Thursday, August 31, 2006

Rav Zev Leff, Shlita, On Making Aliyah

The Mitzvah of Living in Eretz Yisrael
By: Rabbi Zev Leff

Is there a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisrael? This question has long been disputed by the greatest halachic authorities.

The Ramban says that it is a mitzvah to conquer and settle Eretz Yisrael, and it applies in all generations. The Sefer HaCharedim, similarly, counts it as a mitzvah d'oraisa that applies at all times.

On the other hand, Tosafos in Kesubos (110b) cites the opinion of Rabbi Chaim Cohen that because travel to Israel was very difficult and dangerous - those who did so were prey to illness, piracy and shipwreck - the mitzvah does not apply. Beyond that, there are many mitzvos hataluios b'aretz that are difficult to keep, And therefore nullify the mitzvah to live in Israel.

Today, there are few pirates, it's not so difficult to get here, and the mitzvos hataluios b'aretz are getting easier and easier to keep. Beyond that, there are rishonim, notably the Maharit, who maintain that the opinion attributed to Rav Chaim Cohen was mistakenly inserted in the Tosafos by a student. The Maharit says that he never heard of such a thing---that because a mitzvah is difficult to keep, therefore it doesn't apply. He says that the opinion of Rav Chaim Cohen never existed. Others, however, uphold the validity of the Rav Chaim Cohen opinion.

The Rambam doesn't mention this mitzvah specifically, and there is a great deal of discussion about his omission. Some say he left it out because living here is more than a single, specific mitzvah; it is the foundation of all mitzvos. All mitzvos depend on Eretz Yisrael. You can't observe Taryag mitzvos without being here.

However, it's very difficult to say such a thing because the Rambam includes the mitzvah of emunah in Taryag, and certainly emunah is a basis for all mitzvos. If the Rambam counts that, and certainly yishuv ha'aretz is no more of a foundation concept than emunah, it should also be counted. There are those, therefore, that say that the Rambam's opinion is that there is no mitzvah from the Torah today to settle Eretz Yisrael. It existed in the time of Yehoshua, and ceased when we went into golus, and will come back when Moshiach will come. There are those who maintain, however, the Rambam would agree that settling Eretz Yisrael is a mitzvah of rabbinical origin.

The Chazon Ish, the Gerrer Rebbe, Avnei Nezer and the Pischei Tshuvah in Shulchan Aruch agree with the Ramban and the Chareidim that there is an obligatory mitzvah from the Torah today. Theirs is the majority view of the latter-day poskim.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ruled that it is a mitzvah today, but only of a voluntary, not obligatory nature. He compared yishuv ha'aretz to tzitzis, which is also a voluntary mitzvah. (One doesn't have to wear a four cornered garment, but if one chooses to, he needs tzitzis.) But how would we look at a person who doesn't wear tzitzis because it's only a voluntary mitzvah? Obviously, such a person is not a yirei shamayim. He's not a person who's looking for opportunities to do mitzvos. The gemora says that in a time of anger one is punished for avoiding a voluntary mitzvah.

But even if there is a doubt about the mitzvah does that mean it should be dismissed? How much money is spent, how much time is spent on acquiring a kosher mezuzah, written with every hiddur, in careful fulfillment of all the shitos? In normal everyday mitzvos, we take care to be mehadrin min hamehadrin, to be yotzei all the shitos, to take all the halachic opinions into consideration. Yet, we don't find the same attitude when it comes to yishuv ha'aretz. There are people who build their sukkos using only wooden pegs, just to fulfill the shita of the Chazon Ish, which nobody else holds like. The same Chazon Ish says it's a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisrael.

There are, of course, factors that may exempt a person from yishuv ha'aretz . One factor is parnassah. Will you be in a situation of financial crunch, in which you will not be able to survive? Secondly, will you be able to survive religiously? Will your Torah stature be enhanced or diminished by living in Eretz Yisrael? Thirdly, safety. Are you placing yourself in danger?

Before continuing, it is important to note that these criteria are relevant only to those living outside the Land. Once you're living here, you can never leave permanently, even for parnassah, Torah study, shidduchim, or other valid reasons. The heteirim are at most temporary. One must always have in mind to return.

There is no doubt that living in Eretz Yisrael is something that involves a tremendous amount of expense and hardship. Accordingly, there are three factors that may exempt one from the mitzvah of yishuv ha'aretz: finances, safety, and one's level of spirituality.

Will you be able to survive in Eretz Yisrael financially? If you can survive without begging, that's called making a parnasah.

What is the standard of living that the Shulchan Aruch has in mind that would exempt a person from a mitzvah in which he is otherwise obligated? Is it a question of owning one car instead of two? Or dwelling in five rooms instead of twenty? Will you be able to afford only one maid instead of two, or maybe no maids at all? A person who is used to a certain standard of living, who would have to sacrifice that standard in order to live in Eretz Yisrael, might indeed be exempt from the mitzvah.

But the question is: How proper is it to maintain a life style that prevents you from keeping mitzvos? Is that the kind of life that HaShem wants of a person? So it depends on how we define making a living. Baruch HaShem, there are people living here who are eating, who are functioning, wearing clothing, and are making ends meet without going around begging. Or if not, at least they're close to making ends meet. And if they're not close, someday it'll get close.

But I'll tell you a secret - there are also people in America who don't make ends meet. It all comes from HaShem.

The same Ribono shel Olam who can give you a parnasah in Eretz Yisrael can take away the parnasah in America. I know people in America who, by American standards, aren't making a living. Maybe they should move here.

Safety: I find it very amusing. I live on a moshav in what the newspapers call "The West Bank." I don't lock my door at night. True, the moshav is surrounded by a barbed wire fence, and we have guards all the time. But, Baruch HaShem, even after the intifada, the problems have been very minimal. At least I know when I walk out, what my enemy looks like. And I know that the people in the street with the guns are on my side.

But in Boro Park, I'm not sure that the people in the street with the guns are on my side. When I visit the States, a day doesn't go by without somebody being mugged. I find it extremely amusing to hear someone asking me, "Don't you feel unsafe living on the West Bank?" - as they lock the six locks on their door. One has to face the fact that it's not safe in America, either. And in Eretz Yisrael one has a very good protection policy, Hinei, lo yanum v'lo yashen, Shomer Yisrael. HaShem has a special connection with Eretz Yisrael.

Will living in Eretz Yisrael enhance my mitzvah observance? In Miami - at a time when we had neither a mikveh nor a yeshiva in the community - a baal habayis came to me in all seriousness, and said, "Rabbi, there is only one thing missing in our community, that if we would have it, it would make it a top-notch Torah community." I was anxiously waiting for him to suggest that we build a mikveh, and I was going to make him the chairman of the committee. What was missing? He told me that what we were missing was "an elegant, glatt kosher French restaurant!" Now, I have nothing against French food. I love French fries. But that would make it a top-notch Torah community? In all my years in yeshiva, there was never a course given in French pastry making. There's something not right with such an attitude. The places of Torah in chutz l'aretz are just an extension of the Torah of Eretz Yisrael. They are meant for people who want kedusha, but cannot go to live in Eretz Yisrael. For such people, for all practical purposes they are in Eretz Yisrael. (Whereas someone who has his feet in Eretz Yisrael, but his mind is in chutz l'aretz, is in chutz l'aretz.)

It's said that someone who learns the parshayos of korbanos, it's as if he brought a korban. But that's only for someone who cannot bring a korban, because there is no Beis HaMikdash; someone who can bring a korban in the Beis HaMikdash and learns the parasha instead, isn't fulfilling anything. If you can be here and choose not to, just wanting doesn't help.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Exclusive: Photos of Israel During Wartime

These photos were taken in Jerusalem’s Gan Sacer on August 8th – right in the midst of the raging war against the Hezbollah in Lebanon. (Yes, I should have posted them 3 weeks ago but I’ve been way too busy preparing for the NBN flights.)

In any event these photos are not meant to minimize the situation. They are not meant to trivialize the tremendous loss of life and trauma Israel suffered over a very bitter Tammuz and Av 5766.

What they are meant to do is to demonstrate that despite their greatest efforts the Hezbollah failed miserably in their attempts to break the moral and the spirit of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.

Indeed quite the opposite – as these photos prove, Israelis were out and about determined to enjoy their summer vacation. The people of Israel are as strong as ever – Am Yisrael Chai!

The courts were full...

So were the slides...

A perfect day to ride a bike...

...or fly a kite.

Some were just relaxing, while others barbequed, but the park was clearly filled to capacity.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Link For Benching

Okay here's the deal. You just finished eating lunch in your office and would like to bench. But you don't have a birchon (also called a "bencher") handy. Now all you have to do is click here (or on the permanent link on the sidebar) and guess what? You do have a bencher handy.

I've been wanting to put this up for years! Anyway thanks to אליסף for providing the text.

For google purposes: Birchas Hamazon, Grace After Meals, Birchat Hamazon

בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן

If you can't view the Hebrew font click here.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם הַזָּן אֶת הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ בְּטוּבוֹ בְּחֵן בְּחֶסֶד וּבְרַחֲמִים. הוּא נוֹתֵן לֶחֶם לְכָל בָּשָׂר כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדוֹ. וּבְטוּבוֹ הַגָּדוֹל תָּמִיד לֹא חָסַר לָנוּ וְאַל יֶחֱסַר לָנוֹ מָזוֹן לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד. בָּעֲבוּר שְׁמוֹ הַגָּדוֹל כִּי הוּא אֵל זָן וּמְפַרְנֵס לַכֹּל וּמֵיטִיב לַכֹּל וּמֵכִין מָזוֹן לְכָל בְּרִיּוֹתָיו אֲשֶׁר בָּרַא. כָּאָמוּר, פּוֹתֵחַ אֵת יָדֶךָ וּמַשְׂבִּיעַ לְכָל חַי רָצוֹן. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי, הַזָּן אֵת הַכָּל.

נוֹדֶה לְךָ יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ, עַל שֶׁהִנְחַלְתָּ לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ אֶרֶץ חֶמְדָּה טוֹבָה וּרְחָבָה. וְעַל שֶׁהוֹצֵאתָנוּ יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם וּפְדִיתָנוּ מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים. וְעַל בְּרִיתְךָ שֶׁחָתַמְתָּ בִּבְשָׂרֵינוּ וְעַל תּוֹרָתְךָ שֶׁלִּמַּדְתָּנוּ וְעַל חֻקֶּיךָ שֶׁהוֹדַעְתָּנוּ וְעַל חַיִים חֵן וָחֶסֶד שֶׁחוֹנַנְתָּנוּ וְעַל אֲכִילַת מָזוֹן שֶׁאַתָּה זָן וּמְפַרְנֵס אוֹתָנוּ תָּמִיד בְּכָל יוֹם וּבְכָל עֵת וּבְכָל שָׁעָה.

וְעַל הַכֹּל, יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ אֲנַחְנוּ מוֹדִים לָךְ וּמְבָרְכִים אוֹתָךְ. יִתְבָּרַךְ שִׁמְךָ בְּפִי כָּל חַי תָּמִיד לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד. כַּכָּתוּב, וְאָכַלְתָּ וְשָׂבָעְתָּ וּבֵרַכְתָּ אֶת יי אֱלֹהֶיךָ עַל הָאָרֶץ הַטּוֹבָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לָךְ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי עַל הַאָרֶץ וְעַל הַמָּזוֹן.

רַחֶם נָא, יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ, עַל יִשְׂרַאֵל עַמֶּךָ וְעַל יְרוּשָׁלַיִם עִירֶךָ וְעַל צִיוֹן מִשְׁכַּן כְּבוֹדֶךָ וְעַל מַלְכוּת בֵּית דָּוִד מְשִׁיחֶךָ וְעַל הַבַּיִת הַגָּדוֹל וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ שֶׁנִּקְרָא שִׁמְךָ עָלָיו.

אֱלֹהֵינוּ אָבִינוּ רְעֵנוּ, זוּנֵנוּ, פַּרְנְסֵנוּ וְכַלְכְּלֵנוּ וְהַרְוִיחֵנוּ וְהַרְוַח לָנוּ יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מְהֵרָה מִכָּל צָרוֹתֵינוּ. וְנָא אַל תַּצְרִיכֵנוּ יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ לֹא לִידֵי מַתְּנַת בָּשָׂר וָדָם וְלֹא לִידֵי הַלְוָאָתָם כִּי אִם לְיָדְךָ הַמְּלֵאָה, הַפְּתוּחָה, הַקְדוֹשָׁה הַרְחָבָה שֶׁלֹא נֵבוֹשׁ וְלֹא נִכָּלֵם לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד.


רְצֵה וְהַחֲלִיצֵנוּ יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ בְּמִצְווֹתֶיךָ וּבְמִצְוַת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי הַשַׁבָּת הַגָּדוֹל וְהַקָדוֹשׁ הַזֶּה כִּי יוֹם זֶה גָּדוֹל וְקָדוֹשׁ הוּא לְפָנֵיךָ לִשְׁבָּת בּוֹ וְלָנוּחַ בּוֹ בְּאַהֲבָה כְּמִצְוַת רְצוֹנֶךָ וּבִרְצוֹנְךָ הָנִיחַ לָנוּ יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ שֶׁלֹא תְּהֵא צָרָה וְצוּקָה בְּיוֹם מְנוּחָתֵינוּ וְהַרְאֵנוּ יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ בְּנֶחָמַת צִיוֹן עִירֶךָ וּבְבִּנְיָן יְרוּשָׁלַיִם עִיר קָדְשֶׁךָ, כִּי אַתָּה הוּא בַּעַל הַיְשׁוּעוֹת וּבַעַל הַנֶחָמוֹת.

בראש חודש ובמועדים:

אֱלֹהֵינוּ וְאֱלֹהֵי אַבוֹתֵינוּ יַעֲלֶה וְיָבוֹא וְיַגִּיעַ וְיֵרָאֶה וְיֵרָצֶה וְיִשָּׁמַע וְיִפָּקֵד וְיִזָכֵר זִכְרוֹנֵנוּ וּפִקְדוֹנֵינוּ וְזִכְרוֹן אֲבוֹתֵינוּ וְזִכְרוֹן מָשִׁיחַ בֶּן דָּוִד עַבְדֶּךָ וְזִכְרוֹן יְרוּשָׁלַיִם עִיר קָדְשֶׁךָ וְזִכְרוֹן כָּל עַמְךָ בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל לְפָנֶיךָ לִפְלֵיטָה לְטוֹבָה לְחֵן וּלְחֶסֶד וּלְרַחֲמִים, לְחַיִים וּלְשָׁלוֹם בְּיוֹם -

בראש חודש: רֹאשׁ הָחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה.

בפסח: חַג הַמַּצוֹת הַזֶּה.

בשבועות: חַג הַשַּׁבוּעוֹת הַזֶּה.

בסוכות: חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת הַזֶּה.

בשמיני עצרת: שְׁמִינִי עֲצֶרֶת הָחַג הַזֶּה.

בראש השנה: הַזִּכָּרוֹן הַזֶּה.

זָכְרֵנוּ יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ בּוֹ לְטוֹבָה וּפָקְדֵנוּ בּוֹ לִבְרָכָה וְהוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ בוֹ לְחַיִים טוֹבִים וּבִדְבַר יְשׁוּעָה וְרַחֲמִים חוּס וְחָנֵנוּ וְרַחֵם עָלֵינוּ וְהוֹשִׁיעֵנוּ כִּי אֵלֶיךָ עֵינֵינוּ, כִּי אֵל מֶלֶךְ חַנּוּן וְרַחוּם אַתָּה.

וּבְנֵה יְרוּשָׁלַיִם עִיר הַקֹּדֶשׁ בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינוּ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי בּוֹנֶה בְרַחֲמָיו יְרוּשָׁלַיִם, אָמֵן.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הָאֵל אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ, אַדִירֵנוּ, בּוֹרְאֵנוּ, גּוֹאֲלֵנוּ, יוֹצְרֵנוּ, קְדוֹשֵׁנוּ, קְדוֹשׁ יַעֲקֹב.

רוֹעֵנוּ, רוֹעֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל, הַמֶּלֶךְ הַטּוֹב וְהַמֵּטִיב לַכֹּל, שֶׁבְּכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם הוּא הֵטִיב הוּא מֵטִיב, הוּא יֵיטִיב לָנוּ, הוּא גְמָלָנוּ, הוּא גוֹמְלֵנוּ הוּא יִגְמְלֵנוּ לָעַד. לְחֵן וּלְחֶסֶד וּלְרַחֲמִים וּלְרֶוַח הַצָּלָה וְהַצְלָחָה בְּרָכָה וִישׁוּעָה, נֶחָמָה, פַּרְנָסָה וְכַלְכָּלָה וְרַחֲמִים וְחַיִים וְשָׁלוֹם וְכָל טוֹב וּמִכָּל טוּב לְעוֹלָם אַל יְחַסְרֵנוּ.

הָרַחֲמָן הוּא יִמְלוֹךְ עָלֵינוּ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד.

הָרַחֲמָן הוּא יִתְבָּרַךְ בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ.

הָרַחֲמָן הוּא יִשְׁתַּבַּח לְדוֹר דּוֹרִים וְיִתְפָּאַר בָּנוּ לָעַד וּלְנֶצָח נְצָחִים וְיִתְהַדַּר בָּנוּ לָעַד וּלְעָלְמֵי עוֹלָמִים.

הָרַחֲמָן הוּא יְפַרְנְסֵנוּ בְּכָבוֹד.

הָרַחֲמָן הוּא יִשְׁבּוֹר עֻלֵּנוּ מֵעַל צַוָּארֵנוּ וְהוּא יוֹלִיכֵנוּ קוֹמְמִיּוּת לְאַרְצֵנוּ.

הָרַחֲמָן הוּא יִשְׁלַח לָנוּ בְּרָכָה מְרֻבָּה בַּבַּיִת הַזֶּה וְעַל שֻׁלְחָן זֶה שֶׁאָכַלְנוּ עָלָיו.

הָרַחֲמָן הוּא יִשְׁלָח לָנוּ אֶת אֵלִיָהוּ הַנָּבִיא זָכוּר לַטּוֹב וִיבָשֶּׂר לָנוּ בְּשׂוֹרוֹת טוֹבוֹת יְשׁוּעוֹת וְנֶחָמוֹת.

אם יש לו אב ואם אומר: הָרַחֲמָן הוּא יְבָרֵךְ אֶת אָבִי מוֹרִי, (בַּעַל הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה) וְאֶת אִמִּי מוֹרָתִי, (בַּעְלַת הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה)

נשוי אומר: הָרַחֲמָן הוּא יְבָרֵךְ אוֹתִי וְאֶת אִשְׁתִּי וְאֶת זַרְעִי וְאֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר לִי.

אשה נשואה אומרת: הָרַחֲמָן הוּא יְבָרֵךְ אוֹתִי וְאֶת בַּעֲלִי וְאֶת זַרְעִי וְאֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר לִי.

אורח אומר: הָרַחֲמָן הוּא יְבָרֵךְ אֶת בַּעַל הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה וְאֶת בַּעְלַת הַבַּיִת הַזֶּה.

וְאֶת כָּל הַמְּסֻבִּין כַּאן אוֹתָם וְאֶת בֵּיתָם וְאֶת זַרְעָם וְאֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם. אוֹתָנוּ וְאֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר לָנוּ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִתְבָּרְכוּ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב בַּכֹּל, מִכֹּל, כֹּל כֵּן יְבָרֵךְ אוֹתָנוּ כֻּלָנוּ יַחַד בִּבְרָכָה שְׁלֵמָה וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן. בָּמָּרוֹם יְלַמְּדוּ עֲלֵיהֶם וְעָלֵינוּ זְכוּת שֶׁתְּהֵא לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת שָׁלוֹם. וְנִשָׂא בְּרָכָה מֵאֵת יי וּצְדָקָה מֵאֱלֹהֵי יִשְׁעֵנוּ וְנִמְצָא חֵן וְשֵׂכֶל טוֹב בְּעֵינֵי אֱלֹהִים וְאָדָם.

בשבת: הַרָחֲמָן הוּא יַנְחִילֵנוּ יוֹם שֶׁכֻּלוֹ שַׁבָּת וּמְנוּחָה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָמִים.

ביום טוב: הַרָחֲמָן הוּא יַנְחִילֵנוּ יוֹם שֶׁכֻּלוֹ טוֹב.

בראש חודש: הַרָחֲמָן הוּא יְחַדֵּשׁ עָלֵינוּ אֶת הָחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לְטוֹבָה וְלִבְרָכָה.

בראש השנה: הַרָחֲמָן הוּא יְחַדֵּשׁ עָלֵינוּ אֶת הַשָּׁנָה הַזֹּאת הַזֶּה לְטוֹבָה וְלִבְרָכָה.

בסוכות: הַרָחֲמָן הוּא יָקִים לָנוּ אֶת סֻכַּת דָּוִד הַנּוֹפֶלֶת.

הַרָחֲמָן הוּא יְזַכֵּנוּ לִיְמוֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ וּלְחַיֵי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. מַגְדִּיל (בשבת, יום טוב, חול המועד וראש חודש: מִגְדּוֹל) יְשׁוּעוֹת מַלְכּוֹ וְעֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד לִמְשִׁיחוֹ, לְדָוִד וּלְזַרְעוֹ עַד עוֹלָם. עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן.

יְראוּ אֶת יי קְדֹשָׁיו, כִּי אֵין מַחסוֹר לִירֵיאָיו. כְּפִירִים רָשׁוּ וְרָעֵבוּ וְדוֹרְשֵׁי יי לֹא יַחְסְרוּ כָּל טוֹב. הוֹדוּ לַיי כִּי טוֹב, כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ. פּוֹתֵחַ אֶת יָדֶךָ וּמַשְׂבִּיעַ לְכָל חַי רָצוֹן. בָּרוּךְ הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר יִבְטַח בַּיי וְהַיָה יי מִבְטָחוֹ. נַעַר הָיִיתִי גַּם זָקַנְתִּי וְלֹא רָאִיתִי צַדִּיק נֶעֱזָב וְזַרְעוֹ מְבַקֶּשׁ לָחֶם. יי עֹז לְעַמּוֹ יִתֵּן, יי יְבָרֵךְ אֵת עַמוֹ בַשָּׁלוֹם.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Only In Israel #5: He Will Bless The Fruit... Your Wine...

He will love you, bless you and make you numerous. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your land, your grain, your wine, your oil, the calves of your herds, and the lambs of your flocks, in the land that He promised your fathers that He would give to you
. (Devarim 7:13)

"These blessings are tied up with the Land. Israel will only merit these great gifts if they live in the Land and fulfill the mitzvot there. If they live in exile, they will not be able to reap these rewards because they will lack the virtue of living in the Land of Israel." (Me'am Lo'ez on Ekev).

I walked outside of my Rechavia apartment and I noticed these beautiful wild grapes hanging down from the garden above my staircase. This is the blessing of the Land growing in my own front yard!


Thursday, August 10, 2006

243 N. American Immigrants Arrive in Israel Thursday

I didn't know Rav Hershel Schachter was there today! Wow!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Videos and Photos of Tisha B'Av 5766 in Yerushalayim

This is my forth year in a row hearing Aicha at the Kotel. Im Yirtzeh Hashem (G-d Willing) next year no one will have to hear Aicha. As you would imagine the Kotel was packed last night.

Here's what it looked like:

Women In Green once again organized the annual walk around the old city walls. Thousands showed up. The crowd gathered in Kikar Safra for Aicha and marched from there. Member of Knesset Prof. Arieh Eldad, Rabbi Uzi Sharbaf from Hebron, and Nadia Matar all addressed the crowd.

Photos and video clips follow:

(If the videos don't load - try loading them here.)


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tisha B'Av 5766 in Jerusalem

Took lots of photos tonight. Check back tomorrow. Hopefully Bez"H I can sort them out and get them up. In the meantime above is how the Kotel looked tonight. And below is a clip (or click here) from the traditional march around the old city walls with the "Woman in Green."

(I took several more clips too!)

May this be the last Tisha B'Av that is not a Chag.