Thursday, January 8, 2009

Parsha Vayechi, stories, miracles and kosher praganda

Health update on some of the people on my prayer list: Rachel bas Chana has a lung infection and is in danger of pneumonia. Shalom Charles ben Gracia has some heart irregularities besides his cancer problem. A few new people to pray for: A member of my Schul Yitzchak ben Tikva and a woman Leah Chaya bas Chana.

Please note: Today in Inyanay Diyoma there are war sites and a number of miracles this week.

Two years have passed since (in my humble opinion one of the 36 Tzaddikim who allow the world to exist) Rabbi Glixsman passed away. His last child Ben Tzion is getting married next week just as Yacov’s children continued his legacy after his passing and obtained the Torah a few generations later may too the legacy of the Tzaddik continue with us now in Eretz Yisrael. (The Rabbi has two granddaughters from his son David and great-grandchildren living in Yerushalayim.)

From Robert the Preacher: Friends,
I am getting many shocked and horrified e-mails concerning the vicious anti-Semitic and anti-Israel demonstration that took place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 30, in the heart of Jewish Broward County.
The "nuke Israel" signs, and the anti-American signs, the chants of "Go to Hell" aimed at the small group of Jewish counter-demonstrators waving Israeli flags, was certainly not surprising to anyone aware of the Jihadist elements that have infiltrated America and are now growing like a malignant tumor in all her towns and cities and colleges. In the last election, Jews preferred to ignore that. The majority of Jews in Florida voted for the same candidates as did the Jihadists. I couldn't understand it then. I don't understand it now. One of these groups is going to be very disappointed. I'm sorry that this has all come as a big surprise to the Jews of Florida. It shouldn't be.
People tell me that they can never open my links. I'm sending this anyway. Cut and paste this address into your browser to see a video of what happened in Jewish Florida. Or you can just Google it. Let us hope that the next pro-Israel demonstration will face their enemies with larger numbers, and American Jews will wake up from their numbed sleep and take back their country and their pride

From Elio:

Liab HaCohain took me to task for bringing to light certain negative Jewish elements who are trying to put Rabbis in Jail for speaking halacha. The same groups are trying to ban all religious parties. Even among the Gentiles there are idiots that are going to court against Obama on the pledge “So help me G-D.” It is unfortunate that these things happen but let us look a Sefer Yehoshua where there is an “Asmackta” (basis of approval) to expose and weed out negative elements: 7:1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass concerning the devoted thing; for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the devoted thing; and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel. 2 And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth-aven, on the east side of Beth-el, and spoke unto them, saying: 'Go up and spy out the land.' And the men went up and spied out Ai. 3 And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him: 'Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; make not all the people to toil thither; for they are but few.' 4 So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men; and they fled before the men of Ai. 5 And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men; and they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them at the descent; and the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. 6 And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust upon their heads. 7 And Joshua said: 'Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast Thou at all brought this people over the Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to cause us to perish? would that we had been content and dwelt beyond the Jordan! 8 Oh, Lord, what shall I say, after that Israel hath turned their backs before their enemies! 9 For when the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land hear of it, they will compass us round, and cut off our name from the earth; and what wilt Thou do for Thy great name?' 10 And the LORD said unto Joshua: 'Get thee up; wherefore, now, art thou fallen upon thy face? 11 Israel hath sinned; yea, they have even transgressed My covenant which I commanded them; yea, they have even taken of the devoted thing; and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have even put it among their own stuff. 12 Therefore the children of Israel cannot stand before their enemies, they turn their backs before their enemies, because they are become accursed; I will not be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. 13 Up, sanctify the people, and say: Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow; for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel: There is a curse in the midst of thee, O Israel; thou canst not stand before your enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you. 14 In the morning therefore ye shall draw near by your tribes; and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD takes shall come near by families; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come near by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come near man by man. 15 And it shall be that he that is taken with the devoted thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath; because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought a wanton deed in Israel.' 16 So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel near by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken. 17 And he brought near the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zerahites. And he brought near the family of the Zerahites man by man; and Zabdi was taken. 18 And he brought near his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. 19 And Joshua said unto Achan: 'My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and make confession unto Him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide nothing from me.' 20 And Achan answered Joshua, and said: 'Of a truth I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done. 21 When I saw among the spoil a goodly Shinar mantle, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.' 22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. 23 And they took them from the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel; and they laid them down before the LORD. 24 And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the mantle, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had; and they brought them up unto the valley of Achor. 25 And Joshua said: 'Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day.' And all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire, and stoned them with stones. 26 And they raised over him a great heap of stones, unto this day; and the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called the valley of Achor, unto this day.

Parsha Vayechi and Chazak

Yacov’s life was an amazing story of a Tzaddik who does not reincarnate. Therefore he must receive measure for measure in this world. Yacov cheated his father with a goat skin at the time of the blessing and as a result was out of contact with Yitzchak for 22 years so the ten tribes cheated Yacov with a goat’s skin or blood and Yosef was away from him for 22 years. Yacov took care and pampered Yosef for 17 years so the last 17 years of his life Yosef pampered and took care of Yacov. It was mida kenegged mida or measure for measure. With the cycle complete, Yacov could enter the next world without any reason for reincarnation.

You and I cannot imagine what real prophecy is but Yacov had it . Suddenly when Yosef was lost it disappeared. How can this be? The secret of prophecy is happiness. When David captured the Ark of the Covenant he brought it to Yerushalayim and was singing and prophesizing. Elisa HaNovi says in II Kings 3:15 “Bring me a minstrel” so that he could prophesize. So Yacov being depressed could not have the full power of the Shechina on his head. But now that he became happy again with the tidings of Yosef being alive as sung by Serach bas Asher: 46:2 And God spoke unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said: 'Jacob, Jacob.' And he said: 'Here am I.' 3 And He said: 'I am God, the God of thy father; fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation. 4 I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again; and Joseph shall put his hand upon your eyes.' He regained his prophesy but as he was about to reveal the Messianic times (I have been told by a Yemenite Jew named Omacy z”l that it is hidden in part of the blessings) he was saddened by leaving this world much younger than the days of his parents and he lost the gift of prophecy. So the conclusion is that one should always be a positive thinker even if the worst and most stressful of times as we are prior to the dawn of Moshiach.

28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were a hundred forty and seven years.

And Jacob lived. Why is this section [completely] closed? Because, as soon as our father Jacob passed away, the eyes and the heart of Israel were “closed,” (i.e., it became “dark” for them) because of the misery of the slavery, for they (the Egyptians) commenced to subjugate them. Another explanation: That he (Jacob) attempted to reveal the End [of the exile] to his sons, but it was “closed off” (concealed) from him. [This appears] in Gen. Rabbah (91:1).

29 And the time drew near that Israel must die;

Everyone of whom it is stated [that his days] drew near to die, did not attain the life span of his forefathers. [Isaac lived 180 years, and Jacob lived only 147 years. In connection with David, the expression of drawing near is mentioned (I Kings 2:1). His father lived 400 years, and he lived 70.]- [from Gen. Rabbah 96:4] he called his son Joseph. The one who had the ability to do it. - [from Gen. Rabbah] 96:5. now place your hand beneath my thigh. And swear. — [from Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer ch. 39] As explained in the narrative of Abraham and Eliezer (Gen. 24:2), he meant that Joseph should swear by covenant of the circumcision. loving kindness and truth. Loving kindness that is done with the dead is true loving kindness, for one does not expect any payment or reward. — [from Gen. Rabbah 96:5] do not bury me now in Egypt. [Because] its soil is destined to become lice (which will crawl under my body), and because those who die outside the [Holy] Land will not be resurrected except with the pain of rolling through underground passages. [Also] so that the Egyptians will not deify me. — [from Gen. Rabbah 96:5, Keth. 111a]

and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him: 'If now I have found favor in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt. 30 But when I sleep with my fathers, thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying-place.' And he said: 'I will do as thou hast said.' 31 And he said: 'Swear unto me.' And he swore unto him. And Israel bowed down upon the bed's head.

As with Avraham the swearing to G-D by holding on to the holy Bris Milah. Pasuk 29 in Hebrew is Chessed (mercy) shel Emmet (of truth) or true mercy. For once a man is dead if you throw rocks at him or spit on him he cannot do anything against you as the Italians did to Mussolini and the Iraqi hangman did to Saddam Hussein.

Rabbi Yehuda was in his house when he saw Rabbi Yitzchak sitting by his door-way. Rabbi Yehuda asked Rabbi Yitzchak why has he come to visit him? Rabbi Yitzchak asked Rabbi Yehuda three favors. Promise me when I am gone that you will mention Divrei Torah that I said in my name, that you will teach my son Torah and that you will visit my grave every seven days. A short time later, when Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai heard that Rabbi Yitzchak had become feeble and that his shadow was barely seen he visited with his son Rabbi Elazar the house of Rabbi Yitzchak. He instructed Rabbi Elazar ben Shimon to stand in the doorway and let no one pass. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai then prayed for Rabbi Yitzchak. The Angel of Death was kept out and Rabbi Yehuda was allowed in. Afterwards the Angel of Death departed and Rabbi Yitzchak recovered.

It is obvious that Yacov, Rabbi Shimon, Rabbi Yitzchak died when they were elderly but they were able to delay the Angel of Death with their righteousness. We learn from this that prayer, charity and repentance can ward off death.

8 And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said: 'Who are these?'

He attempted to bless them, but the Shechinah withdrew from him because of Jeroboam and Ahab, who were destined to be born from Ephraim, and Jehu and his sons, [who were destined to be born] from Manasseh. — [from Tanchuma Vayechi 6] [Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the first king of the Northern Kingdom, and Ahab the son of Omri were notorious idolaters.] and he said, “Who are these?”. Where did these come from [meaning: From whom were they born], that they are unworthy of a blessing?- [from Tanchuma Vayechi 6]

Now Yosef thought at this point that perhaps Yacov was losing it as we see what he does below with the hand crossing. Yacov, however as death approaches, was without prophecy from time to time we also see this as he cannot reveal to the Tribes the end of Galus (exile) and the days of Moshiach.

9 And Joseph said unto his father: 'They are my sons, whom God hath given me here.' And he said: 'Bring them, I pray thee, unto me, and I will bless them.'

A woman is married in three ways – Kiddushim 2A. Obviously one of the ways were completed, since there were no other Jews even if there was a Chupa (canopy) it was only a partial wedding but when Yosef produced a Ketubah, the holiness of the wedding was proven as Rashi points out: He (Joseph) showed him (Jacob) the document of betrothal and the Ketubah , and Joseph prayed for mercy concerning the matter, and the Holy Spirit [returned and] rested upon him (Jacob). - [from Kallah Rabbathi 3:19] so he said, “Now bring them near to me, so that I may bless them.”. This is what Scripture [is referring to when it] states: “And I (the Holy One) trained it into Ephraim; he took them on his arms” (Hosea 11:3). I trained My spirit into Jacob for Ephraim’s sake, and he took them upon his arms. — [from Tanchuma Vayechi 7]

10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see. And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them. 11 And Israel said unto Joseph: 'I had not thought to see thy face; and, lo, God hath let me see thy seed also.'

Like his father, it appears that Yacov being a Shepherd developed cataracts. Rashi goes on to comment: . I dared not entertain the thought that I would see your face again. פִלָלְתִּי is a word meaning thought, similar to “Bring counsel, deliberate thought (פְלִילָה)” (Isa. 16:3).

12 And Joseph brought them out from between his knees; and he fell down on his face to the earth.

And Joseph took them out from upon his [Jacob’s] knees. After he (Jacob) had kissed them, Joseph took them off his (Jacob’s) knees to sit them down, this one to the right and this one to the left, [to make it easier for his father] to lay his hands upon them and bless them. and he prostrated himself to the ground. when he moved backward from before his father.

13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him.

Ephraim at his right, from Israel’s left. If one comes toward his friend, his right is opposite his friend’s left. Since he (Manasseh) is the firstborn, he should be placed on the right for the blessing. — [from Peskita Rabbathi ch. 3]

14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the first-born.

Heb. שִׂכֵּל. As the Targum renders: אַחְכִּמִינוּן, he put wisdom into them. Deliberately and with wisdom, he guided his hands for that purpose, and with knowledge, for he knew [full well] that Manasseh was the firstborn, but he nevertheless did not place his right hand upon him.

15 And he blessed Joseph, and said: 'The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God who hath been my shepherd all my life long unto this day, 16 the angel who hath redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named in them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.' 17 And when Joseph saw that his father was laying his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head. 18 And Joseph said unto his father: 'Not so, my father, for this is the first-born; put thy right hand upon his head.' 19 And his father refused, and said: 'I know it, my son, I know it; he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; howbeit his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.'

Michael the guardian Angel of Yisrael protected Yacov in the most dire of times and therefore he blessed this Angel on the children of Yosef and the passage is repeated by us before we go to sleep each night.

The angel who was usually sent to me in my distress, as the matter is stated: “And an angel of God said to me in a dream, ‘Jacob!…I am the God of Bethel’ ” (Gen. 31:11-13). - [after Targum Jonathan ben Uzziel] bless the youths. Manasseh and Ephraim. and may they multiply…like fish. [Just] like fish, which proliferate and multiply, and are unaffected by the evil eye. — [from Onkelos and Gen. Rabbah 97:3] 17. So he held up his father’s hand. He lifted it off his son’s head and held it up with his [own] hand. 19. I know, my son, I know. that he is the firstborn. he too will become a people, etc.. for Gideon is destined to be descended from him. [Gideon] through whom the Holy One, blessed be He, will perform a miracle. — [from Midrash Tanchuma Vayechi 7] But his younger brother will be greater than he. for Joshua is destined to be descended from him, [and Joshua is] the one who will distribute the inheritances of the land and teach Torah to Israel. — [from Midrash Tanchuma Vayechi 7] and his children[’s fame] will fill the nations. The whole world will be filled when his fame and his name are spread when he stops the sun in Giveon and the moon in the Valley of Ayalon. — [from Avodah Zarah 25a]

Joseph’s sweet revenge by Rabbi Zev Leff: "...And they said, 'Perhaps Joseph will nurse hatred against us...' " (Genesis 50:15)

Upon returning from burying Jacob, Joseph's brothers sensed that Joseph's attitude toward them had changed, and they said:

"Perhaps Joseph will nurse hatred against us and then he will surely repay us all the evil that we did him." (Genesis 50:15)

The word "loo" usually means halevai - "if only" - an expression of hope that what follows in the sentence will come to pass. In this context it is very difficult to understand why Joseph's brothers would have hoped that he would hate them and repay them with the evil they did to him. (see Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh ad loc)

To understand the brothers' statement, it is necessary to first understand why Joseph put his brothers through the entire ordeal beginning with the accusation of being spies. Why did he not just forgive them from the start and acknowledge what he himself subsequently told them: "You meant my sale for bad, but God made it work out for the good" ?

When the brothers first appeared before Joseph, he recognized them and considered carefully what to say to them. And he spoke to them "harsh words," asking, "Where have you come from?" They answered, "From the land of Canaan to procure food." Then the Torah repeats that Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. Why does the Torah describe the question of where they came from as "harsh"? And why does the Torah repeat that Joseph recognized his brothers?

The Mishnah (Pirkei Avos 3:1) quotes Akavia ben Mehalalel:

"Consider three things, and you will not come to sin. Know from where you came, to where you go, and before Whom you will eventually give an accounting for all you have done."

There are three major causes of sin - jealousy, lust and the desire for glory. If one remembers that he started out, as all of us do, from a lowly drop of cell matter, then he will not be jealous of others. Rather he will appreciate that he has been provided with the means to develop. If one considers the ultimate end of his physical body - decomposition in the earth - he will better be able to control his physical lusts. And if one considers the accounting he will have to give, standing before the King of Kings, this should help to minimize any delusions of personal glory and grandeur.

At first, Joseph thought that his brothers also recognized him, and he therefore carefully chose the proper words to castigate them. Since that injustice emanated from a slight fault of jealousy on their part, Joseph challenged his brothers with the statement, "Where did you come from?" He meant that "lowly drop" from which we all come, and his implicit question was: In light of where we all came from, how could you have been jealous of me? When they took his question literally and answered, "From Canaan to procure food," he realized that they did not recognize him.

The Midrash relates that initially Joseph wanted to reveal himself to his brothers immediately. But the angel who directed him to his brothers 22 years earlier at Dosan (Genesis 37:15) appeared to him and told him that they had come to kill him. Only then did Joseph disguise himself and put them through the ordeal of being suspected as spies.

This can be understood in the following manner. The angel represents the Divine Providence that led Joseph to his brothers. The angel's appearance at that moment was an indication that the entire episode was being orchestrated from Above. By informing Joseph that his brothers still wished to kill him, the angel meant that they were being judged according to their intention and not according to how God had caused things to work out. As the Sages say, one who intends to eat pork and by mistake eats kosher meat still needs atonement.

As long as the brothers failed to recognize their error in selling Joseph, they could not repent for their deed. Therefore Joseph devised a plan to bring them to acknowledge their mistake and atone for it. First, he presented them with a situation in which they could observe another person acting as they had, and thereby obtain an objective perspective on their own behavior. He showed them how circumstantial evidence could be misconstrued to make them appear to be spies, though there was not a shred of truth in the accusation. In this way they would realize that their assessment of his motives in reporting to their father and relating his dreams was wrong.

Second, he put them into a situation in which their brother Binyamin endangered them both personally and their future role in the Jewish people, just as they had perceived Joseph as doing. The only difference between the two circumstances was the absence of jealousy in the latter case. By comparing their different responses in the two cases, they would see how jealousy had colored their responses with respect to him. Their concern for their father Jacob's feelings and their own love for Binyamin, which played such a large role in their thoughts at that moment, would also have been present with Joseph had it not been for their jealousy.

Third, he sought to fulfill the dreams in their entirety so that they could recognize clearly that those dreams were of a prophetic nature, and not, as they suspected, reflections of Joseph's subconscious designs. In addition, the fulfillment of the dreams permitted him to prepare them for their future roles in the Jewish nation. As the verse clearly states, "He remembered the dreams he had dreamt for them" - for them, not about them.

Fourth, he sought to take revenge, which when appropriate can be beneficial. The Sages tell us that vengeance is great, for it is put between two names of God, "A God of vengeance is God." A Torah scholar who does not take revenge like a snake, the Sages say, is not a Torah scholar! Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz explains that revenge is the vehicle to "even the score" with evil and balance out the seeming gain and benefit accrued by evil means. Vengeance shows that crime does not pay and that justice prevails. But there is one absolute condition on this vengeance: the one taking revenge must have no personal pleasure from it. He must be as a snake which derives no pleasure when it bites.

In this light, we can understand what Joseph said upon naming his firstborn son, "God has caused me to forget all my troubles and my father's home." Why did Joseph give thanks for forgetting his father's home? Because only by forgetting all personal vendettas and pain could his revenge remain untainted and pure. It is evident from Joseph's repeated crying fits how difficult it was for him to continue his brothers' ordeal, and that revenge was far from "sweet" for him.

Fifth, Joseph sought to provide them with the opportunity to receive repentance with suffering and tribulation, to compensate and offset the pain they had wrongly caused him. He threw them into the pit of prison so that they could personally know how he felt when they threw him into a pit. Then he removed them and left Shimon alone, so that they could grieve for a brother left in a pit, as they had failed to grieve for him. He then returned their money to their sacks, which they construed as the payment for Shimon's enslavement (see Ba'alei HaTosafos). The repugnance of such money reminded them of taking money for selling Joseph as a slave.

Finally, Joseph sought to put his brothers in a similar situation to the one in which they wronged him, to see if their repentance was complete. The ultimate test of the ba'al teshuva is being placed in the same situation and not repeating the sin. Thus, Joseph gave Binyamin extra provisions to arouse any jealousy they might feel for the remaining son of Jacob's favorite wife, Rachel.

The whole charade came to a dramatic climax when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. At that moment the intense truth of his innocence and their sin was so clear that it served as the most powerful and effective rebuke. The inability of the brothers to respond foreshadow our own stunned silence on the Day of Judgment when we will be confronted with our sins, and all our petty justifications will melt away.

This entire scenario, however, would only be effective if the brothers had only acted out of fear that Joseph sought to usurp their roles in the Jewish people, and not out of any intrinsic hatred of him and desire to kill him. The brothers were convinced that they were not guilty of this last sin. Although they originally decided to kill Joseph, the fact that Reuven and Yehudah so easily talked them out of it revealed that their intentions were never serious.

Returning to Egypt from burying Jacob in Israel, the brothers passed by the spot where Joseph had been sold, and Joseph went to the pit and recited the blessing, "God has performed a miracle for me in this place." Seeing this, the brothers became terrified and exclaimed:

"Perhaps Joseph will now hate us and return to us all the evil we perpetrated upon him." (Genesis 50:15)

The law is that one recites the blessing over a miracle only when one's life was in mortal danger, and the brothers interpreted Joseph's recitation as proof that he thought they had actually intended to kill him.

After returning to Egypt, Joseph stopped inviting the brothers to eat by him, which they also construed as signaling a new attitude toward them now that Jacob was no longer alive. They reasoned that the entire ordeal that Joseph had put them through did not compensate for what Joseph saw as their intention to kill him, and their atonement was not yet complete. Therefore, they exclaimed, Loo! (Halevai - Let it be) that Joseph hates us." If Joseph is correct that we are guilty on this account, too, they reasoned, let him hate us and thereby afford us an opportunity to clean our slates for eternity. Hence they fell before him in total subjugation.

Joseph, however, comforted them and explained that he did not think that they had intended to kill him. He made the blessing over the pit because unbeknownst to them the pit contained deadly snakes and scorpions, and therefore he had been in mortal danger. And he had stopped inviting them to eat with him for a completely extraneous reason. While Jacob was alive, Joseph sat at the end of the table because Jacob placed him there. But now that Yehudah had received the blessing of monarchy, Joseph felt it was improper for him to continue sitting at the head of the table. As the viceroy of Egypt, however, it would have been a slight to the Pharaoh if he did not sit at the head of the table. To avoid this problem, he stopped inviting his brothers.

Nevertheless, a blemish remained from the sale of Joseph, precisely because Joseph told his brothers that they did not need to ask for his forgiveness. His reasoning: Although they intended evil, God made it work out for the good. Rabbi David Kronglass of Ner Yisrael in Baltimore, once pointed out that a beneficial outcome is by itself no proof that neither atonement nor forgiveness is needed. The Torah says concerning a woman who violates a vow, which unbeknownst to her was previously annulled by her husband, "God will forgive her" (Numbers 30:13). The intention to sin, even where no sin was committed, still requires forgiveness. For that reason Rebbe Akiva wept every time he read the verse.

Rebbe Akiva was one of the Ten Martyrs, whose deaths were the final atonement for the blemish left from the sale of Joseph. He wept in premonition of the punishment yet to come because of Joseph's failure to extract full atonement from his brothers.

I Shall Not Fear Katya Umansky's Courageous Escape from Communist Russia

Though I shall walk in the valley of death I shall not fear, for You are with me" (Psalms 23:4).

Twenty-four year old Katya Umansky was alone in her Moscow apartment when the phone rang. "Hello Katya," said the caller, his tone dripping with cloying sweetness. "I'd like to take you out for the day." Katya's senses immediately went on high alert. "I don't talk to a man I don't know," she said and replaced the receiver.

Half a minute later the phone rang again. "All right, Katya," said the unknown caller. /"Let's put the games aside. I'm a representative of the KGB. I need to talk to you." Katya inhaled. "What would you like to talk about?" "Just some small talk."


"Listen Katerina," the voice became harsh. "You can't joke with our organization. You'd better cooperate."

Katya nodded into the phone, as if the caller was able to see. Just one year earlier, in the spring of 1979, she had applied for an exit visa in order to immigrate to Israel. As part of the process, she'd sent her letter of resignation to the Comsomol, the Communist youth organization. In response, they had convened a public meeting to humiliate and degrade her – the disloyal Soviet citizen. "Why do you betray us?" they had demanded. "Why do you want to go serve our enemies: Israel and Zionists? You're a loyal Soviet citizen; you have to continue to be a loyal citizen."

Katya had felt dagger-like eyes slicing into her until suddenly her embarrassment had given way to an inner strength she hadn't been familiar with. "I want to leave this country," she'd said with conviction. "I am a Jew. I want to live in my homeland, the land of my forefathers, Israel."

"How can you betray the country where you were born? The country that raised you and gave you everything? You do not belong in Israel; you are the loyal Soviet citizen. You do not even know Hebrew..."

"It is my right to choose the place where I want to live. Relieve me from the Comsomol, please...and I do know Hebrew."

The reaction had come a few weeks later. Katya was kicked out of college, her brother fired from his job. Without work, she risked arrest as a "parasite." She was therefore forced to take on a job as a janitor and a night guard. Yet she had no regrets, no desire to backtrack. Forward she would go, with courage and with strength. G‑d was with her. She had nothing to fear.

"Katerina," the voice on the line, gentler now, disrupted her thoughts. "It's in your interest to co-operate with me." Katya turned up her nose. They were all the same, those KGB agents, switching from benevolence to terror with alacrity. "Tomorrow at seven," he said. "I'll be at the park next to 'Dynamo' subway station. I expect to see you there."

For some time, Katya remained standing in the same place, staring into space. What was this all about? She wondered. The image of the Comsomol meeting came to mind. Her slight figure standing alone before the giant bears of the Communist Party as they raved about their motherland. Their anger hadn't surprised her, but why were there eyes so full of hate? Was it because she'd voiced her opinion? There she'd stood, face to face with the dreaded organization, yet she hadn't been intimidated – she'd spoken her truth. For her it had been a liberating experience. For them, well, they were a slow moving beast, was this then, their retaliation?

After the Comsomol meeting, she'd joined the Jewish underground movement and developed ties with Reb Getzel Velensky, who had been a chassid of the fifth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber. Reb Getzel, an underground rabbi and a leader of a minyan was now teaching her about her religion. Katya realized that personal freedom was available to her only by salvaging her true identity and reclaiming her historical roots.

Manipulation, intimidation, terrorization – these were the weapons of the KGB. She, however, had her own arsenal: faith, trust and loyalty to God.

When Katya entered the park, a nondescript man, his muscles bulging through the tailored suit he wore, appeared from out of nowhere. "My name is Alexander Vladimirovitch*," he said solicitously and led her to a park bench. "You'll be interested to hear what I have to tell you, Katya Umansky," he said with an ingratiating smile and promptly proceeded to relate to Katya her entire life story.

Katya looked at him. At first glance his light blue eyes seemed vacant, giving him the primitive appearance of a Russian peasant, but as he continued to talk she could see the shrewdness lurking beneath the surface. It made her shudder.

Vladimirovitch sat with his legs crossed, suavely talking about her friends her school experiences, about her grandmother who had died in her arms; he told her everything about her from the time she was born. Katya's head felt heavy. So the KGB knows about me, she ruminated. That could mean only one thing – they had something against her.

"Katya," Vladimirovitch said suddenly. "Do you want to know what happened to your father?"

Katya shot up from the bench. Her head swam and there was an ache in her heart. "Do you…Do you know where he is? My father?"

"Contain yourself, Katerina," Vladimirovitch sneered. "I prepared for this meeting, see, and there are a lot of things I know."

Katya sat down and placed her trembling fingers behind her, hoping he wouldn't see them. It annoyed her that she sounded desperate. But, he was dangling before her information that she longed to know.

Vladimirovitch stood up. "If you want to find out," he said, straightening his suit, "keep in touch with me."

Lev Umansky, a scientific researcher for the Academy of Science of the USSR, had left on a secret mission. Katya knew only that her father had gone on a field trip in search of uranium mines in a tiny village in the Ukraine. A few days after he left, she received a phone call from his coworker.

"Where's your dad?"

Katya was startled. "My dad? Isn't he there with you?

"Well, no. Isn't he in Moscow?"

"No, not at all. He's supposed to be there with you!"

Katya was beside herself. Frantic searches led to nowhere. Her beloved father, a strapping, healthy man in the prime of his life, had simply vanished without a trace. What had happened to him? Was he alive? The questions plagued her but nobody had answers for her. A horrible, throbbing pain lodged itself in the pit of her stomach and never left her.

Now that ache intensified. So they knew what had happened to her father. And they were using this information to exert pressure on her. She stood up from the bench. Her legs felt numb. In her mouth was a bitter taste she didn't recognize. Her mind was racing – a thousand thoughts vying for her attention. Was her father alive? Where was he? Would she ever find out? What did the KGB want from her? What lurked behind Alexander Vladimirovitch's guileless smile?

Despite her fears and her pain, Katya kept meeting with the KGB officer, sometimes in a coffee shop, at times in a hotel lobby, and yet other days on a park bench. Vladimirovitch called the shots and Katya went along with them, hoping, always hoping that she would finally discover the whereabouts of her father. But while Vladimirovitch talked and talked, he said nothing – neither about her father and nor about anything else. Alexander Vladimirovitch, Katya came to realize, was a highly professional rambler.

It was in a coffee shop when Vladimirovitch suddenly said, "My boss wants to talk to you, Katya." His boss, he explained, was an important man, a colonel and a general who had joined the KGB in the 1920s. "He's from the old school," he cautioned. "You'd be wise to follow his directives."

Colonel-General Anatoly Ivanovich Kovalyov was very tall, probably 6"5'. His army bearing seemed to have gone after spending years at the desk in his office, but his posture spoke of a man who was used to giving orders. "You are twenty-six years old Comrade Umansky," he said and launched into a lengthy talk about the prominence of the USSR.

Getting to the point, he said with studied sincerity, "You want to leave the USSR. You want to live as a Jew. Very well."

He leaned back in his chair and placed his hands behind his head. Behind him on the wall above his desk, portraits of Lenin and Brezhnev looked at each other from their frames. Katya waited expectantly.

Suddenly, Ivanovich sat up and fixed Katya with a penetrating gaze. "What do you know?" he yelled. "Your Zionist propaganda will never tell you what kind of difficulties you'll face as a new immigrant.

"Listen Comrade," he said his voice calm again. "We offer you a better life than you could ever imagine. You will be admitted into the USSR KGB Higher School. It's a great opportunity for you to learn an excellent Hebrew and also English. When you're done, we'll send you to Budapest, Hungary. You will go to the Yeshiva there and learn about your religion. And then you'll be ready to be sent to the U.S. to live the good life.

"In exchange for all that, Comrade, you will be ready to act when we tell you to. We have a mission for you. That is your privilege as a loyal citizen."

Katya rolled her eyes upward. "Sorry," she said. "I'm not interested."

A cold look came over Ivanovich's face. "What?" he sputtered. "What did you say?"

"No," said Katya, rising from her chair. "This is not for me."

"Are you saying 'no' to a Colonel-General of the KGB?"

Katya took a deep breath. "It's my right to decide how to live my life," she said moving to the door.

Anatoly Ivanovich's face contorted in anger and he burst into a torrent of threats. "You will die!" he shouted, pounding his fist on his desk. "You'll never be able to leave this country. I, yes I myself will personally make sure that you will get a refusal for a lifetime. You'll never leave the Soviet Union as long as you live!"

Katya shrugged. "That's fine." She opened the door.

"You'll be forced to undertake this mission. We'll make your life really miserable here. You won't be allowed to leave."

Katya half turned. "Comrade Colonel-General," she said, "you will yet kick me out of your country. Good day, Sir."

Outside of his office, Katya leaned against the door and closed her eyes. She noticed that she was panting; the palms of her hands were sweaty. What have I done? She wondered. What will happen to me now? Every fiber of her body trembled with emotion. "G‑d, please," she whispered, "only You can help me."

Alexander Vladimirovitch didn't bother Katya for a while after the incident with Colonel-General Kovalyov. Katya, however, saw him everywhere she went. In the past, during their many talks, she had often seen a trace of sympathy in his eyes. Now she imagined him chasing her with his German shepherd dog and then killing her with that same expression of sympathy.

Working for the Jewish underground calmed her. She spent hours copying Jewish literature for distribution. If caught, she would be condemned to languish seven, eight or even twelve years in a prison or Siberian labor camp. But she learned to toss the fear over her shoulder and look ahead with faith and courage.

One afternoon, rolling her shopping cart filled with the copies she had labored over, she arrived at the subway station. If caught, she would be condemned to languish seven, eight or even twelve years in a prison. Right near the tracks stood

her teacher, waiting to retrieve the precious copies and pay her for her work. Suddenly Katya, who like most refuseniks had developed a kind of radar, sensed a pair of eyes staring at her back. A cold chill ran through her. Someone had been following her. Someone was waiting for the right time to pounce on her. Katya swiftly got a hold of herself. She continued walking purposefully ahead, moving right past her teacher, as though she had no idea who he was.

It had been a narrow escape, but she needed a plan, a support system. And so her friends in the Underground helped her get in touch with a Dutch journalist (Raymond Von Dem Bogart) as well as an American Jewish couple who worked for the American embassy. Katya formed a close friendship with these kind people. But more importantly, if something were to happen to her, it would become known in the U.S., in Amsterdam and all over the world.

Still, the KGB weren't easily scared away. It didn't take long for Katya to notice that she was being shadowed day and night, wherever she went. But that didn't stop her. The constant surveillance was merely an annoyance that inspired her to become more active.

The dreaded knock came on a cold winter night. Katya was all alone and the hour was late. Up until then, the KGB had followed her on the street, but at a distance. They had tapped her phone, but didn't harass her. Now it seemed that the KGB had declared an open war against her.

Six strapping men marched into her home. The dreaded knock came on a cold winter night. Six strapping men marched into her home. One of them, their leader, handed Katya a search warrant – it was issued by the court, there was nowhere to run. Her heart hammered inside her chest, but she steeled herself. "Guys, please, keep together," she told them. If it was war they wanted, this was her territory and she was in control. "Go ahead and search," she said, her eyes flashing. "Just don't spread out all over the house, all of you stay in one place." The men, hardened KGB agents, were taken aback by her command, but they listened nonetheless.

The hours crept by. Katya watched as they scrutinized each and every paper inside her desk, on her bookshelf and in her closet. Under her watchful gaze they returned everything back into its place. Then they reached the closet where she usually kept her chemical photo laboratory. The leader, his lips set in a determined curve, turned the doorknob and yanked the door open. A row of empty shelves stared back at him. He ducked his head inside and touched the shelves with his hands. A thin layer of dust clung to his fingers. The silence thundered as each took a turn to grope inside the closet and emerged empty-handed.

At last, the long night came to an end. As the sun rose, the officers left, and safely alone, Katya gave way to numbness. It had been another close call. Just a week before she had decided to replace her photo equipment – it was old and inefficient – she had sold it for a fraction of the price. Now as the shafts of sunlight poured into her apartment, Katya shivered with the realization that G‑d had planted it in her heart to sell them.

The Underground rented a dacha, a small cabin in the countryside about an hour away from Moscow, surrounded by a garden and a small vegetable patch – the perfect place for the children of refuseniks to escape from the harshness of city life. Here they would be able to learn Torah in tranquility. Every Monday, in the early morning hours, Katya would stand at the railroad station awaiting the Jewish parents who came to deposit their children in her care. She had an average of six to eight children.

Posing as their mother, Katya traveled with them by train to the little dacha. There she taught them aleph bet, instructed them on the Jewish prayers and regaled them with tales of the holidays. On Thursdays, she traveled back home to resume her own studies and to teach Hebrew lessons to adults in her Moscow apartment until the next Monday when she again journeyed out with the children.

On a frigid winter morning, Katya awoke to strange sounds coming from the garden adjoining the dacha. Stealthily she headed to the door. What she saw shocked her. Four black Volgas were parked outside. At least twelve KGB agents were standing around. Her heart almost stopped. So they've finally come to get her. Out here in the wilderness. "Did they really think they needed twelve men to seize her?" She thought wryly. "And what about the children?"

The children, having awakened from the commotion came running to the door. In their curiosity they brushed past her and darted outside, their gleeful cries echoing in the morning stillness. Katya remained standing in place, bewildered. Should she deal with the KGB or take care of the children first who were frolicking barefoot on the snow covered grounds?

Then she noticed the cameras. Her frazzled nerves relaxed. They had come not to arrest her, but to photograph the dacha, the kids and her. She shrugged. "Let them take all the pictures in the world," she mused as she hurried after the children and brought them into the cabin. As long as they weren't arresting her. But the officers began to follow her inside. "You're not allowed here," she told them simply from the doorway. "Good bye." The officers turned and headed back to their Volgas, the crunching of the snow the only sound they made. Katya exhaled. G‑d was with her. She could think of no other explanation for what had just occurred.

More "battles" were fought and won across the USSR chess board. It was a game fraught with danger, but Katya saw herself not as a "knight" stuck in a corner, but a "pawn" with the ability to maximize its position, a pawn in the hand of G‑d.

In a twist of irony, Katya was sometimes hired to work as a Polish interpreter for the top Soviet institutions. It was a slip up of the highest order, the upshot of the organization's thick bureaucracy. While one department was intent on tapping her phone lines and keeping a close watch on her, another department appointed her to sit in booths, earphones strapped over her ears, to interpret for the Polish delegations. One division stripped her from employment, while another employed her to dine and wine with their Polish guests from abroad. The KGB was an enormous organization where the right hand didn't know from the left.

But when Katya's knowledge of Torah increased and she took on greater and greater levels of observance, her job as a Polish interpreter no longer fit into her lifestyle of Torah and mitzvot. In the same courageous way that she stood up to the forces from without, she prevailed over the rivals within to do what was right. She resigned from the post that might bring her to work on Shabbat or partake of unkosher food.

When Reb Getzel Velensky, the teire yid (precious Jew) who taught her about Judaism, discovered that Katya had forfeited her job for her religion he called her right away. "Kreina," he said. "I heard that you lost your job."

"It was my choice, Reb Geitche, because I didn't want to violate Shabbat."

"How much did you earn a month?"

"Two hundred rubles."

"I will give you two hundred rubles."

"You have work for me?" she asked excitedly. "What shall I do?"

"Nothing. Don't do anything."

"What do you mean, don't do anything? I can't sit home and receive two hundred rubles for doing nothing?"

"What would you like to do?" he asked.

"Reb Getzel, you know that my dream is to learn Torah."

"So do that."

"But that won't produce food," she reasoned.

"Why don't you teach the women Torah?"

Katya's eyes glowed. "I would like that a lot."

"Come to the synagogue. Women are constantly coming with their questions. They need someone. You can be there for them. I'll pay you for your work."

Torah was life, and Katya dove into its life-giving waters with ardor. Like starving wayfarers, the women, young and old, approached her, searching for a morsel of Jewish knowledge to nourish their hungry souls.

Helena, a beautiful seventeen year old girl came to ask her if she should become a nun.

Katya looked at her mildly, care in her eyes. "Why do you want to become a nun?"

"I believe in G‑d."

"I see. I believe in G‑d too. Let's talk about that. Do you want to come to my class?"

Helena's interest was piqued.

Then there was Ludmilla. One afternoon she came rushing into the synagogue in a panic. "Something terrible is going to happen to my son," she cried, wringing her hands. "I'm Jewish, but can I go to church to light the candles?"

"How do you know you're Jewish?" Katya asked her.

"My mother was Jewish."

"I see. What will the candles do for your son?"

"Bring mercy upon him."

"We have a merciful G‑d, do you know? Would you want to know more about Him?"

Ludmilla's eyes widened with joy. "Please, teach me everything you know."

In this manner, Katya gathered close to eighty students. Like starving wayfarers, the women, young and old approached her, searching for a morsel of Jewish knowledge to nourish their hungry souls. They met in her apartment where she taught them the aleph bet. She instructed them in Bible, in Jewish Law, in prayers and a little bit of everything. It filled her with immense satisfaction to see the subtle changes in her students. No longer did the term Jew denote only pain and isolation. They had a heritage, rich with meaning and they were a part of it all, they belonged. They stood straighter, their eyes shone and consequently they turned their sights on Israel, their homeland.

One after another her students made aliyah. Katya felt like a train conductor waving good-bye to the departing trains while she stayed on. The KGB had been true to its promise – a lifetime refusal had been issued and she remained stuck behind the Iron Curtain. Yet Katya's faith in G‑d never faltered. She now saw herself as His emissary with a mission to fulfill. She was needed to cultivate and tend to the frozen souls in this spiritual wasteland.

Sunday was a big day on Katya's calendar. On that day her little apartment became alive with excitement. Her simple dining room table would be converted into a "hospital bed," the air would become vibrant with the happiness of a mitzvah.

With their lives in their hands and joy in their hearts, they came – five or six adults, from all over the former Soviet Union. The surgeon, nurse, the anesthesiologist, all of them turned a blind eye to the KGB agent outside. Reb Getzel came too; to supervise the proceedings – his presence lighting up the room. Katya secluded herself in her kitchen, busily preparing for the feast that would follow, hoping that G‑d would protect them from the KGB. And so it was. Dozens of circumcisions were performed. Not once did the agent enter her home during a circumcision.

With all the excitement in her life now, Katya hardly recognized the familiar voice of Alexander Vladimirovitch, when he telephoned her one summer day in 1988.

"Do you know who I am?" he asked.

His voice transported her to a different world. For a moment, she felt an urge to ask him where her father was, but she resisted. He would never tell her and she wouldn't give him the pleasure of asking. Instead, she kept her voice brisk and business-like. "How can I help you, Alexander Vladimirovich?"

"You have a brilliant memory, Katerina. We're starting to teach Hebrew in KGB school. Do you want to work for us as a teacher?"

"Do you think I'll say 'yes' after all these years?"

"We live in Perestroyka. Gorbachev is president, and he changed the way the KGB works now; aren't you aware?"

"Sorry I don't believe in the repentance of the crocodile."

"You're just as bad as before."

And the phone went dead.

The grey clouds obscured the sun as Katya made her way home past the empty parks and dejected looking boulevards. It was autumn again, eleven long years since Katya had first applied for emigration. The leaves were beginning to change colors, the cold and rain turning the tapestry of color into dead leaves mixed with mud. It was a season that matched the despair and melancholy of Moscow's citizens.

As soon as she entered her home, Katya noticed the postcard that had arrived by mail informing her that she was being summoned to the OVIR, a department of the KGB. What now? She wondered. What do they want from me this time? She felt her strength ebbing. "G‑d," she cried, "help me in the same way You helped me until now."

When Katya arrived at the OVIR, she slipped the postcard and her brown passport to the clerk through the glass partition and prepared herself for a long wait. The OVIR was a slow moving bureaucratic beast – they had all the time in the world. To her surprise, the clerk immediately ushered her through massive oak doors. "The Chief of OVIR," read the plaque. Katya was overcome with fear.

Inside the massive office, sat the chief of OVIR himself, studying her intensely. "Madam Umansky," he said. "Can I see your passport and your work certificate please?" Katya was momentarily caught off guard. Madam? Was that how he'd called her? What was going on here? There was a tremor in her hand when she placed the documents on his desk.

"You won't be needing these any longer," he said. Katya pursed her lips and swallowed, suppressing her urge to cry out. Would it be prison or Siberia? Would she be interrogated? Tortured?

"You have two weeks to get ready," she heard him say. "We recommend," he emphasized the word recommend, "that you get a visa at the American Embassy and purchase a ticket to the USA within two weeks. You must leave this country."

Katya couldn't move. She was dumbfounded. The office, the OVIR chief, everything seemed to be an illusion. In utter disbelief she watched the chief slide a red passport across the desk. "This is your international passport," he said.

She took the document and left the office in a daze, a cloud seemed to hang over her eyes and inside her head. It didn't seem real. All her hopes and desires of eleven years were about to come true.

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had had enough of Katya Umansky.

Postscript from Katya (Kreina):My father, Lev Umansky, a geophysicist who discovered several gas and oil fields in the Baltic Seas and Northern Russia, was never found or heard from again since I last saw him, in August, 1978. A criminal investigation was opened regarding his disappearance, but was closed due to absence of evidence.

Remember Jacob, who suffered so much because Joseph was missing? I understand that story all too well...

Assorted Miracles

Seth's Medical Update and a Nes for Chanuka

Sunday was the seventh day of Chanuka and Seth was scheduled to go to the hospital for a checkup on his foot by both the oncologist and the foot surgeon.

Sara and he were just finishing a late breakfast at 9:30 about to leave for the hospital when Gan Yavne's Alarm Red siren started to warble. This would indicate that enemy aircraft had entered a set perimeter of Israel's airspace. This had only been used since the Yom Kippur War being activated by Egyptian warplanes. The system is tested each day at exactly 8:00 AM to be sure that it is in working order. Since it was not 8:00 and we knew that Hamas had no aircraft (and its rockets from south of us had here-to-fore only reached the southern parts of Ashkelon), we ignored the signal and completed our preparations to go to Tel Aviv.

About fifteen minutes later, we drove through Gan Yavne going to its southern exit in order to get onto the highway (Route 4) to Tel Aviv. We passed an unusual number of police vehicles coming towards us until we reached the vineyards at the southern end just before entering the major highway which was filled with morning rush-hour traffic. The edge of the road which had vineyards on one side and newly constructed houses on the other was filled with police vehicles of various sorts standing bumper to bumper. The officers were all looking at an area a short distance from the road where two other police cars were parked next to a huge crater in the ground.

It was then that I realized what had happened shortly before we arrived there. Hamas, who had been firing Kassam rockets on a daily basis into the western Negev and southern Israel for the past few weeks, had switched to Katyusha (modified Russian Grad) rockets. The Kassams have a range of 5 – 8 miles and are very inaccurate. The Katyushas have a range about 20 miles and are more accurate. When we returned home in the evening, I learned that Ashkelon to the south of us was hit (where a worker died and six others were injured in a factory), Ashdod just west of us was hit as was Bene Darom, Beit Zachai and Yavne, all just north of us were also hit that day.

All of the above is coming to a crucial point. I realized, after passing the rocket that landed, how fortunate the people in the nearby houses and those in the long lines of cars had been. Had there been a small difference in the landing area or the time of landing, the casualties could have been extremely high. Sara and I could have easily been among them. Therefore, I took this as a sign from the good L-rd above that everything would be OK, in the spirit of Chanuka, for the rest of the day.

It turned out that I was correct. After being stuck in wheelchairs for a few weeks and then graduating to a walker, I am now able to manage with only a cane. The x-rays showed that, despite their fears about poor healing (due to the massive radiation and chemo that I received), all the bones in my mid-foot fused together as they were supposed to. I did develop an ugly pressure sore at the bottom of my foot but, hopefully, this will disappear when my new orthotic will be made. My entire left leg is quite swollen due to my lymph glands there being all messed up but I expect to start treatment for that in the near future. All that being said, all the doctors, nurses and the physical therapist that was coming to our home twice each week to teach me how to walk again were quite pleased with my progress after the complicated operation. They all feel that I am well on my way to recovery.

Rabbi Asher Solomon is married to the daughter of the Chief Rabbi of Ashkelon. She had a feeling that her house might get hit. The Chief Rabbi and them sleep in the basement at night and the children were sent away to Yerushalayim. On Monday the house shook at lunchtime from a Katyusha but nobody was injured as they were in the shelter. Elsewhere, a soldier was just breezed by shrapnel near his head as his helmet saved him. In Gedera a missile knocked off the top of a house and landed about a dozen feet from the house making for glass splinters that injured a baby.

Dateline Thursday: About 5 minutes to 8 in the morning 4 Katyushas landed in Nahariya and hit a Kibbutz in the Nahariya – Shlomi area close to the Lebanese and an old age home in Nahariya. The man in room 9 of the home was in the dining room or another room when the missile hit the room. Total destruction was in the room the 85 year old holocaust survivor was having trouble breathing from the shock but otherwise he was glad to be alive. For the story behind the miracle:

From Tsila: BS"D Free download from Artscroll (see bottom of page):

Talmud Torah Kenegged Coolum (Talmud Torah vs. all the Mitzvos even greeting the Moshiach - Halachos of Rambam)

The Kassams fell near Ashdod and disturbed the learning in the Yeshiva and the boys learning. Yeshivat Grodna moves temporarily from Ashdod to Bnei Berak and Ashdod children learning with my grandson in Kiriat Sefer. No bitul Torah and Talmud Torah.

R’ A.L. sent me this from Moetzes Gedolei Torah and the next letter: To all dear Jews concerned about their fellow-Jews in this time of distress:

In light of the current situation, in which thousands of Jews in the Holy Land are in danger due to the attacks of the enemy, we regard it as proper to strongly emphasize the obligation on us all to awaken ourselves in prayer, to ask for Divine mercy for our dear brethren and to increase our charity and good deeds for the protection of the remnant of Yisroel from any and all harm. We should intensify the practice of reciting chapters 83, 130 and 142 of Tehillim each day, and fervently pour out our hearts in the prayer "V'hu Rachum" said on Monday and Thursday mornings and in the blessing of "Hashkiveinu" in Ma'ariv, where we ask Hashem to "spread upon us Your tent of peace" and conclude "the Guardian of His nation Yisroel forever."

May Hashem in His abundant mercy and kindness shield His nation and heritage, release them from all straits, and take us from darkness to light and from subjugation to redemption. Amein, may it be His will.

An open letter to all Achenu Bene Yisroel

After learning about the heart rendering appeal of the Gedolay Torah to intensify our Tefilos and Torah learning during this very trying time for Klal Yisroel, we have undertaken to join and aid them in their prayers.

The Medrash Rabah and the Yalkut relate that during the war against Midyon, for every one that went out to battle there was a designated person whose task it was to pray and learn for him.

The Great Gaon and Sage Rebbe Chaim Kanievsky Shlita when asked about this tradition pointed out that Dovid HaMelech, as well continued and instituted the practice, that for every individual who was in combat, there was another person selected for the specific task of praying and learning for him.

Therefore in order to continue and accomplish this Minchag, we ask soldiers and/or their relatives who would want a "partner" in Torah and Tefillah to email or fax 011 9728 9450027 and give their Hebrew name and mothers Hebrew name without any other particulars such as family name or other identifying factors, so that we may disseminate them among those who heed the call to add Torah and Tefillot for the sake of those who find themselves in jeopardy ח"ו. Anyone who finds himself or herself ח"וin danger or in shelters because of the war may also feel free to call or email to the above.

To bond with us and receive a name of your "partner" please email or fax the above.

May Klal Yisroel in the merit of joining together, speedily see a successful end to this trial and campaign as quoted in the Parsha "without loss of life".

HaRav Simcha Hakohen Kook HaRav Levi Yitzchok Horowitz
Chief Rabbi of Rechovot Bostoner Rebbe

I mentioned this to a fellow who I chat with in the locker room. He told me that his sister married an Ashkenazi fellow named Stern and either her son or nephew was killed from the friendly fire incident. “I didn’t have the possibility of making the funeral.” Google: 1st Sgt. Nitai Stern, 21, from Jerusalem HY”D I believe that he was one or two of the boys killed from the Mercas HaRav Yeshiva. The father of Capt. Yehonathan Netanel, 27, from Kedummim HY”D appeared to be someone whom I knew from my settlement activity days. The world is small and Israel is tiny. Also on a personal level, my old roommate from my Yeshiva days is staying by his sons in our area and Rabbi Hillel, pictured on and his wife the sister of Chedva’s Bridge are staying by one of their daughters living here.

Remember G. W. Bush that Islam is the religion of peace:

Inyanay Diyoma

Great Video on how the Amalek Hamas operates in Gaza thanks to Debbie G. for the site:

Meir K. my non-religious retired co-worker sent me this glatt kosher propaganda:


The following came to me from Benyamin Natanyahu the second film is in Hebrew for children: Hamas and Hitler were elected democratically from Foxnews on the side of the second post in English. Also an interview with Glen Beck on the Iranian plan for the Holocaust appears on this side.

From Yehonatan Shai:

“I TOLD YOU SOby Emanuel A. Winston, Mid East analyst & commentator

On December 13th I published a forecast on the high probability that Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (resigned due to imminent criminal indictments but still in power) and Defense Minister Ehud Barak would launch an attack (years too late) but, in sufficient time to help them and their cohorts in elections.
Today, December 31st FOX NEWS with Bill Reilly and Dick Morris were discussing the Israeli retaliatory attack on Hamas in Gaza. Dick Morris, a well-known analyst, said that Hamas wanted a fight which gave the Kadima Party (Olmert, Barak and Livni) a better chance to succeed in the coming elections and to keep Bibi Netanyahu out of power.
The need to dis-empower Hamas is necessary but, Barak has proven that he is not to be trusted. There is a strong sense that this war will end with the same failure as did the Lebanon Summer 2006 War with Hezb’Allah.
As Tzipi Livni, a deeply flawed and incompetent woman who jumped at the chance to end the Lebanon War inconclusively and put useless U.N. peacekeepers into place.
The War against Hamas should continue until this Terrorist organization cannot re-assemble and come back in months or a year to shower Israel with more Rockets, Missiles and Mortars.
Various sources have quantified the numbers of ordinance launched since 2001 by Hamas on Israeli civilians as 3,000 or 4,000. Now we see in the Media those numbers have been doubled to 6,000 or 7,000. Doesn’t anyone properly keep score?
America learned a hard lesson in Afghanistan when they allowed Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban to escape untouched from Kabul and into the mountains of Tora Bora. The Taliban have now re-grouped and the U.S. must send in another 20,000 American troops. The Lesson is: Don’t allow Terrorists to survive with cease-fires (Hudnas are not peace). Then they can come back and kill you.
I have enclosed my original forecast of December 13. While Olmert, Barak and Livni are now doing the right thing to counter the Hamas rain of Terror on the South of Israel, they are years too late. They should be held accountable for the years they allowed South Israel to suffer.
After the failures of the Yom Kippur War, Golda Meir resigned, as did Moshe Dayan, among others. She and the Generals followed the pressures from the U.S. of President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who ordered restraint despite their incoming Intelligence foretelling the “Surprise” attack. Nixon and Kissinger threatened that IF Israel launched a pre-emptive strike, they would not support or re-supply Israel. Golda obeyed and her mistaken restraint led to excessive casualties.
After this War is over, the entire Kadima government should be brought to trial.
In closing, I am listening to CNN as a reporter is explaining the bombing of the tunnel where cigarettes and fuel oil are being smuggled in from Egypt. CNN makes NO mention of the rampant smuggling of missiles, explosives and Terrorists. She (Paula....) Goes on to use the Sympathy Spin by telling all that a million and a half Gazans are suffering. She also ignores the hundred or so trucks carrying tonnage of food, medical supplies which Israel is sending through. Tell me please, What sane country ever supplies its enemies when they are at war?
But, CNN is doing what it always does, namely “Spinning the News”.



THE NEXT POLITICAL WAR IN ISRAEL by Emanuel A. Winston, Mid East analyst & commentator
Strong indicators demonstrate that the Kadima mob is planning a theatrical attack sometime between now and the February elections. I observe Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (resigned for pending criminal indictment BUT, wielding the high powers of PM) visiting Sderot and making heroic speeches a bout his knowing when to strike a retaliatory “pose”.
Given Olmert has artfully avoided responding to years of Kassam Rocket, missile and mortar attacks on Sderot and Ashkelon, does he now think that time has arrived? Of course, he does - because national Israeli elections are coming in early February.
Ehud Barak, as Minister of Defense, has restrained the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) from responding to Kassam, Mortar and Grad missile attacks. Now Barak needs to show his good “Generalship” in order to remain as the Head of his Labor Party faction - also in the coming elections. Keep in mind Tzipi Livni, current Foreign Minister, and Shimon Peres, current President - as planners and colluders with the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to get approval for this limited assault on Gaza and Hamas.
It will likely go something like this:
Barak will be in touch with Hamas and smooth the way by transferring $25 million dollars for Hamas Terrorists’ salaries. Hamas will, at a certain agreed time, fire off salvos of Kassam Rockets and other ordinance.
They will shoot - and run.
Then Barak and Olmert will make a public announcement of “We have had enough.” We must protect our citizens in Sderot and Ashkelon.” They will stand next to each other, looking very authoritative with Barak looking like a General abut to go to war.
The Army, under obedient Gen. Ashkenazi will shortly begin moving pre-positioned troops into Gaza. Keep in mind that all of these players knowingly allowed Hamas, with guidance from Hezb’Allah building deep concrete bunkers, with interconnecting tunnels for men and weapons - as they did in Southern Lebanon.
The Israeli troops moving forward will be faced with road bombs that blow up tanks, road-side missiles to destroy any vehicle, snipers positioned in interlocking fields of fire, mortars already sighted in to kill soldiers and buildings mined for possible Israeli soldiers to trigger. All of this and more was being built under the eyes of Olmert, Barak, Livni and Peres but, no attempt was made to stop it.
The Israeli soldiers will cautiously move forward, taking anticipated losses. The Muslim, Arab Palestinians will be in protected positions taking fewer losses. Besides, both were expendable because this is the arrangement.
The Israelis will move into Gaza a few miles, using artillery and tank guns but, under orders not to hit civilian target. Since the enemy has used civilian cover for all its operations, grateful for losses so they could weep to an accommodating Media, the going will be difficult.
At a time agreed upon with Hamas and U.S. overseers, the Israelis will stop their advance, stay put for awhile and then declare victory for the “camp followers” (the Leftist Media) and then order a withdrawal.
Naturally, Olmert, Livni, Peres and especially Barak will be dashing about, giving interviews and posing for photo-ops. The U.N., the E.U., and the U.S. will be protesting the attack as inhumane. Olmert and Barak will say they had to do it - to save Israeli lives - which until now have made little difference to them.
From a time point of view, the kick-off to maximize political benefit before the election, should be sometime before the end of December or the middle of January. That should be sufficient time to get the full benefits of the follow-on propaganda by the Leftist Media.
What heroes these political criminals will be made out to be. All the false speeches and the exciting photos and video film showing advancing tanks will slip smoothly into the pre-election public relations. Kadima will be the glorious pretorian guards going to war and beating the enemy. In the meantime, Hamas will have Barak’s $20 million dollars already shipped and received. Their war mechanism will remain mostly untouched in the Gazan deep concrete bunkers. (The concrete was shipped in from Israel - along with the humanitarian aid Israel shipped into Gaza.)
The Muslim Arab Palestinians will stop firing missiles until after the elections and then will start up again - as agreed. It will be a war, not to win, but to advance politicians. Soldiers will have to give up their lives for nothing but a temporary pause.
Nothing like a war to excite the voters. One more benefit could assist Kadima and the ‘thinkers’ of the State Department. If the voters lift the Kadima vote while lowering the Likud vote, then Likud will be weaker and more malleable to pressure for the two-state plan - presumably moved forward by Obama.
If this were a normal country, those who planned and acted as
the enablers would be tried in a military trial and ordered shot for collaborating with the enemy.
But, Israel is not a normal country and the Quislings will merely be elected again.

1. “IDF PREPARING FOR MAJOR GAZA OPERATION” BY Ron Ben Yishai, ISRAEL NEWS December 11, 2008,7340,L-3636726,00.html

THE SYMPATHY SPIN by Emanuel A. Winston, Middle East Analyst & Commentator

For years the Muslim Arab Palestinians have launched Terrorist attacks against Israel without so much as a peep of true sympathy for Jewish victims from the world’s nations and media. On occasion when the Terrorists achieve a spectacular suicide attack, as the Sbarro restaurant massacre of teens and families, or the Park Hotel Pesach Seder slaughter of elderly couples, then even the BBC or the New York Times might offer a straight, brief report sans the sympathy.

But, when Arab Muslim Terrorists are killed by Israelis, then there is a virtual gusher of stories vomiting out sympathy for the dead Terrorists. Soon they will interview his mother, replete with pictures of a howling fat woman, surrounded by other howling fat women, saying how unfair it was to "Kill the Killer" merely because he murdered Jews.

Add to that the howling of the nations who make up the U.N., the Arab and Muslim nations - with their spokespeople all trained to deny any Arab or Muslim role in such Terror.

Then there is the international Media who like to roam about the world without being kidnaped, tortured or killed so they work hard at appeasing the Muslim Arab world.

In Israel, Arabs and Muslims are free to go almost anywhere and attack the Jewish State in print or TV, assured that they will not be arrested. (I personally would have taken away their identity cards and send them back to their countries of origin.) In Israel Arab Muslims are free to vote, pray, speak - even against the government - and have 10 Arab Muslims in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) who are not required to pledge their allegiance to the Jewish State.

I just watched a CNN review, claiming they were being "fair" as they loaded their interview with a not subtle tilt to the Hamas Palestinians. When they interviewed Israel’s spokesperson, Mark Regev, they walked on his answers, interrupted with other news and, in effect, insured that Israel’s position seemed weak.

So much for CNN’s fairness in reporting.

Then they went on to interview Cynthia McKinney, former defeated Congresswoman. McKinney was well-known as extremely anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian throughout her term of office. She was on a ship, purportedly carrying some boxes of medical supplies for Hamas in Gaza. Clearly, the ISM (International Solidarity Movement) ship was to create a photo-op, with so-called "Peace Activists" running an Israeli blockade during a war.

The ship was interdicted and damaged. This was NOT a mercy mission but, a propaganda mission, aided by CNN’s disinformation.

Then there is the French proposal by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner for a 48 hour cease-fire, knowing the Hamas would use the time to re-stock and position their rocket launchers. The French have long been accused of being the ‘prostitutes’ of Europe, always ready to fall on their knees before the enemy. They want Israel to follow their lead.

What will happen if Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak and current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (who resigned but remains in power) accept a 48 hour truce or even one that stretches out longer? Will it take a few weeks, a few months for Hamas to re-gather their forces and re-build their missile and rocket stocks - much the same as Hezb’Allah did in Lebanon after the failed 34 day Lebanon War of Summer 2006?

I do not trust Olmert, Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni or President Shimon Peres because they have shown themselves to be weak and harnessed to foreign interests. Hamas will not go away - nor will their suppliers, Iran and Syria - unless they are roundly defeated. If Barak and Olmert do not complete the mission in a very short time and before the February 10th elections, they should be dragged from their offices as Quislings who are a clear and present danger to the Jewish nation and to world Jewry.


The financial crises made an Austrian Bank Manager run away. A contractor from the US housing crisis committed suicide and another Billionaire commits suicide: REMEMBER THERE IS ONLY ONE WHO MAKES YOU RICH OR MAKES YOU POOR. I am writing charity checks on future bond earnings post dated to April already. Remember Maaser and you will become rich - If not in this world then in the next.

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From Suzanne:

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An Arab tried to blow up a gas station near Ma'aleh Adumim on Thursday morning, Channel 10 reported. According to the report, one Israeli was lightly wounded in the attack on the Mishor Adumim gas station. Security forces shot and killed that attacker after he resisted arrest.

IDF shells rocket launching sites in Lebanon: Army responds with artillery fire to Katyusha barrage on northern Israel Thursday morning and is ready for possibility of escalation in region. Security sources believe pro-Palestinian Lebanese group behind attack,7340,L-3652692,00.html

Have a peaceful Shabbos, pray harder learn more Torah for our brethren under attack,
Rachamim Pauli