Friday, December 13, 2019

How Jewish is Israel? The Shabbat test by Daniel Pinner and Fiona Hill Should Be Condemned by Jewish Groups. She Won’t Be. By Dennis Prager and Netanyahu: I will quit all my ministerial duties by January 1

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Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works  with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money,  and spiritual engagement

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The central aspect of worship is the feeling of being at one with God.

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To pull a friend out of the mire, don't hesitate to get dirty.

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Unless we believe that God renews creation every day, our prayers grow habitual and tedious.

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How Jewish is Israel? The Shabbat test by Daniel Pinner

Two different things happened on Shabbat Chaya Sarah, in two very different areas. Which area passed the test?

Two events happened over  Shabbat Chaya Sarah in Israel, two events that were diametrically opposite in every possible way.


One in the greater Tel Aviv region, the foundation of modern secular political Zionism, the heart and the very epitome of secular left-wing progressive Israel; the other in Hevron, the oldest Jewish city in the world, the foundation of Judaism and Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel, the heart and very epitome of religious Jewish identity.


Following the Mishnaic dictum that "we begin with the disgrace and conclude with the glory" (Pesachim 12:4), we begin with the recent innovation in Tel Aviv:


The Tel Aviv municipality has recently decided to provide free public transportation on Shabbat.


What is known as the 'status quo' (on Jewish observance), going back to well before independence, to the days of British colonial rule, is that public transportation (buses and trains) does not operate on Shabbat. Taxis do operate: they are classified as private vehicles.


And the Tel Aviv municipality has decided to challenge and eradicate that status quo. For legal reasons, the bus companies cannot operate services for a fee in predominantly Jewish cities in Israel.

(Haifa is a glaring exception: due to its charismatic and almost violently anti-religious mayor Abba Khushi in the early years of independence, 1951-1969, Haifa's buses have always operated on Shabbat. But I digress.)

The Tel Aviv municipality found and successfully exploited a loophole in the legal status quo: no, they can't operate fee-paying public transport on Shabbat. But they can – and just did! – operate free buses on Shabbat.

And so, this last Shabbat, free bus services operated in Tel Aviv and its satellite-towns of Ramat Gan, Ramat Ha-Sharon, Givatayyim, Holon, and Kiryat Ono. These free bus routes, covering some 300 km (185 miles), ran from 4:00 on Friday afternoon (the beginning of Shabbat) until 2:00 a.m. Shabbat morning, and again from 9:00 Shabbat morning until the end of Shabbat.

A free public bus service should be immensely popular. And these free bus routes service some 1,000,000 people a day during the week. One would expect, therefore, that these buses would effect a veritable revolution among the good folk of the greater Tel Aviv region.

In fact, according to the Tel Aviv municipality, a mere 6,000 people rode on these free buses.

Not all that popular, after all.

(And possibly discriminatory, because observant Jews cannot take advantage of these free buses and are forced to subsidize something they cannot utilize. One could make a case, in that case, for forcing the buses to be free all week.) 

And now for the glory:

The same Shabbat, 70 km (44 miles) south-east of Tel Aviv, in the ancient Jewish city of Hevron, well over 40,000 Jews gathered. Jews of all ages, Jews from all over Israel (and no doubt beyond), Jews from every conceivable walk of life. The majority of them religious, but by no means all.

It was Shabbat Chayyei Sarah, the Shabbat on which Jews the world over read the Torah-portion recording how our father Abraham purchased the Machpelah Cave in Hevron as the first-ever Jewish land-holding in the Land of Israel (Genesis Chapter 23).

It is an indescribably inspiring and spiritually uplifting experience – hearing the Torah's account of Abraham's buying the field and the cave within it, while standing on the self-same spot, in the structure covering the very cave which Abraham bought as a burial-plot for his beloved wife Sarah.

And so, myriads of Jews made the effort, expended their resources, in order to spend this specific Shabbat in Hevron and do so every year.

Unlike the free transport in Tel Aviv and surroundings, traveling to Hevron takes time, effort, and money. It's an hour's drive from Jerusalem, an hour's drive from Beer Sheva, two hours from Tel Aviv, two-and-a-half hours from Netanya, and over three hours from Haifa.

Many of those more-than-40,000 visitors stayed in neighboring Kiryat Arba, a 20-minute walk at least, maybe half-an-hour's walk, maybe an hour's walk, from the Machpela where all the action was.

Thousands of others spent the Shabbat in tents in Hevron, in the immediate environs of the Machpela. Hevron is high in the Judean Hills, some 930 meters (1,050 feet) above sea level; so even though it lies 30 km (19 miles) almost due south of Jerusalem, it gets chilly at this time of year, with the night-time temperature falling to about 10º C (50º F). Not exactly the ideal camping weather.

Yet with all this, the ancient attraction which Hevron exerts over Jews pulled in at least eight times (!) as many Jews as those free buses of Tel Aviv with their purposeful Shabbat desecration.

Two opposite poles: Tel Aviv and Hevron. In the one, a concerted effort by the local municipality to encourage Jews there to desecrate Shabbat by offering free buses. In the other, Jews making their own efforts to celebrate an exceptionally meaningful Shabbat in the most ancient Jewish site in the world.

The results of the Tel Aviv municipality's efforts were underwhelming. A mere 6,000 people availed themselves of this free Shabbat-violation. (And that figure is probably an overstatement, coming as it does from the Tel Aviv municipality itself).

And meanwhile, the Jewish masses in Israel showed how many make the effort to celebrate Shabbat and to forge their ever-deeper connexion with the Torah.

The Tel Aviv municipality is investing millions of shekels in providing these free buses on Shabbat. But popular demand, popular sentiment, clearly shows that the masses in Israel want Hevron and Shabbat, and all that those represent, and not the cheap glitz and ticky-tacky of Tel Aviv with its secularism and modernity and passing fads.

Far, far more Jews in Israel want the connexion to eternal, authentic Judaism, to Jewish heritage and tradition that Hevron epitomizes than want the shallow hedonism that Tel Aviv represents.

So how Jewish is Israel?

Let the people decide. We do, after all, pride ourselves on being a democracy, do we not?

12 interesting facts about Tigers--The real King of the Jungle

Fiona Hill Should Be Condemned by Jewish Groups. She Won't Be. By Dennis Prager

The former senior director for European and Russian affairs for the Trump administration, Fiona Hill, testified last week in the House impeachment hearings.

At one point, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., asked her: "Would you say that these different theories, these conspiracy theories that have been targeting you, spun in part by folks like Mr. Stone as well as fueled by Rudy Giuliani and others, basically have a tinge of anti-Semitism to them at least?"

This was Ms. Hill's response: "Well, certainly when they involve George Soros, they do. I'd just like to point out that in the early 1900s, the czarist secret police produced something called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which, actually, you can still obtain on the Internet. And you can buy it, actually, sometimes, at bookshops in Russia and elsewhere. This is the longest-running anti-Semitic trope that we have in history.

"And the trope against Mr. Soros, George Soros, was also created for political purposes, and this is the new Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I actually intended to write something about this before I was actually invited to come into the administration. Because it's an absolute outrage."

What is really an "absolute outrage" is that anyone – especially someone testifying in Congress before a national audience – would compare criticism of George Soros with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. For those unfamiliar with The Protocols, they are the most infamous anti-Semitic forgery in history. Believed to have been written by Russian czarist officials in the 19th century, it purported to be a document written by Jews that outlined a Jewish plot to take over the world.

The Protocols is a lie, and its sole intent was to create anti-Semitism. Criticism of Soros is rarely a lie, and its intent is rarely to create anti-Semitism.

George Soros is a billionaire whose Open Society Foundations, with offices in 70 countries, is the world's major funder of left-wing causes.

If Soros were to come from a Lutheran or Catholic family, there would be no less criticism of him. While it is always possible that some people attack Soros solely because he was born into a Jewish family (he does not identify as a Jew), there are few such people.

Much of Israel's Jewish population, for example, loathes Soros. Are they anti-Semites?

Moreover, Soros loathes Israel. As Joshua Muravchik reported in the Wall Street Journal, "(I)n a speech…to the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, Mr. Soros likened the behavior of Israel to that of the Nazis…"

"George Soros," the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement in July 2017, "continuously undermines Israel's democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself."

Martin Peretz, former longtime editor-in-chief of The New Republic, wrote: "Soros is ostentatiously indifferent to his own Jewishness. He is not a believer. He has no Jewish communal ties. He certainly isn't a Zionist. He told Connie Bruck in The New Yorker – testily, she recounted – that 'I don't deny the Jews their right to a national existence, but I don't want to be part of it.'"

Hill's charge that criticism of Soros is "the new Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is vile. It is what leftists like Hill – who was a member of the board of Soros' Open Society Institute from 2000 to 2006 – always do when a fellow leftist (who is not a Christian white male) is criticized. Leftists constantly labeled criticism of former President Barack Obama "racist" and branded criticism of Hillary Clinton "sexist" and "misogynist."

Their goal is to inoculate leftists from criticism.

In addition to being an illegitimate tactic to silence critics, what Hill said was immoral because it reduces the evil of real anti-Semitism. The left has already cheapened the terms "Nazi," "racist," and "white supremacist." You can now add Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the list. If The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is the same as attacking George Soros, then The Protocols was not all that bad.

Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League should have censured Hill. But they won't because so many Jewish groups – once run by liberals and conservatives who cared deeply about Israel and the Jewish people – are today run by many Soros-admiring leftists, whose primary commitment is to further left-wing causes.

In fact, it is close to certain that the leaders of most American (not Israeli) Jewish organizations agree with Fiona Hill.

I began a 2007 column on George Soros this way: "What do Karl Marx, Leon Trotsky, Noam Chomsky and George Soros have in common? They were/are all radicals, born to Jewish parents, had no Jewish identity and hurt Jews (not to mention non-Jews)."

Criticizing George Soros is no more inherently anti-Semitic than attacking Marx, Trotsky, or Chomsky.

As the left sees it, isolating Israel for rhetorical attack, even supporting its economic strangulation – e.g., through the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement – is not anti-Semitic. But attacking George Soros is. Such is the broken state of the moral compass of the left and people like Fiona Hill.

Netanyahu: I will quit all my ministerial duties by January 1

Portfolios that Netanyahu currently holds are the Health Ministry, Diaspora Ministry, and the Welfare Ministry though he still intends to continue acting as Prime Minister. By YONAH JEREMY BOB


Under the gun by a High Court of Justice petition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Thursday that he will be dropping all of his portfolios by January 1 besides his role as premier. Currently, besides being prime minister, Netanyahu is health minister, social welfare minister, Diaspora minister, and acting agricultural minister. Read More Related Articles

Pressure for Netanyahu to drop these portfolios spiked after Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced a final indictment for the prime minister on November 21. Shortly after, the Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel filed a petition to the High Court both to get Netanyahu fired as prime minister and to force his resignation from his other ministerial roles. On November 25, Mandelblit defended Netanyahu's ability to remain prime minister, but deferred his view on whether Netanyahu could keep the other roles, hinting that he understood that Netanyahu would voluntarily resign them.In light of Netanyahu's announcement to voluntarily relinquish the roles, Mandelblit told the High Court on Thursday that he no longer needs to express a legal opinion about whether the court should force Netanyahu's resignation regarding those roles.  

See you Sunday bli neder Shabbat Shalom

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Rabbi Yehuda Lave

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