He is referred to as “Arizal HaChai – the Living Arizal,” an epithet that is not used for other great Jews, even those who only died on account of “the serpent’s bite,” and even those of whom it is said that they “did not die” at all. * Source materials compiled by Rabbi Shloma Majeski. Underlining is the author’s emphasis.

Presented and translated by Boruch Merkur

On the 4th of Menachem-Av 5749, the eve of the hilula of the Arizal HaChai, the Rebbe MH”M spoke about the 16th century master kabbalist’s unique association with the eternal life of the Future Era. In this sense, the Rebbe says, the Arizal surpasses even the tzaddikim who only died on account of the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, tzaddikim who, on account of their profound righteousness, would have otherwise lived forever. In fact, in this respect, the Arizal even outshines Yaakov Avinu and Moshe Rabbeinu, regarding whom our Sages teach in the Talmud that they never actually died. The Rebbe’s sicha follows.


The revelation of Shabbos Chazon foreshadows the revelation of the Future Era. This year, Shabbos Chazon occurs on the 5th of Menachem-Av, the hilula of the Arizal. As stated in Igeres HaKodesh siman 28, on the day of a hilula of a tzaddik, all “the service he performed throughout all the days of his life” is revealed and “brings about salvation in the midst of the land.”

The Arizal is synonymous with the inner dimension of the Torah. (Indeed, the Arizal is an embodiment of “to’ameha chayim zachu – those who savor it merit life,”* the revelation of the inner dimension of the Torah of the Future Era,** “bread from Heaven,” as discussed earlier.) In fact, it is the Arizal who said that “specifically in recent generations has it become permitted – verily, a Mitzva – to reveal this wisdom” (Igeres HaKodesh siman 26, 142b). Later on, the banner of promoting the study of the inner dimension of the Torah was upheld by the Baal Shem Tov, as well as the Rebbes, our leaders, following the directive and instruction of “spread your wellsprings outward,” which brings about “asi Mar – the approach of the master,” Malka Meshicha, the Messianic King.

As a direct result – in addition to an increase in “mishpat” [i.e., Torah, intellect] and “tz’daka” [Mitzvos associated with refining and purifying physical things, as well as the middos, one’s character traits], both of which are especially emphasized in the Arizal*** – this should inspire us to increase in all activities associated with spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, “this wisdom – zos ha’chochma,” especially as it is expressed and richly elucidated in the teachings of Chabad Chassidus, which emphasize the three aspects of the mind: Chochma, Bina, and Daas.

The concept of spreading the wellsprings outward likewise applies to oneself: The general concept of the study of Chabad Chassidus with understanding and comprehension is expressed through the dissemination of the wellsprings of Chochma, Wisdom, into Bina and Daas, reaching as far as the middos, which are considered “outward” with respect to the mind. This Chochma must even extend to [the three “garments” of the soul] thought, speech, and action. Indeed, “action is the most pertinent.”

(From the address of Shabbos Parshas D’varim, Shabbos Chazon, 4 Menachem-Av; Seifer HaSichos 5749, pg. 619)


*Footnote 83: See Likkutei Sichos Vol. 15, pg. 282, where it is discussed.

**Footnote 84: To note that the concept of redemption is alluded to in his name: “Yitzchok” – for in the Future Era we shall say of Yitzchok, “for you are our father” (Shabbos 89b); “ben Shlomo” – for in the time of Shlomo HaMelech there was perfect peace and tranquility, resembling the peace of the Future Era (Shaarei T’shuva of the Mitteler Rebbe, words beginning with “Pada V’Shalom” Ch. 11).

And also to point out that in several places he is referred to as “Arizal HaChai – the Living Arizal” (an epithet that is not used for other great Jews, even those who “only died on account of the serpent’s bite,” and even those of whom it is said that they “did not die” at all – see Shabbos 55b, Bava Basra 17a; and see Likkutei Sichos Vol. 24, pg. 132 ff.) – a state that resembles the revelation of the eternal life of the future Era.

***See Footnote 87 in the original for sources.

The Holy Whole. Within the walls of the Holy Temple

Jewish Practice » Jewish Holidays » Tisha B’Av and the 3 Weeks » The Holy Temple » Readings & Insights

The Holy Whole

Within the walls of the Holy Temple
My two-year-old came running up to me yesterday as I stood mashing potatoes for dinner and, with as much indignation as a two-year-old can muster, flung his finger in the general direction of his older brother and said, “He hit me!”

“Not true!” my four-year-old denied the allegations. “I didn’t hit him, my hand hit his face!”

I stood there for a moment, unsure how to proceed, until, after what was probably a full minute of silence, my four-year-old explained, “I didn’t want to hit him. It was an accident. So it wasn’t really me hitting him, it was just my hand hitting his face.”

I was struck by the depth of this four-year-old logic. If he had lifted his hand intentionally to hit his brother, then it would be fair to say that he had done the hitting, and that he had hit his brother. But since the blow was unintentional, it did not come from him, only from his hand, and he hadn’t hit his brother, only his brother’s face.

I directed both boys back to their trains with a warning to please be more aware of what their hands were doing, especially around faces. And then I stood for a while in the kitchen, watching them and thinking about the very compelling argument my four-year-old had just made.

There is action, and then there is the will that drives the action. They are not one and the same, but they are not really separate either. Imagine how painstaking it would be to have to issue an explicit command to your hand every time you wanted to move it, or to your foot if you wanted to walk or hop, or to your mouth to form a certain sound or word. Thankfully, that’s not how our bodies are designed. Instead, our neurons almost instantly transmit our will to the specific limb that will express it.

When you watch an artist paint a picture, what you see is the movements of the artist’s hand as he guides his brush over the canvas. You don’t see the firing of those many millions of neurons, bringing the messages from the artist’s will to his hand and guiding his hand to the brush, the brush to the paint and then to the canvas, to make the artist’s desire to paint a reality. Yet when you see the final masterpiece, you would never think that the artist’s hands created it by mistake.

The same is true of the world we live in. We see the various processes around us, but in truth there is an underlying will that guides each process. Unlike my four-year-old, though, G‑d doesn’t act without intent, and nothing happens by chance. Every occurrence is the express will of G‑d.

The Tabernacle and the Temple were designed to teach us how G‑d is present in every detail of the world, and the service performed therein was a further reminder of His presence and the ways in which we can connect to Him.

Each of the vessels of the Temple served as an expression of G‑d’s relationship with the world. Just like a mouth cannot walk and a foot cannot talk, each vessel was used for only its specific purpose.

The copper altar, upon which animals, meal cakes and wine were sacrificed, guided people to sacrifice their animalistic tendencies and give of themselves to G‑d. The incense altar helped further refine the relationship with the One Above. The menorah lit the Temple, spreading the light of G‑dliness to the world. The shulchan held the showbread, emanating the blessings of livelihood to the entire nation. Each vessel had a specific, manifest holiness.

But equal to, and possibly more important than, the vessels of the Temple were the walls that surrounded them. The Torah issues very specific instructions for the making of the curtains that served as walls in the desert, including which materials to use and what their dimensions should be. And most importantly, the curtains were fashioned before the vessels. These weren’t just any curtains; they were the walls of the house of G‑d, and they gave innate holiness to the vessels themselves. Beyond the manifest holiness of each specific vessel, the vessels were innately holy simply because they were found within the walls of the Temple.

This manifest and innate holiness can be seen in the entire world. Each moment manifests individually, like an individual piece of furniture, and some moments seem more holy and G‑dly than others. And each person has his or her own talents and strengths, and some seem more suited to the service of G‑d than others. At the same time, each moment and each person is part of a greater, innately holy whole. We are within the walls of creation, the whole of G‑d’s world, created by His word, and powered by the neurons of the universe—the will and desire of G‑d.

Just as every synapse and neuron is integral to the final action, and each brushstroke is integral to the final piece of art, so too each moment and each person is integral to the purpose of creation. It is our job to uncover this innate holiness in every moment and every person, so that the world can be filled with manifest G‑dliness in the most complete way possible, with the coming of Moshiach and the final redemption.

Based on the maamar “Mitzvas Binyan Mikdash” in Derech Mitzvosecha, by the Tzemach Tzedek.

Ester Shurpin lives with her family in S. Louis Park, MN.
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Breaking Walls : The Three Weeks By: Sara Esther Crispe

The Jewish Woman » Spirituality & the Feminine » Time in Thought » The Month of Av

There is no time more tragic, no period more painful, no suffering more acute than what has befallen the Jewish people, throughout history, during the Three Weeks.

Beginning on the 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz and ending with the 9th day of the month of Av, the Jewish people, as individuals and as a collective whole, mourn and commemorate the many painful attempts at our destruction which occurred in this time.How do we diminish the pain and suffering which comes when Av enters?

The list of tragedies associated with this time period is overwhelming. Tammuz 17, the day which starts these three weeks, is the same day when, in the year 1313 BCE, the tablets containing the Ten Commandments were broken.1 On that same day, some 1380 years later, the legions of Rome breached the walls of Jerusalem after a 30-month siege. For three weeks the battle raged in Jerusalem, until the city was vanquished, the Holy Temple destroyed and the Jewish people driven into exile. Thus we entered the state of galut (physical and spiritual displacement) in which we still find ourselves today.2

And yet, this was only the beginning.

Three tragic weeks later we arrive at Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av. Predominantly known as the day on which both the first and second Holy Temples were destroyed—the First Temple by the Babylonians in 423 BCE, and the Second Temple by the Romans in 69 CE—the Ninth of Av is also associated with many other horrific events, preceding the destruction of the Temples and continuing until the present.3

(By a cruel irony, the day originally chosen by the Israeli government for the expulsion of thousands of men, women and children from their homes in Gush Katif and the other settlements in the Gaza Strip fell within the Three Weeks. But that date was changed due to tremendous pressure from Jews the world over, aghast that the government of Israel would add to the list of our sufferings during this tragic period.)

Jewish law mandates a series of mourning observances during the Three Weeks. The 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av are both fast days. For the entire Three Weeks we do not hold weddings; like mourners, we refrain from cutting our hair, listening to music, or purchasing or wearing new clothes. In the final nine days of the Three Weeks (i.e., from the 1st to the 9th of Av) we enter a period of heightened mourning: in addition to the above mourning practices, we do not eat meat or drink wine, do not bathe for pleasure, and in general refrain from any activities whose purpose is pleasure and enjoyment.

These three weeks are referred to by the prophet Jeremiah as bein hametzarim, literally “between the constrictions.” The word meitzar, “constriction,” is the root of the word mitzrayim, “Egypt,” alluding to our days of being enslaved in our first galut. When we are constricted, we are in a state of exile—we are not able to express ourselves or be who we truly are.

Yet, as is true with most everything in Judaism, nothing is as simple as it appears. Our prophets prophesied that the Ninth of Av will ultimately be revealed as the greatest and most joyous of all the days of the year. Even now, as we fast and mourn on this day, Jewish law alludes to its future status as a moed, a day of joyous celebration: it is for this reason that we omit tachanun (“supplication” prayers and confession of sins) from our daily prayers on the Ninth of Av, as we do on festivals and other joyous days in our calendar.

In the Kabbalistic work Zohar we are shown how the entire period that we consider a period of mourning, the whole Three Weeks, is actually the seed for what will become this day of celebration.

The 21 days of the Bein HaMetzarim period begin on the 17th of Tammuz. The number 17 is numerically equivalent to tov, the word in Hebrew for “good.” Clearly this “good” is not a revealed good, yet concealed within the darkness is the good which will be revealed. Furthermore, while we have 21 days of this mourning state, we find that throughout the Jewish calendar there are also 21 days of festivity: Shabbat is one day; Rosh Chodesh, the celebration of the new month, is one day; Passover, the holiday marking our breaking out of slavery and into freedom, is seven days; Shavuot, considered the day of our wedding to our Creator, when we merited to receive the Torah, is one day; Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish new year, is two days; Yom Kippur is one day; Sukkot is seven days; and Shemini Atzeret (Simchat Torah) is one day. Thus: 1+1+7+1+2+1+7+1=21. Now, if these numbers seem off to you, there is a reason. The days equal 21 only if they are calculated according to how the festivals are observed in the Land of Israel, where most holidays are one day shorter than they are in the Diaspora. This already is an allusion that the true way to celebrate our holy days is the way that it is done in the Land of Israel. And we know that one of the first things that will be done when we are redeemed is that all Jews will be returned to our true home, in the Holy Land of Israel.

In the Jerusalem Talmud (Taanit 4:5) we are told that the 21 days of the Three Weeks correspond to a vision that the prophet Jeremiah had concerning the destruction of the Temple. Jeremiah saw a makel shaked, “a staff of almond wood,” and heard G‑d warning him that evil was imminent—“For I will hasten (shoked) My word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:11–12). The Talmud explains: “The almond takes 21 days from when it blossoms until it ripens. This corresponds to the 21 days between the 17th of Tammuz, when the walls of Jerusalem were breached, and the Ninth of Av, when the Holy Temple was burned.”Everything, no matter how dark or how seemingly bad, has the ability to turn around . . .

The famed “Gaon of Rogatchov” (Rabbi Joseph Rosin, 1858–1936) writes that inherent in G‑d’s warning to Jeremiah was a consolation. Almonds start off bitter and become sweet as they develop (in contrast to another kind of nut called luz, which starts off sweet and becomes bitter). This is why the 21 days of Bein HaMetzarim are alluded to by the 21-day “staff of almond wood”: not only are we able to negate the bitterness of these days, but we are capable of turning their bitterness to sweetness, of transforming these days of mourning into days of rejoicing and gladness.

Another allusion to this is in the famous Talmudic statement, Mishenichnas Av memaatin besimchah. The basic meaning of these four words is “When Av enters, we decrease in joy.” However, because the original Talmudic text contains no punctuation marks, this statement can be read in two ways. On the one hand, yes, practically speaking, because of the tragedies that befell the Jewish people during the month of Av, we minimize our joy. However, now that we know that the good is only hidden and will soon be revealed, we can also read it another way: “When Av enters we decrease, in joy.” How do we diminish the pain and suffering which comes when Av enters? Specifically through the simchah, through a positive outlook and a joyous approach.

And we end the three weeks with a similar reminder. On the Ninth of Av we read the kinot (“lamentations”), a collection of poetic prayers describing the terrible events that we suffered as a people. Yet if we just turn the letters around, we have the word tikkun, rectification, showing that everything, no matter how dark or how seemingly bad, has the ability to turn around.4

Being that the Ninth of Av is in the month of Av, we must also look at the esoteric dimensions of the month itself to have an even deeper understanding of this time period. As is explained in Sefer Yetzirah (the earliest book of Kabbalah we have, and which is attributed to Abraham himself), each month of the Jewish year has a letter that represents it, and each letter can be interpreted according to its form, its shape, its numerical value and its meaning.

The letter which represents the month of Av is tet, which is the 9th letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and its gematria (numerical value) is also 9. As the first letter of the word tov, the tet represents the concept of concealed good which is waiting to be revealed. It also represents the concept of pregnancy, both in its form (with its rounded, introverted shape) and numerical value (alluding to the nine months of pregnancy). See image above.

Indeed, one of the classic metaphors in Jewish thought is that pregnancy represnts a state of constriction, for it is a time when hidden good is concealed and constricted within, until the moment comes for it to be birthed and revealed into this world. It is vital to remember that pregnancy does not exist just on a physical level, but rather we are all—both men and women— considered to constantly be in various stages of pregnancy, be it spiritual or emotional or intellectual. Thus the mitzvah of pru urevu, “Be fruitful and multiply,” does not just mean to physically have children, but also that we are commanded to be creative, to use our G‑d-given talents to create within this world.

The state of pregnancy is thus a state of being constricted, in which we are not yet able to fully manifest our potential or the latent or hidden good that is within. But as we often find, it is the work we accomplish when enslaved and constricted that allows us to truly appreciate our freedom. Only through limitation can we understand what it means to be limitless. And so, the very key to our celebration, our redemption, can be found in this time of constrictedness.

The Ninth of Av is the tet day of Av, the pregnant day of the pregnant month. Incredibly, the sages teach that Moshiach will be born on the Ninth of Av (and there are different opinions as to whether this will be his physical birth or his spiritual birth). In other words, our redeemer will be revealed and bring our world to a state of revelation on the very day that during our exile has represented terrible destruction. In the midst of our destruction, we have the ability for rebirth.

The same is true of the day that marks the beginning of our mourning period, the 17th day of Tammuz. If our walls are always up, then no one can come in and we cannot get out; they are a barrier that becomes a prisonOn this day the walls of Jerusalem were breached, leading to the destruction and the exile. However, there is something positive that can result from the breaking down of walls. There is some “good” (alluded to in the number 17 = tov = good) here which can also be the seeds of a very positive process. The only way we can rebuild is when we are willing to first tear down the present structure, to break down the walls. This is certainly true not only on a physical level, but psychologically, emotionally and spiritually as well. If anything, these barriers are often harder to break than even the highest and thickest physical wall.

A wall is something that keeps others out, that protects and hides what is kept behind it. Walls are necessary, especially in an imperfect world. However, there are times when we need to let down our walls in order to truly experience and feel and grow. If our walls are always up, then no one can come in and we cannot get out; rather than mere protection, they become a form of escape, of separation, a barrier that becomes a prison.

This is the true work that we must do, both individually and globally. We must look within and without, and start breaking down our walls. We must break our walls of fear, distrust, ignorance and hate, and we must destroy them to the ground. Then, when we are standing in the midst of the rubble, when we can finally see one another again and there is nothing blocking us, we can begin the process again, brick by brick. But this time, rather than building a wall, we will build a home, a home that can be shared by all, and where all are welcome. And through this, we will finally be able to reveal the goodness that has been concealed for so long, and bring meaning to the confusion and purpose to the apparent chaos. Then we will no longer experience these days as days of mourning, but rather of celebration and joy, for we will truly be redeemed.

1. The breaking of the tablets was a national tragedy of the highest order, as it marked the first breakdown in the covenant between G‑d and the people of Israel. Just 40 days after that covenant was entered into with the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, the people made and worshipped a golden calf, resulting in the breaking of the tablets which represented their “marriage contract” with G‑d. Since the physical and national events that befall us as a people directly mirror the state of our relationship with G‑d, the breaking of the tablets is the source of all tragedies of Jewish history. In the words of our sages, “There is no catastrophe that befalls Israel that does not have in it something of the catastrophe of the golden calf.”
2. Three other tragic events occurred on 17 Tammuz that are associated with the destruction of the two Temples: the service in the First Temple was disrupted, three weeks before its destruction by the Babylonians in 423 BCE; a Torah scroll was burned by Apostomos, a Greek or Roman officer; and an idol was erected in the Temple’s sanctuary.
3. On the ninth of Av it was decreed the generation of the Exodus would not merit to enter into the Land of Israel, following the nationally ruinous incident of the spies. It is the day when Beitar, the last Jewish stronghold after the destruction of Jerusalem, was conquered and cruelly destroyed by the Romans in 133 CE. The final expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 was on this date. Most recently, the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which resulted in 86 deaths and at least 120 wounded, occurred on 9 Av in 1994.
4. From Kol Bochim (“The Crying Voice”), a Kabbalistic commentary on the Book of Lamentations, written in 1589 by Rabbi Avraham Galante, student of Rabbi Moshe Cardovero (Ramak)

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a nonprofit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of and wrote the popular weekly blog Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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Wanton Love

Inspiration & Entertainment » Daily Dose of Wisdom » Bringing Heaven Down to Earth » We Are All One


One who is full of himself fills all the space around him. There is no room left for anyone else. Therefore, he despises another person by virtue of the space that other person consumes. He may give reasons for his disdain, but the reasons are secondary.

This is called wanton hatred. It is the reason given for our exile. It is the core of all evil.

Its only cure is wanton acts of kindness and caring for the other guy beyond reason.

Anne Frank’s Diary Read Today

“Why Do They Ask The Impossible Of The Jews?”


Anne Frank’s Diary Read Today

For a while, I’ve felt troubled by the angry comments pro-Israel folks make:

“What would America do if Mexico started shooting rockets into Texas?!”

“How come we don’t hear about all the civilians dying in Syria?!”

I see the kernel of truth in these points.  But at the same time, the situations are different.  Mexico doesn’t have a blockade against it.  Syria’s leader is a sick bastard and no one expects better from him.  It’s always smacked of the same reactionary calls of “antisemitism” after every anti-Israel statement.

But something changed recently.

It happened as I read the Diary of Anne Frank a few days into this conflict.

Toward the end of book, Anne describes how the people of Holland (where she is hiding) have started to become more antisemitic, even as they are all hoping to be liberated from the Nazis.  She writes:

To our great sorrow and dismay, we’ve heard that many people have changed their attitude toward us Jews. We’ve been told that anti-Semitism has cropped up in circles where once it would have been unthinkable. This fact has affected us all very, very deeply. The reason for the hatred is understandable, maybe even human, but that doesn’t make it right. According to the Christians, the Jews are blabbing their secrets to the Germans, denouncing their helpers and causing them to suffer the dreadful fate and punishments that have already been meted out to so many.  All of this is true.

But it was the next part that struck me as particularly prescient during these confusing times:

But as with everything, they should look at the matter from both sides: would Christians act any differently if they were in our place? Could anyone, regardless of whether they’re Jews or Christians, remain silent in the face of German pressure? Everyone knows it’s practically impossible, so why do they ask the impossible of the Jews?

Echoes of all that I have been hearing over the last few weeks, the exact lines I had heard from Jews defending Israel hit me like a hurricane.

“Would you act any differently?”

That constant, nonstop refrain.

And then it hit me: the world doesn’t expect us just to act better than Syria.  they expect us to act better than America.  Than everyone.

America has had the equivalent of rockets being shot from Mexico.  It’s had a few men board planes and fly them into two towers and killed thousands of our people.

America chose in that moment to go to war.  Not just to go to war, but to go to war decisively.  First we went into Afghanistan.  Then we went into Iraq.

For years these wars were fought. About a decade if you include the time we “occupied” before finally leaving.

20,000 civilians were killed in Afghanistan since 2001. 100,000 civilians were killed over the course of the war in Iraq.  America is considered to have been a huge contributor to these numbers.

Whatever we think of these wars, most of the world understands that the fight against terrorism has been an essential one, even if it has been flawed.  One that is still not won; one that will inevitably cause massive civilian casualties.

And yet, Israel’s war against not just an enemy but an enemy who is a neighbor who is devoted to destroying it as a state as well as killing all its people, is expected to last not years, not months, not weeks, but days.  We are called on by the world to enact an “unconditional cease fire”.

This goes for the Gaza blockade as well which is used to justify Hamas’s rockets into our nation.

But before the Gaza wall was built, before the blockade enforced, Hamas sent suicide bombers, into Israel’s cafes, into bar mitzvahs, into buses… and killed us… children, women, elderly, Arabs; it made no difference.

Anne’s words echo again: “…would Christians [or anyone else] act any differently if they were in our place?

The Nature Of Antisemitism

The most common complaint against Israel you hear these days is that it has made Jews infinitely more powerful than they were during World War II, or any other time.  Not just Israel, but the “Israel lobby”.  AIPAC, the ADL, etc.

This is hard to argue with, I think.  We are certainly more powerful than we used to be.

But Anne helped me understand this as well.

Why did the “Christians” Anne describes expects the impossible from the Jews of her time?  Why, in fact, have most cultures had such an irrational fear of Jews?

It is because we are continually seen as having an outsized amount of power for the amount of people in our population.  We are seen as more powerful than our numbers indicate.

From the time before we became slaves in Egypt (when the Pharaoh worried that we were becoming too powerful) to our time in Germany to the creation and success of Israel as a nation, people have not seen us as weak or pitiful: they have seen us as incredibly powerful.  Oppressive.  A small nation dominating the masses.

Even in Anne’s world, as Jews were being deported to concentration camps, killed in droves, and hiding in attics for years to avoid being killed, the people in her country expected the Jews to somehow do more than they would expect from themselves.

And part of this is based on objective truth: Jews, as a people, have truly been more successful than one would expect from such a small group.  Israel has historically been much more powerful than you would expect from such a small country.

But we’ve only become more powerful for one specific reason: we never would have survived otherwise.  Why did we succeed in our professions even in countries that oppressed us?  Because we recognized that we needed money if we were ever going to “make it” in those places.

It is because of our size that we have made ourselves powerful.  It is because the world is so much bigger than us that we have had to succeed, to accomplish so much as a people, a religion, a nation.  

Israel’s strength is simply an extension of that.

Why has Israel built an unparalleled army?  Because without such an army, it would have been wiped out.  Why do AIPAC and such organizations have such influence?  Because there is a much bigger lobby, the lobby of historic antisemitism, that has existed for ages, and that needs to be fought with a small but powerful army of lobbyists.  Because the US is the only filter in the UN that stops a gang of nations who want to see Israel destroyed.

But the problem is that the world has then taken that success and expected not just more from us, but the supernatural, the infinite, “the impossible”.

And so the world doesn’t compare us to Syria.  They don’t even compare us to America. They compare us to the vision they have of Jews: beyond nature, able to do the “impossible” (as Anne put it), able to be completely selfless and passive.

Just as in Anne’s Holland (where every single Jew was expected to supernaturally keep their lips sealed) Jews in Israel are expected to somehow deal supernaturally with people who are determined to exterminate them.

We are expected to fight wars, urban wars, without killing civilians.  Our wars are expected to last days.  In order to have peace with our neighbors, we are expected to cut the capital of our country in half and hand it over.  Expected to take down the wall that protects us from murderous assassins who want to kill us all.

Modern “Antisemitism”

And so I think what is happening today, though, is not strictly antisemitism, as many of these people are good, honest, folks that are riding the wave of historical thinking that has lasted for thousands of years.  Rather, we are living in an age of unknowingly embracing the echoes of antisemitism past.  People who do not necessarily see Jews as evil, but expect the impossible from us.

I do not want to see the world as evil.  I want to believe that this is just echoes, not true hate, like Anne, “I can’t understand how the Dutch, a nation of good, honest, upright people, can sit in judgment on us the way they do.”

Replace the word “Dutch” with “the world” and this is how I feel.  The world is good.  But history is powerful, and it is our job as Jews, I think, not to jump in anger, but to see the good in it and clearly show the morality of our actions.

A few weeks before Anne was arrested and sent to a concentration camp she declared, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”

I believe that her words were not in vain, despite how we might believe she was proven wrong.  I hope that the good people of the world will see that what they want of us is impossible.  I hope that a higher dialogue will result from this.  I hope that history will finally be proven wrong.

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The Book of Gaza: Chapter 3 | David Gross | Ops & Blogs | The Times of Israel

The Book of Gaza: Chapter 3 | David Gross | Ops & Blogs | The Times of Israel.


The Book of Gaza: Chapter 3

July 28, 2014, 7:00 pm 1

And it later came to pass that there were three boys who were going home from school, and there arose evil men who did take them prisoner and slew them. And the Nation of Israel arose in unity and did create a big hullabaloo, and they did search mightily and arrest many individuals who had committed crimes against them in the past. For they were of the tribe of Hamas, and their brothers in Gaza did shoot missiles all the time, but when they heard of their brothers’ imprisonment, they were angered and they did shoot more missiles than usual. And finally, they did find the corpses of the holy boys and the whole House of Israel did cry out in unity. Yet there were some subversives, of unsound mind, and they did not walk in the ways of the Lord and they did find and Arab boy and seized and burnt him alive. And the whole House of Israel did revile this act and felt ashamed.

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All the while, missiles continued to be shot from Gaza, and the Children of Israel did ask politely for them to stop doing so, yet they continued. Many times did they entreat their neighbours to refrain from trying to slaughter them, yet their neighbours did not heed their calls. The People of Israel did cry out to their leaders, “Kindly stop the bombardments, for our shelters are cramped and stuffy.”

And the Leader was known as Bibi, and he did send forth the airforce to drop ordnance on those who would shoot missiles at the Jewish Nation. The number of missiles grew larger, for the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad were emboldened, and continued to shoot at them without respite.

And much ordnance did fall, but the Nation of Israel had gained no rest, and the tribe of Hamas did not cease for ceasefires, and they did place their own civilians in harm’s way, but the tribe of Hamas had constructed many tunnels and did think themselves safe. And their leaders had got themselves to Doha, and did stay in luxurious hotel suites, and did think themselves even safer.

The Nation of Israel realised that they would gain little from attacking the tribe of Hamas from the air, so they did send in their sons and daughters, and did discover many caves. And plots were discovered to slaughter the Nation of Israel through these caves.

Now at this time the minister, who served the Great Orator did feel that he needed to intervene, for he did declare that the ordnance fell too heavily. And he did gat himself to the Holy Land, and his chin did precede him on the way in, and many looked at his bouffant of hair and were struck with awe.

But he did not go and see the leaders of the Nation of Israel or the tribe of Hamas. He did not even go to see the leader of the Arabs of the West Bank, who were taking no part in the fighting. Instead, he did travel to the Land of the Pharaohs, to its capital. For the Leader of the Egyptian Nation hankered greatly after the destruction of the tribe of Hamas, for they had pained his country sorely. And he did propose an Egyptian initiative. For the new Pharaoh in Egypt had tried also to give peace to the people, but the tribe of Hamas had refused. And the minister did declare “Surely it is better that we return to the way things were before, but let the Nation of Israel be kinder to the tribe of Hamas, and let them have access to materials that they may use to slaughter the Nation of Israel.”to which the Tribe of Hamas did refuse to countenance, “How will we continue to resist without the ability to attack and restock our weapons. And behold, have we not trade agreements with Iran, Syria and North Korea to honour?”

And the man of Massachusetts did travel to the Land of Israel, although his country had banned its planes from travelling to the Holy Land, and did meet with Bibi and the leader of the Arabs of the West Bank, who were taking no part in the fighting. And the people were perplexed, and though they had been distracted by the immensity of the chin, they began to wonder if the minister quite knew what he was doing. Soon, the minister proposed terms of peace for the Nation of Israel and the tribe of Hamas, and the people were expectant, and hopeful.

But no success came of these plans, and the man from Massachusetts did retire to Paris, and he did meet other likeminded ministers from the European Continent. And behold, he did converse with the leader of the Turks and the Sheikh from the Kingdom of Qatar, and they did tunnel under the Egyptian initiative and propose an agreement much to the liking of the Tribe in Hamas, who did have the number of the Sheikh on speed-dial.

And the people were perplexed, and though they had been distracted by the immensity of the chin, they began to wonder if the minister quite knew what he was doing. Soon, the minister proposed terms of peace for the Nation of Israel and the tribe of Hamas, and the people were expectant, and hopeful.

And the leaders of the Nation of Israel were perplexed, and did immediately reject the proposal. But on this occasion, the Pharaoh in Egypt, and King Saud of Arabia, the leader of the West Bank Arabs, Father of Mazen and even, let it be said, the Turks in the North and the King across the Jordan and even the optometrist in Damascus and the Emperor and his viceroy in Persia were perplexed too, for they had all believed that the minister was in favour of the Nation of Israel’s survival. And they did laugh at him, saying, “Even we, who would destroy the nation of Israel would have offered them a better deal than this minister has done. Verily, there appears to be little grey matter between bouffant and chin.”

And the minister was ashamed, for he had abjectly failed, and he did slink away. Though he had succeeded in doing something which no other Secretary of State had ever done: uniting much of the Middle East against him and his nation, both Bibi and the Pharaoh, Mahmoud, Father of Mazen and the Jordanian King and even the House of Saud and many other sheikhs, a feat never achieved before and perhaps never again. And his chin did quiver as it preceded him out of the country.

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Why Hamas is guilty for the Gaza war


Gil Troy
Professor of History

Why Hamas is guilty for the Gaza war


By Gil Troy – The Toronto Star  28/07/2014

Two months ago, world leaders worried about the more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls. Since then, a more outrageous mass crime has occurred in the Middle East. The radical totalitarian group Hamas is holding nearly 700,000 Gazan children, another 900,000 adults — and much of the world — hostage, with lethal results.

Nine years ago, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip. A constructive nationalist movement could have built a viable Palestinian state on Gaza’s beautiful seacoast. The world was ready to shower Palestinian pioneers with billions in aid (and did, even as Palestinian extremists chose to develop crude weapons, not their coastline).

American Jewish philanthropists alone donated $14 million to purchase Israel’s Gazan greenhouses to share with the Palestinians. The agricultural techniques Israelis developed — often working with Palestinians — cultivating Gaza’s natural assets could have made Gaza the Palestinian Riviera. Had this experiment in Gaza nation-building succeeded, it could have encouraged a peaceful transition toward an independent West Bank state.

Instead, claiming that not one inch of Palestinian land is free until all of it is freed, which means destroying Israel within pre-1948 borders, blinded by the totalitarian, anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist Islamist ideology articulated in Hamas’s charter and celebrated in mainstream Palestinian political culture and street culture, Palestinian extremists trashed the greenhouses within hours of receiving them. By 2007 Gaza had degenerated into Hamasistan, an Islamist thugocracy. Since then, Hamas has developed Kassam rockets and engineered sophisticated tunnels to smuggle weaponry from Egypt and cross Israel’s borders with killing squads. Every missile fired and every tunnel burrowed represents an investment in targeting Israel rather than building Palestine, hurting Arabs and Jews alike.

Gaza’s children are suffering. Nevertheless, after absorbing thousands of rockets launched from territory it voluntarily relinquished, Israel has again reluctantly but legitimately exercised its right of self-defence, a state’s first and most basic commitment to its citizens.

Rather than being condemned, Israel deserves praise for demonstrating such patience over the years, and for repeatedly relinquishing the element of surprise while risking Israeli lives to minimize Palestinian casualties — which nevertheless are mounting. Videos have shown Israelis aborting missions to avoid civilians, while Hamas gleefully and deliberately targets Israeli civilians.

By putting their own people in harm’s way, with terrorists cowering in tunnels while forcing kids to stay in their houses as human shields, Hamas’s manipulative propagandists are toying with the world’s emotions. Many have swallowed the Palestinians’ occupation preoccupation, believing the Big Lie that Hamas is menacing neighbouring civilians because Gaza remains “occupied,” rather than blaming totalitarian Hamas for repeatedly violating recognized boundaries and international law.

Headlines just focusing on the Palestinian body count — as if that is a war’s only parameter, as if Israel is to blame for protecting its citizens by building shelters and anti-missile systems — recruits good people who don’t pay attention to faraway conflicts to the Palestinian side, not understanding just how much Hamas sacrifices its own people to inflame world opinion.

Calls for “proportionality” have become a red herring, shorthand for challenging Israel’s right to self-defence. A democracy resorting to arms has a moral obligation to its own citizens and its soldiers to fight aggressively to defend the home front and minimize the risks to its own citizen-soldiers.

In this context, blaming Benjamin Netanyahu for the failure of a two-state solution is calling the firefighter an arsonist. Israelis are debating democratically — which, yes, often involves shouting — about what to do with the territories it won legitimately in 1967. Some want to keep the land permanently because of historic Jewish claims there, which are legitimate, just like the historic Palestinian claims to the same land. Some want to leave immediately, regardless of the consequences. Since the 1990s, most Israelis are torn, open to dramatic withdrawals as long as the move brings peace rather than the dangers the Gaza withdrawal worsened.

Netanyahu has acknowledged Palestinians’ desires for a state — a dramatic contrast to Hamas’s exterminationist rhetoric. One cannot read Netanyahu’s latest worries about creating a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank without acknowledging the thousands of rocket attacks, the millions menaced, the thousands killed and the decades of cries to destroy “the Jews,” not just Israel. He would be criminally irresponsible if he ignored the constant threats, the refusal to accept a Jewish state, the culture of demonization that teaches Palestinian children to hate and worships terrorists as martyrs.

Ultimately, then, the people most resistant to being held hostage by Hamas manipulations are those Hamas has targeted most directly — Israelis. Israelis, from right to left, are remarkably united on four major points: condemning the murders of the three Jewish teenagers and the Palestinian teenager; repudiating revenge killings against Arabs; denouncing Hamas; and supporting the IDF’s moves. The broad consensus in this often-fractious country, amid all the complexities, reveals Israelis’ moral clarity regarding who is to blame and what must be done.


The author is Professor of History, McGill University and a Shalom Hartman Engaging Israel Research Fellow. His latest book  Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight Against Zionism as Racism was just published by Oxford University Press.

Follow Gil on twitter: @GilTroy


What Black, Yellow, Rockets and Days of Mourning Have in Common

The Jewish Woman » Voices & Inspiration » Editorial & Commentary » Let’s Go For Coffee

What Black, Yellow, Rockets and Days of Mourning Have in Common

What Black, Yellow, Rockets and Days of Mourning Have in Common



Dear readers,

Yellow. What mood does it evoke in you? Sunshine. Brightness. Happiness.

How about black? Darkness. Mourning. Despair. Constriction.

Do you have a favorite painting or portrait? Examine it closely. What do you like about it? Is it colorful? Vibrant? Realistic? Does it make you happy?

Look carefully at its colors. While it may have many hues, no doubt it has a good amount of black. The black is evident in its outline, in its shadows, in the blending of the colors and in making the brighter parts really stand out. It’s not only that the black serves as a backdrop for the lighter tones, but that, ironically, black illuminates and enhances the effects of all the other colors.

Unfortunately, life is like that too. We have sunny days where we feel at peace with our inner selves and aligned with our mission in this world. And then we have cloudy, gloomy and dark days in which we are out of sync. These are the times in our lives that are painful, full of unused potential, when we feel disconnected from our spiritual selves and our Maker.

Yet, often it is precisely in the blackness and difficulties of our lives that our fortitude, faith and strength as human beings emerge. Those circumstances highlight the beautiful hidden vibrancy of our inner souls and bring out their luminosity.

Just as anxiety is meant to agitate us into action, darkness too must be used as a springboard for further growth, to acquire a deeper sensitivity. There is a chassidic saying that nothing is as whole as a broken heart—as long as our grief is constructive, creating turmoil that brings us to action.

We are currently in the darkest period of the Jewish calendar, culminating with the 9th of Av, which marks the destruction of the first and second Temples.

But Jewish history is anything but tragic. It is a tale of hope, faith and optimism, of strength, morality and light triumphing despite the harshest circumstances. Centuries of exile have wrenched the Jewish soul through the most miserable darkness, but through it all we have triumphed in still being here, still searching for goodness and G‑dliness, still holding on to our deepest convictions and still striving to reach our highest potentials.

Over the last many weeks we have witnessed collective tragedy. The kidnapping of our boys united us all in sorrow and grief, as did the rockets that rain down upon our cities. But the emerging messages of each of these horrors demonstrate once again the amazing fortitude of the Jewish soul.

Moshiach is born on the ninth of Av. Together let us all beseech our Maker that the living “portrait” of our people has been painted with enough blackness to bring out our inherent beauty. It is now time to experience the sunny brightness of the other, happier hues.

It is time for us to experience “G‑d will wipe away the tears from every eye.” Forever.

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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