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.




Eliphaz and Brothers from Another Mother

November 19, 2015

Esau had five sons, but only Eliphaz and Reuel are deemed “sons of Esav”.

The other three sons of Esau are known as their “mother’s sons”. The mother’s sons represent the EU.

As part of his ascendancy, Eliphaz (Russia) will reach out to bring the mother’s sons (EU) close.

This leaves Reuel (America) out in the cold, unless Reuel submits to Eliphaz’s first born rights of authority and leadership.

Amazing how this is all playing out!

Here is a great blast of Eliphaz’s outreach to his brothers from another mother!

Russian Outreach to France In EU

If this is all Chinese to you – see Family Affairs Players


Edom – The Eagle of Death Metal

November 16, 2015

And assault on the Eagle of Death Metal, and HaShem’s bringing all the players to Assyrian territory.

A good bit of Edom vs. Yishmael, before the real Edom v Paras fun breaks out.

And if the Torah world does not do tshuva – make shalom – we risk destruction.

Its very serious people.

The Rambam writes that when Elijah comes he doesn’t come to make the impure pure, the pure impurer, a kosher pasul, nor a pasul kosher. The Beit Yosef writes that the source for this is a Sifre, which states:

“Elijah does not come l’rachek (to push away) nor to be l’karev (to bring close)

He’s not  coming to do kiruv. He’s not pushing people away. He’s treating everybody the same, and not trying convince anybody of anything.

Except, Shalom.

He is coming from a world that is beyond our imagination. Our thoughts are not HaShem’s thoughts. We have the Torah and are job is to do the best we can.

“Lo l’rachek v’lo l’karev”

This is preparation for the time when man will not longer teach man about Hashem, but HaShem will be every man’s teacher.

Shalom, people. Shalom. . . .Ah, ah. No chepping, Shalom.

Algorithm – Should I Make Aliyah?

November 9, 2015

So you want to move to E”Y? The Kuzari teaches that people who have the ability to move to E”Y should move there. People who have the ability to go there must try.

This “Should I Make Aliyah Algorithm” can help you determine ability. It is based on King David’s words, “I am alone and poor.”

  • If you are alone, but have money, you can make it. Money answers everything, and you’re going to have lots of questions, especially if you’ve got a bunch of kids you need to educate and support in aliyah. And especially if you have weak Hebrew skills. Or if you have health issues or your US based family does (elderly parents, biz class tickets). Money will give you the runway and staying power to adjust and give your family the constant attention it will need to be successful and healthy. Its not pashut to make aliyah, b’clal not pashut.
  • If you are poor, but have really good family, you can make it. I mean a native or vatikin, Hebrew-fluent family that lives there and is willing to take you in and support your aliyah constantly and graciously, emotionally and materially. It has to be people who are not scrambling within their own aliyah, but solid, rooted people who know the Israeli system deeply and well. You must have a good and faithful navigator if you do not have money.

Without money or family, aliyah is very, very hard. And risky if you have any cracks in your core family relationships. If you have any marital stress or kids stress, you must remember that E’Y is pressurized. You will get stretched over there. Ideals and reals collide powerfully. You get stretched.

The land is only acquired through suffering.

And its a deep, uncertain galus everywhere.