Friday, February 25, 2005

Sanhedrin created by those fed up with Zionism?

Someone pointed out to me that who thought the day would ever come where the followers of Rav Kook would have something to agree about with the followers of the Satmar Rebbe… Who said the current PM is dividing people?

From The Forward :

Beware Those Soured on Zionism
By Lloyd Green
February 25, 2005

The Book of Judges records the death of Samson in Gaza. Bound to the columns of a Philistine temple, Samson brought the house down on himself and its occupants, crying, "Let me die with the Philistines." In recent days, Samsonian recklessness and despair have again resurfaced in Gaza.

Meet Yigal Kaminetsky, rabbi of the Gush Katif settlement in northern Gaza. "Disengagement? It is a war about everything," Kaminetsky declared earlier this month, in the run up to this week's Israeli Cabinet approval of Prime Minister Sharon's withdrawal plan. "Zionism has reached the end of the road. The solution? War."

Kaminetsky's take on the region may prove correct. This round of summitry, platitudes and plans may yield the same results as those that came before this month's much-touted Sharm el Sheikh summit. Within two days of the summit, Gush Katif came under a barrage of rocket and mortar fire.

But Kaminetsky was not speaking as a pundit. He was speaking as a cleric who may have soured on a politically democratic, parliamentary State of Israel — a state that in the parlance of religious Zionists is, or at least was, referred to in prayer as reishit semichat ge'ulateinu, "the dawn of our redemption."

Kaminetsky is not alone in his dissatisfaction with the Zionist experiment and the religious status quo. Recently, a group of rabbis announced that they had reconvened the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish religious court that last met in 425 C.E. According to Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, who heads the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, "Whether this will be the actual Sanhedrin that we await, is a question of time — just like the establishment of the State; we rejoiced in it, but we are still awaiting something much more ideal."

Notice he said "rejoiced" in the past tense. Notice his hope for "something much more ideal." For some, that ideal "something" is the restoration of the monarchy, and the abolition of the Knesset and parliamentary democracy.

Mixing religion, nationalism, and messianism creates a volatile but potent brew. It transforms the political and historic into the theological and the millennial, making rational debate and compromise impossible. It makes the widening of borders a sign of God's favor, and territorial concession a sign of divine displeasure.

It can also distort religious norms for the sake of nationalism. After Israel regained the Temple Mount in the Six-Day War, Jewish religious authorities ruled that Jews were prohibited from ascending to the Temple Mount because the exact parameters of where the Temple stood could not be determined, and Jewish law strictly prohibited the ritually impure from entering the Temple's precincts. Better to err on the side of caution.

Enter politics. Over the past few years, thousands of observant Jews have visited the Temple Mount.

Religion and politics make a bad mix, like milk and meat. With Sharon's disengagement plan moving forward, we may soon learn just how difficult the combination will be to digest.

Kaminetsky is joined in his war on the organs of the state by the brother of Israeli Education Minister Limor Livnat. Noam Livnat, who heads up the anti-disengagement Defensive Shield Movement, presented petitions bearing the signatures of 10,000 active and reserve soldiers announcing their refusal to participate in or collaborate with (depending where you stand politically) Israel's disengagement from Gaza.

The 10,000 signatories, while less than 2% of Israel's regular forces and reserves, are still a lot of muscle. If those numbers hold and those who signed the petitions keep their word, Israel may be entering a new and unpleasant chapter in Jewish history, one in which the Israeli military becomes less an army of the state and more the militia of the militant or messianic.

Putting tribe before polis is not new. In Deuteronomy, the Bible records the apparent reluctance of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Menashe to conquer Canaan and cross over from the east bank of the Jordan. Only after Moses admonishes them do they agree to wage war together with their brethren. Later, the Books of Kings record the secession of the northern tribes of Israel from a kingdom led by a descendent of King David. And we know how that ended. In 722 BCE, the Assyrians permanently exiled the northern kingdom. In 586 BCE, Babylon sent Judea into a 70-year exile.

To be sure, opposition to the Gaza disengagement plan is legitimate. Aside from sentimental and religious objections, a serious national security argument for staying can be made. Retired Major General Yaakov Amidror, for example, contends that after Israel withdraws, Gaza will become a base for Al Qaeda. But it is also worth remembering that Amidror stated that the only mistake bigger than the decision to disengage is a decision to disobey an order to disengage.

For a significant portion of the opposition, however, withdrawal from Gaza is not just about geo-strategic concerns: Disengagement from Gaza would mean a deep wound to their religious and worldview. Tragically, this wound that could lead some to prefer no Jewish state at all to one that has to wrestle with the compromises of politics, the imperfections of parliamentarianism and the flaws and foibles of human nature and diplomacy.

Lloyd Green, an attorney, was staff secretary to the Middle East Policy Group of George H. W. Bush's 1988 presidential campaign.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Aliyah Train

This is a beautiful analogy that was posted by "melech" from

The Jewish people have been on a train whose terminus is Yemot HaMashiach, may he come speedily in our days, since the Destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, may it be speedily rebuilt in our days. If someone jumps on my train and tries to take it over, that person may possibly be able to speed it up, or slow it down. The anti-Zionists are rightfully concerned that the train will derail so they jump off and wait at the nearest shtetel for the next train to come along that will eventually overtake what they expect will be a derailed train and a massive train wreck. The Religious Zionists are willing to stay on the train and work together in a symbiotic way and use the skills of the hobos who jumped on the train without paying. True, the hobos might not know what they're doing, and may do more harm than good, but the Religious Zionists expect that the train will stay the course and may even be able to realize some benefit from the hobos. Maybe if the Religious Zioinists are patient with the hobos, and take the time to explain how the train works, and go through the instruction manuals, and what to do in case of an emergency, then maybe the train will actually get to its terminus a little quicker.

Now if I think the train is going in the right direction toward Yemot Ha-mashiach, it's nice to be actually on the train, but the train also needs auxillary personnel to provide fuel and repair the tracks and make sure the signals are working properly and all the other things that are important for its smooth operation. Of course, the auxillary personnel need to time things just right because they too don't want to be left behind down stream when the train does indeed reach its final destination. They can't stay off the train forever, and when the circumstances are right and there aren't competing obligations, the auxillary personnel will climb aboard. But at least they didn't just jump off and wait at the nearest shtetel for the next train that may never come.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Aliyah Quote #17: A Head Above Bavel

R. Meir says: "The dirt from which Adam was created was taken from all over the world - 'Golmi Ra'u Einecha.' " - R. Oshaya says: "[The dirt for] his body was taken from Bavel, his head from Eretz Yisrael..." (Sanhedrin 38a)

Monday, February 21, 2005

WorldNetDaily Picks Up Sanhedrin Story

Last week WorldNetDaily became the first major US news media outlet (they are linked on Drudge) to write about the re-establishment of the Sanhedrin in commentary called: Revived Sanhedrin discusses Temple. Of course they don't come to the right conclusions there but the fact that a US media outlet is discussing it has got to be a boost for those behind the whole effort.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Aliyah Quote #16: Better Than the Best

The best land in Chutz la'Aretz is Egypt - "As the garden of Hashem, as Egypt"; the best area in Egypt is Tzo'an - there they raised kings; The worst part [agriculturally] of Eretz Yisrael is Chevron - it was used as a burial site - and still, it was SEVEN TIMES BETTER than Tzo'an ... (Kesuvos 112a)

Monday, February 14, 2005

Cars, Cars, Cars. It's all about the cars!

An Arutz-7 lead story today "Israeli Economy Leaps by 4.2% in 2004" proves exactly what I've been ranting about. As cars go so does the economy. And could you imagine this is with Israel making it harder to buy a new car. What if they actually made it easier?

The Israeli economy grew by a robust 4.2% in 2004, according to data released today by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Fueling the growth in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) were exports of goods and services, climbing at a 14.3% annual rate. Private consumption also rose by a 4.3% over the past year, pushing per capita consumption of many consumer goods up by a substantial 2.6%. The last quarter of 2004 showed large jump of 7% in private, per capita consumption.

Leading the way in that category were new car sales, up by 24.2% for the year, continuing the trend of the last half of 2003, when new car sales skyrocketed by 58.4%

Secrets Exposed: It’s the Economy, Stupid!

Very well done opinion piece the Jerusalem Post:

Put simply, as long as aliya entails economic sacrifice, it will be limited to a trickle of the welcome and valuable ideologically-motivated few.

And I’ve been saying this for years. Recently I got a pamphlet on making Aliyah from the Jewish agency. It came with a photocopied sheet of updates. The paper read something like this:

Page 1 – This benefit is no longer provided.
Page 2 – This tax has now been raised to double.
Page 3- This right has been shortened from 6 months to 3 months.
Page 4- This benefit is no longer provided.
Page 5- There is now a 200% tax on this.

You get the point. Perhaps I exaggerate, but not by much. What Israel needs today is a nice healthy dose of Reganomics (done more carefully this time.) Yes, listen closely I am about to tell you the secret of America’s economic success. In a word: cars!

Yes, cars! No pun intended, but cars fuel the economy.

Consider the following: According the statistics taken by the Federal Highway Administration in the year 2000 only 10% of all US household’s did not own a car. In fact 34% owned 1 car, 38% owned 2 and get this - a wooping 17% owned three or more vehicles!

Now think about it. Cars cost money. They cost money to operate – gas. They cost money to maintain - repairs. And in large cities they even cost money to park. All that money is pumped straight into the economy. Add on top of that even more money to pay for insurance. And in a country, like America, where taxes are reasonable - and purchasing cars is encouraged - you will find large percentages of citizens buying new cars every year!

The Israeli government tends to be short sighted when it comes to taxes thinking that raising taxes will automatically bring in more money. Wrong! High taxes stop people from owning cars and without those cars Israel not only lose taxes earned on cars themselves, but also loses all the taxes from gas and repairs too. Think of it this way – is it better to take 100% from $1 or 50% from $5 or %20 from $200.

In New York every once in a while they have something called “No-Tax Week.” There is no sales tax charged on certain merchandise (usually clothing articles). Does New York State lose money on this deal? Of course not! If they did why would they have it? New York State gets the taxes another way. No-Tax week gives the economy a boost. With a heather economy people earn more money. When people earn more money they pay more income tax. It’s that simple. Lower taxes = healthier economy. Healthier economy = more money earned in taxes.

And another thing. Who does Israel think they are fooling by charging so much in tax on new items shipped to Israel from abroad? Hello customs officials: Israelis have stuff shipped to friends and family in the US instead which proceed to open those packages and make them look used then reship them to Israel to avoid these taxes. If the taxes were reasonable people would pay them. (And even buy more stuff.) So in your greed, instead you get nothing! Think about it.

It’s time Israel break out of its socialistic nature and embrace Capitalism. And when she does more Americans will come on Home. Stop charging North Americans making Aliyah through the roof in taxes – charge them nothing (I don’t mean that literally – but yes, give them loads of tax breaks.) And something very funny will start happening. Millions – yes millions of Olim will start returning home and pouring money into the Israeli economy. It will become economically beneficial to invest and live in Israel. And with a healthier economy the country will be able to collect more revenue in taxes.

Lower taxes. Everybody wins!

Friday, February 11, 2005

HaRav Eliyahu Soloveitchik on Aliyah

HaRav Eliyahu Soloveitchik, the son of the late HaRav Aharon Soloveitchik ZT"L, one of the most preeminent religious Zionist thinkers of our time, spoke at the Lander College for Men last night. He spoke on "Yishuv HaAretz and Aliyah Today." As promised it was very inspirational and educational with personal stories of his father's love for Eretz Yisrael and the need for religious Jews to make Aliyah.

Click here for a link to hear the whole shuir. Well worth it!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Take two: If you can't beat 'em join 'em!

So it looks like everybody is promoting their nominations and soliciting votes. Personally, when I think of “awards” I think more of an objective committee judging on a criteria that’s based solely on the merit of the content.

That said, in fact those are the rules. “Campaigning” is part of the awards. So if you got a second and like the pictures I took for Kumah at the Winter 04 NBN Aliyah flight click here and vote for “Aliyah” (second from the bottom.)


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Sanhedrin Watch

From The Conservative Voice:


From Arutz-7:

Reestablished Sanhedrin Convenes to Discuss Temple
Tuesday, February 8, 2005 / 29 Shevat 5765

The re-established "Sanhedrin" convened to hold its monthly meeting this week, with the question of the Holy Temple's precise location the main topic on the agenda.

The recently re-established Sanhedrin - ideally, Judaism's top legal assembly - of 71 rabbis and scholars also moved to solidify logistical aspects of the body.

The Sanhedrin heard expert testimony on the various opinions as to the exact part of the Temple Mount upon which the Holy Temple stood. The fact that there has never been an archaeological expedition or dig on the Temple Mount, coupled with continuous Muslim efforts to destroy historical evidence of the Holy Temple at the site, have made determining the exact location difficult.

Identifying the spot on which the Temple stood is a matter of controversy among scholars, and has serious ramifications for those wishing to visit the Temple Mount. It is also critical for the renewal of the Passover sacrifice, and ultimately for the building of the third and final Holy Temple. While numerous opinions have been expressed throughout the years, and while several of them were expressed at the Sanhedrin gathering this week, the two main opinions state that the Temple stood either on the spot currently occupied by the gold-topped Dome of the Rock, or just to the north of that spot. An opinion that the Temple stood south of that spot, approximately behind the present-day Western Wall, was also presented - though most scholars basically discount it.

The opinion that it is impossible to determine the site of the Temple without prophecy was also presented.

Currently, observant Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount undergo strict preparations in accordance with halakhah (Jewish law), including - but not limited to - immersion in a mikveh (ritual bath) prior to ascending the Mount. Once on the Mount, they adhere to a specific route, based upon the accepted positions of rabbinical authorities. (A map of the permitted area reflecting the most central and widely-accepted route can be viewed by clicking here).

The opinions were delivered by rabbis, professors and archaeologists, all experts in the matter of the Temple Mount. A final presentation on the matter will be given to the Sanhedrin by a subcommittee now in formation. The subcommittee will thoroughly examine the various opinions, and present its findings to the Sanhedrin, which is then to make a decision on whether the site can be determined.

The founders of the new Sanhedrin stress that they are merely fulfilling a Biblical mitzvah (obligation). “It is a special mitzvah , based on our presence in Israel, to establish a Sanhedrin,” Rabbi Meir HaLevi, one of the 71 members of the new Sanhedrin, has explained. “The Rambam [12th-century Torah scholar Maimonides] describes the process exactly in the Mishnah 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."

During Temple times, the 71 members of the Sanhedrin, the center of Jewish jurisprudence, were seated in a semi-circle within a special chamber in the courtyard of the Temple.

“It is appropriate that the Sanhedrin convened to discuss this lofty matter [of the Temple's location] this week,” Sanhedrin spokesman Rabbi Chaim Richman told Arutz-7’s Ezra HaLevi, “as the Torah portion is Terumah – the portion of the Bible which begins to deal with the preparations for the Tabernacle. Though seemingly esoteric, the preparations for building a Tabernacle and the Temple are at the center of who we are as a people.”

Richman also said that it was heartening to see that despite talk of withdrawal from parts of the Land of Israel, and despite Prime Minister Sharon’s declaration that Israel has “given up its dreams,” the Sanhedrin continues to move toward strengthening the nation of Israel. “As all these things happen all around us," Rabbi Richman said, "the Sanhedrin is researching ways to renew the deepest roots of our faith – to renew Temple service, reunite Jewish legal tradition and inspire the Jewish people to aspire to greatness. Our people have one path before us, and we will continue to march toward our destiny.”

Sanhedrin member Rabbi Yisrael Ariel - former Yeshiva head, founder of the Temple Institute, and one of the paratroopers who took part in the 1967 liberation of the Temple Mount - said:
“People today ask, ‘Who are we in this generation to even consider building the Temple?’ But in this week’s Torah portion we see that the commandment to build a Temple was given to Jews who had just sinned and committed idolatry in the Sin of the Golden Calf. The fact is that what G-d requires in this world is for regular people to do their best. That is what we are trying to do.”

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Aliyah Quote #15: Olam Haba Guaranteed 2!

Even a Canaanite slave in Eretz Yisrael is guaranteed a share in the world to come. (Kesuvos 111a)

Monday, February 07, 2005

Dramatic Rise in Aliyah from North America and Western Europe

From Arutz-7:

Immigration to Israel from North America and Western Europe has jumped dramatically over the past year, while it has dropped from the former Soviet bloc.

Statistics released by the Jewish Agency at a press conference Sunday showed that North American aliyah has climbed to its highest level in 20 years. In the past year, 2,640 Jews arrived from North America - an 11% jump from last year’s levels.

Aliyah [immigration to Israel] from Western Europe shot up by 13% in 2004 - including a 16% jump from France, from where 2,415 new immigrants came last year.

Jewish Agency head Salai Meridor said he expects a 30% increase in aliyah from North America over the coming year. He said this is due to what he described as a general improvement in Israel and an intensified effort to promote immigration in Jewish-populated areas.

Another bright spot in 2004 was an upsurge in visits via the Birthright program, which provides free ten-day trips to Israel for young Jews who have never before visited Israel on an organized trip. Birthright reported 34,000 visits in 2004, rising above the level reached prior to the outbreak of the Oslo War in 2000.

Low rates of aliyah were reported for the former Soviet bloc countries, as the massive aliyah of the 90's "used up" most of the potential from these areas. Russian Jewish immigration to Germany was also a factor in this year’s drop in aliyah from the former Soviet bloc.

Jewish Agency officials, however, expect a resurgence in aliyah from the former Soviet bloc, as Germany has tightened its immigration standards as of the year 2006. Only Jews under the age of 45 who are familiar with the German language will be allowed to immigrate.

The drop in aliyah from the former Soviet bloc was the main reason for an overall decline in aliyah to Israel in 2004 of 9.5%.

The Jewish Agency is also expecting a rise in aliyah from Ethiopia based on the government’s recent decision to double the rate of Falash Mura immigration from 300 to 600 per month. Meridor said the pool of such immigrants totals between 15,000 to 20,000 people. The Falash Mura are descended from Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Aliyah Quote #14: Like a Deer

Eretz Yisrael is compared to a deer. Just as the skin of a deer cannot hold the flesh [after flaying], also Eretz Yisrael cannot hold its abundance of fruit. (Kesuvos 112a)