Basic Law: ‘Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People’ Approved by Knesset 62-55 By Hana Levi Julian - 7 Av 5778 – July 19, 2018
Yehuda Lave, Spiritual
Take a moment to adopt an attitude of gratitude. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and let it sink into your bones, "Dayenu. Whatever I have right now it is enough for right now, because if I was meant to have more, I would have it now. Since this is what You decided to give me right now, it must be perfect for right now."
Now, apply this attitude to the people around you.
Think, "Whatever amount of love, understanding, approval and appreciation I am getting from others, is perfect. Dayenu.
If I was supposed to get more, I would have it." Each time you interact with someone, think "Dayenu."
Bless them for whatever they are giving you - or not giving you - because even insults and indifference are teachers. Love Yehuda Lave
Basic Law: 'Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People' Approved by Knesset 62-55
The Knesset voted 62-55 with two abstentions overnight Wednesday into Thursday to approve the 'Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People' — the bill that for the first time officially enshrines Israel as "the national home of the Jewish people" in the Basic Laws which guide the country's legal system as a quasi-Constitution.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called its passage a "pivotal moment in the annals of Zionism and the State of Israel," in remarks following the vote.
The law underscores Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the Hebrew calendar as the official calendar of the nation and sets Independence Day, national days of remembrance and Jewish holidays, as well as designates Arabic as a language with "special" standing, stipulating that "this clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect — a referral to the fact that up to this point, Arabic was the second official language of the state.
"We enshrined in law the basic principle of our existence," Netanyahu said. "Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, that respects the individual rights of all its citizens. This is our state — the Jewish state. In recent years there have been some who have attempted to put this in doubt, to undercut the core of our being. Today we made it law: This is our nation, language and flag."
Joint Arab List Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka, who has consistently represented the interests of the Palestinian Authority and in some cases those of Hamas from the podium, ripped to pieces a printed text of the bill before the plenum.
His faction colleague, Knesset member Ahmed Tibi, said in a statement delivered in Arabic, "I declare with astonishment and sorrow the death of democracy. . . The funeral takes place today in the plenum."
Following is a translation of the final version of the bill:
Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People 1 — Basic principles A. The land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people, in which the State of Israel was established. B. The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which it fulfills its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination. C. The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.
2 — The symbols of the state A. The name of the state is "Israel." B. The state flag is white with two blue stripes near the edges and a blue Star of David in the center. C. The state emblem is a seven-branched menorah with olive leaves on both sides and the word "Israel" beneath it. D. The state anthem is "Hatikvah." E. Details regarding state symbols will be determined by the law.
3 — The capital of the state, Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.
4 — Language A. The state's language is Hebrew. B. The Arabic language has a special status in the state; Regulating the use of Arabic in state institutions or by them will be set in law. C. This clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect.
5 — Ingathering of the exiles The state will be open for Jewish immigration and the ingathering of exiles
6 — Connection to the Jewish people A. The state will strive to ensure the safety of the members of the Jewish people in trouble or in captivity due to the fact of their Jewishness or their citizenship. B. The state shall act within the Diaspora to strengthen the affinity between the state and members of the Jewish people. C. The state shall act to preserve the cultural, historical and religious heritage of the Jewish people among Jews in the Diaspora.
7 — Jewish settlement A. The state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.
8 — Official Calendar The Hebrew calendar is the official calendar of the state and alongside it the Gregorian calendar will be used as an official calendar. Use of the Hebrew calendar and the Gregorian calendar will be determined by law.
9 — Independence Day and Memorial Days A. Independence Day is the official national holiday of the state. B. Memorial Day for the Fallen in Israel's Wars and Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day are official memorial days of the State.
10 — Days of Rest and Sabbath The Sabbath and the festivals of Israel are the established days of rest in the state; Non-Jews have a right to maintain days of rest on their Sabbaths and festivals; Details of this issue will be determined by law.
11 — Immutability This Basic Law shall not be amended, unless by another Basic Law passed by a majority of Knesset members.
Knesset Decriminalizes Private Use of Cannabis
The Knesset plenum on Thursday gave its final approval to a bill making possessing and using cannabis for personal consumption no longer a criminal offense for an individual, up to three times within a five-year period. The count is reset after five years.
The bill was approved by a vote of 41-1, with one abstention.
The new law dictates that an individual caught for the first time with up to 15 grams (roughly half an ounce) of Marijuana would pay a fine of $275; $550 for the second offense within five years of the first; and would enter a "conditional arrangement" for the third offense, which would require the cannabis user to pay a fine or do community service in lieu of a criminal charge.
Under the new legislation, users can ask to go to trial instead of paying the fine – but if they are then found guilty, they must pay a fine no less than three times the original fine (roughly $800).
Minors, soldiers, prisoners and previous criminal offenders are not covered under the new law, which will remain in effect for only three years, as a temporary order, so that its effects and implications can be observed and studied.
Updating first posting in Israel Daily Picture in preparation for Book 3, Jews and Holy Sites in the Holy Land, Revealed in Early Photographs . The walls of Jerusalem's Old City that we see today were built in 1540 during the days of the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent.
The location and name "Zion Gate" appear on maps dating back to the 12th century. It is one of eight gates in the Old City Wall.
Zion Gate, picture by Bergheim, circa 1867. Today, the walls are pock-marked from
bullets and artillery shells fired during the1948 war in the Jews' attempt to resupply and
relieve the Jewish Quarter besieged by the Jordanian Legion.
Zion Gate (circa 1898) The photo was captioned "Jerusalem"
with no further detail. While the American Colony photographic
department was established in 1898, its founder, Elijah
Meyer, was an active photographer prior to that date.
Expulsion of Jews from the Jewish Quarter in the 1948 War through the Zion Gate (John Philips for Life Magazine)
Located between Mt. Zion and the Jewish and Armenian Quarters, the gate was the setting for fierce fighting during the 1948 war. A small Palmach force, commanded by David "Dado" Elazar (later IDF chief of staff in 1973), attempted to break through the gate on May 1948 to relieve the besieged Jewish Quarter. They were met with stiff resistance by the Jordanian Legion and were forced to withdraw.
On May 28, 1948 the Jewish Quarter surrendered. Jews were expelled through Zion Gate and didn't return until the city of Jerusalem was reunited 19 years later in the June 1967 war.
Jewish men sitting on the ground at the " Wailing Wall" (circa 1935). From the Library of Congress collection.
Tisha B'Av is commemorated today (on the 10th of Av), Sunday July 22, 2018.
The ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av -- Tisha B'Av -- is the day in the Hebrew calendar when great calamities befell the Jewish people, including the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem, the fall of the fortress Beitar in the Jewish rebellion against Rome in 136 CE, and the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. The day is commemorated with fasting, prayers and the reading of Lamentations. In Jerusalem, thousands pray at the Kotel, the Western Wall.
The American Colony photographers frequently focused their cameras on the worshipers at the "Wailing Place of the Jews." The Colony founders who came to Jerusalem in 1881 were devout Christians who saw the return of the Jews to the Holy Land as a sign of messianic times.
Of the dozens of pictures at the Kotel there are several of elderly men and women sitting on the ground or on low stools, customs of mourning practiced on Tisha B'Av.
"A Jewish beggar reading at the Wailing Wall" (circa 1920). Note others sitting on the ground. The day is almost certainly Tisha B'Av and he is probably reading the book of Lamentations.
Other pictures presented here show the very narrow and confined area of the Kotel over the ages until Israel's army captured the Old City in 1967 and enlarged the Kotel plaza.
The tragedies that occurred to the Jewish nation are also evident in the pictures of the deserted plaza after Arab pogroms in 1929. The area was deserted, of course, during the 19 years of Jordanian rule of the Old City when Jews were forbidden to pray at the site.
A story is told of Napoleon passing a synagogue and hearing congregants inside mourning. To his question who they are mourning, he was told they were weeping over the destruction of the Jewish Temple 1,800 years earlier. Napoleon responded, according to the legend, "If the Jews are still crying after so many hundreds of years, then I am certain the Temple will one day be rebuilt."
The Shema prayer is not simply the Jewish declaration of faith that G‑d exists. It is an affirmation that G‑d is the only true existence. One G‑d is the essence of everything (more on this later). We are commanded to accept the kingship of Heaven twice daily by reciting the Shema.
1. The Shema Consists of Three Paragraphs From the Torah
Shema is technically not a prayer. It consists of three biblical paragraphs: Deuteronomy 6:4–9, 11:13–21, and Numbers 15:37–41. The first two sections ( Deuteronomy 6:4–9 and 11:13–21) declare the oneness of G‑d and our duty as Jews to love Him, to study the Torah and teach it to our children, to follow his mitzvot, including binding tefillin on our arms and heads and affixing mezuzot to the doorposts of our homes. The third section ( Numbers 15:37–41) speaks of the mitzvah of tzitzit and of the Exodus from Egypt.
In the first paragraph, the fourth verse tells us: 1 "And you shall teach them to your children... when you lie down and when you rise up." From this verse, we learn to recite the Shema twice daily, in the morning and in the evening. In order to fulfill one's obligation of saying Shema, ideally one should say all three paragraphs. In a pinch, there are varying views among the rabbis as to what one can do to fulfill the minimal obligation; but certainly, one should at least recite the first paragraph.
While reciting the first verse, we cover our eyes with our right hand. The basic reason 2 is to eliminate distractions during this essential prayer. There is yet a deeper reason: during the Shema prayer we declare that everything is G‑d, so that when we uncover our eyes we discover a new reality. A reality that centers on G‑dliness. The physical world that we see is not all that exists; there is a greater reality above the mundane.
4. The Shema Is One of the First Things We Teach Our Children
In the Laws of Torah study, in the Code of Jewish Law3, we are told that when a child starts to talk we should teach them two verses: "The Torah that Moses commanded us is a heritage for the congregation of Jacob" ( Deuteronomy 33:4). And the second is: "Hear, O Israel: The L‑rd is our G‑d; the L‑rd is One"( Deuteronomy 6:4, the first verse of Shema). These two verses are the fundamentals of our faith.
The second sentence of this prayer, which is said quietly, reads: "Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever." This verse does not appear anywhere in the bible, and there are differing views as to its origin. One source is a discussion and story in the Talmud, tractate Pesachim4 , where this very question is asked: Jacob is on his deathbed, questioning his sons' allegiance to the one G‑d. His sons respond with the first verse of the shema which led Jacob to exclaim: "Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever." The Talmud concludes, since it is not a Biblical verse it is said quietly.
The idea that "G‑d is One" means not only that there is one G‑d, but that G‑d and the whole of creation are actually one. There is nothing apart from G‑d. Nothing exists outside of Him; everything that we perceive, every particle of existence, is nothing but a veiled manifestation of G‑d. For this reason, everything in the universe is totally dependent on G‑d at every moment. G‑d created the universe a long time ago, but He also perpetually recreates its existence. The Sages speak of a stream of energy emanating from the infinite essence of G‑d, recreating the universe at every moment. Were He to remove this life-giving force, the universe and all therein would cease to exist.
7. The Shema Expresses Two Levels of Unity
Rabbi Schneur Zalman was a Chassidic luminary and the first Rebbe of Chabad, whose seminal work is titled, Tanya. In the second section of Tanya, The Gate of Unity and Faith, he explains how the first two sentences of Shema refer to two levels of divine unity. The first verse describes how G‑d relates to the world from G‑d's perspective, how in truth everything is G‑d. The second sentence employs the word 'kinship,' referring to the lower level of unity, the perspective of His creations. For there cannot be a king without a nation. From our perspective, we are dependent on G‑d to sustain our existence.
8. The Shema Is About Love
In the first paragraph of the Shema we are commanded to "[L]ove G‑d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." This means that we must harness our human desires, (i.e., animalistic passions) to serve Him—developing a love for G‑d to the point that we are excited to fulfill His wishes. We must dedicate our very life-force, our soul to Him. We must be prepared to sanctify His name, as many Jews have done so to the extent of putting their lives on the line. And lastly we must use our entire strength to serve G‑d, with at least the same energy we generally use to make a living.
At the height of the holiest day of the year is the Neilah prayer, the fifth prayer recited as the day slips away. The climax of this prayer happens just before the shofar blast, and includes three verses. The first, said once, is the opening verse of Shema: "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One." The next, said three times, is the second sentence of the Shema: "Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever." And the third verse, said seven times, is: "G‑d - He is the Only G‑d." At this moment we are taught that we must be willing to give up our very lives for the sake of heaven.
Before settling down for the night, many have the custom (that derives from the Talmud 5) to recite an order of prayers that includes the Shema (this is in addition to the evening service which also includes the Shema). Many reasons are given for this custom. The end of the day is an ideal time for introspection, a chance to look back at our day and see what can be improved, so these prayers can help us grow in the right direction. The Talmud also tells us that it is proper to go to sleep with words of Torah on one's lips; therefore, we recite the Shema again.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (R) and Education Minister Naftali Bennett
The Druze community remains critical of the new Nationality Law, and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) on Thursday admitted in an interview with Army Radio that the legislation was made hastily. "There was pressure, we made a mistake and we have to correct it – the last thing we want is to harm the Druze community," Kahlon said.
The Finance Minister stressed that the High Court of Justice petition against the new law by a Druze member of his party, MK Akram Hasson, was submitted with his consent.
Kahlon also admitted that there were mistakes in the legislation of the new surrogacy law, which bars same-sex male couples from using the services of a surrogate mother, while permitting surrogacy to same-sex female couples. "The surrogacy also suffered the same problem (haste to legislate, DI) – and we will amend the legislation," Kahlon said, adding, "These are lifelong laws that will shape the image of the State of Israel."
Minister of Education Naftali Bennett has been criticized in recent days regarding the Nationality Law, especially the timing of the legislation. On Wednesday, Channel 2 News reported that Bennett, like Kahlon, was also considering amending the law. The Education Minister has already declared that "the Israeli government bears a responsibility to find a way to heal the rift" with the Druze community.
Bennett has also been criticized for discovering the loyal Druze community's protest against the law only now, when for weeks, while the Nationality Law was being debated in committee, he was ignoring the Druze' vociferous protests, including those from former MK Shakib Shanan, who served in the IDF and is bereaved father: his son, border policeman Kamil Shinan, was murdered in a terror attack on the Temple Mount in July 2017.
Minister Bennett explained that he is now examining two possibilities for rectifying the problematic areas of the Nationality Law: enact a new, separate law, which would protect the special status of Druze in Israeli society; or amend the Nationality Law to include non-Jewish Israelis "whose fate is tied with the Jewish people," meaning members of minority groups that serve in the IDF.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also become aware of the problems with the new law and has invited Druze leaders to a meeting with him next week to discuss remedies.
But Bennett continued to defend the validity of the Nationality Law, despite the above disturbing detail. "My leftist friends, the Nationality Law became crucial because the High Court of Justice, in a series of rulings, gradually emptied the Jewish aspect of the state," he said, citing the cases of Adel Kaadan v. Israel Lands Administration, which forced Zionist land redemption groups to sell to non-Jews; the family unification ruling that allowed a flow of hostile Arabs into Israel; and the infiltrators ruling which barred the Interior Ministry from deporting illegal migrants.
These rulings, and many more, Bennett argued, have strengthened the "democratic" definition of the State of Israel while diminishing its definition as "Jewish.'
"There is a specific flaw in the law concerning our Druze brothers which must be rectified, but the law itself is essential and will remain in place," Bennett vowed.