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GENESIS 1:1

6 hours 50 min ago

This Shabbat, Jews around the world begin reading the Bible aloud in synagogue beginning with the Book of Genesis. If the Bible is essentially a book of law, why does it begin with the stories of Genesis? Would it not make more sense to skip the stories and start with the legal sections of the Bible? Rashi, the famed medieval commentator, answers this question with an essential lesson that should inform our Bible study. According to Rashi, one day the nations of the world will accuse the Jewish People of stealing the Land of Israel. In response, the Jews will point to the Bible that begins by telling us that God created the heaven and the earth. Since Hashem is the Creator of the world, He may give the land to whomever He wishes, and it is the Divine will that the Land of Israel will belong to the People of Israel.

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Discovery of 1,500-Year-Old Byzantine Church May Lead to ‘Lost’ City of Ashdod-Yam

7 hours 9 min ago

The remarkably preserved ruins of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine church or monastery floor were discovered during an excavation in the coastal city of Ashdod. Archaeologists believe that the finding has revealed the location of the ancient Roman-Byzantine city of Ashdod-Yam.

The main find at the site was a sophisticated color mosaic floor which includes a Greek inscription dedicating the building to a prominent bishop in the sixth century.

The mosaic floor at the Byzantine church (Screenshot)

“[By the grace of God (or Jesus)], this work was done from the foundation under Procopius, our most saintly and most holy bishop, in the month Dios of the 3rd indiction, year 292.”

It is the first time use of the Georgian calendar has appeared in an excavation in Israel, said Hebrew University’s Dr. Leah Di Segni, who deciphered the inscription. The Georgian year 292 corresponds to 539 CE on the Gregorian calendar.

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Ashdod-Yam (Ashdod by the Sea) is known in classical sources as Azotos Paralios. One of the most important coastal cities in Israel during the Byzantine period, it is shown in the Madaba Map – a 6th century CE mosaic map of the Middle East found at Madaba, Jordan – as a flourishing town with buildings, churches and a street flanked with colonnades.

The Madaba Map (Wikimedia Commons)

A sister city to Biblical Ashdod, which stood a few kilometers inland to the north, Ashdod-Yam was originally an outpost but became its own entity during the Iron Age. In the Byzantine period, Ashdod-Yam expanded into a city known as Azotos Paralios. According to Haaretz, the location and extent of the expansion had remained unknown until present day.

Dr. Alexander Fantalkin of the Tel Aviv University institute of archaeology, who co-headed the expedition, believes the ruins of the ancient city are “waiting beneath the dunes” on the outskirts of the modern Israeli city of Ashdod.

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IDF Commanders Have a New “Eye in the Sky”

7 hours 38 min ago

In a new initiative, every IDF commander will receive a tiny, portable mini-drone to help reconnoiter for missions and take a wider view of situations on the ground.

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Israel Victory Project Calls for Palestinian Defeat as Solution to Mideast Conflict

8 hours 9 min ago

A new round of academic panels championing the idea of Israeli victory and Palestinian defeat was launched yesterday at a special conference held at Tel-Aviv University, featuring MK Oded Forer, Major General (res.) Uzi Dayan, and former head of Peace Now Yariv Oppenheimer.

The Israel Victory Project, initiated by the US-based think tank the Middle East Forum, maintains that a resolution to the conflict can only occur once the Palestinians are defeated, give up the goal of destroying Israel and recognize Israel as the Jewish state.

Israel Victory Project panel launches at Tel Aviv University on November 22, 2017. (Matanya Arad)

“The current approach to achieving a resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict has consistently failed because it allows Palestinian rejectionism to be met by a call for further concessions from Israel, thus pushing peace further away because of the entrenchment of a Palestinian denial of the Jewish people’s right to sovereignty,” said Professor Daniel Pipes, President of the Middle East Forum.

“As Ronald Reagan said regarding the US fight against communism, the only way to ‘win is if they lose,’” added Pipes.

In June 2016, the Israel Victory Caucus was launched in the US Congress by Senators Ron DeSantis and Bill Johnson, with a parallel caucus co-chaired by MKs Oded Forer and Yaakov Peri opening in the Knesset. Last month, a joint declaration was signed by both caucuses that declared “the primary obstacle to ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the near century of Palestinian rejectionism of the right of self-determination for the Jewish People.”

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Yesterday’s conference, moderated by Channel 20 journalist Lital Shemesh, was the first of nine conferences to take place in Israeli universities over the course of the academic year. The conferences, organized in cooperation with the Zionist organization Im Tirtzu, are aimed at reinforcing the belief in victory among the Israeli public and will feature prominent Israeli personalities and military figures.

Much of the conference’s discussion focused on the 1993 Olso Accords. “They made us think that time is working against us,” said Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan. “I was at Oslo. They said that all the problems of the Middle East are because of the Arab-Palestinian problems. But this is a regional war that will unfortunately continue regardless.”

MK Forer attributed much of the Palestinian hostility toward education. “The Palestinian education system nurtures and preserves the false narrative that Israel does not have the right to exist in their textbooks, and educates their children on the dream that Israel can one day be destroyed,” he said. “Therefore, recognition of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel must be a condition for any negotiations.”

Yariv Oppenheimer said, “The conflict begins first and foremost with rights. A person who is born without rights as opposed to a person who is born with rights. The person without rights will either opt to worry about his personal welfare, i.e. his monthly salary, or will choose to rise up and resist.”

Im Tirtzu Chairman Matan Peleg added that “strengthening the belief of the Israeli public in Zionism and victory is a fundamental element of success, and that is why it is important for Im Tirtzu to play a central role in promoting this project.”

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The Key to Happiness

9 hours 37 sec ago

Want to be miserable, resentful, and bitter? Few people do, and yet many people are. Why? Because many people have the one primary character trait that leads to unhappiness. And you need to avoid it.

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Top 10 Bible Verses About Thanksgiving

9 hours 9 min ago

Thursday, November 24 is the American holiday of Thanksgiving. Originally a day to celebrate a successful harvest, President Abraham Lincoln made it an official federal holiday in 1863 when he declared a day for “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Though still ceremoniously celebrated only one day a year, Judaism considers every day of life, a day to thank and praise God.  In fact, the Jewish people get their Hebrew name, Yehudim, from the Biblical Matriarch Leah naming her fourth son Yehuda (Judah). Yehuda comes from the Hebrew word hodah, which means to ‘give thanks.’

The Bible is full of texts which reflect thanksgiving for the blessings God has bestowed upon us. It is a wonderful addition to any special gathering, and certainly a Thanksgiving day feast, to share thanks and include Bible verses of thanksgiving.

Here are the top 10 Biblical verses about Thanksgiving.

1. “When you have eaten your fill, give thanks to Hashem your God for the good land which He has given you.” (Deuteronomy 8:10)

2. “In that day, you shall say: ‘I give thanks to You, Hashem!’” (Isaiah 12:1)

3. “The living, only the living can give thanks to You. Fathers relate to children Your acts of grace.” (Isaiah 38:19)

4. “Gladness and joy shall abide there, Thanksgiving and the sound of music.” (Isaiah 51:3)

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5. “From them shall issue thanksgiving and the sound of dancers.” (Jeremiah 30:19)

6. “Give thanks to God of Hosts, for Hashem is good, for His kindness is everlasting!” (Jeremiah 33:11)

7. “I wash my hands in innocence, and walk around Your mizbayach, Hashem, raising my voice in thanksgiving, and telling all Your wonders.” (Psalms 26:6)

8. “I, with loud thanksgiving, Will sacrifice to You.” (Yonah 2:10)

9. “I acknowledge and praise You, O God of my fathers, You who have given me wisdom and power.” (Daniel 2:23)

10. “Praise Hashem for He is good; His steadfast love is eternal.” (Chronicles 16:24)

 

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Thanksgiving’s Dark Origins: Puritans Believed They Were ‘Replacing’ Jewish Covenant

9 hours 9 min ago

A closer look at the Puritan origins of Thanksgiving, considered by many to be a secular American feast without religious significance, reveals that the roots of the holiday may have been part of a larger replacement theology agenda endorsed by the holiday’s founders.

The religious nature of Thanksgiving is discussed at length in Jewish law, which treats Thanksgiving exceptionally by allowing observant Jews to join in the celebrations despite a Torah prohibition against participating in non-Jewish traditions.

You shall not copy the practices of the land of Egypt where you dwelt, or of the land of Canaan to which I am taking you; nor shall you follow their laws. Leviticus 18:3

This special dispensation is due to rabbinic authorities recognizing Thanksgiving’s status as a secular national holiday rather than a religious one.

However, historians agree that the Puritans who first celebrated Thanksgiving did indeed have religious intent. Some scholars even identify it with the holiday of Sukkot.

“The origin of the harvest festival in England by the time the Pilgrims decided to leave was rooted in the Biblical practice of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot),” Dr. Paul Jehle, Executive Director of the Plymouth Rock Foundation, wrote in his book “Plymouth in the Words of Her Founders”.

“Note that we do not know the original date of this event, though most suppose it to be in late October, which would correspond to the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.”

In fact, the Puritans are known to have modeled themselves after the Jews, considering their journey to America to be a reenactment of the Biblical Exodus. Historical documents show that the Puritans compared England, which oppressed them, to Egypt, and referred to the British King James I as ‘Pharaoh’. Their voyage across the Atlantic was compared to the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, after which they arrived at the Promised Land.

“No Christian community in history identified more with the People of the Book than did the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who believed their own lives to be a literal reenactment of the biblical drama of the Hebrew nation,” wrote noted scholar and chairman of the Jewish Bible Association Gabriel Sivan in his book “The Bible and Civilization.”

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The Puritans were part of a Hebraist movement within Protestantism, learning the Bible in its original Hebrew. One of their ministers, Henry Ainsworth, studied Jewish Biblical interpretation with leading rabbis during the community’s sojourn in Amsterdam.

As such, they envisioned themselves as arriving in the New World to create a new society based on the ancient Hebrew Republic.

This fascination with the Jews was not akin to admiration. The Puritans were Calvinists, following the teachings of John Calvin, the 16th century French pastor who played a major role in the Protestant Reformation. Calvin clearly stated that the Jews were a rejected people who needed to embrace Jesus to re-enter the covenant, a basic belief of replacement theology.

There was also a heavy emphasis on conversion. Ian Murray, a British pastor and author, wrote in his book “The Puritan Hope” that as Calvinists, the Puritans believed in the ultimate conversion of the Jews.

Rabbi Tuly Weisz, founder of Israel365, identified Puritanism with replacement theology in a recent article.

“By claiming to be the ‘true Israel,’ the Puritans were not expressing a cute and harmless example of cultural appropriation, but rather another tragic example of replacement theology,” Rabbi Weisz wrote. “In fact, Puritans were convinced that their voyage was a final step in the messianic journey to the New Jerusalem.”

“Back then, if you loved the Bible then you necessarily had to hate the Jewish People,” Rabbi Weisz explained in an interview with Breaking Israel News. “For some reason, on Thanksgiving, Puritans get a pass on this and are portrayed as peace-loving tolerant people. The healthy Christian Zionism we have today rejects Replacement Theology.”

Through his organization, Rabbi Weisz works at strengthening relations between Israel and Christians, something he feels is timely.  

“Today, we are in a marvelous golden-era of Jewish-Christian relations,” Rabbi Weisz said. “Now, non-Jews can appreciate the Jewish Bible and the Jewish People.”

The post Thanksgiving’s Dark Origins: Puritans Believed They Were ‘Replacing’ Jewish Covenant appeared first on Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective..

Be Fearful of Religion: Parashat Vayetze

9 hours 39 min ago

Being religious is fraught with danger. People are often pulled in directions where they can easily break their necks. To be religious is to allow your neshama (soul) to surpass your body, taking it to places where it cannot dwell and is asked to commit suicide.

In Plato’s Phaedo, the metaphor used to describe the relationship of the soul to the body is that of a person locked in prison (Plato, Phaedo (Indianapolis, IN: Focus Publishing, 1998) Introduction, p. 3.). Platonic philosophy aims at liberating a person from their body, which is a prison. Only in that way can they achieve self-perfection. For Aristotle, although ethics and politics are serious issues, the essence of a person— the very activity that is distinctly human—is intellectual contemplation of eternal truth. The highest human achievement lies in the privacy of a person’s thoughts. Its content has no practical human benefit. The most exalted human being is the philosopher, who must be free of the body’s demands because they interfere with contemplation.

In Judaism, this is not what life is all about. According to biblical thought, the body is not perceived as being in conflict with the soul. It is not an obstacle but rather a most welcome companion. Otherwise, what is the purpose of the body? Just to be a nuisance that we’d be better off without? Jewish thought holds that it cannot be God’s intention to create the human body so as to deliberately frustrate the person. True, the body may sometimes pose challenges, but ultimately this is to allow the human being, not just the soul, to grow. The purpose of human beings is not to dwell in Heaven and contemplate, but to act with their bodies and bring Heaven down to the material domain in order to transform the world into a better place. The meaning of life is to be effectively realized by bringing about the interpenetration of the soul and the body.

The mind of a human—the custodian of all spiritual and ethical values—is, on its own, incapable of action. On the other hand, all the forces and energy in the body are intrinsically indifferent to ethical or spiritual concepts. Only in a combined effort of mind and body can they build the world. Everything that people do must be able to permeate their thoughts, and everything that people think must find a way into their bodies. While this might very well lead to disaster, it can also bring a person to an exalted state of life. This is the task and challenge for which we were created.

Knowledge alone is never a cause for action. Western civilization has mistakenly believed that it is possible to educate the body by reasoning with it. So it has continued speaking to the mind but has never really reached the body. This has led to disastrous consequences, where many philosophers have delivered themselves into the hands of evil.

The distinction between body and soul is similar to a difference in organic functioning; it does not reflect the radical dualism that is implicit in Plato’s prison metaphor.

Perhaps the most acute case of a person almost losing their body while being religious is that of Yaakov falling asleep and dreaming of a ladder on which angels ascend and descend (Bereishit 28:11-12.). The top of the ladder reaches Heaven, and God stands over it. The great German Lutheran thinker Rudolf Otto (1869-1937), coined the term “numinous” and defined it as a “non-rational, non-sensory experience or feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self” (Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy (USA: Oxford University Press, 1958) p. 5ff.). It consists of a mysterium tremendum et fascinans—an awe-inspiring and fascinating mystery; an altogether “other” circumstance of an objective presence that generates wonder, fear, and dependence, but also enormous spiritual vitality.

This, says Otto, is what Yaakov experiences when he falls asleep and dreams. There is no greater religious moment than that. It is an unprecedented encounter with God. But it is also extremely dangerous. The experience is so overwhelming that Yaakov runs the risk of losing his body. The dream carries him to Heaven, a place where his body cannot dwell. It is paralyzed and nearly eliminated. Just before his soul releases its body, against all expectations and as if through a miracle, Yaakov wakes up. His reaction is most telling: “Behold, God is in this place and I did not know it” (Bereishit 28:16.). This is an instant of ultimate crisis. It is tremendous to have a religious moment, but what happens when it is impossible to handle? What am I going to do in the real world with this flash of intense unparalleled revelation?

The biggest problem is not the moment itself but how I can keep it alive and take it with me throughout the rest of my life, in a way that is beneficial. And If I can’t, what then is the purpose of this moment? Not only will it fade into oblivion, but it will be a trauma that will haunt me for the rest of my life! It can easily turn into madness. Yaakov’s religious experience leaves him without solid ground under his feet. Plato and Aristotle would have been delighted, but Yaakov is scared to death. It is all meaningless unless I can translate this into the mundane.

While his mind and soul are still in Heaven, Yaakov does the only right thing to do: he looks to the ground and picks up a stone. He wants to find the mundane because it is there that life takes place. And unless he can apply his experience on the ground, all of these heavenly events will have been in vain.

And Yaakov rose up early in the morning and took the stone that he had placed under his head and set it up as a memorial stone and poured oil on top of it….Yaakov made a vow. “If God will be with me,” he said, “If He will protect me on the journey that I am taking…then I will dedicate myself totally to God. Let this stone, which I have set up as a memorial, become a house of God. Of all that You give me, I will set aside a tenth to You” (Ibid. 18-22.).

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Not only does Yaakov root his heavenly experience in the ground by taking a stone to sanctify it with a physical substance, but more importantly, he links it to a mundane financial act. He translates it into ma’aser, promising that he will tithe all his physical possessions. He “de-religionizes” his experience, understanding that being religious cannot mean withdrawing from this world. It must mean engaging with the world and giving it religious and heavenly meaning. He knows that his episode with the ladder is a slippery slope on which one can easily break one’s neck. To redeem this experience, it must be established in a specific space; in a physical act; in the ordinary; not by night, but by day when a person is awake.

What Yaakov does is most remarkable. He introduces one of the great foundations of Halacha: to give a religious moment an ongoing effect it must be translated into the tangible, the mundane. It must establish patterns of bodily reactions and conduct, which testify to an acute corporeal awareness of a reality that is not body. To achieve an authentic state of religiosity, there must be an element of everydayness, of the commonplace, which often includes what others may call trivialities. There must be a finite act through which one perceives the infinite (Abraham Joshua Heschel). Every trifle is infused with Divinity.

Rather than ignore the body, Halacha draws a person’s attention to its complexities. It informs human beings not to fall victim to grandiose dreams. There are limits to human existence, and it is exactly this fact that makes life a challenge and a joy. The body places a person firmly in a world where they cannot survive if they don’t act. A person’s view of the relationship between their body and soul reflects their attitude toward dependence on the outer world—is it embarrassing, or is it uplifting?

*****

It is most telling that in the Torah, the world of dreams comes to an end with Sefer Bereishit, in which almost everybody dreams: Avraham, Yaakov, and Yosef; even Avimelech, Lavan, and Pharaoh. But once the Torah is given, there are no more dreams. It is as if the Torah teaches us that mitzvot (commandments) take the place of dreams. A dream is an expression of an illusory world. It represents dimensions of Heaven, where the impossible can happen; where time doesn’t play a role; where people are passive and things happen to them, beyond their actual capabilities. Dreams that take place as a religious experience transform a person’s world into a utopia for which there is no foundation and those dreams have no chance of ever being actualized. They are unworldly and therefore dangerous. They are deaf and invulnerable to the cries of the real world.

But people need to dream. Dreams allow a person to be insane for a few moments. There’s a need for it, but it cannot be the foundation of their life. We must dream in order to demand of ourselves the impossible, so that it becomes conceivable, even if only once. But it must have a link to reality. Once it is totally disconnected, it loses its purpose.

Dreams are also moments of anticipation—”I have a dream!”— and one way in which people can make their dreams come true is by acting as if they are already taking place. Halachic requirements are often frozen dreams. They make people do things they are not yet ready to do; things that are still spiritually beyond them. An example of this is lighting the Chanukah menorah for eight days. We are required to add a candle every night and light it, as if we are ascending in spirituality throughout those eight days, with the last night being the most intense and powerful one. In fact, though, it is the first night that excites most people. To the average person, the new is more exhilarating. So the Jew is asked to act as if in a dream: light the candles as though you are becoming more and more excited with each day, so that one day you may really feel that the last candle is the most electrifying one.

We are not asked to dream the inconceivable. We are asked to dream what is actually achievable. It is the Halacha that rescues us from unrealistic dreams, substituting them with those that are viable. Mount Sinai replaced impossible dreams with those that are possible.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Times of Israel

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Why Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan is Doomed

10 hours 39 min ago

Last week, in Washington, I heard from workers of research institutes that have the Trump administration’s ear that the president’s new peace initiative is about to materialize. Rumor has it that in the coming weeks it will be presented to the relevant parties.

Everything they know, and everything that has been published so far, is too vague for us to seriously address the new outline. At the moment, there is more to it than meets the eye.

But the truth must be told. Regardless of the new outline’s parameters, I can say with a great amount of certainty that the new initiative won’t lead to an agreement. On the contrary, it will hinder the chance for an arrangement, because with all due respect to Trump, he will not be reinventing the wheel, and no matter what he offers the Palestinians, their answer is predetermined. Not because the plan will be so bad. Not because it won’t give them a state. They will say “no” because it’s what they know how to say. So far, the only plan they have said “yes” to is the Saudi-Arab initiative.

There is a dispute over a component in the initiative that has to do with the most difficult issue—the refugees. There have been comments from Arab leaders clarifying that this isn’t about the “right of return.” Occasionally, there have even been comments from Palestinian leaders that hinted at a waiver of a mass right of return.

But in real time, at the negotiating table, the Palestinians rejected any initiative that did not include a mass return. Or as Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian Authority’s former foreign minister and a member of the negotiations team, said: “We mean two states—one Palestinian state and another binational state.” Shaath is considered one of the most moderate people in the Palestinian leadership.

So regardless of the outline of the Trump administration’s initiative, the Palestinian response will be negative. It’s kind of difficult to understand how the smart people at the top of the American administration, both the previous and the current one, are finding it difficult to understand this issue. An Arab acceptance of the Trump outline won’t help either. At the time, there was a considerable Arab acceptance of the Clinton Parameters, but Yasser Arafat was unconvinced. He said no.

It’s possible that a two-states-for-two-peoples formula could have been reached two decades ago. In 1988, following American pressure, Arafat announced his recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Seven years later, the Beilin-Abbas draft agreement was finalized, including no right of return to Israel. But that’s history. In the past two decades, the Palestinian stance has increasingly radicalized. The Palestinians have turned the refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state into one of their basic principles.

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And another thing happened in the past decade. A massive system of post- and anti-Zionist propaganda, in the free world and in Israel, provide justifications for the hardening Palestinian stance. “The right of return must be recognized,” representatives of the progressive elites preach. With such a stance, these different “progressive” people are reinforcing the Palestinian rejectionist camp. Because if that’s what they are told by Uri Avnery and his ilk, in Israel and in the world, why should they present a more moderate stance?

Meanwhile, every failed round of negotiations only strengthens Israel’s radical Right, which mocks the efforts to reach peace. The result isn’t a stalemate. The result is a further expansion of the settlement enterprise, and not just inside the major blocs but outside too. The Palestinians are seeking one big state. And the radical Right, which is represented in the government, is becoming their executive wing.

That doesn’t mean we have to despair. It just means that instead of more peace initiatives, and instead of pursuing an agreement, which is unachievable under the current circumstances, there is a need to pursue an arrangement. For this purpose, the parties could adopt part of the outlines of peace initiative that were put on the table in the past and implement them, creating a demographic separation (including a complete stop to Israeli construction outside the blocs), with security control in the Jordan Valley and in other security points. “The commanders’ plan,” officially known as Security First, presents the outlines for such an arrangement.

It’s possible that one day, the Palestinians will understand that their naysaying is only worsening their situation. But there’s no need to wait for the disillusionment. There’s no need to say that the day will come. There is a need to bring on that day. If the current government can’t do it, then maybe, just maybe, the next government will.

Reprinted with author’s permission from YNet News

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European Parliament Bans Terrorists After Allowing Palestinian Hijacker to Speak

11 hours 8 min ago

The European Parliament unanimously endorsed a proposal Wednesday to deny access to people, groups, or entities involved in terrorist acts.

The motion, tabled by EP President Antonio Tajani, followed a complaint drafted by Israel’s  Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan and backed by 58 members of the European Parliament  after Leila Khaled, a convicted terrorist who continues to advocate for the murder of Israeli civilians, visited the parliament last September to speak at a conference on The Role of Women in the Palestinian Popular Struggle.

Khaled is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which has been listed as a terror group by the European Parliament, European Union, the United Nations and other international forums,

In that speech, Khaled – who hijacked a civilian American airplane in 1969 and forced it to land in Damascus, Syria, handing two Israeli civilians to Syrian authorities, who were held in custody there for three months before being traded for Syrian prisoners-of-war in Israeli jails – justified the comparison of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazi Party, denied Jews’ right to self-determination and the use of symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis.

A year after that hijacking, she was arrested by Israeli sky marshals in possession of hand grenades while trying to board an El Al flight from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv.

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The European Parliament’s Bureau said in a statement that the group unanimously endorsed the President’s proposal to “systematically deny access to all persons, groups, or entities involved in terrorist acts”, and added that members of the European Parliament and Political Groups are requested not to invite persons listed in the Council Decision or individuals representing entities or groups on that list, nor to facilitate their access to Parliament.

“In addition, these persons, entities, and groups may not be promoted through audio-visual presentations or other events on Parliament’s premises,” the statement said.

Anders Vistisern, a vice chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament and a lawmaker from Denmark, who was one of the 58 MEPs who signed the letter of complaint after Khaled’s visit, thanked President Tajani on Twitter. “Thanks and congratulations to European Parliament President for his resolute stance against terror!”

“Pleased to see that concerns of myself and 57 other MEPs on the presence of terrorist Leila Khaled in the EP were addressed,” he tweeted.

Gilad Erdan also thanked Tajani, saying the president had repaired the Parliament’s “disgraceful” decision to host Khaled and saying the new resolution would go a long way towards atoning for her visit.

“A decision that will begin slightly to remove the disgrace from the European Parliament that provides a platform for the terrorist. Thank you to the President of Parliament,” Erdan wrote on Twitter.

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Thanksgiving’s Founders Who Loved the Bible, but Not the Jews

11 hours 39 min ago

Raised in an Orthodox Jewish home in the United States, my family along with most others in our community embraced Thanksgiving with a religious devotion nearly on par with our own Jewish festivals. We celebrated the American holiday each fall with a quasi-ritual meal, offering up thanks and appreciating the religious freedom America offered.

As I grew older and learned that the Pilgrims modeled their experience after the biblical narrative, I appreciated Thanksgiving even more. I was intrigued to learn that those aboard the Mayflower referred to their voyage as an “exodus” from oppression to the “promised land.” I was fascinated that the Puritan founders of Thanksgiving took the Bible so literally. Surely, the relevance of our Torah and its role in the formation of such a beloved institution as Thanksgiving should be a source of Jewish pride.

In my work with the Christian Zionist community, however, I recently came to recognize the ugly underbelly of the Pilgrims’ theology.

By claiming to be the “true Israel,” the Puritans were not expressing a cute and harmless example of cultural appropriation, but rather another tragic example of Replacement Theology, the belief that when the Jews rejected Jesus, God abandoned His covenant with the Jewish people and “replaced” the descendants of Abraham with the followers of Jesus.

The Christians became the “New Israel” and the “New Testament” superseded the “Old Testament.”

Throughout history, Replacement Theology led Christianity to treat the Jews as a despised people until they would either repent by accepting Jesus or face the often deadly consequences of their obstinance.

In fact, Puritans were convinced that their voyage was a final step in the messianic journey to the New Jerusalem.

“In their own mind, they were the Jews, the ultimate and total heirs of the promises that God had made in the Hebrew Bible,” wrote historian Arthur Hertzberg in “The New England Puritans and the Jews.”

The greatest of all 17th century North American scholars, Cotton Mather, was so convinced that the Puritans and not the Jews were the Chosen People, he began wearing a skullcap and calling himself a rabbi. Mather’s quirky behavior carried the usual baggage that always accompanies Replacement Theology, and he wrote a manual for the conversion of the Jews that included “proofs” from the Hebrew Bible that established the incontrovertible truth of Christianity. While a great scholar who authored more than 400 books, to Mather, his greatest achievement was that his works were successfully used in converting Jews to Christianity.

The Puritans’ obsession with converting Jews in the New World had an even stranger consequence than scholars who wore skullcaps and called themselves rabbis. Since the Second Coming could not happen unless most Jews were converted, and most Jews were thousands of miles away in Europe, the Puritans needed a creative solution.

One of the more perplexing issues that these Bible-believing Pilgrims encountered in the New World was the origins of the Native Americans. If all mankind descended from Adam and Eve, then who were these strange Indians and how did they get here? One theory that gained widespread popularity at the time explained that the Native Americans were from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Exiled from the Land of Israel during the 7th century BCE as recorded in the Book of Kings, tradition taught that the lost tribes would be reunited again before the arrival of the Messiah, and evidence was hastily compiled to prove that the Native Americans were descendants of the 10 tribes.

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If bizarre sounding today, the Jewish Indian theory was accepted by scholars such as William Penn and was the subject of written correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson more than 100 years later. Before proponents had time to develop “proof” for their theory – such as similar Jewish and Indian language and rituals – Puritans began converting these “lost Jews” with great zeal by setting up schools and translating Scriptures for the Indians.

It turns out that the religious-tolerance-seeking Puritans weren’t so tolerant after all.

These Pilgrims might have loved their Bible, but they didn’t love the Jewish people. This might come as a surprise and disappointment to many Jews who, like myself, have a special fondness for Thanksgiving.

Before however, we throw away the turkey, I believe that the Jewish people have more than ever to be thankful for today.

At a recent Israel365 conference earlier this month, our panelists, including several Christian Zionist leaders, discussed how the rise and success of the modern State of Israel forced many Christians to question and even reject Replacement Theology.

After all, it became increasingly difficult to believe that God had abandoned the Jewish people with miracle after miracle taking place in Israel. It became hard to argue that the Lord rejected the Children of Israel with nearly every biblical promise coming true through the restoration of the People of Israel to the Land of Israel.

Unlike at the first Thanksgiving following the Mayflower’s arrival in the New World, Christians don’t all love the Bible but hate the Jewish people anymore. With the founding of the State of Israel, more and more Christians have come to accept Hebrew Scriptures while embracing the land and the people of Israel. For this, we must give thanks.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

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UK to Buy Iron Dome Tech in $92 Million Deal

12 hours 9 min ago

The United Kingdom is to spend £78 million ($92.3 million) to purchase a missile defense shield based on Israel’s Iron Dome to protect the Falkland Islands, British media reported Wednesday.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the UK will install a Sky Sabre system, which employs the command and control system used by Iron Dome missile defense system. The command and control is system is produced by Mprest for Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

An UK Ministry of Defense spokesperson said: ‘Following an open competition, we selected Rafael for a £78m contract to provide the main computer system which will link our state-of-the-art radars and new Land Ceptor launchers together to boost our defense of the Falkland Islands.”

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Natan Barak, chief executive of Mprest, told the Daily Mail that the  system “can protect any area worldwide”.

“You have to identify, as fast as you can, which object is in the air, whether it is Great Britain’s or something else, and see if it is a threat,” Barak said. ‘It also has to be capable of integrating with launchers and missiles. Our system is capable of doing this very fast. We are going to be part of the NATO network and we are going to integrate our system with Britain’s command and control system. They will be able to operate and activate our system to fire on threats.”

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The Chaotic Arab World Has Nothing to Offer Israel Today in Any Deal

12 hours 39 min ago

Behavioral science recognizes two types of responses to tense or threatening situations facing loosely-connected groups. The first is characterized by the group uniting under a charismatic leader who radiates power, wisdom, organizational acumen and the ability to protect his followers, after which the group forms a united front and prepares for a struggle against the looming threat. The opposite occurs when there is no leader to be found. In the resulting mayhem, members betray one another and attempt to escape and go over to the other side in order to save themselves. In that case, they could not care less if the rest of the group goes to hell.

The second of the two possible scenarios is an exact description of the current situation in the Arab world where Iran has become a major threat. After years of trying to extend the scope of its control over the Arab nations, it is moving towards exerting hegemony over the entire Islamic world. This entails reestablishing Shiite rule over Islam’s holy sites – starting with Mecca and Medina – eliminating the opposition – starting with the Saudi royal family – destroying Israel and becoming a permanent threat to the Christian West, the latter seen by the Ayatollahs as merely the servant of Shiite believers.

When the two major world powers joined forces to empower the Ayatollah’s regime, the Iranian threat grew by leaps and bounds. Under Obama, US actions strengthened Iran, allowed it to develop nuclear weapons (that is the real meaning of the 2015 Agreement), ignored its ballistic rocket development program, handed it money and allowed it to sign lucrative contracts – all the while ignoring Iran’s involvement in local wars and its support for world terror.

Russia has been a partner of the Iranians for years through a complex array of agreements and joint initiatives: it supplied nuclear power stations for electricity production, thereby granting the Iranians the ability to acquire knowledge and experience in nuclear science, handed over its rocket technology, worked with Iran to regulate the world natural gas market (Russia, Iran, and Qatar are the three largest gas suppliers in the world) and joined forces with Iran in the horrific war taking place on Syrian land in an attempt to save the Butcher of Damascus’ regime.

The European Union joined the US and Russia, encouraging its members to enter the lucrative Iranian contract-signing queue. Truthfully, a good number of European countries already had a history of ignoring the economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the West, so that the change was not that discernable. US Intelligence knew exactly what was going on, but said nothing – or to be more accurate, was silenced by the Obama government.

Other economic giants took part in the Iran festival: China never quite understood why it should limit is economic ties to Iran, nor did India find it a problem to maintain wide-ranging business interests in the country.

The Arab world, from Iraq in the East to Morocco in the West, Syria in the north and Yemen in the south, has been noting the growing Shiite advance with undisguised apprehension. Sunni Muslim nations such as Turkey and Pakistan – and in fact, all the Sunni Muslims– are just as anxious, but are reacting to the situation by collapsing and falling apart instead of unifying and working together.

This collapse is internal and external, in each and every country, resulting in endless arguments about how each nation must react to the current state of emergency. The question is whether it is better to act against Iran in some way – economically, politically, militarily- or put an end to the problem by yielding to Iran and saving lives.

Qatar threw in the towel years ago. Iran and Qatar share a gigantic gas field where they produce the gas in partnership and share the similarly gigantic profits. Qatar’s behavior infuriates the Saudis beyond description, because Qatar is Arab, Sunni and Wahabee, as is the Saudi royal family, but it has stabbed the Saudis in the back. Saudi furor at Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and for the shenanigans of al Jazeera is nothing compared to its anger over Qatari cooperation with Iran.

Iraq, once it was freed in 2003 by the US and the West from the dictatorship of its Sunni minority under Saddam Hussein, saw its government handed over to the Shiite majority on a silver platter (made in the West and covered with the blood of US and Western soldiers). It was then caught in the Iranian net, betraying the Sunni Arab world. Iran controls politicians, parties, army officers, militias, and industries in Iraq. It thus reestablished the hegemony it had in eastern Mesopotamia before the Arabs defeated the Sassanian Persian Empire’s forces at Alkadasia, a city in southern Iraq in 636, between November 13th and 16th, exactly 1381 years ago.

The Persians never forgave the Arabs for this defeat and the Ayatollahs see Iran’s takeover of Iraq as an act of historic justice and long-awaited revenge on the Arabs, whom they continue to consider primitive illiterates.

Syria, another Arab state, became an Iranian stooge after being totally destroyed by a blood-soaked civil war that led to the deaths of over half a million mainly Sunni men, women, and children, who killed each other so that Shia Islam could annex their land as well. The Iranians owe a debt of gratitude to the Russian and Christian unbelievers who did the dirty work of eliminating the opposition, down to its women and children.

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Lebanon, another Arab country with a large Shiite population, possibly the majority by now, due to its own demographics and the flight of Sunni Muslim, Christians, Druze and Allawites from its borders, has an armed-to-the-teeth militia – Hezbollah – whose fighting strength is greater than that of the Lebanese army. Iran has controlled Lebanon for thirty-five years, while the world knew, watched and remained silent.

Yemen, another Arab state with a large Shiite population, was never really united. It was always divided by the different tribal, ethnic and ideological loyalties of its population. That allowed Iran to establish a state within a state with a well-equipped army that took over the capital, exiling the country’s president and his government to Saudi Arabia. Iran now threatens international navigation in the Red Sea and the Al Mandeb Straits, essential passages connecting Europe, the Persian Gulf – with its oil and gas – and Eastern Asia, with its merchandise and raw products.

Iran has even infiltrated the Palestinian Authority by supporting the Islamic Jihad and Hamas terror organizations. Erdogan’s Turkey, too, has joined the list of countries that do Iran’s bidding and try to find favor in its eyes.

Iran has managed to gain control over the entire Muslim east, country by country, this despite the period of tough sanctions imposed by the West, and causing much tension in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the Emirates, Israel and other Mediterranean countries. This tension has a negative effect on the internal workings of these countries, and what we saw happening in Saudi Arabia over the past two weeks is one of the outcomes of that tension.

An acrimonious debate is raging within the Saudi royal family on the way in which the monarchy responded to the Iranian threat in general and on the Iranian takeover of Yemen, a development which poses an immediate threat to the Saudis who have had rockets launched at them before the recent ones. The war in Yemen, like the support for the defeated Syrian rebels, cost the Saudi treasury billions of dollars which if continued, would have left the country on the verge of bankruptcy. The controversy over succession is going on at the same time. Crown prince, Muhammad, son of the reigning monarch Salman, born in 1985, is 32 years old and has no administrative, political or military expertise. There is a slew of much older cousins who have much more experience than he does in the economic, administrative and political spheres. In a traditional tribal society, age, experience, maturity and a suitable personality are what turn someone into an accepted and legitimate leader. Muhammad ibn Salman is not acceptable or legitimate in the eyes of many of his cousins. It is quite possible that a putsch is in the making. He, however, won the first round before it began by arresting some and eliminating several others.

There is no doubt that the Iranian pressure on the Saudis leads to instability in the monarchy. That is what is happening in Lebanon, where the airing of the government’s internal problems led Al Hariri to resign. The situation in Iraq is also far from tranquil and there are angry arguments raging about continued Iranian interference in the running of the country.

In response to the state of internal and inter-Arab mayhem, the Saudis have called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers, to take place this coming Sunday, November 19th. It is clear to everyone that the Arab League is powerless. This paralytic organization was unable to save a single Syrian, Iraqi, Yemenite, Libyan, Algerian or Sudanese Arab, in all the years of blood-soaked civil strife that went on in every one of those countries.

One of the Arab tackbackers wrote sarcastically: “Ho, Persians. Watch out for the flood your enemies, who lay siege on one another and fight constantly among themselves, are going to rain on you. This is the political ignorance that has weakened the Umma.” It seems likely that the writer is a Qatari, disparaging the siege the Saudis declared on Qatar several months ago, an act that symbolizes the division among the Sunni nations.

Many Israelis have been encouraging the government to enter into a “Moderate Sunni Nations” accord, because “Israel is not the problem, it is the solution.” This call is based on a deep lack of understanding of the Arab way of doing things and complete ignorance about what is really going on in the countries surrounding Israel.

The only conclusion Israel must reach from this sad state of affairs is as clear as the sunshine in an arid desert: There is no one to rely on in the fragmented, splintered Sunni Arab world which is incapable of uniting against the Iranian threat. The Arabs betray one another and some are tied to Iran with every fibre of their beings. Are they really going to be loyal to whatever agreement they make with the Jews? They may ask the Israelis to save them from the clutches of the Iranian monster, but after Israel does that at a high cost in its own sons and daughters, citizens, infrastructure and cities, that “Moderate Sunni Axis” will act towards us, exactly – and I mean exactly – as they did to the Iraqi Kurds after they shed the blood of over a thousand male and female fighters in order to rescue the Arabs from ISIS. Remember – they threw them and their aspirations for independence straight into the dustbin of petty politics, interests, cynicism, and treachery.

Israel’s fate will be exactly the same once the Iranian threat has been routed from what is left of the destroyed, bankrupt, lost and divided Arab world. Israel must not pay a plugged nickel in the quest for peace with a world as fragmented as the Arab world. Not one square centimeter of land for a worthless piece of paper containing the word peace. Israel must ask the Arabs one single question: What are you giving us for our agreeing to make peace with you?

The answer is clear: Apart from poverty, hatred, treachery, neglect, cynicism, and hypocrisy, the Arab world has nothing to offer Israel because these are the only commodities it has. Sad, but true. These are Israel’s neighbors, and when we Israelis, from our prime minister down to the last of our citizens, begin to understand this, we will be capable of dealing with our neighbors the way we should.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Mordechai Kedar

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New Police Stations in Arab Sector Aim to Crack Down on Crime

13 hours 9 min ago

By: Mara Vigevani/TPS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh inaugurated two new police stations on Tuesday as part of a government plan to strengthen police presence in the Arab sector. The stations are located in Jisr az-Zarqa, a small village north of Caesarea and Kfar Kanna in Galilee where crime and lawlessness is widespread.

“The demand and the right to accept the rule of law, the enforcement of law and order, as is common in all parts of Israel, is a primary national mission for me. We have discussed it many times – and in the end, we made the decisions first to add budgets, then to train forces from the Arab sector and then to build more police stations,” Netanyahu said.

The move to expand police presence in the Arab sector follows a steady rise in crime rates in Arab communities across Israel in recent years. In April 2016 Netanyahu threw his support behind a multi-year plan to boost personal security in Arab communities. The plan called for the ministries of finance and public security to build new police stations, recruit 2,600 new officers and strengthen police operational capabilities.

Improving law enforcement in the Arab sector has long been a demand of Arab leaders, including Knesset members. MKs Ahmad Tibi, MK Hanin Zoabi and Yousef Jabareen  have spoken often from the Knesset floor about the need to improve police services in Arab towns and asked the government both to attack organized crime and to confiscate illegal weapons.

In real terms, however, efforts to police the Arab community have proven difficult, with mutual enmity and lack of faith between police officers and local residents. Arab civic and political leaders say the department’s performance in their communities compares poorly to other minority communities in the country.

“The Arabs do not trust the police because they feel that decisions are made without taking them into real consideration, without consulting with the local leadership,” said Muhammad Hasan Amara, a political studies professor at Bar Ilan University who specializes in the status of Arabs in Israel.  “On one hand, Israeli Arab citizens want more police presence in their towns; on the other hand they do not trust the police.

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“Everything is done by force.  For instance, last week the police ended an amnesty offer campaign in Arab society urging citizens to voluntarily turn in illegal weapons. The campaign was a failure because it lacked coordination with local leadership. And many Arabs do not believe that the police will honor their promise of immunity from prosecution, ” Amara told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

According to the Index of Personal Security in Arab Towns, a 2016 public opinion poll published by The Abraham Fund Initiatives, a Jewish-Arab NGO that promotes coexistence and equality among Arab and Jewish Israelis, only 74 percent of Arabs said police do not provide adequate security in their communities, compared to 37 percent of Jews. In addition, 32 percent of Arab citizens said they feel insecure in their hometowns, compared to just 12 percent of Jews, and 54 percent of Arab citizens said there is a problem with violence in their hometowns, compared to only 14 percent of Jewish citizens.

Arab leaders cautiously welcomed the consecration of the new stations. Rasool Saada, director of The Abraham Fund’s Safe Communities Initiative, said that building trust between the Arab population and police is far more important than brick-and-mortar buildings.

“Sixty percent of Arab society does not trust the police as a force responsible for public security, law enforcement, maintaining public order, fighting crime. It is important to build a model of community policing which can include sensitivity to Arab culture, respect for local leadership and recognition of the existing state of poverty,” Saada told TPS by phone. “At the moment the police see Arab citizens as a threat, and the residents see policemen as enemies. The success of the project will be  measured by whether or not the police can build trust in the Arab population.”

The police, for their part, say the new police stations are part of the ongoing strategic plan to advance and expand community work and cooperation within the Arab community.

“Different police points with inside the neighborhoods have been opened in order to improve the daily services that police are giving to the Israeli Arab communities… the model began in 2011 when 13 units were opened; today there are 52 existing units and 66 are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017,” said Israeli Police Spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld .

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Thanksgiving Tradition is for Both Christians and Jews

13 hours 39 min ago

Prior to moving to Israel, when I used to live in Ohio, my curious non-Jewish friends would ask me at this time of year whether I, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, celebrate Thanksgiving?

The mere question reminds me that Jews and Christians still have much to learn about one another. The answer is so obvious once you understand what Thanksgiving is all about.

Every American Kindergartner knows the story of how the Pilgrims on the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, and how they gave thanks to God for their survival — and successes. What most people don’t know, however, was that the pilgrims looked deeply to the Bible for inspiration.

Unlike any other group before them, the Pilgrims were fleeing from religious oppression in Europe. They looked to the Bible for inspiration and guidance and even studied Biblical Hebrew in order to read the Bible in its original language.

The Pilgrims saw themselves as the “chosen people” fleeing from the “brutal king” James the First, whom they referred to as “Pharaoh,” thereby casting off their “yoke of bondage” and oppression. They referred their Mayflower voyage as passing through the “Red Sea” into the wilderness. When they arrived in their “promised land,” they offered thanksgiving prayers to God, like the biblical Feast of Tabernacles. The Bible, of course, is full of verses about thanksgiving which highlight the important theme of gratitude to God.

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No other group in history had ever felt that they were reenacting and fulfilling the experience of the ancient Israelites as did America’s first settlers, who even thought that the Native Americans might be from the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel. For centuries, European explorers had set sail for new lands without making reference to the Bible, seeing themselves as God’s chosen people, or searching for the promised land.

The Jewish people have always claimed to have a divine mission to promote the universal values of peace, freedom, and hope, but unfortunately, for the last 2,000 years, no one was listening. From its inception, however, America was different. Despite pockets of anti-Semitism, there has always been a distinct appreciation for the Jewish people in the United States. The “American Dream” was built upon a Biblical foundation, and we refer regularly to America’s “Judeo-Christian values,” which is one of the principle reasons for America’s strong support for the Jewish State.

Even now that my family lives in Israel, we celebrate Thanksgiving because it is the day that celebrates a proud fact, that the lessons from the Hebrew Bible have been ingrained into the American soul from its very inception.

As a Jew, I am thankful that when America was discovered, America discovered the Bible.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Newsmax

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PROVERBS 3:18

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 07:16

In the above verse, the Torah is referred to as a tree of life. Judaism believes that the Torah is the direct word of God and serves as a road map and instruction book for leading a moral and ethical life. Moreover, King Solomon, the author of the Book of Proverbs, states that all those who live their lives in accordance with the Torah will be happy. This verse is generally sung aloud in synagogue after the Torah has been read and is being returned for safekeeping to the Ark. The singing of this verse demonstrates that although the Torah is being put away for safekeeping, it’s messages and lessons will not be forgotten. As the Jewish people celebrate the completion of the annual reading of the Torah, and begin reading the Holy text of the Torah once again, we remember the powerful words of Proverbs 3:18.

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Jared Kushner in Hot Water for 2016 Efforts to Help Israel Block UN Anti-Settlement Act

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 06:30

US Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Jared Kushner’s contacts with Israeli officials last year over joint efforts to stop the passage of the anti-settlement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, ultimately passed when sitting-duck President Barack Obama did not use the US’s veto to halt it.

The notorious anti-Israel resolution slamming Israeli activity in Judea and Samaria came up for a vote in December 2016, after Donald Trump was elected president but before he had taken office. While the US’s standing practice is to support Israel at the UN, outgoing Obama, whose relations with Israel were cool at best, decided to abstain from the vote, allowing it to pass in what many critics saw as a last-minute betrayal of the Jewish State.

The failure was bitter for Israel, which had thrown its diplomatic weight into an attempt to shoot down the resolution. According to media reports, senior officials had contacted members of the Trump transition team, including Trump son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner and senior advisor Stephen Bannon, to enlist the president-elect’s support in efforts to stop the resolution or delay the vote.

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According to the Wall Street Journal, following his contact with the Israelis, Kushner quietly approached foreign leaders in order to sway their votes at the UN, as his father-in-law publicly called for a veto.

The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed….cont: https://t.co/s8rXKKZNF1

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016

Neither effort was ultimately successful, and the measure passed, leading to Trump assuring Israel things would be different during his tenure.

As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2016

Jared Kushner is already under investigation by Mueller for his contacts with Russian officials during the election.

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Where the Fight Against Terror Begins

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 06:15

Since the beginning of 2017 the IDF has uncovered 193 illegal firearms. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

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This Company Is Making it Easy to Invest in Israel

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 06:00

To meet the growing demand for investment opportunities in Israel’s high-tech sector, Bluestar Index has created a platform for investors abroad who want to share Israel’s growing bounty.

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Are 134 California Quakes Prelude to Flood-Like Destruction of Good and Evil Alike?

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 05:30

A swarm of 134 tremors in California and a recent geological study that confirmed a year of increased seismic activity have led to speculations that the earthquakes are a portal for a God-sent destructive force to come into the world before the Messiah, striking out indiscriminately at both good and evil.

Last Monday, a 3.4 magnitude earthquake rocked central California. Though considered a minor event, the shaking still has not stopped and instability in that three-mile section of the volatile San Andreas Fault generated an additional 133 tremors in the last seven days. All but 17 of these tremors went undetected by the general public, registering at less than 2.5 on the Richter scale. This swarm of quakes raised fears of ‘the big one’, the long-anticipated devastating West Coast earthquake.

Such  calamitous earthquakes and volcanoes raise religious awareness as they are explicitly mentioned in prophecy as part of the end-of-days.

And I will bring the third part through the fire and will refine them as silver is refined and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on My name and I will answer them; I will say: ‘It is My people’ and they shall say: ‘Hashem is my God.’ Zechariah 13:9

Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman, director of Ohr Chadash Torah Institute, told Breaking Israel News that natural disasters offer many lessons to the spiritually minded, but also raise difficult theological dilemmas.

Rabbi Trugman (Courtesy)

“Hashem (God) has a reason for everything but it would be somewhat arrogant to claim we know definitively a reason for disasters,” Rabbi Trugman said. “We are not in the position to know the true causes but we should try to understand these natural phenomenon as a wake-up call.”

Ecology, as a study of the interconnectedness of nature, is inherently Biblical, Rabbi Trugman explained.

“Hashem is one, and everything is from Him, so everything is interconnected,” the rabbi said. “According to Jewish tradition, man and his actions are connected even to earthquakes, in ways truly beyond our comprehension.”

Remarkably, scientists’ search for a reason behind the recent spate of earthquakes led them to a similar conclusion in which the unity of the world and the interplay between seemingly disparate elements was the key.

A recent study presented at the annual meeting of the  Geological Society of America suggested that this year is an especially active time period for earthquakes and volcanoes. The study tracked the history of earthquakes worldwide of magnitude 7.0 or greater since 1900, noting an average of 15 such earthquakes every year.

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At evenly spaced intervals, this average jumped to between 25 and 30. The cycle corresponded to periodic slowdowns in the rate of the earth’s spin which affect seismic activity. The researchers credit the current slowdown with the wave of quakes that recently hit Mexico, and the major quake that shook Iraq and Iran.

The study predicted an above-average number of earthquakes in the upcoming year.

“We are part of a greater process that includes natural phenomenon,” Rabbi Trugman said. “The Talmud (Oral Law) gives reasons for natural phenomenon. The Sages understood that natural events have spiritual reasons although we may not be aware of their true causes.”

However, he continued, understanding the divine element to natural disasters raises moral difficulties. “It is hard to justify God’s part in natural disasters when thousands of people die, good and bad together,” Rabbi Trugman said. “Where is the individual’s relationship with God?”

For a Jewish response, Rabbi Trugman cited Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, a medieval French rabbi known by the acronym Rashi. In his commentary on the Biblical account of the flood, Rashi addressed the dilemma of how God can kill both good people and bad people in natural disasters.

Hashem said to Noach, “I have decided to put an end to all flesh, for the earth is filled with lawlessness because of them: I am about to destroy them with the earth.” Genesis 6:13

“When immorality spreads out of control, God gives permission to the ‘destroyer’ and he takes the innocent with the guilty, the good with the bad,” Rabbi Trugman said, paraphrasing Rashi.

“The implications of this is that there are certain forces in the world that once a certain tipping point is arrived at, the good are taken with the bad and there is nothing that can be done about it.”

Rabbi Trugman emphasized that this process will change after the arrival of the Messiah and the natural disasters that ushered in the Messiah will disappear.

“At one point, the earth will be ‘tamed’ and as physical and spiritual reality merges and becomes increasingly clarified there will be no more natural disasters,” Rabbi Trugman said. “This goes along with Jewish tradition that human nature will also change radically so that there will also be an end to hunger, wars, jealousy, and competition.”

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