Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Choir

The men's choir at Kehillas Adas Jeshurun in the German Jewish community in Washington Heights, New York City is legendary, a unique feature of the kehilla. 




Choirs even to this day are very popular in Germany. There are more than 60,000 of them. Recently, the mother of a 9- year old girl whose application to join the 500 year old all boys State and Cathedral Choir in Germany was declined tried to sue the choir for discrimination. Thankfully, a judge decided against the suit, saying the choir was not exercising discrimination in choosing a sound that required boys' voices. There are still a few judges left in the world who exercise common sense from time to time.

In my view, the KAJ choir adds a terrific dimension to the davening. It's worth experiencing for those who can get to Washington Heights for Shabbos. I believe that one of the yekke shuls in Zurich has a choir too. In Eretz Yisroel one can hear yekke choral singing at one of the kenesios organized by Rav Hamburger's shul in Bene Brak on each Chol Moed. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Compare and contrast

(Warning: a somewhat immodest picture appears at the end of this article)

How many times have you heard that Eretz Yisroel is back in Jewish hands?  I have sat in shiurim with so-called yeshivish men who proposed that we no longer need to rip kriah at seeing the kosel because Jerusalem is ours again. I have read in several Artscroll books of the joy and elation that erupted in 1967 when the IDF recaptured the Kosel (which was unnecessary as Jews were able to daven there before the Zionists brazenly declared a state in 1948). 

I ask, is it in Jewish hands? What's a Jew? Rav Hirsch wrote:


It was not the land that Moses had been commanded to proclaim to his people at the outset of his mission as מורשה, as the inheritance they were to preserve (Ex. 6,8). The Law, to be translated into full reality upon that soil, was to be the true מורשה, the one true, everlasting inheritance, the one true center around which the nation and its leaders were to gather as one united community. Herein lay the goal and the destiny, the character and the significance of the people. (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch "The Kehillah," Collected Writings, Vol. VI, p. 62)

What does the law say? It says this:


If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. Vayikra 20:13 

So tell me, who is closer to the law, people who used to dominate the society in Eretz Yisroel or the ones that currently run it? Compare and contrast:




Pride here refers to pride in engaging in homosexual practice

The Palestinian Authority bans lesbian and gay gatherings. The State of Israel promotes it. I know to the Western ear it seems wrong to ban activity connected to a lifestyle choice, but that doesn't stop the State of Israel which bans separate seating by gender at Charedi music events. 



So it's not as if the State of Israel has a free society for all. It's free only for non-Torah activity, for decadence. 

Likewise, much of the country wants to drag Charedim into the army (Heaven help us). The army doesn't need the Charedim. IDF radio reports that the army already has 17,000 soldiers too many. Israel hasn't fought a war against another nation in half a century. The whole conflict is political and ideological. What can be more tyrannical, less free than forcing a young person into a totally dictatorial situation, where a new mode of dress is forced on him and is told what to do, where to sleep, what to eat, where to sit for years, where he is brainwashed in secular political ideology. Not very free. But Israelis, I am sure, will feel superior to the PA for prohibiting public homosexuality events. Those tyrants! 

I ask, is Eretz Yisroel in Jewish hands now? 

"When Israel was still united in a common land they did not call themselves Am, one people, for the reason that one common soil bore them all. For, alone among all the peoples of the earth, the possession of the land and the ensuing organization of the State was for Israel not an end but a means to the better fulfilment of their Jewish duties. The Torah did not exist for the State, but the State for the Torah. And only the Torah, the idea of being joint bearers of a spiritual calling, fused the individuals into an association of human beings whose inner cohesiveness is reflected in the term (literally, society) and whose character in the wider sense as a nation is designated by the term גוי that is to say, a corporate body or a people." (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Horeb 608)

Jews are a nation only by virtue of the Torah, Jewish law, and their adherence to it. So I ask again, is Eretz Yisroel in Jewish hands now? Just in case you are still wavering, I'll tell you that the answer is no. 

With the kosel decades ago snatched by Zionist hands and the area around the kosel which was once poor but dignified now a circus the new battle is for the Temple Mount. (Three days after the conquest of the old city, the Zionists destroyed an 800 year old Moroccan neighborhood where the kosel plaza now sits.) Every week rabid "Religious" Zionists create conflict there (and no doubt trigger violence which costs Jewish lives somewhere in the country.) Tell me, do we really want the Temple Mount to be in Zionist hands? Seems to me that the area will be much more kosher in the hands of Muslims than atheists.

Compare and contrast. The Kosel in the 19th century under Ottoman rule. Modest people at prayer


Photographs of Historic Jerusalem


The circus at the Kosel today. Everything goes.

Israel gears up for Passover and Easter tourists ...



Compare to the Temple Mount today as managed by Muslims:

Palestinian women carry prayer mats in front of the Dome ...


Just imagine what the Zionists would do to the Temple Mount and the rock? Gay marriages? Heaven have mercy.

This does not mean that we want Palestinian control over Eretz Yisroel. But having it over the Temple Mount is probably a good thing. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

It's not just about us

"My soul is my Master's. Taking into account all my iniquities, He has still chosen me for the eternal service of His work to train all of mankind, and He has taken me as His own for this purpose." Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch, Tehillim, 130:5-6



Gentiles matter and part of our purpose in this world is to help them find a higher path. If all one does is hold contempt for them, then he is falling short in his mission. If we Jews become a group that cares only about ourselves, then we have fallen short in our mission. A Jew is never to be selfish and rabid ethnocentricity is a form of collective selfishness. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

If one desires to change back

“Behold it is known that all the people of Poland, Hungary, and Russia…are children of Ashkenaz even Chasidim. And until Chasidus spread they all prayed with nusach Ashkenaz. However, the Chasidic leaders lead them to pray in a different nusach with various changes…They changed the customs of their ancestors and our great rabbis of Germany and France. The reason for the change is not clear nor how they permitted a change from the established nusach….If one desires to change back and pray in nusach Ashkenaz, since it is the nusach of our ancestors and rabbis, he is permitted as he is returning to what once was." Rav Moshe Feinstein, Igros Moshe Orach Chaim 4:24

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The glorious frum community of Germany

"HaKodesh Baruch saw we had passed the test of oppression. Despite all the tzaras, despite all the hatred, all the oppression, we remained loyal. There were a few Jews, meshumadim who sold their souls in order to get glory among the gentiles. There were a few. There were so few that they are insignificant. But Klal Yisroel passed the test. Now Hakodesh Baruch Hu said, I see you passed that test [of persecution in Medieval times]. I'm going to try you with another test now. [The test of emancipation in modern times.] Let's see how you work out this test. Now, when I said it was a calamity, it doesn't mean that the test was a waste, no. It was a minority that passed this test too. And those that remained loyal, they were a glorious example of the Am HaKodesh. Those that remain to this day. Many went lost, yes it's true. But an example, in Germany where there was so much assimilation, a number of German Jews decided they are going to fight for the preservation of the Torah. And they built up an Orthodox kehilla that was excellent in every detail. They were machmir in everything. In some respects, they were more frum than the Jews in Russia and Poland were. And they had organized kashrus. Strict hashgacha. Not rabbanim who gave heksherim and were paid for it. No. The kehillias gave hashgacha and were very strict in every detail. And so the minority that withstood the test were a glorious fulfillment of the prophecy that the Am Yisroel will continue forever despite any circumstances." 

Rav Avigdor Miller, Recording #855 - "The Kiss of Esav," 11:48

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Definitely not a theocracy

As many chilonim in their hysteria continue to rant that Israel is heading toward a theocracy, the Nazareth District Court last Sunday barred the municipality of Afula from holding a gender-segregated musical performance at a public park. The city holds something like 360 events a year. And the Orthodox Jewish community wanted to hold just one event and to set it up so men and women would be separate - you know, according to the halacha. But the court overruled them on the grounds that such was a violation of principles of equality. Some theocracy.

We see that left-wing talk about respect for all cultures only applies to liberal/decadent culture. We see that the charedim in Israel are not a powerful group and need the support of Jews worldwide. 



"Though liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view." William F. Buckley, Jr.





Monday, August 12, 2019

Trouble from the reformers

I found this fascinating tidbit on Chabad.org. A contemporary example of the hostility to Torah of the Jewish reformers and the tolerance of the gentile host society.

"In the city of Outremont in the Canadian Province of Quebec, a number of Orthodox Jews asked their city council for permission to build an eruv. The city council lead by its Jewish mayor refused even though about one quarter of the city's population was Jewish. A non-Jewish judge overruled the city, noting that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that religion can be practiced openly. Cases have also arisen in the United States and other countries."

As we know, Rav Hirsch spent his entire adult life in battle with such people, trading in much of the time he could have spent on Torah study just to deal with them and the obstructions they made for Torah observant people. 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

City of Beit Shemesh Razes Another Shul

The city of Beit Shemesh and its Dati Lemi mayor just destroyed another shul, smashing the Aron Kodesh to the ground. Anybody who voted for this woman (against the decree of a broad array of the Litvitsh, Chasidish, and Sephardi gadolim), has a hand in the destruction of this shul as well as the one the city destroyed a few months ago. 

One reads the utter lies in the Israeli press about the alleged power of Charedim in Israel. But here in one of the few cities that actually has a Charedi presence, that is thought of by people who don't know any better as a Charedi city, one sees how little power Charedim have in Israel. If Charedim had power, they'd certainly be able to stop the destruction of a shul in a Charedi neighborhood. 






Also in the news, as chilonim in their ignorant hysteria continue to rant that Israel is heading toward a theocracy, the Nazareth District Court last Sunday barred the municipality of Afula from holding a gender-segregated musical performance at a public park. The city holds something like 360 events a year. And the Orthodox Jewish community wanted to hold just one event and to set it up so men and women would be separate - you know, according to the halacha. But the court overruled them on the grounds that such was a violation of principles of equality. Some theocracy.

We see that left-wing talk about respect for all cultures only applies to liberal/decadent culture. We see that the Charedim in Israel are not a powerful group and need the support of Jews worldwide. 


"Though liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view."
William F. Buckley, Jr.




Friday, August 9, 2019

Anti-religious sentiment in the State of Israel

Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch battled anti-Torah people all his life. We face similar battles. I have cited many examples of anti-religious sentiment in Israeli society. Here's another example.

A Times of Israel article that I recently cited discusses the war of words between the PM and Bezalel Smotrich, the Transportation minister, regarding whether the State of Israel should follow Torah law as the latter proposed. The PM laughed at him.

The article then went on to discuss whether Likud would join religious parties to form a government after the next elections and the PMs legal woes as resulting from corruption charges. That discussion is off topic but related enough I suppose to serve as an addition.

Then, TOI tells us in detail of possible indictments of the heads of religious parties Shas and UTG for alleged corruption. Now we are really off topic. What has this to do with Netanyahu and Smotrich? The writers (identified as TOI Staff) just had to squeeze that in, their hostility to Orthodox Judaism being typical for chilonim. 

And you can't say it's only the Israeli left (TOI is left wing) because the very right-wing A. Lieberman is just as bad. His recent attacks on Charedim raised his Knesset seat count from 5 in the last election to a projected 10 in the upcoming one. His voters are all right-wingers.

I'm certainly not justifying any corruption in the parties that claim to represent religious people and wouldn't complain if the TOI wrote articles about it as long as TOI wrote articles about all corruption in the State of Israel. And there's a lot of it. But to find a  way, by hook or crook, to mention only the problems with Shas and UTG here shows a palpable prejudice.

Netanyahu is from the Likud party. Well, the article failed to mention that Welfare Minister Haim Katz of the Likud party will likely be indicted in the coming days on charges of fraud and breach of trust. So if they wanted to list corruption problems in the parties that claim to represent religious people as long as they were mentioning those parties, why not mention corruption in the Likud party as long as you are talking about Likud? Remember, in Israel, one votes for a party on the national level, not a person. Nobody votes for Netanyahu. They vote for Likud. And coalitions occur between parties not individuals. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Dvir Sorek z'l

Baruch Dayin Emes. The body of Dvir Sorek, may his blood be avenged, a hesder yeshiva student from the Ofra settlement, was found today along the side of a road near Bethlehem. It appears that he was abducted and stabbed to death. Reportedly, he had gone to Jerusalem to buy books for his rebbe. He was found clutching those books. He was not in a uniform at the time of his death.



I know many people who act as though Area C is a safe place to be. (Area C is the Jewish part of the West Bank where the Gush, Beitar, and Modi'in Illit as well as all Jewish settlements are found.)  I know all kinds of people that wander around there at night, even women who do so. They act as if geulah has arrived, the result of religious Zionist propaganda no doubt. I know British and French people who moved to Israel for the reason that London and Paris have too many Arabs. Talk about illogical. No Arabs in the Middle East? More than half the population of Eretz Yisroel is Arab. And some of them are angry and very dangerous. Be careful out there.

May this young man rest in peace and may Hashem avenge his blood. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Chillul Hashem Again

We have become numb to it. We forget. But when the head of the State of Israel, the so-called "Jewish State" denounces Jewish law, he has committed a huge chillul Hashem.

Recently, Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for the implementation of religious law in Israel. The Times of Israel tells us of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's response:


“Well, that is pure and utter nonsense. It’s pure BS and nothing can attest to that more than the recently appointed justice minister from the Likud,” he added, referring to Amir Ohana, Israel’s first ever openly gay minister."
At least he seems to admit that having an openly gay minister in some way offends Jewish law. The problem is that he's happy to commit such an offense.

Not only are the PM's remarks a chillul Hashem, but they are a rebuke of the very notion that the State of Israel is a Jewish state. As Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch told us repeatedly, the Jews are a people only via the Torah.


"It was not the land that Moses had been commanded to proclaim to his people at the outset of his mission as מורשה, as the inheritance they were to preserve (Ex. 6,8). The Law, to be translated into full reality upon that soil, was to be the true מורשה, the one true, everlasting inheritance, the one true center around which the nation and its leaders were to gather as one united community. Herein lay the goal and the destiny, the character and the significance of the people." Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch "The Kehillah," Collected Writings, Vol. VI, p. 62
"Israel should be one nation, an entire nation that should have no other foundation for its existence, survival, activity and significance other than this Torah. It is to see the realization and devoted observance of this God-given "fiery Law" as its one contribution in world history for the edifice of human salvation. What the Phoenicians sought to bring about with the keels of their ships, what the ancient Greeks sought to achieve with their chisels and what the ancient Romans sought to attain with their swords, Israel is to accomplish with its Torah. Nay more, Israel is a nation that became a nation only through and for the Torah, a nation that once owned a land and existed as a state only through and for the Torah, and which possessed that land and that statehood only as instruments for translating the Torah into living reality. This is why Israel was a people even before it possessed land and statehood; this, too, is why Israel survived as a people even after its land was destroyed and its statehood lost, and this is why it will survive as a nation as long as it does not lose this only מורשה, this sole foundation for its survival and significance. That is the kind of nation that Israel, that all of us, should be." Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch "The Character of the Jewish Community," Collected Writings, Vol. VI, p. 35


So if the Jewish people is a nation only via the Torah then a political state that not only doesn't abide by the Torah but openly flaunts it is not Jewish. Note the PM's coarse and dirty language in rejecting the Transportation Minister's suggestion. Therefore, one cannot call the State of Israel the Jewish state. Rather, the State of Israel is a chillul Hashem, a desecration of His name.



Piling on to the Chillul Hashem, the PM will likely be indicted after the elections for fraud (so says the attorney general). Netanyahu runs around the world posing as the self-appointed spokesman for the Jewish people so his indictment would reflect on all of us. Equally problematic, police have recommended that one of the political leaders (not a rabbi) of the religious Sephardic Shas party be indicted for "fraud, breach of trust, obstructing court proceedings, money laundering, and tax offenses." Likewise, they have recommended that one of the political leaders (not a rabbi) of United Torah Judaism, "be charged with fraud and breach of trust for using his office to illicitly provide assistance to an alleged serial sex abuser, as well as on a separate bribery charge for helping to prevent the closure of a food business that his own ministry had deemed unsanitary."

All three people deny the charges against them. And I certainly can't tell you who is guilty or innocent. It could be that the charges are politically motivated. It could be they are legitimate. But there's a Chillul Hashem just the same. The heavens weep from the Chillul Hashem caused by the State of Israel.

But that's not all. Also in the news of late - the worldwide news - is the case of a group of Israeli teens who were arrested in Cyprus for allegedly raping a British 19 year old. Three of them admitted to having relations with her. Not only that, they videoed the sordid event and shared it with friends who uploaded it to the Internet. They also tossed her out of the room when they were done with her. 

In a strange turn of events, the Cyprus police claim that the girl recanted, saying rape was not involved. But the girl says now the police forced her to recant, writing the statement for her after keeping her in the station house for 8 hours and threatening to arrest her friends. There are more than a few people out there who claim that the authorities in Cyprus were bribed or threatened by Israeli handlers.

Who knows the truth? At the very least, we have again a huge Chillul Hashem. The Israeli teens certainly acted perversely and cruelly even if they didn't actually rape. And much of the world is watching.

It's incredible that the nation of Hashem which is supposed to uphold the highest moral standards is now associated with the question of whether or not some of its youth committed one of the most horrible acts or not. But that they acted like animals is not in question.

Rav Joseph Breuer zt'l, the leader of the Hirschian kehilla in New York City wrote:
"The proclamation of a Jewish state would bring great joy to all the members of our people, if conditions were such that we could feel justified to call it a Kiddush Hashem. It pains us to say, and we have no illusions, that for the time being this is not the case. For every Torah-true Jew the word Kiddush Hashem is his utmost concern, while Chillul Hashem leaves him trembling. Thus the establishment of a Jewish state will fill him with misgivings and alarm." (R’ Joseph Breuer, “The State of Israel,” Mitteilungen, Vol. 9, June 1948, A Unique Perspective: Rav Breuer’s Essays 1914-1973, p 357.)

He wrote this 70 years ago and the situation has not improved. Arguably, it's worse now than ever. Moreover, each Chillul Hashem piles on top of the prior ones and endangers us all. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Sunday, August 4, 2019

ennoblement of man

"The more the Jew is a Jew, the more universalist will his views and aspirations be, the less aloof will he be from anything that is noble and good, true and upright, in art or science, in culture or education; the more joyfully will he applaud whenever he sees truth and justice and peace and the ennoblement of man prevail and become dominant in human society." 

"Religion Allied to Progress", Collected Writings, Rav Samson R. Hirsch