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Struggeling out of the deep well

Het gebed van een Tsaddik (Een lang, maar zeer lezenswaardig verhaal)

Acceptance of the Oral Tradition

Sanhedrin Establishes Council to Teach Humanity 'Laws of Noah'

The centrality of Israel

Omtrent de essentie van Jeruzalem

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Dagelijks (behalve op Shabbat) nieuwsbullettin op


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(dagelijkse behandeling van halachische vragen die voorgelegd worden aan

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What Really Happened in the Middle East - 10-minute flash video Bron: Naomi Ragen / Margalith Bijleveld


An excellent presentation of the real history and background of the Arab- Israeli conflict, minus Arab propaganda lies.

Too bad all the brilliant members of the University lecturers union in Britain didn't air this to its membership before embarrassing itself with its moronic vote to consider boycotting Israeli universities.  A dose of truth that should be taken by everyone.  Make sure your teenagers see it, and
your leftist friends. In fact, it's a good reminder to everyone just what happened here, and what continues to happen. Congratulations to the Horowitz Freedom Center for a job well done.  

To watch:

Naomi Ragen




THIS LAND IS OUR LAND  by Arieh Eldad    bron: Moshe Kempinski ( )


Hebron and Beit El, not Tel Aviv, inspired int'l community to support Jewish rights in Israel


Arieh Eldad YNET 13 June 2006


If a Martian were to come down to Earth and have the bad luck to land in the Middle East, there is little doubt he would look around at the Jews and Arabs fighting over the Land of Israel and suggest they share it.Martians don't know about history and don't care about the future. They probably just want to go home, and so the solutions they propose are divorced from past and future alike.


But for someone who has lived here his whole life, for someone whose fathers and forefathers were born here and who hopes that his descendants will be, too, we know that disengaging from the past and the future also means disengaging from reality.


We cannot discuss solutions to the Jewish - Arab conflict in the Land of Israel without recognizing the past and answering basic questions about rights over this sliver of land. We must understand the forces and aspirations driving the nationalist movements fighting over it in order to scratch out a solution that could one day, possibly, be implemented.


Divine rights


The source of the Jewish people's right to this land is God's promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, repeated to Moses and from Moses to Joshua. Joshua subsequently conquered the land, and all Jewish leaders since - judges, kings, rebels, true and false messiahs, rabbis and Torah scholars,

Zionist and spiritual leaders - have guided the Jewish people for thousands of years in light of this promise.


Even "non religious" leaders such as Zionism visionary Theodor Herzl understood that this was the faith of Israel, and that this spirit inspired millions of Jews, for thousands of years, in Israel and abroad,

to cling to their homeland, to dream about it and to pray thrice daily to return to it. It is what drove people to make every attempt to get to Israel, despite the hardships.


Power of history


The power of faith became the power of history. Faith becomes fact when driven by the actions of millions of people. This is how many people have come to claim the Jewish people's "historic right" to the Land of Israel, despite the fact that they do not believe in God or are unwilling to rely on His promises.


More than that: Aren't Israeli Jews who reject their divine or historic right to be here - aren't they really thieves, imperialists, colonialists? Haven't they stolen land that doesn't belong to them?


The Jewish people and its history, as well as its history of monotheism, are well described in the Torah. This book also forms the basis for Christianity and Islam. Its words are what drove the League of Nations to charge Great Britain with a mandate over the Land of Israel, in order to create a national home for the Jewish people.


It wasn't the 20th century creation called Tel Aviv that inspired the world to recognize the Jewish rights to the entire Land of Israel, including both banks of the Jordan River. Rather, it was Jerusalem and

Hebron and Bethlehem and Beit El.


No Palestinian nation


At that time, no one, including the Arabs, claimed a national right to this land. There was never an independent Arab country in Israel. Arabs viewed themselves as part of the wider Arab nation, part of an empire based in Iraq, Syria, Turkey or Egypt. They never revolted against their Arab rulers, because they never considered themselves a separate nation deserving of independence.


Here in Palestine, the Arab population never created any of the  distinguishing marks of a nation: not political independence or a national language or a unique culture or religion.


Concessions for peace


Many of us say today: We believe that Jews have rights to the entire Land of Israel, but "reality" forces us to make concessions. They believe that foregoing our rights to live in Hebron and Beit El and Nablus will bring peace. They apparently can't see that they are pulling the rug out from any claim of rights over this land - moral, historical or legal.


In addition, their proposals only push peace further away. Throughout the long years of Muslim imperial occupation, no territorial compromise has ever advanced the cause of peace. A woman who would propose chopping a living baby in half is in effect testifying that she is not the baby's mother.


There is no nation on Earth that would volunteer to forego its rights to half its homeland, unless they came to that country from the Diaspora but never managed to get the Diaspora mentality out of their hearts. These people have failed to internalize a sense that the Jewish people living in Israel is a natural state of affairs, and to relate to this country the way a Frenchman relates to France or an Italian relates to Italy.


Rightful rulers or 'occupiers'?


Rights cannot be divided. In the national struggle over the Land of Israel, the more willing we have been to compromise over the land of Israel -under a guise of seeking peace - while at the same time defending ourselves against external Arab enemies and Arab terror from within – the more we have become "occupiers" in they eyes of the world.


A nation that does not feel itself to be the rightful owner of this land will eventually be kicked out of it like a cruel occupier. Only if we renew our belief that we are completely entitled to the Land of Israel, if

we openly declare any Arab sovereignty in the Land of Israel as a foreign occupation that must be fought and expelled - only then can we expect to have peace.


As long as the Arabs sense that the Jews are slowly losing their belief that justice lies with them, they will continue to try to destroy the State of Israel and to evict us from this land.


Therefore, debate on this matter mustn't be anchored in some "existential" present, nor in a past that would make everything here seem absurd. Rather, it must be based on the future. A large part of the Jewish people were murdered in exile, and many more are rapidly disappearing. Only in Israel can the Jewish people become stronger. In the name of the future of our people, we must renew our  knowledge of our rights to be here. We must know that we are right.


This land is ours.


Professor Arieh Eldad is a Knesset Member for the National Union-National Religious Party





I received a call this week that reminded me of an old story.

They tell of an old, almost ancient, donkey that fell into an unused dried up well. The well was very deep and the donkey could not make its way out of the darkened prison. The donkey began an incessant braying until his owner the farmer came to see what the noise was about. He looked down and saw his donkey and then shook his head. The well was much too deep and, as it was, the donkey was very old. He called together some of his friends and they began to shovel garbage into the well. This would serve to end the misery of the donkey, bury it and fill up the dangerous well all at the same time.

The donkey began to bray even louder and then after a short period of time, it became silent.

 After another little while the farmer looked into the well and he was shocked to see the donkey standing defiantly on his four legs. As the garbage would land on its back it would shake it off and then use its hoofs to pack down the earth below it. Slowly but surely the distance to the top of the well was becoming smaller. Very quickly   the donkey was able to hop up and out into freedom.

The lesson to be learned was not to wallow in self pity and crying out as garbage is being flung unto you. Shake the garbage off your back, stomp it down and continue to reach for higher ground.

I received a call from a woman, one of the expelled refugees from Gush Katif. She has been instrumental during these last months, being the liaison between our Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof and the expelled families in the hotels. She has funneled help to and expressed the needs of hundreds of families in distress. She did this while holding together her large family in the midst of the uncertainty prevailing in their own personal lives.

Yet the call had nothing to do with all the uncertainty around her own life nor the needs of the expelled communities. The call was about organizing families and people around the coming election and help bring about the downfall of Olmert's Kadima party. As overwhelmed as she may have been, she felt an urgent call to try to prevent the pain and sorrow that they had experience from being inflicted on other families in Judea and Samaria. A valiant Jewish mother was feeling an unselfish need to ignore the garbage that had been flung her way and to continue the struggle to maintain the Destiny of the Jewish people.

Several years ago I met a young man from Italy that had decided to convert to Judaism. After years of searching and questioning he ended up at the office of one of the well known Rabbis in Jerusalem. After this young man unfolded his life history and personal voyage, he described his love for G-d and his passion for Torah. He then recounted the questions and challenges he explored and resolved. The Rabbi remained silent.

Finally the rabbi raised his eyes and looked at the young man and gently asked, "but do you love the Jewish people?'. The young man, a little flustered said, 'Rabbi I explained my love for G-d and for His word.". The rabbi responded," you don't have to be Jewish to love G-d, but you have to love the Jewish people to truly live as a Jew".

We are a people in the midst of great turmoil and division. We have witnessed much pain inflicted by one brother on another. There are implications to such actions. There is justice that must be seen to its complete resolution. Yet we need to not lose faith in this, our people. We need to find ways as difficult as it may seem to reach out to each other on the higher levels rather than remained mired in the lower levels we have succumbed to. We need to continue to share , influence and impress each other with passion truth and idealism. We cannot be lured into the bland enticing trap sometimes called realpolitik or pragmatism. Passionless wishful thinking is neither real nor pragmatic. We need to shake off the garbage off our backs and strive higher.

 We need to do that because we have no choice. The peoples and nations of this world all formed together out of circumstance or need.

The Jewish people were brought together by Divine destiny.

 We have no choice but to build the bridges and elevate a nation stained by the vicious violence of Amona and the criminal negligence surrounding the expulsion from Gush Katif.

 We need to that because we have no choice.


moshe kempinski (





Een lang, maar zeer lezenswaardig verhaal wat ik las op:

by Tzvi Fishman February 21, 2006

It is
eleven o’clock, Thursday night in Bat Yam, and the Rebbe Meir Baal HaNess Synagogue is already packed with five hundred people awaiting the arrival of the righteous Tzaddik. Upstairs, the women’s section is full. It is the middle of Shovavim, and there is a tangible electricity in the air. At exactly eleven-thirty, the kabbalist, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi, arrives with a surrounding wall of students. With his head lowered humbly toward the ground and his hands clasped before him, the Rabbi makes his way through the crowd to the stage set up in front of the ark, where rabbis and other elderly kabbalists stand waiting to greet him. I rise along with the others, not as a curious journalist, but as a student of Rabbi Leon.

The Rabbi motions for the crowd to sit down. The music stops. “Please make room,” his powerful voice calls out over the loudspeaker. In his youth, he served as cantor in the Great Synagogue in Tel Aviv, yet the strength and beauty of his voice hasn’t waned. “More people will be coming from
Judea, Samaria and Hevron. Hurry. There isn’t time to waste.”

With the holy cry of the nighttime Shema Yisrael, the all-night tikun (rectification) is underway. The letters of Shovavim are the initial letters of the weekly Torah portions in the book of Exodus from Shmot to Mishpatim. Ever since
Mount Sinai, the period of the year has been considered a special time for Tikun HaBrit - a time to attain forgiveness for sexual sins.

In the book, “Orot HaKodesh,” (Part 3, Pg. 296) Rabbi Avraham Yitzkah HaCohen Kook writes that all of the world’s most moral treasures are hidden in the exalted aspiration toward sexual purity contained in the prayers of Shovavim. During the evening, Rabbi
Leon will explain the profound esoteric significance of sexual holiness to each individual Jew, and to the Jewish People at this important stage of redemption. The gathering will continue all night.

Leon announces that it is time for Tikun Hatzot – (the Midnight rectification). Everyone somehow manages to find a place on the floor. After a few moving words from the Rabbi on the destruction of the Temple and the pain of the exiled Shekinah (Divine Presence), he cries out the opening verses of the first part of the Midnight rectification - Tikun Rachel. His piercing lament stirs the hearts of everyone present, and a unified cry rises from the congregation like a column of incense, shattering the barrier between the Jewish People and Heaven. For an hour, the tears and lamentations continue. Then comes part two of the Midnight prayer - Tikun Leah. Reaching the verse, “Open the gates...” the Rabbi rises to his feet, and everyone with him, to sing and dance with a thundering roar in honor of the Shekinah. The singing goes on for half an hour. Hitherto strangers now sway arm-in-arm like the closest of friends. At that indescribable moment, all of the Jewish people are one.

And the evening is only beginning. There will be more Torah learning, plenty of food, a trip to the mikvah (ritual bath) at three in the morning, and the climaxing Tikun HaYesod authored by the Ben Eish Chai with the
Ark open, shofars blaring, and all of the congregation on its feet. It is a spiritual experience not to be forgotten. And in the morning, after the vatikin prayer, one’s head is crystal clear, like the burst of the first sunlight after a long winter’s rain.

Leon has led similar all-night vigils for the past five weeks. This coming Thursday night, February 23, 2006 the final Shovavim prayers will be held at the Kotel, where thousands will gather to rise to the supreme heights of tshuva and to bathe in its cleansing light.

Four years ago during the Sukkot [Feast of Tabernacles] holiday, I was in my house getting things ready to set off on a family outing, when my son telephoned from our sukkah downstairs in the parking lot.

“There is a rabbi here with 30 students,” he said. “They want to know if they can use our sukkah.”

That’s interesting, I thought. Out of the tens of thousands of sukkot in
Jerusalem, a rabbi and 30 students suddenly appear out of the sky like a spaceship and land in our parking lot. Ever since becoming a baal tshuva (returnee to being religious) in Hollywood in a rather miraculous way, I always kept an eye out for heavenly signs and wonders.

“Invite them,” I told my son, wondering what HaKodesh Baruch Hu [G-d, literally, The Holy One, Blessed Be He] had in mind for me now.

“The rabbi wants to talk with you,” he said.

After a moment, a rich sefardic accent sounded over the cell phone, followed by a river of blessings. The truth is, the Hebrew came out so fast, I had trouble understanding every word. The startling thing was that each blessing was like a ballistic missile targeted for precisely my life, my problems, and my ups and downs in serving Hashem [G-d], as if the rabbi was looking through a window into our house.

After packing a few final things for our holiday trip, I hurried downstairs to our sukkah. The seventy-year old rabbi was standing in the parking lot of the building, slicing up tomatoes on a fold-up table that his students had brought. The first thing I noticed was the big white kippah [skullcap] which completely covered his head. The next thing was the glow of holiness which radiated from his face and white beard. Draped over his white shirt was a large tallit katan [biblical fringed garment]. While he sliced the tomatoes, he gave orders to his obviously well-trained team of students, like an army officer commanding his troops. They had removed my table and chairs from the sukkah and had set up tables and benches of their own. Already laid out on the table were a wide assortment of salads, juices, pita bread, and fruits.

My thirteen-year old son came over to me with an amazed expression on his face. As the son of a baal tshuva from
Hollywood, he was used to all kinds of people showing up at our house for a visit, but this surrealistic scene was a first.

“Maybe it’s the prophet, Elijah HaNavi,” he said.

Seeing me, the rabbi repeated his blessings and continued on with his work, adding a variety of spices to the large bowl of salad before him. Many of the students, Jews of Mideastern descent in their thirties and forties, wore large white kippahs like the rabbi. Here and there, an Ashkenazi face stood out in the crowd. One of them, the driver of their mini-bus, dressed in the holiday garb of a Hasid, came over to me and told me the rabbi’s name, Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi, shlita, from Bnei Brak. I remembered having seen him a few times at the Kotel, always surrounded by followers and fervently engaged in prayer.

Earlier that morning, they had been at the Kotel for the priestly blessing of the kohanim. Their plan had been to eat a festive breakfast in our Kiryat Moshe neighborhood before returning to Bnei Brak. But when they arrived, the synagogue sukkah they had intended to use proved to be much too small for the group. Scouting the area, they came upon our parking lot and our ample size sukkah.

A verse of the Hallel prayer rang in my ears, “This is Hashem’s doing; it is wondrous in our eyes.”

That year, I had brought my parents on Aliyah to
Israel from Florida when my mother was stricken with the first symptoms of Alzheimers Disease. My father, who had several serious medical problems of his own, could not cope with her alone in America, so, with my wife’s permission, they moved in with us in Shilo. Because of their frequent medical needs, and the Melabev, English-speaking Alzheimers group which met 3 times a week in Jerusalem, we decided to move to Kiriat Moshe, where we were fortunate to find a building with two vacant apartments.

Without a second thought, I hurried upstairs to bring my parents down for a blessing from the rabbi.

By the time I could get them organized, the rabbi was sitting in the sukkah with his students. Slowly, I led my parents over. We stood outside the sukkah about ten meters away. The rabbi looked up and immediately, without even studying them, stated their medical problems, as if reading straight from a detailed medical report.

“Your mother’s head is not working as it should,” he said. “She is very confused, forgets things, becomes suddenly irritated and has frequent bursts of uncontrollable anger. Her overall blood circulation is poor and she suffers from pains in her upper back.”

My son stared at me in amazement. I too was dumbfounded. The rabbi had described her situation exactly.

“Your father is depressed and extremely nervous,” he continued. “He worries over every small thing. The arteries in his neck are clogging, but he needn’t worry about that. He needs to get more fresh air, that’s all, and take him to the shopping mall where he can see lots of people in order to cheer him up.”

According to his latest ultrasound, one artery in Dad’s neck was already blocked, and the other closure was 75%. I asked if there was something more I could do to help them.

“Bring your mother to me in Bnei Brak,” he said. “Once the problem has reached the head, it is hard to influence the
Heavenly Court, but perhaps it is possible with G-d’s help to ease the pains in her back.”

Years before, major surgery had left my mother with constant pain in her back. Plus, she had terrible arthritis. I had taken her to a gamut of doctors, chiropractors, reflexologists, and the like, but nothing had eased her suffering.


One of the students gave me a phone number to call to reserve a slot for Mom on the rabbi’s day of visiting hours in Bnei Brak. Like a dutiful son, I made the appointment. But because of my father’s nervousness, he rejected the idea out of hand. So as not to waste the opportunity, I suggested to my wife that we go instead with one of our children who made hyperactive children look like they were standing still. If G-d hadn’t sent the rabbi to us to help with my parents, then surely it was to help with our son.

Leon sees people on Thurdays at his synagogue in Bnei Brak. By the time we arrived, the waiting room was already full. Each week, scores of people call for appointments, but only 12 are accepted, so that the rabbi can spend the time needed with each person in order to help raise him up out of his dilemma, spiritual darkness, or pain. Sometimes a one-on-one meeting with the rabbi is a half hour, sometimes an hour, often even two.

When our turn came, we sat down facing the rabbi who was absorbed in a book of Psalms. Beyond his study, the synagogue was stunningly lit with brilliant chandeliers. After several minutes, the rabbi looked up and nodded with a very serious expression, not with the radiant smile that had warmed my heart on the sukkot holiday. I explained that since my father was apprehensive about coming, we had come with our son. Being the father of 14, including five Torah scholars, the rabbi certainly had experience with children.

The rabbi told the boy to take a book and go study in the synagogue. When he was out of hearing range, he said, “The problem isn’t with the boy – it is with the parents. A child is merely the extension of the parents. When the parents fix themselves, the problem of the child will vanish.”

“Uh oh,” I thought, certain that the rabbi was going to turn his x-ray vision on me. But instead, he started speaking about problems of the circulation system. Gently, without mentioning any wrongdoing, he led us to understand that transgressions, and improper character traits like anger and depression, affect the nefesh (soul), and the nefesh effects the blood, and the blood circulates to all of the organs of the body, eventually causing a disorder in the region that corresponds to the transgression or faulty attribute. I remembered studying about this relationship in the book Shaare Kedusha, but I never had the knowledge to apply it in a practical way. In a similar fashion, the Rabbi said, emotions like anger and nervousness in the home can have a devastating effect on the children.

“There have been mistakes,” he inferred in a general way.

He gave us a diet that would revitalize our blood and suggested some other very down-to-earth advice. Then for the next fifteen minutes he spoke about pride, about how poisonous it was in serving G-d, causing the Divine Presence to flee from a person and leave him in spiritual darkness.

“Wow, did you get it on the head,” I said to my wife when we left.

“Me?” she responded. “Everything he said about pride, he was talking about you!”

“Me?” I responded in amazement.

How ridiculous could you get? Everyone knew that I was the famous baal tshuva from
Hollywood who had rejected fame and riches for G-d. Who was more humble than me?

True, I had learned a lot of things in yeshiva, but very little about making a married life work and bringing up children. And like every new immigrant, I had my share of frustrations in beginning a new life in
Israel. The arrival of my parents had exacerbated things a hundred times over. Often I felt like an actor in a movie about a man who had two wives, running back and forth between my sick mother and wife, trying to keep everyone happy. Add my father’s nervousness, and a super hyper son. Under the emotional burden, one of my vertebrae moved out of place, and I was paralyzed with pain. It wasn’t long before I had sunk into a period of depression and despair.

But it wasn’t until reading the booklet that Rabbi Leon gave me, that it hit me. There was an essay on anger, an essay on the sanctity of marriage relations, an essay on repentance. The main part of the booklet was the “Tikun HaYesod Yeshuat Eliahu,” an arrangement of 13 Psalms chosen by the rabbi, followed by a long confession designed to inspire a person to a new level of sexual purity, known as shmirat habrit. Along with many insights based on the secrets of Torah, the essence of the tikun [rectification] was “Sanctify yourself in what is permitted to you.”

The following Thursday morning, I returned to Bnei Brak with a list of questions for the rabbi. Once again the waiting room was filled with people. The rabbi nodded when I entered the synagogue, and continued on with his prayers. I sat down near his desk, waiting for an opportunity to ask my questions. After a while I realized that without an official place on the list, I wouldn’t be permitted to talk with the rabbi. But no one asked to me leave, so I sat there as inconspicuously as possible, happy to be in his presence and the special atmosphere of holiness that surrounds him.

Suddenly, a man burst into the study area followed by a woman in what I guessed was her ninth month of pregnancy. The hysterical husband held up an x-ray and shouted, “They want to operate! They want to operate!”

“Of course they want to operate,” the rabbi said calmly. “Your wife has a massive growth in her stomach.”

She wasn’t pregnant, I realized. Her over-swollen belly was the result of a malignancy.

“They want to operate on Tuesday,” the husband shouted. “Here’s the x-ray. Here’s the x-ray!”

“What do you expect?” the rabbi told him. “You don’t keep the the laws of family purity.”

Suddenly, the husband was silent.

“And you are violent with your wife, demanding your way, without thinking about what she wants, or maybe I am wrong?”

The man looked as if he wanted to disappear under the table.

“Those are very big sins,” the rabbi said. “Do you regret them?”

“Yes,” the man said meekly.

“Do you promise that from now on you will keep the laws of family purity and be considerate of your wife?”

“Yes,” the man repeated.

Leon turned to the woman. “The growth in your belly is your anger at your husband. But you have to realize that he never learned otherwise. He doesn’t mean wrong. He’s a high tempered person. He doesn’t know any better. But now he will change. Can you forgive him?”

The woman nodded, yes.

“Give your belly a hit,” the rabbi told her.

Gently, she tapped on her stomach.

“Harder!” the rabbi said.

Again, she tapped on her belly.

“Harder!” the rabbi commanded.

This time she gave her belly a punch. Like a punctured beach ball that loses its air, the big round swelling in her stomach simply disappeared. I was sitting no more than a few feet away. Right before my eyes, the swelling shrunk and vanished. The woman burst into tears. Once again, the husband started shouting in utter disbelief, “But I have the x-ray! I have the x-ray!”

“You can throw the x-ray in the garbage,” the rabbi told him. “It’s over. It’s gone. Your wife is healthy again.”

“But the operation. The appointment is next week,” the dazed husband muttered. “What will I tell the doctor?”

“You won’t have to tell him. He will see for himself.”

Then Rabbi
Leon turned to the woman, who was still weeping in shock. “Why are you crying?” he asked. “You should be happy. HaKodesh Baruch Hu has done a miracle for you.”

When I started on the road of repentance in
Hollywood, HaKodesh Baruch Hu had done a similar miracle for me. Through lots of tshuva [penitence] and prayer, without any medicine, an illness that had plagued me for years disappeared. So I wasn’t surprised by what I had witnessed. As Rabbi Leon teaches, the verse says, “Return in penitence and be healed.” HaKodesh Baruch Hu can do everything. The secret is tshuva.


I left that day without being able to ask the rabbi my questions. On the way out, I overheard his secretary telling someone on the telephone that the rabbi had decided to travel up north with his students in order to pray for rain. Seizing the opportunity, I asked him if I could come. He told me that he would ask the rabbi and call me with his answer.

To remind the reader, four years ago there was a very serious drought in
Israel. The water level of the Sea of Galillee was dangerously low. There was serious talk of purchasing water from Turkey. So I was very excited when later that evening I received a call saying that the rabbi agreed that I come along

The following week a long caravan of cars set out from the yeshiva. The rabbi had requested that everyone recite the entire Book of Psalms on the drive up north, so there was no time for small talk. Our destination was a secluded wooded glade called “Maayan Baruch,” just outside the city of
Kiryat Shemonah.

At the end of the long drive, a bumpy dirt road led us to a picnic area in a forest of towering eucalyptus trees. The rabbi had arrived ahead of the group to organize the makeshift camp. It was a beautiful sunny day at the beginning of November. Like my first view of the rabbi outside of my sukkah, he had taken off his hat and black overcoat, and with his big white kippah and flowing tallit katan, he looked like the Baal Shem Tov himself. Just as before, he was preparing a gigantic salad. When the minibus arrived with crates of food and tables, the rabbi took charge of the operation, where to put the tables, where to wash the fruit, who would study the Zohar [The basic work of the Kabbalah] and who would recite psalms.

One of the things which characterizes Rabbi
Leon is his energy. For his age, he moves about with extraordinary quickness, far surpassing his students. In years past, they would leave the yeshiva in Bnei Brak at least once a week to travel to a different location throughout the country to do a tikun in a large tent that the rabbi had specially designed for their outings. Even today, Rabbi Leon makes the trip to the Kotel at least three times a week. His students say that he sleeps no more than two hours a night, if at all. His nights are filled with study and prayer, like in the days of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his disciples.

In a short time, tables were laden with a kingly feast for the seventy people present. The rabbi told us to make our blessings over the food out loud so that everyone could answer “Amen.” After completing the Tehillim and the readings from the Zohar, the rabbi told everyone to wash hands for the meal from the nearby water pipe, whose source was from the rivers of the Garden of Eden. During the meal, the rabbi gave a dvar Torah, saying that rains are held back because of transgressions to the Covenant-Brit, as explained in the Zohar, regarding the Shema:

“Those who do not guard the sign of the holy Brit [Covenant of sexual purity] cause a separation between Israel and their Father in Heaven, as is written, And you turn aside and worship other gods, and bow down to them. And afterward, it says, He shut up the heaven, so that there be no rain. For to be false to the holy Covenant is considered like bowing down to another god. But when the holy Covenant is properly guarded by mankind, HaKodesh Baruch Hu showers blessings from above down to this world.” (Zohar, Bereshit 189b)

Immediately after the meal, the rabbi had everyone stand in four lines, facing all four directions while he stood in the middle. In unison, in loud, fervent voices, everyone recited a kabbalistic prayer based on the incense service. Even before we had finished, there was the sound of distant thunder over the peaks of the Hermon. At first, we thought it might be tank fire on the
Lebanon border. The sun was still bright in the afternoon sky. The thundering grew louder as we continued to pray. The first drops of rain fell while we were packing the tables back into the minibus at the end of the tikun. On the drive back to Bnei Brak, the sky darkened, and rain poured down in gushes. Hailstones bigger than marbles rumbled atop of car roofs, shattering windshields. Four students collected insurance to compensate for the damage. To be sure, we were not the only people in Israel praying for rain at that time. But it is hard to say that the sudden rainstorm was a mere coincidence after our prayers. Plus, it wasn’t the first time that rain fell after a tikun by Rabbi Leon and his students.


In “Orot HaTechiyah,” (
Ch. 57) Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook writes that the study of the Zohar is destined to open the road to redemption. By the time he reached twenty, Eliahu Leon Levi knew large portions of the Zohar by heart.

Leon’s grandfather, the kabbalist, Rabbi Avraham Levi, grew up in the Old City near the Damascus Gate. Due to economic hardship, the family relocated to Turkey in the town of Marash. Every night, even in the ice-cold winters, Rabbi Avraham would rise from sleep at 2 o’clock, immerse in an outdoor pool, go to the synagogue to recite the Midnight Prayer (Tikun Hatzot) and learn Mishna and secrets of Torah until dawn.

At the age of 98, he left this world, passing on the crown of the inner Torah to his son, Yeshua Levi. Under his spiritual leadership, all of the Jews in the area returned to the Torah. He knew all of the Bible, the Mishna, and Tehillim by heart. He taught the children of the community in the morning, tended to his rabbinic duties during the day, slept a few hours in the evening, and studied kabbalah all through the night. Inspired by their devoted shepherd, most of the town’s inhabitants would rise at
midnight and go the synagogue to recite Tikun Hatzot together. Very often, Rabbi Yeshua would drag young Eliahu along, even when the boy begged to stay in bed, in order to accustom him to the attribute of saintliness in the service of G-d.

With a contingent of families from Marash, the
Levis returned to Israel in 1950 and settled in Tel Aviv. As if inspired by the air of Eretz Yisrael, the twelve year old Eliahu Leon started to read from the Zohar when his father wasn’t around. The energetic Torah prodigy had plenty of opportunity since his father left the house in the middle of the night to immerse in a mikveh 151 times before reciting Tikun Hatzot. Then he would continue on until midday with his learning, teaching, and prayers. As time went on, Rabbi Yeshua noticed that his volumes of Zohar were missing. Discovering them with his son, he would take them away, only to find them missing again. As the boy grew older, other books began to disappear from the bookshelf, including the teachings of the Arizal and other classics of Kabbalah. In his teenage years, the budding mystic learned at the Porat Yosef Yeshiva and later at Kfar Chabad, but he states that most of his learning came from his father.

“He taught me secrets that I haven’t revealed to this day. You can take the knowledge of all of the scientists, professors, and doctors in the world, and the Torah contains more wisdom than them all.”

For a period of six years, Eliyahu secluded himself in the house, studying Kabbalah, fasting, and reciting yichudim day and night. Finally, his father told him, “Enough. You may make an angel out of yourself, but what about Am Yisrael? Go out and teach. Go out and pray. Take the gifts G-d has given you and lift people up.”


Ever since the prayer for rain in the north, I have seen many miracles with Rabbi
Leon. One time, at the end of a nightlong tikun, a young soldier pushed his way forward through the crowd around the rabbi. One arm dangled loosely at his side. He said it had been paralyzed for half a year, and that no doctor had been able to help.

“Why did you pick up that statue of idol worship?” Rabbi
Leon asked him.

The soldier seemed stunned. As if he were dreaming, he shook his head to wake himself up.

“That was seven years ago,” he admitted. “I was on a group tour to
Spain. They took us into a church, and I picked up one of the statues.”

“HaKodesh Baruch Hu gave you seven years to do tshuva,” the rabbi said. “Now you received the penalty in your arm. Are you sorry?”

“Of course,” the young man answered. “I had no idea.”

“Good,” the rabbi told him. “With your bad arm, pick up a pretzel, say a blessing, and eat it.”

The soldier looked down at the pretzels on the table. Sadly, he shook his head. “I can’t move it,” he said.

“Yes you can. You’ve got a new arm now. You can pick up the front end of a car.”

As if concentrating his strength, the soldier looked down at his arm. When it made a move forward, he let out a sound of surprise. He reached out toward the table. A smile broke over his face. Then he grabbed a pretzel, made a loud happy blessing and ate it. Everyone clapped.

“People sometimes think that Divine Inspiration (ruach hakodesh) doesn’t exist anymore,” Rabbi
Leon explains. “That it was something only in the past. But that isn’t the case. Ruach hakodesh is always here waiting. Has HaKodesh Baruch Hu changed, G-d forbid? He is always ready to give. The problem is that people don’t prepare the proper vessel in order to receive the light.”

One time, an Ashkenazic rabbi showed up among the people during visiting hours. He sat quietly in the synagogue, watching everything that went on in the Rabbi’s study. When a woman stood up from a wheelchair and started to walk, he burst into the study and raced over to Rabbi
Leon, peering under his desk and behind his chair as if to discover some secret hidden button or magic box.

“Where is it?” he said. “Where is it? How do you do it? What do you do?”

Students tell hundreds of Rabbi
Leon stories of sterile women having babies, lame people walking, and mute people speaking. When the wife of the Baba Sali needed someone to talk to, she would come to Rabbi Leon. Every Thursday, the yeshiva on HaShomer Street is crowded with people, but because of his great humility, many people have never heard of Rabbi Leon. Another reason is that he has never aligned himself with any political party. While Knesset members and leading public figures often come to confer with him privately, he shies away from the public eye.

One time, when I suggested making a video of visiting hours, so that people could see all the miracles, he said, “If word got out what happens here, gangsters would show up with machine guns threatening to kill me if I don’t heal their mothers and brother-in-laws.”

I don’t profess to say that a miracle occurs with every blessing. Sometimes, nothing seems to happen at all. When I asked Rabbi
Leon about this, he explained. “Hashem decides not me. Everything comes from Hashem. If a person has merit, feels sincere repentance, and Hashem decides to intervene, then a miracle occurs. If a person is closed down to tshuva, then he first has to work on himself to reopen the channels of blessing that he’s damaged. Everything depends on tshuva, hard work, and merit. My blessings are nothing. Hashem does it all.”

Of course, Hashem does it all. Nevertheless, there have been many cases when visiting a comatized patient in a hospital that during the Rabbi’s blessing, the person has awoken from his sleep. Such a dramatic case occurred last month in the
Shaare Tzedek Hospital intensive care unit. Lately, Rabbi Leon has been working around the clock to put out a series of books on Tikun HaBrit [rectifying one's sexual purity] and does not make hospital calls like he used to. But when the two sons of a head of a certain Yeshiva appealed to the Rabbi, he immediately drove with them and a student to Jerusalem to pray at his bedside.

“He was attached to eighteen tubs and wires,” the student relates. “It was like pushing your way through the vines in a jungle to get to him. The Rabbi asked the doctors to lessen the anesthesia so that he could work on raising his levels. After the Rabbi prayed for three hours, all of the man’s vital signs were on the rise. We left with one of the sons to go to the Kotel where the Rabbi continued to request mercy from Heaven. While we were there, the son at the hospital called and said that all of the levels were back to normal and that his father was breathing on his own. He called in the evening to tell me that the doctors had removed all of the tubes, and that his father was sitting up in bed talking about going home for Shabbat.”


The rabbi’s unending efforts to help the Jewish People are not limited to medical problems alone. A few years ago, the Rabbi dreamt that a ship dangerous to
Israel was heading our way. The dreams of the Rabbi are no simple matter. Tzaddikim like Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, the Orh HaChaim HaKadosh, the Ben Eish Chai, and others have appeared to him with important messages. So when he awoke from the dream of the ship, he immediately alerted a high-ranking army officer whom he knew, and asked that the information be passed to the proper security channels. The Air Force sent out a reconnaissance plane. It reported back that the only naval activity was a joint Egyptian-American war exercise that Israel already knew about. The Rabbi responded that they were mistaken – there was a boat dangerous to Israel approaching from the South. Once again, the plane made a reconnaissance sweep, and sure enough, there was an unidentified ship in the Red Sea approaching the Gulf of Eilat. It was the “Karin A” on its way to smuggle a huge quantity of weapons and ammunition into Gaza.

Students and people who are fortunate to enter his inner circle also benefit from Rabbi
Leon’s unique talents in the most incredible ways. One of the Rabbi’s students, Yigal Vanazi, works in Tel Aviv for a computer software firm. One time, the company was attacked by a virus, and 180 computers shut down. For two days they struggled in vain on their own to find a solution. When a company specializing in computer viruses asked for $400,000 to fix the problem, Yigal thought of the Rabbi.

“I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me immediately,” he relates. “I called up the Rabbi and told him the problem. He instructed me to put my hand on one of the computers. After a minute, he said he saw the virus, and described it to me. Later he showed me the sketch he made in the yeshiva. It looked just like diagrams of computer viruses that I had seen with a long curving tail. Then, over the phone, he told me that he had caught the virus and locked it up in a spiritual safe. He told me to hit the “enter” key on the keyboard. Immediately, the computer lit up, along with all of the 180 computers in the building. It was amazing!”

Enemy ships, computers, cars, you name it. Once, Yankela Levine stopped by the Yeshiva to say hello to the Rabbi. He had just bought a used car from the sexton of a synagogue in Bnei Brak.

“Did he tell you that the car was in an accident and that the axle connecting the two front wheels is bent out of shape?” the Rabbi asked him.

Yankela couldn’t believe it. The sexton was as honest as could be, he said.

“Maybe so,” the Rabbi answered, “But he should reduce the sales price by three thousand shekels.”

Having known the Rabbi for many years, Yankela brought the car to a garage and put it up on a lift. Sure enough, the axle connected the tires was bent. In great embarrassment, the sexton gave him back the money he had overpaid.

And, as for me, ever since my father allowed me to bring Mom to Bnei Brak, she no longer has pains in her back.


Every Saturday night, Rabbi
Leon comes to the Kotel to recite psalms. Two years ago, at a Malave Malka celebration with students, before the Disengagement Plan from Gush Katif was announced, the Rabbi said that there was a decree in Heaven that would be every hard to cancel. “HaKodesh Baruch Hu is very displeased with the lack of sexual modesty in the Holy Land.”

“There is nothing in the world that so arouses the anger of HaKodesh Baruch Hu as the sin of transgressing the Covenant. Our hold on the
Holy Land is in danger if we don’t live our lives in a holy fashion. Sexual purity is the essence of the Covenant between Abraham and G-d. Remember what I am saying.”

A student asked what we could do. The Rabbi was solemn and pensive. “If rabbis begin to speak more about guarding the Brit, about guarding one’s eyes from gazing at forbidden things, and about the laws concerning sexual modesty, then maybe HaKodesh Baruch Hu will have mercy. It isn’t enough just to live in the
Holy Land. We have to live here in all the holiness that the Torah prescribes. That’s the whole meaning of the Brit. That message has to get out.”

This Thursday night (
Feb. 23, 2006) at the Kotel, thousands will gather for the last tikun of Shovavim. But Rabbi Leon dreams of a tikun far greater than that.

“I should be on the Internet leading a Tikun HaYesod to all of the Jews in the world,” he says. “If I could do that, then Mashiach would come tomorrow.”

Acceptance of the Oral Tradition  bron:


Rabbi David Dov Levanon

1. Introduction

2. The Eclipse of God

3. Torah Innovation

4. The Jews Observed It and Accepted It



The Gemara relates (Shabbat 88b):

"'They stood at the bottom of the mountain' (Exodus 19:17). R' Avdimi bar Chamma bar Chassa said: This teaches us that the Almighty suspended the mountain above them like an inverted cask and said, 'If you accept the Torah, fine; if not, here will be your grave.'

"R' Acha bar Yaakov said: This [explanation of yours] makes for a good case against the Torah."

"Rabba said: Nonetheless, they reaffirmed their acceptance of it in the days of Ahashverosh, as it is written (Ester 9:27), 'The Jews observed it and accepted it upon themselves' - i.e., they observed that which they had already accepted."


On the words "a good case" Rashi comments, "Were they called to appear before the court to explain why they did not fulfill that which they had taken upon themselves, they could answer that they received it under duress."


Commentators (Tosefot ad loc., and others) raise the question, why did God have to coerce the Children of Israel into receiving the Torah? After all, they had already expressed their willingness to accept the Torah when they went so far as to exclaim, "We will uphold it and we will hear it!" - a statement more befitting the ministering angels than man. Indeed, owing to this willingness, they merited two crowns - one representing "we will uphold it" and another representing "we will hear it."


It is likewise difficult to understand why the Israelites should have been subject to divine punishment (viz., the Destruction of the Holy Temple) prior to the time of Achashverosh if they had never received Torah of their own volition.


Authorities have offered scores of answers to these questions. The earliest among them is from Midrash Tanchuma (Noach 3):

"God made a covenant with the nation of Israel regarding the Oral Torah alone, as it is written, 'For "al pi" (according to) these words have I made a covenant with you' (Exodus 34), and the Sages remark that God did not write in the Torah '"lemaan" (for the sake of) these words,' or '"baavur" (for) these words,' or '"biglal (because of) these words,' but rather '"al pi" (according to; lit., "on the mouth of") these words' which is none other than the Oral Torah which is difficult to learn and involves great hardship, and it is likened to darkness.


"It is thus written, 'The nation which walked in darkness saw a great light' (Isaiah 9:1) - these are the scholars of Oral Torah who saw a great light. For the Almighty illuminates their eyes in matters of prohibition and dispensation, pure and impure...and the nation of Israel did not agree to receive the Torah until the Almighty suspended the mountain above them like an inverted cask, as it says, 'They stood at the bottom of the mountain' (Exodus 19:17), and R' Dimi bar Hamah said: The Almighty said to the nation of Israel, 'If you accept the Torah, fine; if not, here will be your grave.'


"And if you should contest, saying, it was concerning the Written Torah that the Almighty suspended the mountain above them like an inverted cask, [think again,] for at the moment that He asked them if they are willing to receive the Torah, all of them answered, saying, 'We will uphold it and we will hear it!' for it involves no toil or hardship, and it is not so extensive.


"Rather, it was regarding the Oral Torah [that He he threatened them], for it involves many fine details of both major and minor commandments and it is as powerful as death...for only he who loves the Almighty with all of his heart and all of his soul and all of his might is willing to study it, as it is written, 'Love God your Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might' (Deuteronomy 6:5).


"And whence do you learn that such love is none other than the study of the Oral Torah? Just look at what follows it: 'These words which I am commanding you today must remain on your heart,' and what is that? That is Torah study which is on the heart, i.e., 'Teach them to your children' refers to study of the Oral Torah which needs to be memorized. This teaches you that the first paragraph of the 'Shema' is not to be understood as referring to the reward received in this world, as is the case in the second paragraph...which refers to the giving of reward to those who are busy with the Written Torah, not with the Oral Torah.


"And in this second paragraph it is written, 'with all or your heart and all of your soul,' but it is not written 'with all of your might. This teaches that whoever loves riches and pleasure cannot study the Oral Torah for it involves great hardship and lack of sleep, and there are those that wear themselves out and collapse as a result of it, and therefore its reward comes in the world to come, as it is written, 'The nation which walked in darkness saw a great light.' 'A great light' refers to that light which was created on the first day of creation and was stored away by the Almighty for those who labor over the Oral Torah day and night, for through their merit the world continues to exist..."


Let us consider a number of questions in light of the above. Where does Scripture indicate that the Israelites were coerced into accepting the Oral Tradition, which is acquired via toil? How was this rectified in the days of Achashverosh? Maharal (in "Or Chadash") posits that the reaffirmation of Torah in the days of Achashverosh was because the Jews introduced a new holiday, instituting the reading of the Scroll of Ester and other practices for all generations. Here, then, is proof that they took upon themselves the Oral Tradition, for they introduced new laws through the Sages, and this was due to the power and uniqueness of the Torah. Yet, were these steps fraught with the "labor of Torah"?


In order to answer these questions, let us begin by defining the term "Oral Tradition." According to the above Midrash, the Oral Tradition is not a body of explicit laws given on Mount Sinai, but rather comprises matters which are hidden in the Torah and which must be uncovered via toil. It is to this that Scripture refers when it tells us that "the nation which had wandered in darkness saw a great light" (Isaiah 9:1). The matters which are hidden in the Torah amount to more than a difficult deliberation in the Talmud or exposition upon the Torah's verses; they also relate to seeing God's providence at work in the world, as it is written, "Ponder the years of each generation" (Deuteronomy 32:7), and, in so doing, know "the proper action to take."


During the Sinai revelation, the Jewish people received the Torah in an explicit manner, from the mouth of the Almighty Himself. The people were, for their own part, completely passive. They saw and heard the sounds and the flames and were therefore aware only of the written Torah. Furthermore, God's manner of leading them at that time reveled the Divine presence. Everybody prophesied and saw the awesome and exalted sight. They were like children gathered around the table of their heavenly father being nourished through the manna and the waters of Miriam's well, like Adam in the Garden of Eden before the sin. And it was upon such a backdrop that they said, "We shall do and we shall hear."


At that time, however, they could not conceive of God's "absence." They could not imagine a situation wherein they would be called upon to introduce laws which presumably lacked any scriptural precedent (an act calling for toil and exertion). They could not conceive of circumstances which would call for understanding God's unrevealed providence over them, while serving him and carrying out his commandments. In such a setting, then, their acceptance of Torah was as if carried out under duress. It was as if they had accepted something of which they did not have a proper understanding. This happened later, in the days of Achashverosh, while the nation of Israel was in Exile and God appeared to be "absent." And because at this trying hour they reaffirmed their acceptance of Torah of their own volition, introducing a new holiday in honor of the miracle, they demonstrated that their acceptance of the Oral Torah was not the result of duress.


The Eclipse of God

God's providence in the days of Achashverosh was of a hidden nature, as the Talmud teaches us (Chulin 139b), "[The Book of] Ester - where is its biblical source? Answer: 'I shall surely hide ("haster astir"; this expression is based upon the same Hebrew root as the name Ester).'" One of the salient features of the Book of Ester is the fact that God's name does not appears in it. And yet, because the miracle of Purim played itself out within the confines of nature, we would have expected the Book of Ester to place special emphasis upon God's presence by including His name in the text itself. This, however is not the case.


Instead, the narrative aims at teaching us that the miracle of Purim was a doubly hidden miracle. It allows the reader of the Book of Ester to experience this hiddenness and causes him to expand upon the text and to seek out the hidden ways of God at work weaving the miracle. For this reason the Scroll of Ester, akin to the Torah, was given to be expounded upon, and it is thus written in the Jerusalem Talmud (Megila ch. 1, p. 80a):

R' Halbo R' Huna in the name of Rav: "And these days are remembered and practiced - remembered through the reading [of the Scroll of Ester] and practiced through the feast. That is, the Scroll of Ester was given to be expounded upon." R' Halbo R' Yisa in the name of R' Le'ezar: "Here it is written 'Words of peace and truth' and below it is written, 'Acquire truth and do not sell it,' and this comes to teach us that the Book of Ester is akin to the Torah: just as this (the Torah scroll) calls for ruled lines, so does that (the Scroll of Ester) call for ruled lines. Just as this was given to be expounded upon, so too was that given to be expounded upon."


Where do we find God's name alluded to in the Scroll of Ester? "The King and Haman shall come today" (The Hebrew acronym of this phrase is God's name). This comes to teach us to just what extent the Divine Presence descended in order to rest upon the feast of those two impure individuals, Achashverosh and Haman.


Likewise, the Sages of the Talmud remark (Megila 15b): "'On that night the king found it difficult to sleep.' R' Tanchum said: 'The King of the Universe found in difficult to sleep,'" for we have a rule that wherever it is written "king" in the Book of Ester, this refers to the King of the Universe. In other words, the Almighty ran the world via Achashverosh.


A similar idea is expressed in one of the Petichtot to the Book of Ester (Megila 10b): "Raba bar Ofran opened the discussion on this chapter from here: 'I will set my throne in Elam, and will destroy thence king and princes' (Jeremiah 49:38); king - that's Vashti; princes - those are Haman and his ten sons'; Elam - that's Shushan the capitol. This means that the Almighty placed his throne in Elam because Israel was there, and governed the world via the kingdom of Achashverosh."


There is another verse in the Book of Ester which alludes to the Almighty: "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and help will come to the Jews from another place..." The words "from another place" allude to the Almighty. What is interesting is that the expression "another place" which usually refers to the "dark side" (negative forces), here refers to the Almighty. This demonstrates to just what extent the Almighty revealed Himself to us at that time via crooked, seemingly happenstance ways.


The Jews of that generation were expected to ponder the events taking place. They were expected to understand that all of the hardships which had come upon them were the hand of God and to act accordingly. And, indeed, Mordecai and Ester did so. Mordecai "would not kneel and would not bow down," and Ester said, "Go, gather all of the Jews who are in Shoshan the capitol and have them fast for me..." and through their repentance they brought about salvation. This is how one looks at things through the eyes of the Torah, which calls for self-sacrifice, toil and great effort of Oral Torah.


Torah Innovation

The Talmud teaches (Megila 14b): "Twenty-eight Prophets and seven Prophetesses prophesied on behalf of Israel, yet they neither subtracted from nor added to that which is written in the Torah - with the exception of the reading of the Scroll of Ester."


This is a very novel assertion, for the reading of the Scroll of Ester is not related to any other commandment in the Torah, and the Sages of that generation toiled in order to find a source for it in the Torah, until God illuminated their eyes and they found support for it in the Scriptures.


It seems fitting to link this unique idea with a similar source in the Talmud not attributable to the Prophets. The Sages of the Talmud state (Megila 14a), "'The king took off his ring' - R' Abba bar Kahana said: The removal of the ring is greater than forty-eight Prophets and seven Prophetesses who prophesied for Israel, for none of them succeeded in causing the Jews to repent, but the removal of the ring caused the Jews to repent. And just as their repentance resulted from pangs of conscience in their heart, so did the innovative legislation which they produced rise from the depths of their hearts, for they felt the need to express thanks for the miracle. Such innovation is, by its very nature, Oral Torah.


The Jews Observed It and Accepted It

The Sages said (Shabbat 88a): "The Jews observed it and accepted it upon themselves" (Ester 9:27) - i.e., they observed that which they had already accepted. The Maharasha writes that what we have here is an allusion to the claim that "we will uphold it and we will hear it!" and, indeed, we find that the Sages of the Talmud say (Shavuot 39a), "This [declaration] only relates to the commandments which they received upon themselves at Mount Sinai. Whence do we learn regarding the commandments which will come into being in the future? We learn from that which is written, 'The Jews observed it and accepted it upon themselves' (Ester 9:27), i.e., they observed that which they had already accepted."


In other words, the Oral Torah also involved a kind of "We will uphold it and we will hear it!" acceptance. On the face of things, Oral Torah constitutes attaining an understanding of matters - a kind of "we will hear it." It would appear that in order to achieve such a level of Torah understanding one must nullify his own conceptions in favor of the word of the Creator and desire to fulfill His will. By doing this one merits illumination from above; so it was in the days of Mordecai and Ester, as the Sages say (Megila 7a), "The Book of Ester was written with divine inspiration...Shmuel is written, 'They observed it and accepted it,' [and I interpret this to mean] they observed above that which they accepted below." What the Sages meant by this is that God was satisfied above by what they had accepted upon themselves below.



Sanhedrin Establishes Council to Teach Humanity 'Laws of Noah' 


Monday, January 9, 2006 / 9 Tevet 5766

A group of non-Jewish delegates have come to Jerusalem to pledge their loyalty to the Laws of Noah before the nascent Sanhedrin, establishing a High Council for B'nai Noach.

The ten delegates appeared before a special session of the Jewish High Court of 71 Rabbis led by its Nassi (President) Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz. B'nai Noach, literally "Children of Noah," also known as Noahides, are non-Jews who take upon themselves the Torah's obligations for all members of the human race - consisting of seven laws passed on via Noah following the flood, as documented in Genesis (see below).

The gathering took place under a banner quoting the Biblical passage: "For then I will change the nations to speak a pure language so that they all will proclaim the name of the Lord, to serve him with united resolve (Tzefania 3:9)"

The Noahide delegates stood before the nascent Sanhedrin, which was reestablished over a year ago in Tiberius and has met regularly since then. "Each one comes with a name he has made in the world, as a teacher and example in his community of observance of the seven laws of Noah," said Rabbi Michael Bar-Ron, introducing the delegates. "At great physical and financial expense they have come to
Jerusalem, the holy city, from far and wide, to pledge their allegiance, for the first time in history, before the Sanhedrin, to the laws of the Creator."

Each of the Noahide representatives stood before the Sanhedrin and pledged:

"I pledge my allegiance to HaShem, the God of Israel, Creator and King of the Universe, to His Torah and representatives. I pledge to uphold the Seven Laws of Noah in all their details, according to Oral Law of Moses under the guidance of the developing Sanhedrin. May HaShem bless and aid me, my fellow council members and all B'nai Noach in all our endeavors for the sake of His name. Blessed are you, G-d of the universe who has caused me to live, sustained me, and brought me to this day."

Roger Grattan, a delegate who lives in
Maine, told Arutz-7 prior to the ceremony, "I am sure that this will be a paragraph in the history of civilization, although one could also write books on it. It is also the fulfillment of prophecy." The other members of the council are Bud Gil, Billy Jack Dal, Andrew Overall, Adam Penrod, Jacob Scharf, Chairman Larry Borntrager; Honorary Noahide Council Elder Vendyl Jones, Jack Saunders and Council Speaker Jim Long.

Long addressed the rabbis of the court, requesting formal recognition of the Noahide Council. "Your honor, esteemed rabbis of the developing Sanhedrin. We are here because of your Torah. Rabbis before you elevated the Torah and it drew us in - before that we stumbled in darkness. Everyone here today can tell you that in the past we have experienced the need to consolidate our efforts to make the world aware of the truth."

Rabbi Even-Israel Steinsaltz, the Nassi, or head of the Sanhedrin, replied: "We hereby recognize these men as the first high council of B'nai Noach in accordance with the conditions they have accepted upon themselves."

Rabbi Steinsaltz spoke about the role of the Jewish people in bringing the Laws of Noah to the world. "I am part of this Jewish family and I have nothing bad to say about that family, but you don't go up to a man on the street and ask him to join your family. Instead you talk to him about joining the true belief in the Creator and about implementing divine justice toward his fellow man. We are setting up a global mission here – not to recruit people, but to bring them to the realization that there is one G-d." The Nassi explained that this aspect of Judaism lay dormant for years as the Jewish people dealt with staying alive and keeping the Torah in the exile.

Rabbi Steinsaltz called for an extensive project to be undertaken to help B'nai Noah in the nitty-gritty details of the observance of the religion. "A Shulhan Aruch for B'nai Noah must be written so that the individual can have guidance as to what to do," Steinzaltz said, referring to the compendium of practical Jewish law written by Rabbi Yosef Karo of Tzfat in the 1560's that is still used today.

He then addressed the ten B'nai Noah representatives, who had endured hours of Hebrew speeches throughout the day, in English:

"There are those people, so far only a small number, who say 'We are bound by the covenant of Adam and the covenant of Noah and we know we have to perform and fulfill our obligations.' We, as Jews, have the same religion as you.

"Within the nation of
Israel there is one tribe that deals with the Temple – the priests. We Jews are a specific tribe in the world that was chosen to be a tribe of priests – hereditary priests. Because of this we have special duties. Being a priest does not mean we are cut off from the other people. While the people of the world are all different units in the armies of the Lord, we are a special commando unit that maybe doesn't get paid more, but has special assignments that may be more dangerous."

Rabbi Even-Israel spoke about the difficulties that would confront the B'nai Noah movement as it grows. "When we are speaking in general, almost every human being can more or less accept the laws of Noah, but when we get to particulars we will come to serious points, at which we disagree with Christianity and Islam," he said.

"It is one thing when a religion is small, but as it gets bigger there will be huge pressures. We will be there beside you. We are members of the same religion that was given by the Almighty to humanity. Part of it was given to the Jews and part of it was given to humanity as a whole."

The Nassi added that while there are those who doubt the ability of the Sanhedrin to be more than an idea leading up to the true reestablished court, the Noahide Council is not able to be doubted or criticized due to its pure motives and unprecedented mission.

Rabbi Yaakov Ariel of the Temple Institute said that although Tuesday is the Fast of the Tenth of Teveth, which commemorates the beginning of the destruction, "Our sitting in
Jerusalem now, alongside B'nai Noach, demonstrates the revival and the fulfillment of the words of the prophets." Rabbi Ariel told those gathered that he had seen a rainbow that morning, "the closest thing to seeing Noah himself - the symbol of the covenant between G-d and humanity as witnessed by Noah," he said.

Famed archaeologist and Noahide leader Vendyl Jones addressed a festive banquet held for the Council members, speaking about the Seven Laws of Noah. He explained, in detail, the verses in the first eleven chapters of Genesis from which the seven laws are elucidated, saying that he always understood the first six, but never understood the law proscribing the eating of a limb of a living animal, until he remembered his cattle-branding days in
Texas. "We would brand and castrate the cattle when I was young, and that night we would all sit around the campfire and eat what they called 'mountain oysters' " – the testicles of the still-living animals.

Rabbi Nachman Kahane, Av Beit HaDin, spoke in English. "G-d created a primitive world," he said. "We don't grow loaves of bread, but grain that must be harvested, ground up and baked. We were meant to be partners with G-d. Unfortunately, throughout history, perversions of this idea grew. How can you be G-d's partner if you are damned and born with original sin? How can you be a partner of G-d if your religion tells you to send your children to shopping malls to blow people up? What we are creating today is a reconnection between the people and G-d. G-d is saying to humanity – everyone has a job. I happen to be a priest - I have a particular task for when the temple is built - but all of us have a specific task just the same - I am no better."

Jones told Kahane that his brother, slain Knesset member Rabbi Meir Kahane, together with Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, had organized the first conference for B'nai Noah nearly 20 years ago.

Conference on Noahide Council

Earlier in the day, several speakers addressed issues surrounding the B'nai Noah movement as part of a conference on the establishment of the B'nai Noah Council.

Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, a leader of the Italian Muslim Assembly, addressed those gathered, speaking about B'nai Noah in Islam. "Islamic law holds within it the seven laws of Noah and can be taught correctly to the Muslims of the world." Sheikh Palazzi also said, "I remember reading that a new Sanhedrin was created in Jerusalem," "my impression was very positive - I thought maybe something new had been created to allow the Jewish people to project moral and legal clarity to counterbalance the lack of it in our world." Palazzi added that the project of creating a council of Noahide teachers would hopefully counter the negative educational effect of the
Gaza withdrawal, "which taught the opposite to my people - it convinced many that only terrorism works."

Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Zini, who heads Yeshiva Or V'Yishua and is the rabbi of
Haifa's Technion, spoke about the intuitive natural truths of the laws of Noah. "We must create a formal connection between the nation of Israel and the B'nai Noah to show the world that we are a nation of holy priests, as is dictated in our Torah," he said, speaking partly in French as well, as the conference will be available on the Sanhedrin's web site for viewing by prospective B'nai Noah worldwide.

Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, who received the blessing of leading Hareidi-Religious Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv to engage in the project of creating a court and infrastructure for B'nai Noah, addressed the conference as well. Rabbi Schwartz is the Deputy Av Beit HaDin [literally, Court Elder] of the Sanhedrin and the Av Beit HaDin for the B'nai Noah court. He spoke on the topic of "B'nai Noah and World Peace."

"The Islamic Jihad against the world has restored religion to the center of the world's consciousness," Schwartz said. "Over thirty years ago someone by the name of Eisenberg sent a proposal to the United Nations saying that there will never be world peace unless the citizens of the globe agree on certain principles of faith. It was adopted by the UN as one of its official documents but was not followed up upon and has since been forgotten. We are here today to follow up on that document and remind the UN why it exists. There will be world peace when the whole world agrees that there is one G-d. There are people who do not think what I am about to say is worthwhile, but I suggested years ago that we begin to translate our books, which are meant for the nations of the world, into Arabic as well [Schwartz has authored many books on practical observance for Noahides –ed.]. It is not by coincidence that we have this nation alongside us, surrounding and living inside the land upon our return to it, who also preserves the heritage of Abraham our father."

Schwartz has indeed translated his books to Arabic, with the help of an Arab man he met at a bus stop who asked him a Mishanaic question, telling him he had already translated the Mishna, a codification of Jewish oral law. He said the entire printing is sold out. "Muslim parents have thanked me for teaching their child that there is a different way to heaven than becoming a shahid, a martyr," he said.

Schwartz explained that although one of the purposes of the Jewish people's exile was to disseminate belief in the Torah's truths around the world, their return to
Israel has brought with it the technology to redouble our efforts from here. "The moment we came to Israel, communication technology flourished. The telephone and radio spread rapidly, and computers and internet came soon after, changing the entire concept of communication and education. When we were in the exile, we were there to teach the world, and now that we have returned to the Land of Israel, G-d has given us the tools to do the work from here."

Rabbi David Zilbershlag, Director of Meir Panim and Koach Latet, both innovative charity associations, spoke about rectifying the misdeeds of Noah's generation, the generation of the flood. Zilbershlag said that the new Council of Noahides must focus on kindness and charity, as that was the basis of G-d's covenant with Noah, (the lack of which resulted in the destruction of Noah's entire generation) and his later covenant with Abraham.

"It is hard to distribute and spread an idea that is negative, as the laws of Noah are phrased," Zilbershlag said. "We must make a great effort to find and distribute the relevant positive commandments in our tradition throughout the world as well, and the most basic of these is that of following in the footsteps of Abraham our father."

Rabbi Eliyahu Essas, a former refusenik and founder of the Teshuva movement in the
USSR, spoke about establishing outreach within Israel to help gentiles who moved from the Former Soviet Union to Israel become aware of the Noahide laws. "There are at least 400,000 out of the million people who came to Israel who are not Jewish according to Jewish law. There are many who think they are Jews, but do not have a Jewish mother and are therefore not Jewish according to Jewish law. 150,000 have no blood connection to the nation of Israel – spouses of Jews and relatives who came under the law of return. Then there are 30,000 who have nothing to do with the Jewish people, but forged documents. There Jews wanted to be Russians, here, Russians want to be Jews.

"Should we harass such a person to convert, should we leave him alone, or should we try to get him to become a Ben Noah?" Essas asked, refraining from offering answers and saying that such complicated matters must be dealt with by both the Noahide Council and the Sanhedrin's B'nai Noah Beit Din. He added that the problem of intermarriage was not discussed by previous generations because it did not exist in such numbers. "We are dealing with 50% of families in the FSU and even more in
North America. So if one spouse is a Jew and one is Ben Noah, what will be their status? I want to raise these issues and offer a prayer to the Almighty to help us find wise solutions."

Council Looking Forward

Spokesman Jim Long outlined the Council's goals. "Education is a vital part of our effort and we need you to help us with this. We need to make sure that developing Noahide groups do not split into denominations. As we move into the public eye, we will be viewed as heretics by many. We each come from other religions and must develop ways to approach them in a manner in which they listen without closing their ears. The Noahide movement is a Torah-based template for an ethical way of life. The Creator requires humanity to uphold these laws as per his covenant with Noah.

"Anyone who reads the Bible can see that your Torah is your constitution, your Bill of Rights and your deed to the
Land of Israel. We have plans to publish Noahide prayer books, children's books and documentaries on science and the world through the lens of the Torah."

"We have heard that G-d is with you," Long concluded.

The 7 Laws of Noah
The Seven Laws of Noah are:

Shefichat damim - Do not murder or commit suicide.
Gezel - Do not steal or kidnap.
Avodah zarah – Pray and offer sacrifices only to G-d. Do not worship false gods/idols.
Gilui arayot - Do not be sexually immoral (engage in incest, sodomy, bestiality, castration and adultery), crossbreed animals or perform castration.
Birkat Hashem - Do not utter G-d's name in vain, curse G-d or pursue the occult. Honor your parents.
Dinim - Set up righteous and honest courts and apply fair justice in judging offenders and uphold the principles of the last five.
Ever Min HaChai - Do not eat a part of a live animal or consume blood.







by Rabbi Mordechai Becher (
Why is Israel so important to Judaism -and why does the world pay it such an extraordinary amount of attention?

The first commandment God ever gave to the first Jew in history was to go to the Land of Israel. The Torah relates that God spoke to Abraham, and said:

  Go [for your benefit], from your land, from your relatives and from your   father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you   a great nation; I will bless you, and make your name great, and you   shall be a blessing. (Genesis 12:1-2)

Abraham, his wife Sarah, their extended family and their retinue1 all came to Israel, then known as Canaan. They traveled throughout the land, engaged in commerce and, of course, in spreading the idea of monotheism.2 God promised Abraham that although his descendants would go into exile and be enslaved, ultimately He would free them, bring them back to Israel and make Israel the eternal homeland of the Jewish people.3 All the Patriarchs, Matriarchs and the Children of Jacob (the Twelve Tribes) lived in and were buried in Israel. Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rebecca, Isaac and Leah were all buried in Hebron, in the cave purchased by Abraham. Rachel was buried on the road to Bethlehem4 and even Joseph (who died in Egypt) was buried in the city of Shechem (Nablus).5 Joseph had specifically ordered that the Jews should take his remains with them at the time of the Exodus and bury him in Israel. 6 Following Joshua's conquest of Israel, the Jews lived there as an independent commonwealth (and later under a monarchy) for 800 years. Judges ruled the people for almost 400 years until the coronation of the first king, Saul. Saul was succeeded by King David, who was followed by his son, Solomon. King Solomon built the First Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.7 This Temple stood for 410 years until it was destroyed by the Babylonians, who conquered Israel and exiled the Jews to Babylon (modern-day Iraq).

Although the Jewish people were in exile they did not forget the Land of Israel. After 70 years in Babylon, the prophets Ezra8 and Nehemiah9 led many of the exiles back to Israel where they built the Second Temple. The Jewish Commonwealth was renewed and the Temple services were once again performed in Jerusalem. The Jews lived in Israel from the time of their return until the Roman destruction of the Temple and subsequent exile in about 70 C.E.

The era of the Second Temple, which lasted approximately 420 years, was a time of great upheaval. The Jewish state experienced invasion by the Greek Seleucids, which led to the Maccabean revolt in 165 B.C.E. (the Chanukah story). Later came the Roman occupation, the despotic rule of Herod and the Jewish revolts against Roman rule that ultimately ended in the disastrous events of 70 C.E.

We Shall Not Be Moved

Despite all the invasions, exiles and hardship, two Jewish states existed in Israel during this time, the first lasting for 840 years, the second for 420 years. Even during the long exile that followed the Roman destruction of the Temple, a continuous Jewish presence (albeit, sometimes quite small) was maintained in the Land of Israel. The land was invaded by Arabs, Crusaders, Saracens, Mongols, Mamluks, Ottoman Turks and the British Empire, but through it all Jews not only remained, but produced monumental works of learning and liturgy. Rabbi Judah the Prince, for example, wrote the Mishnah in the north of Israel in 200 C.E.; and the Jerusalem Talmud was edited there in 350 C.E.

      Throughout the centuries, Jews undertook the dangerous journey to Israel from other lands.  

Throughout the centuries, Jews undertook the dangerous journey to Israel from other lands. The great scholar Nachmanides came from Spain and established a synagogue in Jerusalem in the 13th century. In the 16th century, Rabbi Yosef Karo wrote the Code of Jewish Law in the city of zfat; and the song Lechah Dodi (in the Friday night service) was composed ad first sung there by Rabbi Shlomoh Alkabetz, student of the great abbalist of Safed, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (known by the acronym AriZal).

In the 19th century, during the Ottoman rule, groups of Chassidim came to srael on the instruction of their leaders in Europe. The famous Lithuanian rabbi known as the Gaon of Vilna sent many students to settle in Israel. In the late 19th century, the Zionist movement brought thousands of people to Israel to establish agricultural settlements and industry there. The attachment of the Jews to their land throughout 1,900 years of exile culminated in the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948, now home to more than 5 million Jews from all over the world.

Jews of the 21st century take for granted the presence of Jewish communities in Israel. From a historical point of view, however, the return of a people to their Land after nineteen centuries of exile (in the case of some, 2,500 years of exile10) the establishment of an independent Jewish state and the ingathering of Jews from virtually every country in the world are miraculous and unprecedented events in world history.

The building in which I lived in Jerusalem represents a microcosm of the "ingathering of the exiles" that has taken place. Although it contains only fifteen apartments, at one point, the countries of origin of the inhabitants of our building included Australia, Canada, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Morocco, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the USA and Israel!

Land of the Spirit

It is not only the historical attachment of the people of Israel to the Land of Israel that makes it special, but its intrinsic, spiritual qualities as well. Most of the prophets either lived in Israel or prophesied about it.11 In Jewish philosophy, prophecy is considered to be a "product" of the Land of Israel.12 Based on the principle that the structure and nature of the physical world reflects the underlying spiritual nature of reality, Rabbi Yehudah Halevy explains that the spiritual capacity to produce prophecy is similar to the physical capacity to grow crops.

      Israel has the capacity to cultivate spirituality more than any other place in the world. 

Different regions have the capacity to grow certain crops better than other places -- Idaho potatoes, French grapes and the rubber trees of India are some examples. So  too, different areas have different spiritual influences and potentials. Israel has the capacity to cultivate prophecy, connection to God and intense spirituality more than any other place in the world.13 It is not a coincidence that many religions feel a special connection to Israel,14 that the bulk of the Bible was written in Israel and that the Psalms, which form the basis of prayer for literally hundreds of millions of people around the world, were written in Israel.

Of the 613 commandments of the Bible, 343 are directly dependent on the Land of Israel -- that is, fully 56 percent of Jewish law is, in some way, contingent upon being in Israel.15 Even those commandments that are not directly dependent upon the Land will have a different and deeper spiritual dimension when performed in Israel.16 Maimonides maintains that if, in theory, a time ever came when no Jews at all lived in the Land of Israel, the entire Jewish calendar would lose its validity, and we would
not be able to observe any of the festivals.17


The Model State

The Land of Israel is also central to Judaism because it is the best vehicle for demonstrating Jewish values and ethics in practice. Israel is supposed to be the place to which the people of the world look for guidance in moral behavior.18 The tremendous media scrutiny of Israel and the extraordinary amount of attention paid to this tiny country in the Middle East may well be due to the fact that, deep down, people expect something more of Israel and the Jews. There is a sense that the State of Israel should have higher standards than its neighbors and the rest of the world -- and indeed it should. This idea is beautifully expressed in the following verses in the Book of Isaiah (2:3):

  And many nations will go and say, "Let us go and ascend to the mountain  of God, to the Temple of the God of Jacob; and we will be instructed in   His ways, and we will walk in His paths"; for from Zion shall come forth  the Torah, and the word of God from Jerusalem.

The Jewish ideal is not withdrawal from the physical world in an attempt to become an angel.19 On the contrary, we want to be involved in many different facets of the world and apply the moral and spiritual guidance of the Torah to every aspect of life. This is one of the reasons that the Twelve Tribes of Israel were so diverse in their characters. They represented a microcosm of all humanity and demonstrated that it was possible for anyone to be a righteous person. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch
discusses the reason for this diversity within the Jewish people:

  The Jewish nation is to represent agriculture as well as commerce, militarism as well as culture and learning. The Jewish people will be a   nation of farmers, a nation of businessmen, a nation of soldiers and a   nation of science. Thereby, as a model nation, to establish the truth that the one great personal and national task which God revealed in His   Torah is not dependent on any particular kind of talent or character trait, but that the whole of humanity in all its shades of diversity can equally find its calling in one common spiritual and moral mission and outlook in life.20

There is no better way to teach people how to live than by personal example.21 If a person is successful in all spheres of life while remaining moral and good, others will be more inclined to imitate him than if he were a moral, noble pauper.22 Although the modern State of Israel is far from perfect (as virtually every Israeli will be happy to tell you for hours on end), there are still ways in which it can teach the world Jewish ideals by example.

During one stint on reserve duty in the Israeli army, I noticed an amazing picture on the cover of an army magazine.23 A senior member of the Argentinean military had come to visit Israel and was meeting with Ehud Barak, then Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. The Argentinean was covered with medals, braid, campaign ribbons and badges from head to foot -- there was not an inch that did not brilliantly reflect the camera's flash. Barak, on the other hand, was wearing a simple khaki uniform with paratrooper wings and a few stars on his shoulder boards to indicate his rank. Now, consider the fact that Barak was the most highly decorated soldier of a very successful army, while the Argentineans had recently lost the Falkland Islands!

This photo was a demonstration of the Jewish abhorrence for war and violence that still prevails in Israel, even though we have fought and won so many wars. The glorification of military prowess that exists in some countries is thankfully absent in Israel. The contrast between Barak's modest attire and his counterpart's shining armor painted a striking picture of their opposing values.

      I had been 'held hostage' for prayers!  

Jewish values and priorities come to the fore even in the most mundane situations. Permit me a personal recollection of one of my favorites: During my first week in Israel in 1978, I went to a bank in the Meah Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem at about noon. The bank was scheduled to close at 12:30 p.m. and I expected to perform a minor transaction and leave. After waiting in line for about 20 minutes and listening to the teller argue with his wife on the phone for another eight minutes, I was finally able to complete my business. As I walked to the exit, the security guard rushed over and locked the door before I could get out. I asked him, very politely, to open the door, but he gestured for me to wait. I pointed out to him (a little less politely this time) that I had come in for a two-minute transaction that ended up taking half an hour!

Now that I had finally finished, how dare he actually imprison me in the bank against my will? He yawned and again gestured for me to wait. Just then, one of the tellers stood up and announced, "Minchah!" (afternoon service). I did a quick count and realized that together with myself, the security guard and the tellers we had exactly the 10 men required for a minyan (quorum for prayer). I realized then that I was being "held hostage" for prayers! Only in Israel!

The Shechinah Is Here

The Hebrew word Shechinah means "Divine Presence." Although in reality, God permeates all of time and space equally,24 we are not able to perceive His presence equally in all times and all places.25 Venice Beach, California (as a purely random example) is a place where the Divine Presence is well concealed, and Super Bowl Sunday is a time when the Divine Presence is difficult to perceive.

There are moments when God allows us more of a glimpse of the Divine Presence -- at sunset toward the end of Yom Kippur, for instance.26 There are also places where God allows us a greater degree of perception, such as in the Land of Israel. The Torah calls Jerusalem the "Gates of Heaven27 and our Sages point out that even after the destruction of the Temple, the Divine Presence has never left the Western Wall.28

Tens of thousands of Jews from all over the world, representing every level of religiosity, ignorant and learned, Zionist and non-Zionist, visit the Western Wall every year. The Western Wall (Hakotel Hama'aravi or, simply, the Kotel) is the westernmost retaining wall of the Temple Mount, and dates from the Second Temple era. (In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the English began referring to the Western Wall as the Wailing Wall, based on the old Arabic name for it, El Mabka, the place of weeping. Jews, however, have always referred to the wall as the Western Wall, preferring to relate it to the Holy Temple.29)

Many Jews who visit have no knowledge of the Temple at all; many know little or nothing about Judaism or Jewish history. And yet, the Western Wall draws them like a magnet and often elicits from them deep spiritual feelings. For many people, a single visit to the Western Wall has changed their lives by prompting them to investigate their Jewish roots. We believe that much of this remarkable energy is due to the fact that "the Shechinah never left the Western Wall."

Once on a trip outside of Israel with my two oldest sons, we had a long stopover in Athens. I decided to take the boys to see the Acropolis, one of the most famous and magnificent archaeological sites in the world. On top of the Acropolis, a hill overlooking Athens, stands the remains of the Parthenon -- a massive pagan temple dedicated to the Greek goddess, Athena. I asked my children to compare the Parthenon with the Western Wall. They pointed out that the Parthenon is made of white marble, while
the Kotel is made of limestone; the Parthenon is supported by scaffolding and the Kotel stands unassisted. The Kotel has hyssop growing out of it, while the Parthenon is quite bare of vegetation.

      Hey, no one is praying at the Parthenon! 

The most astute observation made, however, was, "Hey! No one is davening (praying) at the Parthenon!" My children saw through the pomp and grandeur of the Parthenon. They saw that the Parthenon and what it represented is dead and long gone, while Judaism and the Divine Presence that can be felt at the Kotel are living entities. Many tourists visit the Parthenon, but very few, if any, find the same inspiration and feeling of connection that is regularly experienced at the Western Wall.

In 1967, toward the end of the Six Day War, when the Kotel returned to Jewish hands after 1,900 years, there was an unprecedented outpouring of emotion from all Israelis.30 Although rarely articulated publicly, there is a widespread recognition that the Kotel is more than just a place -- it is a portal to a spiritual dimension and an opportunity to connect with God.

Jerusalem: Palace of the King

The Jewish people have a special relationship with the entire Land of Israel, but our bond specifically with the city of Jerusalem is as deep as the bond between mother and child. Jerusalem is first mentioned as the city of Malchizedek, the grandson of Shem, a monotheistic priest who greeted Abraham with bread and wine.31 It was to the mountain at the center of the city, Mt. Moriah, that Abraham later came for the binding of Isaac.32 The city was originally called Shalem, which means "whole" or "peaceful" but Abraham renamed it "Yireh," "God will see." God combined these two names and called the city "Yerushalayim," Jerusalem.33

      The geography of Jerusalem precisely reflects the role that the city       is meant to play.  

The Bible relates that when Jacob fled Israel to escape his murderous brother Esau, he went to sleep on Mt. Moriah the night before leaving the Land. There he dreamed of a ladder that extended from the earth to the heavens.34 The ladder symbolized the future role of Jerusalem as the site of the Holy Temple which joined together heaven and earth.

Jerusalem was the capital during both the First and Second Jewish Commonwealths. It was chosen to be the capital by King David with the assistance of Samuel the prophet,35 and King Solomon built the Temple there.36 The Sanhedrin, the supreme court of Israel, had its seat in Jerusalem,37 and Jews from all over Israel and the Diaspora would come to them for guidance. Today, Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel.

It is fascinating to note how the geography of Jerusalem precisely reflects the role that the city is meant to play. Jerusalem is situated near the trade routes connecting Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It is in proximity to, but not part of, the great civilizations of Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Phoenicia, Rome, Persia, Arabia and Assyria. Jerusalem is located on a mountain, because it is meant to be a beacon, but it is also surrounded by mountains,38 as if to show that it must remain somewhat
isolated39 and insulated from foreign influences. Jerusalem is meant to be a place where people absorb spirituality, learn morality and find a connection to the Divine. Many empires have conquered Jerusalem, many pilgrims have passed through it and Jerusalem has left an imprint on them all.




13/10/2005 OMTRENT DE ESSENTIE  VAN JERUZALEM door Wiesje de Lange

De brosse, tikkende geluiden van mijn toetsenbord vermenging zich met andere die van buiten komen. Gehamer en geklop dat opstijgt rondom mij, waar  buren, uren na zonsondergang nog vol energie hun medemensen uit de slaap houden door hun loofhutten (soekot)  op te zetten.Waarom ze nu juist wachtten  tot de zon onderging?  Geen keuze. Het  was vandaag een bijzondere dag, Jom  (dag) Kippoer (der Verzoening) waar Israel zich van jaar tot jaar totaal terugtrekt van pak weg alle normale aardse beslommeringen. Ingaande Jom Kippoer  doet Israel, schoongewassen en keurig in de kleren  zorgvuldig de deuren op  slot, de gordijnen van het belaagde landje worden helemaal dicht getrokken en men zet zich  behaaglijk om de tafel  om zich zeer stevig te goed te doen aan eten en drinken want na deze  maaltijd.. geen druppel, geen kruimel. Vijfentwintig uren lang totale onthouding van alle lichamelijke voedsel. Israel gaat in gebed, bestormt de hemelen in  een lange, bijna ademloze monoloog tot de Schepper, Die, naar Israel hoopt en vertrouwt, Zich dit hele heilige etmaal totaal zal wijden aan Zijn volk-in-nood (doorgaans Israel's toestand), Zijn niet aflatende liefde uitgietend over hun bedreigde stukje aarde, kracht gevend voor een heel jaar van menselijk scheppen om het verwoeste te herstellen (ook dit geldt als regel ) en vol vertrouwen te werken aan een toekomst die  schuil gaat, ergens achter  de wolkensluiers in de nazomernacht.

Mijn loofhutten bouwende buren (onze soeka  staat al, er mankeert werkelijk niets meer aan, kleinzoons met hamers, spijkers en een frons  boven de neuzen  streken neer op de varanda, een dag voor ingaande jom Kippoer en namen de grootouders dit werk uit de handen terwijl ik in de keuken stond te   roeren in grote pannen door hun bemind eten ) zijn niet uitgedacht, uitgetobd over de ontzettende gebeurtenissen van de afgelopen maanden, ze hebben evenmin oplossingen voor duizenden ontheemde landgenoten als hun regering dat toont te hebben maar de Loofhut moet worden opgezet want het Loofhuttenfeest staat NU voor de deur, zeman simchateinoe, de tijd van   onze vreugde, herdenking aan onze bevrijding uit Egypte. . En het is wellicht  de essentie van Jeruzalem dat haar agenda voor een groot deel bepaald werd  niet door Israel zelf maar door Hoger Hand. Een Hand die ons wel herhaaldelijk onze zaken laat behartigen maar tussen deze werkdagen gestrooid  zijn er de   voor eeuwig vastgestelde data die onze aandacht eisen. We moeten Shabat maken, feesten  voorbereiden, een loofhut bouwen en het doet er niet toe of Torquemada, Achashverosh, Titus of Sharon ons leven in de war schopte. Er is een hogere orde Die ons denken en   doen onbetwist beheerst.


Een grote Nederlandse dichter maakte in zijn tijd van literaire romantiek een gedicht over "de Israelitische Looverhut" dat zijn bewondering,  eerbied weergeeft voor dat taaie volk met een geloof dat de eeuwen trotseert  alsof het om  dagen ging.  Dit jaar vond ik de tekst van dat gedicht ergens op een website, drukte die af en hing hem op in de Soeka. Nederlands?  Rare taal die niemand spreekt? Maakt niet uit, dit gedicht is een vertaling waard. Na de feestdagen zal ik daar tijd voor vinden..."Na de feestdagen" is de Israelische vertaling van "maniana", "morgen", met andere woorden "morgen  brengen". Zegt Holland's A.C.W. Staring ( 1767 - 1840) over onze "Looverhut":

"Wie smalend tot Uw hutje kwam

niet ik, gij kind van Abraham.

Ik schenk uit een opregt gemoed

den drempel mijnen vredegroet".

Staring spreekt dan verder, - zich enigszins vergissend in jaartallen -  tot zijn in de Lage Landen vertoevende Jood, die elke herfst weer woont " in de schaduw van Uw Loovertent/als Mozes U  heeft ingeprent./Drieduizend malen kwam de zon/terug waar zij Uw jaar begon/ en nog bouwt gij Uw Loovertent/ als Mozes U heeft ingeprent./U heugt dertig eeuwen door/ dat U den Schepper uitverkoor/dat als 't geweld U vlugten  deed/ een reddend spoor het diep doorsneed/dat zonder huisdak levenslang/Uw schaar zwierf op haar kronkelgang/waar vuur en rookzuil voor haar toog/ en ’t   Man haar spijsde van omhoog....."

En weer zegt Staring:"Wie smalend tot den drempel kwam, niet ik gij kind  van Abraham". Het gedicht spreekt mij meer aan dan gewoonlijk, om de ontzettende gebeurtenissen in Gush Katif. Dakloos zwerven weer velen op Israels "kronkelgang".

Dat het Loofhuttenfeest "de Tijd van onze Vreugde" heet kreeg dit jaar, (niet bepaald "het jaar van onze vreugde")  voor ons een nieuwe,  een speciale betekenis. We gaan een week wonen in dat oh zo tijdelijke en wankele optrekje zonder fundamenten. We verlaten onze van steen en beton gebouwde huizen, versmadend al het comfort dat ze ons bieden en vertrouwen ons toe aan de G'd die ons veertig jaren in leven hield in een woestijn waar niets groeide. Erets Jisrael is geen woestijn,  integendeel een land van melk en honing  maar de niet te verwerken verwoesting die ons zo diep schokte leek ons terug  te drijven met onweerstaanbaar -want bedreven door de eigen soldaten -  geweld,  de woestijn in, het was ons te moede of we een omgekeerde Uittocht meemaakten, het Land uit, de Jordaan over, de woestijn in. Waarom? Omdat  het land de heiliging van hemelse belofte verloor voor hen die thans  tijdelijk regeren in Jeruzalem. Scherper dan wellicht ooit te voren zag Israel hoe levensgevaarlijk het is om geregeerd te worden zonder G'dsvertrouwen. Dit vernielt de  fundamenten onder al wat het Joodse volk vermag te doen. Ik  hoop met heel mijn hart dat we dit nu voor altijd zullen weten en gedenken  opdat we zo iets verschrikkelijks nooit weer zullen hoeven mee te maken.Dit Loofhuttenfeest, "Zeman simchateinoe", de Tijd van onze Vreugde, zullen  we ons verheugen over het feit dat we even allemaal gelijk zijn, even  allemaal dakloos een onderkomen vinden in een simpele loofhut die ons ergens tot troost is.

In het zuiden, niet ver van het verwoeste Gush Katif staat een tentenkamp, een heel kampement van wankele hutjes. De legerplaats heeft een grootse naam gekregen:  "Ir Emoena" (Stad van Geloof) en hier kunt U de verdrevenen vinden uit de dorpen van Gush Katif. De tenten en hutjes kunnen natuurlijk niet  op slot, men kan ze daarom niet onbewaakt achterlaten. Om nu de inwoners gelegenheid te geven de Hoge Feestdagen (Rosh Hashana - Nieuwjaar- en Jom Kippoer)  door te brengen bij familieleden die nog wel een dak boven het hoofd hebben trokken de jonge mannen van de Jeshieva (religieuze Leerschool) te Gispin/Golan voor de Hoge Feestdagen naar de tenten van Ir Emoena als  kampbewaarders. Absurde toestanden zijn een gevolg van absurde maatregelen.


Ik was daar bij U in Nederland voor een hele reeks van spreekbeurten . De tijd vloog om en voor ik het besefte landde er al weer een vliegtuigje met een blauwe Davidster op Schiphol ten teken dat het tijd   werd  om naar huis te gaan. De feestdagen stonden voor Israel's  deuren.

Feestdagen, jazeker, ik wierp me koortsachtig in de tredmolen van alle huismoeders maar in de avonduren kon U me doorgaans vinden op de een of andere bijeenkomst van mensen die menen dat we niet zo maar door kunnen stomen alsof er niets gebeurde. Israel zoekt onophoudelijk naar betere wegen, naar een weg terug, UIT de woestijn en NAAR het Beloofde Land, en  zal daarmee doorgaan tot er ergens weer een pad droog valt om op voort te trekken.

Feestdagen, ja zeker, maar ook werelds nieuws trok onze aandacht.  Onze vijanden gingen door met hun afkeurenswaardige gewoonten en wij probeerden hun snode plannen te verijdelen, doorgaans met succes. Een Israelische Professor, de 74-jarige Robert J. Aumann van de Hebreeuwse Universiteit won een Nobelprijs voor zijn baanbrekend werk op Economisch gebied . Naar het me lijkt kunnen enkel hoogontwikkelde collega's van de knappe Professor Robert begrijpen hoe geniaal zijn analysis wel is. Ik volsta met U te verklappen dat het iets te maken heeft met op wiskundige wijze oplossen van conflict situaties. Snapt U nu beter waarom juist een Israeli met deze eer ging strijken? Waar ter wereld kan een Professor  meer conflicten vinden om mee te jongleren dan hier bij ons in Jeruzalem? Een opiniepeiling, gehouden onder de leden van de Arbeid-partij gaf  nieuwe hoop op een toekomst voor ons landje. Gevraagd waar men zich vandaag  vooral op diende te concentreren verrasten genoemde leden ons met hun mening.

Slechts 13% meende Judea en Samaria te moeten ontruimen terwijl 85% een verbetering in Israel's sociale voorzieningen op de voorgrond stelde. Voorts was er de ongelooflijke prestatie van  Yuval Diskin, directeur van onze Geheime Dienst. Hij  kreeg nog niet de Nobelprijs -misschien volgend jaar? - maar een andere, een interne  voor het ontwikkelen van werkelijk verbluffende software die me doet denken aan science fiction. Diskin toverde even software die  informatie zoals deze bij Geheime Diensten binnenkomt met supersnelheid omzet in een plan de campagne, zodat meteen militair  ingegrepen kan worden om de vijand te dwarsbomen want vechten dat doet de computer voorlopig niet, we moeten dat nog zelf doen. . Diskin wist  precies wat wij hier nodig hebben, wist dat onze  tijd ten zeerste beperkt is omdat deze grotendeels wordt opgeslokt door de essentie van Jeruzalem.

Wiesje de Lange







N.I.W. dd 22. 07.2005




NRC Handelsblad dd 20.07.2005








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