Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm Back

There was recently a tragic death in the family, shivah is ending, and I just got back from Chu"l.  May Hashem comfort the mourners.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The False Prophets

See these two videos:

Thank you to those that posted these videos as well as those that are passing them around.

We have a general rule in prophecy, which is something like this: Good prophecies that are true will always come about.  Bad prophecies that are true can be annulled by teshuvah.

Here we see false prophecies.  Their good never came about.  Do not forget what these people said, remind others constantly.  Unity does not stand in the way of truth.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

On Zohar Vayechi

See the translation here.

The Zohar lists 3 exiles:

  • Galut Mitzraim
  • Galut Shoftim
  • The "Current" Galut, which started at the time of the cessation of the Tamid.
This of course raises questions:
  • Why is the time of the Shoftim listed as being Exile?
  • Why is Galut Bavel not listed separately from Galut Edom?
Indeed the Sulam solves these problems by changing the girsah altogether: He moves mention of the Tamid to the prior ma'amar, and changes the word Shoftim to Bavel.  For him, problem solved.

Alternatively, let's consider the following:

  • The time of the Shoftim (2489-2929) was a time of Katnut, which is the same basic idea of Galut Bavel and Galut Edom.  Therefore this time can be referred to as Galut.
  • The time of the cessation of the Tamid does in fact refer to the end of Bayit Rishon (3157 or 3321, depending on how we count), as I have written before, and that signals the beginning even of our Galut (though there was a cessation of Galut at the time of Bayit Sheini).  For there is a major defect of Galut Bavel that has still not been fixed: The majority of Am Yisrael has not lived in Eretz Yisrael since the generation that saw the cessation of the Tamid.
The text is rather cryptic, and as such I do not feel comfortable presenting a solid thesis as to the meaning of the calculations (the 7, the 40, and the 100 years).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

On Gaza

(The majority of the below was written during the week of Vayigash, before the IDF's invasion of the Gaza Strip.  I will post the dated sections as they are, regardless of it being slightly dated.)
The Jewish communities surrounding the Gaza Strip have been suffering from barrages of rockets from Hamas and other Muslim organizations for about 8 years now.  A short review of Gaza history is in order.  Israel expelled Jewish residents from Gaza in 2005, which did not stop the rocket fire.  In the summer of 2007, Hamas forcefully took control of the government of Gaza, at which time Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has been largely in place until today.

Today we see in the news that Hamas is willing to resume a "cease-fire", on condition that the siege is lifted.  At this point, we must question ourselves as to why there was rocket fire on Israeli communities between the Disengagement of 2005 and the beginning of the blockade in the summer of 2007.  On the same note, we can also ask why we should assume that returning the Golan Heights to Syria would bring peace, as between 1948 and 1967, when Syria had the Golan, there was no peace.

As surely as the sky is blue, Hamas will not become a docile organization, just requesting to live side by side with Israel in peace.  Any cease-fire that they request would only be in order for them to strengthen their position before the next round.  Any cease-fire which doesn't include ridding the Gaza Strip of rockets permanently is only a bandaid.

So the next question must be, what are our material goals for ourselves?  This is one item for which there is broad concensus.  We desire to return "quiet" to the southern communities of the State of Israel.

How can this be achieved?  This is the painful question.

  1. Selective air strikes - This does not work, as we have seen.  Israel inflicts heavy damage on the Gaza Strip, and the military wing of Hamas has now blended in to the "civilian" population, posing as doctors, hiding out in hospitals.  Israel, playing by its current rule book, is unable to inflict real damage, eliminating what rockets that it can see, but not those that will use the next set of rockets that they manage to build.
  2. Large scale air strikes - Aerial strikes on any location in which Hamas operatives exist or military materials are maintained.  This is an option that the Israeli government cannot take, by its current rule book, due to the fact that Hamas hides in hospitals, and Israel is unwilling to inflict large amounts of civilian casualties.  However, this would protect the lives of our soldiers from harm, which, regardless of the standing of that idea in international law, is a positive from Jewish law.  Enemy civilians are not as valuable to us as our soldiers.
  3. Temporary ground operation (akin to the 2nd Lebanon War of 2006) - This would most likely cause a high level of casualties on the Israeli side, as much of the fighting would be in tight quarters in the towns of Gaza, the most densely populated piece of land on the planet.  This is what Hamas wants.  Nevertheless, Israel will eventually withdraw, and Hamas will then rearm itself.  This could only be prevented by an even tighter blockade where Israel resumes control of the border between Gaza and Egypt on Tzir Filadelfi.  However, the Israeli government has a habit of letting its security be cared for by outsiders, like UNIFIL in Lebanon, and most likely Israel will not take the necessary precautions, and rearming will resume.
  4. Conquering the Gaza Strip - This would involve returning to the military situation that existed before the Disengagement (for starters).  This is considered just as much an impossibility as option 2 above.
Chas v'Shalom that this entire discussion should be realpolitik, with no G-d, no Torah, no Cheshbon Nefesh.  There is an idea in Jewish thought regarding the cause and effect of sin and punishment, which is discussed in detail here (search for the phrase "Brachot page 5").

The basic idea is as follows:

  1. If one is suffering, this person should search for a sin that may have caused it that seems related.  A simplistic example would be if a person's stomach hurts, they should check to see if they  ate kosher food, if they overate (naval birshut hatorah), etc.
  2. If there is no sin in that area, that person should see if they are doing enouch Talmud Torah.
  3. If all this is perfect, then one can attribute the suffering to suffering of love, Hashem is giving us merit through the suffering that we endure.
Gaza was the beginning of the actualization of the Oslo Fantasy back in 1994.  This of course culminates with the Disengagement of 2005.  The military Tikkun for the Sins of Oslo must include, and perhaps start with, the complete conquering of the Gaza Strip by Israel and the resettlement of the Jewish communities that were uprooted 3 and a half years ago.

We have a mitzvah of Yerushat HaAretz (Inheriting the Land).

The end of Devarim 11:31 states:

וירשתם אותה וישבתם בה

You shall inherit it, and you shall settle it.

On this verse, the GR"A writes in Aderet Eliyahu that in the merit of inheriting the land, we shall settle it (and the implication is that we will live in peace).  And how shall we inherit it?  בחזקה.  Kol HaTor points out that there are two meanings for this word, depending on the vowels.  One means by way of property acquisition, and the other means by strength.  The hint at this is that Ezra-Nechemiah is equal to Yehoshua in gematria.  That is to say sometimes we must conquer the land like Yehoshua, through military conquest, and sometimes we must conquer it like Ezra and Nechemiah, through purchasing and taking a stake in the land.

The time has come to take up the methods of Yehoshua bin-Nun.

We have this country in order to fulfill the mitzvot that are dependent on the entire nation.  In this one we have failed.  We must correct it.  There is no other way to make this pain disappear permanently than to fix what we have broken.