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Shabbos, August 15th, and Sunday, August 16th, are the two days of Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the new Hebrew month of Elul. This is a very special month in the Jewish year as it is the month preceding Rosh Hashanah (which begins Sunday evening, September 13th). Jewish cosmology teaches us that each season of the year has a special spiritual opportunity for success. For instance, Passover is the time to work on freedom and Sukkot is the time to work on joy. Elul is the time to work on personal growth.
Elul, when spelled in Hebrew letters, is the acronym for the words, "I am to my beloved, my beloved is to me" (ani l'dodi v'dodi li -- oftentimes it will be inscribed on the inside of an engagement ring). The month of Elul is a time of heightened spirituality where the Almighty is, as it were, closer and more approachable. It is a time of introspection and preparation for Rosh Hashanah. It is a time to do a spiritual audit and to fix up your life.
- When do I most feel that my life is meaningful?
- Those who mean the most to me -- have I ever told them how I feel?
- Are there any ideals I would be willing to die for?
- If I could live my life over, would I change anything?
- What would bring me more happiness than anything else in the world?
- What are my three most significant achievements since last Rosh Hashanah?
- What are the three biggest mistakes I've made since last Rosh Hashanah?
- What project or goal, if left undone, will I most regret next Rosh Hashanah?
- If I knew I couldn't fail, what would I undertake to accomplish in life?
- What are my three major goals in life? What am I doing to achieve them? What practical steps can I take in the next two months towards these goals?
- If I could only give my children three pieces of advice, what would they be?
There were 75 Torah scrolls at the Western Wall, each in memory of a Jewish soul returned to the Creator in Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.
Photo Credit: Social media
Seventy-five Torah scrolls in 75 gleaming new silver Sephardic Torah cases were brought to the Western Wall Wednesday night for a ceremony to commemorate the Jewish souls returned to their Creator last summer in Operation Protective Edge.
Sixty-five of the 75 new Torah scrolls was donated by Jewish communities from around the world as part of a project initiated by the Yad L'Banim organization. Ten others were donated through the Defense Minister by the Libi Fund, the Ministry of Religious Services and the Western Wall rabbi – all, in memory of the 75 people who were killed in last summer's counter terror war against Hamas and allied terror groups in Gaza and elsewhere in Israel. After the ceremony, the scrolls were transferred to Yad L'Banim memorial sites and IDF bases across the country.
Both of Israel's Chief Rabbis were present at the ceremony.
"This is the most powerful way we Jews remember our dead, and their memories will always be alive while we read and learn from each sefer Torah," wrote a Facebook user who described the "emotional but beautiful event" following the ceremony.
"May their dearest souls be elevated by this event," he added.
During the ceremony, the same Torah scroll that was carried by IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren after the liberation of Jerusalem's holiest site – the Western Wall and the Temple Mount – was brought back from the IDF together with the other Torahs in a moving re-enactment of its first arrival to the site in the arms of the chief rabbi.
Rabbi Goren's Torah scroll was carried by three IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and three paratroopers who re-enacted the famous black-and-white photo of Rabbi Goren holding the Torah scroll.
About the Author: Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
Latest update: August 12th, 2015
The comparison between Golda Meir's Yom Kippur War debacle and Netanyahu's nuclear Iran debacle does a great disservice to Golda. Golda was surprised, Golda was misled; Netanyahu had the information and he also had yours truly, who attempted in every way possible to explain to him the significance of the information he had.
Netanyahu's fiasco is exponentially bigger than Golda's. But not because he didn't succeed in ensuring accords more favorable to Israel. Netanyahu failed when he transferred Israel's Iran problem to the nations of the world.
These are the hardest times Israel has ever faced. A nuclear or nuclear-threshold Iran will trigger an arms race in the Middle East. In the crumbling Arab expanse – in a Middle East that is shedding the nation-state straightjacket the West imposed on it – the first leader to attain a nuclear bomb will become the next Saladin.
The American weapons industry (most of the weapons in the world are manufactured in the U.S.) is already rubbing its hands in anticipation of the fat American orders – "remuneration" to the Arab states that fear a nuclear Iran. The array of terror organizations under Iranian auspices are also waiting – for the billions of Iranian petro-dollars now being freed.
In face of the above "technical" dangers, some will claim that all we need is a technical solution. Just like we have gotten used to putting cement blocs at bus stations to prevent terrorists from running over people standing there, we will position Iron Domes in the face of the nuclear threat and live happily ever after.
But this notion is absurd. No anti-missile system can seal Israel's skies from a consolidated nuclear and rocket attack. Furthermore, the real danger is not technical, but essential. Israel is losing its very legitimacy. The right of the very existence of a Jewish state on the map is being called into question.
When did the Holocaust begin? With the breakout of the war on September 1, 1939? On Kristallnacht in November 1938? No. It began with Hitler's speeches in the German Reichstag in 1933, when he publicly declared his intention to destroy the Nation of Israel – and nobody reacted.
This experience is the premise – sadly – upon which Israel has based its existence. Ever since Israel was founded, it has dragged every hapless visiting dignitary straight from the airport to the Israeli Temple: the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem. "Look," Israel says to the world, "when we cannot defend ourselves, nobody does it for us. We created a state so that the horror of the Holocaust will never happen again."
And the world was convinced. It knew that Jews henceforth would stand up for themselves. They no longer would rely on American or British pilots to "bomb the tracks" for them.
This principle was not broken by PM Netanyahu, but rather, by a different Likud prime minister – and the best one of them all – Yitzchak Shamir. In the first Gulf War, President Bush pressured Shamir not to allow the IDF to react to the Scud missile attack on greater Tel Aviv. It was important to the U.S. to forge a coalition that would include a number of Arab countries, and Shamir agreed to play along. For the first time in Israel's history, Israelis wrapped themselves up in plastic sheeting and allowed foreign armies to protect them from a direct attack on its cities.
Israel's archenemy, the PLO under the chairmanship of Arafat, firmly supported Sadaam Hussein. Logically, Israel, which cooperated with the victors, should have enjoyed the fruits of the victory, while Arafat should have been made to pay a price for his support of the losing side. But just the opposite occurred. After the war, the U.S. applied tremendous pressure on Shamir and dragged him to the Madrid Conference, paving the way for the Oslo Accords.
From the moment that American and British soldiers endangered their lives for the state of Israel, "the Jew" once again became a pawn in the hands of foreign interests. He was forced to pay in hard currency for his right to breathe air on the face of the globe.
When Mahmoud Ahmadinijad began to threaten to destroy Israel, the world stood agape, expecting Israel to react. It remembered Begin's attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor well, and was sure Israel would react the same way this time. Nobody would have publicly applauded an Israeli attack. But eventually, it would have appreciated it, just like it later appreciated Israel's strike against Iraq.
But Israel hesitated and Ahmadinijad's chutzpah (he even came to Israel's northern border to publicly threaten our country) intensified. The process of de-legitimization began to slowly sprout once again.
Netanyahu did everything to create the impression that the military option was still on the table. For that reason, the process of de-legitimization was slow and much more subtle than what the Jews experienced in the '30s. But ultimately, Netanyahu effectively transferred the responsibility for Jewish existence to the hands of the world. Instead of being a state that takes responsibility for its own fate and retaliates against foreign threats, Israel turned into something like Czechoslovakia on the eve of the Munich Accords.
Czechoslovakia – a strong and progressive state – was forced to wait outside the door while the great powers debated its fate with Hitler. And they decided to sacrifice it for the sake of the interests of England and France. Czechoslovakia was only supposed to lose the Sudetenland, but within a short time it lost its sovereignty – without a single shot being fired.
States that cannot defend themselves exist thanks to the kindness and interests of other states. When those melt away, they exist on borrowed time. More than I fear war, I fear that there will be no need for it…
About the Author: Moshe Feiglin is the former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. He is the founder of Manhigut Yehudit and Zo Artzeinu and the author of two books: "Where There Are No Men" and "War of Dreams." Feiglin served in the IDF as an officer in Combat Engineering and is a veteran of the Lebanon War. He lives in Ginot Shomron with his family.