Category Archives: Jewish philosophy

A Holiday Classic…

…from December 15th 1972

oil-menorah

DOWN WITH CHANUKAH

By Rabbi Meir Kahane, z”l

If I were a Reform rabbi; if I were a leader of the establishment whose money and prestige have succeeded in capturing for himself the leadership and voice of American Jewry; if I were one of the members of the Israeli Government’s ruling group; if I were an enlightened sophisticated, modern Jewish intellectual, I would climb the barricades and join in battle against that most dangerous of all Jewish holidays – Chanukah.

It is a measure of the total ignorance of the world Jewish community that there is no holiday that is more universally celebrated than the “Festival of Lights,” and it is an equal measure of the intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy of Jewish leadership that it plays along with the lie. For if ever there was a holiday that stands for everything that the masses of world Jewry and their leadership has rejected – it is this one. If one would find an event that is truly rooted in everything that Jews of our times and their leaders have rejected and, indeed, attacked – it is this one. If there is any holiday that is more “un-Jewish” in the sense of our modern beliefs and practices – I do not know of it.

The Chanukah that has erupted unto the world Jewish scene in all its childishness, asininity, shallowness, ignorance and fraud is not the Chanukah of reality. The Chanukah that came into vogue because Jewish parents – in their vapidness needed something to counteract Christmas; that exploded in a show of “we-have-lights-just-as-our-goyisha-neighbors” and in an effort to reward our spoiled children with eight gifts instead of the poor Christian one; the Chanukah that the Temple, under its captive Rabbi, turned into a school pageant so that the beaming parents might think that the Religious School is really successful instead of the tragic joke and waste that it really is; the Chanukah that speaks of Jewish Patrick Henrys giving-me-liberty-or-death and that pictures the Maccabees as great liberal saviors who fought so that the kibbutzim might continue to be free to preach their Marx and eat their ham, that the split-level dwellers of suburbia might be allowed to violate their Sabbath in perfect freedom and the Reform and Conservative Temples continue to fight for civil rights for Blacks, Puerto Ricans and Jane Fonda, is not remotely connected with reality.

This is not the Chanukah of our ancestors, of the generations of Jews of Eastern Europe and Yemen and Morocco and Spain and Babylon. It is surely not the Chanukah for which the Maccabees themselves died. Truly, could those whom we honor so munificently, return and see what Chanukah has become, they might very well begin a second Maccabean revolt. For the life that we Jews lead today was the very cause, the real reason for the revolt of the Jews “in those days in our times.”

What happened in that era more than 2000 years ago? What led a handful of Jews to rise up in violence against the enemy? And precisely who was the enemy? What were they fighting for and who were they fighting against? For years the people of Judea had been the vassals of Greece. True independence as a state had been unknown for all those decades and, yet the Jews did not rise in revolt. It was only when the Greek policy shifted from mere political control to one that attempted to suppress the Jewish religion that the revolt erupted in all its bloodiness. It was not mere liberty that led to the Maccabean uprising that we so passionately applaud. What we are really cheering is a brave group of Jews who fought and plunged Judea into a bloodbath for the right to observe the Sabbath, to follow the laws of kashrut, to obey the laws of the Torah. In a word everything about Chanukah that we commemorate and teach our children to commemorate are things we consider to be outmoded, medieval, and childish!

At best, then, those who fought and died for Chanukah were naive and obscurantist. Had we lived in those days we would certainly not have done what they did for everyone knows that the laws of the Torah are not really Divine but only the products of evolution and men (do not the Reform, Reconstructionist, and large parts of the Conservative movements write this daily?) Surely we would not have fought for that which we violate every day of our lives. No, at best Chanukah emerges as a needless holiday if not a foolish one. Poor Hannah and her seven children; poor Mattathias and Judah; poor well meaning chaps all — but hopelessly backward and utterly unnecessary sacrifices.

But there is more. Not only is Chanukah really a foolish and unnecessary holiday, it is also one that is dangerously fanatical and illiberal. The first act of rebellion, the first enemy who fell at the hands of the brave Jewish heroes whom our delightful children portray so cleverly in their Sunday and religious school pageants, was not a Greek. He was a Jew. When the enemy sent his troops into Modin to set up an idol and demand its worship, it was a Jew who decided to exercise his freedom of pagan worship and who approached the altar to worship Zeus (after all, what business was it of anyone what this fellow worshiped?) And it was this Jew, this apostate, this religious traitor who was struck down by the brave, glorious, courageous, (are these not the words all our Sunday schools use to describe him?) Mattathias, as he shouted: “Whoever is for G-d, follow me!”

What have we here? What kind of religious intolerance and bigotry? What kind of a man is this for the anti-religious Ha’shomer Ha’tzair, the graceful temples of suburbia, the sophisticated intellectuals, the liberal, open-minded Jews and all the drones who have wearied us unto death with the concept of Judaism as a humanistic, open-minded, undogmatic, liberal, universalist (if not Marxist) religion, to honor? What kind of nationalism is this for Shimon Peres (he who rejects the ‘Galut’ and speaks of the proud, free Jew of ancient Judea and Israel)?

And to crush us even more (we who know that Judaism is a faith of peace which deplores violence), what kind of Jews were these who reacted to oppression with force? Surely we who so properly have deplored Jewish violence as fascistic, immoral and (above all) un-Jewish, stand in horror as we contemplate Jews who declined to picket the Syrian Greeks to death and who rejected quiet diplomacy for the sword, spear and arrow (had there been bombs in those days, who can tell what they might have done?) and “descended to the level of ‘evil” thus rejecting the ethical and moral concepts of Judaism.

Is this the kind of a holiday we wish to propagate? Are these the kinds of men we want our moral and humanistic children to honor? Is this the kind of Judaism that we wish to observe and pass on to our children? Where shall we find the man of courage, the lone voice in the wilderness, to cry out against Chanukah and the Judaism that it represents – the Judaism of our grandparents and ancestors?

Where shall we find the man of honesty and integrity to attack the Judaism of medievalism and outdated foolishness; the Judaism of bigotry that strikes down Jews who refuse to observe the Law; the Judaism of violence that calls for Jewish force and might against the enemy? When shall we find the courage to proudly eat our Chinese food and violate our Sabbaths and reject all the separateness, nationalism and religious maximalism that Chanukah so ignobly represents? Down with Chanukah! It is a regressive holiday that merely symbolizes the Judaism that always was; the Judaism that was handed down to us from Sinai; the Judaism that made our ancestors ready to give their lives for the L-rd; the Judaism that young people instinctively know is true and great and real. Such a Judaism is dangerous for us and our leaders. We must do all in our power to bury it.

mattathias

If you think the Rabbi was a bit over the top, then check out this story.  Or, this one.  Or, this one.

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Give me Land Lots of Land

I see a lot of stories daily about how carrying a concealed weapon has saved someone’s life, or the life of someone they love. These stories usually take place in a urban setting. It might be a fairly empty parking lot at 2200 or someone’s home, but most of the stories are more urban. I suppose that makes sense, more people.

But when many people think of the rural areas, they tend to think more of the tough, self-reliant type of folks, like Roy Rogers, the Cartwrights or Little House on the Prairie.

What set me down this thought path was a story I saw the other day and it reminded me of when I first moved to my current home, many, many years ago. I considered living places and found the pet deposit for two horses, a flock of chickens, four cats and three dogs was very spendy. I also am temperamentally unsuited to living in a city, so farm it was and I moved from a smaller farm to this one. When I would go to the barn to do chores I took all the dogs with me, family outing as it were. Not long after I had lived here I was coming back to the house from the barn and a man I had never seen was standing near the stock gate. Not a dog had barked, the wind must have been blowing the other direction. Nothing happened, he had heard from someone that I might be someone to talk to about training a horse. But it made me very aware of my vulnerability. No matter what else was going on in my life, this was something I needed to address. I didn’t really know any of my neighbors yet, so most people that stopped by would have been “strangers”. It was long before concealed carry laws or castle doctrine laws were in effect. It’s not that I didn’t have tools, I did. I needed to have them where they could be used. A .357 is dandy, unless it’s in the house, so I started doing things differently. But while laws weren’t in place to protect me, I could get access to the tools that would allow me to protect myself. Some states have laws protecting you only in your home or car, some, anyplace you legally have a right to be including any place on your property, not just your home.

So how did I get to thinking back all those years ago? I saw a story about yet another Jewish farmer in Israel who might be facing charges for shooting an Arab. I will never say farmers in America have it easy. I’ve known better since I was two. But farmers in Israel have a whole different set of dangers. The arabs and bedouins there cut fence, steal livestock, kill livestock, ruin orchards, poison guard dogs, attack the farmers and their families and sometimes kill them. Sadly, sometimes the government forces that are tasked with protecting the farmers seem to favor protecting the arab farmers. Whether it is yet another example of trying not to offend the world, or the police just don’t want to bother with it, I don’t know. Some farmers have been driven off their land, some have had to give up raising livestock, but it is most certain that many farmers in Israel face challenges and dangers that we over here do not face on a daily basis. The case that had been going on was of a farmer that had three arabs show up to steal his truck. He heard a noise and went outside, there they were with a metal bar and three to one odds. He fired in the air and was unaware that he had even hit one. When security forces finally showed up they found the body in a nearby field.

The mayor of the town defended the farmer, saying many such attacks occur during daily, and are repeated with no fear of reprisals. The mayor of the town thinks the U.S. has it right.

“Sunday’s shooting in Beit Elazri was justified,” Naim concludes. “It was an act of self-defense, and prevented innocent people from getting hurt. Every thief must know that he might die. It must be anchored in law, just as in the cradle of democracy, the United States, where every citizen has the right to self-defense of his body and his property, including the shooting of trespassers.”

I don’t know that we shoot trespassers all that much, but his point that we should have the right to defend ourselves, and criminals know we have the right and ability to defend ourselves, and that should slow them down some. Unless you live in a state with a lot of liberals where ever criminal life is sacred, yours not so much. This is made possible by electing liberal politicians because they think rights come from them, not G-d.

Farmers have gone to jail for defending themselves against four to one odds, for example Shai Dromi. While he was acquitted on manslaughter charges he was convicted of having an illegal weapon. It was his father’s. The good thing that came of the mess was it did start to make people aware of what the farmers face on a daily basis.

Now happily the farmer accused this time, has been cleared by the police of any wrong doing, so he won’t be spending time in jail.

Another good thing that came out of this is MKs Amir Ohana and Eitan Broshi submitted a petition that called for a emergency meeting to discuss the issue of self-defense in rural areas. Hopefully more than discussion will come of it. Since MK Ohana is involved, I am kind of thinking something more will.

Another thing I found very interesting was comments by Dr. Jodi Broder, Head of the Clinical Social Law program. I’m the one that put some of this in bold, not Dr. Broder.

Dr. Broder explained why, in his view, proactive self-defense is justified: “We, as citizens, gave the State all the rights over our defense and our property, under the assumption that it would uphold those values, but what happens when the State doesn’t defend its citizens?” he asked. In such a reality, he asserts, the right of a citizen to defend himself and his property returns to him.

Broder qualifies this assertion, however, noting, “not under every circumstance, but within the parameters of self-defense. You are allowed to defend yourself when there is an immediate danger to your life or property. In such a reality, when nobody else is around to defend you and you react in a proportional manner, not in order to punish but only to defend; when the burglar is endangering me or another or our property, I am allowed to defend as long as immediate action is required and the State is not present to supply this defense.”

In response to the question of whether there is an ethical problem with the fact that the same State that does not supply defense for citizens also limits citizens’ ability to defend themselves, Broder replied, “It is impossible to live in a situation in which there are no rules and each man is his own lawmaker. A burglar also has rights which we, as a state, choose to uphold. You may defend, but not punish.

“One of the problems in the State is that the government does not supply adequate defense of property in certain communities, and people feel existential danger and danger to their property; we may see reactions that seem disproportionate at first glance, but when you consider that the Police are probably not coming, and there’s nobody who’s going to help, and it’s my property and my life, the picture changes.”

First, I don’t think we should ever give over our rights to protect ourselves, I’m not suggesting we do so. I also find it interesting that the Israelis are allowed to use force when the criminal is stealing things. In America it’s usually only to defend life. Of course what they are stealing may well affect your livelihood, but I find this variance interesting as well. Second and I think this applies to any of us, the prosecutor in their nice warm, well lit office, reading over the police report as they thoughtfully sip their fresh cup of coffee is going decide someone’s future, or lack of one. They will decide if your response was proportional or not. Consider having someone like Kathleen Kane as the prosecutor. Kane was a Bloomberg backed anti-gun candidate. YESH! But I also see how his comments could apply to gun free zones, they chose to forbid us the ability to defend ourselves, then they have chosen that responsibility. An old discussion, I know. I’m not talking burger joints, I’m thinking more like hospitals, government buildings. Places of worship are targets as well, but I think their response to how they wish to handle these things has more autonomy, but I could be wrong. But back to the prosecutor, you have a person in their nice office, possibly who has never been in a rural area deciding what is going to happen to you based on what has already happened to you, when you were all alone at 0300 in the middle of a field.

And realistically? Whether a field in the middle of the night or supermarket parking lot during the day, it doesn’t matter much. If something bad happens, and you “need” someone else to come help you there is a good chance that may not happen in time.

Just some things to think about as election day looms and you might have a chance to ask your state candidates some questions.

Another thing that popped up as I was poking around to see how this particular farmer came out was that some of the farmers in 2008 began to band together forming modern versions of HaShomer. It was founded by Yoel Zilberman when his father told him he was going bankrupt and going to have to leave the farm. HaShomer HaChadash, The New Guardians, was formed to help protect the farmers and allow them to continue farming in a financially sound manner. It is now a big active program.

Founder Yoel Zilberman, can tell you about it. It’s a very interesting story. Subtitled, luckily.

So thinking back on when I first moved here, and looking at the dangers these farmers in Israel face daily I’ve had some thoughts. Urban or rural, we all face dangers. The dangers these Israeli farmers face are more like the things someone living in the gun free zone utopia of Chicago would face, with just about as much help from the system at times. But then any raw milk or organic farmer may have faced the same dangers in America. Only instead of from Bedouins, from a alphabet soup of state and federal agencies. The big difference is, when it’s the farmer rather than the Chicago resident that faces the danger it can affect a lot of people. The farmers produce food, and when that doesn’t happen it causes problems for a lot of people. The Israeli farmers are getting help now, not from the government so much, as regular people all pitching in to help. It’s sort of like a program we had in America for a while called “Ranch Rescue”. But the foundation of all these programs was the same as the old days of the Cartwrights and Roy Rogers. It was people pitching in to help each other to over come challenges and threats. People that weren’t relying on the system, but each other. As the weather changes and we prepare for storms knowing our neighbors and having plans and ways we could help each other might be a very good idea. We’ve had hurricanes in one part of the country, we will have snow and ice coming for other parts of the country, and then we move into tornado and rain and flood season. Sometimes you know there’s bad weather headed your way, and sometimes, it’s just there.

And because I like to end with something a little nice, here’s a short little scene from Eish Kodesh. It really is beautiful isn’t it?

https://www.facebook.com/398799110143354/videos/1192120390811218/

 

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Robert Avrech on Jews and guns

Author and script writer Robert Avrech was an old friend and colleague of Aaron Zelman’s. Unlike Aaron, he is still with us and still going strong.

Although he wrote this piece a month ago, it’s timeless and a must-read.

A sample:

Before our son Ariel Chaim ZT”L passed away in 2003 at the age of twenty-two, he and I spent a good deal of time discussing the Second Amendment, the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Ariel was amazed that so many American Jews – overwhelmingly liberal and secular – aligned themselves with the advocates of gun control, in reality a movement to banish the private ownership of guns by lawful citizens.

During the Los Angeles riots of 1992, my wife Karen and I, Ariel and Offspring #2, were inside a film theater. Abruptly, an angry mob congregated outside; soon they were trying to break down the doors. Trapped inside, we were all terrified. I held Offspring#2 in my arms; she shivered like a frightened rabbit. Karen gripped Ariel’s hand.

“Don’t worry,” we were assured, “the police will be here soon.”

But the police did not arrive that night, nor did they protect the city from arson, looting and murder. In fact, we watched in disbelief as news cameras captured images of police officers standing idly by while looters gleefully committed their crimes.

A few days later, I purchased a pistol, a 1911 .45 ACP.

I bought a gun because I realized that the day will most certainly again arrive when civil order breaks down and we are flung into a cruel Hobbesian landscape.

Here’s my three part series on the LA Riots, Jew Without a Gun.

As Ariel’s conservative political opinions took form, he logically and ethically fell on the side of legal gun ownership. But because he was first and foremost a Torah Jew, first and foremost a Talmudic scholar, Ariel placed gun ownership into the framework of Jewish law, halacha.

Ariel wanted to put down his ideas on paper. Unfortunately, he never had the opportunity to write an article on halacha and gun ownership.

And so I humbly jot down a few of Ariel’s ideas. This article is not meant to be comprehensive. It is but a snapshot of our discussions. Any mistakes in this article are mine and mine alone. I write from an imperfect memory, from conversations with my beloved son held years ago, and from the few notes he managed to scribble while sick and undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.

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Hekshered Treif

When the Israelites were at Kadesh-Barnea, Moses selected leaders of the Twelve Tribes as scouts, to go in advance into the Promised Land, and report back what they found. The people remained behind to await their return.

Upon returning, ten of twelve scouts gave grave reports of terrifying foes. Despite the people having been witness to unparalleled miracles wrought on their behalf, again-and-again… they lost their nerve, and recoiled from entering the Land, preferring to stay in the Wilderness.

G-d responded by declaring that with two exceptions, the entire generation would be accommodated in their insistent lack of Emuna. They would live out their lives wandering the Wilderness; their people’s destiny held in abeyance until they were gone.

The Sages tell us that The People had been refined to the point where their destiny was at hand. Still, at the very moment when they were to enter the Land, to follow the Torah, and make their home a beacon for the Nations, they succumbed to fear. So, G-d provided them, during their wanderings, even more support and instruction, such that their children would persevere. The first lesson was at the hands of Amalek.

Elie Wiesel has passed away. A survivor of the Holocaust. Prolific author. Compelling witness to mindless atrocity. A giant in our time. Gone. But his legacy lives on. Many words have and will be written about this man and the values he fought for. Raised in the traditions of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, and learned in both religious and secular worlds, he dedicated his life to the good of mankind.

Sadly, there was one shortcoming. He allied himself often (undoubtedly to spread his message as wide and as deep as possible) with some less than savory people, including many of the so-called “Leaders” of major “Jewish” organizations. Many of these “Leaders” supported policies that were little more than western liberal political, social, and cultural mores, slicked up with Jewish trappings.

Hekshered treif, one might say.

Perhaps the worst, most Anti-Semitic, policy these “Leaders” embraced, was Victim Disarmament. They are always at the forefront of this suicidal movement. You would think that in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust, there would be some second thoughts on this, since the actors were the victims very own governments…

You would be wrong. Dead wrong.

Research established that the Gun Control Act of 1968 was directly modeled after the Nuremburg Laws, and that true-to form, every genocide in recent history had as a necessary precursor, the systematic disarming of the intended victims.

These “Leaders”, presented with the evidence, clamped their eyes shut, clamped their hands over their ears, and refused to examine it. Aaron Zelman offered it to Mr. Wiesel. He likewise would not look at it.

So, while recognizing the heroic stature, and magnificent legacy, of Elie Wiesel, and (confident that his time before the heavenly tribunal is very brief) we pray for his soul.

But, we must leave it to those who follow in this World, to open their eyes to this truth, and thereby stand better armed against evil.  Join us, won’t you?

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Zehut, The Politics of Identity

by Sheila Stokes-Begley

When many people go to Israel, the want to see the historical sights. I do as well, especially military museums. There will most likely be a column on that. A lot of people want to eat the fabulous
food. Yes, me too. They want to shop, I’m SO there, especially when you talk about Yafo. They want to swim, did that. But what I really, really, really, really wanted to do, was interview Moshe Feiglin. At
which most tourist are probably saying “Excuse me?” But that was one of my very highest hopes for this trip. And I was successful.

I first learned about the former MK (Member of Knesset) when in response to something I had written my wonderfully kind team mate Y.B. sent me a portion of a Torah Thought from Mr. Feiglin. I loved it! I asked for more info and Y.B. told me who had written it and who he was. I did online research and signed up for the Manhigut Yehudite newsletter and was soon getting my own copies of Torah Thoughts included with each newsletter which I very much looked
forward to receiving. Each newsletter included Torah and politics. Does it get any better? Well, also a Dry Bones Cartoon. That’s pretty good too.

Last year I got to interview Mr. Feiglin by phone, and it was a great interview. This year it was in person. I feel very blessed.

So why my fascination? My respect first blossomed when he was writing articles calling for the Israeli government to make it easier for everyday Israelis to get weapons permits. Gun Control? Or Citizen Control?

With all that has been going on in Israel, I had a lot of questions for Mr. Feiglin. Especially since he along with the support of a lot of everyday people have founded a new political party. Zehut, which means “Identity”. Zehut is unusual in that they also allow people from places other than Israel to join. And with that I tell you I am a proud card carrying member. Well, I will be when my card gets here, but I am.

My first question was why form Zehut? Was it in response to the betrayal of leadership in politics? They campaign on one platform and then when elected turn and go another direction?

Feiglin: The average Israeli feels disenfranchised from their Jewish identity and the concept of a Jewish state. (I believe he said in a recent poll that 80% of Israelis identify as Jewish first, and as an Israeli second). The disenfranchisement started with the Oslo accords and now takes the form of things like a Judge appointed to the High Court who refused to sing HaTikvah, the Israeli national anthem after being sworn in. It shows in an army which is now refusing to allow soldiers to grow beards, “too much Jewish”. And very sadly when a Yad Vashem guide pointed out that the murder of Gil-Ad Shaer,16, Eyal Yifrah, 19, and Naftali Fraenkel,16 had occurred in Gush Etzion because they were Jewish. (That would seem evident to
me, but I guess political correctness can run amuck anywhere). Israel is a Jewish democratic state, but 10% controls the power and it is eroding Jewish values.

I have a few questions about everyday Israelis being allowed to carry weapons. Why are there areas where people are not allowed to have carry permits? A buddy moved from Jerusalem where he could carry, to Tel Aviv and now he can’t. He’s no less qualified in Tel Aviv. Yafo which suffered a terrorist attack is certainly within walking distance of Tel Aviv, I’ve done so! Why aren’t the military allowed to carry off duty, and why after people are out of the military can they not automatically be allowed to carry a weapon? As it turns out, the answer to all these questions are the same. Mr. Feiglin is very good at seeing the big picture and summing it up.

Feiglin: Because the concept of freedom is wrong. It should be the concept that the right of self- defense is G-d given! In Israel they believe that the right is given by the state. And if the state can give you the right to self defense, they can take that right away. In America they had the right concept, although they are losing the mindset. They believed anyone should be allowed to own guns unless they showed they were not to be trusted with them. (I pointed out that the UN does not believe self defense is a human right at all. Considering how anti-Israel the UN is, that is really not a good
combination). Zehut believes in planting in the Israeli mind the concept of true freedom. That everyone is responsible to defend their life, that of their family and the nation. Of course, there are those that oppose this. When I was in the Knesset I fought for more people to be allowed to carry. There were 150,000 people licensed to carry. But the Knesset wants to decrease that till terrorism decreases. You have the state as “Big Brother”.

What about the shooting in Hevron? (Sheila’s article on this incident) WHY is this soldier being prosecuted? Didn’t the fact that the video came from B’Tselem raise suspicions? This produced a wealth of information. This is so much more to this than a simple case of Katie Couric media malfeasance. I really think you should go read Moshe’s whole article on this topic, but here is what we covered.

Feiglin: This is a war of Israelis and Jews. It’s the soul of the Israeli, for what comes first, a concept of citizen or Jewish state. It’s been going on a long time. For the Israeli (in this comparison, sounds to me like your typical “enlightened” leftist who doesn’t have good sense about how this will play out) it’s the citizen, not Jewish state or identity. It was certainly evident when the Eichmann trial took place in Israel in 1961. A Jewish writer Hannah Arendt wrote a book, “Eichmann In Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,”with basically the premise that Eichmann was just there, wrong place, wrong time. Can’t blame him, can’t blame anyone but Hitler. Anyone would have acted the same. Apparently some Israeli “intellectuals”
felt the need to agree.
This kind of thinking is evident in the IDF today. The former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon recently said that “If someone rises to kill you, kill him first” is not the IDF’s strategy. The Deputy Chief of Staff equated those who subscribe to that value with Nazis. He would rather lose soldiers who protect citizens than kill terrorists. There is no difference in the value of the life of a person just out doing their shopping and the terrorist that comes to kill them. Certainly had nothing to do with ideology, right? But yet today some Arabs want to kill any Jew, soldier, civilian, man, woman, child or baby, it doesn’t matter. It IS the ideology. When Arafat was sick in Ramallah I had a sign on my car that said Hurry up and kill him before he dies. For someone that had that much blood on his hands to die in his own time is immoral. For terrorists to go to trial is immoral. A healthy Jewish response is you kill the attackers. You kill the terrorists that have
declared their own war on Jews. After the soldier killed the terrorist, the stabbings stopped. He did more than all the speeches.

What about the Temple Mount, Har HaBeit? Why are the Israeli police so quick to remove Jews? One young boy was even recently removed not for saying anything but because he had tears in his eyes. And for those that wonder, yes I did express my opinion of Moshe Dayan’s decision.

Feiglin: It has to do with losing identity. We must let Jews have their identity on the Temple Mount. There are those replacing Jewish identity, and they fear what Israel will become with it’s Jewish identity. Arabs do not really have an identity so much as filled with hatred. It’s in their textbooks, their schools, mosques, social media and how they are raised. If Israel disappeared from the map, there would be no more “Palestinian”. Their reason for being would be gone. The first Zionists were colonialists from Europe, and they just wanted to be one big happy family. They didn’t understand the Arab mindset. Most Israelis are Jews first, Israeli second but they are being led by a minority that doesn’t have that mindset.

What about the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) or as I call it (BS) movement? Has it had an effect? Is it just plain anti-Semitism in increments?

Feiglin: BDS is about the delegitimizing of Israel. When did the holocaust start? (He did ask me this, and I thought for a second and answered “the night Hitler was conceived”) That was the correct answer. When Hitler spoke again and again against the Jews it had it’s effect. In 1939 or 1940 when Jews ran to their neighbors to hide, they were killed. It was about eliminating the right of Jews to exist. Israel has to attack Iran, there is a real danger of Jewish history being written in Jerusalem. Not Warsaw. It’s needed to make a moral point. There is a correlation between the speeches made in Iran 12 ½ years ago by Ahmadinejad and the delegitimization of Israel, and it’s growing.

My last question to him “We’ve had a possible Kenyan as a president, at least someone not really raised as an American, I think we should try having an Israeli for a President, would you run?”

Feiglin: I’ve been asked about the current election. My answer is it doesn’t matter which one wins. If Israel will do what is best for Israel, then all will be better.

I started this interview by telling him that I felt like I cared more about Israeli lives than some Israeli politicians did.

After talking to him, I am quite certain that is not how it is when it comes to Mr. Feiglin. He has a very sound political platform based on a Jewish identity in THE Jewish state, living by Jewish laws and principles. Laws that will protect the innocent, laws that will allow every citizen living their daily lives be it in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva, Judea and Samaria to know their lives are worth defending and giving them the means to do so. It will allow the IDF to return to being the fine army it was meant to be and not a social experiment.

Zehut is a party based on knowing who we are, and what we are, and where we belong. And embracing it!

Honestly, I think there is a lesson in this for Americans as well. Because I’m very, very tired of having values that the majority of U.S. believe in being derided and told “that’s not who we are”.
Yeah, it is. And as the politicians and their compatriots in the media crank up to hype another round of gun control tripe, we would do well to remember it. It makes me think so much of “You can live
by G-d’s law or die by man’s.

I want to thank three wonderful people, Aryeh Sonnenberg who is the international director of Zehut and so warmly welcomed me when I joined. He put me in touch with Shmuel Sackett (who I got to talk with on the phone, really) who set the meeting up with Moshe. Shmuel also writes excellent articles. And I very much want to thank Moshe Feiglin for giving me an hour of his very valuable limited time. And since I often like to close with a video, this one is perfect!

(source)

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Cleaning the Menorah for Next Year

chanukah-michoel-muchnik

As the last cold latke gets tossed into the microwave oven, and the candle wax is scraped off the menorah, this year’s Hanukkah winds down. We look out into the world and see hope and fear, success and failure, as always.  Hmmm.

What is the “point” of celebrating Hanukkah, anyway?

A Jewish response to Christmas? An excuse to eat fried foods? A historical series of battles, defeating a military giant? Clinging stubbornly to one’s own culture, in the face of foreign challengers?

Yes, all of that…sort of. But that’s only the surface.

Columnist Daniel Greenfield declares it a “Dangerous Holiday”, and that it surely is.

In the end the answer is hinted at by the declaration “Am Yisrael Chai”; “The People of Israel Live”.  As the Jews survive, against all odds… indeed, contrary to all reason, then the world has hope.

Hanukkah, it’s successes, and it’s failures, shows us once again that everything exists because G-d wills it to be so.

Ein Od Milvado

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Faith and Firearms

I’m not a religious person, and most people who know me know this. I have a pretty good sense of who I am as a Jew who escaped the Soviet Union in 1979. I have written on the topic of being Jewish, being abused by one’s government, and being able to stand up to it. Being a Jew is what formed my views on gun rights to begin with before I ever knew what the Second Amendment was.

But I’m not religious at all. If I had to describe myself, I’d say I’m more of the agnostic/atheist variety. So when I tackled the subject of faith and firearms for Concealed Carry magazine more than a decade ago, I had to approach my father – a faithful Jew since we stepped foot onto American soil in 1980 – and some of his contacts.

I wanted to know whether many Jewish organizations in the United States had any basis for supporting disarmament, and whether they were misinterpreting Jewish law.

This week’s poll promfaith-and-firearms-coverpted me to see if the article I wrote all those years ago is available online, since it is still as appropriate today as it was more than 10 years ago when I wrote it.

The full article is here, along with a view from the Lutheran perspective. Here’s a bit.

The fact is that gun control subverts and violates Judaic law. According to Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO), the sanctity of life is a core Jewish value. Rabbi Isaac Leizerowski, after having conferred with several of his colleagues, agrees that the right to self-defense is MANDATED by Jewish law. From the sanctity of Life comes an imperative to safeguard Life. The directive to defend your life is written in the Talmud, the 70-volume Code of Jewish Law, in at least three places. “And the Torah says, ‘If someone comes to kill you, arise quickly and kill him.’”

Have a good weekend!

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Lost In the Wilderness

Daniel Greenfield has a superb piece at his Sultan Knish weblog about the  utility of “deeply concerned” Jewish organizations.  He leaves them with nowhere to run after a brief review of their shameful and self-serving history in the face of Zionism, the Holocaust, and demanding freedom for Soviet Jewry.  They are worse than useless.  They prop up evil and line their pockets with kopecs from rubes.

How very similar it is with so many “pro Second Amendment”, and firearms industry groups.  Their forearms grow weary from pulling the dagger out of our backs so as to thrust it in again and again.   Stopping ever so briefly to wipe our blood off their faces and hands, for a photo-op, a fund-raiser with some pin-stripe ghoul, or  to sign off on another mass mailing.

In many ways it reminds me of the Israelites at Kadesh Barnea.  Not only did they just betray G-d with the Golden Calf, but now, they paid heed to ten gutless “scouts”, who, despite personally witnessing miracles, loyalty, and boundless love, despite being wrapped up in the arms of G-d, feared mere mortals.  They thus refused to enter the Land; preferring the familiar, to the challenge of their destiny.

G-d once again had had his fill.  He told Moses that this was the last straw.  Moses pleaded.  G-d relented.  Excepting two ( the budding leader, Joshua and the arguably even finer-souled Calev) all those over the age of twenty would never enter the Promised Land.  They would die in the desert.  Safe.  More or less secure.  But, doomed.

For freedom-oriented organizations, perhaps there is a lesson here.  So enmeshed with being respectable, reasonable, well liked, wealthy, and influential, they have lost their purpose in the wilderness, and are doomed to remain there.

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A Sad Study in Contrasts

This week a maniac stabbed six people at a “Gay Pride” parade in Israel.

He had just been released from prison for a 2005 stabbing of three other people at the same parade .

In response, among the chorus of condemnations from Jews in every direction, from the man in the street to the Prime Minister of Israel, religious Zionist leader, Rabbi Chaim Druckman said:

“(He) is a lowly murderer and by his (religious) outward appearance he also adds an awful desecration of G-d’s name.”

“Our rabbis teach us that everyone who has mercy for mankind is known to be of the seed of our forefather Avraham , and everyone who does not have mercy for mankind is known not to be of Avraham’s seed. The behavior of (the maniac) is the complete opposite of Jewish behavior, and he must be treated severely likely every criminal.”

Rabbi-Druckman

This same week, an Arab family’s home was firebombed. A child died, and others in the family were grievously injured. Although not yet captured, it appears that the attackers were also Jews.

The survivors of this attack are being treated by the best doctors in the finest medical facilities available.

Like the stabbing attack above, the condemnations are resounding and widespread.

The full power of the Israeli police and courts are in play to arrest, try, and punish those who commit such vile acts.

Rabbi Druckman is uncompromising on this abomination, as well:

“I find the need to once again say these are criminal acts that are anti-Jewish, anti-humane, and of course anti-ethical,” said Rabbi Druckman. “These acts must be condemned and denounced.”

In a call for action, he added, “the security forces must do everything to quickly find those behind these awful acts and to bring them to justice.”

“Rid evil from your midst,” he said in conclusion, quoting Deuteronomy 17:7.

Sadly, but predictably, the Arabs are mostly silent on the first case. Their preeminent institutions tend to throw gay people to their deaths off the roofs buildings, hang them from hydraulic construction cranes, or saw their heads off with dull knives.

TEHRAN, IRAN:  From L to R: Amir Fakhri, Payam Amini, and Majid Ghasemi, sentenced to death, are seen dangling from cranes in east Tehran 29 September 2002. Residents of the Iranian capital were treated to a public display of revolutionary justice, with five convicted gang rapists executed by hanging at dawn at different sites in the capital. AFP PHOTO/Behrouz MEHRI (Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

On the second case, that of the firebombing of a family, the Arabs, true to form, blame the Israeli Government for the act of savages.

Tibi

 

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Betrothal, Betrayal, Forgiveness, and Refinement

Moses was a great, but reluctant leader. Born to Hebrew slaves, he was raised in the royal courts of Pharaoh. When tasked by G-d to lead his people up out of Egypt and to advance towards their destiny, he made excuses.

On the one side, Moses was “the most modest of men”, and yet was guided by a strong moral compass. When he finally acted, he inspired greatness in others.

On the other, these twelve tribes had a well-deserved reputation as ”a stiff-necked people”, with a propensity to retributive violence and passion.  They also had an unique ethical tradition centered about one, incorporeal, unlimited, god.  A loving, mysterious, and jealous god.

Any earthly leader of these people had to be, even if he had to be pushed into it, strong-willed to the point of ruthlessness.

These sons of Abraham and Sarah had been freed from nearly three hundred years of bondage in a pagan land.

They had seen miracles wrought on their behalf, over and over, to break the will of Pharaoh. They saw Egypt’s finest soldiers swept away in the Sea.

They complained and were given an oasis of water and dates to ease their travels. They had been fed with quail and manna in the desert. They were protected by day by a pillar of cloud and by night by a pillar of fire.

They had been attacked by Amalek and, despite ignoring G-d, and thereby delaying their response, had defended themselves, with at least partial success.

They had spent forty days refining themselves to receive the Torah at Sinai, and came directly before the Creator, to learn how to serve him, and thus how to teach the World by example.

First and foremost, they learned that He was G-d. He was One. There was no other. Period.

In all this we witness the birth of a Nation like no other, with a destiny like no other.

Yet a mere forty days later, many of these same people had turned their back to G-d.

While Moses was receiving instruction from G-d, and the Tablets of the Law were fashioned, an idol of gold had been fashioned and sacrificed to, and many were preparing to return to Egypt in an orgy of debasement.

Golden Calf

Still, Moses pleads with G-d that they not be utterly destroyed. G-d relented, leaving Moses to resolve this rebellion.

Moses destroyed the Golden Calf, grinding it fine dust, and scattering it upon the water. The people drank of the water in a trial and judgment for their sin.

He rebuked Aaron for his weakness in allowing the people to prevail upon him in returning to idolatry. Finally, Moses called to those of the people who still were loyal to G-d to come to him.

Seeing those who still were immersed in sin before G-d, Moses ordered Levite warriors to cut down some three thousand rebels in their midst. In so doing, the Levites, having proved their integrity, above tribal or familial loyalty, became ordained as priests to G-d, until the End of Days.

Levites

At Sinai, G-d had (figuratively) taken the Israelites as his beloved, much like a wife. He revealed himself in ways unique to their bond. He plots a course with her for their life together. A great adventure. He placed himself directly at her guard, forgiving slights, providing for everything and destroying those who threaten her.

Then, barely through the honeymoon, G-d finds his bride has turned away and sought out others… former suitors, and a path of debasement. He withdrew, still in love, but deeply betrayed. He hid his essence away once again.

The next morning Moses told the assembled Israelites that he would again plead with G-d to spare those remaining. Moses told G-d that if what had been done was not enough, that if G-d still intended to destroy these people and start over, that he, Moses should be blotted out, as well.

G-d responded that “I will erase from my book whoever has sinned against Me.” G-d then struck the people with a plague to drive the point home.

He also told Moses that from here on an angel would go ahead of the people, rather than G-d’s own “Presence” (the Shechinah), the pillar of cloud in the day and the pillar of fire in the night that had thus far guided and protected the Israelites in the desert.

Moses informed the people of the departure of the Shechinah from their before their encampment. The people, realizing the severity of their betrayal mourned and feared its loss.

Moses then moved his tent about one thousand yards away from the others, and referred to it as the “Tent of Meeting”. The Shechinah then returned and rested above the Tent of Meeting, signifying when it did, that G-d was meeting with Moses. The Israelites, seeing this, did not dare approach, but rather bowed down from the entrances of their own tents.

Moses asked G-d to reconsider his distancing from the people. G-d responds by expressly prohibiting idolatry again, and details a series of specific commandments binding on the Israelites.

God instructed Moses to carve a second set of Tablets to replace those Moses had broken in fury and despair. God then affirmed that he would resume being slow to anger, and quick to forgiveness, towards the people.

Over the next forty days and forty nights on the mountain, G-d reiterated his Covenant with the Israelites to Moses, in detail.

G-d declared that he will drive the current inhabitants of the land promised to Abraham and his descendants (Amorites, Cana’anites, Chitites, Perizites, Chivites, and Jebusites) out of this land for the entering Israelites.

G-d warned Moses against the Israelites making any agreements with the prior inhabitants, nor mixing with them. All altars and monuments to their false gods were to be destroyed. The Israelites were to take possession of, and dwell in, this land, as people apart.

At Moses’ instruction a beautiful Tabernacle was constructed to serve as a portable “resting place” for G-d as the Israelites prepared to enter and secure their land. Elaborate and precise orders of sacrifices and services were established.

Aaron and his family, as a subset of the Levites became ordained into a priesthood to conduct these services correctly. The remaining Levites are tasked to support them in their duties. The Tabernacle is erected and the Shechina now rests there.

levite_encampment-2

Soon thereafter, two of Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, deviated from these precise orders, and bringing “extraneous” fire “each in their own pan”, not as commanded by G-d, were instantly themselves consumed by fire. Such was the dangerous power of this Tabernacle and that which “rested” there.

nadab_abihu

All in all, six hundred thirteen mitzvot, specifically binding on this new Nation, were taught to the people at Sinai, in critical preparation for their great mission; to be a light unto the Seventy Nations of Mankind.

Each of the twelve tribes was given duties and well trained in their execution. This rabble of miraculously freed Hebrew slaves was being crafted into a well-oiled and sophisticated machine.

The town of Kadesh Barne’a; the mountainous gateway to the Land of the Edomites, was only eleven days march from Mount Sinai. Just beyond that lay their goal.

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