A special message from Hebron

Dear Friends of Hebron,

Between Purim and Pessach, many organizations beseech you to help poor families in Israel, whether it is for Matanot L'Evyonim or Kimcha D'Pischa (Maot Chittim).

Who deserves your help more than the heroic Jews of Hebron?

Whether they dedicate their time to Torah study, to settlement activities or to simply trying to make a living in a difficult, hostile environment . . .

- you know that they have put themselves on the line - for you.

- you know that they are risking their lives and their livelihood in order to watch over your great- grand parents - for you.

The Hebron Fund, in coordination with the Social Services Department of Hebron, has taken upon itself the funding of a number of holiday community projects. Monies will be spent and distributed only as per the recommendations of the professional representatives appointed by the duly constituted, elected administration of the Jewish Community of Hebron. Please give as much as you possibly can. When you sit down for your Purim meal or at your Seder table, do so knowing that you have helped the most deserving families in Israel share in your holiday joy.

Sincerely yours,

Lenny Gamss Yossi Baumol

President Executive Director

Anat Cohen

Director of Educational & Social Services, Hebron

Ways to Donate:

1) Go to our secure server at https://pro29.abac.com/hebron/english/donate.php

2) Please call us and provide us with your credit card information over the phone

in the United States at tel. no. 718-677-6886, in Israel at tel. no.1-800-400-456

3) Please mail a check to the Hebron Fund, 1760 Ocean Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11230

or in Israel, please mail to: Post Office Box 105 Kiryat Arba - Hebron 90100

Mishloach Manot Sponsorships:

A. $360 - For the children of Hebron

B. $500 - For Soldiers stationed in Hebron

C. $720 - For Kiryat Arba/Hebron Senior Citizens, distributed by Hebron children

D. $1,000 - Purim Solidarity Visit to bereaved parents and Gush Katif Families

$1,000 - Sponsorship of Purim "Ad Delo Yada" Parade

$2,600 - Sponsorship of Purim Carnival for Hebron children and visitors

$5,000 - Sponsorship of Festive Purim Meal for entire community

$12,000- Sponsorship of Kollel family for entire year

$25,000- Kimcha D' Pischa – Maot Chittin for entire community

The Jewish Community of Hebron
POB 105 , Kiryat Arba-Hebron 90100
Tel: 02-9965333

Psalm 84: Preparing for Prayer

"Ashrei Yoshvei Veitecha"

This beautiful psalm contains many inspiring verses that express our deep yearnings to be close to God and His holy Temple. "My soul longs and pines for God's courtyards!" [Ps. 84:3]. Yet the verse most well-known begins with the word "Ashrei" (fortunate):

"Fortunate are those who dwell in Your house. They will continue to praise You, selah." [Ps. 84:5]

This verse was designated to introduce Psalm 145 in the daily prayers. In fact, it is customary to refer to the recital of this chapter as Ashrei, after this verse.

Who are these fortunate 'dwellers' in God's house? Would it not be preferable to pray there, rather than just sitting in His house?

Preparations for Prayer

The Sages knew that sincere prayer requires mental preparation. "One should not stand up to pray until he has acquired a reverent state of mind" [Brachot 30b]. We cannot make the sudden switch from our everyday activities to heart-felt prayer without a genuine effort to clear our thoughts and focus the mind.

The Talmud in fact describes two levels of preparation before prayer. The minimal level, expected from all people, is to attain a general attitude of seriousness and awe. The Sages referred to this state of mind as koved-rosh, literally 'heavy-headedness.' We need to do away with any light-headedness and frivolous imaginings, and direct our thoughts towards the eternal.

However, the "chasidim rishonim," the especially pious of earlier times, would perform a more intensive preparation. These righteous individuals would meditate for a full hour before each prayer. They would not begin their prayers until they knew that "their hearts were fully concentrated on their Father in heaven."

Why did these chasidim require so much time to prepare for prayer?

Directing the Heart

The minimal level, that of focusing the mind on holy matters, does not necessitate such a lengthy preparation. In a relatively short time, one can elevate the mind with positive and holy images. But the pious of old also worked on directing their hearts - "until their hearts were fully concentrated." Controlling one's feelings and desires is a much more complicated matter.

Personality traits and emotions, wants and desires, are connected to our physical side. It takes time and effort to analyze our feelings and natural inclinations, and guide them towards holiness.

The early chasidim based their lengthy preparations on the verse, "Fortunate are those who dwell in Your house." The psalmist is not referring to those who make a quick 'visit' to God's house. This is not just the rapid focusing of the mind on holy matters. Rather, the verse speaks of those who 'dwell' in God's house. These individuals meditate at length, uplifting their feelings and refining their basic nature to be in harmony with the mind's enlightenment. This intensive preparatory effort requires a lengthy stay in the realm of the spiritual and the infinite.

Spiritual Stability

The verse concludes with the assurance that those who dwell in Your house "will continue to praise You, selah."

The Sages taught [Eiruvin 54a] that the word selah indicates something of a continuous or eternal nature. Those who dwell in God's house, as they strive to elevate their hearts and emotions, attain a more stable level of holiness. Their unity of heart and mind enables them to continually "praise You, selah." They achieve a consistent state of holiness and God-awareness.

Now it is clear why this verse was placed at the beginning of Ashrei and recited at the start of the prayer service. We are reminded to prepare our state of mind before praying, and take inspiration from those special chasidim who would first 'dwell' in God's house, as they focused their minds and directed their hearts.

[adapted from Ein Ayah vol. I, pp. 127,154]

Taking Our Destiny into Our Own Hands

During the past few weeks, there have been two particular stories gaining much attention from the media in Israel, as well as internationally. The first is the much talked about sleaze and corruption that has hit almost every single politician and public figure in Israel. The trail has lead from more minor MKs, to the former justice minister Chaim Ramon, Israeli President Moshe Katzav, the Prime Minster Ehud Olmert, and most recently the Chief of Police Moshe Karadi. In fact, so far has this stench of corruption emanated, that the authorities were seemingly unable to find a single “clean” public figure to take up the now vacant post of Chief of Police. Yaakov Ganot, who is to succeed Karadi, was in fact implicated in a corruption scandal in 1994 (although he was acquitted).

The other major story to burst into the headlines recently was that of the violent riots by Muslims in Jerusalem, lead by the popular Muslim leader Sheikh Raad Salah, in what they said was a response to a series of repairs being carried out on a walkway at the Rambam (or Mughrabim) Gate, which was damaged during a snowstorm not so long ago. Muslims worldwide accused the Israeli authorities of seeking to “undermine” and “vandalise” the “Al Aqsa Mosque” and its surroundings – despite the fact that the dig is located far away from the Al Aqsa complex.

In the face of a significant amount of international pressure, coupled with the violent Arab intimidation, the Israeli govt once again caved in in part, agreeing to allow Turkish officials to “inspect” the site. Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski joined in calls to suspend or even scrap the dig altogether, and once again the Islamic world was shown that if they want to get their own way, all they need to do is resort to violence.

At a first glance these two stories seem completely unrelated, but upon further examination each is just a symptom of a far greater problem.

It is said that “he who controls the Temple Mount, controls all of Israel,” and today this could not be more obviously true. After the insane move of actually handing the Temple Mount over to the Waqf (Islamic religious authority) only hours after its conquest in 1967, the Israel authorities and media, as well as the international world, have ignored the criminal desecration by the Islamic authorities of thousands of years’ worth of valuable artefacts, dating back to the times of the First and Second Jewish Temples, which once stood on the Temple Mount. This blatant attempt by the Waqf to deny a Jewish connection to the Mount (as expressed in their many sermons), is only compounded by the fact that legally, only Muslims may pray on the Mount, with Jews often forbidden even to enter the area (that is, the areas that are permitted to be entered by Jewish Law). The latest rioting is in fact totally within the overall policy of the Waqf to deny entry to the Mount to all non-Muslims – the Rambam Gate just so happens to be the only path up to the Temple Mount that is used by non-Muslims.

What greater corruption can there be, what greater “sleaze” exists, than that of when Jewish politicians and supposed “leaders” hand away our Holiest site to be desecrated? And it is not only the Temple Mount – we all remember the sites of Muslim rioters tearing apart and burning down the Tomb of Joseph, the burning down of the ancient “Shalom Al Yisrael” synagogue in Jericho, among other instances…

Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook z”tl went to great pains to stress the importance of the “secular Zionist” movement of his time in that it was rebuilding Eretz Yisrael at a time when the religious communities were shirking their duty to do so – yet at the very same time he emphasised that if they would remain devoid of Torah, then eventually the time would come when they would turn rotten and have to be “shed” as a “klippa” (shell) which covers the holy light of the Jewish Nation.

Today we see that this could not be truer. Their corruption began the moment they decided that Israel would be a mere “State of the Jews” in which Judaism was no more the state religion than Islam or Christianity; instead of a true, Jewish State, in which the Torah would be accepted in full by the nation, and all hostile elements would be excluded.

But the religious are not blameless either. Besides for the lamentable lack of religious participation in the setting up of Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael, even today we continue to ignore the tragedy that happens before our very eyes. We pray at the Kotel, and we think that that is enough! Never mind that our Holiest site is still off-limits to us, and that the Muslims daily desecrate it, digging up and destroying or dumping all remains from the Temples - the Kotel is all we need! How sad that we have indeed forgotten Jerusalem, for as it says in the Kuzari: just as the spiritual centre of Israel is Jerusalem, the spiritual centre of Jerusalem is the Temple Mount!

Right-wing, left-wing, “centrist” – they have all failed us, as have the pseudo-religious parties of the Knesset, who have had many years to shout out loud about this sin and many others, but who have chosen not to in exchange for ministerial positions and govt funding. It is time for the Jewish people as a whole to shake off these corrupt individuals, and demand the Law of Israel in the Land of Israel. It is time that we stood up for the honour of Jerusalem, as it is being trampled by those who wish to deny our connection to it (and how sad it is that the Muslims are willing to take to the streets for the sake of Jerusalem, but we are not!)

If we do not, then we are all complicit in their national corruption, and what is at stake here is more than just the reputation of the Israeli govt or one minister or the other, but the very Sanctity of the Land of Israel itself!

Parshat Mishpatim/Parshat Shekalim: Fire on the Mountain


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

29 Shvat 5767/16-17 February 2007


"When you will buy a Hebrew (Ivri) servant, he shall work for six years, and in the seventh he shall go to freedom, without charge."

Questions: The Torah starts off with listing the judgments with the laws concerning the Jewish slave. First, we must ask why this is number one on the hit parade. Are there not more pressing issues in Torah law, than that the Torah should be teaching us right from the start about the Jewish slave? Second, why does the Torah use the word "Ivri" (Hebrew), and not Israeli or Jewish slave, which would seem to be more appropriate? For we do not find anywhere else in the Torah the term "Ivri" used to address the Jewish people and teach them a law, except here. For the moment, let's leave the questions.

For the past two weeks now, we have been hearing the daily reports surrounding the Temple Mount and the Mughrabi gate - will they build a bridge to the Mount or not? Hourly the reports flow in from the radio, quoting the bearded mayor of Jerusalem and the unbeared ones sitting in the Knesset; "To build or not to build: That is the question". Will Israel cave in to pressure from Arab rioters, and from world leaders demanding from Israel to stop all work on the site at once? With the calls coming out from the Arab world how the Jews are planning to destroy the mosques on the Mount, the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem quake from fear of the threats.

History of the site - A Purim story unfolding

Some three years ago, a small earthquake hit the Jerusalem area. I recall walking in downtown Jerusalem on my way to the Old City when it hit, and all buildings in Jerusalem shook. Later, it was learned that all of Israel was hit by this quake, but only two places in the country suffered damage: The Mughrabi gate and the Prime Minister's office, in which Ariel Sharon was sitting at the time, the same Sharon who became Prime Minister in the merit of his ascending the Temple Mount in the year 2000, the same Temple Mount that he later turned his back on and it, in turn, became the cause of his downfall. And although it was easy to fix the cracks in the ceiling of the Prime Minister's office, fixing the Prime Minister himself was a lot harder. But the Mughrabi gate could not be fixed and had to be replaced.

Hence, we fast forward to our day, when work on the gate was supposed to start.

For the Arabs it is much more than just a bridge; it is the only entrance into the Mount for non-Moslems. By keeping the bridge down, they would Illegally be able to keep all Xtians and Jews from ascending the Temple Mount. For the Jewish State, it is another denial and surrender to the Arab Problem and to the time bomb that is waiting to go off.

And now, to return to our questions on the parsha: The first time that we find the expression "Ivri" used is by the Patriarch Abraham. Abraham was from the other side of the river, which our Rabbis teach us meant that Abraham was on one side in his belief of the One G-d, while everyone else in the world at the time was on the other side with their pagan beliefs. Abraham stood alone against the tide. Today, some 4500 years later, Abraham is being proven right. The "Avnei Nezer" points out that only this is true freedom, the ability to resist the coercion of other people's opinions and influence, and stand up for the truth.

In this light, the Jewish people are the only truly free people in the world, being that they cannot be sold for more than six years. This is also the reason why the Torah starts off with this law, to teach that in all the Torah laws, sometimes one must be able to stand up to the masses, even if it is an unpopular decision.

Today, more than ever, we need that "Ivri", the one that can stand up to world pressure and tell the truth. We need the one who can build up the bridge, but the bridge that will be carrying not the tourists up to the Mount, but the Kohanim - Priests - to their work in the Holy Temple.

And what about the Arabs, you ask? They will be very, very far away from here...

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

German intelligence agents spying in Hebron (On Behalf of the "Quartet")

German intelligence agents spying in Hebron

The Jewish Community of Hebron
February 16, 2007

A group of seven German intelligence agents, identifying themselves as 'anonymous diplomats' today began an information-gathering mission in Hebron, led by a member of the Breaking the Silence/Bnei Avraham pro-Arab, anti-Jewish/Israel left-wing extremist organizations.

The agents were approached by Hebron spokesmen Noam Arnon and David Wilder, in an attempt to provide them with an additional perspective of Jewish life in Hebron. However, they were told that the group had no time, their schedules were planned weeks ago, and 'maybe next time.' "When might that be," they were asked. "We don't know," they replied.

With the group standing in the road just outside the Avraham Avinu neighborhood, Wilder requested just five minutes in order to bring them to the Avraham Avinu Synagogue and explain the five hundred year old history of the site and the neighborhood. However, his request was not even considered. After distributing his business card to them, he requested their cards in return, in order to be able to contact them directly. However, all members of the group had 'forgotten' to bring their business cards with them.

Before departing, Wilder commented that a group such as this, especially coming from Germany, with that country's dark, Nazi past, should at least be willing to spend a few minutes with Jews living in the first Jewish city in Israel, trying to revive and renew the Jewish people's past in Hebron. However, the group refused to listen to him and continued their tour with a self-hating Jew, who spouts only hate for Hebron's Jews, representing only the 'poor Arabs' who are being oppressed by the Jewish Community of Hebron, the Israeli army, and the State of Israel.

It later became clear to Hebron leaders that members of the group are associated with the BND, the ANBw, and have ties to the CIA and MI5. Their primary mission in Hebron is to gather information for the European Quartet, in order to begin implementation of their plans to follow in the footsteps of their infamous predecessors, Nebuchadnezzar and Titus: to bring about a Judenrein Eretz Yisrael, starting in Judea and Samaria, and of course, in Hebron.

How ironic that people whose friends, relatives and fellow countrymen participated in the slaughter of between six to seven million Jews should arrive in the city of Abraham with a self-hating Jew, whose goal is the expulsion of Hebron's Jewish population, and should ignore those people trying to reestablish Hebron's glorious Jewish past.

Mishpatim: An Eye For An Eye

Azar's Question

During the years that Rav Kook served as chief rabbi of Jaffa, he met and befriended many of the Hebrew writers and intellectuals of his time. His initial contact was with the 'elder' of the Hebrew writers, Alexander Zuskind Rabinowitz, better known by the abbreviation 'Azar.' Azar was one of the heads of Po'alei Tzion, a Marxist, anti-religious party; but over time Azar developed strong yearnings for traditional Judaism. He met with Rav Kook many times, and they became close friends and soul mates.

Azar once asked Rav Kook: how can the Sages interpret the verse "An eye for an eye" [Ex. 21:24] as referring to monetary compensation? Does this explanation not contradict the simple meaning of the verse?

The Talmud [Baba Kamma 84a] brings a number of proofs that the phrase "eye for an eye" cannot be taken literally. How, for example, could justice be served if the person who poked out his neighbor's eyes was blind? Or what if one of the parties had only one functioning eye before the incident? Clearly, there are many cases in which such a sentence would be neither equitable nor just.

What bothered Azar was the wide discrepancy between a simple reading of the verse and the Talmudic exegesis. If "eye for an eye" in fact means monetary compensation, why doesn't the Torah say that explicitly?

The Parable

Rav Kook responded by way of a parable. The Kabbalists, he explained, compared the Written Torah to a father and the Oral Torah to a mother. When parents discover their son has committed a very grave offense, how do they react?

The father immediately raises his hand to punish his son. But the mother, full of compassion, rushes to stop his raised arm. "Please, not in anger!" she pleads, and she convinces the father to mete out a lighter punishment.

An onlooker might feel that all this drama and conflict is superfluous. In the end, the child did not receive corporal punishment; why make a big show of it?

In fact, the scene had great educational value for the errant son. Even though he was only lightly disciplined, the son was made to understand that his actions deserved a much more severe punishment.

The Fitting Punishment

This idea also holds true for one who injures another. Such an individual needs to realize the gravity of his actions. In practice, we can only make him pay monetary restitution, as the Oral Law rules. But he should not think that money alone can rectify what he has done. As Maimonides wrote in his legal code, the Mishneh Torah, the Torah's intention is not that we should actually injure him in the same way that he injured his neighbor, but rather "that it is fitting to amputate his limb or injure him, just as he did to the other" [Laws of Personal Injuries 1:3].

Maimonides more fully developed the idea that monetary restitution alone cannot atone for physical damages in chapter 5:

"Causing another bodily injury is not like causing monetary loss. One who causes monetary loss is exonerated as soon as he repays the damages. But if he injured his neighbor, even though he paid all five categories of monetary restitution - even if he offered to God all the rams of Nevayot [see Isaiah 60:7] - he is not exonerated until he has asked the one injured for forgiveness and he agrees to forgive him." [ibid. 5:9]

The Revealed and the Esoteric

Azar noted: Only Rav Kook could have given such an explanation, clarifying legal concepts in Jewish Law by way of Kabbalistic metaphors. For I once heard him say that the boundaries between Nigleh and Nistar - the revealed and the esoteric parts of Torah - are not so rigid. For some people, Bible with Rashi's commentary is an esoteric study; while for others, even a chapter in the Kabbalistic work "Eitz Chayim" of the Ari z"l is considered 'revealed.'

[adapted from "Malachim Kivnei Adam", R. Simcha Raz, pp. 351, 360]

Crisis in Blue


By Rabbi Dawidh Hanokh Bar-Hayim

When, as a teenager, my father used to tell me that he did not like me wearing jeans, I usually asked: "Why not? After all," I would point out, "what difference does it make what material the pants are made of?"

My father's reply – referring to the hippie/rock and roll/anti-establishment subculture of the day - typically went something like this: "It is not the jeans, my son, it is what they represent."

Now let's switch frames, to the Torah commandment to wear tzitzith on a four-cornered garment: "Speak to the Children of Israel, and tell them to make for themselves, in all generations, fringes on the corners of their garments; and they shall attach to the fringe of each corner a thread of blue." (Numbers 15:38) The mitzvah (commandment) is comprised of two parts: to place white strings on the corners, and to tie an additional string of techeleth (a bluish dye) around the other strings. The first part is easy. The second is tricky. Or used to be.

A Look at the Sources

According to tradition, the blue in question must be of a specific type: it is a very beautiful and permanent dye produced from a particular mollusc found in the Mediterranean. In the wake of the Islamic conquest of the entire Mediterranean region (7th-8th centuries CE), the specialised knowledge required for this dyeing process was lost. Thus, we find Maimonides (12th century) stating that the techeleth element of the mitzvah is "not possible today, and we therefore do the white only." (Mishnah commentary, Menahoth 4:1)

And so things remained, until less than 20 years ago. The facts are fascinating, but suffice it to say that due to the efforts of one rabbi, the source of the dye and the chemical process involved in actually dyeing wool techeleth are well known today. To have a packet of tzitzith with techeleth sent to your home, all you need to do is pick up the phone or go online.

Great news, right? Apparently not; the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jews do not wear it. The question is why not, particularly since "the main part of the mitzvah is the techeleth, for which reason the entire tzitzith is referred to as techeleth." (Rabbi Asher, "Laws of Tzitzith," no. 17)

The Blue Peril

Some Halachic authorities have claimed - historical, archaeological and Talmudic evidence notwithstanding - that the identification of the mollusc is not certain. Others, in a last-ditch effort to stave off the blue peril, have suggested that using a bluish string that is not in fact techeleth might render the entire tzitzith unacceptable. No convincing proof has been adduced for this unlikely supposition.

Remember: we are speaking of great rabbis, masters of Halacha, who will normally go much farther than the proverbial extra mile in order to fulfil a mitzvah. Regarding this commandment, however, the usual zeal seems entirely absent.

The issue, in my humble opinion, is not one of identification. Nor are Halachic concerns the name of the game. The problem is not the techeleth, but rather what it represents. And that can be summed up in one word: change.

The Status Quo as a Mitzvah

One of our greatest strengths as a people has been our adherence to tradition. Throughout the Galuth (Exile), our forefathers gave their all to ensure that we, their descendants, would continue to live in accordance with the Torah. To this end, a strategy was developed, a central feature of which was an extremely rigid conformance to minhag (customary practice) and a sanctification of the present state of Jewish affairs. It is fair to say that in the fullness of time, this came to be the essential yardstick and paramount concern of Judaism; the status quo became a mitzvah.

As with everything else, however, one can have too much of a good thing: when this ingrained arch-conservatism serves to endorse a philosophy that places minhag above explicit Torah precepts - a classic case of the means overtaking the end - one cannot avoid the conclusion that the system has broken down.

To better understand the nature of the difficulty, imagine a number of bricks - let's say, ten - laid out in a tight circle, resembling a clock-face. If you were handed an eleventh brick and asked to incorporate it into the circle, you would have two options: remove one of the existing bricks and replace it with the new one, or break up the circle and create a new and wider circle, which could accommodate the eleventh brick.

Now imagine the Torah and the mitzvoth. These, too, are such a system, forming an immense and perfect circle. But here's the catch: the Galuth-version of the Torah is not the real McCoy; it is a scaled-down model, a product of the cataclysm of the Hurban (the destruction of the Temple) and the collapse of the Second Jewish Commonwealth. Over time, we have come to view it as the genuine article, with the result that our undersized circle is regarded as sacrosanct. Removing a brick or expanding the circle - even if only to reconstitute it as the Torah demands - is considered beyond the pale. The abnormal has thus become the norm.

Torah: Reality or Folklore?

It is not only techeleth that has proved altogether too much for the existing Halachic paradigm; it is reality itself. A rabbi who does not know what to do when presented with an innocuous thread of blue is unlikely to have the answers regarding more weighty matters such as rebuilding the Temple or re-establishing the Sanhedrin. Nor is he likely to have given much thought to how a modern Jewish state is to be governed: does the Halachic framework for this exist? If not, who is going to formulate it?

And what of socio-economic questions? The Torah and the Prophets speak of these matters at length, educating, instructing and commanding us to be more caring, less selfish, to establish a model society. Is the voice of Torah heard on these issues today? Who will do this if not rabbis who possess an acute and insightful understanding of the Oral Tradition?

Present-day Orthodoxy, born in the crucible of Galuth, has no room for 'new' mitzvoth - even if they are very old. The essential article of faith of the frum world - "that which is new is forbidden" (first introduced 200 years ago as Orthodoxy's battle cry in its war with the German Reform movement) - does not allow for innovation and originality, even when the Torah demands it.

When faced with the task of implementing the Torah, in all its aspects and manifestations - from techeleth to trade and industry - the rabbinical establishment is, sadly, completely out of its depth. And when rabbis are unable to deal with Torah and make it work in the real world, we, the Jewish people, are in a state of profound crisis.

It's enough to make you blue.

Blood Libels Abound in the Arab World

This is just the latest example of hundreds that are peddled every year. In Syria they even made a TV series about a group of religious Jews who stole the blood of xtian children to make Matzot:

Click here to see video.

Of course, it is not news to us - we've known about what the Arabs say about us since time immemorial - but what perturbs me is that it is never publicised in the general media, even in Israel! Why are people not made aware of this. Our leaders and the media are trying to con us. They try to fool us into thinking that there is no real "war" going on between us and the Muslims, but rather between us and "a few extremists, who are shunned by most of the Muslims in the world." In reality this could not be further from the truth - but without people seeing and hearing these things for themselves nothing can be done.

But the question is how? How do we make out brothers and sisters aware of the extent of this hatred? How do we shake them out of the (partially self-imposed) slumber? This is a particularly vital question for Israeli Jews, but it applies to the rest of world Jewry as well. Furthermore, we can make use of these videos to this end and to others, and yet we do not - why?

Check up on the memritv.org archives (or use the search engine). There are simply dozens of these blood libels that are documented, and they are espoused by prominen figures in gov't, religion, culture and the media. But how is it that none of it gets out to the masses? And why is it that we do not take advantage and [i]use [/i] these videos?

International Campaign To Free Jonathan Pollard!

American Jewish organizations have organized a massive nationwide campaign to call the White House every afternoon for the next two months and request/demand freedom for Pollard. The campaign is to last, if it does not succeed in attaining its goal beforehand, until after Passover, the holiday of freedom.

The campaign, spearheaded by the National Council of Young Israel, is predicated on the fact that the White House tallies all incoming calls, "and so every single phone call makes a difference."

A statement issued by Young Israel Executive Vice President Rabbi Pesach Lerner asks citizens concerned by Pollard's plight to "call daily between the hours of 11-2 pm EST, and encourage their family members and friends to do the same. Callers are reminded to expect the lines to be busy and to keep calling until they get through."

The White House phone number is 1-202-456-1414.

In addition, the Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel of America (the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah), Agudath Israel's Rabbinic Presidium, and nearly 100 members of its Conference of Synagogue Rabbis have issued a declaration calling on "all caring Jews... to convey the message to President Bush that Mr. Pollard has served long enough, and that the time has come to free him."

Agudath Israel states that Pollard's plight "demands our urgent attention. [His] life sentence “a penalty far more severe than that imposed upon others who committed similar or even more serious crimes “is difficult to comprehend... At this time, it appears that all legal avenues through the judicial system have been shut off."

"Only the President of the United States, by granting Mr. Pollard executive clemency, can save him from spending the rest of his life behind bars," Agudath Israel pleads.

The Bnei Elim organization has announced a series of simultaneous lie-in-the-street rallies on behalf of Pollard. The rallies are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 8, at 6 PM EST, and 3 PM on the west coast of the U.S. Pollard supporters are asked to lie down or sit in the street at the designated location, in the hope of drawing the media to pass the "Free Pollard!" message along to President Bush. Locations include: Zion Square in Jerusalem (at 6:00 PM), Broadway between 46th and 47th Streets in NYC, Merrit Island and Cooper City in Florida, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Taylorsville, Utah.

In addition, the Midrashah Tzionit, a Jewish educational center in Kiev, Ukraine, has declared the current month of Shvat a month of struggle for the release of Jonathan Pollard. The activities will include hunger-strikes and petitions to the Israeli government. Jews in the Ukraine and other former Soviet republics are collecting signatures for a petition to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the government of Israel, demanding immediate and urgent steps to secure Pollard's release.

Furthermore, on the 23rd of Shevat (February 11th), concerned Jews will hold a day-long hunger strike in Kiev, Odessa, Minsk, Moscow and other cities. On the same day, a Jonathan Pollard video-conference will be held, including participants from all over the former Soviet Union. The Russian-language website of the Midrashah Tzionit has posted much information on Pollard and on the efforts to free him.

Jonathan Pollard, in failing health, is currently in his 22nd year of imprisonment, many of which were under very difficult conditions, for having given classified information to a friendly nation and ally, Israel.

The Zionist Organization of America "welcomes" the recent statements by former CIA director James Woolsey and former top US. Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross in favor of clemency for Pollard, and reiterated its own call for his release.

Woolsey recently told Arutz-7, "Now that he has served 20 years of a prison sentence, my view is that a 20-year sentence, I think, is enough... I think the close relationship between United States and Israel as fellow democracies is also a consideration so, at this point, I think Pollard has served a long enough sentence."

Dennis Ross was quoted in Canada's Jewish Tribune as stating that Pollard's sentence was excessive and that he should be released. "Pollard has been in jail for so long that whatever facts he might know would have little if any effect on national security today," Ross said. He added that he discussed the issue with President George W. Bush, but that Bush is showing no interest in releasing Pollard.

U.S. judicial experts, too, have decried the injustice of the sentence. Federal Judge Stephen Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that the "government's breach of the plea agreement was a fundamental miscarriage of justice."

Retired U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini, a former chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, has written, "I am convinced that Mr. Pollard has expressed the appropriate remorse and served adequate time."

Former Federal Prosecutor Rudolph Giuliani, a former Mayor of New York City who may run for U.S. President, said the sentence was unfair and "way beyond the sentences served by other people that have been convicted of the same offense.


The Mud And the Blood And The Beer


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

15 Shvat 5767/2-3 February 2007


Almost 70 percent of adults in the U.S. are expected to watch this Sunday the “Superbowl”; that’s more than 2 out of every 3 adults, and world-wide, over 200 million viewers will tune in for the big game. Over 14,000 tons of potato chips are expected to be eaten and endless bottles of beer will be drunk. True, many will be watching for the commercials, but most will want to see who will take home the trophy. Still, this impressive figure pales in comparison to the splitting of the Reed Sea.

For at the moment of the splitting of the Reed Sea, all the waters of the world also split. From rivers to lakes to wells of all countries throughout the world, even water in people’s jars and mugs split, thus publicizing the miracle. Every single person in the world at the time knew about the miracle that was taking place. The waters in the world returned to their natural state only after the water of the Reed Sea resumed its normal course. In this way G-d’s great Name was sanctified throughout the entire world.

But it was at that grand moment, when the Jewish people were crossing the sea, that some of the Jews began to complain to one another saying: Look at this, in Egypt we were stuck in the mud all day making bricks, and here, too, we are stuck in the mud that is in the seabed. We had mud then, and we have mud now! Hashem considered these words a rebellion against Him, as it’s stated: “They rebelled against Me at Yam Suf. I shall nevertheless save them in order that My Name be sanctified” (Psalms 104). Hashem, then, in His mercy dried the mud and made the ground become firm.

How unfortunate it was that in the midst of this great miracle, there were Jews who could not see past their own noses, could not see the whole picture and were bogged down in merely contemplating their sorry state of muddy feet.

Ours is the generation of the Redemption. After wandering from place to place as unwanted guests of the nations of the world, Hashem in His mercy brought us home. Still, many of us still want to see the mud on our feet, instead of seeing that we are walking through the sea. The “Chafetz Chaim”, commenting on the Redemption process, wondered how it was possible that two people could be at the same place and look at the same scene, but come to two totally different conclusions. One will see a tree, a house, a road but nothing that connects them, while the other fellow, looking at the same picture, will see how the towns and villages are being rebuilt and resettled and how all are returning home.

Today we still have too many people looking at the mud on their feet and complaining "Oy, how muddy are my feet", and who don't see the historic times that we are living in, and how Hashem is taking us through the sea at this very moment. In this process of Redemption, there is mud and blood but we must not focus on our dirty feet – instead, we must rise above and see the whole picture before our eyes.

The Talmud teaches us that the generation that left Egypt were people of little faith: "The Jews cried out, that just as we came out of the Sea the Egyptians will surely come out at a different spot and will chase us." For this reason, Hashem, in His great mercy, had the sea spit out the Egyptians' corpses so that the Jews could see them and know that they were all killed. Were it not for Hashem’s own Namesake, which He has tied to the Jewish people, all of us would have been lost.

In our day there is mud in this process that we are in, and at times a lot of it, but only a fool would be looking down at the mud and worrying about it being on his very expensive shoes. Instead, at the same time we should be looking up at the light, which is growing brighter every day at the end of the tunnel.

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

BeShalach: Listening to the Old ...

Truly Listening

As the Israelites began their sojourn in the desert, they found themselves without water to drink. With Divine counsel, Moses was able to sweeten the bitter waters of Marah; then he admonished the people to follow God's instructions carefully:

"If you truly listen ('shamo'a tishma') to God's voice and do what is upright in His eyes, carefully heeding all His commandments and keeping all His decrees ..." [Ex. 15:26]

In Biblical Hebrew, verbs are emphasized by adding the gerund form before the verb - "shamo'a tishma." The Talmud often infers additional meanings from this grammatical repetition. In this case, the Sages taught an important lesson about learning Torah:

"If 'shamo'a' - you listen to the old - then 'tishma' - you will merit listening to the new. But if you turn away (from the old), you will no longer hear." [Berachot 40a]

This statement is unclear. What is meant by 'old' and 'new'? What special promise is hinted in the doubled verb, "shamo'a tishma"?

Love for Torah

There are two reasons why people are drawn to study Torah. The proper motivation is a love for Torah based on an awareness of its intrinsic value - what is called lishmah, the study of Torah for its own sake.

Torah lishmah means awareness of the holiness inherent in the act of studying Torah. One should recognize the Torah's quality of elevating the individual and the world with the light of Divine morality. Even regarding the practical side of Torah, we should sense "the Godly soul that is found within the ensemble of the Torah's details, perfecting the universe - in life, in the physical and the spiritual realms, in the community and the individual" [Orot HaTorah 2:2] .

A second motivation to study Torah is the natural desire to satisfy one's intellectual curiosity, just as with any other science or area of study.

Reviewing the Old

When is the difference in motivation for Torah study most pronounced? The true test comes with regard to 'the old' - when reviewing material already learned.

If our principle motive is merely intellectual curiosity, then such study will be unappealing and even burdensome. If, however, we are studying the Torah for its true value, as a revelation of God's blueprint for perfecting the world, then it is unimportant if the material is not new to us. The value of Torah study is in the very act of assimilating this Divine revelation, in 'uniting' our thoughts with the holy concepts revealed in the Torah.

One who studies Torah lishmah internalizes its teachings. Such a person 'possesses' the Torah he has studied; it becomes a part of him [see Kiddushin 32b]. Then, as the Talmud predicts, "he will listen to the new" - he will be able to hear original Torah thoughts from within himself. Second century sage Rabbi Meir taught:

"All who engage in Torah study for its own sake merit many things .. The secrets of Torah are revealed to them, and they become like a spring that flows with ever-increasing strength and a stream that never ceases." [Avot 6:1]

The student who studies Torah lishmah becomes a fountain of creativity, contributing his own innovative explanations and insights. The 'new' isn't just new to him, but new to the entire world.

One who turns away from previously learned material, on the other hand, is demonstrating that his real motivation is only natural intellectual curiosity. This person, the Sages warned, "will no longer hear." Even new ideas will no longer be of interest. Such an insensitive soul will not merit even the normal measure of curiosity with regard to Torah wisdom.

[adapted from Ein Ayah vol. II, p. 185]

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