Ki Yachol Nuchal!

New olah; mom and wife. In small ways, every day, trying to rectify the error in judgement of my zaydies, the meraglim. "See these big grapes? We can make really big wine!"

Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

It’s not about the Holocaust, Mr. President.

Posted by rutimizrachi on 18/06/2009

Yom chamishi, 26 Sivan 5769.

The following poem is reprinted with permission from the author, Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo.  Please see more of his very thoughtful and uplifting essays at his website, The David Cardozo Academy: Jewish Education for a Complex WorldIn a world I could affect, I would ask President Obama to sit quietly with his Secretary of State and listen deeply to a reading of this poem, read with all the feeling it engenders by one of my many dear Baltimore friends whose hearts weep with a desire to live in the Jewish homeland.  Would the message be heard?  I cannot know.  But I know that you, dear reader, will hear it.

To President Barack Obama

I am a Jew.
I stand at the Western Wall.

How long do I stand here?
Nearly 4000 years,
since the days of my grandfather Abraham
when he nearly sacrificed his son
at Mount Moriah.

I see the Wall with its frozen tears,
and passing clouds with many sighs.
I read millions of names:
in Egypt, Babylon, Rome, Poland,
Spain, Hungary, America and South Africa.

But that was only in a dream.
In reality
we Jews were all born in Israel, and then exiled by Titus.
Although most of us began our childhoods
in foreign countries,
we merely camped in these places, but never dwelled in them.

And at the end of our lives,
Though our tombstones may stand in Exile,
our bodies are buried in the dust of Israel.


The return to Zion is unprecedented.
It is sui generis.
The State of Israel is a surprise,
a shock,
for it is the story of a nation in exile
which never had to return because it never left.
It lifted its Holy Land from its native soil,
transformed it into a portable homeland,
carrying it to all corners
of the earth,
only to replant it again in its native land
when the students of Titus can no longer prevent it from doing so.

Mr. President,

Israel was not built on the ashes of Auschwitz.
It is founded on the Bible,
a divine text rooted in the Jewish experience of nearly 4000 years.
A Heilsgeschichte, a Redemptive History
for all of mankind.

Israel was not created because of the Holocaust,
but rather despite the Holocaust.



Only the Jews, for thousands of years, prayed and continue to pray for its rebuilding.

No other people.

Only the Jews mourn its destruction of nearly two thousand years ago.

No other nation.

It is only they who weep, sitting on the floor on the date of the Temple’s desecration
in the month of Av, year after year.

No other people.

It is only they who for two thousand years break a glass under the marriage canopy, an expression of sorrow for Jerusalem.
(How many millions of glasses were broken throughout exile?)

No other nation.

It is only the Jews who for thousands of years build their houses but leave a part of the wall unplastered because of the loss of their Temple.

No other people.

It is only Jewish women who do not wear all their jewelry at once, in deference to the destruction of the House of God.

No other women.

And it is only the Jews who cover their dead with the dust of the land of Israel even when they bring their dear ones to their final resting place outside the land of Israel.

No other burial society.

Neither Titus’ offspring,
nor Saladin’s descendants,
nor Godfrey of Bouillon, the crusader, nor his children,
ever mourned, prayed or buried their dead in the Earth of the Holy Land.

This, dear President, you must learn.

For without this knowledge,
there will be no way to make peace.


Thank you, Rabbi, for making it as clear as it can be.  May the Borei Olam cause that these words be heard by all Jewish hearts — for, at the end of the day, these are the only hearts that matter.  Once we know that these concepts are true, then Hashem will turn the hearts of our enemies, and even the hearts of our friends.

Posted in Hillary Clinton, Israel, Jewish history, Obama, Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo | 4 Comments »

No pressure. But let the music speak to you.

Posted by rutimizrachi on 13/05/2009

Yom chamishi, 20 Iyar 5769.

 Years ago, a dear friend who was living in Givat Ze’ev told us about a community project that had to be called to a halt due to Jewish history.

Seems that the gas station that was being built had to be stopped, as the excavation of the site had dug up Hashmonean ruins.  We marveled together about how a Jew in Israel is blessed to set his feet down, over and over again, in the paths upon which his great forefathers walked.

When someone else says it best, I might as well take a break and let him talk.  The following pearl shone forth from Chez Treppenwitz yesterday; and I could not pass up sharing it with you.

The importance of having access to the piano  — David Bogner

As I drive to work each day through the breadbasket of ancient Judea, the ripening orchards, vineyards, and fields I pass remind me that just as in the days when the Temples stood in Jerusalem, the first wheat from the southern slopes of the Hevron hills will be ready just in time for Shavuot (signaling the traditional start of the wheat harvest).

Shortly after we moved here, our (then) 7 year old son Gilad made a memorable observation.

He had been taking piano lessons in the US, but was on a forced break in his musical studies due to our move. Even though he remained keenly interested in music, we explained to him that it made no sense to start his lessons with an Israeli teacher until our lift arrived and he had a piano in the house to play.

At the same time, being in an Israeli school with a strong religious Zionist curriculum, he was also starting to become aware of the direct connection between the land of Israel and the mitzvot (commandments) found in the Torah.

One morning after our lift had arrived and he had finally restarted his music lessons, he said to me, “Abba, being a Jew outside of Israel is sort of like someone taking piano lessons but not having a piano to practice on.”

From the mouth of babes…

As Bogner so famously says:  “Don’t thank me.  I’m a giver.”

 Hashem has been very busy beautifying the yishuv lately.  Enjoy!

Hashmonean:  the period during which the Chanukah story takes place

Posted in aliyah, Israel, Shavuot, Treppenwitz | Leave a Comment »

It’s ten o’clock. Do you know where your children are?

Posted by rutimizrachi on 12/05/2009

Yom shlishi, 18 Iyar 5769, Lag b’Omer.

There was a public service announcement (popularized by a Jewish radio announcer, incidentally) in the 60s, 70s and 80s that reminded parents to be aware of what their kids were up to during the late night hours.  It was understood in those days that a responsible parent ought to know that his kids were safe at home by then — or at least know where they were at and whom they were with.

It is Lag b’Omer, the night Israel goes up in flames, in the most positive sense possible.

Every unguarded piece of wood is in fractals of fires all over the country, “stolen” by little boys and set ablaze by same.  There are several bonfires glowing at this moment around my yishuv.  I know where my little boys are.

The two fourteen-year-olds are out with their friends, feeding that yearly pyromania that Israeli kids are permitted to nourish.  (Mine are less bizarre at Chanukah now that they have this ultimate boy-pleasure.  The piles of fallen and burning candles have thankfully been replaced by something a bit more normal.)  Oh — and The Dearly Beloved and other parents will pull patrol through the evening, to make sure that Shmuel doesn’t burn his eyebrows off, and that Chaim is discouraged from tossing that aerosol can into the flames “just to see what will happen.”  In most cases, a reminder that next year’s bonfire depends on no incidents happening at this year’s bonfire, coupled with cruising parents, seems to keep the young hopefuls relatively tame.

We have spoken on the phone; and they know that they must keep their heads.  Have fun — but stay smart and safe.

Meron is filled with more humanity than I can appreciate all at once.  I know where my medium boys are.

The seventeen-year-old is enjoying the company of his best friend.  He and his nineteen-year-old brother, visiting from his yeshiva in the States, are immersing themselves in the kedusha and craziness that is Meron on Lag b’Omer.  Thousands of Jews are dancing and singing and perhaps encountering the divine within themselves as they celebrate the mystical wonders of Judaism that Shimon bar Yochai brought down from the Higher Realms in his lifetime.

We have spoken on the phone; and they are happy to share that they are experiencing something sublime.

Soldiers are guarding the borders, so that the celebrants can dance without fear of anything less than the Almighty.  I know where my big boy is.

The 22-year-old new husband, new father is on a jeep patrol with his comrades.


He would rather be home with his exhausted wife and their two-week-old daughter, helping to carry the little one around for an hour here and there so the new mommy can sleep.  But he has a job to do; and he does it with focus, even though he has the weight of the world on his young shoulders.

We have spoken on the phone; and it helps him when we tell him that his brothers can dance because he is doing his job.

This is my Israel on a Monday night in May.

It’s eleven o’clock.  Do you know where your children are?

Photo credits:  Isranet, Avihu Shapira, AP

Posted in bonfire, Israel, Lag b'Omer, Meron | 16 Comments »

The Jew and the Land

Posted by rutimizrachi on 26/04/2009

Yom sheni, 3 Iyar 5769.
“The meaning and purpose of Jewish history, and Jewish life, is inextricably bound to the Land of Israel.  I’ll say the words again: The meaning and purpose of Jewish history, and Jewish life, is inextricably bound to the Land of Israel. This means that the definition of a spiritually healthy Jewish life is either one that is lived in the Land, or one that is lived in a state of near desperate longing to do so. If you believe these words, if these are your words, the words of your Torah and your guts, then let them fill you. Breathe them in. The meaning and purpose of Jewish history, and Jewish life, is inextricably bound to the Land of Israel.”  —  Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf

These words were up on my kitchen wall for years.  They gave me a lot of strength, and a clear goalIt’s time to pass them on, or to give them back.

Haveil Havalim #214, The Radiant Ziv edition, is posted at The Rebbetzin’s Husband for your edification and enjoyment.

Posted in acquiring the Land, Haveil Havalim, Israel, Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf | 4 Comments »

Crossing the Yarden – Election Special (Guest Post)

Posted by rutimizrachi on 09/02/2009

Yom rishon, Tu b’Shevat, 15 Shevat 5769.

If I were funny, I would be my friend, Yarden. 
But then I would have to drop a decade or so, work way too hard, be ridiculously athletic, and be married to my good friend, Stella.  You see the problem.  No WAY am I running a marathon.
Please read Yarden’s take on tomorrow’s elections.  You will have no more questions about anything.

Crossing the Yarden
By Yarden Frankl

I Get To Vote Again!

The American elections are very straightforward. They occur every four
years on the first Tuesday of November. There are only two parties.
Each candidate adopts a slogan which defines his party (“Yes, We Can”
or “Alaska is near Russia”) and whomever can answer difficult
questions out on the campaign trail (“How many houses do you own”)
usually wins.

The opposite of the orderly American elections is the balagan that we
engage in here every…. well that’s just it. We never know when the
next elections take place. That’s why most politicians start taking
bribes immediately. They just don’t know how long before they will be
voted out.

We can never predict who will be running. Every election small parties
come and go. My favorite one hit wonder from the last election was the
pensioners’ party. They achieved their goal in that all seven Knesset
members can now go back to retirement with really big pensions.

So who will win tomorrow? Well the polls show a really close race. Yet
poll numbers in Israel cannot be accepted. In fact, a recent Channel 3
poll found that 82 percent of respondents admit to regularly lying to
pollsters. The big question is whether to believe that people who
claim to be lying are telling the truth.

Since the Israeli elections can be so confusing, I now present the
second Crossing the Yarden Guide to the Israeli elections. If you just
take one minute to read on, you will no longer be confused and know
exactly which party you must vote for:

The Likud: Benjamin Netanyahu is today the most popular candidate
among those who considered him least popular when he was Prime
Minister. If elected, Netanyahu has promised to destroy Hamas, free
Gilad, end the Iranian threat, reform the economy, bring Moshiach and
tackle whatever the next three issues the polls are showing people
care about.

Kadima: Kadima is a one man party. Which is very interesting because
the man it is based on is not only hated by both the right and the
left, but also has been in a coma for a few years. I can only assume
that their impressive poll position is due to the many other coma
patients whose preferences were recorded. That and the really neat
looking Tzipi Livni posters plastered on all the buses.

Labor: Labor believes that they can make peace by strategically giving
in to every single demand made by Israel’s enemies. They are unfazed
by the recent polls showing that more people in Israel love drinking
beet juice than will vote for them. In a surprise move, Labor named
U.S. President Barack Obama as their leader and adopted the slogan
“Yes, can we too?”

Israel Betenu: (“Israel is my home, get out”) is led by Avigdor
Lieberman. He has received a great deal of notoriety for his
controversial plan to annex West Bank Settlements and give Arab
populated areas of the Galilee and Detroit to the Palestinians. This
has most alarmed Arab Israelis who although they want to help their
Palestinian brothers destroy the State of Israel, they really don’t
want to live with them.

The National Union of Jewish Homes. Since they realize that their
views are only shared by a tiny fraction of Israeli voters, the right
wing of Israeli politics is taking the sensible approach by…. dividing
into several even smaller parties. Their goal seems to be to sit in
the opposition and work on how to divide into even more parties after
the elections.

The Pot Smoking Holocaust Survivors. I’m not making this up!! The
small parties that represent Holocaust Survivors and those who want to
legalize Marijuana have formed one crazy party. Hey, if enough people
think this is a joke and vote for them, they just might win!

Shas and United Torah Judaism: Religious parties. If you are a true
believer you must vote for them because 1) they represent the “true
believer” population of Israel and 2) you really believe that voting
for someone else is a vote for the devil.

Now, I hope that has cleared things up. Go vote tomorrow and enjoy the holiday.

Chag Election Sameach from our crazy, blessed nation.

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel                                  

       The sweaty guy is Yarden, the Stunt Man’s mentor.

Posted in Crossing the Yarden, elections. voting, Israel, vote | 3 Comments »

Vote for a Jewish Homeland

Posted by rutimizrachi on 08/02/2009

Yom rishon, 14 Shevat 5769.

Voting.  Our civil right.  One of the threads that keeps our “democratic” system of government intact.

Here is why I wasn’t going to vote this time around.

It is no secret to my friends that I tend to be just to the Right of Attila the Hun politically.  I am a religious Jew, so halacha is important to me.  I am cautious about politically-imposed halacha without the guidance of Moshiach, as there seem to be too many interpretations out there to make me confident that we really know what is best for all the people.  But my Torah outlook tends to keep me on the conservative side of arguments.  I love this Land of Israel; and know that it must remain the home of the Jewish nation.  So I am not for giving it up for illusions of peace, or to try to convince the world to like us.  I am not even sure we are halachically allowed to give away any of it for any reason.

I believed in Binyamin Netanyahu years ago, even though his platform wasn’t particularly religious.  He sounded intelligent enough to know that we can’t give away the Land.  But after he gave away Hevron, I realized that I had been believing in ghosts.  I thought he would be as heroic as I imagined his brother, Yoni zt”l, to be.  And I fell for the ghost of good public speaking.  At the end of the day, Bibi let us down.  It would have been better had he remained an articulate spokesman for the Jewish people, perhaps with control of the economy.  Control of the country seemed more than he could bear.

I have waited to hear him say that Hevron was a mistake.  But I don’t think he thinks it was.  This troubles me.

I believed in Ariel Sharon.  He was clearly a tough guy, who had fought for many of the kilometers of soil we now held, after successful defensive wars.  Surely I could trust him not to give away an inch of our holy Land.  I wonder what he is thinking about these days, in that deep, deep place in which he hovers.  Would he have done anything differently, with the wisdom he must now surely possess?

Moshe Feiglin is interesting.  But he and I handled the painful disaster of Gush Katif differently.  We were both angry and devastated by the theft of it from our people, by our people.  But after it was lost to us, I decided that it was Hashem who said no.  We have an opportunity to treat the dispossessed people of Gush Katif well, or not.  But for reasons of his own, Hashem did not bring the miracle that could have allowed a win for all of the people who marched and prayed and wept and spoke out — for all of the holy Jews all over the world who cared.

Moshe and I were together in our thinking on many points.  But I have waited in vain to hear him come through for me on one point:  How will he bring the people of this nation together, post-Gush Katif?  He wrote something that made me quite nervous several months ago, about how we would have won at Gush Katif and Amona if we had fought harder.  I wrote to him to ask him what his end-game scenario would look like.  Is it okay with you, Moshe, if Jews begin to kill Jews, in an effort to hold onto the Land?  He was too busy to answer.

Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz is the founder of Arutz Sheva, aka Israel National News.  Also at Gush Katif, there was a major difference of opinion between the staion policy and Rav Shlomo Aviner.  This was illustrated by the sudden absence of any Rav Aviner commentary. Apart from an occasional news reference, this lack has continued until today.  Does Ketzaleh believe that it is appropriate to “tear kriah” over someone with whom we disagree on one major issue?  This, again, gives me concern regarding another potential leader’s ability to bring the people together.  If we cannot even make peace on the Right, how can we make peace among the Jewish nation?  It would make me more hopeful if I saw that rift healed, by a return of Rav Aviner’s wisdom to the station I hold in high regard.

I realize that I am politically naive.  But if Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, Ichud Leumi, and United Torah Judaism got together, their combined ranking of 46 would send the other parties packing.

Of course, that would mean that they would have to put the good of the Land and the People ahead of their partisan differences…

There are only a few people I would really want to vote for, and they’re not running.  Rabbi Shlomo Aviner.  Rabbi Natan Lopes Cardozo.  Professor Robert Yisrael Aumann.  Tzafrir Ronen, zt”l.

An Ashkenazic Rabbi, originally from France.  A Sephardic Rabbi, originally from Holland.  A Nobel Prize winning games theory scientist, who is also an Orthodox Jew.  And a recently-deceased self-described “irreligious” Jew.

They have at least one thing in common:  they put their love of the Jewish people above all earthly things.

Each of us must make a personal decision about our priorities; and I happen to agree with these men.  The Jewish people and our connection with each other is even more important than the fine points of holy, holy halacha, even more important than the holy, holy Land. The halacha and the land are Hashem’s gifts to us, and are very precious.  But they cease to have meaning if we sacrifice each other in their honor.

Finally, Dr. Tziona Fleisher convinced me to vote.  In her commentary, “Get Out the Jewish Vote,” this former Zionist refusenik from the USSR reminds me of one of my own “bottom lines.”

As much doubt as I may have about Bibi’s strength in the clutch, about Moshe’s love of all of the Jewish people, about Ketzaleh’s desire for unity with his ideological opponents…  these candidates are all Jewish people.  And Tziona points out the important demographic problem:  If fewer and fewer Jews vote for Jews, and more and more Arabs vote for Arabs…  Well, you do the math.

With all of our faults, I want this to remain a Jewish country.

halacha:  Jewish Torah-based law
tear kriah:  to treat as if dead, to disown
refusenik:  a Jew in the USSR who was refused permission to emigrate

News flash!  The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is out on the stands, expertly edited by the ever erudite Esser Agaroth!                                                                  

Posted in Esser Agaroth, Haveil Havalim, Israel, vote, voting | 4 Comments »

Tikkun Leil Gridiron

Posted by rutimizrachi on 02/02/2009

Yom sheni, 8 Shevat 5769.

There are two quiet, holy mornings each year, that are really just for women.

The more kadosh of the two is Shavu’ot.  

In many communities, the men and older boys have spent the entire night learning Torah for Tikkun Leil Shavu’ot, a night of perfecting the world through the holiness of constant learning.  This custom derives, we are taught, from the need to “repair the damage done” by the Israelites sleeping the night before the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai.  (The argument is that when one is about to receive the greatest gift mankind has ever received, he should sit up all night in anticipation.  An argument in response is that sleep is the first refuge of the utterly terrified…)  In any case, the men and boys learn until the wee small hours of the morning, in gatherings at people’s homes, or at shul.  Then, the weary soldiers daven the early morning prayers, and drag their spiritual swords and shields home, where they indulge in a few hours of well-earned rest.

The town is absolutely quiet, filled with a special aura that exists only in a world free of adult testosterone.  Small children people the streets, giving the community a Lilliputian feel.  Soft voices of women fill the air, chatting quietly, singing, laughing softly.  It is a world inhabited only by women and children.

It is a few months’ time until Shavu’ot, with its particular sweetness.

This morning I am enjoying the other, less-holy “women-and-little-ones day.”  This morning is the quiet, man-free morning known of as “Super Bowl Monday.”  Who would have thought that the American Super Bowl would follow us to Israel?  (The only difference is that, while in America, the kickoff is around 6:30 PM EST, in Israel, game time is at 1:30 in the morning.  Imagine spicy chicken wings and chili at 3 AM!)

As the last warrior came home, a huge smile on his face, as he anticipated hours of sleep, I remarked on the similarity between the two days.  “Feels like Shavu’ot, doesn’t it?”  I asked him.  “Yeah,” he answered, his six-foot-plus teenage frame stretching into a big, satisfied full-body yawn.  “Except less kadosh,” I added.

“Whadaya mean?” he asked.  “I just got back from making a siyum with the guys I learn with.  We just finished our first perek in Brachot.  After I finished davening.”

“Yasher koach!”  I responded, proud that he hadn’t immersed himself only in the secular.

“Besides.  Ema.  It’s the Super Bowl.  C’mon That’s kedusha.”  Fortunately, this profane comment was uttered tongue in cheek, as he wandered off to his bed.

Ahhhh.  Quiet.  Blessed femininity.  The birds even seem to be singing more sweetly.

Now if we could just train those Arab workmen on the roof next door to take up the holy study of American football…       

(Sexism disclaimer:  It may be that there are secret enclaves of female football fans out there, wearily making their way back to their beds after a night of popcorn, chips, and insult-hurling at Sling Box TV hookups.  I just didn’t notice the ad in the online chat list.)

kadosh:  holy
Shavu’ot:  holiday observing the giving of the Torah
siyum:  completion of the study of a holy text
perek:  chapter
Brachot:  one of the books of the Talmud
Yasher koach!:  Way to go! 

***  Two important links:  Haveil Havalim, The “Did You Love Leah?” Edition, is out at Ima on (and off) the Bima.  And West Bank Mama has put together a roundup of commentary on the Gaza War by new immigrants to Israel.  ***

Posted in American Football in Israel, Gaza War, Haveil Havalim, Israel, olim chadashim, Super Bowl | Leave a Comment »

Nineteen degrees is nice in Neve Daniel. I’m just saying…

Posted by rutimizrachi on 24/11/2008

Yom sheni, 26 Cheshvan 5769.

Today is one of those days that reminds me of some of the physical aspects I love about living here in Israel, especially on “my mountain.”  (Even though there are no Cascades or Rockies here, Neve Daniel — at 997 meters above sea-level — is the highest-elevation community in the country.)

At a crisp 66.2 degrees Farenheit, it is a good day to have a bite of breakfast outside. 

Dear Baltimore Homies (who have not yet decided that it’s time to be moving to warmer climes):

Is that YOUR house going up in my back yard?  Looking forward to seeing your name beside the door.

 Time to sit outside and learn a little Mesillat Yesharim with my best friend.  Join us for coffee and a learning seder soon?

Posted in aliyah, Israel, Mesillat Yesharim, Neve Daniel | 7 Comments »

A Cornucopia of Commentary

Posted by rutimizrachi on 23/11/2008

Yom rishon, 25 Cheshvan 5769.

This week’s rich harvest of opinion and reportage is in.  Look at some of the wonderful writing for which we can be grateful.  Heveil Havalim #192: The Thanks and Giving Edition is up at Ima on (and off) the Bima.

A hearty welcome aboard to my dear friend, “Dr. Aliyah.”  Her writing about her love for Eretz Yisrael and her longing for the Geula always inspires me.  If you haven’t yet visited her blog, now is a chance to do so.  “Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop” puts some perspective on the global financial crisis, and how it effects at least one family’s outlook on aliyah.

Whether Thanksgiving is your thing or not, it never hurts to be reminded that hoda’ah is the key to contentment.  Hodu Lashem ki Tov, ki l’Olam Chasdo!

Posted in Geula, Haveil Havalim, Israel, Thanksgiving | Leave a Comment »

Today, you don’t want to read my blog…

Posted by rutimizrachi on 16/11/2008

Yom rishon, 17 Cheshvan 5769.

…You want to read everybody else’s.  Check out the “Mama Rachel Edition” of Haveil Havalim.  Hosted this week by my friend and fellow obstacle-to-peace, West Bank Mama.

Lots of well-written stuff, by folks on the front lines of Jewish life in Israel, as well as some very nice stuff by people still stuck in Chu”l* who love us.

Until you can come and be here with us (and even after!), this is the best place to stay up-to-date with “the real scoop,” IMHO.


*BTW, if you are a writer (Rivkah, Shprintz, Mordechai, Josh, and the rest of you), and you haven’t submitted anything to Haveil Havalim yet — get with the program!  This is a nice way to let people see your stuff.  Why deprive the world of your wisdom?

Posted in Haveil Havalim, Israel, Rachel Imeinu | 3 Comments »