Shattering the Apartheid Canard

Jan 18, 2021  |  by Rabbi Shraga Simmons

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Shattering the Apartheid Canard

It’s time to call out the anti-Semitism and hypocrisy.

“Israeli human rights group says that Israel is not a democracy, it’s an ‘apartheid regime.” This is the headline that recently blared on CNN

The fact that the charge comes from B’Tselem, a group the Israeli government has called out for “spreading lies, slander and incitement against the state of Israel,” was apparently lost amongst the onslaught of negative media coverage.

Closer to home, Yoseph Haddad writes of waking up “astonished to discover I was living under a racist apartheid regime… How dare they say that I, an Arab Israeli who served along with Jewish soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces and managed hundreds of Jewish employees, live under an apartheid regime?… I look around at our neighbors in the region and thank God I was born in the State of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East… the only country that grants minorities equal rights and the ability to influence their future.”

Haddad concludes: “B’Tselem, don’t push your agendas at our expense.”

Just the Facts

What is the root of this tumult?

In the 1980s, a coordinated campaign against apartheid South Africa combined U.N. condemnations, diplomatic isolation, an arms embargo, economic sanctions, divestment, and a cultural boycott – creating the perception of a regime that was illegitimate and immoral, to the point where the world demanded it be dismantled.

The pressure worked and apartheid collapsed.

Today, the enemies of Israel – after decades of terror attacks and wars of annihilation – have shifted tactics to portray Israel as the new “apartheid regime.” The flagship program of this delegitimization campaign is the annual Israel Apartheid Week, which turns college campuses into an anti-Israel bash-fest: eviction notices are placed on the doors of Jewish students, and the campus quad is filled with taunts about the “murderous, apartheid Israel.”

Drop by drop, Israel’s enemies are injecting their poison into mainstream consciousness – whether through Congressional tweets or the unhinged rants of Roger Waters. In 2019, more than 200 Israel Apartheid events were held in 30 countries, with storied institutions like Harvard University’s undergraduate council voting to provide funding.

Media outlets have obligingly jumped on the bandwagon. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published the headline “Israelis Adopt What South Africa Dropped.” Jimmy Carter’s 2007 book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, earned the praise of Osama bin Laden. And multiple U.S. newspapers, including the Washington Post, published Robert D. Novak’s column, “Israel: Worse than Apartheid?” (His answer: Yes.)

Cartoon equates Nelson Mandela’s South African experience with Israel today.

Arab Rights

So let’s get down to the facts: Is Israel the next incarnation of apartheid?

In South Africa, blacks were segregated as second-class citizens. Interracial marriage was illegal. Blacks could not vote, could not attend white universities, or eat in white restaurants. Blacks had separate hospitals, beaches, buses, restrooms, drinking fountains and even park benches.

In Israel today, Jewish and Arab babies are born in the same delivery room, attended by the same doctors and nurses. Jews and Arabs share meals in restaurants and travel on the same buses and trains. They shop in the same malls, receive the same world-class health care, and participate equally in the political process.

Ironically, Arabs living in Israel enjoy more freedoms than Arabs elsewhere in the Middle East, where autocratic regimes regularly suppress freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of religion. Which was the first Middle East country to grant Arab women the right to vote? Not Egypt, Jordan, Qatar or any of the 23 Arab states. It was Israel.

Israel has the freest Arabic press in the Middle East. As for religious freedom, Israel permits Muslims to build minarets, wear burqas and pray in the streets – better treatment of Muslims than in “progressive” Europe – as evidenced by these headlines:

  • “Swiss Voters Back Ban on Minarets” (BBC News)
  • “Dutch to Ban Full-Face Veils” (New York Times)
  • “France Burqa Ban Comes into Force” (Time magazine)
  • “Praying in Paris Streets Outlawed” (The Telegraph – UK)

In Israel today, Arabs are represented in all strata of society – IDF, police force, Knesset, diplomatic corps, business, entertainment, sports, etc. etc. An Arab has served as Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, as Supreme Court justice, and as acting President of Israel. (In apartheid South Africa – unthinkable.)

Jewish schoolchildren in Israel study Arabic. At Hebrew University in Jerusalem, 30 percent of students are Arab. Hadassah Hospital – arguably the leading hospital in the Middle East, where one-third of the staff is Arab – was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for its equal treatment of Israelis and Palestinians (including wounded terrorists).

If Israel is such an oppressive, racist state, why did a survey by the Arab Center for Applied Social Research find that 90 percent of Israeli Arabs would rather live in the Jewish state than anywhere else – a position so fiercely held that 73 percent of Israeli Arabs say they would violently oppose any diplomatic agreement to include them in a future Palestinian state.

So when people level the charge of “apartheid” against Israel, what possible explanation is there other than anti-Semitism?

Systematic discrimination in apartheid South Africa.

The Real Apartheid

If the UN, human rights activists, and the media are looking for discrimination today, it ought to focus instead on apartheid practices in Arab states:

  • Lebanon bans Palestinians from owning property and working in most professions.
  • Jordan has revoked the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians.
  • Kuwait has evicted a quarter-million Palestinians.

Where is the protest against gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia, where women have been arrested for driving a car, have no independent right to leave the country, and make up just 5 percent of the workforce – the lowest proportion in the world?

In the realm of religious freedom, too, Israel is a beacon of light. Since 1948, Israel is the only Middle East country where the Christian population has increased – rising by more than 400 percent. The headquarters of the Bahai faith is in Haifa, for the simple reason that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where a Bahai Temple is allowed.

In 1967 after recapturing the historically-Jewish Temple Mount, Israel shocked the world with an unprecedented show of religious tolerance by handing Muslim religious leaders autonomy over the site. Incredibly, to further protect Muslim rights, the Israeli government passed a law forbidding Jews from praying at their holiest site.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia openly practices religious apartheid, with special roads and even entire cities for “Muslims only.” In Saudi Arabia, the public practice of any religion other than Islam is illegal, and non-Muslim religious activities carry the risk of arrest, imprisonment, lashing and deportation. A notice on the Saudi Airlines website (subsequently removed) prohibited the possession of any non-Islamic religious symbols – Bibles, crucifixes and the Star of David – mentioning them in the same breath as narcotics, firearms and pornography.

Arab treatment of Jews is severely biased: Most Arab countries refuse entry to Jews and Israelis, or even to anyone whose passport shows evidence of having visited Israel.

The Palestinian Authority regards selling land to Jews as punishable by death and has pronounced such a verdict dozens of times. Even in Egypt and Jordan – countries with longstanding peace agreements with Israel – it is illegal to sell or rent land to Israelis.

Where are the protests against this Arab-sponsored apartheid?

There are none. A Google search for “Israeli apartheid” returns 588,000 results; a search for “Saudi apartheid” returns 962 results – a fraction of one percent.

This hypocrisy was highlighted one evening in 2011 at Britain’s Edinburgh University, when a speech by an Israeli official was boycotted in protest of “Israeli apartheid.” Protesters disrupted the speech with chants and taunts, forcing the speaker to abandon the stage. The incredible irony is that the speaker was Ismail Khaldi, an Israeli Arab-Muslim who holds a senior position in the Israeli Foreign Ministry – living proof of no “apartheid” in Israel, yet the target of protests against “Israeli apartheid!”

Ironically, anti-Israel activists never consider the immorality of Palestinians insisting their future state be Judenrein, the Nazi-era word meaning “cleansed of Jews.” As reiterated by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas: “I do not agree… to have living among us even a single Israeli on Palestinian land.”

Pure Anti-Semitism

Israel’s human rights record may not be perfect, but it is doing its best in a difficult situation. If restrictions such as checkpoints and the security barrier are placed on Palestinians, there is genuine justification – unlike in South Africa, where black communities were not producing terrorists nor threatening to annihilate the white population. Apartheid-era South Africa was a repugnant regime intent on preserving white supremacy; Israel is a democracy intent on preserving itself from destruction. In other words, Hamas is not Mandela.

Kenneth Meshoe, a black South African Member of Parliament, set the record straight: “If anyone says to you there is apartheid in Israel, tell them the man who was oppressed by apartheid in South Africa says it’s a big lie. Coming from South Africa, it is laughable to draw a parallel. If the government of Israel is accused of being heavy-handed for wanting to wipe out terrorism, we are here from South Africa to say: You are not alone.”

Let there be no mistake: Those foisting the lie about Israeli Apartheid seek to portray the Jewish state as an illegitimate enterprise that, for the sake of humanity, must be terminated. That canard – even coming from a Jewish “human rights group” – is pure anti-Semitism.

Further Study:

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Terror U: Who is suppressing academic freedom in Palestinian Universities?

PA higher education is defined by violence and intimidation, alignment with terror groups, and even murder of dissenting faculty. Op-ed

Dr. Richard L. Cravatts , Jan 17 , 2021 1:51 PM Share
Student elelelec                                      ctions, Birzeit University

Student elections, Birzeit University Issam Rimawi/Flash90

In January of 2019, the Academic Freedom Committee of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) wrote a letter to Benyamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, and several other ministers and officials.

In that condemnatory letter, MESA, an organization that has been obsessively and chronically anti-Israel, chastened Israel, with the purpose of the complaint “. . . to urge a halt to the Israeli army and security forces conducting arbitrary arrests at and incursions into Palestinian universities, assaulting students, faculty, and staff and obstructing the education of thousands of students.”

Of specific concern to MESA was the 2018 arrest of Yehya Rabie, the President of Birzeit University’s Student Council by the IDF and a similar arrest of Omar al-Kiswani, the previous President of Birzeit University’s Student Council.

For an organization of coddled, safely-ensconced professors in American universities it is easy, of course, to castigate Israel for its behavior in insuring the safety of its citizenry, particularly since in discussing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, MESA has reliably expected no rational or reasonable behavior from the perennially-“oppressed” Palestinian Arabs and has singularly blamed Israel for its alleged brute treatment of the Palestinians, including these specific arrests which, it contended, “follow a pattern of Israeli forces’ aggression on Palestinian campuses,” and the “attacks, assaults, and detentions described above are grave violations of basic rights to education and academic freedom.”

Allying with a Hamas cell is not the same as joining a chapter of College Democrats or College Republicans on an American campus. In the West Bank and Gaza, we are not in Kansas anymore.
As Israel-haters in the West and elsewhere are prone to do, MESA exonerates the Palestinians for any complicity in creating campus climates far from the idyllic picture one normally has when thinking about institutions of higher education.

In fact, as Cary Nelson fastidiously examines in his new book, Not in Kansas Anymore: Academic Freedom in Palestinian Universities, despite the jaundiced view of MESA and other of Israel’s critics, Palestinian higher education is defined by radical politics, rival political factions who use harassment, violence, and intimidation to promote their views, alignment with terror groups such as Hamas, repression of opposing views, the use of terror cells within university facilities for weapon production, and violence against and even the murder of dissenting faculty who do not conform to the prevailing hatred of the Jewish state or the tenets of Islam.

Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) between 2006 and 2012 and Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is not a right-wing, strident defender of Israel, but something of an academic freedom purist; even so, his examination of the state of Palestinian universities reveals that, despite MESA’s contention, it is the Palestinians themselves who shoulder the responsibility for the fragile state of academic freedom and free speech at their universities.

“The pervasive politicization and militarization of education that took place in Palestinian Universities in the 1980s has left a legacy that is still relevant today,” Nelson wrote. “. . . MESA knows better,” he suggested, referring to the letter denouncing the student arrests, “when it assigns the responsibility to protect academic freedom to Israel alone and ignores the primary responsibility the PA and the universities themselves must take. . . . Allying with a Hamas cell is not the same as joining a chapter of College Democrats or College Republicans on an American campus. In the West Bank and Gaza, we are not in Kansas anymore,” Nelson wrote, alluding to Dorothy’s iconic line in The Wizard of Oz.

Nor, apparently, have MESA and other anti-Israel groups bothered to look at the values and teaching traditions that actually define Palestinian institutions of higher education.

In fact, Gaza’s Islamic University, which in the past had to be destroyed by the IDF for its troublesome habit of being a weapons facility, is hardly a bucolic college campus, free of the perverse indoctrination and teaching of terror. When Hamas formed its cabinet after being voted into office, for example, 13 of its ministers had been teachers at either the Islamic University in Gaza or at the An-Najah National University in Nablus, and virtually every leading figure of Hamas has taught or studied at Islamic University.

The research labs of the university were also being used to refine the lethality and range of the Qassam rockets that have been terrorizing southern Israeli towns since Israel’s disengagement. A professor there, Jameela El Shanty, was quoted in 2006 as admitting that “Hamas built this institution. The university presents the philosophy of Hamas. If you want to know what Hamas is, you can know it from the university.”

“A widespread trend in the West has been to treat Palestinian universities— including An-Najah, Birzeit, and Islamic University of Gaza—as institutions comparable to our own, beleaguered but still noble in intent, dedicated to an educational mission we can identify with and support,” Nelson observed. But despite the naivete of groups such as MESA and their fellow travelers in the West, systemic radical ideology, the politicization of scholarship, ingrained Jew-hatred and enmity toward the Jewish state, and a willingness to suppress opposing views—with violence, if necessary—more accurately define Palestinian universities.

“IUG is not simply politicized; it is militarized; its mission is indoctrination,” Nelson noted. “An-Najah and Birzeit, on the other hand, are deeply fraught and compromised, politicized so thoroughly as to make their difference from Western standards one of character and kind, not degree. All three institutions are among those Palestinian universities that create socially, politically, and conceptually coercive environments in which academic freedom as we know it cannot thrive.”

What this means, according to Nelson, is that the inclination to blame the IDF and Israel’s government for suppressing Palestinians academic freedom by arrests and incursions into the schools themselves is wrong-headed, because these actions are based on the reality that Palestinian Authority universities operate in a way in which politics, Islamism, and terrorism animate and inform the teaching and political activity of students and faculty alike.

In fact, contended Nelson, “The unfortunate bottom line in the West Bank context is that there is no fixed line between valid political expression and terrorist recruitment.”

Those campus environments help incubate and promote lethal politics and terroristic activity, both on campus and in Palestinian society in general. “One way or another, the campus environment at An-Najah and at other institutions for decades has helped prepare some current students for extreme violent activity,” Nelson wrote. “Others leave school to join terrorist cells and some, in effect, make terrorism their career choice, albeit often for careers cut short by imprisonment or death. It is not just deeply troubling but also definitional that many Palestinian universities have substantial histories of student involvement in terrorism.”

The germination of Islamic University’s poisonous educational mission, for instance, is evidenced by the rantings of another of its professors and former board of trustee member, the late Sheikh Dr. Nizar Rayyan, Hamas leadership’s liaison with the group’s military wing, who found himself one of the unlucky jihadist targets of Israel’s initial counter strikes on Gaza. A lecturer in Islamic Sharia studies, Rayyan was clearly interested in students’ extracurricular activities, as well; he madly advocated unrelenting suicide attacks against Israel, and ardently sought new shahids, martyrs, in the peculiar Palestinian cult of death, not inconsequentially including his 14 year-old son, who was killed by the IDF when he attempted to self-detonate and murder Jews in an Israeli community in 2001.

Nor is Islamic University alone in its role in helping to germinate radical Islam and jihadism. Nelson quotes Matthew Levitt, director of the Washington Institute’s Stein Program on Terrorism, Intelligence, and Policy, who revealed that the 11,000-student An-Najah is the largest university in the territories, and “the terrorist recruitment, indoctrination and radicalization of students for which An-Najah is known typically take place via various student groups,” among them the Hamas-affiliated Islamic Bloc. “Of the thirteen members of An-Najah’s 2004 student council, eight,” Levitt wrote—“including the chairperson—belong to Hamas’s Islamic Bloc.”

Nelson reveals that terrorism and political activism against Israel is not only promoted within the university walls, it is celebrated publicly. He recounts how students at An-Najah University, for example, fondly remembered the outbreak of the Second Intifada by constructing a macabre attraction called “The Sbarro Cafe Exhibition,” named for the location of a 2001 suicide bombing of a Jerusalem pizza parlor where 15 Jews were murdered and dozens more wounded.

Students at An-Najah University fondly remembered the outbreak of the Second Intifada by constructing a macabre attraction called “The Sbarro Cafe Exhibition,” named for the location of a 2001 suicide bombing of a Jerusalem pizza parlor where 15 Jews were murdered and dozens more wounded. Created not as a memorial but as an inspiration for further terror-laden savagery.
Created not as a memorial but as an inspiration for further terror-laden savagery, the diorama included scattered pizza slices amid Israeli body parts, splattered blood, calls to martyrdom with Koran and Kalashnikovs close by, and, beaming out of a loudspeaker behind a mannequin version of an Orthodox Jew, the inspiring take on an oft-repeated Islamic exhortation: “O believer, there is a Jewish man behind me. Come and kill him.”

The mock apartheid walls constructed by anti-Israel students on American campuses during the annual Israeli Apartheid Week look tame and civilized in comparison.

Nelson is nothing if not balanced in assessing blame for the state of academic freedom in Gaza and the West Bank, but, unlike MESA, as one example, he can see the facts on the ground and exposes the defects in teaching and campus politics that spring from Palestinian society itself. “Both the IDF and Palestinian groups compromise academic freedom in various ways, but with far from equal severity,” Nelson wrote, shifting much of the blame away from Israel. “Yet the BDS movement [and its enablers and promoters, such as MESA] criticizes only Israeli actions, ignoring the far more serious and dangerous assaults on a secure learning environment carried out by Palestinian factions and students themselves. Ignoring or misrepresenting the severity of the threats at stake means that US debates about academic freedom for Palestinian students and faculty are conducted in fundamental and corrupting ignorance.”

The suppression of academic freedom and the real, and potentially lethal, threats to free speech that both faculty and students face in Palestinian institutions of higher education are cause for alarm. It is not only Israel’s security that is threatened by the ongoing incubation of hatred and terrorism inside the universities’ walls. The integrity, value, and moral clarity of Palestinian Authority education are also victim to the systemic culture of violence, extremism, and warring political factionalism—all with long-term, deleterious effects for Palestinian culture and society.

“It is not just deeply troubling but also definitional that many Palestinian universities have substantial histories of student involvement in terrorism,” Nelson concluded, but that reality, often ignored by Western critics of Israel, means that academic freedom and free speech, enshrined on Western campuses and fundamental to higher education, have not and will not likely thrive in Palestinian universities for some time to come.

Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., a Freedom Center Journalism Fellow in Academic Free Speech and President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.

Tags: Academic Freedom Sbarro Restaurant Bombing Dr. Richard L. Cravatts

The Middle Ground

Yochanan Mauritz Hummasti

The Mishnah Says – “Berachoth 1.1 But the Sages say, Until Midnight – vaChakhamim Omrim: ayd Chatzoth.”

Is this related to the Sages advice that “one should take the middle path [or hold to the middle ground]?” That is, one should not go to extremes as the saying goes, “Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?” Ecclesiastes 7:16

But why did the Sages say “Until Midnight?” My pointed question is: “Why exactly did the Sages specifically select Midnight as the deadline for recital of the Shema? Did they intend to connect the deadline Until Midnight for recital of the Shema to the Midnight deadline for eating the Korban Pesach and also connect it to the Redemption of the Firstborn Sons of Yisrael (for at Midnight HaShem Passed Over (lit. covered) the Houses of Yisrael and slew all the Firstborn of Egypt.

Rashi quoting Berachoth 3b (the Gemara there questions: “Could there be any doubt in the mind of the Holy One?”) says of the passuk – (Shmoth [Exodus] 11.4) “Moses said, “So said the Lord, At the dividing point of the night, I will go out into the midst of Egypt, ….”

At the dividing point of the night: Heb. כַּחֲצֹת הַלַיְלָה, when the night is divided. כַּחֲצֹת is like “when the meal offering was offered up (כַּעֲלוֹת) ” (II Kings 3:20); [and like] “when their anger was kindled (בַּחֲרוֹת) against us” (Ps. 124:3). This is its simple meaning, which fits its context that חֲצֹת is not a noun denoting a half. Our Rabbis, however, interpreted it like כַּחֲצִי הַלַיְלָה, at about midnight [lit., half the night], and they said that Moses said כַּחִצֹת, about midnight, meaning near it [midnight], either before it or after it, but he did not say בַּחֲצֹת, at midnight, lest Pharaoh’s astrologers err and [then] say, “Moses is a liar,” but the Holy One, blessed be He, Who knows His times and His seconds, said בַּחִצוֹת, at midnight. — [from Ber. 3b]

The Mishnah Says, And not only this, but all things about which the Sages said “Until Midnight,” the time for fulfilling the commandment extends until the light of dawn arises. Berachoth 1.1 Yad Avraham Artscroll Mishnah Series, Page 67.

[….] If so, why did the Sages say: “Until Midnight?” To distance a person from transgression. Berachoth 1.1 Yad Avraham Artscroll Mishnah Series, Page 69.

It says in Mishnah Zevachim 5: “And the meat portions of the offering are eaten within the curtains, i.e., in the Temple courtyard, by the males of the priesthood. And they are eaten prepared in any form of food preparation, on the day the offering is sacrificed and during the night that follows, until midnight.

Also in Mishnah Zevachim 5: “The Paschal offering is eaten only at night, and it is eaten only until midnight, and it is eaten only by its registrants, i.e., those who registered in advance to partake of the offering, and it is eaten only roasted, not prepared in any other manner.”

It would seem that they connect the three (deadline for the recital of the Shema, the deadline for consuming the Korban Pesach and the Redemption of the firstborn) to the commandment of “Remembering the Exodus From Egypt ‘All the Days of Your Life’. ” Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16.3

As the Mishnah Says, “But the Sages say: The days of your life – [this means] this world; all the days of your life – [this comes] to include the days of the Messiah.” Yad Avraham Artscroll Mishnah Series, 1.5 Page 95

Rav Joseph Soloveitchik writes:

“My grandfather also said that the entire mitzva of ‘zekhirat yetzi’at Mitzrayim’ does not constitute an independent fulfillment of an obligation. Rather, its basic essence is a fulfillment of the acceptance of the yoke of the Kingship of Heaven. This constitutes a specific law regarding the acceptance of the yoke of His Kingship, which must take place also through the recollection of yetzi’at Mitzrayim.” (Shiurim Le-zekher Abba Mari, vol. 1, p.1)

It should be noted that King David said “At Midnight I arise to Praise You.” Tehillim 119.62 How did King David know it was Midnight? King David had a harp that hung on his wall and when Midnight came a wind blew on the harp and it played of itself. This was a sign to King David that it was Midnight!

“Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korchah said: Why does [the passage of] “Shema” precede [the passage of] “Vehayah im shamoa”? Only so one will first accept upon himself the Yoke of Heaven’s sovereignty and afterwards accept upon himself the yoke of the commandments.

The Yad Avraham commentary states: “Accepting G-D’s sovereignty logically precedes the acceptance of His dictates. Only one who views himself as a subject of the King will obey His commands. (See Mechilta to Shmoth 20.3) Yad Avraham Artscroll Mishnah Series, 2.2 Page 109.

The essence of all three sections of the Shema is found in both Shmoth 20.2 “I am the L-RD thy G-D, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” and in “VayomerB’midbar 15.41 “I am the L-RD your G-D, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your G-D: I am the L-RD your G-D.”

This brings us to the saying of Koheleth 4.12 “And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (The strongest part of a threefold cord is it’s middle.) The beginning of Aleph-Bet is Elohechah, (recognizing HaShem as one’s Deity,) then one proceeds with Ahavtah – the Love of HaShem Elohechah with all one’s heart, soul and resources and it’s strongest part is Ashrey (Tehillim 144): 15 “Happy or Praiseworthy is the people that is in such a case. Yea, happy or praiseworthy is the people whose G-D is the L-RD.”

This boils down to three Aleph’s (Rulers) – Elohechah אֱלֹהֶיךָ, Ahavtah אָהַבְתָּ, and Ashrey אַשְׁרֵי which might be viewed as an Ox’s Yoke: the two outer edges that act as a guide to the Ox steered by the farmer and the Middle part which rests on the neck of the Ox.

A fourth Aleph is Aromemcha אֲרוֹמִמְךָ Exalting Elohay “HaShem” My G-D. A fifth Aleph is Eshtachaveh אֶשְׁתַּחֲוֶה Prostrating before HaShem! Tehillim 5.8 A sixth Aleph is related to the word Emeth אמת Truth; while a seventh Aleph is related to the word Emunah אמונה Faith, as in the liturgical hymn “Yigdal Elohiym Chai v’yishtabach ….” which is based on Maimonides Thirteen Principals of Faith: “Haray Ani Ma’Amin B’Emunah ….” (“Behold, I believe with perfect faith….”). Therefore, we have seven “rulers” of which Elohechah (Your [Yisrael’s] G-D) is predominate!

The fourth passuk (verse) of Tehillim 145 states: “One generation shall laud Thy works to another, and shall declare Thy mighty acts.” The Hebrew is more precise: דּוֹר לְדוֹר, יְשַׁבַּח מַעֲשֶׂיךָ; וּגְבוּרֹתֶיךָ יַגִּידוּ. This is a reference to the Exodus from Egypt and the Pesach (Passover) Hagaddah as related in the Mitzvah of “You shall tell your son on that day….” Shmoth 13.8 – “for with a Strong Hand HaShem brought me out of Mitzrayim!’ ” Devarim 26.8

The Middle Part of Ashrey (that we colloquially refer to as Ashrey) is Tehillim 145.13 “Thy kingdom is a kingdom for all ages, and Thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.”

And the End Part of Ashrey is Tehillim 145.21 “My mouth shall speak the praise of the L-RD; and let all flesh bless His holy name for ever and ever.”

Thus, in sum we see that all three sections of the Shema that mention: “the L-RD your G-D” is as being synonymous with “Remembering the Exodus From Egypt All the Days of Your Life” – that is as synonymous with “accepting the Yoke HaShem’s sovereignty in this world for the world (to wit: The Kingdom) to come!”

Memo to Rep. Gregory Meeks on a two-state solution

I humbly suggest that you proceed slowly, learn the subject well and even reconsider your determination. If not, be prepared as many before you, to watch as the Palestinian side sabotages peace efforts again.

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(January 11, 2021 / JNS)

Dear Congressman Meeks,

As the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, you have been quoted as saying that you were looking forward to resuming humanitarian aid to the Palestinians as part of the new administration’s push for a two-state solution to the Arab-Israel conflict. You also, I read, support the return of the PLO Palestinian diplomatic representation to the United States.

“I’m a firm believer in the two-state solution,” you declared, continuing that “we may need to restart the U.S. assistance to Palestinian people, demonstrating that the United States is ready to lead again.” You added that the two-state solution is “the only way I believe that we can ensure a Jewish state of Israel that is viable and a peaceful Palestinian state.”

But is this “leading” or simply trudging a too well-worn path? Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top stories

True, there was an initiative, H.Res.326 in the 116th Congress, which proclaimed “the sense of the House of Representatives that only a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can ensure Israel’s survival as a secure Jewish and democratic state and fulfill the legitimate aspirations for a Palestinian state.” Back on May 4, 2020, a number of self-declared “U.S. Foreign Policy Professionals” addressed the Democratic National Committee and requested that your party’s 2020 platform should

“expressly state a commitment to a resolution of the conflict that ensures both Israel’s security and future as a Jewish and democratic state with equal rights for all its citizens, as well as Palestinian rights, including self-determination, security and freedom. It should include clear opposition to the ongoing occupation, settlement expansion and any form of unilateral annexation of territory in the West Bank as well as clear opposition to violence, terrorism and incitement from all sides.”

Before I proceed, I wish that you carefully reflect on the above statement. Israel must provide equal rights for all its citizens, but it is silent on whether a future state of Palestine will have the same “all its citizens” makeup. In other words, will Jews be able to live there? At this point, I’ll just draw your attention to that matter and will return to it below.

I hope you can avoid partisan politics in your diplomatic outreach. After all, the Trump administration’s “Peace and Prosperity” Mideast plan also promotes a two-state solution. Nevertheless, allow me to suggest the two-state solution is not a solution.

  1. It has been tried before.

In 1922, the League of Nations granted “recognition … to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country” and “agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” However, that future Jewish national home in Palestine would be limited to the area west of the Jordan River in that Article 25 promulgated a first partition. That article decreed that

“In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions.”

There it is, a two-state solution. All the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River should be the Jewish National Home. The area east of the Jordan River should be an Arab state. And it is. It is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It officially became a country in 1946. It lies in “historic Palestine.” Palestine was partitioned and a two-state solution developed.

A second partition was put forward by the British Mandatory regime in 1937 as regards the territory west of the Jordan River and revised by the Woodhead Commission in 1938. A third partition was recommended by the United Nations, in 1947. In other words, in all these early two-state solutions, Jews were always losing land, having the territory of their national home reduced, with ridiculous boundary configurations being created, while the Arabs were steadily gaining land.

  1. It has failed.

Those early two-state solution plans were rejected by the Arab community’s leadership. Not only rejected, but those decisions were followed up by acts of raging terror and aggressive war hostilities. It not only failed at the time, but for decades, until 1988 ostensibly, that is, throughout the 19-year period when the areas of Judea and Samaria, mistakenly referred to as the “West Bank,” a term created by the illegal occupying power of Jordan, were in Arab control, not “Palestine state” was created. I repeat: For 19 years when the “West Bank” was under Arab control and outside of Israel’s administration, no Palestine was established.

I am sure you would agree that it behooves you to inquire as to why. Moreover, if the Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO (whose delegation you wish to reinstate in Washington), was founded in 1964, have you asked yourself what “Palestine” were they “liberating?” Or were they simply attempting, once again as in 1937 and 1947, the elimination of any Jewish state in any area of “historic Palestine?” And ask yourself: Have they really surrendered that goal?

  1. A mimetic repetition of the “two-state” mantra doesn’t make it correct or work. Fundamental issues still are far from being resolved, notably concerning refugees and Jerusalem.
  2. Please, do not presume that there is only one abused side. There are Jewish resettlement rights in the areas they were ethnically cleansed from between 1920-1948, in a most violent fashion of terror, rape, brigandry and destruction of property. There is currently the ongoing Jerusalem/Temple Mount denial campaign. Just on Monday, Israel was accused at the United Nations by Jordan (we have a peace treaty with the kingdom, may I remind you) and the Palestinian delegation of seeking to “Judaize” the Western Wall Plaza because of renovation work that is being carried out there. If this issue is still cast in doubt—as if the Jewish people’s history simply does not exist in the imagination of these U.N. reps—can we expect peace from a future state of Palestine?
  3. Israel’s security needs cannot be met if the Palestinian Authority’s educational system instills hatred of Jews and Zionism. Nor if the P.A. supports the payment of compensation for the killing and injuring of Jews (see Taylor Force Act), or continues to instigate and incite anti-Jewish terror. On another level entirely is the real question of whether any territory of the Samarian and Judean Hills can be surrendered. The topographical advantages those hills provide introduce a crucial element—indeed, a strategic one. Rep. Meeks, Israel retreated from all of the Gaza Strip, and still, the rockets and missiles and terror tunnels continue. I put it to you that that scenario is what will happen if an independent Arab state of Palestine is established in the region where I now live, and it will result in Israel retaking the area after a short hellish period.

You will recall that since 2009, Israel’s governments under Benjamin Netanyahu have accepted the premise of a two-state solution, albeit it with two principles: that the “Palestinians must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people” and that the “territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel.” Yet here we are, a decade after the 10-month moratorium on construction, excluding Jerusalem, that former President Barack Obama even demanded be extended, which did not succeed to prod the P.A. to engage in genuine negotiations.

Is there a sincere desire on the part of Mahmoud Abbas (who is in the 16th year of his term as “president” without elections) to negotiate? Has the P.A. become a model of good government, of a democratic society?

You know the answers to that.

Rep. Meeks, if you proceed to attempt to revitalize the two-state solution concept, I humbly suggest that you proceed slowly, learn the subject well and even reconsider your determination. If not, be prepared as many before you, to watch as the Palestinian side sabotages peace efforts again.

Yisrael Medad is an American-born Israeli journalist and political commentator.

The Impediment to Moshe’s Speech

This is my take on Moshe’s speech “impediment” based on “hekesh” (comparison of verses): In Parshat Shmoth (4.10) Moshe describes himself to Hashem as, literally “not a man of words.” The word “d’varim” is related to prophetic speech, concerning the Commandments of HaShem, not ordinary (amar) speech which explains the prophetic words of HaShem. The former, devar is precise, direct “guarded” speech; whereas the latter “amar” are the details of the “direct” speech.

Here, Moshe’s speech was limited to prophetic words and deeds. That is, his prophesy was “hard to be understood” by the audience – as in Proverbs 1.6 “dark sayings” – “To understand a proverb, and a figure; The words of the wise, and their dark sayings.”

“I speak with him face to face, clearly and not in riddles;….” B’midbar 12.8

“I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will express my riddle with the harp:….” Tehillim 49.4

“I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden from the beginning, …. 78.2

For instance, in 6:12 we read that Moshe said to HaShem, “Behold, the children of Israel did not hearken to me. How then will Pharaoh hearken to me, seeing that I am of closed lips?” Here, Moshe describes himself to Hashem as “עֲרַל שְׂפָתָיִם”, “aral s’pha’tha’im” close-to-literally “uncircumcised of lips” (Rashi: “sealed-up of lips”).

How are we to understand 6.12 (“Behold, the children of Israel did not hearken to me.”) in light of 4.31: “And the people believed, and they heard that the L-RD had remembered the children of Israel and that He saw their affliction, and they kneeled and prostrated themselves.” ? It might be said that they did not believe Moshe until they heard Aharon explain (interpret) HaShem words which Moshe was trying to convey to them. The command to Moshe was to assemble the Elders of Israel that they all go before Pharaoh so that they, as a collective, might convey to Pharaoh that “the G-D of the Hebrews happened to meet us.” The impediment to understanding Moshe’s words was in the hearing of his guarded speech not in the in-ability or incapacity to convey his words!

In fact, strength for the argument that debeer / devar is specifically related to the mitzvoth comes from the passuk, (6.13)

“So the L-RD spoke (“devar”) to Moses and to Aaron, and He commanded them concerning the children of Israel and concerning Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to let the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.”

Because Moshe needed an interpreter (his brother Ahron) we can easily derive that he had a barrier to being understood. (7.1):

“The Lord said to Moses, “See! I have made you a lord over Pharaoh, and Aaron, your brother, will be your speaker (נְבִיאֶֽךָ “prophet”).”

If his speech was limited to prophetic speech, this would explain the Targum.

Indeed, the first-century C.E. Aramaic translation of the Bible known as Targum Onkelos, which preserves some of the oldest rabbinic interpretations to have come down to us, characterizes Moses’ speech as profound, rendering k’vad peh as yakir mamlal, “weighty of speech,” and k’vad lashon as amik lishan, “deep of tongue,” turning Moses’ negative self-description into a positive one.

Thus, we might read Moshe’s protest as, “I am not a man of [prophetic] words.”

In another instance, if Moshe were speaking specifically to the Children of Yisrael, the passuk would read, “Va’Yomer HaShem eel Moshe Laymor, dabayr…. B’midbar 15.37

The Midrash (Deut. Rabba 42, Tanchuma Tzav) says the difference between the two is mainly a difference of tone. It considers DABER a harsh way of speaking and AMAR as being softer. Others say that DABER is used for elaborate or detailed explanations which AMAR is more direct and to the point. Rabbi Elijah of Vilna (Aderet Eliyahu) suggests that DABER is used for commandments that are spelled out in the written Torah whereas AMAR is used for those commandments found in the oral Torah. There is a sense that DABER suggests that there is a distance between the speakers and AMAR communicates closeness and intimacy. Perhaps G-D feels closer to his priests then to the man on the street.

The Ten Commandments are called עשרת הדברות – [Aseret HaDibrot] – the 10 utterances, which derives from the word DABER. They are short, concise and to the point.

In finding other support for my position that daber / devar is related to prophetic speech and the mitzvoth, I offer Jeremiah 1.4, 6 and 7 (And the word [daber] of the L-RD came unto me, saying;” “Then said I: ‘Ah, L-RD G-D! behold, I cannot speak [daber]; for I am a child.'” “But the L-RD said unto me: say not: I am a child; for to whomsoever I shall send thee thou shalt go, and whatsoever I shall command thee thou shalt speak [te’daber].” )

The Midrash relates that, when Moshe was a child in Pharoah’s court, he continued to reach for the crown and was put to a test. When he reached for the crown during the test, an Angel directed his hand to grasp a coal and he put the coal in his mouth scorching his tounge. This saved his life but resulted in his speech impediment [which Rashi relates as stuttering].

Moshe needed to be understood. It was his brother Aharon who conveyed HaShem’s words to the people who then believed Moshe’s speech: “And Aaron spoke all the words that the L-RD had spoken to Moses, and he performed the signs before the eyes of the people. And the people believed, and they heard that the L-RD had remembered the children of Israel and that He saw their affliction, and they kneeled and prostrated themselves.”

In fact we read in Devarim 32.1-3 that by the end of his life Moshe limited his words to prophetic song: “Give ear, ye heavens, and I will speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew; as the small rain upon the tender grass, and as the showers upon the herb. For [when] I will proclaim the Name of the L-RD; ascribe ye greatness unto our G-D.”

45 And when Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel, 46 he said unto them: ‘Set your heart unto all the words wherewith I testify against you this day; that ye may charge your children therewith to observe to do all the words of this law, 47 For it is no vain thing [prophesy] for you; because it [this song] is your life, and through this thing [prophetic word/song] ye shall prolong your days upon the land, whither ye go over the Jordan to possess it.’ {P}

Isaiah 7.14


Why Isaiah 7.14 could not be a prophesy about Mary and Jesus; as alleged in Matthew 1.23:

Matthew 1:23 is alleged to quote Isaiah 7.14 “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

Isaiah 7.14 begins, “Therefore … Himself shall give you a sign ….” Therefore refers to the objection of Ahaz in 7.12 to receiving a sign from the Prophet Isaiah 12 But Ahaz said: ‘I will not ask, neither will I try the L-RD.’

1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Aram, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to war against it; but could not prevail against it.

2 And it was told the House of David, saying: ‘Aram is confederate with Ephraim.’ And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the forest are moved with the wind. {S}

3 Then said the L-RD unto Isaiah: ‘Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, in the highway of the fullers’ field;

Isaiah 7.14 reads “Therefore the L-RD Himself shall give you a sign: behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Let’s look at the phrase: “shall give you a sign” – just who is the “you” that the sign was given to? One has to back up and look at 7.1-3, 10-13: 1 “And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, King of Judah …. 3 Then said the L-RD unto Isaiah: ‘Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son[….]’. 10 And the L-RD spoke again unto Ahaz, saying: 11 ‘Ask thee a sign of the L-RD thy G-D: ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.’ 12 But Ahaz said: ‘I will not ask, neither will I try the L-RD.’ 13 And he [Yeshiyahu – Isaiah] said: ‘Hear ye now, O House of David: Is it a small thing for you to weary men, that ye will weary my G-D also?”

So it was to Ahaz, King of Judah and to Ahaz as Representative of the House of David (Judah) in 732-716 BCE that the sign was given – in that generation; not some future 2nd Temple generation – this is because the almah – “the young woman” prophetically names her son Immanuel – meaning that G-D has not forsaken the southern “Kingdom of Judah”

Therefore the L-RD Himself shall give you a sign: behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

the young woman shall (emphatic, without any doubt, will take place) :

a) conceive, or has conceived; and b) bear a son, or is about to bear a son in the immediate future and c) shall call his name Immanuel.

Mary never named Jesus and he, Jesus was never named Immanuel.

Matthew 1.21, 25 says that the angel told Joseph to name him “Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.” See also Luke 2.21.

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Kingship in Israel

Jacob’s blessings may pertain not to the end of days, but to events throughout Jewish history, such as King David and Judah Maccabee.

Daniel Pinner , Jan 05 , 2021 10:25 AM Share
Tomb of Maccabees?

Tomb of Maccabees? Skyview / IAA

Parashat Vayechi records, inter alia, the prophecies which Ya’akov Avinu (Jacob our Father) pronounced concerning his twelve sons, the founders of the twelve Tribes of Israel: “Ya’akov called to his sons, saying: Gather round, and I’ll tell you what will happen to you at the end of days” (Genesis 49:1).

Now there is disagreement among our commentators if these are prophecies of the times of the mashiach (the Messiah), or if they refer to other events.

According to Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish (Reish Lakish), Ya’akov wanted to reveal the End of Days (meaning the times of mashiach) to his sons, but before he could do so, the Shechinah (the Divine Presence) departed from him (Pesachim 56a); this is also the interpretation of the Rabbis (Bereishit Rabbah 98:2).

According to Rabbi Simon, he wanted to show them the downfall of Gog (ibid.).

Rabbi Yehudah said he wanted to show them the building of the third and final Holy Temple (ibid.).

Rabbi Yehudah similarly cited Rabbi Elazar bar Avina as saying, “To two people the End [i.e. the final Redemption] was revealed, but it was then hidden from them: Ya’akov and Daniel” (ibid.).

Rashi says that “He wanted to reveal the End to them, but before he could do so the Shechinah departed from him, so he began speaking of other matters instead” (commentary to Genesis 49:1).

Hence the interpretation that Shimon’s and Levi’s “conspiracy” (v.6) refers to Zimri, of the Tribe of Shimon, who consorted with the Midianite princess and thereby brought disastrous plague upon the Children of Israel (Numbers 25:6-16), and their “congregation” (v.6) refers to Korach, of the Tribe of Levi, and his cohorts who mounted a rebellion against Moshe (Numbers 16:1-17:15).

Zevulun is destined to dwell by the sea-shore (Genesis 49:13), which indeed was his territory as allocated in the days of Joshua (Joshua 19:10-16); it is disputed if the sea-shore here refers to the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Galilee, or both.

As for Dan – “Dan will judge [or “avenge”] his nation, all the Tribes of Israel as one” (Genesis 49:16), which the Talmud (Sotah 10a) and various Midrashim (Bereishit Rabbah 98:11, Bamidbar Rabbah 10:5, Tanhuma Vayechi 12 et al.) interpret as applying to Shimshon (Samson), from the Tribe of Dan, who waged guerrilla warfare against the Philistines.

This is also the understanding of Rashi and the Ohr ha-Chayim (although the Rashbam rejects this out of hand).

And likewise Ya’akov’s prophecy for Gad: “Gad גָּד]] – a troop [גְּדוּד] will troop over him [יְגוּדֶנּוּ], but they will all return safely [יָגֻד]” (Genesis 49:19).

The consensus of the commentators is that this is a prophecy of how the Tribe of Gad whose territory was in trans-Jordan fought exceptionally tenaciously west of the River Jordan to liberate the Land for all Israel during the conquest under Joshua and for the subsequent few centuries.

The general trend emerges that Ya’akov’s prophecies here pertain not to the end of days in the sense of the times of mashiach, but rather to various events which happened at different times throughout Jewish history.

Of all these prophecies, the Masoret (the Tradition) gives special prominence to the one concerning Yehudah (Judah), his fourth son:

“Yehudah – it is you that your brothers will acknowledge. Your hand will be on your enemies’ neck, your father’s sons will bow to you. Yehudah is a lion-cub – from the prey, O my son, you have arisen. He crouches, lies down like a lion; and like a powerful lion, who will dare rouse him? The sceptre will not depart from Yehudah, nor Torah-scholars from among his descendants, until Shiloh shall come – and then the nations’ assemblage will be his” (Genesis 49:8-10).

The special prominence which the Masoret gives this blessing is expressed in at least two ways:

First, the Haftarah (1 Kings 2:1-12), which records the death of King David and the passing of the kingship to his son, Solomon, echoes or complements the theme of the parashah by continuing the subject of kingship in Israel – and specifically the kingship belonging to the Tribe of Yehudah.

Second is the location of Ya’akov’s blessing to Yehudah: in the hand-written Torah-scrolls, this blessing invariably begins a new column.

Almost every printed Chumash contains a Masoretic note attached to the word יְהוּדָה (Judah):

בראש עמוד בי”ה שמ”ו סימן

The words בְּרֹאשׁ עֲמוּד mean “at the top of the column”, indicating that the word יְהוּדָה (Judah) is the first word in the column.

Standard hand-written Torah-scrolls consist of 245 columns, almost all of which begin with the letter ו (vav). This is the way that the Masoret directs that Torah-scrolls be written. But six columns begin with specified letters:

The first column begins with the ב of בְּרֵאשִׁית (“in the beginning”);

The 59th column begins with the י of יְהוּדָה (“Yehudah – it is you that your brothers will acknowledge”);

The 78th column, containing the Song at the Red Sea, begins with the ה of הַבָּאִים (Pharaoh’s army “who were coming” – Exodus 14:28);

The 132nd column begins with the ש of שְׁנֵ (“both the he-goats” – Leviticus 16:8);

The 184th column begins with the מ of מַה טֹּבוּ (“How goodly are your tents, O Ya’akov” in Balaam’s blessing – Numbers 24:5);

And the 242nd column, containing Moses’ song of Ha’azinu, begins with the ו of וְאָעִידָה (“and I will call as witnesses heaven and earth to testify” – Deuteronomy 31:28).

These six letters spell out the phrase בְּיָהּ שְׁמוֹ (“with YAH, His Name”), taken from the verse, “Sing to G-d, sing songs of praise to His Name, laud Him Who rides the heavens with YAH, His Name” (Psalms 68:5).

Indeed, all six of these columns in the Torah contain poetic testimony to G-d’s mastery over heaven and earth: Creation, Yehudah’s kingship, the Splitting of the Sea, Balaam’s submission to G-d’s will, heaven and earth’s testimony. And all Ya’akov’s prophecies to his twelve sons are prophecies of times yet to come, times in which G-d’s direct and personal intervention in human history for the sake of His nation Israel is manifest.

G-d’s intervention in human history, His guidance of events for the sake of Israel, is a constant of history from beginning to end. Whether the regional famine which brought Ya’akov and his sons down to Egypt in order to being the long-decreed exile, or the decades-long sequence of events which eventually led to the Assyrian conquest of Israel, or the 12-year sequence of events recorded in Megillat Esther, or the Maccabbees’ victory over the Seleucid Empire, or Israel’s impossible, miraculous victories over immeasurably vaster Arab armies in 1948, 1967, and 1973 – G-d’s control over history is one of the few constants of history.

And so it is eminently consistent that Ya’akov’s blessings to the Tribes can apply equally to events 250 years later or 3,600 years later.

Yehudah’s kingship began with King David, some six-and-a-half centuries after this blessing of Ya’akov’s. It was cut off with the Babylonian invasion of Yehudah some half a millennium later, and will be restored in the future time to come.

And now we come to two somewhat abstruse singularities in the final phrase of Ya’akov’s blessing to Yehudah:

לֹא יָסוּר שֵׁבֶט מִיהוּדָה וּמְחֹקֵק מִבֵּין רַגְלָיו עַד כִּי יָבֹא שִׁילֹה וְלוֹ יִקְּהַת עַמִּים

“The sceptre will not depart from Yehudah, nor Torah-scholars from among his descendants, until Shiloh shall come – and then the nations’ assemblage will be his”.

The first singularity is the word שִׁילֹה, “Shiloh”. It is written שִׁילֹה, with a ה, but read שִׁילֹו with a ו. Hence the ambiguity of this blessing.

“Until Shiloh come”, and “Shiloh” being an appellation for mashiach, follows Targum Onkelos, Targum Yonatan, Targum Yerushalmi, Rashi, and others; hence “The sceptre will never depart from Yehudah…until the days of mashiach”.

This of course suggests that the monarchies from other Tribes – the monarchies of Israel (the northern kingdom after the split) and of the Maccabbees (Kohanim, of the Tribe of Levi) were not ideal.

Others understand שִׁילֹה to be a poetic form of שָׁלוֹם, peace: hence “The sceptre will never depart from Yehudah…until peace comes”.

Others read שִׁילֹה as שִׁילֹו, following the קרי-form, meaning “his”, and understand it to mean “The sceptre will never depart from Yehudah…until everything that he is destined to have will have been fulfilled”.

I tentatively suggest an alternative rendering:

“The sceptre will not depart from Yehudah…until he comes to Shiloh – and then the nations’ assemblage will be his”.

Here I suggest a reference to the Maccabbean revolt against the Seleucid Empire, whose victory we celebrated just a couple of weeks ago on Hanukkah. The first battle which Yehudah the Maccabbee initiated against Seleucid forces was the battle fought in 167 B.C.E., in the area today called Wadi Haramiyeh, 30 km (19 miles) almost due north of Jerusalem (considerably longer by the road which winds its way through the Samarian mountains).

This battle, in which 600 Maccabbean soldiers defeated 2,000 Seleucid troops, was fought in the mountain-pass just a few dozen metres west of Shiloh, where the Mishkan (the Tabernacle) had stood for 369 years.

In historical terms, this was a pivotal event in the sequence which eventually led to the Maccabbean dynasty claiming the Israelite Crown (even though the first Maccabbean leader to use the title “King” was Aristobolus in 104 B.C.E.).

Hence “the sceptre will not depart from Yehudah…until he come to Shiloh” – it was near Shiloh that another dynasty from another Tribe took the sceptre, “and then the nations’ assemblage will be his” when the Maccabbean dynasty was internationally recognised as the legitimate rulers of Israel.

The other singularity in this blessing is in the word יִקְּהַת, “assemblage”:

וְלוֹ יִקְּהַת עַמִּים, “then the nations’ assemblage will be his”. The letter ק in the word יִקְּהַת has a dagesh (a dot in the middle), which has no grammatical reason to be there. What does this unwarranted dagesh signify?

This is the first of four places in the Torah where a ק has a dagesh for no grammatical reason.

The second is ten verses later, in Jacob’s prophecy to Dan: “Dan is a snake along the way, a viper along the path, which bites the heels of the horse so its rider falls backwards” (Genesis 49:16-17).

In this verse, there is a dagesh in the ק in the word עִקְּבֵי (“the heels of”).

The third is the ק in the word מִקְּדָשׁ (Sanctuary), in the Song at the Red Sea: “You will bring them and implant them on the Mountain of Your Inheritance, the foundation of Your dwelling-place that You have wrought, O Hashem – the Sanctuary, my Lord, that Your hands established” (Exodus 15:17).

And the fourth is the ק in the word קְּעָרֹתָיו (its dishes), in describing the accoutrements of the Tabernacle in the desert: “You will make its dishes and its spoons…” (Exodus 25:29).

On the word מִקְּדָשׁ in the Song at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:17), the Minchat Shai says simply: “The ק has a dagesh to glorify it”.

Extrapolating from the Minchat Shai’s comment, just as the dagesh in the ק in the word מִקְּדָשׁ glorifies it, so too does each unwarranted dagesh in each ק in the Torah.

In Genesis 49:10, the dagesh in the ק in the word יִקְּהַת (assemblage) glorifies Judah’s kingship: royalty in Israel glorifies Israel, and by extension glorifies the G-d of Israel. When the assemblage of nations recognises Yehudah’s sovereignty over Israel, G-d’s Name is sanctified.

Dan’s victory over Israel’s enemies, wrought by Shimshon, similarly glorified Israel. The מִקְּדָשׁ glorifies Israel. The accoutrements of the Tabernacle in the desert glorify the Tabernacle, and by extension glorify Israel.

When as with King David’s kingship, as with the Maccabbees’ victory over the mighty Seleucid Empire, as with Israel’s victories and successes in our own generations, Israel’s glory is G-d’s glory.

It is through His nation Israel that G-d is glorified in this world. It is by recognising Israel that entire world will ultimately “laud He Who rides the heavens with YAH, His Name”.

Daniel Pinner is a veteran immigrant from England, a teacher by profession and a Torah scholar who has been active in causes promoting Eretz Israel and Torat Israel.

Tags: Blessings Daniel Pinner Messiah

Arab suspect admits to killing Esther Horgan, mother of 6, out for morning jog

January 4, 2021 Arab suspect admits to killing Esther Horgan, mother of 6, out for morning jogMother of six Esther Horgan (l) was killed near her village of Tal Menashe by Muhammad Cabha (r). (Courtesy/Shin Bet)

5 “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it; and at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man’s brother, will I require the life of man. 6 WHOSO SHEDS MAN’S BLOOD, BY MAN SHALL HIS BLOOD BE SHED; FOR IN THE SHADOW OF G-D MADE HE MAN.” B’RASHITH (GENESIS) 9.5-6

Her body was found in the early hours of Monday morning after her family reported her missing.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

The suspect who killed Esther Horgan was 40-year-old Muhammad Cabha from the town of Tura al-Gharbiyyeh, near Jenin. Cabha admits to the killing, says the Israeli Security Agency (ISA).

Cabha has previously served time for terrorist-related activity. Four additional suspects were arrested with him for assisting him in hiding from the security forces following the attack, the ISA says.

During the investigation, it was learned that Cabha murdered Horgan out of anti-Israel motives.

He revealed that approximately six weeks before the murder, he decided to carry out a terrorist attack after he was influenced, among other things, by the death of a security prisoner he knew, Kamal Abu Awar, who died in prison due to an illness.

He went to the area of the murder via a breach in the security fence in order to familiarize himself with the area. After discerning scant traffic and the passage of Israeli civilians, he decided that the place was suitable for carrying out the attack.

On the day of the murder, Cabha was in the forest adjacent to Tal Menashe in order to engage in smuggling cigarettes through the fence when he identified a Jewish woman walking alone. He attacked and killed her.

In the days following the attack, the suspect was aided by his relatives, as well as acquaintances in the village of Dayr al-Ghusun, in hiding from the security forces, the ISA reports.

The investigation of the suspect is ongoing. It’s anticipated that he will be tried in the Samaria Military Court, the ISA says.

Horgan, 52, was killed on Sunday, Dec. 20 when she went for a morning jog hear her town of Tal Menashe in Samaria. She was last seen minutes before she disappeared via a security camera as she headed into the Reihan forest near her town.

Her body was found in the early hours of Monday morning after her family reported her missing. Her skull had been smashed in by a rock.

“Esther went for a walk in nature, which she loved so much,” said Horgan’s husband, Benjamin. “She was not going off on an adventure, but [for] a routine walk, like a person does in any normal place in the country, and did not return.”

Horgan worked as an artist and marriage counselor. She was a mother of six. She was buried on Dec. 22.

Israel’s security forces announced they had arrested someone in connection with the killing on Dec. 24 but wouldn’t release more details than that it was a 40-year-old man from the Jenin area.

Jewish reaction to the killing was to call for more building in Judea and Samaria.

Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan called “on all leaders of the state to support the expansion of the settlement of Tal Menashe and construction throughout Judea and Samaria.”

Esther’s husband told President Reuven Rivlin, who paid a condolence call, that the family was not interested in revenge. Their consolation would be the government signing off further construction of 107 new homes to double the size of Tal Menashe.

UAE nabs Iranian terror squad plotting to attack Israelis

Israelis have been warned about visiting Dubai. The discovery of Iranian terror squad underscores the danger.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

An Iranian terror squad was broken up by UAE intelligence in the capital of Abu Dhabi and its most populous city, Dubai, media reports.

Israelis have visited the UAE in the thousands since the signing of the Abraham Accords on the White House Lawn on Sept. 15, 2020. From Iran’s point-of-view, they make a soft target and one easily reached.

Tensions have been particularly high in recent weeks as Israel went on high alert due to the approaching anniversary of the killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated by a U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3, 2020. Iran has repeatedly vowed revenge against both the U.S. and Israel, although the latter has not taken credit for being involved in the attack.

Israel’s National Security Council had also warned in late November of security threats to Israeli tourists in Dubai. But Israelis have largely ignored the warnings.

Dubai has been a prime location for carrying out kidnappings.

In 2000, a reserve colonel in the IDF, Elhanan Tannenbaum, was kidnapped in Dubai and and held for more than three years by Hezbollah in Lebanon. Although Tannenbaum was a shady character who had gone to Dubai to complete a drug deal, the IDF decided to do what it could to get him back given that he was privy to IDF information as part of his reserve service. He was returned as part of a prisoner swap in Jan. 2004.

In July 2020, Iran kidnapped a California man for being part of an Iranian dissident group. Jamshid Sharmahd was staying in Dubai.

“We’re seeking support from any democratic country, any free country,” his son Shayan Sharmahd told the AP. “It is a violation of human rights. You can’t just pick someone up in a third country and drag them into your country.”

Even the man portrayed in the 2004 film “Hotel Rwanda,” Paul Rusesabagina, was seized in Dubai in Sept. 2020. It appears he was nabbed on an arrest warrant by the Rwandan government. His daughter described it as a kidnapping.