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The Har Nof Beheadings: Does the Public Have the Right or Need to Know the Facts?
Lital Shemesh is a 29-year-old successful, female, Israeli journalist who recently participated in a seminar with other young Israelis and Arabs in hopes of igniting optimism for peace. She returned from the seminar disappointed and disillusioned.
Lital Shemesh as Editor of Israeli's largest youth magazine
She is a rising star in the Israeli media who openly expresses her political aspirations in the Knesset. She worked as Editor-in-Chief for the Yedioth Youth Magazines, reported for the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Hot CableTV News channel, and is CEO and Founder of a web-based girls magazine “Pinkish – Everything that Girls Love.”
In her first video blog in English two years ago, she says, “I really want… a peaceful quiet country to live in, and I really want peace to come.”
"I really want peace to come" - 1:09 minute mark.
But her conclusions from the peace seminar reflect a strong trend in Israeli society: Israelis are realizing that the negotiations with the Arabs are destined to fail from the outset, so why waste the time? As is apparent from the February election results, further talks with the Arabs simply no longer interest many people. It is an issue that has been sidelined and tabled to “maybe the next generation.”
Her summary (below) of her experience at the peace seminar will help readers better understand Israeli society of 2013. A must read. Her report appeared this past Thursday (May 2, 2013) on the Walla news site:
Peace? From the Palestinian Standpoint, There is a Past, No
The project involved meetings every few weeks and a concluding seminar in Turkey.
On the third day of the seminar after we had become acquainted, had removed barriers, and split helpings of rachat Lukum [a halva-like almond Arab delicacy] as though there was never a partition wall between us, we began to touch upon many subjects which were painful for both sides. The Palestinians spoke of roadblocks and the IDF soldiers in the territories, while the Israeli side spoke of constant fear, murderous terrorist attacks, and rockets from Gaza.
The Israeli side, which included representatives from right and left, tried to understand the Palestinians’ vision of the end of the strife– “Let’s talk business.” The Israelis delved to understand how we can end the age-old, painful conflict. What red lines are they willing to be flexible on? What resolution will satisfy their aspirations? Where do they envision the future borders of the Palestinian State which they so crave?
We were shocked to discover that not a single one of them spoke of a Palestinian State, or to be more precise, of a two-state solution.
They spoke of one state – their state. They spoke of ruling Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Akko, Haifa, and the pain of the Nakba [lit. the tragedy – the establishment of the State of Israel]. There was no future for them. Only the past. “There is no legitimacy for Jews to live next to us” – this was their main message. “Firs t, let them pay for what they perpetrated.”
In the course of a dialogue which escalated to shouts, the Palestinians asked us not to refer to suicide bombers as “terrorists” because they don’t consider them so. “So how do you call someone who dons a vest and blows himself up in a Tel Aviv shopping mall with the stated purpose of killing innocent civilians,” I asked one of the participants.
“I have a 4-year-old at home,” answered Samach from Abu Dis (near Jerusalem). “If G-d forbid something should happen to him, I will go and burn an entire Israeli city, if I can.” All the other Palestinian participants nodded their heads in agreement to his harsh words.
“Three weeks ago, we gave birth to a son,” answered Amichai, a religious, Jewish student from Jerusalem. “If G-d forbid something should happen to him, I would find no comfort whatsoever in deaths of more people.”
Israelis from the full gamut of political parties participated in the seminar: Likud, Labor, Kadima, Meretz, and Hadash (combined Jewish/Arab socialist party). All of them reached the understanding that the beautiful scenarios of Israeli-Palestinian peace that they had formulated for themselves simply don’t correspond with reality. It’s just that most Israelis don’t have the opportunity to sit and really converse with Palestinians, to hear what they really think.
Our feed of information comes from Abu Mazen’s declarations to the international press, which he consistently contradicts when he is interviewed by Al Jazeera, where he paints a completely different picture.
I arrived at the seminar with high hopes, and I return home with difficult feelings and despair. Something about the narrative of the two sides is different from the core. How can we return to the negotiating table when the Israeli side speaks of two states and the Palestinian side speaks of liberating Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea? How can peace ever take root in a platform which grants legitimacy to terrorism?
Translated by Baruch Gordon
BS”D Sun, Apr 21, 2013
Ahharei Mot-Kedushim 5773-5953
The Ohr HaHayim teaches us from our parshiot that the leaders of the Israel nation must have great love of the holy land of Israel, of the people of the Israel nation & of the holy Torah which HaShem gave us, with full realization that the 3 are 1 inseparable. This means that the nation, the land & Torah must be together, an absolute unity.
Therefore the members of the nation of Israel;
Doing otherwise, e.g. choosing to live in the galut when there is
good possibility to live in the holy land of Israel, or choosing
to not live a Torah life are a Torah violation.
Today we have pseudo-leaders in the galut countries who seek to separate the nation from the land. These “leaders” cause a weakness of the Jewish community in the holy land. Were there more Jews here than in galut, especially if they live Torah lives in Israel there would be much less attempts by goyim to take land from us & the Geula will come sooner. Those “leaders” who tell their followers to stay in the galut will cause their followers to miss the 1st stages of the Geula!
Yes you read me correctly - the Geula will be 1st here in the holy land & ALL the people in the galut will NOT have the slightest hint to it - ZERO! The people here will develop spiritually beyond what was ever possible before. The spiritual heights will change their bodies as well. Many years after the Geula here, Galut Jews will again be able to visit. They will see their brethren here spreading wings flying to Heaven to hear lessons there, and then fly back to earth every day. They will be astounded, will ask what, how, an why, you; yes & us no? The answer they will get is brief and simple; “You chose to stay in the galut with your material desires so you remained fully material, we chose to live here even if there were less material goodies rather to prefer the spiritual - so our spirituality grew to this achievement”.
We also have pseudo-leaders in the holy land who seek by force to separate the people of Israel from the holy Torah. The result would be multifaceted disaster that I do not even dare to begin to describe.
The violations that our parshiot here teach us caused the land to
vomit out the nations who were here before our coming up out of
Egypt have become more & more commonplace among our people
The hints to these problems which stand against us today were told to us in 2 tales, Sipurei Ma’asiyoth, by Rabi Nahman of Brelsov zassa”l.
In the story of “the King’s son & maid’s son who were exchanged” (also called “the exchanged children”) the king’s son after discovering that he is truly a son of royalty is guided by a hidden sage (the man of the forest) to a kingdom known as “The intelligent state with a stupid king” which had previously been known as the “The stupid state with an intelligent king”. The sage told him that there he will achieve his rightful royal status. During the epoch of the previous king, the intelligent one, it had peace from within & without. When that king died the new less brilliant king took over & peace from within & without was lost. There was a rule in that state that if a man should arrive who had the ability to return the previous status of “The stupid state with an intelligent king” he would become king instead of the “stupid king”. When the “exchanged king’s son” who is the central character of the story came there he was told by the king’s ministers that they & the people are not really stupid, they are in fact very intelligent but the previous king had been so smart that they were stupid in comparison. The new young king is the opposite. He is less intelligent than they are, so he is considered stupid. He was unable to unravel the tests to his intelligence left by his late father & also peace was lost. The “exchanged” one passed all of them with flying colors becaming the new king. He saw that several things were each out of their proper places & that putting them in order would bring peace good life & prosperity back.
This is the condition we have today. Our nation, which is
described in Devarim (Deut) 4:6 as “… the great nation intelligent
and brilliant which has these laws” because we have & live the
Torah laws, has been mislead by pseudo-leaders to violate those
laws. We are that “The intelligent state with a stupid king”.
People WAKE UP. Who are you permitting to lead you, or any sector of our once lofty nation? The nation which is known in Devarim (Deut) 4:6 as, “… the great nation intelligent and brilliant which has these laws” is known as such when we have & live the Torah laws & live in the holy land.
Even some goyim have attested to the connection. About 150 years ago Dr. Allen, a well known physician & teacher of medicine in his time, wrote in one of the text books he authored in the section on destructive diseases such as syphilis & tuberculosis, that “… however the Jews are free of these horrible diseases because for centuries they have been adhering to the laws given them at Sinai.” Now what do we have today?! So many of our people suffer & die of horrific destructive diseases. This terrible phenomenon is only in very recent generations, only since the times when we started permitting false leaders to take lead of us.
People WAKE UP. The nation of Israel the land of Israel & the Torah of Israel are ONE! Separating them is like cutting a living body into 3 pieces!
Will such a body live?
ALL 3 parts must be together. Only thus will it entity survive!
So I hear someone saying, “But we did survive 2 millennia in the galut”. To this I reply “yes & no, also pay attention to how what survived did do so”.
For many years we stayed loyal to Torah. 1st of all there was always a central living core of Torah loyal Jews here in the Holy Land of Israel. Until about 120 years ago there were ZERO secular Jews in the Holy Land. This gave power by “remote control”, by radiated influence of kedusha to those in the galut. In the galut for most of the time there were no or almost no secular Jews. There were almost none who left to convert to a foreign religion. Even when faced with death, the vast majority chose death rather than to convert out. Jews stayed loyal to Torah life. Were it not for that obstinacy there would be no Jews today. For centuries after the Roman conquest it was indeed extremely hard to return to our land. Yet the nostalgia, the broken hearts longing for the land & the rebuilding of the Jewish community as well as the Beit Hamikdash/Holy Temple was so strong & deep that it was considered by the soul & by HaShem as if they were indeed here.
Suleiman Al-Kabir the Turkish emperor made it easier to some extent. He wanted this area of his empire populated rather than an empty ruin so he imported Jews & Muslims from across the Ottoman Empire to the Holy Land. Many of our people gladly jumped on the opportunity. Suleiman also aided our people to build homes, farms schools etc. His demands were simple. “You may build farm learn all you want & I will help you do so under the condition that you do not try to establish a sovereignty of your own”. The Jews who came were ALL orthodox religious Jews, they continued to be so here. Also the orthodox groups who came later from Europe as mentioned above. This strengthened the radiated influence for survival of Jews in the galut. Those there their hearts & souls continued to cry for living in the land. In those days NO ONE - NOT any one single “gadol” said it is forbidden to go to the land. Also through all those centuries, all those generations, Torah life was viewed as joy, vibrant enlivening. Again Torah, land & people were ONE!
This kept us alive, surviving, in the galut.
However, about 260 years ago along came the so-called “enlightenment” movement, & later in Germany the “reform” movement, with the false concepts that Jews had to become more like the goyim in order to be loved & tolerated by them & in order to “advance”.
The result was destructive. The Dreyfus incident was a small example. An inkling of what happens when such a concept becomes rife in the nation is in the realization that close before WW2 there were so many Jews who had left Judaism that there were 10,000 (yes that many) xtian priests from Jewish families! The Nazi concept that Jews were not human was given basis in the motto of the “enlightened” “reform Jews” “Be a Jew at home & a human being outside”. Yes oooof! The minister of police in Stalin’s regime was a secular Jew, so was Stalin’s right hand man! Though the great grandson of that police minister has made Aliyah, serves in the IDF, has done full giur & is studying in Machon Meir yeshiva! Reminds one of the grandsons of evil Haman who converted & studied Torah in Bnei Brak. It was a reform “rabbi” who told President Roosevelt to ignore the pleas of European Jewry to bomb Auschwitz, & to close the doors to emergency mass immigration from there!
Today in USA, Canada & Europe/Russia most descendants of Jews from a couple centuries ago do not know or do not care to know that they are Jews. There are also many who imagine they are Jews but in fact are not Jews by halakha because they do not have the maternal line any more. There are many who know that they are Jews but want nothing to do with Torah life, with missvoth etc. These too get lost by intermarriage etc.
This is now happening right here in the Holy Land for the same reason. Now with the new mis-government cutting off funds to orthodox schools, cutting child stipends even more, cutting the salaries of religious soldiers from the family stipend they used to get, pushing to not only require mathematics etc that are indeed needed but that orthodox schools also teach subjects that will influence secularity; the damage to Jewish survival that we saw & see so rife in the galut is being brought here.
The “stupid king” claims he seeks to repair the galut mentality of the “extreme orthodox”. But he is doing it by going too far in the opposite extreme & will only bring damage & more fervent divisiveness. The “stupid king” seeks to purposely by force enforce & promote violation of Shabat Kodesh & Kashruth by the people of Israel in the land of Israel. He seeks to promote marriage without any spot of Kedushah of holiness, no more concept of “holy matrimony”; & seeks to promote intermarriage. He also seeks to promote the freedom for homo’s in the holy land, to permit & promote various other relations forbidden by Torah.
Again we return to the fact that cutting off Torah life from our people is like cutting off a major portion of a body. The organism dies!
In the story of the 7 beggars found in
Under the guidance of the “deaf beggar” they hunted down the agents of the evil king, expelled them & the cruel king, and then they returned to their previous good ways. Yet the fragrance & flavors were still missing. Then they found the “gardener” who had been keeping the central garden from which all the fruits & flowers received their benefit. This “gardener” had somehow been lost, & whenever he had tried to tell that he was the “lost gardener” he would be reviled by the badly influenced residents of that country. But now it was discovered that he was really the good “gardener” & he was reinstated & all was healed, good life was regained & there was great joy to all.
People WAKE UP! It is incumbent upon us all to expel the evil king(s) & the agents who have influenced our people to mock what is pure & good, influenced us to behave like goyim and marry goyim - who exchanged us who are sons of The King to be like sons of servants of maids.
It is high time we returned to be “… the great nation intelligent and brilliant which has these laws” with a king who is worthy of being the “intelligent king ruling over the stupid nation”. A king whose intelligence, his brilliance is true brilliance & not fool’s gold, the false intelligence of either extreme of secularity or of false Torah.
The false rabbis stifled the life force, brought stagnancy & division, & actually laid the foundation for secularity to take hold. The secular “cruel king” is seeking to destroy all that is pure & righteous. While we must indeed shake off the galut styles that dried up Torah life, made it all black draped & depressing, created divisiveness & left open a back door for corruption; we must not permit secular corruption to take its place. It must be realized that the secular drive is also a product of the galut. While the depressive blackness, which is also a relatively recent phenomenon, is stifling & has its own damage which could eventually bring ruin, the secular “enlightenment” is definite death. It is a sugar coated deathly poison.
We are at war. No not the PLO, not Hamas, not Hizbullah, not the Salafists nor Iran or Syria. We are the main enemy. We must realize that the truth is as was stated in a “Pogo” comic strip a few decades ago. “We have met the enemy & he is us.”
We must return to the center. We must return to real Torah, not toira, not toiri, not xenophobic hate of individuals or groups whose grandfathers came from different parts of the galut, or who pray in a different nosahh. We must shake off the Hellenism that has infected almost all of us if not all of us to some extent or another.
This also recalls another important point, a point that Rav Shalom Arush shlit”a mentions several times in his talks. A rav that does everything, that is always “on call” to answer every question immediately, that is your total connection to HaShem is NOT doing you a favor. A real good rav must be guiding you & making seek YOUR OWN PERSONAL connection with HaShem, so that eventually you will not need him for this. He must at times “be unavailable” or “wait for an answer in the meantime go talk to HaShem & ask HIM for guidance etc”, wait for the rav for hours, days, weeks, or even months. This forces you to seek your contact with a HaShem.
We must reawaken to vibrant living Torah that is alive & enlivening. To regain the ways that led our people to be able to feel with our senses the difference between pure & spiritually clean - & what is impure & foul. To feel the envelope of tumah on food prepared by a non-Jew or a Jew who is a violator of Torah; to feel the tumah on a seat that a nidah sat on. Then to be able to clean the tumah away by pulling in sheaf from HaShem to do it. It is doable. The ability was handed down quietly through the generations from teacher to student. There are today a few people who have learned & made the effort to do so. It is possible for all of us to do so. This is just a clue as to what we can be.
We can & must return to the state where it is a joy & vibrancy to live a Torah life. It can be done. It must be done. It must be not only done by us who read this lesson. We must do what we can to spread the idea, to influence others to this goal.
We must do this, & we must be living in the Holy Land of Israel. We must reunite the 3 parts of our entity; the people of Israel in the Holy Land of Israel with the joyful vibrant enlivening lives of true Torat Israel - as one full unity. This way we will get to the state of sprouting our wings to learn HaShem’s Torah.
Yeshaya 11:9 “… the land will be filled with knowledge … water will cover the seas”. Here as in other places water is an allegory for Torah. The time will come when the influence of the primordial serpent, the Samekh Mem will be defeated by the simple & pure. The fear & terror that has controlled mankind for thousands of years will come to an end. There are those few who have striven to remain far from the evil, who have tried to remain simple & pure, to be clean of the evil, to keep love & gentleness in their hearts. There are those who were not among these but realized the trap they were enslaved in & broke free to learn how to be like them to join the true “freemen”. Among them are the ones who have had to fight the evil, overtly or covertly.
The time will come yes when the evil will be conquered, the primordial serpent put to an end. Then the waters of true Torah shall cover the world as said in that pasuk & we will sprout our wings to fly to learn from HaShem. To be among the winged ones in that, hopefully near, future we must begin now to do what must be done, to free ourselves from both extremes. We must strive for live Torah life in HaShem’s pleasant ways together with HIS purity in our lives.
Let’s all “earn our wings”.
Since duties events & time did not permit me to send this out before Shabat I send it now to you my precious friends, students, brothers & sisters with my blessings for Shavuah Tov & Mevorakh
BS”D Fri, Apr 12, 2013
Messorah; Vayikra 14:1-15:33
This lesson is dedicated for the memory & uplifting of the souls of Rav Yaakov Hhai Yosef zessavek”l who passed away this afternoon, & of Nahman Yaskil za”l a young man (21) who along with his parents family were former residents of Betar. Nahman Yaskil died yesterday late morning or early afternoon in his room in a yeshivah dorm in Kfar Zeitim where he was a counselor.
Rav Yaakov Hhai Yosef zessavek”l, the eldest son of Rav Ovadia Yosef shlit”a, was known for on top of being a top Torah scholar & posek to be personable & bridging between Sfaradim Ashkenazim & Hhasidim, seeking good peaceful relationships between the various communities.
He passed away Hahasa Ein Kerem Hospital with his family & a group of Mekubalim around him, including Rav Yaakv Ades shlit’a who said Shema Yisrael with him at the passing.
Our parshah deals with the plague of leprosy in people &
buildings, & gonorrhea.
Yes there are many of our people who clean, who are wonderful people doing good deeds etc. There is much good to be said of our nation. Yet we must not pretend that there is nothing wrong. Doing so would be a hidden claim that HaShem is unjust in HIS judgments, hhas veshalom.
The funeral for Rav Yaakov Yosef zessavek”l is in progress while am writing this. For a funeral of a death not expected by the people, on latter afternoon of Yom Shishi the turnout of 35,000 is large. One can be sure that had it been in the middle of the week when people can come from overseas, from the far south & north there would have been 4 times that number!
It is also worth noting that a Jew buried after high noon on Yom
Shishi is protected by HaShem from the Malakhei Hhabalah
(afflicting angels who beat the person with flaming iron whips in
the grave). Rav Yaakov Hhai Yosef went up pure & clean to Gan
Eden. I, & I am sure thousands of others, will miss him.
Obama and freedom for Jonathan Pollard
The American president and freedom for Jonathan Pollard
The extensive powers of clemency the American Constitution grants to the president are his solemn responsibility. This executive privilege is bestowed to enable the president to safeguard the rights of all American citizens.
In cases where the justice system has discharged its responsibility appropriately and the public good would be neither benefited nor harmed by the president’s intervention, it is entirely his prerogative whether or not to exercise executive clemency.
But in a case like that of my husband Jonathan Pollard, where the judicial system has been subverted to prosecute one American citizen excessively and where all legal remedies have been exhausted, there is a moral imperative compelling presidential intervention.
Incredibly Obama has responded with prolonged, inscrutable silence to a virtual deluge of appeals entreating him to exercise executive clemency to free Jonathan.
Now completing his 26th year of a life sentence, it is manifestly clear that the judicial process was hijacked by a political agenda.
As JJ Goldberg revealed in a 1998 LA Jewish Journal essay, “Crime
and Punishment,” “high-ranking sources say that it was the Joint
Chiefs of Staff who urged the judge, through then-Defense
Secretary Caspar Weinberger, to ignore the plea agreement and
throw the book at Pollard.... They wanted to send a message....
Pollard is still in
Weinberger himself the man who drove Jonathan’s life sentence
admitted in a 2002 interview with journalist Edwin Black that
thePollard case had been blown out of all proportion. Asked why he
had omitted any reference to Pollard in his memoirs, Weinberger
replied that the Pollard case was “a very minor matter, but made
Jonathan is the only person in the history of the US ever to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally. This sentence has always been reserved for those who spy for America’s enemies. He received the life sentence without benefit of trial the result of a broken plea bargain, which he honored and the US abrogated. By sentencing Jonathan as if he were an enemy spy, the American judicial system effected a defacto redefinition of Israel as an enemy, not an ally.
Every attempt to seek relief from Jonathan’s life sentence has been stymied. All legal remedies have been exhausted, without the merits of the case ever being heard in a court of law. Even the possibility of parole has been denied since the government placed an insurmountable obstacle in the path of his security-cleared attorneys, unjustly denying them access to the secret portions of their own client’s file. Without that access, those who oppose parole are free to fabricate reasons for keeping him in prison. The case has been appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court, which has refused to hear it.
Today, the only remedy that remains is executive clemency the one area where the president’s power is absolute. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states: “[The President] shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States…” While the president may consult with the White House Legal Counsel or the Pardons Attorney, he is under no obligation to do so.
Prior to the Pollard case, no other clemency appeal in history
has provided any president with such unprecedented, transparent,
bipartisan support from senior American officials. Among those now
calling for Jonathan’s release are a former director of the CIA, a
former attorney-general and a former deputy attorney-general, a
former deputy secretary of defense, a former vice president, a
former White House legal counsel, two former secretaries of state,
and former heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as well as
Rather than embrace his responsibility for executive clemency, the president simply remains silent while his appointees are given free rein to make a mockery of justice by deflecting responsibility back to the very system that failed in the first place.
To avoid having to respond to public inquiry, they claim they cannot comment because the issue is before the American justice system. The system that subverted justice 26 years ago is now being referenced as if it were about to spontaneously correct the injustice it has perpetrated.
The numerous appeals to President Obama now pending, requesting executive clemency for Jonathan Pollard, are my husband's last hope of resolving a 26-year-long injustice which now threatens to end his life in prison.
The sublimely moral task of saving Jonathan’s life, while at the same time safeguarding the American public by correcting this injustice, sits squarely with the president of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama.
Executive clemency is not merely the president’s privilege. It is his solemn duty.
The writer is the wife of Jonathan Pollard.
A View of Current Events in Eretz Yisroel Through the Prism of Our History
By Avrohom Birnbaum
The Yom Tov of Pesach is upon us. Pesach is the Yom Tov of our birth as a nation and the Yom Tov that perhaps more than any other symbolizes our survival against all odds. From Mitzrayim to Greece to Rome to Spain to Czarist Russia and, yes, to secular Zionist Israel, there have always been designs to crush us both physically and spiritually, but we have survived.
We have often been battered and bruised in the process, but while all who came up against us have been relegated to the dust heap of history, we are still here. Battered and bruised, but very much alive.
Throughout our history, the process of golus and geulah has constantly repeated itself, beginning with our redemption from the crushing slave labor of Mitzrayim to Har Sinai, where we received the Torah and dedicated ourselves to serve Hashem. After virtually every one of the difficult, decimating periods of exile, our nation experienced a renaissance of renewed dedication to Torah and Yiddishkeit.
The Historical Looking Glass
It is thus vital for us to step back and view the recent events in Eretz Yisroel through a historical prism. It is no secret that our brethren in Eretz Yisroel are currently under siege. Our gedolei Yisroel have expressed great concern that all of the institutions of the State of Israel are being harnessed to deal with the most vexing issue relevant to Jewish survival: getting the chareidim to serve in the army and severing or drastically curbing funding to chareidi educational institutions.
Certainly, the angst is great, as we have previously outlined in these pages. However, it is important to understand that in the context of history, this is really nothing new. Shlomo Hamelech said, “Ein chodosh tachas hashemesh - There is nothing new under the sun.” As we will illustrate shortly, this process is a very predictable trajectory in the constant process of golus and geulah sustained by Klal Yisroel since its birth as a nation.
That is why, when I read the words of people who call themselves chareidi - I call them “chareidi apologists” - writing either in the print media and primarily in the online media, and they consistently feel the need to apologize and bend over backwards trying to explain the seemingly inexplicable conduct of their fellow chareidim, I shake my head in wonderment. Do they have no knowledge of history? Do they not realize that as long as we don’t assimilate, we will always be a persecuted minority, both among the gentiles and even among our fellow Jews?
We are in golus to our fellow Jews as much as we are in golus to the gentiles. Not only do they show how shortsighted they are, but they also show how uncomfortable they are being associated with that great vast majority of unwashed chareidi masses who simply can’t understand the world in the “sophisticated” way that they do.
There is Nothing New Under the Sun
In truth, however, for centuries, the “enlightened white Ashkenazim” have been trying to force their worldview and values on their religious brethren, with absolutely no thought and no sensitivity to the feelings and needs of their brethren. The party line has always been, “Trust us! We really know what is good for you. You are too foolish and backward to have any appreciation for what we are doing for you.”
The amazing thing about the “enlightened white Ashkenazi elite,” whether in pre-war 19th-century and 20th-century Europe or those in Palestine and later in the State of Israel, is that for all their platitudes about the importance of equality, democracy, and accepting those with “alternative” views, they have proven themselves absolutely intolerant of anything other than their own worldview. They have shown themselves to be racist and bigoted, and they have ruthlessly tried to force and impose their worldview on others in a no-holds-barred manner through virtually any means possible. They have thus shown themselves to represent the opposite of western and liberal values of equality and tolerance.
In fact, I think it is safe to say that history has proven the enlightened secular white Ashkenazi elite as the most intolerant, bigoted subgroup in Jewish society. Observing the conduct of Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett and others over the past weeks has just shown that nothing has changed. “There is nothing new under the sun.”
For the “Good” of Their Brethren: First, The Maskilim in Europe
Let us spend the next paragraphs illustrating this point by studying our recent history.
In the mid-1800s, with the rise of the Haskalah, a new philosophy was put forth by the Maskilim: The reason the gentiles hate us is because we don’t integrate. If we would just be a little more like them, dress like them, and appreciate the same things that they do, they would love us and Jews would no longer be persecuted. The problem was that not all Jews subscribed to their point of view.
What did the Maskilim do?
First they wrested control of the institutions that shape public opinion. They opened newspapers and began to poison the minds of the youth through the power of the pen. They established political parties and muscled their way into becoming the “representatives” of all Jews in the eyes of the secular government. They had no compunctions about using the government and the courts to force their fellow Jews to become as “enlightened” as they were. They understood that education was the tool through which one can transform a society, so the first order of business was closing down the chadorim and yeshivos.
What did they do?
They instituted a law that every teacher and every melamed had to have a teacher’s certificate attesting to this secular knowledge. That disqualified virtually all G-d-fearing teachers and paved the way for new “enlightened” teachers. They instituted similar laws requiring chadorim and yeshivos to teach secular studies. They instituted laws stating that no person could become a rabbi without knowing the Russian language, and then they opened their own rabbinical seminaries and made sure that only rabbis with their “semichah” would be officially allowed to serve as rabbis. Of course, all of these important new laws, whereby the Maskilim used the brutal power of the Russian Czarist government to impose their will on the masses who were not as enlightened as they to realize how much they were helping them, were enacted only because they cared deeply about their fellow Jews. “For Brutus is an honorable man…”
If this stuff sounds a bit familiar, if it sounds almost identical to what is happening today, it is. One thing you can say about the “enlightened white Ashkenazim” is that they are consistent and not very innovative. It’s the same old playbook again and again.
Then the Secular Zionists…
One more example from post-State Israel: When millions of immigrants came to Eretz Yisroel after World War II both from Ashkenazic and Sefardic countries, how did the institutions of the newly founded State of Israel treat them?
The enlightened white Ashkenazim were totally intolerant of anything for which they stood and which they held dear. They took broken, battered Holocaust survivors and insensitively propagandized that, in a sense, the Jews were responsible for their own deaths and for being persecuted, because they were foolish enough to go “like sheep to the slaughter.”
They placed these penniless refugees in kibbutzim and maabarot, absorption tent cities where they did their best to indoctrinate them with the new socialist secular order that the nascent state had become. The indoctrination was forced and ruthless, because they held complete economic control over the refugees.
Their treatment of those from Sefardic lands - Yemen, Morocco, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and others - was even more reprehensible. They robbed them of their heritage and were instrumental in creating a bigoted, biased attitude toward Sefardim that exists in every echelon of Israeli society today. They robbed them of their heritage, thereby creating a suppressed, depressed Sefardic underworld.
Of course, all this was done in the name of helping those uncultured, “smelly,” Oriental Jews who were just too backward to help themselves.
Sharing the Burden or Selling Our Souls?
The army was another vehicle of choice to shape society. Take a teen who is 18 years old, indoctrinate him for three years, and you have captured his soul.
That brings us to chareidim and the army. We hear all of these platitudes about “sharing the burden” and similar catchphrases. My question for the enlightened white Ashkenazim is: Don’t you realize that it was you who drove the chareidim out of the army? During those early years of the state and until today, you insisted that they go to the army, but only on your terms. You were never ready to accommodate their unique lifestyle and sensitivities. You were far too intolerant to even contemplate such a thing. If anyone drove the chareidim out of the army and out of “sharing the burden,” as you call it, it was you, enlightened white Ashkenazim. You dictated, “It is either our way or no way.” Of course they opted out. No one is obligated to sell his soul, and that was the price you demanded. Nothing less.
Today, too, Lapid and his ilk keep on telling us that an entire sector of society cannot opt out of serving in the army and working. On the flip side, he and his likeminded allies make it impossible to join - even for those not engaged in learning - because the price of “joining” is giving up our nearest and dearest values.
The Lapids and the Bennetts of Today Are the Same Bigots as their Predecessors
The bitter truth is that today’s enlightened white Ashkenazim - the Lapids and the Bennetts - are the same intolerant bigots as their predecessors. They don’t want us to join on our terms. They want us to join on their terms. They want us to sell our souls, to conform to them, to assume their worldview. They are prepared to use the power of the courts and the power of the government to persecute us, to reduce us to poverty and to take the bread and milk from the mouths of our children, all, of course, for our own good, because we are too unenlightened to realize it ourselves.
The fact, however is that enlightened white Ashkenazim have just ensured that the “chareidi dysfunction,” as they call it, will continue. It is no secret that in the past decade, there has been an exponential increase of chareidm joining the workforce. Numerous chareidi institutions of higher learning that teach all kinds of white collar vocations have opened and thousands have joined. All indicators pointed to even greater increase in chareidi male participation in the workforce in the coming years.
Why was this happening? There were economic factors, but equally important was the fact that these colleges and vocational schools were being opened by chareidim for chareidim, often with the sanction and blessing of leading chareidi roshei yeshiva and rabbonim, and thus truly catering to the sensitivities of chareidim. They were not forces for indoctrination, but rather vehicles for chareidim to engage in the mitzvah of sustaining the families Hashem had blessed them with.
Again, they preach platitudes of liberalism and “live and let live,” but in practice they have shown themselves to be the most intolerant, racist and ruthless adversaries. No, the enlightened white Ashkenazim have not changed much over the last couple of hundred years.
Integration or Tolerance…At What Price?
That brings us to our dear brothers, the Religious Zionists, Mizrachi, Mafdal or Habayit HaYehudi, as they call themselves of late. One would think that after all of these years of obsequiously and slavishly trying to ingratiate themselves with the secular enlightened white Ashkenazim, they would have realized that they will never be accepted as a member of the elite club. They will barely be tolerated. Perhaps they’ll be used and eventually thrown away like a dirty rag that is soiled and can now be discarded.
Did serving in the elite combat army units for Ariel Sharon do a whit to ensure that they weren’t driven out of Gush Katif? Even the Arabs engender more sympathy from the enlightened white Ashkenazim than the “settlers.”
And what price have they paid for this so-called integration into Israeli society?
It is no secret that even the most conservative estimate is that more than 20% of Religious Zionist youth discard religion in the army. That is according to Rav Zalman Melamed, a prominent Religious Zionist rosh yeshiva, in an interview with the Religious Zionist publication “B’Sheva.” Others say that the rate of attrition is closer to 40 or 50%.
They sold their souls to the enlightened white Ashkenazim, and what did they get in return? Tolerance, barely. It is no secret that every effort is made by the enlightened white Ashkenazim to ensure that kipah srugah-clad boys do not advance to the higher echelons of the army.
That is why the conduct of Naftali Bennett has been so troubling and disappointing. Does Bennett not realize that as soon as Lapid and Netanyahu have squeezed him for whatever they can get out of him and his party, they will discard him? He is the ultimate “Uncle Tom,” and by the time he realizes it, it will be too late. His betrayal of the chareidim will not have gotten him anything other than an infamous place in the annals of history that embodies the contempt-filled words of Yeshaya Hanovi, “Your destroyers will come from within…”
Rav Shteinman: Pure Torah Learning Persisted Then and Will Persist Now
As for the chareidim, it seems that we are in for a difficult time. Things will not be easy. There will be many nisyonos and increased poverty, but we can take comfort in the fact that “there is nothing new under the sun.” We have played this record before. Indeed, the venerated rosh yeshiva, Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman, related that in Russia and Poland, we were similarly persecuted and we persevered. Torah learning performed in purity continued despite the tzaros and that is the way it will be in Eretz Yisroel.
When thinking of the betrayal of Naftali Bennett and the so-called Religious Zionists, the words of the Megillah come to mind: “Revach vehatzolah - relief and deliverance - will come from another place while you and your father’s house will perish.”
So this year, as we sit down to the Seder and again tell the story of our slavery and redemption from Egypt, it is important that we realize that nothing is new. This process of golus and geulah, of persecution and redemption, is the story of our nation.
Nations come and go. Jewish persecutors and betrayers come and go, while we, despite the difficulties, tenaciously hang on without compromise. We don’t look to enlightened white Ashkenazim to help us nor do we place any hope in betrayers.
We know that only Hashem’s promise is lasting, and when the time comes, we will be redeemed by Hashem - “Ani velo malach - I and not an angel, Ani hu velo acher - I and not an emissary!”
Chag kosher vesomei’ach.
The above article originally appeared in Yated Ne’eman USA.
Technical Notes and Sources Figure 1: Less immigration, more natural growth Source: Statistical Abstract of Israel, different years (1992-2012), Table 2.4, “Source of population growth by district, population group and religion.” Settlers reside in the district of Judah and Samaria. http://www.cbs.gov.il/reader/shnatonenew_site.htm Figure 2: Ultra Orthodox Trump Card Number of all settlers in 1991 and 2011: Statistical Abstract of Israel, different years (1992- 2012). Table 2.4. Number of Ultra Orthodox Settlers is the number of people in Ultra Orthodox settlements (4,620 in 1991 and 100,880 in 2011). Source for population in Israeli communities: http://www.cbs.gov.il/ishuvim/ishuvim_main.htm Data Sources and estimation method for 2020: All (445,782): Our calculations, assuming that the settler population in 2011 (325,100) will increase by 3.57% per year until 2020. 3.57% is the average natural growth rate (births minus deaths) in the district of Judah and Samaria during 2009, 2010 and 2011. Source for natural growth of settler population: our calculations, based on information in Statistical Abstract of Israel, 2010, 2011, 2012, Table 2.4. Ultra Orthodox (170,435): Our calculation, assuming that the Ultra Orthodox settler population in 2011 will increase by 6% per year until 2020. 6% is the latest estimate (2001) for the natural growth rate of all Ultra Orthodox in Israel. Source: Gurovich, Norma and Eilat Cohen-Kastro. 2004. “Ultra-Orthodox Jews Geographic Distribution and Demographic, Social and Economic Characteristics of the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Population in Israel 1996–2001,” Working Papers Series No. 5, Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Page 54. Other settlers (275,348): All settlers minus Ultra orthodox settlers. Figure 3: High Birthrate and Natural Growth Rates a. Natural Growth Rates All Israeli Jews and all Settlers: Our calculation of average natural growth (births minus deaths) for 2010, 2011, and 2012 for all Israeli Jews (1.48%), and for the district of Judah and Samaria (3.57%). Source: Statistical Abstract of Israel, 2010, 2011, 2012, Table 2.4. Ultra Orthodox Settlers. Gurovich and Cohen-Kastro 2004 above. Palestinians: Our calculations of average growth in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Source: International Data Base, US Census http://www.census.gov/population/international/data/idb/region.php b. Number of Children: Palestinians: Total Fertility Rate (TFR) for 2010. Source: same as above. All Jews and all settlers: Statistical Abstract of Israel 2012, Table 3.11. Data are for TFR in 2011. All Ultra Orthodox: Hleihel, Ahmad. 2011. “Fertility among Jewish and Muslim women in Israel, by level of religiosity, 1979-2009.” Working paper number 60, June 2011. Page 32. Ultra Orthodox Settlers: The TFR (7.7) is the average for TFR in Betar Ilit (7.5) and Modiyin Ilit (8.2), where the vast majority of Ultra Orthodox settlers reside, adjusted for a slight estimated decline between 2007 and 2011. Source: Central Bureau of Statistics, Press release, Patterns of Fertility in 2007. Number 231/20082007, page 5 (in Hebrew).
Rav Medan Shlita Speaks Out on Behalf of the
Rav Yaakov Medan Shlita, a Rosh Yeshiva in Yeshivat Har Etzion speaks out following Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein addressing the ‘exclusion of women’, attacking the chareidi way of life and declaring gender separation illegal.
Rav Medan explains that the decision to declare these areas of life illegal is no accident, but “malice”. In his column in the weekly Makor Rishon the rav states “I posit the attorney general would not take the same measures against Muslims or Druse which are also careful to maintain a standard of modesty between men and women. I believe it is being done against the chareidim davka at this time, because he now feels the blood of the chareidi tzibur is hefker as a result of statements from Finance Minister Yair Lapid and his assistant, Mickey Levi.”
“The attorney general at present permits himself to set guidelines for people brushing against one another in a line, on a bus or elsewhere, and this is no mistake – it is malice. Chareidim already view themselves persecuted for their beliefs vis-à-vis the government, and they are already entrenched in their homes, and we are now in danger of losing the achievements, the integration seen to date in the IDF and society at large.”
Rav Medan adds “We are the ones who should be shouting, not the chareidim for after they are taken out of the picture we will be next in line.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)
Aryeh Zelasko says:
The central social and political problem in Israel today is the
refusal of the unJews to abandon their psychotic fantasy of
turning Israel into a communist utopia. This has not changed since
the pre-State days of the Jewish Agency. In their utopia, they,
the Ubermenchen, will rule and be served by a docile and obedient
proletariat who will operate their factories, farm their land and
serve in their army. It has always been the Torah community that
has prevented their tyrannical plans from fruition. Any time they
felt strong enough to attack the Torah community they have. The
moment Rabin could rule without the white Kippot, he threw them
out of the Government. Now that the Betrayer of Hevron can rule
without the black Kippot, they are out. The unJews have no loyalty
to the Jewish people at any level whatsoever. Their loyalty is
either to themselves or to some enemy of the the Jewish people.
Having realized that they have lost both the demographic and
ideological battle for Israel, they are now engaged in a full
press to loot as much of the country as possible and then open it
up for destruction. We will see more and more malicious and
irrational decrees by them. Each one more obnoxious than the
previous. This will continue until the public will no longer be
able to hide from the fact that the greatest danger to the Jewish
people today is the Government of Israel.
1. The Dati Leumi camp will be increasingly getting uncomfortable with the direction the Lapid/Bennett coalition is going. The coalition is now talking about mass arrests of yeshiva students and seizing funds raised abroad by non-zionist yeshivos, and this is not going to go well with Bennett’s primary constituents. Cutting off money from a group of yeshivos they disagree with is one thing, but now that the plan involves throwing people in prison one should expect even the most “modern” kipah srugah to object. More will realize that an attack on hareidim is also an attack on all Shomer Mitsvos.
2. At some point, Bayit Yehudi can pull the brake, since there is always the option of “trading” the Hareidi parties for Lapid in the Netanyahu coalition. Netanyahu is also going to get increasingly uncomfortable with the way things are going.
3. Already both Shas and the Ashkenazi hareidi parties are
putting out feelers to the “peace camp”, and this is starting to
show up in the secular press as well. The Israeli left could
suddently realize they don’t approve of consciption, and that the
hareidim agree with the socialists on economics (as opposed to
Bayit Yehudi which favors fiscal responsibility, meaning cutting
welfare state benefits). It is in the interests of both Likud and
Bayit Yehudi to prevent an alliance of Hareidim and Labor, meaning
they need to stop pushing the Hareidim into the arms of Labor.
#4 The Dati Leumi as the Charedi communities are not homogenous. There are loud voices in various directions, the Dati Leumi lets those voices speak while the Charedi quiet the dissenting voices.
PEACE CAMP & Socialist agenda will destroy the kehillos of
Beitar, Ramat Shlomo, Pisgat Zev and Emanuel and the socialist
agenda will destroy the economy. Arabs aint the Arabs of the early
20th century, they died just like the socialists of the early
#6– There are many voices in both communities. The Eidah Hareidis has always said the state is a mistake, whereas the rest of the Hareidim since De Haan’s assassination have made their peace with the zionists – a peace the zionists have broken. The dissenting voices, calling for an end to zionism and rejecting ties with zionists, have always been there but now they are increasingly appearing to have been vindicated.
There are also dissenting voices in the Dati Leumi community and they are beginning to be heard, since not all Dati Leumi types are anti-Torah and contemptous of mitzvos (though the elected leaders are).
Most of the hareidim living in the West Bank are on border settlements rather than ones separated from the Green Line (the 1949 armistice line) by areas with Arab populations. In any event, if hareidim are being actively persecuted what value is living in the West Bank. The Labor party has advocated keeping much of the West Bank, so it won’t be hard for the Hareidim to ally with them. THe more radical religious zionists will be discovering that by supporting Bennett’s decision to stab the Hareidim in the back, they will lose their outpost and dreams of keeping the whole of the West Bank. Given their agreement on economics, if the Israeli left can support an end to conscription, and allowing autonomy for the hareidim minority, there will be lots of room for productive collaboration – much to the chagrin of the religious zionists who thought to gain by attaching the hareidim.
Dare to Dream/Dare to Build