Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Parshas Vayeitzei = And he went forth; seventh parsha in Seifer Bereishis (Genesis), psukim 28:10 - 32:3.


Yaakov flees his father’s tent, dreams about a ladder, falls in love with Rachel, ends up married to Leah, who gives birth to Reuven ('see, a son' - "now Jacob will look at me the way he looks at Rachel"), Shimon ('hear, son' - "now Jacob will listen to me in that manner also"), Levi ('accompany' - "and Jacob will be with me"), and Yehudah ('thank you' - and Leah thanks Hashem for his mercy).

Question: If it was by Lavan's trickery that he married Leah instead of Rachel, why did he stay married to her?

How could he not have? The righteousness by which we now know him here came to the fore - instead of insisting on Rachel, for whose hand he had worked seven years, and shaming Leah by sending her away, he accepts her. Had he done otherwise, her chances of ever marrying again would have been far from favourable - a rejected woman, once married, who is growing older is not strictly marketable. And further, it is written (Midrash Eliyahu 42) that when we kill a person, they die only once - but when we shame them, it is as if they die many times. Yakov is shown to be indeed an ish tam, in that he respects Leah.

Question: Why did Leah agree to Lavan's ruse?

Her sister Rachel and her father both talked her into it, and after seven years of Yaakov's connection with the family she recognized Yaakov's virtues, which we who have read merely of his deceit might not note otherwise.

Question: Why did Rachel, by helping her sister, risk remaining unmarried herself?

She knew of Yaakov's love for her, and she had, like her sister and her father and all members of her household, been exposed to Yaakov for seven years. She knew that he was an honest man.

Yaakov worked for Lavan for another seven years, married Rachel, and impregnated her handmaid Bilhah with Dan ('judgement' - "Hashem has judged me and given me a son") and Naftali ('prayers answered'), after which he got Leah’s handmade Zilpah preganant twice, with Gad ('good fortune') and Asher ('happiness').

Then Leah gave birth to Yissacher ('reward') and Zebulon ('good portion'). After which the one daughter, Dinah ('she judged') was born.

Finally, after borrowing Leah's mandrakes (okay, think in terms of voodoo), Rachel brought forth Yosef ('the addendum').

After this period of fecundity the entire clan absconded with the better part of Lavan’s fortune – a story about superior animal husbandry and breeding techniques covers up what is essentially Yankif committing payback on Lavan for two decades of running the business on starvation wages.

[From this we might learn to support our sons-in-law in the manner to which they want to grow accustomed – kollel, nice apartment, station wagon – lest they do similarly unto us.]

This was immediately after Lavan’s sons discovered that Yakov had robbed them.
As it says in psook 31:1 " ...divrei venei-lavan lemor lakach Yaakov et kol-asher le avinu u me'asher le avinu asa et kol-hakavod haze" (...the words of Laban's sons, saying 'Yakov has taken away all that was our father's, and from that which was our father's he has gotten all this wealth.').
Psook 31:2 "vayar yaakov et-penei lavan vehine einenu imo kitmol shilshom" (and Jacob saw the face of Laban, and look! - it was not toward him as before).

[Yet we are told that Lavan was a wicked man, and Yakov was a righteous man – an ish tam. Chazal may not have grasped the concept ‘state of denial’, but irony was a ball they ran with.]

There is one more element which is both baffling, and cause for unending commentarial speculation - the theft of Lavan's idols, which causes Yakov to unwittingly curse Rachel, who in consequence dies shortly after the return to the eretz kadosh.

The Ramban, on the other hand, opines that Rachel perished because prior to the giving of the Torah on Sinai, Torah was kept voluntarily by the patriarchs, rather than as a series of commandments. Outside the land exceptions to the mitzvos were possible as situations required. But in the land such exceptions cannot stand - hence the death of Rachel.


"Vayeitzai Yaakov mi Beer Sheva vayeilech Charanah" (And Jacob left Ber Sheva and went to Charan).

Question: Why did Yakov leave?

For two reasons.
Firstly because he had tricked his brother Esav: "Anochi holeich lamut" - I'm gonna die! (So what use to me is that birthright?). Yakov had taken Esav’s exhausted exaggeration as the premise for an opportunity, and then sealed it by making use of their father’s blindness.
Secondly because Avraham ordered him to go find a wife.

Question: Why would Yakov leave the kedusha of Eretz Yisroel for a profane land?

Yakov Avinu started his journey at Ber Sheva. The root of Sheva is also the root of Shabbes – seven – and be’eir means well or spring, signifying ruchniyus, for which water is a classic symbol. Yakov was fortified with ruchniyus for his journey, having been immersed in kedusha at Ber Sheva, in the same way that Yosef would later be fortified by learning in Yeshiva Shem v’Ever, and also in the same way that shabbes is a separation in time for Kedusha like yeshivos are a place for Torah.

Question: Why is Yakov's departure mentioned twice, once in the preceding parsha and then again here?

The first time the Torah mentions Yakov's departure, it refers to his leaving, and obliquely means that he left because of Esav.
The second time the Torah mentions Yakov's departure, it hints at fourteen years at Shem v'Ever, and it is because he is obeying his father's command to find a wife.


It is during Yaakov's journeying from Be'er Sheva to Charan that he overnights at Moriah (the locus of the Akeida), and dreams of the ladder of prayer. And note that ladder and voice have the same gematria - which serves to remind us that the function of one is like that of the other. In the same way that the angels ascended and descended the ladder, the voice lifted in prayer connects us with the divine, blessings come down to earth.

But the ladder also represents the aspiration of the spirit - if one does not strive to ascend, of what use is it?
That the ladder (prayer) allows us to reach the divine is obvious. But note that the ladder stands on earth - within our reach and a beginning for the process.

Psook 28:17 "Vayira vayomar ma nora hamakom haze, ein ze ki im beit Elohim, ve ze shaer ha shamayim" (And he was afraid and he said 'How awesome is this place, none other than here is the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven).

Al pi Rashi this is where prayer ascends to heaven, and it is said that the heavenly Beis HaMikdash stands here, directly above the place of the earthly Beis HaMikdash.


It is likely that rumours of Yakov's cleverness, greatly exaggerated, reached Lavan before Yakov himself did - Yakov left his his father's house fourteen years before he arrived at Laban's dwelling. And lashon hara inflates tales over time.

Psook 29:13 "vayehi chishmoa Lavan et-shema Yaakov ben-achoto vayaratz likrato vayechabek-lo vayenashek-lo vayeviehu el-beito, va yesaper le Lavan et kol-hadevarim haele" (And it happened that when Laban heard of Yakov his sister's son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house, and he told Laban of all these things).

Rashi explains that each of Lavan's forms of greeting is to discover money or precious stones, after racing out to welcome Yakov and seeing that he has not brought camels or any other evident riches.
"Perhaps he has brought gold coins and they are on his person" - So he embraces him to see if he has a money belt. Alas, no coins.
"Perhaps he has brought pearls which he hides in his mouth." Whereupon he kisses Ya'akov full on the lips, checking his mouth for gems. No pearls either.

Rashi, however, questions just where Lavan kissed Yakov. If he had kissed his mouth, why does the Torah not say so?

Rashi answers that Lavan already knew from the embrace that he held no pouch of gold, either in his hands or within his clothes. The kiss had to be to his mouth to reveal if he had pearls.

[Shoyn. Per Rashi, Lavan feels Yakov up and tongues him. Distressingly European.]

Psook 29:14 "vayomer lo Lavan ach atzmi uvesari ata, vayeshev imo chodesh yamim" (and Laban said to him 'you are of my bone and of my flesh', and so he stayed with him for a month).


Note: Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel ( Talmud personality of the 1st century C.E.) avers that all of Seifer Bereishis comes to teach us the ways of Tzidkus, righteousness, so we can emulate the patri- and matri- archs in our own lives.

[Tzidkus = Just one of the typical pro-active virtues, we actually have nine more up our sleeves: Ahavas Tzion (love of Israel), Arayvus (responsibility for each other), Chochma (wisdom), Derech Eretz (sensitive, thoughtful behavior), Gemilus Chasidim (acts of loving kindness), Kavod Habriyos (respect for the value of each person), Kedusha (spirituality), Limud (study), Tikun Olam (repairing the world).]

[Hiddur Mitzvah (embellishing the commandment, creativity) is sometimes included in this list, but that was only possible AFTER matan Toreh, so it is entirely out of place here.]

Yet the main import of the Yakov tale at this point seems to be benefitting from the innocent oversight and trustingness of others, and fulfilling the mitzvah of pru-urvu (procreating). Yaakov commits a lot of pru-urvu. We must search beneath the surface of the tale for other meanings.

[Mitzvah of pru urvu = The commandment to be fruitful and multiply, nay even to overpopulate. This had to be commanded? There are doubts about our masculinity?!? Remember, Lots’ daughters went through hell to pru-urvu, Melech Dovid killed a Hittite to do the same. We can do no less.]


The following is an e-mail exchange.
It is somewhat gloomy (sorry about that), but it does clarify my points of view regarding the recent Dutch election and the European situation in the future. I am keen to continue the discussion, or have my bleak vision disproven.


R wrote: Note the lead article re:Netherlands

BOTH: Not quite as clear and blatantly put as my various scribbles - but it still boils down to the same things.

Which are:

1. Nearly one out of every six Dutch people support Hezb and Hamas.
2. If forty percent of the Dutch are leftwing, we can assume that a roughly identical percentage are anti-Israel (and given the close strategic ties between Israel and the Netherlands, what that really means is anti-Semitic -- try walking around a Dutch city with a kippah, and you'll see what that means).
3. The Dutch left wing are a security problem. Which is why US and Israeli co-operation with Dutch state security services must always be through a veil of plausible deniability and nudge nudge wink wink. No exposure and no transparency.
4. Even if it weren't for the Muslim minorities, the Netherlands is no longer a comforting sanctuary -- and with the Jewish population outnumbered twenty times over by Muslims, forty to one hundred times over by the anti-Israel side, it may be time to call it quits and bail out to the land or the states.


R wrote: I rather suspect that with further Islamisation, the local Dutch opinion may change. Remember, Moslems are dry and intolerant and this is the Netherlands we're talking about.

BOTH: Best scenario: the Dutch tell the Muslims to stop being such a pain in the achterend.

Worst scenario: acts of violence make both sides seize up and rigidify - and the Muslims eventually lose the battle, because the Dutch have a murderous streak a mile wide underneath the thick veneer of apathy and civilization.

Most likely scenario: by the time the Muslim minorities are largely third generation locals, Dutch society will have changed enormously - more people emigrate than immigrate, and pro-Israel sentiment is very much an older generation thing.

Many Dutch believe that the Israel-Palestine problem is based on religious fanaticism only, and discount the possibility that Arab society is proto-Fascist, with a strong streak of bigotry and hate. Nor are many Dutch aware that precisely like them, the Arabs and Muslims are absolutely convinced of their own superiority, and have concomitant negative praeconceptions of everyone else.

The typical Dutch superiorist shmuck has so much in common with the typical Arab superiorist shmuck that they often recognize each other as kindred spirits. Or at least think alike


R wrote: Are we ignoring the idea that the Europeans, over all, might be educable?

BOTH: I am largely discounting that idea.

The two or three decades that Europeans were pro-Israel were a fluke. A post-war phenomenon.

European society is not naturally multi-cultural. And there are now two things that make them less willing to be multi-cultural towards Jews.

The first one being the oil situation - the embargo in the seventies was the turning point, at which time they realized to their shocked surprise that the world no longer belonged to them. Since then they have swung towards the Arabs, as now they are starting to look towards Russia.

The second one is the Muslim presence in their societies. Xenophobia towards Muslims, while it has some minor benefit as regards Israel, also rubs off on Jews. Europeans dislike foreigners - Moroccans, Turks, Americans, Jews - all foreigners look alike and talk funny.

The openness towards immigrants in the post-war period was fuelled by a sense of guilt about what happened to their biggest minority (up to that point), a memory of how the Jews had blended in and been inoffensive, and a belief that immigrants would shut up, sweep the streets, and fade from view when no longer needed.
That mindset has pretty much been destroyed.

The paranoia of the nineteenth and early twentieth century was towards Jews, Masons, other types of Christians, and Communists.

They've dropped religious sectarianism somewhat (now it's Christian Europe vs The Muslim world).
The Masons have faded (and anti-Masonic ideas have been subsumed into a weird form of anti-Americanism).
Jews are now considered either secular crypto-Nazis or religious fanatics (not enough Jews over there to prove those praeconceptions wrong).
And the communists have survived to such an extent in liberal western Europe that they are now an accepted part of society.

The Europeans, are, over all, indeed educable, though it's a bit of an up-hill battle.

But it isn't the educable ones who are a problem.

It is the very large percentage who despise everything outside of their village and kin. The ten or twenty percent hickville slope-brows, who are happily tolerated by the rest, because they are so splendidly natural and native, unlike the "furreners".

The Dutch term for people who belong in Dutch society is 'autochthonous'.
All foreigners are 'allochthonous'.
There is a sense that Jews are 'allochthonous', and that Israel is a very un-European place filled with that type of people.
The Arab world is entirely 'allochthonous', and that merely proves how unpleasant the 'allochthonous world' is.

Did I mention that Jews have a habit of pointing out uncomfortable truths? That doesn't make the Europeans very happy.

The Persians and the Arabs are so much more.... comfort-zone-ish. Accomodating in their diplomatic chatter.


R wrote: I have wondered whether when the "oil weapon" is defused either through technolgy or simple depletion whetherthe world will hold a grudge against the Arabs that used the threat of the "oil weapon" so arrogantly. Once that cash pipeline is disrupted, all thats left is the intolerant arrogance. Maybe that'll be enough to wake up the Europeans. Or perhaps a legislative move to impose Sharia in the Netherlands.

BOTH: I'm afraid that by that time, patterns will have set.

The Jews will be "those people", as also the Americans.
European Muslims will be either ghetto dwellers looked down upon and occasionally whacked by the authorities, or hopeful and obsequious middle-classes heading into consumer-public member beatitude.
The Arab countries will be war-zones whose existence proves the European conceits, and whose funds are safely in European banks.
And Israel will be "that place", whose people are crude, brash, and have an overblown sense of their own worth - unrealistic, of course, because they are just not "us Europeans".

For Sharia to be imposed in the Netherlands, there would have to be enough fervent Muslims to make it possible. Not likely. Already the majority of Dutch Muslims are more culturally Muslim than religiously so. If there are even a thousand burqa-wearers there I would be much surprised. The danger is not religious nuts so much as people who have religion-based praeconceptions. Europe has been praedominantly secular since the French revolution - the Nazis, Ukrainian Nationalists, Communists, skinheads, and Pan-Arabists all were/are secular -- but with worldviews that come from their underlying faith culture.

I very much suspect that many Muslims in Europe in twenty years will be beer-drinking, jeans-wearing, ultra-agnostic - but with that anti-Semitic flair which flourishes so well in European soil. And the Europeans will not view such Muslims in the same way as the ghetto-dwelling Islamic fanatics. They'll be "just like us".

Again, I do not see the Muslims in Europe as nearly so much of a problem as the Europeans themselves. The fact that those Muslims are anti-Semitic is more of a fortuitous coincidence than in any way objectionable to the generation which feels no connection whatsoever with the events that happened during the bad old imperialist days. To many Europeans, anything before the sixties was 'not their fault, they've already paid for it, the victims are living in the past, and in any case no big deal'. Besides, the destruction of Europe more than balances out whatever the Europeans may have done.

Two key phrases that define the European mindset:
1. Wir habn es nicht gewust!
2. Ve suffered also in ze war!

I'm just not very optimistic about Europe.


R wrote: Grim predictions. Perhaps for the time being we can struggle for the soul of San Francisco.

BOTH: One last point: The Europeans do not want Turkey in the EU - because it is a Moslem country.
But they do want Bulgaria and Rumania - where corruption and anti-Semitism flourish.
That speaks volumes.

So indeed, for the time being, we'll struggle for the soul of SF.

Why? Because we live here - and for me especially because I'll be damned if I allow myself to be silenced. As a foreigner in the Netherlands I was always reminded that I really shouldn't have any opinions that disagreed with the host-population, and as a foreigner I should be grateful and subdued.
Here I can speak, so here I will speak.

Even if I have to club someone with a heavy protest sign in order to do so.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Hamas deputy leader Abu Marzouk: "We reject any deal that does not recognize the right of return... The Palestinian people will never give up this sacred right. Our people have been fighting for 58 years to achieve the right of return for all those who were expelled from their homeland."

Hamas spokesman Razi Hamad: "(Olmert) is trying to bypass the core of the Palestinian cause, namely the right of return for the refugees."

Statements like these show clearly why we cannot trust the Palestinians.

The claimed 'right of return', if applied equitably across the board, would destroy Israel, and reduce and return Jews to second-class status in the Arab countries they were forced to flee - without improving the conditions of the average Palestinian living in Lebanon, Syria, or Jordan. It would solve nothing, but merely give the Arabs back the first class status they assumed in the countries they conquered. It is, truth be told, naught more than a demand for Israel's destruction.

If the Arabs do not give up the demand of a 'return', there should never be an independent Palestine.

[There actually already is an independent Palestinian state - it's called Jordan, but the government there wants no part of the Palestinian movements. They've had more than enough guff from those folks already, and effectively told the Pals to go fly a kite. Like all Arab governments, they also pay the Pals to keep them at a distance.]

You will undoubtedly note several things:

1. Expelled. The problem with that word is that no Arabs were expelled from the mandate territory - most were encouraged to leave by the Arab states so that they would not get in the way of the victorious Arab armies exterminating the Jews. They were promised that in a few months they would return to take possession of the property of the defeated Jews. There were a number who fled ahead of Zionist forces. And some of them were encouraged forcefully to do so. Which is regrettable, yes, but a very minor issue. The overwhelmingly vast majority of the Arabs who left the mandate territory left because their brother Arabs asked them to do so.

2. Expelled. The problem with that word is that most of the Sephardim who left the Arab lands were expelled. They were forced to leave Arab countries, by Arab leaders, who supported the Arab attempt to loot and despoil the Holy Land and exterminate the Jews. This in contrast to the alleged refugees, who voluntarily left the Holy Land as their brethren suggested, to wait out the war with their relatives in Cairo, Amman, and Beirut.

3 Expelled. The problem with that word is that huge numbers of the 'Palestinians' were expelled from Jordan during Black September, when their attempt to take over the country failed and King Hussein triumphed over Yasser Arafat's forces. Several years later, Yasser Arafat's forces were expelled from Beirut, because once again they had attempted to take over a country - and in that attempt slaughtered several thousand Christian Arabs, and wrecked Lebanon. Several years afterwards the Kuweitis also expelled Palestinians, after their Palestinian guests had enthusiastically supported Saddam Hussein's occupation.

Oslo was, in that regard, a godsend for the Tunisians - who were also mighty relieved to see the last of the Palestinians.

The Palestinian cause seems to be largely loot, murder, and take over.

But unfortunately, the Palestinians have very good PR.

It is not that they are more believable than Israelis, or more like everybody else, or more admirable, or more truthful - the problem is that the Israeli cause is identified with Jews. And anyone who believes that Jews will get a fair shake may not have been paying strict attention these last few centuries.

Jews keep pointing out inconvenient truths.

Whereas Palestinians playing the poor little victim card are just so much more lovable.


Unless it is recognized that the population transfer implied by the division of the mandate territories has already taken place, there cannot ever be peace between the Israelis and the Arabs.

Most Jews left the Muslim world - let us ignore for the moment that they were forced to leave.

Most non-Jews left the part of the mandate assigned to the Jews - let us ignore for the moment that they did so voluntarily because they were promised a share in the eventual loot.

The net effect is actually remarkably one-sided. Hardly any Jews left in Alexandria, Aden, or Tetouan. Isolated pockets surrounded here and there elsewhere, scattered and defiant.

On the other hand, there are still tons of Arabs left in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Galilea, and Samaria. Nothing but Arabs in Gaza. If the Golan is dense with anything, it is Arabs. Bethelehem is filled with them. So is Nazareth. And Hebron. And Shechem. And.....

Seems kinda lopsided.

There should never be an independent Palestine.

Monday, November 27, 2006


One of the great things about organized sports is that it builds character, inculcating a sense of team-work and strong identity.

Such as was shown last Thursday in France, when some 100 supporters chased a Jewish man, shouting racist and anti-Semitic slogans, after the Paris Saint Germain team lost 4-2 to Hapoel Tel Aviv.

[See this BBC article: France faces up to football hooliganism , and also see this Ha'aretz article: Paris mayor: Hapoel match clash shows need to fight anti-Semitism ]

One hundred soccer-supporters chase one man?
It takes one hundred Gentiles to fight one Jew?

Wow. That's ......... sporting.

Yes, France, I am truly amazed at how y'all still claim to be the leading light of civilization.

Such mob behaviour once again proves the need for a Jewish state.

[Not that this needed any further proof, especially in present-day Europe. When certain friends cannot walk safely in European cities wearing keppels, you have to assume that Europe is no longer the Jew-friendly place it once was ...... (*).]

The unseemly ganging up on one! lone! Jew! by these stalwart Frenchmen demonstrates the necessity of a place in this world where a Jew is not in danger for being a Jew.

As, one hundred and ten years ago, the Dreyfus Affair convinced Theodore Herzl of the same thing. This year in fact marked a century since Alfred Dreyfus was rehabilitated. The anniversary was celebrated this past July at the École Militaire, wherecaptain Dreyfus had originally been disgraced.

[Case closed, over and done with, we said we're sorry, now pretend that it never happened, and let us move on. La mission civilatrice awaits!]

But I guess the French are feeling feisty. After all, the Arab world loves them, and their allies Hezbollah and Syria are grateful for the gracious blind eye French troops are turning to the resupply convoys on the roads of Lebanon
Only those pesky Juifs seem to be objecting to France's renewed rise to relevance - by refusing to make nice-nice with French dependencies such as le Liban et la Syrie, and bringing certain lapses in peace-keeping duties to the world's attention. Quite unsporting, eh? 'Meh hwee!'

I suppose it would be somewhat ungentlemanly of me, and totally beside the point, to note certain similarities between France and Iran, wouldn't it? I probably shouldn't mention that both countries are convinced of their own superiority and resentful of their status as second-rate powers. Or that the natives seem to believe that perfumes make up for a boycot of soap.
So I shall not point this out at all, nor any other irritating characterisitics that they have in common.

Let us instead dwell on the sheer threat of the Jew.

One single Jew is that bloody dangerous that it takes more than one hundred Frenchmen to stand against him.

Those poor, poor French.


(*) Errrm, it's called sarcasm. It's a rhetorical device, which is sometimes used in subtle ways to make a point opposite of what one seems to say. I feel that I need to point this out, because unless you hear the cadence of my speech, you might not quite grasp these things - especially if you are from north of the Rhine or south of the Argonne. Sorry. I do not mean to sound patronizing. Really. What I meant was that 1946 was probably the very best time ever to be a Jew in Europe - the natives were somewhat distracted, the politicians were subdued, the Americans were still around, cigarettes were still okay to smoke in public, why, it must have been sheer heaven on earth! A veritable paradise! A gonaydin of unimaginable sweetness. Yay!


Het verschil tussen Israel en de Palestijnen is dat Israel per vergissing burger slachtoffers maakt. Maar dat er door Qassam raketten burger slachtoffers vallen is opzettelijk.

Er word aan Israelische zijde niet gejuigd wanneer mensen sneuvelen.

Een bus of pizzeria die ontploft, daarentegen, is voor de Palestijnsche kant een aanleiding tot vreugde en feesten.

Het zou de Palestijnen zeker niet schaden minder snoep uit te delen wanneer anderen euvel overkomt.

Maar och, dat snoepgoed is toch door de Europeanen en de Arabische landen gesubsidieerd. En het moet op.


Well, the good news is that we managed to muddle their message. By dogging them and mingling in with their march, we confused several people into thinking it was more or less a pro-Israel March. We were helped by the fact that the women in black march silently, reproachfully, whereas we march noisily, and engage people in discussion. Plus our signs and flags are visually more engaging than dull females wearing shrouds.

The bad news is that though the media covered the event, they almost entirely failed to mention that there was a counter-protest, or convey the import thereof.

Part of it was the predictably slapdash approach of journalism.

Part of it was deliberate disregard - our spokesman explained what it was about, our flyers made that point, and our signs made no bones about it either.

And part of it was probably bias. A message that isn't simplistic and huggy just doesn't get into the papers or the television report. Our points of view are too complex, and not particularly feel-good. If each of us had our druthers, our signs would convey an entire thesis, with annotations and appendices. It is a struggle to be brief and to the point.

Nevertheless, "HAMAS MUST BE DESTROYED" is a far-less appealing message than some emotional bint wailing "what about the CHILDREN" (didn't actually happen, but that seems to be the gist of their issue).

You would've thought that our message would've been noted loud and clear by the media. It wasn't, and it may have gone over their pointy little collective head entirely. This despite the sterling efforts of the young fellow who got a hold of the bull-horn, keeping up a slogan-barrage.

But, after half-an-hour of hollering, he was punch-drunk with lack of sufficient oxygen and a depleted blood-sugar level.

And it is at this point that he dropped the rhetorical ball once or twice.....


Followed by no slogan. No catchy rhyming responsum. No content or context. Just a series of numbers followed by zero.

We really need to work on stuff to yell.

We also need to work on our songs - shabbesnacht songs, while nice, are jes' totally baffling at mid-day in a shopping area. A song in Hebrew greeting the angels of the most-high is more appropriate for Tzfas at sundown than Macy's at lunch-time. And the very nice episcopalian gentleman with whom I engaged in conversation while marching was somewhat at a loss when I explained the song to him - though he understood that a common song hoard among so diverse a group is necessarily extremely limited.

Still, if we are going to sing shabbesdikke lieder, how about doing lecha dodi and tzur misheloh next time? I'm rather fond of those two.

Or even a Yiddishe version of the Internationale - that ought to have a bitterly ironic resonance in the Bay Area.

Lastly, I should mention that a passing gentleman opined that we were the 'real Nazis'. I fear he may not have undertood what the term 'Nazi' actually means. It is sad that public education failed him so. He has my deepest sympathy. Every day is no doubt hard and confusing for him, a struggle merely to find his way out of his front-door successfully in the morning, and an occassion for jubilation when he does so without having made several wrong choices en-route to said door.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Ninety-five percent of the votes counted.

The results for the major parties are:

CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal; centrist) 41 seats.
PvdA (Labour; only mildly insane) 32 seats.
SP (Socialist re-branding of the old Moscow-oriented Dutch Communist Party; vicious mean-spirited crypto-Stalinist bastards) 26 seats.
VVD (Liberals; soft and squishy centrists with a freemarket bent) 22 seats.

The results for the minor parties are:

PvdV (Freedom Party headed by Geert Wilders; mildly rightist) 9 seats.
GroenLinks (Green-Left; rabid idiots) 7 seats.
Christian Union 6 seats.
D66 (Democrats '66; centre-left) 3 seats.
SGP 2 seats.
Animal Party 2 seats.
Pim Fortuin List only one seat.

Now, I know some of my dear friends and acquaintances in the old sod are probably overjoyed at the succes of the Socialist Party, which went from nine seats and an opposition role, to over two dozen seats and almost certainly cabinet posts. Certainly, it is a fabulous victory.
All I can say is, screw you guys - you and your crypto-Stalinist buddies do not deserve to walk on this earth, I hope you die of several plagues plus indigestion and gastric blockage. And I hope that they never mark your graves and plow your bones under, along with every rotten moron who voted socialist today.

What a pity the CIA isn't in the business of toppling foreign governments anymore.


Note I: The Socialist Party originated as a Maoist splinter-group, and has a long history of fully supporting all the most extreme elements world-wide (from Sandinistas through Fidel to Hugo-Chavezistas, plus Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Iranians). If any one thinks that their huge election triumph is good news, they need their head examined. Quite frankly, I would love nothing better than civil war in the Netherlands at this point. These socialists make the PPR and the PvdA look like middle-of-the-road wussies. The only good thing is that they're ideologues rather than in any sense rational, and will probably prove themselves the sand in the cogs early on.

Note II: The Christian Democratic Appeal is the union of three religious parties - two Protestant and one Catholic.
Despite the name, they are anything save solidly Christian, having had Hindu and Muslim parliamentarians in previous years. One might therefore think that they merely represent a more faith-oriented segment of the population.

But, lest you go all gooey over them, please remember that former CDA prime-minister Andreas (Dries) van Agt is rabidly anti-Israel, and an apologist for Palestinian terror and obstreperation - in many ways the perfect modern anti-Semite, in addition to being a confidant of both Greta Duisenberg (notorious Dutch anti-Israel agitator and anti-Semite) and Israel Shamir (aka Jöran Jermas, converted quisling, Himmler apologist and sonei-Yisroel extraordinaire). Dries van Agt has lent tacit support to the boycott movement, and has publicly spoken in favour of isolating Israel.

There is nevertheless widespread support for Israel among the CDA rank-and-file, who reject the rhetorical stamping of the Netherlands as 'a Zionist colony' and a 'slave-dependency of Israel and United States'.
The upshot is that while the CDA are on the whole reliable centrists, and opposed to the ideology of the Dutch ultra-left, they do harbour some fellow travellers who are far less than perfect, and consequently need watching.


The Dutch voted today.

The tentative results:

38 - 43 seats: CDA
[Christian Democratic Appeal (centrist).]

34 - 35 seats: PvdA
[Labour (semi-pragmatic socialists with more than a few wingnuts).]

24 - 30 seats: SP
[Socialist Party (formerly the Dutch Communist Party - far left and vicious).]

20 - 21 seats: VVD
[Liberals (centre to mildly rightwing, mostly rational, though wishy-washy).]

There are 150 seats in parliament.

The remaining seats went to small factions, including two centre-right parties (Geert Wilders and Marco Pastors), some to far-left fanatics, and at least two seats to the party for animals.

The Socialist Party (SP) is the big winner, going from nine seats to at least two dozen.

What this means is that the 'party formerly known as the Communist Party Netherlands' (PFKACPN) and its hacks, particularly chief party hacks Jan Marijnissen and Harry van Bommel, plus rigidly rabid ideologuette Anja Meulenbelt, are now more important than ever before, and will probably be a powerfull force in a leftwing coalition government.

At any rate, they are now in a position to act as spoilers on cabinet-formation and governmental policy.

Which bodes ill.

If the next government includes the PFKACPN and excludes the liberals, the relationship with the free world is headed for major changes. The Dutch socialists are foaming-at-the-mouth anti-American and anti-Israel, and are likely to demand re-assessment of Dutch relations with both countries, if not actually a thorough examination and airing of all previous connections.

It is in any case pretty certain that Dutch co-operation with the US in a number of fields is at risk.

What is also likely is the flight of Dutch investment capital to the US. This is something that has been subtly going on for years (Philips and ING been good examples of capital migration), but it is likely to increase enormously if the PFKACPN, as is expected, wages war on big corporations, restricts employers rights, and ups government subsidies for certain favoured groups.

So, I'm hoping for an unstable and embarassing coalition government that crashes ignominously within the first year, taking the reputation of the alleged "socialists" down permanently.

Fights, scandals, and recrimination.

I'm counting on some mega-examples of stupidity and irresponsibility from the Socialists - this is the first time they've ever had to "put up or shut up". Hubris and a complete lack of practical experience of any type will make things entertaining, at the very least. The transition from head-in-the-clouds- opposition to insider in the halls of power may be more of a series of clumsy stumbles than a smooth glide.



Counter Anti-Israel vigil this Friday in San Francisco

Counter Women In Black’s annual post-Thanksgiving anti-Israel rally in Union Square.
Friday, November 24th, 11:30AM - 1 PM
Meet at the Bank of America building across from the Powell St. BART station, Powell and
Market, downtown San Francisco.


Every year, the local chapters of Women In Black stage an anti-Israel rally on the day after Thanksgiving.
This is their signature event and their largest of the year. They stand in the busiest shopping area, Union Square, on the busiest shopping day of the year to demonize Israel and to scare small children with their outfits.

Although The Bay Area Women in Black claim to be for "peace" and have even endorsed the "Two State Solution," their own statements, actions, and associations tell another story.

Both the San Francisco and Berkeley sections of Women In Black endorsing the Palestinian "Right to Return" – code for the demographic destruction of the Jewish State – and they have hosted events calling areas even within the "Green Line" (the 1948 armistice line with Jordan) as "occupied." Earlier this month, they led chants of "Palestine Will Be Free/From The River to the Sea" at a rally at the Montgomery BART station. They routinely stand with the most venomous anti-Israel organizations and stand side by side with the most vicious anti-Semites.

Their main focus lately has been opposing Israel’s defensive operations against the incessant rocket attacks from Gaza. In their flyers denouncing Israel for its "Siege on Gaza," they fail to even mention that the operation is in response to Palestinian
rocket fire! They highlight the unfortunate and regrettable effects on the civilian population, but completely ignore the fact that the operation is in response to Palestinian terrorist aggression against Israeli civilians!


As we have done in previous years, Stand WithUs/SF Voice For Israel will be there to provide the pro-Israel/anti-terrorism voice. Please join us to stand up for Israel’s right to exist and to stand up for Israelis being able to live in peace with their neighbors without fear of rocket attacks.

This year we will have the debut of the "Smack That! Dancers." Please bring an extra shoe (old sneakers are ideal) and instructions will be provided on site.

Also this year, the Women in Black will be marching rather than staying in one position. This means we will be marching as well. There will be an area for standing/sitting for those who are unable to march around Union Square. For those of you who arrive late, you will be able to find us by looking for the Israeli and American flags.

In addition to your old shoe, please bring your noisemakers, flags, and signs. As always, feel free to make your own signs but please no signs or graphics offensive to any racial or ethnic group including but not limited to Arabs, Islam, or Palestinians. Signs in violation of our policies will not be allowed.

Demand an end to rocket attacks against Israeli civilians!
Demand Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev, and Ehud Goldwasser be returned home safely!
Demand the Palestinian Authority put an end to terror attacks!
Demand an end to the deligitimization and demonization of Israel!
Demand the Palestinian Authority and their local supporters choose peace so that the Palestinian people can have a future!

StandWithUs/San Francisco Voice for Israel


Upcoming Events

Saturday, November 25th, 3- 4 pm - Counter anti-Israel protest
Berkeley - Corner of College and Ashby.

Saturday, December 2nd, 3- 4 pm - Counter anti-Israel protest
Berkeley - Corner of College and Ashby.

Monday, December 4th 11:30AM – Counterprotest anti-Israel demonstration outside AIPAC lunch.
747 Howard Street, San Francisco (Outside Moscone Center South)

Monday, December 4th 5:30PM – Counterprotest anti-Israel demonstration outside AIPAC dinner.
1001 Broadway, Oakland (outside Oakland Marriott).
This will be a large demonstration so please make every attempt to be there. Many people who are attending the dinner also help us counter the anti-Israel forces outside, and then head inside.

Saturday, March 17th, 2007 – Next Wrong, A.N.S.W.E.R. rally. Exact time and location to be announced.


Do you want to become more involved with organizing our activities? Send a message to <>

If you are interested in participating in our campaign to counter anti-Israel speakers, please send an e-mail to <>

Join the discussion! Do you have ideas? Classes to announce? Events to announce or discuss? Join our discussion list by sending an e-mail to <> .

San Francisco Voice for Israel is a non-partisan coalition that takes no position on the war in Iraq, the settlements, or Israel's final borders. Our members span the political spectrum and are united only by our commitment to preserving the State of Israel as a Jewish State within secure, defensible borders.

Please send your tax deductible donation to
Stand With Us
P.O. Box 341069
Los Angeles, CA 90034-1069
Write SFV4I in the memo line.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Received a newsletter recently, the lead-article of which sparked the mind.

Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo wrote:
'Rav Shefatiah said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: Whoever reads the Torah without a tune, or repeats a Mishnah without a melody, about him Scripture says: "So too I (Hashem) have given them decrees which are not good, " i.e. they turned commandments into harsh decrees instead of privileges (Megillah 32A).'

Studying Torah is not just an academic exercise which can be done in any environment. And to study Torah without a melody is to study without spirit, without soul. To sing the words is to reveal their meaning.

In addition to the written Torah (Torah she biksav) there is the spoken Torah (Torah she balpeh), which is what is taught and learned, rather than read passively. Without the spoken Torah, a large part of Torah is missing.

This does not merely mean the Mishna and the Gemara (the Talmud), which were written down when it seemed like the written Torah might be lost forever (during the Roman period, when the empire sought to destroy the Jews and eradicate Judaism in the land).
Rather, it means that there is a line of transmission (and understanding, and interpretation, and commentary), to each new generation from those who preceded them, all the way from to Sinai. It implies that Torah is a form of testimony (the word Torah can mean many things: law, testimony, cultural and literary inheritance, Talmud-Torah - it means all of them).

The testimony has, as its perfected form, the discussion of Torah between people. As is mentioned in the shma-yisroel.
But also, and perhaps more importantly for those actively studying the material, between two students. Studying with a chavrusa forces you to adapt and think, it demands that you get into the material and prepare yourself. And it makes you a much more flexible learner.

This, then, is as good a reason for finding yourself a study-companion as any.

Go find yourself a chavrusa.

You'll be glad you did.



The Shema (‘Shema Yisroel, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai achad…’), is the quintessential Jewish statement of faith, the battle-cry in hardship, the last comfort of the dying.

Reciting the Shema and the blessings fulfills the commandment to meditate on the laws ‘day and night’, as is written (Joshua 1:8): "Lo yamo'ush sefer ha Torah haze mi picha, ve hagita bo yomam va leila le maan tishmor la'ashoot ke chol ha katuv bo ki az tatsliach et derachecha ve az taskil" (Let not leave from your mouth this book of laws, but that you consider it day and night, that you may obey all that is written in it, and make your travails prosperous, and succeed.).

This is also said in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:7 "Ve shinantam le bneicha, ve dibarta bam be shivteicha b'veiteicha, u velechteicha va derech, u veshachbeicha u vekumeicha"
(And you will teach them diligently to your children, and discuss them when you sit in your home, and when you walk on the road, and when lie down and when you get up).

And note also, when it is light enough that you can tell the blue threads from the white in your tallis (prayer shawl), it is time to recite the Shema.


Beste luitjes,

Daarnet iets verbazends gelezen.

Citaat: "De Amerikaanse inlichtingendienst CIA heeft geen overtuigend bewijs gevonden dat Iran kernwapens ontwikkelt. Dat meldde het Amerikaanse tijdschrift The New Yorker dinsdag uit een geheim CIA-rapport."


Als de CIA het zegt, is het zeker een leugen van jewelste.

Het barst er daar waarschijnlijk van de kernwapens.

Laten we ook maar aannemen dat de VS echt niet van plan is zich in weer zo'n klote-conflict te wikkelen - dit is duidelijk 'kop in het zand, laat de rest van de wereld zich er maar mee bemoeien, plausible deniability'.

Mooi zo.

Overzeesche inmenging kost ons te veel, en brengt niets goeds terug; die Tsunami hulp is al door corruptie verslonden, hulp aan de Pakibeving slachtoffers is merendeels ook in privaat koffers verdwenen, en geld aan de VN is louter grootschalige verkwisting - in Indonesia, Pakistan, en de UN is onze reputatie meer sjit dan het 'n jaartje terug al was, dus die poensmijterij was de moeite niet waard.

Dat het wel zo zou zijn hadden we al na de Marshall Plan geleerd kunnen hebben, maar ja, we benne stomme optimisten.

Daar Iran al bewezen heeft dat het A) raketten heeft die Europa kunnen bereiken, en B) niet te schromen voor total war (zoals bijvoorbeeld toen ze de Bassiedj tegen Iraq gebruikten, en chemische wapens nabij Basra), komt ulieden in Europa een zeer interessante tijd tegemoet. Ik zal beniewd toekijken hoe het u gaat over de komende vijf jaar (waarom niet tien of vijftien jaar? Ach kom, zoveel tijd resteert er waarschijnlijk niet meer).

Beniewd, maar afzijdig.

Good luck, boys.


PS. Voor hen die Perzisch willen leren voor het te laat is kan ik wel behulpzaam wezen. Ben weliswaar veel vergeten, maar dat laat toch stukken meer over dan menig ander.
Tutorial inquiries welcome.

Monday, November 20, 2006



What is the right bracha to say on a pumpkin pie?

This is dependent upon whether it is part of the meal, and thus covered by the bracha over the bread, or a snack, and therefore deserving of its own bracha. In which case, which bracha? Is it a fruit of the etz, or a fruit of the aretz? And know that pumpkin pie contains dairy.

Chazal never knew from pumpkins.

If Chazal didn’t know from pumpkins, pumpkins don’t exist.

Some pies are like shtreimelech, others like kulpakim.



Toldos = Generations. The continuation of Abraham’s family.
Psukim 25:19 through 28:9.

Seifer Bereishis devotes much attention to sifrei tolados (genealogical records), and in many ways the entire book can be said to be themed as linked generational lists, starting with Tolados Shamayim v’Aretz (generations of heaven and earth, psook 2:4), Tolados Adam (from Adam to Noach and the dor ha mabul), Tolados Bnei Noach (Shem, Cham, Yafet, and the dor ha migdal Bavel), and the Tolados Shem (Shem to Terach, and the focus on Avraham Avinu).

Two themes in Bereishis which you should note:

1. The progression is from the general to the particular – mankind in chapters one through eleven, the Avos (fathers) in 12 through 50.

2. The repeated contrasting of chosen (bechira) versus rejected (dechiya).


Yitzhak marrieds at age forty.
Rashi tells us his wife was three years old, but per Ibn Ezra Rivka was a teenager - and the term na'arah in the text supports this.

Rav, commenting on a passage in Kiddushin about betrothal, says "It is forbidden for a father to betroth her (his daughter) until she is grown up, and says that she wants to meet her fiancé. From this we might presume that Betuel, Rivka’s father, was ambivalent about marrying off his daughter.

Rashi's commentary conveniently has an angel kill Betuel, whereupon Eliezer hurries off with the prospective bride.

[Okay. Murder and kidnapping. This is inspirational.]

Rivka was childless for several years - not unlike other matriarchs.
Sarah bore Yitzhak when she was ninety years old, Rivkah did not bear children until twenty years after marrying Yitzhak, and Rachel did not bear offspring until after her older sister Leah, her handmaiden, and her older sister’s handmaiden had all got seed from Yaakov.


Sarah Imaeinu is described as a beautiful woman.
Which serves to explain two incidents where kings seized Sarah while she and Avraham traveled through their land. Both times Avraham claimed that Sarah was his sister, fearing that if he admitted that she was his wife, they would kill him.

In Parshas Lech Lecha (Go out yourself! Psukim 12:1 through 17:27), the Pharoh of Egypt took Sarah into his palace. Hashem prevented Pharoh from getting familiar with Sarah by sending an angel. Each time Pharaoh tried to get close, the angle hit him. Pharaoh got the hint and returned Sarah to Avraham.

In Parshas Vayera (And he showed up! Psukim 18:1 through 22:24) the Torah says that when Avraham and Sarah lived in the Land of Gerar, King Avimelech took Sarah into his palace. This time, instead of an angel, Hashem himself came to Avimelech in a dream and chewed him out him for taking a married woman. Avimelech claimed innocence since he thought that Sarah was Avraham`s sister. Hashem punished Avimelech and his servants by preventing them from relieving themselves and producing children.

The Talmud says that as soon as Avraham prayed on behalf of Avimelech and his household so that they could have children, they became aware that Sarah was already pregnant with Yitzhak, and they were healed.

[If someone prays for mercy on another's behalf, when he too needs mercy, he himself is given mercy first.]

Sarah subsequently gave birth to Yitzhak at the ripe old age of ninety.

[Note that in this parsha we run into the name Avimelech once more - in the second aliya there is a confrontation, in the fourth aliya there is a peace treaty. ]


Shnei Goyim B’Vitneich = 'Two gentiles are in your womb' is NOT an accurate translation, as I'm sure you realize.

The two nations that were in Rivka's womb were Ya'akov and Eisav, who through their descendants make up the nations of Klal Yisroel and Edom.
Eisav became a great hunter and a man of the fields. Which highlights an implied difference of intellect and habitus. The sportive type and the bookish type have been at odds ever since - Esav soneh l’Yaakov (Esau hates Jacob).

Why is it that Yitzchak couldn't tell the difference between Ya'akov and Eisav?

Being old and blind he relied on hearing, smell, and touch.
Yakov on the advice of his mother wore a fur pelt. When Yitzhak reached out to touch Ya’akov’s back, he was convinced that it was Esav.

It was only through the deception of Rivka and Ya'akov that Ya'akov was able to steal the birthright from Eisav, and thus found the lineage from Avraham which carried the promise of future greatness for Klal Yisroel.

Rivka effectively engineered the disinheritance of her son Esav. But the Torah makes clear that the boys were twins from the same womb, so there is not even a suspicion of extraneous motives or alternate parentage (i.e. all the offspring of handmaidens who are impregnated, from Hagar to Bilhah and beyond).


Shem V’Eiver = The school where Yakov hid for fourteen years after cheating Esav and fooling Yitzhak. But what was this place?

It says in Bereishis, psook 4:26 "U le Shet gam-hu yulad ben va yikra et-shemo Enosh; az hu chal likro be shem Adonai" (and to Seth, to him also there was born a son, and he called his name Enosh; from then men started calling upon the name of the Lord). From this we learn that the name (shem) of the Lord is the means by which we call, hence the term ‘Hashem’, and we read in psook 9:26 that Shem was blessed by his father Noach in the following manner: ""Va yomer baruch Adonai Elohei Shem, vi hi Chenaan eved lamo" (and he said ‘blessed is the Lord the God of Shem, and let it be that Canaan is their servant). Noach had named his son Shem (‘name’) in reference to psook 4:26, because of the power of the name.

Subsequent thereto, Shem founded an academy where he and his great-grandson Eiver transmitted a 'Torah of wisdom', such as Shem and Eiver had themselves learned during the period of the Mabul (flood) and the Migdal (tower) of Bavel. At this academy the patriarchs studied, each in their time.

Yakov Avinu, when he fled from his brother Esav and was faced with the prospect of having to go to Laban's corrupt environment, prepared himself by studying at the academy of Shem V'Ever. At that time he was 63 years old and had learned Torah all of this life in his father Yitzhak Avinu's home.

[Note that 'fourteen years' (a doubling of seven) resonates with other units of seven and groups of years in the Torah. Consider the similarities.]

It is said that Yakov taught the knowledge he had received from Shem and Eiver to Yosef, thus in part causing the jealousy of the other eleven brothers.

Why only to Yosef and not to the others?

Yosef needed knowledge to survive for twenty two years in the alien environment of Egypt, so that he could lay the basis for the rest of the family joining him and living there for 210 years.

When, at the beginning of the next seifer (Shmos), we read that there was a Pharaoh over Egypt ‘who knew not Yosef’, we read in between the lines that the wisdom known to Yosef was likewise not known in Egypt, and hence the Egyptians had come to fear and dislike the Hebrews.


Ninety percent of the evil in the world is caused by simplistic interpretations of scripture, and most of the remaining ten percent by the IRS.

The category of mother-in-law overlaps both the ninety percent portion, and the remaining ten percent portion.


Tractate Sotah is the Talmud part which deals with straying women, who must swear that they are innocent, if there is no evidence that they went astray, and who will then be presumed not guilty. Mere suspicion on the husband’s part can be overcome by the wife taking an oath.

The most peculiar part of the tractate, however, is the part in which a woman who is presumed to have given reason for suspicion can be forced to drink water mixed with floor-sweepings from the Temple - the sweepings or dust have to be poured upon the water, not the water upon the sweepings or dust. The exact amount of sweepings or dust, or substitutions for same if housekeeping has been by recently, is a matter of discussion.

After describing the meal offering which is to be made, the tractate veers off into legal differences between the genders, defilement, food, languages which can be used ritually, priestly benedictions, the king’s reading on the feast of tabernacles, military clergy, exemption from military service, and the breaking of a heifer’s neck.

Makes for some dynamite reading.

Friday, November 17, 2006


ALL BEGINNINGS ARE HARD = kol haschalos kashos (Mechilta Shemos 19, Parshas Yisro).

The text underneath relates to Parshas Chayei Sarah. Much of it is from the RABAM, who is Rabbi Pinky Shmeckelstein's collaborator, and Rosheshiva of Yeshiva Chipas Emess West Coast, sometimes located in beautiful downtown San Francisco, sometimes somewhere listening to da steel bands ya man!

You might want to have a bit of bronfen while drinking this - it is deep stuff, and you're gonna need help. Like much of the Rabam's scribbling it only makes sense if you have Rabbi Pinky's drasha in front of you, along with a copy of the Torah.

[And yes, tayere Lakewoodyid, I've cleaned it up!]


It was after the passing of his wife that Avraham decided to marry off his son.
[Forty years old, and still living with his father? Achenebbish!]

Rashi postulates that Rivka was an infant, azoi: Sarah Imeinu was 90 when Yitzhok was born, 127 years old when Avrohom and Yitzhak go up the mountain. After the Akeida, Avrohom et famiglia return to Be’er Sheva, then Sarah dies in Chevron, at which time Yitzhak was 37. Then Avrohom hears of the birth of Rivka, who his son Yitzhok will marry in three years.
From this Rashi shpers that Rivka was three years old.

Ibn Ezra, ma she’ein kein, takes a far less meshune tack on this, pointing out (Seder Olam Rabba) that Rivka’s birth is mentioned before Sarah’s death, even though Avrohom only hears about it afterwards. Ibn Ezra further postulates that at least a dozen years passed between the Akeidah and the death of Sarah Imaeinu, and if Rivka was born in the same year as the binding, then she was only thirteen years younger than Yitzhak – not so much a chidush as a much more reasonable assumption.
After all, a three year old is hardly likely to be at the village well drawing buckets of water for the household, giving an elderly gentleman (Eliezer) a tip of a jug for a drink of water, AND watering his camels.

Supporting the belief that Rivka was three years old at the time of her shidduch, Beraishis Rabba 58:2 says ‘Ere Hashem allows the sun of one righteous person to set, He causes the sun of the next righteous person to rise’, which is taken to mean that G-d balanced out the death of Sarah with the birth of Rivka.

But should we really assume so close a match in time?

Probably not. In Bereishis 24:16, Rivka is referred to as a na’arah, which means a girl who has reached the age of sexuality – at least bat mitzvah age, or even older. A girl who would’ve been much more likely to slide down from the camel she was riding when first seeing her future husband, whereas a three year old would’ve probably fallen off and hurt herself (which is not how it is described in this parsha, though in the Gemara...).

A teenager, in other words.

The Vilna Gaon cites Beraishis Rabba 56:11 which says that Yitzhak was 26 years old at the time of the Akeidah, and that Sarah Imaeinu did not die at that time, as it was at the end of the time when Avrohom and his family lived in the land of the Pelishtim, and after that they lived in Chevron for another twelve years. So, if Avrohom heard of Rivka’s birth after the death of our mother Sarah, then Rivka would have indeed been a na’arah.

[But Rashi disagrees, telling us "because through (hearing) the report that her son was bound for slaughter, her soul flew from her and she died. In other words Avraham killed his wife by pretending to kill her son.]

Now note further that Rashi states that 127 years signifies one hundred years of being like the innocence of a twenty year old, and the twenty signifies the beauty of a seven year old.

[The beauty of a seven year old!?!??.]


Meuras Ha Machpelah = The cave of Machpelah, which is by the oaks of Mamre asher mipnei Chebron. A choice bit of real-estate owned by Efron the Hittite.

When Avraham made inquiries about the cave on the property of Efron the Hittite, the elders of the community wish to give it to Avraham, but he refused it as gift, instead insisting on purchase, at a fair price, so that thereafter no one can say that he took land, or was dependent upon strangers for the grave of his wife. It is the first part of the Eretz Kadosh owned by the Bnei Yisroel. It is on the Yishmoeli side of the line, and hence disputed over by Arabs, Jews, and Reb David Wilder.


Avraham sends Eliezer, his steward, to Aram Naharaim (the land of Aram between the rivers: Mesopotamia. Modern Bavel) to find a women among his kinfolk who has all the virtues that a woman who will give birth to the nation of Yisrael will need – a suitable mother of a tribe which will be numerous as the grains of sand and the stars in the sky.

Eliezer travels north-eastward, and comes to a well outside the city. At this point, he is wondering how to complete the task that Avraham set him.

It then says in psook 24:14 "Ve haya ha naara asher omar eleiha hati-na chadech ve eshte ve amra shete ve gam-gemaleicha ashke ota hochachta le avdecha le Yitzhak u va eda ki-asita chesed im-adoni"
(So let it be ordered, that the girl to whom I shall say ‘lower your pitcher, I ask you, that I may drink’ shall say ‘drink, and I will give your camels to drink also"; let this same one be she that you have designated for your servant, for Isaac, and thereby shall I know that you are kind to my master).

Psook 24:15 "va yehi-hu terem kila le daber, ve hine, Rivka yotset asher yulda li Vtuel ben Milka eishet Nachor achi Avraham ve chada al-shichma"
(And so it happened that before he had finished speaking, that, lo, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher on her shoulder).

Psook 24:16 "ve ha na’ara tovat mare meod betula, ve ish lo yedaa, va tered ha aina va temale chada va taal"
(And the girl was very nice to look upon – and a virgin whom no man had known, and she went down to the spring, and filled her pitcher, and came up).

Psook 24:17 "va yarats ha eved likrata, va yomer ha gemiini na meat-mayim mikadech"
(And the servant ran to meet her, and said 'please give me a little water to drink from your pitcher').

Psook 24:18 "va tomer shete adoni, va temaher va tored kada al-yada va tashkehu"
(And she said: 'drink, my lord', and she promptly lowered her pitcher onto her other hand (to support it), and gave him drink).

Psook 24:19 "va techal le hashkoto va tomer gam li gmaleicha eshav ad im-kilu lishtot"
(And when she had given him drink, she said 'I will draw for your camels also, until they too have drunk').

Psook 24:20 "va temaher va tear kada el ha shoket, va tarats od el-ha beer lishov va tishav lechol-gemalav"
(And she emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels).

Psook 24:21 "ve ha ish mishtae la macharish la daat hahitsliach Adonai darko im-lo"
(And the man observed her thoroughly, saying naught, to know whether the Lord had made his journey fortunate or not).

Psook 24:22 "va yehi ka asher kilu ha gemalim lishtot, va yikach ha ish nezem zahav beka mishkalo u shenei tsemidim al-yadeiha asara zahav mishkalam"
(And so it happened that when the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring of half a shekel in weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight in gold).

Question: why does Eliezer put his hand underneath Avrohom's thigh?

Per Rashi: "one who takes an oath must take in his hand an object of a commandment (an item with which a mitzvah was performed) such as a Torah scroll or a set of tfillin. And circumcision was the first commandment given to him, so Avraham had Eliezer take hold of his manly part, because it was precious to him".

[If Yitzhok had gotten married while his mother was still alive, Rivka would’ve been big with seed within mere months; it is well known that grandchildren are caused by nagging mothers-in-law.]


Ibn Ezra = Abraham Ben Meir Ibn Ezra, born between 1089 and 1093 (probably the latter), died 1167. Native of Tudela in the emirate of Sarragosa. One of the greatest Torah commentators and a forerunner of modern criticism. Much admired by Spinoza, he was one of the first to translate writings of Muslims and Arabic-speaking Jews into Hebrew. A rationalistic and scientific minded interpreter of Talmud-Torah, a grammarian, and a mystic. A scholar whose profound influence on later scholars continues even today.

Rashi = Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak, a mediaeval bible commentator (1040 - 1105) from Troyes. His commentary and annotation of the Torah and Talmud is often included on the printed page, and is considered the basis from whence all study of the material must grow. He was thorough, but not always correct. By the unimaginative he is made much of.

[Tayere Rabbosai, he did not invent the Torah, he merely inherited it – so stop acting like he’s the second coming of Moishe already!]

The Vilna Gaon = The Genius (Gaon) of Vilna (Vilnius - the capitol city of Lithuania, once the intellectual heartland of Yiddishkeit). Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Shlomo Zalman, 1720 - 1797. He and his followers were called the Mitnagdim (opposers) because of their rejection of mysticism and mumbo-jumbo, to which category they reckoned Hasidus.
He is also called the GRA (an acronym of Gaon Rav Eliyahu), and also Ha Gaon Ha Chassid Mi Vilna – the saintly genius of Vilna.
By what is he a genius?
As a toddler he memorized the Torah, at the age of seven he was studying Talmud, and by ten he was already engaged upon independent study. When barely an adult, he was consulted by rabbeyim regarding halacha, by goyishe scientists regarding astronomy and mathematics.
In his late fifties he became embroiled in the quarrel between the followers of the Besht (Ba’al Shem Tov; Yisroel Ben Eliezer, 1698 to 1760, the founder of Chassidus), who at that time were led by Rabbi Shneer Zalman of Liyadi (1745 to 1813, founder of Lubavitch and ancestor or Rebbe Shneerson), versus the mainstream of Rabbinical Judaism.
The upshot was that the entire Chassidic community was put under a cherem (decree of excommunication), and it was forbidden to associate with them in any way.
The Gaon was not a much published writer in his lifetime, but collections of his commentaries and glosses to many major works were published in the years following his death. Among others: Shanos Eliyahu (the years of Eliyahu – a commentary on the Mishna), Aderes Eliyahu (the glory of Eliyahu – a commentary on the Torah), and perhaps most notably the Biur Ha Gra (Gloss of the Gra – an annotation and supercommentary on the Bavli and the Shulchan Aruch).
He was a humble and somewhat withdrawn man – it should be noted that the titles above were put on works assembled after his death.
He did not refer to himself as the saintly Chassid of Vilna, nor to his Torah commentary as glorious. But we do.


The following is an out-right theft from the blog of Habib ben Achim Marwan, who produces something called The Clochard Times. He is the charismatic leader of 'Le Mouvement Clochard'.
[Blog here: ]

It is a detailing of the spiritual choices available in his world.

It is hysterically funny. Trust me.

Hindus: 793.075.000 leden, wordt volledig gefinancierd door de inkomsten van tech support call centers in India.

Buddhisten: Zonder twijfel de meest pussy religie. Ze babbelen vooral over dieren, bloemen en stuff. Hetgeen mogelijks interessant is wanneer je in een homoseksuele zoo wenst te werken. 415 miljoen leden. Groeit het snelst in de Westerse wereld, wat veel zegt over de Staat van Decadentie in deze regio’s.

Sikhs: 23 miljoen volgelingen, waarvan de meeste in India wonen. Vrij banale religie, wel coole baarden.

Joden: Zij controleren alle banken en de media via onzichtbare nano-bots (behalve in Utah, zie Mormonen). Let ook op hun “mind control” vloeistoffen die je kan aantreffen in sommige verlaten waterputten. Joden aanbidden geen heiligen, maar komieken.

Confucianisten: Een religie die volledig gebasseerd is op een reeks van “Diepe Gedachten” die enkele honderden jaren geleden gepubliceerd werd. Confucius hield zich bezig met het verkondigen van zaken zoals “Het doet er niet toe hoe lang je er over doet, zolang je maar niet stopt.” En wat als je een buschauffeur bent? Domme kloot.

Mormonen: 12 miljoen leden wereldwijd, eigenaar van de staat Utah en verschillende holdings in onroerende goederen ter waarde van om en bij de 30 miljard dollar. De stichter, Jospeh Smith, zou ooit eens een engel Mormoni gezien hebben die hem gouden platen en magische suikertabletten toonde. Pluspunt: polygamie. Minpunt: Vooral perverte en lelijke mannen planten zich voort, hetgeen resulteerd in eerder onaatrekkelijke dochters.

Kabbalahisten: We hebben het hier uiteraard niet over een religieus filosofisch systeem dat beweert inzicht te geven in de goddelijke natuur, maar over ene Philip Berg die, tesamen met z’n vrouw, vanuit het Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles, rode armbandjes verkoopt (25 dollar) aan hippe celebrities zoals Lindsay Lohan en Demi Moore. Voor meer uitleg: zie Ashton Kutcher. Dit heerschap weigerde z’n Kabbalah armband af te doen tijdens het filmen van The Butterfly Effect. De filmstudio zag zich genoodzaakt die armband achteraf digitaal te verwijderen. Kostprijs? 100.000 dollar.

Amish: 220.000 aanhangers, overwegend in Noord-Amerika. Zie Mormonen, maar dan zonder elektriciteit en met (meer) paarden, koetsen, schuren en inteelt.

Scientologisten: Zie hiervoor het Hollywood sci-fi drama Battlefield Earth (tagline: “Prepare for Battle” – no shit), waarin John Travolta, gewapend met dreadlocks, plateauschoenen en laserkanonnen, als gemanipuleerde alien de wereld tracht te veroveren. De film kostte 73 miljoen dollar en bracht wereldwijd amper 29 miljoen dollar in het laadje. Het “scenario” werd dan ook geschreven door ene L. Ron Hubbard, de stichter van Scientology. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

Mister Habib ben Achim Marwan appears to be a student at some beer-drenched college somewhere in Flanders, and may be studying for a law degree or something equally intellect-deadening.

We wish him well.



Men wil in Nederland de Boerka verbieden.

Met als gestelde raison dat het 'op grond van veiligheids redenen' nodig is.

Lijkt eerder op getreiter.

Laat men dan ook, omwille de goede orde, lage heupbroeken en naveltruitjes verbieden. Iemand die haar bilspleet zo tentoonstelt is ook een gevaar voor het publiek. Zelfs als, zoals velen, ze blubbervet is.

Ik zal vast niet de enige zijn die hoofd afwent om de schaamdelen van zo'n sletpuber niet onder oog te krijgen.



Islamisering lijkt oprukkend Naziisme?

Wat een idote opmerking van Marco Pastors. Hij en velen gebruiken die Nazi-vergelijkingen lukraak.
Zionisme is volgens sommigen Naziisme, de Amerikanen bennen Nazis, de Republikeinen, de Saoedische regering, de Iranezen, de anti-rokers, de dierenrechten activisten, de bontfabrikanten, de vegetarischen, en de vlees industrie.

Links vergelijkt al jaren alles met Naziisme.
Nu blijkbaar doen de rest van de idioten het ook.

Er is 'n hoop in de Islam dat ik niet goed veel.
Maar zo'n vergelijking is wel bijzonder ver gezocht.
Veel dat wij als kwalijk zien is gewoon of 'n spiegelbeeld van het eigene, of slechts de afwijking van onze normen.

Men kwatsjt ook dat over enkele generaties de Islamieten in Nederland de dominante bevolkings groep zouden kunnen worden. Doch ziet over het hoofd dat tegen die tijd die lui volledig verNederlandst zullen zijn.
Net zoals tijdens de oorlogsjaren de NSBers en collaborateurs de dominante bevolkingsgroep waren, en sedertdien dood-normaal gewoon 'n deel van de maatschappij werden.

Waar men zich aan ergert zijn die Islamieten die nog ver van de Nederlandsche normen zijn. Natuurlijk, men merkt juist wel die lui.

Wat men meestens weigert te merken is de Turk of Marokkaan die vlekkeloos Nederlands praat, z'n sjekkie rolt als een 'normaal' mens, 'n bakske koffie om de hoek drinkt, terwijl ie gezellig over PSV of Ajax klets.

De half-mongoolsche inteelt patatte-boer in het platteland, die groffe zondvloeken uitroept tegen de hele wereld, merkt men ook niet...., of men beschouwt hem als een ongevaarlijke oer-Nederlandsche type.

Zoals ik al schreef heb ik problemen met de Islam. Voorts heb ik schurft aan vele opvattingen en gedragspatronen van sommige Islamieten in Nederland. Dat niet tegenstaande merk ik aan Nederlanders op het internet dat als er iets in Nederland is dat op Naziisme lijkt, het meestens hun zelf is.

Hoeveel van die ultra-rechtsche kakkerlakken steunen ook al weer Vlaams Belang? Hoeveel van die lui hadden zelfs ooit gehoord van Theo Van Gogh voordat hij werd vermoord? Hoeveel van die wezels zijn unemployable werkelozen? Lonsdalers?

Dezelfde paranoia dat beweert dat Nederland door de Islamieten overgenomen word, kan ook makkelijk geloven dat Amerika beheerd word door vrijmetselaars en Joden.

Marco Pastors klets uit zijn nek. Precies zulke mensen zijn een gevaar voor de samenleving.


Note for those who don't read Dutch:

The text above is in reaction to two news items from the Netherlands recently.
The first one is the proposal to ban burqas, the second the comparison (by Marco Pastors) of Islamicization in the Netherlands with Naziism (many Dutch venomously despise the foreigners they invited to do the dirty work that they themselves refused).

There are two things to bear in mind - the burqa ban is alleged to be a security issue, but is more likely fueled solely by bigotry and pettiness; and the comparison made by Mr. Pastors is both a cheap shot and hideously obscene. He should be ashamed of himself for using the Nazi comparison, as should almost everybody who so glibly seizes upon that word.

Nazism was sui generis. There is much wrong with the world, but if we never describe it accurately, and simply compare it to a past-evil, we are scarce better than the Muslim or Anti-Semite whose stock response to everything is 'the Jew', or the racist who blames everything on 'the darkies', or the Frenchman who sees the hand of 'le Boche' behind everything.

Such a comparison cheapens the word, and averts a realistic appraisal.

What makes Mr. Pastors comparison especially egregious is the repulsive nature of the utterance, in the final days of a political campaign. He is using the term 'Nazi' to make political capital. He is using the term in a way that discounts precisely the actual realities of Nazism. He is using the word Nazi to slam a minority. And he is using the term in the same way that the Nazis used the word 'Jew'.

As I said - both a cheap shot, and an obscene comparison.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


[Question: How do you say 'coward' in Spanish? Answer: Cobarde. But 'collaborator' comes close.]

Mel Gibson: "F----ng Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero: "Peace between Israel and the Palestinians means to a large extent peace on the international scene..."

Okay..., can someone please explain to me how these statements differ?
Mel Gibson comes right out and says what Spanish PM Zapatero implies.
I honestly cannot see much distinction. The attitude that informs both statements has the same stench, the same feel.
Maybe I'm just not subtle enough.

It would be far too kind of me to assume that Mr. Zapatero has somehow not noticed several international hot spots...... Chechnya, Afghanistan, Irak, Darfur, Kashmir.....

It would also be far too kind to assume that Mr. Zapatero is ignorant of a few key differences between Islam (a factor in all the above) and Judaism (NOT a factor in all the above).

I confess to being absolutely baffled at the connection between Israel and Kashmir. Or Israel and Uruzgan (a hellhole in Afghanistan where the Taliban are making a comeback). Or for that matter the connection between Israel and the Congo, or Darfur, or Liberia, or the Western Sahara, or Somalia, or most of the places where wars have taken place in the last thirty or forty years.

We have a word for people such as Mr. Zapatero. No, I'm not thinking of the obvious one (anti-Semite), but of an even more appropriate term - Quisling.

Mr. Zapatero is bending over backwards to accommodate the anti-Israel side. He knows who has made Israel-Palestine an issue for the last three generations. He knows how they have spread their anti-Israel message among the far-left for three generations. He knows why, and he knows the lies. And he knows the viciousness with which they have furthered their cause.

But he is no doubt grateful that they won him the election that made him prime-minister.

And he is mindful of the tactics they use when people and countries dare to disagree with them.
There is sure to be a second term in his future.

I might remind him that Israel never hijacked a plane, blew up a train, or pushed a wheelchair-bound cripple overboard. I might, but I am sure he knows that as well as anyone.

Instead I would like to remind him about the period between 711 Common Era and 1492 Common Era.
Let him think deeply about that period, as it has not been forgotten by those whom he would placate.


[Full article here: ]

Quotes from Today's Ha'aretz:

"Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on Thursday announced plans to launch the initiative, stressing that the international community cannot remain idle as violence rages between Israel and the Palestinians."

"Zapatero announced the new European initiative at a summit with President Jacques Chirac of France. "Peace between Israel and the Palestinians means to a large extent peace on the international scene," Zapatero told a news conference."

This is akin to a rapist telling the trail judge that it was only the biting, scratching, and screaming of the victim that turned what could have been a peaceful encounter into a full-blown violent crime. "Your honour, if the bitch had just quietly submitted, the jury would never have even known about this. So I'm actually innocent, and it's her fault".

The judge agrees that Israel fighting back is purely unreasonable, and dismisses the case. But also shows an unclean interest in being able to watch next time around.

One more quote: "Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Rudineh said Thursday that his government welcomed the initiative, particularly its emphasis on international intervention."

I'm sure he would. Internationals in Lebanon are turning a blind-eye to the resupplying of Hezbollah. He expects the same favourable treatment.

International interventions and peace-missions have not been gloriously successful.

Nor is there any evidence to suggest that the Europeans are willing to risk the ire of the Arab world. Which ab initio indicates flaws in the idea of the Europeans being an impartial buffer between the two sides. Their idleness up to this point has been nothing if not partisan.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


[Note: this was prompted by Steg (dos iz nit der šteg), who posted about "Non-Halakhically Jewish" here: . You really need to visit his blog more often than you do. Click here: And click often.]

Unlike social circles or fanclubs, Judaism stresses not what the person thinks about themselves as regards identity, but sets certain benchmarks instead.For Goyim to become Jewish, the bar should be high. For those people whose fathers were Jewish, the bar should be lowered. But one cannot arbitrarily chuck the standards aside, even for someone who has talked himself into believing that he is Jewish. Just because someone calls me brother does not mean that he is my kin.

That being said, I'm a little baffled by the people who take an all or nothing approach. Is there anything wrong with being not a Jew, but nevertheless being 'Jewish'?

While I despise the term 'Ben Noach' (an invented term if ever there was one), and the term 'Ger' has only a limited applicability, what about the term 'fellow traveler'?
How perfect a description for the Erev Rav! And how equally perfect for 'God-fearers' (the converts and unconverted fellow travellers in the Roman Empire - by extension in this context, their equivalents in the modern age)!
Plus it suggests a certain snarky rejection of any opprobrium that might adhere to being a Jew, Jewish, Judeo-phile, or pro-Israel.

On the other hand, if someone considers themselves a Jew and clearly has reasons to consider themselves so, is considered to be a Jew by other Jews, and conforms to a certain level of Yiddishkeit, it makes little sense to question their Jewishness, outside of matters pertaining to marriage, burial, and certain employments. There has always been a level of 'take it on faith' regarding the Jewishness of most Jews.

[But I still can't accept the 'Lesbian Womyn's Empowerment Wicca Minyan' as being Jewish. That is a case where I will insist that my definition of Jewish trumps their definition.]

The Halacha is that one is a Jew if one converts to Judaism, like Avraham and Sarah, or is descended from someone who did so, consistently along the female line (in some case all the way back to Sarah, or the wives of the men of Avraham's household).
Technically this could make someone Jewish who does not even have a clue. In practice, however, such people do not identify as Jews, and are not usually known as Jews. Still, Jewish observance or lack thereof is not the ultimate determinant, inheritance is.

--- --- --- --- ---

Please note: People who claim to be descendants of the lost tribes are insane, not Jewish. Though they might have a Jew in the woodwork somewhere - most people probably do.
Jews for Jesus, if born of Jewish mothers, are Jews. But they are not Jewish. And having rejected any semblance of normative Judaism, are......., erm...., eh...., let's just say 'beyond the fold', and leave it at that. But they do have much in common with the people who claim descent from the lost tribes.


Tehilim (psalms 45:14) says “kol kevudah bas melech penima” (the glory of the king’s daughter is within), which is taken to mean that women should be restricted in their sphere of activity and modest in dress, even to the extent that showing their hair in public is considered immodest, bordering on harlotry - a sentiment that Saul of Tarsus wholeheartedly supports.

But why DO Hhareidim make their wives look like Arab men in mourning?

It is written in Yeshayah (Isaiah) 15:2 "Ala ha Bayit ve divon ha bamot le vechi al Nebo ve al medeva, moav yeyelil be chol roshav karcha kol zakan gerua" (He has gone up to Beis and to Dibon, to the high places to weep - on Nebo, and Medeba, Moab wails like a banshee; on all their heads is baldness, every beard is shaven); in Yeremayah (Jeremiah) 16:6 it says “…e lo yispedu lachem velo yitgodad velo yikareach lachem”(…neither shall people lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them).

From this we know that shaving the head is a sign of mourning among the heathen in the land, and remember, we are instructed to NOT be like them.

Shaving one’s wife is open to any number of interpretations, all of them disturbing.

On the other hand, smooth, shiny, round, ooooh! Yes!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


[Muddled words]

"Ki seitzei l'milchama al oyveicha, u-nesana Hashem Eloheicha b'yadeicha ve-shavisa shivyo" (When you will go out to battle against your enemies, and HaShem your God will deliver them into your hand, and you will take them captive as prisoners - Devarim 21:10).


Israel, a democracy located in a region where you would least expect such a thing, has Arab parliamentarians. Who fairly consistently speak ill of the state that gives them their bully-pulpit. Someone once said that wild exaggerations and rhetorical flourishes mark Arab discourse, and I've also heard the terms 'lyrical' and 'eloquent' used to describe their political speech.

The word, in the Arab world, is the mother of the fact.

[This may explain why every war against Israel is celebrated as a glorious victory, and why so few people believe that the 'Mother Of All Battles' during the First Gulf War ended badly for Saddam Hussein.]

Arabs speak with passion.

As can be seen below.

MK (Member of Knesset) Honeh Soueid (Hadash): People were killed and you want to be accurate...?

Deputy Defense Minister (Labor) Ephraim Sneh: You think that if you interrupt me, I won't say what I want to say? ... I can promise you one thing: You won't like 90% of what I have to say... Why did we start the military offensive in Beit Hanoun? To protect the citizens of Israel, to attack those who fire Kassams and who store up war material to use it against us. This was the objective; there is nothing more legitimate than that.

MK Muhammed Barakeh: Little children are terrorists?!
[screaming wildly] It's a shame and a disgrace! [continues to scream at Sneh]

MK Moshe Sharoni [Pensioners Party]: You just want to get your picture in Al Jazeera!

Barakeh: Shut your mouth, stupid!

[more screaming, Barakeh is finally ordered to leave by Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik]

Barakeh [to Sharoni]: Shut your mouth!

Sharoni [in Arabic, apparently a bit taken aback by Barakeh's furious hostility]: Out! Out!

[This exchange is repeated several times, until finally Barakeh is taken out, while continuing to yell]

Speaker Itzik [with a sigh]: Then they talk about the 'image of the Knesset' and that we 'have to come towards...' You heard, MK Gal'on?

MK Gal'on: I didn't see you 'come towards' when Barakeh was talking...

Itzik: Oh, really? OK, OK... Deputy Minister Sneh, please continue.

[Arab MK Ahmed Tibi starts screaming...]

Deputy Minister Sneh: On Nov. 7, from an orchard on the outskirts of Beit Hanoun, rockets were fired towards Ashkelon. On the next morning, we received warning that it would happen again, and therefore two artillery volleys were fired to that spot. As a result of a technical fault in the second volley, tens of innocent people were hit. We see this as a grave issue, a catastrophe, and a failure. I assume that those who fired the rocket on Ashkelon, if they would have hit dozens of innocent people, they would have seen it as a success.

MK Tibi: [screams] You're just clearing yourself! [unintelligible]

Sneh: No, no, Tibi - that's the difference of our cultures; that's the whole thing; that's the difference in our values.

[Tibi and other Arab MKs start yelling wildly]

Sneh: I promised you that you wouldn't like what I had to say. ... You cannot evade the point that when we hit civilians, we see it as a failure, but those who shoot at us see it as a success; that's the difference, you cannot evade that!

[more screaming]

Sneh: I came to speak here in order to respond and there is a limit to what we are willing to hear.

[Tibi and others keep screaming]

Sneh: ...After the extent of the catastrophe became known, we enacted a series of urgent humanitarian measures. The worst of the injured were taken to hospitals in Israel, and even though it was a battle zone, we allowed in trucks of medical supplies, we opened the Rafah crossing, and we did whatever possible to alleviate the unjustified suffering of these people.

Tibi: And then these Palestinians didn't even say thank you, what nerve of them!

Sneh: We didn't expect a thank you, we did what we thought we had to do.

[more interruptions]

Sneh: We didn't expect a thank you, I don't think we even deserved it. I think that we were responsible militarily, and we did what we had to do.

[Tibi continues screaming, Speaker Itzik threatens to remove him]

Sneh: Now that I have said what I wanted to say regarding military responsibility, I will discuss the moral responsibility. [raising his voice] Those who turned Gaza into a launching ground of Kassam rockets against a civilian populace, are responsible for those who were killed. Last September, we left Gaza, and we didn't leave a single thing - not a house or even a guard booth. What justification is there for what you are doing?! [Quiet] Why are the Rafah and Karni crossings half-closed?! Because the people sent by the terror organizations always want to blow up these places, the arteries that provide life to Gaza! They build a 600-meter tunnel - what are they thinking when they dig them?! Who will benefit if they blow up the Karni Crossing and Israelis and Palestinians are killed? And then later they'll complain that there's no milk or flour... What are they thinking? [Quiet] Who destroyed Erez (Industrial Zone), where 5,000 Palestinians worked and made a living? Who destroyed it? The terrorists!

Tibi: And that's why you fire at Beit Hanoun?

Sneh: We fire at Beit Hanoun, Tibi, because they turned it into a base of rockets and missiles against Ashkelon and Sderot. There is no country in the world that would tolerate such a thing! Take this account to Islamic Jihad and to Hamas, and tell them this - give your ethical speeches to them, not to us.

[source: Arutz Sheva: this article: ]

"Maves ve chayim b'yad ha lashon" (death and life are in the grasp of the tongue - Mishlei 18:21).

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