Dreaming of the Great Awakening

Dreaming of the Great Awakening

by Rabbi Ben Tzion Krasniansk

In a small shtetl in Eastern Europe in the late Nineteenth century this poor Jew suddenly withdrew the few dollars that he had in the bank. The next day the bank went belly up and all the wealthy Jews in town lost all their money. They were amazed, how could this poor Jew who knew nothing about finances have known that the bank was about to go under, something that had eluded all the mavens? They approached the poor Jew and asked: Tell us how did you know? He replied: I truly know nothing about finances but Friday before Shabbos the owner of the bank and myself were in the bath house and I over heard him say while sighing like only a Jew knows how to sigh, that Moshiach better come quickly. I realized that if this financial bigwig feels the urgency for Moshiach then he must be suffering terribly at the Bank. So immediately after Shabbos I rushed to pull out the few dollars that I saved up at the Bank!

The truth is, however, that Moshiach has always warmed the Jewish heart and inspired the Jewish soul. The Jewish people know how to long, to dream and to yearn, knowing that the day will come when the dream will come true.

The Torah tells us today that the first one to storm heaven and earth to bring the dream of Moshiach to fruition was Moses. The name of this week’s Torah portion, Va’eschanan means to plead. The Midrash teaches us that in the Hebrew language there are ten expressions for prayers and supplications, and Moshe used all of them in his prayers to be allowed to enter into the promised land. The word Va’eschanan itself has the numerical value of 515 telling us the number of times Moshe prayed to G-d to have mercy upon him to allow him to enter into the land of Israel. Why was Moshe so insistent, because had he entered into Israel he would have ushered in the final redemption.

G-d had to order Moshe to literally stop praying in order that people shouldn’t say, “Look how unyielding is the master and how adamant is the student.”

Yet we find that twenty four centuries ago, the Rabbis of the Great Assembly instituted that we pray for the coming of Moshiach a minimum of eighteen times each and every day. Why, what right do we have to constantly petition and pester G-d with the same request, isn’t it disrespectful? Yet the Rabbis institutionalized that Jews should relentlessly pray and question G-d’s decision to delay Moshiach’s coming.

Rabbi Moses Maimonides at the end of his Magnum Opus (Laws of Kings Chapter 11, 12) makes it abundantly clear that Moshiach is not a supernatural, other worldly phenomenon, rather Moshiach represents a perfectly natural state of events. It is the exile which comprises an unnatural reality. Exile in the Torah is compared to a dream state when we take leave of our senses, take a vacation from reality and dream up illusions. Moshiach is compared to a great awakening when we return to our natural reality.

In a very real sense Moshiach is not a change rather a return to a natural state of being. It is the status quo which is unnatural, an aberration and it takes a tremendous amount of energy to maintain this distortion.

Imagine a world in which you weren’t even tempted to act self-destructively because you keenly felt the power and the depth of your desire to live and be healthy. Imagine a world in which you were tempted to strengthen your relationship with G-d and you were repulsed by anything that could cause a disconnection between you and G-d because you keenly felt the G-dliness that’s located at the center of your being. This is the world of Moshiach.

This is the world that every Jew believes in and yearns for with every fiber of his being and every bone in his body. It is this belief that has sustained the Jewish people throughout its long and bitter exile.

When you see a painting that’s crooked it bother’s your sense of esthetics and you straighten it out. There’s no way that you will make the painting even more crooked because the sense of what’s wrong carries with it inseparably a sense of what’s right. If you had no clear image of the way the painting should be, you would never have been troubled by a sense that something is out of place.

Why is it that the Jew suffers from the exile more then anyone else and why is it the Jew’s unique mission to bring Moshiach? Because every Jew has hard wired into their system a deeply ingrained vision of the way world could be, should be, and will inevitably become once again.

The Torah tells us how at the beginning of creation the entire world was in a pristine state, a veritable paradise. At Mt. Sinai for a brief moment the world once again returned to its natural state of perfection. Ever since Mt Sinai, the Jew has been charged with the Divine mission to restore himself and the entire world, through the study of Torah and the fulfillment of its Mitzvot, to its good and wholesome self.

Consequently, the Rabbis instituted that every Jew follow in the footsteps of Moshe and on a daily basis storm heaven and earth and relentlessly seek out, pray and work towards the redemption. Even one extra moment of exile is unbearable and intolerable for the Jew. We are not asking G-d for a miracle, on the contrary it takes a miracle to keep up the distortion of exile. We are asking G-d to restore us to our natural selves, to help us get in touch with our true nature which is buried and submerged deep down inside of us. We are praying to G-d that our core and essence that our pintele yid or the Moshiach inside of us should emerge and surface and that we should experience the great awakening of the imminent redemption. Now!

“RabbiKrasnianski” <[email protected]>




Beck & Amb. Bolton remember…

Media Glenn Beck & Ambassador John Bolton
remember Gush Katif

by Shalom Abramowitz, Chabad.Info
with additional information by Tiffany Gabbay, The Blaze

Last night, the Razag ballroom in Crown Heights hosted one of the most powerful and inspiring events since its founding. A gala dinner honoring the great work of the “International Campaign for Saving The Land of Israel” directed by Rabbi Sholom Wolpo, and their “Gush Katif Museum.”

Chabad Chassidim from Crown Heights were joined by Jews from the Metro NYC area, and even some Non-Jews who care about the safety and security of the Jews in their ancestral land, Israel. They all came to show support to the great work done by the institution, informing and reminding everyone about the sheer stupidity behind giving land to hideous terrorists.

The event was emceed by Rabbi Dudi Farkash, who began by inviting renowned Chabad speaker Rabbi Yossi Jacobson to address the participants. Rabbi Jacobson spoke about the absurdity in giving land to terrorists and the destruction of vital Jewish settlements. He also pointed out that it is the only country in the world which has laws barring Jews from residing in areas inside its borders!

One of the evening’s keynote speakers was none other than Glenn Beck.

Dubbed by those who introduced him a righteous gentile and one of Israel’s “greatest friends,“ Beck spoke to the crowd about both the ”honor“ and ”responsibility” we incur for having been born into these tumultuous times, and noted that it is indeed “1938 all over again.”

The resounding message of the evening was clear: All of Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) belongs to the Jewish people.

He said that while many think him fearless, he is in truth most afraid of the consequences we may suffer for going against God and abandoning a life of uprightness. For Beck, there is no other choice but a path of righteousness. That righteousness is defending the innocent: Israel.

One of the key messages Beck hoped people would take away was a promise to “question with boldness” that which does not sit right with one’s conscience and common sense. He promised that if people were unafraid of such questioning, they would see the truth: that the Obama administration is “no friend of Israel’s.”

Beck, who lauds the righteous gentiles who rescued thousands during the Holocaust, ceded that too many stood idly by, silent. He added that when the Holocaust simply becomes “academic,” we no longer honor those who paid the ultimate price and that history can then easily be repeated. “It’s life, not academic,” Beck said pointedly.

Citing the recent string of vitriolic, anti-Semitic attacks across Midwood, Brooklyn and Rutherford, New Jersey, Beck said that he no longer recognizes his own country. “Evil is growing,” he warned.

Brimming with insightful passages and stories from his many travels — to Israel, the Vatican and even Auschwitz — Beck’s message of standing tall and doing the heavy lifting for what is right resonated with the audience in audible measure.

One instance that drew hearty rounds of approval was when Beck spoke about the new “civil rights movement,” saying that today’s leaders have twisted a noble pursuit into a hatred reserved for all the wrong subjects. Cloaked under the guise of a belief in civil rights, many today will say, “I am not against Jews, just against Zionism.”

“Well,” Beck started, “being anti-Israel, and being anti-Zionist, is anti-Semitism.” He also noted the irony of the fact that it was actually Dr. Martin Luther King who coined that saying and mindset.

For Beck, today’s skewed version of the civil rights movement is a “sham” and a “joke” and is becoming a threat to all humanity. After all, when one compares Israel to an “apartheid state” when there is in fact no shred of truth to the claim, one dishonors those who suffered under apartheid in South Africa and discredits Nelson Mandela’s efforts to bring unity to his country. When one claims Israel is committing “genocide” against the Palestinian people, when in fact they are delivering to them food and aid (even at Israelis’ own peril), one discredits the atrocities occurring in Darfur. The Left says its civil rights leaders care about oppression and human rights, yet mask the instances of rape in their own communities, like Occupy Wall Street. These same “civil rights leaders” also turn a blind eye to the oppression and abuse suffered by women, gays and minorities in the very regions of the world they inexplicably defend.

Beck drew the stark comparison that today’s civil rights leaders are, in fact, no different than the terrorists, dictators and thugs they claim to revile.

In speaking about the faithful, Beck also touched on an unsung hero of the Holocaust – Dietrich Bonhoeffer – a German, Lutheran pastor who wrote a book entitled, Führerprinzip, or Fuhrer Principle. Bonhoeffer was a staunch opponent of the Nazis, and was even involved in the assassination plot against Adolf Hitler. The pastor’s plans were never realized, however, as he was arrested and killed just days before the Nazis surrendered and Hitler, in a cowardly display, committed suicide.

The point Beck made by relaying this poignant story was that in his attempt to “fight the madness,” he often has looked to Bonhoeffer and his resolve to stand tall in the face of evil.

He also conveyed the story of another righteous gentile, a woman simply by the name of Paulina, who, through her belief in God, saved scores of Jews in Poland during the Holocaust by feeding them soup her mother had prepared for them.

When asked by Beck how we, moving forward, can grow the seeds of righteousness in our own lives, Paulina’s answers were simple: “You must believe in something greater than yourself.” That, and sometimes people decide not to barrel ahead “off that cliff.”

“We must hold onto each other,” Beck said, and not lose hold of our humanity.

As Beck touched on both the uplifting and bittersweet snapshots of Israel’s history, he took pause to reflect on the Jewish State’s many enemies. “When Egypt says they are building the ovens. Believe them,” Beck warned. “They say what they mean. They mean what they say.”

Culminating in an emotional moment, Beck believes that Israel’s enemies are enemies of God, and that he has chosen his path of righteousness for his children. “It’s an honor to say my father stood,” he said.

At the end of the day, “If America stops being good, we will meet the same fate as Dietrich Bonhoeffer.”

After a long round of applause, the emcee returns to the podium to introduce Nebraska Congressman Lee Raymond Terry, who spoke about his recent trip to Israel and his incessant activities to promote a safe Israel policy in Washington.

Mr. John Robert Bolton, who served as the US Ambassador to the United Nations was next, discussing the Iranian nuclear threat, a topic close to his heart. He discusses the various steps that Iran took towards achieving nuclear weapons, and shares his utter dismay with the Obama administration who chose to restrain Israel rather than supporting an affirmative military strike against Iran.

The main course is served, and world-renowned violinist Daniel Ahaviel entertains the crowd with uplifting melodies.

A dinner is for fundraising, and this dinner is no different. Rabbi Sholom Wolpo ascends to the podium and awards the three major sponsors of the organization: R’ Sholom Ber Drizin of Crown Heights, R’ Shlomo Markovich of Mexico and R’ Efraim Julius of Israel.

This is followed by a video of Jewish comedian Mr. Jackie Mason, who with humor and wit convinces the crowd to open up their wallets and write big checks to the organization.

 

Media commentator Glenn Beck, former Ambassador John Bolton and philanthropists Sholom Ber Drizin and Shlomo Marcovich headed a gala dinner in Crown Heights to remember Gush Katif. By COLlive reporter Photos by Levik Hertzel (a Gush Katif alum) Over 500 people from throughout the New York area gathered Wednesday in Crown Heights in support of the Gush Katif Museum in Israel. The crowd sat spellbound in the dimly lit, elegantly decorated Razag Ballroom, as they listened to influential media personality Glenn Beck as he passionately spoke about the Holy land and its precarious situation.

 

Choking back tears a few times during his speech, the conservative commentator said that all “decent Americans have a responsibility to stand up for what’s right, to support Israel and its citizens.” The former Fox News host lamented the fact the media is hiding the truth – “aiding and abetting” the terrorists and those who would harm Israel – and said he is one of the few who dare to speak the truth nowdays. “People say I’m not afraid – but that’s an out and out lie,” he said. “I am afraid. But I’m more afraid to go against what G-d tells me to do. Afraid of what the world will be like.” “The world is insane,” he said. “The world is in trouble.” To loud applause Beck criticized people who claim to be just ‘anti-Israel.’ “To say that is to be anti-Jew. That’s anti-Semitism.” IRAN’S DANGER The dinner was organized by “SOS Israel – Our Land of Israel,” an organization headed by both Rabbi Sholom Dov Wolpo from Kiryat Gat and Rabbi Yekutiel Rapp from New York. Other speakers included Rabbi YY Jacobson of Bais Shmuel Chabad of Crown Heights, and the evening’s MC was businessman Dudi Farkash.

 

Nebraska’s Jewish Congressman Lee Terry said that he has been to Crown Heights many times, and said he was proud to be attending this dinner as a friend of Chabad and of Israel. Terry introduced former US Ambassador John Bolton, who spoke about the grave danger posed by Iran and criticized the Obama administration for not properly addressing the great threat posed by their nuclear weapons. “From its inception, Israel has had to defend itself repeatedly,” he said. “Great powers have tried to destroy it, terrorists have attacked it.” Still, he said, the US has imposed ineffective sanctions on Iran which have done nothing to stop them. LIFE IN PIECES Honored at the event were philanthropists Sholom Ber Drizin of Brooklyn and Shlomo Marcovich of Mexico for their support in remembering the Jewish settlements in the southern Gaza strip unilaterally evacuated in 2005. Binyamin Gottlieb, former head of two schools in Gush Katif, attended the dinner as well. After the expulsion by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Gottlieb had to begin again and, five years later, he is still trying to pick up the pieces and get his life back together. “The gezeira of our expulsion from Gush Katif was from G-d,” he told COLlive. “Therefore we are strengthening our connection to him, through increasing our learning, to try and reverse it.” Comedian Modi had the crowd laughing, but then spoke in earnest about the plight of the children of Gush Katif, and asked the crowd to come forward and pledge to support the organization’s programs.

 

Dozens of dinner guests made pledges on the spot, ranging from 18,000 – $250, and were applauded by the crowd. A video-conference message was shown from comedian Jackie Mason, also known for speaking out on political affairs and Middle East conflict. Book publisher and philanthropist Rabbi Meir Gutnick said the dinner, organized by Fleishman productions with the Rivkin family of Kolshar AV, was one of the most inspiring dinners he has ever attended. The Crown Heights resident has been active in Israeli causes for years, but said this dinner really stood out. “I hope the message of tonight, that we must preserve the integrity and sanctity of the land of Israel, will resonate around the world,” he said. “Especially now, with Bibi Netanyahu coming to New York in the coming days, we must be strong. When it comes to Israel, there can be no compromises,” he noted.




Teach What You Know…

Teach What You Know: The Story of Clarence the Violin Player

I am a newly observant Noahide, and feel that I have much to learn. I hadn’t felt comfortable in teaching anybody about these laws, because I felt insecure in my knowledge. Recently, I had made a first visit to a weekly class about living in accordance to the Noahide laws. The rabbi who led the class gave me a hearty welcome and asked me if I had friends that were interested in the Noahide laws. I replied that I didn’t have any friends who were interested, or any friends who even knew about the Noahide laws. The rabbi then looked me in the eyes and said, “Why don’t you teach them about the laws?”

I was dumbfounded and my mind scrambled for a rationalization. Surely, I need some sort of certification. I thought to myself. I don’t know the laws that well. I replied, thinking that this would excuse me. The rabbi then said, You should teach what you know about the laws, and by teaching about them, HaShem will bless you with a far greater understanding I neatly filed it away in a corner of my brain, but I was not really convinced by what the good rabbi said.

The following week, I decided to gather up my tzedakah money that I had saved for almost a month and decided to leave my home on Staten Island to travel into Manhattan to distribute it. I distributed some to a Chabad house, and decided to head back towards the South Ferry station to go back home to Staten Island. There were often people who sat down along the sides of the entranceway to the station, soliciting money from passersby. I figured I would be able to give the rest to them. While I was waiting for the 1 train to South Ferry station, I saw a man on the platform who was holding a violin bow. Seeing the violin bow immediately brought me back to my own elementary school violin lessons, and regrets for not having continued to play. Oh if only I hadn’t stopped playing the violin! I thought. I would love to be able to try to play the violin, even if just once, so I could see what I still remember.

When I arrived at the station, I walked through the entranceway and saw a man to my right playing a violin. I started to listen to what he was playing, and noticed that he wasn’t playing any song at all! He was quickly drawing the bow against the strings, as if he were practicing fiddling. He doesn’t play very well. I thought to myself. He is not even playing a song. Still I took out some money and placed it in his opened violin case.

The man’s eyes lit up. Here, try it! he exclaimed as he handed me his violin. I was shocked and excited at the same time! HaShem heard my thoughts and answered them through this man. When I picked up the violin, I noticed that there was no tape on the fret to guide my fingers to the correct positioning. I fumbled with the correct placement of my fingers. No, no, no. the man said, like this as he guided my fingers. I kept misplacing my fingers, but he was patient while he instructed me to play the scales of G and D. Try it again, he would insist, and I marveled at his devotion in teaching me this instrument. In fact, I had forgotten about my earlier evaluation of his ability. When the lesson was over, he said to me, If you buy a violin, I will teach you. I let him know that I wasn’t able to afford to buy a violin now, but when I could; I would buy one and take up his offer. He then further explained to me: I am just learning to play too. Other people walk by and want to play my violin.

They play the violin and teach me new things. Since they taught me how to play, I want to teach other people how to play.

 

Touched by his generosity of spirit, and moved to know him better, I asked his name. Clarence, he replied. I gave him some more money for the lesson he had given me, and left to get on the ferry. Reflecting on this blessed and wonderful encounter, I remembered the words of the rabbi, teach what you know. It was an ah-ha! moment. Clarence may not have known much about playing the violin, but he knew more than I did. In gratitude for the knowledge he gained, he joyfully shared his violin and taught me.




Why Marry? Gay Marriage!

Why Marry? Gay Marriage!

Rabbi Yakov D Cohen


Why marry? According to Kabbalah, the compulsion to rush into a lifelong commitment is an expression of the human soul’s deepest ambitions. The subliminal signals emanating from the soul have caused the logic-defying institution of marriage to be an integral part of the human fabric since the dawn of time. The soul’s desire to connect and commit makes the aspiration for marriage one of our most basic instincts.

What is the soul’s agenda? What does it stand to gain from hooking up with another soul? The Mystics explain that two primary considerations drive the soul’s desire to marry: a desire to be complete and its need to transcend itself.

In the first marriage ever, Adam and Eve were initially created as a single, two-faced body. The single being was split in two — a man and a woman — and then reunited in matrimony. In the world of souls, the partition and reunification of the male and female components of individual souls occurs continually. Everybody is occupied by half a soul, and both body and soul only reach a state of completion when they are reunited with their soul mate/bashert, their long-lost other half.

In June 2011, the New York State Senate approved the legislation voted in favor of the bill of gay marriages. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had pushed for the bill, quickly signed the legislation into law meaning, pending court challenges, same sex couples can begin legally marrying in New York in 30 days. “New York made a powerful statement, not just for the people of New York, but [also for] the people all across this nation. We reached a new level of social justice this evening,” Cuomo said.

If the State wishes to grant legal and/or economic privileges to two individuals who choose to establish a joint household—then I can see the grounds for a legitimate debate: Is homosexuality immoral? And if yes, to what extent do the State have the right to legislate immorality?

The Talmud Chullin 92a “Said Rab Judah: These are the thirty righteous men among the nations of the world by whose virtue the nations of the world continue to exist. Ulla said: These are the thirty commandments ( These are comprised in the seven Noahide precepts ) which the sons of Noah took upon themselves but they observe three of them, namely, (i) they do not draw up a kethubah document for males, ( Although they are suspected of indecent practices and sodomy they do not go to that length of writing a ‘marriage’ deed for the purpose. vcu,f here means a marriage deed; for specific meanings v. Introduction to Kethubah) (ii) They do not weigh flesh of the dead in the market, and (iii) they respect the Torah”.

Jewish law unconditionally prohibits the homosexual act. Just as the heterosexual act is prohibited outside of marriage, regardless of personal desires, attractions or inclinations, so the homosexual act is forbidden.

Or perhaps your question is in regard to how we should react to the homosexual feelings of others? Or how we should react to someone who eats on Yom Kippur? Or someone who longs for the relationship with a man other than her husband? On this, the classic work known as the Tanya provides strong advice: Consider what it means to have such burning passions for forbidden fruit. Consider the day to day fierce and relentless battle demanded to conquer such passions. Consider that a person with such feelings who fails even once in such a battle is sinning. And then ask yourself, “Do I ever fight such a battle on my own ground? What makes me any better than him?”

The Tanya continues to illustrate the many areas in which all of us could improve by waging at least a small battle on our own ground.

On your question concerning community: A Jew belongs within a Jewish community. There are no application forms and no qualification requirements. He’s Jewish—that’s where he belongs. Period. We all have our challenges, our shortcomings, our feelings…and our failures in battle as well…and with all that, we are a community.

But that is not the issue at hand. The issue is marriage. Marriage is, and always was, a religious idea: the idea that a relationship between a man and woman can be sanctioned as a holy union, as a partnership in which G‑d takes part.

Marriage is not a civil institution; it is a religious one. The States intervention in this matter is, in my opinion, a dangerous precedent. This is a decision that should be left to the clergy.




Laws of Noah in Ghana

Laws of Noah in Ghana

Patrick Apedu, a local UN NGO from Ghana community, is working to help brige the gap between young and old to understand each other. Rabbi YD Cohen was in Ghana to help with the Laws of Noah a universal code to all people.

Especially now in these turbulent times, when so many people everywhere feel pressured and unsettled as a result of the global financial crisis, it is more important than ever to focus on the most important part of life: the spiritual integrity of human beings before G-d and the desire of the Creator to bestow all blessings on humanity through the full and complete redemption. At the same time, for the sake of children and youth around the world, it is critical that the representatives of the nations affirm and commit publicly to the basic premise, that people respect the very core fabric of life given by the Creator, which the Seven Universal Laws of Noah represent.

Young people increasingly engaging Governments in their own societies as equal partners for their development and peace of all people, “unity begins with ourselves and will have a ripple effect to all around us” as Rabbi Cohen told the story of world leaders spent weeks trying to put together a map of the world with no success and finally a young boy a snaps it together in minutes ask how he was able he replied I simply put the eyes together then the nose and so on … you see on the other side of the world map was a single person face.

Patrick Apeud NGO The FRIDAY BORNS FOUNDATION GHANA.It was officially formed a year ago under the Law of Ghana to take care of the welfare of the Aged since these Precious ones for a long time have been neglected .

Working with the Government of Ghana and the UNDP to support the creation of an enabling environment for all to help each other, as well in the private sector through improved public private partnership advocacy and dialogue




A New Road Map for Peace

A New Road Map for Peace

We’ve been reading about the “road map” to peace in the Middle East for many years. Anyone can see it hasn’t taken us very far. It’s been like trying to get to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco using a map of Lower Manhattan. You can try harder, pray harder, and double your speed. But your efforts only succeed in getting you to the wrong place faster. The fundamental problem has nothing to do with traffic jams, diversions or delays; it has everything to do with using the wrong map.

For over a decade, Israel has navigated tirelessly to achieve peace using the Oslo map, which was built on this premise: Assuage the other side’s grievances–end the occupation; give the Palestinians land, armed forces, their own state–and peace will follow. Hence in 1993, Israel brought the PLO out of exile and gave it recognition, international legitimacy, governmental autonomy and authority over 98% of the Palestinian population.

Where has this map brought us? In the past decade, terrorism has increased dramatically. Eleven years ago, Yitzhak Rabin, in his historic speech on the White House lawn, spoke of a future in which mothers no longer wept for sons lost in battle. But the weeping has not ended; it reached a deafening crescendo. Terrorists have killed more Israelis in the eleven years since Oslo began in 1993 than in the 45 years of Israel’s existence before that.

Obviously we’ve been using the wrong map to move us toward peace. Is there an alternative?

Ludwig Wittgenstein once said that his aim as a philosopher was, “To show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle.” The fly keeps banging its head against the glass in a vain attempt to get out. The more it tries, the more it fails, until it drops from exhaustion. The one thing it forgets to do is look to the sky. Like the frustrated fly, the one thing Israel has forgotten to do is look to the sky.

If Israelis were to look up, they would see an alternative map to peace, provided by El Al, Israel’s renowned airline.

El Al is the gold standard in aviation security. There is a sense of safety and comfort on El Al planes felt by all of its passengers–Jews, Christians and Moslems alike–that one does not feel on any other aircraft. This is an astounding achievement, since El Al is the world’s most coveted terrorist target in the sky.

Now, imagine if El Al decided that because it has been despised for decades, it is time to change its policy and methods of security. First, El Al would invite people who in the past wished to hijack and blow up its planes and passengers and give them “autonomy” on one section aboard El Al aircraft. In these sections, former hijackers could move about freely without scrutiny or supervision. Next, El Al would make these “reformed militants” responsible for the security of passengers seated in their area of the aircraft. This overture of peace would certainly demonstrate to the international community that El Al is truly committed to coexistence and liberal values. It would help put an end to the animosity felt by many toward El Al.

Some would propose that El Al show more “flexibility” and relinquish control of the cockpit to the former terrorists. Some would advocate that El Al construct a wall to enclose the autonomous aisles or to unilaterally withdraw from several seats that are in close proximity to those aisles.

All of these strategies, of course, would be suicidal for El Al. All of them miss the fundamental point. Compromising on security or granting autonomy on a single seat would spell cataclysmic disaster for the entire airline. The life of every passenger, Muslim, Jew and Christian, would be placed in mortal danger. Travelers would before long bid farewell to El Al. That would spell the end of the airline.

The only way for El Al to eradicate terror from its airplanes is not through concessions or autonomy, but rather by destroying any hope the terrorists have of achieving their objectives. El Al has adopted an uncompromising stance against terrorism, and they make no apologies. The world stands in admiration of what El Al has accomplished. The El Al road map goes by the name “peace through strength.”

This is the right road map to peace in Israel.

If the last decade of the Oslo process has taught anything, it is that no responsible government can give in to terror. Such behavior does not end terror, but invites it yet more.

The Arab terror war against Israel is no more a territorial conflict than was al Qaeda’s strike against America, and it can no more be resolved by the current “road map” than anti-Americanism could be appeased by yielding New Jersey to Osama bin Laden.

Hence, Israel’s intent to withdraw from Gaza is profoundly misdirected. The Palestinian goal over the last decade has been to demoralize the Israeli people through terrorism and force a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the territories. If they succeed, the relentless war against Israel will be launched far more advantageously from their newly acquired territory.

At the end of World War II, Winston Churchill quipped, “You can always rely on America to do the right thing, once it has exhausted the alternatives.” Israel, which has far fewer alternatives than the U.S., has long ago exhausted them all. How much more innocent blood needs to be spilled before we abandon the failed maps of the past? How many more children have to be blown up by suicide bombers before we pursue the course El Al has bravely charted?

By Dov Greenberg
Rabbi Dov Greenberg is excutive director of Chabad at Stanford UniversityOriginally posted on Algemeiner.com




Helping to Die

Helping to Die

By: Rabbi Shea Hecht

 

B”H

The title of a recent news article shocked me. It said, “Dutch Docs Helping Sick Kids Die.” We are well aware of the debate over legalizing euthanasia for adults, but the topic of this article was alarming: Dutch doctors helping children die. I looked at the study more closely and saw that it covered 64 deaths of ill children within a four-month period. Of those, 42 involved medical decisions to hasten death. Just as with many other matters, the issue of euthanasia seems to have turned into “One small step for man and a giant leap for mankind.”

Holland is so far away from us, we can read the article, pretend there is no world community and that this news article doesn’t affect us. The question of euthanasia is not so far away from us though. It is coming up in the USA this fall – in Oregon – so perhaps we should look at this story with greater interest.

Euthanasia began as means for doctors to help terminally ill, elderly, consenting adults escape the pain and misery of a long, drawn out death. There has been raging controversy over the matter, and the Dutch were the first to legalize euthanasia in 2002. I just wonder how assisting consenting adults to terminate their lives turned into this monster of doctors ending children’s lives?

I was anxious to verify the ‘age of consent’ in the Netherlands. Maybe children are treated like adults in Holland justifying such actions. Through research I discovered that the legal age to drive in Holland is 18. Children can’t legally sit in the front seat of a moving vehicle if they are below the age of 12. The legal drinking age in Holland is 16; the legal voting age is 18.

If the Dutch government considers children mature enough to make life altering decisions from birth this move would be slightly easier to understand, but the Dutch government feels they must monitor each challenge in a child’s life and legalize it as the child matures. How then do they explain that children are not mature enough to experience many things adults can, yet they are subjected to an immoral and heinous act that was legalized for adults?

Perhaps the Dutch authorities feel that the question of euthanasia is not a child’s decision, but falls under the guidelines of ‘parental consent’. However, if something as serious as a child’s life is considered a parental decision why aren’t Dutch parents allowed to decide the proper age their children can drink or drive or vote? It seems ironic that parents can’t decide these issues for their children, but they have the power to terminate their child’s life.

Historically, justifying the death of any group of people, has lead to the justification of death for another group.

In Holland, euthanasia seems to be taking the historic route. I found no direct connection between Holland’s euthanasia of consenting adults and a parent’s choice to end their child’s life. Allowing the former seems to have lead to accepting the latter. These things seem to ‘just happen’ and if no one questions them, they become the accepted norm.

Euthanasia is wrong and legalizing it would be a grave mistake. I trust the USA Supreme Court will understand the ramifications of passing such a law and think long and hard before doing so. Additionally, the dangerous path this law can lead us down in the future is starkly apparent in Holland. The doctor-assisted childhood deaths there should be warning enough.




Jews & non-Jews: Dual Roles…

Jews & non-Jews: Dual Roles in Preparing the World for Moshiach

In this age of egalitarian and liberal thinking, how can Jews still promote what is to many intellectuals a shameful and vainglorious sentiment of being the chosen nation? How can Jews preach to the world that they are better than everyone else?

Understanding the concept of chosen nation as arrogant behavior on the part of the Jews is a gross misrepresentation. On the contrary: it is a humbling motif. The Jews were not merely chosen as G-d’s special people, as if the Almighty was playing favorites. They were chosen for a mission. And that mission was to spread the knowledge of the creator and His expectations of man to all nations. Thus, G-d’s choosing the Jewish people was a calling that would forever remind them that alone they are insufficient. If the Jews wanted to believe for even a moment that so long as they served G-d justly and lovingly, G-d would be satisfied, He made the purpose of their being on this earth to tell the other nations that they are important, too. G-d is not satisfied with the contribution of the Jews alone, but desires the service and participation of all nations.

This is what being chosen means and the responsibility it entails. Can anyone think of a greater humbling device than a nation whose whole existence is dedicated to teaching the other nations that G-d loves and needs them, too?

It is for this reason that Judaism discourages Gentile converts. It is not because Jews feel they are part of an elite club and no outsiders are allowed. Quite the contrary! Judaism does not invite converts because it is a fallacy to believe that one need be a Jew in order to enjoy closeness to G-d or lead a fulfilled life. The way G-d created each and every one of us is the way in which He wanted us to serve Him. For a Gentile to believe that he must be Jewish in order to “upgrade” his existence is not only erroneous, but it can be extremely damaging. By becoming a Jew, he might neglect to make the contributions to society in the way in which he was meant to do! The world needs him the way he is, which is why G-d created him that way. What G-d does expect, however, is that he develop his inner potential for what he is within the divine scheme of things, to his greatest potential. In this way, Jews and Gentiles alike can benefit from what he makes of himself within the parameters of G-d’s will.

What is it about the human mind that it cannot accept differences as a blessing, but a curse? Why is it that even when one speaks of “tolerating” differences, the tolerance is spoken of as a necessary evil?

To our great misfortune, we live in an age which not only does not appreciate differences, but actively seeks to obliterate them. On the contrary, equality in today’s society seems to mean that there must be an indistinguishable, homogenous mass where all things are equal by virtue of their being similar. Pluralism and multiculturalism are difficult to achieve. While most decent societies promote the concept, those who have to live being different still feel like outcasts. This is due to two factors.

This first is a weakness of identity on the part of the minority groups. At the end of the day if an individual is not strong about what he is, what he represents, and why it is important that he continue, then even in the most tolerant of societies he will want to acculturate and he like everyone else.

The other reason for the failure of true multiculturalism is that modern society does not like differences. In Judaism the word holy actually means “distinct” or “removed.” Something is holy by virtue of it being dissimilar to something else. Thus, a human being becomes holy when he acts differently than animals. Instead of eating whenever, however, and whatever he likes, a Jew eats kosher food, and not by sticking his head into a bowl. When a person does eat without human etiquette, we say that he behaves like an animal. Human beings are holy by virtue of their being different.

Similarly, G-d is holy because He is not like man. He has no body, limitations, or other corporal description. Shabbat is holy because it is different than the other days of the week. To treat it like any other day of the week is to deny its holiness. Judaism teaches man to be sensitive and appreciative of differences.

But in modern society, man is increasingly obliterating all differences. New-age thought teaches that all men are Gods. Stores are open seven days a week so that there is no day of rest. Men and women are encouraged to believe that aside from physiological variations, there are no real differences. And science today has taught man that for all practical purposes he is no different than other animals.

It can be appreciated that with this kind of thinking rampant, the differences between nations and peoples are also being obliterated. The Jewish people are gradually disintegrating through intermarriage, and many young people even feel repulsed by parents who try to encourage them to marry within the faith. They do not believe that they are different and are frightened of the very thought.

One of the reasons people are reluctant to accept or admit to existing differences is because many nations have been downtrodden and abused because they were different, by other nations who felt themselves to be superior. But if one can encourage a world-view that acknowledges every nation’s, indeed every person’s, ability to benefit from diversity and multiformity, that cannot happen. It is only arrogance that allows us to believe that we are sufficient on our own.

The belief that from everything in this world something positive can be extracted, even those things that appear negative at first, has always been a cornerstone of Judaism. One of the greatest examples of the implementation of this outlook on life was Maimonides. In his celebrated philosophical treatise, Guide to the Perplexed, Maimonides writes that what people usually refer to as “the evil inclination” is not essentially evil. Rather, it is an impulse, an undirected impulse. He saw the evil inclination as an intensity of energy so potent that it could overtake man’s sense of forward direction and goodness, and lead him astray. But energy is precisely what man requires to rise to the challenge of worthy achievement. So, instead of viewing man’s propensity for evil as negative and distancing oneself from it, one should look to manipulate and cultivate it-put a harness on it and thrive on its immense energy.

Hasidism developed this concept further by describing man’s evil inclination as “the animalistic soul,” in contradistinction to the good and “G-dly soul.” While the good soul may be G-dly, it is not as energetic or as driven as the animal soul, which, like its name implies, possesses the raw power of a beast. Using the analogy of an ox, which the Talmud says “can churn out and plough much wheat” so long as it is harnessed, man must use his intellectual faculties to saddle his animal soul. If he is successful, it will be the animal soul dragging the G-dly soul to the service of G-d, and not the reverse.

Maimonides saw a divine purpose in Christianity and Islam. He wrote how both of these religions had brought the knowledge of G-d and the Messiah to distant isles so that there is now a universal familiarity with the concept of the messianic era. Where before in the history of religious debate has any theologian of universal renown written of the divine purpose played by other religions? Maimonides saw in every historical occurrence a way forward toward a better time that would be shared and enjoyed by all peoples.

It was also Maimonides who wrote in his celebrated Laws of Repentance that every individual should always picture the world as if on a scale, teetering between guilty and virtuous. If the individual should do one positive act, he saves the entire world; one wrong move, and the world has had it. One should never underestimate the power of a single good deed, and never overlook every individual’s ability to bring salvation to mankind, Jew and Gentile alike.

Of course, all of the ideas laid out thus far can only work within a sound, moral framework. Otherwise, who is to say that the thief, the bigot, or the Nazi don’t make a positive contribution to their environments. Ultimately, it is the Al¬mighty alone Who can determine which contributions lead to the enhancement of society and which to its collapse. It was He who created all nations ethnically different, and it is He alone Who knows what serves the public good.

The world cannot be run at human whim. It needs an ultimate plan and a regulator who can determine whether it is progressing or regressing. This is the role of the Torah, the divine law, which puts each of one’s contributions into perspective. It teaches that while contributions of compassion and justice by all peoples lead to the betterment of civilization, murder and bigotry lead to its destruction.

It also teaches that different people have different roles. Jews have the commandments of the Torah to observe. Non Jews have the seven Noachide laws to observe, among which are the prohibitions of theft, murder, adultery, cruelty to animals, blasphemy, and the precept to establish courts of justice. The same Torah teaches that the failure of the non Jew to keep his commandments is equally as detrimental as the failure of the Jew to keep his. Both are indispensable. Both need not assume the other’s role to be deemed worthy. Through the contributions of both the world maintains a healthy balance and equanimity.

This idea of dual roles in creation is exclusive to Judaism. No other group is so adamant of the inexclusive right of one group to the truth. The only one with a copyright on truth is the Almighty, and He spelled out different routes for different groups to attain it. He even set out different avenues for men and women to realize their full potential and made it clear that it is harmful for women to choose men for their role model. He went as far as giving women specific commandments that would serve to enhance their precious gifts of femininity.

For the entire world to be just male, or just female, would be insufferable. The same would apply if the entire world had been only Jews or Gentiles, or if all people looked the same or had only the same ideas. By using each other as role models of what we should be in place of learning from each other’s virtue, we deny the world the perfection it could attain through diversity.

What the world needs in order to achieve a higher degree of perfection is Jewish Jews and non-Jewish non Jews, meaning that each group should adhere to the disparate codes of conduct designated for them by the Almighty.

This is the beginning of a messianic world, a world in which contention, jealousy, and war can never play a part for each nation. Each individual would see G-d’s wisdom in creation and, by extension, the perfection that exists in the whole of creation. A messianic world is one where all the people of the earth, while retaining their intrinsic identities, come together to create a better world. This is radically different from the homogeny usually found within the doctrines of secularist utopian states. Marx and Stalin had visions of the workers of the world uniting to create a fairer, more just world. Hitler tried to achieve the same utopia through other means. But both argued for a single race, a single class. It seems that perfecting the world always seems to necessitate everyone becoming the same. The result of those doctrines, though, was a far cry from utopia. They ended with Auschwitz and the Gulag Archipelago.

The reason is simple. The epoch of the Messiah is a time when the unity of G-d will be seen in our world. The world that G-d created will once again be reclaimed as His. But in Judaism, unity never means homogeneity. Rather, unity means taking different parts and demonstrating how they all comprise a greater whole. Unity in marriage is not when a husband puts on his wife’s dress, or when a wife tries to please her husband by joining him in a night out with the boys. Rather, unity in marriage means that people who are essentially different, as different as male and female, come together and through loving one another prove that essentially they are one. Thus, when they have a child together, their unity is demonstrated in the form of a single, indivisible, entity, which makes for an incredible equation of unity: 1 + 1 = 1.

This is the equation that sums up the messianic era. Many different l’s, in the form of nations, people, and ideas focusing together to serve and reunify the ultimate 1-G-d Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, whose infinite power and essence is reflected in the great diversity in creation, which all emanates from Him. The manifestation of that unity is the goal of the messianic era.




Article on Diversity

Article on Diversity

WHAT:      COME JOIN US TO CELEBRATE THIS DIVERSITY, AT EVENT SPONSORED BY THE ORGANIZATION www. NOAHIDE.ORG.

 

 

WHERE:     Feb 17, 2013 2 PM  – St George Landmark Hotel 6 Amr Ibn Al Aás st. Jerusalem

 

SPEAKER:    Rabbi Yakov Cohen of New York, Founder and Director of Noahide.org

 

 

WHY:        Because Creation was an act of making borders. From unity came multiplicity. Ours is a world of divisions: body and soul, male and female; as well as the divisions of nations, families and individuals.

 

HOW:   The 7 Laws of Noah are a means to bring peace and harmony for all people in the Divine Will in creation.

 

 

Free choice

Why did G-d create multiplicity? Doesn’t that go against the oneness of G-d? No, it doesn’t. Because the deepest unity is unity found within diversity. If we are all the same, then unity is no big deal. So G-d gave us all particular souls, each with its unique and diverse characteristics. When each individual as an individual, and each nation from within its own culture and perspective, recognizes the same G-d, that is real unity.

In other words, a unity that is challenged by diversity yet emerges from that very diversity is an invincible unity. That is something G-d “couldn’t” have without a world like ours. To blur the boundaries between nations, genders and individuals is to avoid facing the challenge which lies at the very heart of G-d’s purpose in creation — to find unity in our differences.

For the unity of humankind we need one G-d; but for G-d’s unity to be complete we need human diversity.

Jews should be Jews, non-Jews should be non-Jews, men should be men and women should be women. And every individual has to be himself. Only then can we learn from each other the wisdom that we ourselves lack. The majesty of G-d is revealed when each individual and community connects with Him from his/her/their unique vantage point. There is a contribution that only you can make to G-d’s master plan.

G-d created a symphony, with many different instruments contributing to the Divine harmony. We just need to find the peculiar talent and contribution of each instrument obliterating the differences defeats the point. We have to learn from differences and use them the way G-d intended them. Each of G-d’s creations – with their differences – has a unique role in our march toward meaning.

Article on Diversity

The Institute of Noahide event on Diversity is an opportunity to unite the world by re-echoing the belief of God as the creator of all human beings and the belief that we are all equal which is the true meaning of harnessing diversity amongst different cultures. This is a foundation for our organizations goal which to work alongside the United Nations (UN) and other partner organizations with hopes of promoting human rights development and protecting freedom of religion. We are also seeking to focus on the 7 universal Laws of Noah to promote ethical standards provide and the opportunity for all mankind to gain parity and value peace.

The event on Diversity takes place in Jerusalem and the host Rabbi Cohen of the Noahide Institute is experienced in developing an international presence on the issue of world peace and freedom of religion. During this event, the audience will be drawn in to learn about diversity based on a pious approach Chabad Chasidus philosophy  and the key notes is based on the belief that G-d almighty has created all of mankind differently and we as believers are to unite as means to uphold diversity and peace.

The foundation for this presentation is based on giving hope to our communities and to encourage youth survival. Noahide Institute is an active organization that mobilizes youth through encouraging dialogue and the organization’s mission is to educate and share values through the One people-One World subdivision and to promote the 7 Laws of Noah for the sake of world peace and diversity.




United World in United Nations

United World in United Nations

By Yosef Geller

The United Nations took dramatic steps towards world peace when ambassadors, NGOS, Rabbis and chaplains met to discuss the Seven Laws of Noah at a United Nations conference room on Monday, July 2.

“It is critical that the representatives of the United Nations affirm and commit publicly to the basic premise, that people respect the very core fabric of life given by the Creator, which the Seven Universal Laws of Noah represent,” said Rabbi Yaakov Dovid Cohen, founder and director of Institute of Noahide Code and the key note speaker at Monday’s event.

The Seven Laws of Noah are an obligation on all of man-kind.  They include G-d’s commandments not to kill and not to steal, laws which most people follow already.  The main reason to follow them, though, is because G-d commanded them to all the people of the world through Moses and the Jewish people at Mount Sinai.

The US House and Senate already committed to these laws in 1991 when they passed a bill stating that the ‘bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization’ is ‘known as the ‘Seven Noahide Laws.’  The bill has been signed by past US presidents including President Bush and President Reagan.

The current Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi M. M. Schneerson, has been the driving force behind spreading the Seven Laws of Noah.  He said the fulfillment of these laws will hasten the imminent redemption through our Righteous Moshiach.

The event coincided with the celebration of the release of the previous Lubavitcher’s Rebbe’s release from communist prison in 1927.

A complete lists of the Seven Laws of Noah:

  1. Belief in One G-d. Do not worship idols.
  2. Respect G-d and praise Him. Do not blasphemy His Name
  3. Respect human life.  Do not murder; included in this is the prohibition on abortions.
  4. Respect the sanctity of marriage; included in this is the prohibition on same-sex marriages.
  5. Do not steal.
  6. Respect all creatures; included in this is the prohibition of tearing a limb off a living animal.
  7. Set up a judicial system to enforce these laws.


Greetings and blessings,

It is my great privilege to hereby welcome you and our guests of the panel United World which takes place on this Monday July 2, 2012 the Hebrew date 12 of Tamuz a day we celebrate the freedom of the Chabad Rebbe Rabbi Y.Y. Schneerson in 1927.

On this day, people all over the world will be gathering on the Laws of Noah. Their observance is required, so that the vision of the United Nations– to have a settled and civilized world, in which economic justice and righteousness will prevail – can be fulfilled, with all of us working together in unison.

Especially now in these turbulent times, when so many people everywhere feel pressured and unsettled as a result of the global financial crisis, it is more important than ever to focus on the most important part of life: the spiritual integrity of human beings before G-d and the desire of the Creator to bestow all blessings on humanity through the full and complete redemption. At the same time, for the sake of children and youth around the world, it is critical that the representatives of the United Nation affirm and commit publicly to the basic premise, that people respect the very core fabric of life given by the Creator, which the Seven Universal Laws of Noah represent

Before creation, G-d had unity. G-d was all there was; there were no borders, definitions or distinctions. If unchallenged unity is what G-d wants, He had it already. He would not have created the world.

Creation was an act of making borders. From unity came multiplicity. Ours is a world of divisions: body and soul, male and female; as well as the divisions of nations, families and individuals.

Why did G-d create multiplicity? Doesn’t that go against the oneness of G-d? No, it doesn’t. Because the deepest unity is unity found within diversity. If we are all the same, then unity is no big deal. So G-d gave us all particular souls, each with its unique and diverse characteristics. When each individual as an individual, and each nation from within its own culture and perspective, recognizes the same G-d, that is real unity.

In other words, a unity that is challenged by diversity yet emerges from that very diversity is an invincible unity. That is something G-d “couldn’t” have without a world like ours.

To blur the boundaries between nations, genders and individuals is to avoid facing the challenge which lies at the very heart of G-d’s purpose in creation — to find unity in our differences.

For the unity of humankind we need one G-d; but for G-d’s unity to be complete we need human diversity.

Jews should be Jews, non-Jews should be non-Jews, men should be men and women should be women. And every individual has to be himself. Only then can we learn from each other the wisdom that we ourselves lack.

The majesty of G-d is revealed when each individual and community connects with Him from his/her/their unique vantage point. There is a contribution that only you can make to G-d’s master plan.

Monotheism means much more than one god as opposed to two; it’s not just a statement that there is no other G-d outside of G-d. It’s a statement that there is no other reality outside of G-d. Nothing at all exists outside the Divine. But if so, why do we use the Hebrew word Echad – meaning ‘One’ – to describe G-d’s Oneness? A better word would be Yachid, which means ‘Only’. ‘One’ can be a single reality, made of components coming together as one. ‘Only’ underscores the absolute lack of another reality. Why call G-d ‘One’ when we can call Him ‘Only’?

Shema’s message articulates the beauty of having a disparate world, one which seems disconnected from itself, let alone from the Divine, being brought into harmony with the Divine plan.

G-d created a world of differences. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. If there were only one element to the Divine Will in creation, then G-d could have created a single being and less complexity in nature.

G-d created a world with men and women, Jew and gentile, trees and flowers etc so that we might each – in our own vein – contribute to the Divine goal of making this world into a G-dly place.

G-d created a symphony, with many different instruments contributing to the Divine harmony. We just need to find the peculiar talent and contribution of each instrument obliterating the differences defeats the point. We have to learn from differences and use them the way G-d intended them. Each of G-d’s creations – with their differences – has a unique role in our march toward meaning.

So, yes, the Torah has a separateness doctrine. The same Torah which celebrates the profound unity between husband and wife, warns us not to forget who we each are. Blurring the lines between man and woman leads to ‘sameness’ not ‘oneness’.

As the story is told of the Rebbe in 1927 when the communist pointed a gun at him he said ” this can only scare someone who has many G-d’s and one world, however I believe in one G-d and two worlds”.

The Jewish goal is ‘G-d is One’. Recognizing the world which G-d created, with all its parameters and differences, and recognizing the beauty in those nuances of this wonderful world in which we live.

The righteous of the nations are called in Hebrew “Chassidei Umot HaOlam” and we believe UN diplomatic corps will recognized the 7 laws of Noah or Noahide laws on this auspicious day, in order to strengthen our joint commitment to “increasing in acts of goodness and kindness to get the world ready for the redemption”.

 

Notes from United World conference Monday July 2, 2012 777 United Nation Plaza NY, NY USA, by Rabbi Yakov D. Cohen www.Noahide.org