“And they gathered upon Moses and Aaron and they said to them, ‘It is too much for you, for all the congregation is holy and G-d is among them, and why should you lord over the congregation of G-d?’”(From this week’s Torah portion, Korach, Numbers 16:3)
Korach’s struggle against Moses and Aaron was the classic power struggle. A leader rises who is determined and delineates a goal. He is an exemplary role model and leads the people successfully. Nevertheless, some people are dissatisfied and question his authority. “Why should you lord over us?” Korach and his assembly ask Moses and Aaron. “True, you strive for a lofty goal, but your motivation is nothing more than power driven arrogance.” What is wrong with them? Didn’t they see what happened to the king of the only superpower in the world (Pharaoh) when he dared to defy Moses? What did they see that we can’t see?
The answer is simple. They didn’t see anything because they were blinded by the strongest of all human drives: the drive for power. The uninitiated cannot understand this. A person who has not tasted the taste of power – someone for whom the safety catch on the power grenade has never been pulled – cannot comprehend just how strong this drive is. But people are willing to die for power; they are willing to kill their children and their wives to achieve it. The human race has experienced no stronger drive. In order to ensure the continuity of life, the Creator embedded the drive for procreation in both humans and animals. And to ensure the continuity of human society, the Creator created an even stronger drive; the power drive. There is no society without leadership and few would be willing to assume the weight of the community on their shoulders without the motivation fostered by this drive. Without the drive for power, human society would return to a state of chaos.
Just as we cannot give birth without the drive to procreate, so we cannot lead without the drive for power. The challenge is not how to eliminate it, but rather, to serve G-d with all our hearts. In other words, to enlist both our good inclination – the aspiration for liberty and responsibility – and our evil inclination – the aspiration for power, to achieve our goals. The good inclination must lead and chart out the course, the framework and the rules, while the drive for power must provide the energies necessary to succeed.
Can someone explain to me what we get out of being the punching bag of the UN? Until 2002, Switzerland, for example, preferred to forgo the dubious pleasure and managed quite well. Aren’t you tired of being the floor rag upon which every mass murderer wipes his feet at the entrance to the building in New York?
The Knesset is set to vote on the Draft Bill, which would require the Ultra-Orthodox to enlist in the IDF. Moshe Feiglin was interviewed on Radio Tel Aviv on his solution to the politically explosive draft situation in Israel.
Now that the Knesset is set to vote on the Draft Law, we can ask: What is better? A people’s army that includes everyone? Or a professional army?
I don’t think that the two contradict each other. Today’s Air Force is a professional army. So is the Navy.
OK, let’s sweep aside all the bluffs. It is not the people’s army, because not everyone enlists.
You are right. Only about 50% of those eligible actually enlist. And do you know what percentage of the public actually does reserve duty? Less than 5%.
So we are discovering that what they always told us about the people’s army and the melting pot may have been true in the first decades after Israel was established, but it does not reflect reality anymore. We must also add – because we are an economy program – that this has tremendous economic implications.
Of course! Who is financing the military magician and the huge groups of non-combat soldiers hanging out on the grass at the main Kiryah base in Tel Aviv? It is the young couples, who continue to work the longest hours of any western country, to earn the least and to pay the most. Israel has money. But we continue to pay a huge fortune for all kinds of pipe dreams that are no longer relevant. The IDF has a huge surplus of manpower, and all the committees set up to explore the issue have reached that conclusion.
We can call it latent unemployment. But it is clearly visible at the Kiryah base in Tel Aviv.
By law the IDF must draft everyone who has reached the age of 18. So it drafts them. Add to that politicians like Lapid, who have cashed in politically on the draft. He got 19 mandates for calling to add the Haredim to the soldiers hanging out on the grass in the Kiryah.
If we adopt the professional army model, how will we know if we will have enough soldiers? Maybe nobody will want to enlist? We have seen that in the US, for example, people enlisted only because it is an employment option. Israel lives with serious security issues. What will we do?
Today, there are five competitors for every opening in the Golani Brigade. Now let’s talk about how this would look according to the Zehut model. First of all, everybody enlists and does a very basic training for under a month. They are then discharged. This includes all sectors. Then, the IDF decides who it needs and wants from among those who volunteer to continue in the army. The IDF gives the volunteer four things:
First, a respectable salary and not the laughable salary that soldiers currently receive.
What is a respectable salary? Like the salary that a pilot receives today. About 7000-8000 shekels per month. We are talking about a respectable salary. About serious training with the best equipment. Remember, you have discharged the mass of soldiers and have more money for the professionals. The soldier will also get a free higher education and perhaps most important of all, social status.
When you combine all the above and when you remember that the security ethos is still our founding ethos, you can confidently assume that there will be many volunteers for this high-quality army. The army will perform better. It will not be encumbered by all sorts of extraneous choirs and performers and will not be vulnerable to all sorts of agendas with which people seek to burden it. It will not be part of the social debate.
From a financial perspective, it will take a load off of our taxes, which will not be going to all sorts of dubious expenses in the army.
It is not only the direct expense of the soldiers, but the loss of all of these young people in the work force for three years.
In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. -John Bunyan
Jewish prayer is filled with a variety of different body positions and movements that to the uninitiated may seem confusing. We sit, we stand, we bow, we take steps forward, backwards, we lean on our arm, we stand with our legs together, and thanks to Chassidic influence many also “shuckle” (a back-and-forth shaking movement).
In the confrontation at the start of Korach’s rebellion against the leadership of Moses, Moses and Aaron are described as “falling on their faces.” Rabbeinu Bechaye on Number 16:22 (Korach) claims that this is the source of our own leaning on our arms during a particularly contrite portion of the daily prayer.
He explains that when Moses and Aaron fell on their faces, it demonstrates three things:
It demonstrates fear and awe of the Almighty;
It demonstrates anguish and submission;
It demonstrates the “imprisonment” of one’s faculties and annulment of one’s senses.
He further delves into how each of these aspects is demonstrated:
By covering our face with our arm, we show humility and shame in front of God. It also shows anguish and submission, prerequisites for repentance. God, seeing our anguish is more likely to accept our prayers. And by covering our eyes and closing our mouth, we show our blindness and our inability to accomplish anything for ourselves without God’s approval.
He observes that the nations of the world have the custom of putting their hands together in prayer from this very same concept of demonstrating that their hands are bound and that they are submitting themselves to the one to whom they are praying, though they themselves no longer realize the biblical origin of their custom.
The Jewish custom of keeping our legs together and unmoving during the silent prayer is a stronger demonstration of this principle, as the movements of the legs are greater than those of the hands to reach ones’ goals and to distance oneself from harm.
However, while many of the positions and movements during prayer are filled with symbolism and significance, without meaningful intent, it is little more than light calisthenics.
May we understand, mean and feel our prayers, no matter how much or little we move. Shabbat Shalom.
Is the government responsible for the destruction of Netiv Ha’avot?
The Netanyahu-Bennett government is responsible for the destruction of Netiv Ha’avot in Gush Etzion. It is the government that sent in the bulldozers to destroy the homes there – not the High Court, not the Left and not the media.
But the High Court decided that Netiv Ha’avot must be destroyed. What would you have done if you were in power?
Jerusalem’s Mayor Barkat was also ordered by the High Court, in no uncertain terms, to immediately destroy Beit Yonatan in East Jerusalem. Barkat agreed. But he noted that he has hundreds of court orders to destroy Arab homes and that he would now begin to fulfill all of those orders in the order that they were given. Beit Yonatan is still a thriving Jewish home in Jerusalem.
You’re saying they could have easily avoided this destruction? Are you saying they wanted it to happen?
Not at all. But politicians make different calculations than leaders. Please answer these questions:
On a scale of 0 to 10, what political price is Naftali Bennett going to pay for the detstruction of Netiv Ha’avot?
What political price would Bennett have paid if he had threatened that if one tractor goes up to Netiv Ha’avot, he will resign from the government?
He may have paid a very steep price.
Right. Netanyahu may possibly have brought a different party into the coalition. Perhaps Lapid, or Labor. Who knows? And this is your answer. We do not have leaders on the Right. We have politicians on the Right. We do not have a vision on the Right. We do not have a leader who says, “The entire Land of Israel is ours, including Gaza, including Hebron”. All we have is leaders who make political calculations. That is the entire story. The destruction of Jewish homes in the Land of Israel has become nothing more than a sectoral demonstration that concerns no one else.
You are always so convincing.
You know, I am speaking from the depths of my heart. You are speaking to someone who, for the last 25 years, has been trying to put the religious Zionist public into the national leadership. I opened the gate to this public to leadership on a national level, but it did not want to enter. Now I am working with a broader public. The root of the problem is that if you are not willing to lead, you will necessarily be led. And you cannot control the direction.
Trump has shown the strength of the United States and restored its credibility in a region where strength and force determine credibility.
Trump more broadly laid the foundation for a new alliance of the United States with the Sunni Arab world, but he put two conditions on it: a cessation of all Sunni Arab support for Islamic terrorism and an openness to the prospect of a regional peace that included Israel.
Secretary of State Pompeo spoke of the "Palestinians", not of the Palestinian Authority, as in Iran, possibly to emphasize the distinction between the people and their leadership, and that the leadership in both situations, may no longer be part of the solution. Hamas, for the US, is clearly not part of any solution.
Netanyahu rightly said that Palestinian leaders, whoever they may be, do not want peace with Israel, but "peace without Israel". What instead could take place would be peace without the Palestinian leaders. What could also take place would be peace without the Iranian mullahs.
Pictured: President Donald Trump hosts Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House on March 20, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)
After three successive American Presidents had used a six-month waiver to defer moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem for more than two decades, President Donald J. Trump decided not to wait any longer. On December 7, 2017, he declared that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; the official embassy transfer took place on May 14th, the day of Israel's 70th anniversary.
From the moment of Trump's declaration, leaders of the Muslim world expressed anger and announced major trouble. An Islamic summit conference was convened in Istanbul a week later, and ended with statements about a "crime against Palestine". Western European leaders followed suit. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said that President Trump's decision was a "serious mistake" and could have huge "consequences". French President Emmanuel Macron, going further, declared that the decision could provoke a "war".
They assembled against Moshe and Aharon, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for the entire congregation are all holy, and God is in their midst. So why do you raise yourselves above God’s assembly?” (Bamidbar 16:2)
WHO IS A happy person, the rabbis asked. They answered, “One who is happy with his portion” (Pirkei Avos 4:1). Obvious, no? We’re only really unhappy when we believe we lack something. So, if you want to be happy, all you have to do is believe that you lack nothing! Simple enough, right?
Huh! Tell that to thousands of years of mankind that has lived with the belief that they could always have more, and should. There has been so much cheating, stealing, lying, murdering, etc., and not always in self-defense. It’s often been the result of people or nations trying to get more than they presently have.
Sometimes we can’t help it. We were hardwired not to starve or freeze to death. You can’t expect a person to say, “You know, even though I am about to die from starvation, my stomach kills from hunger, and I have no strength to do anything about it, I’m actually okay with it.” That’s not Godly either.
Obviously, the rabbis are speaking about a person who COULD be satisfied with his lot in life. If he lived on an island by himself, he would go to sleep each night with a smile on his face. If he wasn’t constantly bombarded by the “more” in life, he would even want to think about it. But he is bombarded, so instead he goes to bed “hungry,” wondering what he can do tomorrow to get that “more.”
This really is just a yetzer hara, a yetzer hara to be discontent with one’s portion in life. And, it is not just a physical thing. It is a spiritual thing as well, preventing people from enjoying their spiritual accomplishments in life because they do not match up to someone else’s.
The ironic thing is, that what we all pursue is pleasure. It can be physical or it can be spiritual, just as long as it is pleasure. And yet, so many deny themselves the very pleasure they live for, by allowing themselves to focus more on what they do NOT have than what they DO have. They have reasons to take pleasure in what they already have, and they sacrifice them in the pursuit of pleasures they do not have. Is that not a big yetzer hara?
Just ask Korach, well, at least now. At the time he challenged Moshe Rabbeinu he thought he was going after what was rightfully his. Moshe Rabbeinu tried to tell him otherwise, but Korach was having none of it. He was the “captain” of his rebellion, and he literally went down with his “ship.”
Where does this sense of entitlement come from? Unquestionably, we all have “rights.” The Torah gives them to us. A huge section of the Talmud is devoted to clarifying those rights, and the protection of them. Even slaves, when they were allowed, had very specific rights, so clearly the Torah entitles people.
The better question is then, where do we get our FALSE sense of entitlement? That’s the one where we believe that we having something coming to us that, we don’t, or shouldn’t. How do we work ourselves up to the point that we can believe such falsehood?
It starts with tayva—desire. The only justification a person really needs to fulfill a tayva is that it FEELS good. And, because it FEELS good to fulfill it, it FEELS bad to lack it. The longer this is true, the worse a person feels, forcing them to do one of two things: give up on it, or scheme to get it. The latter becomes even easier when more than one person shares the same false entitlement, and easier yet when society does as a whole.
Desperate people or people without self-dignity will find a way to just “take” what they want. More “civilized” people will look for some kind of legal “justification.” Korach did not go in with all guns firing and take the Kehunah hostage. He devised a complaint of nepotism against Moshe Rabbeinu, and insisted that ALL Jews were equal in terms of holiness.
In reality, Korach was sore that he was passed over for promotion. He reasoned that he was in line for the new job by virtue of his birthright and regardless of his qualifications. When he saw another given the job he wanted for himself, he tried to create a national issue, and surrounded himself with important people to use them as a shield.
Let’s not forget the Jewish people were still surrounded by the Clouds of Glory. Do not forget that mann still fell from the sky. The Mishkan functioned, and the Divine Presence filled it, so it was not a question of non-believing Jews challenging the authority of the Torah world. This was an internal conflict, one which they knew God was also watching. It was a MAJOR gamble, and Korach needed an insurance policy.
If Korach had challenged Moshe on his own, or with a handful of people, then it would have been too easy to squash the rebellion. Instead, Korach buffered himself with 250 high ranking Torah officials, giving weight to his claim and credence to his chutzpah.
Moshe Rabbeinu was Moshe Rabbeinu. He was the greatest prophet to have ever lived, and certainly knew the inner workings of people like Korach. If Korach wanted to play Chess, Moshe was prepared to let him beat himself at his own game.
This is why Moshe Rabbeinu did not play the role of decider. Instead, he turned the decision over to God, making himself just a “spectator.” He turned it into a fight between Korach and his Creator. It put Korach into “Check,” but his gayva—pride—would not allow him to concede the match, and he continued to “play” until his final move. Maybe there was still a way to win.
There wasn’t. The next day when the earth opened up and swallowed Korach and his “insurance policy,” it was “Check” and “Mate.” The day before, Korach had been like every other Levi, meriting to serve in the Mishkan and aiding the Kohanim in their avodah. One day later, he was in the bowels of the earth and out of EVERY job, roasting instead, the Talmud says, like a piece of meat.
That’s what the Talmud says about the Sotah, the adulteress woman, the symbol of anyone who wants more than is theirs. She not only didn’t get what she desired, she also lost what she had: her husband and family, and if guilty, her life. Somehow, in the midst of all her tayva and that of the man with whom she cheated, she felt “entitled” to have what she yearned for.
It is a rule of God’s world. You really can’t have more than your share in this world, which God makes sure a person gets. It can look like a person can get more than his share, because it seems as if many people have. But, if they don’t end up paying for it in this world, which they often do, then they end up paying for it in the eternal world.
This is what the Talmud means when it says:
From here we learn that righteous people value their property more than their own bodies. (Chullin 91a)
This alone is surprising to learn. Righteous people value materialism more than their own welfare? Why? The Talmud’s answer is even more surprising: So they won’t steal.
Really? A righteous person would steal something just because he lost his own? No. A righteous person is concerned that if he loses something and “forces” God to replace it, he will have received more than his Divinely-intended portion. A righteous person considers that a form of theft.
True “God gives and God takes away.” But sometimes we give Him reason to, especially if we pursue that to which we really are NOT entitled. That is a CRUCIAL life lesson, one best learned BEFORE being swallowed up by the earth, or anything else for that matter.
On a pleasant Wednesday in Schiedam, a Dutch city near Rotterdam’s sizable Islamic population, a 26-year-old Syrian refugee stood on a balcony waving an axe and shouting, “Allahu Akbar.”
The police arrived at the modernistic dark and gray building, limned in steel and glass, where the nameless Syrian was shouting about the supremacy of his religion and its axe to all others in Schiedam.
The Dutch cops tried to calm him down. Instead he attacked a police dog which later died of its injuries. After some failed attempts at negotiating his surrender, the Syrian was shot in the leg. Paramedics loaded him into one of two yellow ambulances dispatched for the occasion and maneuvering past a police Volvo took him off to be an even bigger burden on the taxpayers of the Netherlands.
Even before murdering a police dog, the Syrian refugee had been in contact with various aid agencies. By the time he’s done being treated, evaluated, counseled, tried, defended, prosecuted and judged, he will have cost the Netherlands enough money to feed an entire Syrian city for a day.
"It is certain that he had no religious motives," Mayor Lamers insisted. "The most important thing is that he first receives the right care, that also applies to his father. As soon as he is recovered, there will probably be a long-term admission to a clinic."
Make that two Syrian cities for a week.
But the most important thing isn’t stopping Allahu akbaring axmen. It’s seeing they get the right care.
"Honesty requires saying that there are more disturbed people walking around in Schiedam," the politician added. "That is why it is good that there is discussion at national level."
There’s a discussion. Just not the right one.
In May, Malek, a Syrian refugee, stabbed three people in The Hague while shouting, “Allahu Akbar.”
The attack happened on Liberation Day when the country commemorates its liberation from murderous thugs who shouted, “Heil Hitler” and celebrates its new occupation by murderous thugs who shout, “Allahu Akbar.”
The Syrian had previously thanked the Dutch people for their hospitality by shouting, “Allahu Akbar,” and throwing pieces of furniture out of the window of his apartment and into the street.
For months, he had terrorized his neighbors with loud Arabic music, “Allahu Akbar” cries and disturbing behavior. The police finally showed up, accompanied by police dogs and riot shields, and he was institutionalized. He was there for six weeks, married another patient, and was back on the street even though while in the hospital, the police had received a tip that he was planning a terrorist attack.
On the loose, Malek cut a man’s throat. He also stabbed two others.
Police shot him in the leg, ruled out terrorism and blamed mental illness. His family is suing the hospital because Dutch taxpayers haven’t paid enough blood money yet.
In December of last year, Saleh Ali, a Syrian refugee wearing a keffiyah and waving a terrorist PLO flag, went up to a Jewish restaurant in Amsterdam, shouted “Allahu Akbar” and began smashing the windows. The police stood by and watched until he was done. And then they arrested him.
Ali admitted to having fought with Jihadists in Syria. So the system decided that he needed a psychiatric evaluation because in the Netherlands, and the rest of Europe, smashing things while shouting, “Allahu Akbar” means that you need to spend some time in a white room talking about your mommy.
All three Syrian Muslim refugees had a habit of shouting, “Allahu Akbar” while doing threatening things in public. All three escalated their habits to violent attacks with weapons. Their violence, anger and threats were treated as signs of mental instability rather than religious fervor. But that may be because the former Calvinist stronghold has become an irreligious society incapable of understanding religion.
Less than a third of the Dutch believe in anything. Only 25% identify as Christian. 5% as Muslim. Only 13% of Catholics believe in the basic elements of Christianity. So the numbers are even smaller.
The vast majority of the younger native population has no concept of religion. So is it any wonder that the “Allahu Akbar” violence of Muslim migrants is met with incomprehension and psychiatry?
The Dutch were once on the front lines of religious wars. They still are today. But the difference is that much of the country no longer recognizes or understands religion.
Recent research claims that 40% of the Syrian refugees in the Netherlands are suffering from mental problems.
Among Dutch people, it tops out at 14%.
Are 40% of Syrian refugees really disturbed or verward, the Dutch term that loosely translates as confused? Or are Europeans unable to process behavior and values different from their own?
In Europe, brandishing an axe while shouting at the entire street would be a sign of mental illness. So would smashing restaurant windows or tossing furniture out of the window into the street.
But Syria isn’t the Netherlands. And the Middle East isn’t Europe.
Public displays of anger and violence are much less aberrant in the Middle East. The values of the burghers of Rotterdam are not those of a Syrian man in his twenties. Nor is their scrupulous lack of conviction in anything more than civility and good behavior a match for his religious convictions.
His cry of, “Allahu Akbar” is not mad, but a threat. He may be a penniless refugee here, but his religion is greater than theirs. And will subsume the tidy precincts of Schiedam, The Hague and Amsterdam.
Integration is not an option. But disintegration is.
78% of Syrians are unemployed and don’t intend to leave. The Dutch government solution is to improve mental health services at refugee centers. That raises the question of just who’s really crazy here?
Meanwhile in another experiment, Syrian refugees are being housed in empty prisons. At least until they commit enough crimes to be sent to an actual prison. Instead of more psychiatric evaluations.
Dutch voters have made it very clear that they don’t want more migrants. And relatively few asylum petitions are being approved. But that just means that Dutch cities are filling up with failed asylum seekers who can’t be deported, who will no longer be subsidized and are ticking time bombs.
If they want to stay, all they have to do is commit a crime and land in one of the famously cushy prisons.
The Netherlands boasts what its defenders call an innovative mental health system. And in its prisons, the inmates are getting keys to their own cells.
Again, who’s crazy here?
Given a choice between having to get a job or shouting, “Allahu Akbar” before taking an axe to a police officer, who is under orders to aim at the feet in the extreme scenario that he has to use his weapon, it’s an easy choice. And more of those Syrian refugees, who won’t be integrating, are making it.
Is it terrorism? Is it gaming the system? Why can’t it be both?
Islamic terrorists have shown a real talent for gaming the system. And gaming the system, like terrorism, is just finding chinks in the armor to exploit. Welfare fraud and suicide bombing are different sides of the same coin. And in Europe, Jihadists have been known to finance their plots with dole money.
Just don’t call it crazy. When 40% of a population group is deemed loopy, that’s not crazy, it’s the new normal.
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