Monday, January 4, 2016

Masada and all that it means

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

Hate Evil, Not People

Hate the evil acts of the wicked, but do not hate the people themselves. Every person is worthy of being cherished by virtue of being created in the image of the Almighty. Therefore we cannot hate another person. Rather, our love for the Almighty should be so deeply internalized, that from this love we hate evil deeds. By hating only evil actions, you elevate yourself because you are increasing your love for the Almighty.

The next time you see someone do something evil, try to distinguish between hatred of the act and hatred of the person

Love Yehuda Lave

Masada National Park 123015

US Treasury secretary named in suit over tax-free donations to Israel - Israel News - Jerusalem Post

US Treasury secretary named in suit over tax-free donations to Israel

  • A group of American citizens filed the suit Dec. 21 in a US court, Al Jazeera reported Wednesday.

An Israeli flag flutters near Israeli youths

An Israeli flag flutters near Israeli youths as they protest atop the roof of a synagogue in the Israeli settlement of Givat Ze'ev. (photo credit:REUTERS)

A lawsuit naming the US Treasury Department and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew aims to revoke the nonprofit status of groups that the litigants claim have given billions of dollars in tax-exempt donations to Israel.

A group of American citizens filed the suit Dec. 21 in a US court, Al Jazeera reported Wednesday. One of the litigants was identified by Al Jazeera as a Palestinian-American writer and human rights activist, Susan Abulhawa.

The Treasury Department has 60 days to respond. It declined to comment to Al Jazeera, citing the pending litigation. The department is led by Lew, an Orthodox Jew.

According to the suit, about 150 nonprofit groups have sent about $280 billion to Israel over the last 20 years.

Groups such as the Falic Family Foundation, Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces, American Friends of Ariel, Gush Etzion Foundation, American Friends of Har Homa and Hebron Fund have funneled the tax-free donations to Jewish settlements and the Israeli military, the suit claims.

It says the groups directly contributed to violations of US and international law, subverted US foreign policy, and contributed to crimes and human rights abuses against Palestinians, according to Al Jazeera.

"These charities' agenda is to rid the West Bank and EJ [eastern Jerusalem] of all non-Jews, consistent with perceived biblical imperatives," the suit charges, according to Al Jazeera. "They have been very successful in that endeavor, as detailed herein, primarily because of the Treasury's abject and long-standing failure to monitor and prevent their criminal activities for at least the last 30 years."

Why Do People Shout "Mazal Tov" When Dishes Drop?

Why Do People Shout "Mazal Tov" When Dishes Drop?

By Yehuda Shurpin


The other day I was invited to my friends' house for dinner. During dinner, someone dropped a glass and it broke. At that moment, everyone shouted, "Mazal tov!" Now, I read on why we break a glass at a Jewish wedding and then say "Mazal tov." Is this just an outgrowth of that custom, or is there something more to it?


It is quite possible that the sound of shattering glass reminds people of the breaking of the glass at a wedding, and it therefore evokes the accompanying mazal tov. But there are a number of other fascinating reasons unrelated to weddings.

A Good Omen

Some point to this wondrous tale in the Talmud:

Once, the Romans forbade the Jews to observe Shabbat, circumcision and family purity. When other avenues were exhausted, the Jews sent a delegation to plead with the Romans. Who was sent? Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, for he was accustomed to having miracles performed for him, and Rabbi Eliezer ben Rabbi Yosei.

As the pair traveled, a demon named Ben Temalion came to meet them. He proposed to enter into the body of a princess of the imperial house, and not to leave her until Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai was asked to cure her, for in her madness she would call for him. When Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai would whisper into the ear of the princess, Ben Temalion would leave her, and as a sign of his departure all the glass in the palace would break.

Thereupon Rabbi Shimon wept and said: "The handmaid of my ancestor's house [i.e., Hagar, the handmaid of Abraham] was found worthy of meeting an angel three times, and I am not worthy to meet one once. However, let the miracle be performed, no matter how."

So it was. When Rabbi Shimon arrived, he wispered: "Ben Temalion, leave her, Ben Temalion, leave her," and he left her, and all the glass in the palace shattered.

The grateful emperor then told them, "Request whatever you desire," and had them led to the treasure house to take whatever they chose. The rabbis found the scroll upon which the decree was written, took it and tore it to pieces.1

Some infer from the story that whenever glass shatters, it signals that all is well, and they therefore shout "Mazal tov" to celebrate.2

It Could Have Been Worse

Psalm 79 is all about the destruction of the Temple. Yet, strangely, it starts off with the words "A song of Asaph." Why is a composition about a tragedy called a song? The Midrash explains that Asaph was singing in gratitude to G‑d, knowing that He would vent His wrath on buildings of wood and stone instead of on human beings.3

Similarly, when something like glass breaks, we say "Mazal tov" to thank G‑d for only delivering judgment on our belongings and not on us.4

Sweetening the Severity

When something breaks, it is an omen of divine severity and judgment. Being joyful and wishing "Mazal tov" has the power to sweeten and mitigate this severity. This idea is perhaps best illustrated by the following story:

Rabbi Dovber Schneuri, known as the Mitteler Rebbe, was known for his penchant for joyfulness. He even had a group of chassidim who formed a kapelye (choir), and another group who were trained to perform tricks on horseback. On special, joyous occasions, he would ask these groups to perform, and he would stand on his balcony watching. The rebbe's son Reb Nochum happened to be one of these horsemen.

Once, for no apparent reason, the rebbe suddenly instructed both of these groups to perform. This was extremely unusual. Yet the chassidim performed while the rebbe stood in his usual spot and watched the horsemen carefully.

Suddenly the rebbe's son Reb Nochum fell off of his horse. Informed that his son was in grave danger, the rebbe merely motioned with his hand to continue the festivities.

After a while the rebbe asked them to stop, and stepped into his private office.

A doctor was summoned, and Reb Nochum's situation proved far less severe than previously thought. He had broken a leg, but no more.

The rebbe was then asked why he had told the horsemen and choir to continue with their performance while his beloved son lay injured.

He responded, "Why don't you ask me an even better question: why did I ask the horsemen and the choir to perform on a simple weekday in the first place?"

The rebbe explained: "Today was meant to be a harsh day for my son. I saw a grave accusation against him in the heavenly court. The prosecution was very powerful, and I could see only one way out: joy sweetens the attribute of severity. So I therefore called upon the choir to sing, and asked the riders to gladden everyone with their antics.

"The joy thus created tempered the strict decree against my son, but a small portion of the decree remained. That is why he fell off his horse and hurt his leg. However, the continued revelry lessened even this residual decree. G‑d willing, Nochum will recover in the very near future."5

Now that you know the reasons behind the peals of "Mazal tov," you too can join in and help transform the world into a more joyous place

1.Talmud, Meilah 17a–b, following the emendations of Tosafot and Shitah Mekubetzet ad loc.
2.See Otzar Yad ha-Chaim 92.
3.Midrash Tehillim, Psalms 79:1; Eichah Rabbah 4:14; Rashi, Psalms 79:1.
4.See Machmudei ha-Torah 38, p. 4.
5.Otzar Sipurei Chabad, vol. 16, p. 55, quoting Reshimot Devarim by Rabbi Yehuda Chitrik.

Russia to supply Egypt with 46 military helicopters

Russia to supply Egypt with 46 military helicopters: RT
Ahram Online , Thursday 31 Dec 2015

Chief Executive Officer to Russian Helicopters Alexander Mikheyev announced on Wednesday that Russia will supply Egypt with 46 new Ka-52K Alligator Helicopters developed for the French-made Mistral-class amphibious ships, Russia Today reported.

Mikheyev said that Egypt has signed deals to import the Alligator helicopters from Russia. The date of delivery has not yet been announced.

In October, Egypt signed a deal with France to buy two French-made Mistral warships at a joint press conference. France is expected to deliver the warships by the first half of 2016.

Russian Helicopters is the sole Russian rotorcraft designer and manufacturer and one of the few companies worldwide with the capability to design, manufacture, service, and test modern civilian and military helicopters.

In late November, the Russian defence ministry said that Egypt plans to buy a large amount of advanced weapons from Russia.

Chief of Kremlin Staff Sergey Ivanov said in November the sum of the deal might exceed $1 billion.

The deal comes a month after the two countries signed the Dabaa nuclear plant deal, which involves the building of four third-generation reactors in Egypt.

Following Terror Attack, PM Netanyahu Demands Israeli-Arabs Show Loyalty to Israel [video]

"I am not prepared to accept two States of Israel, a state of law for most of its citizens and a state within a state for some of them, in enclaves in which there is no law enforcement and in which there is Islamist incitement, rampant crime and illegal weapons that are frequently fired at events such as weddings. This era has ended."

By: Video of the Day

Published: January 3rd, 2016

Netanyahu at Dizengoff

Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening, visited the murder scene on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv where he was briefed on the progress of the investigation by – inter alia – Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Israel Police Inspector General Roni Alsheich. The Prime Minister lit a memorial candle and spoke with one of the pub's owners.

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

"Yesterday there was a heinous and unbelievably vicious murder here. Young people, whose entire lives were ahead of them, the ages of my own children, were innocently sitting celebrating a birthday and were murdered in cold blood. I would like to send heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were murdered and wishes for a complete and quick recovery to the wounded. We are praying for their well-being.

The Israel Police and ISA are working around the clock to apprehend the murderer. I just received a comprehensive briefing on their operations. They, the security forces of the State of Israel, are working to the best of their abilities. The photograph of the murderer has been published; additional photographs of him will also be published. We have reinforced our units in all relevant areas. I request that the public be on maximum alert.

I appreciate the condemnations of the crime that have been made by the Arab public. I must say that I expect all Arab MKs, all of them without exception, to clearly condemn the murder without hesitation. Murder is murder, and must be condemned and acted against from whatever quarter.

Among Israel's Muslim citizens there are many elements that have come out against the violence and wish for full law enforcement in their communities. However, we all know that there is wild radical Islamic incitement against the State of Israel in the Arab sector. There is incitement in mosques, in the educational system and in social media. We are taking strong action against this incitement just as we did when we outlawed the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement and the Mourabitoun. I am not prepared to accept two States of Israel, a state of law for most of its citizens and a state within a state for some of them, in enclaves in which there is no law enforcement and in which there is Islamist incitement, rampant crime and illegal weapons that are frequently fired at events such as weddings. This era has ended.

I have formulated a plan, along with the Public Security Minister and the Israel Police Inspector General, a plan with a lot of money and resources. We will dramatically increase law enforcement services in the Arab sector. Israel will enforce the law and its sovereignty in all parts of the country – in the Galilee, the Negev and the Triangle, everywhere. We will build new police stations, recruit more police and go into all communities and demand from all of them loyalty to the laws of the state. One cannot say 'I am an Israeli in rights and a Palestinian in obligations.' Whoever wants to be Israeli should be an Israeli all the way, both in rights and in obligations, and the first and highest obligation is to obey the laws of the state.

I view positively the increasing involvement in the IDF, in civilian service and in the overall life of the state, of the Christian, Druze and northern Bedouin communities, and within the Muslim community as well. I call on all citizens of Israel, especially its Muslim citizens, to take the path of integration, coexistence and peace and not the path of incitement, hatred and fanaticism. We are all citizens of the state and are all bound to maintain it and uphold its laws.

The Prime Minister's speech begins at 0:30.