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this is a new file. Untitled @@@=========== The Parsha, the Process and the Promised Land - Eikev Michael Freund 10 August 2001 1. Measuring a Mitzvah in Feet The Parsha begins with Moshe telling the Jews of the great blessings they will receive if they fulfill G-d’s commands. The Torah says, “The L-rd your G-d will safeguard for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and multiply you, and He will bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your Land… You will be the most blessed of all the peoples…” (Chap. 7, verses 12-14). Moshe stresses that these blessings are contingent upon the Jews’ behavior – the opening verse of the Parsha states: “And this shall be the reward when [“Eikev” in the Hebrew] you hearken to these ordinances and you observe and perform them” (Chap. 7, verse 12). The Question: What is the meaning of the Torah’s choice of the Hebrew word “Eikev” to denote that the reward will be granted when the Jews observe the commandments? The Answer: Rashi cites the Midrash, which points out that the word “Eikev” is also Hebrew for a person’s ankle or heel. Hence, the Torah chose to use the word “Eikev” to tell us that if the Jews are careful to observe even the seemingly minor commandments that people view as unimportant (and therefore commonly “tread upon with their heels”), then they most certainly will receive the great blessings detailed in the Parsha. The Lesson: People should not underestimate the power of fulfilling a mitzvah, even one they might view as “minor” or “unimportant”. In our day, many otherwise religious Jews downplay the significance of living in Israel, finding all kinds of excuses to justify staying in the Diaspora on halachic and religious grounds. It is worth recalling a brilliant observation of the Kotzker Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (1787-1859), in this regard. Commenting on the Rashi and Midrash cited above, the Kotzker Rebbe asks: how could one even suggest that the Jewish people might be so neglectful of the commandments that they would “tread upon them with their heels” and dismiss some of them as “minor”? Rather, says the Kotzker Rebbe, we should interpret Rashi and the Midrash as follows: There is only one commandment in the Torah that a person can fulfill, literally, by “treading upon it with one’s heels”, and that is the commandment to dwell in the Land of Israel. Many Jews unfortunately view this commandment as a “minor one”, so the Torah intentionally chose the word “Eikev” to introduce this Parsha. It is to tell us that if we fulfill the commandment to “tread upon” the Land by dwelling there, then G-d will certainly bless the Jewish people as He promised to do. The words of the Kotzker Rebbe, written over a century ago, are equally true today. Too many Jews still view living in Israel as “just a mitzvah”. People who will carefully inspect their food to make sure it fulfills the most stringent of Rabbinic requirements will nevertheless try to offer many reasons why the Torah’s command to dwell in Israel does not apply to them. But the fact is that it does. Until more Jews realize this, the blessings delineated in the Parsha might very well remain on hold. Let us hope and pray that will not be the case. 2. Give G-d A Chance After describing the blessings the Jewish people would receive upon fulfilling G-d’s commands, Moshe concludes with a warning about what will occur should they fail to do so. The Torah states, “It shall be that if you forget the L-rd your G-d and go after the gods of others, and worship them and prostrate yourself to them – I testify against you today that you will surely perish; like the nations that the L-rd causes to perish before you, so will you perish when [“Eikev” in the Hebrew] you will not hearken to the voice of the L-rd your G-d” (Chap. 8, verses 19-20). The Question: Why does the Torah again use the word “Eikev”? The Answer: The Rashbam (Rabbi Shmuel ben Meir, Rashi’s grandson) says that the two verses above serve as a conclusion to the theme outlined by Moshe since the beginning of the Parsha. Hence, the Torah used the word “Eikev” again, as it did in the Parsha’s opening verse, to signal the end of this section. This, says the Rashbam, is to emphasize the basic point that Moshe is making: “When [“Eikev”] the Jews listen” to G-d - they will settle the Land and live there in peace, but “when [“Eikev”] they do not listen” – they shall be driven out of it. The Lesson: Peace in Israel is dependent less on the vagaries of diplomacy, and more on the behavior of the Jewish people and their fidelity to G-d’s commandments. Many people mistakenly believed in recent years that peace was a simple matter of realpolitik, of reaching compromises that would suit the competing interests of the various parties while ensuring their security. But the Torah is warning us that there is another component that must be reckoned with – the spiritual factor – which is a key ingredient that cannot be overlooked. Peace is a blessing that is granted by G-d, and if we are to be worthy of it, then we, as a nation, must behave accordingly, fulfilling our responsibilities as a people to uphold the Torah and its commands. Arrogating to ourselves the ability to make peace even as we ignore our obligations to G-d can only result in failure, as the Oslo process has so clearly demonstrated. After eight years of Oslo, and the brutal terrorism it has brought in its wake, the time has come to put aside our arrogance and conceit, and to finally admit: We gave “peace” a chance, and it didn’t work. Perhaps the time has come to give G-d a chance. For unlike diplomats and politicians, G-d is one who keeps His promises. 3. Keep Your Eyes on the Land Later in the Parsha, Moshe again urges the people to strictly adhere to the Torah’s commandments, as they are about to enter the Land of Israel, the Land promised to them by G-d. Moshe assures the Jews that the Land is special and unique, differing greatly from Egypt, where the Jews had been enslaved for so many years. He tells them, “It is a Land that the L-rd your G-d seeks out; the eyes of the L-rd your G-d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to year’s end” (Chap. 11, verse 12). The Question: What does the verse mean when it says that “the eyes of the L-rd your G-d” are always upon the Land of Israel and that it is a Land that He “seeks out”? Isn’t that true of the entire world as well? The Answer: Rashi, quoting the Sifri, states that G-d actively oversees and administers the entire world, but that His primary focus, as it were, is on the Land of Israel, for only once Israel has been blessed is the rest of the world blessed. Thus, the Torah singled out the manner in which G-d watches over Israel to stress the special nature of the Land and its importance to the Creator. The Lesson: The measure of a person’s love and concern for something is the care he shows towards it. The fact that G-d’s attention is principally directed toward the Land of Israel is a sign of its importance in His eyes. Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky, in his book Parsha Parables 3, derives a vital lesson from this. He writes, “Sometimes we think that the Jewish Land is on autopilot, but Hashem tells us that it is not. His eyes are on it 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. And though we all care for and love Eretz Yisrael, perhaps we, too, should mimic that attitude. We, too, should not be able to imagine a world without a stable and healthy Israel. And, like Hashem, we should also have it constantly in our hearts and minds – not only during a crisis, when the storm clouds are brewing, but from ‘the beginning of the year until the end,’ even when the sun is shining down on it.” Sadly, though, it appears that many Diaspora Jews are more concerned with other matters. They might glance to see if there is a story about Israel in the newspaper, they might be deeply worried from time to time about what is happening, but their attention is largely directed elsewhere. As we saw earlier, however, G-d’s primary concern is about what goes on in Israel, and as Jews, we are commanded to emulate G-d and follow in His ways. If His gaze is fixed at Israel, ours should be as well. This is not to suggest that there is anything wrong with a little entertainment, or a pleasant diversion now and then. But as Israel continues to be battered by brutal Palestinian terror, the time has come for all of us to worry a bit less about who wins the latest ballgame and a bit more about who wins the war. @@@=============== Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 13:13:44 EDT From: Add to Address Book Add To Spam Block List Subject: Fwd: Brief Summary of Middle East Conflict To:,,,,,,,,,, -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Some information if anyone asks you about the conflict. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 00:29:58 EDT From: Add to Address Book Add To Spam Block List Subject: copy of e-mail I sent to WPHT's Dom Giordano To: undisclosed-recipients:; Dear Dom, In answer to a question posed by one of your callers, here are some of the true facts of the Middle East: International lawyers from all over the world have unequivocally concluded that the land commonly [and erroneously] called Palestine is legally Israels. Jews owned that land for thousands of years. It was only centuries after armed conquerers invaded the area and evacuated most of the Jewish population that Arabs moved in from adjacent lands. Yet a small Jewish population managed to stay in the area. Palestine is an Anglicized pronunciation of the Arabic Falestin. [There is no P sound in Arabic; the Hebrew letter for the F sound becomes a P at the beginning of a word or syllable.] Falestin is also transliterated as Philistine and the meaning is one and the same: it refers to a narrow strip along the Mediterranean which would include present-day Gaza and a bit northward into Israel proper, through the port towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon. Most of the turmoil in the Middle East was caused by repeated conquerings and invasions, followed by British and French colonialism which arbitrarily divided up the whole region for their own selfish and greedy purposes. Meanwhile, the area fell into total decay. Except for a few small pockets here and there, the region was nothing but desert and swamp, infested with malaria and cholera and no one wanted to live there -- except for the Jews, who, for 2000 years had prayed for the return to their homeland. By the late 1800s, conditions for Jews in Eastern Europe, where a sizeable percentage of Jews had fled to after dipersal from Israel by the Romans, became frightening and intolerable. Pogroms, the systemized murdering, raping and looting of Jews, their homes torched, their meager property stolen, became rampant. The only solution: a return to their ancient land. The Jewish Agency was created, which purchased back the lands (that were rightfully the Jews anyway!) from absentee landlords in Lebanon and Turkey. Jewish immigrants cleared the land, irrigated, planted crops, drained swamps, started industry and turned the land that hitherto no one wanted into a society. After Jews were systematically being annihilated throughout Europe in the 1930s and 40s (half of the worlds Jewish population was eliminated!) more refugees attempted to get back to Israel. Arabs, who had drifted into the area after Israel had made the land inhabitable once again, also attacked the local Jewish population. The British, no lovers of the Jews, sided with the Arabs. The British, who had assumed control of the region, turned away shiploads of Jews coming to the shores, trying to flee the Holocaust. The Israeli Jews responded with selected bombings and attacks on the British occupational military forces. The British decided to leave and asked the U.N. to take over matters. The U.N. partition plan of 1947 called for dividing up the former British mandate of Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state, with the proposed Arab state getting 77% of the land and the proposed Jewish state getting 23% of the land, the Jews said okay; the Arabs refused. Their religious and cultural beliefs preclude the presence of any non-Muslims in what they perceive as their part of the world. After the partition, Britain, in its final move as occupier of the region, gave the Arab sector (the 77%) to a Saudi tribesman to whom they owed a favor. That was King Abdullah, the grandfather of the late King Hussein and great grandfather of the present Jordanian monarch. (He was assassinated by fellow Arabs in 1950 for talking to Israel.) In May of 1948, Israel formerly declared its statehood in the small strip of land it had been given. Immediately, all the surrounding Arab states immediately attacked and invaded Israel with the hope of destroying her and, in their own words, driving all the Jews into the sea. The surrounding Arab nations, in radio broadcasts, ordered all the Arabs living in Israel to flee the area in order to give the invading armies free access to destroy the Jews, telling the Arab inhabitants they could return to their homes once the area was completely cleared of the Jews. (Prior to this, relations between Jews and Arabs were, for the most part, reasonably harmonious, or at worst, indifferent, , except, of course, for the vicious Arab massacre of the Jewish population of Hevron [transliterated as Hebron in English] in 1929.) This urging of the local Arabs to flee was the creation of the Arab refugees still living in squalid camps today. Concurrent with this, all of the Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa, expelled all their Jews, creating an even greater number of refugees. These Jewish refugees headed straight for, and were immediately taken in and welcomed by, Israel. The Israeli Arabs who fled on orders of their brethren, were not welcomed nor taken in, but herded into horrible camps. Israel, as we know, survived the onslaught by its neighbors and was victorious in the 1948 war. This was nothing short of a miracle, considering Israel was vastly outnumbered and weakly equipped with inadequate, out-of-date, hand-me-down planes and weapons. Israel, throughout the war, had invited its Arab inhabitants to stay, that they would be treated humanely and given equal rights in the new Jewish state [unlike the status of Jews in Arab and Muslim countries!] Those who did opt to stay were given Israeli citizenship and are today the only Arabs in the world living in a democratic society, as opposed to living under tyrannical dictatorship rule in the rest of the Arab world. They also generally enjoy the highest standard of living of in the Middle East, except , of course, for the kleptocratic oil sheiks, whose subjects dont share in the wealth.) Since Israel prevailed in the war, the Arab countries kept the Israeli Arabs who had fled the invading Arab armies in these squalid refugee camps, to use as a propaganda tool against Israel and to foment these unfortunate caught-in-the-middles into an aggressive, hostile population that could be employed to battle with them against Israel in future wars. Unlike Israel, who took in her brethren with open arms, the Arab nations kept their fellow Arabs like vicious dogs or wolves in pens to be exploited for their own purposes. Out of the abominable conditions in these camps grew a movement which eventually evolved into, or came to be known as, the Palestine Liberation Organization . A constant barrage of propaganda from the host Arab governments convinced these refugees that Israel was responsible for their plight, not the true culprits, namely these Arab governments. An Arab summit convened in 1964 named this movement., invented the artificial nationality of Palestinian for these Arabs who had never before considered themselves a separate ethnic group or nationality and brainwashed them into committing an endless slew of terrorist attacks which would, presumably, liberate them from their conditions. This propaganda succeeded. They were promised, and given, funds and weaponry for that purpose. In 1967, Egypts dictator, Gamal Abdel-Nasser, the self-aggrandized leader of the Arab world, ordered the United Nations troops out of the Sinai, Suez and Red Sea region. (They had been there protecting an uneasy, precarious cease-fire between Israel and Egypt after the 1956 Suez War, in which, Israel, after provocation, had succeeded in crossing Sinai and entering Egypt to stop attacks; the U.S. Eisenhower administration, forced Israel to retreat before having a chance to insure its security--similar to the Lebanon situation in 1982!) With the U.N. peacekeepers out of the way, Nasser blocked the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, depriving Israel of its only port to the South. This was a prelude to a planned invasion of Israel by all the surrounding Arab countries. Israeli intelligence picked up on the plan and launched a pre-emptive strike against Egyptian troops in the Sinai. Israel was suddenly being attacked simultaneously by Lebanon from the North, Syria and Iraq from the Northeast, Jordan from the East , Saudi Arabia from the South and Egypt from the Southwest. Israels territory was, and is today, equivalent only to that of New Jersey! It was invaded by armies more-or-less equivalent to all the mid-Atlantic states, part of New England and part of the Ohio Valley. At its most densely-populated part of the country, the center, Israel was only seven miles wide ! What country can defend a seven-mile wide strip of land that houses about half its population! And Jordans army was attempting to sever Israel in half right through there. Once again, Israel miraculously prevailed. This time, Israel decided to hold onto some adjacent buffer land around its population centers, in case of future attacks to allow time and some breathing room for its forces to mobilize if attacked. Israel also succeeded in liberating the eastern part of Jerusalem, home to the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount, where the biblical first and second Temples stood, and where, to this day, the Western Wall from its courtyard still stands and is revered and prayed to from Jews all over the world. Jordan had conquered the eastern half of Jerusalem in the 1948 war, destroying all its synagogues and cemeteries and massacring its Jews. Jordan occupied the eastern half of Jerusalem from 1948 to 1967, erecting a Berlin-style wall with barbed wire and forbidding Jews to enter or pray there. Jordans occupation of the eastern part of Jerusalem was recognized by only two countries: Britain and Pakistan. Israel also conquered the vast Sinai desert, uninhabited except for a few Bedouin nomads and some sparse, hearty wildlife and cacti. In the Sinai was the holy Mt. Sinai of Biblical fame, where a small sect of Monks had built a monastery (Santa Katarina) and further south, some beautiful, undeveloped beaches. More importantly, the northwest coast of Sinai, at Abu Rodeis, had oil! Not a huge amount, but Israel developed it where it was adequate to meet Israels domestic needs without having to import exorbitantly-priced oil from hostile nations with whom she was still at war via third countries who added their own markups and shipping costs. And Israel wound up in possession of the Biblical Judaea and Samaria, which it won from Jordan in the war, areas adjacent to its most heavily populated cities, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem which would serve as protective buffers. Israel also found itself holding the notorious Gaza strip (Ghaza in Arabic; Aza in Hebrew) a tiny, overpopulated parcel of land nestled between Israel proper and the Sinai, teeming with an extremely hostile Arab refugee population living in disgusting camps. Israel wanted to improve the condition of these refugees and at least give them running water and proper sewage disposal, which it did. But when Israel tried to move them into decent apartments, they refused, under orders of Arab leaders who threatened them if they accepted this from the Israelis. The so-called settlements Israel built in Judaea and Samaria, a.k.a., The West Bank, which Israel legitimately won from Jordan after Jordan attacked her in the 1967 War, were for most Israelis, nothing more than natural expansion growth of its biggest cities, Jerusalem, its capital, and which now had become Israels largest city and Tel Aviv, the second largest. These were suburbs, bedroom communities of these cities, where real estate was cheaper, land was plentiful and commuting time was reasonable. Yes, there were some wild-eyed fanatics, as some called them, religious Jews who saw a second, and more importtant purpose, a religious obligation to populate the area and raise their families there in accordance with Biblical instruction on land promised by G-d to the Jews. While a small number of these new residents treated their Arab neighbors unfairly, not as grossly exaggerated by the media, the majority were benign to the local Arabs and engaged in trade with them. Israel proper also began offering the Arabs of the so-called West Bank employment, giving them a living better than they had under Jordanian rule. And the Arabs living in the eastern portion of Jerusalem profited from the great influx of tourism following Israels reassuming administration of the sector. (Contrary to myths circulated by Arab propanda and leftist media, referring to the area as Arab East Jerusalem, Jews had constituted the majority population of Eastern Jerusalem since the 1860s!) But the Arab governments in the region and the so-called Palestinian leadership who terrorized their own populations would have none of this peaceful co-existence or newfound propserity. It was contrary to their goals of destroying Israel and keeping the entire Middle East Judenrein ! A war of terrorism, including plane hijackings, airport attacks, bus stop bombings, synagogue firebombings, kidnappings, hostage-taking, ambushing of school children, suicide bombers and shootings and knifings began. Not only were Israeli Jews targets but any Jews, anywhere in the world! Also, any friends of Israel, such as Americans, or anyone who spoke up for the Israeli cause -- or against Arab terror--became victims. And Arab governments came up with the idea of using their greatest commodity -- oil -- as a weapon, holding hostage anyone who opposed their agenda. What the West doesnt understand is that the root cause of Arab terror has nothing to do with Israel and the Palestinians; its a religious Holy War. The Muslim world considers Jews and Christians to be infidels and resents and opposes their presence or even existence anywhere in the world! Witness the brutal wholesale slaughter of Christians by Muslims and Lebanon in their civil war, the oppression of Coptic Christians in Egypt, the barbaric treatment of Jews in most Arab countries (except Morocco) and Irans and Syrias continued holding of their Jewish population hostage to prevent them from going to Israel, including random arrests, mock trials and imprisonment. The so-called Palestinian Authority has even been waging a quiet campaign to expel Christians from Bethlehem and other areas under their control. The poorer, predominantly Shiite, Muslims, are constantly brainwashed in their official media and school textbooks that the Jews are the source of their misery, poverty and displacement and should be sought out and killed. Their government leaders dont want them to know that they are the course of their suffering and that they embezzle the billions of dollars of financial aid poured in by The U.N., the U.S., fellow Arab regimes, and, yes, even Israel! They are being used as propaganda pawns by their own governments, who want to keep them miserable and angry, and easily employable in their mission against Infidels and the West. (Arab nations, who technologically lag centuries behind Israel and Western countries and who rank among the worlds least literate, and most gullible, populations, are insanely jealous. Israel, whose very existence is the worst anathema to the Arabs and Muslim world, has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, the most newspapers per capita of any country in the world and is the only democracy in that part of the world with all the freedoms of the West [assembly, free speech, free elections, opposition, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, independent media, capitalist ideology and a high-tech economy that Arab dictators dont wants their subjects to see, lest they be overthrown in popular rebellion!] Israel is where the cell phone was invented, is the manufacturer of most of the worlds computer chips, is at the forefront of cancer research and other scientific discoveries and is at the worlds helm of agricultural development , helping poor, African nations in arid areas convert desert into arable, productive land. Israel is also at the cutting edge of military technology, including benefitting the U.S. with enhancements of American planes, missiles, weapons systems and defenses.) Israel, as a trusted friend and ally, by the way, has consistently voted with the U.S. at the United Nations more than any other nation: 94% of the time. Even Britain only votes with the U.S. approximately 75% of the time. And the Arab countries all vote with the U.S. less than 5% of the time! Israel, as soon as news broke of the tragedies in the U.S. on September 11th, immediately had a plane ready to depart for New York with its, unfortunately, all-too-experienced crack disaster rescue team. (Israel has had to put up with these kinds of terror attacks several times a week over the past year and certainly knows how to handle such crises better than anyone!) Instead of welcoming Israels offer to help, the U.S. snubbed it! (For fear of offending the Arabs, no doubt!) (And, not to in any way diminish the heroic efforts of New Yorks rescue teams and the outstanding help of great volunteers, Israels rescue team probably would have been more successful in rescuing survivors because its had to perform this sad operation countless times!) Its rescue team offer turned down, Israels citizens rolled up their sleeves and sent over 1,300 pints of blood. [Of course, so did Yasir Arafat, conspicuously in front of a hastily-staged camera --after the world media showed thousands of his subjects dancing and whooping it up in reckless jubilation--and while Hanan Ashrawi, in embarrassment, struugled to do damage control saying the celebration was only by a handful of kids!] ...And, in a show of solidarity and sympathy with the U.S., Israel renamed one of the primary thoroughfares in its capital, Jerusalems Yaffo Road, to New York Avenue! ...This, as Arabs surrounding Israel are celebrating in the streets, firing guns in the air and passing out candy -- not to mention threatening the lives of any reporters who videotaped the partying to show the world! And when was the last time you heard of a suicide bomber or airplane hijacker named Cohen, Levy or Goldberg? I dont think ever! Look where these criminals who slammed filled commercial airliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon came from! And in which language were their instruction manuals written -- certainly not Hebrew! In Arabic! According to at least one Israeli news source, Israeli intelligence, reputed to be the most sophisticated and best-networked anywhere, reportedly warned the U.S. of this kind of a terror attack three weeks before it happened and the U.S. discounted it! The U.S., apparently, was afraid of harming its interests in the Arab world by communicating with Israeli intelligence! I hope this clarifies some of the confusion about the Middle East. @@@@============== 1