31 December 2014

The Second of the Three Fast Days of Tevet

9 Tevet 5775

From The Book of Our Heritage by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov...
...The fast of the ninth of Tevet commemorates the deaths of Ezra the Scribe and Nechemyah, who faithfully led Israel during the return from Babylonian captivity. When they died, the people of Israel were devastated, for their loss was irreplaceable.
To be continued...

30 December 2014

The Three Fasts of Tevet

8 Tevet 5775

From The Book of Our Heritage by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov...
Three fast days are observed during the month of Tevet, commemorating three calamities which befell Israel - on the eighth, ninth, and tenth days of the month. The fast days of the eighth and ninth are referred to as "fast days for the righteous." On these days, only individuals fast, whereas the fast on the tenth of Tevet is a public fast day for the entire community.
The fast of the eighth of Tevet commemorates the day when the Torah was translated into Greek at the order of King Talmai (Ptolemy). The Sages note that the day on which the Torah was translated into Greek was as calamitous for Israel as the day on which they made the golden calf, for it is impossible to translate the Torah adequately.
To be continued...

"Fate and Destiny"

8 Tevet 5775

Fate and Destiny - It all balances out fairly in the end
by Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi

God predetermines a person's basic lifespan, wealth and opportunities -- but leaves ample room for free choice.

In order to fulfill His purpose, God decreed that both good and evil exist in the world, and that each man fulfills his task in life by striving to acquire good traits and overcome evil traits in himself. For example, pride is a bad trait, while its opposite humility, is a good one. Mercy is a good trait, while callousness is its opposite. The quality of being happy with what one has is a good one, while it's opposite is bad. The same is true of all other traits.

In order to provide an environment for these traits to exist, God divided individuals into different stations in life. Each of these stations is then a test for a particular individual, allowing all these bad qualities to exist, while giving him the opportunity to strive against them and embrace the good.

The fulfillment of God's Torah also requires the social intercourse that results from these variations of station. Thus, for example, if wealth and poverty did not exist, there would be no opportunity for the rich to demonstrate either generosity or indifference to the poor who need their help. The poor likewise could not be tested to determine whether or not they would be satisfied and thank God for the little that they do have.

Whether a person is rich or poor, healthy or sickly, he can always choose good or bad.

The main task of Divine Providence in this world is therefore to set each person in his station in life in order that he may serve God according to his destiny. All things that God does in this world are directed toward this purpose. Some things directly affect the person involved, while others are used to set up chains of events to direct him toward his destiny.

Every person's station in life is a test, wherein he can choose either to serve God to the best of his ability or not. Whether a person is rich or poor, healthy or sickly, intelligent or dull, he can always make use of his qualities for good or for bad.

Regarding this important principle, God told us through His prophet, "Let the wise man not glory in his wisdom, let the strong man not glory in his strength, and let the rich man not glory in his wealth. But if one would glory, let him glory in this: that he has intelligence and that he knows Me, that I am God, performing kindness, justice and righteousness on the earth, for in these things I delight" (Jeremiah 9:22-23).

Doing Your Best

Though a person's station in life might make it more difficult for him to do good, he is still required to use all this resources to serve God. For this reason, it is taught, "In all your ways know Him, and He will straighten your paths" (Proverbs 3:6). If a person's nature or environment tend to make it more difficult for him to serve God, then his reward will be that much greater, since reward is always gauged according to the effort expended. Similarly, in such a case, his punishment for disobeying God's commandments will be reduced, since God takes extenuating circumstances into consideration.

On the other hand, one whose station in life makes it easy to serve God is punished all the more for failing to do so. Though providence makes it easier for some to serve God, and more difficult for others, the truth is that it all balances out fairly in the end.

This underscores the fact that, while it is true that God decrees a person's station, this does not excuse him from doing his best to serve God. Similarly, the fact that God decrees that a person should be poor is no excuse for the rich to withhold charity from him, since it was for this very reason that God created a world of contrasts. Likewise, although it may have been decreed that a person should be murdered, this does not excuse the killer, since God has many messengers.

26 December 2014

Parshat Vayigash 5775

4 Tevet 5775
Erev Shabbat Kodesh

Post-Chanukah miracles
by Daniel Pinner

Dedicated to the memory of my friend and mentor Rabbi Binyamin Ze’ev Kahane Hy”d and his wife Taliyah Hy”d, murdered by Arab terrorists on their way home from Jerusalem 14 years ago this Shabbat, 5th Tevet 5761 (31st December 2000).

Ever since the yearly cycle of Torah readings was standardised towards the end of the Second Temple era, and the fixed calendar as calculated by Hillel II (Hillel ben Yehudah, Nasi or head of the Sanhedrin) was adopted in 4119 (359 C.E.), Parashat Vayiggash almost always falls the Shabbat immediately after Chanukah. The last time there was a Shabbat between Chanukah and Parashat Vayiggash was in 5761 (2001), and the next time this will happen will be in 5781 (2020).

Chanukah is the festival which celebrates two distinctly separate miracles. The first (and more important) is the military victory of the Hasmoneans over the Seleucid Empire – the victory of the few against the many, a disparate group of untrained guerrilla fighters against the mightiest army in the world. The second (and secondary) is the miracle of the oil which should have sufficed for just one day lasting instead for eight days.

These two miracles fall into two distinctly separate categories of miracles. The military victory was a public event, recorded not only in our chronicles but in the history books of the nations of the world. However, it contained no unarguably miraculous visitations, no events which changed the course of nature, such as the Ten Plagues, the Splitting of the Red Sea, or the Giving of the Torah – events which any unbiased observer, however sceptical, would be forced to concede were supernatural and miraculous.

No doubt there are rational, natural explanations for the Maccabees’ defeating the Seleucid forces in any given battle. After all, small irregular forces can often rely on the element of surprise, greater flexibility, greater mobility, superior knowledge of the local terrain, higher motivation, and the like to achieve tactical victories.

But the strategic victory, the war as a whole, was clearly miraculous.

The miracle of the oil, by contrast, was a clear violation of the usual course of nature – but was witnessed only by a tiny handful of people. Apart from the Kohanim (Priests) in the Holy Temple – and not even all of them – no one could have witnessed the miracle of the oil.

To understand the implications of these two miracles, we need to understand the nature of miracles in general. And for this, we turn to the Ramban (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, Spain and Israel, 1195-c.1270).

Commenting on Genesis 17:1, when G-d introduced Himself to Abraham as E-l Shaddai (“Almighty G-d”), the Ramban explains that the reason that He introduced Himself here with this Name was that “it is with this Name that hidden miracles are wrought for the tzaddikim, ‘to save their soul from death and to sustain them in life through famine’ (Psalms 33:19), delivering them from the sword in war. Such was with all the miracles that were wrought for Abraham and the [other] Patriarchs, and all the subsequent [miracles] that the Torah promises in Parashat Bechukotai and Ki Tavo, [i.e. the promises of] blessings [for obeying the Torah] and curses [for disobeying it]. For all these are miraculous; after all, there is no natural reason why the rains should come in their appropriate seasons [Leviticus 26:4] just because we worship G-d, or why the sky should become iron [ibid 19] when we sow in the shmitta year. Thus, too, with all that the Torah commands. All are miracles, and all control natural fortune, even though the normal course of the world is in no way changed as it was by Moshe our Master in the Ten Plagues, at the Splitting of the Sea, the Manna, the well in the desert, and so forth”.

Addressing the calculation by which Jochebed was some 130 years old when she gave birth to Moshe, the Ramban returns to this theme: “The Tanach mentions miracles which were performed by a prophet after he had already prophesied them, or an angel who appeared for a divine mission; but it does not mention miracles which occurred spontaneously to help a tzaddik or to destroy an evil person.... The entire foundation of the Torah is hidden miracles; the whole purpose of the Torah is only miracles, not nature or custom. After all, all the promises that the Torah makes are miraculous” (commentary to Genesis 46:15).

So according to the Ramban, a miracle is not a supernatural event. Rather, a miracle is any event, or series of events, natural or supernatural, which is calibrated for the sake of Israel, and which thereby demonstrates the Divine will.

Hence the guerrilla war between the Maccabees and the Seleucid Empire which the Maccabees won falls into the category of a miracle, even though each individual confrontation might be explicable in natural terms. (Israel’s War of Independence, Six Day War, and Yom Kippur War all follow the identical paradigm.)

The corollary is that not every supernatural event is a miracle. If, for example, the English Channel were to split for one night leaving a dry path connecting Dover to Calais, then though this event would be inexplicable, it would not constitute a miracle.

And similarly, if you were to fill the tank of your car with enough petrol to travel 100 km yet it would suffice for 800 km, then even though this would be inexplicable (not to say useful), it would not constitute a miracle.

But when the one-day supply of olive oil in the sole remaining undefiled jar with the Kohen Gadol’s seal intact lasted for eight days – that was a miracle. It was an event that was calibrated for the sake of Israel, giving the Kohanim the time they needed to procure a new supply of olive oil.

And then after eight days, the Kohanim went back to refilling the Menorah daily, with its regular supply of oil.

The Talmud (Ta’anit 25a) relates a well-known story: “One Friday afternoon, [Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa] saw his daughter looking upset. He said to her: My daughter, why are you sad? She said to him: I confused a jar of vinegar with a jar of oil, and I filled the Shabbat candles with it! He said to her: My daughter, why are you worried? He Who commanded the oil to burn will also command the vinegar to burn. And a Tanna related that it continued to burn throughout the day, until they used it to light Havdalah candle”.

That is to say, the fact that oil burns is an expression of the Divine will; and the fact that the vinegar burnt for Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa and his family that Shabbat was no less and no more an expression of the Divine will.

And we can extrapolate from this that the fact that one jar of oil would normally fuel the Menorah in the Holy Temple for just one day is no less an expression of the Divine will than that same jar of oil fuelling the same Menorah for eight days.

And this chain of logic should cause us to rethink everything we had previously thought about miracles. If previously we thought of miracles as the vanishingly small number of events, such as the Ten Plagues or the Splitting of the Red Sea, in which G-d directly interferes in nature, then we can now understand miracles as being (potentially at least) every event that ever happens. That the sun rose this morning, that the dog barks, that we are able to breathe air, that the rain falls, that the Shabbat candles burn – these are all expressions of the Divine will no less than the sun standing still over Gibeon and the moon standing still over the Ayalon Valley for an entire day, giving Joshua and the Israelite forces time to defeat the Amorites and conquer the territory (Joshua 10:12-14).

In the Al ha-Nissim prayer which we said a few times every day during Chanukah, we thanked G-d “for the miracles and for the salvation…and for the wars that You wrought for our ancestors…You handed over the mighty into the hands of the weak, and the many into the hands of the few, and the impure into the hands of the pure, and the evil into the hands of the righteous, and the [Jewish] wanton sinners into the hands of those who keep Your Torah”.

Though the victory of the weak over the mighty and of the few over the many is clearly miraculous, the victory of the pure over the impure, of the righteous over the evil, and of those who keep G-d’s Torah over the sinners does not seem miraculous. Though in the usual course of events the mighty defeat the weak and the many defeat the few, there is no principle that evil people are stronger than righteous people, that impure are mightier than pure.

But Chanukah teaches us that all these are equally expressions of the Divine will. That the few and weak defeated the many and mighty was just as much G-d’s will that the pure and righteous keepers of His Torah would defeat the impure and evil sinners.

As the lesson of Chanukah is that G-d intervenes in nature to grant Israel victory in war over a vastly superior enemy and to keep the Menorah burning for as long as necessary, so the lesson of post-Chanukah is that ordinary day-to-day events and natural phenomena are equally expressions of the Divine will.

And on the first Shabbat after Chanukah, Parashat Vayiggash relates the beginning of Israel’s exile – the culmination of G-d’s promise and warning to Abraham in the Covenant between the Parts (Genesis 15:13-16), 220 years earlier, that his descendants would be exiled and persecuted in a foreign land.

Now while the Torah records a few – a very few – instances in which G-d directly intervened in the lives of the Patriarchs to bring the Children of Israel down to Egypt, the overwhelming majority of events were either entirely natural, or else supernatural events whose supernatural characters would have been known only to a tiny group of people.

In the first category are events such as Jacob sending his son Joseph from Hebron to Shechem to check on his brothers’ welfare, and Joseph’s “chance” encounter with a man (an angel in the form of a man?) who told him that his brothers had moved on to Dothan (Genesis 37:12-17).

In the second category are such events as Joseph interpreting the dreams of the royal butler and the royal baker in prison (40:5-22).

However, the overall process of events – sibling rivalry, a slave thrown into prison who is granted a royal pardon 12 years later and who rises to become the second-in-command to the king, a bountiful crop followed by famine – is a natural if remarkable historical sequence.

For sure, as Jacob was travelling on his way southwards and reached Beer Sheva, G-d Himself had to reassure him that he was doing the right thing, and only after that did Jacob continue on his journey to Egypt (46:1-7); but that Divine intervention, like so many others, was not an open miracle – it was known solely to Jacob.

Like Chanukah, the exile to Egypt (which begins in Parashat Vayiggash) and the subsequent redemption from it was all part of G-d’s plan for the nation of Israel, and by extension part of His plan for the world as a whole.

And as with the exile to Egypt, much of the Chanukah sequence played out in seemingly natural events.

And from this, we can deduce that the events in our own lives, from our own private affairs to the great epoch-making global events sweeping the world now, are also under G-d’s guidance, calibrated for the ultimate benefit of Israel.

24 December 2014

Moishela: "Why Are We Living"

3 Tevet 5775

[Received by email.]


Discussion with Moishela (with his family)
A Handicapped child 
20 Kislev 5775 (Dec 11, '14)

Why Are We Living

Time is moving on and we are definitely getting very close to the Geula Shelaima. I think every true Jew, whether he is close to Hashem or a bit farther away, feels now is the time that the world is going to change completely. The Frum, the believing Jew will feel a kind of closeness to Hashem that he never felt before, even though every morning when he gets up he can feel a strange and frightening foreboding of what’s going to be in the future.

The Jew that is not so close to Hashem will also feel the fear and he will start thinking what this life is about. What do I have? What are my goals? What does it matter if I go to a football game or not? What does it matter if I get the job exactly that I want or get into the right university just right for me? What does it matter? What really matters in this life? All the entertainment? All the social life? What is life all about? Why are we living? Is it just one big accident, Chas Vesholom, an accident that brought us into life against our will to suffer, Chas Vesholom? The fear of what’s coming in the near future together with the suffering that we are already going through, are bringing some people, some Jews to question, at least to stop for a moment from their partying to ask what is this about, why is this happening.

These questions are not usually asked here in Eretz Yisroel because we are used here in Eretz Yisroel to go through many crisis and then the crisis disappears and we continue going on. Of course a certain amount of people are killed Shelo Naida and so on and so forth, but the ones that are left are the great majority and they can continue on with the life that they left, the life of enjoyment, of entertainment, of flying off to Europe, to Thailand, to who knows where, and enjoying themselves. As for the Frum we continue with our grand Bar Mitzvas and weddings and our own type of social entertainment. We continue with our restaurants, of course the most kosher, and all our entertainments with the best Hechsherim, our non-Tzniusdik dress with the best Hechsherim, and so on and so forth. Now however many people feel inside that we are not going to come out of this frightening projection of future events so easily. It’s not just going to pass.

There is going to be a tremendous change in the world, a tremendous change that will in the end destroy much of the world, and therefore there are those, that are starting to feel great fear, have bad dreams, unnerving dreams and wake up very many times with a choking feeling with a fear that grabs a person and makes it difficult to breathe, a fear that makes a person want to jump up out of bed and feel alive again and this is all from the fear and the spiritual pressure of the world that is about to explode, a world that is about to change completely. This world of ours is going to disappear the way it is now, and we must change also, so that we can survive the greatest change since the creation of the world. All the dire predictions that are being made for the near future should be taken seriously if we want to be part of what’s going to be, be part of the Geula Shelaima, and a much more spiritual life. We have to become close to Hashem. We have to do Hashem’s will. We have to be Yidden the way we are supposed to be. We must! We must do Hashem’s will completely in every aspect, to bend ourselves completely to Hashem, to His Ratzon. Otherwise we will never be able to go into the new world of Moshiach Tzidkainu.

I’ve many times spoken to you again and again on the subject, and maybe you are tired of hearing this even though I’ve tried saying it in a different way each time to make you understand better and better. I will try again anyway. I will try to make you understand that this is a great year. This year is a great and frightening year. This year is when many things will change in the greatest way. The wars have already begun. Blood is flowing freely. We are not even impressed anymore when the barbarians cut people’s heads off, but we are terribly disturbed or will be terribly disturbed when we won’t be able to get a kosher hamburger or coca cola or just plain food. We will be terribly disturbed when we see great cities falling, destroyed together with their population, Shelo Naida, all disappearing. We will be greatly disturbed to say the least. How will we be able to overcome our feelings? How will we be able to get through all of this because even if we don’t actually see this happening next to us it will be such a shock when we know so many people in those places and even if we don’t know them still it will be a shock. It will be a terrible shock. I don’t think that any generation before ours since the Creation, except for of course Sedom and Ammorah experienced such a thing, such a catastrophe, such a horrible terrible type of destruction. Even in Sedom and Ammorah it wasn’t the size of what’s going to be now. It’s dwarfed next to what’s going to be now. Don’t you understand? There will be plenty of bloodshed here in Eretz Yisroel, Shelo Naida, but it won’t be destroyed. Those that are far from Hashem and don’t have the Zechus to come back to Hashem will be destroyed with the buildings, will be destroyed with the Edomites and the Yishmaelites and all other peoples that don’t accept Hakodosh Boruch Hu as their Creator. So what do we have to do? How can we get through all of this? We have to believe completely that whatever Hashem does is for our good, no matter what.

There is only one relationship in this world. It is the person with Hakodosh Boruch Hu. That may sound difficult for you because you have children, you have husbands, you have wives that you love very much. True, but when push comes to shove we are only the children of Hakodosh Boruch Hu, all of us, and we have been in many Gilgulim here in this world and in every Gilgul we might have had a different husband, a different wife, children not always the same, and we have had different situations that we had to overcome. We are so low and now is our chance finally to pull ourselves up and come back. When we get to the point where we greet Moshiach, Be’ezras Hashem, don’t worry. Every Neshoma will have its true, true Zivig and every child will know its true parents, and we all will know and feel and have no question about the fact that we as a people have only one Father and that is Hakodosh Boruch Hu, and our whole lives, our whole beings will be involved in only one occupation coming closer and closer to Him. In order to come closer to Him we will eventually drop all our flesh and blood characteristics and become totally, totally spiritual and become one with Him.

Lately we have seen many tragedies. Tonight one of the Bochurim that was killed in the tragic car accident in Holland was buried. He has a very special name, Langleben, “a long life”. May he have a long life, a life of eternity, he was a Bochur that was working to be close to Hashem as was the other boy that was killed. Both trying their best to be good Jews, trying to do what Hashem wants us to do.

Why did they have to die? I can’t answer you why these particular ones had to die, but I can tell you this that the latest tragedies are a message to us that we must, must do Teshuva, and realize what we are doing wrong. When Hashem brings down so many tragedies on Am Yisroel at one time we must stop and think and take stock of our lives of what we may be doing wrong. There was a terrible incident in Crown Heights also, and lately there have been many tragedies all over the Frum Jewish world Shelo Naidah. We must open our eyes and try to figure out where we are going wrong. It’s not a pat on the back for us. It’s a Potsh in the face for us so we will wake up. So please understand that Hashem is not happy. He wants to save His Am, but generally speaking we are going in the wrong direction. Am Yisroel you better wake up! Stop the Machlokes. Stop the Pritzus. Stop the running after the Gashmius. Stop the gluttony and come back to what’s real. The only thing that is real is Hakodosh Boruch Hu and His Torah.

23 December 2014

The Hellenists Are Alive and Well Today

1 Tevet 5775
Rosh Chodesh
7th Candle of Hanukah

Quoting from a "Times of Israel" article...

December in Haifa, when menorahs mingle with Christmas trees and crescents

Over the past two weekends in December, Haifa’s artsy neighborhood of Wadi Nisnas has been overrun with soldiers in green uniforms. But these soldiers don’t have guns Instead, they have posters and petitions. “You light up my life!” reads one poster. Others gather signatures for petitions demanding people be happy and enjoy the holidays.

These “soldiers of love” are street performers at the popular Festival of Festivals in the mixed city of Haifa, Israel’s version of a “festivus for the rest of us” that celebrates the winter holidays of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

...In a country where most people live in religiously segregated neighborhoods, Haifa remains dedicated to multiculturalism and coexistence.

...“It’s not connected to religion at all, it’s totally about multiculturalism,” said Danny Ronen, the director of Haifa’s Tourist Board. “For Israeli Jews to come here and see a Christmas tree and to see Santa Claus and all those things is really nice, it puts them in the spirit of Christmas.” Ronen noted that growing up abroad in France and Belgium, his family incorporated their celebration of Hanukkah into the Christmas spirit of those countries, and he enjoys the blend of holidays. “It’s almost like going abroad, it’s really nice because Christmas is a special atmosphere,” he enthused.

...“Bringing my kids to see the lighting of the Christmas trees on Ben Gurion Street is a blessing,” said Ron. “It helps us understand we’re not alone in the world. There are more people living beside us who have the right to enjoy the holidays. It won’t hurt my Judaism, it may even strengthen it, because true Judaism is pluralism.”

At the city’s main traffic circle in front of the Baha’i Gardens, a worker put the finishing touches on a large menorah, a Muslim crescent, and a Christmas tree, celebrating all three monotheistic religions in front of the holiest site for the Baha’i faith.

21 December 2014

"The Mother of All Price-Tags"

30 Kislev 5775
Rosh Chodesh 
6th Candle of Hanukah

Channukah: the mother of all price-tags
by Daniel Pinner

It was just a minor skirmish, hardly worth a mention. In a small village in one of the Seleucid (Syrian-Greek) Empire’s more remote provinces, an obscure local priest refused to obey the local representative of the Empire.

A Seleucid military unit had set up a pagan altar in the village of Modi’in, in the foot-hills of Judea, 27 km (17 miles) north-west of Jerusalem (today just several hundred metres north-east of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, 15 minutes by train from Ben Gurion Airport), and the unit’s commander, Apelles, ordered Matityahu (Mattathias), the priest of the village, to sacrifice a pig upon it.

Apelles’ command and Matityahu’s response have been recorded for posterity. The king’s officers tried to entice Matityahu with flattery and promises of high reward. “You are a ruler”, began the representative of the Seleucid Empire, “highly respected and a great man in this city, and you are strengthened with sons and brothers. So therefore come, you be the first to obey the command of the king – as all the nations have done– and with you all the men of Judea, and those who remain in Jerusalem. Then you and your family shall be numbered among the king’s friends, and you and your sons shall be honoured with silver, with gold, and with all manner of gifts” (1 Maccabees 2:17).

Matityahu’s response was a paragon of Jewish pride: “Even if all the nations who are in the abode of the king’s dominion obey him and each one abandons the religion of his fathers, still I and my sons and my brothers will yet walk in the Covenant of our fathers. Heaven forbid that we ever forsake the Torah and mitzvot! We will not obey the king’s words, to stray from our worship to the right or to the left” (1 Maccabees 2:18).

Hearing Matityahu’s refusal, another Jew (whose name has been forever lost to history) stepped forward to sacrifice the pig on the pagan altar.

The Jewish renegade no doubt expected to earn the gratitude of the Seleucid Empire for his treason. How he must have looked forward to the rewards and the recognition that this mightiest of empires would bestow upon him!

Instead Matityahu put an unexpectedly high price-tag on his treason by snatching a sword from a Greek soldier and killing the Jewish traitor. Matityahu then turned his sword on Apelles, killing him too. Spontaneously, Matityahu and his sons then attacked the entire Greek garrison, killing all the soldiers and, before other units of the Seleucid army could take reprisals, fled into the surrounding Judean hills.

Thus began the revolt of the Maccabees against Greek oppression – a war that would continue for decades, the first war that organised Jewish forces had fought in almost half a millennium, and the first war ever in recorded history to be fought over the issue of religious principles. And history records that the Maccabees’ first victim was not a Greek soldier, but a Jewish Hellenist who had betrayed his nation and his G-d.

The year was 167 B.C.E., and the Seleucid Empire, ruled by King Antiochus IV Epiphanes, was unchallenged and unchallengeable in its might. Modi’in was probably too small even to appear on maps of Judea, let alone on maps of the Seleucid Empire. Most likely few people outside of that obscure village had ever heard of Matityahu.

Yet Modi’in and Matityahu were about to burst forth onto the pages of history, there to inscribe an episode of greater power and magnitude than anyone could have envisaged at the time.

Matityahu would die less than a year after that confrontation, but he had already ignited the revolt. Led by his son Yehudah (Judah) the Maccabee, Matityahu’s five sons inspired the fight for independence. The Seleucid army was the mightiest army in the world at the time; Hellenist ideology dominated the world from Greece unto Persia; not even Rome yet dared to challenge the supremacy of the Seleucid Empire. But the Jews, fighting for their national independence on their ancestral soil, took up primitive arms against this highly-trained professional army and, against all the odds, were eventually to defeat them.

In 164 B.C.E., three years after that initial skirmish, Maccabean forces liberated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, drove out the Syrian-Greek idolatry and the accoutrements with which they had defiled the Holy Temple, and on the twenty-fifth of Kislev re-dedicated the Holy Temple to the worship of the One true G-d. The fighting in the rest of the country would continue for decades, but they had accomplished their pivotal objective.

And for the first time in almost three centuries, there was Jewish independence in Israel (albeit only in a small area to start with).

The Seleucid Empire could so easily have kept the country peaceful: all they had to do was allow the Jews their religious freedom. After all, when Alexander the Great had conquered Israel from the Persian Empire 166 years earlier, he had done precisely that – kept the country peaceful simply by guaranteeing Jewish religious freedom.

But once the Seleucids pushed the Jews too far, war became inevitable. For generations, first under Persian rule and then Greek rule, the Jews felt that political independence could wait, and foreign occupation, as long as it did not interfere with their religious freedom, did not provoke them to armed insurrection.

But desecrating the Holy Temple, forcing Jews to violate their most sacred principles, attempting to force them to sacrifice pigs upon pagan altars – the nation simply would not stand for this.

And once the fighting had started, there was no going back until victory or death. Two years after liberating and re-dedicating the Holy Temple, Yehudah the Maccabee led an attack on the last remaining Seleucid fortress in Jerusalem. The Seleucids won the battle, and months of confused and inconclusive fighting followed.

Then in 162 B.C.E., when the situation seemed to have deteriorated to a stalemate, Lysias – the Seleucid general and governor of Syria – offered the Jews a peace accord, under which their freedom of religion would be restored. This caused much internal debate among the Jews: they would thereby achieve all that they been fighting for. However Yehudah rejected this offer, and resolved to continue fighting until he would restore full Jewish sovereignty and independence in Israel. Once the genie of armed insurrection had been let out of the bottle, it was impossible to get it back inside.

In historical terms, the Maccabean Revolt was the beginning of the end of the Seleucid Empire. Its power began waning – not only in Judea, but also in other provinces. The Maccabean victories over the Seleucids shattered their veneer of invincibility, and inspired other conquered nations to take up arms and fight for their freedom too.

Over the next few decades the Maccabees’ successors Shimon the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) and after him his son Yochanan Hyrcanus I drove the Seleucids out of the central region around Jerusalem, then thrust westwards up to the Mediterranean coast, eastwards to the River Jordan (thus connecting with the trans-Jordanian area), southwards as far as the edge of the Negev Desert, northwards to the Galilean hill country, and then even farther eastwards into Idumæa in trans-Jordan (the south-west area of the present-day kingdom of Jordan).

While this was happening, the Seleucids also began to face nationalist insurrections in Parthia (modern-day Iran), Armenia, Cappadocia (modern-day Anatolia), and Pontus (southern coast of Black Sea, in modern north-east Turkey).

Arguably, all these nations had been inspired by the Maccabees to take up arms against the Seleucids. Indisputably, the Maccabees’ strategic brilliance and sheer ferociousness forced the Seleucids to divert personnel away from those areas in order to contend with the Jewish forces.

By 100 B.C.E., 67 years after Matityahu had lit the match and thrown it into the tinder-box of Jewish nationalist fervour, the once-formidable Seleucid Empire had shrunk to Antioch and a few Syrian cities; and a few decades later it finally collapsed.

The Seleucid dynasty, founded 211 years earlier by Seleucus Nicator (“the Victor”), had at last met its match and been defeated by the Maccabees, who had successfully imposed an impossibly heavy price-tag on its anti-Jewish tyranny.

Politics As Usual

29 Kislev 5775
Erev Rosh Chodesh
5th Candle of Hanukah

We gave Uri Ariel and his Tekuma faction the benefit of the doubt, but apparently his "principled" stand against the policies of the so-called Bayit Yehudi was nothing more than "politics as usual".
Religious right to remain unified after Bayit Yehudi votes against split
Members of a rightwing faction within the religious-Zionist Bayit Yehudi party decided not to split from Naftali Bennett's leadership, thus ending speculation that current Housing Minister Uri Ariel would join former Shas leader Eli Yishai's new party to form a formidable right wing party.
What a pity!

And Tzipi Livni just won't quit!
Livni takes credit for ‘guarding Israeli interests’ at UN
Following report of Kerry blocking vote on Palestinian bid before Israeli elections, Hatnua leader says she helped spur US to stall.
...The diplomat also said that Kerry spoke about a warning issued to him by Livni and Peres that a favorable UN vote “imposed by the international community would reinforce Benjamin Netanyahu and the hardliners in Israel.”
She's really not interested in democracy. She was not elected to be Prime Minister to represent all the people of Israel, but she will go behind the Prime Minister and the people's backs and make private deals to benefit herself as if the power is hers. What she really wants is to be Queen of Israel. She wants to rule without interference from those who don't recognize her supremacy and who don't rise to her stature as she sees it. 

If all the enemies of Israel return at the End of Days, then Tzipi Livni must be Jezebel, the non-Jewish Queen of Israel in the time of Eliyahu HaNavi.

Like I said... Politics as usual - unfortunately for us.

Last, but not least, Yehuda Glick announced he's running for a spot on the Likud list. I guess he wants to stay close to his friend Moshe Feiglin, who after convincing many good Jews to support his 15-year rise to head of the party, has now declined to pursue that goal. I didn't understand his explanation, but in any case, I don't care. I saw the folly in that expectation right from the beginning.

When I think of these two, the warning about "false messiahs" comes to mind. There is so much deception out there and evil masquerading as righteousness, that we really have to be very careful to examine everything and everyone very closely for adherence to Torah truth.  Take this clip from a recent interview for example...

So, his vision of the Third Temple is a place where adherents to false religions whose very existence denies the truth of Torah will be welcomed alongside Jews, but NOT those Jews who would forbid same. By his definition, Rabbi Kahane and the Maccabees themselves would not be welcome on the Temple Mount! And not the real Mashiach neither!!

Is it any wonder that the Temple Mount is not in our hands yet? Thank G-d! It's bad enough what's already there, but a One-World-Religion Temple where all pray together to their various idols would be much, much worse.

19 December 2014

The Sony Hack Attack

27 Kislev 5775
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
3rd Candle of Hanukah

In case you've missed out on the big news of the week and haven't heard the word "Sony", allow me to recap briefly.  Reminiscent of the "anti-Islam movie" that was released just prior to the "spontaneous-outraged-Islamic" response which ultimately saw the fall of Libya, Jewish-Hollywood (Amy Pascal-Michael Lynton-Seth Rogen et al) made a "comedy" about the assassination of Kim Jong Un of North Korea which was approved by US government and security analysts. It was set to be released on Christmas Day.

According to reports, as long ago as last June, North Korea was onto this and registered a strong complaint, terming it an act of war. The aforementioned "analysts" determined that this was nothing more than routine posturing by North Korea and need not be taken seriously. Last week, alleged North Korean hackers went into the computer files of the Sony Corporation which produced the film and leaked massive amounts of information to the public in an effort to get the movie cancelled. As a last ditch effort, the hackers issued a warning...
  • We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
  • Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
  • The world will be full of fear.
  • Remember the 11th of September 2001.
  • We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.
  • (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
  • Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
  • All the world will denounce the SONY.
After droves of theaters began cancelling their showings, Sony cancelled release of the film and said it would be archived. 

But, that's not the end of the story. Today, the American press has released an expose about a supposed plot by North Korea to bomb nuclear power plants across America "in the 1990s". To ensure maximum exposure, it is the lead headline on Drudge this morning.

Immediately, I recalled that John Loftus lecture I reported on about eleven years ago, in which he told an Anglo-Israeli audience that... 
Over the next two years, America is going to "take out all seven dictatorial regimes in the Middle East."
The conquest was begun with Iraq and is to be followed by Iran, the groundwork for which is already being laid and which, according to Mr. Loftus, will be finished "by Spring", only to be followed in swift succession by Libya, N. Korea (which will be divied up to China), Syria and Lebanon. Since Jordan and Egypt are already on America's payroll, that only leaves Saudi Arabia which will have no other option, according to Mr. Loftus, but to fall into line. The plan is ostensibly to "liberate" all the democracy-starved hordes of the Middle-East and rebuild all the war-torn countries courtesy of the American taxpayer (to whom Israel is also beholden, reminds Mr. Loftus, lest we Jews ever forget), and create a climate in which "moderate Islam" can flourish.
Of course, it didn't quite go according to the plan in 2003, but you have to wonder about the odd man out. North Korea is not in the Middle East and it's not Islamic. How (and why) did it slip in there?

No sane person is a fan of Kim Jong Un or the oppressive regime in North Korea, but whatever nefarious reason is behind this, it could all be a set-up for another 9/11-style false-flag event to bring "regime-change" to North Korea. How many Americans will die this time to further the political interests of the American empire? How many people around the world will die if this sets off World War 3? And the final question... Will the world blame Jewish Hollywood and by extension, Jews worldwide???

18 December 2014

Election Season in Israel

27 Kislev 5775
3rd Candle of Hanukah

Many seem to be sensing that there is something very different about the election season this time around.

Times of Israel article says...
Israel’s political system is in chaos. A new order is materializing, and its shockwaves are being felt in nearly every corner of the political map. ...The change is coming from the street....
A New York Times article says...
...Israel has had critical elections before, but this could be its most important, because the Israeli right today is no longer dominated by security hawks and free-marketeers like Netanyahu. It is dominated by West Bank settlers and scary religious-nationalist zealots....
...“The importance of the 2015 election cannot be too highly emphasized,” Ari Shavit, the Haaretz columnist wrote last week. “This time the question isn’t about the price of an apartment or cottage (cheese), but whether there will be a home for us at all. This time the struggle isn’t about convenience but about the core of our existence. Because this time the forces threatening Israeli democracy and the Zionist enterprise from within are unprecedented in their power.”
As I said before, I don't know if we will even reach to elections, but the birur happening now is mind-boggling. That alone is a sign that we are really reaching the end of the whole redemption process. If elections do take place, I do not expect a Torah-values party or consortium of parties to make a majority in the Knesset. Simply put, those who love and are committed to the Torah way of life are very, very few. Mashiach is not going to be the next Prime Minister!

Already the democratic leftists and rightists together are seeking a way out for themselves. Netanyahu has manipulated Moshe Feiglin out of running for party head. Having a woman on Tekuma's list is causing a problem for Uri Ariel's faction to join up with Eli Yishai's new party. And the police have already raided Rabbi Dr. Michael Ben Ari's Otzma Yehudit offices.

This is not about winning power through a democratic process.(Israel isn't even a true democracy.) It's about showing G-d that we are ready to follow Mashiach. It's about taking a public stand with the people who represent the Torah way of life in this country. Whenever the true Torah Jews see another hand go up, it builds and strengthens their faith in Hashem and in each other and in the way of life we have chosen.

While this thing plays out, just keep this in mind...
In the period that will precede the coming of Mashiach, insolence will increase and costs will soar. The vine will yield its fruit yet wine will be costly, and the government will turn to heresy and there shall be no rebuke [meaning that figures of legitimate authority, including parents, will be afraid to rebuke those who stray from correct behavior, including their children]. The [erstwhile] meeting place [of sages] will be used for harlotry…. The wisdom of scribes will decay and those who dread sin will be despised and truth will be absent. Youths will shame the faces of elders; elders will stand in the presence of minors…a man’s enemies [will be] the people of his household…. Upon what, then, can we lean? Upon our Father in Heaven. [Sotah 49b]
If it all goes to hell in a handbasket, gam zu l'tov.

17 December 2014

Chanukah – An In Depth Overview

25 Kislev 5775
First Candle of Hanukah

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
"...The underlying nature of the miracle of Chanukah in and of itself involves a renewal. The Nesivos Sholom explains (Ma’amarei Chanukah p. 35) that the Gemorah discusses the underlying principle of how we light the Chanukah lamps itself, according to Beis Hillel. It is called “Mosif v’holech – adding more and more as we go along.
This special power of Chanukah began with the Beis HaMikdash – where more and more holiness was added. It spread to the people.
Rav Dessler writes that every Yom Tov is actually the very same day that comes back to us year after year. Each Chanukah is the very same Chanukah that the Maccabbees experienced. This light of Chanukah that increases as each day progresses is with us constantly.
The Nesivos Shalom further asks why the verse tells us Mechadesh kol yom b’tuvo. Why must Hashem re-create every day?
He answers that it was to give man hope as well. So that man can renew himself and say, “Today is a new day and I am newly created.” By the same token the nation of Israel is compared to the moon. Just as the moon renews itself, so too can we renoew ourselves and reach our fullest. Perhaps it was because of this notion as well that Chanukah was made to also include a Rosh Chodesh – to remind us of our power of renewal."

Read it in its entirety HERE.

16 December 2014

Modern-Day Maccabim - Happy Hanukah!

24 Kislev 5775
Erev Hanukah

Head of Jewish extremist group Lehava arrested with 9 others
The head of the far-right extremist group Lehava was arrested on Tuesday for allegations of incitement and calls to carry out violence and terror activity based on nationalistic motives, Israel Police reported.
Lehava chairman Bentzi Gupstein, along with nine other activists from the group, were each taken into custody from their individual homes, following ten months of both open and undercover police investigation.
Lehava's Facebook group has since been shut down for inciting racism and violence.
Three of the group's members were accused of carrying out arson and racist vandalism last month at Max Rayne Hand in Hand School, a joint Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem. The members reportedly committed the acts because they were "angry about a memorial ceremony for Yasser Arafat" that took place at the school.
Itamar Ben Gvir, the lawyer for the 10 suspects, criticized how police handled Gupstein's arrest, saying they "turned the house inside out," causing damage, before taking Gupstein away in handcuffs.

"Left-wing politicians put on the pressure and police are now fighting Lehava, even though it's clear that they are a legal organization that openly operates against assimilation," Ben Gvir said. "This is a disgrace."
The group follows the racist teachings of the late Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane, whose Kach Party was outlawed by Israel for inciting racism. Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990.
Lehava made national headlines in August when its members attempted to disrupt the wedding of an Arab man to a Jewish woman who had converted to Islam.

15 December 2014

This Is So Exciting!

24 Kislev 5775
Erev Hanukah

I don't know if we will even see new elections, but just the preparation for it seems to be bringing about a birur that is unprecedented in my experience. The whole political map is being completely rearranged as people appear to be aligning themselves according to their true natures.

What is really exciting to me is to see people like Eli Yishai, Uriel Ariel and Yoni Chetboun coming together over strong Torah values, with talk of Michael Ben Ari's Otzma Yehudit party possibly joining with them.

This would be the first Chareidi-Dati-Leumi (chard"l) party ever...

MK (Bayit Yehudi) Yoni Chetboun has already proven that he will not cross a red line, and he paid dearly for it by going against his own party in the efforts to draft chareidim. Despite party leader Naftali Bennett instructing him to support the chareidi draft legislation, he refused and as part of his punishment, he was ousted from his position on the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee.
Defying party leader Bennett once again, Chetboun now refuses to sign a letter seeking to pressure Uri Ariel and his Tekuma faction from not splitting away from Bayit Yehudi. In this case, Chetboun wrote to Bennett “I would love to sign such a letter after the place for Torah values and the rabbonim of the religious Zionists are incorporated in the language.”
...Chetboun explains the current version of the letter is obviously intended to remove the rabbonim from the decision-making process and he is unwilling to be a part of such a process. He explains that if and when the letter includes that decision will include daas Torah, he will be pleased to sign as well but the current version is unacceptable.
The Yisrael Hayom daily adds HaGaon HaRav Dov Lior Shlita has instructed Ariel to run independent of Bayit Yehudi.
Some feel that Chetboun may be on the way out of Bayit Yehudi and will form a party with Ariel and Eli Yishai, who appears to be moving away from Shas. (Source)


Former Shas leader Eli Yishai announced Monday evening that he is leaving his political home of the past 30 years and forming a new party.
"The people are with us because they want unity," Yishai said during a press conference in Jerusalem, predicting 10 mandates for his new party in the upcoming elections. "The people want to finally break the barriers between religious and secular, between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, to bring the tribes of Israel together. The people are with us because the people want social justice and concern for the poor, the lower class, the periphery and development towns."
...I have no doubt I am starting a new party with my hands clean, with integrity and with faith," he said.
He said the decision to leave Shas was a difficult one to make. "I've deliberated for a long time but in the end, Israel's great and the people were the deciding factor to go on a new path." (Source)

"The people are with us, they want unity, they want to break down the walls between religious and non-religious, between Sephardim and Ashkenazim," said Yishai.
"The people want Torah, they want our traditions, Jewish values, decency and love of Israel. The nation wants true peace with our neighbours alongside love of the nation, the Land of Israel and the Torah," he continued in a refrain designed to resonate with the national religious community.
He insisted several times during his address that he was "leaving a party, but continuing the path of Maran [Yosef]," and took pains to point out that he was splitting from Shas to begin his own party with the blessing and support of Rabbi Meir Mazuz, a well respected rabbinic figure in the Sephardi haredi world.
Securing the backing of Mazuz is an important step for Yishai in gaining legitimacy for his party and his decision to split from Shas in the eyes of the haredi community,.... (Source)

Maybe this will become one of those "Mi l'Hashem elai" moments.

Just in Time for Hanukah

24 Kislev 5775

It certainly is no coincidence that the head of the Erev Rav regime is meeting with Eisav in Rome on Erev Hanukah to coordinate a response to Yishmael's grab for Yerushalayim (including Har Habayit) with a UN security council vote requested on Hanukah itself.

During the very time of year when we celebrate the return of our holiest place into our hands and its purification from goyische influence, the nations are gathering to force it out of our hands and into a position of being defiled by those who worship idolatry and futility.

G-d grant us the power of the Hanukiah lights to resist the darkness which lusts to devour everything that is holy. 

14 December 2014

A Hanukah Classic

22 Kislev 5775

by Rabbi Meir Kahane, ztz"l, H”yd

If I were a Reform rabbi; if I were a leader of the Establishment whose money and prestige have succeeded in capturing for him the leadership and voice of American Jewry; if I were one of the members of the Israeli Government’s ruling group; if I were an enlightened sophisticated, modern Jewish intellectual, I would climb the barricades and join in battle against the most dangerous of all Jewish holidays – Chanukah.

It is a measure of the total ignorance of the world Jewish community that there is no holiday that is more universally celebrated than the “Feast of Lights”, and it is an equal measure of the intellectual dishonesty of Jewish leadership that it plays along with the lie. For if ever there was a holiday that stands for everything that the mass of world Jewry and their leadership has rejected – it is this one. If one would find an event that is truly rooted in everything that Jews of our times and their leaders have rejected and, indeed, attacked – it is this one. If there is any holiday that is more “unJewish” in the sense of our modern beliefs and practices – I do not know of it.

The Chanukah that has erupted unto the world Jewish scene in all its childishness, asininity, shallowness, ignorance and fraud – is not the Chanukah of reality. The Chanukah that came into vogue because of Jewish parents – in their vapidness – needed something to counteract Christmas; that exploded in a show of “we-can-have-lights-just-as-our-goyish-neighbors” and in an effort to reward our spoiled children with eight gifts instead of the poor Christian one; the Chanukah that the Temple, under its captive rabbi, turned into a school pageant so that the beaming parents might think that the Religious School is really successful instead of the tragic joke and waste that it really is; the Chanukah that speaks of Jewish Patrick Henrys giving-me-liberty-or death and the pictures of Maccabees as great liberal saviors who fought so that the kibbutzim might continue to be free to preach their Marx and eat their ham, that the split-level dwellers of suburbia might be allowed to violate their Sabbath in perfect freedom and the Reform and Conservative Temples continue the fight for civil rights for Blacks, Puerto Ricans and Jane Fonda, is not remotely connected with reality.

This is NOT the Chanukah of our ancestors, of the generations of Jews of Eastern Europe and Yemen and Morocco and the crusades and Spain and Babylon. It is surely not the Chanukah for which the Maccabees themselves died. Truly, could those whom we honor so munificently, return and see what Chanukah has become, they might very well begin a second Maccabean revolt. For the life that we Jews lead today was the very cause, the REAL reason for the revolt of the Jews “in those days in our times.”

What happened in that era more than 2000 years ago? What led a handful of Jews to rise up in violence against the enemy? And precisely who WAS the enemy? What were they fighting FOR and who were they fighting AGAINST?

For years, the people of Judea had been the vassals of Greece. True independence as a state had been unknown for all those decades and, yet, the Jews did not rise up in revolt. It was only when the Greek policy shifted from mere political control to one that attempted to suppress the Jewish religion that the revolt erupted in all its bloodiness. It was not mere liberty that led to the Maccabean uprising that we so passionately applaud. What we are really cheering is a brave group of Jews who fought and plunged Judea into a bloodbath for the right to observe the Sabbath, to follow the laws of kashruth, to obey the laws of the Torah. IN A WORD EVERYTHING ABOUT CHANUKAH THAT WE COMMEMORATE AND TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO COMMEMORATE ARE THINGS WE CONSIDER TO BE OUTMODED, MEDIEVAL AND CHILDISH!

At best, then, those who fought and died for Chanukah were naïve and obscurantist. Had we lived in those days we would certainly not have done what they did for everyone knows that the laws of the Torah are not really Divine but only the products of evolution and men (do not the Reform, Reconstructionist and large parts of the Conservative movements write this daily?) Surely we would not have fought for that which we violate every day of our lives! No, at best Chanukah emerges as a needless holiday if not a foolish one. Poor Hannah and her seven children; poor Mattathias and Judah; poor well meaning chaps all but hopelessly backward and utterly unnecessary sacrifices.

But there is more. Not only is Chanukah really a foolish and unnecessary holiday, it is also one that is dangerously fanatical and illiberal. The first act of rebellion, the first enemy who fell at the hands of the brave Jewish heroes whom our delightful children portray so cleverly in their Sunday and religious school pageants, was NOT a Greek. He was a Jew.

When the enemy sent its troops into the town of Modiin to set up an idol and demand its worship, it was a Jew who decided to exercise his freedom of pagan worship and who approached the altar to worship Zeus (after all, what business was it of anyone what this fellow worshiped?) And it was this Jew, this apostate, this religious traitor who was struck down by the brave, glorious, courageous (are these not the words all our Sunday schools use to describe him?) Mattathias, as he shouted: “Whoever is for G-d, follow me!”

What have we here? What kind of religious intolerance and bigotry? What kind of a man is this for the anti-religious of Hashomer Hatzair, the graceful temples of suburbia, the sophisticated intellectuals, the liberal open-minded Jews and all the drones who have wearied us unto death with the concept of Judaism as a humanistic, open-minded, undogmatic, liberal, universalistic (if not Marxist) religion, to honor? What kind of nationalism is this for David-Ben-Gurion (he who rejects the Galut and speaks of the proud, free Jew of ancient Judea and Israel)?

And to crush us even more (we who know that Judaism is a faith of peace which deplores violence), what kind of Jews were these who reacted to oppression with FORCE? Surely we who so properly have deplored Jewish violence as fascistic, immoral and (above all!) UN-JEWISH, stand in horror as we contemplate Jews who declined to picket the Syrian Greeks to death and who rejected quiet diplomacy for the sword, spear and arrow (had there been bombs in those days, who can tell what they might have done?) and “descended to the level of evil,” thus rejecting the ethical and moral concepts of Judaism.

Is this the kind of a holiday we wish to propagate? Are these the kinds of men we want our moral and humanistic children to honor? Is this the kind of Judaism that we wish to observe and pass on to our children?

Where shall we find the man of courage, the one voice in the wilderness, to cry out against Chanukah and the Judaism that it represents - the Judaism of our grandparents and ancestors? Where shall we find the man of honesty and integrity to attack the Judaism of Medievalism and outdated foolishness; the Judaism of bigotry that strikes down Jews who refuse to observe the law; the Judaism of violence that calls for Jewish force and might against the enemy? When shall we find the courage to proudly eat our Chinese food and violate our Sabbaths and reject all the separateness, nationalism and religious maximalism that Chanukah so ignobly represents? …Down with Chanukah! It is a regressive holiday that merely symbolizes the Judaism that always was; the Judaism that was handed down to us from Sinai; the Judaism that made our ancestors ready to give their lives for the L-rd; the Judaism that young people instinctively know is true and great and real. Such Judaism is dangerous for us and our leaders. We must do all in our power to bury it.

11 December 2014

The Hanukah Connection in Parshat Vayeshev

19 Kislev 5775

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

Hanukah is in Parshat Vayeshev. ...the Shlah Hakadosh tells us that golus Yavan occurred because of the sin of the selling of Yosef Hatzadik, which automatically connects this parshah to Hanukah 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 Hanukah. Hanukah is the geulah from the Greek exile, so Hanukah 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 Hanukah. Avraham is Pesach, Yitzchak is Shavuot and Ya'aqov is Sukkot, so Yosef is Hanukah.

Hanukah 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 Hanukah. It's for those who are outside...this is our generation.

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

Yosef is a hidden tzadik. He's misunderstood; not accepted. Hanukah, too, was not accepted at first. What would we be today without Hanukah? 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 Hanukah. (Ya'aqov was buried on Hanukah.) [Eisav has his 'holiday' at Hanukah time.]

Binyamin is the rival of Yishmael.

Hanukah 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.

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

Yishmael is the fifth exile. Hanukah is the fifth holiday and we drink five cups on Pesach, the fifth is the cup of redemption. These five cups appear in the parshah. "Cup" is mentioned five times. Four in the story and once again at the end of the parshah. Hanukah is the fifth cup. Hanukah 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 Hanukah happened. On Hanukah 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 Hanukah." (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 Hanukah is hidden here. Out of all the tragedies of these stories comes the hope of Mashiach.

At the end of the parshah 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.

Shabbat shalom~