Monday, January 31, 2011

MK Attias: If Obama Treats Mubarak This Way, What Will Be With Us?

MK Ariel Attias, Housing Minister (from Kikar - my translation):
"When the moment of truth comes, then those that you think are with you do an about face.  If the U.S. is treating Mubarak this way, where the relationship is bilateral, what can we say ourselves?  Therefore, we must look toward heaven and to rely solely on Hakadosh Baruch Hu."

(See also this article from Reuters that tells of other Israelis agreeing with this.)
The Kal VaHomer of MK Attias, if I understand it correctly, is like this: Mubarak pretty much listens to everything President Obama tells it to do.  Still, the Obama Administration is partially abandoning him - and telling him that he needs reforms, somewhat supporting the protesters.  Israel, on the other hand, doesn't listen to everything President Obama tells it to do (I wish they'd listen to even less than they actually do).  All the more so will Israel be abandoned by the U.S. in its time of need.  As the Gemara in Sotah warns us, during the Ikveta Dimshiha, the only One to rely on is our Father in Heaven.

As dictatorial as Mubarak is, he is very likely better than any alternative for Egypt in the near future.  Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlit"a knows this well too.  MK Attias from Shas is following in his footsteps.  If Mubarak is replaced, we will truly be a nation that dwells alone.  Egypt's cold peace will become a non-peace, Jordan may follow suit, and the U.S. cannot be trusted either.  אין לנו להשען אלא על אבינו שבשמים.

The Punishment of Egypt in the End of Days

Due to recent events in Egypt, I thought I'd mention some of the End of Days prophecies about Egypt.  While it is debatable whether or not they apply to recent events, I hope to expand this list further in the coming days.
  • Yehezkel 29-32 talks about the punishment that will happen to Egypt, but it seems to refer to the lashing it will be getting from Nevuchadnetzar.  This seems to be the consensus among most of the commentaries.  However, Abravanel, in the beginning of Chapter 30, says that while part of the prophecy does indeed refer to Nevuchadnetzar's thrashing of Par'oh Necho, other parts refer to Egypt in the End of Days.  Also of note is what Abravanel says in Chapter 32:
    והוא מה שבארתי במעין הי"א מספר מעיני הישועה...
    שעשיתי בפי׳ ספר דניאל והוא שקודם הגאולה אשר
    קווינוה(?) עתידים הנוצרים בני אדום אשר בארצות המערב
    ורומי ואיטליא ללכת לכבוש את ירושלים ואת כל א״י
    שהוא כולו היום ממלכות מצרים וילכדו את ארץ מצרים
    ראשונה ויחריבו את מצרים ויהרגו המון רב ועם עצום
    ...בקרבה וכן יכבשו הרבה מארץ ישראל
    ...and that is what I explained in Ma'ayan 11 from the book "Mayenei Hayeshua" that I did in explaining the Book of Daniel. And that is that before the Redemption that we hope for, the Christians - sons of Edom who are in the Western lands - and Romi and Italy - will in the future capture Yerushalayim and all of Eretz Yisrael, which is today the kingdom of Egypt. And they will capture the land of Egypt first, and they will destroy Egypt and they will kill a great and powerful multitude inside it, and similarly, they will capture much of Eretz Yisrael...
    The rest of what the Abravanel says is very interesting too.
  • Among those chapters that deal with Egypt, we have the following verse (29:21):
    בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, אַצְמִיחַ קֶרֶן לְבֵית יִשְׂרָאֵל, וּלְךָ אֶתֵּן פִּתְחוֹן-פֶּה, בְּתוֹכָם; וְיָדְעוּ, כִּי-אֲנִי יְהוָה.
    In that day will I cause a horn to shoot up unto the house of Israel, and I will give thee the opening of the mouth in the midst of them; and they shall know that I am the LORD.
    All the commentaries grapple with this on its connection to the prophecies about Egypt, but pretty much all of them explain this to mean some salvation that happened around the time of end of Galut Bavel. However, this is not universal. Abravanel again says that this is an example of a verse that has to do with the Final Redemption.  Avuderaham uses this verse as the prooftext for the blessing of את צמח דוד עבדך מהרה תצמיח וקרנו תרום בישועתך, which is clearly referring to the Final Redemption.

    Additionally, this verse is used in a very famous gemara, which became even more famous lately:
    אמר רבי חנינא
    אין בן דוד בא עד שיתבקש דג לחולה ולא
    ימצא שנאמר
    אז אשקיע מימיהם ונהרותם
    ביום ההוא
    כשמן אוליך וכתב (בתריה)
    אצמיח קרן לבית ישראל 
    Ribbi Hanina said: [Mashiah] Ben David will not come until a fish will be sought for a sick person and it will not be found, as it says "Then will I make their waters to settle, and cause their rivers to run like oil" and it says (afterwards) "In that day will I cause a horn to shoot up unto the house of Israel".
    The Maharsha asks that the second verse is not after the first verse and not even close to it. He answers that we know that all kinds of fish were exiled from Israel when the Jewish people went into exile, but after the downfall of Egypt in the End of Days, there will be no fish for the sick people in Egypt as they will have all swum to Israel.
  • Yoel 4:19:
    מִצְרַיִם, לִשְׁמָמָה תִהְיֶה, וֶאֱדוֹם, לְמִדְבַּר שְׁמָמָה תִּהְיֶה; מֵחֲמַס בְּנֵי יְהוּדָה, אֲשֶׁר-שָׁפְכוּ דָם-נָקִיא בְּאַרְצָם
    Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
    The Radak says that Egypt here refers to all of Yishmael, but it says Egypt since Yishmael's wife and mother were both Egyptian.
  • The gemara Sota 9a:
    והאמר רבא שלשה כוסות האמורות במצרים
    למה אחת ששתת בימי משה ואחת ששתת
    בימי פרעה נכה ואחת שעתידה לשתות עם
    חברותיה
    ...but doesn't Rava say: the 3 cups that were said regarding Egypt [in the dream of the head butler - Rashi] - what do they symbolize? One that it drank [i.e. got punished for] during the days of Moshe, one that it drank during the days of Par'oh Necho, and one that it will drink in the future together with its friends [during the days of Mashiah - Rashi].
  • Update: In the comments, Tomer Devorah reminds me that Yeshaya Chapter 19 is also talking about Egypt's downfall. As with the prophecy in Yehezkel, the vast majority of commentaries say that the prophecy is for that period, but again, the Abravanel says that it refers to the Final Redemption.
  • Especially interesting is how he interprets verses 2-4 of the chapter.
  • Update #2: I totally missed a famous one - Zecharia 14:18-19:
    וְאִם-מִשְׁפַּחַת מִצְרַיִם לֹא-תַעֲלֶה וְלֹא בָאָה, וְלֹא עֲלֵיהֶם; תִּהְיֶה הַמַּגֵּפָה, אֲשֶׁר יִגֹּף יְהוָה אֶת-הַגּוֹיִם, אֲשֶׁר לֹא יַעֲלוּ, לָחֹג אֶת-חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת
    זֹאת תִּהְיֶה, חַטַּאת מִצְרָיִם; וְחַטַּאת, כָּל-הַגּוֹיִם, אֲשֶׁר לֹא יַעֲלוּ, לָחֹג אֶת-חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת.
    And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, they shall have no overflow; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the nations that go not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations that go not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
  • Update #3: I didn't realize that the Malbim interprets Yehezkel 32:17 until the end of the Perek as talking about the End of Days.
  • Daniel 11:42:
       וְיִשְׁלַח יָדוֹ, בַּאֲרָצוֹת; וְאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, לֹא תִהְיֶה לִפְלֵיטָה.
    He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries; and the land of Egypt shall not escape.
    See also Ibn Ezra on 11:40 and on 12:11

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jews Protest at Rutgers

A whole bunch of interesting videos can be seen at Challah Hu Akbar about Jews protesting an anti-Israel event at Rutgers University that was to compare Israel to the Nazis. The Jews, many of them religious, wanted to enter, but they were being forced to pay to enter even though the event was advertised as "Free and open to the public".  They also barred students who wore Kippahs from attending the event.  World Net Daily has an article about it.

Hat tip: Elder of Ziyon

Friday, January 28, 2011

What I Believe

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Yishmael is in Turmoil

First 3 columns of table from Wikipedia.  Population figures from Nov. 2009.

RankCountryPopulationUpheaval or Other Problems
1 Egypt77,500,000Major Protests
2 Sudan39,154,490South Sudan seceding
3 Algeria34,895,000Riots with injuries
4 Morocco31,649,000Self-immolation
5 Iraq30,747,000War
6 Saudi Arabia25,721,000Self-immolation
7 Yemen23,580,000Major protests
8 Syria21,906,000Human Rights Nightmare
9 Tunisia10,327,800Protests/Regime Change
10 Somalia9,133,000War
11 Libya6,420,000Qadaffi family feud?
12 Jordan6,316,000Protests
13 Eritrea5,073,000Torture of members of non-approved religions and Terrorism against Ethiopia
14 Lebanon4,275,000Takeover by Hizbollah
15 Palestine4,136,000Palileaks
16 United Arab Emirates3,440,000Dubai Police Chief is still making enemies
17 Mauritania3,291,000Self-immolation
18 Kuwait2,985,000Human Rights abuses
19 Oman2,845,000Protests
20 Qatar1,409,000Emir denounced by Palestinians due to Palileaks
21 Djibouti864,00050% unemployment
22 Bahrain791,000Human Rights abuses (although disputed)
23 Comoros676,000Half of population below poverty line
24 Western Sahara513,000Self-immolation
Total Arab League348,755,830

Not saying Edom is in much better shape either.  With the bombing in Moscow and the Australian floods, there's plenty to talk about there too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Friends Don't Spy on Friends" - Yeah, Right

"Friends Don't Spy on Friends"

How many times have we heard that in regard to Jonathan Pollard?

Wikileaks just came out with revelations that Bush and Condy wanted to know a lot of info about Israel - including personal information of Israeli leaders.

There was a huge push for President Bush to commute Pollard's sentence at the end of his term in office 2 years ago. Unfortunately, this was unsuccessful.

I wonder if the basis of Bush's silent refusal was to have some leverage in case Israel catches one of their spies. They would be able to do a spy trade like President Obama later did with the Russians. I hope this is not keeping President Obama from a commutation coming from him. There is significant pressure now to do so, but if this spy program is still going on (of which there is no proof to the contrary), Obama may want this extra card up his sleeve while a Jew rots in prison.

Hashem Ya'azor.

At least now armed with this information, we can call his bluff.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ka'anashim Harbei Bilvavot Rabot

חבל על דאבדין ולא משתכחין!

At Matan Torah, we were united. We all came together to receive the Torah at Har Sinai as one people and one nation. What a great time it truly was.

However, things have changed drastically in the past 3323 years. We have unfortunately turned into a divided people. This group doesn't like that group, the feeling is mutual, and both groups don't like a third group. What have we become?

The two things that should unite us all are the Torah and Eretz Yisrael. But unfortunately, there are those who disrespect both. Because it's Parshat Yitro, and because it's Inyana DeYoma, I'm just going to focus on the degredation of Torah.

Issue #1: We have a Mahloket LeSheim Shamayim on whether brain-stem death is considered death or not. Some Gedolim have ruled that it is considered death while some have ruled that it is not. Both sides have given Torah reasons for their opinions.

However, students of those who are lenient have called the position of those who are stringent "morally untenable." In my opinion, and the opinion of others, this position is morally untenable.

Issue #2: We have a Mahloket LeSheim Shamayim on whether conversions done by the IDF Rabbinate are valid or not. Some Gedolim have ruled that they are valid while some have ruled that they are not. Both sides have given Torah reasons for their opinions.

This is not an example of division.  This is an example of Eilu Ve'Eilu Divrei Elokim Hayim.  We know that the students of Hillel and those of Shamai did not refrain from marrying each other, despite their Halachic disagreements.  That is an example of unity.

What breaks the unity is the way the students of the Gedolim who are stringent are treating the rabbi who is lenient.
Take this terrible piece by the Israeli Yated Ne'eman and copied on Matzav.com.  They call a valid Halachic decision made by a respected Gadol BeYisrael "a Hillul Hashem".  What is truly a Hillul Hashem is their terrible reaction to the lenient Pesak.  The calling of the ruling "untenable" smacks of hypocrisy. Whatever happened to Beit Hillel and Beit Shamai?

Rav Amar recently said the following:

"אין לו לדיין אלא מה שעיניו רואות. הדיין התרשם וראה שהבא להתגייר יודע טוב את ההלכות, והעניין כנה, והאדם באמת רוצה לקיים תורה ומצוות את הדברים העיקריים. כך זה נקבע בסופו של דבר.

"חשוב לזכור שאת הבאים להתגייר במסגרת צה"ל, מקשרים עם משפחות של אנשים יראי שמים ומאותן משפחות מקבלים המלצות.

"גם במסגרת הצבאית, בין שיעורים לשיעורים, החיילים נמצאים בקשר עם הרבנים הצבאים של היחידות ואלה מחזקים אותם בתורה ותפילה, והדרכה ביראת שמים.

"ליבי שקט ומצפוני שקט, כל מי שיבדוק את העניין - יגלה שעשינו בדיקה טובה ומעמיקה. כל מי שיבדוק את העניין הזה יראה את אמיתות העניין הזה".

הרב עמאר התייחס לביקורת העזה שנמתחה לאחר שהוכשרו הגיורים. "אין לי שום שאלה אחרי שמרן הגדול הדור הכשיר אותם", אמר הרב עמאר. "הוא ישב ודן עשרות שנים ויודע איך לחקור ולברר הלכה. הוא לקח על עצמו את ההוראה הזאת להורות אותה - ולכן אין בה שום פקפוק.

"אלה שממהרים לדבר נגדו, צריכים לדעת שזה דבר שיש בו סכנה. אני עוקב עשרות שנים, ולא היה אחד שדיבר סרה נגד הרב ויצא נקי.

"הקב"ה מקפיד על כבוד עבדיו יותר מאשר על הכבוד עצמו. אני מאחל רק טובות, אבל שכל אחד ישמור נפשו.

"זה לא פסק של ילדים. זה לא פסק של דיין פשוט. זה פסק של עמוד ההוראה. הכל הוא ידע, הכל הוא שקל, הכל הוא ראה. כמעט חצי שעה ישב עד שכתב את השורות האלה".

My translation:
"A dayan only has what he sees. The dayan was impressed and saw that the ones coming to convert knew the halachot well, and the matter was true, and the man really wanted to fulfil Torah and Mitzvot - the essential ones. This is how it was determined in the end.

It's important to remember that those who come to convert in the IDF framework connect with G-d-fearing families and they receive recommendations from those families.

Also in the IDF framework, between classes, the soldiers are in contact with the rabbis of the IDF units, who encourage them in Torah, Tefilla, and a path to fearing Heaven.

My heart is quiet and my conscience is quiet, all who will investigate the matter will uncover that we did a good and deep investigation. Whoever will look into this matter will see the truth to the matter."

Rav Amar related to the strong criticism that continued after the converts were accepted. "I have no question after Maran, the Gadol Hador, accepted them," said Rav Amar. "He has sat and judged for dozens of years and knows how to investigate and clarify Halacha. He took this Halachic decision upon himself to decide it - and therefore, there is no reason to doubt it.

Those who are quick to speak against him need to know that this is something fraught with danger. I have followed [Maran - Rav Ovadia] for dozens of years, and there was no one who spoke negatively against the Rav and came out clean.

HKB"H is insistant on the honor of His servants more than His own honor. I wish only good things, but everyone should watch his soul.

This is not a Pesak of children. This is not a Pesak of a simple judge. This is a Pesak of a pillar of Halachic decisions. He knows everything, he has weighed everything, and he sees everything. He sat there for almost a half-hour until he wrote these lines [in the Pesak letter]."

How some who claim to be those who tremble before Hashem can disparage a Gadol BeYisrael is beyond me. As Rav Amar said, they better watch out. Gone are the days of Beit Hillel and Beit Shamai. Gone are the days of כאיש אחד בלב אחד (like one man with one heart).

Instead, we have become like the Mahloket of Korah and his congregation - not LeSheim Shamayim. Even if the Mahloket among the Gedolim themselves is Lesheim Shamayim, the students who called the ruling of the other side "untenable" turned it into one that is not Lesheim Shamayim. We have become like many men with many hearts.

חבל על דאבדין ולא משתכחין!

May Hashem remove our hearts of stone and may we unify in a way only once seen before - not via tragedy like we've done in the past, but via pure love for one another - so we can all greet Mashiah like one man with one heart - Bimheira Veyameinu, Amen.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rav Elyashiv: We Cannot Pasken that the Geula Should Come

Matzav:
Various admorim and Torah giants were known for asking morei horaah, halachic adjudicators, to pasken that Moshiach should come. These rabbonim would say that a morah horaah, a posek, is given certain powers to issue a halachic ruling that can impact the metzius, the reality, of the world.

It was with this in mind that Rav Menashe Klein, noted posek and author of the Mishneh Halachos, who currently resides in Eretz Yisroel, posed a request to the posek hador at his home in Meah Shearim.

Rav Klein, during a recent visit to Maran Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, asked the centenarian gadol to pasken that Moshiach should come. Rav Elyashiv politely refused, stating, “We cannot pasken [that the geulah should come], but rather, we should believe in and anticipate [the coming of the geulah].”

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}

Update: Contrast with this.

The Ultimate War of Good vs. Evil (Satire)

No, this is not another Geula post.

I'm talking about a battle in which the outcome is not as certain and it's possible that evil might ultimately win ח"ו.  This battle was already fought twice this year - once, the good guys were victorious, while another time, we were defeated.  It is on very rare occasion when it is fought a third time.  We are soon approaching one of those times.

I know many frum Jews, even some in my own extended family, who are on the side of evil, לא עלינו.  Hashem should help them see the error of their ways.

Both the good guys and the villains have upped their defensive mechanisms, but the side of evil has a very powerful offensive weapon.  The good guys hope to neutralize it with Peppers spray.  If that doesn't work, Israel is on our side.  For we cannot let this field of soldiers become Mr. Rodgers' neighborhood.

Just like in the time of Purim, our side has (H)Ester who can be used to provide support when needed and leave the enemies hanging their heads. And in this battle, our Forte can be used as a weapon.  Our goal in this battle is to keep it in enemy territory as much as possible.  If we can do that, we will be able to have grilled cheese for dinner.

For those who understood this post, Ashrecha.
For those who did not understand this post, Ashrecha VeTov Lach.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gathering to Proliferate the Greatness of Zohar Learning in the End of Days

That's pretty much what the sign says.

See the article and pictures at Ladaat (Hebrew).

An excerpt:
במהלך הערב הגדול נשאו דברים במעלת לימוד הזהו"ק שקראו לציבור המשתתפים להתחזק בלימוד הזוה"ק, במיוחד כשיש היום את הפירוש המיוחד "מתוק מדבש" שמבאר ומפרש את הזוהר הקדוש שכל אחד יכול להבין וללמוד ורק ע"י לימוד הזוה"ק נצא מן הגלות.
My translation:
During the great evening, they brought up words about the greatness of learning the Holy Zohar - that they called upon the community who participated to strengthen themselves in the learning of the Holy Zohar, especially when today there is the special commentary "Matok Midevash" which explains the Holy Zohar so that everyone can understand and learn. And only through learning the Holy Zohar will we exit the Galut.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

7,000,000,000 People

The world is approaching 7 billion people. According to Wikipedia,
The "Day of 7 Billion" has been targeted by the United States Census Bureau to be in July 2012,[13] while the Population Division of the United Nations suggests some time in late 2011.[5]
Take this table from Wikipedia:

World population estimates milestones
Population

(in billions)
123456789
Year180419271960197419871999201120252045–50
Years elapsed12333141312121420–25

Notice how it took until the year 1804 for the world to reach 1 billion people.  That's 5564 years since creation.  Quite a long time.
For the population to reach 2 billion, it took another 123 years.  Pretty long, but miniscule compared to the first billion.
After that, the year interval between billions has gotten considerably shorter.

Where is the source to this in the Torah?

Perhaps, we can say that the 7 billion people in the world are compared to the first 7 people in the world.

Pirkei DeRibbi Eliezer (among others) says:

ושנים עשר שעות היום בשעה ראשונה הוצבר עפרו של אדם בשנייה גבלו בשלישית רקמו ברביעית נזרקה בו נשמה בחמשית קם על רגליו בששית קרא שמות בשביעית נזדמנה לו חוה בשמינית נצטוו על פירות בתשיעית עלו למטה שנים וירדו ארבעה בעשירית עבר על צוויו באחד עשר נדון בשנים עשר נתגרש שנא' ויגרש את האדם

Adam HaRishon represents the first billion people.  He was only created on day 6 and the latter half of the 24-hour day.  5564 is the latter half of the 6th millennium.

Until he was Kam Al Raglav (got up on his feet), it took a few hours.  Then it took another couple hours - or perhaps a bit less - until Havah was created. Havah was created in the 7th daylight hour, so from the time he got up on his feet until Havah was created - in cosmic years - is close to the 123-year period.  (I'll admit that this is a bit of a stretch since we are suspending the years of Adam's formation.  However, the main point isn't the exact calculation.  Rather, it's the relations of the intervals.)

Next, we must look at a few Pesukim in Bereishit.  The verses in Bereishit say:

א וְהָאָדָם, יָדַע אֶת-חַוָּה אִשְׁתּוֹ; וַתַּהַר, וַתֵּלֶד אֶת-קַיִן, וַתֹּאמֶר, קָנִיתִי אִישׁ אֶת-יְהוָה.
1 And the man knew Eve his wife; and she conceived and bore Cain, and said: 'I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.'


ב וַתֹּסֶף לָלֶדֶת, אֶת-אָחִיו אֶת-הָבֶל; וַיְהִי-הֶבֶל, רֹעֵה צֹאן, וְקַיִן, הָיָה עֹבֵד אֲדָמָה.
2 And again she bore his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

ג וַיְהִי, מִקֵּץ יָמִים; וַיָּבֵא קַיִן מִפְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה, מִנְחָה--לַיהוָה.
3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.

As Midrash Rabba says:
 אר' אלעזר בן עזריה: שלושה פלאים נעשו באותו היום.
בו ביום נבראו,
בו ביום שמשו, בו ביום הוציאו תולדות.

אמר לו רבי יהושע בן קרחה: עלו למיטה שנים, וירדו שבעה.
קין ותאומתו,
והבל ושתי תאומותיו.
My translation:
Ribbi Elazar ben Azarya said: 3 wonders were done on that day: On that day they were created, on that day they had relations, and on that day they brought forth offspring.
Ribbi Yehoshua ben Korha said to him: 2 went up on the bed, and 7 came down - Kayin and his twin sister - and Hevel and his 2 twin sisters.

The subsequent jump in billions in population were relatively instantaneous - just like Kayin, Hevel, and their sisters. And we will soon be at 7 billion.

Rashi in Humash learns the fact that the twin sisters were born from the extra words "את", before each son's name. Then, the next Pasuk says "ויהי מקץ ימים" - and it was at the end of days. Perhaps, it's telling us that at the end of days, we will be 7 billion in population corresponding to the 7 people who existed in Gan Eden before Adam's sin.

Are we ready to reach a level of Adam HaRishon before the Heit?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jonathan Rosenblum on the First Gulf War

From Mishpacha Magazine:
“Talk of Mashiach is in the air,” I wrote. “Every cheder yingel can quote the Malbim on Daniel 2:45, describing the war of Gog and Magog. To my ‘How are you?’ an acquaintance responds, ‘Tzipisa L’Mashiach [anticipating the Mashiach], and then adds ominously: Any period with potential for Mashiach, also contains within the potential for great calamity.’

...

Yet already by the third week of the war, entry into the sealed room had become a perfunctory drill:

“Gone is the terror, but with it goes the intense identification with every other Jew in Eretz Yisrael. Going back to sleep after one early-morning siren, I realize that I did not stay awake to hear the news from the rest of the country or say Tehillim for those who might still be in danger. Already by the fourth week, my principal fear is that nothing will remain of all that Hashem has revealed to us and the opportunity to draw close to Him and makes ourselves worthy of Redemption that He has provided.”

Twenty years later, my fears have been fully realized. Even the maidservant at the Sea saw what was not revealed to Yechezkel ben Buzi. Yet without preparation and the tools to hold on to the vision, she remained a maidservant. So it is with us.
We need to be prepared this time.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Links of Interest and an Observation

Life in Israel: Rav Mordechai Eliyahu Save An IDF Unit From A Mine Field

Shiloh Musings: Rabbi Yissachar Meir from Netivot

Geula Perspectives: Moshiach 5771? Part 1 and Part 2

Kikar Hashabbat: Redeeming the Shechina (Hebrew)

Elder of Ziyon: Zionist Attack Zoo

Kikar Hashabbat: Nadvorna Rebbe has Ru'ah Hakodesh in a Scary/Funny Story (Hebrew)

As a side point, I couldn't help but noticing that as we approach Tu Bishvat, the main international news articles have to do with places that start their pronunciation "Tu" and places that start with a "B", such as:
  • Tuscon - shooting
  • Tunis, Tunisia - political unrest and overthrow of government
  • Brazil - terrible floods and mudslides
  • Brisbane - terrible floods
  • Beirut - government collapse
I have no idea what it means, but it just struck me as interesting recently.

Friday, January 14, 2011

20th Anniversary of First Gulf War

The modern-day example of ה' ילחם לכם ואתם תחרישון from this week's Perasha.

See what I wrote 5 years ago on the 15th anniversary.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why are so many Geula-bloggers women?

Why are so many geula-bloggers women?

One might have thought to say that the opposite would be true - more men have been exposed to the statements of Haza"l that talk about the Geula. True, more women have been exposed to the Nevi'im that talk about it, but do most women learn those Pesukim from Navi in schools? I don't know, but I tend to doubt it.

This is not to say that there are no male geula-bloggers.  There are many of us too, including yours-truly.  However, it seems to me that the majority of posts of a geula-nature are authored by women.  Why is this?

I think I have an answer both from a secular perspective and a spiritual one.

From a secular perspective, there is something called a "normalcy bias", which is, to quote wikipedia:
an extreme mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects.

...

The normalcy bias also causes people to drastically underestimate the effects of the disaster. Therefore, they think that everything will be all right, while information from the radio, television, or neighbors gives them reason to believe there is a risk. This creates a cognitive dissonance that they then must work to eliminate. Some manage to eliminate it by refusing to believe new warnings coming in and refusing to evacuate (maintaining the normalcy bias), while others eliminate the dissonance by escaping the danger.

Now, one website I found talks about gender differences in disaster evacuation:

As noted earlier, evacuation behavior has long been recognized as the reflection of social-level factors and collective deliberation. Decades ago, Drabek (1983) established that households constitute the basic deliberative units for evacuation decision making in community-wide disasters and that the decisions that are ultimately made tend to be consistent with pre-disaster household authority patterns. For example, gender-related concerns often enter into evacuation decision making. Women tend to be more risk-averse and more inclined to want to follow evacuation orders, while males are less inclined to do so (for an extensive discussion of gender differences in vulnerability, risk perception, and responses to disasters, see Fothergill, 1998).

In other words, women seem to have less of a normalcy bias than men do. They see the world changing around them better than men do, and therefore, respond to those changes in a more prudent fashion. (If you'll notice, with some exceptions, the majority of geula-related posts from female geula-bloggers has to do with how and why the world is changing. Male geula-bloggers seem to focus more on how to interpret texts in our changing world. While us guys at times get caught up in these intricacies, the women are simply saying, "מה תצעק אלי דבר אל בני ישראל ויסעו".)

On the spiritual side, one need look no further than this week's Perasha, which says:
וַתִּקַּח מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה אֲחוֹת אַהֲרֹן, אֶת-הַתֹּף--בְּיָדָהּ; וַתֵּצֶאןָ כָל-הַנָּשִׁים אַחֲרֶיהָ, בְּתֻפִּים וּבִמְחֹלֹת
And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.
Rashi on this verse says:
מובטחות היו צדקניות שבדור שהקדוש ברוך הוא עושה להם נסים והוציאו תופים ממצרים
The righteous women of the generation were sure that HKB"H would perform miracles for them, so they brought timbrels from Egypt.

And, as I saw on Kikar Hashabbat, the men just saw Keriat Yam Suf as freedom from Egypt.  The women saw Keriat Yam Suf as a process of nation-building - who were soon going to be accepting the Torah on Mt. Sinai.  They were able to delve deeper into the meaning of Geula, which is why they brought the musical instruments as singing was not enough to show their love of Hashem.

The same applies in our generation.  Women have the simple Emuna in the Geula more than men, plus they have the Bina Yeteira to know what Geula really means for us.  This could be why there are more Geula-related posts by women.  They know that it's happening and they know why it's supposed to happen more than men do.

I saw a headline today, which may be more of a Nevuah than its author intended:

Clinton: Women can be force for Mideast peace


As Haza"l say:
בזכות נשים צדקניות נגאלו אבותינו ממצרים
In the merit of righteous women, our forefathers were redeemed from Egypt.
 
And the same applies to every generation as well - the Geula comes from the women.  May we be redeemed in the merit of the female geula-bloggers and other female geula-yearners.

USS Enterprise: Keeping the Camp Holy

There was a whole hulabaloo last week with the captain of the USS Enterprise making and showing risque videos to his crew.  The captain was subsequently sacked.

We now learn that the USS Enterprise is scheduled to deploy either
to the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean regions
and, according to Debka:
Over the weekend, the US president ordered US vessels to buttress the Sixth Fleet stationed in the eastern Mediterranean with the USS Enterprise carrier and its strike group with 6,000 sailors and marines aboard and 80 fighter-bombers. Already deployed there is the USS Bainbridge missile destroyer.


Either way, it's there to help out Israel.  I don't have another source for this, but it could be that Hashem made it that the ship that is going to help out Israel needs to keep its camp holy just as the Jewish camp must.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Mishpacha on Rav Ovadia Shlit"a

Mishpacha Magazine's cover story is on Hacham Ovadia Yosef Shlit"a, entitled "A Crown Restored".

Read the beginning of the article here.

Here's an excerpt of that excerpt - something I never heard before:

On Erev Pesach, 1944, the young couple wed. Rav Attiah appointed the young chassan a member of his own beis din.

They had nothing, not even cutlery or dishes with which to eat.

Some fifty years later, at a celebration marking their fiftieth wedding anniversary, Chacham Ovadiah looked at his wife. It was just a few months before her passing, and she was connected to an oxygen tank.

With visible emotion, he recalled the 200 lira that she had painstakingly saved in order to purchase a closet for the children’s clothing. When she’d seen his distress, however, at not being able to afford to publish his first sefer, she gave him the money, all her savings — money he hadn’t known about. Quoting the words of the Tanna, Rabi Akiva, he said, “Sheli v’shelachem shelah hi” — it’s all hers.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Kol HaRadio Voice Nishma Be'Artzeinu

The story of Ted Williams (the suddenly employed formerly homeless man - not the great baseball player) is a great rags-to-riches everyone-deserves-a-second-chance story that is enthralling the country.

I've seen two insightful articles about him from the Jewish sites so far - one from R' Lazer Brody and one on Matzav.com.  I'll just add one more Jewishly-themed one to the growing list.

By Yosef, it says:

וַיִּשְׁלַח פַּרְעֹה וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-יוֹסֵף, וַיְרִיצֻהוּ מִן-הַבּוֹר; וַיְגַלַּח וַיְחַלֵּף שִׂמְלֹתָיו, וַיָּבֹא אֶל-פַּרְעֹה.
Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon. And he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.

The 3 parts of Yosef's Geula apply to Ted Williams too:

  • The Geula for Yosef was overnight ("they brought him hastily") The same applied to Ted Williams.
  • Yosef made himself look presentable ("And he shaved himself") See the before and after pictures of Ted Williams:
        Before (source)

        After (source)

  • He prepared for redemption and greatness ("and came in unto Pharaoh") Ted Williams now has offers from MSNBC, ESPN, MTV, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, among others.

I was thinking perhaps that the imperative form of ויבא אל פרעה from Parshat Mikeitz is what Hashem tells Moshe in the beginning of this week's Perasha: בא אל פרעה - prepare yourselves for redemption and greatness. 

And as I heard from Rabbi Sitorsky just today, if you take the בא (gematria of 3) and you add it אל פרעה - to פרעה (gematria of 355), you get 358, the gematria of Mashiah.  We need to prepare ourselves for Redemption nowadays as well.

May those who are stuck in captivity (like Jonathan Pollard and Gilad Shalit and others) experience the same fate as Yosef Hatzadik and may we as a Jewish nation experience what we did when we left Egypt.

כימי צאתכם מארץ מצרים אראנו נפלאות - בב"א

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

My 2 Favorite 10 Makkot/Keri'at Yam Suf Videos



Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Six Days of Creation Blemished in the Past Week

We know from the Midrash that the 10 plagues that were placed on Egypt are to be placed on Edom in the future.

וכל מכות שהביא הקדוש ברוך הוא על המצריים במצרים, הוא עתיד להביא על אדום, שנאמר: כאשר שמע למצרים יחילו כשמע צור (ישע' כג ה).

It's also known that the 10 plagues were a rectification of the 10 statements with which Hashem created the world. It is therefore interesting when within the weeks that we read about the 10 plagues, Hashem causes blemishes to parts of creation.


1) On the first day, Hashem created light.

Over 30 districts hit by blackout outside Moscow over heavy snowfall
Heavy snowfalls and strong winds have cut electricity supply to over 30 populated areas outside Moscow, the Moscow United Electric Grid Company (MOESK) said on Sunday.
Electricity cuts occurred just two days after electric power was restored in the Moscow Region following a six-day massive blackout caused by an ice storm.

2) On the second day, Hashem said "Let the waters gather".

Australia flood death toll rises; rains cause more havoc

Floodwaters in Australia's Queensland state created havoc in at least 22 cities and towns throughout the region grappling with several weeks of devastating rains, officials said Monday.
The waters lost their boundary.

3) On the third day, Hashem created plant life

Waters Still Rise In Latest Oz Flood Town

Millions of pounds worth of crops have been destroyed, domestic insurance claim are expected to top £500m and with three quarters of the state’s coalfields unable to operate, the cost to the mining industry in lost production will be more than double that.

4) On the fourth day, Hashem created the sun and moon

Partial solar eclipse to be visible from UK

The east and south coasts of England will be the best place to see the phenomenon as the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth just after 0800 GMT.

It is the UK's first partial eclipse since 2008 and comes more than 11 years after the full eclipse of 1999.

...

Last month, the first total lunar eclipse for three years was visible in the UK, with Cornwall one of the best places to view it.

5) On the fifth day, Hashem created birds and fish

For Arkansas Blackbirds, the New Year Never Came

Around 11 that night, thousands of red-winged blackbirds began falling out of the sky over this small city about 35 miles northeast of Little Rock. They landed on roofs, roads, front lawns and backyards, turning the ground nearly black and terrifying anyone who happened to be outside.

...

State scientists believe one thing to be almost certain: that the bird deaths were not related to the roughly 85,000 fish that died a few days before near Ozark, in the western part of the state, the biggest fish kill in Arkansas that anyone can remember. They were spotted by anglers along the Arkansas River last week and reported to the Game and Fish Commission, which spent New Year’s Eve measuring and counting dead fish that had spread out for nearly 20 miles.

6) On the sixth day, Hashem created animals and humans.

More dead animals found at private shelter

Lake County authorities and local police removed the bodies of 17 dead dogs and six living, but malnourished, animals from Muddy Paws Dog Rescue on Dec. 16. They returned Thursday, wearing gas masks and protective jumpsuits to search through from five to 10 tons of dog excrement. They retrieved more carcasses: 18 dogs, three birds and an opossum.

Egypt: 21 Murdered in Terror Attack at Church

A bomb attack killed 21 people outside a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt late Friday night. Another 24 people were wounded.

The one day that was not blemished and can never be blemished is the Shabbat.  Shabbat has nothing physical or tangible created on it - it can therefore not be blemished.  Am Yisrael is the mate of Shabbat.  May we merit to greet the cosmic Shabbat unblemished.

Free Jonathan Pollard!





Over 500 Religious Leaders Call On President Obama To Release Jonathan Pollard