Thursday, July 26, 2018

Charles Krauthammer, Israel, and Jewish History By David Gerstman and trip to Temple Mount

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Do Your Best

 Our goal should be to keep improving ourselves, rather than "being the best."

Someone who feels the need to be "the best" should ask himself, "Why do I really have to be better than others? What is so awful if someone else is better than me in any given area?"

People who feel the need to be "the best" often suffer much anxiety. They frequently tell themselves, "If I am not the best, then I am a failure. I am nothing."

There is no basis for this. In ultimate terms, no human can really say who is best. Comparing yourself to anyone else is arbitrary -- so why cause yourself misery by doing so?

Love Yehuda Lave

Men vs Women

Three Men on a HikeThree men were hiking through a forest when they came upon a large raging, violent river. Needing to get to the other side, The first man prayed: 'God, please give me the strength to cross the river.' Poof! .. God gave him big arms and strong legs And he was able to swim Across in about 2 hours, having almost drowned twice. After witnessing that, the second man prayed: 'God, please give me Strength and the tools to cross the river' Poof! .. God gave him a rowboat and strong arms And strong legs and he Was able to row across in about an hour After almost capsizing once. Seeing what happened to the first two men, 

The third man prayed: 
'God, please give me the strength, 
The tools and the intelligence 
To cross the river' 

Poof! .. He was turned into a woman. 
She checked the map, 
Hiked one 
Hundred yards up stream 
And walked across the bridge. 

'If at first you don't succeed, do it the way your wife told you!'

                                            GO AHEAD, SEND THIS TO A WOMAN WHO NEEDS A GOOD LAUGH AND TO ANY MAN WHO CAN HANDLE IT! 

Hanach's first trip to the Temple Mount

After Tish A Bov it is always beautiful to see the holiest spot on earth. I took my friend Hanach for his first tour and found peace and Tranquility

They were drunk although not with wine, they staggered although they drank no ale (Isaiah 29:9).


In the field of alcoholism treatment, there is a concept of a "dry drunk." This term describes those who have stopped drinking alcohol, but whose behavior remains essentially unchanged from their drinking days.

Just as a "dry drunk" phenomenon occurs with someone who has stopped drinking, it can occur in someone who never drank excessively. In the above verse, the Prophet describes such behavior occurring in the absence of alcohol intoxication.

Active alcoholics are generally oblivious to their self-centered behavior. Seeking to satisfy their own needs regardless of how this may affect others, they are likely to project blame for everything that goes wrong onto anyone and everyone - except themselves. They refuse to make any changes in the way they live; instead, they demand that others accommodate.

We often observe this same behavior in people who do not use intoxicants. In a way, alcoholics are more fortunate, for eventually the toxic effects of alcohol will force upon them the realization of their destructive behavior. People who do not drink and who are thus not likely to have any toxic disasters which precipitate a crisis must therefore exercise even greater scrutiny, lest they unknowingly indulge in behavior that is destructive to themselves and others.

Today I shall ...

find myself a competent, trusted friend to help me see if I might not be denying self-destructive behavior.

Charles Krauthammer, Israel, and Jewish History By David Gerstman

Charles Krauthammer, the Washington Post the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist who died a few weeks ago at 68, was remembered for his kindness and generosity, as well as for the sophisticated analyses he brought to the political issues of the day.

For me, Krauthammer was influential in the development of my political views. His columns were also frequently a relief, as he was one of the most articulate and skilled defenders of Israel in the news media.

Krauthammer was one of the few columnists at a major U.S. newspaper who was not just pro-Israel, but an unabashed Zionist.

It would be impossible to cover the full range of Krauthammer's work, who wrote 1,600 columns and numerous longer articles over a 34-year career. I would like to focus on just his defenses of Israel through the lens of history, and specifically Jewish history.

In January 1988, a month after the organized Palestinian riots that became known as the first intifida began, he wrote a column criticizing those who offered advice to Israel on  how to handle the riots. But those who offered that advice — some of it well-meaning, some of it not — failed to account for the source of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

As Krauthammer observed, the Palestinian refugee population were kept as refugees by the Arab world "as a means to discomfit Israel," instead of absorbing them. In the 1970s the Arab world went so far as to organize a United Nations General Assembly condemnation of Israel for building permanent housing for Palestinians living in Gaza.

Resolution 32/90, Krauthammer wrote, condemned the relocation of the Gaza refugees and demanded their return "to the camps from which they were removed." The United Nations, by blocking a humane effort by Israel to address the Palestinian problem, "has a large stake in Palestinian misery."

But it wasn't just the failure of the Arab world (and the world more generally) to allow the settlement of Palestinian refugees in 1948 that perpetuated the conflict with Israel. In that column Krauthammer observed, "One of the tensest days of this round of violence occurred on Jan. 1, which Palestinians celebrate as the anniversary of the first attack on Israel by Fatah, Arafat's leading faction of the PLO. It was 23 years ago that Fatah sent men to blow up the water works of Bet Shean."

But subtract 23 from 1988, and you get 1965, meaning that the PLO's grievance began at least two and a half years before Israel captured the Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. This suggests that the core of the conflict "was not Israel's occupation but Israel's existence."

In a 2006 column, Why They Fight, Krauthammer fleshed out this basic idea. He noted that at the time, nearly 40 years after Israel's birth, Israel's enemies were still unreconciled to its existence. But one did not have to go back to 1948 to see that this was true, he wrote, "You only have to read today's newspapers."

Krauthammer pointed out that a year earlier Israel had completely withdrawn from Gaza and even left behind greenhouses to give the Palestinians an opportunity to build an industry in the area it had given up. But Hamas "turned Gaza into a base for launching rocket attacks against Israel and for digging tunnels under the border to conduct attacks such as the one that killed two Israeli soldiers on June 25 and yielded a wounded hostage brought back to Gaza."

In the north, Israel had withdrawn from southern Lebanon, had its withdrawal certified as complete by the UN Security Council but still found that "Hezbollah has done to South Lebanon exactly what Hamas has done to Gaza: turned it into a military base and terrorist operations center from which to continue the war against Israel."

He noted that a few days earlier, then Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (now the leader of Hamas) wrote in a Washington Post op-ed, that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians isn't about the West Bank and Gaza, but "about 'a wider national conflict' that requires the vindication of 'Palestinian national rights.'"

"That, of course," Krauthammer observed, "means the right to all of Palestine, with no Jewish state."

If Krauthammer was effective in exposing the false modern history underlying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he didn't ignore the longer term historical fictions either.

In the fall of 1996, Israel opened up an archaeological tunnel in Jerusalem's Old City. The Palestinians started rioting claiming that Israel was endangering the Muslim holy sites on the Temple Mount. But as Krauthammer wrote in a column for Time Magazine, "It took nearly a week and fully 70 dead before the truth began to trickle out: the charge was a lie."

The truth was that  "the only religious site it does touch is Judaism's holiest shrine, the Western Wall," and that all Israel had done was open a new entrance to accommodate more visitors.

But the problem wasn't just the international outrage heaped upon Israel for the false claims made by the Palestinians, Krauthammer wrote, the real desecrations were attacks on Jewish holy sites: the sacking of Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, an area under Palestinian Authority control, and an attempt to firebomb Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem. The former "if reported at all, merited at most a few sentences, "and the latter "received in the major American press no mention at all, save one in the New York Times–in a picture caption on page 12!"

The contrast between the treatment of the phony claims of the Palestinians and the very real desecrations of Jewish holy places showed, that "one cannot get the facts straight because of the double standard in Middle East coverage that impugns Israel's every move and patronizes Palestinians with endless free passes."

The historical importance Krauthammer attached to Israel wasn't just about the past, but also about the future, and where Jewish history was headed.

To Krauthammer, Israel was central to Judaism, a point he made forcefully in an essay published in The Weekly Standard in 1998, At Last Zion.

In the course of the essay, Krauthammer noted that all over the diaspora, Jews are becoming more scarce. With low fertility rates and increasing intermarriage, he predicted that just in the U.S. "in just two generations, 7 out of every 10 Jews will vanish."

Outside of the U.S., he wrote, there was no indication Jewish populations anywhere else in the world would grow. This meant in 1998 that, "Within a decade Israel will pass the United States as the most populous Jewish community on the globe. Within our lifetime a majority of the world's Jews will be living in Israel. That has not happened since well before Christ."

(According to the World Jewish Congress, Israel surpassed the U.S. in 2006.)

With the centrality of Israel to Judaism, from a numbers perspective, comes a risk too, "the Jews have necessarily put all their eggs in one basket, a small basket hard by the waters of the Mediterranean."

One need not agree with Krauthammer's conclusion that the existence of Israel is essential to the continued existence of the Jewish people, to understand that as time goes on Israel's importance to Jews increases.

Throughout his columns, Charles Krauthammer often made the case that history vindicates Jewish claims to Israel. He also believed that Israel was essential to the continuation of Judaism.

The cases he made for Israel's legitimacy and necessity will be missed.

---------- Sketched Worlds ----------


into light

by Yonit Koren Greenberg

poetry formed by darkness


reveals the stars or the shadows they leave behind

edited by Janet Cartlidge


copyright © 2018 Yonit Koren Greenberg



Whatever a person gives to the Kohen (priest) will be his (Numbers 5:10).


The Talmud relates that King Munbaz distributed his treasures in a year of famine. His family confronted him and said, "Your ancestors accumulated wealth, and you are dissipating it." Munbaz responded, "My ancestors accumulated wealth in this world, and I am accumulating it in a higher world. They stored their wealth where human hands could reach it, and I am storing it beyond anyone's reach."

The wise words of Munbaz take on special significance in an era such as ours, in which so many people suffer bitter disappointment when the savings they worked for all their lives disappear before their eyes. Major corporations that once appeared invincible have failed, and along with their failures went the pensions that thousands of workers had relied upon for their retirement years. Savings institutions that appeared eternally secure have gone bankrupt, and people who had invested in what they felt were safe securities were left penniless.

While no one disagrees with judicious savings, these economic upturns have proven the Psalmist's caution, not to trust in humans who may not be able to save themselves (Psalms 146:3).

The verse cited above is generally interpreted to mean that any of the tithes given to an individual Kohen belong to him exclusively. Another interpretation may be that whatever we give to tzedakah will be our own. That is something that, as Munbaz said, is beyond human capacity to steal or diminish.

Today I shall ...

remember that the only wealth that I can truly claim as my own is that which I have given to tzedakah.

See you tomorrow

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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