Monday, July 31, 2006

Wise Words from Haifa

Readers of this blog will not find much new that I have not already written or cited. The novelty here is the wonderful way that this piece is written. From YNet:

Islam's war against the free world

Prof. Oz Almog

This war will end sometime. It will take another day or two, perhaps a week or two, but it will end. We shall persevere, then lick our wounds, gird our loins and go back to the TV commercials, holidays and song festivals. Hizbullah will indeed suffer a severe military blow, and perhaps we'll earn some artificial calm under the patronage of some international scarecrow army wearing shorts and holding a pair of binoculars. Perhaps we'll even manage to get our abducted soldiers back under some dubious prisoner exchange agreement that would enable the two sides to swallow their pride. Whatever the consequences, we shall not emerge triumphant from the war in Lebanon which happened to be forced upon us.

We shall not win this war because the Hizbullah cannot be uprooted from Lebanon just as it is impossible to uproot the Moslem fundamentalism prevalent throughout Arab countries. We shall not win, because on the other side there is a group of anti-democratic people (not marginal in the Moslem world) who have legitimized lying and falsehood. It is a group that creates a reality by mere words and imagination and not by empirical methodology, free speech and self criticism. Even if Israeli tanks stand at Beirut's door, Nasrallah will present himself as Sallah al-Din, and even if all his fighters fall in battle – he will declare victory over the Zionists. And most of his admirers (and they are many) will accept his lies. But above all, we shall not win this war because it is a single battle, just one more promotional campaign leading to the real war whose signs are already on the horizon. The third world war – Islam's war against the free world.

In the name of a set religious platform

It’s amazing how closely 1993 resembles 2006. The world was then taken aback by a dictator who took power over Germany, a peculiar character almost comical (The Great Dictator by Charley Chaplin, Remember?). He developed a satanic ideology whose goal was to wipe the free world off the face of the earth. Even the President of Iran Ahmadinejad is depicted in the eyes of many as no more than a violent thug who cannot control his words. But he, as Hitler, is not marginal and he is not alone. He is being followed by masses of fanatics, who have replaced the Zig Heil with the call Allahu Akbar.

That world war began with deep feelings of inferiority and sick nationalist chauvinism, similar to that currently standing at our door. (There is no society that tramples on its women or is imbued with an inferiority complex more than Islam). Its inferiority complex and satanic culture have led to a well oiled mechanism of brainwashing that operates out of homes, mosques, educational institutes and communication networks.

Nasrallah abducted Israeli soldiers and shelled settlements not on in the Lebanese or Palestinian interest, but in the name of a set religious platform, aimed entirely at destroying the Jews and the State of Israel. Now, as then, the focus of hatred, the spiritual generator motivating and uniting the mob against the free world, is the Jewish stereotype. In those days it was the stereotype of the ugly, conniving merchant from the Protocols of Zion that plotted to take over the world, or alternatively the communist Jew who plotted to destroy the European Aryan culture. Today, it is the Jewish "settler" who has joined forces with the "great satan" in the aim of conquering Palestinian land, desecrating holy sites and drinking the blood of Palestinian children.

Can we stop the clock?

The rhetoric is almost the same. Just listen to what they are saying there, from Iran to Gaza and Lebanon to Syria, Saudia Arabia and Egypt. In a speech delivered recently by the chairman of the Iranian parliament, he describes Nasrallah having Khomeni's blood running through his veins. Indeed it does. This blood is boiling in the veins of thousands of religious ministers and Moslem preachers and is pounding in the temples of masses of potential suicide bombers ready to commit suicide in order to perform the mitzvah of spilling the blood of a satanic Jew. And all those politicians and western thinkers (its no coincidence that Spain's prime minister donned a kafiyeh and the French foreign minister lashed out at Israel from Beirut) led by the media are adjusting their eyes and camera lenses at the destruction perpetrated by our tanks (as if we started this war and as if we are killing innocent civilians, driven by a loss of senses and moral imperviousness). They talk in double standards about the "extent" - they are all European descendents who rolled their eyes during that terrible war.

They are directly or indirectly assisting to update the image of Satan from the ghetto-like Jew to the "new Jew", namely the Israeli. They are not doing much to prevent the fundamentalist finger from pushing the button that will, God forbid, send 6 million "new Jews" up to heaven in the smoldering smoke of the global era's nuclear furnace. And we the Jews? Then as now, we are burying our heads in the sand, repressing the new Nazism – the Islamic fundamentalism.
Can we stop the clock of the new anti-Semitism directed at the state of Israel? Perhaps this war will awaken those in slumber. However this time, the western world will awaken in time.

More Proof

The Australian Herald Sun has published clear proof that Hizbullah is operating from the midst of Lebanese Civilian areas. They are praying that we attack them so that they can pin the blame for civilian casualties on us.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Murderous Cowards

The Hizbullah, and noone else, is responsible for the tragedy at Kafr Kana. Even the Guardian, yesterday, reported how the brave fighters of 'The Army of God' hide behind women and children.

Friday, July 28, 2006

אבינו שבשמים הצילנו מאויבינו

Scenes from the Kotel Prayer Assembly on Tuesday. Not what you usually expect.

Quelle Surprise! Je Suis Boulverse! (Pas)

Today's New York Times reports that the Arab and Muslim world has been swept up in a tide of ecstatic support and adulation of Hizbullah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah. This, per se, should come as no surprise. It does, however, minimize (if not neutralize) the importance of the few blogger/writers who oppose Hizbullah. I don't doubt their sincerity. I feel for them, and worry about their safety. They are, however, irrelevent and we'd better get used to that.

This also means that there are more forces working against us than we realize. As one columnist noted, Muslims from around the world are exploiting our open media to learn how to hurt us. He advocates increased censorship. I can't say I disagree. It's a terrible thing to have to do. However, since the enemy is using the media, the internet (including talkbacks), computer viruses and what-not to attack us we should (at least) not provide more ammunition.

Before 1967, there was an expression: שקט! האויב שומע. It needs to be reintroduced.


Dr. Azzam Timimi of Britain's Institute of Islamic Thought shares some of his Islamic thoughts, from July 10, 2006 in London, speaking in front of pictures of Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah and the Ayatollah Khomeini :

Thursday, July 27, 2006

No Words

Allison writes:

It's only the day after he was killed and a legend is already growing around the heroism of Major Ro'i Klein, the Golani commander who died in the ambush and fierce battle that took place in Bint Jbeil that took the lives of nine soldiers

Several members of his battalion confirm the story -- a grenade was lobbed in the midst of the unit under his command. Klein, who was 31 years old, married with two children, made a quick decision and jumped, throwing his body onto the grenade, losing his life, and saving the lives of all of his soldiers.

What she didn't mention was that Ro'i was a graduate of the Pre-Military Preparatory Yeshiva in Eli. His father, on the radio this afternoon, quietly noted that Ro'i's service in the IDF was seamlessly connected with his deep and abiding devotion to God, Torah and the Jewish People. Let the יושבי שינקין who call for the dismantling of the מכינות consider his example, before they drink another latte.

יהי זכרו ברוך

ד' יילחם לכם

שומר ישראל, שמור שארית ישראל ואל יאבד ישראל האומרים: שמע ישראל

(Thanks to HG for the reference.)

Sign of the Times

I guess it's a sign of the times that there needs to be a petition supporting our government's active defense of our country. On the other hand, with the Arab, Radical Left and now Seven Mothers anti-war demonstrations, it's necessary.

In any event, all Israeli citizens reading this are urged to sign, here.

Behold, it is a people that dwells alone

It's been a very difficult few days. Nine soldiers killed. Over thirty wounded. Over one hundred katyushas fired at the Galilee. I'll leave it to Jameel, Orthomom and Allison o blog the events. I'd like to share an observation.

In a briefing before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, PM Olmert changed his usual tune concerning the duration of the present war. Previously, he had said that the army would carry on as long as it felt it necessary to beat Hizbullah. Today, he said that the war would be carried on as long as the homefront can take it. Most commentators took this to be the PM's way of seeking a way out of the campaign, in anticipation of international pressure to surrender to Hizbullah and admit another ineffectual multi-national force to protect us.

It might well be that our putative leaders are weak-kneed. That's to be expected from the 'Peace Now' graduates who constitute a majority of the cabinet (Peretz, Ramon, Peres, and Pines). This is in addition to the former Betarim who are desperate to be accepted by the Left/Elite (Olmert and Livni).

The 'Home Front,' however, is stronger than ever. The Jewish people has (once again) demonstrated its power to survive and its resilience under fire. The cliche that 'Am Yisrael Hai' is shining through everywhere you look (except in the media. The State of Tel-Aviv is not, you see, at war with Hizbullah.)


1) The list of prominent, former 'Peace at any Price' types, who've finally understood what this war (In Gaza and Lebanon is about) i.e. defending our right to live as a free nation in our own country grows from day to day. Among the most prominent are: Yoram Kaniuk, Orna Shimoni, Sima Kedmon, Sever Plocker and Yehoshua Sobol. In addition, other more centrist writes, like my friend Yossi Klein Halevi, have also offered various forms of mea culpa. [Of course, the Moetzet Gedole Torat HaSmol still hies to its unshakeable belief that every Muslim is a liberal, Francophile in disguise. David Grossman is merely the most recent to offer his Daat Torat haSmol.]

2) This morning, on 'The Last Word,' on Army Radio I heard Avery Gilad (the 'Leftist'/'Secular' side, with Jacky Levi in the role of Right/Religious) inveigh against all of his colleagues in the media who are systematically trying to undermine our morale. Those you who don't live here have to understand that Army Radio is a bastion of the Post-Zionist Left. Years ago, we used to call it 'PLO Radio.' To hear love of country and love of our people on that station was nothing less than inspiring.

3) The outpouring of support by the entire country for the Northerners and Southerners has been, well, wonderfully Jewish. Storeowners are giving large discounts to help them settle in. (Though those of us in Judea, Samaria and Greater Jerusalem are not a bit bemused by our new status as the 'safest place inIsrael.') Yesterday, a restaurant owner spied a family looking for a place to eat, opened a table for them and hosted them on the house.

In Rosh Pinah, the few people who remain there are spending all of their time and money baking burekas and buying things for the soldiers when they return from Lebanon.

The papers reported that the wounded from Bint Jbail were unanimous in their eagerness to get back into the fight and defend their families and country. The percentages of those responding to calls for reserve duty has been unusually high (as they were for 'Operation Defensive Shield). Naomi Ragan has been keeping us abreast of other, heartwarming stories. You can subscribe by sending an empty e-mail here.

4) Here in Gush Etzion a few hundred families are being hosted at the yeshivot and fed by the community. There is extra activity for them. On Shabbat the town hosts a Seudah Shelishit to which much of the local population comes and contributes. In addition to supporting our Pina Chama for soldiers, the locals are baking and cooking overtime to make our guests feel at home (as much as possible).

5) On Shabbat, we we will start reading Sefer Devarim. Toward the end of the book, the Torah says (32, 1-10):

And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt bethink thyself among all the nations, whither HaShem thy G-d hath driven thee, and shalt return unto HaShem thy G-d, and hearken to His voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul; that then HaShem thy G-d will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the peoples, whither HaShem thy G-d hath scattered thee. If any of thine that are dispersed be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will HaShem thy G-d gather thee, and from thence will He fetch thee. And HaShem thy G-d will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and He will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. And HaShem thy G-d will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love HaShem thy G-d with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. And HaShem thy G-d will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, that persecuted thee. And thou shalt return and hearken to the voice of HaShem, and do all His commandments which I command thee this day. And HaShem thy G-d will make thee over-abundant in all the work of thy hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good; for HaShem will again rejoice over thee for good, as He rejoiced over thy fathers; if thou shalt hearken to the voice of HaShem thy G-d, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law; if thou turn unto HaShem thy G-d with all thy heart, and with all thy soul.

True, there are no atheists in foxholes and I can't be sure what will happen when, with God's help, this war is won. The fact remains, though, that the prayer gatherings throughout the country attract a lot more than th obviously Orthodox. If the rabbis reach out to comfort and support the broader public, as they are in Qiryat Shemonah, a large step toward realizing the Torah's words will be taken. (See the important and oh-so-true remarks of YNet editor, Andrew Friedman.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Letter to the World

This was brought to my attention by someone on our local e-list.

The original location is

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Haazinu and the Longue Duree

Anyone who knows me, and my work, is aware of my affinity for aspects of the Annales School of historiography (though not its materialism). I am especially fond of their affinity for taking the 'long view' of historical development(s), otherwise known as the 'longue duree' approach. I admit that part (but only part) of the school's attraction for me is its affinity for traditional Jewish historiosophy.

The Jewish approach to history is also very 'longue duree.' It also tends to be cyclical.

Welcome Back, OOSJ

Out of Step Jew has reappeared to comment on the war. I'm pleased to see him back, if for a lousey reason. He's still required reading, though.

Hakarat HaHet (or Niemöller Revisited)

This appeared over at A Simple Jew.

Enclosed is the translation of the letter I got today.

Friends and family members are being injured and killed
Some of us are without a roof on our heads.
I closed my business since the beginning of the battle and I don't know what will happen.
We are wandering between family and good people.
Our family life has been impaired.

I never thought that I, a Haifa resident for 30 years, would be a refugee in my own land.
Every thing sound so familiar from the close past.
During 5 years you coped with bombs – and I didn't care
You buried family and friends - and I was indifferent
You found yourselves without a home, like that and you never had someone that listened to you.
Even when you came to visit me to my house, to explain, to convince, to share your feelings with me – I refused to listen to you.
It has already been a week.
I am out of my house, without my regular routine, it is very hard to me – but the empathy, the support, and people identifying with our plight helped me go on.
You , don't even have that.
You – In guest houses, hotels and even in tents-
It's not easy to say: "Who cares?!"

People from Gush Katif and the Shomron!
Forgive me!
Forgive us for letting you on your own.
Forgive us for not understanding you.
I am not a religious man, and not a mystic person.
But we cannot ignore the deep relation
Between my attitude towards you
And the price that I am paying now for my understanding

[For those unaware of the reference to Pastor Martin Niemöller, see here.]

Monday, July 24, 2006

He Gets It....

The last thing that one can say about Yoram Kaniuk is that he's a Rightist. As he himself writes, in 1947, 'I still belonged to a socialist youth movement supporting a two-nation state. I protested against occupation before we ever occupied anyone. ' Nevertheless, as further proof of my earlier post, even he gets it. (Note the passing reference to Stalin's as a mass-murderer.)

[Akiva Eldar, another 'True Believer,' ( a la Eric Hoffer) doesn't.]

A Challenge to Tzohar

Today, at Machon Lev, the rabbis of Tzohar are holding their annual Yom Iyyun. As befits the most promising, inspiring and courageous group of rabbis in Israel today they are scheduled to confront the most challenging, difficult and nettlesome issues facing the Torah today. Since I am not a practicing Rov (though, one would never know it from the shaylos I receive- or, perhaps, davka one would know), I am not going to attend. However, I feel the need to offer one, pressing observation; another mantra, if you will. [And, BTW, I plan to publish a Hebrew version as well.]

Glaring in its absence from the confrence program is the topic of rabbinic training or qualifications. Now, let me make this perfectly clear. Any person who would presume to function as a Rov must be a Talmid Hakham (and a Yereh Shamayim). Period. He does not need to be a Gadol ba-Torah (though, I assume he would aspire to that.) He must, however, have earned the right to offer an halakhic opinion.

That, however, is insufficient and it is time that our community wake up to this fact (as the Haredi Community in the United States already has. See Adam Ferziger's superb study in Modern Judaism).

A few examples:

1) Rabbis are increasingly required to relate to difficult emotional and familial situations that are quite beyond their capacity (or awareness). They must, therefore, receive training in basic pastoral psychology. In addition, they must be equipped with a list of responsible therapists to whom they may refer those in need of help.

2) Not every person can think on his feet. As Shlomo Avineri once noted, Israel runs like a twenty-four hour a day talk show. Rabbis are often sought out in the media for the reactions who not only do not acquit themselves well, they desecrate God's Name on a regular basis. I know it's tempting, but some sort of winnowing process must be attempted to prevent the rabid from sullying the airwaves. In addition, those who are talented should be taught to appear in the media and to debate. Enough to rabbis indulging in on the air cock fights.

3) Finally, and most important, it is absolutely critical that Tzohar rabbis acquire a much broader education than that which the yeshivot offer. That education must include a wider Torah element AND a general element.

The first will enrich the Rav personally and allow him to responsibly engage the community he seeks to serve. In breve, not every answer to every question is found in the writings either of Rav Kook or (and it pains me to say this) the Rov.

The second is vital on three grounds. 1) Without a wide general education one cannot hope to understand the world in which most people live. 2) Without a wide general education, one cannot hope to respond to the challenges posed to us by the secular elite. 3) Without a wide general education, one cannot hope to communicate Torah to an audience that considers itself sophisticated. I don't care if it's done through self-teaching or by formal means. If the rabbinate does not do it, it's place in Gan Eden will be in doubt (if only for negligence). See Moreh Nebuhim III, 51. This is a Humra, people, not a Kula. It must be done without sacrificing a single paragraph of Shulhan Arukh or a single Gilyon HaShas. Indeed, Talmide Hakhamim who can engage the world will save it from Jewishly unlettered academics and intellectuals (some of them religiously observant) to whom our searching brethren are attracted.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Cassandra Vindicated (Sort of...)

I ran into Ben Chorin on Friday, fresh from my return from Central Europe. I mentioned to him that I really don't know what to write about this war. As Lisa pointed out, this is the most blogged war ever (though I don't share her admiration for Etgar Keret, who preaches Jewish national suicide. Indeed, he's the epitome of those who would 'sophisticate us all to death.') What can I add? Ben urged me to take up the pen, because (in his opinion) my mantra needs to become just that, a mantra.

So here goes...

Mirabile Dictu, the idea is finally getting around that this war, the entire (so-called Arab-Israel conflict) IS ALL ABOUT ISLAM. PERIOD. Look at the alliance and coordination between Sunnite Hamas and Shiite Hizbullah. What they both have in common is a burning desire to eradicate the kafir state in the Middle East and expand the House of Islam. (After that they'll presumeably deal with their particular differences.) Bernard Lewis has been saying this four over thirty years. Yehoshua Porat, Barry Rubin, Yosi Olmert, and Danny Pipes have been saying this for decades. Your humble servant has been screaming (and teaching and writing) this since before September 13, 1993.

Until now, this point has been castigated, belittled, scorned and ridiculed by the effete avatars of Ultra-Orthodoxy Liberalism, whose dogmatic, self-imposed blindness makes Haredi belief pale by comparison. No dose of reality could shake the pristine belief of the delusional that everyone must think like them, because they represent le meillur des mondes possible. (Of course, Candide was a satire, but most of the Israeli members of the so-called elite, don't read. They merely parrot. Europeans, je doit admitter, do read. Mais ils ne comprenenet pas.) Hence, if we were only to give in to Hamas/Hizbullah/Iran/Syria/the PA and negotiate, everything would be fine. This, of course, is despite the fact that this ignores the deepest held beliefs of the Muslim world (and those of most of the much touted peace loving bloggers).

How else does one explain the obscene anti-war demonstrations in Tel Aviv last week and yesterday? How else can one understand the malignant words of Gidon Levy, Ilan Pappe, Amira Hass, Shulamit Aloni, Uri Avneri and the rest of those who would spill our blood because 'we bear their sins' (cf. IPeter 2, 24).

The message, however, is getting out. In the latest Azure, Pierre Manent finally admits that we may, indeed, be involved in a clash of civilizations. The same thread is being picked up in the press and in private conversations in Israel. So the neo-cons are not the only ones to get the message (pace the State of Tel Aviv, but that would take a miracle. The sharp decline in the readership of Haaretz, though, seems to indicate that the rest of the country is on the mend.)

Cassandra, it would appear, is occasionally believed. Late. Very Late, but better late than never.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Like Lemmings....

Friday morning I stood at the edge of Hell. I visited Thersienstadt. I will need more time to digest the experience, much less write about it. On one level, though, Caroline Glick has saved me writing from one angle:

Column One: Israel's premeditated market failure

Caroline Glick
, THE JERUSALEM POST May. 31, 2006

...Events on the northern front and in Gaza over the past few days demonstrated that Israelis are denied a free flow of accurate information regarding their national security. On Monday, Ha'aretz reported darkly, "Iran has transferred to Lebanon rockets that reach Beersheba." The report stated that the Iranians recently provided their proxy Hizbullah with Zelzal-2 rockets capable of hitting every major city in Israel.Yet while this report is true, it is neither startling nor earth-shaking for anyone who has been closely observing developments in south Lebanon over the past few years. The recent shipment of Zelzal missiles does not constitute a departure from well-formed Iranian, Syrian or Hizbullah policy patterns.The first time that a shipment of Iranian Zelzal rockets to Hizbullah was reported was in early 2003. Just as this week it took the media one day to forget about this Zelzal shipment, in 2003, the reports received almost no attention. At the time the Israeli media and the government were busy convincing the Israeli public to support the road map which was then being written by Yossi Beilin and Tony Blair.Like the 2003 report before it, the meaning of this week's report is clear. Iran today is perched on Israel's northern border.Against the backdrop of Iran's nuclear weapons program and its ballistic missiles capabilities, Iran's presence on the northern border dramatically impacts Israel's national security posture. If before the IDF's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 Hizbullah and its state sponsor constituted a challenging, bloody tactical threat to Israel, today they are a strategic threat. In short, this week's story about the Zelzal missile shipment reveals what a terrible mistake Israel's retreat from south Lebanon was.But the Israel media - which was the engine behind the Barak government's decision to retreat from south Lebanon six years ago - have no interest in informing the public of the magnitude of its error. So rather than provide any context for Sunday's Katyusha rocket attacks on northern Israel, our media luminaries argued among themselves about irrelevancies such as whether the Iranian puppet Islamic Jihad or the Iranian puppet Hizbullah fired the rockets on Sunday morning.If the media had any interest in serving their primary function of informing the Israeli public about its current situation, they could ask why Israel is sitting back and allowing Hizbullah to acquire the means to attack all of Israel's major cities. If we know that the missiles were delivered, why didn't we blow them up at the airport or in their silos?Since the 1950s, Israel's military doctrine has dictated that the IDF is responsible for ensuring that our enemies do not acquire the means to cause us strategic damage. This was the rationale that stood behind the Sinai Campaign in 1956, the Six Day War in 1967, the strike at the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981 and countless other operations throughout the years.But rather than receiving context or meaningful debate, the public is fed a diet of empty-headed drivel. Our media know-it-alls idiotically inform us that far more IDF soldiers were killed in Lebanon when the IDF was deployed in Lebanon than have been killed in Lebanon since the IDF withdrew from Lebanon. No one bothers to explain that in the future many more soldiers will likely be killed in Lebanon to neutralize the strategic threats that have emerged in that area because soldiers who prevented the Lebanese tactical challenge from becoming the current strategic threat were removed from the country six years ago.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Prayer from Afar

From my hotel here in Prague, I can see the roof of the Altneushul. There’s no golem there. The shul, however, is full of ghosts; the ghosts of the gedolim who passed through there since it was first built in 1244. Throughout Shabbat, I was intensely aware of the presence of R. Abraham b. Azriel, R. Avigdor Kara, Maharal, R. Ephraim Lunschitz, R. David Ganz, R. Avraham Horowitz, his son the Shne Luhot ha-Berit, אא"ז the Tosafot Yom Tov, the Shakh, the Noda b’Yehudah, the Teshuvah me-Ahavah, and R. Shlomo Yehudah Rappaport (among others). Ah, what those walls saw. If they could but speak. They cannot, however, speak. More to the point, those walls are orphans. If it weren’t for tourists, the Altneushul would be a museum on Shabbat, just as it is during the week. Europe is, and will remain, the Jewish past.

Our future is in Eretz Yisrael.

That awareness is that much more heightened for me as I watch our country under vicious attack, and our children go to war to defend us. Today, Thank God, we need no golem. We need no magic. For the first time in two millennia, we can defend ourselves. We do, however, need God’s help to win this, and every other, war. We need God’s help to silence the Jews who love our enemies. We need God’s help to succor our arms against those enemies. We need God’s help to (re)instill in our fellow Jews the conviction that this land is ours, but only by His Will and at His hand.

והיא שעמדה לאבותינו ולנו.
שלא אחד בלבד עמד עלינו לכלותינו.
אלא שבכל דור ודור עומדים עלינו לכלותינו,
והקב"ה מצילנו מידם.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Von Wien

Visiting Vienna is a very mixed experience. It's a gorgeous city, full of music, that is celebrating (all over) the 250th Birthday of Mozart. The place oozes hochkultur.

On the other hand, Austria is an integral part of ארץ הדמים. The worst Nazis were Austrians. The anti-semitism is palpable. It transcends the ages. Outside of St. Stephan's cathdral, I found a tryptich, which does not appear in the official guidebook. (I'm having connection problems, so I'll post it later.) It's a perfect example of the medieval, ugly Jew who bears responsibility for the sadistic murder of Jesus.

Later in the day, while walking toward my hotel, there was a pro-Palestinian demonstration.

OTOH, when I walked past Ruperts Kirche, a perfect 11th century Roamesque edifice, I was very aware of the presence of R. Isaac Or Zarua, R. Hayyim Or Zarua, R. Avigdor Qara, and (more modernly) H.P. Chajes, Moritz Gudemann, Adolf Jellinek and Joel Muller.

OTOH, it's only fifty km to Mauthausen.

Verily a mixed bag.

Friday, July 07, 2006

There's A War Going On

It strikes me that you'd never know from my recent postings that there's a war going on forty minutes to an hour from here. (You might think I lived in Tel Aviv, where they don't seem to care. 'The band played on.' ). Well, I'm very much aware of it. My son's friends are in the thick of it. Leftists and Arabs were busy stoning Jewish cars about a kilometer away, in support of the Gaza Arabs.

I just don't know what to write anymore. Read Jameel and Ben Chorin and Treppinwitz.

OTOH, a Nefesh b'Nefesh flight landed yesterday.

I guess we should say two kapitlich Tehillim: 127 and 130. .

A Gem from the Netziv

I love the Netziv and his writings. In fact, I have to say that if I'd had the zechus to be a talmid in Volozhin, I'd have attended the sahiurim of both. When the controversies broke out between his talmidim and those of the Bais HaLevi and Reb Hayyim, I would have stayed out of it, for love of both. I am proud that my copy of the Ha'ameq She'elah is falling apart, again like some of my volumes of Brisker Torah. There is almost no Shabbat that goes by without a Dvar Torah from his Humash commentary, Ha'ameq Davar (my oldest son has become an afficionado, as well). Anyway, hidden away in a long series of pearls in this week's sedra (we only read Balaq, remember?) is this observation that could have been an Op-Ed in the Israeli or American-Jewish Press.

Balaam, in his first blessing, says (Num. 23, 9):

הֶן-עָם לְבָדָד יִשְׁכֹּן, וּבַגּוֹיִם לֹא יִתְחַשָּׁב.

This is translated as:

Lo, it is a people that shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.

The Netziv, however, has a different take. He interprets the word ישכון as meaning "He will in-dwell" meaning that God will cause His Shekhina to dwell among them. Based upon this, he writes that there are two parts of Balaam's observation on the nature of the Jews and of Jewish History.

הֶן-עָם לְבָדָד יִשְׁכֹּן

When it is a people that dwells alone and maintains its uniqueness, He will dwell among them.

וּבַגּוֹיִם לֹא יִתְחַשָּׁב

However, if they seek to become indistinguishable from the nations, they will never be considered or accepted by the nations.

Truer words were never said.

(Thanks to my friend and neighbor, Rabbi Yaakov Greenwald, for showing this to me.)

Don't Go, Tzemach

One of the most intelligent, embattled and straight-thinking Jewish bloggers, Tzemach Atlas, is calling it quits. If you want to see the down-side of Habad, read the blog of this devoted individual whose faith has been deeply injured by the hypocrisy and worse of the world within which he lives.

To him I say, 'Don't Leave!' Either the Torah, or the blogosphere. I know that in your circles Judaism is seen as a zero sum game. However, there are many legitimate paths to the King (Guide III, 51). One is shomer mitzvos because of what the King says, not because of what the Jews do. This week's Parsha (end) bears that out.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Stockholm, Israel

I suppose it was inevitable. A new movement, Seven Mothers, is holding vigil outside of the settlement where the Shalit family lives, protesting the IDF operation in Gaza and calling for the release of all security prisoners. The IDF, they are screaming, is a terror organization of the highest (or lowest) order.

Hans-Joachim Schoeps חי וקיים

Monday, July 03, 2006

Battle Cry of Freedom

The Spirit of '76

We all gathered together tonight, hundreds of American Olim, in Kraft Stadium, under a gorgeous Jerusalem sky to celebrate our other home, the United States of America on the occasion of the 230th anniversary of its independence. We listened to Bluegrass and Country Music, ate Burgers and Hot Dogs and reminisced about the Old Country.

Thirty years ago, I was in the exact reverse situation. On July 4, 1976 I was all camped out with friends on the banks of the Charles River, waiting for the fabled Boston Pops Fourth of July concert (accompanied by howitzers and fireworks) in celebration of America's Bicentennial. Part of me was, at the same time, six thousand miles away with the celebrations here in Israel at the thrilling rescue of the Entebbe hostages. Pride merged with pride. Joy merged with joy.

Judging from my experiences in 'flyover' America, the USA is still pretty resolute. Here in Israel, most people don't understand that New York and LA just don't represent America. (Certainly the NY Times, LA Times and the NYROB don't). America is still a 'sleeping giant filled with a terrible resolve' (as Yamamoto said, and discovered).

Israel, however, is another story. Ehud (I'm tired of fighting) Olmert and his pygmies are light years away from Israel of 1976. I suspect that they are as representative of the Jews of Israel as Michael Moore is of the average American. The problem is that Michael Moore is a stupid white guy and Olmert and Co. are actually in charge here.

In any event, on the way home from Jerusalem, I was thinking about things that we American-Israelis could give this country- not that the local elites will never accept them, but go know:

Freedom of Speech
Freedom to Freely Criticize Elected Officials
Freedom of Assembly
Writs of Habeas Corpus
No Bills of Attainder
Personal Legislative Representation
Accepting Responsibility for Errors
'Taking the Hit'
Belief in Our Right to Exist
"One Nation, Under God'
Legislative Ratification of Judicial Appointments
Trial by Jury
The Fourteenth Amendment

Finally, consider this:

Now I make it my earnest prayer that God would have you and the State over which you preside, in His holy protection, that He would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, to entertain brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens and the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field, and finally, that He would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. I have the honor to be, with much esteem and respect, Sir, your Excellency's most obedient and most humble servant. George Washington (8 June 1783)