Archive for February 2016

Jewish monarchy


This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s  Baruch Dopelt, Yossi Bilius, Pinchas Winston, Asher Hurzberg and Dr. Abba Goldman

In our illustrious glorious past we’ve often yearned for the mashiach.  When we were in grade school we had to recite that “we believe whole heartedly that Mashiach is coming”. Mashiach this and Mashiach that. There have been many songs sung, manypsalms read, There even was a period where many of our people were killed for they thought that time had come and were careless, where they’re usually very careful,  in dealing with  gentiles arousing their  hostility and Anti-Semitism only to be disappointed with a false prophet.
 How ironic it is then, the proud Jews that we are, with our glorious past, the beautiful temple both past and future, that the Mashiach signs in through an undignified manor. We would never write a Hollywood script like this. Here, there is no poor or rich young couple who loves each other, have a baby (Mashiach), is allergic to kryptonite, and can’t keep him etc. It’s quite different script. One cannot complain “this movie is predictable -same formula”.
 Let us take a look at the relevant places in the Torah and perhaps, dig deep, learn some insights into the mashiach
This is where the Jewish monarch and the  Mashiach comes from……..
         Uncharacistaly, Yehuda, leader of the tribes visits  a prostitute, who is his daughter-in law in disguise. The Sages, say that the cohabitation of Yehuda, Tamar, his daughter in law, resulted in the inception of the Mashiach……Go Figure!! (Please see highlight section for full synopsis)
  One may ask, how can the Mashiach come in such a degrading way?
Wait there is more!
        *The seed of the Mashiach was also implanted in a bazar way by Lott,  Avrahams nephew, After the destruction of Sedom, Lott’s two surviving daughters believed that the world was destroyed. They devised a plan to seduce their father on back to back consecutive nights after getting him drunk where they will procreate and populate the world once again. Ruth, is a descendant of this union The oldest son/grandchild Moav is where Ruth, the grandmother of king David, comes from.
        * Boaz, a widower,  a leader and descendant  of the tribe of Yehudah marries Ruth, the convert, a widow herself to the childless son of Elimelech, a descendant of Yehuda as well.  The courtship was strange, Ruth appear that night on the threshing floor  to be as close as possible to the fields at a critical time in the harvest. Niomi, her mother in law, instructs Ruth to uncover Boaz’s feet so as to wake him and set the process of “yibum” in motion. Pretty odd isn’t it. The union between Boaz and Ruth was in question for A Israelite is forbidden to marry from Moav. Boaz died the next morning after their wedding night and Ruth gave up her child to Niomi to raise.
         *King David marries Bat-Sheva in one of the most controversial union in our history. Did he usher Bat Sheva’s husband to the battlefield in what was presumably a death wish? The marriage between David and Bat-Sheva produced King Shlomo
This is our royal past?
 In our current mindset or Western mentality we, perhaps, will entertain the thought of the Mashiach having that kind of introduction for  we have grown accustom to a very promiscuous nature. The media has etched in our minds the kind of sexual provocation daily. Car commercials, game shows and even real estate ads come with a door prize and a smiley attractive female or male model. Television, no matter how PG it is full of sexual innuendos. Let’s not forget the advancement of the internet….GOODNESS GRACIOUS!!
 Furthermore, as we Jews moved around the world we are constantly reminded through our neighbors about their immodest appetite way of life. We were the only Jews living on the block, in my childhood home in Rego Park. It was a predominantly Irish neighborhood and it was difficult to stay focused even as a very young Yeshiva grade school student with the immodest dress of my non-Jewish neighbors. What’s an orthodox boy doing living in this part of the world?
Interestingly, if one notices our biggest test growing up before entering our young adult, where then we are introduced to inflated egos, pursuit of money, keeping religion, is to watch our brit. There is a tremendous insurgence or wave of desire where hormones are flying uncontrollably when entering the teenage years.
This is our mundane life of today where the western culture has a tremendous influence. However, why has the Torah have to introduce the Jewish monarch and future Mashiash in a degrading way. Golden Yerushalayim and its purity should be left alone. Why drag it to such shmutz?
Furthermore, why is the topic of Erva-  promiscuity associated with the kingdom. Why not murder? Jealousy?
Lets examine an aspect of brit milah where then perhaps we might understand the topic of mashiach a little more clearer.
  Adam HaRishon was created circumcised, as it says, “God created man in His image …” (Bereishis 2:5). Avot d’Rav Nossan 2:5
Rav Yitzchak said, [Adam] caused his foreskin to be extended [and cover his circumcision]. Sanhedrin 38b
Interestingly, this is what the Greek Jews were a custom to do in the time of Chanukah. They were ashamed that they were different then the Goyim. The sexual revolution was influencing the world….sounds familiar. It was custom to remove your cloths entirely in many social functions. The Greeks believed in exposing the beautiful body. However the Jews, because of their brit had a different look, were ashamed.
The Greeks put a spiritual barrier between the Jews and their G-d. In Hebrew the growth of foreskin is called  Orlah. This was the  mistake of Adam. For, whether we are talking about “Orlat HaLeiv” (uncircumcised heart), “Orel S’fataim “(uncircumcised lips), or “Orlah” from a tree (fruits of the third year), the word Orlah always implies a spiritual “barrier” between man and God which has to be removed.
There are two aspects of the mitzvah referred to in the verse. Firstly, Milah is a sign of the covenant between Avraham and God; secondly, Milah is to take place on the eighth day from birth. We should take note of the point in the Parsha at which the Mitzvah is commanded after Avraham’s successful routing of the Canaanite kings. It’s no coincident that saving Lott, his nephew, who holds the seed for part of the Mashiach, is a precursor for brit milah.
 When Avraham  placed his faith in G-d for his physical sustenance, he demonstrated his unwavering commitment to live above nature. As a result, he was provided with the means to remove all the Orlos Adam’s mistake had brought to mankind. This is the Bris Milah which is performed on the eighth day (eight always symbolizes the spiritual, supernatural realm, as we see through Chanukah as well).
Why was Bris Milah so important to history? As the following reveals, it is the source of Malchut (of kingship), and therefore, the Final Redemption.
And Yosef said to his brothers, ” ‘Please come near to me,’ and they came near to him and he said . . .” (Bereishis 45:4). Why did he call them if they were already next to him? Because when he told them, “I am Yosef your brother” (Ibid.), they were in shock to see his royal position. He told them that his royalty was a direct result of this. (Zohar 1:93b)
What was Yosef referring to? The Zohar explains:
” ‘Please come near to me,’ and they came near to him”: He showed them that he upheld Bris Milah, saying, “By keeping this intact, I was able to attain royal status.” From here we learn that whomever keeps this sign intact will merit royalty. (Ibid.)
In other words, Yosef was saying that his royal status had been conferred upon him by Heaven for having resisted the advances of his master’s wife, Aishet Potiphar. Such intimacy would have been forbidden to him, and though he had been tempted at the time, in the end he had overcome his yetzer hara and had run out of the house, risking her vicious retribution that followed.
However, the Zohar is not finished yet, and backs up its statement with the following:
From where else do we know this? From Boaz, as it says, “As Hashem lives, lie down until the morning” (Rus3:13). His evil inclination was enticing him, so he made this oath to keep his bris intact. (Ibid.)
In other words, while he was secluded with Ruth, he desired her then. However, intimacy with her then was improper, and therefore he made the oath to safeguard himself against a sinful relationship. If she was to be his wife, Boaz reasoned with himself, it had to be after all the halachic conditions had been satisfied. Thus the Zohar concludes:
The world is called an OLAM. Interestingly OLAM means hidden. What is hidden? G-d is hidden and he is hidden throughout the world. Interestingly the more we do G-d’s commandments the more vision and clear the world looks.
This OLAM is like a game. A game similar to “Wheel of Fortune”, where one has to turn over the puzzle board and therefore making the entire board clearer. The board is pretty large it encompasses the entire world.   The mission of the Jewish people over the last 3,300 years, the Jewish role in history and the essence of the concept of the Chosen People – a people chosen for the responsibility of teaching the world about one God and absolute morality. But there is much left to do before the vision the Jewish people saw at Mount Sinai becomes a world reality. The Jews have always believed that they have a key role to play in bringing this vision to fruition. We are to create a society based on a God-given standard of morality that will serve as the model for the rest of humanity to emulate – to be “a light unto the nations.”
When we look back on the vast sweep of the last four thousand years we see how significantly the Jewish people have directly and indirectly affected humanity.
The Jewish monarch represents the Jewish people. He rules with justice and mercy. It’s his mission to guide and to turn over the most impure  part of life and manifest it to a source of kedusha. G-d chose the very organ that is the source of life, which can also be chosen to use for the basest acts, as the site to be sanctified with circumcision. This gives us the profound message that we can use every physical drive for holy purposes.
 Chanukah always falls out during this time of the year where days are short and nights are at its longest. It is our mission to light the candles, to bring light in to the darkness, to see things more clear, to flip the puzzle board, to transform an illicit moment to the spiritual.
Interestingly the menorah is lit by Jews in public showcase all over the world….may we, the chosen people continue to make this world more clear.

Terrorism, is there a solution?

This article was constructed with the help of either writings, lectures or shiurim of Rabbi’s  Berel Wein, Asher Hertzberg, Yossi Bilus and Dr. Abba Goldman,   Sara Esther Crispe

*Why did Eisav’s angel aim at the leg in hurting Yaakov?
*Why is Amalek, Eisav’ descendants so hated by G-d?
*It was only when Yosef was born, did Yaakov decide to move his family and leave his father-in- law Lavan’s house. What was so special about Yosef?
It was during the 1960’s and early 1970’s when antisemitism was on the rise, the Jewish Defense League was establishing itself as a strong arm Jewish group protecting Jewish citizens of New York after a slew of biased attacks.  Finally Jews can walk the streets safely without looking over their shoulder. Our people felt proud to have such an option coupled with the fact that they were surprisingly victorious in the Six Day War against the Arabs. One of the slogans that were pronounced   by the high energetic charismatic leader, Meir Kahana, was “Never Again”. This was implying that no one can start with the Jews. No more!!! The import of the slogan was that Jews would never again allow themselves to be slaughtered indiscriminately by those who hate them. It was not only the scope of the Holocaust and others like it throughout our history that would never again be repeated, but the idea behind those atrocities – that Jews should be killed merely for being Jewish – would also never again be tolerated.
 Well, the slogan has been proven wrong and even empty. Jews are being killed merely because they are Jews. They are being killed in cafes and banquet halls, outside synagogues and in the study halls of yeshivas, walking on the streets and driving their automobiles. The Jews who are being killed are old and young, Zionists and anti-Zionists, Left and Right, haredi and secular, militants and peaceniks.
 They are being killed wherever they can be found – in Gaza and the West Bank, Hadera and Netanya, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. They are being killed in locations and neighborhoods that were Jewish-owned and populated before Arizona and New Mexico were admitted to the United States.
 The trend over the past century and especially in our current twisted times has been to try to discover the motives that drive people to kill other people. The victims being killed are many times unknown to their killers and are personally innocent of any guilt in their death. Their fault lay in being of a certain race, nationality, religious belief and even simply (and unfortunately) being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When a terrorist attack strikes our country, our community, our home, fear sets in. Why? What is so traumatic about a terror attack? What differentiates terrorism from every other form of death? Why has the US government dedicated billions of dollars and resources to search for and eliminate terror cells throughout the world?
If we look at statistics, in the past 10 years, there have been roughly 8,000 people throughout the world murdered at the hands of terrorists. Yet in the last year alone, over 38,000 people were killed in the United States just from car accidents.
Logically, if terrorism scares us so much, we should be ten times as scared to get behind the wheel of our car. We should be petrified when our eighteen year old child goes behind the wheel for the first time. It’s not for nothing that car insurance for young adults is high; they’re reckless at that age. Driving on the freeway should be a terrifying experience to be avoided at all costs. And yet the majority of us do it, day after day, without a second thought. How many people stop and wonder if perhaps they should take public transportation to avoid the possibility of being killed in a car crash? How many people ensure that their family members never all travel together in the same car, lest they be in a crash?
What is the source for this unique fear that the terrorists have put in our hearts?
Terrorists have not succeeded in the mass fatalities they would like to claim are possible. However, they have succeeded in one very important thing. They have accomplished something perhaps even more destructive than killing our bodies. They have managed to erode our sense of security, our hope, and our faith.
The negative force of terror has been with us since the dawn of human history. The names and faces and national identities of the terrorists change from place to place and from era to era, but the primordial force that drives them has a single name. It is Amalek.
The Torah teaches us that “G-d is at war with Amalek for all generations” (Exodus 17:16). “In every generation,” say our sages, “Amalek rises to destroy us, and each time he clothes himself in a different nation” (Me’am Loez, Devarim vol. 3, p. 977).
Amalek doesn’t just kill us-Amalek makes us doubt.
Our first encounter was long ago. Since that time, there have been many others. Yet our mission and commandment remains the same:
“Remember what Amalek did to you on the road, on your way out of Egypt. That he encountered you on the way and cut off those lagging to your rear, when you were tired and exhausted; he did not fear G-d. Therefore . . . you must obliterate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Do not forget.” (Deuteronomy 25:17-19)
 The Jews left Egypt by the miracle of G-d seen by the entire world. The Israelites seamed invincible. No one would dare to start with them. They were protected by G-d; they were the chosen nation. Amalek ruined the moment. They ruined the fine imprint of G-d. They diffused the G-dly moment and cast doubt that G-d is supreme.
Amalek’s danger is not in their ability to kill. Cars kill more. Amalek doesn’t just kill us-Amalek makes us doubt.
Cars do not seek to destroy us. Amalek plans and plots and aims to hurt us, to maim us and to murder us. And every time they do, they make us doubt more.
They make us doubt if we are safe, if we are secure, if we are taken care of. They try to paralyze us and make us think twice before continuing on with our daily lives. They try to show us how vulnerable we are and how nothing is as it appears. They make us doubt the very reality of ourselves, our lives, our G-d.
As the Torah commentaries point out, the numerical value of the Hebrew word Amalek equals that of the word safek, “doubt.”
 Amalek succeeded to instill this unsafe fear to a friend of mine, Jack Brooks. Jack canceled a trip to Israel in the summer of 2001 citing “it’s not safe to travel to Israel at this time”. However, if the Master of the Universe wants something to happen to you, it’ll happen whether it is in Israel or in Kansas City, Missouri. Interestingly, one morning, Jack, already engulfed in his work for about an hour, after coming at about eight, feels what presumably an earthquake is. A bit alarmed, at the slammed doors in the offices on his floor being abruptly shut, his supervisor not answering his page, he runs to look out the window.  Shockingly, he sees the adjacent tower engulfed in flames and people jumping out the windows. Looking down to the ground he sees tiny red spots. Apparently, the people in the Tower 1 jumped to their death trying to avoid the tremendous heat from what presumably was an explosion.
 It was seconds later when he felt another abrupt shake up. The lights and power went out, Jacks head’ immediate response “Get out!!” He runs to the staircase and vigorously pries open the door. There was smoke gushing from the stairwell. Helping others who were having a hard time go down the stairs he joined many in a rush to get out of the building. There was one direction going down the smoke filled stairwell, however there were firefighter trying to go up, against the current of people. In hindsight, we presumably know what happened to many of those firefighters.
 It seemed forever going down, however, there was a light at the bottom. Fifteen minutes after Jack escapes from tower 2, the building collapses in flames.
Jack Brooks was a part of history surviving 9/11 reciting Gomel in synagogue the following Shabbat. The following summer Jack booked a trip to Israel enjoying a wonderful vacation in the Holy Land.
This week’s parsha has a peculiar incident where Yaakov battles the evil angel of Eisav.  The Torah says they battle all night and in the morning Yaakov overcomes the angel. Victorious, however, he is left with a wound in his leg, thigh.  The obvious question is why the leg out of all the places? What’s the significance the Torah mentioning the thigh – leg?
When the Torah states – honor your parents for you will have a long life, long life means your life will be extended through your children. They will follow your philosophy; they will pass down your legacy. They will cherish what was important to you.
One of the important aspects of continuing ones legacy, after one passes on, is for the son to say Kaddish.  The children proclaim G-d’s authority in the world through the recitation of the Kaddish.  By doing so, it’s raising the spirit of the parents since the deceased parent cannot perform any mitzvoth. The parent’s first eleven months after death is crucial for that period determines where the soul will rest. Therefore, the children are described as being the legs of the parents. They, hopefully, will walk them, the parents who are idle, helpless, into Gan Eden. Therefore, as it is described by the Sages, the children are the legs of the parents.
However, sometimes, to our frightening nightmares kids don’t turn out quite what we expect.
This is what the angel of Eisav is focused on. This is what he is determined to destroy. He wants to destroy the legs, the children, by placing “doubt”, breaking the communication between parent and child, breaking the tradition, the chain that is crucial for our survival. By demoralizing that state of peace of mind, the tranquility, although we might be strong in dealing with our commitments, however, Amalek is targeting the youth. It’s no guarantee that they have the same sentiments.
By creating fear, one does not maximize his potential. It debilitates him. He is scared to leave his home, to go to the park, to go where he wants to go, to think outside the box – he is constrained. He has doubts!
On an unfortunate recent terror attack in Israel my mother called her sister to ask her what the matzav-situation there is. How were they coping with all that terror?
My Aunt said to my mother that she can’t talk now, she’ll call later, and her kids are taking her out to a restaurant for her birthday. My mother retorted back “but isn’t the country on high alert?” She answered back “yes it is, but that isn’t going to stop us from doing what we want to do and what we enjoy. We need to live life and cannot let these animals dictate our lives”. “We can’t let them win”.
 However, our family history is one tainted with a terror attacks. I had a second cousin who was killed and never found in a plane explosion in 1974. In the early 1970’s planting bombs on airplanes was the choice method of terrorists.
 My grandfather was thrown off the train because he was Jewish, in Russia by terrorist, paralyzing him. He wasn’t able to make the planned escape to Israel with the family. Back in the 1930’s the only way to leave Russia was to be smuggled out of the country, an ordeal that my grandfather, in his condition would not have been able to do.  My father was raised in Israel without a father.  The cruel act had an impact on our family, on my father. One can choose to ignore what’s happening around you, that’s easy when you’re not targeted, however, when one is the target, they are tainted for life.
One very impactful way to combat terrorism is hinted in Yaakov’s sudden departure, after twenty two years, from his evil father-in-law’s house.
As soon as Yosef was born, Yaakov decided, it was time to leave Lavan’s house. Why Yosef and not any of the other brothers? What’s so special about Yosef? It’s inevitable that he will meet Eisav as soon as he leaves. Is there a connection between Yosef and Eisav?
Yaakov knew that Yosef has the power to overcome Eisav. Eisav is the epitome of impurity while Yosef is KEDUSHA-purity. Also the tribes will ask Eisav, “Why did you pursue your brother Yaakov?”Eisav will answer,” Hey, why did You pursue your brother Yosef?”, therefore silencing them. However, Yosef will ask “Why did you pursue Yaakov?”, and he will be unable to respond “My brothers mistreated me and I responded with kindness.” Thus he will succeed in silencing Eisav.
For this reason:  the Jewish people have the ability to overcome and destroy Eisav and all his power and terror. It’s the act of forgiveness, an act to look the other way that will enable to neutralize the enemy. Yosef’s priority was to unify the Jewish people, for that is the ticket to negate Eisav’s influence.
For this reason, the miracle of Purim, where Haman, who was descendant of Eisav, threatened to destroy the Jewish people, it was Mordechai and Esther who were the descendants of Yosef who led the ability to save the Jews from Eisav. It’s no coincidence that the Sages say that at the time of the miracle of Purim the Jews were never so united more than any other period. Perhaps, that’s the antidote, the peace among us, where then we can proclaim: “Never again!”