Thursday, January 30, 2020

Bo: Leave My Land Alone

So Benny Netanyahu and Benny Gantz (its all about the Benjamins), went to Pharaoh Trump and demanded in the name of God, leave My Land alone… Or, did they?

God has a sense of humor. He’s throwing this at Israel, at a time when Jews around the world have been reading in the weekly Torah portions, about Moshe and Aaron going to Pharaoh, demanding Pharaoh release the Jews to serve Him. Of course as everybody knows, Pharaoh refuses.

Last week the plagues started, this week, more of the same. Pharaoh continues to dig into his position, till the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn. Completely broken, Pharaoh finally blinks and caves in.

Has Trump caved in with his “peace plan?” Did Netanyahu tell Trump, “we’re going to worship the God of Israel, in ALL of Eretz Yisrael, the Land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, exclusively?”

Moshe told the elders of Israel, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb…” When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the door frame and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.”

Moshe continued, “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this service. When your children ask you, ‘What does this service mean to you?’ tell them, ‘It is the Korban Pesach (Passover offering) to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Children of Israel in Egypt and spared our homes, when he struck down the Egyptians,’” (Exodus 12:21-27).

Pharaoh, all his officials, and all the Egyptians got up during the night, because there was a great outcry throughout Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. During the night, Pharaoh summoned Moshe and Aaron [ran through the streets terrified, looking for them – Ramban] and said, “Get up! Leave my people, you and the Children of Israel. Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your sheep and cattle, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.” The Egyptians strongly urged the Jews to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” (Exodus 12:30-33).

American elections are coming, the impeachment trial knocks on the door, Trump’s campaign will get into full swing soon. He want’s to put his Middle East Real Estate Project in order, get it out of the way, and maybe get that blessing too…

But will he?

While Israel has waited 70 years for peace, the Jews in Egypt, waited 210 years, to get out of slavery and leave Egypt. Yet, instead of fleeing right away, Moshe (a known extremist and true Jewish leader, who killed an Egyptian earlier), tells Pharaoh, “What are we thieves, that we should leave at night? We will leave when we’re good and ready, with heads held high, in broad daylight, in full view of all Egypt,” (Mekhilta).

That’s a Kiddush HaShem, the world sees, the God of Israel’s Power and Majesty to free His people.

In the morning, Moshe instructed the Jews to ask the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold, and for clothing. God made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for… (Exodus 12:35-36).

Pity Netanyahu and Gantz weren’t “tough” like Moshe and Aaron, telling Trump, lay off our land, and watch us apply sovereignty to all of it, in front of the eyes of the whole world. And, you’re going to recognize it. There’s no such thing as “Palestinians,” and there will never be a “Palestinian State.”

Maybe they would have been granted, all they demanded from Trump, like in Egypt? God just gave Netanyahu and Gantz, their chance at eternal greatness, and they blew it.

Instead, the peace deal that’s been announced, is a historic tragedy for the Jewish people, and a Chillul HaShem (slap in the face to the God of Israel, who gave it back to us in 1967).

How could any Jewish leader agree to compromise on God’s Land?

Meanwhile, some Temple Mount activists, working for freedom of Jewish worship and prayer on the Temple Mount, welcomed Trump’s plan. Officially called, “Vision for Peace, Prosperity, and a Brighter Future for Israel and the Palestinian People,” the plan calls for Jerusalem’s holy sites, to “remain open and available for peaceful worshippers and tourists of all faiths.”

Instead of recognizing the Jewish people’s exclusive rights to the Temple Mount, it keeps the status quo.

The plan says, “People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.”

Some Temple Mount activists claim that “the prayers of the Jews on the Temple Mount are now officially recognized by the United States,” and this recognition “advances the People of Israel in a major step toward fulfilling Jewish destiny at the site of the Temple.”

The activists plan to test this clause, by making an official request soon, to “allow every Jew to offer the Passover sacrifice on the Temple Mount, the most important commandment in the Torah,” this Pesach (Passover).

So, we will soon see the limits of the “peace plan,” who has gained “rights” and who has lost out...

For those religious Jews, who might object, really, there’s no good reason not to bring the Korban Pesach in our time. The Rambam (Maimonides), ruled that a Jew is obligated to offer the Passover sacrifice even when the Temple has not yet been built, even in ritual impurity, and even by today’s Kohanim (priests). Most of the halachic (Jewish Law) issues have been solved in the last couple hundred years, at least since the time of the Chatam Sofer, and particularly in our generation. Halacha is not the barrier. Go check it out. Also, see my article, “Getting Ready For Korban Pesach This Year.”

Although at first it was floated that sovereignty would be applied to the Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria by next week, now Kushner and others are saying to hold off until after the next elections. And what excuse will be made after that?

At this point, all that’s occurred, is that the United States has officially recognized Palestinian national aspirations for an independent state, and Netanyahu as head of the State of Israel, has praised that. He glowingly told a Fox interviewer, “It gives the Palestinians national dignity.” Whose Prime Minister is he?

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “It’s the first time the Israelis have ever conceded to a map, that actually lays down real outlines of what this will look like and what this means, and it provides a clear pathway for a Palestinian state.”

A far cry from Moshe and Aaron and true Jewish leadership...
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

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

75 Years After Auschwitz And Not Much Learned

They come, they cry, they pay homage, and they leave. And where do they go back to? To places where anti-Semitism is growing by leaps and bounds. Where Jews are endangered once again.

They, are the over 50 world leaders, including Putin and Pence, coming to Israel, for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum. The event, entitled “Remembering the Holocaust: Fighting Antisemitism,” at Yad Vashem. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Neither they, nor most Jews have learned much in those 75 years.

This event at Yad Vashem, comes after some hundred parliamentarians from across Europe gathered at Auschwitz this week, and were urged by the Brussels based European Jewish Association, and the Action and Protection League of Europe, to toughen anti-Semitism laws in their countries.

They need to be urged?

They participated in a two-day program. Day one, they took part in a symposium in Krakow, and a gala dinner.

Of course, what’s a commemoration of genocide against the Jews, without a party?

The meetings and dinner speeches, addressed the need for increased Holocaust education in Europe, a strengthened commitment to passing national legislation to fight hatred towards Jews, and outlaw the sale of Nazi memorabilia. Followed by a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and memorial service, on day two.

Thanks to the internet and modern social media, Judeopathy is more globally pervasive today than in the 1930s.

One only needs to mention attacks on Jews in recent years in Pittsburgh, Poway, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Monsey, Toronto, Paris, Prague, London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Moscow, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Uman, and on, and on, and on…

Do I make my point?

For example, the number of attacks on Jews and anti-Semitic vandalism, reported to the police in France, surged 74% in 2018.

There’s also been a meteoric rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United States in recent years. The Anti-Defamation League reported a 58% increase in such incidents, between 2016 and 2017, many of them in schools or on college campuses.

And, in November 2019, the FBI released data, that showed that Jews and Jewish institutions, were the overwhelming majority of targets, of religion-based hate crimes in 2018, as they have been every year since 1991, in America.

The stigma of the Holocaust is over. Anti-Semites openly voice their views. Judeopaths are free to roam wild. Jews and Israel are no more cut any slack. The killing season has started again. Little has been done to curb it. So, politicians worldwide, will do what they do so well, pay lip service.

In this World of Illusion and falsehood, selfies rule supreme. Mourning some dead Jews, spouting some trite lines, laying a wreath at Yad Vashem, and making sure the media sees you virtue signaling the right thing, is what counts.

A wise rabbi once said, “I’d rather be a live Jew that everybody hates, than a dead Jew that everybody mourns over.”

World leaders will “do the right thing,” and then go back home. Attacks on Jews will continue to grow, and politicians will continue to condemn them, and then do little, to nothing, to stop it.

Jews should work with friendly non-Jewish allies and the authorities in various countries, BUT, Jews shouldn’t put all their trust in them, to protect them. If we learned nothing from the 1930s and 1940s, at least Jews should have learned the importance of active self-defense, as permitted to the full extent of the law wherever they reside.

So, what about the Jews? What have they learned in 75 years?

Well let’s look at America for example. In America they’ve learned to build Holocaust museums, memorials, and to promote educational programs in schools, to raise awareness about the Holocaust and the evils of anti-Semitism.

Is it working? It doesn’t seem so, since anti-Semitic attacks are up up up.

Who hasn’t read about the Holocaust memorial or synagogue defaced...

Who hasn’t read about the Jewish child in school, abused by his or her peers, AFTER a Holocaust lecture or movie was shown. Swastikas appear on lockers, or in bathroom walls, etc. It happens, sorry to say, quite frequently.

What about promoting Jewish self-defense awareness? With so many attacks on Jews, in synagogue, at Jewish centers, kosher groceries, or just walking down the street, it seems reasonable. Jews should be arming themselves to the full extent of the law.

Its well known that a shooting or stabbing attack is shortened, and casualties minimized, with the introduction of a second weapon. Israel has seen that often, not just police or soldiers, but also armed Jewish civilians have stopped Arab shooters, stabbers, and attempted car rammings.

But, guess what, in America, Jews are proportionately more vocal and active in promoting gun-control than the general population.

Lest you say that’s only liberal and more secular Jews (who are a clear majority of Jews in America); only days after the Monsey attack on Hasidim last Hanukkah, members of the same community that was attacked, spoke out against taking up weapons.

A writer and activist from Monsey, Shimon Rolnitzky wrote:

“And we must be wary of those who say that guns are the answer. From the time that Haredi children are very small, we learn to despise weapons...They educated us to be pacifists and talked to us about how nice it will be when the Messiah comes, when “nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4).

“The great majority of Haredi Jews do not want to take up weapons. Jews who come to the Hanukkah lighting of their Rebbe, like those who had to struggle against a murderer with a big machete on Saturday night, are generally the type of people not to kill a fly. I still remember when I brought home a toy gun for Purim and my mother took it, saying that “Jews don’t have a use for guns.”

It seems that even after the Holocaust, and with increasingly violent attacks in America, Jews still haven’t learned the lesson of active self-defense.

Yet, Hanukkah celebrates the military victory of the Jews against the Seleucid Greeks.

And, Purim celebrates salvation from a genocidal decree. Not only did the king hang Haman and his ten sons, but the Jews killed 75,800 “Nazi Party” members also… (Esther chapter 9).

I’m sorry to say that these Hasidim, don’t seem to have learned the lesson of Hanukkah or Purim either.

As that Rabbi said, referring to the need for Jewish self-defense, “I’d rather be a live Jew that everybody hates, than a dead Jew that everybody mourns over.”

That’s the most important lesson to learn from Auschwitz, and what about Aliyah too!
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, January 16, 2020

Shemot: D’Nile Isn’t Just A River In Egypt

In this week’s Torah reading, Parshat Shemot, we move from the Book of Genesis, to the Book of Exodus; from stories about the founding family of the Jewish people, to the “Am Bnei Yisrael,” the nation of Israel in Galut, exile. And, who calls the Jews a nation first? The Pharaoh of Egypt, himself (Exodus 1:9).

Let’s review the basic story. Pharaoh becomes paranoid that the Jews might become a fifth column against them, in case an enemy nation invades Egypt. He decides to recruit them for “Egyptian national service,” read slavery, to better control them, maybe even stop their population growth. Since that doesn’t work, he carries out an infanticide (ordering baby boys drowned), to decimate the Jewish male population.

Yocheved, Moshe’s mother, after giving birth, puts baby Moses, in a basket amongst the reeds by the Nile river, hoping to save him. He’s found by Pharaoh's daughter, brought home, raised in the palace, yet surreptitiously nursed by his mother, and grows up knowing he’s a Hebrew.

When he gets older, Pharaoh appoints him chamberlain over the palace. One day he goes out to check out the situation of the Hebrew slaves, and sees an Egyptian taskmaster beating a Jew. He kills the Egyptian, and buries him in the sand. The next day he sees two Jews fighting (Dathan and Abiran), and when he tries to intervene, one of them asks him, if he’s planning on killing him like he killed the Egyptian? Realizing that the murder is well known, Moshe gets scared, and when he finds out that Pharaoh heard about the killing, Moshe decides to flee Egypt.

Moshe goes to Midian, and rests by a well. Jethro’s daughters come to the well to water their father’s sheep, are harassed by other shepherds and saved by Moshe. They go home and tell Jethro that an “Egyptian” man helped them. Moshe lives with them, and later he marries one of Jethro’s daughters, Zipporah (Exodus, chapters 1 and 2).

Rav Tzvi Yehudah Kook was known to remind people, about a teaching of the Rebbe of Ostravtza (Ostrowiec), R. Meir Yechiel HaLevi Halstock. The Rebbe taught, when people meet and ask each other where they’re from, a Jew should always reply, “I come from Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel.”

Rav Tzvi Yehudah explained that there’s a midrash (Deuteronomy Rabbah 2:5), that criticizes Moshe in comparison to Joseph. Joseph identified with Eretz Yisrael. He told the people in prison, “I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews” (Genesis 40:15). Therefore he merited to be buried in Israel. Moshe, by contrast, didn’t acknowledge his homeland in the incident with Jethro’s daughters, when they told Jethro, “an Egyptian saved us,” Moshe remained silent. Therefore Moshe didn’t merit to be buried in Eretz Yisrael.

The Rebbe of Ostravtza asked, why the midrash finds fault with Moshe for not saying he was from Eretz Yisrael? After all, Moshe was born in, and grew up in Egypt, the exile (much like many Jews around the world today). The Rebbe answered, that because of God’s promise to give the Land of Israel to Abraham’s descendants, the Jewish people, Moshe belongs to the Land, he is inextricably connected to it. And so are all Jews today.

Rav Tzvi Yehudah explained that because of the long exile, Jews have become accustomed to think that life in Galut, exile, is normal. They think of themselves as Americans, Russians, French, Brazilian, etc. and forget that Eretz Yisrael is their natural, healthy, Divinely-intended place to live.

One only needs to mention attacks on Jews in Pittsburgh, Poway, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Monsey, Toronto, Paris, Prague, London, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Moscow, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Uman, and on, and on, and on…

Do I make my point?

In November 2019, the FBI released data that showed that Jews and Jewish institutions, were the overwhelming target of religion-based hate crimes in 2018, as they have been every year since 1991, in America.

With rising anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism worldwide in the last several years, increasingly violent and deadly attacks on Jews have occurred, including in that most “safe of places,” “it couldn’t happen here,” “the Goldene Medina,” America.

Its not just the neo-Nazis and far-right who are increasingly attacking Jews in America, but also their “friends” on the left, including too far gone BDS, pro-Palestine Jews themselves. Blacks, Muslims, and everyday non-Jews are also getting into the act.

When are the Jews going to become Jew-Woke?

D’Nile isn’t just a river in Egypt.

The parsha continues with Moshe getting his revelation at the burning bush. God sends him back to Egypt, to tell the Hebrews that the redemption is coming soon. Met by his brother Aaron on the way, they return to Egypt and tell the Jewish elders the good news, “And the people believed. And they heard that God had remembered the Children of Israel, was concerned about them, and had seen their affliction...” (Exodus chapters 3 and 4).

Moshe and Aaron then go, as commanded by God, to Pharaoh, and tell him, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’”

Pharaoh answers them, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.”

Pharaoh denies that there is any power greater than himself. Pharaoh claimed to be a god himself. Not yet grasping what’s really taking place, he begins his fatal plunge into total denial of the new reality about to unfold before his eyes, that will lead to the destruction of his country.

D’Nile isn’t just a river in Egypt.

He lashes back at them, “Moshe and Aaron, why are you bothering the people from their labor? Get back to your work!” Pharaoh then orders that straw be withheld from the Hebrew brick makers. He tells the Egyptian taskmasters to let them go and gather straw for themselves, but that they must keep to the quota, or else.

The Jewish foreman are then beaten for not keeping to the quota of bricks produced, and they complain to Pharaoh, about the lack of straw. He replies, “Lazy, that’s what you are, lazy! That’s why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ Now get to work. You won’t be given any straw, but you must produce your full quota of bricks.”

They leave Pharaoh and find Moshe and Aaron waiting to meet them, they curse Moshe and Aaron saying, “May the Lord look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

So quickly has the joy of promised redemption, turned to bitterness and disgust with Moshe and Aaron.

Similarly, the joy of Israeli independence in 1948, and the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967, has evaporated for many Jews in the exile, to be replaced by anger toward Israel, and the so-called “occupation.”

Moshe himself then returns to God and asks, “Why Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Is this why You sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your Name, he’s done evil to this people, and You have not rescued Your People at all.”

The vision of redemption is fading quickly, even for the reluctant messenger, Moshe. God then answers him, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, because of My Strong Hand he will let them go; because of My Mighty Hand he will drive them out of his country” (Exodus chapter 5 and 6:1).

First came bitter slavery, then the hope of redemption, then like the birth pangs of labor before the baby is born, even greater suffering. After such great stress, the Jewish people in Egypt focus exclusively on their suffering and it’s “causes,” Moshe and Aaron; rather than the end goal, Redemption, Freedom, leaving the Egyptian Exile and return home to Eretz Yisrael.

Just like the denial of the Jews in Egypt during the Redemptive Process, so too, many Jews worldwide, since 1948, have denied the Redemption taking place in our days, with the rise of the State of Israel, and the freedom to come back to the homeland.

As Rav Tzvi Yehudah said, Jews became accustomed to think that life in Galut, exile, is normal, even with the increasing anti-Semitism, brutality and murder taking place there. They’re in denial that Eretz Yisrael is their natural, healthy, Divinely-intended place to live.

D’Nile isn’t just a river in Egypt!

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