Monday, November 29, 2004

Aliyah Quote #5: Beauty and Brains

Ten measures of Chochmah [wisdom] came to the world - Eretz Yisrael received nine - the rest of the world, one. Ten measures of beauty came to the world - Yerushalayim received nine - the rest of the world, one. (Kidushin 49b)

Sunday, November 28, 2004

My Aliyah Role Models

People are starting to go to Israel for the right reasons. Years ago aliyah was for people who were running away from something. They weren't successful. They didn't have a successful marriage. They were coming because there was a reason. They weren't role models...
So said newly elected OU President Stephen Savitsky to the Jerusalem Post.
It's encouraging to hear the OU strongly promoting aliyah from North America and it's obvious to me that President Savitsky poorly worded his statement. He must have! There's no way he could possible have intended it the way it came out.

For one thing I'll tell you when my grandparents made Aliyah in 1982 they weren't running away from anything. In fact my grandmother convinced my grandfather to take early retirement so they can come Home. At a time when most people from New York, retired and spent their winters in Florida, my grandparents boldly moved into the brand new neighborhood of Ramat Eshkol - with very few fellow Americans settling there at the time. Yes, they made Aliyah for "the right reasons." They are my role model.

Even better, when my great-aunts and uncles came in the 70's, they had quite the good life in America. You could even say they were living the American dream. Well instead they chose to live the Jewish dream. Yes, they made Aliyah for "the right reasons." They are my role model.

And around 10 years ago when my cousins, the husband earning a "dot-com boom" peak salary, "gave it all up" to come with their three kids and a baby, and settle in our Homeland, they weren't running away from America. If anything they ought to have been running back when my cousin learned of the salary he would be earning in Israel. But, they didn't "run back." You know why? Because, yes, they made Aliyah for "the right reasons." They are my role model.

And you know, they temporarily settled in Beit Shemesh. And then bought an apartment in the not-yet-existing neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh. And while, it might not appear quite as pioneering as those truly heroic souls settling Yesha. Consider this. You try moving into a neighborhood when only two other buildings have electricity. When hardly any streetlights are functioning. When there aren't any groceries yet to shop for milk or bread. When there aren't even any street signs yet!

And the North American Jews that end up there today, in what has been nicknamed "little America," or even when they choose to settle in what is becoming ever more popular with Americans - Ramat Eshkol, all owe a great thanks to the Olim just like my cousins, like my uncles and aunts, like my grandparents, that "took the risk" and moved there without knowing what life will be like there, but instead had total bitachon in Hashem. G-d will not let his people down. Certainly not, when they made Aliyah for the "right reasons."

Olim that came 30 years ago made Aliyah easier for those that came 20 years ago. And Olim that came 10 years ago - made Aliyah even easier for today's Olim! And as the Aliyah Revolution hits critical mass, the Oleh of today will continue to help pave the way for tomorrow's North American Jew to come Home. Yes, we have always had role models. Most North Americans just weren't paying attention!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Shabbat Shalom: Behold, The Power of Eretz Yisrael

by Ilan Tokayer (

Vayira Yaakov Meod Vayetzer Lo, "And Yaakov became very frightened, and it distressed him" (Bereishit 32:8).

In the beginning of this week's Parsha, Yaakov hears that Esav is coming to greet him, and not knowing if this is for good or bad, Yaakov is afraid. How could Yaakov be afraid if Hashem just promised him that he would be protected? Rashi quotes Bereishit Rabbah, which explains that Yaakov was afraid of Esav because Esav had the Zechut(merit) of living in Eretz Yisrael while Yaakov was in Charan at Lavan's house. Perhaps because of this, Hashem would protect Esav rather than Yaakov.

Rav Shmuel Moholiver, one of the heads of the Chovevei Tzion (religious Zionist) movement of the 19th century, was puzzled by this. A few Pesukim earlier, Yaakov said Im Lavan Garti, "I lived with Lavan," and Rashi comments, based on Gematria, that this means Im Lavan Harasha Garti, Vetaryag (same Hebrew letters as Garti)
Mitzvot Shamarti, "I lived with the wicked Lavan, and I still kept all of the Mitzvot." Here, Yaakov, who has performed all of the Mitzvot, is afraid of Esav who has fulfilled the one Mitzva of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael!

From this we can learn the importance of the Mitzva of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael. Yaakov realized that even when a Rasha like Esav does this one Mitzva, he can be compared to a Tzaddik Gamur, a complete Tzaddik, like Yaakov Avinu. If Esav lived in Israel, did not perform other Mitzvot, yet was equated to Yaakov Avinu, then imagine how much
greater we would be if we would live in Eretz Yisrael and do keep all of the other Mitzvot!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Secrets of the Aliyah Center Revealed

I’ve been working my way through the pile of forms in my Tik Aliyah. Actually I think I’m pretty much done with them – just have to sign and date them now. So all I need besides those is a letter from my Rabbi and copies of my passport from all the times I’ve been in Israel over the past seven years. Seven years! But my passport only goes back till 2000! I’ll just have to tell my shliach that it will have to do. Besides I’ve been there six times since 2000 so it’s not like they won’t have what to look at.

By what to look at I suspect they use my passport information to do background checks. "Seven years" is actually a pretty standard time period for that sort of thing. I even think there is a legal basis for retaining records for seven years but not any longer. But somehow I get the feeling they are not doing the traditional background check. In any case it does shed some light on what happened to JTA’s Jonathan Udren shortly after he made Aliyah. In his own words:

Only a week after making aliyah, my first piece of Hebrew mail arrived.

What an amazing feeling to see "Yonatan Chaim Udren" spelled out in Hebrew letters on that envelope. I ripped it open and glanced it over, only to realize that I had no idea what the document meant. There were numbers at the bottom, and a box next to it that I translated as, "You receive 400 shekel."

I thought: "I´ve only been here a week and already I´m being awarded some kind of extra aliyah bonus."

Then I looked at the letter again and realized there was another column with a date 90 days hence and a 625-shekel figure in the adjacent box.

Was this some kind of savings bond? Why would waiting 90 more days allow me to receive more money?

When I saw the Hebrew word "knas" it dawned on me: It was a bill.

Or, more accurately, a fine.

The nicely detailed caricature of a smiling policeman writing out a parking ticket on the back of the letter made the situation a little clearer.

The funny thing is that I don´t even have a car.

The fine was dated all the way back to last December, and after a moment I realized its source.

A few friends and I had rented a car during Chanukah for some hiking in the Negev Desert. While I was finishing the paperwork, the attendant parked the rental vehicle in an illegal space. When I walked out to the car, a policeman was huddled over the license plate. A moment later, he slapped a ticket on the windshield.

"Oh, don´t worry, we´ll take care of that," said the attendant as she snatched the ticket from my hand, tossing in into what I thought was the trash can.

I shrugged it off and headed for the desert. Even if the rental company didn´t take care of the ticket, I thought, how would the parking police ever find me?

Less than a week after I made aliyah, that ticket landed in my mailbox. I´m still trying to figure out the whole thing, but I´m hoping — perhaps a little naively — that all Israeli bureaucracy works as efficiently as the parking-ticket authorities.

Yep. So now you know. That's really why they do the background checks!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Aliyah Quote #4: Don't Sell Out!

One who sells his house [in Eretz Yisrael] to a Nochri - it is forbidden to benefit from the money... (Gitin 44a)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Three Amazing and Cheap Israel Trips for Winter Break!

Got plans yet for winter break?

Below are some really amazing subsided trips to Israel for college-aged students. The best part is you may be able to go on more than one. I highly recommend the Pilot Trip that is being given by Yavneh Olami. I went on it two years ago (though it was run by Tehilla then - but it looks like the same people are running it). I must say it really prepared me well for Aliyah and you get to learn a lot and have fun at the same time!

Check out this Aliyah Pilot Trip being run by Yavneh
Olami. This may be a perfect followup to Hasbara Fellowships:

Aliyah Pilot Trip: School may have just started but winter plans are already being made. Yavneh is running an incredible Aliyah Pilot Trip (January 2-9) for those who want to look into further study and work opportunities in the homeland. Applications and temporary itenary will up at soon. Check it out and register. Deadline to sign up is December 1, 2004.

Cost is $200. This price does not include flight or health insurance. For more info call Aharon at 212.465.9234 or email at

Aharon Horwitz
National Coordinator, Yavneh Olami North America
T: 212.465.9234
F: 212.465.9246

Yavneh Olami North America
7 Penn Plaza, Suite 205
New York, NY

Vist us on the web:

Yavneh Olami North America is the Zionist Jewish Student movement affiliated with Religious Zionists of America-Mizrachi/Hapoel Hamizrachi.

2. Two week trip with North American Jewish Student Alliance

From: Rabbi Charles Lebow
Subject: Israel deal for Winter break

Please read and distribute to your lists.

Now, you too can't afford to miss Israel this winter! Announcing a special Israel winter break program for college-age students. This is not a Birthright program and does not carry birthright restrictions. So if you have been on birthright or don't qualify this may be the tirp for you.

Two weeks in Jerusalem learning about Judaism and its relevance for today. You can check out these programs at

Five days to be spent as delegates to the World Union of Jewish Students Congress in Haifa ( for details).

Two possible dates of departure: December 19 or December 26.

The program will cover travel costs, student accommodations and most meals. Note that during the learning component the men and women will be in separate locations.

Travel subsidies of $500 per person will be awarded at the conclusion of the program.

Participants must commit to the full participation in the program in order to receive travel subsidies. Most evening activities will be optional.

For more details and application, send an e-mail to:

Rabbi Charles Lebow
Senior Advisor
North American Jewish Student Alliance


Hasbara Fellowships is a leadership development seminar for top Jewish university students from across North America. Due to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, there is a necessity to develop young Jewish leaders who are educated and knowledgeable about Israeli history and politics, as well as capable of communicating a pro-Israel message to the Diaspora community, specifically on college campuses. The Hasbara Fellowships program consists of mainly three tracks:

1. Educating students on Israeli and Middle East history and politics, focusing specifically on the issues of the Palestinian conflict.

2. Training students to be effective activists on their campuses by sharing tools to create a pro-active pro-Israel campaign.

3. Building students' Jewish identity and knowledge in order to be effective Jewish leaders.

In addition, participants visit important sites throughout the country and meet with political leaders from across the ideological spectrum. Students will be expected to create a plan for a pro-Israel campaign upon returning to their campus, and will be aided by the Hasbara Fellowships staff in bringing this plan into action.


The cost of this program is $599, including a round trip flight from New York to Tel Aviv. Other subsidies and scholarships are available.

Lori Hoch
Campus Coordinator
Hasbara Fellowships
phone: 646-365-0030 ext. 16
fax: 212-391-7630
cell: 917-863-9707
AIM: The Loche

Monday, November 15, 2004

Aliyah Quote #3: Olive Oil and Olives

R. Oshaya says: Shnei Maklos...No'am [and] Chovelim - "No'am" refers to Chachamim [Torah Scholars] of Eretz Yisrael, who pleasantly help each other in Halachah - "Chovelim" refers to Chachamim of Bavel, who attack [try to refute] each other in Halachah.

R. Yitzchak says: ...Benei ha'Yitzhar ha'Omedim [and it says before this] U'Shnayim Zeisim Aleha - "Yitzhar" refers to Chachamim of Eretz Yisrael, who are as pleasant to each other in Halachah as olive oil. "Zeisim" refer to Chachamim of Bavel, who are as bitter to each other in Halachah as olives. (Sanhedrin 24a)

Friday, November 12, 2004

Shabbat Shalom: Rav Kook ZT"L on Harnessing the Power of Esau


This week we read the description of the birth of Jacob and Esau, and their respective naming:

"The first one came out reddish, as hairy as a fur coat. They named him Esau. His brother then emerged, his hand grasping Esau's heel. He named him Jacob." [Gen 59:25-6]

Esau's name means made or completed. He emerged from the womb full of strength and energy. Jacob's name refers to the fact that he was holding on to Esau's heel. When Jacob is named a second time, it is also in connection to his relationship with his brother Esau. The night before meeting up with Esau, he struggles with a stranger. This stranger, Esau's guardian angel, tells him:

"Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel. You have contested with (or: ruled over) angels and men. You have won." [Gen 32:29]

What is the inner meaning of Jacob's names? What is the significance of his grasping on to Esau's heel? Why does he have two names?

There are both positive and negative forces in the world. The same is true on an individual level: every person has positive and negative traits. The negative forces are necessary, however; without their power and strength, many good things would lack the energy to be realized.

Esau represents those raw, base forces in the world. His reddish complexion indicated the violent, brutal nature of his personality. Jacob did not prevent Esau from coming into the world. Rather, he held on to his heel, holding him back. The name Jacob refers to this aspect of restraint, reining in the fierce forces.

The goal is not to simply hold back these negative forces, but rather to gain control over them, to utilize them, like a raging waterfall harnessed for the production of electricity. For example, the Talmud tells us that a person with blood-thirsty tendencies should become a ritual slaughterer (a shochet) or a mohel. This higher level is the significance of Jacob's second name, Israel (from the root-word sar, to rule).

The name Jacob is appropriate when the Jews are in the Diaspora. There they serve as a moral measure to somewhat restrict the wild, violent forces in the world. When fully redeemed in the land of Israel, the Jewish people will be able to achieve the higher level of Israel. They will be able to demonstrate how a nation can utilize its
material, physical powers for positive and moral goals.

[Ayn Aya I:68]

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

It's Not Official Till There's a Street Sign

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

It’s Not Official Till There’s a Nigerian scam

Well that didn't take long...

Dear Sir/Madam,

You may be surprised to receive this letter from me since you do not know me personally. I am MRS. SUHA ARAFAT the wife of KING YASSER ARAFAT IX, also known as ABU AMMAR who was recently murdered by the Zionist entity.

I got your contact through French Chamber of commerce Industry hence I decided to write you. Before the death of my husband, he had notified me about the money $3b (Three Billion United States Dollars) he deposited in a Swiss Bank account as if he fore saw the looming danger in the Zionist entity.

This money was deposited in a box as personal valuables for a foreign partner to avoid much demurrage from the American infidels. This amount was meant for the purchase of five new mansions, several swimming pools, a personal international airport, and 32,086 (Thirty Two Thousand and Eight-Six) new Mercedes Benzes. The remaining funds were to insure an esteemed spot on the Forbes top ten list.

However the inhumane Zionist entity introduced a new Land Act reform, which wholly affected the plan to destroy the Zionists. This resulted to killing and mob action by Zimbabwean war veterans and some lunatics in the society. All the details of with can be most accurately assured here:
In fact, a lot of people were killed because of this land reformed Act for which my husband was one of the victims.

It is against this background that, my children and I who are currently staying in my Paris château decided to transfer my husband money to a foreign country since the law of the Infidels prohibits poor refugees such as myself from embezzling foreign aid and from opening any bank account or to be involved in any financial transaction throughout the territorial zones of Senegal Dakar. I am now saddled with the responsibility of seeking for a genuine foreigner who can provide us with a reliable account where this money could be transferred into .All I seek for is an honest person, as honest as myself and my husband who is still alive, whom I can entrust with my future and That of my family. I must also let you know that this transaction demands absolute confidentiality.

If you accept to assist me and my family, all I want from you is to help us with an account in your name, which will aid us in transferring the money into any account, you Will nominate overseas.

This money we intend to use for investment and growth in your country and not for Mercedes. For your efforts we are prepared to give to you 20% of the total funds or you can go into partnership with us for the proper profitable investment of the money in your country. Whichever the option you want, feel free to notify me. I have also mapped out 5% of this money for all kinds of expenses we might incur in the process of this transaction, bribes, hitmans, and personal army. If you do not prefer a partnership I am willing to give you the percentage proposed above.

If you are really capable and willing to assist us please contact me immediately through this e-mail address finally, please treat this matter as urgent as possible I am in dire need to leave this country soonest with my money, I mean family.

Thanks for your anticipated co-operation

Best Regards
Mrs. Suha Arafat

Monday, November 08, 2004

It’s Not Official Till There’s a Poster

And from what I hear there are loads of 'em. This picture was taken by the AP:

" happiness and joy we announce the death of the evil one,
Yasser Arafat
to be buried in hell,
so may this happen to all enemies of Israel - Suha"

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Aliyah Quote #2: Even the Thieves are "Better"

A case occurred: bandits came upon Talmidim of R. Akiva, the Talmidim said "We are heading to Ako." When they reached Keziv [their true destination,] the bandits realized that they were tricked. The bandits remarked that R. Akiva's Talmidim were never harmed. [Likewise in Bavel] thieves came upon Rav Menasheh. He said "I am heading to Pumbadisa." When he reached Bei Tursa [his true destination,] the thieves realized that they were tricked. The thieves said: "You are a Talmid of [Rav] Yehudah the swindler!" ... [From here we see that even] the thieves of Bavel are so much coarser than those of Eretz Yisrael [who praised R. Akiva]! (Avodah Zarah 25b-26a)

Saturday, November 06, 2004

But what if she doesn't want to make Aliyah?

So I should have posted this last week but of course I didn't get around to it.

This topic is one that is very close to my heart and I intend to write more about it. But I have always been amazed by the conversation that takes place between Avraham and Eliezer in Parshat Chayay Sarah. And here's how it goes (according to Rav Aryeh Kaplan's ZT"L translation):

Abraham was old, well advanced in years, and G-d had blessed Abraham with everything. He said to the senior servant of his household, who was in charge of everything that he owned, "Place your hand under my thigh. I will bind you by an oath to G-d, Lord of heaven and earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live. Instead, you must go to my native land, to my birthplace, and obtain a wife for my son Isaac."

Think about it. Avraham just assigned Eliezer a tremendous task, finding a suitable wife for Yitzchok, and the servant asks just one measly question. (Or at least just one question is recorded in the Torah.) He didn't ask about Yichus, about wealth, about looks, about personality traits, about Shabbos tablecloths, or even about support. No he could have asked about hundreds of different things. But instead he inquires about this:

"But what if the girl does not want to come back with me to this land?" asked the servant. "Shall I bring your son back to the land that you left?"

Whoo! Pay attention. Eliezer just asked "But what if she doesn't want to make Aliyah?" That's his only concern. "How important is it to live in Eretz Yisrael? I mean, I know a really wonderful girl, but she might want to live in Baltimore - but you could be a good Jew in Baltimore too - how about it?"

And now see the beauty of Avraham's response (brackets added by R' Kaplan):

"Be most careful in the respect," replied Abraham. "Do not bring my son back there! G-d, the Lord of heaven, took me away from my father's house and the land of my birth. He spoke to me and made an oath. 'To your offspring I will give this land.' He will send His angel before you, and you will indeed find a wife there for my son. If the girl does not want to come back with you, then you shall be absolved of my oath. But [no matter what,] do not bring my son back there!"

Now why couldn't Yitzchak make Yaridah? Avraham didn't really give a reason. (Yes, the famous answer is that Yitzchok was already hallowed as an offering so he was too holy to live anywhere but Eretz Yisrael, but Avraham didn't say that in the text.) I think if we look closely at this near admonishment we see Avraham didn't need a reason. He's saying "Eliezer, G-d himself promised me my offspring is going to be here in Eretz Yisrael. This is where he wants his chosen people. So, does it even make any sense what you are asking? G-d, who promised me Eretz Yisrael, is leading you to find him a wife. Don't you think he knows what he's doing? If she doesn't want to make Aliyah - she's obviously not the right one!"

I'll back up what I'm saying a bit with a comment from the Ramban. Above where Avraham tells Eliezer to swear he says, "I will bind you by an oath to G-d, Lord of heaven and earth..." Now the Ramban translates "Ha'aretz" not as "earth" but as "the land," i.e. the land of Israel. And, to prove this the Ramban points out, the second time, Avraham says "G-d, the Lord of heaven" and omits Ha'aretz. He did this:

...because he was the in Haran or Ur of the Chaldees. So the Rabbis have said: He who lives outside the land of Israel is as if he had no G-d, as it said, For they have driven me out this day that I should not cleave unto the inheritance of the Eternal, saying, Go serve other gods.

The Gemarah the Ramban is quoting from Kesubos 110b continues, "But who said to David, Go serve other gods? However this verse teaches you that he who lives outside the land of Israel is considered as if he worshipped idols." Pretty harsh language from the Rabbis. But it does explain Avraham's equally harsh tone: "But [no matter what,] do not bring my son back there!"

I, for one, have only dated, and will continue to only date girls that want to make Aliyah or have already made it. And if she doesn't want to live in Eretz HaKedoshah she obviously is not for me.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

CNN still in denial?

See for yourself. On the very same webpage where CNN declares: "Bush wins second term as Kerry concedes" they color Ohio... blue?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election 2004: Water, water, everywhere! Is G-d voting Bush?

Looks like it’s raining over several key toss up battleground states including: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsion, and New Hampshire. New Mexico is even seeing some snow! It’s also raining in some states that are leaning Kerry but could still go for Bush including Washington, Oregon, and Maine. And in Hawaii, which almost always goes blue, but which some polls showed Bush ahead, they are having flooding!

Update: At 11:00AM EST rain is being reported in another swing state, Flordia.

"The traditional wisdom is that lower turnout is better for Republicans, whose partisans tend to vote more consistently, and higher turnout is better for Democrats."

Monday, November 01, 2004

Aliyah Quote #1: Those Who Inhert Olam Haba

So a while back a put together a whole bunch of "Aliyah Quotes" and posted them at different Aliyah pages on OnlySimchas. Well I thought it might also be cute to post a different Aliyah quote here every week. Here we go...

And these are those who inhert Olam Haba [the world-to-come]: "one who resides in Eretz Yisrael..." (Pesachim 113a)