Friday, December 7, 2018

Stories of Love and Hope from the El Al plane that landed in Athens because it was too late to go to Israel and Happy 5th day of Chanukah and  Rabbi Kahane on Down with  Chanukah

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Bring Out the Best in Others

You can't control anyone else's way of speaking and acting. But by upgrading your own way of speaking and acting, you are more likely to bring out a better way of being in the other person.

Love Yehuda Lave

The false headline "Haredim Riot on Plane"

 This Shabbos I had the tremendous privilege to be a part of something amazing, beautiful and enlightening. I am hoping El Al [management] will see this and understand that there is a much better headline than the false headline "Haredim Riot on Plane" which I currently see online.[1]   Here is the short of it. Our El Al flight was supposed to leave at 6:30pm [on Thursday, and arrive in Israel at 11:30am on Friday]. 3 members of the crew were late and we started boarding at 8:30pm during which the crew members arrived. At 9:10pm the flight doors were closed and everything was calm for about an hour. At around 10pm many of the passengers who were concerned about Shabbos starting asking the crew members for detail about departure and no answers were given other than we are leaving in 5 minutes. Keep in mind, that at 10:25pm sitting on a JFK runway, El-AL's website showed our flight as enroute, having departed at 9:30PM. I was sitting in business class, my seat was directly next to the stairs going to second floor, and 3 rows behind the first class food prep galley. I heard every exchange. At no time was there any physical threat presented by passengers concerned about Shabbos. I am loathe to use the term Chareidim [or 'ultra-Orthodox'], this was not some Neturei Karta [Jewish radical anti-Zionist] protest full of black clad chasidim spewing nonsense. These were Jews from all walks of life and varied backgrounds who were concerned about Shabbos.   At 11:35pm there were about 40 passengers, myself included, who stood by the exit door and expressed our wishes to disembark from the plane. By this time we were sitting on the tarmac for two and half hours. One of the stewardesses told us that if they take us back to the gate and we get off the plane we would lose our tickets and not be rebooked. I am not sure if she was trying to shock us into sitting or if this was the real policy, but our response was unanimous; every single person said that's fine, we are ok with that, just take us back to the gate so we don't violate Shabbos. Not one person said, "What?? No ,you have to rebook us", or, "you can't do that", there was a simple, basic understanding, we had Shabbos.   At one point someone, whom I later found out to be Rabbi Shalom Ber Sorotzkin, got on the intercom and said that he spoke to the pilot, and that the pilot guaranteed we would get to the airport before Shabbos, and that he (Rabbi Sorotzkin) arranged for everyone to have a place and a meal for Shabbos if they did not have time get to where they needed, since we would arrive only one hour before Shabbos. Many of us, myself included, did not sit down and expressed our desire to go back to the gate. At that point the captain came onto the intercom. He told us we were going to go back to the gate as soon as everyone was seated. And we all went back to our seats.   I can't begin to describe the sinking feeling in my stomach as I saw the plane turn away from the terminals and face the runway. In less than 6 minutes after telling us to return to our seats to go back to the gate, we were in the air. (FYI - there was no Wifi on the flight which meant our only source of information for the rest of the flight was the El-Al crew.) Four hours into the flight the Captain announced that "because of the Charedim" the plane would stop in Athens. At which point, all the people who want to get off for Shabbos can get off the plane first, and then, (and here is the kicker), all the people who want to continue to Israel will also have to get off the plane and go on a different plane from IsraAir to go to Israel.   What a shame… I wish El Al had announced the truth. We were stopping in Athens because El-Al made a series of bad calls, and once they landed they could not depart on Shabbos which is why they needed a non El-Al plane to continue to Israel on Shabbos.   This only caused the internal tension to rise, as our only source of information was the crew, who were less than helpful and not at all sympathetic. To be very clear, no one was angry at the stewardesses, everyone understood that they did not make the decisions. We were requesting to speak to the pilot or someone who can speak for the pilot. Again, there were no attempts to break into the cockpit, there were no physical altercations. Yes, there were some raised voices, but most of the time (I have the videos showing) it was secular Israeli passengers who came to yell at the passengers who were concerned about Shabbos that we were ruining their weekend.   This in itself was absurd because we did not make the decision to stop in Athens and the majority of the religious passengers preferred that we continue to Israel and be stuck in the Tel Aviv airport.   As the minutes crept closer to our arrival into Athens there were discussions on the plane about whether it was halachically better to stay on the plane or to disembark in Athens. We had no clue what to expect. Would we stay in the airport? Was there a hotel? What would we eat?   When they served breakfast I realized that the packaged egg which they served for breakfast and the half a sandwich I had left from when I boarded the plane could very well be all we had to eat on Shabbos. I even put some nuts into my backpack for Shalosh Seudos[Seudat Shlishi -- the Third Shabbat meal - towards the end of Shabbat]. When it was clear that we were landing in Athens and we would begin our descent, we returned to our seats. Many of us tried to separate our Muktza [forbidden-to-use-on-Shabbat] items and to make sure our Tallis [prayer shawl] and Siddur [prayer book] were easily accessible.   After the plane landed and we stopped, we disembarked on one of those rollaway staircases to get onto one of several shuttles. I was one of the first people onto the shuttle and I watched as dozens of more Yidden [Jews] came off the plane with no other thought than, to stay on the plane would be chillul [a profanation of] Shabbos, and that getting off the plane was the best chance of keeping Shabbos.   Chasidim got off the plane, as well as men with black hats, colored shirts, in t-shirts, and in suits; women with sheitels, [wigs], snoods, or no hair-covering; in skirts or in pants; everyone [150-plus people] coming off the plane was united in one thing - We believe in G-d [the Creator] and His Torah, and Shabbos was our gift from Him and our inheritance and we would uphold it.   As the first shuttle was full and started towards the airport (there were more shuttles behind us) everyone broke into a song for Shabbos Kodesh [the holy Sabbath].   Once we got to the airport we were met by a woman from El Al who was very sweet. She took the time to explain to us that we were would be staying across the street (literally) at a hotel and they would take us as soon as the other shuttles arrive.   As they led us into the hotel it was very chaotic. There were four hotel clerks and [a shuttle load of] people started surging towards the front desk. At that point, one Rabbi, whom I later learned was Rabbi Akiva Katz, yelled above the crowd and explained to everyone that we would need to create orderly lines in order not to overwhelm the clerks. He also let us know that they had set aside a place for davening (prayer) and that Chabad [House of Athens staff] had prepared food. This helped reduce the stress in the room and the process became more orderly as people were focused on getting to their rooms and ready for Shabbos in the 40 minutes we had left till sunset.   Walking into Kabbalas Shabbos (the "welcoming the Shabbat" prayers -- I was late) was beautiful. The room was full of 60 or 70 men and about 10 women and everyone was singing. Rabbi Jesse Horn from Yeshiva Ateres Kohanim led Kabbalas Shabbos. We were all so happy to be able to keep Shabbos, and the davening and level of simcha (joy) was very high. I think we must have danced four or five times during Kabbalas Shabbos and Maariv [Evening Prayer]. After Kabbalas Shabbos we walked through the hotel to the dining area and I can tell you with 100% conviction that what I saw was beyond anything I could have imagined.   85% of the dining area was reserved for our Shabbos meal. The tables were set beautifully with bottles of wine, grape juice and challah rolls. [The area] where the hotel usually displayed its salad bars and assortment of cold meats it was now filled with platters of gefilte fish and 6 or 7 large bowls with a variety of salads and dips, it was as if this had planned for weeks in advance. There was plenty of meat for the main course and an assortment of side dishes to accompany it.   The Seudah [meal] was beautiful and everyone sang zemiros [songs] and niggunim [melodies] and there were many Divrei Torah [short speeches of Torah explanation]. Several people had stopped at the Duty Free store to get bourbon and scotch for the crowd, and it was very leibedig [lively] and the singing went on for quite a while.I woke up several times during the night as my body was still on NY time, and each time I went downstairs to the lobby there were people learning [Torah] together or talking about the Parsha [Weekly Torah Reading [.Shacharis [the Morning Prayer] was another beautiful davening and it was interesting to see how it was a mix of Sefard, Sefardi and Ashkenaz Nusachim [text and prayer-order variations].   After all the prayers were completed, several people went to the kitchen to help Rabbi and Rebbetzin Hendel (the Chabad Shluchim [emissaries] in Athens) prepare for the Shabbat Day meal.   There were also two classes being taught -- one in Hebrew, and one in English by Rabbi Yossi Baumol. After the teachers finished we went to the dining room where, like the previous night, there were copious amounts of delicious food, [including] a wonderful meat kugel wrapped in pastry, brisket, and a large assortment of salads. Unlike the previous night, where everyone sat next to people who were closest to them in their style of mitzvah-observance, the seating during the Shabbos Day meal was heterogeneous. Chasidim sat and schmoozed [conversed] with Zionists, Modox [Modern Orthodox] sat with the black hatted… (I only use these labels so you can visualize the seating, but there were no labels at this Shabbos meal, we sat in true achdus [unity]).   The rest of Shabbos and the subsequent trip back to the airport and our return flight to Israel was unremarkable, so I don't need to bore you with the details.   First I would like to thank the following people.   Rabbi Shalom Ber Sorotzkin who had the foresight before the plane took off to have his organization contact El-Al and Chabad and put pressure on to make this Shabbos happen.   [Menachem-Mendel] and Rebbetzin [Nechama-Dina] Hendel, the Chabad Rabbi and Rebbetzin based in Athens, Greece. They got the call at 11am Friday morning and by 4pm that same afternoon they had prepared a beautiful Shabbos for 150+ adults which was not lacking in anyway.   My 150+ new friends and passengers who gave me an experience and Shabbos I will never forget. Now a quick note to El-AL: I don't know who handles your marketing and social media program but you wasted a huge opportunity. Next time this happens, here is what you do. You make sure you get a similar hotel and that Chabad sets up a beautiful Shabbos. You hire a local photographer and video guy, you video the amazing Shabbos - and then you promote it as an "El-Al sponsored Shabbos of Unity." If you need more advice feel free to call or email me, or just send me some tickets as a thank you.   I would like to leave off with a few thoughts having just spent one of the most amazing Shabbos of my life. 1. 150+ Jews from all backgrounds and religious orientations, wearing every outfit possible, walked off a plane with one thought - We will keep Shabbos, even if it means sleeping in an airport. 2. Unlike our Great Grandparents, who were fired if they did not work on Shabbos (USA), or where were ostracized, and possibly incarcerated for keeping Shabbos (USSR). How often do we get a chance to be moser nefesh [sacrifice so much] for Shabbos? This was a tremendous gift from 'Hashem' [G-d] to us that we had the chance to show Him how much we love Him and His Torah, and we ALL took it. 3. Every parent in that hotel who was not able to be home with their children that Shabbos taught their child a lesson that they could not have taught them in a 100 Shabboses at home. They showed that Shabbos means so much to Mommy and Tatty [Daddy (Yiddish)], Ima and Abba [Mom & Dad] (Hebrew), etc that they would walk off a plane in the middle of a foreign country with no guaranty of food or a place to sleep. 4. Yom Tov [the 'pilgrim' Festivals] in the Beis Hamikdash [Holy Temple] was probably like this Shabbos. Jews from all over coming together for G-d and his mitzvos. I hope to see all of my fellow passengers this Pesach [Passover] bringing korbanos [the required offerings] to the Temple [in Jerusalem]. May we be zocheh [have the merit] to see Mashiach [the Redeemer2 ] and the return of the Beis Hamikdash.   With much love   Ben Chafetz ~~~~~~~~~~~ Footnotes: 1. Based on the Facebook posts of two non Shabbat-observant passengers. Times of Israel, Israel International News, TV channel 2, etc. The latter two subsequently printed contrary reports from the Shabbat observers in Athens. 2.…of the Jewish people from their places of exile throughout the world. ('Moshiach' is short for 'Melech HaMoshiach' - the anointed king who traces his descent from King David.]   Source: Edited, annotated and supplemented by Yerachmiel Tilles. [The original article by Ben Chefetz was first posted on the Arutz Sheva English site and the Col Live chabad site.] Photo from the blog of Betzalel Steinhart. Connections: In this week's Torah Reading Vayishlach, Ya'akov establishes limits for the distance allowed for walking in uninhabited areas on Shabbat (33:18)   Editor's note: Former Knesset minister Yaakov "Yankele" Katz reports that, in gratitude, many passengers donated to Chabad in Athens contributions ranging from $200 t0 $10,000 (!), to enable them to build a new mikvah. The money was raised on the return flight to Israel. The total was enough to cover all of the costs.  

Take a tour of new One World Observatory

The One World Observatory officially opens. Cool tech attractions include elevators that boast a virtual time-lapse of the New York City skyline and interactive tools that help visitors explore and learn about the city. Anthony Mason gets a behind-the-scenes look at the experience.

In the video, the commentary says that the 102 stories to the top take 47 seconds. Please compare that to going down the 10 stories at the new Jerusalem Trian station that takes at least 10 minutes. Someone should be fired.

From the blog of Betzalel Steinhart, as posted on the "Times of Israel" website

: // I am writing this as a response to the articles posted on the news and social media of violence on El Al 002 from JFK. I was on that flight and as I type this, I am in Athens airport waiting to board my [Saturday night, November 17,] 11:30 p.m. flight back to Tel Aviv.   I am not Haredi, just a religious man who keeps Shabbat, and neither were most of the 200 of us who got off the plane in Athens rather than desecrate Shabbat. Maybe 20 percent Haredi at most. The Chabad here were fantastic and a potentially horrible Shabbat was memorable.     The Flight 002 Election   Last week, Israeli media reported of rioting Haredim onboard an El Al plane. The true story turned out to be very different, and deeply revealing. By Liel Leibovitz   Last Thursday, as New York was struggling with the obstacles presented by 5 mighty inches of snow, El Al Flight 002 to Tel Aviv, scheduled to depart at 6:30 p.m., was delayed. It finally took off at 11:45 p.m., which, ordinarily, is hardly the stuff of front page news. Except that shortly after its landing, the flight became not only the subject of explosive nationwide controversy but also a perfect metaphor for so much that is wrong—and so much that is right—with Israeli society.   The first accounts of Flight 002, appearing in the Israeli press on Saturday, were grim. The snowstorm, in this version of events, caused an inevitable delay, and when the Haredi passengers on board learned that the flight would arrive in Israel only an hour or so before Shabbat, they began to riot. A poorly lit, grainy video was produced, taken onboard the flight, showing religious men flailing their arms and shouting. And a famous passenger—Shimon Sheves, the former director of the Prime Minister's Office under the late Yitzhak Rabin—posted a widely quoted account of the flight on Facebook featuring "hands raised in the air," as Sheves described it, "hitting stewardesses, who, in turn, burst out crying." El Al's official statement said bluntly that the company will pursue legal charges, "with determination and without compromise," against any passenger behaving violently.   For 24 hours, the impudence of the Orthodox was all many Israelis heard about, online, on air, and in print. But then Shabbat ended, and the religious passengers on board Flight 002 returned from Athens—where the flight eventually made a pit stop to allow those who wished to observe Shabbat to deplane—with a very different story.   So what really happened en route from New York to Tel Aviv? As we now know, three noteworthy things: First, the delay was caused because the crew arrived at the airport three hours late. Sure, it was snowing, and the roads were a slushy hellscape, but virtually all of the flight's 400 passengers realized that and had the good sense to allow plenty of time for travel. The professionals of El Al weren't quite as attentive or wise.   Even more maddening, once the passengers, still on the ground and growing irate, learned that the flight would not land in Israel in time for Shabbat, many asked to return to the gate so that they could leave the plane and spend the weekend stateside before making other travel arrangements. The flight's captain asked everyone to sit down and buckle up, promising his passengers that he was merely taxiing back to the gate. Instead, without providing any further updates, without adhering to the requisite safety protocols, and in blatant violation of his promise, he simply took off for Israel.   Under the circumstances, you'd understand why the passengers, having been disrespected and lied to, might be upset. But the best was yet to come: When Yehuda Schlesinger, a passenger aboard Flight 002 and a reporter for Yisrael Hayom, returned home from Athens, he saw the viral video that allegedly documented those rascally Haredi men flexing their muscles and threatening violence. He recognized the clip, because he had shot it with his smartphone on Thursday night and shared it on social media. There was only one small problem: The video Schlesinger took was of Haredi men singing and dancing to cheer each other up under difficult circumstances; the video shown on Israeli TV was edited and given a radically different soundtrack, one featuring men shouting in a menacing fashion. When Schlesinger, incensed, pointed this out to Israel's Channel 10, they apologized and claimed that the soundtrack was swapped due to technical trouble. The term for that in Yiddish is fake news.   But while Israel's national airline proved to be incompetent, its media mendacious, and its mandarins seething with contempt for their observant brothers and sisters, there's another side to the story of Flight 002 that deserves to be heard. Far from being uniformly Haredi, as early press reports insisted, the passengers who rushed against the clock in Greece were a wildly diverse bunch: black hatters and wearers of knitted kippot, Ashkenazim and Sephardim, men and women from all across Israel with nothing much in common save for the tradition that has bound us all for millennia. Welcomed by Rav Mendel and Rebbetzin Nechama Hendel, the local Chabad emissaries, these stranded passengers, according to their own accounts, passed a joyous Shabbat, enjoying each other's company and the spirit of the holy day despite being separated from their luggage and their loved ones waiting at home.   If Israelis are indeed slouching toward elections—as of this week, the government is still teetering on the brink of collapse—you need only look to Flight 002 to discover the nation's real divides. With the Israeli left having eroded into irrelevance by insisting that only further concessions can stop the surge of terror, voters aren't divided by significant ideological differences. Instead, Israelis, like Americans, fall squarely into the two camps visible on board the Boeing that snowy night last week. In one corner are those who keep their faith, who come together in times of crisis, and who expect the conversation to remain respectful and those in power to remain accountable. If you're wondering about their values, just watch Schlesinger's undoctored video and ask yourself when was the last time you reacted to a major inconvenience by finding some stream of inner happiness and bursting into song in public.   The group in the other corner, sadly, isn't quite so cheerful. A former senior government official, news reporters and editors, a major airline: All could've returned quietly to their homes, taken a long shower, brushed off the ordeals of their ill-fated flight and gone on with their lives. Instead, they felt a need to concoct a sickening little story of the religious behaving badly, drawing on very little evidence and a lot of animosity toward the deplorables who dare expect that the national carrier of the world's only Jewish state might show some consideration when it comes to observing Shabbat. There's a term in Yiddish for that, too: It's prejudice.   One group sang songs and broke bread together, grateful for the gift of community. The other wasted not a moment before taking to the media and portraying their fellow passengers as a benighted mob disdainful of all that is enlightened and good.   If you've been paying any attention at all to politics anywhere in the world, you already know which group is likely to prevail in the long run: In Tel Aviv, in Tampa, in Tottenham, and elsewhere, cataclysmic coalitions of tired citizens are coming together, forming movements that are as much personal as they are political. Often, these movements are composed of folks who have no real coherent agenda except the pain of yet again turning on the TV and seeing themselves cast as the butt of the joke, listening to the news and hearing themselves blamed for all ills, reading the paper and learning that their self-appointed moral and intellectual betters have again dug up an opportunity to scorn them. They've had enough, and when they vote, they often just vote against that well-dressed person in the emergency exit seat who gently shook her head at the mere sight of a beard and sidelocks or a covered head.   That's the troubling news. The good news is that while the aircraft of Israeli statehood may, like Flight 002, suffer some occasional turbulence, it always lands safely, and there's plenty of room onboard for anyone, of any denomination or disposition, capable of coexistence and respect.  

Rosh Hanikra Part Three of Three

On Nov 13, 2018, we go on a beautiful fall day with the sun shining to the undeveloped most Northern coast on the Lebanon border. It is a national park, for the sea caves cut into the rock by the sea and the only place in Israel where the mountains hit the sea. It was a beautiful day with my love

Rabbi Meir Kahane Writings (5732-33) (1971-73)

Down with Chanukah

Written December 15, 1972


If I were a Reform rabbi; if I were a leader of the Establishment whose money and prestige have succeeded in capturing for him the leadership and voice of American Jewry; if I were one of the members of the Israeli Government's ruling group; if I were an enlightened sophisticated, modern Jewish intellectual, I would climb the barricades and join in battle against the most dangerous of all Jewish holidays – Chanukah.


It is a measure of the total ignorance of the world Jewish community that there is no holiday that is more universally celebrated than the "Feast of Lights", and it is an equal measure of the intellectual dishonesty and of Jewish leadership that it plays along with the lie.  For if ever there was a holiday that stands for everything that the mass of world Jewry and their leadership has rejected – it is this one.  If one would find an event that is truly rooted in everything that Jews of our times and their leaders have rejected and, indeed, attacked – it is this one.  If there is any holiday that is more "unJewish" in the sense of our modern beliefs and practices – I do not know of it.


The Chanukah that has erupted unto the world Jewish scene in all its childishness, asininity, shallowness, ignorance and fraud – is not the Chanukah of reality.  The Chanukah that came into vogue because of Jewish parents – in their vapidness – needed something to counteract Christmas; that exploded in a show of "we-can-have-lights-just-as-our-goyish-neighbors" and in an effort to reward our spoiled children with eight gifts instead of the poor Christian one; the Chanukah that the Temple, under its captive rabbi, turned into a school pageant so that the beaming parents might think that the Religious School is really successful instead of the tragic joke and waste that it really is; the Chanukah that speaks of Jewish Patrick Henrys giving-me-liberty-or death and the pictures of Maccabees as great liberal saviors who fought so that the kibbutzim might continue to be free to preach their Marx and eat their ham, that the split-level dwellers of suburbia might be allowed to violate their Sabbath in perfect freedom and the Reform and Conservative Temples continue the fight for civil rights for Blacks, Puerto Ricans and Jane Fonda, is not remotely connected with reality. 


This is NOT the Chanukah of our ancestors, of the generations of Jews of Eastern Europe and Yemen and Morocco and the crusades and Spain and Babylon.  It is surely not the Chanukah for which the Maccabees themselves died.  Truly, could those whom we honor so munificently, return and see what Chanukah has become, they might very well begin a second Maccabean revolt.  For the life that we Jews lead today was the very cause, the REAL reason for the revolt of the Jews "in those days in our times."  


What happened in that era more than 2000 years ago?  What led a handful of Jews to rise up in violence against the enemy?  And precisely who WAS the enemy?  What were they fighting FOR and who were they fighting AGAINST?


For years, the people of Judea had been the vassals of Greece.  True independence as a state had been unknown for all those decades and, yet, the Jews did not rise up in revolt.  It was only when the Greek policy shifted from mere political control to one that attempted to suppress the Jewish religion that the revolt erupted in all its bloodiness.  It was not mere liberty that led to the Maccabean uprising that we so passionately applaud.  What we are really cheering is a brave group of Jews who fought and plunged Judea into a bloodbath for the right to observe the Sabbath, to follow the laws of kashruth, to obey the laws of the Torah.  IN A WORD EVERYTHING ABOUT CHANUKAH THAT WE COMMEMORATE AND TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO COMMEMORATE ARE THINGS WE CONSIDER TO BE OUTMODED, MEDIEVAL AND CHILDISH!


At best, then, those who fought and died for Chanukah were naïve and obscurantist.  Had we lived in those days we would certainly not have done what they did for everyone knows that the laws of the Torah are not really Divine but only the products of evolution and men (do not the Reform, Reconstructionist and large parts of the Conservative movements write this daily?)  Surely we would not have fought for that which we violate every day of our lives!  No, at best Chanukah emerges as a needless holiday if not a foolish one.  Poor Hannah and her seven children; poor Mattathias and Judah; poor well meaning chaps all but hopelessly backward and utterly unnecessary sacrifices.


But there is more.  Not only is Chanukah really a foolish and unnecessary holiday, it is also one that is dangerously fanatical and illiberal. The first act of rebellion, the first enemy who fell at the hands of the brave Jewish heroes whom our delightful children portray so cleverly in their Sunday and religious school pageants, was NOT a Greek.  He was a Jew.


When the enemy sent its troops into the town of Modin to set up an idol and demand its worship, it was a Jew who decided to exercise his freedom of pagan worship and who approached the altar to worship Zeus (after all, what business was it of anyone what this fellow worshipped?)  And it was this Jew, this apostate, this religious traitor who was struck down by the brave, glorious, courageous (are these not the words all our Sunday schools use to describe him?) Mattathias, as he shouted: "Whoever is for G-d, follow me!"  


What have we here?  What kind of religious intolerance and bigotry?  What kind of a man is this for the anti-religious of Hashomer Hatzair, the graceful temples of suburbia, the sophisticated intellectuals, the liberal open-minded Jews and all the drones who have wearied us unto death with the concept of Judaism as a humanistic, open-minded, undogmatic, liberal, universalistic (if not Marxist) religion, to honor?  What kind of nationalism is this for David-Ben-Gurion (he who rejects the Galut and speaks of the proud, free Jew of ancient Judea and Israel)?

And to crush us even more (we who know that Judaism is a faith of peace which deplores violence), what kind of Jews were these who reacted to oppression with FORCE?  Surely we who so properly have deplored Jewish violence as fascistic, immoral and (above all!) UN-JEWISH, stand in horror as we contemplate Jews who declined to picket the Syrian Greeks to death and who rejected quiet diplomacy for the sword, spear and arrow (had there been bombs in those days, who can tell what they might have done?) and "descended to the level of evil," thus rejecting the ethical and moral concepts of Judaism.


Is this the kind of a holiday we wish to propagate?  Are these the kinds of men we want our moral and humanistic children to honor?  Is this the kind of Judaism that we wish to observe and pass on to our children?


Where shall we find the man of courage the one voice, in the wilderness to cry out against Chanukah and the Judaism that it represents-the Judaism of our grandparents and ancestors?  Where shall we find the man of honesty and integrity to attack the Judaism of Medievalism and outdated foolishness; the Judaism of bigotry that strikes down Jews who refuse to observe the law; the Judaism of violence that calls for Jewish force and might against the enemy?  When shall we find the courage to proudly eat our Chinese food and violate our Sabbaths and reject all the separateness, nationalism and religious maximalism that Chanukah so ignobly represents?  …Down with Chanukah!  It is a regressive holiday that merely symbolizes the Judaism that always was; the Judaism that was handed down to us from Sinai; the Judaism that made our ancestors ready to give their lives for the L-rd; the Judaism that young people instinctively know is true and great and real.  Such Judaism is dangerous for us and our leaders.  We must do all in our power to bury it.


CHANUKAH SAMEACH: May each candle that you lite brighten your life. I pray for the miracle of good over evil in the times we are living in today. May we all celebrate next year in Eretz Yisrael, a country that is liberated and annexed in all our Biblical boundaries. 



We read in Parashat Vayishlah of Yaakob's prayer before his feared encounter with his brother, Esav.   In this prayer, Yaakob acknowledges that he feels unworthy of all the kindness Hashem had bestowed upon him, noting, "I crossed this Jordan River with my stick, but now I have become two camps" (32:11).   Rashi, citing the Midrash, explains this to mean that when Yaakob fled from Eretz Yisrael, he placed his stick in the Jordan River and the waters split.   This miracle is of course reminiscent of the miracle that would occur much later, when Yehoshua led Beneh Yisrael across the Jordan River into Eretz Yisrael, as described in the Book of Yehoshua.   When the Kohanim, who were carrying  the Aron, placed their feet in the waters of the Jordan, the waters formed a wall, allowing the people to easily cross.   The root and source of that miracle was Yaakob Abinu, who split the Jordan River when he left  Eretz Yisrael.   We indeed find a close association between Yaakob and the Aron carried by the Kohanim.   In the previous Parasha, Parashat Vayeseh, we read that when Yaakob woke up after his famous dream, he exclaimed,  "Ma Nora Ha'makom Ha'zeh"–"How awesome is this place!" (28:17).   If we spell the word "Nora" backwards, we arrive at "Aron."(It should also be noted that the holy books comment that the divine Name of "Nora" is used in reference to the attribute of "Tiferet," which was embodied by Yaakob Abinu.) The Aron transported by the Kohanim thus represented Yaakob, and in the spirit of "Ma'aseh Abot Siman La'banim"– the actions of our patriarchs established the model of what would happen to their descendants – the river split for the Aron just as it split for Yaakob.     We can develop this concept further in light of the comments of the Or Ha'haim (Rav Haim Ben Attar, 1696-1743) regarding another episode involving the splitting of a river.   The Gemara in Masechet Hulin (6) tells that Rav Pinhas Ben Yair once needed to cross a river, and as soon as he reached the riverbank, the waters split so he could cross.   Behind him there was a non-Jewish traveler who also needed to cross the river, and so in order to make a Kiddush Hashem, Rav Pinhas had the river split a second time to help that traveler.   The Or Ha'haim raised the question of how Rav Pinhas Ben Yair was able to perform this great miracle twice with such ease.   The Midrash relates that when Moshe Rabbenu wanted to split the sea to rescue Beneh Yisrael from the pursuing Egyptians, the sea initially refused.   It argued that as it �was created on the third day of creation, whereas mankind was not created until the sixth day, it could not be expected to alter its course for the benefit of human beings.   Hashem had to intervene and specifically instruct the sea to split.   Why, the Or Ha'haim asked, did Moshe have a hard time splitting the sea just once, while Rav Pinhas Ben Yair split the river twice without any protests or difficulty?   The Or Ha'haim answered that Moshe Rabbenu split the sea before the Torah was given.   The Torah has the special power to overcome the laws of nature, and thus after the Torah was given, the sea and river no longer had any argument.   When confronted by the power of Torah, the river retreated.   The Or Ha'haim's insight also explains the splitting of the Jordan River by Yaakob, and in the time of Yehoshua.   Yaakob, the "dweller of tents," represented Torah.   He arrived at the banks of the Jordan River with seventy years of intensive Torah study behind him, and it was with this power that he was able to split the waters.   In the time of Yehoshua, too, it was the Aron, which contained the tablets representing the Torah, that split the sea. The power of Torah allowed for overturning the laws of nature without any obstacles, and without necessitating G-d's direct intervention as was needed in the time of Moshe Rabbenu.   Even before Matan Torah, Yaakob Abinu was capable of performing great miracles through his power of Torah.   The miracle that was difficult for Moshe Rabbenu proved effortless for Yaakob, who possessed the unique power of Torah obtained through his extraordinary diligence and devotion to its study.  


"And Jacob was exceedingly afraid and distressed" (32:8)   The "Duties of the Hearts" (Shaar Bitahon, preface) states: "Among the benefits of Bitahon (Trust in Hashem) is the repose of the mind from worldly worries…And the joy at whatever he encounters… because of his trust that G-d would do to him only that which is the best for him."    Jacob surely was not deficient in trust in Hashem. Then why did his Bitahon not sustain him, and why was he 'exceedingly afraid' when he heard that Esav was coming with 400 men?   The answer is that the words of the "Duties of the Hearts" refer to circumstances that have no immediate or clear peril. We learn here an important law in the subject of Bitahon: Hashem desires that men become greatly afraid of Him when they see an immediate or clear peril confronting them.    The purpose is twofold: 1)   To gain fear of Him and to recognize our need of Him and to call out to him for support. 2)   To stir ourselves to immediate and energetic action to rescue the children of the living G-d so that they live and succeed in continuing to serve Him in this life.   The great fear and distress are bestowed upon men as a stimulus to accomplish these two meritorious achievements: 1)   The outcry to G-d and the sharpened awareness that He alone is the Master of our lives. 2)   The effort to rescue those (including one's self) whom He wishes that we rescue.                                             Quoted from "The Beginning" By R' Miller ZT'L

See you Sunday

Shabbat Shalom

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

2850 Womble Road, Suite 100-619, San Diego
United States


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