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"It is better to take refuge in Adonai than to trust in human beings; better to take refuge in Adonai than to put one's trust in princes." -Tehilah 118:8-9

Purim in the Air...It's all Good

Thank you, Muqata, for reminding me that Rosh Chodesh Adar means that Purim is right around the corner.

In honor of Purim, this month's posts will be nothing but fun and positive.

Quit your laughing. It's a goal, okay? Contrary to popular belief, goals are good.

And speaking of good, we'll kick off our Purim Positivity by exploring the meaning of "Tov" the Hebrew word for "good":
What does "good" mean? The first use of this word is in Genesis chapter one where calls his handiwork "good". It should always be remembered that the Hebrews often relate descriptions to functionality. The word tov would best be translated with the word "functional". When looked at his handiwork he did not see that it was "good", he saw that it was functional, kind of like a well oiled and tuned machine.

via The Ancient Hebrew Research Center
For something to be good, it must have a purpose. Makes sense.
The tet is the initial letter of the word tov, "good." The form of the tet is "inverted," thus symbolizing hidden, inverted good--as expressed in the Zohar: "its good is hidden within it."

...Of the eight synonyms for "beauty" in Hebrew, tov--"good"--refers to the most inner, inverted, and "modest" state of beauty. This level of beauty is that personified in Torah by Rebecca and Bat Sheva, who are described as "very beautiful [goodly] in appearance."

"Good" is beautiful, and much like true beauty, it often exudes from beneath the surface. Again, makes sense.

So, first good topic of the month: Hiking in Israel.

I'm a big fan of taking a walk. The longer the walk, the better. Needless to say, when I came across this article in the JPost, I was nothing short of motivated to take a hike (yes, every single pun intended):

What's Not to Hike?
No one knows that better than Israel's foremost father-and-son hiking duo, David and Eran Gal-Or. For the Gal-Ors, co-authors of a series of hiking guidebooks, Maslulim, subtitled "Falling in Love with Israel Again," an eight-month hike the pair took brought about unexpected benefits. What started out as a way to celebrate Eran's completion of his IDF service morphed into a complete career change for David, and for Eran, a chance to earn a living while pursuing his passion.

I wonder if they publish Maslulim in English...

Reading the JPost article made mewant to do this only I'd do it to raise money for textbooks in Israeli public schools. The classrooms in Israel (unlike those in UN-guarded, US/European-funded palestinian schools, aka Terrorist Training Camps) do not come stocked with textbooks, let alone a lot of other supplies and accoutrements Americans take for granted. Students in Israel are dependent upon their parents to purchase their textbooks each academic year, leaving many students carrying many different editions of the same book, or even no books at all. These kids deserve textbooks and all the structure unified resources provide.

Sadly enough, if you Google "Israeli school textbooks" you'll get headlines like "Israeli Textbooks and Children’s Literature Promote Racism", "Othering and Identity: Exclusion Practices in Israeli", and "Report says Palestinian school textbooks portray Jews badly", but you see nothing about the lack of funding for and organization behind the stock of textbooks for the Israeli public school system.

I want to hike Israel. I want Israeli kids to be provided with good textbooks at no cost. So, in the spirit of staying positive, I'm going to believe both things will happen "for such a time as this".

Chag Purim Sameach!

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posted by Shoshana @ 7:31 PM

Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue

This post at the Muqata is the most succinct way of explaining the faults of the Israeli political system as well as the general corruption of its politicians. Needless to say, there is a reason the American government was set up with a series of checks and balances meant to keep politicians in their place.

However, when the majority of the politicians in each branch of government subscribe to the same groupthink, the theory of checks and balances goes out the window. Which is why our founding fathers stressed over and over again the necessity of moral integrity, because without it, a government that grants such an incredible amount of freedom as does ours, will surely fail.

One of the things that struck me in yesterday's parashah (Mishpatim: Exodus 21:1-24:18) was Exodus 23:2:
Do not follow the crowd when it does what is wrong; and don't allow the popular view to sway you into offering testimony for any cause if the effect will be to pervert justice.
The more you interact with the world at large, the more you see the world divide itself into little cliques of humanity based on their own world views. They all interact with each other on a daily basis, but they each see the world so differently that, at times, communication can be like culture shock. But, it seems that every group is so ingrained in their own worldview that they can't imagine that the other groups don't see the world the same way they do.

For example: American-Muslim relations. Many Americans still can't seem to understand the idea that there are muslim governments out there that really do want us dead. These are the people who danced in the streets when their fellow men flew themselves into the Twin Towers, and there are still a large number of Americans who feel we ought to have open and direct talks with them. Their leaders refer to us as the "Great Satan" and certain Americans are ready to invite them to tea. And these certain Americans wind up being given the voter mandate to go ahead and do it!

Now, that's a very basic, very illustrative example of what I'm talking about. But, the problem goes deeper than that, and the Jewish and Christian communities are far from immune. In fact, the clique mentality present within the believing community (be it Christian or Messianic Jewish) can, at times, be downright overwhelming. I've heard accounts ranging from simple gossip to selective "invite only" events that have happened in churches and shuls, and it never ceases to blow my mind. And the worst part about it is that the clique mentality is so apparent...and 99% of the time NOBODY does anything about it!

Whatever happened to calling people on the carpet and telling it like it is? Then again, if HaShem had to make going against the flow a commandment, truth and honesty must be fairly foreign to human nature. But, when we know G-d aren't we supposed to be better than that? Whatever happened to the "old nature passing away"? Or, "this word is in your mouth, even in your heart, therefore you can do it"?

I know I complain a lot on this blog. I tend to point out the failures of humanity more than the successes. And I'm a scathing critic. But I do it from the perspective that it can be better--human behavior can be better, because human beings can choose to be better people. We can all make a conscious choice to acknowledge that justice is being perverted and to do something about it. The Torah admonishes "Justice, justice shall you pursue." In other words: Do it right, and call someone out when they're doing it wrong. After all, isn't that what faith in G-d is all about: Speaking the truth?

Ah, but "What is truth?" One of my brother's college professors once told him, "There's your truth, there's my truth, and then there's the truth." So much for college. Nothing beats producing confident go-getting professionals by telling them they're essentially always going to be wrong. Faith is an amazing thing; it is also an essential component when it comes to speaking the truth. The parashah ends with G-d calling Moshe and the leaders of Israel to approach Him. The account in chapter 24, verses 9-11 reads:
Moshe, Aharon, Nadav, Avihu and seventy of the leaders went up; and they saw the G-d of Israel. Under His feet was something like a sapphire stone pavement as clear as the sky itself. He did not reach out His hand against these notables of Israel; on the contrary, they saw G-d, even as they were eating and drinking.
Truth is so foreign to the human psyche that we need faith in order to believe that what we know, what we speak, and what we believe is really the truth. Truth and faith are intertwined. You cannot have one without the other. If you try, you may impress yourself with your eloquence, but you will never be able to believe that G-d has manifest Himself in your midst. So, you will be standing on the strength of your own opinion, and human strength is only as powerful as the wind that comes blowing against it from the opposite direction.

The greatest heroes of Israel were the men and women who went against the crowd. Five thousand years later, human beings haven't changed much. They're still cliquing away into destruction. Heaven and earth may pass away, "but My Word will never pass away." The ones who go against the grain have to cling to the truth with sheer faith for such a time as this. That is the key to the future and the hope manifest in the banquet of eternity that was once laid out on the mountains of this earth.

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posted by Shoshana @ 11:00 AM

And the Chaos Continues

Israel can't decide who is boss. In the meantime, Obama has decided he's boss and he's ready to make everyone pay for it... to the thousandth generation.

Thanks to the Libs, the muslims think they're boss: The soon-to-be-announced release of the bombers of the U.S.S. Cole is the warning sign that America is about to enter the same socio-political place as Israel did after Oslo.

I wonder, when will Americans realize this? After the first bus bombing? After the first nightclub gets blown up? Or after Rahm Emanuel's "You Can't Beat 'Em, So Just Play Along" Civilian Defense Force gets up and running with your hard-earned Porkulus-spent dollars?

Some people choose to live in the moment and some people choose to look ahead.

Some people choose to live in cliques and some people choose to step back and see the big picture.

I look at the big picture, and I look ahead, and I think to myself: I can't be the only one who sees this.

At least Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity are willing to talk about the evils of socialism on TV. Until the Fair-less Doctrine comes into effect. Oh, but as Steve Doocy pointed out on Fox News "That only effects broadcast, and we're cable." May I remind Steve and the rest of the world, to paraphrase a great quote, "They came for the Conservatives, and I was fair and balanced, so I stayed silent. Then they came for the fair and balanced, and there was no one left to speak."

"Two legs good, four legs better." You keep going with that, world. Keep on marching. You'll need all four legs to get where you're going, because you're being herded there fast.

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posted by Shoshana @ 9:22 PM

Common Ground: Good and Bad

Watching The Best of 2007 DVD...They've got a sketch making fun of teenage internet culture. A group of popular girls speak to each other in American online euphemisms like "OMG: Oh My God!" and "TMI!" while two geeky guys with headgear who stand in front of a Superman poster talk about...videogames, I guess. (Anyway, they look like they play too many video games.) Then, they taunt each other online through their podcasts/blogs. It's really hilarious. Gwen Stefani's "No Holla Back" plays behind the clip show. This is the humorous side of the culture that Israelis and Americans share.

The non-humorous side is showing itself in Obama's willingness to manipulate legal channels in order to release known terrorists back to their home countries. If Obama's government winds up releasing the perpetrators of the U.S.S. Cole bombing in which 17 American soldiers were killed, America will be sliding down the slippery slope to Intifada faster than they could ever imagine. So far, angry protestors have argued the legality and the morality of the situtation, but I have yet to hear one commentator remark on the similitude between Obama's forthcoming "gesture" to his "Muslim Peeps" and Israel's own releasing of thousands of muslim terrorists in exchange for empty promises of peace and the return of the desecrated bodies of murdered IDF soldiers. The actions of Obama and Olmert are one in the same. Anyone who confuses Obama's gesture for anything less really has downed their share of the Kool Aid.

The scariest thing is that, as White House Cheif of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel is in the exact right place to take the heat for a lot of Obama's decisions. He's already being dubbed as being "in charge" of the transfer of census control into the White House. Who knows? As a person, he may be nothing more than a power hungry mamzer. I have no doubt of that. The problem is that when one Jew goes out on the limb of self-interest, the entire tree of Jewish people pays the price. [/Tu B'Shevat metaphor] Now, we not only have to worry about beating down the age-old "Jews control the money" stereotype thanks to Madoff, we really are going to have to give some serious though to combatting the whole "Protocols" myth of world domination-- at least if the Obama White House gets as much power as they wish to claim. Why not blame the Jew (the Israeli Jew to boot) for all your failed policies and disasters? How convenient. It'll help shift public opinion pretty quickly when it comes to those sticky issues like Israeli sovereignty and the Jewish right to exist.

Should I put it past a man so ready and willing to proclaim his muslim roots to do such a thing? For the sake of my people, I wouldn't dare.

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posted by Shoshana @ 8:54 PM

Israeli Elections

"With the polls as close as they are today, I cannot honestly risk being the one to make Livni the Prime Minister.

And that's why I'm voting for the Likud."

--An excellent analysis of the upcoming election by Jameel @ the Muqata.

In thye meantime, look who's burping in Livni's general direction. [Hat Tip: IsraellyCool]

Caroline Glick stands behind Netanyahu. I stand behind Caroline Glick and I know that Israel needs a strong, politically right-wing government. I just hope Netanyahu doesn't wind up caving to international pressure, as did George W. Bush. Already, Obama's ratings are falling fast-- less than a month in office and already he's back out on the campaign trail. Iran is shooting satellites into space, paving the way to shoot missles--nuclear ones, at that--in Israel's general direction. Israel's government-no matter who gets elected-has absolutely NO reason to capitulate to America or any foreign nation at this stage of the game. Logic says that the least amount of capitulation will come from Netanyahu.

May HaShem elect the leaders of Israel at this critical hour. May HaShem elect leaders through whom He will save us all.

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posted by Shoshana @ 7:31 PM

Hatikvah b'Yisrael

I can't read American news anymore. It's too depressing. As much as I appreciate Glenn Beck's well-deserved tirades against the idiocy in this country, I can't stomach much more of the Obamanation this country has become.

Why? Because I know where it's leading. I don't need Dick Cheney to tell me that Obama's pro-Muslim tuchus-kissing is paving the way for terror attacks in the United States and the slow Muslim takeover of the nation. Why? I lived through the 90s, people! I remember Oslo! How long did it take you to forget the bus bombings, suicide bombers, and endless promises of more Israeli land, more Israeli homes, more Israeli soldiers, and more Israeli lives for hudnas and intifadas? Wait, let me guess-- it took you as long to forget that as it did for you to decide "Gee, that Obama, he's a pretty cool dude." Please--bevakasha--spare me.

My hope is in Israel. My hope is in the covenant G-d has with Israel and in the sheer fact that if we do it right, if we ask for mercy and at least try to make the right decisions, G-d will have mercy on us and act on our behalf. Right now, that entails getting the right leaders into the Knesset. So far, the polls are in Israel's favor-- maybe, just maybe after years of leftist, terrorist-tuchus-kissing "leadership" we'll have someone who is willing to actually fight terrorism to win not just "severely disable infrastructure" in order to perpetuate another "hudna" before the rockets resume.

A few days ago I got my first copy of Eretz Nehederet in the mail. Since reading about the show and seeing clips on YouTube a few years ago, I've wanted to check out Israel's version of SNL-- call it "Erev Shabbat Live". I've hesitated to do so before now because I don't know Hebrew and the DVDs aren't subtitled. But now, listening to straight Hebrew is a relief. It's a reminder that we aren't in the ghettos and we never have to be again--we aren't just "Joos" anymore; we are, and we all can be Israel.

All we have to do is realize that we're each others best and only allies and stop treating each other with this insane diaspora-fed ideology of fear and suspicion that serves only to divide, not unify us. Whether it is the "Too Jewish", "Not Jewish Enough", or "No Aliyah for Me" argument, it is all divisive. Diaspora Jews need to get over it and look at Israel-- look at what we can become if we look past our disagreements (which will always exist-- why do you think G-d created the minyan?) and acknowledge that we aren't just a cultural group-- we are a nation, and we're all in this together.

More on Eretz Nehederet later... right now, it's time for my Hebrew lesson.

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posted by Shoshana @ 7:06 PM

Hey Dickow- Scarf This!

TBN- Gregory Dickow, Sunday Feb 1st @ 5:30 pm EST

For a gift of $38 or more, you get an "authentic reproduction" of the "prayer shawl Jesus wore". According to Mr. Dickow, you can "wear it as a scarf" because there is "no power in it" and it "doesn't mean anything" but it will "remind you" of His healing power.

Wear it... as a... scarf???????


(Farecht goyim.)

This is not the first time the tallit has been used as a fundraising gimmick by Christian tele-preachers. Yet, I'm not seeing any great outcry of "FOUL" from the Jewish community, so I feel the need to get up on my soapbox and state a few facts.

Misnomer #1: The Style of the Tallit The history of the Talit, from
In early Judaism, Tzitzit were used for the corners of ordinary everyday clothing; most Jewish people at the time wore clothing which consisted of a sheet-like item wrapped around the body, comparable to the abayah (blanket) worn by the Bedouins for protection from sun and rain, and to the stola/toga of ancient Greece and Rome. As recorded in the Talmud, these were sometimes worn partly doubled, and sometimes with the ends thrown over the shoulders.

After the 13th century CE, Tzitzit began to be worn on new inner garments, known as Arba Kanfos, rather than the outer garments. This inner garment was a 3ft by 1ft rectangle, with a hole in the center for the head to pass through; the modern Tallit evolved from this medieval item.
So, Yeshua didn't wear the tallit that we are familiar with today. Therefore, it is completely incorrect for any Christian tele-preacher to hold up a contemporary tallit and say, "This is what Jesus wore." It is a stylistic fallacy. This could possibly be considered a minor point, I know, but it leads into...

Misnomer #2: The Purpose of the Tallit The tallit is not a "scarf" that has "no real meaning". The tallit is a mode of expressing Israeli identity. Biblically speaking, the tallit was not the required garb. The tzitzit, or fringes, are the required fashion statement (Numbers 15:37-41) which had a very real purpose. At the time white fringes with a blue thread were required by G-d to be placed on the four corners of Israelite garments, ALL tribes in the region were using dyed fringes to identify themselves on the battlefield. Israel needed to identify herself, therefore, she needed her own set of fringes. If we are to translate Biblical wardrobe into contemporary prayer shawl, we must understand that the change in fashion did not change the command; on the contrary, by retaining a mode of wardrobe that allowed for the wearing of tzitzit, the Jewish people acknowledged the timelessness of the command to wear tzitzit. The wearing of the tallit is the literal, physical acknowledgment of Jewish identity for the whole world to see. Hence the meaning of the prophecy in Zechariah 8:23.

My challenge to the tallit-selling tele-preachers is this: If you want to sell it, why don't you start wearing it? And if you want to wear it, why don't you start living it, and fighting for it, and dying for it like the rest of us instead of just making money off of it like the same thieves in the Temple whom your Messiah lashed out against in fury?

The truth is, if even one of those Christian pastors had to be embroiled in the constant battle surrounding Jewish existence, they'd pull those Communion Cups out of storage and start selling them in an instant. The same Torah that holds the mitzvot of tzitzit says something about that as well: "Is there a man here who is afraid and fainthearted? He should go back home; otherwise his fear may demoralize his comrades as well." (Deut. 20:8)

These tele-preachers have no clue how offensive they are, let alone what a stumbling block they're being to the very people who gave them the Word of G-d. Do you notice how they spend so much time talking about the talit, but never the tzitzit? They want what the Jews have, but they don't want to have to be... Jewish. They want the G-d, the Messiah, the promises in the Book as their Pastors read it to them, but they don't want to be hated, mocked, reviled by the nations. They don't want to have to give up pork or Christmas. They don't want to stop being the kings of the hill.

Just like the Bible, they take this great Jewish gift, strip it down and re-fashion it to their own liking, then sell it at an overinflated price to desperate people searching for answers to real, devastating problems.

And we're supposed to be the shysters.

Stop re-appropriating my Torah for your pleasure. It's MY book, MY commands, MY covenant-- NOT yours. Sure, you can get in on it, but here's the deal: You have to play by the rules, just like the rest of us. If you can't handle that... GO HOME.

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posted by Shoshana @ 5:58 PM