Thursday, February 22, 2018

Of Gold and Wood-the First Temple building called the Mishgan

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

I have a best friend who is always with me. This friend never forces itself on me, is always gentle with me and happy whenever I decide to notice it. I am referring to my breath. I've trained myself to pay attention to my breathing whenever I am in distress. Each breath reminds me that no matter what storms I may be experiencing internally or externally and no matter what physical or emotional pain I am having, there is a center of calm within me which I can connect to simply by breathing.

And then I thank Hashem for having this breath, for giving me an opportunity to love and grow in awareness and compassion. This is how I fall asleep. This is how I awaken. I am nothing but a fragile being, riding the ocean waves, doing my best to stay stable and be a beacon of light and faith.

Love Yehuda Lave

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Israeli bombing Syria enhanced US national security
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, "Second Thought: US-Israel Initiative"
February 14, 2018,,
Israel's unique contribution to US' national security and US defense industries was reaffirmed on February 10, 2018, by Israel's effective military operation against Syrian-based Iranian-Syrian surface-to-air missile batteries, early-warning radar stations, a launching-base of unmanned aerial vehicles and a command-control bunker.

While Israel lost one F-16 combat plane, its air force demonstrated exceptional capabilities in the areas of intelligence, electronic warfare – especially radar jamming – firepower capabilities, precision, maneuverability, penetration of missile batteries, early-identification and destruction of advanced unmanned aerial vehicles and their mobile controller, etc.  
Israel's Defense Forces (IDF) are analyzing the lessons of this recent operation, most of which will be shared, promptly, with the US – the manufacturer and provider of most of the systems operated by the IDF – as has been the case with a multitude of Israel's military operations and wars.  For example, much of the battle-tactics formulation in the US Army Headquarters in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas has been based on the Israeli battlefield experience.

The February 10, 2018 Israeli Air Force operation against Syrian-Iranian military targets has reinforced the legacy of the late Senator Daniel Inouye, who was the Chairman of the full Appropriations Committee and its Defense Subcommittee.  Senator Inouye considered Israel a moral ally of the US, as well as the most effective battle-tested laboratory of the US military and defense industries – a primary outpost, in a critical region, sparing the US billions of dollars, which would be required to deploy additional US military forces to the area.

Senator Daniel Inouye, who was also the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, contended that the flow of Israeli intelligence to the US exceeded – quantitatively and qualitatively - the flow of intelligence from all NATO members combined.
Chairman Inouye maintained that Israel's battle experience – shared with the US - enhanced US national security, yielding billions of dollars to the US treasury. 

For instance, the shared-lessons of the June 1982 Israeli destruction of 19 Syrian-operated advanced Soviet surface-to-air missile batteries and 97 Soviet combat planes, saved the US' defense industries 10-20 years of research and development, enhanced the competitiveness of US military systems in the global market, increased US exports and expanded US employment. Moreover, the lessons of the Israeli military operation upgraded the capabilities of the US Air Force and the US' posture of deterrence, exposed the vulnerabilities of advanced Soviet military systems – which were deemed impregnable until then - undermined the regional and global Soviet strategic stature, tilted the global balance of power in favor of the US and prevented the loss of many American lives.

When visiting the General Dynamics plant (currently, Lockheed-Martin) in Ft. Worth, Texas, which manufactures the F-16 and F-35, I was told by the plant manager that the US manufacturer was privy to an almost daily flow of operational, maintenance and repair lessons drawn by Israel's Air Force, which generated over 600 upgrades, "worth mega-billion of dollars."  Common sense suggests that similar mega-benefits are afforded to McDonnell-Douglas, in St. Louis, Missouri, the manufacturer of the F-15, which is also operated by the Israeli Air Force. 

In Dallas, Texas, a retired US combat pilot suggested to me that "a most productive time for US combat pilots are joint-exercises with Israeli pilots." Responding to my doubts – since Israeli pilots fly US-made planes and are not smarter than US pilots – the US combat pilot elaborated: "Israeli pilots fly, routinely, within range of the enemies' radar and missiles, and therefore always fly under a do-or-die state of mind, which results in more daring and creative maneuvers, stretching the capabilities of the US plane much more than done by US pilots."

The February 10, 2018 Israeli Air Force operation highlighted the US-Israel mutually-beneficial, two-way-street, featuring Israel's unique contributions to US national security and defense industries. It provided additional evidence of the exceptionally high rate-of-return on the annual US investment in Israel, which is erroneously defined as "foreign aid."  Israel is neither foreign to the US, nor is it a supplicant; it has been an unconditional, productive junior partner of the US in the liberty-driven battle against rogue regimes.

Of Gold and Wood

Aron Grossman Former Shaliach in Perth (2016-17) Of Gold and Wood
Rabbi Akiva teaches us that every letter in the Torah has a reason, and the commentators certainly had this idea in mind in their explanations of Parshat Trumah. Every vessel, every measurement, has a reason, is a metaphor for something bigger, a part of our spiritual world. For example, the Mizbeach represents atonement, the Shulchan physical desires, and the Aron HaKodesh, the most hidden and unreachable vessel, represents the Torah or the spiritual part of Judaism. If we take a look at the attributes of the Aron, we can obtain some understanding of the Torah and the spiritual nature of Judaism.

As the Kli Yakar notes, the Aron HaKodesh is measured in fractioned units (two and a half cubits etc.) to show that perfect spirituality can never be obtained; man can never reach the limits of his spiritual being, there is always more Torah to learn, always higher levels to reach. The Aron is kept in the Kodesh Hakodeshim, the innermost chamber in the Beit Hamikdash, where only one holy man may enter once a year, and only then after purifying himself days before mentally and physically. The Aron is protected symbolically by two Cheruvim,[1] marking the contents inside the Aron as inaccessible, closed. This seems to show that the Torah is esoteric, only for the elite few, something to keep from the masses.
Yet the Kli Yakar notes that the only vessel in which God commands Moshe "וְעָשׂ֥וּ אֲר֖וֹן עֲצֵ֣י שִׁטִּ֑ים"- and they should make the Aron, seeming to imply the people,[2] is in the Aron HaKodesh. Even more surprising, as opposed to the Menorah, for example, which is made entirely of pure gold, the Aron is made of Acacia wood, and is only to be covered in gold- "וְצִפִּיתָ֤ אֹתוֹ֙ זָהָ֣ב טָה֔וֹר מִבַּ֥יִת וּמִח֖וּץ תְּצַפֶּ֑נּוּ"- significantly the gold covering, as opposed to the wood base, is created by Moshe ("ועשית").

It seems that these two types of people, the Torah scholar (Moshe) and the people both have a part in the building of the Aron. Which begs the question: Where is the focus? Is the Torah for the masses or the elite?
The answer of course is both, but the focus seems to be on the people, while the elite are there to serve the mass's needs. Judaism has always been about the actions of Am Yisrael as a whole. Many Halachot, customs, and even interpretations of the Torah are based on what the majority of people are doing, and there is a halachic principle to always try to look favorably on the Jewish nations actions. God judges the nation not by its tsaddikim, rather by the lowly people. The righteous are expected to elevate them with the Torah, to coat them with gold. Yet the base of the Aron is the wood, the gold is not substantial enough to stand alone. The Torah's core is the people's actions, how Am Yisrael as a whole keeps the Mitzvot and does Hashem's will.

The people care about the Torah because it is theirs, and even though sections of it are hidden away and most of the nation can't understand it, they know that they are at the center, they are the end goal and it is their actions that have effect on this world. When the Cohen Gadol goes into the Kodesh haKodeshim, he is asking forgiveness for the sins of the people, he is a servant to the nation and their deeds, for that is what matters. He and the sages are here to serve the people, to ask for forgiveness, to plate their actions in gold and nudge the people in the right direction due to their higher understanding.
May we all act in bringing the redemption as quickly as possible!   [1] Cheruvim are used as symbols of protection in the Torah. The first reference in the Torah about Cheruvim is in Breishit 4:24, after Adam was kicked out of Gan Eden God put Cheruvim and a spinning sword to guard it. [2] As opposed to the other vessels where it is written "ועשית" and you should write.

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Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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