Monday, September 30, 2013

Signs that the Redemption is near?


It’s the end of the month again. That means it’s time to take another look at Redemption.

For years, the American magazine, Sports Illustrated, has run a weekly mini-report entitled, “Signs of the Apocalypse” (or something like that). It contains a one-or-two sentence announcement that features some weekly occurrence in the Sports world. Typically, it focuses on someone doing something really stupid. It highlights how incredibly awful highly-paid sports figures can be. Such behaviour by those we honour, the piece suggests, is surely a sign that our world must soon end.

Mostly, these incidents entertain.

That magazine comes from America. We live in Israel, which follows a different religious and spiritual orientation. So if someone in America thinks about Christian-inspired world Destruction, perhaps we can think about something different--a Jewish-inspired Redemption.

Consider now some recent examples from the news that, in some way—humorous and not so humorous—suggest that the world might be preparing for something New. If you don’t see how these headlines might pre-sage a Jewish Redemption, that’s okay. That just means that your ‘Redemption training’ isn’t up-to-date.

For September 2013:

- Rochus Misch dies at 96; Hitler's bodyguard was unrepentant (Los Angeles Times)
- Is kindness contagious? (The Chicago Tribune)
-still looking for answers at left wing (Los Angeles Times)
-Blind driver Mike Newman breaks land speed record at 186mph (The Times of London)
-Miliband vows to scrap bedroom tax and freeze energy prices (Liverpool Echo)
-Liverpool supermodel punched protestor after being attacked on Paris catwalk (Liverpool Echo)

If you were looking for signs of Redemption in September, 2013, you would have been pleased. For example, while few would place the words ‘Liverpool’ (England) and ‘supermodel’ into the same sentence, the Liverpool press has done it. Can you blame them? After all, if a skinny ‘supermodel’ can punch out a protester, we are surely approaching a time of Redemption where peace reigns—possibly because no one will want his name printed in the newspaper after getting his bell rung by, of all people, an underweight urchin wearing, possibly, four-inch heels.

You don’t believe a fashion model can foretell Redemption? Look, you may have your own ideas about what Redemption looks like; but who says you’re correct?

If a fashion model doesn’t speak to you, what about that other Liverpool story—eliminating the bedroom tax? Granted, many of you don’t know what a bedroom tax is; but in the Redemption business, ignorance is no excuse.

Let’s just say that the moment the bedroom tax is gone (and energy prices frozen), some will indeed praise the Lord. Surely, that’s important.

The story of Redemption is often the story of a religious Right struggling against an anti-religious Left. Too often, the anti-religious Left wing seems to win. So it must certainly be a good sign to learn that, as the Los Angeles Times wrote, the left wing is still looking for answers.

Maybe the religious Right is no longer the underdog. Maybe the Right is more right than the Left. Maybe the Right has better answers!

Yes, of course, some of you skeptics will point out that that headline wasn’t a religion headline; you’ll claim it was a sports headline about troubles for a hockey team trying to prepare for a new season. But what does a skeptic do about the story from Chicago? In a city of broad shoulders and rude drivers, the Chicago Tribune asks, ‘is kindness contagious?’ If that’s the Chicago we all know, Change must indeed be in the air.

How delightful!

The Los Angeles Times ran a story that contains what at first glance looks like a mixed message—but which isn’t mixed at all. In this story, we learn that Adolf Hitler’s ‘bodyguard’ (whatever that means) has just died—unrepentant. His lack of repentance would seem to be a negative, for how can Redemption come when someone is unrepentant. But that conclusion is misleading. For Redemption to have a problem, the unrepentant have to be alive. This unrepentant is dead. Therefore, the story focus should not be the unrepentant’s lack of repentance. The story highlight should be that this unrepentant is finally dead. Surely, that death brings a better world closer, right?


Look around. Our future beckons. The world reveals hints. It is up to us to understand what we see.

Naturally, it’s possible that all these headlines are meaningless. These news stories may have nothing to do with the Jewish Redemption. Perhaps they simply prove that nothing changes—except our perception of Redemption.

But then we see odd headlines about blind men driving at 186 mph. Have you ever heard of such a thing? You’ve certainly seen cab drivers driving fast; but the blind?  

That could be a sign. It could mean we now stand on the threshold of a wondrous time when the blind can do anything. That’s not just a miracle—that’s Redemption.

Has September brought us the beginning of something New?

You tell me.



Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Temple Mount and the 1994 Peace Treaty

Updated October 4, 2013
On October 26, 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a “Treaty of Peace between the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”. Like most peace treaties, it was designed to normalize relations between former enemies. The Treaty contains a Preamble, 30 Articles, four Annexes and ‘Agreed Minutes.’  The Treaty is still in place.
You might want to remember this Treaty. It tells us something about today’s headlines.
Today’s headlines are filled with Arab rage and Jewish reaction. Arabs riot when Jews ascend to the Temple Mount.  When Jews want freedom to go to the Temple Mount, Arabs call for a Third Intifada. Reacting to Arab rage, Israel Police restrict Jews from the Mount. Then MK Moshe Feiglin files a complaint about discrimination against Jews on the Mount.   
Arabs respond with more rage—and rocks. They want Jews banned forever from the Temple Mount.
But the 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty tells a different story. The Treaty suggests that Arab rage and Israel Police restrictions are contrary to the spirit—if not the exact language—of an International Peace Agreement.
MK Feiglin, the Temple Mount, Arab rage and this Peace Treaty converge through a story said to come from the Jordan Times (see elder of Zyion blog, “Now the Jews are ‘tampering with roofs’”, September 18, 2013). According to this story, the Jordanian government has complained that an entity they call the ‘Jerusalem Development Company’ has been requiring Jerusalem shop-keepers to renovate their roofs. This ‘Company’, according to the complaint, requires these renovations because it wants to build ‘a huge project’ upon those roofs. Jordan complain that this project—and the roof renovations—violate the 1994 Treaty.
Jordan demands the Treaty be enforced. It demands that the Israeli government prevent all entities, including the ‘Israeli Municipality’ [sic], from making any changes to Jerusalem’s Old City that would alter its Arabic and Islamic identity.
This protest (reportedly delivered in Amman to the Israel Ambassador to Jordan) is important to MK Feiglin’s own protest because it raises the stakes for the Israel Police and the Waqf (the Muslim Administrator of the Temple Mount).  The Jordanian protest, you will see, indirectly validates Feiglin’s complaint—and undermines the legitimacy of Temple-inspired Arab rage.
The stakes go up because Jordan argues that those roof renovations are “an infringement against [sic] Article 9 of the 1994 Jordanian-Israel Treaty”.  Article 9 is real. The Treaty is real. But Article 9 of that Treaty does not discuss shop-owner roofs or shop-owner property. It does not discuss commercial or residential construction. It discusses Holy—and historically significant-- Places.
Specifically, Article 9 commits both Israel and Jordan to provide  free access to Places of religious and historical significance. Israel agrees to respect Jordan's special role in protecting Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. Israel agrees to give high priority to Jordan's historic role in these shrines during permanent status negotiations.  Israel and Jordan will act together to promote interfaith relations among Judaism, Islam and Christianity, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, tolerance and peace [emphasis mine].
That’s it. That’s the complete Article 9. It suggests that the Jordanian complaint might be without merit because that complaint does not identify the holiness or historical significance of shop-owners’ roofs (national identity and historical significance are not the same thing).
But Article 9 does clarify that Jordan and Israel have agreed, essentially, to guarantee freedom of religious worship at Jerusalem Holy Sites. That suggests that MK Feiglin is correct. All restrictions against Jews on the Temple Mount are contrary to the terms of a signed Peace Agreement. Discrimination of Jews at Jerusalem Holy Sites is a Treaty violation.
Article 9 also suggests that Arab riots over the Temple Mount could be illegal. Certainly, lawyers will have to decide if a signed international Treaty establishes enforceable law. They will have to determine if a violation of the terms of such an Agreement should be called ‘illegal.’  
But until then, Arab rage should be condemned by all. MK Feiglin’s allegations should be acted upon immediately because any Arab violation of an existing Peace Agreement puts today’s peace negotiations at risk; for if Arabs so obviously violate this existing Agreement, no Israeli leader can trust them to observe the next Agreement.  
If the world wants Peace in the Middle East, it should act now. It should demand that the Arab uphold the terms of the 1994 Agreement before moving forward with any new Agreement. At the very least, this should be Israel’s position.
The ‘roof renovation’ story may not be real. It may be a satire of a Jewish custom—erecting  “roof-altering” temporary booths called ‘sukkahs’ for the just-ended Jewish holiday of Succot. But the story’s reference to the real Article 9 of a very real Peace Treaty reminds us that free access to the Temple Mount is no laughing matter.
It’s a guarantee.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Israel’s Left, democracy and the Temple Mount

Jews pray every day for a return to the Temple Mount. That Temple is embedded in our blood. The longing for its return is built into our DNA.

But in the 1930’s and early 1940’s, Jews in Israel could not ascend to the Temple Mount.  They were restricted. They were forbidden. They were even restricted in their use of the Kotel, the Western Wall which is just outside and below the Mount area.

A t that time, before the State of Israel was born, there was little freedom of religion in Israel for Jews. There was no democracy in Israel. There was only the coercive rule of the British Mandate.

In the early 1920’s, the British had been given a Mandate—a responsibility—by the League of Nations. That responsibility was to create a Jewish National Homeland in Palestine. By the 1940’s—more than twenty years later—Britain still hadn’t fulfilled its Mandated responsibility.

Jews suffered. They were policed and beaten by British Gentiles who were often openly anti-Jewish.

Those days were dangerous for Jews. They were especially dangerous for those who wished to blow the shofar (ram’s horn) at the Kotel at the end of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Judaism’s holiest day.  

Today, Israel no longer bends under the weight of British coercion. Israel is a democracy. It believes in the rule of law, not the law of the strong.

Today, Jews at the Kotel do not fear being beaten by British police on Yom Kippur. Today, the Kotel is Jewish.

In June, 1967, in a war of miracles called, the six-day war, the Temple Mount once again came under Jewish control. There was jubilation. The sound of the shofar filled the air.

For the first time in almost 2,000 years, the Temple Mount was Jewish. In that fateful June 46 years ago, Jews danced with joy on the Temple Mount.

That was June, 1967. Today, Jews are restricted from and often forbidden from ascending the Temple Mount—not because of religious considerations (to honour the sanctity of the site), but because of Arab demands and Jewish police enforcement.

Jewish police protect the Temple Mount. But they do not protect it for the Jewish people. They protect it for the Muslim Waqf, who, the Jewish police say, is the true and only administrator of the Mount.

The Jewish police follow the orders of the Waqf. That’s why they restrict and often forbid Jews from ascending the Mount.

Two weeks ago, Member of Knesset (MK) Moshe Feiglin sent a letter to Israeli police. He protested police behaviour on the Mount. He questioned the legal authority of the Waqf.

Police official Paul Gordon replied to MK Feiglin saying that, in 1967, the Israeli government handed over management of the Mount to the Waqf (Arutz Sheva, ‘Feiglin—not for police to give Temple Mount to Waqf’, NewsBrief, September 15, 2013).

But according to both Arutz Sheva and blogger Israel Matzav (‘Israel’s right starts to fight back’, September 15, 2013), Feiglin wasn’t satisfied with that response. He believes the police are wrong.   

In a letter sent to Police Inspector-General, Yohanan Danino, MK Feiglin stated that, to the best of his recollection, there was no such decision made by the Israeli government in 1967.  In fact, he goes on to say, from a reading of notes from a 1968 Ministerial committee meeting, it appears clear that, by 1968, it was not the government’s understanding that the Waqf controlled anything on the Temple Mount. 

MK Feiglin quoted then-Justice Minister Yaacov Shimshon Shapira saying (in June, 1968) that, “We never announced that the entirety of the Temple Mount belongs to the Arabs. We never announced that it is forbidden for Jews to pray there, we never announced that it is forbidden for Jews to establish a synagogue there.”

MK Feiglin’s position is clear. He argues that, in the absence of any explicit government decision to hand over the Temple Mount to the Waqf, “all directives which discriminate between Muslims and non-Muslims regarding entrance to the Mount should be immediately rescinded.”

He also questions the Waqf’s status as a legal institution in the State of Israel. He says that the Waqf’s office is not registered by the State. It does not pay its required taxes. It does not pay its required share of National Insurance contributions.

These are serious allegations. Israel is a democracy. Israel’s Left constantly reminds us that, in our democracy, religious institutions are not exempt from the law.

Yet it appears that the Waqf does not obey the law. It appears that the Waqf may have no legal authority over the Temple Mount. It appears that the Waqf’s discrimination against Jews is undemocratic.

Once, there was no democracy in Israel. Jews were discriminated against.

Today, Israel is a democracy. As the Left knows, in a democracy, discrimination is illegal.  

Will the Left support MK Feiglin?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Israel, coexistence and the Arab 100 per cent

Last update September 16, 2013 
In November, 1917, the world was at war. Armies manoeuvred and clashed in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

In November, 1917, the British looked to end Ottoman control over Palestine. They attacked Jerusalem.

British conquest of Jerusalem would mean the end of more than 600 years of Muslim rule. That rule ended in 1917 when British troops took Jerusalem.

November, 1917 was also the month that British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour set into motion the fulfilment of a Biblical prophecy. That November, Lord Balfour gave to the Jewish Baron Rothschild a letter declaring that the British government looked with favour upon the establishment of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine.

In April, 1920, the war's winners met at the Italian resort, San Remo. They went there to decide how to deal with their winnings.

Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan—with the United States attending as a neutral observer—discussed the map of the Middle East. They confirmed in writing Balfour’s commitment to the Jews.

So it was that the greatest powers in the world after World War One came to an international agreement. The Jewish homeland would be born.

The British had been busy during World War One (1914-18)—perhaps too busy. In 1915-16, they had promised Arabs that if they joined Britain against the Turk, they would be rewarded—with land. Then they promised the French that the two of them would divide up the Middle East between themselves (after they had won the war). Then, in November, 1917, they had promised the Jews a national homeland in Palestine.

After the War (1918) and after San Remo (1920), the newly-formed League of Nations held its own discussion of the Middle East (1920-23). The member-states of the League of Nations agreed to carve up the defeated Ottoman Empire. They also agreed: there would be a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

To that end, the nations decided that Britain and France should carry out the task of carving up Ottoman land. They were to address the nationalistic desires of both Arab and Jew. They were to create nations.

But Britain and France had a secret agreement.  They wanted Ottoman land for themselves. Their objectivity was tainted.

Arabs were ambivalent about these non-Muslims. Some didn’t mind land being set aside for Jews so long as they got their own land. Others didn’t want non-Muslims in the Middle East.

In 1920 and 1921, Arabs rioted in Palestine. They were angry. The Jews were coming.

While Arabs rioted, the League of Nations assigned Mandates: France would create Lebanon and Syria. Britain would create the Jewish homeland.

Riots continued.  Arabs were angry that 100 per cent of British Palestine would go to Jews. They didn’t care about the international agreements of Balfour-San Remo-League of Nations. They wanted 100 per cent of Palestine.

So the British made a change. Jews would no longer get 100 per cent.

Jews would have to share. They would get 22 per cent.  Arabs would get 78 per cent.

The goal of this division was to appease Arab hostility. It seemed fair to give Arabs 78 per cent of the land Balfour-San Remo-League of Nations had committed to Jews.

It didn’t work. The Muslim cleric, Haj-Amin el-Husseini, began to organize Arabs to terrorize Jews. He rejected division. He wanted 100 per cent of the land, not 78 per cent.

In the 1920’s, pogroms in Europe began to drive perhaps 65,000 Jews to Palestine as refugees. Arabs hated that. They rioted repeatedly.

Fighting between Arab and Jew became aggressive. The British stalled their efforts for a Jewish homeland.

In 1939, World War Two began. el-Husseini turned to Hitler for help. Jews from Palestine volunteered to fight Hitler.

In 1945, the nations created the United Nations (UN). Its Founding Charter declared that it was committed to maintaining obligations from treaties and other sources of “international law.” That commitment meant that the new UN would honour all previously existing international agreements, especially those of the League of Nations. Those agreements included the commitment to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

So it was that the letter of Lord Balfour was confirmed by international agreement. The Balfour-San Remo-League of Nations-UN paper trail gave Israel a unique pedigree. Its ‘birth certificate’, dated 1947, had (arguably) more international agreements attached to it than any other nation.

In 1947, the Arab rejected that paper trail. Yes, the British and French had created Lebanon, Syria and Jordan for him. But that wasn’t enough.

He’d gotten only 78 per cent of Palestine. He wanted the other 22 per cent.  

Mahmoud Abbas still wants it.

In a May, 2011 op-ed essay in The New York Times, Abbas said, “We go the United Nations now to the secure the right to the remaining 22 per cent”.

The Arab doesn’t want coexistence. He wants 100 per cent.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

What happens when you solve the ‘Israel’ problem

Last update: September 12, 2013

Palestine is not a state. It doesn’t exist. But don’t tell that to Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

For Abbas, Palestine doesn’t just exist; it exists in place of Israel. You see that in the occasional picture of Mr Abbas in his office or at a PA-sponsored gathering. In such pictures, Mr Abbas sits or stands proudly in front of a map that displays his new state. The map shows Palestine where Israel should be.

The United States may speak about peace ‘in the Middle East’. The European Union may speak of two nations living side-by-side in peace and security. But for Mr Abbas, peace means only one thing: Israel erased from the map.

Read the PLO Charter. Read the Hamas Charter. Listen to Arab TV: peace comes when Israel is gone.

Abbas is a like a proud pappa. He loves to talk about his ‘baby’. He wants his baby to obliterate Israel.  

The European Union, meanwhile, accuses Israel of rejecting peace. The UN accuses Israel of causing unrest throughout the Middle East. Everyone agrees: solve the ‘Israel’ problem and there will be peace.

Okay, let’s solve that problem. Take Israel off the map. Destroy the Jewish state. Put ‘Palestine’ in its place.

Now, with Israel gone, answer these questions: does oppression against Arab citizens in Gaza suddenly stop? Do human rights abuses in Syria end?  Does Lebanon become the new model for economic vitality?

For answers, start with Egypt, Syria and Libya. With Israel gone, will those violent streets become quiet? With Israel gone, will the enmity Arab citizens feel towards their respective governments evaporate? With Israel gone, will any Arab country become instantly peaceful?

If Israel disappears, the streets of the Middle East will not magically fill with Audis and Mercedes automobiles. They will choke with donkeys and sewage.

Israel is the Middle East’s lifeline to survival. It develops modern health-care, high-tech innovation and advanced education—and shows the Arab how to survive in the 21st century. Israel demonstrates how a tiny nation with virtually no natural resources can become one of the most technologically sophisticated nations in the world. Israel is the model for survival in the Middle East.

By contrast, most of the Arab world wallows in sewage-soaked poverty. If Israel disappears, that poverty will only get worse.

Israel in the Middle East is an economic iceberg: you see only the tip of its influence. Israel’s vitality affects everyone on its borders:  Jordan learns how to farm the desert. Egypt learns how to manage the Sinai. The Palestinian Authority learns how to build a city. All of that evaporates if Israel disappears.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), on the other hand, offers nothing. It’s a taker, not a giver. It receives billions in hand-outs from around the world—and billions land in the pockets of its leaders.

Where are the PA sewage treatment plants? Where are their power plants? Where is their water infrastructure? They don’t exist. All of it comes from Israel.

In the PA, men who kill Jews and get sent to Israeli prison for their crimes receive up to $3,400 US dollars a month from the PA—while PA security officers earn an average equivalent of   $850 - $1,150 US a month ( Gil Ronen, “MK: Jailed PA Murderers Make $3,400 a Month”, Arutz Sheva, August 11, 2013). As Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) puts it, “There is a very problematic message here” when killers make more than three times the average Security officer. The message is not one that promotes peace between Arab and Jew.

Because so many PA Arabs work for Jews (both legally and illegally), PA unemployment will skyrocket the day Israel disappears. PA businesses that rely upon Jewish contracts will collapse.

In a Middle East characterized by incompetence, Israeli competence creates survivability. For example, in Arab countries bordering Israel, water problems turn farmland into desert. In Israel, water ingenuity turns desert into farmland.

The Oslo Accords stated explicitly that Arafat’s new Arab state must seek economic cooperation with Israel. The International Monetary Fund recently repeated that cooperation with Israel is crucial to the new state’s survival.  But any Arab who partners with an Israeli business is attacked. He is not allowed to seek ‘normalization’ with the hated Jew.

Arab leaders reject cooperation. They reject economic survivability. They want ethnic cleansing.  

When you solve the ‘Israel’ problem by destroying Israel, you destroy the 16th most Developed country in the world. You destroy a technology-innovation powerhouse (1st in its region, 14th in the world). You destroy your future.

Destroy Israel and you replace it with a bankrupt beggar with billionaire leaders and citizens living with open sewage. That’s not a dream-come-true for the average Arab. It’s his worst nightmare.

It’s the nightmare the world wants. It’s the nightmare the world says will solve the ‘Israel’ problem. It’s a nightmare that will destroy the Middle East.



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Your Rosh HaShanna challenge

Israel has problems. The European Union wants to boycott us. The United States wants to pressure us. The Arabs want to kill us.

But despite these problems, Israel stands on the threshold of greatness. Look at us. Our economy is one of the strongest in the world. Our research and development is among the best in the world. Our number of patents per capita is among the best in the world.

We are a world leader in business start-ups per capita. Our military is strong. Our recent oil/gas discoveries make us, potentially, the world’s number one energy country.

Greatness lies before us. It’s close enough to touch.

For more than 100 years, Zionism was driven by the desire to ‘be like everyone else’. But we must now re-invent that dream.  We have begun to separate ourselves from ‘everyone else’.

Look at everyone else: in Europe, the PIGS—Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain—have economies that are on the verge of collapse.  The European experiment with multiculturalism fails. Their social experiment threatens to destroy Europe.
In America, the value of the dollar teeters. China—which controls an enormous portion of US debt—threatens to destabilize America’s debt structure. The International Monetary Fund begins to think about dropping the dollar as the international currency of choice.

In the Middle East, the Arab Spring has become a season of destruction. In the Far East, Japan faces a nuclear melt-down.

Israel has none of this. Why should we desire to be like everyone else? They falter. We don’t.

Yes, America was once great. She began almost two hundred and forty years ago with a singular idea. This idea was called ‘American Freedom’. Not everyone believed it. Not everyone wanted it. Not everyone accepted it. But enough people bought into it that a critical mass was formed—and the American idea of Freedom energized a nation to greatness.

But what worked for America in 1776 does not work now. America falters. She begins to unravel. She no longer inspires.

Now consider Israel. Our nation is like the human soul, driven by inner struggle and conflicting aspirations. But this is not bad news; it is good news. This struggle, these aspirations are the key to our greatness. We are willing to struggle. We yearn. We dream.

The Days of Awe begin tomorrow. Tomorrow, we must remember that greatness: it is no dream.

To borrow from Yoram Hazony (The Jewish State, Basic Books, 2001), if Israel is to become great we must commit to a singular, unifying ideal that can energize our national soul. We need an ideal not just for today or next year; we need an ideal that can be preserved from one generation to the next. This ideal must be robust enough to be applied across centuries. It must be vibrant enough to become a living tradition that can take root in the mind---and grow stronger with each generation.

Without a unifying ideal, we will never cross the threshold of greatness. We will become like everybody else. We will falter.

The multiculturalism of Europe and the Americanism of the US and the Communism of Russia all falter. The fascism of Hitler and the Totalitarianism of Stalin have failed. Where do we find our ideal? Do you know?

 Can you name an ideal that can grow and strengthen from generation to generation?  Does such an ideal even exist?

For the last two hundred and forty years—since the birth of America--Man has tried communism, socialism, fascism, totalitarianism, anarchy, chaos, monarchy and democracy.  Everything man’s mind can create, we have tried.

All of these ideas have worked—for a time. Then, they falter.

There is, however, one idea we have not tried. It is so powerful, it frightens grown men. It frightens men because man cannot control it; and when you believe that all power lies only in the hand of man, then the one thing that frightens you most is giving up control.

Man is that self-centered. He is extraordinarily selfish. He will not accept something he cannot control.

Man’s belief is simple. If I cannot control it, he says, I reject it.

Dare we speak of such an ideal? Certainly, Israel’s media won’t. Israel’s academics won’t. Israel’s political leadership won‘t.

Do you know about this ideal? The signs of it are everywhere.  But not everyone believes it. Not everyone wants it. Not everyone accepts it.

Nevertheless, Israel is close to a critical mass. More and more Jews embrace this unifying ideal. They live it.

It is Torat Hashem—the Jewish Heritage. It lasts longer than anything Man has ever created. It is the only ideal that is stronger today than two hundred and forty years ago.

This is your Rosh HaShanna awakening: if you want greatness, you must choose Torat HaShem. The challenge is, do you have the courage to make that choice?



Sunday, September 1, 2013

Rosh Hashanna: it’s time to talk about G-d

Last updated: September 3, 2013

Here’s a story few want to hear: the Jewish nation is G-d’s beloved.

Who wants to hear that? Muslims don’t. All they want to hear is ‘Islam-will-rule’. They want to conquer ‘Occupied Palestine’ (modern Israel). They want to make Jerusalem Islamic.

Christian leaders aren’t interested, either. Some have recently declared that the G-d of Israel is irrelevant. Others have declared that Jews are no longer G-d’s Chosen.

Even Jews aren’t interested. Why should Jews tell the world they are G-d’s beloved? That would be terrible. It would mean that Jews are different from everyone else.

G-d forbid Jews should be different.

Like it or not, G-d chose the Jewish nation. He gave us  purpose. We are to sing His praise. We are to show the way to peace and justice.

It’s a simple Choice. It’s a simple Purpose. 

But in our Biblical story, Jews rejected ‘simple’. They had a better idea: let’s be like everyone else!

They turned against G-d. They chose idols.  Why worship the invisible when you could kiss a stone?

That’s what everyone else did. Why shouldn’t the Jews? Keeping up with the Joneses was far more exciting than the G-d of Israel.

Idol worship must have seemed a good idea because it lasted a long time. But it didn’t work out. As result of those idols, the Jewish people were vomited from their land, scattered and then persecuted for nearly 2,000 years.

The Idols failed. They were as stupid as stone.

Who knew?

All of this was predicted centuries before it happened. It was recorded in a public record called Tanach (the Jewish Bible). In that public record, G-d made two promises: first, He would punish the Jews for their sins; and second, He would not  abandon his beloved.

That’s exactly what’s happened. Yes, the Jews were exiled from Israel. But then, more than 1,700 years later, beginning in the early 1800’s, G-d initiated the fulfilment of His second promise: Jews began to return.

G-d had not forgotten.

After World War Two, the doors which guarded the gateway to Israel burst open. G-d’s promises showered onto the land. The desert bloomed. The economy became strong. Israel rose like a lion before its enemies.

The land filled with milk and honey. Cities grew. Jerusalem once again became the Jewish capital of the Jewish people.

It wasn’t easy. Many in Israel didn’t appreciate G-d. But the record of His promises-becoming-reality has become increasingly obvious since Israel became a modern State. Israel, once weary of G-d, now turns to Him. Today, 69 per cent of Israeli Jews light Shabbat candles. Most eat kosher food and observe Passover dietary rules. Religious Jews—including all labelled as ‘religious’-- will soon represent 30 per cent of Israel’s Jewish population, with an equal number sympathetic to ‘religion’.

Listen, Israel. G-d has chosen you. He made you. He has punished you for your sins. He has revived you.

Look around: Jerusalem is Jewish. Torah has returned to Israel. More Jews now sing to G-d and live by His rules than at any time in the past 2,000 years.

We have returned. G-d makes us distinctive, just as He promised.

Here’s a secret you should remember: we have a Destiny that includes a challenge. The great Gaon of Vilna, Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman Kremer (1720-1797), has written that, as we move closer to our Destiny, there will be ‘a time of trouble for Jacob’ (Rabbi Hillel Shaklover, The Voice of the Turtledove, distributed by M. Pomeranz Bookseller, Jerusalem, limited edition, no date, p.6). We will see ‘troubles’--from Yishmael (the Arab), Edom (the nations of Christianity) and from Jews (Rabbi Nachman Kahana,  With All Your Might, TCF Publications, Jerusalem, 2009, pp. 584-5, 608-611, 622-625). These troubles are part of our Tanach script. They now unfold as foretold.

These troubles are real. They exist for a purpose. They drive us to our future.

Our challenge is to understand this path to Destiny. Our challenge is to remember that these troubles are for us, to refine what is coarse and to clarify what is clouded.

Today, we live with Arab attacks, international scorn and pressure to surrender land to those who hate us. We are dehumanized and demonized. Through these troubles, our entire nation—including leadership-- will learn that it is the G-d of Israel who controls our Destiny, not the UN, the Palestinian Authority or Barack Obama.

But nothing happens if we say nothing. We must speak out.  

The Arab speaks. He calls for a third Intifada.  He calls for our destruction. The Palestinian Authority calls for Jerusalem to be its capital. Muslim clerics promise that their god will rule from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

With Rosh Hashanna beginning this week, perhaps it’s time for us to talk, too. We should talk about our G-d--and His promises.