29 December 2019

28 December 2019

"The Power of Eight"

Rosh Chodesh Tevet 5780
7th Candle of Hanukkah
Shavua Tov!

May any merit gained from the learning of this shiur as posted here go to the refuah shleimah of those Jews injured in last night's terror attack in Monsey.

27 December 2019


29 Kislev 5780
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Erev Rosh Chodesh Tevet
5th Candle of Chanukah

This week's parashah, Mikeitz, is so named for the beginning of the first sentence - וַיְהִ֕י מִקֵּ֖ץ - which is translated "at the end," as in, at the end of an additional two years in prison, the time had come to free Yosef to fulfill his destiny.

No ending is ever truly The End.  Every ending is just a gateway to a new beginning.  As it was with Yosef HaTzadik, so it was with the Chashmonayim as well as many other examples in our history.  And so it is with us.  Just when it looks the darkest, that's when the light will shine forth

We are clearly standing at the ultimate end which will bring us to the ultimate new beginning - the complete Redemption.  And like his father before him, it is the Son of Yosef who will pave the way.

~ Shabbat Shalom, Chodesh Tov and Chanukah Sameach ~

26 December 2019

Where is Judah Maccabee Today?

28 Kislev 5780
4th Candle of Hanukkah

Every time I read another headline about Xmas in the Israeli English online press, I got lower and lower.  I thought to myself, I need to blog about this, but I just didn't have the heart to do it.  It's so depressing.

Then, this morning, when I received an email with a whole list of these same articles that I'd been trying to avoid dealing with, I realized that I was just not going to be able to dodge this unpleasant issue.

Xmas is being publicized and even celebrated - by Jews in Israel - more than ever before.

This is especially disconcerting to me as a convert, because in the process of becoming a righteous gentile, the pagan-based observance of this Xian holiday was the first thing to go.  And what a battle it was swimming against that seasonal tsunami.

I had previously visited Israel during this time of year and knew that it was possible to forget the holiday even existed - back in 1994 anyway.  Being Xmas-free in December was one of the things I had most looked forward to after making aliyah.

It was a bit of a shock when, after settling in the Galil, that first December rolled around and suddenly there were lights and trees all over Haifa.  That's the first I knew that Xian Arabs lived there and they were celebrating Xmas in the traditional way.

The situation improved greatly after moving south to Beit Shemesh (before there was even a Ramat Beit Shemesh).  But, then something changed.  The first Toeva Parade in Jerusalem (2002), then the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif (2005).  And then an invasion of African "migrants."  (2010)  Now, today a report has been issued that "only 14% of legal immigrants to Israel in the last eight years are halachicly Jewish."  I can't pinpoint the precise moment it began, but somewhere back there a culture war really got underway, first covertly and now overtly.  


"Bayamim hahem bazeman hazeh."

(A sampling of online Xmas-themed news articles:)
Israeli Jews flock to Jesus’s hometown Nazareth to catch a ‘European’ Christmas (TOI)

Israel's best Christmas trees  (JPost)
Christmas season is here and the holiday spirit is felt around the country, mainly thanks to the countless brilliant evergreens decorating our streets, churches, restaurants and balconies. (Ynet)
A Greek Jew revisits Christmas and Hanukkah (JPost)
Gazan Christians on Christmas (JPost)

Christmas celebrations in Israeli school  (Blog)
And the very worst of all...
Hanukkah, Christmas and the light of the Messiah

Hanukkah is not Judaism’s most important holiday. But it has become the most representative, as it were – the Jewish answer to Christmas. On most years there is some overlap in dates, and this has led to various expressions of commonality or sharing. Some Israeli public spaces, not to mention spaces in the United States or elsewhere, are being gradually crafted in light of a joint celebration.

...both festivals celebrate the same ideal, that of messianic light coming into the world and transforming it. With the increasing commercialization of Christmas, as well as Hanukkah, the festival(s) has become a commercial-cultural expression, devoid of true spiritual significance. There is no difficulty in creating a crossover between two festivals of two religions, both of which have been flattened out in terms of their spiritual significance. This is what most of Christmas-Hanukkah is about. There is, however, another way of going about relating the two, by seeking their deeper common spiritual message. Such an approach speaks to the religiously committed on both sides, and could provide deeper meaning to those who already find themselves in crossover situations.

...Let us then consider Hanukkah and Christmas as times of aspiration for that higher ideal to which both traditions aspire, to the truly transformative light of Messiah that the world awaits. That aspiration can lend deeper meaning to the existing reality of the parallel or joint celebration. It invites all to consider how these festivals can be transformative, an alternative to prevailing cultural norms, much as Hanukkah itself was a battle for a higher vision in the face of contemporary cultural norms. The light of Messiah, celebrated in diverse ways in both traditions, can then be recognized as Christmas celebrations in Israeli schoola light of peace that is shone into the world by people of faith.

[ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alon Goshen-Gottstein is the founder and director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute. He is acknowledged as one of the world’s leading figures in interreligious dialogue, specializing in bridging the theological and academic dimension with a variety of practical initiatives, especially involving world religious leadership.]
"Hellenism" is alive and well and thriving in 21st century Israel.  Even the Prime Minister is pushing cultural assimilation!!  Where is Judah Maccabee when you need him most?

21 December 2019

"A Historic Event"

24 Kislev 5780
Erev Hanukkah
Shavua Tov!
New Iranian drone base destroyed near Abu Kamal. First Saudi unit lands at Syrian oil field

A new Iranian drone base near the eastern Syrian town of Abu Kamal was flattened early Saturday, Dec. 21 in this month’s fourth unidentified attack in this part of Syria. DEBKAfile military sources report that the target was Hamadan airport, which stood derelict until recently. Iranian forces moved in, carried out repairs and lately installed drones with operational teams there for attacks on northern Israel. Early Saturday, that installation was razed before it became operational.

Our military sources report another significant event which has only just occurred. At week’s end, a Saudi military contingent landed for the first time at the Syrian oil fields in another part of eastern Syria, the Deir Ez-Zour region. The Saudi troops took up positions around the Omar oil field, the largest in the country. They provided security for engineers and technicians of the Saudi State Aramco company who arrived to repair the pumping equipment disabled during the war years. The Saudi oil operation and troops at Omar oil field are being secured in their turn by US military and air units and Syrian Democratic Forces.

Although the Saudi contingent is small, its arrival in Syria is a historic event of the highest order. The takeover of Syria’s largest oil field by a Saudi military force under an American umbrella is a regional game changer, which affords both them an advantage against Russia, Iran and Syria.
Also of note - what is happening in Libya...
Egyptian tanks sent to Libya to thwart Turkish intervention in battle for Tripoli

...If Turkey goes through with its plan to deploy Muslim Brotherhood volunteers to Libya, The Egyptian air force will go into action for a showdown against Turkish intervention.

19 December 2019

'Twas the Shabbat Before Hanukkah

22 Kislev 5780
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Vayeshev

From notes taken on a shiur by Rabbi Sitorsky - Kislev 5771...

Hanukkah is in Parashat Vayeshev. ...the Shlah Hakadosh tells us that golus Yavan occurred because of the sin of the selling of Yosef Hatzadik, which automatically connects this parashah to Hanukkah because it is the Shabbat that we read about Mechirat Yosef. Because of Mechirat Yosef (the sale of Yosef), there was a Greek exile and because there was a Greek exile, there was a geulah from Greece which was Hanukkah. Hanukkah is the geulah from the Greek exile, so Hanukkah is the holiday to rectify the selling of Yosef. 

The sin of Mechirat Yosef was a blemish in the unity of Am Yisrael and a blemish in the area of speech. There was an aspect of lashon hara involved. Yosef reported on his brothers. Yosef Hatzadik is punished. Meforshim say the ten years of incarceration is one year for each brother that he spoke against and the other two years for lack of faith in Hashem, according to Rashi.

The Shlah Kakadosh tells us that Yosef is Hanukkah. Avraham is Pesach, Yitzchak is Shavuot and Ya'aqov is Sukkot, so Yosef is Hanukkah.

Hanukkah is the holiday that brings near the Jews who are far away from Yiddishkeit. It affects those neshamas that no other holiday affects, including Shabbat. The most unaffiliated Jew, even if he doesn't keep Shabbat, will celebrate Hanukkah. It's for those who are outside...this is our generation.

Yosef Hatzadik brings near those who were far away. Hanukkah is the holiday of kiruv. Those who don't have a tikun any other time of the year, get a tikun on Hanukkah.

Yosef is a hidden tzadik. He's misunderstood; not accepted. Hanukkah, too, was not accepted at first. What would we be today without Hanukkah? What would we be today without Yosef Hatzadik?

Yosef and Binyamin HAVE to be united.

Yosef is the rival of Eisav.

Eisav was killed on Hanukkah. (Ya'aqov was buried on Hanukkah.) [Eisav has his 'holiday' at Hanukkah time.]

Binyamin is the rival of Yishmael.

Hanukkah is the tikun for pegam habrit. It prepares us for Shovavim. The story of Yehudah and Tamar is about the blemish that would prevent Mashiach and the repair for that blemish which results in the birth of Peretz, ancestor of Mashiach.

Hanukkah is not complete until Yosef and Binyamin are joined. Hanukkah is the fusion of Yosef and Binyamin. Hanukkah is the holiday to overpower Eisav joining with Yishmael.

Yishmael is the fifth exile. Hanukkah is the fifth holiday and we drink five cups on Pesach, the fifth is the cup of redemption. These five cups appear in the parashah. "Cup" is mentioned five times. Four in the story and once again at the end of the parashah. Hanukkah is the fifth cup. Hanukkah is the light of Melech HaMashiach. The light of the fifth geulah after the exile of Yishmael. Corresponds to the five levels of the neshamah. Yechidah, the highest level corresponding to the fifth (which also corresponds to Neilah of Yom Kippur).

Yishmael has their mosque on the very place of the Beit HaMikdash where the miracle of Hanukkah happened. On Hanukkah we can merit all five levels of the neshamah. The gematria of the names of the five levels of neshamah is equal to the phrase "lamed vav nerot shel Hanukkah." (Yishmaelim pray five times a day.)

Vayeshev means to relax, to rest in peace and tranquility, but the stories are anything but. They are full of tragedies. Why is it called "vayeshev"? Right in the middle comes the story of Yehudah and Tamar which opens the way for the birth of Mashiach. And the miracle of Hanukkah is hidden here. Out of all the tragedies of these stories comes the hope of Mashiach.

At the end of the parashah we see how all of the tragedies were working towards a wonderful end to provide a salvation for Am Yisrael. It's just the same now in our generation. Soon we will see how all of the tragedies that we are now suffering will end just as wonderfully.


18 December 2019

Annual "Glatt-Kosher" Perversion of Hanukah

22 Kislev 5780

This post from three years ago is worth re-posting.  Even though the presidents have changed, the sentiments have not...

15 Kislev 5777

What is the connection between Hanukkah and Purim? Those Jews in attendance at this event are no different than the ones who attended King Achashverosh's banquet.
Obama Holding Two Glatt Kosher Chanukah Receptions At White House Tonight – Says ‘Nes Gadol Haya Po’

"President Barack Obama says Chanukah is a reminder that of all the blessings enjoyed in the U.S., the most meaningful is freedom. ...He says families putting candles in their windows are embracing the freedom to proudly practice their religion and defending the rights of others to do so."
They say the same thing about Passover - that it's a celebration of "freedom". And yet, the Jewish people merely exchanged one master for another, one mode of servitude for another. We were freed from slavery to Egypt so that we could serve HKB"H. We traded the yoke in Egypt for the yoke of Torah and mitzvot.

"Today in the White House, as you will soon do in your homes, we recall Hanukkah’s many lessons: How a small group can make a big difference. That’s the story of the Maccabees’ unlikely military victory, and of great moral movements around the globe and across time. How a little bit can go a long way, like the small measure of oil that outlasted every expectation. It reminds us that even when our resources seem limited, our faith can help us make the most of what little we have."
The holiday of Hanukkah exists davka to proclaim that this victory was a miracle wrought from Above; that had HKB"H not helped us, none of it could have happened. These remarks by the US President serve only to deny the uniquely miraculous nature of the event and strip it of any connection to the Menorah and the rededication of the Beit HaMikdash which are central to the story.
"This is the season that we appreciate the many miracles, large and small, that have graced our lives throughout generations, and to recognize that the most meaningful among them is our freedom."
He trivializes the Hanukkah events. While paying lip service to "miracles", he lumps Hanukkah in with "the many". 

"Everybody in America can understand the spirit of this tradition. Proudly practicing our religion, whatever it might be — and defending the rights of others to do the same — that’s our common creed. That’s what families from coast to coast confirm when they place their menorah in the window — not to share the candles’ glow with just your family, but also with your community and with your neighbors."
Nothing could be further from the true spirit of Hanukkah than this. Not in the wildest imagination can Judaism be said to represent freedom of worship for all religions. The Maccabees did not fight a costly and bloody 25-year war to enable all people everywhere to worship whatever god they choose in whatever manner they wish. God forbid! They led the way in mesirut nefesh in order to enable the Jewish people to continue their service of the Master of the Universe in truth and righteousness and purity.

"As many of you know, the name 'Hanukkah' comes from the Hebrew word for 'dedication.' So we want to thank you again for your dedication to our country, to the historic progress that we’ve made, to the defense of religious freedom in the United States and around the world."
The United States and its vaunted democracy (a Greek word) is the very embodiment of Greek values in the world today. Among the worst of its crimes is the assimilation of the Jewish people resident in its midst, which is what is really being celebrated here - not Hanukkah.

And make no mistake about it, Diaspora Jews!! It is unavoidable. No matter how 'frum' your community, you cannot live among the goyim in their impure lands and not absorb their tumah. You are assimilating - some more slowly than others to be sure, but assimilating nonetheless! No holiday is less suited to celebration in the Diaspora than Hanukkah.

Additional note to readers: Nothing written here is meant to criticize President Obama. It is meant to point out the vast difference between how "they" perceive our holidays and how "we" are meant to perceive it and the slippery slide that it is for Diaspora Jews. It is meant to point out the incongruity of Jews "celebrating" the victory over the Greeks inside a Greek Temple to Democracy with the world leader of present-day Hellenism.

17 December 2019


20 Kislev 5780

In Eretz Yisrael, the sevivon (or driedel) has the letters nun, gimel, heh, peh which are roshei teivot (initial letters or acronym) of nes gadol hayah po - "a great miracle happened here."  In the Diaspora, the letter peh is replaced with a shin because they say nes gadol hayah sham - "a great miracle happened there," meaning in Eretz Yisrael.

Many Jews seem to want to play down the difference between here and there, for whatever the reasons.  But, it has to be understood by all that the miracle of Hanukkah could not have taken place anywhere else in the world.  

Only in Eretz Yisrael do we Jews have the Divine right to determine our own destiny and to oppose, by force, if necessary, anyone who stands in our way.  And only in Jerusalem could the Temple service have been reenacted and the Temple Menorah rekindled, as it will be once again.


19 Kislev 5780

There is no excuse for Israelis making their "home" in the cesspool of the nations.  She got off lightly.  It's still not Paris.

15 December 2019

Preparing the World for Mashiach

17 Kislev 5780

Societies are in chaos...
Why are so many countries witnessing mass protests?

FOR ANYONE trying to follow protest movements around the world it is hard to keep up. Large anti-government demonstrations, some peaceful and some not, have taken place in recent weeks in places on every continent....
Nature is in chaos...
Extreme weather patterns are raising the risk of a global food crisis, and climate change will make this worse

...when the jet stream — the high-altitude air current that steers storms and separates air masses, takes on more undulating and persistent wavy shapes (technically known as “Rossby waves,” after the scientist Carl-Gustaf Rossby), extreme heat events become more common in particular parts of the world. These locations include the breadbasket regions of western North America, Western Europe, western Russia, and western Asia, depending on the exact jet stream pattern that develops and locks into place.
Governments are in chaos...
'Not my prime minister', protesters march in London against Johnson

Several hundred noisy protesters marched through central London on Friday to protest against Britain's election result, chanting "Boris Johnson: Not My Prime Minister" and "Boris, Boris, Boris: Out, Out, Out".

'Solemn step': Democrats unveil articles of impeachment against Trump

Democratic congressional leaders have unveiled articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, a historic move set in motion by a whistleblower complaint warning the president was using the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in a US election.

Israel heading for unprecedented third election in a year

Israel appears to be heading for an unprecedented third election within a year – prolonging a political stalemate that has paralysed the government and undermined many citizens’ faith in the democratic process.
It's all part of HKB"H's plan to prepare the world for the arrival of Mashiach. What we are witnessing today is the breakdown of the seed in the darkness of the ground from which the sprout of new life will emerge.  The Era of Mashiach will be as different from the present world as the seed is from the plant.

12 December 2019

"...Esau, he is Edom."

15 Kislev 5780
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Vayishlach
"And these are the descendants of Esau, he is Edom.  ...So, Esau settled on Mount Se'ir; Esau, he is Edom."
He is Edom.  The name - and the fact that it was used throughout his life -  gives an insight into Esau's base character.  The name was given him as a reference to his gluttony when he sold the birthright for nothing more than red beans (25:30).  That greed and depraved set of values characterized him all through his life (Sforno).  
(Stone Edition Chumash and Commentary)
The following was relayed to me by Rav Yehudah Richter. I hope I can do it justice in the retelling.

In the Midrash Bereishit Rabbah 63, the question is asked, why is Eisav called Edom? And the answer is that it’s because Eisav wears red clothes – everything about him is red.

Chazal say that when Binyamin was brought before Yosef in Egypt (before his identity has been revealed), Yosef asks him about his life – did he have children? Binyamin confirms that he has ten children, and he tells Yosef their names. These are not the standard names heard in the day, so Yosef inquires as to why such unusual names. Then Binyamin explains about the fate of his brother Yosef and that each of the names of his children were meant to evoke some memory of Yosef so that Binyamin would never forget his brother.

On this part of the parshah, the Rokeach contrasts Binyamin’s actions with Eisav’s. He asks why is Eisav called Edom and his place Se’ir. He answers by saying that Eisav never wanted to forget his hatred for his brother Ya’aqov. Every time he would see the color red it would remind him of how his brother “stole” his birthright and keep the hatred alive. And that’s why he wore red and called his land Edom. The name Se’ir also alluded to when Ya’aqov put on the hairy clothes to fool his father into giving him Eisav’s blessings.

This is also why there is an actual halachah that Jews are not permitted to wear red – males or females – because it can rekindle the hatred Eisav/Edom has for Ya’aqov/Israel.

Interesting that “seeing red” is a metaphor for experiencing rage and hatred.

Maybe the key to beating Eisav’s current explosion of hatred lies in keeping the memory of  Yosef HaTzadik’s descendant – Mashiach ben Yosef - alive.  Od Yosef chai!  We have to pray that Mashiach ben Yosef will not die, because he is the one who, at the End of Days, will destroy Evil Eisav's everlasting hatred once and for all.


It's Already Hanukkah in Washington, DC

14 Kislev 5780

Watched the live stream of the White House Hanukkah Party last night.  So weird.  Clearly it cannot be celebrated the same way they do Xmas, but what else do they know?  The room had a decorated tree (or bush?) - maybe it was the great American Hanukkah bush I've heard so much about??  Weird to see one candle lit as a celebration of a holiday that won't arrive for 12 more days.  And the whole celebration of the holiday is the increase of light over the course of eight nights.  One candle lit in the daytime does nothing to fulfill the mitzvah of advertising the miracle.  Such a farce!

And Trump lost no time recounting once again every single big favor he has has done "for Israel" - lot of talk of Israel for an American Hanukkah party - and patted himself on the back the whole way through the litany.  The Jews did not fail him.  They fell all over themselves in gratitude, awe and praise.

The occasion was used to add yet another debt-of-thanks to the Jewish ledger.  A big show was made of Trump signing an executive order which would include antisemitism in the list of Title IX rules, whereby if an institution of higher learning allows antisemitic words or actions on campus and does not combat it, they are no longer eligible for Federal monies.  No doubt some well-meaning, but clueless Jew gave him this idea - or maybe it was some well-meaning, but clueless Evangelical Christian "Faith Leader".

Trump had to make it ecumenical by inviting his favorite pastors and even inviting his fave - Robert Jeffress, who is famous for listing Jews among those condemned to everlasting hellfires - to address the crowd.  At the end when everyone is jockeying for position for photographs, I saw John Hagee as well as that awful, awful Jerusalem-based missionary Mike Evans, who appeared to be haranguing Trump as the President was making to leave.

Jews have got to keep in mind that it is the Evangelical agenda which is driving Trump's policies vis a vis Jews and Israel, and that ultimately, everything he does is geared to self-gain.


In perusing the headlines this morning, I saw this question: "Why does the Israeli public not seem as panicked as it should be by the possibility of war?"  Then, I thought about the siren that went off in a test yesterday and the incessant drone of jet engines overhead.  If we panicked every time a war threatened, we'd never succeed in living our lives.  I mean this Persian Sword of Damocles has been hanging over us for at least fifteen years.  However, I do feel like we're just right "there" with this particular confrontation.  If Binyamin Netanyahu is the one destined to save Israel from Iran, he is most definitely running out of time to do it.  His days as Prime Minister are clearly numbered - 80 to be exact.

No surprise to many of us that Israel is now officially heading to a third election.  If the predictions that Mashiach will arrive before it can take place are correct, we've got only until March 2, 2020 to wait.


UPDATE to yesterday's post:   FBI Raids “Black Hebrew Israelites” Church In Harlem Following Jersey City Shooting Attack

11 December 2019

"Jersey City Kosher Market Was ‘Clearly’ Targeted"

14 Kislev 5780

This was the big news story of the day in America.  New York Channel 4 News is reporting that while a motive is still not known, police have determined that a shooting at a Jersey City kosher grocery was not random.  New details emerging about the perpetrators are raising some disturbing issues.
Three sources say [David] Anderson was a one-time follower of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, a group whose members believe they are descendants of the ancient Israelites and may adhere to both Christian and Judaic beliefs. There was a note with religious writings in the U-Haul he and [Francine] Graham allegedly drove to the scene, but a motive -- including any alleged nexus to hate or terror remains under active investigation, officials say.

Law enforcement sources had no immediate details on Graham, but a neighbor tells News 4 she lived near him for years. The neighbor described Graham as a former home health aide in Manhattan who met Anderson after she got hurt at work and quit; he says Graham turned into a "dark person" after they met.

The neighbor also claims Graham was coerced into a militant religion he could not identify; chanting and reading of the New Testament, translated into "evil," could be heard from her home, he said.
Black Hebrew Israelites in the State of Israel
The Black Hebrew Israelites are a fascinating group to study in the context of religion, race, Jewish and African American relations, and Israel. The Black Hebrews was founded in 1892 by William Saunders Crowdy, who claims to be a prophet. The core belief of the Black Hebrews is that Black Americans, and all those descended from Africa, are God’s true Chosen People. They believe that those who identify as Jews today are imposters, although they do not identify as Jews or even as a religion, but instead as a nation (Weisbord 1975). Their places of worship are called churches, and they primarily use Christian text as the foundation for their teachings. The Black Hebrew Israelites are considered a hate group in America due to the use of violence and harassment as a means to spread their messages. The Black Hebrews consider Israel as part of Africa, and around 3,000 African Americans have moved to Israel to live on a kibbutz in Dimona. The Black Hebrew Israelites prove to be a controversial group. Although they may be seen as a reflection of discontent with America’s persistent, systemic racism, and the complexity of the State of Israel as a biblical homeland to many.

Prophet William Saunders Crowdy, who was born a slave in Maryland, had a revelation while clearing his fields in an all-Black town in Oklahoma. He then began preaching what is now known as Black Hebrew Israel philosophy to his church.  Followers believe they are the true descendants of ancient Israelites, and that people who call themselves Jews today are devils and imposters. They consider themselves to be a nation of people. The ideology is considered Black supremacist, and aims to empower those who are disenfranchised by mainstream American society. While the Black Hebrew Israelites believe they are Jewish by descent, they do not practice Judaism. Many wear Jewish stars and menorahs on their clothing, especially in public protests. Many wear traditional tallit (prayer shawls) and tzitzit (tassel worn under clothing as reminder of commandments), and observe Shabbat (the day of rest on Saturday). Their church is formally called the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ.
Read the article in full HERE.

"The Fascinating Story of Hanukkah You've Never Heard Before"

13 Kislev 5780

R. Richter: The Fascinating Story of Hanukkah You've Never Heard Before

Some might also be interested in the following audio of Gideon Sa'ar...  

10 December 2019

A Reminder From Pres. Trump of "The Reason for the Season"

13 Kislev 5780

I feel great sympathy for all the Jews living in Christian countries at this time of year...

09 December 2019

Whose Messiah? Whose Anti-Messiah?

12 Kislev 5780

Netflix will be airing a new series on Jan. 1, 2020 called "Messiah."  This is only of interest because it coincides with the time when we are [I am?] expecting the Jewish Messiah to make his presence known.  It's ironic that this new series seems to create a Messiah character by mixing the Christian and Muslim traditions together.  (From the trailer, he looks and talks like a Palestinian J*sus, but he has the name given to the Anti-Messiah by the Quran - Al-Masih ad-Dajjal.)  But, the debate completely leaves out any Jewish connection.  Maybe that's a good thing?  

It has already created a lot of controversy online even before it has been seen.  There are loads of Youtube videos by both Christians and Muslims discussing its pros and cons.  There is even a campaign calling for Netflix subscribers to cancel their accounts in protest of the series as "blasphemy."  Of course, this is coming from people who believe the Messiah is also Divine, God forbid!

When people get their information about who and what the Messiah is from the New Testament or the Quran or - God forbid, Netflix! - it's no wonder they aren't going to recognize the real thing when they see it!  Maybe that's a good thing, too.  Even Netflix is ultimately run by HKB"H.
The Trailer For Netflix's Intense New Thriller Begs the Question: Messiah or Madman?

The line between miracles and madness is a thin one in the first trailer for Netflix's new geopolitical thriller. ...Messiah follows CIA agent Eva Geller as she encounters a mysterious figure who quickly gains global attention for his "miracles." While his cult-like followers see his godly actions as the work of a higher figure, Geller sees them as acts of public disruption and discovers that this Messiah may really be a sinister con artist with plans to dismantle the global balance of power.

But Geller is up against more than the Messiah's zen-like presence, razor-sharp cheekbones, and flowing locks; the mysterious stranger quickly converts people to his cause with several incredible acts, including allegedly saving a young woman from a violent tornado. As Geller searches for the truth behind the stranger's intentions, the tangled web of lies and secrets surrounding his existence gets more complex as his popularity grows.

MESSIAH Official Trailer (2020)

10 Surprising Facts About Messiah

Interesting that the skeptic - the character tasked with rooting out the truth - has a Jewish name - "Geller."  Another article notes the following...

“Messiah is a series that will have the audience asking big questions. What if someone showed up in [2020] amid strange occurrences and was thought to be the Messiah? What would society do? How would the media cover him? Would millions simply quit work? Could governments collapse?” ... “It’s a series that could change everything.”
Again,  they are basing their presumptions on a New Testament version of a messiah.  We could ask the same questions, but we would get entirely different answers.  I don't think Mashiach will announce who he is.  He'll have a job to do, and he will simply go about doing it.  WE will know that only Mashiach can do this particular job, so when we see who takes it up, we will be clued in to who he really is.  Whether we will talk about it openly or not, I don't know.  But, I believe it will be those who are most actively looking for Mashiach who will recognize him.  One thing you can be sure of, the leftists, the rabidly secular and the world community, especially the UN and the Vatican, will hate him and will censor him and anything he does, because it will be in fulfillment of the Torah and the Jewish national destiny!

Finally, he will fulfill the requirement for being the Anti-Messiah of both Christianity and Islam as he will condemn both false religions as fakes and deceivers.

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

08 December 2019


11 Kislev 5780

I am not promoting this as entertainment, but as education.  In the past, the Judges of the Sanhedrin would be required to be informed about such subjects.  I think it is a mitzvah to understand the forces at work in our world and where they are leading us.  This is no doubt why the prophets of Tanach wrote about the various empires and their characteristics.  

We need to know and understand how vitally important it is that we do not emulate them or participate in their rebellion against the Divine order or their mass exploitation of world populations and resources. In fact, as a light to the nations, we have to demonstrate the better way and take a stand against the crimes of the corporations.

[It's quite long, but is broken up by subheadings, making it easier to pick it up a bit at a time.  It would take longer to read it in book form.]

*The below is a partial list of approximately 270 Multinational Corporations 
  operating in Israel.  (Source

07 December 2019

Is the Countdown to Mashiach Now a Matter of Days or Weeks?

10 Kislev 5780
Shavua tov!

I am convinced that Netanyahu is the last Prime Minister, and that there will not be a third election.  I am convinced that the war with Iran is imminent as it will be a last-ditch attempt by both Netanyahu and Trump to hang on to their seats of power.  I am convinced that the outcome of that war will be the downfall of both the Erev Rav and Eisav and that Mashiach ben Yosef will be revealed and rise to take power in its disastrous wake.

We should pay special attention to the weeks wherein we read the parashiot about Yosef, especially Parashat Mikeitz, which covers the week of Hanukkah and describes Yosef's rise to power and the following parashah, Vayigash, which brings us into the secular year 2020 and which recounts the revelation of Yosef to his brothers.

How the Israel-Iran war might begin

05 December 2019

Going Home

8 Kislev 5780
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Vayeitzei
Then [Jacob] heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, "Jacob has taken all that belonged to our father, and from that which belonged to our father he amassed all this wealth."  Jacob also noticed Laban's disposition that, behold, it was not toward him as in earlier days.

And Hashem said to Jacob, "Return to the land of your fathers and to your native land, and I will be with you."  (Bereishit 31.1-3)
CommentaryAnd I will be with you.  When you return home, I will be with you, but as long as you remain here with the unclean Laban, My Presence will not rest on you (Rashi).  This removal of God's protection, as evidenced by the displeasure of Laban and his sons, was designed to provoke Jacob to leave Charan and return to Eretz Yisrael (Malbim). 
There really is no place like home, and nothing makes you feel the truth of that statement quite like overstaying your welcome in someone else's home. Even when the someone is family and they love you and you love them, there comes a point when you just have to be under your own vine and fig tree.  

It's to our father Ya'aqov's great credit that he was sensitive to the hints and wasted no time getting out of what was fast becoming an untenable situation.  He didn't need to be told twice.

Soon, we will once again follow the course of our father Ya'aqov's life after returning home to Eretz Yisrael, and we will see, once again, that coming home did not mean an end to his troubles.  He just traded one set of troubles for another.  But, in Eretz Yisrael, Hashem would be right there with him through the troubles.

From this we can learn that we don't come home to Eretz Yisrael in order to avoid problems, or in order to rest on our laurels and enjoy life. We come home because Hashem, our Abba, is calling us.  He's telling each one of us, "Come home, son/daughter, and we'll spend time together - I'll be with you."  Who could ever pass that up?  Who could be so cold as to turn their back on such an offer?

Our father Ya'aqov was just watching and listening and waiting for that call.  He was hoping for it and praying for it - that signal to come home.  That's why when it came, he wasted no time.  He was more than ready to go. 

He knew, like we do, that everything up until our arrival back home in Eretz Yisrael has just been practice.  Now, the real work begins.  Only in Eretz Yisrael can our destiny be realized and our mission be fulfilled. 


Sufganiyot as Metaphor

7 Kislev 5780

My first Hanukkah in Israel in 1994, the only sufganiyot that were available looked like those pictured on the left.  There were two choices - the chalavi "ribat chalav" or the parve "tut."  They made no pretense to being more than what they were or what they were intended to be.  

As Western ideology, norms, and so-called values have invaded Israel over the intervening years, the sufganiyot have evolved.  (See picture on the right.) Although these are smaller and less tasty, they are very beautiful to look at albeit at upwards of three times the cost.  

Despite the fancy decorations and variety of flavors, they still can't compete in my mind, or on my tastebuds, with the humble and modest jelly donut of the good old days when Israel herself was still without pretensions.

03 December 2019

Esau and the Color Red

6 Kislev 5780

We read in last week's parashah about Esau and his interesting connections to the color red.  He was born with red skin, and he sold his birthright for red bean soup.  In an upcoming parashah, we'll learn that his nation becomes known as Edom - Hebrew for "red."  From the very beginning, red was his color.

It's even more interesting to see how that connection has been maintained over such a long period of time.  From religion to the military to political ideology, the color red is very prominently on display.

The Significance of the Color Red in Russian Culture

Red is a prominent color in Russian culture and history. The Russian word for red, " krasni," was, in the past, also used to describe something beautiful, good or honorable. Today, "krasni" is used to indicate something that is red in color, while "krasivi" is the modern Russian word for “beautiful.” However, many important sites and cultural artifacts still reflect the combined usage of the word, and a name that incorporates this root might still be considered something elevated in status. In fact, the Russian word for excellent -- "prekrasni" --shares the root " kras" with these other words.

Red Square, or "Krasnaya ploshad," is one of the most famous examples of the red/beautiful connection. Red Square is the most important square in Moscow and sits adjacent to the Kremlin. Many people believe that Red Square is so named because communism and Soviet Russia are associated with the color red. But Red Square's name, which may have originally come from the beauty of St. Basil's Cathedral or the beauty of the square itself, predates the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and thus is not the basis for the commonly used term "Reds" for Russian communists.

...The Bolsheviks appropriated the color red to symbolize the blood of the workers, and the red flag of the Soviet Union, with its gold-colored hammer and sickle, is still recognized today. During the revolution, the Red Army (Bolshevik forces) fought the White Army (loyalists to the czar). During the Soviet period, red became a part of daily life from an early age: Virtually all children were members of a communist youth group called the Pioneers from ages 10 to 14 and were required to wear a red scarf around their necks to school every day. Russian communists and Soviets are called Reds in popular culture -- "Better dead than red" was a popular saying that rose to prominence in the U.S. and U.K. in the 1950s.
True to its Edomite origins, no longer is good and evil depicted with white and black in America.  Today, among those who still believe in good and evil, red has replaced white while blue has been substituted for black.

I came across something else related to Esau's red color which I had never learned before...

"Esau’s skin was so red that Isaac was afraid to circumcise him, deciding to wait until he was older and his complexion improved. Da'at Zekeinim on Genesis 25:25 holds that by the time it became clear that the reddish skin was simply Esau’s natural skin color, Esau refused to be circumcised."  (Source)
Red is a color very rarely seen in Israel.  Apparently, Yishmael isn't much into it either.

"'Tis the Season"

5 Kislev 5780

How appropriate is it that Judaism's most important anti-assimilationist holiday occurs at the same time of year as the Diaspora's most assimilationist holiday?
Newly announced Hallmark Hanukkah movies are actually antisemitic

The excitement over Hallmark introducing two Hanukkah movies to its Christmas lineup this year was dashed when it became apparent that they contained within them some of the oldest antisemitic canards, according to The Washington Post. While the two movies did mention Hanukkah and had Jewish characters, they were far from complimentary or positive about the Judaism and the Jewish people.

...The Jew is portrayed as a mischievous, unreliable, outsider who doesn't belong - despite his efforts to fit in among the Christian family - reflecting the century old claim, seen in Nazi propaganda and 9/11 conspiracies.

...Hanukkah stands only in relation to Christmas - but not independently. The festival of Hanukkah in fact is a hindrance to the characters being able to celebrate Christmas as usual.

...These two movies stories’ portray Jews and Christians as clearly different - and the Jew not fitting in, despite their efforts.

The Jewish characters are forced to observe Christmas, having to accept that they must succumb to the dominant faith, rather than practice their own.

These movies are strengthening stereotypes at a time when antisemitic hate crimes are on the rise throughout the US and Europe. Suggesting Jews cannot proudly celebrate their own Hanukkah and instead must join in the Christian spirit and assimilate into the Christian cultural mainstream and hide their Jewish identity is highly problematic.

Jews should be proud of the Hanukkah miracle they are celebrating and not feel they need to join in the Christmas celebrations; Christmas is a Christian holiday - Hanukkah is a Jewish one!
This year Hanukkah is observed from December 23 - 30.