Messiah - will emerge from an earlier, non-holy kingdom." The Maharal himself wrote: "...The holy kingdom of Israel... must grow out of the non-holy kingdom that preceded it."

Netanyahu's Ultimatum: Bennett Must 'Apologize or Quit'
...sources threatened that "if (Bennett) won't apologize," he risks the dissolution of the current coalition government.

...On Tuesday, Bennett reiterated in a speech at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) that "leaving Jews under foreign leadership is a 180-degree turn for Zionism. What happened to us?

Min. Ariel Admits 'Mini-Crisis' with Netanyahu

A further sign of the dissolution of the secular Zionist enterprise is the apparent assimilation of the Prime Minister's son with a gentile woman in the heart of Eretz Yisrael. And what can we say of ongoing physical attacks against Jews in the Land of Israel for simply being Jews?

All of the reasons the secular Zionists ever gave for being "a free people in our own land" have proven to be empty. Jews are not safe from the attacks of goyim on the streets of our homeland. Our synagogues are not safe from the graffiti of swastikas.  Our sons and daughters are not safe from intermarriage.

Secular Zionism and the state it spawned are done!  It only remains for us to recognize the fact.

27 January 2014

Didn't Explode, But It's Still More Gas!

27 Shevat 5774

Three Buildings Nearly Implode in Bat Yam

Bat Yam Firemen report that a mega disaster was averted. Metal thieves infiltrated three building in Bat Yam and stole the access valves to the gas canisters in the basement, leading to a massive gas leak flowing near an open exposed electric box. "It was incredible. the whole building could have turned into an inferno. The flames could have rapidly spread to the windows and floors leading to a deadly implosion that would have leveled the area and caused hundreds of casualties."

26 January 2014

The Modern Myth of the "Blood Moons"

26 Shevat 5774

A leading pastor in the Messianic (Xian) movement concocted a theory about a series of lunar and solar eclipses which he claims will fulfill the prophecies of Yoel, chapters 2 and 3, and herald the second coming of oto ha'ish.  Once it was picked up and publicized by John Hagee, it became a done deal.  Now, good Jews are spreading it around. The clue to understanding the darkening of the sun and the change in the moon's color are given in the third verse of the third chapter and it has nothing to do with a series of standard eclipses. 

Yoel, chapter 3, vss 3-4: "And I will perform signs in the heavens and on the earth: Blood, fire, and pillars of smokeThe sun shall turn to darkness, and the moon to blood, prior to the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord."

What is translated as "pillars of smoke" (תִימְרוֹת עָשָׁן) can also be read as Palm trees of smoke - what, in the west, they like to call "mushroom clouds."

The simple reading of the text leads us to think that these occurrences are happening simultaneously.  It stretches reason to think it's on and off and on and off for over a year or more. It makes much more sense that multiple explosions of nuclear bombs will give rise to atmospheric conditions which darken the sun in the sky and cause the moon to give off a red glow as if it had turned to blood.

Furthermore, the theory has been debunked by skeptics.

25 January 2014

Is Anybody Over There Listening?

25 Shevat 5774

U.S braces itself for coldest month of the century with yet another Arctic blast as fears grow for Super Bowl Sunday

  • Meteorologists are forecasting yet another snow storm for the East Coast, which will arrive on Monday
  • First Super Bowl to be held in open-air stadium set to be hit by freezing cold
  • Teams on high alert game in New Jersey on February 2 could be postponed
  • The Midwest will be hit with a blast as well between Friday and Saturday, which may cause dangerous roads and flight cancellations
  • Yet another storm is expected to follow the storm scheduled for Monday and is set to hit just one or two days before the Super Bowl on February 2
  • The championship game will be held in East Rutherford, New Jersey where workers shoveled snow all day after Tuesday's unexpected whiteout
Temperatures have already hit record lows, at times making parts of the U.S. colder than the North Pole, and are expected to plunge in the coming days.

24 January 2014

Discussion with Moishela: "These Tragedies are Divinely Sent"

23 Shevat 5774
Erev Shabbat Kodesh


Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
A Handicapped child
Shevat 21 5774 (Jan 22, '14)

These Tragedies are Divinely Sent

Oy, Vey … Got in Himmel … Got in Himmel …. What is going to be? What is going to be? Tragedy on tragedy on tragedy … tragedies hitting the young and the weak, the old and the infirmed, and just the average Yid.

Oy, Oy, Oy, what more can I say? What more can I say? How can I beg you Am Yisroel? How can I beg you, to do Teshuva? You think you're so Frum. Some Yidden are Frum, but the ones that consider themselves Erlich, Erliche Yidden, not all of you are Frum. Maybe you keep Shabbos the way you're supposed to, that’s also not so sure. Maybe you keep Kosher the way you're supposed to, that’s also not absolute. But you're not Frum, you think you're Frum, but you're not. I'm not speaking to those that are really trying hard to go back to the Emes. Go back to the way it once was in Europe, and in the lands of the Arabs where Jews were very ostracized and they had their own Kehillas not with any influence of the Goyim. And the Yidden in Europe that lived in the Shtettels and that held on to their Rebbes, to the Rabbonim who were greats, were giants, I'm not talking about them. They're almost extinct today. I'm talking about the regular Yid, the average Yid, the average Yid is what's going to save Am Yisroel, because he's never been average. He's always been much bigger than average, much greater than average. Because a Yid anyway is greater than any other type of human being. This is why Edom is so jealous of Yaakov, why Esav could never make peace with Yaakov.

But now my dear Yidden my fellow Yidden, please, please listen again to me. You're going to see even more tragedies than we've seen this week. Irrational unfathomable things have happened and will happen in the future, Hashem Yishmor. Thousands of people, tens of thousands, millions of people have had professionals come to their homes to pesticide the house with all kinds of chemicals in order to get rid of unwanted bugs and rodents. No one died from it. It's never been in any newspaper that anyone ever died from it. How could it be that these children and the parents are so sick from this? How could it be that some of them have already died from this, Hashem Yishmor? How could it be? Years and years people are using gas for heating, for cooking, for whatever you want. Yes here and there we heard of one of those gas canisters blowing up, but nothing much ever happened. How could it be that now a whole family was wiped out after the technician came and checked it and found nothing wrong? How could it be? Obviously all these tragedies that we've been seeing lately, and I only named two, are divinely sent.

We're seeing so many strange things in this world, from tsunamis to tornadoes to storms to hurricanes, but all of these natural disasters are way beyond the norm. It is way, way beyond anything we've ever known, and the world is in shock from it, but not in enough shock from it. The Yidden, we Jews are seeing one tragedy after another, whether in America or Eretz Yisroel or wherever in the world, we're seeing tremendous tragedies one after another. Many of the ones hurt are children. Many are women just after having given birth, and still we don’t pay attention. We just shrug it off as one of those things. Of course the world is getting a message from Shomayim, when every day we see more and more bloody, cruel wars all over the world, and violent riots plague many cities of the world. Every day we see the slaughter of men, women, and children, especially the children's bodies piled up from being gassed. Being gassed? Remind you of something? They piled up the bodies of the women and the children so you could see the terrible, terrible violence, the terrible, terrible cruelty of those fighting in Syria. Nobody knows for sure who did it, whether it’s the rebels or the government because they're all violent, cruel, animalistic people. Its regular practice for them to chop off the heads of their enemies. Is this not animalistic? Is this not wild and cruel? We would expect it from the most primitive people in the worst jungle, but it's our neighbors. It's our neighbors and our cousins, our cousins from our uncle Yishmael.

Hashem is making the world so much more terrifying than it ever was. We thought that the holocaust was the most terrifying thing that could have been, however we see a holocaust every single day in the world. Every single day we're suffering from large holocausts and smaller holocausts, but the violence is unbelievable, and still people are running, or should I say flying to Switzerland, to all different places in Europe to enjoy their vacations. Here in Israel when the first of July comes, that means the first day of their vacations, half the country goes flying overseas to America, Australia, India, Thailand, and of course Europe etc. because the Jews just can't stay in one place. They have to be going and going and going, and for what? For entertainment? To see what? They travel to see another museum, another historical spot and of course to shop. I can understand the Chilonim whose heads are not full of anything too serious, usually, partaking in such superficial activity. But the Chareidim? What does it give you? What is it giving you? It's not Tzniusdik to run around all of these places for no reason at all, except to enjoy yourself. And how many Chareidim are pulled by all the different attractions of these places even though the tour is totally Frum? How many women go skiing? Many! Many so-called Frum boys don’t want a girl that doesn’t know how to ski.

OY … OY … OY … Well I'm telling you straight that if you don’t change there's going to be more and more tragedies, Hashem Yishmor, more and more hardships, Hashem Yishmor, and in the end only those Jews that get the message straight, and really change their ways are going to greet Moshiach Tzidkainu. You are getting clear warnings! Warnings that touch the heart and the soul and should also bring down that terrible Gashmiusdik facade that is the Mechitzah between us and Hakodosh Boruch Hu. Once that facade has crumbled then we can come very close to Hakodosh Boruch Hu and assure ourselves that we can enter the Olam Habah of Moshiach Tzidkainu. All those that reach this great spiritual height (which is in the grasp of every true Jew) of understanding and closeness to Hashem, and change by doing complete Teshuva, then the most glorious future is waiting for you, but if you don’t change and do complete Teshuva, then hell or Gehenom is paradise next to what you're going to get.

An addition by Moishela added on 23 Shevat Jan 24

I sit on the floor and shed many tears to all the victims of the tragedies of the last week and especially I Daven for .Refael Yitzckak Isaac ben Michal and Chaim Michael Shlomo ben Michal. I beg Hashem to bring them a Refuah Sheleimah B'guf U'vinefesh B'soch Shear Cholai Yisroel, and I cry for the great Tzaddik Rav Yaakov Galinsky Z"tl that was one of the last bridges between we Jews of this generation and the greater generation from before WWII, but I am also crying and sobbing for the future victims, the future Karbonos Tehoros that will be sacrificed in order save Am Yisroel from destruction.

The great Chupa has been built and the Chosson, Hakodosh Boruch Hu is already standing under it and waiting anxiously for his Kallah, Am Yisroel.

Parshat Mishpatim 5774

23 Shevat 5774
Erev Shabbat Kodesh

Parashat Mishpatim: By justice we inherit the Land of Israel
by Daniel Pinner

Dedicated to the memory of my uncle Alfred Tropp (Avraham ben Shmuel ve-Sarah) z”l, born 9thTammuz 5678 (19th June 1918), who passed away in his sleep last week on Tuesday 13th Sh’vat (14th January), a true mensch. Yehi zichro baruch.

The Midrash ha-Chefetz begins its commentary on Parashat Mishpatim with an exposition on the Jewish concept of mishpat (justice): “Scripture says about justice, ‘Hashem, Master of Legions, will become exalted through justice’ (Isaiah 5:16). Great is justice, which He gave only to Israel who are especially beloved by Him, as it says ‘He tells His word to Jacob, His laws and Hisjustice to Israel (Psalms 147:9). Great is justice, which hastens the redemption, as it says ‘Preserve justice and carry out righteousness, because My salvation is soon to come and My righteousness to be revealed’ (Isaiah 56:1). Great is justice, for which the mashiach is praised, as it says ‘he will judge the destitute with righteousness’ (Isaiah 11:4)”.

The halachic codifiers enumerate 44 mitzvot (17 positive and 27 negative) in Parashat Mishpatim; it actually contains far more, but many of these also appear in other places in the Torah, and are therefore not counted here. Many of these are ordinary work-a-day laws, mundane rules which do not appear to be particularly inspiring: how to treat a slave; how to judge murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, and assault and battery; how to deal with an ox (and by extension any animal) which kills someone, and under what circumstances the animal’s owner is responsible; the responsibility of a shepherd or herder for damage caused by his flock or herd to someone else’s field; the prohibition against giving or accepting bribery; and so forth.

For sure, these are all essential to the orderly running of society – but they don’t sound particularly exciting. Certainly not the stuff that epic movies are made of.

Yet the Midrash ha-Chefetz tells us that it is these humdrum laws of justice which exalt God Himself and which hasten the redemption. It is these pedestrian and prosaic rules for which the mashiach is praised.

Commensurate with this, the Midrash Lekach Tov opens its discourse on Parashat Mishpatim by citing the prophet’s words, “Hate evil and love good, and at the gate establish justice – then perhaps Hashem, Master of Legions will show favour to the remnant of Joseph” (Amos 5:15).

The Lekach Tov continues: “Praised is the Name of the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, that He created His world with justice, and built the foundations of the world on justice, and established His Throne with justice. He judges all and judges alone… And he commanded His servants to judge in righteousness… ‘Hate evil and love good, and at the gate establish justice’ teaches us that one who judges righteously is called good, while one who perverts justice is called bad. ‘Judge in your gates with truth, justice and peace’ (Zechariah 8:16) teaches that the prophets warned Israel about judges… None of the prophets added anything to…or took anything away from the Torah which Hashem our God gave us by the hand of Moshe our Master, and indeed the final prophecy ever was, ‘Remember the Torah of Moshe My servant…’ (Malachi 3:22)”.

This series of day-to-day demands of justice may seem like an anti-climax after the magnificent, awe-inspiring, unprecedented and never-to-be-repeated Revelation at Mount Sinai just a few chapters earlier, but it is these that mould our character and our destiny. Neither an individual nor a nation is transformed by a single event, no matter how inspiring. Rather, the individual, like society, becomes holy through mundane, routine actions.

And it is in the merit of justice that we inherit the Land of Israel. As Moshe would tell us forty years later, in his final days: “So now, O Israel, hear the laws and the judgements which I teach you today to do, so that you will live and you will come and inherit the Land which Hashem, God of your fathers, gives you” (Deuteronomy 4:1). And again: “Justice, justice shall you pursue, so that you will live and you will inherit the Land which Hashem your God gives you” (ibid.16:20), on which the Midrash says: “If you pursue justice, you will live and inherit the Land; and if not, you will not inherit it” (Tanhuma, Shoftim 8).

It is no coincidence that in the late Second Temple period, when Hazal divided up the Torah into the 54 parashot with which are so familiar today, they decreed that this parashah, beginning with “mishpatim” (“judgements”), would conclude with the introduction to the journey to Israel (Exodus 23:20-24), the blessings of living in Israel (vs.25-30), the borders of Israel and the warning against making covenants with the idolatrous inhabitants of the Land (vs. 31-33), and finally the public ratification of the Covenant between God and Israel and the leaders of Israel – Moshe, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders – ascending Mount Sinai (chapter 24).

The introduction to the journey to Israel begins with God announcing: “Behold! – I send an angel ahead of you to protect you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared” (Exodus 23:20).

Who was this angel? – The Midrash Lekach Tov states that “he is not the angel whom the Torah mentioned earlier, ‘The angel of God who had been travelling in front of the camp’ (Exodus 14:19); rather the angel of whom God said ‘Behold! – I send an angel ahead of you’ is a different angel. ‘To protect you on the way’ – this is the angel Michael who is appointed over Israel; it is he who came in the days of Joshua, as he said ‘I am the Commander of the Army of Hashem, now I have come’ (Joshua 5:14), and it is also written ‘only Michael is your [angelic] Commander’ (Daniel 10:21). And it is he who will come in the future, as it is said ‘At that time Michael, the great Commander who stands up for the sons of your nation, will arise’ (Daniel 12:1)”.

The Midrash Rabbah adds a further insight into this angel’s mission: “‘Behold! – I send an angel’ – God said to Moshe: He who protected the fathers is the one who will protect the children. Thus you find that when Abraham blessed his son Isaac, he said to him: ‘Hashem, God of Heaven…He will send His angel in front of you’ (Genesis 24:7). And what did Jacob our father say to his children? – ‘The angel who redeemed me from all evil will bless the lads’ (Genesis 48:16)… God said to Moshe: Now, too, he who protected the fathers will protect the children, as He said ‘Behold! – I send an angel ahead of you to protect you’… And so too in the future time yet to come, when he [the angel] will be revealed then the redemption will come upon Israel, as it says ‘Behold! – I send My messenger, who will clear the way in front of Me’ (Malachi 3:1)” (Sh’mot Rabbah 32:9).

So the Midrash ha-Chefetz and Midrash Lekach Tov (cited above) both link the beginning of Parashat Mishpatim – the regular day-to-day running of society according to the principles of justice – with the final redemption, just as the Midrash Lekach Tov and Midrash Rabbah link the angel who appears towards the end of Parashat Mishpatim with the final redemption.

It is deeply significant that both cite the prophet Malachi. The Midrash Lekach Tov quotes the final prophecy ever, “Remember the Torah of Moshe My servant…”, the prophecy which sealed all prophecies for all time; Sh’mot Rabbah quotes God’s promise through Malachi, “Behold! – I send My messenger, who will clear the way in front of Me”.

Malachi was the final prophet ever. When the First Temple, built by King Solomon, was destroyed by the Babylonians, the gift of prophecy departed from the world (Bava Batra 12b). Even though, as Rabbi Yehudah ha-Levi notes (Kuzari 3:39 and 3:65), prophecy continued for the first forty years of the Second Temple, the only prophets then were “the elders who had been infused with the power of the Shechinah [the Divine Presence] that existed during the First Temple. But the prophecy which was thus acquired departed when the Shechinah departed” (Kuzari 3:65).

Malachi was one of those elders, born while King Solomon’s Temple still stood in its glory, infused with the power of the Shechinah, and who still lived into the Second Temple era.

So when Malachi delivered his last prophecy, he sealed prophecy for all time: the only prophets who arose after Malachi were false prophets. So Malachi’s final prophecy was God’s farewell parting to His nation, the final message He would ever give us. And as we would expect, Malachi’s final prophecy was God’s promise that He would one day, at the time of redemption, restore this most intimate connexion between Israel and God: “Behold! – I send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and awesome Day of Hashem” (Malachi 3:23).

And significantly, Malachi uses the identical words to herald the coming of Elijah that God had used a millennium earlier: “Hinei Anokhi shole’ach – Behold! – I send an angel ahead of you to protect you on the way”, and “Hinei Anokhi shole’ach – Behold! – I send you Elijah the prophet”. It is surely no coincidence that Elijah, the last prophet, echoed the words of God as He set us on our way out of Egypt towards Israel.

The Ohr ha-Chayim (Rabbi Chayim ben Atar, Morocco and Israel, 1696-1743) reinforces the connexion between the angel who led us through the Sinai Desert and the final redemption: “‘Behold! – I send an angel’ – the meaning is that this angel is the angel who had redeemed the Patriarchs [compare Sh’mot Rabbah cited above], not one of the ministering angels, but rather a great angel…for we know no intermediary angel other than this one, and the power of God’s Shechinah is unified with him, as implied by ‘Hashem is One and His Name is One’ (Zechariah 14:9)” (Ohr ha-Chayim, Commentary to Exodus 23:20).

Like the Midrash Lekach Tov (cited above) in the context of justice with which Parashat Mishpatim begins, the Ohr ha-Chayim, in the context of the angel who was to lead us, also cited Zechariah’s prophecy of the messianic era.

Simple justice; treating everyone – even a slave – fairly; bringing criminals to justice; not taunting or oppressing a convert; not charging interest on a monetary loan to a fellow-Jew; returning a lost animal to its owner – these may not seem very exciting, there is nothing here to set the pulse racing in a frenzy of passion, this is nothing ike the exhilarating experience of the Revelation at Mount Sinai, neither does it have the same exalted inspiration as being led by one of the greatest angels.

But both lead us to the Land of Israel: the one by our human efforts, the other by Divine agency; the one through ordinary everyday justice, the other by startling miracles. And both bring us into the era of mashiach.

~Shabbat shalom

22 January 2014

"Tragedies" : It Has Begun


21 Shevat 5774

On 13 Shevat, one week ago, Moishe'la said: "...More and more tragedies, huge enormous tragedies, are on the way until you wake up."

On 19 Shevat, around 1 am, a gas explosion at an apartment building in Gilo killed a couple and their 2 year old child, injured tens of others and rendered the entire building uninhabitable.

“This is a real tragedy,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who was at the scene in the early hours of the morning.

On 21 Shevat, "...Jerusalem has been hit by another tragedy." A family with four children have been poisoned by pesticide in Givat Mordechai. Another 2 year old child is dead. The rest of the family has been hospitalized, some in critical condition.

UPDATE! The four year old did not make it. And there are new details about the chemical...

"...Dr. Ovadiah Shemesh, Deputy Director of Jerusalem's Sha'arei Tzedek hospital, revealed that the poison responsible for killing a 2-year old and a 4 year-old and hospitalizing the rest of their family is the same material used in chemical weapons in Syria.

..."We are talking about the same poison that was used in the Syrian chemical weapons attacks," he continued. "I have encountered cases of exposure before, but never something as tragic as this."

...Investigators have yet to determine whether or not this is a deliberate attack or an act of terrorism. Police arrested the exterminator responsible for the pesticide Wednesday afternoon."

Hashem yerachem!! I'll remind you here that the gas technician is under house arrest as well.  I'd lay odds they are both Arabs, but the news won't report that.


Moishe'la: "...We're going to be shocked and we're going to be afraid and it's not going to be easy."

Global Jihad Cell Nabbed in Jerusalem

One of the terrorists involved was to carry out a suicide attack on a bus traveling from Jerusalem to Maaleh Adumim.

The plan was to fire at the bus's tires first, in order to cause it to overturn. Then the terrorist was to murder the bus's occupants at close range and await rescue forces, whom he would also fire at.

Another terrorist was to assist in carrying out a double suicide bombing at Jerusalem's Binyanei Hauma Convention Center, as well as a bombing at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv.

These attacks were to be carried out by foreign terrorists who would arrive in Israel with forged Russian documents, disguised as tourists.

...The terrorist studied the roads leading to Binyanei Hauma and the US Embassy, and is well acquainted with the bus lines between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim.

Are you ready to wake up yet??!! What more is it going to take??!!

Discussion with Moishela: "The Quicker You Wake Up, The Quicker It Will End"

21 Shevat 5774


Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
A Handicapped child
Shevat 13 5774 (Jan 13, '14)

The Quicker You Wake Up, The Quicker It Will End

Well, Mommy and Tatti we have seen a very difficult week, the end of one week and the beginning of another. Every week there are more and more tragedies more and more difficulties for us to endure. More and more we see our world, the world we know, crumbling in every direction.

First there was a terrible murder in Williamsburg, a terrible murder that frightened everybody. At least most of the Jews of the area were frightened, but soon they snapped out of it, forced themselves out of it, because they don’t want to be frightened. They don’t want to know the truth that Hashem is sending them clear messages that it is time to leave. It's not only time to leave, it's time to change, first and foremost time to change, time to do Teshuva. The murder of the Satmar Yingerman was a terrible, terrible thing, but even more than that was the anti-Semitism shown towards the Jewish community by the New York Post, and that was a real scare. But the American Frum popped back to their old complacency very soon and don’t want to know the truth, because if they recognize the truth they might have to change, and changing is hard and they like their Egel HaZahav. They like it. They don’t want to get rid of it, so most of them just keep on, and they say to themselves, "Well it was just something that happened." And probably in their hearts they try to say that the poor dead man was probably at fault in order to relive their hidden feelings that maybe it is really a message from Shomayim to get out of the U.S.A. and to do Teshuva.

Then of course Hashem sent another happening that was very amazing. Most of the United States of America, if not all, had extremely low temperatures, and some areas, very large areas went down to even 50 below and even 60 below zero Fahrenheit , but of course the Jews quickly bounced out of that one also, at least the ones not living in Chicago or places that got the real bad cold. Probably in New York they said, "Oh well it's not so unusual. It's really not so unusual," and went back to their old ways. Teshuva is a very hard thing to do, and when we don’t really have desire to do it, it seems too difficult. When we like our toys and we like our Egel HaZahav and we like our Gashmius, then we really don’t have anything to push us to do Teshuva. Therefore, I really warn you Am Yisroel in America and in Europe and all over the world, you had better get your act together because soon there's going to be even stronger warnings and it's going to come very close to home for everybody. I'm warning you ahead of time.

Here in Eretz Yisroel we have a very interesting situation. One of the great warriors of the State of Israel fell. He died after 8 years of being unconscious. This great general had a very great funeral and burial. He was taken to the Knesset and laid in state so that all of the State of Israel could come and pay their last respects to him. There's just one catch. Not very many people were interested in coming, and the thousands and thousands of people that they expected never showed up, only a few. It was a bit embarrassing. Yes, diplomats came from far off to say farewell to this old soldier. It was very, very strange because this ex-prime minister is very disliked among much of the Israeli population for taking the Jews, the settlers out of Gush Katif. And even worse than that, the politicians that came after him didn’t even help these people get what they deserved, which is permanent housing and so on. Many people considered him a traitor. However, the State of Israel wanted to bring us a message that even though Arik was a great warrior, still when he had to give up, he gave up. And what did he give up? He didn’t give up his farm, no. He gave up all of the homes and land of the settlers in Gush Katif. He chased them out of their homes because he was told to do it, because he was told that’s what he had to do now. I wonder what would have been if he had to give up his ranch, his farm. Well, one thing he did give up and that is his positive place in history. And from that moment on he went downhill. Seeing him buried next to his wife on his farm makes me think how could it be that such a great person could fall so easily, could give up so easily, and why now exactly was his death? I believe that his death came now because very soon the Israeli population is going to get a big shock, because no matter what our so-called leaders of the Knesset say, I'm sure they're going to give up a lot of land and lot more settlers are going to have to leave, and they are going to bring foreign troops here as I once said before, and who knows what's next. So brace yourself, Am Yisroel, because it's not going to be easy. Brace yourself. We're coming to a very difficult time, and when you see what happens just check the Nevuas (prophecies), and you'll see that it is exactly what is written.

I foresee in the near future many more tests, many more revelations of truth. We're going to be shocked and we're going to be afraid and it's not going to be easy. If you want to get through it Israeli Jews, American Jews, European Jews, all the world Jewry who want to get through it, you better come back to your origins. Ladies, you had better shed all those not Tzniusdik clothes, and exchange them for Tzniusdik clothes. You better get rid of your Sheitels and of your make up and of your see-through stockings and your fancy shoes that make a lot of noise in the street and of all the things that Hashem despises. Ladies, don’t forget your nail polish. And you men, you do it also. You better start learning Torah the way you're supposed to, and not dilly dally around. OK you have to go to work, good, but you have to be Kovaya Ittim (a regular learning schedule), and you better do it! You better stop schmoozing in Shul, and talking all kinds of Loshon Horah and laughing at people in the street because they look like they're too Frum. You better watch out. You better stop flying around from country to country for Bar Mitzvas and Chasunas and all kinds of things that you don’t really have to go to. You better settle down and try to get rid of your overdraft and try to get rid of your debt to the bank, because those debts are the most dangerous. If you owe a Gemach or you owe to a private Yid, Frum Yid that if in the worst time will be Mochel you, OK. But once you get in with the banks and so on, you are in big trouble, big trouble. So I suggest that you shed your Goyish ways, and come back to being true Yidden the way a Yid is supposed to be. Go back to your learning. Go back to your Davening with all your heart and soul. Go back to the real Yiddishkeit. Go back to Hashem. Many of you laugh at Breslevers because they like to make Hisbodidus (when you seclude yourself in order to make personal contact with Hashem), but Hisbodidus is one of the basic things that a Yid has to do. He has to just talk to Hashem. He has to just come close to Hashem, be aware that Hashem knows every move a person is contemplating even before he actually does it. Hashem knows a person's innermost feelings even though people feel that they are totally alone. He knows every thought and every deed and every Ratzon of the person. So therefore I would suggest very much that you discard your books that are Treif, and your magazines that are Treif, and would suggest that you discard your Treif clothes and your Treif places of eating. Even though they have a Hechsher, still they're Treif, because sitting in these places and guzzling in these places and eating in a gluttonous way, men and women sitting laughing making jokes and so on, is worse than eating in a marketplace and because it's a place of entertainment void of Torah. It is as if you vomited on the table. And don’t forget that we should only eat in restaurants when we have no choice. When you find yourself in a strange place and you're in a in an emergency situation because you have no food and no grocery stores and nowhere to eat and you feel weak from hunger, then you would have no choice but to look for a restaurant that is Heimish and that is Tzniusdik and that is really Kosher, but that’s all very hard to find nowadays.

Am Yisroel the end of time as we know it is coming very close. We're only feeling a little bit of the troubles that await us. If you think that it has been bad until now, it's going to be worse. This doesn’t mean we will be tested in the same way as before. Still it will be harder. Only the ones close to Hashem will be able to get through it because they won't be afraid. They won't be afraid because they will be so happy that we're getting so close to the Geula Sheleimah which is the greatest Truth.

American Jews get out of your stupor. You're going for a big fall. It's going to be a huge fall. America is already sliding down. Don’t lie to yourselves. If you lately made it big on the stock market, soon the stock market is going to fall. All that money of yours is going to fall. You are going to be in big trouble. Many Jews already are in trouble in America, and if you think that the New York Post magazine article was bad, wait. You don’t even realize that there's anti-Semitism everywhere. It is not like it used to be. You can't go into the mayor's office now, and say "This is an outrage," and he's going to run to help you. No way, not anymore!

Things are changing and they're changing at a fast pace. I suggest very much that you take yourselves in hand and start stripping away all the unnecessary garbage that you have collected around you, and get to the Truth, and be able to get to the Geula Sheleimah, because if you don’t do that you'll never make it. You'll never make it because you won't be able to. You won't be able to even understand what Hashem wants from you. You won't understand what it means to get to the Geula Sheleimah. You won't understand what it means to be Bnei Chorin. You'll never be able to understand it. If you don’t understand it, you can't make it because you won't be able to appreciate it. You will arrive and you will disappear by yourself, because you won't be able to be part of it. Am Yisroel I'm speaking seriously, very seriously. The time has come. We're coming to the end and you had better get your act together.

I want only to tell you, all of you, all Am Yisroel, what I'm saying is true. More and more tragedies huge enormous tragedies are on the way until you wake up. The quicker you wake up, the quicker it will end. If you drag your feet and you don’t want to realize, then it's going to shlep longer, but Hashem will save every single Yiddishe Neshoma, every Neshoma that was at Har Sinai. It might take a little longer because you're working against Him, but if you stop working against Hashem and start realizing what is going on, then you will be able to get there quicker. I'm begging you. I'm begging all the Yidden, the Frum that are so intertwined with the Egel HaZahav that they can't get out of the spiritual mess that they have gotten themselves into. They are so involved in the materialism that they can't see how to get out of it, how to break away from it. I'm begging you, break away! Break away from the Gashmius and come only to Hakodosh Boruch Hu. Come close. Strip yourselves of all the extra baggage, all the weightiness of the materialism and of your mistaken trust in mankind, and come back to Hakodosh Boruch Hu.

21 January 2014

What's Going on With the Gas?

21 Shevat 5774

Aside from the horrific gas explosion that took place in the early hours of yesterday morning in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem and which killed a couple and their 2 year old child, there have been two more incidents involving gas today. What's going on?

J'lem Building Evacuated due to Damage to Gas System

A residential building on Hahayal Street in Jerusalem was evacuated, Tuesday, after its gas-distribution system was damaged during the course of work at the site. Firefighters were sent to deal with the problem.

Petach tikva Resident Rescued after Gas Leak

MDA successfully rescued a Petach Tikva woman from her apartment after a cooking gas leak was reported. The woman was evacuated to hospital in a state of partial consciousness.

It's Anybody's Guess, But...

20 Shevat 5774

...it's my guess that the truest gauge of what is happening behind the scenes is the weather. Want to know if powerful people are plotting Israel's downfall? Just pull a weather report. The worse the weather, the worse their plans are for us. If the "Polar Vortex is returning," it can only mean one thing. Vis a vis the Piece Plan, nothing in Washington has changed.

20 January 2014

A Question of Modesty

19 Shevat 5774

Too often we tend towards knee-jerk reactions.  It's "us" against "them" so, naturally, "they" have to be wrong. However, when we understand that nothing happens that is not ordained from Above and that absolutely everything contains a message to us, it stops being about "us" against "them" - whether "they" are the Arabs, the missionaries or the Erev Rav - and it comes down to "us" and HKB"H.

Temple Mount: Jewish Woman Barred Over 'Muslim' Dress Code

A religious Jewish woman who wanted to visit the Temple Mount on Sunday morning was told she could not enter the holy site because her skirt was too short, Temple Mount activists have reported. The woman was wearing thick black tights, a knee-length black skirt, and a long-sleeved black top.

The truth of the matter is... Our women have been too influenced by western fashions and "norms" of modesty. The truth of the matter is... In this instance, the WAKF was probably right and they were just Hashem's messenger to give this message to Jewish women who want to do what is right, but who have been mislead.

We've all seen them on the streets, the yeshivish types wearing long sheitels and straight, tight skirts to just below the knee, together with opaque tights and form-fitting, long-sleeved blouses up to the neck.  Sure, it meets the letter of halachah, but the spirit - in this case, the internal sense of right and wrong - is missing. Even if all the skin is covered, it is not modest dress as the body is outlined for all to see.

Jewish women, I am not advocating going to a different extreme, but rather to take the balanced middle ground. In these times of harsh judgments hanging over our heads, let's not take any chances of giving the Accusing Angel any ammunition to use against us. After all, what you do is not just about you, it's about all of us - Klal Yisrael.

19 January 2014

How Much Longer Will Moshe Ya'alon Be Defense Minister?

18 Shevat 5774

The Defense Minister is treading on politically treacherous ground right now. His days as DM may already be numbered.

Yaalon Rejects Kerry's Security Arrangements Proposal

Defense Minister Yaalon said over the weekend that Kerry's security arrangements proposal for the Jordan Valley are unacceptable, "Drones and sensors are no substitute for the IDF presence in the Jordan Valley. We will not abandon our security to a third party. Our presence is required there for the long term."

His appointment was no doubt a concession to Likud members without whom the Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu could not become Prime Minister.  But, this man is being too honest and straightforward for the politicians. And the US will assuredly want payback. If the DM's words were an accurate reflection of his boss's position it might be another matter, but the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. After all, who appointed Tzipi Livni to be Israel's Chief negotiator with the 'Palestinians' and the Americans?

Tzipi Livni who...

As a member of Ariel Sharon's cabinet, "was an avid supporter of the prime minister's disengagement plan, and was generally considered to be among the key dovish or moderate members of the Likud party."

"Became the first Israeli cabinet minister to explicitly differentiate Palestinian guerrilla attacks against Israeli military targets from terrorist attacks against civilians."

Who "won the Kadima leadership election by a margin of just 431 votes (1%). Palestinian peace negotiators were reportedly pleased with the result."

Who "has been received warmly in the Gulf, and that she is the leader most Arabs want to see as Israel's next prime minister."

Let's put the myth of "hard decisions" and "painful concessions" to rest once and for all. Whatever they want the outcome to be was decided long ago and the current PM was complicit.  The only thing being "negotiated" now is how best to pull the wool over the sheep's eyes.

17 January 2014

Parshat Yitro 5774

16 Shevat 5774
Erev Shabbat Kodesh

Parashat Yitro: Two forms of Kiddush Hashem
by Daniel Pinner

(Dedicated to the memory of my great-uncle Alf Tropp (Avraham ben Shmuel ve-Sarah), born 9th Tammuz 5678 (19th June 1918), a true mensch, who passed away in his sleep on Tuesday 13th Sh’vat. Yehi zichro baruch.)

When God repeatedly sent Moshe to Pharaoh with the demand, “Send forth My nation” (Exodus 5:1, 7:16, 7:21, 9:1, 9:13), this demand was invariably in the Name of Hashem, the God of Israel or the God of the Hebrews. The reason is simple and obvious: the purpose of the Exodus was not merely to redeem a nation from slavery. Its deeper purpose was Kiddush Hashem, sanctifying the Name of Hashem.

For this reason, too, Pharaoh had to be forced to acknowledge Hashem. It would not have been sufficient for him to release the Jews from Egypt simply out of fear of yet another plague, which was why after each plague God “strengthened Pharaoh’s heart”, as He had told Moshe in advance that He would (Exodus 4:21, 7:13, 9:12, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10). The standard English translation – that God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” – is inaccurate and misleading: God did not “harden” Pharaoh’s heart deliberately making him crueller; rather He “strengthened” Pharaoh’s heart, giving him the inner strength to make his own decisions without being terrorised into freeing the Israelites by the plagues.

Ultimately, the Ten Plagues and the Splitting of the Red Sea forced Pharaoh and Egypt to acknowledge Hashem, God of the Hebrews, as the Supreme Power. God told Moshe: “I will be glorified through Pharaoh and through all his army, and Egypt shall know that I am Hashem” (Exodus14:4), on which the Midrash comments: “This teaches that when Hashem exacts punishment from the nations, His Name becomes great in the world” (Tanhuma, Beshallach 7).

An almost-contemporary commentator points out that it was in the region of Pithom and Raamses that God had said “I will be glorified through Pharaoh and through all his army, and Egypt shall know that I am Hashem”. The Egyptians had conquered these two cities on Egypt’s eastern border from the Hyksos (according to some opinions, Raamses was the Hyksos’ capital). When the Egyptians finally defeated their sworn enemies, the Hyksos,and captured their principal cities, they interpreted this as a victory of their gods, and therefore bestowed the new name “Pithom” – “Pi-hahiroth,” meaning the City of Heirut (“freedom”), or the House of Freedom. This was a special city, because next to it – on the border – they built an idol called Baal-zephon in memory of their victory, to protect that border from further hostile incursions, and to ensure that no slaves would be able to escape. And not far from there was the Hyksos’ capital, which the Egyptians now called “Raamses” in honour of the current pharaoh.

This was the reason that it was specifically next to Pithom, the site where the Children of Israel were humiliated and the site of the most terrible hillul Hashem, as well as the site of Egypt’s idols and Egypt’s pride in their triumph, that God wrought His vengeance on Egypt.This is an example of measure-for-measure punishment: in the same place where the Egyptians began to desecrate the Name of God – there His Name was aggrandized and sanctified (Rabbi Meir Kahane Hy”d, in Peirush ha-Maccabee, Exodus page 28).

This, then, was the awesome Kiddush Hashem in last week’s Parashah: God publicly defeated and destroyed the world’s mightiest nation as punishment for the evil they had perpetrated against Him and His nation.

And in this week’s Parashah, we encounter a very different form of Kiddush Hashem when Yitro (Jethro), the minister of Midian, publicly acknowledged Hashem, God of the Hebrews, as the Supreme Power.

Our Parashah begins, “Yitro the minister of Midian, Moshe’s father-in-law, had heard of all that God had done for Moshe and for Israel His nation – that Hashem had brought Israel out from Egypt” (Exodus 18:1). Sixteen chapters and several decades earlier, the Torah had first introduced Yitro, albeit without yet naming him, with the words “the minister of Midian had seven daughters…” (Exodus 2:16). The Midrash (Mekhilta de-Rabbi Yishmael, Amalek 1 and Yalkut Shimoni, Yitro 268) records a dispute over the precise meaning of the word kohen (which we have translated “minister”) in this context. Rabbi Yehoshua said that it means a minister of religion (i.e. a priest of idolatry), and Rabbi Elazar from Modi’im said that it means a national leader (akin to a senior government minister).

Rabbi Meir Kahane Hy”d (Peirush ha-Maccabee, Exodus pages 175-178) cites various Midrashim which indicate that when the young Moshe had fled to Midian and encountered Yitro’s daughters by the well, Yitro had long since understood the futility and falseness of idolatry, had actually had the courage of his convictions to abandon it publicly, and had resigned from the idolatrous Midianite priesthood. He and his family were therefore ostracised by Midianite society, which was why his seven daughters had to draw water from the well unaided, and also why the other shepherds felt at liberty to habitually drive them away from the well and otherwise abuse them (Exodus 2:17-18).

This is another form of Kiddush Hashem. Whether Yitro was a priest of idolatry or a national leader, he clearly had heavy influence and commanded much respect among his fellow-Midianites. Midian was a son of Abraham, whom his wife Keturah had born him (Genesis 25:2), and by this time had grown into a large confederation of tribes inhabiting the region east of Israel (in present-day terms, southern Jordan and north-west Saudi Arabia).

Any priest or national leader of Midian would have enjoyed wealth and status, and would be famous among a fairly large population. For such a man to abandon his post despite the consequences would have been a well-publicised scandal. For him to do this because he recognised the falseness of Midianite paganism and had decided to follow Hashem, the God of the Hebrews, inevitably sanctified the Name of God.

True, Midian was not a global super-power on the level of Egypt, but it was fairly large and populous nonetheless. And Yitro knew all the gods which were worshipped throughout the world, which was why he could confidently state, near the beginning of Parashat Yitro, “Now I know that Hashem is greater than all the gods” (Exodus 18:11; see Rashi’s comment there). For Yitro to publicly declare his abandonment of all the false gods in favour of Hashem, the one true God, was the approximate equivalent of a pope publicly acknowledging that actually the Jews were right all along, even though his public confession would cast him into exile from his palace and ostracism from the religion that he heads.

Pharaoh and Yitro, then, are the two paradigms for Kiddush Hashem. They were both forced to recognise the falseness of polytheism, both were forced to acknowledge that Hashem, God of the Hebrews, is the sole true God. They achieved this understanding in very different ways – the one through his evil, the other through honest enquiry; the one against his will, the other whole-heartedly and joyfully; the one by attempting to exterminate Israel, Hashem’s nation, the other by hearing about their salvation and rejoicing in it; the one by being destroyed by Hashem, the other by embracing Him.

But despite their polar differences, both these men, both leaders of their respective nations, became tools through which God’s Name became sanctified in this world.

16 January 2014

Nahal Prat (aka) Wadi Qelt

15 Shevat 5774

Took some pictures today on a hike.  Thought you might enjoy them.  This land in Binyamin is no doubt being negotiated away as I write this.  (Click on the picture to enlarge it, for best effect.)

I love this place.