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Shoftim 5780

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Shoftim 5780

The agreement with the UAE joins with those previously signed with Egypt and Jordan, and soon possibly with Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and the Maghreb states. It is a breakthrough of historic proportions, reversing the obstinate refusal of all the Arab states to recognize the Jewish state in the midst of what they believe to be the Arab part of the world.

Is it good for Israel or bad – and if bad, how bad?

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Re’eh 5780

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Re’eh 5780

This week’s parasha introduces the new generation of Am Yisrael to the calamitous City of Shechem. There they would participate in a ceremony marking the nation’s confirmation of being Hashem’s chosen people. Even though the confirmation was first done in chutz la’aretz in the Sinai desert, it had to be repeated in Eretz Yisrael, its predetermined natural habitat, because the confirmation in chutz la’aretz did not have the same spiritual energy as the holy land.

Our acquittance with the city of Shechem leaves a bitter taste.

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Aikev 5780

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Aikev 5780

The Gemara (Shabbat 30b) records a didactic strategy that the illustrious amora Raba ben Nachmani would employ in order to gain the attention of his students before entering into a complex halachic discourse. He would begin with a humorous story or joke. So, in the spirit of the 15th of Menachem Av, one of the two happiest days in the lives of our ancestor’s years ago, permit me to begin with a light story.

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Va’et’chanan-Tisha B’Av 5780

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Va’et’chanan-Tisha B’Av 5780

This Wednesday night is the 9th of Menachem Av (the 9th day of the 11th month of our calendar year Menachem Av, counting from the previous month of Tishrei [Rosh HaShana]- that is our 9-11). For the 1950th time, we will mourn – in that exquisite unity that binds all Jews – the death of the 600,000 Jews in the desert who turned their backs on Eretz Yisrael and will feel the fresh anguish at the destruction of our two temples and subsequent expulsions into galut.

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Devarim 5780

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Devarim 5780

The Jewish Hall of Infamous Events and Characters contains villains like Nimrod of Mesopotamia who cast Avraham Aveinu into a fiery furnace; Avimelech the Philistine king at the time of Yitzchak Aveinu, Lavan who did everything he could to make Ya’akov Aveinu’s life miserable, and the Egyptian king who enslaved our fathers. The list goes on to include the arch anti-Semites of each generation: Nevuchadnezer, the destroyer of the first holy Temple; Haman and Achashverosh, the evil players in our Purim shpiel; Antiochus of the Chanuka episode; and the Roman general Titus, destroyer of the second holy Temple. The list includes popes, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, local Spanish, Ukrainian and Polish priests, caliphs, kings, knights, emperors, czars, presidents, chancellors, chairmen of the party, sheikhs and just plain folk who murdered Jews for the fun of it.

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Pinchas 5780

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Pinchas 5780

The situation could only be described as surrealistic, bizarre, inconceivable, and even grotesque. The participants, on both sides of the issue; those who stood for HaShem, for Torah, for Yiddishkeit versus those who turned their backs in denial of all they had mastered over the previous four decades: all behaved and responded inappropriately.

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Balak 5780

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Balak 5780

Medinat Yisrael is now on a crossroads of our future: annex or not? And if yes, how much and where? Many of the world’s leaders, each in his own manner of speech and threats, seek to instill fear in the hearts of our civilian and military personnel, that to annex would be suicidal.

It is a test by HaShem. Pressure was brought to bear on David ben Gurion not to declare independence in 1948. The US threatened and kept their word that they would place an arms embargo on the nascent State if he declared independence. But Ben Gurion and the majority of the yishuv’s heads voted for independence, and now we are 72 years old and standing tall among the leading nations of the world.

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