Eliayhu’s Mission

March 18, 2016

The Mishna is Edyut states that Eliyahu comes “not to distance, not to bring close, but to make shalom.”

The mishna is speaking about how Eliyahu is going to deal with the fights over whether certain families of Kohanim are of authentic lineage. During the late Second Temple period, some Kohanic families had their lineages wrongfully attacked and they were pushed away from the service.  Other families with very questionable Kohanic status oppressed others and forced their way into the service. It was a real mess, with nobody able to clean it up conclusively.

Who can really say such-and-such family are true Kohanim? Only a prophet.

But the Sages ruled that Eliyahu does not come back to tell us “who is right” about whether a particular family are Kohanim or not. Eliyahu comes to make shalom – cacha (that’s it!)

The upshot  is that when Eliyahu returns, he is not going to tell any of us we are right or wrong in our religious disputes about unseen, hidden things that cannot be proven. With respect to that which is hidden, he is not coming to reject nor support any argument. (Not even mine😦 )

In my opinion, this is because none of us really knows what is going on, spiritually speaking. If the revealed Torah is so opaque to us, how much more so the activity of the spiritual worlds. The only thing we know for sure is that the Torah tells us that the Temple was destroyed because of sinat hinam – one Jew accusing another innocent Jew a sinner.

My guess is that Eliyahu will return and give us a message like this, “Jewish people, in truth, none of you really know what’s going on. At best, you are making good faith guesses. But none of you have prophecy, and none of you know for sure about what is hidden to men.”

“But Rabbi Eliyahu,” somebody will say.

“No! Nothing” says Eliahu. “You don’t know anything.”

“But, my Rebbe said . . . ”

“Nope! Nothing. You all don’t know anything. . . . Now, shut up and make shalom between yourselves, or you are all going to die.”

G-d should protect us from another ring transfer!

Its really not that complicated, people!


Getting Ready for Eliyahu

March 16, 2016

I am not waiting for Moshiach. I am waiting for Eliyahu. But not just waiting, but preparing for his arrival and his message.

When Eliyahu returns, he comes to make shalom – “And he will return the hears of the fathers to the sons (al banim), and the hearts of the sons to their fathers (al avotam).”

We see that grammatically, the verse is not symmetrical. The verse should say, “And he will return the hearts of the fathers tothe sons (al banim), and the hearts of the sons to the fathers (al avot)”.

Why the change from “to the sons” (al banim) and later “to their fathers” (al avotam).

Another question, content wise, is why is it that the parents make the first move? Isn’t it more logical that the children return to their parents first, i.e. the wayward children returning home?  The generation that is “off” returning to the ways of their parents? As they would say here, to the mesoira? Why the children first? Are the parents supposed to start wearing ripped jeans and listening to rap music? Clearly not. Something else is going on.

The answer to this question is very profound. Its possible that the “parents” in this verse is the FFB world, and the “children” are the BTs and Gerim who are the spiritual children of the FFB world. The children are the ones who possess an understanding of Torah that the parents simply do not have (for reasons I won’t delve into here). In fact, BT’s in particular are a cessation of the concept of “yeridot ha dorot” – we are aliyot hadorot, and our children, G-d should protect them, are a hemschech of that (granted their aliyah is a more gradual slope than ours).

The challenge is that the parents are ignoring the children. The parents believe, b’etzem, the children have nothing to contribute other than blind allegiance to the parents’ frameworks of understanding. The yetzer hara confuses the Parents to reject outright ideas that are insightful and true. The parents simply are not listening. Consequently, the children feel ignored and ultimately disenfranchised and abandoned. Applied to reality, this means many BT’s and Gerim “suffer in silent desperation” and live with a profound disconnect between themselves and the FFB world that bore them. (I can’t tell you h ow many BTs I know – 15 to 25 years into the game – who are heartbroken from being treated – spiritually – as second class citizens.) The parents ignore the children, and with it the very solutions they possess that could help solve the great problems facing klal Yisrael. (Of course, many BT’s think they can “make it” in the FFB world, only to realize there is a very real glass ceiling 20 years in, and if you think differently, the ceiling crashes down on you, as I am quite familiar with; I know some very big BT Rabbaim who admitted that, in the end, they are really hutznikim).

But soon, G-d willing, G-d will bring Eliyahu soon with the message “lo l’karev v’lo l’rahek”. When the fathers stop trying to convince the sons “Who are you?”, and instead admit the giant problems they cannot solve and say, “What do you have to say?”. The sons will felt heard and understood. Good solutions will be proffered and adopted. And the the fathers will then take their rightful place – as their fathers.

That’s the idea brought by the verse. In the beginning, when the fathers reach out to listen to the sons, the sons are not yet “their sons” – there is no connection. The fathers are moving to reestablish that connection. After the sons feel that the fathers care, then the sons respond by listening – listening because now the sons feel that the fathers are their fathers.

Obviously, at a different level, this verse provides tremendous hinuch in parenting as well. Listen to your children and take what they have to say seriously!!


Trump is Esav

March 8, 2016

Ruddy red-headed Esav is coming to town. Get ready Jewish people.

He will call us to account for claiming exception without being exceptional.

The only protection is this. . .

The Prosecution of Esav – Blood Moon

 


Preview of What’s To Come?

February 2, 2016

Posted October 26, 2010 (and my reflections 6 years later, below)

The other night I had a dream that I was in E”Y and was standing outside a military checkpoint with a group of “settlers” who wanted to get to their homes in Judea and Samaria.  The guard was not Israeli, but rather was American, wearing a strange blue uniform. He told us that we could go “there” but we were responsible for our own lives, and that it was likely we’d get shot by roaming bands of Arabs.

I believe this dream is informative in that it highlights what is likely to happen under a UNilateral Declaration scenario – the Pals declare a State, which gives them the “right” to use force against any foreign enemy “invaders.”

Roaming bands of Arabs, in cahoots with the PA security forces, will launch a violent campaign against Jews living in the “new” Pal state. Thousands of Jews will be forced to flee the violence.  Those Jews who resist by force of arms will be met by US trained Pal forces with heavy weapons (heavy caliber machine guns, mortars, APC’s, etc.).

In the face of tremendous, unprecedented global pressure and threats, the SOI will not (arguably, cannot) shed Arab blood to protect the Settlers – after all, its fait accompli anyway – they will order the IDF to withdraw as in Lebanon, but it will be Jews, not Lebanese who are left to defend themselves or flee.

By this means, i.e., Jewish flight in the face of Arab massacre, the “pullout” from Judea and Samaria without having to engage in a Gush Katif type operation (which Israeli politicians know they could not pull off again).

So just before the End, the Jews are out, the Pals have a state, and the Pals did not have to make a single concession at the negotiating table. They will maintain all of their claim of Right of Return, and maintain the right to use force at their will to enforce this claim.  There will be no peace treaty, but rather a standoff with the constant threat of violence.

Once the Jews are “out”, a quasi-international/US force will be posted on the DMZ-border to piece keep. They will cynically taunt the Jews, “Sure, we’ll let you go back there, but we won’t let you go back there armed, so you’ll end up getting shot anyway.”  These are the folks I encountered in my dream.

In my dream I also had a vision of two men,  who appeared to be Judean and Samarian residents, clad in white and riding horse drawn chariots. They swooped down and around the checkpoint and into the territory. I remember being amazed by their countenance and boldness of action.

Of course, none of this is certain, just possible.  HaShem should bless and protect!

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Reflecting on this now – 6 years later  – I hope that Eliyahu comes and makes shalom between us, and escorts us to greet Moshiach. I hope we listen to “his voice”.  No more fighting – lo l’karev, lo l’rahem.

 

 


The First Born Nation

December 31, 2015

What does it mean that the Jewish people are the First Born Nation? What is such a big deal about the first born in the first place?

Just recently, a friend of mine told me they could just not understand why it is that Jewish law rules that the first born son gets a “double” portion of inheritance. He thought it unfair.

I replied that he doesn’t understand because he’s never seen a real first born in action, a first born that is living up to his responsibilities. A first born that deserves a double portion.

A first born who sets a stellar example for their younger siblings is the first born that deserves a double portion. He takes the lead, and sets the standard for righteousness. A parent can proudly say to the other children, “One day when you grow up, you’ll be just like the First Born.” And the other children respect and agree with the assessment of the First Born’s greatness. It is clear.

This is what G-d intends for the Jewish People, the First Born Nation. He intends us to be a deserving first born that sets a stellar example for the world, in terms of love of G-d, love of our neighbor, and love of all creations.  If our words and deeds make Jew and Gentile love G-d, we are doing our jobs, and we deserve a double portion – the very double portion called “redemption” that Yaakov purchased from Esau.

And if we don’t act like the First Born, we don’t deserve a double portion. If you don’t do your job, you don’t get paid.

 


The 2 Words That Will Bring Moshiach (Soon)

December 17, 2015

The whole story of the brothers selling Yosef begs one big question – Did Yosef ever forgive his brothers for selling him into slavery?

The answer is no. Yosef said to them, “You intended it for evil, HaShem intended it for good.” But Yosef did not forgive his brothers.

Yosef didn’t forgive them because he couldn’t – until they initiated making shalom by apologizing and asking for forgiveness.

Notably, the brothers, led by Yehuda, never apologized to Yosef. They never said. . .

“We are so sorry Yosef, we were wrong. We made the wrong psak about you and hurt you very, very badly. We got really carried away with ourselves, we were so jealous of you. We wrongfully accused you of wanting to lord over us. We wrongfully accused you of not acting for the sake of heaven.

We mistakenly thought you threatened our status as sons of Jacob. We didn’t talk to father about it, and we didn’t make the first step to making peace as the older brothers should. In the end, we ruthlessly threw you in a pit and sold you to Arabs, where you could have been killed, tortured, or raped.

Please, please, Yosef, we apologize. There is no excuse for what we did. We so sorry. We were so wrong. Please, forgive us.

And I, Yehuda, personally, was the root cause of all this mess. I had no right to participate in a beit din (court) to decide this issue about you. I was nogeah b’dvar (biased) because I have a stake in the matter inasmuch as I believe the crown is mine. I acted contrary to halacha for participating in the impromptu din Torah with my brothers. Halacha required me – at a minimum – to recuse myself because of my self-interest. And we poskened the shiloh without the participation, advice, input, or halachic consideration of our Rabbi and Av Beit Din, Yaakov.

We wrongfully caused you so much pain and suffering.

For everything Yosef, I’m sorry.

These two words – I’m sorry – are the keys to redemption. Ultimately, Yehudah’s and the brothers’ failure to apologize to Yosef prevented Yosef from being able to forgive them. Had Yosef forgiven prior to Yehudah and the brothers doing complete and proper tshuva by admitting their mistake and apologizing for it, all would have been lost. The core lesson of the importance of admitting mistakes and apologizing for them without excuses would’ve remained unlearned forever – and, at the deepest level – the ultimate redemption barred forever.

The brothers failure to apologize to Yosef had far reaching ramifications. Our Sages teach us that the Ten Martyrs were murdered as an atonement for the brothers’ sin of selling Yosef. Had the brothers apologized and Yosef then forgiven, according the laws of tshuva the entire slate would have been wiped clean, and no Ten Martyrs.

This profound failure to apologize still haunts us today, as many Torah leaders are simply incapable of admitting and apologizing for serious mistakes in halachic or interpersonal judgments. These mistakes, and the drastic efforts to rationalize them or cover them up, metastasize into an underlying cultural sinat hinam (baseless hatred) that steamrolls the weak and innocent in our communities, and perpetuates our bitter exile.

If our Torah leaders rectify the sin of the brothers and embrace these two words – “I’m sorry” – I believe Moshiach would come speedily in our days.

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After bouncing this vort off the local Orthodox Rabbis, here is an addendum. Its a reply to a friend of mine who asked for clarification off-line. .  .

Rabbenu Bachyah expressly opines that Yosef did not forgive his brothers, and he connects it to the death of the 10 Martyrs.

Rabbenu Bachya states – different than me – that the brothers did ask for forgiveness via the line that “Yaakov says to forgive their sin, etc.”  And Yosef refused.

However, R. Bachyah’s explanation begs a very big question – Why didn’t Yosef forgive? R. Bachyah does not answer this screaming bomba kasha.

I opine, and differ with R. Bachyah (alavi I could speak to him in person!) – the brothers never did apologize sincerely for what they did. Read Vayehi 50:15-17. The Torah clearly states that the brothers were afraid of being “repaid” for all their evil, and thus they concocted a story that Yaakov told Yosef to to forgive them.

This begs the question – if at the time Yaakov was alive, Yosef had lost his power and position, and no longer had the means to “repay” the brothers after Yaakov’s death, would the brothers have made this awkward attempt to seek “forgiveness”? According to the svorah that they were merely seeking to avoid retribution, the answer perforce must be no. Thus, the ersatz apology they did make was insincere.

And by putting the works in Yaakov’s mouth, rather than their own, this further shows the apology was insincere, and at best motivated by fear not love. Last time I checked, on Yom Kippur we don’t say, “HaShem, my Rabbi gave me orders to say to you, please, forgive the deed of that man for he has done evil.”  We say, I erred, I sinned, I rebelled. And according to many poskim, l’hathila we then admit our sin in detail.

We don’t see that here, at all.

And that’s why Yosef could not forgive them. If he forgave them here, they never would have learned the lesson that there is no excuse for selling your brother to the Arabs because you suspect them of heresy (which is what the essence of the brothers tyyna).

Believe me, I’ve been bouncing my vort off some of the local Rabbis – you’d be amazed at how convoluted folks will get to make excuses for and justify the brothers’ conduct. Look, I’m no big shot, but my goodness people – they sold him to Arabs!!  And for this sin the 10 Martyrs suffered terrible deaths!! What they did was wrong, wrong, wrong!

And so long as folks continue to make excuses for throwing innocent Jews under the bus, we’ll continue to be stuck in this bitter exile.


We’re Not Getting Out of Exile (Anytime Soon)

December 10, 2015

Sorry folks, but the honest truth is we’re not getting out of exile, at least not anytime soon. A great explanation for why not was shown to me the other night while learning with my son.

He told me about a Torah tape he heard of a prominent Rabbi, that the dispute between Yosef and his brothers was about whether eating ever mi ha-chy (limb from a living animal) was assur or not. The brothers ruled it was not, Yosef ruled that it was. Yosef was not “m’kabel” the ruling of the majority, and that was the problem.

And the lesson for us here is . . . If your fellow Jew does not m’kabel your halachic position, SELL YOUR BROTHER TO ARABS!?

So long as the Jews fail to learn the simple message of the brothers selling Yosef – that the brothers were absolutely wrong to do it, and that it was the seminal manifestation of sinat hinam – we’re toast.   Justifications and rationalizations for this terrible deed prevent us from learning the message, and worse, condemn us to repeat it.