Time to Wage War Against the Traitors!

See the original announcement of this protest on www.e-agle.com/nk/



Here are some pictures of this traitorous group of dogs in action:

With former PLO leader and murderer of countles Jews Yasser Arafat.

Meeting with leaders of the Hamas terrorist organisation, responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews.

Sharing a "tender moment" with the "little Hitler," Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who's self-declared aim is to wipe Israel off the map.

If you needed any more convincing, just watch this video of the Neturei Karta representatives praising the anti-Semitic Iranian president Ahmadinejad on www.e-agle.com/nk/

It is every able Jewish person's duty to protest against these evil men and the huge chillul HaShem - desecration of G-D's Name - that they cause.

Here is a list of some of their details:







home phone 845-352-3927


DAVID FELDMAN - son of Rabbi Feldman


home phone 845-426-6812


WILLIAM MORDECHAI WEBERMAN - direct liaison to Arab terror groups and neo-nazis for NK

367 MARCY APT 4R BROOKLYN home phone




28 CALVERT MONSEY - owns a company that does home improvement and construction




home phone 845-3871-3139








TEL #212-795-6074


HILLEL DEITCH 9 WALTER RUN MONSEY (another leader of Neturei Karta)


For full details of the demonstration, visit www.e-agle.com/nk/

Our Brothers' Cry - Who Answers the Call?


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

9 Tevet 5767/29-30 December 2006


Sensing that his brother Binyamin was in danger, Yehuda immediately went into action, with a fire burning inside his heart. Yehuda approached Josef and said: Please, my lord, may your servant speak a word in my lord’s ears, and may your anger not flare up at your servant - for you are like Pharaoh.”

Our rabbis teach us that at this point Yehuda was prepared to even give up his own life in order to save his brother Binyamin. In fact, he prepared himself in three ways: through prayers, appeasement of Josef, or warfare – i.e., to kill or be killed.

Yehuda’s fury was aroused at the false accusation aimed at Binyamin. Some say his eyes were dripping with blood and some say that the chest hairs over his heart stiffened and pierced all five layers of his garments. He would take iron bars into his mouth and grind them to dust with his teeth. "Do you not know", cried Yehuda, "that two of us destroyed the big city of Shechem? We did it for the sake of our sister, we certainly will do the same for Binyamin who is called 'beloved to Hashem'".

As Yehuda’s rage reached its climax, he said: "I have only to draw my sword, and I will fill all of Egypt up with dead bodies." He called to Naftali to count the number of districts in Egypt. Naftali returned and reported that there are twelve districts in the country. "Good", said Yehuda, "I will wipe out three of them and you all will be responsible for one each. Thus we will make sure that not one person remains alive in Egypt!"

So great was Yehuda’s self-sacrifice for his brother, that he was willing to do all in order to save him. This was the fire burning inside Yehuda, and this has been the fire burning inside Jews throughout the generations, from time immemorial. It is the fire of seeing the truth, no matter what, and not standing by your brothers blood. It is the fire of the alternate sacrifice for the Jewish people.

Asher Weisgan z"l, who passed away this week in his cell in prison, was a Jew whose heart was also on fire. Asher, convicted of killing four Arab workers last August in a futile attempt to stop the disengagement from Gaza, was sentenced this past September to four terms of life imprisonment. People came from near and far to eulogize Asher and to comfort his widow and two children.

Not all were in favor of Asher’s deed or methods, but all spoke about the great fire inside him that he had for the Jewish people and the dangers that he foresaw just down the road for the Nation, dangers which unfortunately we are living in today. People spoke of his big heart that he had for his fellow Jews, that whenever someone needed a helping hand, Asher would be there for them, no matter whether day or night. At his conviction, the judges quoted his explanation for why he committed the murders: "I wanted to save the Nation of Israel from the disengagement".

The fire, started by the sale of Josef by his brothers, was a fire of hatred, and now - as Yehuda stands before the Egyptian king pleading for his brother - it is a fire of love. A fire burning so strong inside of him - and us - that will cause us to stop at nothing to proclaim that we are our brothers' keepers!

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Vayigash: Beginning of Exile, Potential for Perfection

VAYIGASH: Beginning of Exile, Potential for Perfection

By Daniel Pinner

And Joseph said to his brothers: 'Approach me;' and they approached. And he said: 'I am Joseph your brother - me, whom you sold to Egypt. No, do not be sad, and do not take it hard that you sold me to here; because God sent me ahead to be a source of life.'" (Genesis 45:4-5)

There is a fundamental principal in Judaism that God creates the cure to all suffering before the suffering itself begins. "God never smites Israel without already having created the remedy." (Megillah 13b) The Talmud here refers to a specific incident. In Megillat Esther, King Achashverosh promoted Haman (Esther 3:1) only after Mordechai had already saved the king's life (ibid. 2:21-23), thus laying the foundation for the later redemption from Haman. But this principle applies on a cosmic scale: "Seven things were created before the universe was created. They are: the Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehinnom, the Throne of Glory, the Holy Temple and the name of the Mashiach." (Pesachim 54a, Nedarim 39b). All of these serve for tikkun olam - whether on a personal, a national or a global level. Before He even created the world, God already created the tools that would correct all that could go wrong, the cure for all sins, and the ultimate Redemption.

Joseph's sale as a slave to Egypt, too, was - in the short term - the cure that God prepared in advance of the seven years of famine that would smite Egypt and all of the surrounding countries (including Canaan) 20 years later. In the longer term, Joseph was placed in a position to lay the infrastructure that would cushion the centuries of slavery and oppression that lay ahead.

It was because he knew that God had decreed a period of harsh slavery in exile that Jacob was so reluctant to go down to Egypt. He knew that 220 years earlier, God had told his grandfather Abraham: "Know for sure that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs and they will enslave them and oppress them for 400 years." (Genesis 15:13); and now, Jacob found himself manipulated by events into taking his entire family - the whole House of Israel - into that long-dreaded exile. He was, as the author of the Haggadah expressed it, "forced by the [Divine] decree." And God Himself had to reassure him: "I am the God - God of your father; do not be afraid of going down to Egypt, because I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will assuredly bring you up." (Genesis 46:3-4) Only with this guarantee was Jacob willing - or even able - to leave the Land of Israel.

Everything had been prepared in advance to ensure that the Family of Israel would survive in Egypt with their identity intact, in spite of slavery, oppression and attempted genocide: the Egyptians found it abhorrent to eat together with Hebrews, even in times of peace and coexistence (Genesis 43: 32); the Egyptians worshiped animals, while the Hebrews were shepherds, forcing them to raise their livestock - the Egyptian gods - far from hostile Egyptian eyes; Joseph decided that his family would reside in the Goshen region (Genesis 45:10), some 90 kilometers (55 miles) east of the settled regions of Memphis, Nof and On (along the river bank at the confluence of the Nile Delta), and a similar distance south of Raamses, isolated in the desert.

All these precautions ensured that every Hebrew who wanted to retain his identity would have this option; there was no guarantee that no Hebrew could ever assimilate. The parasha ends with the ominously ambiguous phrase, "and Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt in the land of Goshen, and they seized it, and they were greatly fruitful and multiplied." (Genesis 47:27) The phrase vayei'achazu bah can mean "they seized it" or "they were seized by it." As they put down roots in exile, so the exile seized them in its death-grip. The Targum Yonatan renders this phrase: "Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt; they built themselves study-halls and palaces in the land of Goshen, and they established granaries and vineyards in Goshen."

The lesson is clear. Joseph was indeed sent ahead of his family to be a source of livelihood; God designed every detail - from the Israelite life-style to Egyptian geography to the Egyptians' social attitudes - to give every Jew maximum opportunity to survive as a Jew. But he had to seize the opportunity. The remedy always exists, but it is useless unless and until the Jew decides to avail himself of it. "It is a tree of life for those who cling to it." (Proverbs 3:18)

The Torah, by which we sanctify the physical world, repentance, the capacity to repair all spiritual damage, the Garden Eden, the incentive and reward for all mitsvot, Gehinom, the cleansing fires that atone for all sin, the Throne of Glory that rules over all, the Holy Temple, the locus of the nation that atones for sins, and the Mashiach, the ultimate perfection - all were created before the physical world was created.

We need but seize the Torah and be seized by it, we need but do genuine repentance - all of which is well within our grasp. And we can rebuild the Holy Temple and bring Mashiach. All has already been created, the way has been prepared, the foundations have been laid, and we can bring all to fruition.


How to Set Off the Powder Keg...?

This article got me thinking:

49% of Israeli youth don't trust the Israeli leadership... that's not really anything surprising, but it certainly is encouraging, and a change from the "old days," when to challenge the "State of Israel" and her decisions was regarded as plain blasphemy.

But is it enough? The truth is, I think that if the same poll were to be carried out in many other countries the results would be similar... and yet people just go on with their daily lives despite the fact that they themselves know that the govt is harming them. However, in Israel there is potential to spark a move towards major change, simply because of the extremely volatile security situation, the social problems, the oppression of the poor, and the like.

People in the UK or the US or Europe, etc, are upset because their govts are fighting a war they feel uncomfortable about; or because taxes are a little too high for them to afford lots of holidays and a four-bedroom house; or because of corruption up top which reeks to high heaven, but which doesn't really filter down to them so much.

People in Israel, on the other hand, have the war on their doorstep every day. It's not a one-off 9/11 or 7/7 or Madrid or Bali - it's a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week war in which each and every person is a potential target. ALL (or most) of them are either in the army themselves, or will join the army, or have kids going to/in the army. ALL of them are potential targets whether they are on the bus, in a cafe, driving on certain roads, or simply walking through "hostile (read: Arab) areas." High taxation in Europe or the US may be a burden - but in Israel it is simply crippling for the average working-class Israeli, and the rich just couldn't give a damn. Corruption in Israel DOES effect the average guy, because of the mafioso connections and cobwebs that run through everything from the "Trade Union," to the police, to the army, to the intelligence services... and right down to the working-class shmo in Tsfat, who has katyushas fired at him for a few months, and then fnds out that the "Chief of Staff" of the army sold his shares in Israeli military stocks shortly beforehand.

People are simply thrown out of their homes if the govt feels like it and if the Arab pile on enough pressure. Synagogues, schools, Batei Midrash, yeshivot, kollelim, people's livelihoods - all destroyed, dismantled, crushed, and sometimes burned (remember the images from the shuls in Gush Katif?). People are beaten and arrested for simply being in an area declared "judenrein." Religious Jews are the target of libels in the media and the judicial system - both Hareidim and the "settler" camp. People have the right to defend themselves taken away - and if they DARE act in self defense, they soon find themselves facing a long stretch in jail at worst, or at the very least a long and expensive legal case.

Politicians literally play with lives in Sderot and Ashkelon, just so that they can look good infront of the UN. Racial tension is bad in inner-cities in the UK? Well compared to Israel they're nothing, where Arab gangs rape and attack and vandalise anything Jewish in Acco, Haifa, Jerusalem - you name it. Then recall the Russian goyim and their periodic attacks on synagogues in the Petach Tikvah/Rishon LeTzion areas, throw into the mix the oppression of the Ethiopian Jews, and all the other social divisions, and you have a highly volatile powder keg.

And to top it all off: on our Holiest site, the very people who vow to wipe us out have built several shrines from which they constatly blast loudspeaker announcements in Arabic towards the masses of Jews praying (bizarrely) a short distance away... and all the while the Waqf are destroying artifacts dating back to the times of both Temples, in an attempt to dismantle the Jewish claim to Har HaBayit.

The truth is, Israel needs a new regime - this current one is bringing nothing but death, destruction, and the desecration of G-D's Name, and more and more Jews in Israel are becoming increasingly aware of it.

But what does all of this mean? It means that if only someone were willing to light the match the powder keg would explode. But the question is, what would set it off...?

The Repair of Zerubavel's Error

The Repair of Zerubavel's Error

By Moshe Lerman

During the dark days around Hanukka, the weekly readings from the Torah are about the difficult birth process of the nation of Israel. Driven by baseless hatred, Joseph’s brothers sell him to be a slave in Egypt. In the end, they understand and acknowledge the sin they committed, the hatred is removed from their hearts, and the sons of Israel get to be united.

Our sages teach us that baseless hatred later returned to the people of Israel, and was the principal cause of our current exile. Zechariah's prophecy of the broken staffs tells us when the baseless hatred returned:

"I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another's flesh. Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking My covenant that I had made with all the nations." (Zechariah 11:9-10)

"Then I broke my second staff called Union, breaking the brotherhood between Yehudah and Yisrael." (Zechariah 11:14)

Ibn Ezra explains that the breaking of the two staffs refers to the deaths of two shepherds of Israel, Zerubavel and Nehemia. The prophecy hints at the backgrounds of their deaths. Zerubavel, the staff called Favor, had made peace covenants with the nations around Jerusalem. The prophecy speaks about "My covenant", explains Ibn Ezra, because the land which the nations swore to Zerubavel is the Land of HaShem.

Zerubavel partially failed his mission. Despite the powerful prophecies said about him, such as "Who are you, great mountain, before Zerubavel (Zechariah 4:7)" and "I will take you, O Zerubavel, my servant (Haggai 2:23)," Zerubavel did not manage to re-establish Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel. The prophecy about Nehemia, the staff called Union, reflects a subsequent failure, namely to fulfill the prophecy of Jeremiah: "In those days, the house of Yehudah will walk with the house of Yisrael (Jeremiah 3:18)."

The immediate consequence was the re-emergence of internal hatred. After the death of Nehemia, explains Ibn Ezra, Israel became corrupt and returned to fighting amongst each other.

To be restored as a truly united nation exercising full sovereignty over the Land of Israel, we must repair the historical mistakes that led to the exile. We have come a very long way repairing the failure of Yehudah to walk with the house of Yisrael. Jews from all corners of the world, with backgrounds of all kinds, have been gathered into the State of Israel.

However, because of our small understanding, we have repeated Zerubavel's error. Also we have made failed peace covenants. Also we have given away parts of the Land of HaShem. It is therefore certain that we will be challenged further, until we will understand. In the end, we will be pressured to make compromises in and around Jerusalem. We must refuse.

"On that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubavel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, says the Lord, and will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts." (Haggai 2:23).

VaYigash: The Reunion of Joseph and Judah

VaYigash: The Reunion of Joseph and Judah

We all have limited amounts of time and energy, and must learn how to apportion these resources wisely. In particular, we need to find a balance between activities that are directed inwardly, for our own personal development, and those directed outwardly, for the benefit of others. As Hillel taught [Avot 1:14], "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I?" Both areas are crucial. The dilemma is in deciding how much to dedicate for inner growth, and how much for reaching out to others.

The need to juggle between these two competing spheres also exists for the nation as a whole. The search for a proper balance of national energies was played out in the tension between Joseph and his brothers. Their struggle corresponded to two different paths within the Jewish people, one stressing the inner spiritual growth of Israel, and the other emphasizing universal responsibility and influence.

Eidut and Torah

The Jewish people are crowned with two qualities, Eidut (testimony) and Torah, as it says: "He established testimony in Jacob, and He set down Torah in Israel" [Psalms 78:5]. What are these two qualities? The essence of Eidut is to accurately report facts as they occurred. Nothing may be added or changed when giving testimony. Torah, on the other hand, involves chidush - creative and innovative thinking.

This dichotomy of Eidut and Torah is the root of the conflict between Jacob's sons. Joseph stressed the concept of Eidut, as it says, "a testimony for Joseph" [Ps. 81:6]. The aspect of Eidut reflects Joseph's desire to interact with the nations and expose them to the authentic message of monotheism and morality.

On the other hand, the other brothers - and especially Judah, their leader - emphasized the Torah and the special holiness of the Jewish people. They sought to develop and cultivate the unique heritage of Israel. Thus it was Judah that Jacob picked to establish a house of Torah study in Goshen. Furthermore, the Midrash credits Judah with burning the wagons that Pharaoh sent to bring Jacob's family to Egypt, when Judah saw that they were engraved with idolatrous symbols [Breishit Rabbah 94:3]. This act demonstrated Judah's stress on the greater purity and innovation of Torah, as he introduced the law of destroying idols with fire, later codified in Deut. 7:25.

The Unity of Shema

With the descent of Jacob and his family to Egypt, the two paths of Joseph and Judah, of Eidut and Torah, were brought together once more. Interestingly, the Sages noted a peculiar incident that took place during the family reunion. The Torah states that Joseph cried on his father's neck, but it is silent regarding Jacob's actions in this emotional meeting. What was Jacob doing? According to the Midrash, he was busy reciting the Shema. What was the significance of this recitation at that particular time?

The Shema's message is, of course, one of unity. "Listen, Israel: God is our Lord, God is one" [Deut. 6:4]. The two sections of Shema refer to two levels of unity. The first level is "God is our Lord." This is God's unity as it is revealed in our current world, a world created according to the blueprint of Torah, and through which we can recognize the greatness of the Creator. The second, higher level is "God is one." This is God's unity as it will be revealed in the future, a unity that will encompass the entire universe. "After all has ceased to be, He, the Awesome One, will reign alone" [from the Adon Olam hymn].

Judah is the revelation of the first level of God's unity, through the Torah and the special stature of the Jewish people. Joseph, on the other hand, sought to sanctify God's Name among the nations and bring knowledge of one Creator to the entire world. He represents the second, universal unity of God.

The Scales of the Leviathan

The two paths within the family of Jacob - the exclusive path of Judah and the universal path of Joseph - diverged with the sale of Joseph as a slave. The reconciliation of the brothers and the unification of these two paths took place in Vayigash, as Judah drew near to his brother Joseph [Gen. 44:18].

The Midrash [Breishit Rabbah 93:2] chose a curious verse to describe the coming together of Joseph and his brothers. The word vayigash ("and he drew near") also appears in Job's description of the scales of the giant Leviathan: "One is so near (yigshu) to the other, that no air comes between them" [Job 41:8]. What do the Leviathan's scales have to do with the reunification of Jacob's family?

According to the Sages, this fearsome sea creature belongs to a category all its own. All living creatures have both male and female, except one - the Leviathan [Baba Batra 74b]. In other words, while all other creatures reflect a quality of duality and fracture that exists in our imperfect world, the Leviathan retains something of the universe's original unity. Thus the Talmud describes the Leviathan as being akalton - twisting around and encompassing the entire world [Rashi ad loc]. And the Zohar [2:179a] teaches that "its tail is placed in its mouth." In other words, this amazing creature has neither beginning nor end. Undetected, it surrounds and unites the entire world. This hidden unity will be revealed in the future, when the righteous tzaddikim will feast on the Leviathan [Baba Batra 74b].

The future unity will reveal the underlying oneness of the universe, the true balance of Eidut and Torah, of Joseph and Judah, of inner and outer efforts, of the particular and the universal. They will be united like the wonderful harmony of the Leviathan's scales, "one so near to the other that no air comes between them."

[adapted from Shemuot HaRe'iyah, vol. 10 (1930)]

Oh, Beautiful...


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

2 Tevet 5767/22-23 December 2006


“Behold, out of the canal there emerged seven cows, of beautiful appearance and robust flesh, and they were grazing in the swamp.” Rashi comments that a beautiful appearance is a sign for the days of abundance, when people appear nice to one another, for when people are not miserly toward each other.

How true Rashi’s words should be ringing in our ears, as a warning for all of our Jewish brethren still living in the exile. In the years of plenty, while the seven fat cows are out grazing - all are happy, all is good. Note Rashi’s exact wording - that in the days of abundance, when people appear nice to one another - it is only an appearance that is taking place because of the good years. But know that, as soon as the seven good years have passed, all of this will fade away and their true feelings will show through.

How many times in Jewish history have we seen that the non-Jewish host is willing to put up with the Jew living in his country, as long as he has his steak dinner, but just take that away from him, and the appearance of his friendship also fades away fast. Rabbi Kahane, of blessed memory, would say time and time again, that if you really want to know the goy and what he is thinking, just go down to the local bar and have a drink with him, and as the liquor goes in - the secrets will come out.

Jew, do not delude yourselves for a moment, thinking that this place or another is different and that what was can never again come to pass, for this will only be true as long as the seven good years last. But as the other seven gaunt cows appear on the horizon - Beware, the tolerance that they have for you will also disappear! One does not have to be a rocket scientist to understand and see the future unfolding before us. The world today is so complex that any little jolt in the wrong direction could literally bring the house down.

For those familiar with the TV show "Ali-G", by the now-famous Sacha Baron Cohen ("Borat"), one scene stands out, not only for its humor, but also for a warning to all Jews in the USA. As Ali-G poses as a foreigner singing in a country bar somewhere in the South, and after singing a few verses he changes the lyrics to a catchy tune, singing: “In my country there’s a problem and the problem is the Jew - throw the Jew down the well. . . " Unbelievable as it sounds, at that point almost all of the hicks in the bar start to sing with him. Here, where just moments ago were your everyday locals, now all at once, when given the chance, the truth of what they really think comes out.

And for those who still hold on for dear life to the exile, saying that at least during the seven good years we will save for a rainy day, our parsha teaches us another very important lesson. Just as the seven lean years began, the Egyptians cried out to Pharaoh that they had come to Joseph for food, and he had decreed hash decrees for them to do before he would give them bread, such as to circumcize themselves. King Pharaoh asked them: Didn’t you save your food during the good years, for everyone knew that the lean years were coming? They replied to Pharaoh that they did, but all their food spoiled overnight, and even the bread on their tables went bad. Unbelievable as it sounds, literally overnight all their savings were lost. All of their rainy days went soggy.

Certainly something to think about, as we try to stay "dry" in this rainy season...

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Chanukah: Flickering Lights in Dark Times

Chanukah: Flickering Lights in Dark Times

Suitable Wicks and Oils

The Mishnah in the second chapter of Shabbat discusses what types of wicks and oils are suitable for Shabbat lights. The Mishnah lists materials that may not be used for wicks since "the flame sputters with them" and does not burn evenly, and types of oil that may not be used because "they do not flow freely to the wick." With regard to Chanukah, however, the Talmud [Shabbat 21b] rules that these restrictions do not apply. Even wicks and oil that do not burn smoothly may be used for Chanukah lights. Why?

The Sages required that Sabbath lights be made from quality oils and wicks, to prevent situations where one might be tempted to relight or adjust sputtering lights (and thus desecrate the Sabbath). The Talmud is more lenient, however, regarding Chanukah lights, since one is not required to relight them should the lights go out. Also, it is forbidden to use their light for reading or other purposes, so there is less concern that one will attempt to relight a poorly- lit Chanukah light.

The Lights of Chanukah

Rav Kook explained that the Halachic aspects of Chanukah lights reflect the nature of the Maccabean struggle against Greek dominance, in both the political and cultural spheres.

The authentic heritage of Israel is the Torah itself. This eternal wisdom is symbolized by pure oil that burns clearly and brightly in the Sabbath lights.

However, there have been many periods in the long history of the Jewish people when they have been attracted to the wisdom of other nations. This phenomenon is particularly prevalent during difficult and precarious times, when the Jewish people are ruled by other nations or exiled from their land. At these times of national vulnerability, many are drawn to the latest beliefs of powerful and successful nations, even if these ideas have not been thoroughly considered and may only be theories or speculations.

For such times, Divine providence provided the nation with great scholars who were able to strengthen the light of Torah precisely through these foreign ideas. One famous example is Maimonides, who attempted (where possible) to reconcile Aristotelian philosophy and science with the Torah's teachings.

Short-Lived Flame

Of course, these foreign philosophies lack the eternal truth of Torah. They are like flickering flames that illuminate only for a short time. After a generation or two, the assumptions upon which these ideas are based are often refuted. Utilizing foreign philosophies to bolster the Torah is similar to lighting Chanukah lights with oils that fail to produce a strong and even light.

Nonetheless, when they are popular and widely-held, the generation is strongly drawn to these ideas. If it were not possible to find some measure of agreement with the Torah, many individuals would be led to reject the Torah. In order to protect the nation, providence allowed the possibility of aligning these fashionable ideas with the Torah's wisdom. They do not always match neatly with the practical mitzvot and details of Jewish law - "they do not flow freely to the wick" - but with a little help, they can be made to partially correspond.

We should be aware that such philosophies are not eternal truths, and we are not responsible for their accuracy. "When their light goes out, one need not relight it." Certainly we should not use these ideas to make changes in how the Torah is observed - "it is forbidden to make use of its light." They are useful only to put troubled minds to rest, not as a true foundation with practical ramifications. This was the nature of the Maccabean struggle against the Greeks, at a time when Greek culture and wisdom conquered the world with new ideas and viewpoints.

Jewish Nationalism

The Maccabees were victorious in a second arena - the military-political one. Here also, the Hasmonean rule was not according to the eternal path of Israel, which bestowed the kingship to the descendants of David for all generations. The throne of David is compared to an ever- burning flame: "With Your holy name, You promised him that his candle will never be extinguished" [from the Sabbath prayers]. But the hour was not ripe for a Davidic king, and the temporary rule of the Hasmoneans provided stability and independence for many years.

The Davidic dynasty combined both Torah and kingship. David studied Torah assiduously day and night [see Brachot 3b], and at the same time was energetic and forceful in establishing a secure reign. Genuine Jewish nationalism draws from the light of Torah - "From Zion, Torah will come forth" [Isaiah 2:3].

In summary, the laws of Chanukah lights reflect the transient quality of the Hasmonean victory, both spiritually and physically. Spiritually - the accommodation of foreign philosophies that only with difficulty may be reconciled with the Torah, as represented by oils that do not burn well. And physically - national powers based on the spirit of foreign nations, as represented by wicks that make the flame sputter. These achievements provided light, albeit weak and unsteady, for a people lacking independence. They are only fit for Chanukah lights, commemorating a holiday that was not inscribed for all generations in the Biblical canon [Yoma 29a]. Yet these lights are needed during precarious times of foreign occupation and exile.

"Kodesh Heim"

Nonetheless, these transient lights are holy - "kodesh heim." We should recognize in them the hand of God, that He prepared a path so that those attracted to the prevalent culture should not be lost. The very fact that foreign philosophies may be accommodated within the Torah indicates that they contain a kernel of eternal truth - a small cruse of pure oil, sealed with the stamp of High Priest.

[adapted from Ein Ayah vol. III, pp. 59-60]

Chanuka - Between Seattle and Jerusalem!


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

25 Kislev 5767/15-16 December 2006


The ancient Greeks, in their quest to Hellenize the world, found very little resistance as they conquered nation after nation, bringing their "enlightment" to one and all. It was only by the Jewish nation, who sat in Zion at the time, that they met resistance. The Greeks decided to break the backbone of the Jews by decreeing three decrees against the Jewish people. In this way, the Greeks figured that within the next generation the Jewish people as they knew them would be no more.

With tremendous insight, the Greeks' three decrees were to forbid the observance of Shabbat, to forbid the calculation of the new months, and to forbid circumcision. What was it that the ancient Greeks saw by these three mitzvot, that they reasoned that by banning them, this would end the Jewish religion?

The common denominator that runs though these mitzvot are, of course, the “chosenness” of the Jewish people. Havdala - separation - this is the foundation upon which all rests. For without this concept, the Jewish people would be just like all the other nations of the world. Without the chosenness of the Jewish people - in which Hashem chose us to be a light unto the nations - there would be no need for our existence and mission in this world. We would be just like the other nations, and then, certainly there would be no need at all for Creation. Still, Hashem, at the revelation of Sinai, chose us from all the nations for His G-dly mission in this world.

The Greeks understood this well: Wipe out the chosenness of the Jewish people, make them like all the other nations - and you destroy them and the world with it. Unfortunately, many a Jew at the time fell victim to the Greeks' plan and openly accepted the new and dark Greek culture.

A quick look at the three decrees will readily show the chosenness of the Jewish people running throughout them. Shabbat, of course, is a sign between G-d and the Jewish people, so unique to the Jews that if a non- Jew keeps Shabbat, he is put to death. The same holds true for circumcision, a sign between the Jewish people and G-d, as Hashem tells Abraham to circumcize himself and his house for a sign between the Jewish people and G-d for all generations. Calculating the month ensures that the Jewish calendar with all of its holidays will be celebrated at their proper times, once again showing the uniqueness of the Jewish nation.

For this, the Jews revolted in a bloody war that lasted three years, at the cost of many thousands dead. But the end result was that the Jews who stayed faithful continued the chosenness of the Jewish people and their holy mission.

This past week we saw the unfolding drama of the Seattle airport’s right to publicly place x-mas trees there, and under the theat of a lawsuit by a Chabad Rabbi to place a large Menorah there, too, the trees were first removed and later replaced. America, in spite of the many minorities who live there with freedom for all, is still known as overwhelmingly an x-tian nation. They had no problem offending rights of minorities - in this case Jews - and there will be no Menorah in the airport, for unlike the Moslems, the Jews do not want to make waves.

And over here in the Holy Land, on my way home from work the other day, I was appalled to see in the showcase of the Jerusalem City Hall next to a Menorah, a display of the birth of baby Yeshky in Bethlehem, so as not to insult the x-tian community, which barely exists here in Israel. Not that I have a problem with giving other cultures their due, but in City Hall of the Holy City of Jerusalem, which is supposed to represent the return of the Jewish people after a 2000-year exile and Jewish sovereignty, it is a shame. Here, in the Land of Israel, the descendants of the mighty Maccabees who fought and gave their lives to keep alive the chosenness and separation from the nations, are trying to walk the fence on both sides. Jerusalem’s City Hall, representing the Jewish people, is not the place for it! Where is our pride, and why are we embarrassed to tell the world that we are the Chosen People. This is what Chanuka should be all about: Now is the time to move forward, with the flag of the Maccabees telling a world of sick culture that we reject it - and in its stead, we will bring Light to the world!

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

Vayeshev: Joseph's Labors in Exile

Vayeshev: Joseph's Labors in Exile

Perhaps our greatest question in life is: do our actions have true significance? The performance of mitzvot is metaphysically meaningful, but what about our day-to-day activities? Ultimately, how much of our lives and pursuits truly matter?

39 Types of Melachah

The Mishnah [Shabbat 7:2] enumerates 39 categories of melachah, activities that are not permitted on the Sabbath, such as planting, cooking, and building. Is there something special about the number 39? The Talmud in Shabbat 49b presents two possibilities. The first opinion is that 39 types of work were performed when constructing the Mishkan (Tabernacle) in the desert. And the second opinion is that the word melachah (in its various forms) appears 39 times in the Torah.

In fact, the word melachah appears 65 times, but the Sages were only counting verses that somehow relate to Shabbat or the Tabernacle. Thus we find that the Talmud was not sure which verses should be included in this count of 39. One of the verses in question, from the reading of VaYeshev, speaks of Joseph's labor for his Egyptian master, Potiphar: "And he came to the house to do his work" [Gen. 39:11].

Why should this verse be counted? Surely it has no connection to the Sabbath!

What Belongs to the Realm of Shabbat?

We must first understand these two views presented in the Talmud, connecting the 39 categories of activity either to the building of the Mishkan or to the word melachah in the Torah.

The Sabbath day of rest is in total contrast to the days of activity and work. The Sabbath belongs to the final goal of the universe, a time when all activity is finished. Work, by definition, indicates a state of incompleteness. Shabbat, on the other hand, is "mei'ein olam haba," a taste of the future world, perfected and complete.

We live in an unfinished world of preparations and laboring, of development and progression. The Tabernacle was a center of holiness within a spatial framework, subject to the limitations of our incomplete world. The Divine command to construct a Tabernacle required that all the various categories of human activity be utilized in building it. The Jewish people needed to overcome and master the temporal obstacles that obstruct elevated life; then they could attain their ultimate objectives, holiness in living and closeness to God.

The second opinion quoted in the Talmud comes from a loftier perspective. The distinction between kodesh and chol, between the holy and the profane, only exists within our incomplete and divided reality. But when all of the forces and actions in the world are gathered together towards one elevated center, when all of life is directed to fulfill its true purpose, then the distinction between holy and profane disappears, and all aspects of life are bound together in one elevated union of "kodesh kodashim," the Holy of Holies.

When we view the world through this higher prospective, adding the dimension of "kodesh kodashim," then all activities become connected to the Sabbath ideal. All of life is related to the sublime aim of absolute rest, without toil and preparations, only enlightened joy and eternal value. The view that sees in every mention of melachah in the Torah as relating to Shabbat is not satisfied with ascribing meaning and significance only to the kodesh, only to those activities utilized to build the Mishkan. This is a inclusive vision that encompasses the holy and the profane, the natural and technological. Bound together, all activities are sanctified with the holiness of the Sabbath day and the future Sabbath realm. Not only is the holy center raised up, but also the branches, all of the forms of activity and melachah as recorded in the Torah.

In short, these two opinions deliberate our original question. The Talmudic discussion of what may be counted as the source for the melachot is, in fact, our question of how much of life truly 'counts'. Are only holy activities truly meaningful? Or is there eternal significance even in other aspects of life?

Labor for Alien Goals

According to the second, more inclusive view, the Sabbath encompasses all activities of the Jewish people, both past and future, personal and national. However, the Jewish people in their long history have expended much time and energy in dispersed directions. Many Jews used their best talents in serving alien agendas. This is the essence of the Talmud's doubt regarding Joseph's labors in Egypt. Can individual activities performed in foreign lands for foreign goals still be counted as part of the accumulated service of the Jewish people over the millennia? Do they have eternal value?

On the one hand, it cannot be that the labors of a Jew will not carry the residual imprint of the Jewish nation. Even if it was 'planted' on foreign soil, that which is suitable can be added, after removing the dregs, to the treasury of elevated Sabbath rest that Israel will bequest to itself and all of humanity.

On the other hand, labor that was performed under foreign subjugation and enslavement is perhaps so removed from the spirit of the Jewish people that it cannot be added to the national treasure of Israel.

Joseph's Labors under Potiphar

Joseph, the Midrash states, represents the entire Jewish people [Tanchuma VaYigash 10]. Even when laboring in Egypt, even as a slave under Potiphar and in the jail, his actions carried the mark of blessing and Divine success. "His master realized that God was with him, and that God granted him success in all that he did" [39:3]. "God blessed the Egyptian because of Joseph" [39:5].

Nonetheless, we should not forget Potiphar's position: chief executioner under Pharaoh. The activities that Joseph performed under Potiphar's direction were certainly alien to the spirit of Israel. Could the inner blessing of Joseph's labors under such conditions be added to the treasury of activities connected to the perfected realm of Shabbat? This was the unresolved doubt of the Talmudic scholars, whether to include the verse describing Joseph's labors in a strange land.

[adapted from Ein Ayah vol. III pp. 7-9]

The Power of the Precious Few


By Rav Binyamin Zev Kahane z"tl h"yd

Translated by Lenny Goldberg

What was miraculous about the victory of Chanukah? Any child in kindergarten knows that the miracle was the shorthanded, weaker Jews defeating the numerous and powerful Greeks. Indeed, it is an historical fact that cannot be denied. But our teacher and rabbi, Rabbi Meir Kahane, z"tl, sought to delve a notch deeper into the miraculous victory of the few against the many, and by doing so, resolve a famous question regarding Chanukah.

The "Miracle Within The Miracle"

Rabbi Kahane would say: Remember, before the victory of the Macabees over the Greeks and hellenists took place, there was the actual war itself. When the Macabees went out to battle, they had no feasible chance of winning. Not only were the Jews fewer and weaker than the well-oiled Syrian Greek war machine, but amongst the Jews themselves, only a sparse few went out to battle under the command of Yehuda Macabee and his brothers. And so, to enable such an inconceivable victory to occur, there had to be, first of all, a few "crazies" who dared to rise up in arms against this invincible empire! Here, Rabbi Kahane would say that the essential miracle of Chanukah was not the war victory, but rather the very fact that a few Jews realized that "things just cannot go on this way", arose, and with immense faith in the Almighty, declared war on the superpower of their day. For given the fact that they were able to miraculously overcome their awesome enemies, prior to that miracle they surely did not know that the Almighty would perform the miracle for them. Nevertheless, they went out. That in itself, the Rav would say, was an act of immense courage, "the miracle within the miracle."

God Controls the Laws of Nature

But where does the "miracle of the oil" come into play? Let us ask the question differently: There is some confusion concerning the reason we celebrate Chanukah. Do we celebrate Chanukah to commemorate the oil that was sufficient for only one day, and continued to burn through eight days, or are we celebrating the war victory? It is clear that the essential miracle of Chanukah, its real central theme, is not the miracle of the oil. Indeed, the special Chanukah prayer, "Al Hanisim", coined by the rabbis, does not even mention the miracle of the oil. The theme and heart of Chanukah is the concept mentioned in "Al Hanisim", of "rabim b'yad m'atim", "the many ("Syrian Greeks) who fell into the hands of the few (Jews)." And the very miracle of the oil represents that concept, i.e., the little oil able to "overcome" the many days and continue to burn. The miracle of the oil symbolizes how God controls the laws of nature: Just as oil sufficient for one day can burn for eight, if He wills it; so, too, are numbers irrelevant when Am Yisrael goes out to war. By the same token, just as we said that the miracle of the war victory was the very fact that Jews went out to battle in the first place, so, too, the oil symbolizes "the miracle within the miracle". After all, in order for the meager quantity of oil to last for eight days, there had to be Jews who lit it in the first place - Jews who were not discouraged from the outset; Jews who did not say: why bother lighting the candles of the Temple if they are going to go out anyway…? No. You do your part, with the means available to you, and Hashem will do His part. "Open for me an opening like the point of a needle, and I will open for you gates like the gates of the sancturary."

The Question of the "Bet Yosef"

Now we can ask the question posed by the Bet Yosef (Yosef Karo): There is a source which says that the length of the holiday of Chanukah is eight days because oil that was sufficient for only one day, lasted eight. The Bet Yosef asks: Why eight days? Since the oil was naturally sufficient in itself to burn for one day, the miracle was actually only in the additional seven days that it continued to burn. In reality, therefore, in order to commemorate the "miracle", the rabbis should have established a holiday of seven days. Various and varied reasons are given. Rav Kahane says: Indeed, we celebrate eight days because the first day was a miracle as well. It commemorates the very fact that they dared to go out to battle! The very fact that they dared to "light the candle". That's also a miracle, "the miracle within the miracle."

The Holiday of Our Times

Chanukah is not a childrens holiday of "dreidels" and donuts. It is a holiday that is meant to rekindle our trust in the Almighty, to reinforce the understanding that when Jews go out to battle in an obligatory war with faith in God, they come out victorious, even if they are the underdog.

Chanukah is the holiday for these days. Days when masses of Arabs arise against us, and Hashem stands at our side. But what happens when the official Jewish leadership from left to right is overcome with fear, crippled by lack of faith and thereby incapable of action? Then the torch is passed on to the few. It is passed unto those who are ready to cling onto Eretz Yisrael at any price. And then the day comes in which they are told by the non-believers: "If you are not ready to pull out, that's your choice. But deal with the enemy by yourselves. Because we are afraid, we have no faith. You claim that you have faith?! Fine - let's see what you can do." And those precious few, inspired by a pristine faith in the Almighty, will arise to repel the enemy.

Those with Jewish vision foresee the Macabean war in our generation. In this war, at least at the outset, only a few will take part. Those Jews of rock-solid faith in the God of Israel, who sincerely believe that God is a loyal defender of His people Israel - they will be an example to the multitudes who will eventually follow. "In those days, at this time."

Temple Secrets

By Moshe Lerman

It is Hanukka 5767. Once more, we commemorate the heroism of the Maccabees, and celebrate the rededication of the Second Temple by their hands, more than 2,000 years ago. It appears that heroism and the Temple are inextricably connected.

When David's desire to build the House of G-d was awakening, King Saul started persecuting him. The Talmud explains that the persecution brought in fact an important blessing. As a refugee in the village of Samuel the prophet, David learned from Samuel the secret of the exact location that HaShem had chosen. The location turned out to be on Mount Moriah, a place held by the Yevusim from before the days that Israel entered its Land. As King, David took it from the Yevusim, overcoming their awesome defensive powers in a heroic confrontation.

Later, after the return from Babylonia, in the time of Zerubavel, the Temple was rebuilt despite very stubborn resistance from the side of the gentile inhabitants of the Land and their constant attacks against the builders.

After the rule of the Maccabees had ended, Herod, illicitly appointed king of Israel by the Romans, broke down the Temple of Zerubavel and immediately rebuilt it as the center of his Temple Mount complex, which covers Mount Moriah until this day. His fabulous building projects aside, Herod's heroism was directed against the faithful. He was the murderer of many holy Jews, among them most members of the Sanhedrin.

The circle has closed. The desire to build the House of G-d is again awakening. Again, those who lead the awakening are subject to persecution by the ruling authorities. Once more, the location where the Temple must stand is not exactly clear, but it is definitely occupied by foreigners.

Our sages inform us about the secret revealed to David by Samuel the prophet. The following is my attempt to unravel it. I dedicate it to all those who were banned from their houses. May these dark days bring blessings and bear knowledge and comfort. "Give Truth to Ya'akov and Mercy to Avraham, as You have sworn to our fathers from the days of old (Micha 7:20)."

From the Talmud in Zevachim 54b, and from Rashi's commentary there, we learn that Samuel and David deduced the proper place of the Temple from hints in two conjugate verses of Torah, and from a hint from the book of Joshua in combination with another verse of Torah.

The reasoning starts with the two conjugate verses of Torah. The first hint is in a phrase said about Benyamin: "he dwells between his shoulders (Devarim 33:12)". The second hint is in a phrase said about Yehuda: "he rules from between his legs (Bereshit 49:10)."

The subject of the first phrase is Benyamin, while the word "dwells" (Shachen) hints at the Shechina, the dwelling of the Divine. The deeper meaning is that the Shechina dwells in Benyamin, between the shoulders of Yehuda. The subject of the second phrase is Yehuda, while the word "rules" (MeHokek) hints at the Sanhedrin. The deeper meaning is that the Sanhedrin rules in Yehuda from between the legs of Benyamin.

We learn from this that the Temple and its courtyards must be in a place where the portions of Benyamin and Yehuda are intimately intertwined. We know from a Beraita that this was actually the case:

"What was in the portion of Yehuda? The Temple mount, the chambers, and the courtyards. And what was in the portion of Benyamin? The Ulam (antechamber), the Holy and the Holy of Holies. And a strip comes out of the portion of Yehuda and enters the portion of Benyamin, and the altar was built on that." (Megilla 26a, Yoma 12a)

It follows that the border between Yehuda and Benyamin crossed the Temple area in North-South direction, at the eastern border of the Ulam. To the West of this North-South line was Benyamin's territory, and there stood the Temple itself. The Beraita informs us that the altar, right to the East of this line, was already on territory of Yehuda, and this territory was a strip coming out of Yehuda's main territory. There are sources that interpret the issue of the altar a little differently, and posit that the border was right to the East of the altar with a small strip of Yehuda entering Benyamin in the area of the altar.

We see now why Samuel and David went to look for hints in the book of Joshua. It is in this book that we find a detailed description of the border between Benyamin and Yehuda. The Gemara in Zevachim 54b explains that in the light of what is written in the verse "you shall rise up and ascend to the place (Devarim 17:8)," David and Samuel understood that it is significant that the border of Benyamin in the area of Jerusalem is described in terms of "going up":

"the border passed toward the waters of Ein Shemesh and its termination was in Ein Rogel. And the border went up at the valley of Ben Hinnom on the shoulder of the Yevusi, on its southern side – and here is Jerusalem – and the border went up to the top of the mountain, which faces in western direction the valley of Hinnom, the uttermost northern end of the valley of Rephaim. And the border turned around from the top of the mountain to the water of Neftoah, and went out to the cities of mount Ephron." (Joshua 15:7-9)

Ein Rogel was a deep source of water to the South-East of the Mount Moriah, located in the area where the valley of Kidron and the valley of Ben Hinnom meet. The border arrived at Ein Rogel from northern direction, probably passing in between Mount Moriah and the Mount of Olives. From Ein Rogel it arose to the top of Mount Moriah, along its southern shoulder. There it turned, as Rashi explains, to the water of Neftoah.

There are various explanations for what could be the water of Neftoah, but the most obvious choice is the spring of Gihon, the only natural open water source in the area. This spring is exactly south of the top of Mount Moriah, so that the border proceeds in North-South direction. From the water of Nefoah, the border turned again and left the area into northern direction, as again Rashi explains. I assume it follows the Tyropean valley, called valley of Hinnom in the book of Joshua, which separated Mount Moriah from what is now the Old City of Jerusalem.

And so, the territory of Benyamin in the area of the Temple has two legs, one ending in Ein Rogel, and the other in the Gihon spring. In between the two legs is a triangular strip belonging to Yehuda, which ends at the top of Mount Moriah. In accordance with the Beraita, the western border of this strip goes from North to South.

The Beraita implies that the whole area from the Ulam (or the altar) to the outer eastern wall belonged to Yehuda. So, this whole area must fit in the triangular strip, which gets smaller as it approaches the top of the mountain. As a consequence, the Temple cannot have stood to the North of the very southern part of today's Temple Mount complex. The exact restriction depends on the exact location of Ein Rogel, but in any case it follows that the Dome of the Rock does not stand where the Temple should stand. Rather, the abode of the Tempe should be searched for underneath the El Aqsa mosque.

We can now see how the hints of the above two conjugate verses are realized. Yehuda's area is in between the two legs of Benyamin. The natural southern mountain shoulder under the top of Mount Moriah is wholly in Yehuda as initially it curves slightly to the East. The place of the Shechina is to the West of this shoulder. Yehuda's shoulder on the other side is that of today's Mount Zion.

The thesis that the Temple did not stand on top of Mount Moriah solves a stubborn problem regarding the supply of living water for the Temple service. Such water was apparently supplied by an aqueduct, largely still extant today. It transported water to big extant cisterns under the surface of today's Temple Mount. The water brought down by the aqueduct originated from the Ein Etam spring in the area of Beth Lehem. If the Temple stood near the southern wall of Herod's complex, the cisterns were able to provide living water for the Temple service downstream. If the Temple stood on top of Mount Moriah, the cisterns could not have served this function.

In the days of Herod, there was another aqueduct that ran much higher than the one that entered the Temple Mount. In the environs of Beth Lehem some segments of the high aqueduct are still extant. The high aqueduct supplied water to the Old City, and was high enough to provide water to the level of Herod's Temple Mount complex. It seems very unlikely that such a high aqueduct existed during all of the Temple era. There are no scriptural or archeological indications that it existed before the Roman period, and there is no evidence that the necessary technology existed in ancient times. Moreover, a high aqueduct would have been very vulnerable, so that in times of war the enemy would easily have been able to disrupt the Temple service.

If the above thesis is true, how did we come to think that the Temple stood at the top of the mountain? As mentioned above, Herod was an evil man. Perhaps, then, the answer to the question is that the Herodian Temple indeed stood where is now the Dome of the Rock. In other words, perhaps Herod did not build his Temple at the original place.

I think that our sages hint at this in Bava Batra 3b/4a. It is explained there that after Herod had killed most of the sages, he spoke with the sage Bava ben Buta, who he had blinded, and asked him how he could make up for his deeds. Bava ben Buta answered to Herod that he should break down the Temple and rebuild it. How could Bava ben Buta say such a thing? I propose that he acted out of fear. Bava ben Buta feared further loss of life, and he feared that Herod planned to destroy the Temple anyway. By giving an advice that Herod could follow he saved his own life, and the lives of other sages, who Herod would need for the functioning of the Temple. Perhaps Bava ben Buta calculated that he could hasten the redemption in this way, as the tradition is that the third Temple will stand forever.

Herod the tyrant deceived the blinded Bava ben Buta. Herod was not looking to do Teshuva. He rebuilt the Temple for his own grandiose purposes, and in a different place. It was not a third Temple in its abode, and so it was up for destruction.

How can it be that the sages accepted the Temple of Herod? Herod created a sudden and truly cosmic dilemma. Non-acceptance of the new location would have meant the end of Judaism. The sages looked for signs and noted that during the building of the new Temple it rained only during the night, and not during the day. It seemed like Herod received assistance from Heaven.

In addition, they knew that David and Samuel had initially considered that the Temple be built at the highest place of the mountain, on top of the waters that came from Ein Etam (Zevachim 54b). Moreover, Herod arranged living water from the high aqueduct, solving a problem that likely was the reason for David and Samuel to choose a lower place. And so, the sages accepted the Temple at the new location as a continuation of the second Temple, and they sealed the matter out of fear for Herod, and to avoid doubt regarding the Temple service.

May the tyrants of this world soon and forever loose their power over the faithful of Israel, and may we soon merit seeing the third Temple in its abode!

The Ensuing Struggle


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

18 Kislev 5767/8-9 December 2006


The historical encounter that we find in this week's parsha, between Ya'akov and the ministering angel of Esau, leaves us breathless and in awe. Its ramifications are felt to this very day. As the fight continues throughout the night, Esau’s angel, in a great last-ditch attempt to overcome Ya'akov, injures him by dislocating Ya'akov's thigh.

Our Rabbis teach us: The mitzvah of removing the “gid hanashe” from an animal is an assurance to the Jewish people that, although they will undergo much suffering at the hands of the nations, they will never be totally
eradicated. Just as the angel was unable to destroy Ya'akov and injured only his thigh, so, too, will the nations never uproot all of the Jewish people entirely, but inflict on them only wounds of a temporary nature. These will be cured in Mashiach’s time, just as Hashem healed Ya'akov.

Ya'akov, envisioning the long exile that his descendants will have to endure, prepared the way for the survival of the Jewish people, as we find in our parsha, by lavishing many gifts on the wicked Esau, and "kissing up" to him. Still, Hashem rebuked Ya'akov, as the Midrash teaches us; Hashem asked Ya'akov: "Why do you humble yourself before this wicked man and call him your master?" "Master of the Universe", Ya'akov replied, "I must flatter this wicked man so that he does not kill me." Hashem said: "Since you humiliated yourself before Esau, calling him 'master' eight times, I will grant him eight kings from his offspring before there will ever be a king in Israel!" Ya'akov turned to Hashem and said: "Let my conduct with Esau be a sign for the future; just as I did not send Esau all the herds all at once, but spaced them out, so let the exorbitant taxes which the nations will impose on my descendants be spaced out, for if the nations demanded them all at once, my children would be unable to bear the burden".

And as dawn began to break, Ya'akov forced Esau’s angel to bless him: "I will nevertheless refuse to dismiss you unless you bless me. What is your name?" The angel, in stunned bewilderment that he was unable to overcome
Ya'akov during the long night, says to Ya'akov: "Know, then, that your primary name shall no longer be Ya'akov, which denotes taking the blessing by deceit, but Yisrael, which implies that you have fought against celestial beings and mortals - Lavan and Esau - and you have prevailed."

In our times, we are seeing the transformation of the name "Ya'akov" to "Yisrael"; the end of the long and bitter exile and the beginning of the Redemption period, the time when the nations will acknowledge the blessings given to Ya'akov; the times when we will wrestle with the angels of Esau and Yishmael - and overcome. Still, in their last-minute attempts to overcome – as the angel of Esau tried to do by injuring Ya'akov's thigh - they continue to attempt to weaken and destroy us.

This week's proof is the ”resurrection of the dead”, as former secretary of state George Baker, who we all thought we were done with, came out and told the world that the problems in Iraq are, of course, because of Israel, and the latter must give away more of its land. It is in these times that we must stand strong and have new, strong leaders that will be worthy to be called "Yisrael", and to tell the Bakers of the world to go bake a cake and fly a kite.

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

VaYishlach: Ancient Agronomists

This Devar Torah may have great relevance to the situation in which we find ourselves today. The State of Israel was founded by a group of people who were not committed to the Torah, but who had a great connection with the Land of Israel, because most of those who were Torah Jews did not have such a connection to the Land. As time goes on, however, we can see that things are changing rapidly, and the time will soon arrive when the faithful shall finally inherit the Land.

VaYishlach: Ancient Agronomists

Inhabitants of the Land

The Torah reading of VaYishlach concludes with a listing of Esau's descendants and chieftains. Since Esau married into the Canaanite family of Seir, and settled into his hill country in the south, the Torah also lists the sons of Seir, "the inhabitants of the land" [Gen. 36:20].

What does this phrase, "the inhabitants of the land," mean? As the Talmud humorously asked, did everyone else live in the sky and only Seir's clan lived in the land?

The simple explanation is that Seir and his family were the original residents of that region, before Esau arrived. The Talmud, however, chose a different interpretation. According to Rabbi Yochanan, these Canaanites were true inhabitants of the land, for they were unparalleled experts in farming the land. They had an amazing sense of which crops were best suited for which fields.

"They would say: Fill this section of land with olive trees, fill this section with grape-vines, and fill this section with fig trees. They were called 'Chorites' because they could smell (merichim) out the land [to assess its suitability for crops], and 'Chivites' since they would taste the land like a snake (chivya)." [Shabbat 85a]

Why does the Torah mention the agricultural expertise of the Canaanites? In general, why did God place these idolatrous and immoral nations in the Land of Israel? Would it not have been simpler if the Jewish people could have gained possession of Eretz Yisrael without needing to conquer it from the Canaanite nations?

The First Settlers

God meant for mankind to work the land, "to till the ground from whence he was taken" [Gen. 3:23]. But acquiring an intimate knowledge of the land and its qualities requires sincere dedication to this area of study. How could human society gain the necessary skills to work the land when occupied with higher, spiritual goals? In order that the agricultural pioneers be successful, they needed to be unburdened by spiritual pursuits.

Therefore, these 'first settlers' (as Rabbi Yochanan explained the verse, "boundaries that the first settlers established" [Deut. 19:14]) worked and tilled the land before the light of Torah was revealed in the world. This way, they could connect to the earth with all their hearts. The Canaanites were truly "inhabitants of the land." The depth of their ties to the land enabled them to establish the foundations of an agrarian society, and prepare a solid economic basis for future - and more spiritually advanced - generations.

Agrarian Culture

Their mastery of horticulture was so complete that, besides discovering general principles, they acquired a detailed knowledge of the best conditions for each crop. But why does the Talmud specifically mention their cultivation of olives, grapes, and figs?

Even farmers who share the Canaanites' total absorption in agricultural pursuits have a spiritual life of sorts, an earthy culture that appreciates physical beauty, festive joy, and sensual pleasures. For this reason, the Talmud mentions olives, grapes, and figs. The Canaanites were certainly experts in the basic staples such as wheat, barley, and other grains. Yet their expertise extended even to those agricultural products that highlight their cultural values. The olive relates to external beauty and aesthetics - "to make the face radiate from olive-oil" [Ps. 104:15]. The grape represents joy - "Wine gladdens a person's heart" [ibid]. And the fig, a natural source of sweetness, is a symbol of sensual pleasure.

Foundation for Future Generations

This intense connection to the land, of course, was not an end to itself. It was only a preparatory phase that set the stage for a more advanced society. These ancient agronomists were replaced, and 'freed' of their holdings, as the Talmud [Shabbat 85a] explains, "They are called 'Chorites' because they were freed ('bnei chorin') from their possessions."

Humanity was not to remain forever mired in earthiness. Lowly souls were created in order to establish a stable agricultural economy, but these souls were not meant to possess the land for all generations. They formed the foundation, upon which a much greater building was erected. As human society became more refined, it lost these deep ties to the physical land. The artificial freedom of a base, earthy culture is a freedom that brings with it exile, as it is replaced by a holier society.

Thus we find the psalmist [Psalms 69:36-37] speaks of two stages. First, agricultural settlement by the Canaanite nations: "God saves Zion and builds the cities of Judah, and they dwell there and take possession of it." And afterwards, the land's inheritance by the people of Israel: "And the seed of His servants will inherit it, and those who love His name will dwell in it."

[adapted from Ein Ayah vol. II, pp. 165-166]

Not Everyone is Included in the Four Species

From The Writings of Rav Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane in honor of Sukkot Organs of power at home joining the side of our enemy requires us t...