Wednesday, December 21, 2011

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 aired a show called CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute. I enjoy 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.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Letter to My Rabbi

Dear Rabbi,

I have turned to you during times of illnesses; my own, my children’s, and my father’s. I have turned to you during times of stress, looking for a word of comfort, direction, or encouragement. How many times you have been there for me as an anchor, a rock, a friend. And now during your nation’s time of illness you turn to me. Asking only one thing. For an original thought. That’s all.

You diminish yourself, and overestimate me. You, one of the greatest thinker’s of our time, who eats, breathes, lives Torah consciousness. That you would turn to me for an original thought shows the depth of your bereavement.

Gilad is home. We are not heartless; you and I. Neither are the minority of others who are not rejoicing at the events. How he got home leaves us a bit dumbfounded. If it were Israel’s first time to sell her soul to the devil . . . but she has been down this road before. Damn. Damn for wanting to appease everyone but the One and Only. Damn for thinking she can continue to feed the crocodile and not get eaten herself. Damn for not living up to whom she is.

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t have an original thought. I know I’m not the only one wanting to pull my hair out if I hear one more time how the Shilat “deal” proves just how much Israel values life. Fuzzy math. That’s what it is. One Jewish soul = a thousand terrorists’ souls. Please. If the fallacy of that so-called logic needs to be explained to a person, then frankly I don’t know if he or she would ever really get it. Imagine my reaction if someone told me, “Ah, your daughter is so beautiful. As beautiful as 1000 monsters.” Like I said, fuzzy math. The number one can never equal negative one, much less negative 1027.

Remember the time you told me not to compare apples to oranges when it came to Dylan and U2? That’s what I thought of this morning. The Shalit "deal" is “apples to oranges” times infinity. It is east never meeting west. How can Israel save a soldier at the price of endangering the public? The “deal” goes against the very reason to have soldiers. Soldiers exist for one reason. To protect a country’s populace. The illogical premise of this “deal” is beyond comprehension.

I know these thoughts and more swirl around your head until it hurts. I’ve hoped this week I could carry some of your pain. You are supposed to be sittin’ pretty in the Sukkah, the primordial catbird seat. But if I’ve felt sick since hearing of the “deal,” I can’t imagine how you have felt. You’re joy has been interrupted. (Or in a deeper sense, your joy has been clarified. If joy is prophecy, ie truth, the joy must hurt sometimes, I suppose.)

Nevertheless, I wish your joy had been interrupted for a different reason. I wish you had gotten a phone call, a page, whatever form it will come in someday, instructing you to leave the Sukkah to come sit in another seat. A seat located in the Chamber of Hewn Stone. I keep thinking how this “deal” would have never happened under the watch of the Sanhedrin.

Dear Rabbi, will the days of the Sanhedrin ever come? The days of Israel living with the Torah again? Of course it will, but at what price? I read the words of another rabbi not long ago. He spoke lovingly, but truthfully about Israel. He spoke of how she had descended to the lowest spiritual depths possible. I didn’t want to believe his words. After the Shalit “deal” I fear he was right. And that makes me sad beyond measure.

You once told me that a person has to think, act, and pray like he or she is the only “gardener” in the world. Like he or she is the only one that can tend to things and get the world back to an Eden-like-state. This way of thinking is not born out of pride, but out of knowing that individual actions are so important. My gardening has temporarily failed.

I have prayed like a “gardener” for Israel. Praying as if my prayers could save her. I’ve prayed that Israel would return to Hashem. That more Jews would connect to Him than in any other time in history. I’ve prayed that this connection would happen without Israel having to go through heartache and tragedy. Oh, how I’ve wanted her to choose that road. Not just for her sake, but selfishly for the world’s sake too. These prayers intensified during the High Holy Days. I had such high hopes.

And then this happened.

But you know what? If Israel isn’t wiped off the map today, then all of my high hopes will return. You’ve also taught me to thank Hashem every morning for returning my soul to me. To thank Him for having enough faith in me to give me another day of living; for giving me another day to get it right. If the sun comes up over Israel tomorrow, then we’ll know He still has faith in her to get it right.

I’ll be adding to my “gardener” prayers though. The pain you have felt over your people while sitting in the Sukkah . . . may you be allotted joy, measure-for-measure and then some, in return, while sitting in the Chamber of Hewn Stone soon and in our time. May you have the joy of watching your people seek Hashem with all of their might. Sorrow over your people has carved canyons in your soul. May you live to experience joy seep into those depths and overspill torrentially.

Love & blessings to you and yours from afar, yet ever so close,

Monday, September 26, 2011

Only a Rock

As a whole, we humans are easily desensitized. We log onto the internet or turn on the TV and daily, if not hourly, we are given a menu of tragic stories to choose from. Horrific images keep our attention. That is, until the next story comes along. Or we hear the same story for so long, the seriousness of the story is lost on us. Example: Arabs throwing rocks. No big deal, right?

How often have we heard or seen on the news that Arabs are throwing rocks? I did a word search on the web. “Arabs throw rocks” brought up 11,000,000 results. Arabs in Israel have been throwing a lot of rocks for a lot of years. Which unfortunately gives us, the outside world, a ho-hum attitude whenever we hear of such an event. Arabs throw rocks; crickets chirp around the world. A Kardashian breaks a fingernail; the world is inundated with coverage of the details.

To undo the desensitization, imagine these scenerios with me. G-d forbid you ever really experience anything like them.

You are a woman dressed up in your finery. You buckle your toddler in her car seat. You get behind the wheel and breath a little sigh of relief. You’re on time. You’ll get to your friend’s wedding with time to spare. That is until you hear a crash. You slam on the breaks. Your heart stops. You can’t turn fast enough to check on your baby girl. And your worst fear has just been realized. Blood covers your baby’s face. Broken glass covers the rest of her. The rock was thrown hard enough. Fast enough. Accurately enough, to hit your baby in the face. You and your baby experience first-hand what a rock can do. The rest of the world will think it was only a rock. You know the rock was intended to be a deadly weapon.

Or G-d forbid, imagine this. You are a young father. While your wife works her shift as a nurse, you share in the wonderful duties of taking care of your one-year old son. Family members describe you as a "quite and special man." That’s easy to see when you are with your son. You gently buckle him in his car seat. Perhaps you even say, “We’re about to see Mommy,” as you start on your way to pick her up. It happened so fast, you probably didn’t see it coming. The rock crashes through the front windshield and hits you in the head. Hopefully, your death happened instantly so you wouldn't have time to think, even for a split second, what was going to happen to your son as the car flipped. He would die too. The first “responders” to arrive on the scene stole your gun and your wallet. Animals arriving upon the carnage they just created. With rocks. The rest of the world will think, it was only a rock. It was a deadly weapon.

May G-d bring a complete recovery from Heaven for Dorit Tehallel bat Shlomit.

May G-d bring comfort to the family and avenge the blood of Asher Palmer and young Yehonatan.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Antidote to the U.N.

Let me say this as delicately as possible. I hate the United Nations. With a passion. My hatred stems from the fact that I'm an ardent supporter of Israel. And if you know anything about the U.N.'s bias against Israel, then my hatred hardly needs to be explained.

But, just in case you're not in the know about the U.N., here are a few examples of the asinine dealings of the U.N., not just regarding Israel, but in its non-dealings and blind eyes to real atrocities being committed around the world. And too often, the atrocities are committed by the U.N. itself:

Israel is the only country in the world that is not eligible to sit on the Security Council, the principal policymaking body of the U.N.

The U.N. has repeatedly held "Emergency Special Sessions" focusing solely on Israel. Originally conceived in 1950 for emergencies like the Korean War, Emergency Special Sessions over the past 15 years have focused only on Israel. Wars. Genocide. Suicide bombers. Yawn. No emergency. Yet, Emergency Special Sessions have been held over Jewish construction in Jerusalem.

A one-time Nazi, Austrian Kurt Waldheim served as the UN Secretary General.

Sierra Leone and Sudan, both of which have records of extreme human rights abuses, including slavery and the forced use of children as soldiers, were asked to sit on the U.N. Commission for Human Rights. Did you pause to really get that? Children. Soldiers. Countries where kids are "recruited" and guns are shoved in their hands were the replacements for the United States who was kicked off the U.N. Commission for Human Rights in May 2001. By the way, China and Saudi Arabia also sit on the Commission for Human Rights. Have I already used the word "asinine?"

During the 61st Session of the General Assembly (2006-2007), 22 anti-Israel resolutions were adopted, yet not a single resolution on Sudan's genocide in Darfur was adopted.

Iran was elected to the U.N.'s commission on women's rights. Nuff said.

United Nations peacekeepers in Ivory Coast enticed underage girls to exchange sex for food, according to a United States Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks. United Nations spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux confirmed the allegation following an investigation. And no it was not an isolated case. Sexual misconduct by U.N. troops has been reported in a number of countries including Congo, Cambodia and Haiti. One of the most horrific instances of sexual misconduct involved UN peacekeepers, the UN- hired military contractor (DynCorp), and the local police in Sarajevo where underage female sex slaves were trafficked into Sarajevo from Eastern European countries and Russa. Inhumane treatment of the girls included routine torture, gang-rape, semi-starvation, overwork, and primitive living and “working” conditions.

Goldstone Report. Asinine times infinity.

Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Ahmadineja publicly called for Israel's destruction, meaning they wanted all Jews dead; both leaders were invited to be guest speakers at the U.N. Jews wake up in the morning and breathe; all hell breaks loose at the U.N.

And now, the U.N. will hold the hands of Abbas and the Palestinians in their bid for "statehood" within the borders of Israel.

Like I said, I hate the U.N. It is the epitome of uselessness. Of hypocrisy. Of evil dressed-up in suits.

But there is good news. Very good news. I don't know if you've heard, but a replacement council is coming. A council that will put the U.N. to shame. A council that will teach the world what truth and justice really is.

Good bye U.N. Hello Sanhedrin.

Watch this video to get a sneak-peek of what is coming to the world soon. And before you call me crazy, read Isaiah 2. Not exactly how you thought things were going to happen? Things seldom happen the way we think they will happen. And in that vain maybe the posted video isn't exactly how events will work out. But I happen to think it's the closest modern-day view of what the Prophet Isaiah foresaw in chapter 2. "For from Zion will the Torah come forth," is a reference to the Sanhedrin.

Jews, do you really think Israel can solve it's problems without returning to the Torah? Christians, do you really think you can reinterpret the word "Torah" to "Law" in the writings of the Prophets and make the Torah go away? Not a chance; on both accounts.

"It will happen in the end of days: The mountain of the Temple of the God of Israel will be firmly established and exalted, and all the nations will stream to it. Many people will go and say, 'Come, let us go to the Mountain of the God of Israel and to His Temple, and He will teach us His ways and we will walk in His paths.' For from Zion will the Torah come forth and the word of God from Jerusalem. He will judge among the nations, and will settle the arguments of many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift sword against nation and they will no longer study warfare," Isaiah 2:1-4.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Elul Effect

I'm a poet at heart. So I'm warning you up front that Elul tends to bring out the poet in me. Quite frankly, I'm still in that "romantic stage" with Elul. I love Elul. Why? Simple put, Elul helped save my life.

I had been slowly dying. We all have things that break us. Leaving my childhood and most-of-my-adult religion broke me. I discovered Torah. And obviously the truth of Torah undid a lot of my previous beliefs. That was a very good thing, to say the least! But it was the reaction of Bible-belt-born-and-bred family and friends that broke me. No matter how tough you think you are, being ostracized by family and life-long friends and being told, "You're going to hell and dragging your children with you," doesn't make for the most pleasant of days.

So, as I said, I found Torah. But in the process, I lost a lot of myself. I was born under the sign of Cancer. Any other crabs out there? We crabs tend to have a hard shell even on our good days. And we love being alone. On bad days? We have to be alone. I pulled away from the world, but mainly, I pulled away from who I was. But low and behold, I was about to be pulled into the vortex of Elul.

Who knew that Elul is the supremo time to "relocate ourselves." A time, "To get back into the playing field." I certainly didn't know that. But I was about to find out. It all started on Rosh Chodesh Elul.

I'd been skirting a few little issues like relationships, G-d, responsibilities, talents, self. So I decide on a "whim" to celebrate a custom I had recently discovered called Rosh Chodesh. Little did I know at the time that the nail-thin light of the new moon was ushering in Elul. Below is what I journaled regarding what happened to me on that Rosh Chodesh.

"Elul. It was a shock of love. After skirting issues and hardening myself to emotions, it actually felt good the way He jerked my arm and pulled me in. Not just in; all the way in. Sit down, it's time to talk kind of in. The heart-to-heart began gently and ended up with my insides on the table. Spilled guts. Not pretty, but necessary to get on to potential. Which is nice to be reminded you have before you are hugged 'til you can barely breath, kissed on the head, and then told, "Either get in the game and play hard or go home."

"I was awed at the moment. Awed of how something so good could happen in the blink of an eye, yet knowing the blink was the zillionth thread being pulled into place in the tapestry of my life. Awed that there are such pristine places for us to return to. Awed of the gift of being conscious at birth."

Yep. That's why I love Elul.

Shortly after this experience I began to hear teachings on Elul. "Ohhh, no wonder that happened to me," I said to myself. It was the perfect time to be reborn, to be awakened, to be shaken out of my slumber. No wonder Rabbi Richman refers to Elul as "the emergency room of life" and as the time of "anti-somnambulism."

So why did I, a very private person, decide to share such a personal experience? Because if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. Imagine, Hashem took the time to meet a non-Jew in the field. Took the time to resuscitate me. Took the time to save me from myself. Took the time to remind me that I have potential and that it's not meant to be wasted anymore. If He would do all of that for me, imagine what can happen to a Jewish heart and soul during Elul.

It is said of the Jewish soul that all it takes is the smallest of sparks to get a flame burning in him or her that can light the entire world. On the one hand, it is so easy for a Jew to be drawn back to Hashem and to be drawn back to who they were really meant to be. On the other hand, since the Jews are meant to be The Light to the world, there is a bit of a cosmic fight trying to prevent that from happening.

It's a big prayer. A bold prayer. But I pray that more than any other time in history more Jews will be drawn back to Hashem and that this will occur without them having to go through hardship and/or tragedy. Elul is the perfect time for this prayer to be answered. The King is in the field so ready to make contact; so ready to reintroduce all of us to who we are. He is waiting for all of us. But especially for the Jews. The King needs His emissaries to come back to Him. Come back to Him for reinforcements, for an armor of truth and love, for a bold reminder of all of your potential. Then go back out to help save the world.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Weighing In On the Glenn Beck Debate

Glenn Beck is a Christian. Glenn Beck supports Israel. Is Glenn Beck good for the Jews? Is Glenn Beck bad for the Jews? The debate has been ongoing since Beck’s “Restoring Courage” rally took place in Jerusalem last week.

So was Beck’s rally good or bad for the Jews? I’ve read caustic words by some Jews about the immense threat Beck is to the souls of Jews. And part of me thinks, “Geez, beggars can’t be choosers. Israel is sorely in need of people who support her. So let Beck do his thing!”

The other side of me pauses to ponder. Beck is a huge fan of the Jews . . . as he sees them. Would he remain a fan, an avid supporter of the Jews, if he saw them for who they really are?

In the book, “Once Upon a Shtetl,” Chaim Shapiro sites a story about the man who was assigned to be Adolf Eichmann’s chaplain. Shapiro states, “When the State of Israel captured Eichmann, a leading Nazi murderer, the Israeli government assigned the Reverend William Hall, a Canadian missionary living in Jerusalem, to serve as his chaplain. Hall later told the press that had this murderer of Jewish men, women, and children accepted his “Savior” before he was executed, he would have immediately entered the gates of paradise. Hall was then asked, ‘And what of the souls of his six million Jewish victims?’ Hall replied that they would certainly not have entered paradise, for they had not accepted the Church’s ‘salvation.’”

During Beck’s pre-rally event held for 3,000 mostly American-Christians at the Roman amphitheater in Caesarea, Beck told the audience to, “ . . .not only love Israel, but love the Jewish people as they are."

What does he mean “as they are.” Does he see them in the same boat as Reverend William Hall did? It seems obvious that Beck sees the Jews as G-d’s chosen people. But if Beck is like the majority of Christians, then he also believes that the Jews are blind. Blind to G-d’s ultimate plan of “salvation.” Hence, loving a Jew “as they are” would translate in most Christians’ minds as “loving the Jews despite the fact that they are blind and condemned to hell unless they accept Jesus as their Savior.”

I think Beck is a good cheerleader. It’s obvious that he rallied support for Israel and the Jews. But frankly, Israel and the entire world are past the point of needing emotional arousal and boosts of enthusiasm from a spiritual pep-rally. Israel needs one message and one message only. Return to Hashem and to His Torah.

Moses’ parting words to the Jews made it pretty clear what would happen if the Jews lived their lives according to G-d’s directions in the Torah. They would live prosperously and peacefully in the land of Israel. And when the Jews do that, prosperity and peace will spill over into the rest of the world.

Perhaps one small hitch in the Torah’s instructions to the Jews, that might bother Beck and other Christians, is what will eventually happen in the land of Israel. There won’t be any places of idolatry left. Meaning, ahem, dare I say it? There won’t be any churches left standing in Israel. That being the case, will Beck, along with other Christians, still be a big fan and avid supporter of the Jews? I sincerely hope so.

I hope that Beck and millions of other Christians will merit taking part in the prophecy foreseen by Zechariah so long ago. “Thus said Hashem, Master of Legions: In those days it will happen that ten men, of all the different languages of the nations, will take hold, they will take hold of the corner of the garment of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that G-d is with you!”

I have heard Christians try to explain away this verse in various ways. I even heard a well-known Christian TV personality say that Zechariah didn’t have a word for “Christian” yet, so that’s why he went ahead and used the word “Jew.” Sigh. Obviously, it is far beyond the comprehension of most Christians to think or believe that the entire world will eventually look to the Jews to find out Who G-d really is.

Perhaps Beck is already to the point of seeing the Jews as the standard-bearers of Who G-d is and I have misunderstood what he meant by “loving the Jews as they are.” But I’m afraid he represents what most Christians believe about the Jews. In their minds they condescendingly pat the Jews on the head and think to themselves how sad it is that G-d’s chosen people are still so blind. Yet, according to Zechariah, the pat will soon turn into a grasp. A grasp for the knowledge that the Jews have carried with them for thousands of years. That Hashem is the only G-d and that Torah is the only “doctrine” of truth that will be taught to the entire world from Jerusalem.

If any courage needs to be restored, it is the courage for Christians to accept the words of Moses, Zechariah, and the other Prophets of Israel. And among the Jews, courage needs to be restored to implement the instructions left to them from Moses and the other Prophets of Israel. G-d's words to Joshua still ring true today. Beck got the first part of the message right. But the second part is the most important: "Be very strong and courageous, to observe, to do, according to the entire Torah that Moses my servant commanded you; do not deviate from it to the right or to the left, in order that you may succeed wherever you will go."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Renegade Hearts

The first time I realized it was when my brother-in-law died tragically and unexpectedly a few days before his daughter was born. I realized that I would never be 100% happy again. How could I be, knowing my brother-in-law’s wife, son, and daughter would always bear the pain of his death? I knew even in the happiest moments of my life, a corner of my heart would be sad for what was now so sorely missing in the world.

That was many years ago. Since then I have sadly, as we all have, been privy to other tragic moments in life. Whether watching family or friends go through painful situations or by becoming more aware as an adult of how heavy laden the world is with tragedy, I often wonder how the world keeps going. That the world doesn’t simply implode due to the weight of sorrow it bears is surprising to me. Especially since the world has endured the heaviest weight of sorrow for almost 2000 years.

I didn’t realize it was missing. The Temple that is. Well, I take that back. I knew that the Temple was missing. What I didn’t realize for so long was that it mattered that the Temple was missing. But a renegade rabbi I was privileged to meet changed that.

The rabbi is a renegade because he has broken away from the lamenting pack. Not that the lamenting pack shouldn't be admired. As Napoleon once said, after hearing the sounds of Jews mourning and then being told what they mourned for was lost 1700 years ago, “Certainly a people which has mourned the loss of their Temple for so long, will merit to see it rebuilt!"

Let’s just say that the renegade rabbi isn’t nearly as impressed as Napoleon was with the mourning anymore. Echoing the words of a prophet, the rabbi beckons those who mourn to “Awaken, awaken! Don your strength! Arise and shine for your light has arrived!” The rabbi’s renegade logic makes sense. At least it does to me. Logic says that if the Jews really miss the Temple that much, they would get up from their mourning and build another one. Today.

But I jumped ahead in my story. As aforementioned, before I realized that the Temple needed to be rebuilt, I first had to realize that it mattered that it was missing. Maybe I’m a simpleton. Perhaps I’m too na├»ve. But after seeing in Scriptures that Hashem picked one spot on earth, which was the Temple, to house more of His Presence than any other place, it became quite clear that it was a pretty big deal that the Temple wasn’t here anymore. No Temple, no Divine Presence.

I’m not so simple as to not realize, that of course, Hashem’s Presence is in the world. His Presence is all around us. Creation magnifies His Presence. I’m a vessel of His Presence. Every person has the potential to house His Presence. But it’s not enough.

What this world needs is such a high dose of His Presence that mankind will literally stop everything. We will stop our stupefied mode of existence. We will stop living merely by our physical senses and begin living like who and what we really are; soul and spirit. We will be like blind men who suddenly see. We will be like crazed men who are suddenly sane. We will be like the people we were always meant to be, before. Before we got caught up in the myth of thinking we were really living without His Presence living with us. That’s the weight my heart carries now. It misses what it now knows is missing.

At a convention recently I heard a speaker comment on the “fullness” of our world. “We already have everything we need. Yet technology keeps exploding with advancements. So the trick, for example with the advent of the iPad, was to get people to miss what they didn't know they were missing. To get them to need what they didn't even know they needed yet.”

That is the ultimate “trick” with the Temple. To get people to miss what they don’t know they are missing. To get them to need what they don’t even know they need. Once that happens, three weeks will never be enough to mourn. A corner of their hearts will mourn every second of every day. And then they will realize that mourning will never be enough. They will have to build.

May we merit to be living in the days when every Jew’s heart will be “tricked” into becoming a renegade heart. A renegade heart that breaks away from the pack that only wants to mourn. A renegade heart that arises and dons strength. Strength enough to pick up the tools to build the House that will change the world.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Audacity of Idiocy

After hearing Obama’s Middle East speech yesterday, I read a comment that one of my Jewish friend’s posted. She said, “This is one of the worst days of my life. I feel sick.” Was she just being dramatic? Or were her strong feelings justified?

If you didn’t hear Obama’s speech, here it is in a nutshell: Blah, blah, blah, pre-1967 borders blah, blah, blah.

Those three words are what left my friend and so many others who love the Jews living in Israel, disgusted, angry, and feeling sick. Because pre-1967 borders can mean only one thing to Israel. Death.

Rewinding to pre-1967 borders would leave Israel 9 miles wide in one area. Did that register? Nine. Miles. Wide. Tell me this. Would you live in a town less than 10 miles away from a mass of people who had publically declared that they want to kill you and your children? (Psst, and they didn’t make that declaration just once and just recently. Let’s just call that declaration of hate and death a pre-1967 declaration.)

Rewinding to pre-1967 borders would leave Israel’s airport 3 miles away from a hotbed of Hamas devotees. (Psst, Hamas is a terrorist organization.) Tell me this. Would you take off from an airport less than 3 miles away from a mass of people who had publically declared that they want to kill you and your children and who had an arsenal of surface-to-air missiles?

Rewinding to pre-1967 borders would take away Israel’s strategic protective mountain ranges. U.S. 
Lieut. General Thomas Kelly, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of
Staff during the Gulf War, once pointed out that Israel would be virtually
indefensible without those mountainous areas. He said, “I look out from those
heights and look onto the West Bank and say to myself, ‘If I’m the chief of
staff of the Israel Defense Forces, I cannot defend this land without that
terrain.'” It doesn’t take a Liet. General to know that.

Rewinding to pre-1967 borders could endanger Israel’s water supply. A significant portion
of Israel’s water originates in Judea-Samaria. A retreat to the 1967
borders would leave these crucial water sources under Arab control. Tell me this. Would you drink or let your children drink water from an area controlled by people who had publically declared that they want to kill you and your children?

Rewinding to pre-1967 borders would divide Jerusalem. The Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the Mount of Olives cemetery would all be turned over to the Arabs. Talk about a psychological and spiritual death. Have you seen the way Arabs treat Jewish holy sites? Have you seen what they did to Joseph’s tomb? Do you know that Arabs have a little national pastime of murdereing Jews at Jewish holy sites? Have you seen the footage of Palestinians rampaging the Temple Mount last week? It was a swath of irreverential destruction; physically and spiritually. Tell me this. How would you feel if the synagogue or church you went to or the cemetery your family was buried in was about to be given to a group of people who had publically declared that they want to kill you and your children?

For those who truly love Israel and its people, the thought of pre-1967 borders is one of the worst scenarios imaginable for Israel. Unless . . . unless the thought of a world leader suggesting this wakes up Israel. The only thing that calms my fears for Israel and my frustrations over the stupid, arrogant, audacity of Obama is to remember that Obama is only a pawn in Hashem’s hand.

“Why do nations gather, and regimes talk in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand against Hashem and his anointed [Israel]. But He who sits in heaven will laugh, and will mock them. Then in His anger and wrath He will terrify them. For Hashem annuls the counsel of nations, He thwarts the designs of peoples,” per Psalms 2 & 33.

G-d let Obama become president. He let those words come out of his mouth yesterday. Now the question is, how will the Jews respond? Will this be the straw? Will this be the turning point of Jews waking up and turning to the G-d of Israel for advice, for direction, for protection, instead of turning to the nations. I hope so. I pray so. Because the other alternative is unimaginably heartbreaking.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Nakba Day (Translated, Blame Israel for Arab Leaders Mistakes Day)

After speaking to an audience about the Jews being G-d’s chosen people (yes, people do need to be reminded of that little oft-dismissed fact), I was approached by an elderly Arab lady. “My relatives were kicked out of their land by the Jews,” she bluntly stated. “Oh really?” I started to say as my feathers were ruffled. But I admit that her age caused me to soften my heart and my response towards her. Even though, on the inside I thought, “You mean the Jews who were busy defending themselves against the multiple Arab countries who attacked them immediately after Israel’s statehood was declared?”

Yeah, those Jews. Those Jews became not only a surprise to the Arab’s plan of annihilation, but an obstacle to the plan. The Arabs had a tiny problem with the U.N. declaration of a Jewish homeland; they didn’t want any Jews in it. So they devised a battle plan. Kick the Jews out or better yet kill them all. The Arabs announced this plan. They told all the Arabs living in Israel to get the heck out of dodge. “There’s a battle a comin',” they warned, “so get out or risk being in the crossfire.” (Keep in mind this is a loose translation. Kinda like the Arab's loose translation of history.) “But no worries. The Jews are nothing. We will quickly destroy them and then, viola,’ you can return home and go on as if nothing happened, except for the killing of thousands of Jews.” That was the Arab plan. Step 1: leave for a while. Step 2: we’ll do a little “housecleaning” while you’re gone. Step: 3: come back to a Judenfrei homeland.

Well, you know the rest of the story. The Jews put a little hitch in the Arab plan. Through the might of Hashem, the Jews stood their ground against the Arab Goliath. So the Arabs retreated and abandoned their plans (at least until they could regroup and reload). But guess what else the Arabs abandoned? The thousands of Arabs they had instructed to leave. These so-called refugees received absolutely zero, zilch, notta, from the Arab countries who caused their flight in the first place. Keep that little factoid in mind every time you hear about the "Palestinian" refugees who have been sat squarely on Israel's lap of responsibility. Egypt. Syria. Iraq. Lebanon. Libya. None of these countries would allow the refugees into their countries. The only country who did was Jordan.

The Arab countries abandoned their own people. And to cover their own great mistake, they concocted the greatest story of our time: the Great Catastrophe, Nakba Day, ie blame Israel for the mess we created and refused to clean up. Hence, the faux-Palestinian myth was created. Granted, it took a little time to get the myth off the ground. But now the myth circles like a high-tech satellite beaming its dogma into millions of gullible minds. Let me remind you, though, who first resisted the lie. Arab voices from the past, who weren’t quite sure yet what they had to gain from the lie. It didn’t take long though, for most Arab leaders to realize that the lie would help lead to their initial goal. The destruction of Israel. But at first they said:

"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not," Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian.

"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria," Saudi Arabia Representative at the United Nations, 1956.

"There are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. We are all part of one nation. It is only for political reasons that we carefully underline our Palestinian identity . . . yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel," Zuhair Muhsin, military commander of the PLO and member of the PLO Executive Council.

"You do not represent Palestine as much as we do. Never forget this one point: There is no such thing as a Palestinian people, there is no Palestinian entity, there is only Syria. You are an integral part of the Syrian people, Palestine is an integral part of Syria. Therefore it is we, the Syrian authorities, who are the true representatives of the Palestinian people," Syrian dictator Hafez Assad to the PLO leader Yassir Arafat.

"We are the government of Palestine, the army of Palestine and the refugees of Palestine," Prime Minister of Jordan, Hazza' al-Majali, 23 August 1959.

"Palestine and Transjordan are one," King Abdullah, Arab League meeting in Cairo, 12 April 1948.

"Palestine is Jordan and Jordan is Palestine; there is one people and one land, with one history and one and the same fate," Prince Hassan, brother of King Hussein, addressing the Jordanian National Assembly, 2 February 1970.

"Jordan is not just another Arab state with regard to Palestine, but rather, Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan in terms of territory, national identity, sufferings, hopes and aspirations," Jordanian Minister of Agriculture, 24 September 1980.

"The truth is that Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan," King Hussein 1981.

But, hey, what are facts when Arabs-bent-on-destroying-Israel have a better narrative to tell? Hence millions of Arabs have blamed their woes, and in turn have directed their murderous hatred towards Israel. And once again they will commemorate the Great Lie by celebrating Nakba Day, the Great Catastrophe, on Sunday.

I forgot to tell you what I said to the elderly Arab lady. I told her I was sorry. Sorry for her family’s pain. And I still am. Though I don’t like the lies, to say the least, that the Arabs tell about Israel and how those lies have lent to death and destruction, I am still sorry for the lost Arab homes and lives because of their leaders’ choices. So in that vain, I have one thing to say to the Arab leaders. Leave Israel alone. Get out of her way. Because you know what Israel has done and will continue to do, especially when she’s not busy having to fight you? Something you have never done well. Take care of your own people. Arabs living in Israel have more freedom and live better than they do in most Arab countries. So instead of trying to destroy Israel, why don’t you finally learn from her and let the Great Catastrophe turn into the Great Lesson.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


With all the opinions circulating regarding the death of bin Laden and whether the photos of the corpse should be released, I’ve thought a lot about King David this week and how he killed Goliath. What I’ve thought about most though, is the ending of the story.

I’m always a little amused at the somewhat nonchalant way the famed Bible story ends. After David cut off Goliath’s head we’re told, “David took the head of the Philistine, and eventually brought it to Jerusalem.” What does one do with a severed head during the “eventually” time? After the killing of bin Laden, it hit me. Duh! David didn’t have the Internet, CNN, or the Jerusalem Post to spread his news. He had a severed head. It was proof that he had indeed killed Israel’s #1 enemy at the time. Apparently, David thought the people had a right to know, and probably even needed to know, that the story was true.

So is it too far of a stretch to ask, “What would David do,” today? Not just about releasing the photos of bin Laden’s corpse, but about everything. David was a righteous warrior who became a noble leader. He was also described by Samuel as, “a man after G-d’s own heart.” Imagine having a leader today who could be described that way.

King David was promised that someone from his lineage would once again rule Israel. It’s been a long time coming, to say the least. I’ve noticed a small rumbling among Jews lately. They’re publically asking, “Where is our promised leader?” “Who and when will someone like David come forth?” With the leadership in Israel, and the world at large, it’s no wonder that people are yearning for a David-like leader. Not a panderer. Not a poll-driven politician. Not an appeaser. A real leader. One like Jeremiah described as, “a righteous sprout from David; a king who will reign and prosper and will administer justice and righteousness in the land.”

What made David a man after G-d’s heart, which in turn made him a great leader, and will make his long awaited successor a great leader? In a nutshell, David loved the Torah. Psalms 119 describes how David felt about the Torah. It’s the Psalm that goes on and on, literally, about how perfect the Torah is and how praiseworthy it is to follow the Torah. David made his decisions based on Torah. It was his compass. Imagine a leader in Israel today, with global influence, basing his decisions on Torah. That would change the world. Which is good. Because the world needs changing.

With all the governmental talking heads, not to mention all the talking heads in the media, I’m beginning to believe the joke regarding what the first public words from David’s successor will be. “Shtok!” Which quite unceremoniously means to "shut-up."

Whatever the Moshiach’s first words are, the world will finally listen to the words of Torah. Though sometimes it seems like a fantasy in this day and age, the prophets of Israel foresaw a time when the entire world would depend on the laws of the Torah to guide them. Imagine that. Not only Israel but the entire world recognizing the Torah as THE bottom-line answer for everything. The world won’t look to the Pope. The world won’t look to the President of the United States. The world won’t look to the United Nations. It will look to David’s successor, who will be in the company of a few good men; i.e. the Sanhedrin.

The Moshiach and the Sanhedrin, which are the councilmen of Israel, can seem as far away in our collective consciousness as other ancient Bible stories. How we need their wisdom to invade our consciousness, though, not to mention to invade our modern-day problems.

Isaiah foresaw a time when the Sanhedrin would function once again in Israel, along with the coming Moshiach. What’s fascinating, though, is that this time, their council and judgments will be sought by the entire world. Isaiah said, “It will happen in the end of days: The mountain of the Temple of Hashem will be firmly established, and it will be exalted above the hills, and all the nations will go there. Many peoples will go and say, ‘Come let us go up to the Mountain of Hashem, to the Temple of the God of Jacob, and we will learn His ways and we will walk in His paths.’ For from Zion will the Torah come forth [from the Sanhedrin], and the word of Hashem from Jerusalem. He, [David’s successor] will judge among the nations, and will settle the arguments of many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not lift sword against nation and they will no longer study warfare.”

Put that in your pipe and smoke it UN. Deal with that world leaders who dictate Israel’s every move. Take notice Israeli government who refuses to cut the puppet strings of attachment to other nations. The times they are a-changin.’

And since that change is destined to happen, the Israeli government might as well go ahead and start getting with Hashem’s program. Reconfigure. Become a prototype of Psalm 1. Be the praiseworthy men who don’t not walk in the counsel of the wicked, and don’t sit with the session of scorners.

Can Psalm 1 be any clearer? The counsel of the nations to Israel continues to lead to appeasement, which leads to the deaths of Jews. Is that not evil? And the UN can easily be called a “session of scorners” regarding its beliefs about Israel. If only Israel would permanently vacate its seat at the UN and instead build a seat, 71 seats precisely, for those who seek the Torah day and night.

The judgments of the forthcoming Davidic leader and the Sanhedrin will be the antithesis, the antidote, the bedrock of truth that will replace the lies and misplaced judgments of the UN and world governments. Indeed, per Isaiah 2, the Temple will become the one place the entire world will look to and ask, “What would David do?” Which in essence is asking, “What would Hashem do?” For David was a man after Hashem’s heart. And his successor along with the assembly of the Sanhedrin will all be men after Hashem’s heart. They will render judgments that will bring peace and security to Israel and healing to the nations. Imagine.

And to help you imagine, the following video is a production of the Temple Institute and Shmuel Balsam, architect. They are moving beyond the world of imagination, into the world of doing exactly what David wanted to do. Build the Temple.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Team Israel

I admit it. I brainwash my kids. One look at the 9 ft Derek Jeter Fathead hanging on my son’s bedroom wall is a sure indication. It didn’t get there by itself. I love the Yankees. Hence, my offspring have been, shall we say, guided in the right direction to share the love.

The Yankees are one thing, but in the end it’s Team Israel I want my kids to root for the most. I called my little fellow fans to gather around me a few weeks ago after I read the Haftorah portion in Isaiah 43 & 44. It was brainwashing time again. But this time their wonderful, beautiful minds were getting washed with Hashem’s Word. They sat by me and we read aloud some of the passages from Isaiah. Then we talked about how G-d chose Israel to be His servant. “Remember these things, Jacob and Israel, for you are My servant: I fashioned you to be My servant; Israel, do not forget Me!” I looked my kids squarely in the eyes and told them that no matter what anyone else ever said about Israel, G-d chose Israel to be His special nation and that would never change. Never.

We then talked about how G-d will be glorified through Israel. “Hashem has redeemed Jacob, and He will glorify Himself through Israel.” Though it’s hard for us to watch Israel go through such hard times and hard to watch so much of the world turn against Israel, somehow G-d will be seen and glorified through it all. Israel is the underdog. We like rooting for underdogs. We are rooting hard.

“Thus said Hashem, King of Israel and its Redeemer, Hashem Master of Legions; I am the first and I am the last, and aside from Me there is no G-d.” Aw, yes such powerful words. Words I want to seep deep inside my kids’ minds and hearts. Team Israel only has One Coach. Repeat after me, I said to the kids, and never forget, “The G-d of Israel is the only true G-d.”

We then talked about another passage in Isaiah. The passage in chapter 62 that describes the “watchmen on the walls,” the people in the stands, who remind G-d to fulfill His promises to Israel. “You who remind Hashem, be not silent!” I like this passage. It changed my life many years ago. I read it and I was brainwashed and heartwashed. I fell in love with Team Israel. I like how Isaiah basically gives us permission to “pester” G-d, to get in His face, so to speak, about Israel. We are to constantly remind Him that Jerusalem is supposed to be the most favored place on earth.

I told the kids that we need to do our jobs as watchmen a little better, though. As the spectators in the stands, we need to get loud and keep reminding G-d to make Jerusalem a “source of praise.” Recently a survey was taken regarding the least favorite places in the world. Israel was ranked #3. I like the fact that my kids looked crestfallen when I told them that. “What!” “But why?” Good. They are already rooting for Team Israel. And I want to keep it that way. Because in the end, it’s the only team that will be left standing.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Partnering with Hashem

Pop quiz. Who wrote the following opinion regarding the Temple, a Jew or a Christian? “The Beit Hamikdash is made by G-d Himself of living stone. This Temple will descend as a bride/bridegroom from Heaven adorned with the things of G-d, not of man.”

The answer could easily be both, as both Jewish and Christian concepts are included in the quote. The answer, though, is a Christian. Which begs the next question, “When did so many Jews start thinking like Christians?”

Lately, Rabbi Richman of the Temple Institute has spent much of his time trying to challenge the belief that the third Temple is going to literally descend from Heaven. Perhaps Jews believe the Temple will drop out of the sky due to the “Blame it on Rashi” syndrome. After all, Rashi wrote that the longed for Temple is ready and perfected and will descend from Heaven. Or maybe it’s Zoharitis. After all several pages in the Zohar refer to the third Temple being built by none other than Hashem’s hands and descending from Heaven. Or perhaps the Chicken Little cry, “The Temple is falling from the sky!” is most of all a symptom of the galut. Sadly, if Jews are separated from the physical Land of Israel, they most likely are going to be mentally and spiritually separated from the concept of a physical Temple.

Whatever the reasons are though, honestly, I just don’t get it. Yes, Rashi and the Zohar refer to a spiritual Temple built by Hashem that will descend from Heaven. But how does the reference to a spiritual Temple in Heaven negate the belief and the commandment for Jews to physically build G-d a Temple? Elementary kabbalah teaches about the interwoven nature of the spiritual with the physical. Our physical “reality” is a microcosm of the spiritual. Yet, I really don’t need to be a student of kabbalah to understand the dualism of the spiritual with the physical. Why? Because I’m a mother.

B’H, I’ve had the privilege of giving birth to two beautiful children. For women who have experienced childbirth, no doubt they have a vivid memory of bringing their children into this world. There is no shadow of a doubt how their children got here! Yet, moms who are spiritually in tune know that they really had nothing to do with bringing their children into the world and that Hashem had everything to do with it.

Hashem the Creator allows us the illusion of being co-creators with Him. (After all, when we really catch glimpses of His Oneness we realize we don’t even exist outside of Him, much less our actions.) Yet none-the-less, in the physical realm he designed a man and woman’s union to create life. The woman carries the seed of life and incubates its growth for nine months then has the incredible experience of being the portal for a spiritual entity to enter the physical world.

Even after giving birth and aiding my children’s physical growth everyday, I know that ultimately I had and have nothing to do with their existence. I didn’t really create their lives. I don’t really cause them to grow. I don’t sustain their every breath. Hashem gave me the blessing of being a conduit of His creation. Yet, literally, my children were built by Hashem’s hands. They were made and perfected in Heaven. Then at the appointed time, they descended into this world when I gave birth to them.

Are you starting to see my point? Hopefully, soon, in our lifetime, the Temple will be built. Think about it; construction workers are going to pour concrete for the foundation, raise beams for the infrastructure, wire for electricity, install the plumbing, lay the marble, etc. More than anyone, these men could pat each other on the back once the Temple is completed and say, “Look at what we did!” Along with them, the rabbis and staff of the Temple Institute could smile at each other in joy and satisfaction and say, “We finally did it!” Yet, ultimately, just as a mother knows deep inside that she really had nothing to do with creating her children, those who build the Temple will know that they really had nothing to do with it, even though it seemed that they had everything to do with it. It’s akin to the blessing, “Blessed are you, O L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe Who brings forth bread from the earth.” What about the farmer? He readied the field, planted the seed, worried about the weather, pulled the weeds, and harvested the crop. Yet, it is Hashem Who gets the credit and the thanksgiving for bringing forth the bread.

“If Hashem will not build the house, in vain do its builders labor on it; if Hashem will not guard the city, in vain is the watchman vigilant.” I think of this verse whenever I lock my doors at night. I know that it is my responsibility to lock the doors. But I also know that doors and locks that cost mere dollars are not what really keeps my family and I safe. Ultimately, we are safe because Hashem watches over us.

Just as it is my responsibility to lock my doors at night, it is the responsibility of every Jew to build the Temple. Really. Perhaps the 21st century or the galut has clouded Jews’ understanding of their original mission. Psalms 104 and 105 are vivid reminders that Hashem is in control of everything, down to the smallest detail. From allowing a lion to catch its prey, to bringing His people out of Egypt, the Psalmists reminds us that Hashem orchestrates everything. Why? Psalms 105 ends with the reason: So that Jews will safeguard and keep the Torah.

And what is the ultimate goal of the Torah, as Rabbi Richman so passionately teaches? To make Hashem a Sanctuary, so that He may dwell among us. That’s it. Hashem needs, wants, demands, however you want to put it, a physical point on earth for the fullness of His essence to dwell with us. That is what we are so sorely missing; Hashem’s Oneness. “Behold, He stands behind our wall, observing from the windows, peering from the lattices.”

The Shechinah has been knocked down into the dust. But the spiritual plan for man to experience the reunion of Hashem’s Oneness is ready. The spiritual Temple that Rashi and the Zohar so beautifully describe is ready and waiting, just as my children’s souls were ready and waiting to have a physical conduit to enter. But the physical meeting place on earth, the place where Heaven will kiss earth, the place where Hashem has a date with Himself so to speak, the place where His name will be One; that place is missing.

What is the reason for the 613 commandments and the 7 Noahide laws? They are ways in which one attaches himself spiritually to Hashem and ways to create a dwelling place for Hashem in this world. I’m not Jewish, but I light the Shabbat candles. I realize that my physical action is a magnet of the spiritual. “Hashem,” I pray, “You see me lighting these candles. May they bring more of Your Light into our home and into our lives.” I do all that I can to physically to bring Hashem’s presence into my life and into this world. But I can only do so much. Even the greatest Tzadik can only do so much. The prophets tell us where the whole world will line-up to experience Hashem’s presence. They won’t be lining up at a Tzadik’s house, and certainly not at my house. The line will form at Hashem’s house. That is where “Hashem will be One and His Name will be One.” Yet, with so many Jews waiting for the Temple to fall out of the sky, Hashem remains without a physical portal for His Oneness.

Believing the Temple will fall out of the sky? Perhaps one can believe that if he still believes storks deliver babies from the sky. It’s time for Jews to mentally and spiritually grow up. It’s time to break free from the galut mentality and realize the world is waiting. And more than that, Hashem is waiting. He’s already delivered all He’s going to deliver from the sky. He delivered it at a mountain. All Jews were there and agreed at that moment to build the Temple. “We will DO and we will obey.” That sounds like a contract to me.

If you are a Jew, look down at your hands. Those are what will build the Temple. And after those hands build, that will be the time to look up to Heaven in thanksgiving for the gift of the Temple that came down from above.