Friday, April 18, 2014

Lernen' Toirah Is a Guttah Zach!






                                                           Parashas Acharei Mot
                                                    Ger Code: Millennium Edition
                                                              Rabbi David Katz

Caution! This article is not for Gerim, Jews, Noahides, ill-hearted, queasy, easily sickened, soft, fickle, or any other temporary movement/condition(s) placed upon man [by man]. This is a scholarly article for the Lover of God, one attempted to be written clearly for one purpose, and one purpose only: to settle the score among legions of Gerim of every label across the globe, and to satisfy those whose souls love the Ger and truly want resolution on matters – bringing rectification to chaos. Our good friend Parashas Acharei Mot happens to be the hub of explaining these delicate matters, particularly in its commentaries of the "Sifra" and "Torah and Mitzvah" [Rav and the Malbim]. The "code" is in these classic works, and I will attempt to illustrate, highlight, articulate, translate, and every other –ate in the book [pun intended], in order to make order in a chaotic World that is the Ger in the Chumash. It is not that hard, it just needs diligence and patience to see this through to the end. May God be with me in thought, pen, and action[, and speech come class time] to finally bring this sacred wisdom out to the non-Hebrew speaking World once and for all. Baruch Hashem.

You will need to set uninterrupted time aside and apply ultra focus for this article.

Audio shiur will GREATLY elucidate these matters and eliminate complex issues.

***Article Agenda: To know and become familiar with the authentic absolute tools necessary for instilling a common vernacular and uniform same page understanding of all topics relating to the Ger, enabling all to navigate the [ancient] textual world of the Ger contained in the Five Books of Moses, and Her purest and most authoritative classic commentaries that exist in traditional Jewish Yeshivish literature.***


***I will begin with a translation, and I will endeavor each extended tangent with a road map and compass that will lead us back onto the super-highway, upon investigation of each rest area. Never forget our goal – TO UNDERSTAND THE GER TZEDEK and thus all references of Gerim.

The Sifre [Talmudic Time Period Midrashic/Halachic Commentary on Vayikra] explained through the Malbim:

[Vayikra 16:29 –"This shall remain for you an eternal decree: In the Seventh Month, on the 10th of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and you shall not do any work, neither the native nor the Ger who dwells among you."]

Sifre: "Ger" – this is the Ger; "who dwells" – to include the Ger women; "among you" – to include women and slaves

The Sifre wants to use this Ger reference as the source of all Ger exegesis in the Torah, and take issue with its perplexing context; just who are these Gerim? This rings true not only here, but everywhere in Torah! Consider the following the source material to understanding Ger code, and for the record, the tradition thus would have it that the Ger of Yom Kippur is an eternal light, to all who seek to know the Ger.
"And the Ger who dwells among you"

[Malbim explaining Sifre's explanation of our Ger]

…there is a difference between the letter "heh" that precedes the Hebrew term for "THE Native" -  in reference to all Natives, and between the letter "heh" that precedes the term "THE Ger." The "heh" before the Native is a definite article referring to all, whereas that which precedes the Ger is a definite article used for distinction, for there is Ger Tzedek and Ger Toshav, and both of them are called Ger, just as used "for the Ger that is in your gate, you will give it to him, and he shall eat [Re'eh 14:21 – one of the main roots of Ger that is NOT a convert perforce] – this is a Ger Toshav and notice that there is no "heh" before the word Ger, rather a term, "in your gate" – a Ger Toshav expression.

However the Mechilta [a likewise work as Sifre, only on Shemot] states this same "code" as used in the 10 Commandments [Jethro 20:10] states strikingly that this is a "Ger Tzedek!" [Rashi agrees with this] – But then the exegesis continues [likewise in Yevamot 48b] really?! – is this not a Ger Toshav? The commentator then suggests that it is indeed a Ger Tzedek and the Ger Toshav [who keeps Shabbos, as explained in the 10 Commandments] reference to Shabbos is specifically referenced in Mishpatim 23:12; Mishpatim is seen as the perfect inverse to the Ger Tzedek of 10 Commandments. [Notice, that the 10 Comm. Learning of Ger Tzedek breaks protocol and labels the Ger of the Gate as Tzedek and Mishpatim with the "heh" as the Toshav!?! – Rashi takes this ironic position, and the Ramban follows classic code and switches the order to be as predicted. The question is, why does the Rashi view (that contains Mechilta and Yevamot) break protocol?  - while Ramban poses no threat to our code condition of the gate Ger is Toshav and the "heh" preceding Ger is Tzedek]

To answer this, the Malbim answers by leading into our next example! Parashas Kedoshim 19:10 mentions the Ger, and states that he must be a "ben Brit" [circumcised]; the Malbim teaches this is a Ger Tzedek by circumcised. Now to gain context into this circumcised Ger, back track to our previous discussion about the Ger and Shabbat [as explained by the Talmud Yevamot and Mechilta] and investigate the comparison made there in context of the Ger. He is compared to a slave who is either circumcised or not circumcised in order to gain clarity on the type of Ger [not to assoc. with slavery in terms of the Ger, but rather what he has in common with a slave, for the slave is mentioned in the verse in direct proximity of the Ger. Thus the rabbis see the common bond is the relevant circumcision or lack thereof]. Thus the conclusion is that the Ger is circumcised for the slave in context is circumcised, and hence he must be a Ger Tzedek. The Parashas Mishpatim Ger who keeps Shabbos [for other reasons] is Toshav, and compared to a non - circumcised slave, thus he is not circumcised. Learn from this a circumcised Ger non-Jew is called Ger Tzedek, for he has advantages of his circumcision [Eating of the Passover Offering].

Fast forward to our Malbim now in Kedoshim, and he is compared to a Levite in regards to circumcision. The context is in "don't taunt the Ger"  [which applies to all Gerim] followed by love the Ger who is like the Native among you; for ya'll is one common law. This is a Ger Tzedek, he is circumcised, and as obviously this does not turn away from the convert, but also one must realize it INCLUDES our non-Jewish circumcised Ger Toshav friend who now has a non – law term attached to him for the sake of accentuation and merit – Ger Tzedek.

Further in our own Parsha 17:13-15 – "any man of the Children of Israel and of the Ger who dwells among them who will trap a beast or a bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with the earth. For the life of any creature – its blood represents its life, so I say to the Children of Israel 'you shall not consume the blood of any creature; for the life of any creature is its blood – whoever consumes it will be cutoff.' Any person who will eat a bird that died or was torn the native or the Ger he shall immerse his garments and immerse himself in the water…"

Malbim on 17:15 - …this comes to exclude Akum [non- Jews and non -Gerim], and we already explained in Achrei Mot [our verse] that every mention of the word Ger [alone] can either be a Ger Tzedek or Toshav…and in order to clarify this confusion, we must learn the individual unique matter clearly always! Here since it mentions the Native, and the verse has a one direction theme in content and context, it must be speaking about the Ger Tzedek, for the simple meaning of the verse and its logical progression and assembly is uniformly expressed as such; this is its simple meaning, and the Ger follows simple meaning, Pshat. Thus through the exegesis of all of a verse's contents the Ger must follow the simple uniform consistent flow of thought. Again, this is not to exclude the convert, for it is illogical to say a Native isn't a convert! The rule is though, to include the Ger Tzedek non-Jew who is like a Native, for reasons we will delve into now. And to remain consistent with the style of the Malbim, he has now addressed the Native and the Ger issue from our previous verse through elucidating that topic here. For he continues in Acharei Mot after quoting the verse about the blood, "you may make a mistake and think that verse is speaking about a Ger Toshav; should it have been Toshav, it would have tipped us off somewhere in the verse with a revealed hint [perhaps the word Toshav would appear] letting us know which Gerim are in context; this would prevent error between Toshav and Tzedek confusion."

The Malbim brings another case of distinction of Gerim, showing that this is not a matter of religiosity, but rather place of residence. A Ger can [and by definition] be one who takes residence in a place not of his own, whether by coming from afar, or by already being nearby. The Canaanites were nearby, and thus when they took on Seven Laws for Torah reasons, they were considered Ger Toshav. However one who comes from afar to take residence in the Land [see Vilna Gaon to Haazinu] and wishes to live on the land according to the proper way the Land should be lived, he is termed a Ger Tzedek and is obligated in all commandments, yet as the Vilna Gaon points out, he is still termed a non-Jew [until he converts should he wish to]. Ironically and confusingly, both are called simply "Ger" – and thus as the Malbim points out each Ger must be understood in context and within Pshat of every verse to ascertain who he is. We must look for signs, like "the gate" – letter "heh" – words like Native, Toshav, or in assoc. with slaves, women, etc. in order to gain polarity of what the Torah is trying to convey.

 He ends this segment that simply put, the "heh" is generally a reference to Ger Tzedek and w/o the "heh" leads us to search the other parameters of the verse. [It should be noted that the side commentaries of note on this subject that are most interesting and found in the Hebrew Chumash editions are Rashi and the Sifsei Chachamim – for Rashi in a subtle way points out these distinctions and the Sifsei in an also subtle way shows how the Ger references are usually an inclusion of both the Jew and non-Jew perforce, for he shows with logic that to exclude one simply doesn't work].

The Malbim from here goes on to show how the "heh" is for Ger Tzedek, and primarily men, as the grammar is masculine, and thus the usage "dwelled" [in Hebrew it is roughly Gerr-ed] by the grammar change, comes to include Ger women, thus alleviating the circumcision issue, and thus posing no problem in exegesis.  The Malbim ends his commentary here, by showing that the last distinction of Ger Tzedek as a non-Jew [also in terms of convert, i.e. not an exclusion] can be depicted through tenure. 

One who is new might be a Ger Toshav, whereas a Ger Toshav who has been at this for a long time, has "many days by him" and thus is a Ger Tzedek as a type of merit, and to not confuse him with a Ger Toshav, who lets say is planning on fully renouncing idols in the next hour [he has spent his time learning Torah in preparation for this moment of joining the likes of Israel].

The Malbim to Kedoshim 19:33 in context to our verse of 'don't taunt the Ger' and Love the Ger like the Native lists the 46 mentions in Torah of "take precaution of the Ger." Most if not all, as much as they apply to the convert, they apply to some form of non-Jew whether he is a normal Toshav or more Native like and thus considered Tzedek as a term of affection and merit for his sacrifice to join with the Shechinah.

The last main hub-extension  of the Malbim on this issue takes place in Parashas Behar 25:35 [The Malbim references our Acharei Mot verse, as do all of our extensions] – and he leads in as we would suspect [the verse states: if your brother becomes impoverished and his means falter in your proximity – you shall strengthen him; Ger and/or? [This point needs the commentary and makes all the difference as we will see] Toshav so that he can live with you.]

"…every 'Ger' mention must be known through inspection if it is Toshav or Tzedek.." and he brings our Acharei Mot code learning to prove that here [notice the code! No gate, no "heh" and the inclusion of the word "Toshav!"] Is a case of obvious Toshav. Rashi uses the "and/or" to include the Ger Tzedek as does our Sifra, unlike the Talmud's view on this being only Toshav, for he reads it: Ger [Tzedek], and [Ger] Toshav…thus one can clearly see, there is creativity in how one see the Ger code in exegesis, for one could just as easily read it Ger and Toshav as one thing like the Talmud, or as  Rashi hears it in a terse manner, and thus brings in Ger Tzedek and Toshav; this is of huge consequence!  For the Talmud will learn you shall not take interest in loans from a non-Jew whereas Rashi and Sifre learn that the Ger Tzedek [convert and well immersed non-Jewish Ger Toshav functioning meritoriously as Tzedek – this avoids an obvious desecration of God, for should one dwell with Israel after an accumulation of years, God forbid one takes from him interest, especially when he is keeping more than the prescribed seven laws, notably circumcision and Shabbat!] is the one we shall not take interest from, whereas through exegesis we shall not include the Ger Toshav under this precaution. 

We see from this where Halacha is involved, the outcome is more severe in what we call an individual, yet we have been shown through the Malbim and Sifre many examples that we are obligated to weigh out for this reason!

It is said that we do not have a Ger Toshav today, and where this is correct is in all circumstances that would relate to this verse of interest should that be the Halacha. Today, this would not be in effect, for we do not have the means to carry out the law. But Ger Toshav and Tzedek in terms of other mitzvoth, circumcision and Shabbat in particular, as well as living on the Land while keeping the Torah command of the Land [farming laws] should be seen as one of the greatest mitzvoth we can do and gaining  huge merit in the art of making Gerim to praise God's Holy Name!

In essence, the term Ger Tzedek unlike Ger and Toshav [which is Biblical] is a term much like Chasidei Umot HaOlam, for they are rabbinic terms to explain not just one train of thought, but an entire idea, culture, and philosophical view…it is a point of distinction with context and love and grace. The Chasid [credit the Rambam for coining the phrase based on King David and later the Talmud] depicts a non-Jew who sacrifices for Israel, is in a dynamic relationship with the Jew, etc…thus the Rambam [Issurei Biah 14:7 – also the source of Ger Toshav existing today! As opposed to 14:8, which explains the Ger Toshav of FULL BIBLICAL STATUS] by using this term in this way shows the dynamic and heavily laden context with the Chasidei Umot HaOlam – they are in this with the Jews thick and thin. The Ger Tzedek is a similar term – for it tells a story; it is the journey of the Ger, and it can take many shapes and forms. If the Torah warns 46 times to Love the Ger, then one should not be surprised to find 46 usages of Ger Tzedek and each one being unique and precious!


In closing, in our Parsha is the verse 18:5 - "you shall observe my decrees and my laws, which 'Adam' [Man] shall carry out and by which he shall live – I am Hashem. The Talmud says the term 'Adam' means – a non-Jew who learns Torah is compared to a High priest. Thank God. Thank God for Gerim, for God loves the Ger, and so should you – to the tune of 46 times in the Holy Torah. The Ger Tzedek and the Chasid of the Nations depict all that is right in learning Torah. Indeed; and no code here, just Pshat [Torah's Simple Understanding] ladies and gentlemen, however God asks that we learn every part of His Torah this way, and for that, there is only one solution – Love the Ger.


In conclusion, we have seen many variations and degrees of the Ger in numerous arenas of Jewish Law, thought, and distinction. As the Malbim pointed out, and this being the most essential - the point of this article, is that to know the Ger, one must explore to the depths and roots of every Ger mentioned in the Torah on location in order to ascertain the nature of any particular Ger. This is only complex when we take the matter as a whole, such as was done in this article. However, should one research Ger references from an aroused interest, it is my deepest desire that this article will empower each student driven in these matters, to plumb the depths of the Ger and bring light to the World through his research - made possible through the "code-revealed" style and commentary of the Malbim as presented here. Amen, may it be His will.

Class God Willing Motzie Shabbos 11 P.M. Tzfat Time

Friday, April 11, 2014

The God of Naaman Lives!





                                                               Parashas Metzora
                         Intellect, Gerim, and Moshiach – Finding Light Outside the Camp
                                                                 Rabbi David Katz

Parashas Metzora comes across to us plainly as a Parasha that deals with skin conditions, and as such, one must see the Priest for his remedy. Yet hidden inside this maze of Priestly jargon, is a path that ultimately contains the light of redemption. So perfectly contained in a vernacular of the scholar, yet Hashem has highlighted His brilliance within Creation, all within the framework of a dictum, "From the mouth of God we heard two." Resolving the paradox of Creation, simply put, for every word that God has spoken [or written], there is a complete parallel universe waiting to be beheld. This is what gives us life and experience, taking the tzedaka of existence that Hashem has blessed us with, as a dual consciousness that materializes into an identity unique to each one of us; all the while it remains in Hashem's hands as His Creation and a story that only He can tell and ultimately did tell in a unique way through Moses at Sinai. Expressed in simple and easy terms, in Metzora we learn about skin stuff, but this is not another case of another Naaman and his Tzaaras, for underneath the Metzora is the God of Naaman, and He is telling us the rest of Naaman's story. The story takes us outside the camp, the place that Naaman [and Jethro] ventured off into away from a Jewish comfort zone, a place of Gerim, [Torah] Intellect, and most ironically, the Messiah himself. Oblivious, we shall forever continue reading about the leper in Metzora, evading one of the Torah's clearest paths to the doors of redemption.

In Tazria 13:2 we are introduced to the Sapachas, and by reading the Rashi Commentary there, you will easily read that this is a skin malady synonymous with becoming afflicted with Tzaaras and now being classified as a Metzora. It is precisely here that the river forges into the divisions of Pardes [four levels of exegesis] and we can accept the story of God, for the Metzora is a major cog in the engine that runs the World, otherwise known as the Temple; without Priests working, the Temple stands for naught. 

However when we kick in the famous Torah of Emunah [faith] concept, we find a new wing to the entire Torah [yet again]; this time it truly rings loud and clear with Messiah and redemption. Even more importantly, we can shed serious light on the abstract concept that authorities reference as the beginning of the redemption, such that it is termed the redemption of the Ger. How wonderful of an analogy to have this in Parashas Metzora – for every healing is a mini redemption for that soul to come back into the camp. One need not look far to see the micro/ macro elements working here, and on a mystical level the mind can fathom the obvious connections [and all the more so from Torah source implications of the like] through Torah of Emunah how we move in and out of holy camps in what is called life, based on the same principles as this article, in Torah intellect, Gerim, and Messiah. We all contain these facets when we succeed in creating them into our psyche, and behold, it appears before us – a revelation from God.

The Maharal of Prague quickly jumps on to this beautiful assist from Rashi, for the chain of events is as follows: the Torah lists Sapachas as a malady, Rashi explains it is a pre-cursor condition that can turn white, and we leap laterally to a famous Talmudic passage that says Gerim are harsh to Israel like sapachas. In this context Sapachas is referred to as a condition when Gerim and Jews interact not for the sake of heaven, and become [poorly translated] as "as thorns." The example often cited is as one who comes close to Israel, becomes jaded and leaves, and thus ultimately takes on an antagonist role against Israel. Yet metaphorically when Gerim are called sapachas [and sticking close to Rashi's definition] the exegesis usually revolves around the difficulties in relations between Jews and [MAKING] Gerim. Due to the reality that Gerim are close to those far from God, many challenges can rise for the Jew-Ger connection, for an unlimited amount of accusers can enter into the confines of this holy arena; the arena is simply a platform to make Gerim, and fill the World with God's Light. By definition, this job will go through thorns and maladies by direct association on both sides. The Maharal however, in being consistent with Rashi and ways of exegesis offers a fantastic view, that in his way, the Ger and sapachas on Israel is a merit, and one linked with Torah intellect and Messiah. The brilliance of the Maharal will show symmetry between Gerim, Intellect, Messiah, and Tzaaras as a path to redemption.

He begins by stating that our world is physical and anti-Messiah, for he is spiritual – in that he is of Torah intelligence, a spiritual way of life rather than overtly physical. At the same time, he says intelligence is a Ger in this World, i.e. not indigenous amidst physicality. The Talmud then enters the equation and says two foundational principles: Messiah is with the lepers, and even is considered a leper himself. When this all weighed together, you have a Messiah son of David [to which David calls himself a Ger numerous times] who is outside the [popular] camp of Israel, is depicted as a leper, has intellect as the catalyst of his exiled nature, and associates with people like himself.

Once we parallel Messiah and his status as Metzora, enter the Ger who is like sapachas, and is thus a Metzora allegorically as well. Join in the Maharal who says intellect is a Ger in this World, and it becomes literal – for a Ger IS this Torah intellect! We learn that the Messiah makes his company with – Gerim, for they are both perfectly parallel in every way among the Torah, Maharal, Talmud, and all other works on this subject and associate on this positive level of context. The picture becomes quite clear, in that we have a Jewish continuum that plays a vital role in sustaining the physical World [in tandem with Gerim] and by the End of Days, they will have lost sight of the Messianic Light completely; this leaves two entities outside the camp of Israel – Gerim and Messiah, and thus they are destined to unite, not surprisingly causing a beginning to redemption.

The Gerim are seen as outsiders for their sublime intellect for Torah is virtually unacknowledged, and are thus seen as outside and sapachas by nature – on many levels of interpretation. The Messiah is spiritual, and thus the physical World that Jewish proper represents perforce reject his light, leaving him on the outside as well. The Messiah by definition then is a conceptual [Jewish] Ger [as David said of himself] and identifies as a Metzora, a sapachas, and it could be said he too is as thorns to Israel; King David was the biggest perceived threat in Israel's history, and ironically, he was perhaps the greatest man to ever walk the Earth! Ironically, it is outside the camp where the Gerim and Messiah are destined to meet and unite under the pretext as societal rejections, a rendezvous of spiritual reality and intimate Torah intellect, preparing the Lights of redemption; of the Ger, of the World, and for all of Israel.

The Metzora remains a skin malady to Hashem's book and the story moves on; yet underneath the plot, Hashem sows redemption, similar to the saga of Judah and Joseph, for we bother with Judah, while Joseph's journey is Hashem redeeming within perfect story engineering. Once the Parasha closes its final chapter, the Metzora lives on in Torah tradition, pulling together all of its loose ends. We will learn how the Messiah is a Metzora, Intellect is a Ger, and the Ger is forever in the background, all leading to an immaculate story of redemption emerging from affliction, reminiscent of the Red Heifer context! The emphasis that Hashem is making clear is that there are two directions of the World – to God and away from God, and they don't always get along or cooperate. The Messiah is the program that gives leadership to the "to God" agenda, one that the Gerim personify, for God loves the Ger.

The Jewish people are also loved by God, and play a special function in the plan as does every member of God's society. But as the show must go on mentality within the play called "life" there is a subplot, and it is laced in every sector that society wishes not to frequent – for they wish to remain in their created camp. It is the Ger who personifies out of the camp consciousness, and surprisingly through the eyes of the Ger, we can behold the Messiah, and his lonely playground. Harsh on Israel like thorns are Gerim, for they encourage Messiah and his World to take center stage, much like the Priest who comes to remedy the Tzaaras. How sweet it is, to find out against all odds, you were actually on the winning team, albeit the massive underdog! A glorious redemption is promised and will come, one led by Messiah and followed by Gerim [as states the Midrash]; and in the end we learn about the God of Naaman. The God of Jethro. The God of Abraham. The God of Israel, God is one, and he shall purify His World, his World is of Torah, and once the dust settles, we will all inhabit a World filled with Knowledge of God, a World of the Ger, illuminated with His dwelling on Mt. Zion, spinning with Priests and Gerim – in eternal Peace, Happiness, and Unity.


Class is Motzie Shabbos 11 P.M. Tzfat Time





Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Oh! Those Three!




There is a war going on, one that you may not be aware of. In fact there are probably many non -conspiracy theory entanglements of a true nature going on in our World, such that we would lose sleep at night, if we knew who was in bed with who. Truth be told, this is life, its my life, your life, all lives - on every micro and/or macro level, we just aren't used to thinking globally. Then 2014 came with Twitterbook and Instaoogle, and suddenly, if I sing happy birthday to cousin Johnny on Youtube, I may get invited to perform on a reality show like StarFactorIdol. The point is, the World is a mess of those conspiracy theories and tabloid elements, but underneath of it all, there really is a neat World dynamic going on, one that God runs, and thus we should all pay attention to it. It is called the Laws of Noah.

Yes the Noahide Laws, surely you know all Three of them, no? You read that correctly, there are three Noahide Laws, contrary to what you have been told of the known Seven [Laws of Noah]. Now before you say why the miyut? [exclusion] realize this isn't a miyut - it's a ribui! [INCLUSION]

Yes the World will forever pursue and keep the Seven Laws of Noah, but in the Talmud there is a lesser known tradition of a subset, even secondary system of Three Laws of Noah. The Seven although they are National/Global [as well as the obvious individual path to Truth] are mostly an individual way, whereas the Three Laws mentioned in Chullin 92a are a more precise and even rational way that the World operates under. Ideally yes, the World will keep Seven Laws - maybe even become Ger Tzedek with the coming of the Messiah; however in a state of lesser revelation of the Divine, the World strives in Three:


  • No Gay Marriage for Men
  • No Cannibalism
  • Respect Torah
Before people cringe and say, "well that sure wasn't hard" - take into context what this means on a National level; aside from the obvious that there is at least a million ways of viewing and flipping these three into countless extensions of meanings - most of which would be perfectly valid and profoundly true [even serving as the root of all common law today], the task is to perform them Nationally.

Generally at least 1/3 will serve as a crisis of PR for a country's elected. Gays? no. Ultra Liberal/Radical? no. Love those Jews?[and Gerim] no. These Three Laws pose as the ultimate thorn against popularity, and History [enter conspiracy theory here] supports this [as we were told].

It is brought down, that from the clear lens of America's great past in that they clearly kept and mastered the big three in their era of rule, World War Two was the turning point. I believe it was Churchill who predicted that Germany would lose the war, for they hadn't kept the Three, and America was the next Super Power ready to keep the Three. And just in case you've been sleeping in a cave for the last 50 years, that is the way it went down. 

Then America did what every empire does, they dropped the Three Laws for re-election popularity. The conspiracy theorist in me says that every great empire runs this ride: rises through Three, Keeps the Three, loses the Three, loses its grip of dominion. 

When we look at Russia today, and in face of America's withdrawal from this unique pedestal of holiness, can we say that Russia will rule [and play Messianic role/rule if the Times are real] and go Biblical with their desire to take center stage DAVKA through the Three Laws, as if to say the stage is open for who ever wishes to take the mic.

Is Russia the World Super Power through Three Laws of Noah?

  • Honor Torah? yes
  • No Gay Marriage? yes
  • No Cannibalism [Islam] yes





The separatist demonstrations again churning through eastern Ukraine have raised fears of a Crimean-style invasion by the 40,000 Russian troops coiled just over the Russian border. But Moscow’s goals are more subtle than that, focused on a long-range strategy of preventing Ukraine from escaping Russia’s economic and military orbit, according to political analysts, Kremlin allies and diplomats interviewed this week.

Toward that end, the Kremlin has made one central demand, which does not at first glance seem terribly unreasonable. It wants Kiev to adopt a federal system of government giving far more power to the governors across Ukraine.

“A federal structure will ensure that Ukraine will not be anti-Russian,” said Sergei A. Markov, a Russian political strategist who supports the Kremlin.

Russian officials have said they envision a system in which the regions elect their own leaders and protect their own economic, cultural and religious traditions — including the forging of independent economic ties with Russia.

But many experts sharply dismiss the Russian plan as a stalking horse designed to undercut Ukrainian independence. “It is another way to dismantle and subjugate Ukraine,” said Lilia Shevtsova, an analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center. “It means Moscow could grab and peel off any part of Ukraine at any time.”

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia “wants Ukraine to be, one, absolutely neutral and, two, dependent on Moscow,” said Vladimir A. Ryzhkov, an opposition politician. “If you have a weak central government and strong governors, you can play directly with the governors over the head of Kiev.”

The United States, while supporting decentralization, has opposed giving too much power to the regions.

Many analysts said the question looming over Ukraine was not simply East versus West. The reality of Russian power is such that Ukrainians must perform a delicate balancing act, giving Mr. Putin enough influence to satisfy his demands while preserving their independence. This will center on the constitutional question of federalism, and will bear close watching, analysts said.

(Russia’s only other oft-stated demand, a simpler one, is preserving Russian as an official language — as it is now in regions where it is widely spoken.)

Russian officials are clear about their goals. “A centralized state will only be good for radicals,” said Sergei A. Zheleznyak, a deputy speaker of the Russian Parliament targeted for sanctions by the United States in March after pushing for the annexation of Crimea, using the shorthand favored by Russian officials to write off much of the Kiev government.

If Mr. Putin believes he is not getting his way on the Constitution, he can be expected to take action before the Ukrainian presidential election scheduled for May 25, when a new government and a new constitution will be cemented, according to a broad range of analysts.

Some analysts are pointing to events surrounding the May 9 anniversary of the defeat of Germany in World War II, when huge emotional crowds fill the streets, as a possible catalyst for Russia to push the solution it wants.

While exactly what the Kremlin will choose to do in the weeks ahead is impossible to predict, analysts cited three potential outcomes.

In the first, Russia either manages to sway the presidential election with a candidate it favors, or it succeeds in putting in place the federal constitution it seeks in order to hold veto power over foreign economic and military policy.

So far, no candidate is allied with Moscow outright. But the two main possibilities are Mikhail Dobkin, the candidate of the Party of Regions, the party long a Moscow favorite, and Yulia V. Tymoshenko, who forged a close working relationship with Mr. Putin when she was prime minister from 2007 to 2010. Ultimately, no Ukrainian leader is likely to risk openly hostile relations with Mr. Putin, given that roughly one-third of the country’s exports go to Russia.

The Kremlin wants to see a proposed constitution that cedes a great deal more power to the governors than the current one does. Analysts suggested that the best compromise would be something along the lines of what many call the “federalization and the Finlandization” of Ukraine. After World War II, Finland adopted a practical approach to its giant yet skittish neighbor — not joining NATO to this day, and avoiding European Union membership until well after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

The second outcome is a kind of Crimea Annexation Part II, with residents of the east and south voting in a referendum on whether to join Russia. The protesters in Donetsk over the weekend already announced that they would hold such a referendum on May 11, though Moscow did not immediately endorse the proposal.

What worries Ukrainian officials, though, is that the Kremlin could change course and demand a referendum if it deems any new constitution insufficient. That, in turn, could lead to a military incursion.

This second outcome would undoubtedly destabilize Ukraine and thwart a full Western embrace, but it holds significant risks for Moscow.

First, there is no guarantee that Russia could take over large swaths of eastern Ukraine without a fight, as it did in Crimea. In addition, an incursion would almost certainly prompt much more severe American and European sanctions, badly damaging an already stagnating Russian economy. The United States said on Monday that any Russian interference in Ukraine would be considered a “serious escalation” that could prompt more sanctions.

Trying to bite off a chunk of Ukraine itself could also prove unpopular among Russians, and western Ukraine could emerge as a solid, anti-Russian ally of the West not terribly far from Russia’s borders.

There is also strong reason to believe that in a fair vote, the referendum would result in defeat. There has been no significant popular groundswell for joining Russia, as there was in Crimea, which was part of Russia until 1954 and is home to a significant population of Russian military veterans.

Perhaps most important, the oligarchs in eastern Ukraine, several of whom now govern the region, remain mostly opposed to becoming part of Russia.

The third and least likely outcome is a full-scale military invasion.

Domestic support for Mr. Putin skyrocketed after the annexation of Crimea and the Sochi Olympics. But the financial cost of an invasion, along with the potential for Russians coming home in body bags, could quickly reverse his roughly 70 percent approval rating.

Nevertheless, analysts said, an invasion cannot be ruled out. If Mr. Putin is driven solely by the emotional desire to recreate the Russian empire, or if Russian speakers are killed in any significant numbers, he may feel he has no choice but to respond with force.

The Kremlin’s propaganda machine has certainly been laying the groundwork for this possibility, with its constant stream of reports that Nazism is rising from the dustbins of history in Ukraine and is prepared to join forces with NATO. “Putin believes that if he allows this ultranationalist junta to consolidate power, it will be war eventually anyway, but with a much stronger U.S.-controlled army,” Mr. Markov said. “Better to resolve the problem when the situation is soft.”

Russia deploys a well-worn playbook to destabilize former Soviet republics that lean too far westward or risk becoming too independent. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova have all been subjected to Moscow’s strategy of taking chunks of territory, staying involved in their affairs and rendering them unpalatable to the West.

Ukraine is even more problematic because of its strategic position between Russia and Europe and its fundamental historic, cultural and religious ties to the Russian empire. Mr. Putin had envisioned Ukraine as the cornerstone of a budding Eurasian customs unit that would recreate the Russian empire in breadth and strength, acting as an anti-Western alternative to the European Union.

Still, most doubt the Ukraine crisis will come to a military solution.

Sergei Karaganov, dean of the School of International Economics and Foreign Affairs here and an occasional Kremlin consultant on foreign policy, noted that Russia had all manner of significant economic and other leverage, starting with gas supplies, that it could use before resorting to force. Mr. Karaganov is often credited with initiating the doctrine that Moscow should champion the interests of millions of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers left outside the borders when the Soviet Union collapsed.

“There are people who want to reunite with Ukraine,” he said, “but I don’t think that is the majority, even in the Kremlin.”



Monday, April 7, 2014

I'm With Naaman















  • Going Deep With Elijah!
  • What is a Great Man?
  • Who is This Naaman?!
  • Innocence Defined
  • The Great Ger
  • In It With God
  • etc.



[Moshiach and the Ger]

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Men of Men





                                                Parashas Naaman [Tazria; Haftorah]
                                                         The Great Man of Peace
                                                                 Rabbi David Katz

Elijah the Prophet led an amazingly powerful life, and concordantly, he was associated with many powerful people, many of whom achieved tremendously powerful deeds. Many are familiar with Elisha the Prophet and his miracles – for he was the primary student/servant of Elijah, and there were others as well. Yet perhaps the most powerful moments in Elijah's life were those spent running away from power, for he fled from his famous adversary Jezebel, and her husband Ahab. Many are perplexed why the Man of God didn't just bring down hell and fury on this witch of a woman, something similar to his supernatural victory over the prophets of the Baal, to which Elijah executed them all. The Zohar teaches that this was not an option for Elijah, for it would sacrilegious to profane an open hand of God, such that was not destined in the sacred name of Elijah. Thus he fled, he remained with his fiery soul and passion for God – all the way to heaven; and it is precisely only after Elijah disappears do we find his greatest invisible contemporary – The Great Man Naaman. For all that Elijah could do, and for all that was given over to his hand, it would be Ahab, the King of Israel, husband to Jezebel [she who solely lived as it seems to desire Elijah's death] who was the most elusive; only to Naaman – he was divinely delivered, and destiny was born. Elijah may not have witnessed the deeds of his greatest [distant] student knowingly, but Elisha was privy, and Elisha served as the Prophet of God, to deliver into Israel, one of the Greatest Gerim who ever lived – Naaman, he who completed the mission of Elijah, through the execution of the King of Israel. Naaman then by definition, is – was – will be the paradigm of a servant of God.

To bring greater light into this story, first lets introduce the Naaman that we all know, then send him on his marry way; only in the end can we understand his beginning – the mysterious man who killed Ahab – an open act from God, through the agency called Naaman.
Naaman is the subject of chapter 5 of Kings 1 and we meet him as a great man according to scripture; he is a general in the army, he has people very close to him, and exactly like the content of our Parasha Tazria – he suffers mysteriously from Tzaaras. The story quickly transfers from introducing Naaman and his relationship to wars and Kings, and soon in we find out that he desires to engage a Prophet of God, in order to properly treat his ailment of Tzaaras. It is then that we are introduced to Elisha the Prophet – the great servant of Elijah, and one of history's greatest moments begins to occur through the budding brotherhood of Elisha and Naaman.

Once Elisha finally finds his way to Naaman and his Tzaaras [which was the cause of Naaman's pursuit of Elisha – to heal his malady], Elisha receives miraculous counsel from Hashem, and the order is to dunk Naaman into to the Jordan River seven [***think Ger code here] times, such that this act will become miraculous, and fully restore Naaman. They did so, and upon completion of the immersion, we are quickly thrust into bearing witness to Naaman becoming a proper Ger [Toshav]. In these moments, we all become like Naaman, a sort of Red Heifer; the more we desire to become pure, the impurities surface, until ultimately, we are cleansed and delivered with a new status as a returnee to God. The analogy could not be any more perfect, for immediately after he is cleansed it would "appear" that he is about to embrace idolatry, with requests to bring back elements of the Land to his place, and align with his king who will bow to a foreign God in close approximation to Naaman!

The Torah however knows Naaman very well and his intentions, i.e. what his heart is saying, and that is the innocence not only of a Ger proper, but the Ger in all of us. Naaman is returning, and he is being real and speaking of reality; there will be challenges in his life, as plunges forward to learn to live a life with God; it doesn’t happen overnight. Thank God for Elisha, for he hears the heart of Naaman talking [as opposed to Gechazi, the servant of Elisha, who heard Naaman and thus thought to exploit Naaman] and guided him as a true brother, realizing the impurity was just the necessary means of the return to God!

Naaman went on his way, alit with the fire of the Ger, and this is the last we see or hear of Naaman and his journey. We don't know what became of him; did he stay the way? Did he make Gerim, i.e. his family, the King, etc.? Interestingly enough, there is a thread of light from this story, in that not only did Naaman stay the way, but he even elevated into a Ger Tzedek – he and his offspring. The connotation of being a Ger Tzedek on this level, as one who progresses into the Mitzvot, and has either connections to the Land or undertakes Brit Mila.

The End.

And now we can understand how this story started, and gain a bit of insight as to where Hashem is in Naaman's life. If we look at Kings I 22:34 it states, "A man of Aram drew his bow aimlessly, yet hit the King of Israel between the joints of his armor." Shortly afterwards we learn that the King of Israel died, and the archer thus had killed him. But before we become familiar with the archer, the first endeavor is to find out why Hashem allowed the hit in the first place.
Enter Elijah.

Elijah as we know had to deal with the prophets of the Baal, Jezebel, and Ahab her husband, the King, to cite a few of Elijah's biggest antagonists during his days on Earth. He succeeded with the Baal incident, God took care of Jezebel – intentionally not through the agency of Elijah, for Elijah was to take care of the Baal issue, not Jezebel. And with Ahab, Hashem told Elijah what would be post – Ahab and Jezebel. Elijah would not be given Ahab or Jezebel, for he would be summoned on high, but not until he gained a few friends, namely Elisha the Prophet. It is around this time that an archer shot a bow aimlessly into enemy territory, and miraculously struck down the King of Israel. The archer was Naaman, and he had no idea how this had just happened; but Hashem knew, and He knew the caliber of what was within Naaman.

Elijah is about to depart, and the plan of God is taking shape; Elisha is doing his part, Jezebel's number is going to be called [as she is taken out by the principles of what was laid down by God in Kings I 19:15] and Ahab is laid to rest by a renegade arrow fired by Naaman. The Torah uses the word "innocently" [Naaman shot his bow] to describe Naaman's action, and there is a principle that when using this word [Tumo in Hebrew] comes to imply that no wrong could possibly be done. One can clearly see that Hashem had big plans for Naaman and that he is a man of destiny. To conclude the prophetic series of events, Elijah's desires were brought to culmination with Ahab's death, and his efforts to restore some order in the Northern Kingdom could now commence with Ahab and Jezebel gone; fate would have it that Elijah and Naaman were forever bound by a miracle from God.

And now we know the full character of Naaman; he came and went, interacted with the Prophet of Israel, and became a Ger Toshav/Tzedek. The most interesting element however is we always assume just that – he came and went. Once we plug in Elijah and the story with Ahab – the mysterious archer comes to light, and as we know, this was a divine appointment for Naaman. We know now just a bit, as to who he was before we meet him as a man with tzaaras; an archer he may have been – but most importantly, he is a man on God's radar.

God selected Naaman before the Haftorah ever did. If we look at him not from the lens of the archer, but through the actions of God, we see that Naaman led a life of mazal and divine providence. Some would say that this was bitter sweet, for now he needs to work out the equation of how he could kill a Jew, and moreover the King of Israel. Yet on the flip side he has a deep relationship with God, and he rises to its challenge. In truth, we don't know all that much about Naaman, nor do we really have to. If we just read his character in the Torah as a mandatory and source of inspiration about Gerim [in the very least], we will probably lose interest on some level, for quickly the mind realizes "I" am Naaman, and my story entertains me more than him by default!

We are Naaman. We are returnees to God, and with Naaman we all can relate to him, his story, his journey, his life, etc. We feel the impurity as we seek purity; but most important, we all have drawn that arrow, fired it, and perceived where it has struck. Our task is to live with our providence, accept it, and realize that our path to God comes to us only from God. It is called Divine appointment, and sooner or later we fall to the hand of God; what we learn from Naaman, is that this a mission of Peace, and that is why he is associated with the mission of Elijah, for Pinchas is Elijah, and nobody knows what it is to act for God better than Pinchas [the man with the spear]. Actually, correct that, maybe Naaman did, and that is why he is a Ger Tzedek – a message that could only come from someone like Naaman, he who is defined by the Torah as a Great Man.


Shiur on Article In-Depth 11 P.M. Saturday Night Tzfat Time [we changed our clocks! - 4/5/14]


 
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