Parashat & Current Events

Bechukotai 5779

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Bechukotai 5779

“The report notes that the United States now faces five rising challenges—China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and transnational terrorism; yet has fewer military forces than at any time since the end of World War II.”

A report of the National Defense Strategy Commission contains conclusions with profound implications for U.S. national security. In sixty-four pages of plain language, the commission paints an extraordinarily troubling picture of the state of U.S. national defenses, calling our present situation a “grave crisis” demanding “extraordinary urgency.”

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Behar 5779

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Behar 5779

Last week I received a disturbing video regarding a kosher sandwich shop in Lakewood New Jersey. The proprietor had hung an Israeli flag on the roof next to a US flag in honor of Yom Ha’Atzmaut. He received a call from the rabbi who gives the hechser on kashrut; that if the Zionist flag was not removed immediately, he would cancel the kashrut certification of the shop. He was not an OU kashrut rabbi but was sanctioned by one of the chareidi organizations in the area.

This “rabbi” reminded me of an interview I heard a while back with a chareidi leader of Yerushalayim who said on the radio that the Israeli flag was just “a shemata (rag) on a stick”.

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Emor 5779

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Emor 5779

Our son Mordechai just completed 28 years of intense army service, attaining the rank of brigadier general. As an infantry officer he served in the most dangerous battles on our borders and beyond. He commanded Israel’s most elite units and engaged in many combat missions of which he cannot speak (and probably will never be allowed to).

Towards the end of his military career, he voiced his personal feelings regarding retirement, by quoting the phrase used in the above Mishna: “at the occasion of exiting in peace from the holy of holies”, with the IDF serving as the Holy of Holies of our nation in the absence of the Bet Hamikdash. Because just as the Bet Hamikdash protected Am Yisrael by cleansing us of our sins; today the protector of Am Yisrael as the messenger of HaShem is the holy army of Medinat Yisrael. He said: “Now that HaShem has granted me the gift of leaving the “Holy of Holies” whole in body, soul and mind, I will donate a Sefer Torah to a worthy place”.

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Kedoshim 5779

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Kedoshim 5779

Judaism, in general, encourages constructive questioning and debate, but the holiday of Pesach utilizes this mode of education as its main avenue for transmitting to the younger generation the Egyptian slavery experience and its exhilarating feelings of freedom. But however numerous the questions and proposed answers, there is no end to the queries in the multi-faceted relationship between HaShem and his chosen people.

At the seder night I posed the following question…

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Pesach 5779

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Pesach 5779

Approximately three thousand five hundred years ago, seventy direct descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov left Eretz Yisrael for the exile of Egypt as individuals within a family. Two hundred and ten years later their descendants left Egypt numbering in the millions to return home as a nation. Two thousand years ago we as a nation were exiled from our land to eventually return home as individuals from 100 different lands to merge, coalesce and regroup into the great nation that we are today, as each and every oleh brings with him the richness of their worldly experiences.

The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming autobiography (be’ezrat HaShem) depicting my last day in galut and arrival in the holy land.

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Pesach Seder 5779

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Pesach Seder 5779

Picture a frum (observant) family at the Seder night, living in any one of the great Torah centers in the galut; they could even be your next-door neighbors!The home of Reb Sender and Mrs. Rayza is impeccable; the result of the great time and energy, not to speak of the money, which the expeditious and skillful ba’alat ha’bayit (woman of the house) has devoted to it.

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