Monday, December 26, 2016

Maccabe’im or Ma’apelim – Miraculous Oil and Dry Bones

Yes, Chanukah is here.  A festive time for the Jewish nation. We light our candles, do song and dance, dreidels and latkes, Hallel and Hoda’ah and… we recite Al HaNissim.

Al HaNissim is our blueprint for what it is that we are actually celebrating. It tells us exactly what was the objective of the Yevanim and how miraculous was our G-d given victory. We were few and they were many. We were weak and they were strong. We were righteous and they were wicked. But HKBH stood up for us in our time of need. He fought our battles, rendered our judgments, and wrought our vengeance.

We were victorious and so, we restored the Beis HaMikdash and the seder hakorbanos.

We learn from this that with G-d’s help, anything is possible. It doesn’t matter if we are few and weak. If HKBH is on our side, victory is assured.

Oh, and another thing. We cannot just sit idly and wait for divine intervention to save us. We must be proactive and take matters into our own hands.

This philosophy has penetrated the hearts and minds of myriad devout Jews over the centuries. And it seems to have a firm basis from the story of Chanukah. The Maccabees have stood out as symbols of heroism and mesiras nefesh in the face of overwhelming odds. We make comparisons to the Maccabees when we talk about the resistance groups and uprisings in the face of the Nazi beast during the Holocaust and likewise of the refuseniks of Soviet Russia.

Unfortunately, in some religious circles, the philosophy of taking matters into our own hands has grown so strong that they have lost sight of the first half of the lesson – that we need G-d’s help. Without G-d’s help we cannot succeed no matter how righteous we are and how pure are our intentions.

Where do we learn this from?

We learn this from the Dry Bones.

The navi in Yechezkel 37 tells of a miraculous event. The Prophet Yechezkel (my favorite) was brought to the Valley of Dura where he saw a heap of dry bones. HKBH commanded Yechezkel to prophesy that they should come to life, and behold, so it was. The bones grew new sinews and flesh and became living people.

The gemara in Sanhedrin (92b) debates whether this event actually occurred or was it merely a vision. On the side that it really took place, it further asks: Who precisely were the people who initially possessed these bones?

One answer the gemara presents is that these were the bones of the segment of Shevet Ephraim who miscalculated the predestined time for the exodus from Egypt, made a unilateral get-away, and were killed by the Plishtim (Palestinians?) of Gath. They held that the 400 years of slavery begins from the initial pronouncement at Bris ben Habesarim in the year 2018.

One has to wonder, why did only these Bnei Ephraim go up? Why didn’t all of the Jews go with them? Didn’t everyone want redemption from Pharaoh’s yoke of slavery?

Obviously, the other Jews did not concur with their [erroneous] calculation. They maintained that the 400 years don’t begin until the year Yitzchok was born - 2048.

Then, why did they go up by themselves?

They must have been very smug about their position.

I would imagine that they must have tried to convince the other Jews to come along and it must have stirred up quite a debate. They must have brought proofs to their position. The others may have countered with proofs of their own. But I would assume many people weren’t interested in proofs. They held that if it is time, HKBH will send his messenger and secret password. We will see the divine revelation. We will not need to guess or to calculate. We will know it when it happens.

But the Bnei Ephraim held that redemption will not come by itself. We have to make it happen. We have to do it. G-d is waiting for us to make our move. Just like Nachshon ben Aminadav. When we take the initiative, the Shechina will come out of golus and join in. But, it’s up to us. The time to act is now. G-d will be with us!

He wasn’t.

When G-d finally did take us out of Egypt some 30 years later, He took care not to lead us up the shorter coastal route. Why? So that we shouldn’t see the corpses of the Bnei Ephraim lying dead in the Valley of Dura and become disheartened.

But there was a down side to this detour. Sure, we didn’t see the Bnei Ephraim and become disheartened but we also did not see them and learn a valuable lesson. And those who do not remember the past (or are ignorant of it) are condemned to repeat it. Consequently, we see a similar episode transpire in Parshat Shlach.

In the wake of the debacle of the 10 spies, HKBH decreed that we must remain exiled in the desert for another 39 years. A group of Jews (this time they may have been from Shevet Menashe), was not about to take this decree sitting down. After declaring their repentance, which was probably totally sincere, they decided that HKBH would be amenable for them to display their new-found faith in His power to vanquish the Canaanim. They assumed that HKBH’s decree was merely a cue for them to take matters into their own hands and to get the job done.

Moshe tried to tell them that they are mistaken. The decree of G-d is immutable (kind of like the freezer in Lakewood). Don’t bother trying. He will not be with you. The Torah says that they propelled forward nevertheless, but the Aron Bris Hashem and Moshe did not budge from the camp.

This did not have a happy ending.

So here we have two conflicting ideologies on the proper way of seeking redemption from galus. The Dry bones/Maapelim model indicates that it’s a good idea to stand by for clear instructions.  שב ואל תעשה עדיף The Maccabee model indicates that we need to take the bulvahn by the horns. מה תצעק אלי? דבר אל בני ישראל ויסעו!

Oh, what’s a good Jewish body to do?

This debate rages on to the modern era. Until the beginning of the 20th Century, the notion of the Jewish people taking themselves out of exile was an unattainable dream. But some hefty World Wars changed all that. That along with the development of steamships, trains, and planes that could swiftly transport Jews back to the Land from all points on the globe. (Along with an assumption that nobody else cared for this desolate strip of real estate anyhow.) And, so, some Jews decided it is time for action.

Now, I do not intend to discuss the secular Zionists who were never interested in a third Jewish Commonwealth and a Beis HaMikdash. These folks merely wanted an independent state where there were no European goyim around to remind them that they are Jewish and to disallow them to participate in their indulgences. They preferred to dispel the golus through diplomatic means. And HKBH was not part of the picture.

But the religious Zionists were not the same. While riding on the diplomatic coattails of the seculars, they did aspire to a third Commonwealth and felt that HKBH will stand by them in their quest whether by friendship or force. They drew inspiration from the mighty Macabees – to win against the odds; the few in the hands of the many, the strong in the hands of the weak, the wicked in the hands of the righteous. And they brought up all kinds of references from Tanach and Talmudic sources to back them up.

The Chareidi Rabannim, for the most part, disagreed (perhaps there were exceptions…). Some of the sources are misinterpreted. But most of them are not looked upon as being relevant in the here and now. "The fruit - and hence, the time - is not yet ripe. The restoration of Malchus Bais Dovid (Moshiach) has not come. The navi has not given us the secret password. We do not yet have a true parah adumah.We cannot eat matzo on erev Pesach.  כלה בלא ברכה אסורה כנדה.The Torah world is lodged in the West. The Aron Bris Hashem and Moshe have not budged."

But then, HKBH, in His infinite sense of irony, teased us all. He destroyed the Torah centers of Europe but reestablished them in America. He gave us miraculous victories but we only won an independent state and not a Jewish Commonwealth.  

Of course, the Torah community has thrived here as well. And with it come the religious right-wing activists. Some are the hilltop settlers. Some are the Temple Mount Faithful. Some are the Kahanistim. Some are the Temple Institute. And some are all of these. Many are indeed devoutly religious and are infused with a religious fervor to bring about the geulah and to restore the Beis HaMikdash and the Korbanos. And they know all of the snappy pickup lines. “Mitzvos are applicable in all generations and at all times. We have found the Techeles. We can establish a Sanhedrin (or, we already have). Korban Persach does not require a Beis HaMikdash. Tumah hutra b’tzibur. Let us do it now.”
And the debate rages on.

They say we must be like Mattisyahu and his sons, the Maccabees. It is imperative. If we do not act, we will be held accountable. The others say, we must not be like the Bnei Ephraim and the Ma'apelim. It is forbidden. If we act, we will be held accountable.

Who is right?

To be honest, I am not quite sure myself.
I think the only way to answer this is to go to the “source”.  Why did HKBH support the Macabees but not the Bnei Ephraim and the Maapelim? What is the difference? Wasn’t everybody acting l’shem Shamayim?

One possible answer would corroborate a story that I heard attributed to Harav Yitzchok Hutner, ZT”L.

The story goes that there was a young bochur learning in a given Yeshiva and he was doing just fine. The boy’s father thought that his son may have even greater success in a different yeshiva. He approached Rav Hutner, ZT”L to ask him if it is a good idea to transfer his son to a presumably better yeshiva. Rav Hutner responded as follows:

When we say Hallel on Sukkos and recite the wordsאנא השם הושיעה נא  (Please Hashem, save us!) we wave the 4 minim. When we recite the wordsאנא השם הצליחה נא  (Please Hashem, help us to succeed!) we do not wave the 4 minim. Why do we do this in the first case but not in the second?

The answer is that when one is being threatened with an intolerable situation and imminent physical or spiritual harm and he needs a salvation and keeping the situation as-is is not an option, he cannot sit still. He must be proactive and do what is necessary and trust in Hashem to help him. Conversely, when one is not facing an existential threat and the current situation is tolerable (i.e., things will not deteriorate) but merely he is looking for greater success and achievement, he must not move on his own but wait for HKBH to guide him to greater success if He so wishes.

Hence, Rav Hutner was telling the petitioner that if his son is succeeding where he is at, it is best not to make any “improvements”. He would not have said the same if the boy was not succeeding.

Likewise, the Maccabees were facing a Greek government that was not allowing us to be Jews at any level. Shabbos, milah, mikveh and Torah learning were being taken from us. The spiritual danger was critical, the situation was intolerable. Acceptance of the situation was not an option. It was clear that action must be taken to avoid spiritual annihilation. Whether the time is ripe is not up for debate. The Maccabees needed to act and they did. They had no choice. We needed a salvation from HKBH and He came through.
Similarly when the Jews were trapped in front of the Red Sea, HKBH said that this is not a situation that can be left as is. Don't just stand still and pray for salvation -  מה תצעק אלי. You must make the first move - דבר אל בני ישראל ויסעו.

Conversely, Bnei Ephraim and the Maapelim were facing a bleak substandard situation that was slated to continue for just a few more decades (only 30 years in the case of the Bnei Ephraim and 39 years in the case of the Maapelim). Although the servitude of Egypt and the barrenness of the desert were not ideal, there was no imminent existential threat. Nothing they had today was being taken from them and today is not worse than yesterday. And besides, G-d had given His decree. They were looking for success but did not need salvation. This is not the time to take matters into one’s hands and be poresh from the tzibur. G-d stayed with the tzibur and allowed them to perish (from the tzibur). The Aron Bris Hashem and Moshe did not budge.

Another approach to explain this difficulty is that the Bnei Ephraim and the Ma'apelim were fighting for our zechus to the Land. For the Maccabees it was different. They were living in the Land and were not being exiled from it. It was not the zechus to the Land that was at stake but the zechus to the Torah and the Jewish neshama. For the Torah one has to fight and be moser nefesh. But not for the Land.

What is the difference?

The difference is that the Torah is not a gift. It is an inheritance. It is a Morasha – Morashat kehillas Yaakov. An inheritance is a birthright and does not need to be acquired. A newborn infant and a comatose vegetable can assume an inheritance without any knowledge or action. The Torah inherently and unconditionally belongs to us and nobody has a right to take it away even for a moment. Thus if someone attempts to do so, we have the right to fight for it and expect HKBH to come to our aid.

The Land is more like a gift. It is a privilege more than it is a right. Although the zechus to live here was indeed inherited from our forefathers, it is still subject to a host of conditions. We must observe the shmittas and we must be a holy people lest the Land spits us out as it spit out the nations who came before us. Although we are heirs, there are others. We must be worthy. We must earn the Land, we cannot demand it. We could not initially get the Land until the 400 years expired because the sin of the Emori needed to be complete. Until then, it wasn’t time. When the Ma'apelim moved in, they were trying to claim a Land that they hadn’t earned. G-d wasn’t ready to let them take it.

The Maccabees weren’t fighting for the Land. For those who know the historical facts, the truth is they did not succeed to vanquish the Greeks from the Land. Even after the great victory, the Greeks were still there. They fought for the right to remain Jews and to study and keep the Torah. This was a virtuous battle because the Torah is eternally ours and exclusively ours. For this battle, G-d will always come to our aid.

Of late, I have gotten to know some of today’s Kahanistim. As a rule, they are sincere people, devoted to Yiddishkeit and their motives are pure. And I believe the same about the group’s founding father Rav Meir Dovid ben Yechezkel Shraga Kahane, HY”D. I think most people will acknowledge that his perception about the political realities of our environs and the outlooks and goals of our Yishmaeli cousins was spot on. But the chareidi Rabbanim of his day were not in his corner.

Why not?

It is interesting that among Rav Kahane (ZT”L/HY”D)’s prolific writings was a commentary on Neviim rishonim which he called פירוש המכב"י. What was the meaning of the term מכב"י?

It's an acronym for: מאיר כהנא בן יחזקאל

Aside from this actual acronym being obviously quite auspicious to his cause, it also indicates that he wants to identify his struggles as in line with those of the Maccabees (perhaps his ancestors?) He doesn’t seem to focus on the Yechezkel part (also a Kohein) which relates to the dry bones. (I wonder if his name would make an acronym מעפיל would he use it as a name for his sefarim?)

I think that the Rabbanim felt more like Rav Hutner, ZT”L. Even though his perception was deadly accurate and he was totally l’shem Shamayim, his call was more one of אנא השם הצליחה נא  than it was  אנא השם הושיעה נא. One that doesn’t call for proactive measures but rather to wait for HKBH's divine revelation.  It was a struggle for our right to control the Land. But this can only succeed if we are truly worthy. G-d’s support and victory are not – as of yet - assured.  

So after we have studied the episodes of the Maccabees and the Maapelim, the miraculous oil and the dry bones, we need to think twice about how much we are the masters of our own destiny. To what extent can we call the shots and try to force G-d’s hand. To what extent can we decide for ourselves if we are worthy of G-d’s intervention. When can we be assured of victory and when we cannot.  

We must choose our battles, and we must choose wisely.

A freiliche Chanukah!

Other golden oldies about Chanukah:

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Redeeming Eretz Yisroel through Tzedaka and Mishpat: Repost for Parshas VaYeira

While I am in rerun mode, I want to repost from 2009 a hidden message in Parshas VaYeira that becomes more relevant with each passing year. This hidden message comes from the sefer Niflaos MiTorasecha. For those who have forgotten (or never knew) this sefer is an anthology of words encoded in the Torah in Roshei Teivos and Sofei Teivos and the striking relevance to the context.

Here goes:

There is only one occurrence of the word ציון (Tzion) in consecutive Sofei Teivos in all of Tanach! (No occurrences as Roshei Teivos at all!) It transverses these two pasukim (Breishis 18:18,19):

יח-יט- וְאַבְרָהָם הָיוֹ יִהְיֶה לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל וְעָצוּם וְנִבְרְכוּ-בוֹ כֹּל גּוֹיֵי הָאָרֶצ: כִּי יְדַעְתִּיו לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר יְצַוֶּה אֶת-בָּנָיו וְאֶת-בֵּיתוֹ אַחֲרָיו וְשָׁמְרוּ דֶּרֶךְ יְהֹוָה לַעֲשׂוֹת צְדָקָה וּמִשְׁפָּט לְמַעַן הָבִיא יְהוָֹה עַל- אַבְרָהָם אֵת אֲשֶׁר-דִּבֶּר עָלָיו:

The code in this pasuk clearly indicates that the gift of ציון is in the merit of following the path of HKBH and specifically doing צדקה and משפט (righteousness and justice).

The amazing thing is that this message is clearly reflected in the well known pasuk in Yeshaya (1:27) that we read every year before Tisha B'Av on Shabbos Chazon:

צִיּוֹן בְּמִשְׁפָּט תִּפָּדֶה וְשָׁבֶיהָ בִּצְדָקָה:

Rav Aranovsky also points out that the lead word in our pasuk that holds the first letter (צ ) of our hidden word is part of the word הארץ - the land!

All of this indicates that the Land of Israel (Tzion) can only thrive in the hands of those who are (1) descendants of Avraham and who (2) safeguard the way of HKBH to do צדקה and משפט.  

If you meet these conditions... by all means, hop aboard!

Gut Shabbos!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mesira XVII: Current Headlines and an Open Letter of Praise to Reb Dovid Lichtenstein

I just finished listening to the latest posted broadcast of Headlines (okay, it was yesterday). It is - to quote him - a fabulous show. So much so that it inspired me to write him an email of praise. It's a bit long and I don't know if he will read it (he asked me not to send him more emails when he disagreed with me on the Malka Leifer issue and he unsubscribed from my blog email list), but this is an open email, so, maybe, somebody will.

Here it is:

Hello Reb Dovid, LOY”T

Shalom u’bracha.

I was very impressed and gratified by your broadcast of November 5, 2016, Victims and Prevention and dealing with criminals in our midst Part 1. (Thus far I have not heard Part II).

The two Rabbinic guests that were interviewed, Rav Sorscher and Rav Eisenman, Shlita(s) were both very clear and effectual in presenting authentic daas Torah on how to deal with these regrettable circumstances.

Rav Sorscher clearly pointed out the proper Halachic procedure in accordance to the psakim of Rambam (Rotzeach 1:7), Shu”A (Ch”M 425:1), Chofetz Chaim (Hilchos Lashon Hara 3:10) and Rav Moshe Feinstein (IgM O”Ch 1:8) all of whom maintain that, if at all possible, the initial approach is to confront the accused and demand that he desist from his actions and comply with community demands and likewise to forewarn the suspected offender before one can take extreme measures. Also that these measures can only be undertaken by those who have firsthand knowledge of the issues. And, finally, this is only after other less extreme measures have been tried and/or ruled out.

Likewise, Rav Eisenman opened his discussion by stating that “each case is different and each case has its own complexities and nuances”. In other words, each case must be evaluated individually. He goes on to say that the most crucial element is to evaluate the stance of the accused offender to see if he admits to wrongdoing or not and if he is compliant. Obviously, this can only happen as a result of a direct confrontation.  Further, he says that if there is no true evidence there must at least be a “kahla d’lo paska” that should be “substantiated”.

All of this is in concurrence with the well-known teshuva that Rav Elyashiv, ZT”L wrote to Rav Feivel Cohen, Shlita as far back as 2004. In his closing words, Rav Elyashiv, ZT"L, writes that each case must be evaluated separately by a qualified chacham before one can be moser to authorities.

I also found the firsthand account of Reb Motti Weiss to be very touching and toellesdig.

Lastly, I felt that in this broadcast your role as a moderator was top notch.  You seemed to come across very objective and balanced. More so than in many of your past broadcasts on this subject.

As you may be aware from some of my articles, it appears to me that this consensus of daas Torah has not been universally reflected on this sensitive issue. In your interview with Harav Dovid Cohen, Shlita in Sept. 2015, Rabbi Cohen seemed to advocate immediate mesira to non-Jewish authorities  for all cases regardless of the “complexities and nuances” of any specific case. This seems to contradict directly with the psak of Rav Elyashiv, ZT”L. Further, he initially made no mention of confronting or forewarning the accused and intimated there is no need for it. (Six minutes later, in the most marginal manner, he mentions having a “consultation” with the accused.) This seems to directly negate the guidelines of Rambam, Shu”A, Chofetz Chaim and Rav Moshe, ZT”L that were meticulously observed by Rav Sorscher.

Moreover, it is interesting to note that the correspondence of Rav Elyashiv, ZT”L was included in a kuntress compiled by Rav Zvi Gartner, Shlita that he called: Kuntress Dam Re’acha and was published in the anthology Yeshurun Vol. 15 in 5765. This kuntress includes teshuvos from four other contemporary gedolim including Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg and Rav Asher Zelig Weiss, Shlita(s). One common thread among all the teshuvos is that they were all giving instructions to other Rabbanim (of lesser stature) in when to pasken that mesira is allowed. None of these gedolim was giving instructions to the general public. In fact, Harav Yehuda Silman, Shlita in the last teshuva has a summary of “Effective Rulings” where he states clearly (#4): This determination [to be moser] is not to be put into the hands of any [regular] individual, rather only into the hands of a dayan or “adam chashuv”.  The argument can be made that Rav Silman, Shlita speaks for all of the gedolim who wrote teshuvos (certainly for Rav Elyashiv, ZT"L).

Thus, it is very puzzling to hear Rav Cohen, Shlita openly defying this proviso by publicly declaring, “You don’t need to ask a Rav… go straight to the police”.

I am likewise puzzled at how, in 2015, 107 prominent American chareidi Rabbanim could defy the rulings of the Israeli rabbanim of ten years earlier as well as the psakim of the Chofetz Chaim and Rav Moshe Feinstein by signing a Kol Koreh that does just that. The Kol Koreh calls for “every individual” to promptly notify secular authorities of suspected abuse. No need to distinguish the nuances and complexities of the case and no need for confrontation, confirmation, forewarning, or exhausting other avenues. Just go ahead and be moser, and “every individual” can (must??) do it!

When this was printed in Mishpacha in August of 2015, I assumed that most of the signatories did not really scrutinize what was written. Surely, they will eventually either clarify or withdraw their approval. But it seems that these Rabbanim were willing to allow this faulty Kol Koreh to be republished in Mishpacha of October 13, 2016  - the gala Sukkos edition - with the identical terminology - not a single change (except for the email address of the organizer). And not with 107 signatures, but with 108.

I thought that perhaps the organizer managed to get one other young Rav to sign on. But the fact is that there were four new names on the Kol Koreh. Three are young rabbanim from Lakewood and the other a medical chaplain from Brooklyn. This means that three Rabbanim actually did remove their names. It seems that both Rabbanim from the Kollel in Cincinnati and one Rav from Los Angeles are no longer signed on.

I am most curious about why these three rescinded. I doubt it is due to anything that I wrote (they don't read my posts, do they?). But if it did have to do with the Halachic flaws of the letter (primarily enumerated HERE and HERE), why only these three?  

Do you have any thoughts on this?

What is most puzzling is that Harav Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, who so eloquently expressed the true positon of Rav Elyashiv and the prominent Rabbanim in Eretz Yisroel in his interview, is signed on both appearances of the Kol Koreh. If he supports the Kol Koreh, why deal with the complexities and nuances of the case and who cares about the stance of the accused?

I understand that only Rav Eisenman can answer this question, so I suppose I will send him a CC copy of this email.

All told, I really do want to commend you on your November 5 broadcast which was true to daas Torah and exceptionally well done. I wish all of the previous ones were as much. I am looking forward to hearing the Part II broadcast when it is posted.

You do have a great show and, over the months, I have learned a tremendous amount from it.

Keep up the good work and try to get those broadcasts posted a bit quicker!

Chazak v’ematz.


Your old friend and roommate (for about a week),

Yechezkel Hirshman

P.S. Did you really vote for Hillary?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Of Cabbages and Kings: The Best Posts of Parshas Lech Lecha

I am sure glad this election is over. Personally, I did not vote because voting absentee is a pain and I am anyway from a "safe" blue state, so what for?

Moreover, this way I can't take the blame for whatever clown is in the Whitehouse.

Still, I am happy that Trump got the nod because, in my opinion, Hillary was definitely the evil of the two lessors.

Around this time of year we start meeting up with Kings and heads of state. All kinds. We start with Nimrod and we also meet one of the earliest Pharaohs. Next week we'll get Avi-Melech. Then we get four kings here and five kings there and finally, the good one, Malki-Tzedek.

Everybody was busy staking their territorial claims and asserting their dominance. There is a lot of this going on today. Though it doesn't get much press, there is a lot of pushing and shoving going around in the region of Syria where Uncle Sam and Cousin Boris do not seem to be getting along.

So where does our Trump card fit in? Are we looking at the next Nimrod or the next Malki-Tzedek? Will he be a king or a cabbage?

Time will tell, but in the meanwhile, I do want to refer my readers, especially the new ones, to two very inspiring posts that I wrote in the past about these ancient rulers.

The first is a very insightful and seriously relevant subject about who did the land of Israel belong to immediately after the great flood. To read it, click here:

Who Did the Land of Israel First Belong to After the Flood?

In that post we really get to know one of the more underrated Kings: Kedarleomar - who was he really?

And, on a lighter note, I would like to link to an all-time favorite:The Biblical Psychotherapist

Enjoy and good Shabbos!


Friday, November 4, 2016

The End of All Flesh has Come Before ME

Parshas Noach is here and the American world is faced with three choices:

  • Vote for Hillary (For the world was filled with scandals and thievery and [the love of] Hamas before their faces)
  • Vote for Trump ( For all flesh has corrupted its path on the Earth)
  • Pray for rain (i.e., vote for "Reagan") -- lots of it!
It's no coincidence that the elections take place the week after Halloween.

BOO!!! Trick or Treat!

The following is a reprint of a post I published exactly eight years ago in 2008 (note - I am not the author of it). This is right before Obama was "elected" for the first time. If it was relevant then, imagine how relevant it is now.

Incidentally, this isn't only what's happening in modern day America. This is how things have always been here in "Medinat" Yisrael. This definitely explains the opinion in the gemara in Zevachim (113a) that claims there was no mabul in Eretz Israel. There just couldn't be one.

Read it and laugh weep:


In the year 2008 2016, the Lord came unto Noah, who was now living in the United States, and said: "Once again, the earth has become wicked and over-populated, and I see the end of all flesh before me."

"Build another Ark and save 2 of every living thing along with a few good humans."

He gave Noah the blueprints, saying: "You have 6 months to build the Ark before I will start the unending rain for 40 days and 40 nights."

Six months later, the Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping in his yard - but no Ark.

"Noah!," He roared, "I'm about to start the rain! Where is the Ark?"

"Forgive me, Lord," begged Noah, "but things have changed."

"I needed a building permit."

"I've been arguing with the inspector about the need for a sprinkler system."

"My neighbors claim that I've violated the neighborhood zoning laws by building the Ark in my yard and exceeding the height limitations. We had to go to the Development Appeal Board for a decision."

"Then the Department of Transportation demanded a bond be posted for the future costs of moving powerlines and other overhead obstructions, to clear the passage for the Ark's move to the sea. I told them that the sea would be coming to us, but they would hear nothing of it."

"Getting the wood was another problem. There's a ban on cutting local trees in order to save the spotted owl."

"I tried to convince the environmentalists that I needed the wood to
save the owls - but no go!"

"When I started gathering the animals, an animal rights group sued me. They insisted that I was confining wild animals against their will. They argued the accommodations were too restrictive, and it was cruel and inhumane to put so many animals in a confined space."

"Then the EPA ruled that I couldn't build the Ark until they'd conducted an environmental impact study on your proposed flood."

"I'm still trying to resolve a complaint with the Human Rights Commission on how many minorities I'm supposed to hire for my building crew."

"Immigration and Naturalization are checking the green-card status of most of the people who want to work."

"The trades unions say I can't use my sons. They insist I have to hire only Union workers with Ark-building experience."

"To make matters worse, the IRS seized all my assets, claiming I'm trying to leave the country illegally with endangered species."

"So, forgive me, Lord, but it would take at least 10 years for me to finish this Ark."

Suddenly the skies cleared, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky. Noah looked up in wonder and asked,"You mean you're not going to destroy the world?"

"No," said the Lord. "Your GOVERNMENT beat me to it."

More to come!

Happy voting and remember...we'll keep the lights on for you!

P.S. Vote for Trump!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tuition Rates are just Off the Charters

It’s always quite gratifying to see somebody who agrees with me. It happens so rarely!

Of course, it is more likely to happen through somebody who hasn’t read my blog and doesn’t know that he is agreeing with me.

In this case, I am referring to an issue that is not exclusive to the chareidi camp and, as such, my newfound ally is not a member of the chareidi camp. Yet, he is addressing a crisis that affects all shades of religious Jews and so we are all in the same boat.

The issue at hand is the prohibitive cost of day school and high school tuitions in the United States. I wrote about it back in January, 2016  (click HERE) from the comfort of Eretz Yisroel where we are not overwhelmed by this plague. I made two suggestions:

1.   Get out of the US and move here (works for me)

2.   Drop the secular education from the Jewish school system and replace it with state funded and accredited online education (distance learning).

Well, I am gratified to see a fellow oleh to Eretz Yisroel get on to a blog site (click HERE) and preach what amounts to almost the exact same two suggestions. His name is Reuven Spolter formerly from Oak Park, Michigan. This is what he suggests:  

1.   Get out of the US and move here (works for him)

2.   Drop the secular education from the Jewish school system and replace it with state funded and accredited charter schools.

A number of commenters have challenged his charter school idea as being discriminatory. There are numerous other issues:

·       Such schools, as a physical facility, will need to be located somewhere other than the religious school and will thus force students and parents to have to deal with two school locations on a standard school day.

·       The states are not likely to set up a parallel secular school for each religious school, but rather large regional ones to deal with a big population. As such, the charter school serving Lakewood and Deal, for example, may wind up in Freehold.  

·       The hours will need to be unconventional.

·       It is questionable if religious needs for being gender segregated or other thing will be upheld by the government.

All of these concerns do not apply to my online distance learning plan. The only problem with my plan is that it is currently not operational in many of the most vital states. I wrote that I think this problem can be fixed.

As I wrote, it is very gratifying to see somebody from a different sector take up this issue and propose a similar course of action. This is for two reasons:

·       If you would like to consider my proposal a harebrained idea put out by a radical free-thinking farfrumta chareidi from the dark ages, I can now point to somebody who isn’t a radical free-thinking farfrumta chareidi from the dark ages who seems to be just as harebrained.

·       If somebody who isn’t a radical free-thinking farfrumta chareidi from the dark ages makes such a proposal, maybe somebody will actually listen.

Rabbi Spolter and I do have one thing in common. We are both living in Eretz Yisroel, out of the loop. Far away from all of the American askanim who really count, and who must know better. Who is wiser? Is the sun getting the best of us or is the pollution (and GMOs) getting the best of the Americans?

Of course, I (and Rabbi Spolter), am still advocating the preferred course of action: make Aliya.

You know why?

Not only because health and education is so much more affordable, but also because:
אווירא דארעא מחכים!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Mesira XVI: Putting the Peh before the Ayin – Building a Case

Like many fine Jews, I spent a significant portion of Tisha B’Av listening to inspiring speakers tell us how rotten we really are. Boruch Hashem, I skipped breakfast that morning or I might have gotten an upset stomach.

The speakers at the Har Nof Tisha B’Av event were all outstanding but, for me, the most inspiring of the bunch was Rabbi Imanuel Bernstein. Among the ideas he expressed was an explanation to a well-known anomaly that occurs in the Alef-Bet sequence of Megillas Eicha which is noted in the gemara in Sanhedrin 104b.

In every perek of Eicha except the first, instead of maintaining the true order of the letter ayi”n followed by the letter pe”h, the order is reversed wherein the letter pe”h comes first and is then followed by the letter ayi”n. The explanation given in the gemara is that this is a reference to the meraglim who told with their mouths – peh – things that they didn’t see with their eyes – ayin.

The gemara does not elaborate further, and so, Rabbi Bernstein asks: In what way did they say things that they did not see? Everything in their report was based on an actual sighting.

He answered by saying that when the meraglim referred to the land as ארץ אוכלת יושביה - a land that devours her inhabitants – they were purposely distorting the truth. Rashi says that they made these remarks because wherever they went, there was always a very major funeral taking place. Rashi said that HKBH orchestrated this unnatural occurrence so that the citizens would be too preoccupied to notice the spies. But, says Rabbi Bernstein, they chose not to see it this way and to “see” it as the natural characteristic of the land. This is despite the fact that other criteria prove out that this cannot be the normal tendency, they still used it to substantiate their claim.

What was going on?

Well, the frightening report that they delivered, for whatever their motives, was precisely the report that they had previously determined that they wanted to deliver. They only needed to amass the true facts that will support their assertion. Thus, they devised the report first. Only afterward did they look to see what is useful to corroborate it. They told over with their mouths – peh – what they did not see with an objective eye. Only with what they wanted to see with their subjective eye. First came the “report”, and then came the looking.

In our parlance, this is known as: building a case.

As such, many people have a tendency to first decide what is happening and only then to evaluate the evidence. Anything that does not support their preordained conclusion is disregarded despite its integrity. Things that can be used to support their foregone conclusion are magnified and enhanced and overvalued way beyond their scope. And oft-times, they are even fabricated.

This is building a case.

Thus, Darwinists promote unprovable and unsustainable theories and accept as gospel truth the flimsiest of evidence as well as a few hoaxes (google: Piltdown Man), all the while shrugging off more substantial evidence to the contrary, in an effort to substantiate their theory of evolution.

And, of course, case-building is the hallmark of criminal prosecution. In a society where an accused miscreant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution needs to “build a case’ against the accused in order to win a conviction. In some cases, there is no question in anybody’s mind as to the guilt of the accused such as where there is a voluntary confession, several objective eye-witnesses or irrefutable forensic evidence. In such a situation, the prosecutor can win his case without resorting to subversive means.

Unfortunately, he does not always have this luxury. Moreover, all too often there are no valid grounds to assume the accused is guilty at all. And in fact, he or she isn’t. But this never stops a dedicated prosecutor. His job is to convict the accused regardless of whether they are truly guilty. It is his record and reputation (and perhaps his job) on the line. And so, they are driven to convict the accused, guilty or not.

They have already determined that the accused is a danger to society. They merely need to convince those in power to pass judgment. Problem is, it is very difficult to find compelling evidence or elicit a confession from an innocent person. Undaunted, they pull out a whole bag of dirty tricks including coerced or false confessions, tampered evidence and lie detector tests, scare tactics and plea bargains, buying witnesses with reduced sentences for their crimes, unsubstantiable and third party testimony (i.e., he confessed to me privately in jail), withholding exculpatory evidence, character assassination, and the like. It doesn’t matter what the truth is. The main thing is to nail the ba****d.

And with these tools they build a case. And we become a society fraught with wrongful convictions. And, when things like this happen, we can never be certain that a convicted felon is really guilty and a danger to society. Can we?

And so, the spies put their mouth before their eyes. This means that before looking objectively, they already passed judgment with their mouths that the land is dangerous – ארץ אוכלת יושביה. They only needed to look now to seek out the supporting evidence. They needed to build their case.

Rabbi Bernstein intimated in his speech that this is the foundation of sinas chinam.  A person is infected with sinas chinam when they bend over backwards to build a case against the other person. Even when an objective look at the situation indicates otherwise.

People have a tendency to pre-judge situations and to pre-judge other people. This is sinas chinam – prejudice. When their judgments are challenged by other voices or contrary evidence, many prefer to question the evidence rather than the judgment. And to “silence” the other voices. They must build a case.

This tendency is rooted in arrogance and narcissism and a feeling of superiority. “Only I or those who think like me are in position to judge!” And, in many cases, it is fed by paranoia.

This is what I wrote about in my post about Midas HaDin. Among a short list of Human traits I wrote the following:

  • The human being firmly believes that good should be rewarded and evil should be punished and, as such, has a craving to administer justice and to exact revenge.

  • The normal human being (not a psychopath) cannot conscience unjustified violence. As such he must have some battle-cry or pretense which he will swear by to justify his actions.

Combined, these say to us that a Human being is driven to pass judgment. Yet, when a Human being passes judgment on somebody else, it must be couched in virtue, altruism, and righteousness. He must justify his authority to pass judgment on another. He must have a case. But, as Major Tetley teaches us in The Ox Bow Incident, the judgment does not need to be altered to fit the case. If anything, we must tailor the case to fit the judgment.

This is using the peh (mouth) to “pronounce” the sentence before using the eye (ayin) to check the facts. This is prejudice. This is sinas chinam.

The follies of the meraglim were performed by…the meraglim. These were not simple people. The Baal HaTurim says they were officers and judges at the Sarei Chamishim level. The most esteemed 2% of the population. Regardless, they were on par with Yehoshua and Kalev. They were learned and wise. Rashi tells us they were very chashuva people. And yet they fell prey to the Human failings of narcissism and paranoia that cause people to pre-judge and “speak” before they look.

So this tendency of case-building can affect anybody. Even very chashuva people.

Very recently, I put out a series of posts concerning an accused sexual offender (she has been called a “child molester” even though she hasn’t even been accused of molesting any children). My main purpose was to enlighten my readers that, as I understand the Halacha, once any Jew reaches Eretz Yisroel, no matter how evil they are, they cannot be sent out. Whatever evil is in effect must be dealt with here. 

As an additional element, I “built a case” to suggest that this person may not be as evil or dangerous as the Internet makes her look. Thus, unless we learn otherwise, there is no justification for mesira to non-Jewish authorities even here and certainly to the outside of Eretz Yisroel.

Since then, there has been a lot of publicity about another alleged offender. One who is much more “closer to home”. The circumstances in both cases are remarkably similar. In both cases the accusations were made after a substantial time lapse from the period of the alleged offenses. In both cases the alleged victims are touted as "children" but were at or beyond puberty, which does not indicate pedophilia. In both cases the accused denied all allegations. There are no confessions. In both cases there is absolutely no physical evidence or objective witnesses to support the allegations. There are only the claims of the accusers – nothing more. In both cases the alleged offenders relocated to Eretz Yisroel and in both cases there have been no complaints of repeat offenses as of the relocating.

In the initial case, there were no trials or dinei Torah by which one could say that the offender’s guilt was ever properly (or improperly) judged. In the second case, the offender was convicted in a bench trial (single judge) based solely on the testimony of two out the four accusers (the other two were quashed by the prosecution for being unreliable). From the superficial checking that I was able to do, it seems the defense claimed that the accusations were fabricated although it couldn’t prove they were fabricated (since this is next to impossible). The prosecution claimed that the accusations were not fabricated even though they could not prove that the accusations were not fabricated (although it should be possible as well as imperative in order to obtain a conviction). The solitary judge decided to convict the accused.

This is how judgement is passed in the U.S. of A. (and elsewhere).

The bottom line is that it has not been established through credible means that we are dealing with dangerous people. This does not mean that we should be complacent and disregard common sense safeguards in the presence of these people. It likewise does not mean they should be allowed to continue to teach or tutor or replicate the type of circumstances that provide fertile ground for unsavory activities and foment allegations.

But it does mean that there is no justification for punitive measures that supersede basic protective measures, such as malshinus, harassment, slander, mesira to goyim, “running out of town”, and certainly, extradition to chu”l for the sole purpose of mesira (based on unproven misdemeanors).

Now, I fully expected my position to be misunderstood, misconstrued, and basically opposed and challenged by liberal minded people, “consumers” who are unfamiliar with Torah oriented thinking. The erev rav אשר אינם יודעים בין ימינם ושמאלם. Those who do not know how to evaluate facts and will pass judgment first and look later at all the “evidence” that supports their conviction (and disregard anything else).

What is totally astounding as well as appalling is the number of “chashuva” people, Sarei Chamishim (and even higher), judges with beards and black velvet yarmulkas who cannot hold back from being motzi dibah. Who pronounce with their mouths (or blog and Facebook posts), what they refuse to look at with their eyes. Who bend over backwards to build a case that the land – or the alleged unproven offender – is unequivocally dangerous.

For those who delve into the sewer of the blogosphere, you may notice that I have not restricted my diatribe to my own blogsite – although it is the only place where I can express myself properly. I have ventured to bring a bit of sanity and open-mindedness to some other blogsites that specialize in this schmutz (in the Comments section). This is because, since their material is much more aggressive and coarse (i.e., spicy), they have a much bigger readership - so I can spread a bit of gospel.

In the “whitewash” section of my main Malka Leifer post decrying extradition, I challenged the claim asserted by Yerachmiel Lopin of Frum Follies that the Adass school was aware of her (alleged) activities earlier than reported. I decided to access the said FrumFollies post and assert my challenge on site as well. We carried on a respectful give-and-take the last week of June. As you would expect, neither party convinced the other. This carried on until early July when he challenged me:

BTW, will you revise your claim that there is no public safety purpose in prosecuting her because according to you she only molested Australian girls because she missed …her husband who was in Israel. According to this story (click HERE) she is abusing her own children in Israel?

Let’s overlook the fact that he is misrepresenting my “claim”. I wrote many times that if you have grounds to prosecute, go ahead. Just don’t send her back to Australia. What he is now doing is presenting a lone news article, which was obviously researched and written by an antagonistic person for the purpose of maligning the accused, as proof that she is currently a danger. He needs to justify his call for extradition to Australia.

I responded (slightly abridged):

Personally, I never take anything I read at face value. I also make an effort to read between the lines. This particular article that you linked to is clearly on a vilification rampage. Of course it quoted people who vilify her – as well as Manny Waks. If it interviewed people who say she’s an angel would it quote them as well?

I never made a judgement whether she is a good person or not. My mission is to stand up for Kavod HaTorah and kedushas Eretz Yisroel. The Halachos of mesira forbid it (mesira) no matter how evil the person is unless they are a menace to the society that wants to be moser them. There is a special Halacha of not extraditing people out of E”Y, even criminals.

Despite the above, it looks clearly to me that you and The Age and many people are bending over backwards to make a case to justify a mob lynching.

I will not be a party to it.

There, I said it straight out. He is building a case. The amazing thing is that he didn’t give up. It must be that he knows for a fact that she is definitely as evil as described. I don’t know how, but he certainly does. So he writes:

As always, you find every possible reason to believe she is not a risk to others, and every halachic angle to argue against prosecuting her, in spite of the terrible toll of her molesting. Will you now correct your claim…? 

Get this? This person calls himself a frum Jew, yet he criticizes me for finding “every Halachic angle to argue against prosecuting…”. Note that he does not invalidate or dispute the Halachic angles. They may be perfectly valid but I am at fault for finding them!! (They weren’t very hard to find, by the way.)

Well, not exactly. All the Halachic angles must be invalid due to the “terrible toll of her molesting.” You see, the terrible toll is proven and indisputable so it trumps all halachic angles – even those that apply regardless of whatever terrible toll took place.

This is somebody putting his peh before his ayin. And I am not sure it can be called an “ayin tova”, either. He knows she is currently dangerous. She has to be dangerous because her being dangerous fits his agenda. He just needs to find the evidence.

Incidentally, I asked him, in my response, to quote precisely what words of mine need to be revised, instead of crudely [mis]paraphrasing me. I did not receive a response to this.

The next case-building meragel, the Sar Meah and (self-proclaimed) advocate of the down-trodden is the Fied Feifer of Rockland, the Great Avenger, Harav Yaakov Horowitz. His gripe involves the second offender in this discussion. The one who lives close to me.

Now, I have already written that this case is far from iron-clad despite the apparent conviction. Only somebody who is intimately familiar with all the details can make an informed judgement.

Irrespective, Rav Yaakov has decided on his own that there are no flaws in this case. Hence, it is the biggest mitzvah to slander and harass this person regardless if such actions will do nothing to protect any “children”. Also he believes b’emunah shleima that he ought to be extradited from E”Y to chu”l to be mosered to the goyim to face charges for a phantom misdemeanor which, according to the American defense lawyer, is not on the books. (Doesn’t really matter if it is.) This great mitzvah outweighs all halachos of motzi-shem-ra, malshinus, ona’ah, mesira, Gonev Ish u’Mecharo, Lo Tasgir and a host of others. 

According to Rav Horowitz the denials of guilt and lack of any substantial evidence is immaterial (pun intended). So are the letters of countless supporters at post trial. Rav Horowitz has a lynch mob agenda just like Major Tetley and so he tells all his thousands of Facebook friends on Aug. 3:

[The offender] is a very, very perverted and dangerous person, perhaps the most dangerous I've ever met.

From all of the fully confirmed unmarried molesters that really did molest real children (little ones) and not just “inappropriately touch” pre-teenage boys (allegedly), and who has a stable marriage and no complaints since he left NY (and before), this fellow is deemed the most dangerous!

Well, he has to be dangerous and continue to be dangerous because this is the only way to build a case to harass him and his family for no good reason. Of course he also needs to throw in other unsustainable claims, “He has a reputation as a serial pedophile” and that he “is a murderer.” (FB – Aug.5).

But why is he really so very dangerous? Is it because he will eat your children alive?

No. It is because he has the temerity to defend himself against all this wanton harassment by suing Yaakov Horowitz for the slanderous comments and tweets that Rav Horowitz actually generated and dissipated. Because of this personal affront, Rav Horowitz is appealing to all his chassidim to join him in his lynch mob. Because he is so very dangerous. (If he gets away with this, he may sue somebody else!)

So to prove he is dangerous, he builds his case. In a personal message to me on the Daas Torah blog (Aug. 3) he proudly announced:

[The offender] is a serial pedophile who has been molesting kids since at least 2000 in numerous schools and Shuls in 3 states and 2 countries that we know about.

So I both emailed him and posted publicly (ibid.):

…please provide me with details about the molestation that "we know about" that took place in any states or countries besides NY, USA. (I.e., which other two states and which other country and how do you know?)

I am still (patiently) waiting for his response.

The last case-building meragel is the Sar Haelef himself and unparalleled master of Daas Torah, Harav Daniel Eidensohn, Shlita.

My online debate can be found in the comments on three Horowitz vs. YW posts on the Daas Torah blog (HERE, HERE and HERE). I obviously lost the debate because Rabbi Eidensohn said so and it’s his blog.

Rabbi Eidensohn and his chassidim clearly subscribe to the belief that: Once a rodef, always a rodef. And consequently, anybody who has ever been classified as a rodef or mitza’er ess hatzibur carries that status for life, wherever he goes, no matter how nicely he behaves. Hence, it is always justified to harass and slander him or her. Moreover, this perpetual “rodef” status means that it is always sakanas nefashos so it is muttar to extradite, for the purpose of mesira, any ex-molester from any point on the globe to any point on the globe to do him in.

They also firmly believe that any type of offense is capital giluy arayos – even 2nd degree seksual abuse (Class A Misdemeanor – non-felony) which typically precludes force or “penetration”.

Lastly, they firmly believe that any type of conviction, even a misdemeanor conviction in a bench trial on very shaky ground (no confession, evidence or witnesses) in NY State, is absolute irrefutable proof that the offender is truly guilty as charged. (And they call me naïve!)

I valiantly tried to direct Rabbi Eidensohn to all the Halachic sources and legalistic flaws that prove otherwise, but alas, I was too ignorant, misguided, naïve, and terribly wrong. Although he neglected to demonstrate how or why. Every Halachic source I quoted was “misapplied” even if it is pashut pshat. He hasn’t read any of my 18 or so Mesira posts and he never will. They are all too long for him and he is a very busy fellow. He has a blog to maintain.

But I suppose the truth must be that this alleged offender is definitely exceedingly dangerous because I don’t know anything about these types of people and he knows so much more than I do. And besides, he was convicted, and assessed a high risk level (by the same judge)…

So despite a lack of real hard evidence, any recent incidents, or even Rabbinic approval by any Rav who is truly familiar with the case, the judgment is passed by a consensus of bloggers and self-proclaimed child abuse advocates. Anybody can build a case when the “nation” is cheering them on.

And so, these chashuva people, the fied fifers, Yerachmiel Lopin, Rabbi Horowitz, and Rabbi Eidensohn are so intent on ridding the world of our “vermin” that they are afraid to look at the halachic structure or the true [sorry] state of the evidence in each case. All of these people are tenaciously holding on to a philosophy of: “Once a rodef, always a rodef!” despite the fact that it’s possible they were never a rodef in the first place and that, even if so, extradition and mesira overseas is still forbidden.

So in light of Rabbi Bernstein’s remarks, as we look back at Tisha B’Av we take out this lesson:

As long as the Rambam, Shulchan Aruch, Chofetz Chaim, the facts on the ground and the guidelines set by the poskim listed in Rav Zvi Gertner’s kuntress (Dam Reacha – Yeshurun Vol. 15) are irrelevant, as they are to Yerachmiel Lopin, Rabbi Horowitz, and Rabbi Eidensohn, these meraglim will declare the subject “dangerous” and the case will be built. The judgments will be made before the facts are evaluated and the harassment, motzi-shem-ra, malshinus, the sinas chinam and the churban will go on unabated.

כל דור שאינו נבנה בית המקדש בימיו, מעלין עליו כאלו הוא החריבו!