Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why Judah and not Joseph?

Before he dies in Parashat Vayechi, Jacob blesses his twelve sons. He blesses Judah with "The scepter shall not depart from" him (Bereishit, 49/10), essentially providing his fourth son's descendants with the responsibility of providing Israel a sovereign ruler.

Knowing Jacob's relationship with his all his sons, how come Jacob doesn't bless Joseph with the honor of being leader of the nation?

Abarbanel explains this by quoting part of Jacob's blessing to Joseph, "They embittered him and became antagonists; The arrow-tongued men hated him," (49/23). Joseph couldn't have been a leader because he provoked jealousy in people (the famous example being the brothers, and one can also assume the jealousy created with the ' young Hebrew Slave's' ascendancy in Egyptian political life caused). This was never the case with Judah, who enjoyed undisputed popularity.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I thought my last blog would be the last for 2009, but alas, I wanted to share what I heard today with my three (or is it four?) readers.

I've joined a footy team that competes in the Anglo League in Israel. Each team is allowed to have 2 Israelis on the pitch, and I was giving one of our Israelis a ride to the game from Jerusalem. As we discussed each other, Rannie started talking about his impressive football background - at least for an Israeli! He came up through the ranks of the Beitar youth system, playing the game with current Beitar stars like Aviram Bruchian & Barak Yitzchaki. As he started to detail aspects of their games, I asked him why he wasn't with them on the pitch every weekend at Teddy. His answer startled me, "I joined the army." So I prodded more, "You're telling me you could have played professionally but you gave it up to do 3 years in the army?" His reply filled me with admiration, "I was offered a professional contract. I thought about it and decided that I live in Israel and I'd serve the country the full 3 years in a combat unit."

Here's a guy who's given his whole life to achieving a dream - and when the day comes for making the dream a reality, he turns it down for the IDF. Unreal. What a role model ...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gilad, Beit Yaakov Boycotts and more

I'm torn about Gilad Shalit and his potential return home. After years of campaigning by Gilad's parents, Aviva & Noam, it seems that we're on the verge of a 1 for 1000 deal that will bring him home.

As we edge closer to the potential agreement, an interesting debate has heated up - whether or not Israel is making the right decision in pursuing this exchange. Oddly enough, I understand both sides and see no wrong in either side's points.

Those against the hostage exchange are worried that some of the ~1000 soon to be free Palestinians will commit terrorist attacks that will end the lives of tens of Israelis. They think that the success of this deal will promote more Palestinians attempts to kidnap Israeli soldiers.

Those in favor want Gilad home at all costs, relating to the plight of Gilad's parents (& family & friends) - who have been without their son for 3+ years. They also acknowledge how important it is for a 'country of soldiers' to know that we do our best to never leave our boys behind enemy lines.

Where do I stand? I'm against the deal. I think the negatives far outweigh the positives. I still wouldn't say that to Gilad's parents - nor do I feel that any of their actions to return their boy have been wrong.


Haaretz had a story today about a handful of Ashkenazi students not attending Beit Yaakov due to the high court ruling that the school must integrate Mizrachi students:

The Education Ministry on Wednesday threatened to prosecute parents of students in a West Bank settlement school under the mandatory education law, unless the students returned to their classrooms.

The Ashkenazi students of the ultra-Orthodox Beit Yaakov girls' school in Immanuel stayed home on Wednesday, yet again, as part of an organized protest against the decision by the Education Ministry and High Court to end the segregation between Sephardi and Ashkenazi students

In August, the court ruled that Beit Yaakov and the Independent Education Center have "infringed on the Sephardi students' right to equality" by segregating them from their Ashkenazi peers. It also scolded the Education Ministry for not using "all the means available to prevent discrimination."

"The court and media don't understand that this is another world," a mother who is keeping her daughter out of school said. "The Hasidic program was created because of a different religious outlook. Only pure children attend it."

"The Mizrahi students' families don't belong with the other families,"another parent said. "They have a television at home while the [Ashkenazim] speak Yiddish. The Mizrahi girls have a bad influence on our girls. No court will change anything," he added. "It's better for everyone to have separate study programs. This way each student keeps his identity - just like you wouldn't play Mizrahi and classical music on the same radio show," another resident said.

The school has 215 students from first to eighth grade, 35 percent of whom are Sephardi.

"It's a disgrace to this place, the ministry must intervene to stop the segregation once and for all," the father of one Mizrahi student said. "The Ashkenazis think they're more intelligent than we are, but what really bugs them is our skin color."

I think these righteous, elitist & racist Ashkenazim should boycott more than the school. Why not also incorporate those Mizrachi/Sefardi 'bad incluence' Rabbis like Rambam, Ramban, Ibn Ezra, Abarbanel, Hillel, Shammai etc into their boycott. I mean, you wouldn't want to hurt your kids' "identity."

And people wonder why I still harp about how this country handled the Mizrachi aliyot in the 1950s ...


Interesting piece by Carlo Strenger of Haaretz after Jimmy Carter's 'apology' for his tough stance on Israel.


Courtesy of Jewlicious:

Every Friday, protesters have been gathering [in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem] lately to protest the expulsion last August of two families from their apartments after the Israel Supreme Court ruled that the land upon which their homes were built belonged to the Sephardi Jewish community. The evacuated houses were built in the 1950s by the UNWRA in order to house Arab refugees who had fled from West Jerusalem during the 1948 war. In 1967, when Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan and reunited the city, the Palestinian families were permitted to stay on as tenants. Disputing the validity of the ownership of the land, they stopped paying rent. This led to the events that preceded the protests. As you can see, the bulk of the protesters are Jewish and Israeli. What really stood out though was at around 3:19 of the video [already edited in clip below].

One of the middle aged Palestinian women started chanting what sounds like the following: “Falasteene Bladna, al-Yahud klabna” – that would translate into “Palestine is our country! The Jews are our dogs!” – which is kind of odd – I mean the people walking by her in handcuffs were the aforementioned “Jew Dogs” who had been arrested whilst protesting in favor of the Palestinians. Maybe that’s why she was shushed? I mean am I hearing this right?


"I would like to point out one permanent assignment that is entrusted to each of us, old and young, men and women, educated and ignorant, as a group and as individuals; this assignment is the defense of our people's honor.

All too easily we allow this honor to be impinged. So far have we become used to humiliation, that in a simple curse we no longer find insult, and just say to ourselves: 'thank you for only swearing at us – after all you could also have beaten us!' Everywhere, even in public places, our ears pick up vulgar outbursts against our people, and we pretend that we did not hear them, and console ourselves that 'they did not mean us'.

This is a lie: It is always aimed at us, and we must respond. We must end this abuse of ourselves, at all costs. And it is very easy. They spit in our faces without fear, 'in passing', for no reason – not because our insulters are blessed with courage and want to pick a fight with us, but because this pleasure is so cheap for them: they will spit at us and go on their way, and nothing will happen.

We must accustom them to the thought that from now on this pleasure will come at a hefty cost. A new commandment must enter our hearts: that even where there is only one Jew, the word 'Zhid' must not be heard without response. Wise people will come and try to dissuade us: 'You are weak – what can you do?' But it is not our purpose to win in every single incident. Our objective – to create about us the belief that a slur on our national feelings is no longer what it once was, a small diversion free of cost – but will rather, with an absolute certainty and a mathematical precision, result in a sharp and unpleasant confrontation

It is the hour to prove what we truly are: A proud people, or filthy scum whose only calling is to be trodden upon."

Ze'ev Jabotinsky, What are we to do?, published 1905


There's a good chance this will be my last post of 2009. So to those celebrating, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Joseph's Dreams

At the beginning of Parashat VaYeishev, Joseph had two dreams (Lines 37:55 & 37:9). Both of the dreams are revealed to his family - the first one only to his brothers, who now "hate him even more" (37:8, the hatred was originally inspired by Jacob's favoritism) due the dream's content, and the second to Jacob and his brothers, which results in a scolding from Jacob and feelings of jealousy from his brothers. Joseph surely knew that revealing these dreams could only further strain his relationship with his brothers, and yet he still did. Why?

The commentators offer a few reasons ... Here are a few from The Stone Edition Torah:

- He was still young (17) and not aware/mature enough to understand that his actions would inflame them (Sforno)
- He hoped his brothers would realize his fate was Divinely decreed and would stop disliking him (Chizkuni)
- He hoped his brothers would realize he was destined to play a pivotal role in their futures and would realize that hating him was unwise (Or HaChaim)
- He understood his dreams were prophecies, and a prophet is forbidden to conceal what he must reveal to others (Vilna Gaon)

Friday, December 04, 2009

Another Hateful Elitist

Two days ago, I spent some time talking with one of my wife's friends. Her father's family had moved to Israel from Iraq, and on arrival, were 'gassed' because of the diseases they may have had. What would follow for her family, and far too many of the approximately one million immigrants from the Arab world, was disgraceful - and it would continue the established precedent of how us Israelis would treat our own, be it Mizrachim or Russians or Haredim (Ultra Orthodox Jews) or 'Settlers'.

Now why am I bothering with this introduction? This morning while eating breakfast, I read Yossi Sarid's latest hateful article in Ha'aretz, "I have no brother." What infuriated me about the article was not that Sarid listed some disgraceful instances (though there are two that need further information for the reader, but that information is not giving for obvious reasons) of Settler behavior, but that he proceeded to generalize them all in his wrap up, "If settlers are our brothers, I have no brother. " All settlers Yossi? All of them commit these acts that you rightly abhor and believe that it's ok? Surely a man of your intelligence is better than that ... Who am I kidding, right?

It's Yossi's kind of attitude that has ripped our country apart time after time, from before the country's birth to the present. The sad and ironic thing is it's been hateful, elitist hypocrites like Sarid from day one who have caused these unnecessary 'brotherly confrontations'. It started essentially with the Season, where Jewish fighters were betrayed to the British by their 'brothers', the Haganah. It would continue during the 1948 Independence Day War, where Ben Gurion ordered the Altalena to be destroyed as she was on Tel Aviv's shoreline. 25 Jews died that day, and as some Holocaust survivors swam to the shore from the burning ship, grenades were thrown on them under one Yitzchak Rabin's watch, "If the Irgun are our brothers, I have no brother." It continued in the 1950s with the disgraceful treatment of Mizrachi Jewry. From gas showers to the ma'abarot to non-stop discrimination, their struggle to become a vital part of Israeli society was a long and arduous one. But I guess, "If the Mizrachim are our brothers, I have no brother," right Yossi? I mean all these crimes were committed by people who thought along your lines. The examples sadly go on and on.

Sarid raises some disturbing points in his article - but the fact is they highlight the acts of the minority. That he can generalize the whole settler community, much like that Shalom Achshav motto - "A Settler is not my Brother," is disgraceful. Would he be ok if all Jews were generalized, like he has just done with the Settlers, based on the actions of a few? Nope, he would probably call it Anti-Semitism ... The sad thing is that we are a fractured society, one where statements like Sarid's, are far too common. "All Haredim ..." (because of the minority which burns trash cans, or throws stones on Shabbat, or bothers the non-religious because they want to park their cars in Mamila), or "All left wingers ..." (because of comments such as Yossi's, or the growing rates of them who refuse to serve in combat units, or those that go abroad to slam Israel), or "All right wingers ..." (because of classless posters showing Obama as a Nazi, or because some shout slogans like 'Death to Arabs', or because of physical abuse of Arabs) are hateful, stupid and do nothing but harm the fragile 'internal peace' of Israel. Reading Sarid's hate filled rhetoric reminds me of what Anwar Sadat said after signing the peace treaty with Israel, "How do you destroy Israel? Leave them in peace for 25 years and they'll take care of it themselves" ...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ariel Sharon's Dream

On Tuesday morning's 8-9 AM show on IDF radio with Niv Raskin, the personal secretary of 6 Israeli prime ministers was interviewed. She is now retired, and she served for 25 years as personal secretary for PMs Shamir, Rabin, Netanyahu, Peres, Barak, and Sharon.

She was asked all sorts of questions, but the most interesting one was, "What was the most intimate story shared with you by one of the Prime Ministers?"

Without missing a beat, she immediately answered, "Ariel Sharon's dream."

The interviewer asked for more details, and she stated as follows:

"Two days before the Disengagement, Sharon had a dream.

He was next to a deep well, hanging over it by a rope.

Hanging over it, dangling.

And then the rope snapped.

And then he woke up.

He was very disturbed by the dream, and it bothered him alot"

Credit to Muqata