Thursday, July 5, 2018

5th of July


In my series of the essays with the same title “4th of July” I wrote that I will come back to the topic of the influence of Biblical ethics on American political system.
In my essays, I showed one of the possible links between the moral teaching of the Toirah and the model of society based on the social ideas left to humanity by the Jewish Prophets, starting from Moishe Rabayni, aka Moses trough all prophets of Jewish Scriptures as well as Jewish ethics contained in Christian writings.
It is known to virtually all historians that the Ideas and Ideologies of Jewish Ethics influenced members of Abrahamitic religions, what is today more than half of Humanity. It is also recognized that Jewish Ethics disseminated much behind borders of those religions. Without going into details, In my essays I mentioned major political and social thinkers like John Locke and Voltaire. As precursor of Humanism, Voltaire considered himself a warrior against ancient and ‘irreverent Biblical writings’, nevertheless he was under strong influence of religious group of “Polish Brothers” which based their theology and social thought on the teachings of the Bible. Some, especially in modern times, talk about him as the father of atheism even though he declared that the existence of the Creator is self-evident.
In the chain of political thought, the Founding Fathers of our country created a political system which had no precedence in the history of the mankind. The American government is supposed to be elected by the people and serve the public rather than a ruler. Until the American and French revolutions, sometimes the only qualification to rule the country was lineage or in some cases lineage of a group electing their ruler. Monarchs in turn nominated officials to control and tax the population for the benefit of the government which they – the kings - together with nobility owned.
The American Declaration of Independence and American Constitution was calling for the recognition of all human beings as equally created by G-d and as such free individuals are not subject to the government but rather the right owners of the country electing its administrators from among themselves.
In this model, all elected officials and those nominated by the elected officials, officers or judges, were nothing more than honored servants of the American society.
The three branched government in this model of the government was overseen by the free independent media with its main goal to inform and even to educate the general population.
Only informed and educated, with the top abilities of intellectual powers voter, can make a conscience decision in the election process choosing individuals which in his or later her mind will serve the people in the best way on all levels of the governmental structure – from local to presidential elections.
That was the idea and ideal which was for over two centuries followed by all countries adopting democracy as their political system.
Different countries crafted their democracies according to the local culture, mentality or history, but the idea of the government “From the people, by the people and for the people” was and still is attractive to many nations around the world and in many countries. In some places democracy was applied with success while in other countries it was suppressed by dictatorial powers or a manipulation of powers maintaining their domination and privileges rather than applying a democracy in full measure. Some countries were corrupted from within while other places, the democracy or democratic development were suppressed by outside powers protecting their own interest.
In this essay, I will write about a country that is close to my heart, the country that gave me freedom to be who I chose to be, the country that I live in, and till Messianic advent or my death, want to live in –The United States of America.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness”
This one sentence contains in short, the story of the Beginnings written in the first chapters of the Bible as well as it is quintessence of the moral teachings of Jewish Scriptures when understood correctly.
I’m aware that this disclaimer may make some readers uneasy but please don’t forget that millions of people lost their life killed in the name of G-d while G-d obviously has nothing to do with it. There is a need for correct understanding of the Scriptures. Too many times murderers and dictators are using verses of the Bible and lehavdil other holly scriptures to abuse, to grab, to conquer and to kill.
It is not the subject of this essay to explain the Bible and the events or ethics described there but I rather want to write here about what happened after the 5th of July i.e. how the American Constitution was implemented and where the so called American Experiment holds today. I’m not the first and not the only one but I hope to contribute to this topic from my own peculiar point of view.
I planned to write this essay a few years ago but writing is not the occupation that is the priority of my life at this moment, and my plans were pushed away in time.
Most of what I wanted to write about was rather obscure knowledge of a few who observe and understand political events in historical perspective and in context of political ideas and writings.
In other words – there were only a few people who understood what was supposed to be and what is, our democracy and how it went astray.
To all those who shape their political views on popular shows on TV or Radio, I will tell you this: this is not on your level and if you want to understand more you will have to make a greater effort in order to increase your political savyness. I would suggest to familiarize yourself with at least a few articles from Wikipedia on the basic terms of political language, but ideally a few books on the history of the political systems would be a must.
If you still want to read this essay you will have to agree at the end or challenge me with facts and your knowledge.

“All men are created equal”
For almost two centuries and even till now it is idea which is misunderstood by many of our citizens.
People of dark skin were enslaved in this country for almost a hundred years. For almost another hundred years, black or indigenous men didn’t have voting rights, and was considered an unequal citizen in many measures.
Till now even after we got our first black president, in parts of the country or society, black lives matter less than white. Latinos, Asians and people Native to this land from pre-Columbian times are systematically treated as unequal by many, including the government apparatus.
Native Americans were killed a mass from the very beginning of existence of the American Democracy.
Extermination of Native people is one of the most horrible acts of mass killing in the history of mankind.
All perpetrated in the name of “Manifest Destiny” in the name of domination of white European immigrants and their descendants. In this understanding, American Indians were not a part of the human race, the same as other people of color.
Woman didn’t have voting rights till a few decades ago and as today regardless of their input to the economy women are being paid much less than man even doing the same work.
This and in fact much more, clearly shows that the understanding of word ‘equal’ was challenging to our ancestors and it is misunderstood to many contemporaries.
All human beings are created equal, those living in our land and those in the rest of the world.
Separation of State and Church which I wrote about in my other essays, is a fundamental condition of democracy, where the religion of the members of society or this society clerks or officials should not be taken under any consideration in the election process.
After all it does not matter to what religious confession a police officer, judge, the lady in the ticket window or president of United States belongs to. Their task is to serve the people according to the rules developed from within this society. As I wrote above, it is imperative for the society to be informed and educated and not manipulated by cultural, economic, or political powers. If not restrained by the law those ‘powers’ misinform for their own benefit and to keep their privileges.
A Democracy without moral leaders guiding them, is not beneficial for society whatsoever.
In my religious view, Morality should be based on the Divine Revelation but I understand that this ideal would be rejected by many, on the base of the same Separation of State and Church which I strongly believe in. I understand such rejection.
However, I have enough trust in the men, the educated men or women, men who with intellectual powers alone can detect and understand what serves society in the best way.
I have no doubt, that morality of such men would be parallelly known to us as Sheva Mitzvois Bnai Noah.
This is how it was understood by Rav S. R. Hirsch and as such is a part of revelation. This is also an idea known to many contemporary social tinkers perhaps starting from Kant and not ending with Chomsky.
Without imposing any official religion on society or its officers it is possible to maintain civility and consensus.
Yet, election after election, the issue of the religion of the candidate is brought to discussion.
I have to admit, it was big surprise to me after moving to America, because by European standards of democracy it would be unthinkable to talk about a candidate’s religion.
Religious bias in any direction must be excluded from civil democratic society - in the election process or service of the elected to electorate. The same with service of nominated or hired public servants to the voters i.e. people.
Unfortunately, the issue of religious bias is another aspect of inequality of members of American society.
From one side, some Christian denominations and its members in political environment are trying to impose their agenda on all citizens of this country.
From the other side, malicious anti religionism of some personal enemies of G-d, are destroying the moral fabric of this nation built on Biblical values which protect human life and existence of family as the central nucleus of a healthy society.
There is no contradiction in last two sentences.
If family values and value of human life and dignity would have a different source than religion I would still support them as they are parallel to my religious values. But historically there is no other source. Another words, I consider those values beneficial for society regardless of the source even I hold the Source in the highest esteem.
It is known to me that there will be those who would like to put to the basket of ‘inequality’ some other groups like for example so called “sexual minorities”. I consider persecution or discrimination resulting from sexual orientation unamerican and unconstitutional however as religious Jew I have my Chalachic and Chashkafic guidelines which I don’t compromise. Idea of marriage of the same sexes is absurd the same way as other combinations of willing to marry including siblings and other forms of incest.
I would rather exclude the institution of marriage from jurisdiction of the government than turn the sacred agreement between husband and wife to parody of it. Civil issues between people desiring to hold a common household should be treated as such, without the aspect of sacrum which in today’s obviously misguided society is losing its meaning.
This digression should close the topic for now.
I would like to focus rather on the idea of democracy itself.

The issue of when, where and how we lost it, I would leave to historians as I have limited time and expertise in this area.
What I want to write here is rather the description of the current situation in our country which is nothing but a democracy. The fact that I can talk about it openly without fear of persecution is of course way better than the Soviet domination which I experienced in my youth, but freedom of my words does not make or prove existence of a political system dreamed by Jefferson, Adams and other Founding Fathers.
American and French revolutions took power and in parted ownership of the elites and gave it to the members of society. For a while.
This was not the case of Bolshevik or other communist revolutions where private ownership was annulled, and new communist elites took the control into their hands soon after physically eliminating the old elites.
 The American revolution and its ideas gave people power of self-governing without eliminating the rich or taking their possessions. The idea was rather to give equal political power to all members of society regardless of their wealth. The Founding fathers believed clearly that equal rights will create an economically balanced society. Government must create conditions and organized itself in the way that will maintain Safety and Happiness.
The Dollar is not supposed to be a factor in the political process as it becomes an infringement of equality of the citizens.
In such democracy, without money buying political power, it would be possible to model a just society where the owner of the business has to pay his workers decent wages according to the rules of the free market but with assuring that all members of the society are benefiting from their work and input to the economy. The laws would be designed to keep sacred private ownership but at the same time democratically elected politicians would stand for the working class ensuring this classes well-being.
In Justice society those who are unable for any reason to contribute to the economy would be supported from the taxes of all other productive members of the society according to the taxation system worked out in democratic process.
It is unimaginable that any member of human race, any citizen of our country should suffer poverty or die because of lack of economic input independent of his or her ability.
If anybody understand “Right to Life” otherwise I doubt his or her humanness.

“What is mine is mine what is yours is yours” is characteristic which our sages described people of Sedom.
Idea of Democracy was always dangerous for wealth and privileges of the elites, especially after the American and French revolutions.
We are not taking about wealth that is the result of work, ingenuity or even the gift of wealthy parents, for private possession should be sacred in any civilized society.
Wealth assuring better quality of life for those who acquired or received the wealth in the lawful manner is a fundamental right. It is obvious however, for society based not on Darwinian ‘laws’ but on ideas of justice and compassion, that as the part of the broader society, Wealthy have the obligation to pay their workers or pay the taxes in the amounts agreed in the democratic process.
In practice – The Idea of allowing members of the working body of large corporations in a decision process is the right the direction to follow. Other desirable form of ownership in case of large corporations is of course co-operation.
On the other side exist absolute pathological possession of wealth and power, at the cost of the majority of the citizens.
What if the elites don’t want to participate in the burden of citizenship or simply want to squeeze the population in the most efficient for the elites’ manner? And yet they are restricted by the rules designed by visionaries who wrote the Constitution of this country giving people Rights?
Such elites developed the political system which we are living in today.
The money is being made by different industries which all of them possess their paid lobbyist, making sure that every politician in this country is being paid. If you still living in imaginary world where you have two parties please be aware that it has to do with reality as much as wrestling match.
Pay for the politicians comes in the form of money in the election process, which I’m soon going to explain if someone is missing the point what is wrong with it. There are other forms of bribery like privileges and rewards given to politicians assuring that their payers in return will get what they want – to make more money or get more power.
It happens on every level of the government, perhaps with exceptions of the police officers which it is illegal for most of them to benefit from any other source than their pay. It is presumed that benefits from other sources may corrupt their service.
Interestingly politicians and even judges do not apply those rules to themselves.
For example, even the judges of our Supreme Court are benefiting from the trips founded by groups of special interest as it is (to this moment) illegal for them to be paid by the sides of the potential conflict.
Why funding elections by the groups of special interest, industrial or even groups serving foreign governments is nothing else than cancer on democracy?
The answer should be self-understood but if not, please be aware that politicians and judges founded by such groups are serving those groups and not society which they are supposed to serve in a truly democratic system.

Some say - Well, after all, those politicians are elected by the voters and this itself I evidence that everything is right with our democracy.
Here is the trick.
Technically it may be still true that votes matter as it was shown in the last presidential election where preferred candidate of the powers owning this country lost election to the less preferable.
The problem is, that in the presidential elections there are only preferred and slightly less preferred but still corrupted candidates to choose from. This setup is not limited only to presidential elections.
In communist countries, there were elections as well. You could choose from list of candidates offered to the voters by the communist elites, by the establishment owing those countries… but there was an election. They called it – Socialist Democracy. Of course, it didn’t have anything to do with Socialism or a Democracy.
It was easy for communists to maintain such a “democracy” with the help of the media owned by the communist government. They kept control and no matter what candidate the people chose they were all serving the same lords. In case they needed to use force, they didn’t hesitate either, because police and the army were only defending ‘people’ from the enemies of the people’.
In a society build on the foundation of freedom and democracy it was much more difficult for the elites and other groups of interest to keep the election process under their control.
But they believe money can buy everything.
They bought the media.
Only informed and educated citizen could make a decision that will benefit him and other members of the same social group.
Citizens that are misinformed or simply kept busy with constant entertainment or infotainment cannot think for himself.
The subject of Social Engineering is being thought on the top political universities of the world.
All rulers understand, that from time to time they will need such engineers. Some need them all the time.
Edward Bernays laid the foundation for modern advertising and political manipulation and his school of deception is perfected as new challenges emerge for the ruling class in their control of society.
Till 1996 American law was prohibiting media companies from extensive control over the information.
Clinton’s Telecommunication Act changed the rules.
Since then, almost all media in our country is owned by six major corporations with other umbrella corporations connected to big business or other influential groups of interest.
This is not a conspiracy theory, this is reality.
Technically you can still open your own tv, radio station or write you own newspaper but the media engineers will make sure your voice should be quiet or if it’s getting to loud, ridiculed and marginalized.
Social engineers make sure that your election choices should be limited to the candidates serving the people who pay for their elections. The differences between candidates are reduced to sometimes completely irreverent but emotional topics. Other times, topics of difference between divided society are serious and equally emotional. All of those divisions are maintained in the media in order to pull attention of the voter away from the issues more reverent to himself and members of his social class.
At times, some of those divisions are artificially created to achieve the goal of division.
Roman motto - Divide et Impera, was probably not invented by Romans, but it is one of the best and most common tools of the social engineers working for the ruling class. Divisions could be cultural, racial, religious or any other.
A Divided society is easy to control.
‘Scare technics’ are being used for the long time.
At different times, different groups are being used as the bogyman but it always works.
Irish, Catholic, Muslim, Mexican, redskin or yellow man are always handy, but no one scares more than ever plotting Jew. Jews are always the scariest but used often as a last resort if any other bogyman doesn’t work anymore.
To those who feel assured by the Jewish connections to last few governments please don’t forget 12 years between 1933 and 1945 as well as 600 useful Jews in Hitler’s Y-S government.
To those who will tell that he was elected in democratic elections please read all of above again.

In light of all written above I will explain some details of the deception as it is painful for me to see nation once politically aware way better than any other social, religious or other group on the Earth.
It is painful to see today my fellow Jews being subjects of common manipulation and falling for the scheme of two party system and being unaware of the strings that are being pulled by.
Even those who are somehow aware of the corruption of our politics will rather use it to benefit what they consider our national interest, forgetting that as Rav Hirsch stated – We don’t have any political economy. Our only goal is to serve the Creator and mankind with complete Yashrus – straightness and truth.
‘PR’, even invented by a person of Jewish descent, has nothing to do with the idea of bringing light to the nations that cannot happen through means of deception or violence.
If you are religious Jew and somehow those words don’t resonate, please study carefully the short text that you recite three times a day, but maybe for last few decades didn’t pay attention to the words - read Aleinu Leshabeach…

It doesn’t matter who occupies White House. It is always a person designated by the ruling class to stay there. You may get only someone from the left or the right wing of the ruling or rather ruled party.
It is always - either somebody completely corrupted or stupid enough to be manipulated and if somehow it is not easy to manipulate him or her, it will be settled by other means.
Your vote doesn’t matter in congressional or senat elections because candidates have to pass a filter of donors who will chose to donate to the election of candidate preferred by them ensuring proper service for the payer. It will be again – somebody corrupted or an idiot who could be manipulated according to the needs and preferences of those who pay.
Mind, that I didn’t say a corrupted idiot, for it could be a highly intelligent Machiavellian scum ready to switch the front as it serves him or her.
This filter works on all levels of government. Even if it doesn’t change much for the ruling class, who the  local sheriff in your town is , but the culture of this open corruption allows to set in the positions of power and decision making people who are not most qualified. For those preselected officials’ wellbeing of the constituency is not what drives them to take this suppose service.
I will not refer here to what is discussed as ‘deep government’, ‘new order’, ‘illuminati’, Rothschilds or any other identity supposedly pulling the strings as I rather see it as the part of the deception with one purpose, to confuse the population and defuse the pressure from the real powers behind the theater of politics and culture.
I don’t see it as one central power pulling invisible strings to assure their domination and secrecy.
To this day I see it rather as different circuits of power who sometimes configure in some common goal but in other times they may compete for more power or influence.
The problem is, it has nothing to do with democracy, the Declaration of Independence and the political system designed for this country. It is not founded on the Biblical ideal of a free individual and his freedom being assured by elected clerks and officials.
In the time when due to the lack of prophecy, the theocratical government is impossible, it is self-evident that the political system designed by the founding fathers were influenced by the ideas of justice derived from our Scriptures is the only system assuring the well being of our people as well as all other people’s living in the same country. And if the well being of other people is on our mind, we can be assured about Heavenly protection of all people of this and other lands.
The moment when one group in an uncontrolled manner takes more power to their hands in order to subordinate, control and exploit other people is where democracy ends. Be it people living in our country or other lands.
A Government that controls the life of its own citizens or citizens of other countries without applying rules designed to form a free society is just another form of a regime with a goal to give the most for the few and little for the most, it is precisely the idea invented by the Nimrod in ancient times.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Homeless


Homeless

It a was gut-wrenching day.
I don’t want to use the word depressing because if not caused by a chemical imbalance in our body I consider it a sin, Therefore I think - gut wrenching would be a proper word to use.
My day Started with getting out of the woods of high Sierra, an email popped onto my screen that my fragile package of merchandise was dumped somewhere at a door of a house in Brooklyn. They did not update me on the package as usual, and make sure someone signed for it. It cost me few hours of horror, because not only did I pay for it but now I need to sell it, that’s my product!
Burich Hashem it was found, and my life was back on track…for now.

After another appointment with a client somewhere in West Sacramento I got to San Francisco.  This is not first time I’m Writing about San Francisco of course. Those who read my essays may remember the one titled – From San Francisco to Alturas. If you don’t remember, please go find it. I won’t give a link because while searching you may find some other interesting essays.
In that essay I described some individuals from the so called lower echelon of society – old and young hippies, street beggars and homeless of the big city.
This was a few years ago…
Much has changed since then. Mostly in numbers.
You may see them in all big cities around the country –the homeless.
People who for all kind of reasons lost their permanent dwelling and are living on the streets of those cities.
If they still have some resources, maybe a job, they can afford to sleep in the car and if not chased away take a shower in some gym or other public places of the kind.
If they have no job and no resources, they are sleep on the street. They obtain cheep tents and put them in some public parks, or usually under bridges where they can get a little bit better protection from the elements.
If they can not obtain tent they build their shelter from carboard, plywood or other sheet of material, wrapping everting with tarp.
Around those shelters they keep their belongings that can’t fit inside – pots, small gas stoves, baskets, some clothing. Food they usually keep inside the shack to prevent it being stolen.
Of course, those shacks don’t have walls securing their treasures but if you think that all those people are thieves, you are making a huge mistake. They know that stealing is evil because for many of them, everything has been stolen from them.
I don’t know the statistics or any data regarding the numbers of homeless people in our country, but after frequently visiting other big cities of the glorious California – Los Angeles, I noticed tent ‘cities’ between bridges and viaducts of highways that are always filled with traffic. The number of those shelters was growing from year to year, but it was nothing compared to the utter shock that hit me in the guts this time in San Francisco.
I didn’t cruse around the entire city but almost every bridge or passage has tens of small villages of people living in such conditions.
Those are not immigrants from other countries, those are mostly born Americans whose life circumstances put them under the bridge, literally.
It hit me to the extent that I couldn’t follow my GPS and driving further out I saw more and more of those ‘villages’. People laying on the sidewalks, sometimes on some old couches or matrasses, sometimes on the bunch of old clothes and sheets of fabric. From time to time, on the sticky concrete or asphalt of the sidewalk.
No doubt, some of them are mentally affected. No doubt some of them are affected by drugs, which I can assume at least some of them opioids prescribed initially to kill some pain. Drugs prescribed by doctors paid by the pharmaceutical companies to sell them and hook people on addiction despite being aware that not only some of those people will lose everything in life trying to buy the product of those pharmaceutical companies but some of them will die.
This essay is not about opioids, but everybody can find multiple documentaries and testimonies from people who failed to those editions.
You may say they have the freedom to refuse? Maybe.
BeEzras Hashem I was never addicted to anything so I don’t understand either, but I will never forget one of my clients - let’s call him Fred.
A little bit chubby, always smiling with a positive approach to life. He owned a small business in the town somewhere in the South West.
For a few seasons he didn’t give me any appointment but when he finally told me over the phone to come I was hoping to see the same Fred.
What I saw was ghost of Fred – his shadow.
It started with some pain that probably came from sitting and doing his job.
He went to doctor and got some strong pain killing medication…the rest of the story isn’t hard to picture. He still owns the business but this is not the same smiling guy who was liked by his customers.
I wonder, I just wonder …how many people on the streets are a product of the killing industry of pharmaceutical companies in collusion with insurance companies.  Insurance firms are initially paying for those drugs but when person falls into addiction and is not able to pay, not only for health insurance but rent or even food…there is no insurance from homelessness.

What makes me wonder most is the amount of destitute people in the cities which are proud of themselves as being the most ‘liberal’ or humanistic in the country.
I understand that this and climate may be precisely the magnet pulling homeless people perhaps form other parts of the country. But I also saw homeless in Salt Lake City. The winter there could be bitter. And yet, homeless are pouring in there from all over the country. But weather is not the reason for that, it is the policy of the state of Utah, helping those people to get small apartments which enable poor people to sleep in a bed, to keep hygienic standard allowing them to attend job interviews and even cook something for themselves in own pots on own stove.
It cost money, it does. San Francisco is one of the cities with the highest taxes in the country and there is a large number of institutions there that are supposed to spend some of the taxpayer’s dollars to help the poor or mentally disabled. But it cost thousands of dollars per person and as anybody could see on Google streets passing under the bridges, it is highly ineffective. The tent cities are all over the place.
SF and neighboring cities are the land of the .com boom companies. Here and in LA you can see people earning the best money in the country except perhaps Los Alamos Laboratory. They are driving fancy cars, they have fancy dogs, they hire dog walkers and dog sitters to watch their pets.
It is impossible that while driving their cars or walking those streets that they don’t see what I saw, just driving into the city for few hours. Or maybe they don’t see? Maybe having eyes is not enough to see? Perhaps you also need a soul?
Maybe they rationalize – well… we pay the taxes - let the city or government take care of the problem.
They may have a point, but only to a certain extend. They don’t pay taxes because they want, it is imposed up on them by the government and if those corporations or their owners and CEO’s paying money, the intention is certainly not to help the poor.
But like other self-righties people they also are quick to declare their love for humanity and care about the poor. With all kind of boycotts and other actions to protect anonymous working children in some far away countries or prison workers in other. They love their pets and nature all together spending their resource for care of their dogs and even plants. They are so humanistic…the only ones that are out of this equation of love and care are their fellow human beings, citizens of the same city.
Or as someone recently said about Paralympians – it’s tough to watch those people…
If my suspicion wouldn’t be true, there would not be homeless on the street and under the bridges of those cities.
And government?
Well…
As was said, we have a government of people who are being paid by pharmaceutical companies profiting from selling death. They are being paid to make sure that no law affects their business or will change this legalized corruption where corporations can buy politicians.
We have a government with politicians creating law to criminalize large sections of population in order to fill up private jails paid per prisoner from our tax money, and where owners of those prisons are able to pay those politicians to make sure that their business thrive.
I hope that all my Jewish brothers and sisters know well about Mrs. Linda R. Reade’s husband buying stocks of private prisons just before his wife in collaboration with other authorities raided Reb Shalom’s Rubashkin Shloicht house. They were expecting number of new prisoners and some money to make in the process.
That’s a tip of the tip of the iceberg of the prison for profit industry with the largest number of prisoners in the world, and that is including China that is five times more populated.
We have a government being paid by the Military Industrial complex which president Eisenhauer was warning us against.
Perhaps he was to late with his warning.
Since then, paid politicians are using existing conflicts or creating brand new ones all around the world to sell their product, many times to opposing sides of the same conflict.
Today days, The American army serves as a mercenary for other countries but besides the hiring parties, only military companies are making money, by being paid by foreign powers and our tax money or sometimes even borrowed from countries like…again - China.
We live in the country where it is legal to kill human being by just changing terminology and stadium of life. Call it “fetus’ and you can kill without regret. Just change definition of life, like in Romania of Nicolau Ceausescu, to improve statistics person was counted alive after living one year out of womb.
Killing human being is included by some to the category of Human Rights – so called “Reproductive right”
Those few listed polices have nothing to do with fact of who is sitting in the White House or the Capitol.
Any of those issues can be used in the election cycle as red meat for the masses to get some excitement and the illusion of choice, but the same as Democrats support wars and pouring money to the military industrial complex or insurance companies despite having legislative majority, the same Republicans allow to kill unborn children when they have majority. It is all for show.
It crossed my mind that perhaps there is ‘homeless industry’, where institutions spending our tax money, instead of finding permanent solution like in Utah, just maintaining number of homeless to justify their existence. Just a thought…
For poor, homeless and sick, our country based on so called Judeo – Christian values as some people call it, for destitute we have no resources and no proper supervision of existing spending. Just talk and talk and talk.
If this and bombing other countries is what Judeo-Christian means? I will pass. I will stick rather with my Abrahamic values.
Chesed – loving-kindness, Tzeduka – justice charity, and care of every orphan, widow, immigrant and unprivileged otherwise. And if I will be taxed by my elected and trusted government to achieve this goal, I will be happy to give my share.
This is what I also learned in last week Parsha – parshas Behar in five books of Moses, this is what I learned from the other Moses – Moses ben Maimon – Maimonides commenting on the commandment of charity. He says - not only to save people who are already destitute but to create a social system that will prevent them from falling in to poverty. It may not work for all of the poor, but if we would redirect our resources and oversee spending by democratically elected officials and free press, there would not be tent cities in our cities.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Return.

                                                                                             B-H
Many Mussar Sefurim – Books on Ethics, teach that we must make Cheshbon Hanefesh – account of the soul, all days of our lives and return to ideal of whom we supposed to be.
In our times this word ‘return’ is common translation of the Hebrew word ‘Teshuva’ – coming back to the fold of Klal Yisruel – Jewish people.
The title ‘Return’ is my private return, but not in above described meaning.
Rather simply I return to the idea of writing my essays on this blog which originally was intended to accompany project of publishing my book ‘Another Convert’
That project is entirely aborted and yet I hear from some of readers reading my blog that I must return to writing. Some of those voices are coming from rather surprising sources.
Years ago, I began to write and publish and post because I thought that my unique life, experiences and knowledge on certain topic are worthed to share.
My suspicions were proven right to me when people were expressing apricciation for the measage I was delivering, and as I wrote once – even if one person will benefit from one line written by me it is worth to spend all time and resources invested in this project. Perhaps this is my Tafkid – life mission. To help that one person with that one line.
But as it could be easily noticed from the dates of the posting of my essays, nothing was posted for some two years and written even more.
My book is not in the book stores and only few copies are available on Amazon and those are used or leftovers from the book stores.
My website anotherconvert.com has only some remnants of the project and my blog is cold.
There is still interview on YouTube as I rather neglected to take it out and partially feeling guilty to all those wonderful people involved in the project of my book and this interview.
Rest of the remaining copies are being utilized in the manner which no books should but as I explained to someone seeing what is being done with them – I lived life described in there, I wrote it, I self-published it, I even schlepp alone few skids of heavy boxes from place to place loading it and unloading on U-haul tracks.
Now I use them as I see it right.
To many things described in this book are not true anymore.
To many to keep it alive.
Somebody described my recent years as – private Waterloo.
But I was not about conquering, not the world and not part of it.
From the beginning of this project, the idea was to share responsibly what was given to me.
So Waterloo is not good example and if I would like to use something from popular history or culture I would rather use the lyrics from one of my favored bands Procol Harum:

When everything around me, even the kitchen ceiling, has collapsed and crumbled without warning. And I am left, standing alive and well, looking up and wondering why and wherefore.

I don’t know what person who wrote those lyrics intended but it is hard to describe my situation metaphorically better than by above quote.
I will leave interpretation to my reader as I don’t want to go deeper to my personal matters.
It should be understood, that I went through nothing else than personal Hurban, where if not the Koisel would be left there wouldn’t be any hope and reason to continue.
B-H I still standing alive and well.
There are still things which I can and perhaps I should share.
There are thoughts and ideas which I promised to continue in my previous essays.
There are new experiences, situation and people from which I took lessons and now I feel obligation to distribute it further.
I must admit, that many of my essays were written when everything around me was crumbling and still B-H I was able to bring something positive from within, regardless of agonizing personal pain.
In this area I stayed well Burich Hashem, maybe even stronger.
It was surroundings which collapsed and most painfully, “my kitchen ceiling” - the essential protection of the chamber which I thought is stronger than any nuclear shelter.
It was not.

So I’m back.
Back to work.
Trying to restore at least material surrounding and financial situation.
It’s not easy, I have to admit, but I still see His Hand and Blessing in almost every turn.
Almost?
Yes. I’m not man of the perfect Emuna
No! We are not talking about Faith! I don’t need that.
What Emuna is?
I hope to share with you some of the thoughts on this topic in the future once it crystalize in my own mind.
Before that I may get a little bit political, for once I promised to continue my 4th of July essays and few others.
But B-H I’m back and once more will express myself with lyrics from Procol Harum:

At a time like this, which exists maybe only for me, but is nonetheless real, if I can communicate, and in the telling and the bearing of my soul anything is gained, even though the words which I use are pretentious and make you (or rather me) cringe with embarrassment.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Bris Milah

Once again the Statue of Liberty is waving to me as I pass Hamilton Bridge. Built over some side water canal, this bridge hasn't been used in all capacity probably more than half a year, and is being fixed continuously for at least the last 19 years. Yeah, that’s how often I pass this bridge: A ramp on the left, a ramp on the right, and pavement in the middle. Additional lanes and other various revamping operations usually keep a number of other lines closed to the general public.    
Well, it’s New York. It costs a lot of money to live in this city and a lot of money to make money. Yeah, if you think there's some hidden message in this last statement, allow me to clarify – I strongly believe something corrupt is going on over here, but well…corruption is going on everywhere.
At least when they stop me again on the FDR drive, the east side highway of Manhattan Island, I can glance at the UN building overhead and hope that this time they are solving some world conflict.  I know the UN doesn’t really fulfill our desire for world peace, but as long as those buffoons, can come knock their shoes on the rostrum and call each other - devils or the axis of evil, and as long as some human lives are saved because they vent their hellish fumes there… it's ok.
Let them talk and let them close traffic on the FDR. It's a small price to pay for the good that comes from there.

I enjoyed the Holidays with my beautiful grandchildren, the smartest and cutest grand- daughters, and with my children we eagerly awaited our newest arrival.  Personally, considering how much Nachas my granddaughters are giving me, I can have a hundred of them, but you know…. we were hoping for a boy.

So Be'ezras Hashem we got one.
He is the first boy born as a Jew in his entire family, and mine.  Ever.
My children converted together with me when they were still small.
Now I have a male descendant with the DNA of our Patriarchs in his veins.
Not that this fact makes me jump with ecstasy, for it was always clear to me that there is nothing more important in life than our own relationship with Hashem. But if this DNA can enhance that, it's good enough for me.
There are certain promises given to Gerim about their descendants, in the words of the Sages. So I hope and pray that those promises, along with the promises given to the Fathers of the Jewish people, will be fulfilled in all of my descendants, and that these two lines of heavenly guarantees will fuse and merge in them.
But before that hope comes to realization, we have to fulfill the will of our Creator as his chosen children - which is the commandment of Bris Mila – circumcision.
Bris Mila happened on the eighth day from the day my grandson was born. This coincided with the first day of Succos, the day we invite Avruhom Uvini himself as a guest in our succos. This fact gives me goose bumps every time I think about it. It is hard to imagine a better ‘hello’ and smile from Heaven than this.

When I think about it, my own Bris comes to memory.
I wrote about it in my book, but since the book is no longer available I will repeat the story and even give some more details.

**********In the early fall of 22 years ago, when I was 27 years old, I took part in the first Jewish circumcision to commence in Poland in some forty five years. It was performed in Warsaw.
There were a few of us attending. Most were from Warsaw, 3 of us were
from Wroclaw. It was arranged by Rabbi Schudrich who, at the time, was working in kiruv in Poland. For almost half a century, Poland officially didn’t have a Mohel to perform circumcision.
When I came to the US, in the synagogue where I attend prayers, I met an older Jew whose father was a Mohel and had been a Mohel in my own native city. He said the problem in Poland was not that there was nobody to perform circumcision - there was nobody who would want to do it to his child.
If you think it stemmed from a lack of conviction, you are wrong. We are talking about a country where, not too far in the past, having this sign on the body meant having the mark of death. Even at that time, 22 years ago, if anyone would find out you are circumcised – at a doctor's office, in the army, etc. - this information could leak anytime and it meant civil death in this rabidly anti-Semitic country.
Above that, it was illegal to perform any procedure without a license from the government, and those laws were very much scrutinized. We were risking arrest and who knows what after that. All of us.
Even the Polish word for circumcision – obrzezanie - has the same root as butchering, bloodbath, etc. Now you can get a small picture of this despised procedure, perpetrated by a despised people with a despised name - and all of it illegal…

Everything was organized in underground fashion. We didn’t know where we would go, who would do it, and what would happen afterward. Adult circumcision is quite a serious procedure, even when you don’t have all of the above listed disadvantages stacked against you.
We came by train to Warsaw on the morning of the day when it was supposes to happen.
In the Synagogue, we got the address of the place where circumcision would be performed. It was in some dental office located in an apartment building in Mirow, which once used to be a Jewish neighborhood like Boro Park or Williamsburg is today.
We walked the very same cobblestones from which, some fifty years earlier, Pinkert’s funeral company walked every morning and collected the dead bodies put there by the inhabitants of Warsaw’s Ghetto. The buildings were redone, but many streets were the same streets, the same stones soaked with blood of the butchered Jews who inhabited this once biggest Jewish city.

The door looked like any other door in the building, but in the small apartment was a legal dentist's workplace. I don’t remember if the owner was there, but most likely not. All the other personnel had taken the day off. The only people who were awaiting us there was our Mohel - Rabbi Yitzchok Fisher from New York (later my neighbor in Monsey), his assistant, and Rabbi Schudrich.
I will skip this rather graphic part of the story, as well as what the next few days felt like. If anybody wants to reconsider his plans for an adult circumcision, please contact me in private. But just as I didn’t blink an eye then, I wouldn’t blink again.

For anybody else the day of my grandson's Bris Mila and the Bris itself could be just another Bris, as tens of them are happening on a daily basis in a few-block radius in the city. Maybe there is some curiosity to it, but still…Maimonides Hospital in the Boro Park neighborhood has the highest birth rate in the country.  
But for me, that day, the day of my circumcision and the day of circumcision for my first Jewish-born descendent are defining moments of my life.
There is no exaggeration if I say that my own circumcision was in fact only leading to this and other, Be'ezras Hashem – with the G-d’s help, Brisen to come.

But let me ask you –What are you thinking after reading the above? The guy is boasting about his own righteousness, is that how it looks?
Didn’t we say just few days ago in Slichos – Lo vchesed vlo vmaasim buni lfuneichu – Neither with our kindness nor with our good deeds are we approaching You. As paupers and beggars we are knocking at Your door.
Lushon Hakoidesh – the holy tongue is an amazing language of communication. The amount of information that can be contained in every sentence, every word, every letter and every dot is just incredible. The word Buni is built from four letters – Bays – Alef – Nun – Voov. Buni: Coming to, approaching.
When we read the same word with a slightly different pronunciation, it becomes BAni: in ourselves, with our very essence. And when we read the very same word as BeOni it means ‘in mourning.’
Who has to be eradicated if it is us given to Him, and whom are we mourning?
If we take the second letter, the letter Alef, away from this word, the word will change meaning. Bni Lfuneichu: My son, my descendent before you.
“Not with my kindness nor with my deeds, but with my child I stand before You Hashem.”

Now… what is the meaning of Alef itself, who is the Alef?
Alef is one, and One is HBH. But it can't be that we eradicating Him from the sequence.
This Alef is the second letter in the word and in fact it is a secondary Alef, which is eliminated – our own illusionary Alef, our ego - Ani.
“Not with ourselves are we coming to You Hashem, but we offer You our children.”
WE are in fact our children – BAni – my true me is Bni - my child, each of them separate.
”Not with our kindness, not with our deeds, not with anything that we may consider our own, but with the very gift from You, our future generations!”

I grew up on the land where Cain killed Heivel.
He recognized him by the sign on his body.
Not for the first time in Jewish history was this mark a death sentence.
I was aware of the consequences that could've happened to me, and what I could bring onto my descendants with Bris Mila. But I was also aware of the thousands of Jewish parents who didn’t blink, knowing all of this way better than me. They knew it from their family experience, but for me it was theoretical.
The awareness of my Creator was within me when I walked the autumn streets of the Polish capital.
Now was the time to show readiness, just as the first believer, Avruhom did. He did and all of his children followed. I wanted myself and my descendants to be part of these people.

This essay was written a year ago when my grandson Shloime Zalman was born.
Hashem should bless him, his parents and siblings with a life of peace and plenty, and all as a means to serve HBH and grow spiritually. May they use all of their potential for the good of Klal Yisroel, and may he in particular be a source of Nachas to his parents.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Little Big Horn Battlefield and Amulek

I had a business appointment in the Crow Indian territory, but there were a few hours to spare before that meeting and nowhere to go for miles in any direction.
There was nowhere to visit other than the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument.
I usually have the inclination to see a variety of interesting places; not only those of exceptional natural beauty, but also those of historical significance. But it's very rare for me to stop at any sites that commemorate military campaigns. Why? You will understand by the time you reach the end of this essay.
Still, with time to kill I stopped at the Little Big Horn visitor center to learn more about the place. In the past I had driven past the Monument with my family, and so the basic facts were known to me. But this was the first time I actually entered this former western frontier battlefield.
Gentle hills were covered with prairie-type vegetation, visible from three sides, all the way to the horizon. On the west, the Big Horn Mountains were still covered with snow, as they are until early summer in this part of the mountain chain.
Paved paths led me to the spot where a major clash took place; where many of the bodies of killed American soldiers were found. Hills were spotted with white marble tablets that looked like small tombstones. From the information display I learned that the stones indicate the places where the slaughtered bodies had lain, stripped of all valuables, until an additional regiment of the army arrived. The deceased bodies were then collected and laid to rest in a nearby cemetery, which was also used later for the slain soldiers of other U.S wars.

Walking the paths between the white marble stones, from time to time I stopped to read the names and ages of the soldiers. What struck me was not the young age of many of the soldiers, for that is precisely the age group that is used on battlefields all over the world. What did surprise me to learn, was that more than 40% of the slaughtered soldiers were not born Americans.
That was not, however, the case of their commander Colonel George Armstrong Custer. Custer was of German and perhaps Irish ancestry, but he was born in Ohio. Colonel Custer was a hero of the Civil War, known to many as the ‘Boy General’ who earned his celebrity status in his early twenties.
Dressed in a custom-ordered, distinguished uniform, he often engaged in the most dangerous acts, thus gaining the respect of other soldiers through his fearless and aggressive pursuit of enemies. He killed those enemies with visible satisfaction.
In fact, this sadist actually wrote in a letter that while he understands that Civil War doesn’t serve his country well, he wishes it would never end.
Soon after the Civil War did end, the American army struggled with a surplus in the military industry, as many governments do after war. One of the enemies which the army was next deployed to fight emerged in the western territories of what is today the state of Utah: the Mormon Church. But that was not where Colonel Custer was sent.
After pursuing different lines of fame and business, including an attempt to fight for the army of Benito Juarez in Mexico, Custer found new fields upon which to discharge his natural drives – the American Indian Wars.

As the American frontier was moving westward, the interests of indigenous populations were challenged. Sioux or Lakota, Arapaho and Cheyenne Native American nations were on the frontlines of American progress.
As noted shortly in Wikipedia:
By the time of Custer's expedition to the Black Hills in 1874, the level of conflict and tension between the U.S. and many of the Plains Indians tribes (including the Lakota, Sioux and Cheyenne) had become exceedingly high. Americans continually broke treaty agreements and advanced further westward, resulting in violence and acts of depredation by both sides. To take possession of the Black Hills (and thus the gold deposits), and to stop Indian attacks, the U.S. decided to corral all remaining free Plains Indians. The Grant government set a deadline of January 31, 1876 for all Lakota and Arapaho wintering in the "unseeded territory" to report to their designated agencies (reservations) or be considered "hostile."
The problem was that Cheyenne Indians never signed any treaty with the American Government, as was also the case with many other tribes.

To get a better picture of the situation, imagine that someone breaks into your home and takes room after room into his possession. As proof of his right to do so, he presents you with some document which he calls, for example, ‘Manifest Destiny.’ He genuinely believes that he has the G-d-given right to possess and manage your house.
After pushing you down to the basement, he comes to you with a ‘peace’ treaty that says you can now occupy a few rooms in the basement, as long as you comply with certain rules.
Of course, you don’t know what he is talking about because you still remember the comfort and coziness of the couch in your living room. So you refuse to sign any treaty. Rightly, you feel that this may not be the end of this intruder's demands.
And that's exactly what happens next.
The invader discovers that the main water valve is in the room where you put your air mattress, as you are trying to somehow organize your life. Now he wants you out of the room because his strategic interests must be protected.
In his generosity he shows you the closet under the steps, which he is ready to grant you under the terms of a new ‘peace’ treaty.
That is precisely what happened with Lakota, Arapaho, Cheyenne and many other American nations.
They refused to go to the reservations that were designated for them.
If you would see the Black Hills in South Dakota and what kind of wasteland surrounds this most beautiful region of the country, you would understand why they did not want to leave the area.
Whatever was not wasteland was prairie, where bison once roamed. But the white man almost annihilated the bison. For Plain Indians, countless herds of Bison were a source of food, clothing, building materials and tools. They were an essential element to their survival. That element was destroyed precisely in order to cut them off from the source of their livelihood. Bands of settlers rode their horses, killing as many bison as possible without taking anything from the animals. Their goal was solely to deprive the Indians. And it all happened with the quiet acceptance of the government.

In the spring of 1876, the American Government deployed three different units of its army to bring the Indians to ‘order’ by enclosing them in reservations.
One of the groups was led by the commander of the 7th cavalry regiment – Colonel George Armstrong Custer.
Custer was informed about an Indian village in nearby Little Big Horn River in today’s Montana. He decided to engage them in battle, even though the village was estimated as being populated by as many as eight thousand people, at least 1500 to 1800 of them warriors protecting their families and possessions.
Custer didn’t have that number of people with him. If he would have waited for two more American army units, their numbers and their technological superiority in the profession of killing people would have given him certain victory. But this war celebrity had already been lauded in the books and the national press, and he didn’t want to share the fame with others. He decided to engage in battle with the Indians on his own. After all, his middle name was Armstrong… and that’s probably how he saw himself.
He divided his unit into three smaller groups, but I will not share any further details of what happened after that, because describing the loss of human life causes me pain.
Between June 25 and 26 of 1876, most of his soldiers were killed - including their commander.

It was only a temporarily successful defense for the 8000 souls who tried to avoid an encounter with people who invaded their land from beyond the great sea – the Atlantic Ocean. The other two units of the American army arrived shortly thereafter and defeated the Indian tribes, forcing them into reservations upon which they are still living today.
If you would take a road trip through the states where the story described above happened - Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming - you would probably be as surprised as many of the east coasters are who visit the western States. You would find that this land is empty; there are almost no people living there, and no major industry. Miles of land are not even cultivated. Here and there, some cows wander on the horizon, but otherwise the land is almost barren.
What was the urgency, you may ask, to take this land almost 150 years ago, if it is still uninhabited and almost unused? If the indigenous population was suppressed and their numbers weren't increasing; if the Europeans weren't arriving in big numbers; what was the land grab for? Coal in Wyoming was not yet discovered, neither was oil in Dakota and Montana. Why did white American men consider it so imperative to enclose the nomadic tribes in the reservations? Was it only about the gold in the Black Hills?

Walking among those white marble matzevos I noticed commemoration stones that were the same size but a different color. These were sparsely dotting the prairie. I went closer to them to read their inscriptions.
Those stone were not as weathered as the white ones, indicating that those brown stones were put on the battlefield much later than the white ones. The names inscribed on the newer stones were those of the Lakota, Arapaho and Cheyenne warriors.

At some moment it was recognized by descendents of European immigrants that not only were those Indians defending their families and their livelihoods, but they displayed military valor and bravery.
It struck me because this mindset is exactly the same approach of the culture in which I was raised: civilians can be mass murdered, but soldiers are interned in POW camps and officers are treated with honors, including allowing them to carry unloaded weapons. Military might is admired.
It struck me also because I clearly remember the words of my beloved rabbi, Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch:
“Philistia feared, Edom remained stunned, Moab trembled, Canaan was quite dumbfounded; it was only Amalek, completely unprovoked, who hurried out of his way to gain renown and take up arms against the Force which had laid even a Pharaoh low. He alone lo ire Elokim, did not fear G-d.
He alone was the heir of that spirit which chose the sword as his lot, who sought to realize the seeking renown in laurels of blood and the naseh luni sheim with which old Nimrod started the history of the world to the destruction of the happiness of nations and men. This seeking renown by the force of arms is the first and last enemy of the happiness of mankind and of the Kingdom of G-d on earth.
The policy of the Pharaohs — using force ruthlessly to further their own interests, certainly had an interest in keeping up slavery, but that policy can even be a friend of freedom, when freedom serves its interests. But Amalek's renown-seeking sword knows no rest so long as one single pulse beats in freedom, and pays no homage to it. So long as any modest, quiet happiness exists which does not tremble before its might.
Before similar forces, armed to the teeth like himself, Amalek does not yield, but rather sees in such measures a sign of recognition and fear of his sword. He wages war against them, of course, but honors opponents who acknowledge him and have similar principles to his own.
But in Israel he sees an object of mortal hate and complete disdain, where one dares to think the sword is dispensable, where one dares to trust in spiritual moral powers, powers of which the sword has no idea, and which are beyond its reach.
In the representative of the idea of the greatness which Man can attain by Peace, Amalek sees the utter scorn of all his principles, sees in it his one real enemy, and senses somehow his own ultimate collapse.

When I was reading those words of Rav Hirsch for the first time, I have to admit, tears rolled down my cheeks. I cried with the tears of exaltation, for one more time I saw that the idea of aversion to violence is not only my own conviction.
Nonviolence is not only hinted at in some cryptic message of our father Yitzchok that “Hakol kol Yaakov veyidaim yadey Eisav” – The voice is the voice of Yaakov but the hands are the hands of Eisav. Our sages of blessed memory explained those words multiple times as an obligation imposed on Yaakov and his descendent not to engage in violence and even avoid situations where self-defense must be used.
There are other places in Chumash where we find similar messages. For example, the words of Chazal on the ‘blessing’ of Yaakov to his sons Shimon veLayvi, in which weapons are called ‘stolen devices’. Stolen because they belong to uncle Eisav and his descendants, but not to bnei Yaakov, not to Yisrael.
I exulted to read the words of Rav Hirsch. He was one of the most prominent leaders of our people, having a unique clarity and understanding of the Jewish mission and role in history. And he explained this fundamental truth in a most lucid manner.
Rav Hirsch didn’t stop only by explaining the historical and political reality which started with Nimrod, continued with Eisav and then with his archetype grandson Amulek. Rav Hirsch spoke about the ultimate collapse of the ‘philosophy of conquer and control’.
“Es Zaicher Amulek - It is not Amalek who is so pernicious for the moral future of mankind, but Zaicher Amulek, the glorifying of the memory of Amalek which is the danger. As long as the annals of humanity cover the memory of the heroes of the sword with glory, as long as those that throttle and murder the happiness of mankind are not buried in oblivion, so long will each successive generation look up in worship to these "great ones" of violence and force, and their memory will awaken the desire to emulate these heroes, and acquire equal glory by equal violence and force. Only when the divine laws of morals have become the sole criterion as to the worth of the greatest and smallest of men, and no longer in inverse proportion but in direct proportion to greatness and power do the demands of morality grow, and the greater and more powerful a man is, the less any lapse in the laws of morality is excused, then and then only will the reign of Amalek cease forever in the world. That this is the final goal of G-d's management and direction of the history of the world is expressed here after the first weakening of Amalek, "I will utterly obliterate the keeping up the remembrance of Amalek from as far as the heavens reach."
This is not some peripheral topic in our Torah, as there are no peripherals in the Torah. There are only essentials.
But here more than anywhere else Rav Hirsch explains the very essence of our existence, which has multiple connections to our struggle with the Spirit of Eisav, a.k.a. the Satan, Snake, Angle of Death or Other side. 
Here is revealed the hidden message; the core reason of our existence as Jews and as mankind at the same time, where the goal of history is the recognition of diversity in order to unite in complete Oneness. The first step to achieving recognition of the ‘other’ is simply by not killing him or violating him in any other manner. For in the face and existence of the ‘other’, we need to recognize the ‘face’ and existence of the One.
But to get to this stage we must first stop killing each other, justify killing, honor murderers, or remember heroes of violence. We should be ashamed to talk about warriors, soldiers, generals and politicians who caused loss of human life instead of admiring them or giving them even quiet recognition. Even to those who fought so called ‘just wars,’ where some bloody regimes were defeated and further butchery was stopped. For as long as it happened through the means of violence, not much was really achieved in the general struggle of history.

When, almost thirty years ago, I stood in the front of a military commission in the office of higher command, this is almost precisely what I told them.
At the time, refuseniks like me were normally given a sentence of two years' incarceration. And after hours of scaring me with visions of being harmed and beaten in jail, they laughed and ridiculed my naivety in this tough and cruel world.
They thought: Here he is – a big guy, six and a half feet tall, who thinks that using physical force is in reality a defeat and a failure. A giant of a man who says that in case of attack he would rather try to escape and avoid harming his assailant, than engage in struggle and knock him down to the ground.
My statements were radical for them to the extent that they couldn’t stop laughing for a long time. "A big guy big like you…you can probably kill with the strike of your bare hand… and you would rather run away, you idiot?!"
I answered, "Perhaps I can. But I don't want to. And I don’t want to be part of your institution either."
Almost thirty years have passed, and my policy hasn't changed Burich Hashem.

Of course there are Hilchos Roidef – Torah Laws regarding self-defense and the defense of another person in situations of direct endangerment to life, health or even the possessions of a Jew. But that has nothing to do with the cult of Amulek and his sword.
I know that even among our own people, there are those who will label me with the words of Lenin – “pacifists are useful idiots.”
Be'ezras Hashem I would rather remain an ‘idiot’ and pray for them to distance themselves from the dogma of Lenin.

This is what I realized once again on the battlefield of Little Big Horn.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Miracle in New York

                                                                                                  B-H
My day ended somewhere in Northeastern Oregon, where I could while away some time before a morning appointment in Tacoma. Instead of taking the shortest route to Tacoma, I wanted to see Mt Rainier on my way there. So I steered my vehicle off the interstate and left behind the volcanic landscape with fruit orchards in the valleys around Yakima. Soon I was driving through different valleys - mountain gorges surrounded by high, but still volcanic, peaks.
At first my car zoomed into a tunnel of greenery made out of cedars and pines and leafy trees. But the green subway quickly got darker, as only Evergreen trees can survive the harsh winter conditions of a higher elevation.
After the mountain pass where I expected to see Mt Rainier, I stopped to view some small-but-stunning alpine lakes. The awesome view that I had awaited surprised me once again. Mt. Rainier towered like the sharp teeth of some giant monster peak. She was there, but how different she looked. In the past I usually saw Mt Rainier under a clear sky; but now, when I came from the East in the late afternoon, the view was completely different. The sunshine created beams of light that shone between the branches fashioning the tunnel through which I drove. Now, seeing the mountain in open space made for nothing less than a supernatural sight. In the haze coming straight from the distant Pacific Ocean, the photons - particles of light that are slowed down in the combined atoms of hydrogen and oxygen - gave the mountain a ghostly, ethereal look.
As in all of the rest of nature, here too I saw a miracle: a miracle of shapes, lights, smells and sounds. It was an act of creation at work – by the Creator Himself.
At that moment, I thought about another miracle; A miracle that can only be seen from a 'different light.' A miracle back there in the big city – in Babylon itself.
Just a few days earlier I spent some time with my children and granddaughters in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn. Although I davened there with few minyanim alongside some Chusheve Chasidishe Rebbes, I didn’t go to ask them for a miracle - even though my life requires nothing less than that right now. I went to regenerate and recharge my spiritual batteries in my Rav’s Beis Hamedrash, and also some other places. But as always, what impressed me most in Boro Park was the view of the Yididshe gass – the Jewish street.
The kedusha – the holiness of institutions of learning and prayer that can be found on almost every block and corner are seeping out of the buildings and are detectable for a sensitive soul, even on the polluted streets of this urban jungle. In the madness of traffic and sidewalks filled with people, if you open your eyes you can still see peace and love in the faces, conversations and simple behaviors of people passing you on the street.
Yes, life in the city is stressful and fast-paced, but I don’t want to compare the Jewish residents of Bavel to some happy and perhaps less-stressed villagers. In that competition Boro Parkers would lose, since I personally prefer town life rather than city life. Still, the presence of true Torah Jews in The City; people who are devoted to self-improvement, social development and general holiness, is nothing less than a miracle.
While driving and witnessing the miracle of this 14000+ ft mountain, I was thinking about different experiences and occurrences that are even more fascinating for me than the sight of physical beauty, even given the fact that I am a nature enthusiast who truly appreciates magnificent geographical phenomena.
I was reminded of some other memories, from the same places and the same streets.
I remember going with my son to some small book store somewhere in Brooklyn, to buy some sefurim and books. While building the pile together, the salesman began speaking to us in a manner which no salesman ever should. In fact, no man should speak that way to any other human being.
I took it rather patiently, though that older Chasidic man was not talking in a manner befitting his Chasidic attire. His language was simply inappropriate for welcoming a client, especially a client who obviously intended to spend a few hundred dollars in his store. I understood that there must be something wrong with the man. But my son, who was the brunt of his bitter comments, was a bit less tolerant and certainly feeling more stressed. At one point my son gave a short speech to the salesman in his native Yiddish, and then asked me to leave the books and go. I felt for my boy as he was being humiliated for no reason, and with regret I left the sefurim and we walked out of the store.
I expressed to my son my suspicion that the salesman was perhaps suffering from some condition which caused him to act in this manner. But my son disagreed with me, clearly shaken by the whole situation.
Two blocks past the store we encountered a man who was disheveled and eccentric. There are a few men like him in the neighborhood, but each is slightly different in appearance and behavior.
This man's tzitzis (talis katan) was covered with countless flecks of dirt and splotches of food which had fallen on it. His beard and payos had obviously not been brushed for years. Even his veise zaken (white sacks) were more gray than white. He had some sheets of plastic covering him, boxes of ripped suitcases in one hand and a stick in his other hand, which he was waving while screaming to the passersby, including the two of us. He also wore Chasidic garb, but in his case there was no doubt that the man was mentally disturbed.
A few days later, when I was already back in the West; my son told me that he checked on the man in the book store to learn what could be the cause of such strange behavior. In der kleine yidishe velt (in the small Jewish World) even within the big city, it doesn’t take long to find information. My son learned with sadness that indeed the salesman was disturbed, even though he can function somewhat in society and work with people most of the time. He has some health issues which can cause the kind of erratic conduct we experienced in the store.
I thought about other possible situations, while I was driving. What if this incident had happened, not to us, but to some out-of-towners who were visiting Boro Park - a place where they would expect to see only people who are on the spiritual level of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? What if this would be someone looking to recharge his spiritual batteries, and he instead got them burned by a salesman with a bad attitude?
Would he have enough understanding for his fellow Jew who is suffering from a mental condition? Would he be able to rationalize to himself that he is not dealing with a normal situation?
I don’t know. I hope that many would weigh the circumstances with love and patience. I hope they would still see what I see every time I go back to these places of holiness. Despite the fact that we have some cases of mental illness or undeveloped middos (character traits) or even white collar criminals and other people of inappropriate conduct in the frum community, the holiness can still be detectible to the sensitive eye, on the streets of the big city.
And that is a great miracle.
Someone may ask – Why employ a man with mental problems as a salesman in their store?
Well… a yid darft parnuse (it is honorable for a Jew to work for his living). Perhaps this was the only place where some other Jew offered him occupation. Although it may not benefit the owner financially, it is a definite act of chesed (kindness). Chesed is not cost-effective – but it is compassionate.
This Yid might have ended up like the other person whom we encountered after leaving the store – on the street – had it not been for the kindness of the proprietor.  So why was he employed while the other fellow remained homeless? Perhaps the stage or form of his mental condition didn't allow the street person to take even a simple job or live somewhere where he can wash and sleep in human conditions. But he is still among us, he is still us, he is still part of the holy Jewish street in the big city.
He too is part of this miracle.


Matys Weiser