Monday, January 31, 2011

The Importance of Eretz Yisrael for Am Yisrael

The entire life of the Jewish people revolves around the question of our existence in Israel -- whether we are in a state of exile or a state of redemption. Even after the Giving of the Torah, the complete fulfillment of the commandments began only after entering the Land, conquering, and dividing it -- after the Jewish people settled in the Land. The purpose of giving the Torah at Mt Sinai -- the moment at which we became a people -- is the fulfillmenet of the Torah and the commandments in the Land.

Why is Land of Israel essential to Jewish people? In the writings of Rabbi Isaac of Homil zt"l it is explained in several places that the settlement of the Jewish people in their land and the establishment of their kingdom is, in the language of Kabbalah, 'raising the aspect of Rachel'. Rabbi Isaac explains that the raising of the aspect of Rachel means revealing and shaping the true Jewish nature. In exile we can fulfill commandments and even establish Jewish community, but it is all still part of 'the aspect of Leah' - the world of conscious thought. Outside of the Land, Judaism is an intellectual and thought-out exercise; only in Israel Judaism is revealed as the Jewish soul's natural impulse, and natural expression of Jewish nature in the fulfillment of the commandments comes to light.

from Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, The Jewish Nature: The Way to Natural Consciousness

רחל מבכה על בניה מאנה להתנחם כי איננו
ושבו בנים לגבולם

Sunday, January 30, 2011

SNL's Mubarak recalls the Jewish struggle for freedom in Egypt

"Mubarak": "Egyptians are not great with signs. Read the bible. We needed 10 plagues before we let the Israelites go. Ten!"

(via Shiloh Musings)

Egypt: You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

Protestors on an army truck in Tahrir Square, Jan 29
Egypt is Act I in an Islamist revolution that will sweep throughout the Arab world, with Tunis at its footsteps and Jordan next on the menu.

This has everything to do with Israel, although things might appear to get worse before they get better. 

One thing is for sure: the fact that this started with Egypt doesn't only make a good headline; the story of Yitziyat Mitzrayim is the backbone of our emunah in the final redemption. On the one hand, the story of the Exodus gives us faith in the possibility of another redemption; on the other hand, we are constantly reminded that 'you ain't seen nothing yet':
Therefore, behold, days are coming, says the Lord, and it shall no longer be said, 'As the Lord lives, Who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt' but, 'As the Lord lives, Who brought up the children of Israel from the northland and from all the lands where He had driven them,' and I will restore them to their land that I gave to their forefathers.
לכן הנה ימים באים נאום ה', ולא יאמר עוד חי ה' אשר העלה את בני ישראל מארץ מצרים, כי אם חי ה' אשר העלה את בני ישראל מארץ צפון ומכל הארצות אשר הדיחם שמה והשיבתים על אדמתם אשר נתתי לאבותם - ירמיהו טז
See also Berachot 12b

US Storm to Affect 100 Million this week


A storm beginning Monday night through Thursday could affect 100 million people across the U.S.: 

- Snow up to 6" from Colorado to Ohio + powerful winds = blizzards

- Severe storms containing damaging winds and tornadoes from Texas to Alabama.

- On Wednesday the storm could move from the midwest to the Northeast, bringing heavy snow and icing

Meanwhile in Jerusalem there are strong winds and heavy rain, reminiscent of the first big rain of the year, which followed the Carmel Fire.

Democratic protests?

From a recent Pew poll in Egypt:

30% favorable towards Hezbollah
49% favorable towards Hamas
20% favorable towards al Qaeda

82% support stoning for those who commit adultery
77% support whippings and hands cut off for robbery
84% support the death penalty for a Muslim who changes his religion

In response to the question: Do you support “modernizers” or “Islamists­”?
27% support modernizer­s
59% support Islamists

Democratic protests, or the Muslim Brotherhoo­d wearing its liberal mask for the enamored western media?

Stats from http://bit­.ly/dJKe7b

Egypt Protests, Hamas and Israel

Although the U.S. probably had a role in the source of the current protests in Egypt, the situation is ultimately heading towards creating a power vaccuum which is most likely to be filled by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest organized opposition.

The Muslim Brotherhood has close relations with Hamas, which is currently ruling in the Gaza Strip. The following was reported today by STRATFOR, a geopolitical forecasting company:
The following is a report from a STRATFOR source in Hamas. Hamas, which formed in Gaza as an outgrowth of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB), has an interest in exaggerating its role and coordination with the MB in this crisis. The following information has not been confirmed. Nonetheless, there is a great deal of concern building in Israel and the United States in particular over the role of the MB in the demonstrations and whether a political opening will be made for the Islamist organization in Egypt.

The Egyptian police are no longer patrolling the Rafah border crossing into Gaza. Hamas armed men are entering into Egypt and are closely collaborating with the MB. The MB has fully engaged itself in the demonstrations, and they are unsatisfied with the dismissal of the Cabinet. They are insisting on a new Cabinet that does not include members of the ruling National Democratic Party.

Security forces in plainclothes are engaged in destroying public property in order to give the impression that many protesters represent a public menace. The MB is meanwhile forming people’s committees to protect public property and also to coordinate demonstrators’ activities, including supplying them with food, beverages and first aid.
The protests in Egypt began days after Al Jazeera began publicizing documents humiliating Palestinian leaders in the context of talks with Israel.

Speaking today in Egypt, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood leader warned that unrest could spread throughout the Arab world and topple leaders allied with the the West. As Atlas Shrugged points out, the Muslim Brotherhood is busy whitewashing its image in the Western press: "A new era of freedom and democracy is dawning in the Middle East and Arab world," Muslim Brotherhood veteran Kamel El-Helbawy said to reporters in London today. He also told them that an Islamist government would pose no threat to the West. This coming from an organization who states as its aim "eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and sabatoging its miserable house."

Is the West buying it? The Obama administration is currently supporting the protests' call for reforms, after pressure from analysts to not end up on the 'wrong side' (i.e. the 'left' side) of the conflict. In the media, the Daily Beast tells us not to fear the Muslim Brotherhood.

One thing is clear: Egypt is heading for a power vaccuum, and the Muslim Brotherhood is its largest organized opposition. The question is, where will Obama and the EU stand?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Volcanoes erupt

On Wednesday, the volcano on Mt Kirishima erupted, sending a tower of smoke 5,000 feet into the air. Although volcanic activity is regular in the region, this eruption was the largest in the past 50 years.

On Tuesday, Mount Bromo in East Java erupted and is disrupting flights from Indonesia to Australia and other destinations until now.

Meanwhile authorities in Colombia have raised the alert level of the Galeras volcano, expecting the volcano to erupt in as soon as a number of days.

And looking forward, the SF Chronicle reports that the eruption of a volcano in Yellowstone could make 2/3 of US land uninhabitable. Although an eruption is due, scientists cannot issue a formal warning because they do not have an exact date.

In the age of human dominance, Hashem shows his might. We are not all-powerful; only God is all-powerful; in fact, ein od milvado, there is nothing other than Him.

גַּע בֶּהָרִים וְיֶעֱשָׁנוּ - תהילים קמ"ד touch the mountains, and they will smoke

הַמַּבִּיט לָאָרֶץ, וַתִּרְעָד. יִגַּע בֶּהָרִים וְיֶעֱשָׁנוּ -תהילים ק"ד
who looks at the land, and it shakes, touches the mountains, and they smoke

שו"ע: הרואה הר געש מתפרץ צריך לברך ברכת שכוחו וגבורתו מלא עולם
according to the shulchan aruch, one who sees a volcano erupting should say the blessing 'whose strength and might fill the world' (same for thunder)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

UK Philosopher Legitimizes Palestinian Terrorism

UCL Professor Ted Honderich:
"Palestinians have a moral right to their terrorism"

On the eve of International Holocaust Memorial day, in the wake of the Al Jazeera leaks, UCL professor Ted Honderich has published a letter in the Guardian granting legitimacy to mass killing of Jews, based on their 'greed' and 'lack of decency':
The revelations in detail (Report, 25 January) of the intransigent greed, the escape from decency, of Israeli governments in negotiation with our selected leaders of the Palestinians, serve one purpose among others. They provide a further part of what is now an overwhelming argument for a certain proposition. It is that the Palestinians have a moral right to their terrorism within historic Palestine against neo-Zionism. The latter, neither Zionism nor of course Jewishness, is the taking from the Palestinians of at least their autonomy in the last one-fifth of their historic homeland. Terrorism, as in this case, can as exactly be self-defence, a freedom struggle, martyrdom, the conclusion of an argument based on true humanity, etc.
Honderich makes a distinction between Zionism, defined as the creation of Israel in its original borders, and neo-Zionism, the expansion of Israel beyond its original borders, child of 1967, against which terrorism is legitimate.

Honderich's argument is seriously flawed. In 1967, it was Israel's enemies themselves who instigated war. Days before the Israeli strike, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran, an move defined in international treaties as an act of war against Israel, and Syria began deploying its troops along Israel's northern border. Until 1967, Israel was content with the borders that resulted from the 1948 war--a war also instigated by its Arab neighbors.

If Israel's enemies sought its destruction in 1967, what makes Honderich think their hatred of Israel today is suddenly based on ethical grounds? This is the error of the left, eager to victimize and demonize, in disregard of historical fact.

Moreover, after the 1967 war, despite massive territorial gains, Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt for the sake of peace. Yet regarding the West Bank, the U.S. and Israel encountered the unflinching Arab rejectionist stance of the Khartoum resolution: "No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it." The Arab world, then and now, could not come to terms with the very existence of Israel, preventing any way forward that did not involve grounds for Israel's destruction in the future.

Honderich claims his arguments are not anti-Semitic. Yet despite his naive characterization of Israel's foreign policy predicament, he defends the West's attack on Afghanistan as moral and condems the 9/11 attacks. Only from Israel does he deny the right to self-defense.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Al Jazeera 'leaks' Day 2

Al Jazeera TV coverage began tonight by criticizing Tzipi Livni for wanting a Jewish state for 'its people' and suggesting transfering the population of certain Arab Israeli villages into a Palestinian state.

First of all, why does Al Jazeera think Arab Israelis want to remain in Israel in the first place? Maybe because they have it better there in terms of civil, economic and democratic rights than they ever would in a Palestinian state.

Second, how is this different from Palestinian requests in every peace negotiation in history to uproot Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria?

Third, let's take a quick look at the state of Arab religious tolerance:

- In Saudi Arabia, Jewish (as well as Christian and other non-Muslim) religious services are prohibited.

- When Jordan gained control of the West Bank in 1948, it expelled its remaining Jewish population.
In 1954, Jordan granted citizenship all reisdents, except those who are Jewish.

- In 1969, nine Iraqi Jews were falsely accused of spying for Israel and hung, leading to the departure of the rest of the country's Jews.

5 Myths about Al-Jazeera leaks

Women's section inside the Western Wall Tunnels, facing the Kodesh

First, some myth-busting about all the supposed Palestinian generosity:

1. Anyone who has been to Israel knows there is nothing surprising about Palestinians 'forfeiting' French Hill, Ramat Eshkol, Mt. Scopus and other neighborhoods deeply integrated into Jerusalem. Any Palestinian who is even half-serious about achieveing a settlement knows that Israel is not going to give up Hebrew University, much less the Jewish quarter of the Old City. "What Al-Jazeera put out is not new, we've known it for a long time," said 60-year-old Abed Dandis who runs a grocery store the Old City. (AP)

2. The 'generous' offer by the Palestinians failed to provide basic provisions, such as safe passage between Jerusalem and the proposed Gush Etzion enclave, home to 60,000 people who travel daily to Jerusalem.

3. One of the maps proposed Pisgat Ze'ev and French Hill be separated by Palestinian territory. An Israeli negotiator asks how these two neighborhoods, which today are practically in each others backyard, will be connected. Palestinian negotiator Samih responds: "A bridge can be built to connect them" !! Yeah, a bridge through Hamastan to take my kid from school to his violin lesson. Genius! How could Israel have refused?

4. The Palestinian 'offer', which gave Israel control over most Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, still maintained control over Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem, such as Isawiya. Palestinians did not give up their claim for East Jerusalem.

5. One map suggested a territorial link between the West Bank and Gaza. In other words, Israel would be cut in half by a passageway from radical Hamastan to moderate Hamastan. Sounds enticing.

Regardless of the futility of these Palestinian 'concessions', the peace process is history. Netanyahu will never give what Olmert the businessman offered. In the Arab world, the Palestinian leadership is making every effort to deny the leak, fearing backlash from their populace, who would never accept even the impractical arrangements listed above.

In this time, when two-state solution's days are numbered, it's time to make the real case for the Jewish state, on our own terms, without kissing up to Europe or the U.S. We need to clarify to the world why we are here, and what it means that we are here.

Rashi on Genesis 1:1 is a fine place to begin. 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)

Rashi (medieval commentator): Why does the Torah open with the story of Creation, rather than with the first commandment? So that if the nations of the world say to Israel: You are occupying a foreign land, Israel can say to them: This world belongs to God. He created it, and he gives it to those who find favor in His eyes. Of His Will He gave it to them, and of His Will He took it from them, and gave it to us.

בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ

אמר רבי יצחק לא היה צריך להתחיל [את] התורה אלא (שמות יב ב) מהחודש הזה לכם, שהיא מצוה ראשונה שנצטוו [בה] ישראל, ומה טעם פתח בבראשית, משום (תהלים קיא ו) כח מעשיו הגיד לעמו לתת להם נחלת גוים, שאם יאמרו אומות העולם לישראל לסטים אתם, שכבשתם ארצות שבעה גוים, הם אומרים להם כל הארץ של הקב"ה היא, הוא בראה ונתנה לאשר ישר בעיניו, ברצונו נתנה להם וברצונו נטלה מהם ונתנה לנו

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lieberman to propose interim peace plan

AP reports:
Israel's foreign minister is putting together an interim peace plan that would grant the Palestinians limited independence in an attempt to blunt their efforts to win international recognition of an independent state, a government official Sunday...
Under the emerging Lieberman plan, Israel would turn over between 45- to 50 percent of the West Bank to the provisional state, though additional land could be transferred to Palestinian control in the course of future negotiations, the official said.

Australian insurers: Overflowing rivers are not floods

Some Australian insurers have informed customers that while their policies cover flash floods and storm water damage, an overflowing river is not defined as a flood, according to Monsters and Critics.

Did the rivers swell on their own?

Iran: Peace for our time, take 2?

Reuters reports
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday he hoped for further talks with world powers concerned about Tehran's nuclear programme, a day after two days of negotiations ended in stalemate and with no clear agreement to meet again.
"If the other party is determined and committed to law, justice and respect, there is hope that in the next sessions good results would be achieved," Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech to a crowd in the city of Rasht.
As the Iranian regime continues to buy time to develop its arsenal, the West is advised to open a history book, or at the very least, heed warnings from its allies in the Arab world. In 2009, Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Armed Forces Emirates Prince Mohammed bin Zayed wrote a memo to the US, in which he urged the United States not to ‘appease’ Iran and desrcibed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as ‘Hitler,’ according to Meir Javedanfar from the Diplomat.

Similarly, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia has asked the United States to ‘cut off the head of the snake’ and strike Iran’s nuclear program. King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain has said: ‘That programme must be stopped. The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.’

Talmud to be translated into Italian

Today's Daf Yomi (Daily Page of Talmud) from

According to JTA, the Talmud will be translated into Italian for the first time in history, after Italian cabinet ministers and Rome's chief rabbi sign on to 'Project Talmud'.

The Italian government's recognition of the Talmud's cultural value is noteworthy, considering its legacy. On September 9, 1553, Rosh Hashana 5314, the Talmud was confiscated and burned publicly in Rome, Italy, under the auspices of Pope Paul IV and the backing of Pope Julius III. Following the incident, Talmud burning spread through much of Italy.

New proposal: 80% of settlers can stay in exchange for land swaps

Ma'arat HaMachpela, the Cave of the Patriarchs, minutes from
Kiryat Arba, from which said proposal anticipates Israel's withdrawal

According to JTA, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel U.S. think tank with close ties to the Obama and Bibi administrations, has released proposals for a two-state solution that would allow up to 80% of Jews in Judea and Samaria to stay in place in exchange for land adjacent to Gaza, Sinai and other parts of the West Bank. 

The maps thus propose a contiguous Palestinian state with Israeli "fingers" into the northern West Bank.

On the one hand, this proposal makes a crucial point: the "settlers" are not the obstacle to peace; with land swaps, most could stay in place, without endangering the continuity of a Palestinian state.

On the other hand, the proposal is seriously misguided. First, it rests on the faulty notion that giving away the land of Eretz Yisrael will magically bring about security. The recent pullout from Gaza demonstrated clearly the backwards logic underlying this assumption; as soon as Israel pulled out, Gaza Palestinians elected Hamas and have not stopped firing rockets on Israel since.

But even if we were to consider land swaps, the said proposal contains at least a serious error. It anticipates the necessity of Israel withdrawing from Kiryat Arba, currently home to 10,000 Israelis. Kiryat Arba, founded in 1968, lies 5 minutes from the Cave of the Patriarchs, and is a common place for Jews around the world to stay for Shabbat and holidays when visiting the Cave. If Israel were to withdraw from Kiryat Arba, it would ultimately be abandoning Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, not to mention Adam and Eve, who according to tradition are buried in the cave as well.

In November, when Netanyahu was mulling over the continuation of a building freeze in Judea and Samaria, the rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Rav Dov Lior, wrote the following:
In this difficult hour for the State of Israel, which is facing harsh pressure from the nations of the world, and especially from the 'western power,' to give up our right to our historic homeland, I am taking the step of wishing you 'chazak ve'ematz' (be strong and firm) from the heights of the Judean Mountains, the birthplace of the Kingdom of Israel, the place where our holy Forefathers rest, and the location in which Israel's greatest leaders lived and acted in the past.
Chazak Ve'ematz, indeed!

Friday, January 21, 2011

24 whales stranded in New Zealand

A group of 24 stranded whales were found in dire condition in Parengarenga Harbor in New Zealand. Fourteen had died and the Dept. of Conservation was forced to euthanise the remaining ten. According to the Dept. staff, "The kindest thing was to end their suffering.''

The whales had been trapped in shallow water and mud for some time. Possible explanations include sickness and disorientation. According to Dept. staff, ''Because of their close ties to each other, when one of their pod gets into trouble and strands, generally the others will follow to try to help and become stranded themselves.'' (

The whale, and more specifically, the Leviathan, features prominently in Jewish descriptions of the Messianic era. From  
Leviathan is the name of an archetypal sea-creature, which is destined to wage battle against the Behemoth, only to be consumed by the righteous at the end of days; an animal of "the sea" (a symbol for the concealed realm), it symbolizes the category of righteous souls who are concealed in this world (and whose essential "occupation" in Torah is in its concealed aspect, the Kabbalah--esoteric tradition).
The following is taken from
Our sages in the Talmud describe an encounter between the Leviathan and the Shor Habar, the "wild ox." The wild ox will gore the Leviathan with its horns, and the Leviathan will slaughter the wild ox with its fins. Although this passage in the Talmud has deep symbolic meaning, Maharsha writes in his commentary on the Talmud that the Feast of Moshiach will also take place literally.
The Leviathan and the Shor Habar (wild ox) symbolize two types of divine service. The Leviathan, which lives in the sea, represents spirituality, which is hidden. There are righteous people whose main form of divine service is to separate themselves from this world in order to engage in strictly spiritual pursuits.
The "wild ox" which lives on land, represents the physical realm. There are righteous people who struggle to infuse the physical with holiness. The term "bar," which literally means "wild," shares a root with the Hebrew word "Birur" - refinement. The task of these righteous people is to refine the physicality of the world.
The righteous symbolized by the Leviathan reach superior levels of spirituality. However, the second type, who purify the physical, complete the purpose of creation, which is to refine the physical world.
When the redemption will come, the two classes of tzadikim will influence one another, and each will absorb the special qualities of the other.  In spiritual terms, "slaughter" means to elevate. This is the spiritual meaning of the mutual "slaughter" of the Leviathan and wild ox: Each type will elevate the other to its own stature. Thus, through the combined efforts of the two types of tzadikim, the highest levels of spirituality will be drawn down into the physical world.

Massive fish kill off of New South Wales coast

A massive fish kill that has been ongoing since early January has affected a wide cross section of estuarine and reef species, including mullet, flathead, luderick, whiting, catfish, angel sharks, and rock cod. Tourists and residents of Callala Bay, Hare Bay and Red Rock have reported thousands of dead and dying fish on beaches and shallow water.

Beijing bird deaths

Dozens of dead blackbirds, mallards and magpies have been found in a Beijing suburb along the Xiaojing River. Initial explanations include starvation and unfavorable weather conditions.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Psychologically unstable anti-Semite receives gun license in Australia

JTA reports:
A Holocaust denier who believes there is a Jewish conspiracy to eliminate other races received a gun license in Australia, despite being deemed a possible security risk.
Darryl Potts, an elevator technician at Parliament House in Canberra, had his pistol license revoked in 2009 by New South Wales police after he expressed white supremacy views.

But the New South Wales Administrative Decisions Tribunal ruled this week that even though Potts may hold offensive views, he is entitled to a firearms license -- despite a psychiatrist's assessment that he had the potential “to put public safety at risk.” Potts told the tribunal that he did not believe 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
Manny Waks, the president of the Jewish community in the capital, told JTA that “This is a concerning development for the Australian Capital Territory Jewish community. Based on the media reports, here we have a virulent anti-Semite who has been assessed by a psychiatrist as having the potential to put public safety at risk, possibly in legal possession of a firearm.
“It is no surprise that a number of community members, myself included, are concerned about this," he said. "We certainly view Mr. Potts as a potential threat to our community.”
Some 600 Jews live in Canberra.

Chabad in Canberra to open a new mikvah

As Australia is experiencing the worst floods in its history, the Chabad in its capital city will open a new mikvah (Jewish ritual immersion pool) in February.

After more than half a century with no rabbi, no Jewish school or kosher butcher in town, Canberra’s 2000 Jews are beginning to see change.

One of the first projects that Rabbi Dan and Naomi Avital launched when they opened a Chabad center in Australia’s capital city, in March 2009, was the construction of a mikvah. For a community that has been lacking the basics, says Rabbi Avital, it’s imperative to start from the beginning.

“A mikvah is what a Jewish community needs most. It’s the first thing that must be built. That’s the foundation and it’s essential for the infrastructure of a Jewish community.”

For local women who were making the three hour trip to Sydney for the nearest mikvah, Canberra’s new mikvah will make life a whole lot easier. What’s more, the Avitals expect that many additional women for whom the three hour trip was too much, will also begin using Mikvah Chaya Mushka Canberra. Naomi Avital, director of Mikvah Chaya Mushka who will be teaching classes on the laws and traditions of the mikvah, says that 15 women have already expressed an interest using the mikvah.

“By exploring the spirituality and importance of the mikvah in the new classes, we’ll hope to remove stereotypes and any fears about the mikvah,” she says.

The new mikvah will be formally opened in February by US Ambassador Jeff Bleich. The elegant, state-of-the-art ritual bath was co-sponsored by Eliezer Kornhauser, a Melbourne based developer and a major supporter of Chabad activities in Canberra.

Ricky Gervais makes a crack at Mel Gibson's antisemitism

Gervais: “Our first presenter is beautiful, talented, and Jewish apparently...Mel Gibson told me that. He’s obsessed. Please welcome Scarlett Johansson.” (5:00)

In 2008, Johansson said in an interview with Israel's Channel 2 that her mother is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and brought her up with a basic observance of Shabbat and holidays. She identifies as Jewish.

Ingathering of the Exiles

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, a champion of
the spiritual and political revival of Israel,
who read the words below from Isaiah
at the opening of Hebrew University
in Jerusalem in 1925
Raise your eyes around and see
All have gathered and come to you
Your sons have come from afar
Your daughters carried on hips
Then you will see, and become radiant
...Your heart will expand and tremble
The abundance of the sea will turn over to you,
The heroes of nations will make pilgrimage.

(Isaiah 60:4-5)

According to JTA, 20 Jews from Tunisia have come to Israel amid the political situation in the country. Ten are members of one extended family who are making aliyah; the other ten are participating in programs and may do so in the future. Others in the country are considering making aliyah. About 1,100 Jews live in Djerba, while about 400 live in Tunis. 

On its website the Jewish Agency is offering to assist any Tunisian Jew to leave the country for Israel.

The Tunisian Jewish community dates back to the Roman period, when the Romans exiled the Kohanim as far as possible so as to quell possible attempts to reconstruct the Temple and Jewish worship. Most of today's Tunisian Jewish community in Djerba are Kohanim and have remained loyal Kohanim for centuries.

The Ga'on Rabbeinu Chananel, Rabbi Chananel ben Chushiel, was an 11th-century Tunisian rabbi. Yaakov ben Nissim was a Tunisian Jewish philosopher who wrote an Arabic translation to Sefer Yetzirah, the one of the first texts of Kabbalah. HaRav Nissim Gaon, Rabbi Nissim ben Yaakov was a great Tunisian Talmudist. During the Spain and Portuguese Inquisition in the 15th century, some Jewish refugees arrived in Tunis.

In 1948, there were 105,000 Jews in Tunisia. By 1967, the increasingly unstable situation led to the aliyah of 40,000 Tunisian Jews to Israel. During the six-day war, 7,000 immigrated to France. In 2002, a truck exploded at the outer wall of the Ghriba synagogue in Djerba. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility. 11 German tourists and 6 others were killed in attack. (Source: Jewish Virtual Library)

The popular Israeli singer Etti Ankari, who has recently reconnected with her Jewish roots and embraced a religious lifestyle, is from a Tunisian Jewish family.

Land slides across the world

Slide nearly devours 2 homes in Newport, Oregon

For the mountains may move, and the hills may shake; but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall My covenant of peace be removed, says Hashem, who has compassion on you.

כִּי הֶהָרִים יָמוּשׁוּ, וְהַגְּבָעוֹת תְּמוּטֶינָה--וְחַסְדִּי מֵאִתֵּךְ לֹא-יָמוּשׁ, וּבְרִית שְׁלוֹמִי לֹא תָמוּט, אָמַר מְרַחֲמֵךְ, יְהוָה

In Washington state, landslides closed sections of three state highways. In Portland, what started as a sinkhole washed away over 50 feet of Highway 22 near the Oregon Coast. Meanwhile, on Thursday the National Weather Service warned of further landslides as heavy rains are expected for western Washington, where soils are already saturated.

In the Phillippines, at least 60 people have been killed by floods and landslides, and 27 are missing.
On Thrsday, Phillipine weather authorities warned that a northeast monsoon and a wind convergence may trigger flash floods and landslides in thea areas of Eastern Luzon and Eastern Visayas.

In Brazil, in recent flooding and landslides that are now being called the country's worst natural disaster, over 700 have died and over 200 are missing. Here is a video of a man miraculously rescued after being buried alive in mudslides.

Brazil floods deathtoll likely to hit 1k

Flood stream in Terespolis, Jan. 12th
Vladimir Platonow / Agencia Brazil

The final deathtoll from Brazil floods and landslides is likely to hit 1,000 as hundreds are still missing, with entire towns buried and entire families wiped out. 'There are families that were so decimated that there is no one left to confirm who is missing,' said a spokesperson for the Nova Friburgo Civil Defense agency. Hundreds are still at risk of fresh mudslides, cut off by damaged raods and bridges.

Destroyed homes in Nova Friburgo
Valter Campanato / Agencia Brasil

Icaro Moreno, president of EMOP, a government public works company described the damage: 
Streams turned into wide, deep rivers. There is a huge geographical change; it's as if towns were completely reshaped.
Meanwhile, yesterday Brazil blamed Israel for the demise of talks with the Palestinians and condemned Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria, which includes Jerusalem. Brazil is also leading the current trend of South American countries recognizing a Palestinian state outside of the context of negotiations with Israel.

We will not fear when the earth changes and when mountains collapse into the heart of seas. His waters shall stir and be muddled, mountains shall quake from His pride forever. 
The river's streams shall cause the city of God [Jerusalem] to rejoice, the dwelling-place of the Most High.
God is in its midst that it should not tremble; God shall help it as morning approaches.
- Psalm 46
תהילים מו

לַמְנַצֵּחַ לִבְנֵי-קֹרַח--    עַל-עֲלָמוֹת שִׁיר
אֱלֹהִים לָנוּ, מַחֲסֶה וָעֹז;    עֶזְרָה בְצָרוֹת, נִמְצָא מְאֹד
עַל-כֵּן לֹא-נִירָא, בְּהָמִיר אָרֶץ;    וּבְמוֹט הָרִים, בְּלֵב יַמִּים
 יֶהֱמוּ יֶחְמְרוּ מֵימָיו;    יִרְעֲשׁוּ הָרִים בְּגַאֲוָתוֹ סֶלָה
נָהָר--פְּלָגָיו, יְשַׂמְּחוּ עִיר-אֱלֹהִים;    קְדֹשׁ, מִשְׁכְּנֵי עֶלְיוֹן
אֱלֹהִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ, בַּל-תִּמּוֹט;    יַעְזְרֶהָ אֱלֹהִים, לִפְנוֹת בֹּקֶר
הָמוּ גוֹיִם, מָטוּ מַמְלָכוֹת;    נָתַן בְּקוֹלוֹ, תָּמוּג אָרֶץ
יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת עִמָּנוּ;    מִשְׂגָּב-לָנוּ אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה
לְכוּ-חֲזוּ, מִפְעֲלוֹת יְהוָה--    אֲשֶׁר-שָׂם שַׁמּוֹת בָּאָרֶץ
מַשְׁבִּית מִלְחָמוֹת,    עַד-קְצֵה הָאָרֶץ: קֶשֶׁת יְשַׁבֵּר, וְקִצֵּץ חֲנִית;    עֲגָלוֹת, יִשְׂרֹף בָּאֵשׁ
הַרְפּוּ וּדְעוּ, כִּי-אָנֹכִי אֱלֹהִים;    אָרוּם בַּגּוֹיִם, אָרוּם בָּאָרֶץ
 יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת עִמָּנוּ;    מִשְׂגָּב-לָנוּ אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה

Brazil's world

On Wednesday, Brazil and Malaysia's ambassadors blamed the collapse of negotiations on Israel's refusal to extend the building freeze, and called to halt all building in Judea and Samaria. "We once again reiterate our call on Israel to heed the unanimous call of the international community in this regard," Brazil's permanent representative to the UN, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, said in an address to the Council. 

According to the World Politics Review, Brazil is the country responsible for the trend of Latin American countries' recognition of a Palestinian state. Lula, Brazil's past president, assembled a constituency of developing nations in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, all supportive of Brazil's worldview. According to the Review, Palestinian state recognition gains Brazil positive political momentum on a global scale. For the new administration, it gives President Dilma Rousseff political leeway among Arab countries of the Middle East. As more developing-world countries recognize Palestinian independence, Brazil could again find itself as vanguard of the trend.

What lies behind the various countries' support of the Palestinian cause? According to the Review, Argentina and Uruguay tend to follow Brazil's lead in global politics. Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela are ruled by leaders with ties to the radical left dominated by anti-imperialist rhetoric. Chile's support was less predictable - as an ally of the U.S., it does not normally follow Brazil's lead. However, in this case, Pinera caved to the largest Palestinian community outside the Arab world.

According to the Review, continuation of the trend of South American countries can be traced to Brazil's leadership and commercial interests in the Arab Middle East.

According to Foreign Policy's Josh Keating, if the traditionally pro-U.S. Colombia hops on the train, the Lula foreign-policy legacy will be further solidified.

Russia calls for unified Palestinian state with East Jerusaelm as its captial

On Wednesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and King Abdullah II of Jordan vowed to work together to achieve an independent Palestinian state and boost energy cooperation. Before the talks, Medvedev announced: "I have told my Palestinian friends that the eventual target will be the establishment of a modern, unified and sovereign state with East Jerusalem as its capital."

On Tuesday, Medvedev visited Jericho, where he met with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. There he used the opportunity to call on Israel to stop building in Judea and Samaria. Medvedev said there would be "no progress" without an Israeli decision on "settlement building".

Medvedev and Abdullah also discussed ways to spur Russian investments in Jordan's nuclear industry. Russia's ZAO Atomstroyexport is one of three companies which is vying for a role in building Jordan's first nuclear reactor by 2019. The others include France's Areva and Japan's Mitsubishi. In recent years, Jordan signed nuclear cooperation treaties with Russia and nine other countries in preparation for its nuclear reactor. According to government estimates, Jordan has 70,000 tons of uranium deposits. (Bloomberg)

Australia calls for a halt to settlement building

On Tuesday, Australia and Britain called on Israel to halt settlement building. The remarks were made at a summit between British Foreign Secretary William Hague, his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd and Australian defence ministers Liam Fox and Stephen Smith. “Our joint belief (is) that the parties involved should return to direct talks and refrain from acts that undermine confidence such as settlement building,” Hague said.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hosea 4:1-3: Bird, Fish and Beast Prophecies

Flock of wading birds in Hilpsford, UK (Chris Upson)
Online theologian Paul Begley traces mass bird, fish and cow deaths to verses in the opening of fourth chapter of Hosea:
Hear the word of Hashem, children of Israel! For Hashem has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. 
Swearing and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery--they break all bounds, and blood touches blood.
Therefore the land mourns, and every one that dwells in it is depressed, with the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven; the fishes of the sea also are taken away.
In the Talmud (Pesachim 86a), Hosea is criticized for his attitude towards Israel:
'Your children have sinned' - he should have said 'They are your children! Children of your beloved ones, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! Release your compassion on them!' Not only did he not say this, he also said: 'Master of the world! The whole world is yours, replace them with another people!'
In response, God said: 'What shall I do to this elder? I will tell him to take a prostitute for wife and bear children of prostitution, and then I will tell him to send her away. If he can send her away, then I too can send away Israel, as it says: 'And God said to Hosea: Go and take for you a wife of prostitution and children of prostitution.' (Hosea 2:1) and 'And he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblayim' (Hosea 1:3)...
After he had two sons and a daughter, God said to Hosea: 'You should have learned from Moses your teacher. When I spoke to him, he separated himself from his wife. You as well, separate yourself from her!' Hosea said: 'Master of the world, I have children from her, I cannot remove her, nor can I divorce her!'
God said: 'If this be the case with your wife, a prostitute, and your children, children of prostitution, and you do not know whether they are yours or whether they belong to others, how should it be with Israel, who are my children, children of my tests, children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, one of the four possessions I acquired in this world: Torah (...) heaven and earth (...) the Holy Temple(...) Israel; and you said to replace them with another people?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Palestinians raise flag in Washington

On Tuesday, Palestinians raised their flag over their diplomatic mission in Washington for the first time. At the flag-raising ceremony, Palestinian chief envoy to the US expressed hope it would help the Palestinian cause with or without a peace deal with Israel.

More bird and fish deaths across U.S.

A healthy grackle in Georgia, 2009 (Quinn Dombrowski)
On Monday, 200 birds were found in downtown Yankton, South Dakota. The birds were congregating downtown in past weeks instead of migrating for winter. An animal control officer reported that a veterinarian had no initial explanation for the deaths, and that in her 10+ years of animal control she has never witnessed anything like this.

Last weekend, 300 grackle birds were found dead on the side of I-65 in Huntsville, Alabama. According to the UK Daily Mail, a witness to the incident said 'it looked like they were committing suicide'. Grackles have recently been found dead in hundreds in Arkansas, Louisiana and Kentucky.

The weekend before, CA highway patrol officers found 100 dead birds just off Highway 101 in Geyserville, CA, near Santa Rosa. The brown- and black-winged birds were intact and had not been shot.

Meanwhile thousands of dead gizzard shad fish have been spotted in Chicago harbors. The fish appear to be frozen to death.

שמות טו, ח: קפאו תהומות, בלב-ים
 and the depths froze in the heart of the sea (exodus 15:8)

Creation of Adam (zoom) / Michelangelo
When I see Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and stars that You have established,
What is man that You should remember him, and the son of man that You should be mindful of him?
Yet You have made him slightly less than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and majesty.
You give him dominion over the work of Your hands; You have placed everything beneath his feet.
Flocks and cattle, all of them, and also the beasts of the field;
The birds of the sky and the fish of the sea, he traverses the ways of the seas.
O Lord, our Master, how mighty is Your name in all the earth!

(Psalms 8:4-10)

S Korea buries 1.4 million pigs alive in foot-and-mouth outbreak

In a move drawing international criticism, South Korea buried 1.4 million pigs alive to stop the spread of foot-and-mouth disease among livestock. Pictures are available here
The mass pig burials are part of South Korea's orders to cull close to 2 million pigs, deer, goats and cattle in over 4,000 farms across the country in order to slow the spread of the highly contagious disease. Among pigs and cattle, S Korea has said it has culled about 15% of its livestock. To assist in the destruction of livestock, 68,000 soldiers have been mobilized. In the past 50 days, there were 120 outbreaks of foot and mouth disease across South Korea farms, despite extensive quarantine efforts by the country.
A healthy white-tailed deer / Scott Bauer
Meanwhile, South Korea's farm ministry has ordered the culling and burial of 3.57 million ducks and chickens to contain the spread of avian influenza, after confirming 26 cases of bird flu in the country. The outbreak was first confirmed on December 31 in Cheonan. While foot-and-mouth disease is not transferable to humans, avian flu can (h'v) mutate to a form that could be easily transmitted between humans.

South Korea is claiming North Korean livestock have also been hit by foot-and-mouth disease, but North Korea has not yet confirmed.
In South Korea, the price of pork jumped by 43% after the massive slaughter. Losses are expected to exceed 1.26 billion.

Meanwhile, across the globe, over 700 cattle, sheep, goats and pigs have been culled in Bulgaria after two outbreaks of foot-and-mouth were detected. Yesterday, 200 cattle, sheep and pigs were culled in a southeastern Bulgarian village. Last week, over 500 animals were culled near Bulgaria's Turkish border to prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease. 
In an effort to prevent the spread of the disease to Turkey, Bulargia will rebuild the barb wire fence along its Turkey border.  The fence, originally built during the Cold War, to separate Waraw Pact member Bulgaria from NATO member Turkey, was taken down in 2004.

In a separate incident, nearly 2,000 pigs died in a fire near Melvin in northwest Iowa.

Oprah's Biggest Career Failure

On tonight's premiere of CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, Oprah is asked to describe her biggest career failure. Rather than use the opportunity to apologize for her controversial 1989 show on devil worship, parts of which are used today online by anti-Semitic hate groups, she uses her camera time to describe the depression she experienced after the flop of her movie 'Beloved', which led to a 'macaroni-and-cheese-eating tailspin'.

In 1989, Oprah had no shame in giving a platform to a Jewish woman, suffering from mental illness, who claimed her family had been involved in "human sacrifice rituals" and "worshiping the devil" in since the 1700's. "There are other Jewish families across the country, not just my own family," the woman said on broadcast television, completely unchallenged or fact-checked by the host, either during or after the interview.

When the show aired, the Anti Defamation League criticized Oprah for irresponsibly allowing a woman to broadcast the blood libel on the basis of "recovered memories."

Today, clips from the show are used on Twitter and YouTube by anti-Semitic hate groups.

Initially, the show's producer defended the show by pointing out the woman's mental illness, as recounted in sections from Kitty Kelley's Oprah: A Biography (Crown Archetype, 2010):
“We are aware that the show has struck a nerve,” said Jeff Jacobs, then COO of Harpo Productions. He pointed out to the press that Oprah had said on the air that “Rachel” was one particular person talking about her particular situation. “And she was identified at the top of the show as being mentally disturbed,” he added, not commenting on why such a person would be allowed on the show in the first place.
Dangers of a boycott surfaced, and Oprah eventually met with a select group of Jewish leaders to tame the uproar. Oprah eventually released the following statement:
“We recognize that The Oprah Winfrey Show on May 1 could have contributed to the perpetuation and historical misconceptions and canards about Jews, and we regret any harm may have been done. We are aware of community and group sensibilities and will make every effort to ensure that our program will reflect that concern.”
Nevertheless, Oprah refused to make an apology on her show or publicly comment on the program or the statements.

In the words of Phil Baum, associate director of the American Jewish Congress:
It’s an inadequate response to the harm that may have been done on that broadcast. It’s not our sensitivities she ought to be concerned about. It’s a question of the integrity of her show. This apology cannot possibly reach anything like the people [7,680,000 homes, according to the A.C. Nielsen Company] who were exposed to these statements.
Recently, during her 'Ultimate Australian Adventure', Oprah made comments referring to the larger-than-life power of her show:
"I have the biggest mouth on earth and the biggest platform, aren’t you glad I like it [referring to Australia]? When we do cooking shows and people might do something I don’t like, I just say I don’t like it."
Still, Oprah and her producers seems to think irresponsibly airing a message charged with centuries of bigotry does not deserve a formal apology.

Monday, January 17, 2011

California faces 'superstorm' risk

Rolling thunderstorm in the Netherlands, 2004 / John Kerstholt
In what Yahoo! News says "sounds like the plot of an apocalyptic action movie", a group of more than 100 scientists and experts say California faces risk of massive "superstorm" that could flood a quarter of the states' homes and last over 40 days.

Floods hit South Africa

40 are missing in after heavy rains led to swelled rivers and flooding in South Africa and Mozambique, where thousands of homes were also destroyed, as reported on Monday.

7000 buffalo and cows frozen to death in Vietnam

A healthy water buffalo in Thailand, 2005 / Da
Record low temperatures in Vietnam have frozen over 7,000 buffalo and cows to death in northern provinces this year, reports Deputy Head of Livestock Breeding Department on Friday.

The Cao Bang province reported 700 deaths in one day, and 1800 deaths throughout the winter in the one province alone.

Northern Vietnam is expected to face a fresh cold snap starting Saturday.

On Friday, 200 cows were found dead in a Wisconsin field. Samples are currently being examined to determine the cause of the sudden deaths.

Oprah in Australia: Avoda Zara?

Oprah at her 50th birthday party / Alan Light

Coverage of Oprah's Ultimate Australian adventure', in which Oprah brought 300 US guests to tour Australia and film four shows out of her final season, reveals an inordinate degree of 'Oprah-worship':
  • Australia spent $5 million to bring Oprah to Australia
  • Sydney's landmark opera house was re-named the "Oprah House" for the filming
  • BBC's Nick Bryant: "Her eight-day tour has felt like a presidential, papal and royal visit all rolled into one."
  • Australia's Herald Sun: "If it was even possible, 6,000 of her dearest fans who gathered to worship her on the steps of the Sydney "Oprah" House for her first show this morning, found more love in their hearts for their hero. Oprah grooved her way through the audience onto centre stage to the beat of I Come From The Land Down Under, her bright orange dress swaying in the wind, opening the show with an obligatory chant of 'Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi.' It was church, Oprah style. The object of worship? A much-loved TV icon, all smiles and full of words of affection. The congregation? Screaming Oprah-files, the lucky 6,000 who beat 350,000 others to score tickets to her first of two tapings. Another 6,000 will see her second show this afternoon."
  • Oprah, in her final words to the camera: "This experience for me and my 300 guests has been of a divine order, really heaven sent. We thank you. We thank you for your open faces, we thank you for teaching us it much better to work to live rather than live to work. Thank you for teaching us how to do it."
  • Oprah: "I have made myself an official ambassador of Australia and I have a big mouth and a big platform. It is immeasurable what four hours of a love festival about your country, broadcast in 145 countries around the world can do." She vowed to share Australia's 'open faces' ("There’s a sense of openness and warmth I haven’t seen in any other country") with her global audience: "I have the biggest mouth on earth and the biggest platform, aren’t you glad I like it? When we do cooking shows and people might do something I don’t like, I just say I don’t like it."
  • Oprah told the audience she now understands why they call Australia 'Oz.': "Because it truly is at the end of the yellow brick road. After being here a week, I know this. I love Australia."
  • An audience member: "Oprah made me the person I am today. She is my inspiration."
  • The Herald Sun:"Another fan in the audience said she had skipped her child's sixth grade graduation to be at the Sydney show."

  לָמָּה, רָגְשׁוּ גוֹיִם; וּלְאֻמִּים, יֶהְגּוּ-רִיק

Why are the nations in an uproar? And why do the peoples mutter in vain? (Tehillim 2:1)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Water, Flooding and Mashiach

A big wave crashing in Santa Cruz, CA / Mila Zinkova
 Exodus 1:8-10

A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
Rashi (11th-century commentator) on the phrase 'A new king': Rav and Shmuel [differed in their interpretation]. One said [the king himself was] really new, and one said his decrees were new.
rsm: Brazil and Australia, two nations recently hit by major flooding, are led by two newly-elected leaders, both of whom come in the footsteps of a past leader who was infamously anti-Israel. Brazil's Lula recently established the first Palestinian embassy in Brazil. Australia's Rudd left a deep diplomatic divide between Australia and Israel.
He said to his people: 'Behold, the people of the children of Israel are greater and stronger than we are. Let us outwit him, lest he multiply; if a war occurs, he too will join our enemies and fight against us, and depart from the land.
Rashi on the phrase 'Outwit him': [Him refers to] the nation. [As in] be witty regarding what to do to him. Our sages taught, let us outwit the savior of Israel, by judging them with water, for He has already sworn that He will not flood the world [again] (but they did not understand that He swore He would not bring a flood upon the whole world, but He will bring one on one nation).
 rsm: Major flooding is occurring now in Brazil, Australia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. In Brazil, over 620 people have been killed by floods and mudslides. In Australia, the worst floods in the country's history have devastated large parts of Queensland and are now 'spreading' to parts of Victoria, with more rain in the forecast. Floods in the Philippines and Sri Lanka have left one million people displaced.
Exodus 1:22

And Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, 'Every son who is born you shall cast into the Nile, and every daughter you shall allow to live.'
All his people: He commanded his people as well. On the day Moses was born, his astrologers told him, today their savior is born, and we do not know if he is Egyptian or Israelite, and we see that his end is to brought down by water, therefore he made a decree that day on the Egyptians as well, as it says 'every son who is born', and not 'every son who is born to the Hebrews', yet they did not know that his end was to be brought down by the waters of Merivah [when Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it, failing to sanctify God's name, and losing his privelege to enter the land of Israel].
 rsm: Moses was destined to save the Jewish people, take them out of exile and bring them into the land of Israel. Egyptian magic foresaw that water was his 'weak spot' and attempted to foil his plan by drowning him. In return, God drowned the entire Egyptian people in the Red Sea. Every generation since includes an individual with the soul of Moses, who has the potential to bring redemption. In this sense, the war between the Mashaich and His enemies is negotiated with acts involving water. Current flooding may be merely warnings.

פרשת שמות, פרק א, פסוקים ח-י

וַיָּקָם מֶלֶךְ-חָדָשׁ, עַל-מִצְרָיִם, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדַע, אֶת-יוֹסֵף
וַיֹּאמֶר, אֶל-עַמּו:  הִנֵּה, עַם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל--רַב וְעָצוּם, מִמֶּנּוּ
הָבָה נִתְחַכְּמָה, לו:  פֶּן-יִרְבֶּה, וְהָיָה כִּי-תִקְרֶאנָה מִלְחָמָה וְנוֹסַף גַּם-הוּא עַל-שֹׂנְאֵינוּ, וְנִלְחַם-בָּנוּ, וְעָלָה מִן-הָאָרֶץ
רש"י: ויקם מלך חדש: רב ושמואל חד אמר חדש ממש. וחד אמר, שנתחדשו גזרותיו
נתחכמה לו: לעם. נתחכמה מה לעשות לו. ורבותינו דרשו נתחכם למושיען של ישראל לדונם במים, שכבר נשבע שלא יביא מבול לעולם (והם לא הבינו שעל כל העולם אינו מביא, אבל הוא מביא על אומה אחת)
 שמות א, כ"ב: וַיְצַו פַּרְעֹה לְכָל עַמּוֹ לֵאמֹר כָּל הַבֵּן הַיִּלּוֹד הַיְאֹרָה תַּשְׁלִיכֻהוּ וְכָל הַבַּת תְּחַיּוּן
רש"י: לכל עמו: אף עליהם גזר. יום שנולד משה אמרו לו אצטגניניו היום נולד מושיען, ואין אנו יודעין אם ממצרים אם מישראל, ורואין אנו שסופו ללקות במים, לפיכך גזר אותו היום אף על המצרים, שנאמר כל הבן הילוד, ולא נאמר הילוד לעברים, והם לא היו יודעים שסופו ללקות על מי מריבה

30 countries are helping Iran build a nuclear bomb

The latest Wikileaks cable, published by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, reveals that Iran has been developing contacts in more than 30 countries to acquire technology to build a nuclear bomb. According to a French nuclear expert: "A race exists between the bomb and financial collapse."

This weekend, Iran is scheduled to hold major talks on its nuclear program in Istanbul with representatives from the major world powers.


Heavy flooding worldwide

Flooding in Toowoomba, Australia 2011 / Kingbob86

Flood warnings are in place on nearly all of Scotland's rivers following heavy rain. Areas along the River Eden in Cumbria, a county in Northwest England, were also on high alert. North Wales had four flood warnings overnight.


Two weeks of heavy rains in the Philippines have killed 51, left 400,000 displaced people, and have overall affected 1.5 million people.


More than 656 people have died from floods and mudslides in the mountains around Rio De Janeiro, in the country's worst disaster on record. "It's impossible to know the extent of the catastrophe," James Barros, a colonel from a state police battalion in the region, told the Globo news network. "There are areas where mudslides carried away entire families, with no one left to recognize bodies."(WSJ)

Sri Lanka:

Floods have killed 32 and displaced 300,000 in Sri Lanka, spurning fears of water-borne diseases and massive economic hardship following destruction of rice fields.


Australia's flood crisis spread to Victoria on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of 3,000 residents, just after floods killed at least 20 and ravaged Queensland in the worst disaster in Australia's history. Sharks have been spotted swimming through flood-hit streets of a town in Queensland. Some towns still do not have clean tap water.

The Talmud teaches that while God promised he would not bring a flood upon the whole world again, he will bring a flood upon one nation (Sotah 11a).

Click here for a current map of Australia river levels

A flood on one nation

the cover of the sefer Kishutei Kallah,

The following is taken from the sefer Kishutei Kallah ('Decorations of the Bride') of Rabbi Nathan Neta of Shinyiva zt"l on Parashat Beshalach:

וישובו המים על מצרים, כי לפי שנשבע ה' שלא יביא מבול לעולם, אבל על אומה אחת מביא. או שיביאם אל תוך המים (על זה לא נשבע) - סוטה יא ע"א

'That the waters may come back upon the Egyptians', for יהוה swore He would not bring a flood on the world [again], but on one nation He would bring it; or, He would bring them into the water (on this He did not swear). (Sotah 11a)


שמות י"ד, כ"ו: וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, נְטֵה אֶת-יָדְךָ עַל-הַיָּם; וְיָשֻׁבוּ הַמַּיִם עַל-מִצְרַיִם, עַל-רִכְבּוֹ וְעַל-פָּרָשָׁיו

Exodus 14:26: And יהוה said unto Moses: 'Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.'

Babylonian Talmud Tractate Sotah Page 11a:

This section of the Babylonian Talmud collects commentaries of the sages (200-500 CE) on the Biblical story of the Jewish people under Egyptian slavery, as told in the first chapters of the book of Exodus. The text is composed of quotations from the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), followed by interpretations of the sages, whose views are grounded in the quotations themselves, or in quotations from other parts of the Torah:

"A new king arose..." (Exodus 1:8) Rav and Shmuel [differed in their interpretation]: One said [the Pharoah was] actually new and one said his decrees were new. He who said actually new [based his view on the verse] as it is written 'new'; and he who said his decrees were new, as it is not written 'And he died and he reigned.'
[Note: Brazil and Australia have new leaders, who come in the footsteps of a past leader who was infamously anti-Israel. Brazil's Lula recently established the first Palestinian embassy in Brazil. Australia's Rudd left a deep diplomatic divide between Australia and Israel.]
"Who knew not Joseph" — he was like one who did not know [Joseph] at all.

"And he said unto his people, Behold the people of the children of Israel." A Tanna [sage who lived prior to 200 CE] taught: He originated the plan first, and therefore was punished first [referring to Pharoah]. He originated the plan first, as it is written: 'And he said unto his people' (Ex 1:9); therefore he was punished first, as it is written: 'Upon you, and upon your people, and upon all your servants.' (Ex. 7:29)

"Come, let us deal wisely with him" — it should have been "with them" [plural, not singular] — Rabbi Chama in the name of Rabbi Chanina said: [Pharaoh meant,] 'Come and let us outwit the Saviour of Israel. With what shall we afflict them? If we afflict them with fire, it is written: "Behold יהוה will come in fire" (Isaiah 66:15) and it is written "יהוה will judge by fire". [If we afflict them] with the sword, it is written: 'And by His sword all flesh." No, let us afflict them with water, because the Holy One, blessed be He, has already sworn that he will not bring a flood upon the world; as it is said: "For this to Me is like the waters of Noah, as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor will I rebuke you." (Isaiah 54:9) They were unaware, however, that He would not bring a flood upon the whole world, but upon one people He would bring it; or alternatively, He would not bring [the flood] but they would come and fall into it. Thus it says: "And the Egyptians fled towards it" (Exodus 14:27)...

Rabbi Chiya son of Abba said in the name of Rabbi Simai: There were three in that plan: Balaam, Job, and Yitro. Balaam who devised it was slain; Job who silently acquiesced was afflicted with sufferings; Yitro, who fled, merited that his descendants should sit in the Chamber of Hewn Stone.

ויקם מלך חדש וגו
רב ושמואל חד אמר חדש ממש וחד אמר שנתחדשו גזירותיו מאן דאמר חדש ממש דכתיב חדש ומאן דאמר שנתחדשו גזירותיו דלא כתיב וימת וימלוך
אשר לא ידע את יוסף דהוה דמי כמאן דלא ידע ליה כלל
ויאמר אל עמו הנה עם בני ישראל
תנא הוא התחיל בעצה תחילה לפיכך לקה תחילה הוא התחיל בעצה תחילה דכתיב ויאמר אל עמו לפיכך לקה תחילה כדכתיב ובכה ובעמך ובכל עבדיך
הבה נתחכמה לו להם
מיבעי ליה א"ר חמא ברבי חנינא באו ונחכם למושיען של ישראל במה נדונם נדונם באש כתיב כי הנה ה' באש יבא וכתיב כי באש ה' נשפט וגו' בחרב כתיב [(ישעיהו סו, טז) ובחרבו את כל בשר] אלא בואו ונדונם במים שכבר נשבע הקב"ה שאינו מביא מבול לעולם שנאמר (ישעיהו נד, ט) כי מי נח זאת לי וגו' והן אינן יודעין שעל כל העולם כולו אינו מביא אבל על אומה אחת הוא מביא אי נמי הוא אינו מביא אבל הן באין ונופלין בתוכו וכן הוא אומר (שמות יד, כז) ומצרים נסים לקראתו והיינו דא"ר אלעזר מאי דכתיב (שמות יח, יא) כי בדבר אשר זדו עליהם בקדירה שבישלו בה נתבשלו מאי משמע דהאי זדו לישנא דקדירה הוא דכתיב (בראשית כה, כט) ויזד יעקב נזיד
א"ר חייא בר אבא א"ר סימאי שלשה היו באותה עצה בלעם ואיוב ויתרו בלעם שיעץ נהרג איוב ששתק נידון ביסורין יתרו שברח זכו מבני בניו שישבו בלשכת הגזית שנאמר (דברי הימים א ב, נה) ומשפחות סופרים יושבי יעבץ תרעתים שמעתים סוכתים המה הקנים הבאים מחמת אבי בית רכב וכתיב (שופטים א, טז) ובני קיני חתן משה וגו'

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