GOD TV Pushing Christian Gospel in Hebrew to Jews on Israeli Cable By David Israel God TV Responds to Critics: ‘We’re Not Trying to Convert Jews; We Just Want Them to Accept Jesus as the Messiah and Tucker: Totalitarianism doesn't shock us anymore and when did G-d turn the world into Sheep and 21-year-old Staff Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal was murdered yesterday morning Why we used to do Bonfires on Lag B'Omer
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement. Now also a Blogger on the Times of Israel. Look for my column
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Again like on Sunday, I am putting many controversial opinions into the blog today. All ideas should be considered for the ideas they present. Please don't kill the messenger because I bring you some strong ideas.
Why Celebrate Lag B'Omer with Bonfires?
Why Celebrate Lag B'Omer With Bonfires?
We really didn't have any Bonfires this year because of the Virus, but before we forget about Lag B'Omer lets ask why celebrate it with Bonfires? While counting the Omer has its roots in the Torah, the origin of Lag BaOmer is less clear. In fact, Lag BaOmer is not mentioned in Rabbinic literature until the 13th century, although the tradition itself is obviously much older.
The first reference to Lag BaOmer is made by the Meiri, a preeminent medieval scholar, in his commentary on the Talmud Bavli, Yevamot 62b. This section of the Talmud relates a tragic story about Rabbi Akiva, one of the greatest Jewish leaders of his time. Rabbi Akiva, the Talmud tells us, had 24,000 students who died from a terrible plague all in one year during the Omer period. This plague was sent by God to punish the students for not showing each other proper respect. The Meiri relates a tradition that says this plague ended on Lag BaOmer.
The deaths of Rabbi Akiva's students were a great loss on many levels. For one, the loss of human life is always a tragedy. On top of that, these were incredible scholars who, had they lived, might have made unimaginable and irreplaceable contributions to Jewish learning and tradition. Additionally troubling is the fact that these great scholars showed each other so little respect, indeed, treated each other so terribly that it cost them their lives.
For all these reasons, Jewish tradition commemorates this event by treating the Omer as a period of partial mourning. Understandably, Lag BaOmer, the day this plague ended, deserves to be celebrated as the end of this mourning period – though certain communities continue to treat the days following Lag BaOmer as a period of mourning as well.
In truth, Lag BaOmer is about more than just the end of a national tragedy. It also marks the beginning of a new era. Despite the enormous loss of 24,000 students, Rabbi Akiva did not give up. He began teaching again. This time, his students amounted to just five men: Rabbi Meir; Rabbi Yehuda; Rabbi Elazar; Rabbi Nechemiah; and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Though small in number, Rabbi Akiva's new students were remarkable in character and able to uphold the monumental task of carrying forward their teacher's legacy and preserving Jewish tradition.
It is very fitting that Lag BaOmer falls between Pesach, which marks the exodus from Egypt, and Shavuot, which marks the giving of the Torah. On these holidays we celebrate the great miracles God performed for us and the guidance He gives us through the Torah. But we are not only passive recipients of God's wisdom and the Torah.
Like Rabbi Akiva and his students, we are each responsible for carrying forward Jewish tradition and building a strong community founded, above all, on mutual respect for one another. Celebrating Lag BaOmer serves to remind us of our involvement in Jewish tradition and the important role each of us plays in preserving the Jewish people.
However, this explanation does not shed much light on Lag BaOmer's famous bonfires. To understand this practice, we need to look at an alternative explanation found in Rabbinic literature for the meaning behind Lag BaOmer.
According to this explanation, Lag BaOmer marks the yahrzeit – the anniversary of the death – of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was one of Rabbi Akiva's five students mentioned above. While all of Rabbi Akiva's students influenced the future of Judaism, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai played a particularly important role in shaping Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah. He is said to be the author of the Zohar, the most important Kabbalistic text, and, whether this is true or not, it reflects what a significant figure he is within the Jewish mystical tradition.
According to tradition, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai dictated the Zohar from his death bed on Lag BaOmer. As he was speaking, a miracle occurred: daylight was extended so that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai could complete his dictation and share all of the mystical secrets he held.
To commemorate this extended daylight, as well as the "light" received from Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's teachings, we light bonfires on Lag BaOmer.
Lag BaOmer Traditions & Rituals
In addition to lighting bonfires, another popular tradition on Lag BaOmer is for children to play with bows and arrows.
To understand this practice requires some historical context. While the Talmud tells us that the plague (shades of the Corona!!!) killed Rabbi Akiva's students, this may be a euphemism for a military defeat.
Rabbi Akiva, and many of his students, were deeply involved in the Bar Kochba revolt, a rebellion against Roman rule in the year 132 C.E. The leader of this revolt was Simeon bar Koseva, who many, including Rabbi Akiva, believed to be the Messiah. The revolt failed terribly, leading to the deaths of thousands of Jews and continued oppression under Roman rule. At this time, even talking about the rebellion could put one's life in danger, which is perhaps why the Talmud does not refer to the rebellion explicitly but rather blames a plague for the deaths of Rabbi Akiva's students. This would certainly help explain such a large number of deaths in such a short time span.
Some say that there was a short break from fighting on Lag BaOmer, which is a further explanation for why we celebrate on this day. Either way, the tradition to play with bows and arrows honors the bravery of the Jewish rebels who fought to the end for religious and political freedom.
Lag BaOmer is also a popular day for holding weddings in certain Jewish communities. Since the Omer is treated as a period of mourning, we refrain during this period from joyous activities such as holding weddings, listening to live music, or cutting one's hair (except for this year). On Lag BaOmer these restrictions are lifted, and so these activities are enjoyed on Lag BaOmer with added joy.
There are also several popular songs associated with Lag BaOmer, some specially written for the holiday in honor of Rabbi Shimon, such as "Bar Yochi" and "Amar Rabbi Akiva Ashreichem Yisrael."
Lag BaOmer in Meron, Israel
Probably the most exciting place to celebrate Lag BaOmer is at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron, Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Jews gather in Meron each year on Lag BaOmer. (except for this year) The highways are usually shut down and tents pop up all over the small town's countryside.
According to tradition, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai requested that his students commemorate the anniversary of his death with celebration rather than sadness. Accordingly, Lag BaOmer in Meron is treated as a purely joyous day.
In addition to studying Zohar, reciting Psalms and participating in prayer at Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's tomb, there is live music, singing, dancing, feasting, and celebrating. Of course, one of the main events is the lighting of a bonfire at the great Sage's tomb.
Other popular traditions in Meron on Lag BaOmer include holding Upsharins, the traditional first haircut for three-year-old boys, and a custom known as Chai Rotel. Chai Rorel refers to a measurement of liquid, equivalent to about 13 gallons. It is believed that contributing this amount of a beverage to the Lag BaOmer celebrations in Meron will bring to the giver a miraculous return. This practice is particularly popular among couples hoping to have children.
21-year-old Staff Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal was murdered this morning by Shalom Pollock
21-year-old Staff Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal was murdered this morning in a village occupied by Arabs in Samaria. He was killed by an Arab terrorist. You will not see this headline in the media you are familiar with. Most media outlets present this kind of incident with a different choice of words: Instead of murdered; died or killed. In my view, a person may die of many things and be killed in many ways, from a lightning strike to a car accident. In our case, Amit was murdered. He was killed when a huge rock was dropped on his head from a roof. In my book he did not just die or was simply killed, he was targeted by someone who was not threatened by him. and therefore murdered. Israeli security was seeking wanted terrorists in that village (yes, terrorists not "activists"). Young Yigal, in defending the Jewish people from those sworn to murder them paid the ultimate price. The media invariably uses the word "occupied" to Arabs being illegally occupied by Israel. In my opinion, the only occupied lands in the land of Israel are those in which Arabs live. Jews can never be considered occupiers in heir own land. It is an oxymoron. To understand this basic truth one needs a healthy Jewish education or even just a clear understanding of history; both lost to most of the media and they would simply disturb the narrative that they have bought into. Samaria is the West Bank. Samaria is Samaria, an ancient name for an ancient Jewish land that belongs to the ancient Jewish people. That does not jive with the music of occupation, colonization, racism, and all the other names used to block honest debate by the media. West Bank is their choice as it has no Jewish ring to it. On the contrary, "West Bank" of the Jordan reminds us there is an East Bank, ruled by the Arab Kingdom of Jordan. (It was created by the British from of three-quarters of the land of Israel) so, an uninformed reader might ask, what exactly what connection do Jews have there? I thought of the above as I heard a caller on a radio show today(He claimed to be a veteran of an elite unit). In response to the murder of Amit, the man said that he was killed as an occupier by those fighting the Israeli occupation. He saw no difference between the killing of Amit than when Jewish resistance groups like Lechi and Irgun killed British occupiers before the British finally left our land. What can one say? A history lesson will not change his mind. He has no ears or eyes for that. He is one of the very confused and lost Jewish souls who try to find some comfort and identity within the bosom of those who want to kill him and his people.One thing is certain. Its "Jews" like him that give our enemy any hope of victory
America: Land of the docile sheeple-THE PANDEMIC PANIC
Exclusive: Richard Kirk proffers 2 reasons people have so freely given up basic rights
By Richard Kirk
I'm retired and don't eat out a lot or attend crowded events, so the effect of this virus lockdown on me personally has been minimal – excepting a sizable hit to my IRA portfolio and the closure of local golf courses.
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As the weeks have worn on, however, the incessant drumbeat of commercials, public service announcements and local news hairdos declaring that "we are all in this together" and imploring everyone to "stay inside" have become insufferable. Often these directives are conjoined with salutes to the "heroes" in masks who are credited with saving our secluded backsides from a dreaded plague. (Yes, health professionals almost exclusively in the New York City area have done heroic work, but hospitals around the country have been laying off employees and suffering huge financial losses due to a shortage of patients.)
Another flood of commercials piggyback on the panic with assurances that "take out" is available during these "difficult times" and that your friendly auto dealer is prepared to postpone car payments should you now be unemployed. A wistful hope about getting back to normal in some distant future accompanies a few ads devoted to slavish obedience to unseen authority.
A few signs of actual courage, however, have begun to emerge. A salon owner in the North Dallas suburb of Frisco opened her establishment and tore up the citation she'd been issued for defying a government pronouncement that classified her work as "non-essential." Even more impressive is a New York City tailor's commitment to open up in the virus "epicenter" – a metropolitan area that accounts for about half of the (inflated) Wuhan deaths in the entire country. By doing so he defied the imperial arrogance of Gov. Andrew Cuomo who snarkishly told beleaguered protesters to "get an essential job" if they wanted to work. Protesters in Michigan finally began to see the light when it became clear that it's not about your health when a governor tells you that you can go to Home Depot to buy a sponge but not to buy seeds for your garden!
It isn't exactly a portrait of "the home of the brave" that we've witnessed over the last month. Instead, a docile population (about 70% in one poll) seem content to do whatever Dr. Fauci tells them to do, ignoring the fact that even as late as Feb. 29 the long-time NIH epidemiological bureaucrat assured Americans that it was safe to go to the mall, the movies and even the gym! That pronouncement followed his comment on Jan. 21, "This is not a major threat for the people in the United States." Nor have the cascade of predictive errors given most Americans pause when it comes to trusting the white-robed authorities who are now ceded more credibility than was recently accorded holy scripture.
For those willing to penetrate the blizzard of media obscurantism, there are many scientists and even a whole European country whose approach to this epidemic differ radically from that of the shutdown-obsessed Fauci. One of many examples is Dr. Knut Wittkowski who for 20 years was head of the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at The Rockefeller University – hardly a "country doctor" as the New York Times described a physician on the other side of its anti-hydroxychloroquine jihad. Here's what Wittkowski said about the epidemic: "With all respiratory diseases, the only thing that stops the disease is herd immunity. About 80% of the people need to have had contact with the virus, and the majority of them won't even have recognized that they were infected." That was also the approach taken in much-vilified Sweden, which undertook precautionary measures far short of shutting down the economy and shutting up much of the population in their homes. Wonder of wonders, statistics actually show Sweden doing better than most European countries in terms of deaths, though Fauci fanatics will insist one only compare it with its less densely populated neighbor, Norway.
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What is clear in any comparison, however, is that the Swedish approach disproves conclusively the panic-producing numbers emanating from the Imperial College of London study that predicted up to 2.2 million U.S. deaths and 500,000 U.K. deaths absent radical measures – numbers endorsed by Fauci and consequently repeated by the president. But nothing like that apocalypse occurred in non-lockdown Sweden, which seems on its way to "herd immunity." Swedish epidemiologists, of course, have explained their approach to the few uncomprehending journalists who dare to engage them, but obviously these voices, along with many other like-minded health experts in the U.S. have not been heard by Americans whose eyes and ears are glued to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx and the panic-loving MSM whose delight over a Trump-defeating economic catastrophe is impossible to conceal!
So why has the country that used to tout itself "the land of the free and the home of the brave" so quickly become "the land of the docile and the home of the shuttered"? I proffer two related reasons. First, Americans possess an inordinate and false belief in "science," incorrectly assuming that it is next to infallible and that all scientists pretty much agree. "Follow the science" has been a mantra in the U.S. for a worldwide experiment that's never been previously undertaken. And if an experiment is the first of its kind, it cannot be settled science. Moreover, anyone with intelligence and a degree of honesty can see, as noted above, how wrong the scientists anointed as our corona pontiffs have been thus far. Secondly, the propaganda power of media, both political and commercial, has reinforced to an incredible degree the panic-laded message of the public health bureaucrats in charge, thus making the slightest deviance from the promulgated orthodoxy a blasphemous heresy. Mindless mask-wearing conformity and panic emerges based on burgeoning COVID case numbers that to a non-addled mind prove the virus is nowhere near as lethal as previously advertised and that herd immunity may soon be attainable.
It has taken far too long to break through these almost impenetrable cognitive and emotional barriers and to challenge stay-at-home and wear-a-mask-when-walking-your-dog dictates that go well beyond wartime mandates or anything "science" can vouchsafe. I, like Dr. Wittkowski, have been chagrined beyond measure at Americans' willingness to comply with these more-than-dubious requirements, and I concur with his ominous warning: "I think people in the United States and maybe other countries as well are more docile than they should be … if people don't stand up [for] their rights, their rights will be forgotten."
Never in American history have politicians been more powerful than they are now.
GOD TV Pushing Christian Gospel in Hebrew to Jews on Israeli Cable By David Israel
An outfit called Shelanu TV, a new, Hebrew language subsidiary of GOD TV which is an international Protestant Christian media network, announced on Monday that it had signed a seven-year contract with HOT Cable, the largest cable network in Israel, encouraging Israeli cable subscribers to access Shelanu TV on HOT channel 182.
A fundraising ad was posted next to the announcement, calling on presumably Christian supporters in the US and elsewhere to donate $500 and up to "Be a part of impacting generations of Jews and Arabs across Israel. Together we can impact the Middle East!"
God TV fundraising ad / Screenshot of GOD TV website page.
headlined, "Experience the New GOD TV Gospel Channel in the Hebrew Language," the announcement said:
"Shelanu TV (GOD TV's new Hebrew language channel) aims to reach God's People in Israel with the message of Jesus. Shelanu is Hebrew for 'Ours.' Shelanu TV wants Jewish viewers to embrace the fact that Jesus is theirs. That He is not a foreigner, an intruder or imposter. He is their Jewish Messiah, born in Israel, raised as a Jew.
"Shelanu TV features new and original programming from local congregations on the ground in Israel. Additionally broadcasts international voices, sharing the Good News of Yeshua, including powerful real-life testimonies of Israelis who have come to know Yeshua as Messiah. Be blessed as you witness first-hand how God is using this historic opportunity to transform lives."
In 1978, Israel's criminal law was amended to include the prohibition of offering monetary or other value in exchange for a religious conversion, but the law does not forbid persuading individuals to convert.
In a video message announcing the launch on his outfit's website, GOD TV CEO Ward Simpson says: "GOD TV has been given government permission to broadcast the gospel of Jesus Christ – Yeshua the Messiah – in Israel on cable TV in the Hebrew language. Never before, as far as we know in the history of the world, has this ever been done. God has supernaturally opened the door to take the gospel of Jesus into the homes and lives and hearts of His Jewish people."
Does that sound like the start of a Christian media crusade? Of course. Is it legal? Asher Biton, Chairman of the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council which regulates cable providers, including HOT, told Haaretz: "According to our regulations, it is fine to broadcast religious programming, but it is forbidden to broadcast content that has the potential to influence viewers in an undue fashion, and most certainly young and impressionable viewers."
And a spokeswoman for HOT told haaretz that Shelanu TV "is an independent Christian channel, similar to other religious channels broadcast in Israel. It received a permit from the council and is broadcasting according to law."
Israeli Communications Minister David Amsalem issued a response and tweet in which he assured the public that "we will not allow any missionary channel to operate in Israel, at no time, and not under any circumstances."
Though the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council is under his ministry's authority, he said that "from the moment that I learned about this case, I turned immediately to the director of the commission, requesting a thorough investigation of the issue, and asked to make sure that no channel will break the parameters of its license, and that if indeed this channel does missionary work, it be removed immediately."
Amsalem vowed not to allow "unfair influence" on Israeli viewers.
"On the face of it, this is a bungle, and as communications minister of the State of Israel, I will not allow an unfair influence of religious broadcasting on viewers in Israel," he said.
Attempts to visit the Shelanu website Tuesday afternoon appeared to indicate that the site had been taken down or hidden. Videos of Simpson discussing Shelanu which had been uploaded to YouTube had been set to private.
Content by Malkah Fleisher / JNS was used in this report.
God TV Responds to Critics: 'We're Not Trying to Convert Jews; We Just Want Them to Accept Jesus as the Messiah'
Regulatory body in charge of broadcasting in Israel is currently investigating whether God TV, which launched its new Israeli channel two weeks ago, is in violation of its terms of license, which forbid proselytizing
Fearful of losing its license to broadcast in Israel, an evangelical network insists that its missionary activities are not a violation of Israeli law.
In a video message posted over the weekend, God TV CEO Ward Simpson declared that the network has no intention of using its platform to convert Jews to Christianity, which could be considered a violation of its broadcasting license and of Israeli law.
He suggested, rather, that its goal was to persuade Jews in Israel to embrace Jesus as the messiah without renouncing their Judaism – that is to say, it hoped to turn them into Messianic Jews, also sometimes known as "Jews for Jesus."
"Proselytizing in Israel is a very touchy subject," said Simpson in a video posted on the God TV website on Friday. "You cannot try to convert Jews, you cannot try to make them become a Christian, which we aren't anyway. ... Those things you can't do and we won't do. We just teach and preach and share Christian content, and let the Lord do the rest. Our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters don't convert. They continue to live the lives of Jews. They just believe Yeshua is the messiah, and they follow him."
The Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council, the regulatory body that operates under the auspices of the Israeli Communications Ministry, is currently investigating whether God TV, which launched its new Israeli channel, Shelanu, two weeks ago, is in violation of the terms of its license. Its license stipulates that it cannot carry programs that wield "undue influence" on viewers. This would include proselytizing.
The council launched the investigation after it became aware of a video message posted by Simpson, in which he declared that the new channel aimed "to take the gospel of Jesus into the homes and lives and hearts of the Jewish people."
The video message was taken down after the investigation was announced. Asher Biton, chairman of the council, told Haaretz that God TV had never shared its plans to use the cable channel for missionary activities. What the cable council had been told, he said, was that the channel would carry programming earmarked for pro-Israel, Christian audiences.
In the latest video message, Simpson said he regretted that "some of the language I used was offensive to some folks and maybe not in keeping with what we can and cannot say on the network." He also apologized "for anything we might have said or done to create the appearance that we're not going to follow the guidelines."
He also promised "to follow all the rules and regulations that govern our TV license."
At the same time, he refused to rule out missionizing. "The subject of preaching about Jesus is a touchy one, and we do understand that, and we have to be sensitive to it," he said. "But that's what we do, and that's who we are. We're Christians, and we're called to go into the world and preach the gospel. That's what we're trained to do, and that's what we're doing."
A group of evangelicals taking part in a "We Love Israel" march in Jerusalem, October 2019. (Illustrative)Olivier Fitoussi
God TV is a huge international Christian network that broadcasts in some 200 countries around the world. It signed a seven-year contract with Hot, the Israeli cable television provider, to host Shelanu. More than 700,000 Israeli households subscribe to Hot, which controls nearly 50 percent of the multichannel market in the country.
Shelanu is broadcast on Hot's Channel 182. The description provided to subscribers on television screens says it is a "faith-based channel geared toward pro-Israel Christians." Some of its programs are translated or dubbed into Hebrew, while others are produced locally by the Israeli Messianic community
It is not the first Christian channel to broadcast in Israel. Other examples include Daystar and Middle East Television. Shelanu is the first, however, to broadcast in Hebrew and to openly flaunt its missionary activities.
In a letter sent several months ago to members of the Messianic community in Israel, God TV regional director Ron Cantor wrote: "This has never been done before. We have tried to fly below the radar, not because we are ashamed or seeking to hide anything, but because the Orthodox community will do anything to keep the message of Yeshua out of this country. Please pray."