Friday, November 30, 2012

Derache'ha -- Israel

I am Eliyahu, a student at Yeshivat Midrash Shmuel. I have learned previously in Yeshivat Ner Israel in Baltimore, MD and in Yeshivat Ruach Chaim in Jerusalem. Eitan Divinsky, an esteemed colleague of mine and a budding talmid chacham, has kindly asked me to share my weekly Divrei Torah on his blog. It is my honor and privilege to share my writings on such an esteemed platform. Shabbat Shalom!

דְּרָכֶיהָ   The Torah's take on life - and all it throws our way.
             It's an undisputed fact that Eretz Yisrael holds a special place in the heart of every Jew. Through thick or thin, every member of our people supports the land in every which way they can. In times of turmoil, Klal Yisrael gather together to pray for a ray of light; and in times of peace, preservation of the land is always on the tips of our tongues. We shall attempt to explore this deep-rooted affection for the land of Israel and in the process, understand why it is such a central focus in our religion.
            The foundation begins in Sefer Bereshit, in which the Torah details the covenant made between Hashem and Avraham Avinu (known as the "Covenant of the Parts"). While on Israel's soil, Hashem promises Avraham that the land on which he stands will be promised to his offspring, the Jewish people (1). Immediately, at that point, the land became infused with an extraordinary level of holiness not found in any other part of the world. Eretz Yisrael became the epicentre for spirituality of the world forever more.
            Plenty of evidence for the holiness of Eretz Yisrael can be found in many places throughout Chazal. According to one Gemara, the land of Israel receives the first rains, while the rest of the world only gets that which is left over (2) - a proof that Hashem's "nature" system revolves around Eretz Yisrael. In Tractate Pesahim, the Hahamim list three groups of people who are assured a portion in the world to come: one who raises his children to learn Torah, one who makes Havdala over a cup of wine (after Shabbat), and one who lives in Eretz Yisrael (3). Furthermore, another Gemara declares that one who walks 4 cubits (around 8 ft.) in Israel is another candidate for a spot in the world to come (4). Seeing as the land is injected with intrinsic holiness, just being on its terrain can produce a tremendous merit!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

All Quiet On the Southern Front?

As Hamas and the Arab world continue to celebrate what they correctly perceive as a victory over Israel, FM Lieberman and PM Netanyahu are making their best effort to minimize damage to their electoral campaign.

Many Israelis are genuinely disappointed with Bibi for failing to carry out a full-fledged attack on Gaza despite more than a week of constant bombardment. Five Israelis, including four civilians and one soldier, were killed during the days of the operation and 240 people were wounded. 162 Gazans died from Israeli bombing raids targeting Hamas terrorists (according to Al-Jazeera), 150 according to BBC and “more than 140” according to Yahoo News.

The Palestinian death toll in comparison to the death toll of Israelis—the “bottom line”, if you will, is what all the major news sources are reporting. What they fail to report is that Israel is an independent state with a history of having to defend its borders from enemy armies, while Hamas-lead Gaza is a terrorist-escape that has no legitimacy in the eyes of the world community. They also fail to report than yesterday, around the same number of Syrians were murdered by Assad’s regime than Palestinians killed in a week of Israeli attacks.

An Assessment of "Lauren's" (and the Western Media's) Lies

Before I go to sleep expecting more missile sirens tomorrow, I need to report on an "article"--if you can call it that by an anti-Semitic reporter whose garbage I happened to come across. I'm going to take it apart sentence-by-sentence and expose how much of a fraud this lady is. This is typical Western media coverage of Israel, the land that we, as a people, have been dreaming of returning to for two millenia, a land we look towards three times in our daily prayers, a land that no one but us needs/wants and has a right to:

The Israeli government is trying to pre-empt a publicity pounding over its Gaza offensive by aggressively pushing out its version of events, furiously tweeting and Facebook posting updates from a "media bunker."

Ahh, lady, lady: You're nuts, you're crazy...You're a left wing whacko living off Israeli taxpayers' money, for G-d's sakes! "Our" version of events!? Would you like to present us with "your" version--or maybe the official Hamas version perhaps? 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What I Think Bibi's Thinking (Nice Title, Ey!?)

In lue of today's events:
...and more missiles landing in Israel following the "cease-fire" agreement between Bibi, Hamas, Egypt, and Hillary Clinton aka "The Witch" (feel free to replace the "W" with a "B"),

Bibi, a former Sayeret Matkal commander who's always been one of my favorite people/politicians is, in my opinion thinking the following:

1. This female guerilla (the animal type) is just too much for one Jew to handle.
2. Let's get rid of this dilemma and get on with bombing the Ayatollahs.
3. Screw the "Palestinians," screw Egypt, and keep screwing more women (no links because I still have respect for Bibi).

So those are my 2-cent's worth for this here, busy day in Israel, the only democracy in the Mil' East. Nighty night, folks and don't forget to spank your local Jihadist!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Parshat Toldot and Its Connection to Last/This Week's Events

Parshat Toldot tells the story of Isaac's life, of how he beseaches Hashem for his wife, Rivkah to bear kids, of the eventful birth of Jacob and Esau, of their struggles for the birthright, of Jacob eventually resting it from his animalistic twin, of Isaac's falling out with Avimelech who almost sleeps with Rivkah thinking she's Isaac's sister, his trevails in Grad, where the Phillistines end up getting rid of him only to return and ask him to sign a peace treaty with them, of how they accuse Isaac of not having been upfront with them, and so on.

Over my Shabbat meal, my host mentioned the fact that the episode in which Rivkah helps--almost forces Jacob to fool his father into blessing him before his death is a very strange, mysterious one that begs an explanation.

Message from Moshe Feiglin (Translated from Hebrew)

Part of an email I received from Manhigut Yehudit leader, Moshe Feiglin:

Early morning…I’m heading from Samaria to Gush Dan along the smog-filled highway. Another crazy day leading up to the Likud primaries is about to get under way.
The car phone rings. A young, confident voice from the other end: “Hi, XX speaking from ynet news.

“Hi there!”
“I’m preparing an article on donations made out to candidates in the Likud primaries, and just wanted to confirm something.”

“I see that you received a donation from a woman by the name of Nitza Kahane.”

“Is it correct that Nitza Kahane is the widow of Rabbi Kahane?

“Maybe I haven’t fully woken up yet; maybe this is the result of a lack of sleep and the amount of stress I’ve experienced lately, but the latest question raises my “politically correct” defenses.

Top 5 Blogs I Follow

Here's a list of the top 5 blogs I've been following lately. Please link to these as well!

1. (Jameel)

2. (can't mistake this one...Ariel Zellman)

3. (Obadiah)

4. (Lev Ratinov)

5. (annonymous)

Friday, November 16, 2012

War in Gaza...Again

Jerusalem 11/16/12: My friend who lives in the small rural town of Kiryat Malachi where I visited her a week ago, called me some time in the afternoon yesterday. I instantly noticed something was wrong. She sounded hysterical as she recounted what she’d just witnessed.

What happened in Kiryat Malachi yesterday has been taking place in Israel since the establishment of the Jewish national homeland. Three people were killed and a four members of the same family were injured as a Kassam rocket scored a direct hit on an apartment building where a Chabad family was staying.  News of the tragedy spread like wildfire as people scrambled to leave the south for places that would themselves soon become threatened by Hamas rocket fire. We were getting closer to war. Again.
What’s changed since Israel’s government pulled out of Gaza in the summer of 2005? Most Israelis agree that the situation has steadily declined and that offering Gaza to Hamas terrorists was perhaps the gravest mistake any Israeli government has ever committed.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Just Got This From my Friend, and Greater Israel Activist, Yishai Fleisher

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This week we read about Abraham's purchase of the Machpela cave in Hebron and the subsequent burial there of our matriarch Sarah (Parshat Chayei Sara). These actions began the unbreakable bond between the Jewish people and the land of Israel in that the burial of our ancestors in these places puts a geographic anchoring on our story. These "facts on the ground" can never be changed. Hundreds of years after the founders of Judaism were interred in Hebron, King David began his reign there, and stayed in Hebron for 7 years until moving to Jerusalem.

Today, about 3,000 years later, a Jewish presence returns to Hebron, and hangs on there tenaciously despite global efforts to the contrary. I love Hebron because I love Jewish identity. My wife and I had the great privilege to be married in Hebron in the height of the second Intifada (see video), and we produced a film about the Sin of Spies and the hero, Calev Ben Yefune, who garnered strength in Hebron to stand against the evil report that rejected the land of Israel.

This Shabbat 30,000 of Abraham's children are slated to come to Hebron. Let us stand back and marvel at the fulfillment of the ancient promise to return. Then let's jump in and take part in the passion of our times.

Blessings, Yishai

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sure Enough: On Parshat Chayei Sarah

As promised, I have a treat for my legions of loyal readers out there (the fact that some-5 people will be reading this post is irrelevant because as far as I'm concerned the motto "quality over quantity" says it all).

Chayei Sarah is the account of Sarah Imenu's death, and how Avraham Avinu purchases Ma'aret Ha'machpela from Efron to have Sarah buried there and as an inheritance for his children. We see a clear difference in the behavior of Efron, a Hittite, and a "native" of the land, and Avraham, a life-long sojourner; someone filled with spirituality, someone who has the ability to overlook the "little" things, while holding on to a greater truth.

In essense, we see the stark difference between the behavior of the first Jew, and the local inhabitants of Cana'an. We see someone who's willing to make peace with his neighbors even though he's more powerful than they will ever be; someone willing to sacrifice an insignificant amount of money in order to do a kindness towards his beloved wife and life-partner, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, an individual so base he doesn't even realize what he has in front of his very eyes.

On Election Night...

I'm staying up late here in J-town (when I was living in Tel-Aviv, I called it "Telli," so now I'm living in "J-town"), and for some odd reason, I'm not as focused on the parsha (Chayei Sarah), the elections, the array of problems on my hands (life is great mind you!), or anything "important" for that matter.

Yes, I've become very involved with Torah-study lately, I've had people promise to pay me for a variety of translation jobs and not come up with the funds in a timely manner, I'm a pretty hard-core Republican, and yet all this seems rather banal compared to something I just read:

Fatalistic childhood

As kids, everything is so fatalistic. Remember it when your parents first moved cities? You thought you'd never find such good friends you used to have anywhere else in the world. Then you went through an army of new cities, friends, lovers and life became a joke.

Except it didn't.

When I'm thinking about things I really appreciate, such as a learning a new language, dancing Tango, improvising, writing decent prose, becoming a half-researcher, raising an avocado plant to bear fruit, finding a partner for life, raising a child .... life's so fucking short. It's almost like you have 1 or 2 shots at it.

This comes to you straight out of Lev's cookingpan. Now, even though I don't know Lev well, I do know that he's an extremely thoughtful, intelligent guy, so I while I've never reposted anything of this nature here before, I have now! (just thinking of what Chris Rock would say to a white guy uttering this phrase makes me smile)

As far as Chayei Sarah, if I stay awake any longer, chances are I'll post on the parsha as well/ The elections? Well, Moshe Feiglin's facebook post says it best. I don't remember its exact contents, but he basically made the point that lots of Jews and Israelis in particular seem to think that America is electing Israel's next P.M./Presiden/supreme leader whereas this isn't the case. Israel should (and I believe it will) decide for itself. So in short, Feiglin, '13!
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