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.

 


How To Hate For A Reason

November 27, 2015

We all know we are not supposed to hate other Jews for no reason. But what about when hatred is justified according to halacha?  How are we supposed to hate “for a reason”.

The Torah clearly teaches that there are circumstances where we are allowed to hate another Jew. For example, a person is halachically allowed to hate a bona-fide Sabbath breaker, or a heretic, or a murderer, or rapist, or thief.

Now, first it must be stated clearly that whether a person is halachically allowed to hate another is a very, very challenging and complex subject area to understand and apply. A person just can’t go “hating” other Jews without clear evidence of wrongdoing, a deep and thorough analysis of the relevant halachot, and giving the subject of the hatred an opportunity to justify/defend their actions. The danger of invoking “halachic hatred” is that the person being hated may, in fact, be innocent of the allegations; if so, permissible hatred is baseless hatred. For example, “hating” most secular Jews for not keeping the Sabbath would not be permissible “hatred for a reason” because they have the din of tinok sh’nishbod (captured children).

But there are circumstances where there is, plain and simple, reason to hate another Jew. For example, Reuven steals $50,000 from Shimon, causing Shimon and his family extreme financial distress.  Or Reuven physically or verbally abuses Shimon’s children, causing them extreme emotional distress. Sadly, many of us have experienced situations where “hatred for a reason” is justified.

How to Hate for A Reason

We can learn how to hate another Jew for a reason by learning how not to hate a Jew for a reason. The best example of this is the story in Midrash Eichah which explains why Beitar was destroyed. And no, its not because they played ball on Shabbat.

The Midrash explains, astonishingly, that the community of Beitar was destroyed because every Tish b’Av they would light candles and celebrate the destruction of Jerusalem! The people of Beitar were guilty of “rejoicing at the fall of their enemy.”

The commentators explain that Beitar hated Jerusalem for a reason. The reason was that the elites of Jerusalem would bribe corrupt officials to steal the vineyards surrounding Beitar – the best in all of the Yehuda region. Beitar landowners were forced to go to Jerusalem and pay off these corrupt officials to regain legitimate title to their lands. But of course, the grapes by this time were already harvested and sold by the criminals. This cycle of theft and hopeless restoration would happen time and again. The people of Beitar hated the people of Jerusalem for this corruption and theft.

For 65 years after the fall of Jerusalem, Beitar stayed intact. The commentators state that, within Beitar itself, there was no sinat hinam. But they hated Jerusalem – for a justifiable reason – and thus, Beitar was not destroyed alongside Jerusalem.

But Beitar took that hatred too far. Rather than simply hate, when Jerusalem fell, they rejoiced. And for that, Beitar was destroyed.

The lesson for us is that there are two sides of the hatred coin:

  • Do not hate another Jew for no reason; and
  • If you have a halachically valid reason to hate another Jew, do not rejoice in the downfall of your enemy.

Personally, over the past few years I’ve had encounters with a few Jews who have done terrible, abusive things to me and my family. They did the deeds, there is proof, and innocent people got hurt. At times, I deeply hated them, and justifiably so. But I kept and still keep the lesson of Beitar in mind, and apply it regularly whenever I feel the hate. For example, if I hear people in my community talk negatively about the people who did me wrong, or I hear that something happened to them which is clearly measure-for-measure for their bad deeds, I censure myself and work hard to repress any feeling of joy or even the slightest pleasure in hearing those words. (Over time, I note the hatred is transforming into sadness and pity for these people, and the Jewish people overall.)

Perhaps this what the Torah is trying to teach us when it says we must help our enemy lift up his donkey if it falls. By actively helping our enemy we avoid any pleasure in watching them suffer.

True, divine justice and revenge is sweet. But we must eat that sugar without enjoying it.

 

 


The Erev Rav is NOT to Blame

November 23, 2015

For thousands of years, the Torah never understood the Erev Rav as being anything too significant.  The Gaonim and the early Rishonim barely mention them at all, if ever.

Then, suddenly, in the medieval period, the Erev Rav emerge in Jewish thought as the ultimate demon. Today, the Erev Rav feature prominently in every discussion about the End of Days. Typically, they are presented as the scapegoat for all Jewish failings – the erev rav seculars, the erev rav Rabbis (or erev zair Rabbis), etc, etc

In this blog, I myself used to put the sins of the Jews on the backs of the Erev Rav. But I was wrong. I fell into a very big trap.

I urge all of you to take a step back – What if this entire Erev Rav focus is actually a phantom concept? What if it is a yetzer hara meant to create deep suspicion and division between Jews?  What does it really accomplish to say another Jew is “erev rav”? Why not just call them a Jewish person who is doing an avera?

The Netziv writes that the Second Temple was destroyed because Jews were accusing other Jews of being heretics, when, in fact, they were innocent of the charge. Today, rather than heresy, there is a new, more serious charge – erev rav. But unlike heresy, which has a halachic basis and applicable analytical criteria, the charge that another is “erev rav” is an indisputable charge based on vague and ambiguous metaphysical criteria. Calling somebody erev rav is, in truth, the Jewish version of calling somebody a “witch”.

The bigger problem with today’s erev rav mania is that the erev rav have become a scapegoat. Rather than properly blaming ourselves for the awful state of Jewish affairs, the Torah World often resorts to blaming the erev rav boogeyman. As a result, rather than doing tshuva for our sins, we blame Jews who are not really Jews, but the secret agents of the erev rav.

Please, next time you’re tempted to blame the erev rav, just call “them” Jews who are doing averas. But most likely, the targets of your erev rav accusation are likely secular Jews (Israeli gov’t figures are popular) who have the din of tinok sh’nishbod in any event.

Remember, the secular Jews who run Israel’s government are filling the gap created by the religious Jews’ failures to do our job – stopping baseless hatred among religious Jews.


The FAD and the Real Edom vs. Yishmael War

November 22, 2015

Six years ago I published this website’s seminal document – the Family Affairs Diagram (FAD).  Based on classic sources and my own inspiration, the FAD shows that there will be a war between Edom and Ishmael prior to the war between Edom and Paras.

At the time I wrote it, the “big news” was all about Edom vs. Paras – with Iran, Hizbollah, and the nuclear threat. I tried hard to understand just what the Edom vs. Yishmael war was. . . The First Gulf War? The Second?

Now I understand. Edom vs. Yishmael is kicking off big time right now, led by the head of Edom, Eliphaz the first born, Russia. Edom vs. Paras is on the back-burner. Paras has to wait until after Edom v. Yishmael for its shot at the title.

Eliphaz is calling the shots. Putin let Israel blow up a Heizbollah arms convoy a few weeks ago over Syrian airspace. What’s Eliphaz to care?  The weapons were already paid for.

Paras can’t say a word. Paras is now subordinate.  But Paras has an empire-complex. Over time, Paras will chafe and resent its erstwhile ally. As always, there is no love among thieves. The nations are like biker gangs and can turn on each other in an instant.

And they will. Just at the right time – when they are on the path to Jerusalem.  Like the salvation of Yehoshafat from a host of invaders who suddenly and mysteriously turned against and destroyed each other. (Read from 2 Chronicles 20:10).

But it will likely take a very grim, long time for this to play out, stage to stage. And the world is going to become an increasingly not fun place for those enjoying the Feast of Ahashverosh. (v‘havein).

If we could only stop the baseless hatred now.  The only way is Shalom. Even if the other person or group is clearly in violation of the Torah or principles of Derech Eretz. Sure, call them out on it. But when you do, check yourself and always keep in mind. . .

The other person or group might be very wrong, but we live in a very spiritually opaque world. . . .

 

Its all about Shalom over all else.  (See last chapter of Mishnah Torah, where Eliahu’s mission is explained).

That said, if you are Shalom and they are for war, you may protect yourself and your family. But never, ever, ever, throw the first punch.

 

 

 


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