Thursday, December 30, 2004

A-7: R' Kaduri Predicted "Natural Calamities" Weeks Ago!

From Arutz-7:

Disaster, Redemption and the Tsunami
Thursday, December 30, 2004 / 18 Tevet 5765

At least one Kabbalist sage predicted "natural calamities" over two weeks ago. He and others call for an increase in acts of kindness, as they try to place the events in universal context.

The venerated Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri, considered Israel's leading Kabbalist rabbi, was quoted in the Yediot Acharonot newspaper on Dec. 12 as saying:

"We are now in the fourth year of what could be the seven-year Redemption period, according to the calculation of the Vilna Gaon. [However.] in the coming three years, uncertainty about the future will hang over our heads, unless we work and strive that the Messiah be revealed. The Messiah is already [here] in Israel. Whatever people are sure will not happen, is liable to happen, and whatever we are certain will happen may disappoint us. But in the end, there will be peace throughout the world. The world is mitmatek mehadinim (lit., becoming sweet from/of strict justice), great tragedies in the world are foreseen, that's the thing of the Jews going to the East. [emphasis added] But our enemies will not prevail over us in the Land of Israel, 'fear and trembling will fall upon them,' in the [merit of the] power of Torah."

Rabbi Kaduri said this week, "What can save the world from calamities is real repentance by Jews, who must increase acts of kindness towards one another... The cry of the many poor in Israel and the expulsion of Jews from their homes shakes the world... It's not for naught that this place was hit, where many of our compatriots went to look for this-worldly lusts."

Rabbi Kaduri has told his students that the current government will be the last one of the "old era," and that the new government will already have leadership of the Messianic era.

Another sage, Rabbi Chaim Kanevsky of Bnei Brak, was quoted in Yediot in the same article as saying that we are verily in the period of the beginning of the Redemption period, and that the Messiah could be revealed at any moment. He called for further outreach "in order to prevent calamities and to bring mercy from the Creator. All Jews must come to the Land of Israel." The Rabbi also called to establish Torah schools in every area, and that "Torah study will prevent calamities – from earthquakes to other natural disasters."

The Kipa website, a Hebrew-language forum for religious youth, features a response by Rabbi Uziel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of the Misgav Regional Council in the Galilee regarding a Jewish approach to the calamitous events. "First of all," Rabbi Eliyahu wrote, "we should pray and ask G-d to remove His wrath from the word, send a complete recovery to the injured, and help and protect everyone in the world, causing sorrow to depart."

Rabbi Eliyahu added that what is happening now was decreed on Rosh HaShanah [the Jewish New Year]: "It was a Divine decree that was issued regarding 'who will be killed by water, and who by fire...'" Our job now, he wrote, is to "pray to G-d, to try harder in studying Torah and fulfilling the Torah and doing acts of kindness and charity. This is an hour of reckoning for the entire world!!!"

Rabbi Eliyahu emphasized that G-d has complete control of nature, and that the Jewish People live "amidst great faith, despite questions that remain open. No question mark can break our strength of great and perfect faith in G-d... This does not prevent us from asking and searching for answers and [logical] explanations, but it all takes place on the solid ground of great faith in G-d... The Bible (Zechariah 14) mentions that in the future, when the Messiah comes, the Mt. of Olives will be split in two... The Messiah can come at any minute, even as you read these lines..."

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Awesome KUMAH NBN Pics From JFK!

How do those KUMAH folks do it?

Monday, December 27, 2004

Aliyah Quote #9: Foolish Babylonians!

R. Yirmiyah did not understand the Rabanan [Rabbis] when he was here [in Babylonia] - when he got to Eretz Yisrael, he called us "foolish Babylonians!" (Kesuvos 75)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Sendoff/Greet the NBN Olim with Kumah Next Week!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Aliyah Quote #8: To Be To You As G-d

Anyone that lives in Eretz Yisrael is as one that has Hashem over him, but anyone that lives in Chutz la'Aretz is as one that does not have Hashem over him, as it says, "To give you Eretz Kana'an, to be to you as Hashem (Lev. 25:38)." ( Kesuvos 110b)

Monday, December 20, 2004

Rabbi Druckman Promotes Aliyah at Herzliya Conference

From Arutz-7:

The speakers at the recent prestigious 5th Herzliya Conference were not limited to experts on geo-political and economic affairs.

Rabbi Chaim Druckman, head of the Yeshivot Bnei Akiva countrywide school network in Israel, addressed the conference, and spoke about the spiritual dangers facing world Jewry.

"During a visit to the U.S., I saw a Holocaust survivor, a man who is very active in deepening and spreading Holocaust awareness. His daughter is married to a non-Jew... This is a terrible phenomenon." So said Rabbi Druckman, a Holocaust survivor himself. correspondent Ruti Avraham reports that Rabbi Druckman devoted his remarks to the "very critical period" the Nation of Israel is undergoing, and to the importance of calling on the Jewish Nation to come home to Israel.

"I believe in the eternity of the Jewish People," he said, "not only because of what our rabbis and sources teach us, but also because of what we see with our own eyes. All the ancient nations have disappeared – even great ones that ruled large parts of the world, those that were considered super-powers; they have all disappeared, while a small people, which was persecuted and exiled – what didn't they do to destroy us in every possible way throughout the generations? – is still here to say Am Yisrael Chai, the People of Israel lives."

"The People of Israel are eternal, because they have an eternal destiny: We must be, as the Prophets said, a light unto the nations. But all this is true when we live in our Land, not when we are dispersed throughout the exiles. It's only when we live as a paradigm as a sovereign nation in our own land, a model of goodness, truth and justice in every way."

Rabbi Druckman, 72, who is busy until all hours of the night in the framework of his many educational and hessed (kindness) endeavors, said he is optimistic: "Yet it still hurts greatly to see what we are doing to ourselves. I'm referring to assimilation, something that is causing a genuine Holocaust. I'm not talking about the CIS [the former Soviet Union]; I'm talking about America the free, where intermarriage is simply cutting off children from the Jewish people. We must talk about this and fight this and persuade them that Jews' place is in the Land of Israel."

"It used to be that the Land was desolate," he said. "But now, what excuse can there be for not coming? This is our place. There are difficulties, and problems – but I dare say, and it pains me to say it, that they need not wait for anti-Semitism to kick them out; they shouldn't come from 'no choice,' but of their own free will. Aliyah must be first priority – and there must therefore be true Jewish education to restore them to their roots. If they don't nourish from the past, if they ignore the past, there won't be a future. We must know what our task is, and where we can fulfill it – in the Land of Israel."

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Taxi Drivers and Applications Forms

So after looking at my past blog postings it looks like I haven't posted any original content in a while.

So what have I been up to? Well I've been slowly working my way through this Nefesh B'Nefesh form for the past month. Yes, I said month! And it's not even because it's such a ridiculously long form. I mean it is pretty long but it's doable. The real tough part is the questions they ask! Let me elaborate.

"Please list your last three jobs in order of most recent."
I've decided I'm only going to list jobs that actually paid me. And that leaves only my current job. But then they ask:
"What did you like most about this position?"
"What did you like least about this position?"

Below that they ask:
"Are you satisfied with your current employment? Please explain:"
"In what profession will you seek employment is Israel? Please provide details:"

A little further down the form they ask:
"List you four main reasons for your interest in making Aliyah:"
Could that question be any more loaded? How can I possible fit the answer on those four little lines below?

"What do you foresee as your three biggest challenges once living in Israel?"
Another loaded question!

"How would you address those challenges?"
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!

And then it hit me! Answering these questions is not meant for the Nefesh B'nefesh staff... It's meant for the applicant. It's meant for me! These questions are meant to get the potential oleh thinking . To be the very first step in a long process of emotionally preparing for life in Israel.

It actually reminds me of a conversation I had with an Israeli Taxi Driver.
"Why would you want to make Aliyah? Do you see how much traffic we have here?"

NBN might as well ask:

Do you think Israel is a wonderland?
Are you crazy?
How will you react when you realize how backward it is?
What will you do when they make you wait in line for five hours to fill out a some lousy form which they won't even give you because when you finally make your way to the front of the line they tell you that the office is on strike so you have to come back on the third Tuesday of every other month, but only when that Tuesday falls out the week after a full moon and the week before a solar eclipse (which you could swear is astronomically impossible?)
How will you deal with all the rude and frankly hot-tempered people you will encounter?
Are you crazy?
Why would you give up living the "American Dream" for a dinky nothing country like Israel?
Are you sure you're not crazy?

In any event - it's well known that NBN handles all the Aliyah paperwork for you on the plane. But don't think that you'll be able to make Aliyah with out filling out any forms! And don't think Aliyah will be easy!

I guess it really comes down to that conversation with the Israel Taxi driver. After berating how difficult life in Israel is non-stop for a good twenty minutes - he stops turns to me and says with a warm smile,

"But still - come! You'll suffer with us! Really, come, we need you! You need us!"

Friday, December 17, 2004

Shabbat Shalom: Many Routes, One Destination by Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann

From Olas Shabbos 5759:

"And [Yosef] sent off his brothers, and they went, and he said to them, 'Do not become agitated on the way.'" (45:24) Why was Yosef concerned that they may become agitated on the way? Simply, it appears that Yosef feared that having just revealed himself, the matter of his sale into slavery must certainly be on the brothers' minds, and perhaps the brothers would quarrel with one another over who was responsible for his sale.

Rashi, however, quotes a Midrashic explanation: Yosef told them, "Do not become engrossed in halachic discussion, so that the trip should not become a source of agitation for you." What was it that caused Yosef to worry at this juncture that his brothers may become so involved in a halachic discussion as to affect their very safety during the journey? And if such a problem was to be expected, why didn't Yaakov warn them about this when they left Eretz Canaan to journey to Egypt?

Yalkut Yehuda explains that Yosef, by instructing them to move to Mitzrayim, had presented them with a complicated halachic dilemma. Under normal circumstances it is forbidden for one who lives in Eretz Yisrael to leave. However, the Gemara (Bava Basra 91a) says that when there is a shortage of food, and produce is only available elsewhere, one may leave. Now, one could reason that this only applies if one has no means of arranging for provisions to be delivered to Eretz Yisrael. Here, however, Yaakov's family could have made arrangements to obtain provisions from Yosef. On the other hand, it is possible that they are only required to remain if food is obtainable within Eretz Yisrael, but if produce is only available from abroad, they are permitted to leave. This was the sort of halachic discussion which could have caused intense argument and agitation among the brothers. Thus, he cautioned them, "Do not become agitated on the way!"

Rav Yechezkel of Kuzmir zt"l used to explain Yosef's warning homiletically. There is a saying that when three Jew's have a discussion, there will be four opinions. Even among the Orthodox and Chareidi populous of our nation, the number of different sects is astonishing. We have Chassidish; Litvish/Yeshivish; Mizrachi; Yekish; Sefardi; Centrist; Modern Orthodox; and so on and so forth. Within each of these major groupings, there are tens and in some cases hundreds of sub-groups. Each of these groups and sub-groups adheres to and promotes its own tenets and principles.

There is nothing wrong with this. There are many ways to serve Hashem, and what "does the trick" for one Jew might not feel right to someone else. What often happens, however, is that to some extent each person begins to feel that their way is "the right way". This is where the "divisions" become divisive. Hostilities arise between different groups and sub-groups, each side claiming that their way is clearly the truthful one. And when arguments are based on "truthfulness," hostilities can become particularly bitter.

If only people would remember the words of Chazal, our Sages (Berachos 58a), "Just as their appearances differ, so do their attitudes differ." We don't get upset with others just because they don't look like us!

A tzaddik was once asked, "There are so many different opinions - Which is the correct way to serve Hashem?" He answered, "If a doctor were to prescribe the same medicine for each of his patients, no matter what their ailment, what kind of doctor would he be? Each patient requires his own care and his own medicine. So too, each Jew requires his own dose of spiritual medicine!"

Two Jews were once arguing about the best route to get to a certain destination. "My way is the best," insisted the one. "No, my way is certainly the best," claimed the other. Along came a mutual friend. "Listen," he said to the two of them, "you arrived safely, right? And you also arrived safely. You're happy with your way, and
you're happy with your way. So what are you arguing about?!"

This concept, says R' Yechezkel, can be alluded to in Yosef's warning. "Don't become agitated on the way!" You have your own way; that's fine. But don't become agitated when others don't see things the same way you do. Each person and each group is entitled to forge its own way in serving Hashem, providing it falls within the Torah

This is also alluded to, says the Rizhener Rebbe zt"l, in the beginning of this week's sidrah (44:18), "And let not your anger flare up at your servant." Don't allow your anger to flare up over your service of Hashem, just because others don't see things the same way you do. We have to be tolerant, accepting, and even encouraging of all Torah factions. Each group reveals new paths upon which some Jews will "find their way" to serve Hashem.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

North American Aliyah Has Arrived

Via Arutz-7:

North American Aliyah Has Arrived
Tuesday, December 14, 2004 / 2 Tevet 5765

Not only has North American Aliyah [immigration to Israel] reached a 21-year high, but the new immigrants have been absorbed with remarkable success. So say Nefesh B'Nefesh officials.

According to a study commissioned by the Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN) Aliyah assistance organization, over 70% of their Olim [new immigrants] have found jobs in their fields within a year of moving to Israel. "Impressive figures," the officials said at a Jerusalem press conference yesterday, "especially considering that the olim arrived in Israel as the country faced a very deep recession."

Nefesh B’Nefesh hopes to make that percentage even higher, embracing the phenomenon of outsourcing for the benefit of North American olim. “Many individuals have outsourced their old jobs here to Israel – staying up late and connecting to their old offices, doing the same work, from here,” NBN co-founder Rabbi Joshua Fass said. He added that the organization plans on encouraging the phenomenon. “We are trying to harness the time-difference. There are many businesses that want to have 24-hour productivity [for] legal work, radiology, and graphic design. We want to harness that potential and thus create jobs for olim.”

The study also shows that the olim themselves are not the only ones to benefit from the move to Israel. "The Jewish State itself is the big winner," the officials said.

According to the study, the average adult newcomer represents approximately $200,000 in instant value to Israel’s economy. This is based on education, professional experience and financial assets the olim bring with them. As many as 90% join the labor pool, and unemployment for the group is on par with the national average after a very brief time in the country. The average family will generate output worth almost $1 million during their first 10 years in the country. Over 50% of these newcomers bought homes in Israel by the end of 2004, many doing so within 3-9 months of their arrival.

“There have been many waves of Aliyah,” said NBN co-founder Tony Gelbart. “We feel it is time for the wave of North American Aliyah; it's our turn. There is a wellspring of idealistic Zionist Jews who will contribute to Israel from the moment they arrive at the airport.”

Rabbi Fass, a Florida pulpit rabbi who left his synagogue in Boca Ratonin favor of creating a mass Aliyah movement from North America, signaled a dramatic shift in the organization’s mode of operation. In the past, NBN focused on assisting prospective immigrants in their Aliyah process, while now, the organization will actively recruit American Jews to "go home to Israel."

“We now have the infrastructure to accommodate thousands of individuals and want to spread the word,” said Fass.

Rabbi Fass outlined several programs aimed at fostering the Aliyah revolution:

* Aliyah Ambassador Program – Nefesh B’Nefesh is sending olim back to the U.S. and Canada to address the Jewish communities in their former home towns. The veteran olim will speak at Orthodox, Conservative and Reform synagogues across North America.

* Instant Aliyah – Working hand-in-hand with Israel’s Interior Ministry, Nefesh B’Nefesh has made it easier for students on tourist visas - “who catch the bug and want to stay,” as Fass puts it - to do just that. Thanks to this new initiative, the daunting bureaucratic process now takes only a few days. “This month, over 200 students have made Aliyah and received their Israeli identification card, thanks to this new program,” Fass said.

* Student Ambassadors – Working with local Zionist groups, Nefesh b’Nefesh is subsidizing college sophomores and juniors on campuses across the North America who want to promote Aliyah. Eighteen of the Aliyah Ambassadors, from Berkeley, UCLA, Harvard, MIT, Penn, NYU, Columbia and several other schools, will be visiting Israel in the coming weeks to meet veteran Aliyah activists and exchange strategies. “They want to promote Aliyah and we are giving them the promotional tools to put the word out on campus,” Fass said. “They will be our arms, eyes and ears on campus.”

Also in the works are subsidized pilot trips for prospective olim, and seminars in major Jewish population centers across North America aimed at supplying practical information to those “sitting on the fence.” The idea is to spread the word that Aliyah is do-able.

Professor Pinchas Landau of the Israel Business Information Service explains that although the focus of Nefesh B’Nefesh has been the needs of North American immigrants, the State of Israel has been the prime benefactor of the organization’s effort. Landau’s company specializes in analyzing the contributions of various groups of olim to Israeli society. “The data are unprecedented,” he said at the press conference. “89% of the olim from North America have higher degrees, and they are bringing with them more resources and work experience, than any other demographic coming to Israel. These are the ‘creme de la creme’ of the most advanced society in the world.”

Monday, December 13, 2004

Aliyah Quote #7: Equal To The Whole Torah!

Living in Eretz Yisrael equals the combined weight of all of the Mitzvot in the Torah. (Sifri, Re'ei, 80)

Friday, December 10, 2004

Shabbat Shalom, Chag Samayach: The Vision of Redemption by Rabbi Pinchas Frankel

This was written 5 years ago, and quotes from something written almost 15 years ago. Imagine how much more true it is today. How far we've come in 15 years. How much closer we are to the completion of the Geula! And they think G-d will allow man to uproot established settlements? Fools! Harav Y. A. HaLevi Herzog OB"M tell us this is impossible - the redemption is one way!

So what are you waiting for? Come on Home and be part of it!

The Vision of Redemption - Rabbi Pinchas Frankel (5760):

The Vision of Redemption

The following is a translation from the publication "Shabbat B'Shabbato," published in "Eretz Yisrael, by the Institute for Jewish Heritage and HaPoel HaMizrachi" of Israel, in 5751 (1990). It would probably be a good idea, to say the least, for all of us to bear in mind the faithful perspective we learn from Chanukah and its heroes, the Chashmonaim, of the eternity and continuity of our People.

The Miracle of Chanukah is a Symbol for All Generations

In the beginning of "Parshat Miketz," thin and emaciated cows swallow fat and corpulent cows. This dream, which terrified the Pharaoh, ties the Parshah of the Week to the Miracle of Chanukah, in which the few and the weak overcame the great and the mighty. Without physical strength, a few individuals overcame a Great Empire and reminded all future generations of the super-natural strength hidden within the history of the People of Israel.

The Holiday of Chanukah symbolizes, then, our super-natural ability to survive, above and beyond the General Laws of History. This Symbol enlightens us in all generations, but seven-fold does it stand out in our generation:

First of all, because it was our generation which merited to return to the Land of Israel, in which the Miracle of Chanukah occurred...

Second of all, because our generation is the first to live in a time of the Rise of Israel, as it renews itself, with its eyes raised in trust and prayer, for the building of the Third Temple, which will stand forever.

And third, exactly as in the generation of the Chashmonaim, the Sovereignty of Israel has been restored, except that then it was only for two hundred years; but for us, the existence of a government which constantly renews itself and becomes more holy (it is hoped that the governments of Israel, with all their weaknesses, somehow qualify in the "eyes of Hashem" for that description - trans.), will continue till the Complete Redemption, Soon and in Our Days, Amen."

The Beginning of Redemption - Not Only in Theory

It is told that at some point in the midst of the Second World War, the late Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Y. A. HaLevi Herzog, May his righteousness be blessed, was in the United States. At that time, a powerful German force drew very close to the border of Eretz Yisrael touching North Africa - a distance of only one hundred kilometers (3-4 hours at the speed of the tanks used then) from the Jewish Settlement. Rav Herzog planned then for an immediate return to the Land of Israel, and those who escorted him attempted to persuade him to remain in the United States until the "anger had passed."

The Rav said to them "The Torah foresaw Destruction of only two Temples... but the Third Temple is promised to us such that it will not be destroyed! Now, when the Third Temple is beginning to be rebuilt, there is no reason to fear that the Jewish Settlement will be destroyed, G-d Forbid! I have finished my mission here, and now I am returning to the land of Israel."

In this Spirit of "Bitachon" (Trust in the Almighty), Rav Herzog returned to the Land, and the German Army, as is well known, was stopped and defeated at the Battle of Al Alamein.

We were taught a great lesson by the Rabbi at that time: From the moment that the Redemption of Israel was begun and the path to the Building of the Third Temple was started, the direction of travel is one-way - towards the Complete Redemption! The speed of progress towards the redemption of Israel is dependent, from both the physical and spiritual aspects (which are, as we know, inter-related), upon us (in accordance with the interpretation by the Sages "If they merit it, I will bring it quickly!")

The Turning Point

The transition from Exile to Redemption was hard and sharp! But from the moment past the turning point, a new stage in the history of the people was begun, a stage where the visions of the Prophets of Israel ...begin to assume reality. In our time, there is special meaning in this hope, encouragement and comfort:

"Any weapon fashioned against you will not succeed!" (Yeshayahu 54:17)

"It was for just one moment that I left you, and with great mercy will I gather you in." (Yeshayahu 54:6)


It is just ten years since these words were written, and it is somewhat hard to imagine today speaking with such optimism, such certainty, that the "Atchalta DeGeula," the "Beginning of the Redemption," has been achieved. Yet one feels in one's gut that it has been achieved. Even though it is hard to see beyond the one cruse of holy oil in a sea of contamination, we must remember, as did Matityahu and his family, that "Yeshuat Hashem K'heref Ayin," the "Salvation of the L-rd is as swift as the blink of an eye." And it will come for us if, though it is "late in the game" of Jewish and World History, we devote ourselves to becoming worthy of Him.

- Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Re-established Sanhedrin Update

Arutz-7 today reports more on the Sanhedrin that was re-established in October.

Today's article says: The Sanhedrin was reestablished through the ordination of one rabbi agreed upon by many prominent rabbis in Israel and approved as “fitting to serve” by former Chief Sefardi Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef and leading Ashkenazi Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.

Read on:

Members of Reestablished Sanhedrin Ascend Temple Mount
Wednesday, December 8, 2004 / 25 Kislev 5765

In a dramatic but unpublicized move, members of the newly established Sanhedrin ascended the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, this past Monday.

Close to 50 recently ordained s'muchim, members of the Sanhedrin, lined up at the foot of the Temple Mount Monday morning. [The word s'muchim comes from the same root as s'michah, , rabbinic ordination.] The men, many ascending the Temple Mount for the first time, had immersed in mikvaot (ritual baths) that morning, and planned to ascend as a group. Despite prior approval from the Israeli police who oversee entry to the Mount, the officers barred the group from entering the Mount all together, and allowed them to visit only in groups of ten.

Given the newly-mandated restrictive conditions, many of the s'muchim refused to ascend at all, especially as a group of over 100 non-Jewish tourists filed past the waiting rabbis and up towards the holy site. “It is unconscionable that on the eve of Chanukah, which celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple, we should once again be barred from worshipping – by our own people,” Rabbi Chaim Richman of Jerusalem’s Temple Institute told IsraelNN’s Ezra HaLevi.

The Sanhedrin, a religious-legal assembly of 71 sages that convened during the Holy Temple period and for several centuries afterwards, was the highest Jewish judicial tribunal in the Land of Israel. The great court used to convene in one of the Temple’s chambers in Jerusalem.

This past October, the Sanhedrin was reestablished for the first time in 1,600 years, at the site of its last meeting in Tiberias.

“There is a special mitzvah [commandment], not connected to time, but tied to our presence in Israel, to establish a Sanhedrin,” Rabbi Meir HaLevi, one of the 71 members of the new Sanhedrin, told Israel National Radio’s Weekend Edition. “The Rambam [12th-century Torah scholar Maimonides] describes the process exactly in the Mishna Torah [his seminal work codifying Jewish Law]. When he wrote it, there was no Sanhedrin, and he therefore outlines the steps necessary to establish one. When there is a majority of rabbis, in Israel, who authorize one person to be a samuch, , an authority, he can then reestablish the Sanhedrin.”

Those behind the revival of the Sanhedrin stress that the revival of the legal body is not optional, but mandated by the Torah. “We don’t have a choice,” says Rabbi Richman. “It is a religious mandate for us to establish a Sanhedrin.”

The Sanhedrin was reestablished through the ordination of one rabbi agreed upon by many prominent rabbis in Israel and approved as “fitting to serve” by former Chief Sefardi Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef and leading Ashkenazi Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. That rabbi, who is then considered to have received authentic ordination as handed down from Moses, was then able to give ordination to 70 others, making up the quorum of 71 necessary for the Sanhedrin.

“Even Mordechai HaYehudi of the Purim story was accepted, as it is written, only ‘by the majority of his brethren,’ and not by everybody," Rabbi HaLevi explained. "Anyone who deals with public issues can not be unanimously accepted.”

The rabbis behind the Sanhedrin’s reconstitution claim that, like the State of Israel, the old-new Sanhedrin is a work-in-progress. They see it as a vessel that, once established, will reach the stature and authority that it once had.

“The first members requested that their names not be published, so as to allow it to grow without public criticism of individuals,” HaLevi said. “We want to give it time to develop and strengthen the institution, giving a chance for more rabbis to join.” He added that each of the current members of the Sanhedrin has agreed to be a conditional member until a more knowledgeable rabbi joins, taking his place.

Rabbi Richman, also a member of the Sanhedrin, hopes the body will bring about a revolution in Jewish jurisprudence. Declining to discuss exactly what issues are on the Sanhedrin’s agenda, Richman said that one of the main long-term goals of the Sanhedrin is to reunify Jewish observance in Israel. The Sanhedrin includes members of Ashkenazi, Sefardi, Hasidic, National-Religious and Hareidi communities.

“We Jews went into exiles all over the world,” Rabbi HaLevi said. “Every community established its own court. We are talking about more than 50 different legal systems developing separately from one another. Part of our return to Israel is the reunification of our Jewish practices.”

A tradition is recorded in the Talmud (Tractate Megillah 17b, Rashi) that the Sanhedrin will be restored after a partial ingathering of the Jewish exiles, but before Jerusalem is completely rebuilt and restored. Another Talmudic tradition (Eruvin 43b; Maharatz Chajas ad loc; Rashash to Sanhedrin 13b) states that Elijah the Prophet will present himself before a duly-ordained Sanhedrin when he announces the coming of the Messiah. This indicates that despite common misconceptions, a Sanhedrin is a pre-, not post-messianic institution.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

US President to Light Menorah Honoring ´Settler´ at White House

From Arutz-7:

A unique Chanukah candelabra is to be lit this evening at the White House in Washington, DC at the request of US President George Bush.

The menorah was built by a Florida congregation in memory of Noam Apter, a 23-year-old student at the Otniel Yeshiva in the Hevron Hills region who was murdered by terrorists. Apter saved the lives of tens of his fellow students when, after two Islamic Jihad terrorists dressed as IDF soldiers infiltrated his school building, he locked himself inside the kitchen together with the Arab terrorists and hid the key - preventing the terrorists from entering the dining room where 70 yeshiva students were eating their Sabbath meal.

An administrator at the Otniel Yeshiva told IsraelNN's Ezra HaLevi that the Florida congregation had taken a tour given by Noam shortly before he was murdered. Wanting to do something to commemorate the actions of the heroic "settler," the synagogue constructed a huge menorah with a picture of Noam beside it, in his memory. US President Bush heard about the menorah and about Apter's heroics and requested that the Chanukah menorah be lit at the White House this year.

The menorah is scheduled to be lit Tuesday evening, the first day of Chanukah.

More on Noam Apter can be found at where Jonathan Medved asks: Noam Apter's heroic act saved countless lives. Why didn't more people hear about it?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Aliyah Quote #6: Discard the waste!

Eretz Yisrael was created first, and then all the world. Hashem waters Eretz Yisrael directly, and the rest of the world through an intermediary. Eretz Yisrael drinks rainwater and the rest of the world takes a remnant. Eretz Yisrael drinks first, and then the rest of the world. - It is like a man kneading cheese; he takes the edible part, and discards the waste. (Ta'anis 10)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

OU Prez to JPost: Doh!

As I assumed last Sunday President Savitsky now says it didn't come out right.

Via 'If I Forget Thee':

"I deeply regret the remarks I made concerning past motivations for aliya..... and I apologies for them. I am sorry that these remarks, which were part of a lengthy discussion on aliya and many other topics, denigrated, albeit unintentionally those who have made aliya over the years." - President Savitsky in the 12/2 Jerusalam Post

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I did it!

...and boy did that take longer than I thought it would. But I finally completed all the forms and got all the information together that my Shaliach requested for my tik. I got a letter from my Rabbi, photocopied my passport, got passport size photos, filled out all those medical and legal forms, and of course, most importantly filled out a check for $50!

I'll stop by the post office tomorrow morning. Then I'll wait for my Shaliach to call me and tell me I filled everything out all wrong and have to do it all over again.

In the meantime, I got till the end of the month to get stuff together for Nefesh B'Nefesh. Yep. More forms...