Friday, August 30, 2013

The Pair By The Hand Of God

                                       Parashas Nitzavim – Vayeilech
                                   Eyes of Gerim Within Hands of God
                                                Rabbi David Katz
[***Note: the Parsha introduces a new concept and is the focus of this article. Hashem makes known that He is to be worshipped as the only Deity; an imminent God. The powers of redemption come from this attainment of knowledge, and is the context of the Parshiot. In essence, God gives context to how He should ultimately be perceived on a service level]

The “Parasha” has virtually ended the Chumash, and has succeeded in delivering yet again a proper re-telling of the entire Torah, while simultaneously mirroring the first rendition as it ended in the final Parshiot of the Book of Bamidbar. As we can recall, Bamidbar ended with a redeemer type figure in Pinchas, the grandson of Jethro the Ger, as he made clear to all that Hashem is the only Deity, by revealing the Divine Hand at play [in deliverance to the hand of Pinchas]. This brought closure and context to the entire Torah, and at the same time provides for the substance and pulse of the Torah’s dualistic nature of recapturing the four previous books in one grand setting of Devarim.  Thus we have come full circle, and we now have the spiritual DNA made known that causes the soul of Pinchas to sanctify Hashem, as the Torah’s final mission statement is given in the form of Hashem is the Deity of Redemption, and we journey out of focus to a song that will resonate as we approach the End of Days. Moses practically ends the Torah here, the rest is formality, and the eternal challenge begins in the guise of Joshua poised to head towards the Jordan River.

The Pinchas code of redeemer conduct can be quite easily seen in this Parsha, when we take all of its facets and apply proper computation. In short, this code is about Pinchas and Jethro working together, which in generic terms, this is the cooperation of the Ger and Kohen Tzedek, whose partnership gives substance to Hashem as the only Deity, the same that was witnessed by Torah, Haazinu, and the Creation itself. We all know that Jethro [the Ger] earned this privilege by having successfully realized Hashem the Deity [as opposed to just another mundane telling of “god”] function to the All Mighty, and Pinchas is the chosen one by God whose innate gift is to be able to recognize the Deity.

Fate would have it that these two are relatives, common reincarnations [Pinchas contains a soul spark of Jethro], and a duo [representing the Ger and the Jew/Priest] that is/was destined to glorify the Hand of God from afar, and bringing it near to the hearts [and thus the eyes] of all. If bringing a Ger back from afar is the greatest honor of God [Zohar] possible, and the hardest thing to understand [Rebbe Nachman Likutei Moran Torah 14] in Torah – all the more so to bring the unification of He and His Presence to within the congregation! Yet this is exactly what Pinchas did in the closing of the Book of Bamidbar, and as the Torah itself says numerous times about Jethro, he is the eyes that makes this possible. Together, the recipe for Redemption is bestowed to the entire House of Israel.

The Torah in this Parsha promises that this formula works, and this formula alone; we have seen it with Pinchas, we hear it again now, and we are promised that in the End of Days this will be the winning hand – “seeing the Deity’s Hand deliver foes into the hands of the Nation [that consists of Jews and Gerim that shall exist at that time.”] It is the ability to recognize Hashem in motion through our service of Him as the Deity that empowered Pinchas; yet this also proves to be a test of patience while the Hand of God lay motionless, as we saw with Jethro at Sinai and expressed by his departure. The episodes provide perfect contrast, and pose as the ultimate question of Torah philosophy –“can we do anything beyond the perceived will of God?” I.e. can we change our fate/mazal and act beyond our perceived potential/ability?

Although the answer to the philosophy we may never know until the Torah of Moshiach is revealed, thus making it a moot point [see Noah and the discussion should he have existed as a tzaddik in the time of Abraham], the actions of Jethro as a lead-in to Pinchas will show the code in reality. Our Parsha simplifies this entire relationship in Devarim 31:12 – commanding the Gerim to take part in the “reading of the Torah for the entire Nation” [existing of Jews Gerim, women, youth, etc.] The Even Ezra commentary there perhaps tells the whole story with a few terse words, in a way that we can better understand Jethro and Pinchas [i.e. the Ger / Jew – Priest relationship based on righteousness]
The Even Ezra says that the public reading is good for all [especially the Ger] for from it he may יתיהד- “Juda-fy.” When the words of the commentary are understood from the context of its disparate parts, and in light of the Parsha, what comes out of it is that the Ger has the opportunity to emulate Jethro. From his unique vantage point, he has viewing rights to perceive Hashem – God – Deity – Of All as opposed to a secularized [Lo Lishma] diminishment to service of god that is devoid of depth and content of spirit; such a religion is destined to befall the people should they lose sight of Hashem The Deity. With this in mind, what a divine gift that there should be a Jethro and Gerim as a full House of Israel!

The working relationship will have the Ger Tzedek rise [as the Jews fall – as per Ki Savo] and he shall perceive Hashem The Deity, and from context [and obvious human nature] he will bear a witness from his fellow Jew. In history this was Pinchas and Jethro, yet this proposition stands for all time –when the Ger Tzedek [he who learns Torah and has been delivered from afar] finds the true Deity there will by nature be the “Jewish Priest” - now a baal teshuva [also having come from afar] to compose proper witness to the Hand of Hashem as He is the only Deity. Hashem on this level and his having been perceived in this way, is the Messianic vision of Hashem, He who redeems Israel. Thus this was the winning formula for Pinchas and Jethro that culminated in Moab and will happen again in the End of Days.

The philosophical question that arises from this partnership is to simply ask why then didn’t Pinchas lead Israel into The land and/ why did Jethro leave Sinai, thus making it not a Messianic moment, i.e. no Golden Calf.

The answer is quite simple: Jethro did not see the Hand of God delivering enemies at Sinai because it simply wasn’t happening at that time. Pinchas is even more proof for he was not activated by the episodes of Sinai. For the formula to work, Hashem’s Hand must be in motion, delivering foes into one’s hand [i.e. Pinchas] as the Deity and thus this action necessitates sanctification. Pinchas [from Jethro’s inspiration as eyes for the people] saw such Divine Emanation at Moav with Zimri and Cozbi, he acted on it, and this will be the fractal code of the Final Redemption through the End of Days. Anything short of the one-time episode of Pinchas and / or a Gog V’Magog scenario does not constitute the absolute Hand of God in motion. The pre-requisite however is to be able to identify the Deity should the Hand of God be in motion! Seeing the essence of God in motion as The Deity is sure to arouse the Heart of Man to usher in redemption.

The only question left is the nature of Loving God beyond boundary. One can surmise that Jethro should have stayed at Sinai, and perhaps in the eyes of Pinchas this would have been the revelation of God’s hand, thus triggering a true Sinai Messianic Story, and Israel would have been a reality within three days! The contradiction to this is found in Shir Hashirim, where King Solomon says, “Don’t arouse the Love [of Gerim and Jews] before the time.” Yet can man act so that we may see God’s hand in motion? Can we perform a human Red Heifer moment, by doing something too right, to illicit a response of the highest righteousness?

The Parsha says, when one goes against God, the Deity comes against the evil and we become agents of mazal for each other, driven by the concealed Hand of God through mazal. This brings up every philosophical issue that exists under the pretext of mazal, fate, freewill, destiny, change of mazal, etc. Yet we see that Jethro was ultimately to stay at Sinai! The effect would have awoken Pinchas while Jethro would have had no reason to stay, for the Divine Hand was not in delivery mode, i.e. there was no Pinchas moment. In the end, Jethro did leave, Pinchas will avenge evil in the End of Days, Hashem designed it this way, and the Parsha makes this whole engine work on one axiom [that brings light to Jethro’s heart]: “The hidden are for God, but the re3velaed are for us and our children forever, to carry out the words of this Torah.”

In the end, we have the Torah, and this Torah has paved the pathways of expectations of our Deity, Hashem hu Elokim. We have seen exile and redemption, good and evil, etc. etc. Yet buried in all of the explanations of how to serve God, is one gem of all jewels: The Ger who is commanded to learn Torah, and that learning should yield insight into the Essence of our God, He who is a Deity that we are to Serve and Love  - as this is Life and all that is Good. Perhaps the Blessing is surely there and has a destiny for all who see it, much like Jethro who has provided eyes for the people.

The Ger and the Baal Teshuva – Priestly – etc. would then be destined to find their way back to Torah by means of Hashem’s greatest hidden Blessing, and are to place matters on their heart, to behold the Deity and His Hand in Motion, like Pinchas and Jethro before all. The redemption will happen, Hashem will show His hand, mistakes will be made, all to erupt the Love before its time. Like the Red Heifer [an impurity for the sake of turning into purity], the ashes have been poured to gain a peak at the Divine wishing to be seen – in countless generations of contact between Jews and Gerim; evil will surely return to Good thus making Very Good.

On the Sixth day Hashem saw it was Very Good – as the Kabbalists state encoded in those words is the Final End; for that is where Hashem’s Hand performs as the Deity. Perhaps it is on that day and at that time that the true Love of Torah [and not going for Moshiach] and her wellsprings can finally reach the farthest extremes…in short, in merit of bringing back Gerim [through Torah] one like Abraham before all will merit the revelation of Shem, and as the Baal Shem Tov was told, this will usher in our Righteous Messiah.

All it ever takes is a Ger and a Jew to Deify Hashem together and witness the Divine Hand from the eruption of Love in each other, Torah, and ultimately aimed for the heart of God. Is redemption ever really that far away? Learn about the Deity together and find out, for is there another way to learn to Fear God?

Don't Forget Audio Shiur On Parasha 11 P.M. [Tzfat Time]


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The New American States Of The USA

It seems America is about to crusade into the Middle East; they say it is over the usage of weapons of mass destruction [again]. If this historic message is to be properly delivered, you can then say goodbye to Iran's aspirations as well. In fact, this is looking much like Gog Magog - Prophetic accuracy as well.

The United States has gone beyond gunboat diplomacy in its preparations for military intervention in the Syrian conflict.

With allies Britain and France, the US has now concluded with “little doubt” that chemical weapons were used by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad against civilians on a mass scale in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta last week, killing over 1,000, including many children.

The resulting escalation in rhetoric from Western powers has been swift and dramatic.

An appetite now exists for action within the White House that did not exist before. And with virtually no dissenting voices in the US Congress from either party, President Barack Obama looks poised to order a strike within the coming days.

Anything short of military action, at this point, might prove more politically costly than any negative consequences resulting from a strike that will inevitably be held against the president.

“They haven’t crossed the Rubicon, but they’re in the boats,” says Jeffrey White, a defense fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “They’re clearing away all the obstacles to military action. The question now is what scale it is going to be.”

A red line has been drawn by British leader David Cameron – and repeated by his foreign minister, William Hague – framing military action in a context much larger than the entrenched and devastating conflict unfolding in Syria itself.

Action is required from the international community, they say, to send an historic message to the world that the use of weapons of mass destruction will not be tolerated in this day and age.

Photos and video of dead children piled next to one another have been running on broadcast stations worldwide, as have the ensuing threats from 10 Downing Street and the White House.

The Obama administration’s actions – including its quick dismissal of Syria’s decision to grant access to a UN investigation team already on the ground into the site of Wednesday’s attack – strongly implies that a decision to strike may have already been made.

With such a loud and consistent drumbeat, a lack of action could be seen as an acquiescence to demands from Russia, Iran and Assad himself, who are together warning that Western action would inflame the entire Middle East.

Those threats might only embolden the allies, whose leaders see legal justification in strong action rooted in, among other interests, a moral imperative.

"This is about the large-scale, indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world, long ago, decided must never be used at all," a visibly angry Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday.

The secretary's comments were intended to make a moral case for intervention, should the president choose to move forward in the coming days, a US official told The Jerusalem Post.

"Make no mistake," Kerry warned. "President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people. Nothing today is more serious, and nothing is receiving more serious scrutiny."

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ki Savo Louder Than Ever!

  • First Fruits
  • Redeeming the Ger
  • Zchus Gerim
  • Real Life: Jews and Gerim
  • Ups and Downs
  • Galus / Geulah
  • Open Eyes: Tikkun  Adam
  • The Final Brit
  • etc.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Facts of Life From The Word of God

                                                                           Parashas Ki Savo
                                                                 A New Delight To The Eyes
                                                                           Rabbi David Katz

Parashas Ki Savo makes no ambiguous moves from its opening sequences all the way through to its closing words, in the Torah’s most gripping challenge yet, to explain the saga of the Ger. With its uncompromising style, the reader is challenged each step of the way, to see just how willing to accept the truth the potential Ger advocate truly is. Along the journey we will face all of the core issues that comprise not just a trivial perspective of the Ger, but the core essence of everyday life; a life that to one’s surprise, may be more entirely filled with mysterious Gerim than he ever imagined! Topics such as conversion, meaning of life, truth to exile/redemption ratios, social facts, Israeli demographic DNA, and more – come to light in this Parasha within an astoundingly bright contrast to all preconceived notions and accepted levels of understanding. The Parasha’s closing message says it best, when it states that “today Hashem has opened your eyes…”, and indeed he has, for in the Parasha all are commanded to Fear His Honored Name; ultra - perspective of the Ger will do just that. Hashem calls for a very clear message: to be a member of a Godly society, one must be able to grasp and handle the Truth; anything short of His mission statement is deemed a lack of success. The Parasha will always be there for anyone who desires to remember to see it for what it is.

From the opening introduction to the Parasha we are given a staunch wakeup call to realize just how vital the Ger is to Israel, and his ultimate role of the Final Redemption. As we begin to read, the commandments of the First Fruits are seemingly given over in a calm fashion, as a proper obligation incumbent on those who possess the Land, and their lives culminate in a proper Torah lifestyle. You will kindly take your First Fruits to [Jerusalem] a place that Hashem will choose to rest His Name, and the location of the indoctrinated Priest who will be there [waiting] in those days. Once there you are commanded to recite a thanksgiving of sorts once the fruits are given, stating that this entire episode is only possible due to the fact that my forefathers had problematic relationships in their religious ordeals [and in conjunction to and from the Land], and through a proper exile, I had come to the Land by the Hand of God; this entire ritual shall serve as a retelling of the story of the Torah, along with my historical rights to the Land and this Commandment of First Fruits. The [apparent] Jew is then told to be joyous of God’s Good…and then his eyes really do open, for he is about to read the Torah’s first “did He really say that?” moment. In other words, now is a good time to start to Love the Ger, for he is not just a happenstance to your household; he is your household.

The closing words to the passage are the following, “You shall rejoice with all the goodness that Hashem, your God, has given you [.] and [to] your house [is][:] You [Israelite], and the Levite [along with the Priest, as the Levites are the essential Priests – tithes of Jacob], and the Ger that is in your midst. (In another way of carving it up, one could say, You, [the Israelite] the Priest you brought the fruits to, then the Levite, and finally the Ger that is in your midst.) In other words, “enjoy the goodness,” and that goodness belongs to the adherent of the Torah, otherwise known as “your house” [those that you consist of]; the Israelites, Priests, Levites, and Gerim. Tradition has it that this is represented by the four-headed Hebrew Letter Shin that Jewish Men grace upon their Teffilin; A Shin with four-vav’s [Hebrew letter vav comprises the letter Shin], and each vav depicts a member of the Divine House – Israelites, Priests, Levites, and Gerim.

Now comes the arithmetic, to process what just happened here: I do this mitzvah, by “coming onto the Land,” seems to imply that I was put there, or in other words I was redeemed. The point of this redemption associated mitzvah, is so that I will be able to proclaim that my ancestors had a rough time, and that I come from this inheritance. I then pronounce that God delivered me to Israel, and I am to enjoy this good grace, and I shall indulge with a “Greater House of Israel.” To finalize what just happened, and to give context to desperate parts, Rashi [the Bible Commentator] states the giveaway prize of the century: YOU [the Jew] are to read the declaration, but the Ger is not to, for he may not truthfully state, “for our forefathers.” This is where arithmetic becomes the sacred algorithm.

Why am I the Jew redeemed all of a sudden? Did I earn it? Did I fail and God just gave it to me? Why do I pronounce this declaration [and the Ger not]? What is this distinction of my forefathers? What do I have in common with the Ger on this intimate level? To the “blind eye” this passage would simply appear as meandering dots to a mundane mitzvah that I simply may be too bored to even consider on a mature level. Yet if one produces a consolidated answer, it may just be the shockwave of a lifetime, one that sets in motion a nuclear Ger revelation that is sure to change one’s view of virtually everything that was ever told over as simple fact concerning daily Jewish life [and his association with the World, and thus by association, his true dealings with Gerim from all of Judaism’s history and future].

The plain facts here are, that in some scenario there was a redemption, and the Land is secured. In that security, the Jew will read a passage that states he has “merits of his forefathers” [zchus avos] and if he digs a little deeper, he will clearly see the writing on the wall that they were Gerim, and thus he too comes from Gerim and is in fact, the latest generation of those Gerim. The “Ger” who does not read the passage should he bring the First Fruits, does not have “zchus avos” for he is in his own right a proper Ger, not relying on past merit; he is a new root of merit for himself, and for Israel. To add to this revelation of the Ger, HE IS HERE [we are told; as if it is a given, i.e. without doubt – for it does not say “if there should be a Ger in your midst…”] Thus it is safe to say that “Israel” is the vessel for “zchus avos,” which is another way of saying, “a merit of Gerim” – i.e. a nation that merits Gerim, then, now, in and of themselves, and all types of Gerim – will be a part of this nucleus called Israel – proper. To put it simply, Israel and Gerim are intertwined and synonymous from its inception and creation, in an entity for all eternity. Yet don’t stop there, for the next obvious question will be, exactly why were “they” redeemed? [Notice the relative nature of the word “they”]

Israel was redeemed; them and simultaneously “the Gerim.” Israel has merits of Gerim, yet which Gerim hosted the redemptive merit, remains the relative dispute; for each step of the way one could argue Jewish – personal Ger – merit is the recipe for redemption, or, the merit given to them by the Gerim who are destined to link with Israel, was the mercy cry for Hashem to then redeem all of Israel [in merit of these Gerim]. This can be thought of in many ways, to conceive a ration that clearly illustrates to what extent external Ger merit weighs into the redemption code.

In truth, the premise that Israel alone would be redeemed on its own merit is a furphy, for when one is strict to the text with the essence of the Parasha invoked [i.e. eyes open], one can clearly see the message of Hashem in its profound nature. The redemption comes from the merit of Gerim. Period. Israel has zchus gerim. Period. This means Israel will be the destination for all Gerim for all of time, due to its creation point from History’s biggest Gerim. Thus Israel was created out of those Gerim to become host and “home” to all future Gerim. This is true also concerning redemption; Israel will have been redeemed by their innate Ger innards, along with the merit of the Gerim who will be attached by their rights to Israel by means of Ger passage.  The Jewish redemption would then have succeeded due to realization of inherent Ger status, would have certainly brought external Ger merit to join with Israel. On the other hand, the Ger Proper, perhaps he is the impetus of redemption, for the sake of when the Jew proclaims his Ger essence [from the mitzvah of First Fruits], the Ger then understands that this “zchus gerim” is all about him!

In essence both are right, for the Jews will be redeemed from both a place of merit and disgrace, i.e. it will be their own power, yet it is God that will redeem through them. Perforce, they will have overlooked the Ger in disgrace, yet Hashem will force His hand in Blessing. The end result being, Israel will be redeemed from its merit, and Gerim will be there, sanctifying the ultimate truth that the Torah message was a message of redeeming Gerim, and thus they must be there, and equally their merit will usher redemption. To promote schism is completely counter-productive to the nature of redemption, for through the relative truth, Hashem will have repaired schism by “zchus gerim” from every angle, in a fashion that the proceeds will be spread on the True House of Israel – the Four- Headed Shin that graces Jews and Gerim side by side, and in perfect context. The Jew will realize his mission was to redeem Gerim, and the Ger will see all is in merit of zchus gerim, of which defines his essence in accordance to all Seventy – Faces of the Torah. Both have the right to officially say, “God redeemed me” because of “zchus gerim.” Thus the two were destined to be redeemed together, and from that standpoint, the mitzvah of First Fruits finally resonates on the Messianic level it deserves.

Now in the Parasha, we are faced with real challenges concerning life and the Gerim. To see how far reaching Gerim come into the life of the Jews, one must rethink just how real life society works, and one must consider the reality of Jews and Gerim side-by-side all through history. Inside this discussion, it raises issues with the true meaning of Gerim, converts, gentiles, friends of Israel, enemies of Israel, Jewish history in proper light, spiritual essences in the Greater House of Israel,  Derech Eretz issues and relevance, the nature of God [from Ger truth revealed], the source of Blessings and Curses – and who Hashem uses as agents of His will,  what constitutes proper service of God by Jews and Gerim, what is the essence of the Torah’s Command [and thus redemption], what is God teaching us, what is a Jew and what is a gentile, what is Sinai, what is this Covenant in our Parasha, and ultimately, as the Parasha ends, where are we exactly?

In essence, this Parasha gives you the Blessing of having your eyes opened to the facts of life, and urges you to not spurn the moment. Once one grasps where the eyes are led, nothing will remain the same, and for that Hashem says it is here [proverbially] every year, we receive revelation of what is incumbent upon the House of Israel. The story may be more complex than we know, yet it remains steadfastly clear, that the Ger is the star of the show in context clarification that paves the path to Redemption and the Goodness of Hashem to be enjoyed by all of Mankind. The truth may hurt and even be nearly impossible to absorb, and yet go on with normal life.  For that, one message resonated with me loud and clear during my moments of clarity in reading the Parasha; we are to understand that God is awesome as a purpose of Life [28:58], and that message has its roots in Eikev [10:17-21]. There it states [what this Parasha is saying beyond words], “For Hashem, your God  - He is the God of the powers and the Lord of the lords, the Great, Mighty, and Awesome God, who does not show favor and Who does not accept a bribe. He carries out the judgment of orphan and widow, and Loves the Ger to give him bread and garment. You shall love the Ger for you were Gerim in the Land of Egypt.”

Point blank, I think that is all we need to know, and now do…to which our Parasha closes with, “you shall observe the words of this Brit, and you shall perform them, so that you will succeed in all that you do.” And as the premise goes, our eyes are opened to see things with crystal clarity – that it was always about Loving Gerim, nor did it ever change. The task at hand is to remain with our eyes wide open and remember what it is that we truly see every day, in a fabric that is called life. Should it ever be a question, Hashem says, “Remember the Brit in the entire House of Israel found within Ki Savo.”

Audio Shiur on Parasha Motzie  Shabbos [Tzfat Time] 11 P.M. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Syrian Gog Machine

My Name is General Zod Gog

Does Obama even know what a spine is anymore? It's looking all Gog-y across the Middle East; it will be very interesting to see what a fully engaged West [meets East] front looks like. Ultimately all guns point to Israel, and that is when the Mercy games begin.

The US and its allies concluded months ago that, since at least Christmas of last year, Syria’s nominal president Bashar Assad has tested chemical weapons intermittently on his own people.

The attacks have been small enough that the death toll from any single incident – never more than 40 – has blended in easily with your average day in Syria, where a two-year civil war between Assad and the diverse rebel groups fighting for his ouster has led to over 100,000 deaths.

US President Barack Obama vowed throughout the first year of the conflict to act if Assad dared to use chemical weapons, which are internationally banned from all battlefields. Obama’s attitude toward chemical weapons is similar to his stated position on nuclear weapons: Their proliferation and use sets a dangerous precedent and must be curtailed.

But with reports surfacing on Wednesday that just outside Damascus, in the suburb of Ghouta, Assad’s chemical weapons may have killed upward of 1,000 in a single attack, the US president’s idealist policy, his pragmatism and his distaste for Middle East wars may be approaching an important inflection point.

Obama’s reaction to the small chemical attacks was intentionally muted, and the policy more muted still. Three months after announcing that the US had indeed verified the use of sarin gas on multiple occasions in Syria through its own intelligence-gathering, the Obama administration is only now beginning to ship small arms and ammunition to Syria’s rebels.

Small arms will not shift the tide of the war, which has swayed in Assad’s favor since Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon committed fully to his cause. And since that policy was first announced in June, Assad has only been emboldened, writing off a political solution to the conflict and charging that “there are no exceptions to any means” to end the crisis – comments read widely as an allusion to his willingness to continue chemical attacks.

If confirmed, a large-scale chemical attack like Ghouta is unlikely to change the calculus of Obama or his national security team on how best to approach Syria. Nor will the Pentagon’s assessment change: US intervention would cost a fortune, upward of $1 billion a month, and there would be no guarantee of a favorable outcome. Securing Syria’s chemical weapons sites would require tens of thousands of troops – a fullscale invasion, which no one in Washington will seriously entertain.

Obama has publicly voiced concern over conducting strategic air strikes on Syrian air bases or weapons caches. They may be stocked with chemical weapons already, he says, and the US would then be complicit in releasing their toxins.

The only change might be on the diplomatic front. Western powers might successfully appeal to the better angels of Russian and Chinese leaders, and action at the UN Security Council may finally gain traction.

But ultimately Assad may have determined that the toxicity of his war is too much for the Americans to handle. If that is the case, do not expect Wednesday’s alleged incident in Ghouta to be the last gas attack of its kind.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In A World....

  • The World of The Ger
  • Besulat Yisrael - A New Perspective
  • Zohar, Geulah, Ki Seitzei
  • Rebbe Akiva and Pardes
  • Shem and Pardes?
  • The True Tzaddik
  • etc.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Shmoorah Your Torah!

  •  Yafa Toar
  • Masa Mechsia - The Land of The Ger
  • Ger Women and Their Lineage
  • Ger Tzedek
  • Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof
  • Gerim and Kohanim
  • etc.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The World of The Ger

 Parashas Ki Seitzei
 Oh Rebbi! Where Are You Rebbe Akiva!
 David Katz

*Note this particular article is written by david katz; in short, it should be an expression that this is a yearning for those who passed the tradition upon to this generation. To be called a rabbi in the same breath with Rabbi Akiva is like the custom of today, to praise one’s self as Gaon in light of the Vilna Gaon [in concept]. In this fashion, context in everything; if Rebbe Akiva were to hear my discourse, I highly doubt it would be appropriate to express my rabbinic title before his eyes. We are clearly not the same, and the point of distinction is peshita. If King David said, "I am a Ger" then I am simply saying, "I am me."A word to the wise is sufficient.

Four Walked into the Pardes… The Torah is repeated in Devarim… From the mouth of God we heard two...And somehow there just is the Ger, Toshav, and the Torah of the Ger Toshav. For context, let me introduce to you Rebbe Akiva, and for that matter, the Rambam, and practically every great Rabbi that ever lived – along with their righteousness and ability to emulate God. For the record, every Gadol firmly understood the Ger, and thus it can be assumed that they indeed Loved the Ger. Welcome to Parashas Ki Seitzei, which will forever in my eyes be a recollection to Rebbe Akiva and his legacy that he left us – a true Oral Torah that can’t be denied for all time, one that did not come at the expense of the Gerim. To the soul’s delight, it is quite the contrary, and a true Blessing of God to know the Ger.

Rebbe Akiva along with three others walked into the Pardes [mystical realm] of Torah; the intentions of all four men are not clearly known. The fate of each one was unique and different, paving a path of precedent for all future seekers of absolute truth. Their legacy proves the nature of a harsh reality when dealing with matters of God, as the life story of each, tells a story with a surreal ending. It is assumed that each one was a decent individual prior to his mystical experience, thus making the experience all the more powerful when the fate of each is revealed.

Of the Four, one was killed, another went mad, Acher, [Rebbe Meir’s teacher] became heretical, while only Rebbe Akiva came out unscathed. The hindered three, each had a level of revelation of the Torah’s innermost dimension that their wisdom took them to a place that measured short of its desired destination. Rebbe Akiva on the other hand was quite different, for he had the pre-requisite intellect to properly diagnose the vision that God had bestowed up on him. The irony of Rebbe Akiva however, wasn’t in his living through it, rather it was the way he died!

Moses is on record [for having his own Pardes moment so to say] of questioning Hashem how Rebbe Akiva’s reward for greatness was to end up having his skin combed from his body. This is as if to say that Rebbe Akiva himself became a proverbial Pardes of understanding, a Job to Moses if you will, as to why the righteous suffer so. The kabbalists explain that Rebbe Akiva through his experience, had his soul join with the supremely righteous in the upper realms, to the prevention of idolatry of his remains. [This is the fate of the righteous to a certain extent, and the reason why Moses’ grave is unknown; to prevent worship to the grave of the righteous, all the while the grave/death is paramount to express mortality of man while soul has its place in the will of God.] Thus all four men had a fate that is compelling to the nature of their revelation and abilities.

Rebbe Akiva was unique in other ways as well as a great Rabbi, for from his vision [or at least in conjunction with] the Talmud, Oral Torah, Kabbalah, etc. was fashioned by his hands and supervision. With all of this said, the greatest attribute of Rebbe Akiva was his style of communication, expression, and delivery of the Torah Laws and concepts. Rebbe Akiva for all intents and purposes became the master of revelation and concealment and a form of proper Torah tradition of handing over from Rabbi to Rabbi in a preservation of Torah of Sinai to this day, and until the Moshiach. This skill would serve as the benchmark of the gold standard rabbinic ordination that would define greatness and truth with Hashem, and grant the Torah its proper refinement and integrity.

Rabbis have existed [on this level] from at least of the days of Rebbe Akiva through the generation of the Rambam and onwards; only in recent generations [primarily due to the Shoa] have the disciplines of Torah been reduced to a remnant of our once dear titles of Rabbi/Rebbe, Gaon [genius in Torah], etc. Thus to focus on the Rambam, we can better understand Rebbe Akiva, the Torah, and all great Rabbinic works [such as the Zohar, authored by the student of Rebbe Akiva]. The Rambam made usage of the famous dictum, “From the mouth of God, I heard two.” This inspired the Rambam in his classic work, and we can recall a famous saying, “From Moses until Moses, there never stood another like Moses.” The basic premise is that Moses and the Rambam were both named Moses, and both employed the duality to Torah in their works. Moses called “his Book of Devarim” – “Mishna Torah” [the double Torah] while the Rambam’s codified law works on the same principles and is called “Mishna Torah” as well. Yet where the Rambam shows this hidden level of greatness buried within the Torah, is seen in his dual title to codification, as he refers to his work as “Yad Chazakah” as well [the strong hand].

The deeper meaning to the Rambam having two titles is reminiscent to our Rebbe Akiva format of revealed/concealed Torah; such is the Rambam. When the Rambam seeks to simply reveal, often to the student who plainly wishes to do, while not rocking the boat [the beinoni], he may expect a harsh flavor to the Rambam [which satisfies his inherent judgments and apparent desire to learn this way; based on merit of understanding – Gra]. Under this pretext the Rambam may be referred to as “Yad Chazakah” [strong hand]. Yet the Rambam carries the double entendre edition inside as well, a code of law that is hidden and often dormant to the uninitiated to the deeper dimensions of the Torah; this level of revelation [as opposed to concealed] may be realized as the Mishna Torah [that which is doubled, i.e. carries an additional weight and measure, drawing comparison to Moses in the Book of Devarim.]

The point of difference between the two approaches is that the former will yield judgment while the latter will express the true compassion and truth of the Torah. One can surmise that this is the proverbial shallow – depth to Torah ratios that exist in the yeshiva halls, often following suit of he who is genuinely interested in what Hashem has to say in His Holy Torah. It can be assumed that all students desire truth, while merit determines the extent that they actually reach a particular level; thus the Rambam caters to all members of Israel. This is exactly the skill brought down by Rebbe Akiva, and was his merit in successful passage of the Pardes, as he is on record of saying, “In the place of pure marble stone, do not say water water.

Rebbe Akiva, Rambam, Moses, etc. all personified the traits of a perfect rabbinic tradition – the art of giving over Torah. They may be men, and they may have had flaws, yet their style of passage and preservation was fashioned into a vessel that holds its water.  The true Torah of the sages is a Torah that contains “From the mouth of God I heard Two” – and as much as our selected Rabbis of Blessed Memory [the truest Gadolei Hador] had achieved this, perhaps the best example of such depth is the Pardes itself, and her moments inside the Torah of God, the Five Books of Moses, Sefer Devarim in particular – for it was the seat of Moses’ highest communion with Hashem. Rebbe Akiva however, was the first to make this part of Jewish tradition, and the biggest step in redemption of the Ger.

It should be stated that Rebbe Akiva comes from Gerim, and it is fitting that he brings to light the Torah of Gerim, as it shines out from Pardes. Rebbe Akiva accentuates this principle in every nuance of Torah that is uttered in his name, as his most profound teachings strongly incline to the necessity of the double entendre; he may seem harsh, but within proper perspective, a  whole new world opens up in Torah, the level of Sod – secret. The irony is, is that he has achieved this all within the boundary of the revealed Torah, i.e. the Torah that bears no restrictions on who is able to learn from these pearls of wisdom. Essentially, Rebbe Akiva has single-handedly taught all future students, how to identify, the Torah of, the World of the Ger, the basis of the Torah of Shem.

Parashas Ki Seitzei is the most Divine representation of such elevation in Wisdom, for the whole Parasha is literally, “From the Mouth of God I heard Two.” As much as we travel down intricate Jewish Teachings that compose the World of the Jew, when we step back, and remember the Ger and Love him, a sublime World of the Ger emerges. In short, if we are to review the whole Torah in the mold of “Mishnah Torah” of Moses, this can be achieved with one swoop of one’s focus, from Jew to Ger. As every Ger mention in the Torah needs to be examined to the nature of the Ger reference [Toshav, Tzedek, Gamor, etc.] so too does the Parasha teach and reinforce each verse, each letter, and each word must be examined carefully, as it is a Ger, for in truth it is! [Sechel is a Ger in this World – Torah intellect]

Once this is performed, our eyes become open and the World of the Ger appears, and as it says often throughout the Torah, “It shall be one law for you; the Native and the Ger.” It is my privilege to give over, a tradition that goes back to Moses, and was typified by the greatest of sages, and acknowledge that their efforts of illumination of the Ger is well received in these last generations before Moshiach. To just be able to see what the Divine hand has placed, so that there should be a Ger in the End of Days to walk his righteous path of the Ger Tzedek would be worth being created. And truth be told, from my point of view, none of this is made possible, if the Gerim don’t bring Light to my eyes like Jethro before them.

If we are to be a Light to Nations, then I strongly suggest that you first allow them to open your eyes and see this Divine Light. Parashas Ki Seitzei is here every year just before Rosh Hashana, as an opportunity to see the Light [of redemption] – and as Rebbe Akiva taught, Moses experienced, and every Ger knows – “From the Mouth of God I heard Two.” For this is the Light we hear in Parashas Ki Seitzei, and it allows us to savor the chance and blessing to see the same Torah with new eyes, as we repeat the Torah with the King as He enters the field, allowing us to finally see what was always there. Just to open our eyes, circumcise our hearts, and embrace the Ger, as the Parasha so graciously does, as an eternal example of truthfully Loving the Ger – then the World will finally reflect the truth of the King constantly in the Field.

The result is a Third Temple for all of Mankind, an eternal House of Prayer and Blessing to those who serve within His Holy Torah, and allowed themselves to finally hear From the Mouth of God of which we heard two [I am Hashem…You Should Have no other gods], symbolic of the harmony of Two Divine Worlds coming together; simply expressed as God’s Love of the many types of Gerim that echo within the halls of Ki Seitzei.

From Tzfas

Audio Shiur On Parasha: Motzie Shabbos 11 P.M. [Tzfat Time]

The Voice of the Turtledove WAS/IS Heard In The Land: Pollard Speaks

Pollard. [bechinah of] Moshiach ben Yosef is Heard.

When tragedy strikes anywhere in the world, the State of Israel is always among the first to offer help, sending experienced rescue teams, portable hospitals and world-class medical experts to the scene. Israel is a world leader in medical research, farming technology, and military innovation. The country that made the desert bloom is the undisputed champion of hi-tech innovation, all of which it generously shares with the world.

Unfortunately, when it comes to morale, the State of Israel has the distinction of holding a number of world records which no other country would want.

Over the last six decades, Israel’s leaders and its judiciary have practiced the art of political expedience to such a degree that Israel is now the first and only country in the world to hold the following dubious “honors”:

• Israel is the only country in the world ever to voluntarily expel its own citizens from chunks of its homeland in order to hand over the land to its enemies.

• It is the only country in the world ever to voluntarily destroy the homes and businesses of its own citizens, leaving them with shattered lives and broken promises.

• Israel is the only country in the world ever to voluntarily dig up and transport the graves of its dead so that the land could be turned over to its enemies.

The State of Israel also holds unenviable world records for betraying those who serve the state, including the following:

• Israel is the only country in the world to restrain its military from rescuing a wounded soldier, for fear of provoking the enemy and risking its approval ratings with the world. The soldier, injured by enemy gunfire at a Jewish holy site, slowly bled to death needlessly while the IDF stood by and watched.

• Israel also remains the only country in the world ever to voluntarily cooperate in the prosecution of its own intelligence agent, refusing him sanctuary, turning over the documents to incriminate him, denying that the state knew him, and then allowing him to rot in a foreign prison for decades on end, cravenly forgoing its right to simple justice for the nation and for the agent.

• Additionally, Israel is still the only country in the world ever to violate its own system of justice by repeatedly releasing dangerous, unrepentant murderers and terrorists back into the civilian population with impunity. No other country in the world has ever done this! In summary, Israel has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world so befuddled by moral ambiguity that it is willing to dishonor its dead, betray its bereaved, and disgrace its citizens for the sake of political expediency.

Earlier this week, the State of Israel began the staged release of some of the worst murderers and terrorists the world has ever seen. Twenty-six out of the 104 murderers scheduled for release went free on Tuesday. Many are serving multiple life sentences for their heinous crimes and their many victims.

The blood of their victims cries out from the grave at this affront to human decency. Their cries go unheard.

The bereaved families of the victims beg and plead not to free the savage murderers of their loved ones. Their entreaties are ignored.

All the polls indicate that the overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens are opposed to the release of the murderers. It is a strange kind of democracy that pays no heed whatsoever to the will of the people.

No Israeli official has advanced a single compelling reason in support of the wholesale release of these murderers and terrorists. The claim that it “serves national interests” is spurious. There is no national interest that supersedes morality.

The second-most touted excuse is that the government of Israel was given three existentially threatening choices by its best ally, and the least damaging choice of the three was the release of murderers and terrorists.

Did anyone at the helm ever consider that given three life-threatening choices, the only response is: “No, no and no!”?

Overriding all objections, the government of the State of Israel is bound and determined to release the murderers, whose victims are not all dead. Some have been maimed, crippled and disfigured for life. Others show no external scars but have had parents, children and loved ones amputated from their lives. No one sees the broken hearts that will never stop bleeding for their loss.

Authentic Jewish tradition teaches in great detail how to relate to the dead with honor and reverence. The dead are not only keepers of the past; they are our teachers, our moral guides and our inspiration for the future. A country with no respect for the dead has no respect for the living.

A sovereign state which is capable of dishonoring its dead by freeing their murderers and tormenting their bereaved loved ones has, in essence, discarded all of the moral underpinnings of its own existence.

Nor should it come as any surprise – as any student of history knows – that no country can survive without a clearly defined moral infrastructure.

The Land of Israel is eternal and the State of Israel has temporal stewardship over the land. The corrosive moral ambiguity that has brought us to this dreadful day is relentlessly eating away at the legitimacy of the state’s continued role as legal guardian of the land. The prognosis is dire.

Only a reawakening of national resolve and a rebirth of ethical politics rooted in national selfrespect, moral rectitude and courage of conviction can guarantee the future. No political process devoid of these fundamental values will ever end the agony or the fear for the State of Israel.

It is clearly time for an historic restoration.

Yehuda Matzil es Yosef: Judah saves Joseph [Kol Hator]

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Vill Zeh Real Rabbi Please Stand!?!

The beginnings of Torat Eretz Yisrael - Rav Kook. It began with the concepts of Tzion-ite Gra-ite [foundings of Zionism through the Gra]


Occasionally, people from the hareidi community question or attack my articles. Even though they are well aware that I strive to follow in the path of Maran Harav Kook zt”l, nevertheless they argue: “Why don’t you accept the authority of the Gedolei haTorah (eminent Torah scholars)?” The simple answer is: I don’t consider them Gedolei haTorah.

They definitely are important talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars) whose fear of sin precedes their wisdom, educate many disciples, and it is a mitzvah to respect them. But they are not Gedolei haTorah.

Gadlute beTorah (Torah greatness, eminence) necessitates an all-embracing, fully accountable handling of serious issues facing the generation, including: the attitude towards Am Yisrael in all its diversity and various levels – both religious, and non-religious; the attitude towards mitzvoth of yishuv haaretz (settling the Land) and the on-going war which has surrounded it for over a century; the attitude towards science and work, and the contemporary social and economic questions.

Technical Questions as Opposed to Fundamental Questions

It is important to note that merely addressing these questions is not sufficient, because it would be easy to settle for trivial answers offering technical ways in which an individual Jew could survive the changes and revolutions facing the nation and world in modern times. To accomplish this necessitates expertise, and the more complicated the situation, the greater the amount of competence required. But this does not demand gadlute beTorah.

The type of expertise leaders and public figures already possess is quite adequate; if they are loyal to the path of Torah as taught by their rabbis, and understand the social realities before them, they can find creative solutions to problems faced by different sectarian groups (hareidi or dati, Ashkenazic or Sephardic). This is presently the type of expertise required of Knesset members, ministers, and mid-level theorists. Clearly, they can take advice of rabbis who are familiar in this field, but this does not necessitate significant Torah input.

However, true Gedolei haTorah are required to deal with fundamental questions, in order to provide significant and important answers to the perplexities of the generation. They need not offer detailed plans for immediate implementation, but they must set a vision, thoroughly analyze the events and phenomena confronting them, distinguishing between the positive and negative points, and offer direction wherein the positive can triumph over the negative, and even rectify it.

What is Gadlute beTorah?

How this is determined is a weighty and important question indeed. Obviously, the mere fact that a person decides to tackle the important questions does not entitle him to the designation of gadol baTorah as long as he lacks the competence to do so. Likewise, it is clear that it is not determined by the degree of proficiency. Throughout all the generations there were talmidei chachamim famous for their great erudition, but nevertheless, their knowledge did not place them in the top row of gedolei haTorah, because that is determined by the degree of comprehension and penetration into the roots of the matter.

In very general terms, there are three levels of Gadlute beTorah:

The first level includes those who merit understanding the root of the svara (rational inference) of every individual halakha or agadah they learn – these are the regular talmidei chachamim.

The second level includes those who merit delving deeper, understanding the inner svara which clarifies several halakhot collectively, and thus know how to resolve various questions. For example, rabbis who present the important lectures in yeshivot, who are able to explain numerous sugiyot (issues in the Talmud) along the lines of one concept, and are great in lamdanut (erudition).

They can also be important poskim (Jewish law arbiters) who, out of their profound comprehension, understand numerous halakhot, and know how to contend with new questions, and usually are gedolim in a some fields of halakha. Some of those on this level merit comprehending the inner svara which clarifies various matters of aggadah, and they are gedolim in machshava (Jewish philosophic thought) and emunah (faith).

The third level includes those who delve deeper into the inner roots of the svarot, both in halakha, aggadah, and pnimiyut ha’Torah (the deepest aspects of Torah). Consequently, they understand the general rules of the Torah more profoundly, and as a result, the details of halakhot and midrashim are clearer to them; they know how to give comprehensive instruction and guidance in matters concerning the affairs of the clal (general public) and the prat (individual), the spiritual, and the practical. These are the true Gedolei haTorah. Naturally, there are also numerous intermediate levels, according to the extent of profound thought and inner orientation in the various areas of Torah.

Maran Harav Kook zt”l – The Gadol of Recent Generations

Maran Harav Kook zt”l was one of Israel’s unique Gedolei haTorah. He was gifted with tremendous natural talent and by means of his extreme diligence, righteousness, and virtue, merited delving into all areas of Torah to an inconceivable extent, particularly in general issues comprising both halakha and aggadah collectively, clal and prat, sacred and secular.

God performed an enormous act of kindness to His nation Israel, and the entire world, by sending us such a great and holy soul to illuminate our path in these extraordinary times – generations filled with highs and lows, tremendous scientific achievements and terrible moral confusion, the revealing of individual talents and the decay of national, societal, and family values.

In generations where all orders of life are shifting, it is essential to delve deeply into the Torah so as to instruct, correct, and redeem all that is continually revealed. In order to contend with such types of challenges, regular gadlute baTorah is not sufficient – not even of the third level. What is called for is the type of greatness of Moshe Rabbeinu and Ezra the Scribe.

Torah Scholars Who Do Not Understand the Teachings of Rav Kook

Needless to say, someone who does not understand the teachings of Maran Harav Kook zt”l cannot be considered one of the Gedolei haTorah of the generation. He can be an expert and well versed in numerous details from the technical side of halakha and aggadah. But he cannot truly be Gadol baTorah.

Even among those who understood Rav Kook’s teachings, there are two main distinctions. There are those who accepted his general instructions regarding the importance of Eretz Yisrael in our times – the generation of kibbutz galyiot (Ingathering of the Exiles) and atchalta degeulah (beginning of the Redemption). Also, they agree with his teachings in relation to science and work, and the fundamental attitude towards Jews who abandoned Torah but identify with the values of the nation and the Land, or universal values. Owing to their identification with his teachings and luminous character, such talmidei chachamim merit being spiritually connected to the third level.

And then there are a select few who delve deeper in understanding the ideas, which genuinely illuminate life, and pave a path to redemption via the light of Torah guidance.

It should be noted that among the elder rabbis of the previous generation, whom the hareidi community consider as Gedolei haTorah as well, there were many who were significantly influenced by Maran Harav Kook zt”l. And although they did not follow his path of public leadership, they accepted some of his ideas, remained admirers, and honored his image all their lives. Among them: Rabbi Frank zt”l, Rabbi Aeurbach zt”l, Rabbi Eliyashiv zt”l, Rabbi Wallenberg zt”l, and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, shlita, may he live a long life.

The Words of Rabbi Charlop

Similarly, Rabbi Kook’s great disciple, Rabbi Yaacov Moshe Charlop zt”l, wrote in his book “Mayanei Hayishua” (Chap. 9), that at the present time, Gedolei haTorah must engage in the general rules of the Torah.

In that chapter he explains that the prophets dealt with general rules for life, because when the general rules are set right, all the details fall into place. However, as a result of Israel’s transgressions, the general rules deteriorated and the Holy Temple was destroyed; consequently, our main task in galut (Diaspora) was rectifying the details themselves. But when the beginning of salvation occurs, and as the world gradually recovers, the longing for the general rules increases (and when the general rules from the source of the Torah are not provided, consequently, they are sought after in alien places, and chutzpah (audacity) and lawlessness intensify).

“Israel’s gedolim must be deeply aware of this yearning, and pay heed to speak inspiringly, at length and in brief, about rectifying the general rules. In a way that not only will speaking about the general rules not obscure the details, but rather, will add force and strength, yearning and enthusiasm for the details and their rectification…”

“At that time, if narrow-minded people come forward, assuming to hasten the final redemption by speaking only about rectifying the details alone, failing to speak favorably about correcting the general rules, they fall into the category of ‘a student who has not reached the level of teaching, but nevertheless teaches’, disarranging all the spiritual conduits, because the hidden light is best revealed through illuminating the general rules, and uplifting the worlds.

"It is appropriate to make vigorous efforts against such thoughts. The true gedolim wrap themselves with might and strength to stand at the head of the nation, guide them in the correct path, and know that truth and God are with them.”

The Chief Rabbinate

As a continuation to the vision of revealing Torah in its greatness, Rav Kook viewed the establishment of the Chief Rabbinate as a nucleus from which a significant and united Torah leadership could develop. However, after Rav Kook zt”l passed away, the independent status of the Chief Rabbinate steadily deteriorated. From a rabbinate which presented a vision emanating from a totally autonomous position, devoid of subordination to public institutions or to public circles, the rabbinate grew to be a subordinate public institutions, subject to the present legal establishment.

No longer was the focus on offering a comprehensive vision, but rather finding halakhic solutions for presented situations, shaped by public and political leadership. Even the attempt of Rabbi Herzog zt”l to suggest an alternative constitution for the State of Israel, was not an effort to propose an all-inclusive constitution, rather, to find ways to ‘kasher’ the norms of the country’s leaders, within the framework of halakha.

Still the Chief Rabbis and the members of the Rabbinical Council were for a long time, the greatest talmidei chachamim of the time in Israel. Gradually, this status eroded, with the rabbinate recently becoming a supervisory department for a handful of religious matters, such as marriage, conversions, and kashrut.

In such a situation, although the rabbinate plays a very important role in managing these affairs, we are no longer talking about a supreme, moral, and spiritual Torah authority of mara d’atra (lit. “master of the house,” i.e. Israel's authority in Jewish law). Rather, the role of the Chief Rabbi became at best similar to that of a director of religious affairs, and at worst – the spokesperson for religious affairs.

This underscores just how much we must continue studying, delving, and identifying with the great vision of Maran Harav Kook zt”l, in order to increase and glorify the Torah and elevate the status of its bearers, so the light of the redeeming Torah can illuminate the entire world.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Look! A Mall! Ick!!!

My Favorite Two Guys [sarcasm, anyone?]

Today's [Israeli] Judaism loves to acknowledge itself in the scholarly realm based on political stripes [see commentary to Mordechai Ish Yehudi on Purim and how politics prevent geulah]. Not only is this against every deah of emes, and shows lack of true scholarship, but this has been a thorn in Jews' sides since the Temple days. Our leaders are supposed to be Talmidei Chachamim  - not Naftali Bennet.

But since Rabbi Yosef wants to say that this is Jews today, and he goes on further to say that Bennet is Amalek [and a knit kippa - wearer] - what does that say for his followers? Why would anyone follow an Amalekite? I'll even go further to strengthen the claim [which i noted when this baalagan began] in that בנט in אתבש is שטן.

Even though the Name Causes and Bennett is not a nice guy, what does this accomplish by making this war, consisting of battles of thinking small? Why can't our leadership begin to think big and come back to Torah instead of ego strokes over outdated Zionism? Why can't the institutions that be deal with real Jewish issues? - [on my ultra-biased view] where are the Gerim in halacha, Ger Toshav, educating rabbis in these areas, etc.? This may be my biased view, but it is my biased view because this is Jewish Reality today! Converts, Gerim, "goyim", falling religions, etc. is the larger terrain of what is going on, and this is what the Torah is going on about to the tune of every Parasha!

[for those still curious over the "ger" issue; they are halachically not bnei noah nor goyim, nor Jews - they are a quasi - keter [kabalah] status, a joined member of Israel [the 4-headed shin], are the gentile version of the baal teshuva [hence ger tzedek - not to be compared to convert ger tzedek, just like you wouldn't compare a frum BT and a new BT yet both are called BT] and is a member of Olam HaBah. Would it not be a better cause to Love the Ger [to the tune of 46 times in the Torah] which brings Love of God, fellow man,etc. and stop calling everyone Amalek and Erev Rav while disregarding the sources as to what these entities are?

[For the record Erev Rav (also known as Amalekites) is any entity that goes up a level of holiness lo lishmah; we learn it from Moses who brought out Gerim in hopes that they would remain emesdic Gerim and not fall to temptation of false aliyah into poor conversion not for the sake of heaven. Thus when Moses went up, Ahron signed the death certificate by aiding their endeavor, and they died from rachamim, being allowed to live beyond their infamous moment.]

Klal Yisrael has issues, and Bennet is the smallest of those issues, name connotation or not. There is a much more positive energy side to the Torah that is virtually untapped, taking place in Israel, and is our way out of galus.  Our job as it always was, was to choose, and by choosing, be prepared to do what God makes clear to the person what he is to do.

Shas party’s spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said Saturday night he really loves knitted-kippa Jews,” but it’s just their political leaders who are “Amalek” – the eternal enemy of Jews. The national religious community in Israel now can breathe easier and know that Rav Ovadia really loves them. Sure, the distinguished rabbi said last month that national religious Chief Rabbinate candidate Rabbi David Stav is “evil” and an “enemy to Judaism,” but, heck, that was just meant to cheer up Shas’ favorite clientele, the dwindling Sephardi community that still feels oppressed by the elite Ashkenazi community. 

Indeed they are, but they are equally oppressed by their own leaders. So what better way to keep the common people in line by telling them that the Rabbi really loves Jews, even those who wear a knitted kippa. But what about Shas Rabbi Shalom Cohen, who said in a sermon a week ago that “as long as there are knit kippot, the [divine] throne is not whole? That’s Amalek. When will the throne be whole? When there is no knit kippa.” If a listener thought Rabbi Cohen, who is a member of Shas’ Council of Torah Sages, meant that knitted-kippa Jews are Amalek, he did not understand correctly God forbid he should say such a thing. Rav Ovadia, who sat silently on the podium as Rabbi Cohen spoke, knows exactly what he really meant. Sure, Rabbi Cohen said some things against” those rebellious national religious Jews with knitted kippot, but he was only referring to their political leaders, opined Rav Ovadia. 

Love, love, love, he said. Love for everyone – with one small exception. It is the political leaders of the knitted-kippa crowd who are problematic. They not only are problematic. They are the true Amalek, Israel’s eternal enemy dating back to the days of the Exodus from Egypt. And who is the real knitted-kippa modern Amalek of the Jews? None other than Naftali Bennett, chairman of the Jewish Home party, which, unlike Shas, took the daring move in the last elections to welcome secular Jews as Knesset Members and put the emphasis on nationalist instead of religious. Rav Ovadia has his grounds for considering Bennett Amalek. 

The Jewish Home party is against exempting Haredi youth from IDF service forever. That means that Shas yeshivas would have less youth learning , or at least registered as learning, in their institutions, If there are less students, there is less money from donors, especially from the Israeli taxpayer whose hard-earned money has been going into black-hat yeshivas for years with the payback that the future Torah scholars and eternal voters for Shas are defending the nation by learning Torah, even if they are just listed as learning and actually working or stashing home. 

Now that Rav Ovadia has explained Rabbi Cohen and has mended ties with the national religious community, except for those enemies of Jews like Bennett, Israel is ready for Tu B’Av, which begins Sunday night. The Talmud lists it along with Yom Kippur as the most joyous days of the year when, according to the Talmud, that the daughters of Jerusalem go out dressed in white and dance in the vineyards and said, “Young man, consider who you choose (to be your wife).” Tu B’Av is the same day of the 40th yearin the desert when the ban was lifted on female orphans marrying into another tribe. It is the perfect day for a daughter of a Shas rabbi to become engaged to the son of a national religious politician. And God willing, Rabbi Cohen and Rav Ovadia will perform the marriage ceremony.

The Ger [Torah] teaches to Love, not to "not hate (too much)" - there is a difference between justifying that you didn't taunt the Ger/BT vs. going out of your way to Love them. The difference is a heart filed with God as opposed to Politics as a religion, and then putting that religion on to others who just left one and are trying [and are commanded as such] not to re-enter the matrix. The World wants God, and God wants the World - maybe the time is now to work on the relationship(s)?

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Message of Jethro's Messiah

Parashas Shoftim

Jethro’s Echo

Rabbi David Katz

Parashas Shoftim for all intents and purposes is the introduction to the Torah of Moshiach, in that it introduces with pristine detail the nature of the famed Four Craftsmen of Redemption [Messiahs sons of Joseph and David along with Elijah and Shem the Righteous Priest] through the King, Judge, Priest, and Prophet. Yet another angle, even deeper than the surface understanding, is to see that Moses is retelling the entire Torah in the negative and as a reassessment of Sinai through the repair of Adam, in the guise of guarding against stealing, all in the name of giving the proper counsel to the Gerim. Essentially, this is where we see that Moses is implementing the plan of Jethro’s court system, which is to be erected upon entrance into the Land; this would dually serve as the prophecy in the End of Days when the Seven Laws will come under microscope, and the World returns to its Sinai state of Israel and Ger Toshavim.

Moses upon his own volition brought out the Erev Rav, which tradition holds they were potential Gerim who converted to Judaism not for God’s sake, thus making them corrupt, and setting precedent of all who aspire to ascend on high not for the sake of true Holiness. Such unnatural growth deems one as Erev Rav, and this is precisely what happened at Sinai. Moses had hoped to make more Gerim, yet this was not a lost cause, for even though failure gave way to the Erev Rav, this sealed their fate of death by the same token. Their destiny is to be eradicated each time this pattern is reiterated, therefore Moses’ will was achieved, and Aaron was the agency to seal the trap. Along these lines, the Messiah will duplicate this victory from Mercy, as in the End of Days Pinchas, who descended from Aaron, will restore the Torah in the Messianic times which will terminate Torah corruption as it happened at Sinai. [Brisker Rav]

The basic sin of the Erev Rav [non-Ger] was to make the Golden Calf, a creation of Man by the work of his hands. They made “other gods” [gematria 345 = Moses] which is 101 – "to not have other gods"; they sought to decide matters in their own hands, recalling the same sin of Adam in context of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The commentary “Mahram Shif” to Bava Kama states that both of these sins were truly in light of making a forgery of God, or stealing; thus in a Parasha that deals with it repairing this, it is equally understood that the Redemption for the World comes when stealing has been rectified [after nearly 6,000 years!] , just as those that stood at Sinai were charged with the task of truly understanding the nature of stealing.  

With all things equal, one can point the finger and say that stealing is the essential negative that we all deal with, Jew and Ger. Based on this approach, we can now begin to see Jethro in better Light, and bigger yet, start to clearly see the inner workings of the Seven Laws of Noah, from the eyes of the only Man in history who we say can see – Jethro!

The Parasha opens with the court system of Jethro; keep in mind Jethro is [arguably] practically the hero of every Ger and Moses is the initial Scribe of the Torah, which the Zohar says is composed by the words of Gerim - Moses being the quintessence of this fact.  Right away we see the clarity of their system [and its obvious Messianic relevance] and are bombarded with an eternal dictum: “Righteousness! Righteousness! You Shall Pursue!” – which as easily as this pertains to the Jew, it just as easily is a command to the Ger to find צדק / Tzedek to realize that he can be a Ger Tzedek!

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov [along with Sifrei Re’eh] explain that the most direct understanding of the Ger Tzedek is to be contrasted with a Baal Teshuva  - a returnee to God, and perhaps onwards to Judaism. Just as a Returnee returns to God, and perhaps will or have chosen a religious lifestyle [it is impossible to know until you get there by subjective definition based on the confines of reality!] so too the Ger may have converted, or simply may be on a Righteous Path with God; this qualifies him to be called a Ger Tzedek – by definition that he is a Ger, on a path of God from a great distance [thus expectations fall under category of “Don’t taunt the Ger”] and he is a Ger Tzedek [and it should be understood we are not to compare between two Gerei Tzaddikim just like to not compare two Baalei Teshuva – one who is religious vs. one on the way, walking with God]. We can conclude that Jethro’s message through the Torah of Moses is one to say [to the Gerim] ‘Be Tzedek!” [Realize the Ger TZEDEK, Baal Teshuva, etc.]

The nature of Tzedek is to explore righteousness, and this becomes the predominant theme in the Parasha; one can see how this was missing at Sinai, yet repairs Adam, and is the domain for the End of Days. In the absence of Moses at Sinai, the task was to resolve this issue of stealing in context of Tzedek; so too in any “leaderless” generation or moment [such as today] we are burdened with the task of the ultimate repair. This is where the Gerim and Righteous Women play huge roles in redemption, as these souls are acutely sensitive to [not] stealing by nature, for women tend to lean towards Tzedek and the Gerim are drawn to an ultimate culmination as the essence of the Seven Laws of Noah from a Talmudic ordering of 1-7. [The first 4 would be those that are capital for Jews as well, followed by Courts of Law, Limb Eating, and ultimately settling the score with stealing.]

Under these terms, we can now consider how the Parsha, Sinai, and the entire Torah, is a guide against stealing, and even more so this puts emphasis on Jethro. Jethro was well aware of the End of Days scenario when theoretically the entire World would realize its Ger Toshav reality, and would seek the prophet of Israel [see Naaman!] to clarify the Seven Law Matters; namely that of what constitutes stealing, as it is the most practical and controversial of Torah Law. The controversy is in understanding the differences and subtleties of stealing for Jews and Gerim; this paves the way to properly understand the Torah for Jews and Gerim, as well as History, and as the genre goes with the Book of Devarim – it reveals an aspect of the Torah of Everything, as per the Torah’s natural fractal repetition in Devarim.

The issue of stealing is simple, and it explains why Jethro was adamant about the court system and burdens upon Moses [and brings the rest of the Parasha into proper context, in alignment with all of the Messianic (Four Craftsmen – representing Priest, Judge, King, Prophet) /Ger Tzedek (Sinai/Adam/Erev Rav Repair) properties as well – which are essentially hand in glove] – for one day you will realize the whole Torah came down to understanding stealing, and its opposite in Holiness – Tzedaka [charity, righteous acts]. 

Tzedaka is told to save you from death, and it is the teaching we have from Shem that he personally learned on the Ark. [the first letter of the last 4 words of the Parasha even spells “Ark” / “תיבה”] If we are to pursue Righteousness, then we are obligated to know the absolute Torah of [how to not] steal; this is where the Seven Laws of Noah become Universal, incumbent upon Jew and non-Jew, equally, and in some cases – “equally – non- equal.”

The Torah defines categorically stealing as the result of character traits. The realm of open theft goes without saying, nor does it intrinsically need a Court of Law. Jethro’s concerns are those grey areas, where the amount stolen is called “less than a Pruta’s worth.” [A Pruta is the Biblical penny, or better yet when gas prices were 89.9 cents a gallon, the .9 would be the less than the Pruta.] In the times before the Flood micro theft brought guilt on the Generation [much like today’s corporate world] by finding the leniencies to steal that proverbial .9; for this the Noahide laws and capital punishment serves to stand against degeneration in society, and to inspire the Fear of God in situations that the person would go free by technicality.  Aside from the purely wicked [those who have not only rejected the Seven Laws, but the Three laws brought in Chullin 92 as well.], the rest of society needs to know what is the bottom line of stealing in Torah.

This is where for some the map [of social context] begins, and for others this is where the map [of imprisonment] falls into the wind; as traditionally, there is one distinction for the Gerim that is to ascertain the fate of one who perpetrates the 7th Noahide Law of stealing – the knowledge of self and ability to let go of things. In Hebrew this term is Mechila “מחילה” – and it is the defining line as to where one stands in the face of judgment, should the situation arise.  The proverbial message is to the accused, “if someone took from you .9, do you have the power to realize it is best to let it go, and to judge mercifully, realizing that God exacts judgment on these matters, therefore only God is the true Judge. [By which this is the reason exile takes so long, as to rectify rampant stealing on minimal amounts, for none can bribe God.] If one can let it go, his judgment will be the same, while the inverse will bring severity upon himself.

The Seventh Noahide Law of stealing is the result of real life, real people, and real situations.  Jethro saw this, and knew that one day there will be a time that the World will realize that they are Ger Toshav, even despite enactments built to govern the process. When that time comes, you [the Jews] should not forget that you are Gerim as well, and it is equally incumbent upon you to establish Courts of Law for Jews and Gerim, as the Seven Laws of Noah exist for both Gerim and Jews. This is the source for all outreach, and conquering the Land of Israel – along with every endeavor not only in the Parasha, but in Moses’ recollection of Sinai, Repair of Adam, and the basis of the entire Torah. In essence as much as last week we learned about the 6th Noahide Law – meat and its Tzeddaka to the Ger aspect [which realized the divine schism of Jew and Ger] this week is the negative, as we take issue with stealing, while repairing the schism through joint venture in Beis Din, the 5th Noahide Law.

Along these lines we have a rudimentary view of the Seven Laws, [re]defining Jew and Ger, the return to God for Jews and Gerim, under the pretense of pursuing Righteousness, and a clear view of history; that by the lens of Jethro, we can even see the Messianic Era in an above nature state where the Gerim will realize that they are Bnei Mechila – as prophesied by King David himself. Parashas Shoftim is the best view yet of the Torah of Moshiach, as it should be, for Pinchas, who returns the Torah in those days is invested with soul sparks of Joseph [of whom Moses took his essence “the Bones of Joseph, Moses took”] and Jethro, and we see for the first time what their shared vision yields according to Torah. In a tradition of Jews and Gerim that goes back to King David, He who’s era defined this Parasha, in Kings, Prophets, Priests, Temples, etc. – it’s all here, no one had a better handle matters as much as him. King David possessed the knowledge that went into establishing an infrastructure through the ages for these two people’s by the inspiration of God [which was the repair of Adam, for David obeyed where Adam deviated] from simply achieving in truth what this Parasha demands; yet on a totally separate issue one might take interest in trying to not taunt the Ger, but if one truly wishes to emulate what King David was after, which was the heart of God – then it is wise to Love the Ger.

From Loving the Ger, one can see the Messianic Light in context, and will make you a Bar- Mechila inherently. In short, a Bar-Mechila is praiseworthy, for the Jew, for the Ger, and is certain to be the prime agent in Loving the Ger, leading one to know Him and His One Torah.  Jethro had one message that summarized all of this, in his Mechila moment with Moses at Sinai – Righteousness! Righteousness! You Shall Pursue! Whether finding the Ger Tzedek or the Baal Teshuva, they both will have found their way by Loving the Ger and being a Bar-Mechila, and Jethro knew this all too well, after all, the Parasha predicts what will befall you in the End of Days – and it will be Very Good says God.

Audio Shiur on Parashas Shoftim 11 P.M. Motzie Shabbos [Motzie Shabbos]

  • Theft and The Ger
  • Four Craftsmen
  • Jethro's Vision
  • History and The Ger
  • Real Noahide
  • etc.

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