Monday, February 24, 2014


It is a difficult place. In both the Russian and Polish languages, it means "The place on the edge, at the border, near the end." Ukrainians developed their distinctive nationality later than most of the Slavonic nations. They made their capital in the city which was first capital to Russia, which cast its influenced over thousands of years. First conquered by Vikings from the north, Kiev became the seat of Russian power with the establishment of the first Tsar Dynasty – the Ruriks.
Then came the Mongols and Tatars, as Russia moved northward. After Asian withdrawal the land became part of the Polish Lithuanian commonwealth for several hundred years. Krai was at the edge of the biggest country in Europe at the time.
We will always remember what happened to our brothers and sisters in this land, when Chmielnitzki Y-Sh with his Cossaks murdered thousands of Jews there. He considered them an influential tool in the hands of the Polish government, to control 'Krai'.
A few millennia have passed since then, and the Ukrainians currently aspire to joint nations, which they view as free and independent.
By now most of us have seen horrible pictures from the newest chapter in the book of nations, as they try to overthrow their corrupted regimes. It causes pain to every human being who has a heart in his chest, to watch those scenes coming from Ukraine - regardless of the difficult past that Yidden endured there. We Jews will always see events in a different light from the rest of the world. To Ukrainians, Chmielnitzki will always be a hero who fought the oppressive Polish government; while for us, he will always be a cruel murderer, listed alongside Haman and Hitler Y-Sh.
Ten years ago, the Ukrainians tried to gain independence through their bloodless Orange Revolution, bringing some hope to this desperate nation. In those days, I spoke with my Ukrainian workers every day about the situation in their country, about their families, about their hopes and fears. I knew Ukraine firsthand from the years when I went there every few months to visit my friend, to preach, and to hopefully generate some business while I was still living in Poland. I knew this rich land with ambitious people who were constricted by the then post-Communist web of corruption.
I wished them the best and hoped they would win the Orange Revolution, in order to build a free and democratic society. Ten years later we see bloody war on the streets of Kiev as people are once again trying to get rid of corruption, this time as established by the oligarch Eastern-style ruling class.
Those scenes remind me of my own youth, when I was part of a similar revolution. I remember building barricades, throwing stones, running from the shots of the police forces in my then-Communist country. At least the Polish Communists didn’t allow the use of sharp ammunition in most cases. Nevertheless, police forces aimed small canons of tear gas at the running protesters. Many of those burning containers flew next to my head and fell at my feet while I ran hard so as not to get knocked out.
I was sixteen and that was a crucial year for me - one which shaped my entire future. I read intensively at the time: philosophy, religion, history. That was the year when I came to the conclusion about the futility of my own, and my countrymen's actions. I believe that it was more a result of my prayers than my reading, but both prayers and books were necessary to shape my views which, in foundation, have never changed since. Through my joining the People of The Book – the Nation of Torah, my views have crystallized and gained solid structure. What once came only from my kishkes, my understanding and my intellect, I found evidenced in a revelation of the Creators’s message to His nation in particular, and to humanity in general.
So many times in the history of mankind, nations and citizens overthrew some Nimrod who brutally turned them in to his subjects, in order to establish Eisav as their leader in his stead.
Eisav is smarter than Nimrod. Nimrod rules with cruelty, while Eisav works with cunning. Eisav may take away Nimrod's power, but his intentions are also not altruistic. Eisav recognizes the idea of freedom and independence, because he grew up in the house of Abraham. So rather than dictatorship, Eisav uses sly methods of controlling the masses by fooling them. But if his wiles don't work, he is always ready to use Nimrod's means of governance.
I know, the last few lines I wrote are very cryptic, but I-H I will write more about Nimrod, Eisav and lehavdil Yaakov in the coming months.
In those coming essays I will write about a part of human history and its struggle toward creating a free society - which was always the wish and the intention of the Creator. This is described in the Torah, which was written at a time when there were no other books and no other nations to write them.

As to contemporary Egyptians; when they struggled to break the chain of dictatorship, so too did the Ukrainians. I wish them a speedy end to the bloodshed and a speedy beginning to the rebuilding of their country in a way that will serve all its citizens well, giving them equal opportunity to develop as human beings and not the subjects. But watch out for Eisav.
Matys Weiser

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bill Nye v Ken Ham


Driving across the continent, I was not able to see this three-hour debate live. But finally I got time due to blizzard conditions somewhere in the Columbia River Gorge, where further driving became completely impossible.
For those who don’t know the persons involved in this highly anticipated debate, I will shortly introduce Mr. Bill Nye and Mr. Ken Ham.
Americans like to have different guys explain different subjects to them, from politics to sports to the meaning of life. And after such well-thought-out and rehashed explanations, they can intone at the Thanksgiving Table with full authority that: Well… Dr. Gupta says so. Or Mr. Tyson was interviewed and in his opinion…
Not Mike Tyson, of course, but Neil deGrasse Tyson.
The specie of human that in the past was called a ‘sage’ is extinct in this country and this civilization. But these are the people who Americans see as the closest to bearing that title.
Mr. Nye is America’s science guy. With his Egghead facial features and bowtie, he looks like a quiet, stereotypical scientist with his whole being. It is hard to deny his passion for what he does and his broad knowledge in several subjects.
Mr. Ham is President of the Museum of Creations and one of the leading young earth creationists in the country. He's a devoted Christian preacher, scientist, and perhaps most importantly, a family man.
It is not hard to understand my interest in this debate, as I was expecting that the subject of my own interest and research, the Grand Canyon, would be called as a witness. As I wrote many times before, understanding of the Grand Canyon is a key to comprehending the past of our planet.
For evolutionists, the strata and fossils visible in Grand Canyon prove the old age of the planet. For creationists, Grand Canyon is the exposure of many layers of cemented mud brought on by Noah’s flood and the fossils show that the solidified organisms were cased in the stone during the same catastrophic event.
Myself, I went through my own quiet evolution from the evolutionist position, which was imposed on me in the public school system of a Communist country. Deep contemplation brought me to young earth creationist recognition, based on revision of my scientific knowledge on this topic.
Some may ask the question – do I need it? As a Charedi Jew, is it imperative for a person practicing the commandments of Torah on a daily basis to acquire this knowledge at all?
B-H I will came back to this question later. For now I will focus on the debate itself.
It is impossible to describe the almost three hours of discussion in the short essay which I intend this to be, but I will share with my reader some of the impressions from this arch and interesting debate.
Mr. Nye was asked before the debate about the necessity of any conversation with creationists, as in the opinion of secular scientists, creationists are officially considered unworthy of their time.
Mr. Nye probably calculated that this debate would bring him some more popularity, which he seems to crave in recent years. He also probably assumed it would be a piece of cake to debate those backward creationists in their secluded, insolated-from-the-outside-world den.
Unfortunately for him, any knowledge about creationism and creationists in general Mr. Nye probably learned from popular TV shows in which the idea of Intelligent Design is frequently ridiculed. He didn't know that those shows deliver a highly distorted picture of creationism, and that ridiculing serves nothing more than a broader moral relativism agenda.
In Mr. Ham, Mr Nye met a knowledgeable and well-prepared person who by any means doesn’t live in some Kentucky Appalachian village. He didn't preach some primitive understanding of The Book from a mouth that had missing dental work and, if I understood Mr. Nye correctly (he repeated it a few times), that very Book was translated to American English within the last three thousand years.
A few times in his conversation Mr Nye tried to describe the Creation Museum and its research institute as insulated from any outside ‘scientific’ world reality. Mr. Nye already previously expressed the belief that creationists, because they believe in Biblical Creation, are people who avoid technology. He was probably mixing them up with Amish people.
He was unable, however, to hide his surprise when Mr. Ham presented video clip statements from creationist inventors and scientists with degrees from so-called mainstream scientific institutions, who are still publishing in known scientific periodicals.
Mr. Nye was visibly surprised by the fact that creationists study and know the history of Darwinian Theory of Evolution probably better than most people, including scientists who believe in this theory of evolution.
Well, this is what, in my understanding, the various Creationist and Intelligent Design institutions do on a daily basis. One of the matters of their research is how materialistic theory of evolution became so popular and by what means of propagation.
I wish Mr. Ham had more time addressing Mr. Nye’s questions. Specifically, I wish he had thoroughly discussed the issue of trees bearing more yearly rings than the actual number of years in their lifetime. Or the issue of ice core drilling and what appears to be the longtime existence of the ice caps in the Arctic and Antarctica. I wish Mr. Ham had shared some more details or made it easier for the average observer of the debate to understand the huge problem with dating methods used by geologists. He asked the public to go to the Museum’s website to get some education on the topic, but from the debate point of view it was an insufficient argument.
Without question I give due respect to Mr. Nye, for our Sages tell us to make a blessing on the view of a knowledgeable man and Mr. Nye is, without a doubt, a man of knowledge. He is just on the wrong side ideologically.
So I do respect Mr. Ham whom, aside from his knowledge, I honor for his moral standing and family values, which we undoubtedly share.
For a Jewish viewer of the debate, it will be striking how many times Mr. Ham supports his belief of young earth creation with biblical teachings and his Christian faith. Of course as Jews we cannot share this part of his belief. There is a huge theological gap between Jewish and Christian beliefs, which cannot be bridged. The gap can not and should not be bridged, for we Jews have a different calling and a different mission in the world. But I have to admit that Mr. Ham’s stand, his statement of faith in a world where faith and belief is ridiculed on a daily basis, greatly impressed me.
His expression of faith is not strange to me. As a former Christian preacher, I recall my own past. My father-in-law was a builder of, and the head of, a community of Christian fundamentalists. My brother-in-law is leading this community even now. I always admired them and respected their faith, even when I myself understood that for me there was no spiritual progress possible anymore within the Christian faith framework.
I left their community and became a Jew. Since then, to use borrowed language, I praise the L-rd every day, every minute of my life, that He brought me to salvation.
I thank Hakuoish Burich He for allowing me to recognize and learn from the source – from the Torah – the source of life and life itself. He allows me to grasp that the Genesis or Bereishis or Maasey Bereishis is not just the story of how the Creator of the Universe brought to existence what we, with our limited perception, are calling home. He allowed me to see Bereishis as the portal to understand the essence of our existence, which lays in the fulfillment of the commandments of the Creator, reflecting His very essence.
There is no way to come to this level without becoming a member of the Bris. There is no other way than leaving silly things behind and diving into the ocean of Talmud and Mitzvois.
And this is what this debate showed me one more time.
Now, once more, I will bring up the question about my interest with Noah’s Flood – Mabul - and its souvenirs, which are visible everywhere I travel or stay.
Is it necessary for a Charedi Jew like me to put my time into a topic that seems to be irreverent for most of my coreligionists? It is indeed irreverent for most, but not for all. There are people who like to know more on various topics and the Mabul event described in our History books is one of the most important in the history of mankind and this planet. Without question, most fundamental is the moral, didactic side of it. But how many of us went to see Titus Arch or Coliseum Falvianum? How many of us went to Spain, Morocco, Poland or Ukraine to see the houses and synagogues of our ancestors? How many of us visited the Living Torah Museum in Boro Park?
Mabul is just another historical event about which, unfortunately, there is almost nobody in our environment who takes an interest. There is even some fear when it comes to the topic of dinosaurs and fossils. Many of us struggle with answers when our kids ask questions, or shove the whole thing with an Emuna Pshuta kind of answer.
There is no reason to dismiss those questions. There are books and websites discussing the topic in tremendous detail. Most important however, there are statements from Chazal shedding light on the topic. We only have to know where to look for those shards of light, and dare to explore them.
B'ezras Hashem, I dare.

Matys Weiser

Three years of blogging


Three years just passed, last week, since I began to blog. Almost eight months since my last post. I just realized some empty banners on the side of my blog, hanging there like those abandoned signs on the side of the road at ghost towns in the west.
I haven't stopped writing, and there is still some material written in the past which I never had a chance to publish.
Beyond that, when I opened my blog statistics after a few months of failing to do so, I discovered that not only are my old post still being read, but some days there are more people opening my blog than in the days when I was more active. And that’s besides all the “visitors” from the People's Republic of China and the Russian Commonwealth, who are looking for opportunities to spam. Americans, Canadians, Europeans and citizens of some other far away countries are opening and reading my essays!
Why, then, does my blog seem to be neglected if not completely dead?
Usually I don’t write on public forum about my private issues and I will not do it now either. But I have to admit that my life is on a huge curve and right now, that curve is caving downward into a tunnel from which there seems to be no light visible anywhere.
That’s a huge confession for somebody who twice changed his religion, witnessed the collapse of a political and military system, and moved to another continent.
Yes, this curve, or rather this rollercoaster plunge, is an even deeper descent than all the life-altering rides I have taken and listed above. I will ask for forgiveness for not revealing more details regarding the nature of this revolutionary change in my life, as there is enough pain without it.
One of the side effects of this recent journey is that I stopped selling and promoting my book, of which this blog, in its conception, was just a small part of the bigger project. The remainder of copies of the book in my possession will be destroyed and I don’t see any possibility to explain this step in the near future.
B'ezras Hashem Yisburach, I will continue to post on this blog, however. Besides seeing interest from the public, I also got a lot of encouragement from my friends and relatives.
As I said before, I still have the material I wrote in the past, along with a ready-to-publish essay about Biblical influences on the American political system. This last essay is rather long and I will try to divide it into smaller portions and post it in that way. The last installment should appear sometime before the 4th of July.
Meanwhile, I will post some older material and with Hashem’s help will write some essays on the go, as going is what I do mostly these days.
In the past year there were many events that I wanted to share my view on, with my readers. Some of the topics were already touched upon by me in the past, such as the continuous attack on the Hareidi community in the Holy Land and now in America; the Egyptian Revolution and the so-called Arab Spring; the passing away of one of the people whom I admired – Mr. Nelson Mandela, and many more issues on which I wanted to voice my opinion.
Now, since I know that people are still reading this blog, I can say with assurance that yes, there are people out there who are interested in my opinions and sentiments. So… look out for my imminent posts for the beginning of the fourth year!

Matys Weiser