The IDF Spokesman said that during clashes that erupted between Jews and Arabs Monday morning in Samaria, three Jews were wounded - two lightly and one severely. Also three Arabs were lightly injured.
The spokesman added that "the IDF views severely violent behavior toward the Palestinians and the security forces will not allow such conduct.”
Following the events, four Jewish residents were arrested.
Police Chief Promises to Guard Homosexual Parade
Police Commissioner, Dudi Cohen, confirmed the police's operational plan for the gay pride parade in Jerusalem Thursday during an extended meeting held in the presence of staff and district officers.
The Commissioner instructed the commanders to prepare for all scenarios, including special arrangements for the Haredi religious sector to prevent them from opposing the event.
Polls show most Jerusalem residents oppose the parade.
Yud Aleph Av 5770
The world as we know it is coming to an end. That is already very clear to most people. Strange things are happening in nature and clearly the world is moving ominously to the greatest world war Hashem Yishmor, the worst and most destructive war ever. As we know from the prophecies one third of the world will be completely destroyed without leaving even one small living creature, one third of the world will be very badly hurt and one third of the world including Eretz Yisroel will not be harmed.
Today we are standing on the threshold of the big bang. Nature as we call it has big surprises in store for us, big and frightening and devastating. We won't be able soon to call it nature because it will be obvious to all that it is directly coming from Hashem. Man will go to war with man, and that will also be a horrific war, beyond the belief of a regular human being. This is but a small peek into the future.
You ask, what can we do about it? Most people choose just to ignore it, and hope that the signs we are getting; the clear, clear signs we are getting from Shomayim will just disappear will evaporate as if it never was there. We want to go on with our Gashmiusdik lives as if nothing has happened, but we can not. Those Jews who want to survive must stop dead in their tracks and begin to make a Cheshbon HaNefesh. Hakodosh Boruch Hu has many times in our history brought upon Am Yisroel pain, suffering and death and some times in the most horrible ways. Why? Because His favorite son strayed from Him, and in order to save His first-born He had to punish him in order to bring him back to Truth. And today we live in a world of almost total lies. The Egel HaZahav is the main g-d (with a small "G") of Christian, Muslim and Jew alike.
There are B"H a few Jews left that still hang on with fierce determination to their Creator and His Torah. Most Jews that profess to be Orthodox or Ultra Orthodox are sure that they are hanging on to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, but in reality most are hanging on to the tail of the Egel HaZahav.
So what can we do? Every Jew must stop and search through his life and take out of his being with a tweezer all the Egel HaZahav that he has in side of himself and he must reject and renounce all the lies of the Olam Hazeh that he has become so fond of. He prefers Kosher vacations in Switzerland to sitting and learning and living a life of austere but true Yiddishkeit. He'd rather make elaborate Chasunas than bring his child to the Chupa after true Torah Chinuch. He'd rather be busy with superficial materialistic food and other entertainments (of course with Hechsherim) than be busy with Davening, with saying Tehillim, and crying and begging Hakodosh Boruch Hu to rebuild the Bais HaMikdosh and to bring Moshiach Tzidkainu. But my dear brothers and sisters who don't listen to my words, if you don't make a Cheshbon HaNefesh you will disappear for all eternity, Chas VeSholom. Because Hashem is destroying the world of lies, and is bringing out and spreading throughout creation the world of truth. A person who lives a life of lies can never live in the world of truth; cannot exist together with truth ,which is all encompassing .A Yid who has even one bit of a lie in him, who believes at all in any way in the lie, can not exist together with truth. Look what is happening in Eretz Yisroel. The Frum community is split in every way. All the way deep down split and broken into bits. Most of the Frum are enjoying today a level of Gashmius that they never had in the past. But this level of Gashmius is bought at a price, and that price is that we have sold our souls to the Egel HaZahav and its representative which is Medinas Yisroel(State of Israel). We have sold our children to the Sitra Achra by taking money from the Erev Rav to support our Chinuch, and they forced us to put into our curriculum poisonous lies, anti-Torah lies, and give it to our precious Temimusdik children as though it was truth.
The conflicts between Frum Yiden has become worse and worse. This group hates that group, that group hates this group, and all of these groups that are fighting against each other, are also filled with lies.
You have fathers against daughters, mothers against sons, husbands against wives, wives against husbands, and then you have the people who enjoy making this terrible situation, fueling it with fire, to keep it cooking.
Boruch Hashem, Hashem is obviously killing the Egel HaZahav, money is inflated, and getting more inflated, money is worth less and less, people are beginning to struggle very much to be able to pay for their Gashmiusdik lives. Many of the Charaidim are being hit very hard with this.
Chinuch has become a dangerous topic, the average Yid is realizing that something very wrong is going on in our schools, in our Yeshivas; that ideas from the Goyishe world have infiltrated into these once precious institutions. And worst of all the Erev Rav rules. The Erev Rav rules in the Medina. But also among the Charaidim, the Erev Rav rules. They rule in America, in the Frum world and in the Chiloni world. They rule in Europe in the Frum world and the Chiloni world. They rule all over the world. Wherever Jews are the Erev Rav rules, in both the non-Frum and the Frum community.
But this will not continue, and Hashem will very soon bring us to frightening situations. We are already becoming uneasy in our world. Hashem is doing this stage by stage so that the Jews who can understand, will begin really to understand. Stage by stage they will come to the truth. Hashem will save every soul that stood at Har Sinai, but not the Erev Rav. They stood back, they stood away, but every Jew who stood at Har Sinai will be saved. The ones who are closer to Hashem will suffer less, ones who are farther from Hashem will suffer more. However the Erev Rav, those Egyptians who supposedly took on Yiddishkeit, those Erev Rav that never really accepted Ol Malchus Shomyim, those Erev Rav will disappear forever.
Am Yisroel we are facing the hardest times that humanity has ever faced. The Goyim, Yishmaelim, Notzrim, all the Goyim will be punished for what they have done to Am Yisroel. And Am Yisroel will be purified, and made pristine. They will shine with a spiritual light that would differentiate between them and whichever Goyim are left.
They will be people of Truth and only Truth. There will be no lie. And the Goyim that are left after the Makos, after the Makos that will hit the world and its population. Those that are left will be righteous Goyim that will understand and accept the Truth as well.
Am Yisroel save yourself suffering, come back to Hashem, come back to Torah, come back to the true life, from morning till night only Hashem and his Torah. Most Yidden of today, feel that that's boring Chas Vesholam, but there are still Yidden, Boruch Hashem, that get up in the morning, say Modeh Ani, wash their hands, and from then on all through the day are trying with all their hearts and souls to fulfill all of Hashem's commandments. They are not bored, but it lifts them up to higher spheres spiritually, and makes them close to Hakodosh Boruch Hu. There is nothing more exciting and more fulfilling and more true in this world or in any world than being only Hashem's servant.
Am Yisroel, those that stood at Har Sinai, we are the seeds that are being planted for the future, to grow and to multiply and to fill the universe. Creation has not ended its continuing and every Yid will be part of it for all eternity.
Is there nechama? Can we realistically expect to experience comfort and consolation?
When I was twelve, my family took a trip to the eastern tip of Long Island. We wound up in the direct path of one of the most destructive hurricanes in recent history. We were staying in a big old hotel. You huddle inside for hours, wondering whether you will survive. Suddenly, it's "all over," and you are in the middle of a cloudless, placid, sunlit day. That's what you think, but you are in the eye of the storm! You believe it's all over, until suddenly the winds come back violently from the other direction and you are once again being clobbered by this ferocious storm, hoping you will survive.
Any comfort and consolation we feel today is like the eye of the storm.
We don't trust it. We are waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Realistic people in today's world know that we are living on the edge of the cliff, waiting in tension for events which will affect us mightily but over which we have no control. There is an overwhelming feeling of trepidation. Many people's lives are out of control. Society seems out of control. Events in the world at large are ominous.
And we talk about comfort and consolation?
We have to know, my friends, that nechama is real. We desperately need to cling with all our strength to the ancient truths which have sustained us since the days of our Father Abraham and our Mother Sarah. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we live "chutz min ha teva," not subject to the forces which bind the rest of mankind in an eternal cycle of slavery and mortality, "those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, shackled in affliction and iron." (Psalm 107) We are servants of the Eternal, and as such we are going to survive whatever terrible storms buffet this fragile planet. If we can remember that, we can survive.
Every day, we say powerful prayers that can keep us from succumbing to the cycle of mortality which haunts the world. "Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our fathers ... accustom us to [study] Your Torah and attach us to Your commandments. Do not bring us into the power of error, nor the power of transgression and sin.... Let not the evil inclination dominate us. Distance us from an evil person.... Attach us to the good inclination and to good deeds and compel our evil inclination to be subservient to You." (Shacharis)
The Book of Deuteronomy (Sefer Dvarim) is frighteningly powerful. The prophetic passages literally describe the scene before our eyes, some forty-five hundred years later! "When you beget children and grandchildren and you will have been long in the land, you will grow corrupt and make a carved image ... and do evil in the eyes of ... your G-d. I call the heavens and the earth this day to bear witness against you that you will surely perish quickly from the land which you are crossing the Jordan to possess ..." (Deuteronomy 4:25-26)
Are the heavens and the earth not "bearing witness," my friends? When the storms rage and the sea boils, when the volcano spews and the ground shakes, are the heavens and the earth not following the commands of the One Who is all-knowing?
But listen to this!
"G-d will scatter you among the peoples and you will be left few in number among the nations where Hashem will lead you.... From there you will seek Hashem, your G-d, and you will find Him, if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have befallen you, at the end of days, you will return unto ... your G-d and listen to His voice." (Deuteronomy 3:27-30)
My friends, is this not EXACTLY our world? Almost five thousand years ago, the Torah told us that we would someday be "scattered among the peoples," and that at "the end of days," in the midst of our "distress," we would experience a miraculous "return unto Hashem" and we would "listen to His voice"!
Has there ever been a time of such RETURN TO G-D? Have there ever before been so many baalai teshuva? There is NOTHING that anti-Torah forces and secular governments can do to stop it! Uncounted numbers of Jews are returning to G-d from "the Four Corners of the World"! This is fulfillment of prophesy! It is happening before our eyes!
HOW CAN ANYONE DENY THAT HASHEM IS PREPARING FOR THE FINAL REDEMPTION?
I am going to quote an extreme statement. I did not say this; it is from Gates of Emunah, by Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus ZT"L: "We live in a modern world, but with all its technological advances ... the results are shockingly poor. Everything is put to use for the bad. The world was a more beautiful place without modern cameras and their streams of indecent images.... There is no modern invention that did not do harm to the world, without exception....
"One example... It used to be that when a Jew would desecrate Shabbos, it would be by stoking a fire or walking in the public domain carrying something in his pocket. Now, he gets in his car and drives. Every time he steps on the gas pedal he creates thousands of sparks per second. A single trip from New York to Baltimore causes more Shabbos desecrations than took place from the beginning of the world until the invention of the automobile!" (Page 273)
This is the world we are living in. This is the culture of Edom. It is not our culture. Ours is the world of Torah, pure and simple. That's how Hashem created the world, and mankind did nothing since Creation to improve upon it ... with one exception: when we live in the Sea of Torah, then we are doing what our Father in Heaven intended when He created the world. There is nothing else. That is all.
This is our job in the world.
This is our comfort. This is our consolation. This is our life!
"Nachamu, nachamu ami... Comfort, comfort My people, says your G-d. Speak to her and proclaim to her that her time of exile has been fulfilled, that her iniquity has been conciliated, for she has received from the hand of Hashem double for all her sins. A voice calls in the wilderness, 'Clear the way of Hashem, make a straight road in the plain, a highway for our G-d.' Every valley shall be raised and every mountain and hill shall be made low, the crooked shall become straight and the rugged a level low land. Revealed shall be the glory of Hashem and all flesh as one shall see that the mouth of Hashem has spoken." (Isaiah 40:1-5, Haftaras Va'eschanan).
Roy S. Neuberger
YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
HaRav Yehuda Kreuser SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva
PARSHAT VAETCHANAN/SHABBAT NACHAMU
13 Av 5770/23-24 July 2010
THE CLOSING WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY
"I implored G-d at that time saying, My L-rd You have begun to show your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand, for what power is there in the heavens or on earth that can perform according to Your mighty acts? Please let me cross and see the good Land that is on the other side of the Jordan, this good mountain and the Lebanon."
What was bothering Moshe, that he felt that he just had to enter into the Holy Land? If he was like the great majority of the Jewish people throughout the generations, he certainly would have been happy, quite happy to stay put in the exile and not enter. What made him so possessed that he prayed more then 500 times to enter the Land? The Talmud answered that Moshe wanted to fulfill the commandments of the Torah, something which is done in the exiles only so that we shall not forget them when we come into the Land - what one might call a practice run. But now that the Jewish people were so close to entering the Land of Israel, Moshe wanted the real thing, to be able to fulfill G-d's commandments in the Land.
Similarly, we find King David, who was forced out of the Land of Israel by King Saul, saying: "Why have you taken me out of the inheritance of the L-rd, saying, go and worship idols?" Now would anyone think that the great David would go and worship idols? Rather, David was saying: The mere fact that I have been exiled from the Land, it is as if I am worshiping idols. So, too, Rashi states that one who lives outside the land of Israel is as if he has no G-d.
So much greatness awaits the Jewish people in the Land of Israel, not only on a personal level but also on a national level. For as long as the Jewish people stubbornly hold on to the exile, the Redemption cannot come. We find in the times of Ezra and Nechemiah that only a small minority of the Jewish people heeded the cry and returned to the Land of Israel. The great majority, the important ones, the leaders, the gedolim stayed in beloved Babylon. They said: Certainly G-d is not going to bring the Redemption though King Cyrus, a non Jew, this is not the way of redemption, we will tell G-d how to redeem the nation - so they stayed.
The Midrash teaches us that because they did not come back to the Land, the Divine Presence also did not return in full, and so the Second Temple period, which could have been the Final Redemption, was doomed from the start. What became of all those who stayed behind? All the important Jews? They all died out, intermarried and were lost for all generations; only the riffraff, the "no good" ones who came to the Land of Israel survived - and we are their descendents.
In the book "Eim Habanim Smeichah", Rabbi Yissachar Teichtal, who lived during the years of the Holocaust, cries out that all of the troubles that are befalling the Jewish people are coming because there is no awakening to come up to the Land of Israel. Excuses they had for not coming home: the Jews who are in the Land are not religious, G-d will not redeem His people though the nations of the world. Once again we were teaching G-d how to redeem His people, and once again the exile ended bitterly for the Jews.
As I look out from my home in Mitzpe Yericho, I can see the mountains of Nevo, the same mountains where Moshe stood and implored G-d to allow him to come into the Land. But Moshe Rabenu's dream of entering the Land was not fulfilled, and here I am, together with my family, able to walk the width and length of the Land. Not just me, but anyone can today come up to the Land. With so much greatness and holiness here, what, then, is holding all my brethren back? Why are they not here beside me? As history has proven over and over again, the window of opportunity is not forever open. Now is the time to enter and embrace greatness, now that the door remains open. Take hold of her while there is still time!
Large China oil spill threatens sea life, water
BEIJING – China's largest reported oil spill emptied beaches along the Yellow Sea as its size doubled Wednesday, while cleanup efforts included straw mats and frazzled workers with little more than rubber gloves.
An official warned the spill posed a "severe threat" to sea life and water quality as China's latest environmental crisis spread off the shores of Dalian, once named China's most livable city.
One cleanup worker has drowned, his body coated in crude.
"I've been to a few bays today and discovered they were almost entirely covered with dark oil," said Zhong Yu with environmental group Greenpeace China, who spent the day on a boat inspecting the spill.
"The oil is half-solid and half liquid and is as sticky as asphalt," she told The Associated Press by telephone.
A South African couple was out sailing near the country's infamous Robben Island when a 40-ton whale breached and crash-landed on their yacht.
I'm halfway through a Sci-Fi thriller called "Swarms." It's touted to be a Creighton-esque story similar to The Day After Tomorrow only with the oceans. It was written in German in 2008 and was only recently released in English. It features whale attacks and methane explosions out of the deep prominently and like I said, it was written two years ago, but it reads like today's newspaper.
In addition to the whale story, there is a new post at Shirat Devorah called "What is Happening to Our Oceans?" which mentions penguins, dead fish and even a plague of seashells.
Is it just me or does it seem like we are living inside a disaster movie these days?
"They returned from spying out the Land at the end of forty days. They went and came to Moshe and to Aharon and to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel...and brought back the report....
'We arrived at the Land to which you sent us, and indeed it flows with milk and honey, .... But ---the people that dwells in the Land is powerful, the cities are very greatly fortified, and we also saw there the offspring of the giant. Amalek dwells in the area of the south; the Hittite, the Jebusite, and the Emorite dwell on the mountain; and the Caananite dwells by the Sea and on the bank of the Jordan.'
Calev silenced the people toward Moshe and said, 'We shall surely ascend and conquer it, for we can surely do it!'
But the men who had ascended with him said, 'We cannot ascend to that people for it is too strong for us!' They brought forth to the Children of Israel an evil report on the Land that they had spied out, saying, 'The Land through which we passed, to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitant! All the people that we saw in it were huge! There we saw the Nephilim, the sons of the giant from among the Nephilim; we were like grasshoppers in our eyes, and so were we in their eyes!'
The entire assembly raised up and issued its voice; the people wept that night. All the Children of Israel murmured against Moshe and Aharon, and the entire assembly said to them, 'If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why is Hashem bringing us to this Land to die by the sword? Our wives and our young children will be taken captive! Is it not better for us to return to Egypt?'
So they said to one another, 'Let us appoint a leader and let us return to Egypt!'
Moshe and Aharon fell on their faces before the entire congregation of the assembly of the Children of Israel.
Yehoshua, son of Nun, and Calev, son of Yefuneh, of the spies of the Land, tore their garments. They spoke to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel, saying, 'The Land that we passed through, to spy it out---the Land is very, very good! If Hashem desires us, He will bring us to this Land and give it to us, a Land that flows with milk and honey. But do not rebel against Hashem! You should not fear the people of the Land, for they are our bread.
'Their protection has departed from them; Hashem is with us. Do not fear them!'
But the entire assembly said to pelt them with stones---and the glory of Hashem appeared in the Tent of Meeting to all the Children of Israel.
Hashem said to Moshe, 'How long will this people provoke Me, and how long will they not have faith in Me, despite all the signs that I have performed in their midst? I will smite them with the plague and annihilate them, ....
...and the people mourned exceedingly."
Read the entire unabridged account in Parashat Shelach, Bamidbar (Numbers), chapter 14.
The evil report brought by the spies inspired an even greater sin by the people. The spies spoke lashon hara against the beautiful gift of the choicest Land that Hashem was presenting to us. But the people took that and turned it into lashon hara against Hashem! They falsely accused Him of bringing them to Eretz Yisrael to kill them and sell them back into slavery!
If they could really believe such a thing of Hashem after all the tender loving care He had lavished upon them throughout the Egypt, Sinai and Wilderness experiences, even to taking them back after committing the spiritual equivalent of adultery on the wedding night with the golden calf... After forty years, they still did not believe in or trust Hashem.
This is the foundation of everything that is wrong with us. If we can correct this flaw, we will be ready for Mashiach and the complete redemption and the end of all future 'Tisha b'Avs.'
Have a successful fast. It should accomplish all the spiritual work it is intended to do.
The second paragraph of the Shema contains a terrible prophesy of punishment and exile. It begins after the word, "v'savata... and you will be satisfied." It is perhaps dangerous to be satisfied.
"Hear, O heavens and give ear, O earth, for Hashem has spoken: children have I raised and exalted, but they have rebelled against Me. An ox knows his owner and a donkey his master's trough; Israel does not know, My people does not perceive..." (Isaiah 1: 2-3; Haftaras Dvarim)
My friends, I believe that we are deluding ourselves in trying to find satisfaction in pursuing the goals of Western culture. G-d is smashing those idols left and right. Is it an accident that Western Culture is crumbling before our eyes?
"Fortunate is he who is always fearful; he who hardens his heart shall fall to misfortune" (Proverbs 28:14) is referring to the attitude of the Jewish People at the time of the destruction of the Temple. People had a sense of security because of their "great affluence and serenity, whereas instead "they should have been fearful and concerned...." (Tosfos on Gittin 55b as cited in the Introduction to "Churban and Golus" by Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg Shlita"h)
When will we learn? Is not every individual in pain, every family in agony? If not from my own pain, then from my friend's pain! This week alone, two families in our community were sitting shiva for their children! And this is a drop in the ocean of tears!
On our flight back from Israel last week, I looked out at the endless ocean! Miles deep, stretching on as far as the eye can see, even from 38,000 feet! How many drops are in the ocean? Fewer than the tears of our People?
My friends, what are we to do?
I have mentioned before the words of the Chofetz Chaim ZT"L regarding the "End of Days" (quoted by Rabbi Mattisyahu Salomon Shlita"h): There will be three wars. The first was the First World War. The second (predicted by the Chofetz Chaim before his death in 1933) was to be the Second World War. And the third (assuming that we do not do teshuva before then) will usher in the Final Redemption. The Chofetz Chaim said, however, that the third war would be different from the first two, in that the Angel of Death would in the final war have no power to harm righteous people! And what constituted a righteous person? One who sticks close to G-d and His Torah and who perceives the utter emptiness of the surrounding culture!
Let us try to comprehend this!
I have often experienced this: I have terrible anguish. Something is tearing me apart. Or, on the other hand, I am distracted by an infinite number of obligations, and my mind is going over all the minutiae that I "cannot forget to do." Or perhaps I am filled with anger at the guy next to me who is screaming out his prayers. The last thing I can do is concentrate on my prayers or my learning! And then, by some act of will and sanity, I just say goodbye to my evil inclination. I force myself to concentrate completely on my prayers or my learning. I plunge into the sea of Torah, the words of the Talmud.
My friends, I am not talking about meditating or "feeling good."
I AM TALKING ABOUT SUBMERGING ONESELF IN THE WORLD OF TRUTH! Shema Yisroel, Hashem Elokainu, Hashem Echad!
There is only ONE PLACE where our fate is decided! Not two, G-d forbid, or two million. Nowhere else is there Reality in this universe than in sticking like glue to G-d and His Torah!
Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg writes, "It is impossible to have a casual attitude to Torah. Success in Torah will spring forth from a vibrant, industrious attitude and drive, and - if not - the result is DESTRUCTION! Spiritual collapse is not simply failure; it is devastation... collective havoc!" (Churban and Galus, p. 37) "No other weapon will succeed against the evil inclination except the learning of Torah." (Quoting Rav Elchanan Wasserman ZT"L, p. 49)
My friends, I like steak. I really do. I like vacations. I like driving down the road with the wind in my face and looking at the beautiful sights. We live in a society that tells us we should indulge our desires, that we "owe it to ourselves" to live life to the "fullest." Go shopping. "Just do it." Entertainment! Sports! Indulge yourself; it's good for you!
NO! NO! NO!
The game is over! We cannot pretend any longer that we can be partly in the world of Western culture and partly in the world of Torah!
Rav Scheinberg's book has three chapters: Our Torah, Our Prayers and Our Tears.
Let us plunge into Torah, submerging ourselves into the depths and climbing the heights toward Heaven. Let us dive into our prayers "with all our heart and all our soul and all our resources."
Men, put your tallis over your head. Women, put your siddur in front of your face! No one will see us except our Father in Heaven when we "shed streams of water at the shattering of my people. My eye will flow and will not cease ... until Hashem looks down and takes notice from heaven!" (Eichah 3:48-50)
"Let him put his mouth to the dust ... there may yet be hope." (Eichah 3:29)
Surely He will have mercy on us and turn the day of catastrophe into a day of endless simcha!
Into the second hour, he began to talk about 2010. And he brought up the incident in Imanuel.
Imanuel was established about 25 years ago. They felt that they needed a prestigious rabbi to entice others to come to live there, so they asked a very important rav, Rabbi Yehoshua Moshe Aharonson, who had just retired from being Chief Rabbi of Petach Tiqva. He agreed and came to live among them. They had a dinner to celebrate the founding of the yishuv and he was the main speaker. Now, I’ll stop here for a moment and let you read what I found about Rabbi Aharonson.
Rav Yehoshua Moshe Aharonson of Petach Tikva (1910-1993). Born in Warsaw, he was was named rabbi of Sanok in 1937. In the winter of early 1940, he was appointed to the Beis Din of Warsaw. In March 1942, he was deported to the Konin labor camp, near Chelmno. The Konin camp was liquidated in the summer of 1943. Rabbi Aharonson was taken to Hohensalza, and afterwards to Auschwitz 3 (Buna). In 1945 he was transferred from Auschwitz to Buchenwald and then taken on a death march to Theresienstadt, where he was liberated. He subsequently moved to Eretz Israel, where he served as a rabbi in Petach Tikva and Emmanuel. His writings were collected in the book Alei Merorot.
Back to the story.
Trepidation filled my heart as I gazed around what is known today as the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. My family and I were trying hard not to breathe too deeply of the aromatic smells emanating from the garbage close to where we were sitting on the cold stone floor inside the Gate called Shalshelet. In this forlorn and forbidding place about forty devout Jews had gathered to read Eicha, the book of Lamentations, in an environment conducive to mourning the destruction of the Holy Temple.
The Ninth of Av is the Hebrew date on which both Jewish Temples were destroyed. Thereafter, for millennia, the Jews have fasted and prayed on that date, mourning the loss. The timeless rituals include reading a description of the first destruction as penned by the prophet Jeremiah.
Israeli Border Police stood guard while Arabs from the surrounding area gathered. A radio was turned on at full volume somewhere overhead and those in the women's area could no longer hear the words being chanted from the scroll. To the religious Jew, the loss of Jewish sovereignty over Judaism's holiest site---the Temple Mount---was a devastating event. In this place and particularly at this time the loss was palpable.
Suddenly, as the fury of mixed voices began to rise, the deafening clang of metal rang out and echoed off the walls and we scrambled to our feet, gathering up the children. Sounds of anger mingled with that of scuffling feet. I could just see the policemen with clubs drawn threateningly over their heads. It was impossible to tell if their anger was directed at the Jews or Arabs or both. In the Old City of Jerusalem, the police consider any religiously motivated group to be extremists and troublemakers.
We were being pressed tighter and tighter together when an opening appeared in the fenced off area. We began to be herded in that direction. I felt an ominous chill as from distantly remembered herdings of Jews. The authorities said we needed to be evacuated to a place of safety for our own protection, so we flowed as one in the only direction we could move---into the Mahkame Headquarters of the border police.
I watched the great iron doors shut with a deep resonant finality. When the bolt slid into place it didn't lock out the din of the mob shouting just outside. At first people wandered aimlessly in the large hall, lost in a depth of feeling none of us could have anticipated. The goal of attaining a true sense of loss in our mourning rites had been achieved beyond expectation. As a small group gathered to complete the reading of Eicha, others stood aside to pray and some, like me, took themselves into small corners to try to come to terms with what had happened.
Curiosity led me to one of the tall barred windows which stood on a far wall. Until this moment, I had not really understood exactly where we were, so imagine my astonishment to find myself looking down into the Western Wall Plaza. The window was very high up on the northern wall of the prayer area. As I stood gazing into the sea of Jewish humanity that swelled below, contemplation seized me and carried me back.... into the past ....
[Note for clarification: This essay concerns the area immediately OUTSIDE the Temple Mount, not ON it.]
It was one of those spring-like late winter days not uncommon to Jerusalem in February---flawless blue sky, first pink bloom of almonds. It was also Shabbat Parshat Mishpatim - Shabbat Mevorchim shel Rosh Chodesh Adar Aleph 5763. On this particular Shabbat, I walked into the Old City from my home in nearby Nachlaot to pray the afternoon service. In predominantly Jewish neighborhoods, it is easy to get a sense of the peace of Shabbat, as all business ceases with the onset of the Jewish holy day.
However, on the approach to the entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem, traffic barrels along the highway, like it is just any other day. Entering through Jaffa Gate brings one directly into the Arab Christian quarter, where it is a busy Saturday. The contrast between what is and what should be is disconcerting, to say the least.
Jerusalemites faithful to the daily prayers for the rebuilding of the Temple have made a practice of encircling Har Habayit (the Temple Mount), reciting Tehillim (Psalms) before each of the gates which surround it on each Shabbat Mevorchim---the Shabbat on which each new Hebrew month is announced. A flyer taped to the wall on the descent to the Kotel Plaza in the Jewish Quarter notifies me that on this Shabbat a group will meet in front of the first gate to Har Habayit at 1:15 pm. I had just enough time to pray mincha before joining them so I determined to go.
Although I like to consider myself a Temple activist, it had actually been some time since I had participated in such an activity, and for good reason. I am not anxious to see the inside of the Kishle---the Israeli police station in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Israeli police in this part of the city are primarily Arab, and those who aren't, might as well be. They are not friendly to religious Jews in general and are in fact, active enemies of those who desire to see the Jewish Temple rebuilt in its original place. Jews are the only people in the Old City of Jerusalem who have no rights to their holiest religious site.
The injustice of it overwhelms me every time I am confronted with it face to face. My Jewish soul is pained beyond endurance by the reality of it. The zealot within me is at times too strong to curtail when push comes to shove, as it has literally done on more than one occasion with the Israeli police.
You see, even within Holy Jerusalem there is a Jewish ghetto---a place where Jewish presence is confined---and it is called the Western Wall Plaza. If Jews want to go beyond this fenced and walled-off area, they must go only under police escort, ostensibly for their own protection.
The group was led by a handful of young men whose study centers around the Temple at a yeshiva in the Old City which specializes in the subject. They are called the Temple Guard, and they wear a distinctive uniform marking them as such. Their job is to acquaint people with the subject and to direct Jewish consciousness toward the loss and eventual restoration of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Besides them and myself, there were another handful of young women (one obviously pregnant), one older gentleman and three or four children. We were a very threatening-looking lot, or at least we must have appeared so to the hundreds of Arabs we passed in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, where the majority of the gates to Har Habayit are located.
Raucous music blared in the crowded, smoky, trash-strewn streets, and Arabs all along the way stopped to stare their obvious displeasure at this Jewish intrusion into their midst. Some complained openly and loudly. The yeshiva boys sang songs extolling the kedusha (holiness) of Yerushalayim, but we couldn't hear them at the rear of the line in which the police forced us to walk. Despite our leader's pleas with the policeman in charge that the group was guaranteed rights to approach the gates, an instant Arab denial of access was enforced by the police escort without argument or redress.
It was reminiscent of what I had read about the Cave of the Patriarchs. When under the control of the Arabs, the actual burial place of the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs was made off-limits to Jews. As a sign of Muslim control and superiority, no Jew was allowed to approach closer than the seventh step from the entrance of the Me'arat haMachpelah. Here we were, supposedly the masters and rulers of our own land and we were again being restricted, not only from entering the area of the Mount itself for two and a half years, but we were not being allowed to enter even within 50 feet of the gates!
The Jews, in typical Jewish fashion, did as they were told without complaint or refusal to obey orders. The control was so complete that the police insisted upon keeping everyone in a single line all on one side of the street even though those at the rear could not hear the prayers as they were being lead. Keep in mind that this was essentially taking place at a dead-end where there is no through traffic and the "streets" are all pedestrian in any case.
It was extremely difficult for me not to give way to the tears that blurred my vision, as my heart broke over the sad state into which both we and our holy place had sunk. But it was, after all, both Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh Adar, two days when it is forbidden to be sad. Just when I felt I could not take any more, I called out to Hashem in silent prayer and begged Him to give me a sign for good so that I could overcome the feelings of despair.
As the little group made its way singing up to the Lion's Gate, the very one through which the paratroopers had entered to conquer the Mount in 1967, the policemen who had been trailing us ran ahead and joined up with the guards who were regularly assigned to this gate, and they all scurried quickly to set up a barricade to prevent a close approach. Suddenly, I saw their actions in an entirely new light. Hashem gave me the sign I had requested, and I saw that in reality they were very much afraid of us---afraid of what we represented and subconsciously afraid of what our actions and prayers portended. When our day arrives, their day is over and they are keenly aware of this at some deep soul-level, perhaps even more than we.
The next stop was Sha'ar haRachamim, the Mercy Gate in Hebrew, also called the Golden Gate, the one the Muslims sealed and before which a Muslim cemetery was located in the erroneous belief that it will prevent the approach of Eliyahu, prophet and priest and herald of the arrival of the Messiah. Since it is outside the Old City walls and the Muslim Quarter, the police were content to simply observe from the top of the walls and did not accompany us along this part of our route. In front of the Mercy Gate, the Temple Guard led the group in prayers for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in our days and ended with the recitation of the Shema, as it is proclaimed at the end of the Yom Kippur Service when the portion which is normally spoken softly is pronounced in a loud voice---"Blessed is the Name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity!" This was followed by the sevenfold announcement that "Hashem, Hu haElokim!---Hashem, He is G-d!"
Finally, we came around the corner of the very high southeast corner of the Old City walls and stood along the street opposite the Hulda Gates, where, in the time when the Temple stood, those wishing to ascend to come close to Hashem would enter. And there I saw another sign for good. Of all the places for the stones of the wall to be protruding and in real danger of buckling, it is here, all around the sealed Hulda Gates, above which the Al-Aksa Mosque stands. It is as if Hashem wants to push them out and make an opening for us to ascend to His Presence once more as in days long past, but which we know from prophecy are destined to return again.
We had now returned to the starting point, and as the group disbanded, I realized that I had found my good thought, the vision which Rebbe Nachman says we must visualize in order to be happy and have perfect faith that Hashem is in control of his universe. One day---Hashem grant that it be soon---the gates of Har Habayit will stand wide open for all the Jews to enter and no one will stand between us and Avinu Malkeynu---our Father and our King.
My brother, Harav Meir Kahana ob"m, once described [some] emotional, moving scenes in a great essay entitled "Goodbye Wall" in Tishrei 5738 – September 1977, as follows:
They come in all sizes and shapes, complexions and complexes, in fusion and confusion, from East and West and North and South. They are Jews; they are tourists; they come to see it. The Wall.
They come with beards and kaftan – direct from Williamsburg; they come with Rabbinical Council mustaches, from Flatbush and Kew Garden Hills; they come with black yarmulkas to signify Agudah and knitted ones to shout their support and empathy with Zvulun Hammer; they come with no yarmulkas and are given them by their local American Jewish Congress tour guide; they come with no yarmulkas and wear the cardboard type that the keepers of the Wall dispense; they come with whatever they come with. To see It. The Wall.
They come with familiarity (some having been to Israel seven, eight, ten times), having reached the rank of resident tourist. Usually these are Orthodox Jews who come up to the Wall with confident strides as if to shake the hand of a familiar acquaintance. Others are not sure just what they have to do, how they are required to act, and they stand uncomfortably and nervously, glancing about to see what the others are doing. Still others stand, just stand before the Wall – thinking, meditating, praying, talking, whispering, weeping. And then they leave.
They have been to the Land, been to Zion, been to Jerusalem, the Holy City, and been to see it. And then they leave.
They leave behind their money, their tour guides, their little notes they wrapped into a small ball or wad and left in the crevices of the Wall. They leave the Land and Zion and Jerusalem, the Holy City, and the Wall. They go back to Great Neck and Boston and Los Angeles and Miami and, of course, Washington Heights and Monsey and Williamsburg and Boro Park.
They leave Old Jerusalem for newer ones and the Wall for Wall Street because they must. To see Israel is to enjoy an experience beyond comparison. To see Jerusalem, the Holy City, is to gather a treasury of memories beyond price. To see the Wall is to experience a thrill that is indescribable. But everything has its time and its place and all good tours must come to an end. Israel is the finest of all places to visit, but it is not for them to live there. And so they leave.
The beards and the beardless, the Orthodox (ultra and modern), Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Humanist, agnostic, atheist … They leave. For "home." And I often wonder: When they came, they ran to say hello to the Wall. When they leave, do they make a point to say goodbye? And, indeed, how does one say goodbye to the Wall?
What does one say to It? Does one stand there and daven Mincha, pray the Afternoon service that says: "And may our eyes behold Thy return to Zion … " and then say to It: "Well, I suppose I have to go now. The business can’t shut down for more than three weeks. Take care of yourself and let’s hope that He returns soon …?"
Does one shake the Wall’s vegetation in lieu of a hand and does one kiss it – kiss it goodbye? If one knows that the Shechina, the Divine Presence, never left the Wall, how does one say goodbye to Him? What does one, who is leaving Israel for the Exile that we are told finds him with no God and worshipping idolatry in "purity," say to the Divine Presence at the Wall?
I suppose that it is all this that finds most people leaving Israel without saying goodbye to It. I suppose that especially the ones whose heart and conscience are not as stone, cannot say to the Wall whose stones are as hearts: Goodbye, I am violating a basic tenet of Judaism; I betray my land; I go back to the fleshpots and materialism of the Exile and thus forsake you.
But I also wonder what the Wall says and thinks as It watches the Jews who come to visit as casually as if they were taking a trip (as so many more do lately) to Puerto Rico and Spain and Aruba and Rome. I wonder what It thinks as It looks at the hordes of tourists who come to touch It, fondle It, kiss It, stare at It, memorialize It in their film (still and motion) – and then go back to the lands that they consider their real homes. I wonder what It thinks as It watches the Jews pray and sway and bay at it. I wonder what It thinks as It watches the ritual and idol worship that has been built about It by the American Jewish Congress, the Ministry of Tourism and the UJA. I wonder what It thinks as It watches the Orthodox from New Frankfort on the Heights and the majesty of Crown Heights and sees all the "religious Jews" on their 3 week vacation before returning to idolatry.
Surely, this last remnant of the Temple, in which preached the Prophets who inveighed against hypocrisy, remembers their words and repeats them to their descendants. Surely it repeats the words: "When ye come to appear before Me, who hath required this at your hand to trample my courts? Bring no more vain oblations, it is an offering of abomination unto Me; New Moon and Sabbath, the holding of convocations – I cannot endure iniquity along with the solemn assembly … " (Isaiah 1: 12)
The Wall looks at those who come to honor It and at that very moment plan to betray the Land and abominate it by leaving for an Exile they call "home" – and repeats: "Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (Samuel 1, 15:22). They leave the Wall for "home." They refuse to dwell in the Land of this Wall. It knows that that which they plan – peace and security in the Galut – will never be. It knows that if they reject the Wall of the Almighty, that there will be other walls for them: walls of fire and walls of prisons and camps. The Galut is one huge wall for the Jew – though he refuses to see it.
If one comes to the Wall late, very late at night and listens carefully, very carefully, he can hear the Wall. It weeps softly to itself and says: "Woe unto my people for their humiliation of the Land…" And it seems to me that the Wall would prefer that those who say goodbye to it, would not bid it hello.
ADDITIONAL NOTE FROM THE BLOGGER: I thought it was ironic, knowing that I was planning to post this material today, that I heard this afternoon about someone saying "goodbye" to the Kotel before leaving Eretz Yisrael immediately after Tisha b'Av. Maybe I'm the crazy one, but it feels like a punch to my stomach whenever I hear of any Jew leaving, and especially so if they've been here for ten years already. Then, adding insult to injury, I was told that the people had always planned to leave. So much so, that they kept two-day yomtov the entire time they were here. I'd never even heard of such a thing and I'm sorry that now I have. For this we cry on Tisha b'Av.
REMINDER: It’s a mitzvah to diminish our joy during these days. According to the wisdom of King Solomon, there is a time and a place for everything under the sun. For our purposes, there is a time for joy and a time for sadness. It is highly inappropriate to be bouncing with happiness right now. If good news comes your way, please keep a lid on it until after Tisha b’Av. Thanks!
I write from the Holy City of Yerushalayim.
When we arrived here, my wife walked into the kitchen. Peering over the edge of the window was a little head. A "yona" (dove)! On the ledge was a nest with two eggs. For the first time in our lives we would be able to perform the mitzvah of shiluach hakan (sending the mother bird away from the nest before taking the eggs)!
You may remember our driver, Yosef "ha Tzaddik," from a previous column. Yosef had just told us how, only a few hours earlier, he had driven a client to Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky in Bnai Brak. Rabbi Kanievsky had been speaking to someone with terrible problems. He asked his visitor, "Have you ever performed the mitzvah of shiluach hakan? No? Then you must try to do it as soon as possible."
Now, a few hours later, a nest with two eggs was outside our window!
A few weeks ago, we read in Parshas Chukas about the mitzvah of the Para Adumah (the Red Heifer). Shiluach hakan is also extremely difficult to understand. Why did Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky feel it vital for the man with problems to perform the mitzvah of shiluach hakan? And why should it, along with "honoring father and mother," be one of two mitzvos whose reward is "that it will be good for you and you will prolong your days." (Dvarim 22:7)
In a sefer called "Shiluach hakan" (Rabbi Naftali Weinberger, Feldheim, 2006), the author quotes Tikkunai Zohar (Ch. 6): "When a person sends a mother bird away from her nest, she is so distraught that she wishes to drown herself in the ocean [and in fact occasionally does so, according to the Gra]. During her flight, she laments the loss of her nest and grieves over her offspring. As a result of her great anguish, the angel designated to represent the birds asks Hashem: 'Does it not state in Tehillim, 'His compassion is on all of His creations?' Why did You command man to send the mother bird away from her nest?'
"Upon hearing the angel's supplication, Hashem gathers the Heavenly Legions and declares, 'This angel is concerned for the welfare of a bird and complains of its suffering. Why then do none of you care to take up the cause of My chosen nation, Israel? Why are you not similarly distressed by the fact that the Shechinah (the Presence of G-d), which has its dwelling in the Holy Temple, has been sent away and exiled from its domicile? And why do you not petition Me on behalf of My exiled children, the Children of Israel, who are neglected and abused by the pagan nations?
"Hashem then directs His compassion towards the Children of Israel and immediately bestows upon them beneficial decrees, particularly in assistance of the downtrodden and poor. He also proceeds to forgive His children for many of their sins and iniquities. Hashem then proclaims: 'Praiseworthy is the person who fulfills the mitzvah of shiluach hakan, for he causes additional mercy to descend upon the world.'"
But why is an act of apparent cruelty (see comments of the Gra on pages 40-42 of "Shiluach Hakan") needed to arouse the mercies of Hashem?
The nations are now formulating their plans to encircle the Children of Israel on all sides. For many years, Israel has been surrounded on three sides by enemies, but now they threaten us from the sea as well. This is a sign for all of us; indeed every one of us is surrounded on all sides by enemies. How will we survive?
Let us consider shiluach hakan. What actually happens? According to the view stated above, the mother bird can be compared to the Shechina, the nest to the Holy Temple and the eggs to the Children of Israel, who are left vulnerable and unprotected when the Shechina flies away.
Our nest used to be in the Holy Temple! We dwelt there, protected and enveloped in invincible security. And then, we fled from the security of the Holy Temple. "Because of our sins, we have been exiled from our land and sent far from our soil." (Yom Tov Mussaf) The Shechina flew away and we were left alone, vulnerable to our enemies, completely unprotected.
Who suffers most when we are in Exile?
When a Jewish boy has a bris milah, does he suffer? Yes, but his comprehension is primitive. Who suffers most? The parents! The new mommy cries tears of anguish! The father trembles! The sensitive guests shed tears of compassion!
Who suffers most when the eggs are taken from the nest?
"When a person sends a mother bird away from her nest, she is so distraught that she wishes to drown herself in the ocean [and in fact occasionally does so, according to the Gra]. During her flight, she laments the loss of her nest and grieves over her offspring."
The mother bird suffers!
Who suffers most when we are in Exile?
The Shechina suffers! Hashem is weeping for His beloved children!
This could be the reason why this incredibly profound mitzvah of shiluach hakan is so powerful in arousing Divine compassion on behalf of Klal Yisroel. The Shechina "remembers" how it once dwelt in the Holy Temple with the beloved children, how they were protected and nurtured, how they grew to become so beautiful in their upward flight on wings of Torah! The Shechina cries bitter tears of anguish, lamenting over the beautiful children!
"A voice was heard on high, wailing, bitter weeping. Rachel weeps for her children, she refuses to be consoled for her children, for they are gone." (Haftaras Rosh Hashana II, Yirmiah 31:14)
And the Al-Mighty responds: "Restrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your accomplishment - the word of Hashem - and they shall return from the enemy's land. There is hope for you ultimately - the words of Hashem - and your children shall return to their border."
Now is the time for weeping.
My friends, does it not seem that the signs are clear, that the "ultimate" days are near, the days of which Hashem says, "I will surely take pity on [them]." (Yirmiah 31:19)?
No matter how often the bird on our window ledge was driven away, she returned to her nest! So will it be with us! The Shechina will return and save the beloved children! We will once again live in security and soar on wings of Torah. But this time we will have learned! We will never again leave our beautiful home! As King David says, "He will deliver you from the snare that entraps, from pestilence that is devastating. With His wings He will cover you and beneath His wings you will be protected!" (Tehillim 91)
May He soon dry all our tears and bring the day that is All Good!
May we soon experience the ultimate comfort of all---the revelation of the complete redemption speedily in our days. Amen!