Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Balak: The Blessing of Isolation for Israel

“Hen Am L’Vadad Y’Shkone...” (from the root BaDaD*). “Behold, it is a nation that shall dwell alone, and not be reckoned among the nations.” *More on this later.

And so, Balaam’s attempted curse comes out of his foul mouth, as one of the biggest blessings in the Torah. Only with historical/messianic hindsight will the people of Israel fully understand it. But, let’s see what we can understand even now.

In this week’s Torah reading, the king of Moab frightened by Am Yisrael’s movement into the region, wants to hire a “prophet,” the renowned professional curser Balaam. Balak sends messengers and makes him an offer.

Balaam tells them, that he can only say what God wants him to say. He tells them to stay the night and “let’s see what God wants.”

God comes to Balaam and says, “You shall not go with them! You shall not curse the people because they are blessed,” (Numbers 22:12).

After rebuffing Balak’s messengers a few times, God comes to Balaam and tells him, “If these men come to call for you again, go with them, but only speak the words I tell to you say...” (Numbers 22:20).

Knowing that Balaam intended to flout His command, the God of Israel then puts an obstacle in his way. An angel with a drawn sword that his donkey can see, but he can’t, to impress upon him, his lowly stature as a “prophet.”

Finally he gets to the mountaintop, overlooking the Israeli encampment, sets up shop and begins.

He [Balaam] took up his parable and said, “Balak the king of Moab has brought me from Aram, from the mountains of the east [saying], ‘Come, curse Jacob for me and come invoke wrath against Israel.’

How can I curse whom God has not cursed, and how can I invoke wrath if the Lord has not been angered?

For from their beginning, I see them as mountain peaks, and I behold them as hills; it is a nation that will dwell alone, and will not be reckoned among the nations,” (Numbers 23:7-9).

Rashi explains, “It is a nation that shall dwell alone.” To dwell alone (BaDaD*), is in the merit of their forefathers – as the Targum [Onkelos] renders it [it is a nation that is alone/in solitude, destined to inherit the world]. *More on this later.

“...and not be reckoned among the nations.” As Targum [Onkelos] paraphrases, they will not perish along with the other nations, [when God finally judges the nations] as it says, “for I shall make an end of all the nations...” (Jeremiah 30:11); but Israel will be safe.

We have seen this in our time, with Israel’s early closure of it’s borders, and low CoronaVirus fatalities.

The Midrash HaGadol explains the verse a little differently, this refers to Israel’s mission to remain separate and distinct from the nations. From this blessing, that Balaam gave against his will, we understand what he really intended (see Sanhedrin 105a and the end of the parsha, where Balaam later sends in Moabite prostitutes to de-moral-ize the Jews, Numbers 25:1-9), so that the Jewish people assimilate into the nations, and be stripped of their religious values.

*I want to look at the word BaDaD, (to be alone/isolated/separate) further, through two dimensions. Starting with the Prat (individual/specific) level, and then moving toward the Klal (national/general) level.

1. The word BaDaD is related to the word BeDuD, which is the Isolation Ward in a hospital. A hint to our times?

2. The word BaDaD is related to the word BaD, a pole or staff. The carrying poles for the Aron HaKodesh (Ark of the Covenant), were called BaDim (pl.). Once inserted into the rings on the Ark, they were forbidden to be removed. They were separated from every other use, and dedicated to one purpose, carrying the Ark. So too, the Jewish people are separated from the nations and dedicated to the service of God.

3. The most common word for Jewish meditation is HitBoDeDut, from the root BaDaD. Popularized by Breslover Hasidim, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, taught the importance of going out to the fields, or in some other manner, to isolate yourself, to be alone to talk to God. HitBoDeDut, is commonly understood that way.

But as Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (in Jewish Meditation, Meditation and the Bible, and elsewhere) explains, HitBoDeDut, is the reflexive form of the verb, really meaning, to isolate yourself internally (from your sense of self, so you can tune into God). Jewish meditation was an integral part of preparation to receive prophecy, something that will return to the Jewish people in messianic times, (Maimonides – Rambam, Igeret Taiman/The Epistle to Yemen).

4. This meditative process, it is said, is what led Avraham Avinu (Abraham our father) to discover and connect to God. It gave him the courage of his convictions, to stand up to Nimrod and the entire world, to declare there is only one God. He was BaDaD, alone in the world.

5. In discussing the newly founded State of Israel, Israel Eldad, Jewish philosopher and former ideologist of the pre-state LECHI underground, wrote in his book, “The Jewish Revolution,” about Abraham, and then described his decendents, the Jewish people, as a “nation of non-conformists.” This Eldad argued, is what kept them (BaDaD) separated from the nations, preserved their identity over the millennia, and gave them the ability, through their single minded dedication, to stand up to the world and declare independence.

6. I wrote in, “Israel, Stay Out of Entangling Alliances,” “Jews really don’t need to look beyond their own tradition for policy guidelines that warn not to get into “entangling alliances.” Traditional Jewish commentaries to these verses [about Balaam] explain that the Jewish people get their strength and prosperity not from alliances with other nations and cultures, but from their single-minded adherence [BaDaD – dedication] to their own unique Torah culture – Judaism, their single-minded worship of the God of Israel, their single-minded control over their own land and lives, and their single-minded defense of their own interests. In a nutshell, liberty, freedom and national independence.”

7. Rabbi Meir Kahane, used to always teach this parsha, through the Yalkut Shimoni (Balak 23), emphasizing, the halachic injunction to national isolation [BeDuD]. “Not only must the Jew not be afraid to be isolated [BaDaD], he is commanded to choose isolation. That is why all Jews must live in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), so as to be isolated from the nations and their cultures.”

He stressed that “...the Jew is not allowed to seek allies, that the very act of seeking allies is one of faithlessness to God. Thus we find the prophet Isaiah condemning the Jews of his time for turning to Egypt for aid against the Assyrians who were threatening them, “Woe to rebellious children,” says the Lord, who take counsel but not from Me; and who prepare a plan [MaSeCHa*], but not of My spirit, in order to add sin upon sin. Who go down to Egypt, but did not inquire of My mouth, to seek strength in Pharaoh’s stronghold and to take shelter in the shade of Egypt (Isaiah 30:1-2),” (Seek No Allies, Jewish Press, 1989).

*Interestingly, the word MaSeCHa, is also the word for mask, in Hebrew, like those being used today during the CoronaVirus pandemic. So the Jews were covering themselves, protecting themselves, by allying with Egypt against Assyria, so they thought, and today against viruses.

Rabbi Kahane was known to always ask during speeches, “Who’s stronger HaShem (the God of Israel) or Ronald Reagan?” Today one could ask, “Who’s stronger HaShem or Trump?”

8. Which brings us to the issue of Sovereignty and the Trump Plan. According to polls, a clear majority of Israeli Jews support extending sovereignty to at least parts of Judea and Samaria. But the religious public is divided, even the “settler” public is divided. Opinions diverge, whether to accept the Trump Plan and apply sovereignty to towns in Judea and Samaria, even though that implicitly accepts the idea of a Palestinian state; or, to apply sovereignty to towns in Judea and Samaria but reject the Palestinian state part of the plan; or to reject the Trump Plan entirely and apply sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria, ignoring the American plan completely.

PM Netanyahu has said he will bring up the sovereignty issue to the Knesset after July 1st. But what, is his plan? All of Eretz Yisrael belongs to God, and He gave it to the Jews to live in and rule over.

HaShem through Balaam blessed the Jewish people, “Behold, it is a nation that shall dwell alone, and pay no attention to the nations.”

So I ask you, who’s stronger HaShem, or Trump, Johnson, the EU and UN?
Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
(c) 2020/5780 Pasko

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Korah: Democracy or Divine Aristocracy for Israel?

Winston Churchill said, that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time...” implying that they were even worse (speech in the House of Commons, 1947, quoting an unknown source).

I’m not sure that the God of Israel agrees, we’ll see.

But, that does seem to be the conventional wisdom of the modern era. Democracy rules. There have been some failed attempts at other forms of governing, but it’s never turned out good for most of the people under that type of authoritarian regime.

Yet we find today, in the CoronaVirus pandemic era, China has been pushing its model of governance, with one party rule, as more responsive to the crisis. They are claiming to meet the true needs of the people (public health), over what governments in the democratic west, are capable of providing their citizens.

With the threat of a possible second wave of infections growing, with the lockdowns, forced business closures, contact tracing, drone and robotic patrolling, facial recognition technology used, immunity certificates, and other invasive methods taken or being discussed by democratic governments, to control the outbreaks, we find elements of China’s model spreading like the virus itself, from east to west, eating away at citizen’s privacy and civil rights.

Citizens in western democratic countries, might awaken soon, to find themselves in many ways, living in countries, with surveillance and restrictions, much closer to China’s regime, than the democracy with its lawless protesters and rioters, they lived in, before the pandemic.

That said, in the Book of Exodus, we find The God of Israel, just before the revelation at Mount Sinai, commanding Moses, to tell the people of Israel, “You shall be to me a kingdom of priests [teachers of spirituality and morality-leaders to bring the world to God] and a holy [separated and elevated] nation [because of their special mission]...” (Exodus 19:6).

In this week’s Torah reading, Parshat Korah, we find a rebellion brewing against Moses and Aaron’s leadership, instigated by Korah, their cousin. Korah comes to Moses and Aaron with a mob of 250 community leaders and puts forth the pro-democracy argument, that they’ve taken too much power for themselves, “Why do you think you’re so much better than everyone else? We’re all part of the God’s holy people, and he’s with all of us. What makes you think you’re the only ones who should be in charge?” (Numbers 16:3).

What’s really bothering Korah?

Commentators discuss that. Both the Ibn Ezra and the Ramban, agree it took place about a year after leaving Egypt.

The Ibn Ezra argues that the rebellion took place, right after the inauguration of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), when Aaron and his sons were designated a Divinely created Aristocracy, to replace the firstborn, as the ones to perform the sacrificial service. Korah, a firstborn (Exodus 6:21), was embittered by this, and the 250 leaders with him, were also firstborn. Korah easily stirred them up.

Nachmanides, the Ramban, says that the rebellion took place right after the failed spying affair, described in Parshat Shlach. People resented the decree to stay in the desert [isolation?] and die off for another thirty nine years, and that only then, the next generation (of under twenty year olds) would enter the Holy Land. Again, easy pickings for Korah’s “democratic” rhetoric.

A series of proofs that Moses and Aaron were indeed the divinely chosen leaders now ensues.

Moses claiming everything he said and did was God’s will, declares that to prove it, the earth should open and swallow Korah and others with him, and it does. Then a fire from God breaks out and consumes the 250 community leaders. But that only postpones the rebellion.

The next day, the mob still inspired by Korah’s democratic vision, protests to Moses and Aaron saying, “You have killed the people of God.” God tells Moses to get away from them and He’ll destroy the rebels. But Moses and Aaron instead, pray for mercy. Then, Moses tells Aaron to run and get the incense pans for atonement, as a plague [like the CoronaVirus] breaks out. By the time Aaron stands between the living and the dead, and the plague is quelled, 14,700 democratic activists have died (Numbers 16:28-17:15).

Note the huge spike in infections, with the protests in America.

God now orders Moses to tell the remaining 12 tribal leaders, to take bare almond staffs and place them in the Tent of Meeting, along with the staff of Aaron. The next day when Moses goes into the Tent, and removes them to show the leaders, their staffs are still just sticks, but Aaron’s has blossomed, sprouted buds, and grown ripe almonds. God then tells Moses to put Aaron’s staff back into the Tent and keep it as eternal proof of Aaron’s legitimate priestly line.

The people are frightened and complain to Moses, “We are lost. Everyone who comes close to the Mishkan will die. Will we ever stop perishing? [when will these draconian regulations and the pandemic end?]” (Numbers 17:16-28).

As if to rub salt into an open wound (of the democrats), or maybe better put, God re-enforces the lesson of Aaron’s legitimate priesthood and divinely chosen aristocracy, and that He, God, is in charge, not the mob of democratic activists. God now talks to Aaron about him, and his descendants service in the Mishkan, and later at the Temples in Jerusalem. He then describes the gifts the people will need to bring to the Kohanim (priests), and the tithes given to the Levites. Then God tells Moses about the tithes that Levites will give the Kohanim (Numbers 18:1-32).

These gifts and tithes, are a tax, to provide a salary for the priests and Levites national service, at the Mishkan, and Temples, in lieu of not receiving any portion in the Land, like the other tribes will, when they enter Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel).

So, a “democratic” rebellion was forcefully put down, and the primacy of divine aristocracy, through the Kohanim and Levites was preserved, and Moses continued as leader. But was Korah really a democrat? Did he really worry about “all the Holy People,” or was he a demagogue out for self-interest and self-aggrandizement, parading as a democrat?

In, The Republic, (Book VIII), Plato discusses five types of regimes. These five regimes progressively decline from Plato’s Ideals. Starting from Aristocracy at the top, his ideal, which is lead by a philosopher-king, to the lowest form, Tyranny led by a demagogue-dictator.

For Plato, the ruling class in Aristocracy, is made up of the philosophers-kings, with the aid of the soldiers and others in the government administration, whose job it is to force onto the majority of the people, the order established by the philosophers. What Plato calls, the Good. They are forbidden from owning property, in order to preclude, that the policies they undertake be tainted by personal interests.

The majority of the people are allowed to own property and produce goods for themselves, but are also obliged to sustain their rulers through contributions, i.e. taxes.

According to Plato, the aristocratic mindset of a just ruler, can be achieved through an intensive educational training, designed to produce intellectuals that are selfless and upright, aware of the absolute Good, by learning the Truth, based on the Platonic Ideas. Wealth, fame, and power are just shadows of the Good, not the True Good, therefore, the philosopher, who learns metaphysical contemplation, is not tempted to abuse his power in his pursuit of material goods, and his state policies are dedicated to establishing only the Good in the state, not his personal interests.

This sounds very similar to what we’ve just read in the Torah. The Torah promotes the idea that the Kohanim (also a teaching class), Levites, king and his administration, are to guide, and if necessary even force, the Jewish people into observing the Mitzvot (Commandments) of the Torah, to achieve God’s ideals. This was the system God was setting up, through Moses and Aaron’s leadership.

Maimonides, the Rambam, writes in his Mishneh Torah, Book of Kings And Their Wars 11:4, about the future Messiah (ideal Jewish leader), “If a king will arise from the House of David, who diligently contemplates the Torah and observes its Mitzvot, as prescribed by the Written Law and Oral Law, as David his ancestor did, will compel all of Israel to walk in the ways of the Torah, rectify the breaches to its observance, and fight the wars of God, we consider him possibly the Mashiach.”

About Democracy, Plato says, it is where freedom is now the highest value (not the Good), and the lowest classes grow bigger. The poor become the winners. People are free to do what they want and live how they want. The democratic man, in Plato’s scheme, takes great interest in all the things he can buy with his money. Modern international consumer culture.

Plato believes that democratic leaders are more concerned with money and power, than how one can help the people. We certainly see that today, among politicians. Democratic man does whatever he wants, whenever he wants to do it. His life has no order or priority.

Then finally at the bottom, Plato descibes Tyranny, where no one has discipline and society exists in chaos. Democracy is taken over by the longing for freedom. People can even break the law if they so choose. This appears to be very similar to anarchy, and what we’ve been seeing in America and around the world recently, with the Black Lives Matter-led “George Floyd” protests and riots.

We’ve all seen this recently in the US, where radical leftists have promoted the idea to “Defund the Police.” They’ve created police-free “democratically led” autonomous zones, like CHAZ/CHOP in Seattle. According to Plato, power must be seized by a strong man, to maintain order (as again we’ve seen happen in CHAZ/CHOP, with gun-toting leaders) which will cause them to become tyrants.

Interestingly, the Torah reading starts off, “And Korah took...” (Numbers 16:1).

What did he take? He took himself and his “democratic activists” aside, to separate themselves from the community (shades of CHAZ/CHOP), to argue against the system, the Divine Aristocracy, and against Moses and Aaron. Korah took advantage of the chaotic moment after the spying affair, to attempt to seize power.

Plato explains, the tyrannical mindset creates the worst form of man, due to his being the most unjust and thus the furthest removed from any joy of the true kind, the Good. He is consumed by desires, which cause him to do terrible things such as murder and plunder, there is complete lawlessness. The tyrant becomes a law unto himself.

There have been reports of shakedowns on local businesses, extorting money from shopkeepers in CHAZ/CHOP and the abuse of its own “citizens.” And, during the Black Lives Matter-led “George Floyd” protests and riots (although protesting supposedly for equality, democracy, and against police abuse); there have been many reports of specifically anti-Semitic epithets, graffiti, violence, and destruction being done. See my last article, “BLM and Black Nazis are Evil Like White Nazis.”

Korah too, like BLM, wants mob rule in the name of “democracy.” He was a demagogue, willing to sacrifice everyone else to achieve his power grab, as BLM and the far Left in America are doing today.

Yet, the God of Israel said, “You shall be to me a kingdom of priests [teachers of spirituality and morality-leaders to bring the world to God] and a holy [separated and elevated] nation [because of their special mission]...” (Exodus 19:6).

God wants to create a Holy Society in Israel, led by a Divine Aristocracy, with the Kohanim and Levites teaching and serving in the Temple, not a democracy. And, the Jewish king, who eschews all self-aggrandizement, writes for himself two Torah scrolls, one of which, he keeps with himself at all times to, “ all the days of his life, so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees, and not consider himself better than his brothers, and turn away from Mitzvah observance…” (Deuteronomy 17:16-20).

The Rambam continues, about the future Messiah (ideal Jewish leader), “If he succeeds in all the above, builds the Temple in its place, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, he is definitely the Mashiach.

He will then improve the entire world, motivating all the nations to serve God together, as Zephaniah 3:9 states: ‘I will transform the peoples to a purer language that they all will call upon the name of God and serve Him with one purpose.’” In a sense to achieve Plato’s idea of the True Good, which he must have gotten from the Torah.

God wants a Divine Aristocracy for Israel, not a Democracy.
Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
(c) 2020/5780 Pasko

Monday, June 15, 2020

BLM and Black Nazis are Evil Like White Nazis

I’m color blind, I don’t look at the color of someone’s skin, but the content of their character, through their speech and actions; let me tell you, Black Jew-hating Nazis are just as bad as White Jew-hating Nazis.

It started with Rev. Louis Farrakhan, calling Judaism a “gutter religion,” and Rev. Jeremiah Wright describing Israel as “state terrorism against the Palestinians.”

Or, did it?

No actually, starting in 1961, the Nation of Islam, under Elijah Muhammad’s leadership and with Malcolm X’s help, the NOI developed ties with the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.

This policy continued under Farrakhan’s leadership of the Nation of Islam.

Farrakhan’s past statements are well known, for example, “Here the Jews don’t like Farrakhan and so they call me ‘Hitler.’ Well that’s a good name. Hitler was a very great man. He wasn’t great for me as a Black man but he was a great German...”

It seems, black and white separatists have common cause in hating Jews.

For a while, in the 1960s, the Black Panthers insisted they were not against Jews, but only against Zionism. Until 1970, when Connie Matthews, international coordinator of the Black Panther Party, declared in the BPP official organ, that Jewishness, Zionism and racism were identical, she claimed that most Jews involved in the Left were Zionists.

She accused the Jews involved in the Chicago 8 Conspiracy trial, to have been “...willing and did sacrifice Bobby Seale (a Black Panther), and his role in the conspiracy trial, to gain publicity.”

Later she declared, “The one-eyed bandit from Tel Aviv (General) Moshe Dayan must be hunted down and killed.”

In fact, threatened attacks by black radicals on synagogues and the daily attacks on Jews in the streets of New York (similar to today), is what gave rise to Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Jewish Defense League in 1968.

Lest you think they’re just isolated, radical black preachers and militants, think again. Think about how modern black pop culture is inundated with Jew-hatred.

Rap and Hip Hop singers have expressed anti-Semitic views since the beginning of the genre. Follower of Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, Professor Griff, former member of the hip hop group Public Enemy, then serving as their “Minister of Information,” said in 1989 that, “Jews are responsible for the majority of the wickedness in the world.”

In 1990, Public Enemy issued the single “Welcome to the Terrordome,” which contains the lyrics: “Crucifixion ain't no fiction / So-called chosen frozen / Apologies made to whoever pleases / Still they got me like Jesus,” belittling the chosenness concept in Judaism and reinforcing the Christian accusation of deicide by the Jews.

Even during these tense and riotous times in America recently, following George Floyd’s seemingly unjust murder by a policeman, with many liberal Jews marching along, some are still stoking the flames. As with Ice Cube’s recent behavior, “Ice Cube Tweets Out Star of David With Apparent Occult Reference”.

When called out on his anti-Semitism he said, “What if I was just pro-Black? This is the truth brother. I didn’t lie on anyone. I didn’t say I was anti anybody.”

And, whether on purpose or through “osmosis,” Judeopathy continues to infect much of black pop culture today, “Nicki Minaj Criticized for Using Nazi Symbolism”

Its not just radical black preachers and pop culture, but even more mainstream black activists and politicians have spouted anti-Jewish and anti-Israel rhetoric. Both Jesse Jackson and former US Ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young supported the PLO’s cause (independence through the murder of Jews). Don’t forget, Jackson’s “Hymietown” remark in 1984.
As late as 2006, Andrew Young in an interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel, when asked about Wal-Mart hurting independent businesses, replied, “You see ‘those are the people’ who have been overcharging us, and they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they’ve ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews...”

During the Crown Heights riots of 1991, when blacks attacked Jews, Yankel Rosenbaum was stabbed to death, and other Jews in the neighborhood were beaten up. Jewish stores were looted, and cars and homes (identified by their Mezuzah), were damaged.

On the third day of the riots, Rev. Al Sharpton and activist Sonny Carson led a march. The marchers proceeded through Crown Heights carrying anti-Semitic signs and burned an Israeli flag.

Sharpton and about 400 blacks marched through Crown Heights chanting “No Justice, No Peace!”, “Death to the Jews!”, and “Whose streets? Our streets!”

Now you know from where the recent Black Lives Matter-led rioters got their slogans…

And what did the recent rioters do? Attack Jews, synagogues, and Jewish property of course.

America’s Kristallnacht has happened already, do liberal Jews recognize it?

But this isn’t new for Black Lives Matter, they’ve expressed anti-Israel and anti-Semitic views since their beginning. In their 2016 Platform, they called Israel an “apartheid state,” and claimed it commits “genocide” against the Palestinians. See: “In platform, Black Lives Matter accuses Israel of ‘genocide,’ backs BDS”.

And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Black Lives Matter and other black radicals are in bed with PalestiNazi Hamas, see: “Hamas and Black Lives Matter: A marriage made in hell” and “Has Black Lives Matter alienated pro-Israel voices?”

Black Lives Matter has gone international, during a recent protest in Paris, some of the protesters chanted “dirty Jews” and “Jewish whores,” and carried signs that read, “Israel: the laboratory for police violence” and “Enough of Israel’s massacres! Justice and freedom for Palestine.” See: “France: Black Lives Matter demonstration marred by anti-Semitism”
What does Jew-hatred and Israel have to do with a call for racial equality and protesting the murder of George Floyd?

It seems to me that Black Nazis take every opportunity to spit their venom at Jews and Israel.

But not all blacks are anti-Semitic. ADL surveys conducted between 2007 and 2013 found that the vast majority of African-Americans when questioned, rejected anti-Semitism. For example, in their 2009 study, the ADL reported that 28% of blacks surveyed displayed antisemitic views, while a 72% majority did not. But, they consistently found that negative attitudes towards Jews were stronger among African-Americans than among the general population of America at large.

More recent polls such as “African Americans Have Mixed Opinions and Often No Opinions on Israel”, conducted in 2019 by LifeWay Research, also show about 30% of blacks hold anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views.

But, when asked, about Louis Farrakhan claiming that Jews have a “tremendous” influence in the US government and as a result “black people in this country will never be free until they are free of that kind of control,” 41% of blacks agreed.

Still it means the majority of blacks do not hold such views.

When Black Lives Matter published their platform in 2016, the Ecumenical Leadership Council of Missouri, a black church group, said that while Black Lives Matter plays an important role in addressing violence by police, it “...rejects without hesitation any notion or assertion that Israel operates as an apartheid country...” See: Black church group in Missouri condemns Black Lives Matter statement on Israel”

Also, many black conservatives have been criticizing Black Lives Matter, condemned the rioting, insisting on personal responsibility instead of the victim mentality, and the “systemic racism” narrative.

People such as Candace Owens, a former Democrat Party activist, “Candace Owens: I do not support George Floyd”. She points out that Jews don’t riot when another Jew is arrested or incarcerated. Neither do other ethnic groups. Then she goes on to blame, blacks themselves, pointing out that black on black murder is much more severe than what’s done by whites.

Al Sharpton, addressing a group of Reform Jewish leaders in 2019 shared with the audience, the rebuke he received after the 1991 riots by Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow, Coretta Scott King. She was known for her closeness to the Jewish community.

“One of the things she said to me, she said, ‘Al, the purpose of our movement has never been to just get civil rights for us, it’s to protect and stand for civil and human rights for everyone,’” he recalled.

“She said that ‘sometimes you are tempted to speak to the applause of the crowd rather than the heights of the cause, and you will say cheap things to get cheap applause rather than do higher things to raise the nation higher.’” Implying that his anti-Semitic vitriol during the riots was wrong.

It seems that Black Lives Matter is following in the violent confrontational path of the Nation of Islam, the Black Panthers, and other radicals, rather than the racially reconciliatory Civil Rights Movement of Martin Luther King Jr. and those like-minded.

Now we read that, “Black Lives Matter mural painted on block-long stretch of Brooklyn’s Fulton Street”, just like in many other American cities.

Imagine how Jews feel when they see that. Imagine how Jews feel when they see a swastika painted on a wall, or their home.
I repeat, Black Jew-hating Nazis are just as bad as White Jew-hating Nazis.

Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
(c) 2020/5780 Pasko

Monday, June 1, 2020

The God of Israel’s Hand in Nature and History

Just recently, the Jewish people experienced the Revelation of God at Mount Sinai, AGAIN!

The holiday of Shavuot just occurred. Jewish holidays are called a Moed, a private appointment time with the God of Israel, the God of their fathers and mothers.

Fifty days after Pesach/Passover, leaving slavery, leaving the Egyptian exile, the exile of the spirit behind; Moses leads the people to Mount Sinai, where they experience an unimaginable, synesthesiatic revelation, “seeing” God’s voice, the thunder, and sound of the shofar.

And all the people saw the voices...”

The voices: They saw what was audible, which is impossible to see elsewhere. Voices emanating from the mouth of the Almighty. Many voices, voices coming from every direction, and from the heavens, and from the earth,” (Rashi on Exodus 20:15, from Mechilta d’Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai).

A spiritual experience, of a magnitude never encountered by any other nation, before or after. As Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi, author of “Sefer HaKuzari” said, all other religions started with a “prophetic revelation” to one individual, who told others about it, and then believers started to follow the “prophet.” Not so with Am Yisrael, the Jewish people, an entire nation experienced the prophetic revelation of God at Mount Sinai, it was so powerful, that the Jews have remembered it for over 3,300 years.

And what did they SEE? “I am the Lord Your God [the God of creation], who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage [the God of history]” (Exodus 20:2).

The Rambam (Maimonides), in his Sefer HaMitzvot, lists Positive Commandment #1, the First Mitzvah, to believe in the Divinity: to believe that there is a cause and a reason, which is the maker of all creations. As The Exalted One has said, “I am the L-rd, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

Rambam then asks, Why does God identify Himself as the One who took us out of Egypt? Why not as the Creator of the universe? Certainly the creation of the universe, is a far greater feat than the Exodus from Egypt.

He answers, We did not witness creation, but we did witness the Exodus from Egypt. Because of this, we owe it to God to believe in Him and follow His commandments.

When God created the world, He created nature. When He took us out of Egypt, He broke the
system of nature, and we saw this happen. Every day we must remember that God not only
created the universe, but that He continues to create it ex nihilo every single moment, and can transcend nature at will. The fact that the First Commandment is given in the singular (“I am
your [singular] God”), tells us that God cares about the welfare of each individual person, and
therefore continues to bring us out of our personal Egypt, our constraints and challenges, every
single day.

The Rambam then points out, that the fact that God mentions the Exodus from Egypt in His First Commandment, reassures us that just as He took us out of the Egyptian exile, so will He take us out of this final exile [as He is doing in our day] with the coming of Mashiach, the Messiah.

Just as the God of Israel is Redeeming the Jewish people from its global exile and suffering today, showing how He is constantly involved in Jewish history and destiny, so too, is he punishing those who most oppressed the Jewish people, throughout the ages.

Recently I saw the data from John Hopkins University, for the CoronaVirus pandemic, the total number of confirmed cases has exceeded 6.23 million globally, almost 30% in the United States. The top seven infected countries are the US, followed by Brazil (about 8%), Russia (almost 7%), the United Kingdom (about 4.5%), Spain (almost 4%), and Italy (almost 4%), and France (about 3%).

The number of deaths in the top six countries, as a percent of all the deaths worldwide, is the United States (about 28%), the United Kingdom (about 10.5%), Italy (almost 9%), Brazil (almost 8%), France (about 7.75%), and Spain (just over 7%). Russia is in 14th place and has about 1.5% of the total deaths.

Three other countries near the top, who receive dishonorable mention are Germany, Iran, and Turkey.

After China, the first major epicenters of the virus outbreaks were in Korea, Iran and Italy.

It was very evenly spaced out across the globe by-the-way, to go into all Asia, E. & W. Europe, and from Europe and China ==> into USA. God’s Hand could be seen again.

But why Korea? North Korea has been helping Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas for years with, nuclear, missile, and tunnel technologies. North Korean pilots flew Egyptian MIG-21s against Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and always supported the PLO, i.e. Palestinian statehood. See my article, “North Korea: There is an Israeli Connection.”

Why Iran? Well threatening Israel’s destruction for over 40 years, and then a nuclear holocaust for the last 10 years, means something. The God of Israel “neither slumbers nor sleeps,” (Psalms 121:4).

And Italy? The Romans burnt down the Second Temple, robbed the temple treasury, destroyed Judea, murdered over a million Jews and dragged countless others off to slavery. The Coliseum in Rome, was built by Jewish slaves with money from the temple treasury. Christianity set up headquarters in Rome at the Vatican, and the Catholic Church has persecuted Jews for 1,600+ yrs.

Notice, most of the worse CoronaVirus outbreaks, have been in Catholic areas of Europe. The God of Israel is remembering the Church’s millennia long persecution of Jews, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, etc. For example, Italy (the Vatican), France (Burnt Talmuds), Spain (the Inquisition). The Catholic areas of Germany, have been hit worse than the Protestant areas, and we know what Germany has done to Jews in the past.

But why Brazil? As a Portuguese colony, Catholicism was the official religion, and anti-Semitic persecutions followed the Jews from the old world to the new world. Brazil was not free of the inquisition until Brazilian independence in 1822. Roman Catholicism remained the state religion, but the constitution proclaimed some tolerance of other religions, yet anti-Semitism persisted.

Anti-Semitism grew in Brazil in the 1900s, and reached its peak during 1933–1945, with the rise of Nazism in Germany. Brazil locked its doors to Jewish refugees from Europe during the Holocaust. Between 1937 and 1950, more than 16,000 visas to European Jews, most attempting to escape the Nazis, were denied by Brazilian governments.

England, the United Kingdom, Britain? Well that one’s obvious, they were pretty bad to us too...

The first blood libel in Europe occurred in England in 1144. The English participated in the Crusades, killing and looting Jews, in England itself, on their way to the liberate the Holy Land from the Muslims. Then, Jews were forcibly thrown out of England from 1290 until the 1650s.

The British declared the Balfour Declaration in 1917, to support the Zionist goal of establishing a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, and received the Palestine Mandate from the League of Nations to carry out that mission.

Yet, during the mandate period, they perfidiously helped the Arabs living in the mandate to thwart Jewish national aspirations. They allowed many Arabs from the surrounding countries to enter the mandate area, while limiting Jewish immigration to it, even during the darkest days before and during the Holocaust. Their policies toward Israel have been lukewarm at best, since.

Russia, the former Soviet Union, why them? Again obvious, pogroms, persecution, and the Pale of Settlement, under the Czars, and things only went downhill from there under the communists. The Soviet Union persecuted Jews, for wanting to learn Hebrew and practice Judaism. They supported the Arab states politically and militarily during the Cold War period, against Israel, and denied Jews the right to make Aliyah, i.e. leave the Soviet Union and move to Israel.

Even today’s Russia, is playing a two-faced game. Although Putin has had better relations with Israel than during Soviet times, he’s been allied with Iran and Turkey in Syria. Certainly no friends of Israel.

Which brings us to the United States. Why has God hit America so hard? Hasn’t America been good to the Jews, isn’t it the “Goldene Medina?” Maybe that’s the problem?

First of all, America refused entry to the MS St. Louis, a ship laden with Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. Then, America did nothing in particular to save Jews during the Holocaust. Roosevelt even ignored all requests to bomb the railroad tracks leading into the murder camps.

On one hand, America has been so good to the Jews that they’re assimilating in record numbers (a Silent Holocaust), yet anti-Semitism has sizzled under the surface for decades, and has been boiling over more recently. How long before the current riots turn anti-Semitic?
President Trump has been good to the Jewish people, and done God’s will, in recognizing Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and towns in Judea and Samaria. But Trump went too far (something HaShem, the God of Israel, didn’t want), in talking about a “Palestinian” state, and Netanyahu has sinned also, in agreeing to recognize other’s “rights” to our/HaShem’s Land.

Like an overconfident poker player, Trump has overplayed his hand... “Deal of the Century” get it?

He’s also made his biggest blunder, in talking about keeping the status quo on the Temple Mount, i.e. denying Jewish rights, when we all know that God’s House, the Third Temple, is going to be built there soon.

If you think about it for a moment, there’s definitely a pattern here. Starting in mid-January 2020, each weekly Torah reading, since the beginning of Sefer Shemot (the Book of Exodus), has related HIGHLY to what had been going on in the world at the time. The plagues, the exodus, the golden calf, building the Mishkan (Tabernacle), and soon the “Sin of the Spies.”

Back at the beginning of February, I was telling people out here, in Israel, that the Coronavirus hit America at about the same time, as the ten plagues had been being read in the weekly Torah readings, and the announcement that Trump’s partition plan, was going to be unveiled the following week, on January 28th. See my article, “The Likud and Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook.”

The exact chronology is: on Tuesday of that week – the first announced case of CoronaVirus was found in Washington state (no coincidence, note the name). On Thursday of that week, the White House announced that they were inviting Netanyahu, the following week, to unveil the “Deal of the Century.”

Do you see God’s Hand?

The return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the redemptive process, as promised by God, through his prophets (see the Hebrew Bible), has been unfolding in the last couple generations, it won’t be stopped by the Trump Plan, the CoronaVirus, or anything.

Many Rabbis have given three causes, for the CoronaVirus, (a slightly too GALUT/EXILE-CENTRIC perspective, because it ignores the most important reason) in my humble opinion.

1. The World's Sexual Promiscuity (Health)

2.LaShone HaRa (Slander/Evil Speech) (Hate)

3. Excessive Materialism (Money)

I've been telling people similar things, for the last several months...

But, let me end with this, and what about you? The Jews still in Galut?

HaShem is shaking the YIDDEN up worldwide!!! He’s brought:

1. Disease – the CoronaVirus ==> Health.

2. Rising anti-Semitism ==> Hate.

3. Economic collapse ==> To end Money/Power Idolatry & Jews’ false sense of security.

Interestingly, we read about the Golden Calf during this period too, and what symbolizes, modern idolatry, more than money today!

Now, the biggest reason (in my humble opinion) for this pandemic, and all that’s occurred in the last six months.

The God of Israel is carrying out Kibbutz Galuyot (the ingathering of the exiles), just as He promised in the Book of Ezekiel, “...So says the Lord God: Behold I will take the children of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side, and I will bring them to their land,” (Ezekiel 36:21). The redemption of the Jewish people continues.

All this will lead the Jews in the exile to:
4. Think really seriously, about moving to Israel ==> a massive wave of Aliyah is brewing.

Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Isaac Herzog recently said, “...We are preparing for increased Aliyah once the crisis is over...”

Aliyah, is itself TSHUVA, it is the Tikkun (repair) for the “Sin of the Spies,” who despised the GOOD LAND! That Torah reading by-the-way, Parshat Shlach, is coming up in less than two weeks.

Pesach (Chag HaGeula – the holiday of redemption) culminated in the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, on Shavuot. But the plan was to bring the Jews into the Land of Israel, if not for the “Sin of the Spies.” Remember, 80% of the Jews never even made it out of Egypt...

Don't get left behind! Make Aliyah NOW!!!
Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
(c) 2020/5780 Pasko


Thursday, May 21, 2020

Shir HaMa’alot: 15 Steps to Extending Israeli Sovereignty to Judea and Samaria

There’s been a lot of talk lately about extending Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria, talk long winded, but short on practical policy ideas. In honor of Jerusalem Day, celebrating the miraculous victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, and to consolidate the integration of Judea and Samaria into the State of Israel, I offer below, 15 comprohensive ascending policy steps to extending Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.

PM Netanyahu recently reiterated his pledge to apply sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria. In his speech to the Knesset, about the incoming government coalition he said, “It is time to apply Israeli law to the territories in Judea and Samaria. This step will not push off peace, but will bring it closer. Hundreds of thousands of settlers will not be moved from their homes.”

Its important to keep stressing ad infinitum, that applying Israeli sovereignty to Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria, opens the way for the rest of Judea and Samaria to be given away to the “Palestinians,” according to the Trump Plan. So, Netanyahu plans to give away a lot of the Arab residents, with parts of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) too.

But, Netanyahu hasn’t spoken about what the status of the Arabs inside those Israeli territories will be.

Furious over the talk, about extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas declared recently, “The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones.”

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Yamina) responded to the Palestinian Authority’s announcement that it would end security coordination with Israel, by calling on Defense Minister Benny Gantz, “ order the IDF to take full security responsibility in all areas of Judea and Samaria and disarm the Palestinian Authority in order to protect the lives of Israeli citizens.” Again, good start, but still a piecemeal approach.

There have been several other plans circulating for the last few years in Israel, about applying sovereignty to Judea and Samaria, or parts of it. But none of them go into much detail about what to do with the Arab population. How to help them emigrate or prepare to live in peace with Israel and Jews.

In the light of Abbas’ declaration, I offer below, a comprohensive 15 ascending steps policy proscription to extending Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria:

1. Nullify the Oslo Accords and pass a bill in the Knesset to apply Israeli law over Judea and Samaria, for the establishment of Jewish Political Sovereignty to areas A, B, and C, i.e. Annexation.

2. Establish total military and security control over all of Judea and Samaria, including the Arab cities, towns and villages, disarm and de-militarize the Arab population.

3. Develop a Jewish Re-settlement Program to encourage Israelis and Jews from the diaspora, to re-populate the Biblical Heartland of Israel, rebuilding cities, towns, and villages, that were wiped out during nearly 2,000 years of foreign occupation.

4. Forcibly dismantle the Palestinian Authority.

5. Arrest and try the PA leadership and Palestinazi terrorists and activists (or eliminate them if arrest is impossible), for their encouragement and support of terrorism, i.e. crimes against the Jewish people, like what was done with Eichmann, and as should have been done to Arafat.

6. Introduce throughout the Arab sector in Judea and Samaria (the former PA), a comprehensive De-Palestinazification Program similar to what America introduced into Germany after their defeat in World War II.

7. Establish an Emigration Authority and the Monetary Encouragement Act to help encourage and fund the migration of Arabs from Judea and Samaria who choose to leave to another country.

8. For those Arabs who chose to stay, and take the citizenship path, a New Citizenship Council will be established. The council will have the authority to deny citizenship to those Arabs who break the law, which of course will included any form of resistance to Israeli Sovereignty. Deportation without compensation will be the lightest penalty; more grievous violations will receive the death penalty.

9. With Sovereignty comes responsibility, so Israel will establish a network of Israeli Police Stations throughout the Arab sector in Judea and Samaria, just as in the Jewish sector. The purpose, to keep law and order, and provide security to those Arabs who choose to live peacefully under Israeli rule, i.e. protect them from the bullying and terror of “Palestinazi Activists” who haven’t yet been arrested, tried and convicted.

10. With the Dismantling of the Palestinian Authority, Israel as sole Sovereign in the Area, will take control of all public services and municipal administration. Monies shall be invested into improved infrastructure, e.g. roads, electricity, water, the sewer system, etc.

11. By taking control over the educational system in the Arab sector, Israel can introduce a new pro-Israel, peaceful coexistence curricula, which includes it’s De-Palestinazification Program. Financial encouragement of Israeli Arab educators to work in the Arab sector of Judea and Samaria, should help introduce pro-Israel attitudes and Hebrew into the population.

12. A Healthcare improvement initiative will be started, including the financial encouragement of existing Israeli Arab medical personnel, to work in the Arab sector of Judea and Samaria. More contact between Israeli Arab citizens and the Arab citizens of Judea and Samaria, will help with their integration into Israel, long-term.

13. The new Arab citizens of Judea and Samaria, will be entitled to full civil rights and equality before the law with Jews, including civil and criminal adjudication in the Israeli court system, just as Israeli Arabs. They also will be responsible to pay all taxes, just like other Israelis. They also will be required to do National Service (but not army service), as will Israeli Arabs.

14. Starting in 2050 (thirty years from the time these policies are introduced), and upon approval of the New Citizenship Council in coordination with the security services; municipal self-rule will begin to be progressively introduced into the Arab sector of Judea and Samaria, contingent upon their cooperation with Israeli authorities and peaceful, proper and lawful behavior up until then. Cities, towns and villages that qualify, will then be given the opportunity to hold democratic elections and elect their own municipal administrations under the auspices of the of the New Citizenship Council. Those towns would now be allowed to collect their own tax money and fund and administer, their own municipal budgets.

15. But, as a former enemy population, they are not entitled to national self-determination within the State of Israel, the Nation-State of the Jewish People. Therefore, the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, are not entitled to vote in Knesset elections. Full citizenship, like Israeli Arabs, which includes the right to vote in national elections, will be offered to them in three generations or seventy years (from the time these policies are introduced), whichever is longer, contingent upon their full cooperation with Israeli authorities, good and lawful behavior, and with the approval of the security services and the New Citizenship Council.

I have presented here, just one possible scenario for today’s politicians, policies that still need to be fleshed out with even more detail, on what to do with the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, once Israeli sovereignty has been established there.

As the issue is put on the top of the political agenda, all scenarios being presented to the public, need to be well thought out, explained in detail and fully discussed, to achieve maximum public support and total success.

This generation’s major challenge is, how the Jewish people will achieve full integration of Judea and Samaria (the Biblical Heartland), into the modern State of Israel.

Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
(c) 2020/5780 Pasko

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Behar-Bechukotai: Jews living outside Eretz Yisrael?

This past Shabbat’s Torah reading, Behar-Bechukotai, has three major concepts, that relate directly to events of the day, and without delving deeper into them, they might be completely missed.

PM Netanyahu in forming his new government coalition, has conditioned participation on full acceptance of the Trump peace plan, including the possibility of Palestinian statehood.

Shas and United Torah Judaism, the Sephardi and Ashkenazi Haredi parties, have joined on. Rafi Peretz has jumped the sinking Yamina ship of opposition, to swim ashore onto Netanyahu’s beachhead attack on Religious Zionism.

In true Machiavellian-style, Netanyahu, after having successfully disemboweled the Blue and White party to his left, turned rightward, and torpedoed Yamina.

Peretz agreed, that the Jewish Home faction would leave Yamina, and join up with Likud, in the government. He will back Netanyahu’s application of Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria. He has also agreed, to support Netanyahu’s other positions related to the Trump plan, including potentially, Jewish Home support for Palestinian statehood in part of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel).

How could three “religious” parties agree to such a thing?

In this past week’s Torah reading, the whole Jewish world learned, “The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land belongs to Me, for you are sojourners and residents with Me” (Leviticus 25:23).

And, Rashi says there, “Permanently: irreversibly. A permanent, irreversible sale.

Although this is referring to the right of redemption of the land, after a sale between Jews, is there anything more permanent, than the setting up of an enemy state in our midst?

In the parsha, talking about the Jubilee year, the Torah says, “For the land belongs to Me: [God says,] Do not be selfish about the land [hesitating to return it to its rightful owner at Jubilee], because the land does not belong to you” (Torat Kohanim).

If Eretz Yisrael doesn’t really belong to the Jewish people, but to God, then no one, no prime minister, no Israeli government, no one, has a right to give away part of it to some other “nation.”

Yet, in his speech to the Knesset, about the incoming government coalition, Netanyahu reiterated his pledge to apply sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria, “It is time to apply Israeli law to the territories in Judea and Samaria. This step will not push off peace, but will bring it closer. Hundreds of thousands of settlers will not be moved from their homes.”

Its important to keep stressing ad infinitum, that applying Israeli sovereignty to Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria, opens the way for the rest of Judea and Samaria to be given away to the “Palestinians,” and violates God’s Rights to the Land.

A little later in the Torah reading we learn the second major concept, the value of Jews living in Eretz Yisrael.

“I am the Lord, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, to be a God to you” (Leviticus 25:38). He took the Jews out of Egypt, and brought them to the Land of Israel, to live there and keep his Torah there.

And on this verse Rashi comments, “...To be a God to you,” I am a God to everyone who lives in the land of Israel, but anyone who leaves it is like one who worships idols” (Torat Kohanim; Ketubot 110b).

Concerning the value of Jews living in Eretz Yisrael, Rashi’s source can be found in Ketubot 110B. There, the Sages of the Talmud, taught in the context of a husband or wife wanting to force the other spouse to leave Israel, or make Aliya, and go up to live there, “A Jew should always live in Eretz Yisrael, even in a city that is mostly gentiles, and should not reside outside of Eretz Yisrael, even in a city that is mostly Jews.”

“The reason, is that anyone who resides in Eretz Yisrael is considered as one who has a God, and anyone who resides outside of Eretz Yisrael is considered as one who does not have a God. As it is stated: ‘To give to you the land of Canaan, to be your God”’ (Leviticus 25:38).

“The Rabbis then ask: Can it really be said, that anyone who resides outside of Eretz Yisrael has no God? And answer: Rather, this comes to teach you that anyone who resides outside of Eretz Yisrael is considered as though he is engaged in idol worship. And so it says with regard to David: ‘For they have driven me out this day, that I should not cleave to the inheritance of the Lord, saying: Go, serve other gods’ (ISamuel 26:19). But who said to David: Go, serve other gods? Rather, this comes to tell you that anyone who resides outside of Eretz Yisrael is considered as though he is engaged in idol worship” (Ketubot 110b).

The Rambam brings this down as Halacha, in his Mishneh Torah, The Laws of Kings and their Wars, Chapter 5, Halacha 12: “At all times, a person should dwell in Eretz Yisrael even in a city whose population is primarily gentile, rather than dwell in the Diaspora, even in a city whose population is primarily Jewish. This applies, because whoever leaves Eretz Yisrael for the Diaspora is considered as if he worships idols as I Samuel 26:19 states ‘They have driven me out today from dwelling in the heritage of God, saying: Go, serve other gods.’ Similarly, Ezekiel’s (13:9) prophecies of retribution state: ‘They shall not come to the land of Israel...’”

Its also brought down as Halacha in the Shulchan Aruch, “You force her to go up to live in Eretz Yisrael, even in a city that is mostly gentiles, and you should not reside outside of Eretz Yisrael, even in a city that is mostly Jews” (Even HaEzer 75:3).

With all the chaos and crisis taking place around the world these days, the CoronaVirus, economic collapse, rising anti-Semitism, what will it take, to awaken world Jewry to move to Israel? When will they fulfill the Mitzvah of Aliya, living in God’s Land?

Then in Bechukotai, we find the third major concept. Among the “Tochachah-Admonitions,” one of the promised punishments for not keeping the Torah, is: “I will make the Land desolate, so that it will become desolate [also] of your enemies who live in it. And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you. Your land will be desolate, and your cities will be laid waste. Then, the land will be appeased regarding its sabbaticals. During all the days that it remains desolate, while you are in the land of your enemies, the Land will rest and thus appease its sabbaticals,” (Leviticus 26:32-34).

Rashi, the Ibn Ezra, Rashbam, and many other commentators say: “‘I will make the Land desolate’ This is actually a blessing in disguise, namely, that since the Land will be desolate of people living in it, their enemies, will not find contentment in Israel’s Land [and will have to leave]’” (Siftei Chachamim; Torat Kohanim).

The Ramban, (Nachmanides) after winning the famous Barcelona Disputation, was forced into exile, he fled Catalonia for Eretz Yisrael. He described his travels in 1267, in a letter he wrote to his son, “Many are Israel’s forsaken places, and great is the desecration. The more sacred the place, the greater the devastation it has suffered. Jerusalem is the most desolate place of all, where I couldn’t even find nine other Jews to pray with.”

Similarly, American humorist, Mark Twain observed 600 years later, while riding through the Jezreel Valley,“There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent, not for 30 miles in either direction. There are two or three small clusters of Bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation. One may ride 10 miles, hereabouts, and not see 10 human beings.” He wrote, “We reached Mount Tabor safely...we never saw a human being on the whole route...” (The Innocents Abroad, 1869).

In his Torah commentary, the Ramban gave an interpretation to the desolation he encountered. He saw it as a good thing for Israel. He wrote that the devastation, “constitutes a good tiding, proclaiming that during all our exiles, our land will not accept our enemies...Since the time that we left [Eretz Yisrael], it has not accepted any nation or people, and they all try to settle it...This is a great proof and assurance to us.”

And, that’s exactly the condition the Jewish people found Eretz Yisrael in, when they started returning in the mid-19th century, a desolate and barren land. But the early Jewish agriculture projects started to make the land blossom again.

As is well known from numerous studies, most of the Arabs who live in Eretz Yisrael today, are descended from settlers that were encouraged to move here by the Ottoman authorities, from other parts of the empire, to balance the influx of Jews, in the late 19th century.

Or, decendents of migrant workers who came in looking for work, mostly from Egypt and Iraq, in the early 20th century; as the Jews were building up an economy, under the Ottomans, and the early Palestine Mandate period.

That’s why the Arab states and Soviet bloc wrote the UNRWA bylaws in 1949, to define an Arab refugee, as anyone who lived in the Palestine Mandate, only two years, prior to Israel’s declaration of independence. Many, many Arabs were newcomers to the country. They were used as a political tool against the fledgling State of Israel. First, Arab settlers, were redefined as Arab refugees, then overtime, they became “Palestinian” refugees, in anti-Israel doublespeak.

Now, there is an Israeli government that has agreed to the possibility of a Palestinian State, in parts of Eretz Yisrael. That gives an official stamp of approval to the lie, that there is a “Palestinian” people, that some other group than the Jews have rights here.

But its God’s Land, not ours, the Jews are only trustees for God. All the Jews. Even those who have yet to make Aliya, and come to receive their rightful inheritance as promised to their forefathers.

I’m waiting for you to come home, and so is your God, the God of Israel.

Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.

(c) 2020/5780 Pasko

Saturday, April 25, 2020

CoronaBlues, The Metzora, and Prayer

In this past week’s Torah Reading, Tazria-Metzora, we found the descriptions of Tzaarat, a spiritual-moral affliction that manifests itself through physical symptoms. We also found the Metzora, one who is afflicted with Tzaarat, and the procedure the Kohen (priest) uses, to “cure” him.

“And the person with Tzaarat, in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, his hair left uncut, he shall put a covering up to his lips [a mask] and he shall cry out, contaminated, contaminated. All the days that the affliction is upon him he is contaminated, he is Tameh [spiritually unclean and spiritually contagious]. He shall dwell alone [in self-isolation] outside the camp [through social distancing], (Leviticus 13:45-46).

That sounds a lot like what’s been taking place these days throughout the world… The CoronaBlues.

We are told that the sin of Loshon HaRa (slander) against others, causing division and hatred between people, is the reason that this “invisible enemy” has come upon him. Because he separated wives from their husbands and friend from friend, with his evil speech, he is now isolated from society, (Talmud Arakhin 16B).

The Dubno Magid, Rabbi Yakov Krantz, explained that many people say negative things and aren’t aware of the power of their speech. They rationalize, “I only said...” The Metzora is taught a lesson about the power of even a single word. Going to the Kohen, to be diagnosed, as to whether he’s a Metzora or not, by one word, Tameh, the Kohen decides his future, and he can be sent away from society, into isolation. (Ohel Yakov, Metzora).

“...And he shall cry out, contaminated, contaminated.”

The Talmud, in Sotah 32B, states that the Metzora does this to let others know of his affliction, so that people will pray for his recovery. The Talmud adds that anyone suffering, should inform the public, and they will pray to God to have mercy on him. From here we learn, that when you hear of someone’s troubles, sickness, or suffering from a tragedy, you should pray for them, even though you were not directly asked to do so.

So, I hope everybody reading this, has been increasing their Ahavat Yisrael, the last few months; praying for those stricken with the Corona plague, those unemployed, and all who are suffering from this pandemic.

We’ve all heard of roof-top or Merpasot (balcony) Minyans, neighbors in buildings next to, or within earshot of each other, participating in a community minyan, while the Batei Knesset (synagogues) have been closed, do to the lock-down. But not everybody has been lucky to do that. Many many people, have been Davening (praying) alone, at home.

Israelis are fluent in Hebrew (unlike many of their brethren (even the orthodox) in Chutz L’Aretz (outside the Land), and many Israeli Minyans move along quite quickly during prayers. But I’ve always wondered, just how much Kavanah (thoughtful intention/mindfulness) and emotional outpouring of the soul to God, can one have when praying that fast.

As the prophets and psalmist said over and over and over again, chastising a sinning Israel, “I don’t want your sacrifices, I want your love; I don’t want your offerings, I want you to know me,” (Hosea 6:6).

With the destruction of the second temple, the rabbis put more emphasis on prayer. The Talmud in Berachot 26b teaches that, “R. Joshua ben Levi said, ‘The prayers were instituted to replace the daily sacrifices.’” Offerings of the mind, heart, and lips, were now equated with the offerings of burnt flesh.

Midrash Tehillim 39:3 teaches, “A prayer on the tongue is better than any sacrifice. As its written, ‘I will praise the name of God with a song, I will exalt him with thanksgiving and it shall please God better than bulls,’ Psalms 69:31-32.”

But are quick, zippy minyans, conducive to thoughtful, heartful prayer and connection to the Holy One, Blessed Be He?

Interestingly, the Zohar3:228a (Raya Mehemna), makes the connection between prayer, the Kashrut of sacrifices, and lung damage (disease). “If prayer becomes stuck and is expressed with difficulty, then it is torn away (Treif). This is because an adhesion in the lung renders something torn away.”

Well, guess what God seems to have said for nearly two months, “I’m not interested in your meaningless minyans in synagogue, just like your former sacrifices, so, I’ll close them down too!”

In this time of mass synagogue closures because of the CoronaVirus, it presents people with a new opportunity to really work on one’s prayer in the quiet and comfort of their own home, without concern of what others will think or say, to learn to truly pour out their hearts to their creator.

Let’s take a look at some things that can be done to “spice up,” daily prayers, and make them more meaningful.

1. Try learning some new Perushim (explanations/commentaries) on the prayers, or particular Psalms or Pasukim (verses).

2. Spend some time before you start to pray, contemplating that the Master of the Universe is right there with you. The Mishnah in Berakhot 5:1, teaches that the Chasidim Rishonim (pious men of old) would contemplate/meditate an entire hour, in preparation for prayer, that they might direct their thoughts to God. So, at least take a few moments.

3. Try singing Pasukim (verses) instead of just saying the words. When you get to a Pasuk that you know a tune to, sing it out, repeat it a few times, get into it, connect to it, its meaning, and to God.

“There are gates on high that can only be opened with song,” (Tikkunei Zohar 11 – 26b).

The Talmud in Arakhin 11a teaches, “It is written, ‘You did not serve God with joy and gladness of heart’ (Deuteronomy 28:47). What worship includes joy and gladness? This is song.”

“When you pray, do so with a melody that is sweet and pleasant in your ears. The melody will cause you to pray with feeling, since it leads your heart to follow the words,” (Sefer Chasidim 158).

4. Try raising your hands to heaven, above your head, its very liberating.

Exodus 17:11 says, “So it came about when Moses held his hands up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hands down, Amalek prevailed.” We all are struggling with that inner Amalek, our Yetzer HaRa (evil inclination) of anxiety these days, that tries to distract us during prayer from anything meaningful.

“Do Moses’ hands make or break war? Rather, this teaches: Whenever Israel would look upward and direct their hearts to their Father in Heaven, they prevailed...” (Mishnah Rosh HaShanah 3:8).

As it says in Psalms 88:10, “Everyday I call out to You, God, I spread out my hands to You.”

“Raising one’s hands alludes to the fact that the Shekhina (God’s indwelling presence) is transmitting sustenance from on high,” (Pardes Rimonim 15:3).

“Its a great Ma’alah (merit/virtue) to stretch out your hands during prayer, or when giving thanks or praise to the Boreh Yitbarach Shmo (the Creator, Blessed be His Name),” (Sefer Yesod V’Shoresh HaAvodah, Gate 3 – Song, Chapter 1).

5. In the Yeshiva that I often Daven at, for Shabbat, during parts of Kabbalat Shabbat, they break out a few times into dance, while singing repetitively the verse. They also dance, often during parts of Hallel and in other places of the prayers. So, even when I’ve been praying at home I’ve kept up the “tradition.” Try dancing while singing verses, its good exercise, and it will open up your lungs and heart to God. A lot is said in sources about movement during prayer, this just takes it to the next level.

6. Say the Amida (Shmoneh Esrei – silent prayer) very slowly, even better if you can do it from memory rather than reading from the Siddur (prayer book). Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan in his book, “Jewish Meditation” pg. 105, refers to the Chasidim Rishonim, who after collecting their thoughts for an hour, said the Amida for another hour.

He says that the Amida was used as a meditative device. Rabbi Kaplan points out that the Amida has about 500 words, and if said for an hour (3,600 seconds), that is a pace of about one word every seven seconds. Saying the Amida at this pace is a highly advanced form of meditation. And, although most of us aren’t there yet, maintaining this pace for the first Bracha (paragraph), which contains only 42 words, is within reach. One word every seven seconds would take just under five minutes, a reasonable amount of time, and yet long enough to put one into a deep meditative state.

“Every word of prayer is a complete concept. You must therefore place all your feelings into it. If you don’t, it remains incomplete,” (Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, Tzavaat HaRivash).

“Our main link to God is through words – words of Torah and prayer. Every single letter in these words has an inner spiritual essence. You must attach your thoughts and innermost being to this essence… When you draw out a word and don’t want to let it go, you are in a state of Devekut, attachment to God,” (Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, Keter Shem Tov 44).

My challenge to all who have been forced to pray at home, instead of their local synagogue these days, is to use the situation for growth. Even better, when finally liberated from this viral Mitzraim, bring back to the Beit Knesset, what you have achieved. Talk to others, compare notes.

Happy to return to synagogue; make Davening really something special. Bring life and joy back to prayer, even during the weekdays.

As Rebbe Nachman of Breslov was fond of saying, “Simcha (joy) brings Refuah (healing). Just another way, to kill off the CoronaBlues.
Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
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