Sunday, October 7, 2012

Etrog or Wife – On Which Should a Jew Spend More?

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The following story is told by Rabbi Yosef Elnekaveh, former Rabbi of Neve Dekalim in Gush Katif, Gaza.

The Kabbalist sage Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu of blessed memory was known for his ability to check the validity of an etrog in seconds and precisely state its halachic [Jewish legal] strengths and weaknesses. Every year before the holiday of Sukkot, he would examine hundreds of etrogs and classify each as plain kosher or “mehudar” (great) or not worthwhile. He would rarely say the word “pasul” (disqualified) regarding an etrog, but would rather say, “take something else.”

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu holding a yellow etrog
If Rabbi Eliyahu examined an etrog after he had already checked it once, even if a few days had passed, he would say that he already checked it and said it was such and such. There are scores of such testimonies.

Only once I heard him say regarding an etrog that it was “pasul.” It happened when a man brought him an etrog of the highest quality to examine, and the buyer proudly stated that he had paid $1000 for the etrog!

Rabbi Eliyahu looked for a split second at the etrog which appeared to be in perfect form and asked, “If this etrog is pasul, will you get your money back?” The man replied that yes, he had made the sale conditional on Rabbi Eliyahu’s examining the etrog and declaring it halachically fit for use.

Rabbi Eliyahu looked the man in the eye and asked, “Tell me, did you purchase for your wife a piece of jewelry for the holiday? That’s also a mitzvah [commandment] from the Torah. It’s the mitzvah of v’semachta bchagecha [thou shalt rejoice on the holiday]!”

The man mumbled something unclear. Rabbi Eliyahu continued, “The etrog is pasul.”

“What? How can it not be fit for use,” asked the buyer.

The rabbi turned the etrog upside down and showed him a small hole under the stem that was very difficult to detect. When Rabbi Eliyahu pushed the stem up a bit, the hole became visible. It was made by a worm which penetrated the thick skin of the etrog to the middle.

The man was shocked. Rabbi Eliyahu continued, “You don’t have to buy an etrog for $1000. It’s enough to purchase a nice one like everyone else for $25-$30. And use the remaining amount to bring joy to your wife for the holiday. Making your wife happy on the holiday is a positive commandment from the Torah.”
Do the math. Rabbi Eliyahu ordered the man to spend 39 times more on his wife, than on his etrog.
Or else face the above consquences
When the man had left, we asked the rabbi how he detected the hole under the stem in a moment’s time. He replied that according to a Hassidic saying, the word etrog is an acronym for the verse “אל תבואני רגל גאוה” [Let not the foot (or holiday) of pride overtake me] Psalms 36:12. But this etrog, said Rabbi Eliyahu, didn’t jive with the idea behind the verse.

END OF STORY. So my friends, if you also neglected to buy something substantial for your wife for the holiday, you can still rectify that today, and take her to get a nice dress or piece of jewelry. Just make sure that you spend much more on your wife than on your etrog.

Chag Sameach from Bet El!

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Leading Israeli Scholar: No 2-State Solution - the Settlements are Irreversible

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A leading scholar who once was solidly against a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria now says a two-state solution is a falsehood: “Settlements are here to stay."

For decades, former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Meron Benvenisti was a leading scholar in Israel’s pro-Arab camp, working diligently to curtail development of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria (AKA The West Bank). He founded the West Bank Database Project in 1984 which documented social, economic, and political developments in the region, and reported on growth of the Jewish towns to Western powers which sought to halt the influx of Jews to their ancient towns.

Meron Benvenisti, Wikipedia

In an Oct 4th 2012 interview, Benvenisti told Haaretz Newspaper that a division of the land into a two-state solution is not practical, and that the settlements are irreversible.  

The following quotes do not purport to summarize the main points of the Haaretz interview, but rather demonstrate a growing trend amongst Israeli opponents of the Jewish return to Judea and Samaria. They, these very same leaders of the struggle for Palestinian Statehood, now recognize that it is too late – the Jewish towns of Judea and Samaria cannot be uprooted.

“Today, we are talking about 350,000 settlers. If you take into account (the Jewish neighborhoods of eastern) Jerusalem, then there are 550,000 settlers,” he said. ”Therefore, everyone understands now what I said 30 years ago: it’s irreversible. Nothing will help Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert or Tzipi Livni – it’s irreversible. You can’t get out of this mess.

“I am not offering solutions. It’s not my job. I am coming to say that today’s dominant paradigm [of a 2-State solution] is a falsehood, and I am fighting it. If you try and force an unjust division, you will get a crippled, hurt and upset Palestinian State, which will turn to violence.

"Regarding this scenario, Israel’s Right is correct. Look what happened in Gaza. The Disengagement [from Gaza in 2005] didn’t solve anything and put Hamas in power. Therefore, division is not a solution to the problem, but rather an escalation of the problem… At one time, it would have been possible to divide the land, but not today.

Benvenisti added: “The time has come for you and your friends in Tel Aviv to understand – you cannot divide the land of Israel. It’s impossible. You can’t tell the Arabs to forget about Yafo (Jaffa) and Akko (Acre). They won’t forget. No Palestinian will commit to signing an end to the conflict. They won’t sign.

He called the 1949 Temporary Armistice Lines, now known as the Green Line, “the left’s great alibi [that] no longer exists. The Green Line is dead… Dividing the land is apartheid. The people in Tel Aviv don’t want to understand this, but the Land of Israel is a united, geopolitical unit. Therefore, a division of the land is impossible from geographical, physical, and mental standpoints."

The above quotes suggest that we are at a fascinating turning point. Because while world headlines continue to highlight possible breakthroughs in negotiations towards a two-state solution, Israel’s intellectual elite is gradually recognizing that Palestinian Statehood is no longer a viable option.

A recent report prepared by Knesset Member Yaakov Katz (National Union Party) based on figures from the Interior Ministry's population registry shows the precise number of Jews in each town in Judea and Samaria.

Yossi Sarid, former head of the Meretz Party, also recently admitted that the Jewish towns of Yesha are here to stay.

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