Tzfat Chief Rabbi: If Shabak has extra manpower, don't use them on Jews! and Why Mother’s Name for Prayers and Father’s Name for Aliyah? By Yehuda Shurpin and THE DISCOVERIES THAT PROVE THAT THE EXODUS FROM EGYPT WAS REAL written by Phil Schneider and Peak Conditions: Mount Hermon Celebrates 50 Years Of Activity
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.
Chief rabbi of TZfat (Safed), Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, referred in a conversation with Israel National News to a request he received by the Shabak (Israel Security Agency) leading up to Ramadan and explained why the very preoccupation with this type of issue is looking to blame the victim.
First, Rabbi Eliyahu told of the answer he gave to the Shabak representative who called him and asked him to work to calm the people during Ramadan. "I answered him that I don't know of any character trait of the Jews to particularly act out during this time. I know that some of the Arabs celebrate the month of Ramadan with more acts of violence. What does this have to do with us? If you have extra manpower take care of the Arabs. What does this have to do with me? Do you want to accuse me of their rampage like back then in Lod? "
In his words: "He said to me, 'Why can't you just ask the Jews to behave?' "I said to him, 'What do you mean? You know there will be victims and you are already blaming the victim? I do not want to be a part of it. It is clear that Jews do nothing in the month of Ramadan. If anyone does anything in the month of Ramadan it is Arabs. So what are you talking about?'
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu links the request he received from the Shabak with a deeper and broader phenomenon. "Jews are to blame for epidemics in Europe, Jews are to blame for economic crises, Jews are to blame for Stalin coming to power, Jews are to blame for many things," Rabbi Eliyahu told Israel National News. ""This is a 2,000-year-old global occurrence and there are probably Jews who are adopting this agenda even today in the State of Israel."
"Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai adopted this despicable agenda and said in Operation Guardian Of the Walls that the blame for synagogues and cars being burned and Jews being murdered lies with the Jews. Ben-Gvir is to blame for everything. That is what he said," Rabbi Eliyahu added. " 'The Garinim Torani'im (religious Zionist communities) are to blame for the lynching of Jews by Arabs.' If this had been said by some delusional journalist from the Haaretz newspaper, fine, but the police commissioner stands and says these anti-Semitic ideas, that have seeped into the army and the police. This is of great concern to us. I'm not willing to be a partner in this."
"It is important to note that while people were burned alive in the cities the Shabak were searching for spray paint bottles," he said. "We love and respect the Shabak, but we respect the political department of the Shabak the same way that we respect the political department of the police. "
The Three Musketeers at the Kotel
Peak Conditions: Mount Hermon Celebrates 50 Years Of Activity
In winter, news that snow has piled up on Mount Hermon is a cause for celebration.
Cars filled with eager skiers, snowboarders, and people looking to play in the fresh white powder, will make their way up the winding roads of the Golan Heights to the most northern and highest point in Israel, as soon as word hits that there's snow on the mountain.
"We're finally open for the snowy season and it's great. I'm so happy to see all the people coming to Mount Hermon," Refael Nave, CEO of the Mount Hermon Ski Resort, tells NoCamels. "I grew up here and yet every time the first snow comes it is pure enjoyment to see and the adrenaline starts pumping."
The winter Carmel storm – which swept across Israel this week, bringing one month's worth of rain in just a few days – also gifted some 25 cm of snow accumulation to the lower part of the Hermon resort, which prompted the site to announce its opening on December 23 for sledding and other activities.
In the first four hours of the site's opening on Thursday, some 2,000 visitors had come to play in the snow, Nave tells NoCamels.
While for people outside of Israel, reading about an accumulation of two dozen centimeters of snow may not seem like a big deal – in Israel, Mount Hermon is the only ski resort in this country where more than half of the total land area is true desert.
Indeed, this week's opening of the Hermon site for winter visitors was reason to celebrate. And next week, on Monday, December 27, there's an even bigger reason to celebrate – Mount Hermon is marking 50 years of activity.
"Fifty years of activity means a lot for those who know the history of the site," says Nave.
The Mount Hermon site first opened to the public on December 27, 1971. It opened as the first and only ski resort – which it still is – when skiing was a hobby few Israelis knew or shared. Today, the 600-acre site hosts some 450,000 visitors in total – of them, some 50,000 skiers/snowboarders.
Ski season in Israel is short – usually about 50 days. When there's enough snow on the mountain, there are 45 kilometers of trails to choose from, 11 chair lifts and T-bars, a ski school, an alpine coaster, cable car ride, and sledding options.
In 2019, the site, which rises to an altitude of 2,040 meters above sea level, inaugurated a new ski lift.
"Dedicating the new, enclosed ski lift in 2019, was one of my favorite memories, and a personal accomplishment that meant we are here to stay," says Nave, who grew up in the Alpine-style community of Neve Ativ on the slopes of the mountain.
"We are not Europe," says Nave, fully aware that any comparison to a ski resort in the Alps or Dolomites would be ridiculous. "But this is a tourist site with so many activities, it is a tourist destination for locals and foreigners."
Indeed, Mount Hermon is one of the country's unique tourism sites – attracting local and international tourists alike. And while it began as a winter activity destination, it is much more than a quirky ski hill situated in the Middle East.
"The Golan Heights and Mount Hermon provide an experience that you can't find anywhere else in Israel," says Elisa Moed, CEO and founder of the travel agency Travelujah. "I love the quiet and the nature [particularly the hiking] and it makes me feel at peace. The mountains and viewpoints… the wine and vineyards, the waterfalls, the unique and tasty Druze food in Majdal Shams at the base of the mountain, and the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic history that lies in the area, just provides the perfect opportunity for an adventure that leaves you satisfied and happy at the end of the day."
"These last few years especially, we've invested a lot in the Hermon as an all-year destination," says Nave. "Everyone knows that this is a local ski site. But this mountain has so many other options and we're adding new activities all the time. When a family comes up to this area, there's a full day of activities waiting for them to do. This is a tourist destination and there are many reasons to come here."
When the snow melts, a whole new tourist season of activities wakes up on the mountaintop – with its amazing views over the Golan Heights, Syria, Lebanon, the Galilee and the Hula Valley.
There are walking, hiking, and biking trails galore. An alpine coaster with thrills for anyone to ride it. There are dry tubing and karting activities for family fun. Ornithology fans and nature buffs will also enjoy the distinctive flora and fauna. The Syrian Serin (a brightly colored finch) and the horned lark, which nests on the ground, can be spotted here. Watch out for the Lebanon Viper. And get ready to be impressed by the Turkey oak or pretty, mountain-horned poppy.
"There are so many treasures yet to be fully explored," says Moed.
Tourism sites the world over have had to reinvent themselves in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mount Hermon has adapted, too.
Pre-booking a visit to the site is now a must. Nave says this measure has helped cut down on wait time and keep the queues shorter.
"In the next 10 years, we have plans to build a hotel on site, create additional ski slopes, and, overall, double the area of activity," he says.
Moreover, Nave and his team set out last year to the US to meet with travel agents and Jewish community leaders to "advance the idea of the Hermon as a tourist site" and secure a visit to Mount Hermon as a destination on the must-see travel list when visiting Israel.
"We are a center of attractions for anyone visiting the North of Israel," Nave tells NoCamels. "We hope that once the borders are open again for tourism, that more people will come to visit this unique site."
Caption: The cable cars at Mount Hermon work during all the seasons. Photo by Shai Kedar.
Why Mother's Name for Prayers and Father's Name for Aliyah?
You may have noticed that when we call someone by his or her Hebrew name, there are two variations. For example, one can be called Yitzchok ben Avraham (Yitzchok the son of Avraham) or Yitzchok ben Sarah (Yitzchok the son of Sarah). When and why do we use each variation?
The general custom is that for a matter relating to familial affiliation,1 we use the father's name. This is based on the verse in Numbers: "They declared their pedigrees according to their families according to their fathers' houses…"2 Indeed one's tribal affiliation and whether one is a kohen or a Levite is dependent upon one's father. Thus, if one is getting an aliyah or signing a halachic document such as a ketubah or get, we use the father's name.
However, when we are beseeching G‑d for someone in need (as is the case with a mi shebeirach for one who is ill), we generally use the mother's name. There are a number of reasons for this.
We find that when King David prayed for himself, he repeatedly referred to himself as "your servant, the son of your maid,"3 mentioning his mother, not his father. Additionally, the Talmud states that "all incantations [use] the name of the mother."4
Although we are almost always sure who the father is, we are even more sure who the mother is. According to the Zohar, when praying for mercy (especially when it comes to pikuach nefesh, the saving of a life, as is the case when praying for one who is ill), we want to be as precise as possible, so we use the mother's name.5
As we pray for G‑d's mercy, we would rather invoke the mother's name, since women usually have less sins than men. While this seems shocking at first glance, it makes perfect sense when we consider that women aren't obligated in the mitzvah of constantly learning Torah6or other positive time-bound mitzvahs. Therefore, they aren't held liable for not doing these things.7
The Primary Parent
Although both man and woman (together with G‑d, of course) are partners in the creation of the child, the child is mostly formed by the mother. Physically, the child develops in the mother's womb, and spiritually, the child's Jewishness is dependent upon the mother. Her very thoughts during conception have more of an effect on the child than the father's. As such, it is appropriate to invoke the mother's name when we are praying for mercy for the child.8
The Source of Judgment
The mystics9 explain that, in general, women come from the divine attribute of binah ("understanding"), which is also the source of the attribute of gevurah ("judgment and severity").
Now, the attribute of judgment, in its source, binah, is pure and holy without any harshness. All of the harshness that we see coming from the attribute of judgment is only how it manifests itself down here in this physical world. Therefore, when we mention the mother's name, we are trying to arouse and evoke the attribute of binah. When we do so, all of the harshness and impurities that evolved from it fall away, allowing the person to heal from the illness.
On the other hand, once the person has passed away (aside from the fact that we do not want any connection to the attribute of judgment at all), we mention the father's name based on the verse in Numbers quoted above.
While on the discussion of evoking the mother while praying, we bear in mind the mothers who themselves pray. Indeed, we find in Scripture10 that it was specifically in the merit of the tearful prayers of our matriarch Rachel that we were redeemed from the Babylonian exile. We pray that G‑d once again hear the tearful cries for mercy from our mother Rachel, take us out of this exile and finally bring healing to this world!
The Bible describes the areas where the Jewish People traveled following the Exodus. Much of the story took place in the Sinai desert. Archaeologists have very convincing proof of where the ancient stories took place.
The Splitting of the Sea
The exodus is a powerful and inspirational story of uprising against oppression and of divine intervention. But did it really happen? Can any of the story be substantiated by empirical evidence? Are chariot wheels found on the floor of the red sea that date back to 1400 BCE enough to prove that the red sea actually split. Did the Israelites and the Egyptians actually passed through on dry land as the Bible relates?
The question here is a question of faith as opposed to empirical proof. The Jewish People have lived and died based on their faith throughout the centuries. It is exciting to discover evidence that the splitting of the Red Sea took place. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that faith becomes a thing of the past. On the contrary, in this modern age, faith is something that is near extinction. If you can't prove it, capture it on film, show the mathematical or physical basis for it, then, it's not likely that it's real. Someone who lives with faith, lives in a different realm. Thus, for a religious person, proof of the Bible's authenticity isn't necessarily an earth shattering revelation – but more of a point of interest. In Jewish tradition, the Creation of the world shows that there is a Creator and the exodus demonstrates divine intervention, that G-d actually gets involved in what happens in His world. Where does science and archaeology fit in? It is in essence the backdrop for what a person with faith has always believed. But some of it is simply unbelievable. It connects us to the Bible stories like nothing else.