We all have an INNER WARRIOR. When used positively, it's the part of us that focuses on our goals and values, i.e., on what is ETERNAL. In contrast, there is a part of us that is obsessed with transient, shallow and petty issues. Our inner warrior enables us to endure discomfort in order to fight for a goal.
In an op-ed in the Guardian on November 1, 2017, ahead of the 100thanniversary of the Balfour Declaration, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas called on the UK to "atone" for the century of "suffering" that the document allegedly wrought on the "Palestinian people." Abbas reiterated the claims he has been making since 2016, to justify a surreal lawsuit he has threatened to bring against Britain for supporting the "creation of a homeland for one people [Jews], which, he asserted, "resulted in the dispossession and continuing persecution of another."
"Palestinians" were the Jews who lived, along with Muslims and Christians on land called Palestine, which was under British administration from 1917 to 1948.
All people born there during the time of the British Mandate had "Palestine" stamped on their passports. But the Arabs were offended when they were called Palestinians. They complained: "We are not Palestinians, we are Arabs. The Palestinians are the Jews".
"With the rise and spread of pan-Arab ideologies it was as Arabs, not as south Syrians, that the Palestinians began to assert themselves. For the rest of the period of the British Mandate, and for many years after that, their organizations described themselves as Arab and expressed their national identity in Arab rather than in Palestinian or even in Syrian terms."
When Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, five Arab armies joined up to try to kill the infant nation in its crib. After they were routed, some of the local Arabs who had fled the war wanted to return, but they were considered a fifth column and most were not allowed back. The Arabs who had loyally remained in Israel during the war, however, and their descendants, are still there and make up one-fifth of Israel's population today. They are known as Israeli Arabs; they have the same rights as Jews, except they are not legally required to serve in the army. They may volunteer if they wish to.
Israeli Arabs have their own political parties. They serve as members of Knesset and are employed in all professions. The moral is, or should be: Do not start a war unless you are prepared to lose it — as the Arabs in and around Israel have done repeatedly, in 1947-48, 1967 and 1973.
Incidentally, the land that was being held in trust for the Jews in the British Mandate for Palestine initially included all of what is now the Kingdom of Jordan, which was granted its independence in 1946 as the Kingdom of Transjordan.
Less than a week after the article in the Guardian, Omar Barghouti, the instigator of today's attempts to destroy Israel by suffocating it economically, echoed Abbas in a Newsweekpiece, calling the Balfour Declaration "a tragedy for the Palestinian people."
The same sentiment was expressed at the end of September in a lecturedelivered by Rashid Khalidi — the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University — at the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies in New York City: that the Balfour Declaration "launched a century-long assault on the Palestinians aimed at implanting and fostering this national homeland, later the state of Israel, at their expense…"
Khalidi's claims, like those of Abbas and Barghouti, are false. Prior to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, there were no "Palestinians." As the prominent Lebanese-American historian and Mideast expert Philip Hitti stated in his testimony before the 1946 Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry: "There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not."
Authors Guy Millière and David Horowitz elaborate on this in their 2015 book, Comment le peuple palestinien fut inventé ("How the Palestinian People Were Invented"), illustrating that the purpose of the fabrication was "to transform a population into a weapon of mass destruction against Israel and the Jewish people, to demonize Israel, and to give totalitarianism and anti-Semitism renewed means of action."
The ploy for a while worked beyond expectations. The term "Palestinians" was used across the world — including in Israel — to define the Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza; it is often employed also to describe Arabs with Israeli citizenship. The narrative that the Jews displaced them by establishing a state completely contradicts the facts.
What are these facts? When was the "Palestinian people" actually created? Simply using the Google Ngram Viewer provides the answer.
Ngram is a database that charts the frequency that a given phrase appears in books published between the years 1500 to 2008. When a user enters the word phrases "Palestinian people" and "Palestinian state" into the Ngram search bar, he discovers that they began appearing only in 1960.
In his November 2, 1917 letter to Walter Rothschild, the leader of Britain's Jewish community, Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour wrote:
"His Majesty's government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine [emphasis added], or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
Finally, apart from Ngram, there are the words of the PLO leader Zuheir Mohsen, who, in a March 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, stated:
"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism.
"For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan."
(Jean Patrick Grumberg is a journalist for the French-language news site Dreuz)
Christina Aguilera's Whitney Houston Tribute at the AMAs Will Give You Goosebumps
Whenever Christina Aguilera takes the stage, you know it's going to be good. On Sunday night, the singer paid tribute to the late Whitney Houston as she performed hits from The Bodyguard during the American Music Awards. Aside from honoring the music legend, she also showed off her powerhouse voice as she belted out the lyrics to "I Will Always Love You" and "I'm Every Woman" among other Houston classics. We still have chills. We have a feeling Houston would be proud of her performance.
This week's Parshah contains an account of Jacob's four marriages, all (according to Rashi) to daughters of Laban. Now this appears to contradict the traditional view that Jacob (together with Abraham and Isaac) kept all the commandments of the Torah despite the fact that G‑d had not yet given them to Israel—out of a combination of personal zealousness and a prophetic knowledge of what the law would be; for marriage to two sisters is later prohibited. Rashi seems to offer no explanation of the difficulty, and the Rebbe considers a number of possible solutions, eventually reconciling the apparent contradiction, and drawing out the moral implications of the story.
An important and well-known principle about Rashi's commentary on the Torah is that his policy is to answer all the difficulties which are apparent in construing a literal interpretation of the verses. And when he cannot find an answer on this level, he will note the difficulty and add, "I do not know" how to resolve it. When there is a difficulty which Rashi does not even point out, this is because the answer is obvious, even to a five-year-old (the age when a Jewish child begins to study the Torah).
It is therefore very strange that we find in this week's Parshah a puzzling fact, that has preoccupied many commentators, and which Rashi not only does not explain but of which he appears to take no notice at all.
We are told that Jacob married both Rachel and Leah, and later Bilhah and Zilpah, all daughters of Laban. Now since we have a tradition that the forefathers kept the entire Torah, even though it had not yet been given—how can it be that Jacob married four sisters, when we are told,1 "You shall not take a woman to her sister"—that is, one may not marry the sister of one's wife?
Perhaps we could say that Rashi does not comment on the problem because when the "five-year-old" learns this Parshah, he does not know that Jacob's act was forbidden (for the law does not appear until Vayikra (Leviticus), and the child has not yet reached that book). However, this will not do, for Rashi does not explain the difficulty even later on.
Alternatively, it is possible that Rashi felt that, amongst the many explanations of the point given in other commentaries, there was one sufficiently obvious enough that he was not bound to mention it. But this also will not explain his silence. First of all, there are many disagreements among these other commentators, so the explanation is not obvious; and second, they are not explanations of the literal meaning of the text—which is therefore still wanting.
Ramban offers the explanation that the forefathers kept the 613 commandments of the Torah only when they lived in Israel, whereas Jacob married the two (or four) sisters while he was in Haran. But Rashi could not consistently hold this view, for he says elsewhere of Jacob,2 "While I stayed with the wicked Laban (i.e., in Haran), I kept the 613 commandments."
Another explanation is that Jacob was in fact obeying a specific command of G‑d, in order to have the 12 sons who would later become the 12 tribes. But though it is clear that G‑d's explicit command would have overridden the prohibition involved, nonetheless we find no indication in the Torah that G‑d commanded Jacob to take Rachel, Bilhah or Zilpah in marriage. On the contrary, it is clear from the narrative that he married Rachel because he wanted her, from the very outset, to be his wife; and both Bilhah and Zilpah were given to Jacob as wives by their mistresses (they were the handmaids of Rachel and Leah). He did not take them in obedience to a command from G‑d.
The Argument from Leniency
There has been intensive speculation as to whether the forefathers, in undertaking to keep the Torah before it has been given, accepted only those rulings which were more stringent than the (then binding) Noahide Laws, or also accepted the rulings which were more lenient. If we follow the second view, and remember that all four sisters must have converted to Judaism before their marriages, and take into account the lenient ruling that "a convert is like a newborn child"3—then it would follow that the wives were no longer considered sisters, since their lineage was affected by their conversion.
However, even this answer is unsatisfactory at the level of literal interpretation.
Before the Giving of the Torah, there is no biblical evidence that Jews had any other law than the Noahide Code (other than the specifically mentioned obligations of circumcision, etc.). So the undertaking of the forefathers was entirely a self-imposed thing, and did not involve their children in any obligation. It follows that there was no general legal distinction, before the Giving of the Torah, between Jews as such and the other descendants of Noah. Hence, the whole idea of conversion did not arise. Nor can we support our point by saying that the voluntary undertaking of the 613 commandments was itself a kind of conversion. For this was a self-imposed stringency, and could not have included the lenient ruling that "a convert is like a newborn child."
Besides which, Rashi, in his commentary on the Torah, never mentions this law; and indeed a literal reading of the Torah inclines one to the contrary view, for G‑d says to Abraham,4 "You shall come to your fathers in peace." In other words, even after Abraham's conversion, Terach is still regarded as his father, to whom he will be joined in death.
Finally, the prohibition of marrying one's wife's sister is not simply because she belongs to the category of those forbidden for the closeness of their relation to the would-be husband, but for the additional psychological reason that it might put enmity and jealousy in place of the natural love between two sisters. So even if the law "a convert is like a newborn child" applied before the Giving of the Torah, it would not be relevant in the present instance, for there is still a natural love between two converted sisters, which would be endangered by their sharing a husband.
Individual and Collective Undertakings
The explanation is that the manner in which Abraham, Isaac and Jacob kept the Torah was one of self-imposed stringency alone (and this is why it was so esteemed by G‑d: "Inasmuch as Abraham hearkened to My voice, and kept My charge, My commands, ordinances and laws"5). If so, then clearly if something which they had been commanded conflicted with something they did only from their own zealousness, the former, having G‑d's authority, would overrule the latter.
This is—at the simple level—why Abraham did not circumcise himself until he was commanded to (when he was 99 years old); for the Noahide Code forbade shedding one's blood—even when it would not harm one. And though circumcision outweighed this prohibition, it could do so only when commanded by G‑d.
Now, besides the Seven Noahide Laws, there were other restraints that the descendants of Noah voluntarily undertook. As Rashi says,6 "the non-Jewish nations had restrained themselves from unchastity (i.e., even in relationships which had not been expressly forbidden to them) as a consequence of the flood (which was a punishment for this sin)." And this explains what Rashi says elsewhere,7 that the Torah mentions the death of Terach, Abraham's father, before Abraham left his father's house, even though in fact he left before his father died, "so that this matter should not become known to all, in case people should say that Abraham did not show a son's respect for his father." Even though respecting one's parents had not yet been commanded by G‑d, nonetheless, since the nations had of their own accord undertaken this duty, it had acquired something of the force of law—to the extent that Jacob was punished by G‑d for not respecting his parents,8 simply because of the status which this universal voluntary undertaking had acquired.
It follows that if there were a conflict between the self-imposed stringencies of the forefathers (as individuals) and the voluntary restraints of the descendants of Noah (en masse), the latter overruled the former.
And one of these restraints that had become universally adopted was that of taking care not to deceive others, as is evidenced by Jacob's accusation against Laban,9 "Why have you deceived me?" against which Laban takes pains to justify himself (showing that he agreed that deception was a sin).
Now we can at last see why Jacob married Rachel. For he had promised her that he would marry her, and even gave her signs to prove her identity on their wedding night. Not to marry her would have involved deception, and this had a force which overruled his (individual) undertaking not to marry his wife's sister (in accordance with what G‑d would later command).
The Concern Due to Others
One of the morals which this implies is that when a man wishes to take more on himself than G‑d has yet demanded of him, he must first completely satisfy himself that he is not doing so at the expense of others. And indeed, in the case of Abraham, we find that his preciousness in the eyes of G‑d was not primarily that he undertook to keep the whole Torah before it had been given, but rather, "I know him (which Rashi translates as "I hold him dear") because he will command his children and his household after him to keep to the way of the L‑rd, doing righteousness and justice."10
And the self-imposed task of personal refinement must not be at another's expense, either materially or spiritually. When a fellow Jew knows nothing of his religious heritage, and needs (as it were) spiritual charity, it is not open to another Jew who is in a position to help him to say, "Better that I should spend my time perfecting myself." For he must judge himself honestly and answer the question, "Who am I, that these extra refinements in myself are worth depriving another Jew of the very fundamentals of his faith?" And he will then see the truth which underlies Jacob's marriage to Rachel, that care for others overrides the concern for the self-perfection which goes beyond G‑d's law.11
FOOTNOTES 1. Leviticus 18:18. 2. Commentary to Genesis 32:5. 3. Talmud, Yevamot 22a, et al.; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 269:10. 4. Genesis 15:15. 5. Genesis 26:5. 6. Commentary to Genesis 34:7. 7. Commentary to Genesis 11:32. 8. See Rashi to Genesis 37:34. 9. Genesis 29:25. 10. Genesis 18:19. 11. From Likkutei Sichot, vol. 5, pp. 141–8.