Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stop and Smell the Redemption

Just returned from the Temple Mount. I was in a hurry, rushing around the mount. When we reached the eastern side, facing what was once the entrance to the holy sanctuary, the 2 police who were escorting me stopped and said, "Why does everyone stop here?" I quickly explained and kept moving. They stopped me again and said, "Maybe you could stop for a moment and give us a few words of Torah about the Temple and Hanukah?

I was so ashamed of myself. When they asked the first question I should have talked their ears off. Sometimes we make judgments about people based on their appearance. Two cops with shaved heads and no kippot. I assumed that the most they wanted from me was to get me off the mountain as quickly as possible. You never know who you're talking to. You never know when a Jew's inborn thirst for Torah is going to manifest itself. May we always have a fountain of Torah at our disposal and be ready to pour it freely!

Hanuka Sameach,


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Shouting to the Darkness

Every year we are asked, “Why do you celebrate Chanukah?” and/or “Are you Jewish?” I understand people’s curiosity. I even understand that they may think it’s a little weird. Heck, I even think it’s a little weird that I’m not Jewish and I celebrate Chanukah. But like I tell my kids, sometimes weird is good. It means you’re not following the norm. And more often than not these days, it’s the norm that’s becoming weird. Since the question keeps coming up, I thought I would write a little ditti about why we celebrate Chanukah.

CNN is airing a show called 2010 CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute. Even though it’s CNN, I like shows about everyday people who are heroes. More acknowledgment needs to be given to people who go out of their way to make a positive difference in this world. Chanukah is a time for acknowledging heroes. It’s a time for me to remind my children that the biggest heroes and the people worth looking up to are those who fight for just causes.

Chanukah is a story about a group of underdogs fighting for a just cause: the honor of God and religious freedom. It is a story about people fed up with oppression and finally doing something about it. Think American Revolution. Chanukah is a story of triumph over evil, of light driving away darkness.

Every time I reread the history of Chanukah, I’m astounded at how oppressed the Jews were. I think many people fail to realize how much freedom had been taken from the Jews. The Greeks weren’t satisfied to just rule over the Jews, they wanted to change the Jew’s very essence. They wanted the Jews to think like them and to live like them. Yet, many Jews resisted becoming like “the nations” hence the Greeks got a bit ticked off and brutally oppressed them where it hurt the most; at the heart of their spiritual beliefs. Women who insisted that their sons be circumcised were killed along with their babies. Brides were forced to sleep with Greek officers before they could be with their husbands. Jews were required to sacrifice pigs to the Greek gods. Studying the Bible and Sabbath observance became a capital crime. And a statue of Zeus was erected in the Temple.

Finally, someone decided to fight back. One family, led by the father and then by one of his sons, stood between the mighty Greek army and the conquest of the spiritual essence of the Jews. The family was the Hasmoneans, and the son was Judah Maccabee. Led by Judah Maccabee, which means hammer, the Jews fought for their religious freedom. The military victory by a ban of Jews against the most powerful army of the day was quite a feat to say the least. In fact there is a statue of Judah Maccabee at West Point to commemorate the outstanding military victory. After years of fighting, the climax came when the Jews finally took back the Temple and rededicated it to God. Relighting the golden menorah symbolized spiritual light being rekindled throughout the land, and the miracle of the oil was the exclamation point of God’s hand working through a small group to defeat a nation that was hell-bent on destroying His people and their spiritual heritage. Think 1967, 1973, today.

Chanukah represents much of what I want my children to value and to stand for: The honor of God and religious freedom. I want them to know deep inside that even if they are the minority, they still are obligated to stand up for truth. I want them to know without a doubt that the God Whom they believe in still performs miracles. I want them to know that it is “not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.” I want them to know that in this world, sometimes they will have to get a little “crazy” to combat the craziness around them just as the Maccabees were "crazy" to fight against such odds.

That’s why on night one of Chanukah my daughter and I danced and sang a song at the top of our voices. It was U2’s “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight.” No, really, it was the perfect song. It says, “It’s not a hill it’s a mountain as you start out the climb. Do you believe me, or are you doubting? We’re gonna make it all the way to the light. But I know I’ll go crazy if I don’t go crazy tonight / Every generation gets a chance to change the world. Pity the nation that won't listen to your boys and girls. Because the sweetest melody is the one we haven't heard. Oh, but a change of heart comes slow / It's not a hill it's a mountain as we start out the climb. 
Listen for me, I'll be shouting. 
Shouting to the darkness, squeeze out sparks of light.” That’s what Chanukah is, a shout out to darkness that the Light is coming.

I also told my children the story of a modern-day Maccabee, a modern-day hero. It went something like this: There’s a man in Israel who believes that Jews should have the right to pray on the Temple Mount. He believes that it is fundamentally wrong that when the police see the lips of a Jew moving while they are on the Temple Mount, that they promptly make them stop praying. This man fights for the right for Jews to pray on the Temple Mount and he asked people around the world to join him in that fight. People were encouraged to make their voices heard by writing or calling the Israeli government to let them know that Jews should be able to pray on the Temple Mount.

One night while this man and his wife were home, they heard a knock on their door. He answered the door to find members of the Shin Bet, the Israeli Security Agency, at his home. They asked if they could talk to him. They proceeded to tell him that he had two choices. He could either stop trying to fight for the right to pray on the Temple Mount or he could go to jail.

My daughter stopped me at this point and said, “Wait. You mean the Arab police. It couldn’t have been the Israeli police.” I sadly told her that she had heard me right the first time. She couldn’t comprehend why the Israeli police would want to stop Jews from praying. She is very wise.

I ended the story by telling my children that they know this person. Their eyes got wide at the thought of knowing a real-life hero. When I told them his name (he’s given me permission to publically tell the story without using his name because he is still watched by, not only the Shin Bet, but the CIA), their mouths dropped open and they cried out in concern wondering if he had been put in jail. Thankfully, I was able to tell them he was not in jail. And, also thankfully, he continues to fight.

So no, we are not Jewish. But yes, we celebrate Chanukah. In a crazy world where the U.N. announces it’s more historically accurate to consider Rachel’s tomb an Arab mosque, where the U.S. government tells Jews not to build houses on their own land, where the Vatican announces that the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, I combat the craziness by lighting eight candles. The candles are a symbol of my pledge of allegiance to the people of Israel and to the God of Israel. And it is a prayer that I will always have the courage to stand on their side.

Chanukah is a hands-on history lesson that I pray my children won’t forget. God forbid that they ever have to face religious persecution. But as ancient battles seem to be resurfacing, I admit I wonder sometimes. And God forbid that they are ever in desperate need of a miracle. But if they are, I pray that they will remember they serve a God of miracles. May they always know that if they serve the God of Light, they will never have to stay afraid of the dark.

Monday, December 6, 2010

From the Outside Looking In

I read news of the fire in Israel all weekend with what felt like a pit in my stomach. Awakening to the news this morning that it was raining in Israel brought a sense of relief and joy . . . for a few minutes. Because even though the rains came, the fire came first.

I love you and I worry about you, Israel. I want what is best for you. I also want what is best for my family and for me. And what happens to you affects not just you, but the entire world. You are the answer. Through you, Hashem will save the world. Through you, redemption will come. There’s no question that redemption is going to come, but HOW it is going to come worries me. Was the fire Hashem’s message that redemption will come the hard way? Perhaps I'm reading too much into the situation. But the sages teach that Hashem's judgments are made at Rosh HaShanah and that if one does not repent, then the judgments are delivered at Chanukah.

One of the main axioms of Torah consciousness is that Hashem is One. His Oneness represents that He is the only reality, therefore everything emanates from Him. In addition, His Oneness represents that everything that comes from Him is for our good. Also, Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag teaches that the main way man knows Hashem is through His acts. Following these principles one would conclude that: The fire came from Hashem. The fire is for Israel’s good. Hashem can be known through the fire.

What worries me though, is that the majority of Israel will not see the fire as a message from Hashem. And what is the point, if Israel misses the point? My heart longs for all of Israel to drop to their knees and turn their hearts towards Hashem. But the timing of the fire was during Chanukah. And the story of Chanukah is a story about a remnant. Only a small remnant fought for the honor of Hashem and the rededication of the Temple. Are there only a few modern-day Maccabees who will have the courage but also the willingness to play a hands-on role in bringing about redemption to Israel and ultimately to the rest of the world?

If so, then perhaps a message from the fire to a non-Jew like me, besides being reminded of the fear and awe due Hashem, is to direct even more prayer and help towards the remnant of Israel who will fight for His honor and fight to rebuild the Temple. I know without a doubt a remnant has heard Hashem’s message within the fire, and I know without a doubt their hearts are turned even more towards Him and that they will do what needs to be done. May that remnant gain strength from Joseph’s words in this week’s parsha , “G-d will insure your survival in the land and sustain you for a momentous deliverance.” Please, G-d, make it be so.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Remedy for Amalek

I have to admit that I've had a bit of a battle with Amalek lately. I've been doubting. Reading the news regarding what is happening in Israel, watching my rights being taken away as an American citizen, reading the recent parshas and wondering when Jews will connect to the Torah's energy and bring about redemption . . . it's left me sighing and even cussing a time or two. And worst of all it's left me asking, "What's the point of even trying?"

I don't allow my self to stay in that mode for too long. But its been hard to shake. Maybe it has something to do with the energy of Kislev, as we wait for the light to break through the darkness. A darkness that seems suffocating at times. Yet, no matter how dark things may seem, Hashem expects us to keep believing and to keep hoping. And the only way to keep belief and hope alive is to focus on Him rather than on circumstances.

Not only have I been guilty of doubting, but I have not been praying often enough. Doubt. Lack of prayer. The two certainly go hand in hand. My mother is a very spiritual and disciplined person. She has always reminded me that prayer is THE most important thing that we can do. When we pray we build up our emuna (faith) in G-d. We set the balance right again in our hearts and minds of Who is in control of everything. I was reminded of this truth when I read a newsletter from Sam Peak of Biblical Faith. In it he shared the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush from his book called The Garden of Yearning. In it Rabbi Arush reminds us of emuna and prayer. The following is from his book:

"We know that emuna is the world's most precious commodity, and that the entire purpose of Torah, mitsvot, and creation is to bring a person to emuna. We should know that the main principle of emuna is our belief that everything is for the best. Any emuna that lacks the faith that everything is for the best is incomplete and is accompanied by fantasies and disappointment. Emuna is synonymous with happiness and with prayer. In addition, when we believe that everything is for the best, we believe that there is no power in the world other than Hashem. One who believes that there is nothing other than Hashem is spared from a long list of negative emotions such as anger, revenge and frustration."

Rabbi Nachman also reminds us of the importance of prayer and emuna:
"Every person must say: The whole world was created for me. If the world was created for me, it is therefore my constant obligation to examine and consider what is needed to repair the world and provide everyone's needs, and to pray for them."

"The world regards emuna as something minor, but I consider emuna as being of the greatest importance."

"When you have emuna, every day is filled with good. When things go well, it is certainly good. But even if things go wrong and you suffer, this is also good. For you trust that G-d will have mercy and will eventually send good. Everything must be good, because everything comes from G-d."

"One should have faith in G-d, not in the means in which something comes about. The Holy One, blessed be He, is the Cause of all causes, and there is absolutely no need for any one particular means. Even while resorting to a given means to try to bring something about, we must believe only in G-d, and not put our faith in the means."

As political situations escalate and as spiritual darkness seems to dominate the world, I can either focus on circumstances or focus on Hashem. Prayer is the discipline that brings about proper focus and it is the root of emuna. And it is a privilege that I too often brush aside. I get to talk to and petition the King of the Universe! That alone should overshadow everything. Along with knowing His answer, though often beyond my understanding, is always right and good.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What American Jews Can Learn From Elephant

Before the 2004 tsunami people in Thailand heard wails and saw the strange sight of panic stricken elephants. The agitated elephants broke free from their chains, ignored the commands of their owners and ran for higher ground. The elephants’ flight happened minutes before the tsunami hit. This same behavior was observed in many other types of animals briefly before the tsunami crashed on shore.

Alan Rabinowitz, director for science and exploration at the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society in New York, says animals can sense impending danger by detecting subtle or abrupt shifts in the environment. "Earthquakes bring vibrational changes on land and in water while storms cause electromagnetic changes in the atmosphere," he said. "Some animals have acute senses that allow them to determine something coming towards them long before humans might know that something is there."

What Mr. Rabinowitz is basically describing is a sixth sense. American Jews, what has happened to your sixth sense? Why aren’t you going to higher ground? Why are you not returning to Israel?

In his Yom Kippur message entitled, “Come Home!” Rabbi Nachman Kahana said, “Often it is difficult, if not almost impossible, to face the truth, but in our attempts to soften the sting, we often pervert the absolute truth.” American Jews, it’s time to face the absolute truth. America is not your home, no matter how at home you might feel here. Deep in your heart, and high in a realm of your conscious that is connected to Hashem, you know this truth. It shouts at you everyday, “Come Home!” The problem is though, you're not listening.

We just witnessed the 72-year anniversary of Kristallnacht. Brian Levin wrote an article in the Huffington Post entitled, “On Kristallnacht Anniversary, Critical Lessons Remain Unheeded.” Mr. Levin opened his article describing the horrid scenes and statistics of the infamous night of destruction of German, Austrian, and Czech Jews’ lives, businesses, and synagogues. The “angle” he chose for the remainder of the article led him to point out, of all things, the intolerence Muslims are facing, while unheeding the most critical lesson of all, that the only safe place for Jews, ironically, with all that it is facing, is Israel.

“How lucky we, particularly religious minorities like Jews and Muslims, and non-believers as well, are to live in the United States in 2010,” Levin said, “where different faiths or none can be practiced without the violence and threat that still blights other parts of the world. To be sure, religious hatred and intolerance does exist in the United States, and as someone who studies extremism across the board, I can conveniently spotlight incendiary demagogues from each of the Abrahamic faiths to demonstrate that intolerance is primarily a human trait, rather than a religious one. Neither our laws, our President, or religious minorities themselves will allow those pogroms of the past to occur here in the immediate future. Responsible leaders such as Presidents Obama and Bush, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Retired Justice John Paul Stevens have rightfully spoken out against religious intolerance, and Islamophobia in particular.”

This is wrong and inappropriate on many levels, but I’ll focus on Mr. Levin feeling lucky to be an American. The absolute truth is that Mr. Levine is not lucky to live in the United States. No matter how welcomed and comfortable he, along with other Jews feel here, the United States is part of the galut. The only home for a Jew, according to Hashem, is Israel. If a Jew’s address does not have Israel at the end of it, he is literally living in a dream world. A dream world, that history has shown over and over again, will more likely than not turn into a nightmare.

How many Jews throughout history living and prospering in varies countries felt Mr. Levin’s same false security? Putting hope in any country's laws, leaders, or religious minorities to prevent “those pogroms of the past to occur here in the immediate future” is utter foolishness.

Am I an alarmist, or am I simply looking at both ancient and recent history? History has relentlessly proven that too often no matter how long a Jewish community is welcomed in a country, eventually the host country turns on the Jews leading to devastating consequences. Modernism and “refined” cultures were no match for anti-Semitism in Europe. Are Jews willing to bet their lives that America’s modernism and refined culture will always guarantee their safety?

Jews, more than any other peoples, should have a spiritual sixth sense. And they do. Unfortunately, for so many American Jews in the galut, their sixth sense is suppressed by materialism and secularism. Hence, they are not heeding the warning from Hashem to flee to higher ground, to drop everything and go home to Israel.

Persian Jew, Spanish Jew, Russian Jew, Austrian Jew, German Jew, Czech Jew, and yes, even American Jew are labels that no longer need or should exist. Israeli Jew. That is the only label suitable for a Jew today.

I, along with others, who care about American Jews, need to quit sugar-coating the truth in an attempt soften it. If any American Jew is listening, my heart is shouting a message that isn't politically correct and it doesn't sound nice, but it is coated in concern and truth. “Leave my country! You don’t belong here. Go back to G-d's gift to you, the land of Israel.” Deep down inside you know I’m right. Because deep down inside your heart is shouting the same thing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's That Fragrance You're Wearing?

Temple consciousness met me in my kitchen yesterday. I was earning my “Best Mom in the World" badge as I made my kids’ favorite after school snack, cinnamon rolls.

Any time I use vanilla in a recipe, I have to take an extra sniff. “Umm,” I thought as I inhaled, “That is the best smell in the world.” That’s when Temple consciousness decided to jump in the conversation. “No, it’s not. It’s not even close. The best smell in the world is the incense offering at the Temple.”

I’m squeezing these thoughts in during the last days of Cheshvan. The sense connected to Cheshvan is the sense of smell. As most of you know, the sense of smell is the most spiritual of all senses. The Hebrew word for "smell" (רֵיחַ) is related to the word for "spirit" (רוּחַ). Out of the five senses, the sense of smell is the only sense that didn't participate, and thereby was not blemished in the primordial sin in the Garden of Eden. You probably know too, that the sense of smell is related to Moshiach. "And he shall smell with the awe of God" - "he shall judge by smell" (rather than by sight or hearing, Isaiah 11:3; Sanhedrin 93b).

I don’t pretend or presume to know why Hashem instated the incense offering, much less anything else related to the Temple. But yesterday in my kitchen, Temple consciousness made me start wondering about the incense offering. The sense of smell is strongly connected to memory. So via the incense offering, what is Hashem beckoning us to remember?

Perhaps all the Divine Service of the Temple is a visual and “hands-on” reminder of where our mind is supposed to be; connected to Hashem. A tzadik is one who has connected to the “upper limits” of consciousness. He has negated self-focus by transcending his ego and has reached the “simple,” profound knowing that the only true existence is G-d’s existence. The tzadik knows with every ounce of his being that G-d is One; that nothing exists besides The One. In essence, the tzadik reminds us how silly it is for us to be concerned about our ego, when in reality, it doesn’t even exist. It will be at the Temple, unlike any other place on earth, that G-d’s Oneness will be revealed to all. Translation on our level: Leave your ego at the Temple door.

The Moshiach will have dealt with his ego, to say the least. He will be so connected to Hashem, that his consciousness will be at the highest level. Everything the Moshiach does will stem from knowing that Hashem is One. He will not rely on his own sight or hearing to judge man. To me, the fact that his judgments will be based on his sense of smell is describing that he has arrived back to his pristine existence; completely in Hashem’s Oneness.

“Okay, really, you got all of this from smelling vanilla?” you might be asking. But that’s what Temple consciousness does. It invades. It reminds us to elevate every moment in the world. Yet, at the same time it reminds us that every moment is so incomplete because the Temple is missing.

Long ago in Israel there was a great tumult in the streets after a shofar blast was heard from the top of a high mountain. People wondered if it was the long-awaited Shofar of Moshiach. People went to Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Horodok to ask if he thought Moshiach had come. The tzadik opened his window and said, "No, he hasn't come; I can't smell the fragrance of Moshiach." Chassidim at the time asked one another, "Why did Reb Menachem Mendel have to open the window?" And they answered, "Because his room was always infused with the fragrance of Moshiach."

May we long to smell the fragrance of Moshiach, the fragrance of the incense offering. And may that longing spur us to the action of rebuilding the Temple.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Children of Yaacov Deserve Better

Israel keeps disrupting my life. I have things to do today, a long list. I’m a mom, a school board member, an artist, etc. There are other things I need to do. But my plans changed. Israel has been doing that to me a lot lately; changing my plans.

Instead of getting things done this morning, I’ve spent the morning crying. Why? First, I heard two teachings on parsha Toldot, one by Rabbi Chaim Richman, the other by Yishai Fleisher. Toldot tells of the birth of Esav and Yaacov, Edom and Israel. As I listened to the teachings, I got a persistent funny feeling in my gut.

Edom. Israel. The sages teach that both cannot be great at the same time. History teaches this also. Only one of them can dominate. The weight of the continual dominance of Edom hit me in the gut and led to tears of frustration. Isn’t it long past time for Edom to fall? Haven’t the Jews had to endure enough hardship under Edom?

The thing is, though, I live in the middle of Edom. I live in the middle of America. So perhaps a few of my tears were selfish ones. What’s going to happen to my family and to me when Edom finally does fall?

Wait just a minute you may be saying, what do you mean by saying America is Edom? I won't go into details here about the Edom/Rome/America connection. For brevity's sake, I'll just say that any power, any country that is against Israel falls into the age-old category of Edom.

Sadly, in many ways, America has stood against Israel for years. I was reminded of one example of America being against Israel this morning. Which led to more tears. Go ahead call me a crybaby. But if what is happening in Israel doesn’t drive you to tears occasionally, then, quite frankly, you aren’t paying attention to what really matters.

A friend who lives in Israel posted this on Facebook this morning: I traveled to Sderot yesterday morning to see the world's largest children's play center, all enclosed by reinforced concrete. 500 kids can safely enjoy an afternoon in a modern rec center, while missles are shot at them . . . what's wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong with this picture? Besides the obvious, what’s wrong is that America keeps insisting that Israel capitulate to people who have shot over 7000 rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot. Jewish children in Sderot can literally no longer safely play outdoors in their own country. America doesn’t just sit idly by and let this happen. American enables this.

Did America insist that the people shooting these rockets leave the area? Did America make sure bulldozers were sent to destroy the homes of those shooting the rockets? No, America insisted that over 8,000 Jewish people dismantle and leave their community to make way for more Arabs to live on Jewish land. Oh, and America just knew that this goodwill gesture by the citizens of Gush Katif would bring a screeching halt to the rocket attacks.

Like I said, I live in the heartland of America. It was such a beautiful morning here that I opened the door to let the fresh air in. Living only a few blocks away from my child’s school, I could hear the sounds of the children on the playground during recess.

Yes, you see the irony. The children of America are running around in the fresh air, with not a worry to encumber them. The furthest thing from their mind is hearing a siren and having only 15 seconds to run to a bomb shelter before a rocket hits.

This is why the funny feeling in my gut persists. This is why the tears flow. My children run under a blue sky. The children of Sderot run in the “Blue Box.” Doesn’t America know that the karma it keeps depositing in its account will demand a day of reckoning? Does it not know that being a conduit for the ruthless power of Esav will bring its own demise? Yet, that reality is not the worst thing that hits my gut. The worst thing is that Israel keeps bowing down to the demands of Edom. Yaacov perpetually bows to Esav.

Israel, the birthright is yours. If you open the pages of Torah you will find it there. There, along with your destiny. If and when you get serious about serving the G-d of Yaacov, instead of the god of Esav, the whole world will literally change. A power-shift so radical, so life-altering is within your reach. Open the Torah and grab it. When you do you will hear the sounds of Zechariah 8:5, “And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.” May my children and I merit surviving the fall of Edom and hear that sound with you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Get Your Boots On

by Camie Davis

Warning: you might want to put on a pair of boots and a mask before reading this because, quite frankly, you’re about to wade through a load of crap.

Following a Vatican sponsored two-week long meeting to discuss the plight of Christians in the Middle East, Lebanon-born archbishop of Boston, Massachusetts, Cyril Salim Bustros, ended the meeting with this statement, “The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of the Palestinians, to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands . . . We Christians cannot speak of the ‘promised land’ as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people. This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people – all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.”

If that weren’t enough, get out your shovel, because its about to get deeper. The following is taken from the Mideast Synod’s Report, called the "relatio post disceptationem" (report after the discussion). Note the sparse comments regarding Jews and Judaism verses the flowering prose regarding Muslims and Islam. In the document a mere 2 paragraphs sum up the relationship the Vatican has with Judaism, while 10 long paragraphs are written regarding Islam. Below are quotes from the Vatican's document:

“While condemning the violence whatever its origin and calling for a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we express our solidarity with the Palestinian people . . .”

Yet, then they quickly make the hypocritical point for Churches in the West not to take sides:
“The Churches in the West are asked not take the side of one party, forgetting the point of view and the conditions of the other.”

“The Declaration Nostra aetate of the Second Vatican Council specifically treats the relations between the Church and the non-Christian religions. Judaism has a special place in this document.” Kind of like Judaism had a special place during the inquisition?

“Initiatives for dialogue take place at the level of the Holy See and the local Churches. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict affects relations between Christians and Jews. Repeatedly, the Holy See has clearly expressed its position, appealing for both peoples to be able to live in peace, each in its own homeland, with secure and internationally recognised borders." Each in its own homeland? Okay, Vatican, surely you know history. The Palestinians have a homeland with borders. It's called Jordan.

“Judaism has a special place in this document.” Let your hearts be warmed, Jews, by that special place.

“Our Churches reject anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism.” Pause to laugh and regain composure.

“The reading of the Old Testament and a greater appreciation for Jewish traditions assist in better understanding the Jewish religion.” Thank you Archbishop Bustros for being the shining example of how reading the Old Testament leads to a better understanding of Judaism. Guess you’ve been reading an edited version of the Bible, huh? Perhaps someone could loan you a copy with Jeremiah 31:34,35 in it.

Now for the Church's totally unbiased, warm, fuzzy feelings towards the Muslims.
“The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men.”

“There are many reasons for fostering relations between Christians and Muslims: all are fellow citizens, all share the same language and the same culture, not to mention the same joys and sufferings.”

“Our closeness to Muslims is strengthened by 14 centuries of living together, in enduring difficult moments as well as many positive ones.”

“Hence the essential importance of our educational institutions, which are open to all, effectively providing an education in friendship, justice and peace. The ecclesial movements also make a very valid contribution in this area. The Loving God loves Muslims.”

“We have the duty to educate our faithful for interreligious dialogue and in the acceptance of religious diversity, in respect and in mutual esteem. The prejudices inherited from the history of conflicts and controversies, on both sides, must be carefully faced, clarified and corrected.” Thanks, again, Archbishop Bustros for your shining example of facing, clarifying, and correcting prejudices.

“Dialogue is beneficial in the service of peace, in favor of life and against violence. Dialogue is the path of nonviolence. Love is more necessary and effective than discussion. We must not argue with Muslims but love them, hoping to elicit reciprocity from their hearts. It is necessary to avoid any provocative, offensive, humiliating action and any anti-Islamic attitude.” That’s because they save all the provocative, offensive, humiliating action for the Jews.

“To be authentic, dialogue must take place in truth. Dialogue is a testimony in truth and love. It is necessary to speak frankly about the truth, the problems and the difficulties, in a respectful and charitable way.” Archbishop Bustros, you’re battin’ a thousand!

“We all have to work together for the promotion of justice, peace, freedom, human rights, the environment and the values of life and the family. Socio-political problems are to be addressed, not as rights to be demanded for Christians, but as universal rights that Christians and Muslims defend together for the good of all.” Translation, “We all have to work together for the rights of the Palestinians.”

“It is necessary to eliminate prejudicial statements against others from school textbooks, and all that is offensive or misrepresents others. We shall try rather to understand the point of view of the other, while respecting different beliefs and practices. We shall emphasize what we have in common, in particular on the spiritual and moral level.” Who needs prejudicial statements in school textbooks when you’ve got Archbishop Bustros as a spokesman?

“Whether we are Muslims or Christians, we must pursue a common path together. Although we differ in our understanding of man, of his rights and freedoms, we can together find a clear, definite foundation for joint action, for the good of our societies and our countries.” Ahem, again this pertains to Palestinians only, as the Church clearly stated, like children on a playground, that they are on the Palestinians’ side.

Well, there you have it, my friends, loadis excrementum straight from the Catholic Church’s mouth . . . or arse. Take your pick as both ends are spewing the same thing.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Change That Radio Dial

(Adapted from the teachings of Rabbi Richman)

Want to know why the world is in such disarray? Look at the Temple Mount.

Last week’s parsha included the Akeidah, the binding of Isaac. Most of you probably know that the Akeidah happened on what's now known as the Temple Mount. Avraham had a different name for it, though. After Hashem intervened and provided Avraham a ram for slaughter, the narrative says, “And Avraham called the name of that site ‘Hashem Yireh,’ as it is said this day, on the mountain Hashem will be seen,” Bereishis/Genesis 22:14.

Yerushalayim, or Jerusalem is a combination of two words. Shem first named the place Shalem, meaning “complete or perfect.” And then Abraham named the place Yireh, meaning “fear of Heaven/G-d.” G-d acquiesced, as it were, to both men and the place became known as Yerushalayim, which means “perfect or complete fear of Heaven/G-d.”

Note that Bereishis 22:14 says, “as it is said this day” leading the reader to understand that even to this day, the place that the perfect fear of Hashem will be seen is the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount is literally the broadcasting station of where the energy and concept of the perfect fear of Hashem is emitted to the world. One look at the Temple Mount today reveals why the broadcast of that concept is being severally distorted.

“The Temple Mount is in our hands! I repeat, the Temple Mount is in our hands!” That was General Rabbi Shlomo Goren’s, ecstatic reaction to the liberation of the Temple Mount in 1967. Sadly though, we know of Moshe Dayon’s reaction too. Dayan immediately ceded administrative control of the Temple Mount to the Arabs.

The dial to the "radio broadcast” emitting from the Temple Mount was so close to being changed in 1967. Yet, the violent laden religion of Islam continues to distort the energy coming from the gateway of Heaven. May Hashem, in His great mercy, afford the Jews the courage, boldness, and wisdom to take back their rightful role as spiritual administrators of the Temple Mount.

The last few parshas plainly state who Hashem gave the land of Israel to. Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are the very heart of the land and belong to the Jews. Will this be the year that Israel’s leaders and citizens care more about what Hashem has to say about the Temple Mount rather than what world leaders have to say about it? Will this be the year that Israel’s leaders and citizens stop prostrating themselves before the U.N., the U.S. and the Muslims and instead prostrate themselves before Hashem?

The world is in desperate need of being shown the perfect fear of Hashem. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, Israel. You have an amazing heritage. It’s time you started acting like it. It's time to take back the site "Hashem Yireh." G-d gave it to you. Don't you want it?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lightening Rod to Heaven

Torah-based knowledge teaches, “G-d is not placed within the world but rather the world is within Him.” Yet at the same time we are taught, “The purpose of creation is to provide a dwelling place for G-d.” So which is it?

These two statements mirror Solomon who went to great lengths to build a dwelling place for Hashem, yet asked, “Would G-d truly dwell on earth? Behold, the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, and surely not this Temple that I have built!” I Kings 8:27.

It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around the reality that the entire universe exists within G-d. Perhaps that is the point of having a Temple. G-d truly is outside any realm that man can fathom. So how kind, how practical, how utterly wonderful that He gave man instructions to build place on earth where He graciously comes down to our level and draws us up to Him.

During Elul, we are reminded that the King dwells in the field. It is a time to remember that the holy, magnificent, unfathomable, literally larger-than-life King wants to have a one-on-one intimate relationship with us. Yet, the real key, the secret to the “King is in the field teaching,” is that we are supposed to think of our relationship with Hashem like that all of the time. But hey, we are only human, and here we are in Chesvan and maybe we've forgotten. We've forgetten to cultivate intimacy with Hashem. What’s even sadder is the fact that so many people in the world, don’t just forget, they don’t even know that 1.) the G-d of Israel is the One true G-d, and 2.) they can have a vibrant, real, life-changing relationship with Him.

This is why G-d knew we would need a Temple. Did you get that? WE NEED a Temple. It’s not just that G-d wants one, He knows that we need one. Remember Jacob’s dream about the ladder that reached heaven? He had that dream while sleeping upon the Temple Mount. When he awoke he said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of G-d, and this is the gate of heaven.” Jacob was given a visual of the place where heaven meets earth; where spiritual meets physical.

The Temple was and will be the #1 spot on earth where man can connect to G-d. Don’t misunderstand. Man can connect to G-d anywhere. Study of Torah, prayer, meditation, worship, kind deeds; all of these are ways to connect to Him. Each individual has the potential to create a dwelling place for G-d. But as Jacob said, the House of G-d is a gateway like no other where man can reach up and draw heaven down to earth. It is the lightening rod to heaven.

The impact of G-d's Presence being drawn into the Temple will, of course, change everything, “My dwelling place will be among them; I will be a G-d to them and they will be a people to Me. Then the nations will know that I am Hashem Who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuarly will be among them forever,” Ezekiel 37:27. The world is desperate to know Hashem. The world is desperate for the Temple.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What Time is It?

It’s time. Time to ascend in consciousnesses towards first, thinking about rebuilding the Temple, and then, actually doing it. And how apropos that we begin this ascension in Chesvan. To sum up the energy of the month of Chesvan in southern vernacular, “There’s thinkers and there’s doers.” Chesvan is about doing. But most deeds begin with a thought. When is the last time you thought about rebuilding the Temple?

How often do you think about and long for the Temple to be rebuilt: a) never b) occasionally c) fairly often d) often e) constantly? I'd venture to say, that most of us are in the a, b, c, or d category. And if that's the case, then we all need to increase our Temple consciousness, i.e. learning about, thinking about, and longing for the Temple. It's time for an invasion in our hearts and minds. We need to be invaded to our very core by the fact that G-d wants a Temple built on earth to house His Presence.

However, I must issue a warning. If we dare open our hearts and minds to the idea that G-d really expects a Temple to be built for Him, a nagging feeling is going to pursue us and find us. A nagging feeling that something is missing. And that “something is missing” feeling is going to create a void in our hearts and minds. Our daily lives and routines will be interrupted when we finally understand how much the world is missing because the Temple is missing. And that’s when we will pursue, I mean really pursue, the remedy for our hearts and minds; the remedy for this world. That is when we will do whatever it takes to rebuild the Temple. Immediately.