Blog

Loving The Land

A friend recently returned from a trip to the United States where he was teaching and lecturing. We discussed that common sense we all get of feeling depleted when spending time in the lands of the exile . We also agreed that the feeling upon returning is one of being replenished and refilled.

A recent Gallup poll showed that Israelis are amongst the top ten happiest populations in the world ,placing far ahead of the United States and Britain. The Gallup poll surveyed thousands of people in 155 countries focusing questions on their sense of overall “life satisfaction”. In fact some of the countries that topped Israel also top the lists regarding suicide and alcohol abuse ( both are areas in which Israel does not even enter the list). Another recent poll called ,”The War and Peace Index” conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research found that 80% of the Jews polled defined their personal status as “very good” or “good,” 90% said they think Israel is doing “very well” as a nation; and 81% said they were “very optimistic” or “optimistic” as to the nation’s future.

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Gush Katif expulsion

Five Years Ago I Was Expelled

Gush Katif expulsion
Gush Katif expulsion

My name is Rachel Saperstein. I am almost seventy years old. My husband and I have three children and twelve grandchildren. We lived in Jerusalem for close to thirty years, in Gush Katif for nearly nine years, and now we live in a plasterboard caravilla in the refugee camp of Nitzan between Ashdod and Ashkelon. During the Cast Lead war we were bombed by missiles coming in from Gaza. The missiles and rockets followed us from Gush Katif to Nitzan. There is no escape from enemy assault.

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Perspectives

Moshe Rabbeinu ( Moses) is the man who walked between Heaven and Earth. He is the man who spoke to G-d as men speak to each other, panim el panim, that is to say, “face to face.” This is the man who walked into the fiery mountain and felt the Glory of G- d pass over him.

This man at the end of his life had but one request, one final plea (Deuteronomy 3: 24-25):The plea we read in this week’s torah portion. And I beseeched HaShem at that time, saying: “O HaShem G- d, Thou hast begun to show Thy servant Thy greatness, and Thy strong hand; for what god is there in Heaven or on Earth that can do according to Thy works, and according to Thy mighty acts? Let me go over, I pray Thee, and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that goodly hill-country, and Lebanon.”

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Fulfilling Vows – Mattot Masei

“If a man makes a vow to God, or makes an oath to prohibit [something] to himself, he must not break his word. He should do all that he expressed verbally.” (Num. 30:3)

Oaths and vows are a natural human response in times of intense emotions. Particularly when we sense danger or trouble, we spontaneously begin to bargain with God. We pledge to improve ourselves or repay some undeserved kindness. Why do people act this way?

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Anatomy of a Palestinian “concession”

By Michael Freund

Earlier this week, just in advance of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, a brief flurry of excitement took hold of the media, as word spread of what appeared to be a major conciliatory gesture by the Palestinians.

In a well-timed leak, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported over the weekend that Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had offered Israel the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City as part of a future peace agreement.

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Rabbi Akiva Laughed

Throughout the world, Jewish people have finished this week ,the daily study of the talmudic tract Makkot. This daily system called the Dafyomi,” or a “page (Daf) a day (Yomi),” refers to the system of Talmud study started in 1923 by Rabbi Meir Shapiro, Rabbi of  Lublin,and the representative of the Jewish community in the Polish senate.  Rabbi Shapiro’s goal was to unite Jews all over the world by having them study the same page of Talmud each day, and to enable the great achievement of completing the entire Talmud which, with his system of a page a day, within just over seven years (2,711 pages).In addition to enabling the simple laymen to enter into the fascinating world of homiletic insight and Jewish  religious law and civil jurisprudence , the daily study imparted great spiritual strength and fortitude.

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Lesson of 17th Tammuz

In the Hellenistic mindset that has defined most of western thinking for over two thousand years, “Time” is viewed as a linear line moving from point a to point b. the Jewish and Biblical view of the world views specific dates and appointed times are gates through which time flows in a cyclical and upward spiral fashion.

Therefore the Passover season is not only a commemoration of the liberation that once was but it is rather a time that calls forth the spiritual strengths and power of renewed liberation from all the slavery that still confines us. Sukkoth is not only a commemoration of wandering through the desert for forty years and living in booths but is rather a time that is ripe for strengthening our faith and belief in a G-d intimately involved in our lives. And the fast days are times that are appointed for great tests and turbulence. They are times that can easily be filled with sadness and yet they are times that can be used for introspection and growth.

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Bilaam and Abraham’s Vision

Bilaam was the prophet for the Nations who watch the progression of the Israelites into, their destiny with apprehension. He is called into action by Balak the King of Moab who has been witness to the fact that the armies of the Canaanite nations are no match for this ragtag group of people led by an eighty year old man and directed by a Divine pillar of fire and smoke. At first the king threatens, entices and commands Bilaam to come do what G-d clearly does not want Bilaam to do. Bilaam desperately wants to go, but cannot go against the express will of the Creator.

G-d makes it very clear to Balak in a night vision:

“And God said unto Bilaam: ‘Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people; for they are blessed.'(Numbers 22:12). Yet G-d seems to eventually give him the much desired permission, “And God came unto Bilaam at night, and said unto him: ‘If the men are come to call thee, rise up, go with them; but only the word which I speak untot thee, that shalt thou do.’ (Numbers 22:20)

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