Tag Archive | Eretz Yisrael

Have a wonderful Shabbat! – 1st Cheshvan, 5771


The Holy One, blessed be He,

said to Moses,

“I have a precious gift

in My treasure house,

called the Sabbath,

and desire to give it to Israel;

go and inform them.”
(Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbath, 10b)

Courtesy of: Judaica Art & Judaica Artist/Victor Brindatch

Have a wonderful Shabbat!


Childhood Memories

Childhood Memories, reprinted with kind authorization of
Hazon - Renewing Our Universal Vision

My Search for the Soul of Zion – 98b

Childhood Memories:

In this letter, I will review with you some memories from my childhood. These memories are particularly relevant to the next stage of our series:

Dear Friends,

I was a frail child who was often sick, and I therefore loved to read books. I developed a special interest in the history of the earth’s peoples. During this period, I started to attend the Hebrew School at our local synagogue, where I began to learn about the history of our people.

A year after I started learning about Jewish history, I was in the fourth grade of our local public school, and our class was given a book on the history of the world. Towards the beginning of the book, there was a small chapter about the People of Israel, and this chapter ended with the story of King Solomon. The concluding message of this chapter was that the People of Israel began to decline after King Solomon passed away, and that they no longer had an important role in world history. The chapter on Israel was followed by a number of large chapters on the development and influence of Christianity. In the rest of the book, there was no mention of any Jewish contributions to the world, and this greatly troubled me. I felt that this omission was an insult to the honor of our people. I found some comfort when I later learned in my Torah classes about the coming of the Messiah and the birth of the messianic age, for in this age of our ingathering and renewal, the nations will finally recognize our contributions, and the honor of our people will be restored. As the Prophet proclaimed:

“Nations will perceive your righteousness and all the sovereigns your honor” (Isaiah 62:2).

Rabbi Gabriel Beer, the rabbi of our synagogue, noticed my growing interest in Torah study, and he suggested to my parents that I leave public school and begin to study Torah at a Jewish day school which was located in Far Rockaway, a few miles to the east of our neighborhood. My mother was the first to agree with the idea, and she told my father that I should be free to pursue my soul’s desire, as she had a feeling that the study of Torah was to be my life’s mission.

My father was worried, however, that this religious study would cause me to become a parochial person who would no longer be concerned about the welfare of the world. After much discussion, he agreed that I should begin to study Torah at the day school, as his strong sense of fairness and his respect for my mother’s intuition caused him to feel that I should be free to develop the potential that my mother saw in me.

At age ten, I started to attend the day school, and my father’s fears were alleviated when he saw that I still had an interest in the problems of the world. We continued our regular discussions on the challenges facing humanity, and he was pleased when I would cite sources from our tradition which described the universal vision of the Torah and the way our people are to fulfill this vision. He was also pleased when I shared with him a little poem I had written which contained the following message:

We learned to fly in the air like birds; we learned to swim like fish in the sea, and now let’s learn to walk the earth like men.

A few years after I started the day school, I read an article which described how new states in Africa and Asia were sending farmers to the State of Israel, where they would learn about Israel’s innovative agricultural methods which were causing the desert to bloom. The story had a quote from Israel’s Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, who said that Israel’s help to these developing nations was a fulfillment of the biblical vision of our becoming a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:6). Although I thought it was admirable that the State of Israel was helping the developing nations in this way, I asked myself the following questions: Was the teaching of agricultural methods to other nations the goal of our long and challenging journey through history? Was this what the Prophet meant when he spoke of our being a light to the nations?

My parents had instilled in me a passionate yearning for a caring and just world; moreover, my rebbes (Torah teachers) made me aware that our path to such a world is through developing a caring and just society in Zion through fulfilling the Torah, as in this way, we could serve as a social model for all the nations. This is the messianic goal of our journey through history; thus, the Prophet Isaiah proclaimed to Zion:

“Nations will walk by your light and sovereigns by the glow of your dawn” (Isaiah 60:3).

The light of Zion is Torah, as the Prophet also proclaimed: “From Zion will come forth Torah (Isaiah 2:3), and as a result, the nations “shall beat their swords into plowshares” (Ibid 2:4). I therefore wanted Israel to be more than just a nation that would teach agricultural skills to other nations. I wanted Israel to teach through the power of its own example the spiritual skills which would enable all human beings to become truly human, so that the entire world will experience peace and harmony.

I was not always able to maintain a full awareness of this higher vision. The State of Israel’s technological and economic accomplishments, as well as its ability to defend itself against its surrounding enemies, were a source of enormous pride for many Jews, including myself, especially after the Holocaust. The excitement over these initial accomplishments is understandable; however, this excitement can cause us to forget the following truth: These accomplishments have the potential to serve as means to our ultimate goal, but they are not the goal itself. As the following story indicates, I needed to be reminded of this truth:

During a morning recess of my Talmud class when I was in my senior year of high school, I and a few friends were reading the New York Times, and we became excited about a front page story which showed a picture of Israel’s new and beautiful Trans-Atlantic liner – the “SS. Shalom” – arriving in New York on its maiden voyage. We were proud that a picture of Israel’s new luxury liner was on the front page of the New York Times, and we felt that this was a great honor for our nation. Our rebbe, Rabbi Gershon Weinreb, of blessed memory, noticed our great excitement. He came over, looked at the picture, and said to us in a gentle voice: “Is this what you are excited about?” He repeated the question and then walked away. I was at first stunned by his remark, but I then realized that he was trying to remind us that having a luxury liner like other nations was not the true honor of our nation. Another reminder came a few years later when, due to financial difficulties, the SS Shalom was sold to the German Atlantic Line in 1967.

When I moved to Jerusalem, I began to devote myself to the study of the universal role of our nation in the Land of Zion. I found it especially meaningful that the true honor of our nation among the other nations was defined by Moshe, our Teacher, in his farewell address to our people before we entered the Land. In the following passage, he conveyed to us the message that we will gain honor among the nations when we fulfill the Torah in the midst of the Land:

“See! I have taught you statutes and social laws, as Hashem, my God, has commanded me, to do so in the midst of the Land to which you come, to possess it. You shall safeguard and fulfill them, for it is your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the peoples, who shall hear all these statutes and who shall say, ‘Surely a wise and understanding people is this great nation!’ ” (Deuteronomy 4:5,6)

Our people therefore have a spiritual raison d’etre in the Land of Zion, and as I shall discuss in the next segment of our series, this awareness caused me to realize that our people must be guided by spiritual leaders.

Be Well, and Shalom,

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

(See below)

You are invited to send a New Year contribution of any amount to help support the work of Hazon – Our Universal Vision. Contributions can be sent payable to Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen at the following address:

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

Sha’arei Torah 6, Apt. 1

Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem

96387, Israel

Childhood Memories,
reprinted with the kind authorization of:
Hazon - Renewing Our Universal Vision
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Secular Kibbutzim are Rediscovering Jewish Prayer

Secular Kibbutzim are Rediscovering Jewish Prayer, reprinted with kind authorization of
Hazon - Renewing Our Universal Vision

“Hear our voice, Hashem, our G-d, spare us and have compassion on us; and accept – with compassion and favor – our prayers. Bring us back to You, Hashem, and we shall return; renew our days as of old.” (From the selichos – prayers for forgiveness)

Dear Friends,

I have attached excerpts from an article about a new development on secular kibbutzim, and these excerpts will be followed by my comments:


Synagogues Flourish in Secular Kibbutzim

Elul 6, 5769, 26 August 09 08:00

by Hillel Fendel

(Israelnationalnews.com) A few years ago, a member of Kibbutz Deganiah predicted, “There has been no synagogue here in 100 years, and there won’t be one in the next 100 years.” She was wrong.

Not only is there a synagogue in Deganiah, founded in 1910 as Israel’s first Kibbutz ever, but similar houses of worship (popularly known as “shuls”) are open and active in other secular kibbutzim in the north such as Ein Harod and Maoz Chaim, as well as in other secular communities in the region such as Tomrat.

Another example of a long shul-less kibbutz is Givat HaShloshah, founded by a long-time member who suddenly realized that she wanted to commemorate her one “Jewish” day of the year – Yom Kippur – at home. The woman waged a one-person campaign to gather together a Torah scroll, prayer books, a building – and now, a scant few years later, some 15-20 people take part in weekly Sabbath prayers.

Just ten weeks ago, at a joyous Torah scroll installation ceremony in the famously-secular Kibbutz Ein Harod, the son of one of the more active shul “members” came and asked him, “What do you need a synagogue for, anyway?” The father answered, “We went far away – too far.” The reference was to the escape from Torah Judaism by many of the early Zionist pioneers – a vacuum that is now once again being filled with spirituality.

The above story is told by Rabbi Shlomo Raanan, head of the Ayelet HaShachar (Morning Star) association that – among its many other activities – accompanies secular communities that wish to build a synagogue or otherwise enhance their connection to Judaism. Two years ago, for instance, more than 500 northern farmers took part in a “telephone chavruta (study partner)” program organized by Ayelet HaShachar on matters concerning the Shemittah (Sabbatical) year.

Though many kibbutzim were predicated on the idea that no synagogue would ever be built there, “today there are those who feel that there is a communal need for a synagogue,” Raanan told B’Sheva’s Ofrah Lax.

“First Time I Have Felt Jewish”

The founding of the synagogue in Kibbutz Maoz Chaim, a bastion of secularity since its founding in 1937 just east of Beit She’an, did not happen without some rancor. Only after two votes of the entire membership was a building approved for designation as a synagogue – and even then, only by the narrow margin of two votes. Friday night services are held regularly, and the members hope to expand to Sabbath morning services as well.

The shul’s founder told this story: “One long-time resident, a 78-year-old who immigrated from Argentina 40 years ago, told me after his first visit to the synagogue, ‘I’ve been in Israel all these years, and this was the first time I felt Jewish. I plan to come every week, and I want you to teach me the prayers.’ I told him that the whole thing was worth it just for that.”

“Just today,” Rabbi Raanan told Israel National News on Tuesday, “an eye surgeon asked us for help in starting a synagogue in Barkan, near Ariel. And we are already at work on Yom Kippur prayers in kibbutzim such as HaHotrim, Hof HaCarmel, and others that have never had synagogues.”

…Another story told by Raanan: “A few years ago, I was in Deganiah [Israel’s first kibbutz], and I asked where the synagogue was. The secretary told me, ‘For 100 years we haven’t had one, and we won’t have one in the next 100 years either.’ Two years ago, I was again in Deganiah, on Simchat Torah [the holiday commemorating the joy of Torah], and I pointed to the newly-opened synagogue and said, ‘This is our true Torah joy.’”

“The name of the game,” says Raanan, in between organizing Torah classes and other programs for those who have never enjoyed them before, “is patience and tolerance. Each place according to its own pace and requests.”


Last year, I shared with you excerpts from an article by Yonoson Rosenblum in the summer issue of the Jewish Observer, the magazine of Agudath Israel of America. The article cited examples of successful Torah outreach in Israel, and one of the examples is a Chareidi organization named, Ayelet HaShachar (Morning Star), which is mentioned in the above article. In addition to helping the kibbutzim to establish synagogues, Ayelet HaShachar has been placing Torah-committed couples on more than 60 kibbutzim and smaller settlements around the country. Among the kibbutzim which have benefited from the warm and dedicated outreach of these couples is Kibbutz Geva, which experienced its first Yom Kippur service two years ago. A member of the kibbutz wrote a thank you letter to the director of Ayelet HaShachar expressing appreciation “for having created for us a Mikdash Me’at (Miniature Sanctuary) in the midst of our everyday lives and secular existence, and for having made it possible for us to touch the holiness, the elevation, of this unique day – Yom Hakippurim.” The kibbutz member adds:

“The emotions during the prayers broke down all barriers, and enabled us to touch every link in the chain of our common tradition, reaching back to the roots of our common existence.”

Over two years ago, I met a group of students who had recently graduated secular Israeli high schools. They had come to my Chareidi neighborhood, Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem, in order to experience the holiness and harmony of a traditional Shabbos. I first noticed them at the Friday night service of the congregation where I was praying that night, and these visiting students joined with great enthusiasm in the singing of the joyous psalms and prayers welcoming the arrival of the Shabbos Queen. I noticed one student in this group who was singing and swaying like a chassid, and his light-filled face expressed great yearning as he sung with great fervor the ancient Hebrew words of these psalms and prayers.

As I watched him and the other students, there emerged feelings of hope in my heart. Their presence in our Jerusalem neighborhood reminded me of the prophetic promises that our people are destined to be reunited through a return to our spiritual roots. We experienced a taste of this unity that Shabbos evening, especially when we all joined together in a circle-dance, as we sang the concluding stanzas of the “Lecho Dodi” hymn which refer to the end of our humiliation in exile, the renewal of Zion, and the rejoicing of G-d with our people.

After the services were over, the students received warm Shabbos blessings from the members of the congregation. The students then began to walk to the homes of their hosts for the Friday night meal. I and the student that I noticed earlier were walking in the same direction, and I asked him where he was from. He told me that he was from a HaShomer Hatza’ir kibbutz in the north and that he was very inspired by our services. (HaShomer Hatza’ir is a leftist kibbutz movement.) He asked me about my background, so I mentioned that I am from the spiritually-searching generation of the 60’s. He told me that he was interested in this searching generation, and he began to tell me more about his own spiritual searching within Judaism; however, our conversation was interrupted when he needed to enter the home of his hosts.

When I arrived home that evening, I asked Hashem to continue to guide this student and all the other students on their homecoming journey. And I hoped that I would have the privilege of meeting them again.

The above information reminds us that beneath the surface of a turbulent Israeli society are currents of spiritual renewal. These currents are a reminder of the following Divine promise to Israel regarding the dawn of the messianic age of spiritual enlightenment:

“Never again will your sun set, and your moon will not be withdrawn; for Hashem will be unto you an eternal light, and the days of your mourning will be ended. Your people will all be righteous; they will inherit the land forever; a shoot of My planting, My handiwork in which to glory.” (Isaiah 60:20, 21)

The above passage is from the “haftorah” – portion from the Prophets – which we chanted on this past Shabbos. It is one of the haftorahs of comfort which are chanted during the period between Tisha B’Av and Rosh Hashana.

May Hashem redeem us and comfort us.


Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

(See below)

You are invited to send a New Year contribution of any amount to help support the work of Hazon – Our Universal Vision. Contributions can be sent payable to Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen at the following address:

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

Sha’arei Torah 6, Apt. 1

Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem

96387, Israel

Secular Kibbutzim are Rediscovering Jewish Prayer,
reprinted with the kind authorization of:
Hazon - Renewing Our Universal Vision
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Preoccupied with a troubling thought…


For the entire Shabbat, which ended not so long ago, I was preoccupied with a troubling thought. It struck me that we are not completely aware of the terrible situation Eretz Ysrael is facing. The fact is that there are very dark clouds hoovering over our Holy Land.

Presently our Government is caught in a terrible dilemma, seemingly prepared to give in to the pressure of the Muslim President of the U.S.A. Barack Hussein Obama. He demands that we freeze all future construction and proceed to evict 300,000 of our Brethren from Samaria and Judea, Heaven forbid, and hand over Jerusalem to our enemies, Heaven forbid.

I beg you to please stop fighting with each other; whether you are a Religious Zionist, Haredi, Secular, or Reformist, we are all Jews, and therefore we must remember this fact at this moment in history.

A Zionist, Secular, or Haredi, is definitely not my enemy. Such distinctions did not save any Jew during the Shoah. The spokesman for our common enemy today is Barack Hussein Obama, a Muslim, and his consorts. We should focus all our attention on Obama and his consorts, and counterattack this evil.

It’s true that some of our Holy Sages advised and warned us not to return to and form a Government in Eretz Yisrael, till Moshiach came. But Rav Teichtal, desperate to escape the Nazis, realized too late that Hashem had opened a way for us, and that it was because we failed to understand this that the terrible sufferings were visited upon us.

In spite of all obstacles, we formed a Government, and fought to establish our Jewish homeland. But too many of those who built Eretz Yisrael failed to acknowledge the fact that only because of Hashem’s Mercy and the love that He has for His children, we are still alive. They believed that it was through their power alone that Yisrael came into being. Unfortunately they took everything for granted, left Hashem out of the plan, and didn’t walk in the Path of Torah.

I’ll give you just one small example of what I’m referring to.

Don’t you think things would be quite different today if when The Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount were liberated during the 1967 Six Day War, we would have got hold of all those foreigners living there, be it Arabs, Xians, or whatever and put them on trucks and delivered them to the border? Of course the world would have raised its voice, but that would have only lasted a couple of months, and everything would be quite different today.

Unfortunately today there are some of us, who believe that the people who call themselves “Palestinians” have more of a right to our Holy Land than we do. Even though it makes no difference to them that the Torah tells us to whom Hashem gave Eretz Yisrael, they should consider the International Law they talk about so often. In 1922 this Law established the Jewish Homeland from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. We cannot expect them to accept that this was by Hashem’s will. But we can expect – no, demand – that they abide by their precious International Law.

I want to request my Brethren, please stop all that baseless hatred towards your fellow Jew and start showing tolerance, patience, mercy, LOVE toward each other. Let us all unite in prayer and beg Hashem to strengthen and give wisdom to our Prime Minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, in order that he have the conviction to tell Barack Hussein Obama and his consorts that Eretz Yisrael is not evicting one single Jew from his house in Holy Land, Heaven forbid; that the building of houses will continue, and that not one single inch of Holy Land will be handed over to our enemies, Heaven forbid. Give Mr. Netanyahu the wisdom to see that Klal Yisrael has suffered and been distressed enough.

Another thing that should be taken into consideration is the fact that every Nation in the world has their own constitution to serve their own purpose and existence. It’s obvious that we Jews are distinct in the world and that we should have different rulings. How can it be possible to have Arabs in the Government, even if they have been born in the Holy Land? They are and will always be hostile to us, and will do whatever it takes to afflict us. Therefore, the Government should give these people a different status, but definitely not to rule over Jews. And our government should proclaim that and we don’t follow man, but our King Hashem.

Has any gentile government told the Palestinians to stop firing rockets or mortar bombs into Eretz Yisrael. Of course the answer is “NO”; therefore I ask why should our Government even think of negotiating with these criminals, Heaven forbid.

Be warned that “the hearts of rulers and kings are in the hand of G-d.”, and that we are presently being tried by our King regarding in whom we place our emuna; so let’s show Hashem that we put all of our Emuna in Him, that He is our Ribbono shel Olam.

And to conclude, Brethren I can guarantee that the day we all unite and place our Emuna in Hashem, nobody, repeat, nobody will ever be able to afflict one single Jew.

Today, start changing your mind frame, and start saying “Hashem will deliver Klal Yisrael from her enemies“.

Note: I want to thank Brother Bob Martin, who was so kind in reviewing and correcting this post for me.

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Have a wonderful Shabbat 4th Av 5769


The Holy One, blessed be He,
said to Moses,
“I have a precious gift
in My treasure house,
called the Sabbath,
and desire to give it to Israel;
go and inform them.”
(Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbath, 10b)
Shabbat Candles
Have a wonderful Shabbat

In remembrance


Ehud (Udi) Goldwasser (Ehud Ben Malka Goldwasser)

Eldad Regev of Kiryat Motzkin

May Hashem avenge the blood of Eldad and Ehud, and may their holy martyred souls rest in eternal peace.


May Hashem bring Shalom to the Goldwasswer and Regev families and heal their broken hearts, and the hearts of all Israel.

O G-d of vengeance, Hashem; O G-d of vengeance, appear! Arise, O Judge of the earth, render recompense to the arrogant. Until when will the evil, O Hashem, until when will the evil exult?…with their own evil, He will strike them down; Hashem our G-d will strike them down!
Psalm 94

Kedoshim (Leviticus 19-20) – Growing Pains

Following are some excerpts from the essay “Growing Pains“, which I strongly recommend you read, it’s a must. This essay is written by Rabbi Nosson Weisz, of AISH.com, who writes in his section Mayanot, Wellsprings.

We Jews subscribe to the belief that the world is run by Divine Providence. God obligated Himself under the terms of the Covenant that He signed with us, the Jewish people, at Mt. Sinai, to treat us as the most beloved treasure of all peoples (Exodus 19:5). The very undertaking to provide Jews with special treatment assumes a world subject to Divine direction. Since it is quite unthinkable to suspect God of deliberately violating His agreements, we are forced to conclude that the events of Jewish history constitute an exact demonstration of God’s interpretation of this obligation to treat us as His most beloved treasure. Needless to say, in light of the horrors that the Jewish people have endured over the centuries, especially the most recent horror of the Holocaust, the perception of our ‘treasured’ status is problematic to say the least.

With an eye to discharging this Jewish civic obligation, this essay focuses on the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. We are totally demoralized by daily acts of senseless terror perpetrated by people who enthusiastically sacrifice their lives to create havoc and murder against innocent civilians. No matter what solution we attempt, we seem quite helpless to stop the carnage. To add to our national frustration, a large part of the ‘civilized’ world regards us Jews as the perpetrators of the very violence of which we are the victims. Why is this happening to us? Why can’t we reach a peaceful accommodation with our Palestinian neighbors no matter what concessions we offer?

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The Miserable 1701

Following are some excerpts of The Miserable 1701, from Rabbi Lazer Brody’s, Lazer Beams blogReflections of Emuna with Rabbi Lazer Brody , which gives some insights of the self-destructing regime.

Without emuna, people are blind as bats. Adding arrogance to blindness renders a person completely daft.

Olmert’s own party comrade and government minister, former IDF Commander-in-Chief Mofaz, is now crying to Condi that UN Resolution 1701 is meaningless and that Hizbolla controls South Lebanon while the impotent UN Force drinks expresso and plays backgammon. Duh…

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We’d Better Wake Up – Now

Following are some excerpts of Rabbi Lazer Brody’s, Lazer Beams blogReflections of Emuna with Rabbi Lazer Brody , which I think we should all read and be concened about.

Today’s headlines are one big conglomerate wake-up call from Hashem – it takes a deaf, dumb, and blind person to ignore them.

We can no longer take our water for granted, as the Kinneret is nearing crisis-level.

We can no longer take basic foodstuffs for granted.

Winds of war are blowing from the north.

Our silly government is taking apart the country ( Golan, Jerusalem, with more on the table) with its own soiled hands, secretly and unilaterally bending to the demands of those committed to our destruction, G-d forbid.

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Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu Rushed to Surgery Friday Night

The following excerpts of “Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu Rushed to Surgery Friday Night” from “Arutz ShevaIsraelNationalNews.com“, brethren, please include HaRav Mordechai Tzemach ben Mazal Tov in your tefilot, for his full recovery.

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyah

(IsraelNN.com) Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu was rushed to Shaarei Tzedek hospital late Friday night with a heart attack. The Rabbi underwent a 6-hour surgery which began with a bypass and included an additional procedure. Doctors say the surgery was successful.

After midnight Friday, the Rabbi was feeling bad and having difficulty breathing. His wife summoned a neighbor who is a nurse to his home in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem. An ambulance was called and the Rabbi was taken to the hospital at about 2 a.m.

According to one report, Rabbi Eliyahu also is suffering from fluids in his lungs.

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