Thursday, February 09, 2006

Kol Dodi Dofeq: A Tribute to Rav Soloveitchik זצ"ל

Anyone who knows me, or reads this blog, knows that Rav Soloveitchik zatzal was one of the most important people in my life. It was he, in the almost ten years that I was privileged to learn with him, who (aside from training me how to learn) also shaped my worldview and religious personna. Some of my most important life decisions were taken in consultation with him, and it was on those occasions that I learned how important it was for his disciples to become independent, autonomous individuals. He was the only rebbe I ever had, and frankly speaking, ever needed. (Obviously, I am using the word rebbe in the Lithuanian sense of 'Master Teacher' and not of mystical adept.) To this day I marvel at fact that I had the merit of being born in Boston so as to encounter him first on his home turf, and to come to know him in more congenial surroundings than most. There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel his absence.

One of the frustrations of a talmid is that it is literally impossible to begin to repay one's rebbe for all that he has given him. He cannot, however, avoid trying. While he was still alive, I co-edited (Together with Rabbi Dr. Moshe Sherman, now of Touro Graduate School) a Jubelschrift entitled Sefer Kevod HaRav, marking forty years of his teaching in RIETS. As we wrote in the introduction, by presenting the Rov with the first fruits of our Talmudic scholarship, we hoped to pay tribute to him as a teacher.

Since then, especially in Israel, I have tried to pay back my debt by disseminating his teachings. Normally, this has been in the context of my own teaching and writing. About eighteen years ago, David Gordon of Riverdale, undertook a new translation of the Rov's great Zionist manifesto, Kol Dodi Dofek. He decided on this project because he sensed the eclipse of Zionism in American Jewry and felt that the Rov's vision would reinspire Jews to renew their Zionist commitment. He asked me to edit (and fine tune) the translation. I readily agreed. It was a daunting task, but I was very proud and pleased with the results. The end product is not only clear, but it catches the Rov's cadences (much as the late Pinhas Peli did in his Hebrew edition of Al ha-Teshuvah).

For reasons that are not germane here, publication was delayed and I thought the project would be still born. Happily, I was wrong. Last month, KTAV and Yeshiva University Press announced the publication of Listen! My Beloved Knocks. It will be available at the YU Seforim Drive, which opens tonight. It should reach Israel by early March.

Since 1988, much has happened. However, especially in light of the crisis that Religious Zionism is currently undergoing, the timing of the book's publication could not be better. I will deal with that point on another occasion. In the interim, I hope that people will buy and learn the book (I receive no royalties, so this plug is le-shma). I hope that my beloved rebbe has nahas from this edition, and that it will contribute to strengthening our faith in difficult times.

[Note: Of course, I am fully aware that Professor Lawrence Kaplan also translated Kol Dodi Dofek, under the title Fate and Destiny. My feeling, as I told Professor Kaplan, is that just as the Moreh Nebuhim was translated twice (with different emphases) by Judah Ibn Tibbon and Judah Al-Harizi, so KDD could bear the same fate.]

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Paradise Now

Irit Linor gives an incredible analysis of this insidious film that will, no doubt, take the Oscar for 'Best Foreign Film.' Dead Jews always sell...

On the other hand, Anat Biger provides a wonderful example of an Israeli 'intellectual' who lives to 'sophisticate herself to death.'

Wise Words from Ehud Yaari

Ehud Yaari is the most responsible analyst of Arab and Islamic affairs in the Israeli media.
He even possesses the academic qualifications for the job (aside from a flawless Arabic).
This, then, is the basic part of his
'take' on Hamas (as it appears in The New Republic):

Fight Delay: Inside the Hamas strategy by Ehud Yaari

THIS IS THE CONCRETE deal that Hamas is offering Israel: an open-ended armistice in exchange for a well-armed and independent Palestinian state; a prolonged cessation of
hostilities, but no peace treaty and no resolution of the conflict's underlying issues. According
to conversations with its leaders and its public statements, Hamas will recognize Israel as an "occupier state" while still rejecting its legitimacy. As a sign of their seriousness, the heads of Hamas have already quietly given assurances that they will unconditionally extend the tahdiah,
the lull in attacks on Israel, that they painstakingly maintained in the year leading up to their
stunning victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections on January 25. They will keep
their terrorist weaponry on safety, without giving it up.

Unfortunately, it is likely that the Europeans will soon advise Israel to accept such a deal. The Egyptians are already arguing in private that an armistice without a peace treaty is preferable
to another intifada. And, rest assured, down the road there will be Israelis who will urge taking
the deal that is possible and giving up on the one that is necessary--that is, a final-status agreement incorporating Palestinian recognition of Israel. This is how Hamas hopes to achieve legitimacy and to consolidate its gains. Israel, therefore, has a tough decision to make within weeks, if not days: test an extended ceasefire and allow Hamas to slide into power or prevent
its worst enemies from taking control of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.). In 1993, when the Oslo accords opened the doors to Yasir Arafat, Israel unwittingly imported a vicious civil war, waiting
in vain for Arafat to transform himself into a peaceful neighbor. If Israel deludes itself into thinking that Hamas is about to undergo a purifying metamorphosis, it will wake up to discover that
Islamic fundamentalists are running the P.A.--without even pretending to accept Israel's right to exist.

For the time being, however, Hamas is offering an armistice that recognizes the June 1967 lines, including Palestinian sovereignty in East Jerusalem. There are Hamas leaders who indicate that
it may be possible to integrate this proposal with the establishment of a Palestinian state within "provisional borders," as envisaged in the U.S.-backed road map. In fact, they argue that there is little difference between their armistice proposal and Ariel Sharon's vision of a long-term interim agreement with provisional borders and Palestinian sovereignty. (Of course, Sharon never envisaged retreating to the pre-Six Day War borders.) Hamas is presenting this political vision in order to smooth its way to hegemony. It must ease Israeli fears--and, indeed, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has stupidly announced that Hamas is behaving "responsibly"--and reassure Fatah that partnership with Hamas will not necessarily lead to a dead end or to more bloodshed. And,
not least importantly, Hamas wants to provide the Europeans and the United States with the
illusion of progress toward peace so that they will continue giving aid to the Palestinian Authority. Hamas, in other words, understands that it must handle its victory with great care and that, if it wants to enjoy the fruits of the ballots, it must eschew the use of bullets.

There is no reason, for now, to doubt Hamas's willingness to enter into a prolonged armistice.
The volume of terrorism perpetrated by the movement has declined steadily since the summer
of 2004.... Since the withdrawal of Israeli settlements and troops from the Gaza Strip, Hamas
has not fired a single rocket at Israel. (They have left that to the Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees, and some factions of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.)

This conduct reflected Hamas's decision to take over the Palestinian Authority before again
turning its sights on Israel. Indeed, the Cairo agreement--an accord between Hamas and P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas in March 2005--comprised a simple tradeoff: a lull in terrorist operations in exchange for elections. In recent days, the Hamas leadership has been veritably gushing with praise for Abbas for keeping his side of the bargain. Now they want him to accept
an armistice. The reason he might well accept that idea is plain: He is not capable of reaching a final-status agreement....A hudna would therefore be better than nothing at all. In the eyes of the Fatah leadership, too, a hudna is not out of the question, although Fatah still claims adherence to Oslo's principles of peace with and recognition of Israel. After all, even Arafat was working toward "runaway statehood," whereby Palestinians would gain independence but would not pay its price by making concessions leading to a formal "end of conflict, end of claims." The threat remains that, if a runaway statehood is not granted to them, the Palestinians will gradually run away from the concept of a small state alongside Israel. This danger--that the Palestinians will choose to collapse into Israel's unwilling arms--is the greatest challenge faced by Israel. Two states without peace, as opposed to two governments fighting within the same country--this, ultimately, is the choice.

AT THIS STAGE, there's no telling whether the Hamas victory will save the P.A. from implosion and disintegration, or whether it will hasten that collapse. Within Fatah, a mighty brawl is underway, and the organization's future is in doubt. The Palestinian security apparatus--60,000 men with guns--is in disarray. The "armed tribes" that truly control the territories, be they political groups or local clans, are gaining strength. In the meantime, Hamas does not dare try to assert its authority. On the Palestinian field, the only possible game is a local version of what is known in France as "co-habitation"--a regime in which a president works alongside a prime minister from a rival party. But the Palestinian situation is far more complicated, because the president is also the head of the opposition, and the parliamentary majority is a party that also functions as an underground. This is a structure with two hostile armies: the security apparatus commanded by the president and the militias commanded by the majority party. (Incidentally, Hamas is already planning to elevate the Qassam Brigades to the status enjoyed by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.)

... So, at least for the near future, Hamas will not confront Fatah, choosing instead to co-opt its rival and gradually erode its power. In the meantime, Fatah retains some power. ...branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas needs time, a long time, to digest its prey. It needs co-habitation at home and an armistice on the borders. Like a tiger at rest, its claws are sheathed until the time comes to go hunting again. Israel and its friends must decide whether to let the tiger gain strength or to beard it in its den. Until Hamas accepts Israel's right to exist and renounces terrorism, Israel should freeze its economic agreements, border procedures, and all other dealings with the P.A.

A diplomatic siege and an active boycott should be developed, coupled with persistence in counterterrorism operations. Any attempt by Hamas to invite Iran to step in must be subverted in an effort to nip this hostile new regime in the bud.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Hamas Tells the Truth

Courtesy of Naomi Ragen and Palestine Media Watch:

Gaza leads to HaifaBy Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook

The Palestinians have concluded from Israel's withdrawalfrom Gaza that violence, not negotiations, is effective intheir ongoing effort to weaken and eventually destroyIsrael. This is according to a new video just released onthe official Hamas Web site.

Images of Israelis being evacuated from Gaza and destroyedIsraeli buildings are shown while these words are sung:

"The invaders fled.
The army of the Jews has been defeated
The home and homeland is returning through blood
Not through negotiations, surrender or promises"

These last words - rejecting negotiations - are sung overthe famous images of agreements being signed by Shimon Peresand Ariel Sharon with Palestinian leaders. While the words, the "homeland is returning," are sung, animage of the Israeli city of Haifa is displayed, stressing that the Palestinians see all of Israel as their "homeland"to be targeted. The words, "Let the enemies leave the entire land! And taketheir holy books which are all black," are sung while images of Jews in prayer are shown. The clear message to the Palestinian viewer is that the Gaza withdrawal is both the defeat of Israel through terror, and a precedent for the future.

Accordingly, neither thePalestinians' means nor goals have changed: Violence andterror are seen as leading to Israel's continued withdrawalsand eventual destruction.

Click here to view the clip online

Seeing the Gaza withdrawal as a justification for terror is a dominant sentiment in the PA in general and another article appeared in today's PA daily expressing the same opinion:

"The smashing victory of the Palestinian Isalmic resistance movement Hamas in the PLC elections confirms that this people believes only in the option of resistance only, as a single way for the liberation of Palestine from the Zionist colonialism...What was liberated from the land of Palestine in Gaza was done only through the heroes and the Jihad warriors, not through futile negotiations for peace and nor by head bowing..."[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, February 4, 20006]

The transcript of the clip

The invaders fled [Gaza]
The army of the Jews was defeated
The home and the homeland is returning through [Palestinian]blood
Not through negotiations, surrender, or promises
Allah the Great, be pleased by the sound of thunder...!
We will never accept the enemies in the land of ourfathers...
The invaders fled [Gaza]
The army of the Jews was defeated
The home and the homeland is returning through [Palestinian]blood
Not through negotiations, surrender, or promises...
Let the enemies leave the entire land!
And take their holy books, which are all black!
Our flag was raised and spread out, O Jihad...!
The invaders fled [Gaza]
The army of the Jews was defeated
The home and the homeland is returning through blood
[Hamas website, February 2006]

Click here to view the clip online
Please feel free to forward this bulletin, creditingPalestinian Media Watch

My Kingdom for a Siddur!

In the middle of writing about the medieval synagogue, I needed to quote the Siddur. I searched for an on-line Siddur so I could 'cut and paste.' I was stunned to discover that with all of the Sifre Qodesh on the web, there is no Siddur (except for a transliterated text).

What happened?

Wise Words from Ehud Yaari

Please, Please Read This!

David Bogner (aka Treppenwitz) has said exactly what needed to be said. Owing to the fact that it is he who said it, I hope the skeptics will hold their tongues.

What he didn't say, but I will, is: מיר וועלען זיי איבער לעבען ie 'We will survive them!' (You cannot know how it breaks my heart to have to say that about other Jews.)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Are You Surprised?

Gideon Levy Announces: They didn't use enough force in Amona. (Yawn)

Yehoram Gaon on Amona

In his weekly Erev Shabbat Radio Program, Yehoram Gaon offered this monologue (excerpts in English here):

רק מי שנלחם על אדמתו, רגביה, שדותיה, וקרווניה, קונה אותה באהבתו ובמסירותו, אומר יהורם גאון.
בסופו של סיפור מי שיהיה כאן הם אותם 'פורעי חוק' מעמונה וקטיף.
אני יודע שללא מוראה של מלכות, איש את רעהו חיים בלעו. אני יודע כאזרח נאמן שצריך להשמע בלא תנאי לצוויה של הממלכה שמחוקקת את חוקי, שאחרת יש לי ארץ אחרת בה אין דין ואין דיין. אבל, אפילו שכך לא הייתי שותף לכל המראיינים והפרשנים שנזפו ממרום שבתם בכל מתנחל שנקלע לאולפנם, הטיפו לו מוסר אזרחי ובינה ממלכתית של אכיפת חוק, עד שבא לצעוק להם לחברים: הי הלו, מי שמכם? אני לעומתם, הייתי מה זה עצוב, כשראיתי את הנערים הללו נלחמים בכוחות הצבא שלנו ולא הבנתי מי פה נלחם, במי, ולמה. מין הצגת תקשורת שאורגנה מגבוה וגם המתנחלים וגם הצבא היו הלודרים בקרקס העיוועים הזה.
לא הבנתי וגם חשבתי, מה היה קורה לחלוצי חניתה מישובי חומה ומגדל שקמו בעצם ימי מהומות הדמים של 36, 39 ובאזור הררי פרוע רחוק מכל ישוב עברי, וכנגד המימסד של אז שהתנגד לצעדם, הקימו להם את ביתם, והפכו לסמל לגבורה ולהעזה ציונית וחלוצית. מה היה קורה להם לו שמעו, לו ידעו בבית נצחם שממשיכיהם, כן ממשיכיהם של שנת 06 , מפונים על ידי צבא ומשטרה כחול לבן בפקודת המדינה?
מה היה אומר עליהם חנקין שגאל את עמק יזרעאל, עמק זבולון, עמק החולה, עמק חפר. מה היה אומר האיש הזה שכל חייו היו קודש לגאולת אדמות בארץ ישראל? מה הוא היה אומר על ממשיכיו ב 06 כשהם עומדים על הגגות, וכן, אני יודע, זה נורא, זורקים אבנים על צבא ומשטרה, שבאים לפנותם? אתם שמים לב שמשהו השתבש לגמרי בסדר היום הציוני של עם ישראל וארץ ישראל? וזה הולך ומסתבך הולך ומחמיר לכדי התנגשות בלתי נמנעת.
בימית לא נפצע עדיין איש, בגוש קטיף היו נחישות אבל רגישות גם כן, השבוע כבר נפצעו למעלה מ 219 איש שוטרים חיילים ומתנחלים. אז מה יהיה בפעם הבאה? כמה פצועים או הרוגים נצטרך להקיז ולבזבז מדם הארץ הזאת כדי לפנות איזה קרוואן או שניים ממקום אחר, נידח וטרשי בודד ושכוח אל, בו התיישבו נערים כדי להוכיח את אהבתם לארץ ישראל? קוראים להם ובצדק, פורעי חוק. אבל ממש לא בכל הכבוד, אלא בלי כבוד בכלל, פורעי חוק הם גם אלה שיורים טיל לאו לבית הגנגסטר המתחרה והורגים בדרך כמה אנשים, ופורעי חוק זה סוחרי הסמים ורועי הזונות. אז עם כל הכבוד הרע, והרצון הרע, תסכימו איתי שאלו פורעי חוק מעט תמימים עם מוטיבציה אחרת. המלחמה בהם הפעם, מזכירה לי את אותה הפגנה שבה צעקו המפגינים: לחם עבודה. מישהו הציע לאחד המפגינים עבודה, והוא שאל: למה תפסת דווקא אותי? למה דווקא הם בעצם? אתם יודעים כמה חריגות בניה יש בארץ ישראל? למה דווקא הם ולמה דווקא עכשיו? ומי רוצה להוכיח הפעם, מה, ולמי, ולמה דווקא על גבם?
אני כמו הלל הזקן כורך במצה הזו לא רק את המימסד גם את המנהיגות של המתנחלים. למה על גבם של אלה, שנותרו הפעם בודדים במערכה, גם מהמנהיגים שלהם, שאיש מהם לא היה על הגגות הפעם כדי להלהיבם או להסותם?דומה שאין להם מנהיגים יותר חוץ מהאדמה הזאת. והיא המוליכה אותם והמכוונת והכופה את רצונה, והיא ששולחתאותם לרצונה להלחם עליה, והם נענים לה כמו מאהבים לאהובה, באמת גדולה ובלי פשרות. ציונות 06.אני יודע זה לא פופולרי לומר היום מילים טובות על המתנחלים. גם כל הקולגות שלי ברדיו ובטלויזיה מאד מאד כועסים עליהם, אבל מה לעשות שרק מי שנלחם על אדמתו ורגביה עריה ושדותיה ועל כל שעל משעליה על כל קרוואן מקרוואניה קונה אותה באהבתו ומסירותו.
צריך רק לדפדף בקורות הארץ הזאת כדי להבין את מה שהבינו אז כמובן מאליו. שכנינו מכירים את הסוד הזה מאד טוב. מעולם לא אצה להם הדרך, הם קשורים וצמודים רק לאדמה הזאת ולעצי הזית שבה. והם יודעים שככה ורק כך, הם הופכים לאדוניה. כובשים באים והולכים, זו רק הסטוריה. האיש הצמוד לאדמתו הוא קונה את הנצח שלו עליה. הביטו רגע על פורעי החוק הללו ואי אפשר שלא תחשבו על העיר הגדולה, העיר ללא הפסקה, ועם יד על הלב, כמה מאיתנו עוזבים את הבית החם, את החלומות על התעשרות את בתי הקפה את מועדוני הלילה ובכלל את כל המנעמים שהעיר ללא הפסקה מציעה לבאים בשעריה.כמה מאיתנו עוזבים את הבית והולכים להיות עם ארץ ישראל, שלא תהיה לבד? על איזה הר טרשים קרח בקרוואן עם רוח פרצים. כמה מאיתנו מוכנים לכך מרצונם החופשי?נשוב להצגת הטלויזיה : עמונה מול הסוסים, אסור, אסור, אסור שנראה מראות כאלה כמו השבוע. לא נוכל לעמוד בהם, נקרוס מהם, ואפילו עם עוד קרוואן אחד ייושב תחת ההריסות.
עדיין לא שווה התמונה הקשה הזאת שבה מושקע כוח גדול ועצום, שאינו עוצמה כלל, אלא כוח זועם שפירושו במקרה הזה חולשה גדולה. כי בעימות כזה שבו עומדים ילדים וצועקים: ארץ ישראל, הם גם שואלים הזוהי הארץ? הזהו החלום? וסוסים מסתערים, בסדר, אני יודע, כתגובה לאבנים, ואלות מופעלות, כן, בסדר, אני יודע, כתגובה לאבנים. אבל פתאום שונו לנו פני המשטרה והצבא שלנו. הם מתרחקים כמו בחלום רע. הם פתאום אחרים, מנוכרים מהארץ היפה והטובה שאת חייהם הם מחרפים ואת חוקיה הם שומרים, למעננו. מולם אחיהם הצעירים של חיילי סיירות, מתנדבי צנחנים, של קציני חי"ר מובחרים. פתאום אתה מתבלבל ועצוב, עצוב כמו הארץ הזאת שנקרעת לך למול עיניך. מי צריך את זה לעזאזל? איך התעוררנו לתוך החלום הרע הזה, שהטובים בבנינו ובאמת הטובים בבנינו, הם מפירי חוק והם פתאום נגד הארץ? מי הטעה אותם לשם, או יותר נכון מי הטעה אותנו משם?אז בסדר היו סקרים , 60% לא מתעניינים במה שקורה ומאשימים את המתנחלים. 60% אלה - לא מתעניינים בכלום. בסופו של סיפור, מי שכאן יהיה בארץ לאורך ימים ושנים לא יהיו אותם 60% אלא דווקא 'פורעי החוק' מעמונה וקטיף, כי הם נשבעו בברית עולם של עם עולם לארץ הזאת. כל השטויות על התנתקות יהודה מישראל, זה טוב לעתון, למדורי הסטירה. אלה יתנתקו? אלה? אלה לא יתגייסו? כשמדובר באדמתה של ארץ ישראל, שהיא, ורק היא, המנהיגה האמיתית והבלעדית, הם ירוצו לכל משימה להגנתה אפילו מהגג של עמונה ובין הסוסים התוקפים. נכון זה רגע מכונן. רגע שנועד לתחום גבולות להפקר, ובשמם של גבולות סופיים לארץ ישראל גבולות המיושמים לפי הרוב הדמוגרפי. זה משפט מסוכן וחומר למחשבה, שאם הגבולות של ארץ ישראל ייקבעו לפי הרוב הדמוגרפי שבין יהודים לערבים, בעוד 50 שנה ואולי פחות, הגבולות הדמוגרפיים שלנו יצטמצמו לשפת הים בטיילת של תל אביב. לכן לא כדאי גבולות לפי רוב דמוגרפי. צריך לחשוב על משהו יותר יצירתי, שישאיר אותנו כאן, לכמה שנים טובות, גם אחרי שלא נהיה רוב דמוגרפי.כדאי לחשוב טוב טוב כשהממלכה נלחמת באנשי עמונה במי בעצם היא נלחמת והאם הם באמת האויב העיקרי של מדינת ישראל.נזכרתי בעוד משהו שרציתי לומר, שמזל שאין כבר חמאס ובוטלו כל האמנות הדורשות לחפף אותנו מכאן ובהקדם האפשרי, ומזל שטהרן סגרה את הכור האטומי שלה מרצונה. עכשיו אפשר להתפנות סוף סוף לבעיות האמיתיות שלנו ולבסס היטב את מוראה של מלכות

Saturday, February 04, 2006

And While We're At It....

The French like to speak of a 'dialogue des sourdes' ('a dialogue of the deaf'). There are people who just don't want to hear anything that would result in cognitive dissonance. The only thing to do is to let them rage against (what they thnk) is the night...

Couldn't Have Said it Better Myself

A Beautiful Posting by Zahava Bogner about the Death of Yosef Goodman and what it means for us Ex-pat Americans.

On the other hand, I wonder if Olmert will read this....

Friday, February 03, 2006

Le-Dorotekhem, Huqat Olam

Thank God for Shabbat, even here in the cold, rain drenched galut. This past week was just too much to comprehend. We need a break, a taste of the next world.

The week started with the death of Rav Kaduri, זצ"ל. It continued with the horrors of Amona. Then there was the blood dance in the media on the wounds of the demonstrators, and the profound wound in the souls of the Army and Police, the overwhelming majority of whom are ehrliche menschen. Finally, and horrifically, the tragic death of our neighbor Yosef Goodman זצ"ל in a training accident, in circumstances too terrible for words.

My family, people all around are asking: What does God want from us? How much are we supposed to take? We are an orphaned generation, taunted by the lack of guidance. We have no leaders, either secular or religious. We have no one to look to for inspiration, and those we do have go to Him. The enemy is open about its desire to destroy us, while we are busy destroying ourselves. The pathological festival of destruction is beyond my comprehension. For years, I've been asking myself an obvious question. When the various factions in besieged Jerusalem burnt each other's supplies, and thereby condemned the Temple to the flames with their own hands, what were they thinking? Why did God make them mad? Similarly,

The Rov, זצ"ל, was certainly correct that asking this kind of question gets you nowhere. We are too small, too limited to understand why Providence acts as it does. There are only two things we can do. The first is to act. We need to determine what we, in our very modest way, can do to respond to the evil and the reverses that plague us. I'm not referring to some vague type of introspection in order to satisfy the cynical accusations of our opponents. Again, as the Rov said, if we do that 'we won't get their love but we'll certainly lose their respect.'

So, what do we do? First, we look ourselves in the mirror and remind ourselves that we are the servants of HaQadosh Barukh, Hu. We are privileged to bear the Torah and fulfill His Will through the commandments. 'He who gave us this Torah, will never forsake the Torah.' Torah is what makes us what we are and it is Torah that allows us to claim our beloved country. Nothing else. It is Torah that turns Western Amorite/Canaanite into Hebrew/Lashon Qodesh. It is Torah that lets us defy the laws of historical causality and to survive. It is the abandonment of Torah, in its widest sense, that brings disaster upon us collectively and, incomprehensibly, upon those who did not sin.
So, we must first believe profoundly that the covenant between us and the Ribbono shel Olam is, as it says in today's sedra, לדורותיכם חוקת עולם, 'for all future generations, an eternal statute' (Ex. 12, 17).

This means that we will survive. It also means that the extent o our survival depends on our actions. It depends upon the extent to which we take responsibility for ourselves and our fellow Jews. It means that if there are moral and social evils, and we pat ourselves on the back because of superiority, that we are as responsible for the results as the perpetrators. וְלֹא תָקִיא הָאָרֶץ אֶתְכֶם בְּטַמַּאֲכֶם אֹתָהּ כַּאֲשֶׁר קָאָה אֶת הַגּוֹי אֲשֶׁר לִפְנֵיכֶם 'That the land vomit not you out also, when you defile it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you' (Lev. 18, 28). It means that whether we see Eretz Yisrael as an absolute value, or as a means to an end, it is never an end in itself. We must never forget that even mitzvot can become a form of Avoda Zara.

God did not give us a country after 2,000 year of exile, to see us (God forbid) destroy it in less than sixty. What shall the sufferer do and live with his travail? He must find a way not to disengage from Torah, from the Jewish People or from Eretz Yisrael. How does one do that? One does that through a combination of stubborness and creativity of which only Jews are capable.

יידן! זאל ניט זיין מיואשים! ס'וועט זיין בעסער, מיט גאט'ס הילף!
שבת שלום

I am Ashamed

For ten years, I proudly wore the uniform of Israel's police, as a uniformed volunteer and unit commander in the Civil Guard (משמר אזרחי). I cherished my service to my country and I was grateful for the companionship of my fellow officers on many levels. The Police helped facilitate and seal my absorption here.

That is why I am ashamed. The videos of the vicious beatings meted out by the Yasam to passive protesters in Amona are sickening. Is this what we've come to? Grayshirted, helmeted goons beating the daylight out of kids, with truncheons- while the Press and the Cafe types cheer? Who the hell does Ehud Olmert think he is? He tells the cops to keep their hands in their pockets when Arabs riot, but he sends in the horses to attack Jews.

I guess there is small comfort in the fact that it was the Yasam, who everyone knows are sub-intelligent thugs, and not the blue police who did this devil's work. Very small comfort. (Hat tip: An Out of Step Jew)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Other People's Words...

I'm still trying to digest what happened in Amona. I am repelled by the extremists among the opponents. I am disgusted by the anarchists who have sprouted amidst the Jews here. (Will they please stop calling them settlers? Many are from Pre-1967 Israel. ) I'm at a loss as far as the vicious, brutal treatment of the demonstrators is concerned. [One of the Sherut Leumi girls who works with my daughter had her chest beaten in and her rib broken. This girl couldn't pick up a block if she wanted to.] The press is cheering it on. Yes, the law should be enforced, equally. Yes, illegal building should be totally banned (including the 30,000 illegal Arab houses and the theft of thousands of dunamim of JNF Land in the Galil and the Negev). The President only has criticism of the demonstrators (who make up the lion's share of the wounded). The Acting Prime Minister's men have equated the residents of Judea and Samaria with Hamas. (Next thing they'll call them Al-Qaeda.)

I find myself speechless. I am seeking solace in the eleventh century Rhineland. You know, in the crusade era. It's what Irving Agus called the Heroic Age of Franco-German Jewry. I can deal with that. I can write about that. At the moment, all I can do about Amona is to quote other people's words.


In my lecture last night in New York for Edah, I had occasion to discuss the Jewish versus Israeli Kulturkampf. In that connection, I had a chance to (re)read this piece by Peter Berger. Highly recommended.

What Really Happened at Amona (From Ben Chorin)

As usual, Ben Chorin tells the straight story:

Here is what really happened in Amona today.Of all the tens of thousands of structures built in Israel without all required permits (the vast majority by Arabs in Jerusalem and the Negev), the state decided that nine houses on a hill adjacent to Ofra had to be destroyed -- now. These houses have been there for years. The Yesha Council agreed to move the houses within one week to a different location. Olmert rejected the offer because he wanted a confrontation before elections.

Every one of the Kadimah lackeys dutifully recited the Talking Points: rule of law, law-breaking settlers, bla bla bla. In short, Olmert thought some settler blood would help his campaign. And blood there was. It happens that I was well represented at the event. One recipient of my DNA (ROMD1) was camped out at one of the approach points at 2:30 AM. He heard the police commander instructing his troops: "club them on the head, go straight for the head".
In the morning, the kids took up positions in Amona. Some stood on the sidelines shouting.
Some were in the houses, some up on the roofs of the houses.

The cops on horseback charged the people standing on the side without provocation. As they did so, they whacked at people with their batons. Dozens sustained head injuries as a result and needed to be hospitalized. MK Effie Eitam was knocked unconscious and MK Aryeh Eldad sustained a broken hand. After this the kids began throwing rocks at the cops.
ROMD2 was in the first house from which the protesters were evicted. The police and Border Patrol (MaGaV) came in with batons swinging. People were flung out of windows. ROMD2 was lucky and got whacked only in his legs. He is a volunteer in MDA and bandaged up a kid whose head was split open. Another kid, Yechiam Eyal, had his skull fractured and is now in Hadassah unconscious and on a respirator.

ROMD1 was on the roof of a different house. Despite reports to the contrary, the kids on the roof (at least the ones on his roof) didn't throw rocks at the cops and soldiers. They threw bulbs filled with paint in the direction of the windshield of the D9, the giant bulldozer used to crush houses. Yasamnikim (again anti-semitic Russian goyim, with a few Druze thrown in for variety) fired paint at them and they protected themselves with a door. The Yasamnikim were lifted up to the roof in the shovel of the D9 and proceeded to trample the kids under the door while beating any exposed limbs. ROMD1 was forcibly removed from the roof, together with his buddies, in the shovel of the D9.

No Words...Cry, My Beloved Country!

I'm sitting in New York and watching the tragedy unfold before my eyes. My first reaction is that there are no words to describe what went on in Amona....No words.