Steven Harper: Flowers, Flags, Honor Guards and More

Aside
Normally, only presidents of countries and a King or Queen would have their national flags hanging on major streets for an official state visit to Jerusalem, Israel.

This week, however, Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper has received that and much more for a royal welcome.

His speech in the Knesset got several standing ovations. The Prime Minister of Canada in front of the world said that Canada would go through fire and water to stand with Israel? WOW!

photo Steven Harper, picture Prime minister Canada and Israel , image Canada Prime minister in Israel

Not only were flags and flowers put out for the Prime Minister of Canada and his wife,

image red carpet, Israel honor guard photo, picture red carpet for Canada Prime Minister

but also red carpets lined with honor guards . (Please note all pant legs for men are tucked into boots, while women wear cute little white socks. Israeli dress style does not have pants with neat, sharp creased cuffs.)

But there is more – Israel went the whole kit and caboodle for the visiting Canadians.

image sushi table, picture of sushi for reception Harper, picture sushi

A mound of  sushi at one of many food stations was just part of the repast for guests at the Israeli Prime Minister’s office for the official welcome. (Ok, I still have not recovered from shock of 10 shekel charge for water at Obama’s speech in Israel last year.)

image Israeli leaders, photo Israeli politicians, picture reception line for Harpers

For the Harpers’ visit, Israeli politicians stood quietly, waiting in a reception line,

image Israeli political leaders, photo Knesset leaders, picture reception line israel leaders

and dressed in very ‘unIsraeli’ style, with dark suits, pressed dress shirts and blue-striped ties.

image Israeli politicians, photo Israeli leaders, picture Knesset leaders

Well… almost all the men wore a suit and tie.

image Jerusalem leaders, photo Jerusalem mayor with religious leaders, picture Jerusalem political and religious leaders

For the Harpers, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat stood along with leaders of various religions, and waited in the very long reception line.

image Steven Harper with Bib Netanyahu, photo Harper and Netanyahu, picture Steven Harper in israel

First, they stood and listened to an Israeli army band play the anthems, O’Canada and Hatikvah.

image Harper and Netanyahu, photo Canadian Prime Minister in Israel, picture Prime ministers

No, the prime ministers were not holding hands as they walked the red carpet. But this visit certainly has given Israeli PM much to smile about.

image tuba, photo two tuba players, picture Israel army musicians

From red carpet welcome with big brass band

image state limo, photo Israeli limo, picture state ceremony

to official limo service into and out of the welcoming ceremony,

image Larueen and Steven Harper, photo of Steven Harper in Israel , picture Steven Harper and wife

Prime Minister Steven  and Laureen Harper have received as royal and stylish a welcome as little Israel with big heart can put on.

Israel went the whole nine yards to say thank you.

 

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen have arrive in Israel today (Sunday) on an official four-day visit. The Canadian Prime Minister is accompanied by ministers, MPs and business people. This is Harper’s first visit to Israel and the first by a serving Canadian Prime Minister since 2000.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah will welcome Harper and his wife in an official ceremony Sunday afternoon at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. The Netanyahus will later host the Harpers for dinner at their official residence in Jerusalem.

On Monday, Prime Minister Harper will be the first Canadian Prime Minister to address the Knesset.

On Tuesday morning, the Canadian PM will meet with President Shimon Peres and attend a joint meeting of the Israeli and Canadian governments at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. The Netanyahus will, afterwards, accompany the Harpers to Yad Vashem. An official dinner for Prime Minister Harper, his wife and the accompanying delegation will be held Tuesday evening in Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, the Harpers will tour Christian holy sites in northern Israel, after which they will go to Tel Aviv University, where Prime Minister Harper will receive an honorary doctorate and meet with students.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister Harper have previously met in London in April 2013 and in Ottawa in March 2012.

Harper: Through fire and water, Canada will stand with you

Canadian PM met with many standing ovations, but in the end, was treated like family and interrupted by Arab MKs who relegated him to the Likud’s benches.

Stephen Harper, January 20, 2014

Stephen Harper, January 20, 2014 Photo: GPO/AMOS BEN GERSHOM

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper received a very warm welcome in the Knesset Monday.

The first speech in the Knesset by a Canadian prime minister was peppered with standing ovations, the enthusiastic likes of which may not have been seen since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the US Congress in 2011.

Statements like “through fire and water, Canada will stand with you” were met with rousing rounds of applause, and though clapping is against Knesset protocol, even Speaker Yuli Edelstein joined in.

The Canadian premier said he believes “it is right to support Israel because, after generations of persecution, the Jewish people deserve their own homeland and deserve to live safely and peacefully in that homeland.

“Let me repeat that: Canada supports Israel because it is right to do so,” he emphasized. “It is… a Canadian tradition to stand for what is principled and just, regardless of whether it is convenient or popular.”

“The friendship between [Israel and Canada] is rooted in history, nourished by shared values, and it is intentionally reinforced at the highest levels of commerce and government as an outward expression of strongly held inner convictions,” Harper said in French and English.

Some of those shared values are “freedom, democracy and rule of law,” in which Israel “has long anchored itself,” he said.

“These are not mere notions,” he added. “They are the things that, over time and against all odds, have proven to be the only ground in which human rights, political stability and economic prosperity may flourish.”

Palestinians also deserve these things, Harper said, expressing support for “a viable, democratic Palestinian state, committed to living peacefully alongside the Jewish state of Israel,” though, “sadly, we have yet to reach that point.”

“I believe that a Palestinian state will come, and one thing that will make it come is when the regimes that bankroll terrorism realize that the path to peace is accommodation, not violence,” Harper stated.

Despite the nearly wall-towall support for Harper’s words as expressed by the many standing ovations, the “robustness of Israeli democracy,” as Netanyahu called it, was demonstrated several times with Arab MKs interrupting the Canadian minister as he spoke about anti-Semitism in some criticisms of Israel.

“We have witnessed in recent years the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain…. People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East. As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel,” Harper stated.

“Don’t mislead; we want to boycott settlements,” MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al) interrupted in English.

“Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state,” Harper continued, as MK Taleb Abu Arar (UAL-Ta’al) shouted: “It is.”

“Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: a state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, [a state] that is condemned – and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism. It is nothing short of sickening. But this is the face of the new anti-Semitism,” Harper went on.

Tibi pointed at the coalition’s side of the plenum, shouting “That’s where the Likud sits; you should be there,” and then he and Abu Arar demonstratively walked out as the audience cheered Harper for his comments against anti-Semitism.

“What else can we call criticism that selectively condemns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to defend itself while systematically ignoring – or excusing – the violence and oppression all around it?” the Canadian prime minister asked. “What else can we call it when Israel is routinely targeted at the United Nations, and when Israel remains the only country to be the subject of a permanent agenda item at the regular sessions of its human rights council?” Edelstein, who spoke before Harper, commented to him after his speech: “You’re not a guest, you’re family, because there were interruptions, which is unusual for foreign guests.”

Earlier, Netanyahu gave a speech in support of Harper, breaking protocol to give large swaths of it in English.

“You are a true friend in Israel,” he said. “The people in Israel thank you for your steadfast support.”

Netanyahu commended Harper for his “courage to stand for the truth and courage to say it” when faced with people “who try to deny the connection between [the Jewish people] and our land. You know the facts of our past well.”

Describing the necessity of security arrangements in the event of a peace agreement, Netanyahu quipped: “If I’m not mistaken, Yonge Street [in Toronto] is longer than the State of Israel, so we have no margin of error.”

“There are thousands of miles between the large Canada and the small – larger than life but physically small – Israel, but our nations are close.

It’s deep in our hearts,” Netanyahu stated. “We will always see Canada as a close friend.”

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) dedicated much of his speech to the Toynbee- Herzog debate at McGill University in 1961, in which his uncle, then-ambassador to Canada Yaakov Herzog, debated notoriously anti-Semitic British historian Arnold Toynbee.

“Since you’re part of the family, I won’t hide our disagreements,” Herzog said. “I believe we need to separate ourselves from the Palestinians while protecting Israeli security.

We need a Palestinian state near an Israeli one, based on 1967 lines with land swaps while annexing settlement blocs… We have to try everything for peace and back the great effort US Secretary of State John Kerry is investing and give him a chance,” Herzog stated.

“Enough is enough,” he added in English, and in a reference to Canadian-Jewish singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen called to “let the dove free.”

Herzog also did not miss the chance to take a dig at Netanyahu and his breach of protocol, pointing out that “the official languages here are Hebrew and Arabic, not English.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu said Sunday, “Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a great friend of the State of Israel. He has strongly opposed against attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel and has taken a praiseworthy moral stand against these attempts. I welcome his arrival together with his wife and the members of his delegation. We will work together to further enhance the important relations between our two countries.”

Naftali Bennett: Palestinian state will destroy Israel’s economy

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In passionate speech, Bennett slams two-state solution, those claiming peace talks in Israel’s economic benefit. ‘For decades there has been desire to divide Israel, excuse keeps changing: First it was peace, then demographics, now economics’To his visual aid, Bennett came armed with a map of Israel – West Bank included – in which he portrayed Judea and Samaria as a mountainous shield protecting central Israel from West Bank Palestinians. Related stories:

Pointing to the map, Bennett said: “Copy paste what happened in Sderot to the rest of Israel. How will Israel’s economy look if a rocket will fall in Shenkar Street in central Herzliya? What if once a year a plane will crash at Ben Gurion Airport?” Pointing to his second visual aid, a graph showing the correlation between peace negotiations and growth of Israeli economy, Bennett made the claim that peace talks, and their ensuing political fallout, have a negative effect on Israel’s growth, the largest alleged drop being registered after former prime minister Ehud Barak‘s Camp David talks with Yasser Arafet. “Israel belongs to the Jewish people for thousands of years, that’s a fact. But now I am talking about economy. “For over 20 years there has been a determination to divide the country, only the excuse has changed. Once they said it was for peace… then (Livni said) for appeasing the world, then for demographics and now economy.”

“Will we divide Jerusalem because of the economy? Will we give up the Galilee? Or will we hand over the Negev because of international pressure on our treatment of the Bedouins.”

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The Commandment to Settle the Land of Israel Rabbinical Assessment and in Maps

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1 – The Commandment to Settle the Land of Israel
The commandment, or Mitzvah, to settle the Land of Israel is obligatory upon both the individual Jew and the Jewish nation as a whole. The Mitzvah requires that the nation conquer and settle all of the Land of Israel and that each individual Jew dwell in the Land. Regarding the nation’s responsibility to take control of Israel and settle it, Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman, the Ramban, writes (in his commentary on Maimonides’ Sefer HaMitzvoth): “We are commanded to inherit the land that the almighty God gave to our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and not to leave it in the hands of other nations or in desolation, as it says, ‘Inherit the land and live in it, since it is to you that I am giving the land to occupy…'” (Numbers 33:53).

If we examine the Ramban’s words carefully we will discover that there are two parts to the Mitzvah of settling the Land. The first part involves the Jewish people ruling exclusively over the Land of Israel, or Eretz Yisrael, thus leaving no room for foreign governing in the Land. Even when this is accomplished, however, the Mitzvah is still not considered complete. The second part of the Mitzvah requires the settling of every part of the Land, including the most desolate areas. The Mitzvah obligates us not only to dwell in developed cities or towns, but to make the wasteland bloom as well. Only when the Land is under Jewish rule and every part of it is settled, cultivated and flourishing, will the Mitzvah have been completely fulfilled.

The Ramban emphasizes that this Mitzvah is applicable not only to the period of time during which the Jews made their exodus from Egypt and subsequently conquered Israel, but for all generations. In all generations we are obligated to rule over the Land and to settle it. Unfortunately, for much of our long history we have been incapable of fulfilling this Mitzvah, for we, the Jewish People, have been confined to exile in both body and soul. Yet in recent times, through the goodness of God, the end of the exile has begun to reveal itself – our situation has changed and we are now once again able to fulfill this Mitzvah 1 .

2 – The Individual’s Part in the Complete Mitzvah

There are many levels involved in the individual’s part of the mitzvah of settling Eretz Yisrael. Those who dwell in Israel are partners in this mitzvah, for their presence strengthens the Jewish control of the Land. Those who live in areas that are more desolate, such as the desert, or in Judea and Samaria, fulfill the mitzvah on even a higher level. Their presence in these parts of the Land contributes doubly to the mitzvah, for they are not only strengthening the rule over the areas in which other nations are attempting to wrest away from the Jews, but they are also helping to ensure that all of the Land is cultivated and settled. Those who live in other places in Israel that are more isolated from Jewish presence and are surrounded by enemies, are fulfilling the mitzvah to an even greater extent. The wise sages have said that Eretz Yisrael is only acquired through pain and suffering; the greater the suffering, the greater the reward.

The mitzvah to settle the Land of Israel is unique in that, unlike most other mitzvot, its fulfillment doesn’t involve the performance of any specific act, such as laying tfillin, giving tzeddakah or praying. Each Jew who lives in Israel is performing the mitzvah of settling the Land just by his dwelling in it. It follows, that for those who merit to reside in the towns of Judea and Samaria, mundane daily acts, such as breathing, eating and sleeping become mitzvot in themselves.

For those who live outside of Israel but financially support its settlement, their partnership is limited as they are not fulfilling the mitzvah with their physical presence. And those who do live in Israel and also help to support its settlement towns are partners in the settling of the Land’s holy places, which of course raises the level of greatness for this mitzvah.

3 – The State of Israel
On the fifth of Iyar 5708 Israel was officially declared a state and Am Yisrael was once again able to return to its homeland and perform the mitzvah of settling it. After two thousand years of living in the diaspora, Jewish rule over Israel was finally back in effect, thus fulfilling the nation’s obligation to conquer and control the Land. Even if the majority of the inhabitants residing in Israel were Jewish, as long as the Land was under foreign rule, the complete mitzvah obligating both the individual and the nation to settle it could not be fulfilled. Only upon the establishment of Israel as a Jewish owned and governed state, did Am Yisrael merit the opportunity to begin the process of performing the complete mitzvah of settling the Land.

Jewish rule over the Land is such a basic concept that the rabbis and sages decreed that one should tear one’s clothes and say “Your holy cities are desolate” upon seeing a destroyed city in Judea. As long as the city is in the hands of another nation, it is considered destroyed and desolate, even if the majority of its population is Jewish. The same applies to the opposite. If the city is inhabited mostly by non-Jews but Jewish rule has been established, it is a redeemed city and it is no longer necessary to tear one’s clothing and mourn over it. (See Beit Yosef Orech Chaim 561, Mishne Brura 561,b).

Rav Kook also emphasized that on the day of Israel’s Independence the mitzvah of settling the Land once again became possible and we could begin to fulfill it.. On one occasion during an Independence Day celebration at Yeshivat Mercaz Harav one of the great Rabbis of the Yeshiva stressed that the importance of the establishment of the State of Israel was attributed to the fact that now there is more Torah learning and it is easier to perform many of the mitzvot. Rav Kook did not agree with that idea and he addressed the matter saying that the importance of the establishment of the State of Israel is the mere fact that Am Yisrael is again enabled to fulfill the mitzvah of settling the Land. That in itself, he stated, is a great reason to celebrate. Eretz Yisrael under Jewish leadership has its own intrinsic value and is not a means to an end. Once the complete mitzvah of conquering, controlling and settling the Land is performed, it is inevitable that other mitzvot will be more easily and readily fulfilled and the redemption will be closer at hand as a result. 2 

Am Yisrael was not able to perform this mitzvah of conquering and settling the Land in previous generations because it did not have an army or weapons while it was in the Diaspora with which to fight for Israel. However, the establishment of an army in Israel before it officially became a state enabled the nation to take control of the Land. Therefore, in addition to saving Jewish lives from enemies, the presence of an army is essential for performing this mitzvah. This will be the situation until the time of better days arrives as it is stated in the verse in Isaiah (chap.2,2-4) “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills’ and all the nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the G-d of Yaakov; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall come forth Torah, and the word of the Lord from Yerushalayim. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall decide among many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, and neither shall they learn war any more.”

4 – Conquering the Land and Pikuach Nefesh

The Torah is given to man in order for him to live by it, not die by it. Therefore, if one is in a situation where he must do a forbidden act or die, the Torah usually permits one to transgress mitzvot. Transgressions such as idol worship, murder or illicit relations are the exception to this rule. One is permitted to break Shabbat or feed a sick person non-kosher food if it is necessary to heal him for the sake of pikuach nefesh (transgressing a mitzvah in order to save one’s life). Pikuach nefesh, however, does not apply to the waging of war in order to conquer the Land of Israel. Even though it is inevitable that people will die during a war, the Torah commands us to take control of the Land through battle and not to rely on miracles (Minchat chinuch 425, Mispat Kohen page 327). And so it seems that in order to perform the mitzvah of conquering and settling the Land, one must be altruistic and self sacrificing just as was demanded of Am Yisrael in the times of Joshua, King David, during the building of the Second Temple, and the period of the Chasmonim rule.

We should however categorize these concepts. The rule that one should live by the Torah and its mitzvot and not die by them also applies to the Jewish nation as a whole. At times, the good of the nation, as opposed to individual soldiers, need to be taken into consideration. For example, if there is a high risk that Am Yisrael will lose the war and its inheritance, then the welfare of the nation is at stake and the army should not go to war. It is clear that the Torah is an instrument of life and does not command the nation to commit suicidal acts. However if chance of success is great then there is an obligation to wage war in order to conquer the Land and settle it, even if that involves loss of Jewish lives.

It is of necessity to point out that if a nation does not fight for the sake of its own country or land, then it is leaving itself vulnerable and exposed to its neighbors and enemies, which is a greater danger. If a nation doesn’t succeed in recruiting its sons to sacrifice their lives in battle for the sake of defending the borders of their country, it will eventually be conquered, subsequently endangering its citizens to greater perils. Thus, the mitzvah to fight for Eretz Yisrael actually involves the saving of lives as well as fulfilling the mitzvah of settling the Land.

5 – The Greatness of the Mitzvah
The sages and rabbis declared the mitzvah of dwelling in the Land of Israel equal to all the other mitzvot combined. Although there are other mitzvot about which the same is considered true, this mitzvah of settling Eretz Yisrael supersedes them as it is the only mitzvah that demands of us to sacrifice our lives in order to conquer the land and keep it from our enemies. In addition, this mitzvah is unique in that the transgression of shvut on Shabbat is allowed in order to regain control of the Land. 3 

We can learn more about the importance of this mitzvah from the Tanna dbei Eliyahu’s descriptions of the greatness of Eretz Israel. “Once I was sitting before the great Rabbis in Yerushalayim and I asked them what was so different about King Omri that all the Kings preceding him did not have any continuation, whereas Omri’s offspring produced three more kings? They responded: ‘We didn’t hear.’ I then said to them: ‘Rabbis, Omri merited having three kings on his throne because he built a great city in the Land of Israel.'”

And so, in spite of the fact that Omri was not a righteous person, he merited to have his offspring rule because he fulfilled the mitzvah of settling the land by building a great city in Israel. Omri’s intentions were not to help Israel develop or flourish; rather he built the city for his own benefit -to strengthen his kingdom and to keep his subjects away from making the pilgrimage to Yerushalayim. Nevertheless, Omri was rewarded, despite his impure intentions.


^ 1 These concepts were examined thoroughly by Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook tz”l. Some examples of his writings: “The Mitzvot Connected to the Country” (Lenitvot Israel publication 5739 chelek 1 page 120-122) Rav Kook first explains the greatness of the mitzvah that it is the only mitzvah that pushes aside certain prohibitions on Shabbat (i.e. shvut-to tell a non Jew to perform certain forbidden acts on Shabbat for your own benefit). It is permissible to push aside shvut in order to buy land in Israel from a non Jew on Shabbat (as explained in Gitin 8,b and Baba Kama 80,b see Tosafot there) This indeed is a great thing, as the Rabbis decreed not to blow the shofar and not to carry the lulav on Shabbat, mitzvot that are brought down directly from the Torah. But in order to buy land on Shabbat the Rabbis saw fit to permit one to transgress shvut (something which the Hasmag holds is a transgression that is rooted in the Torah) in order to buy land. Rav Kook further states to those that do not think that the mitzvah is valid today, basing their arguments on the words of Rav Chaim in Ketubot 110, that the Mahrit (Yora Deyah 28) and many of the Achronim (see Gilion Mahrsha Ketubot 110) found that one of Rav Chaims student’s made a mistake in his writings. Harishba in his book 187 writes that the mitzvah of settling the land is for all generations. He further writes that one can not separate the two parts of the mitzvah, i.e. the rule over the land and the individual dwelling in it. Just as we are obligated always to conquer the land so too are we always obligated to dwell in the land. It does not stand to reason that the Rabbis would allow us to transgress shvut if this mitzvah was not from the Torah. The concept that this mitzvah is equal to all the other mitzvot is something that is not said about a mitzvah drabbanan (these ideas were brought down after the destruction of the second Temple). The reason the Rambam did not enumerate this mitzvah with the rest of the 613 was not necessarily to lower the value of the mitzvah, rather to stress that its value is above the rest of the mitzvot. The general rule of the Rambam was not to include mitzvot that are of a basic nature in his enumeration of the 613 mitzvot as stated in mitzvah 153.
It should be further pointed out that the mitzvah is to inherit the whole of the promised land, thus the Ramban mentions the verse in Dvarim “You have dwelt long enough in the mountain: turn and take your journey to the mountain of the Emori and to all the places near it, in the plain, in the hills, and in the lowland, and in the Negev and go by he sea side, to land of the Kennanni and to Levanon, as far as the great river, the river Perat.”
^ 2 In addition to this, on Independence Day we thank Hashem for helping us defeat our enemies, and for a place of escape for Jews, and for the uplifting honor in the eyes of the world by the establishment of the Jewish state.
Therefore there are two major reasons to say Hallel on Independence day 1)That we are able to fulfill the mitzvah of settling the Land and 2) The saving of Jewish lives from our enemies. Rav Goren would emphasize the second reason, whereas Rav Tzvi Yehuda would stress that the miracle was the awakening of valor in the self sacrifice made for the defense of Israel.
^ 3 We have seen a similar idea in mila (see Ndarim 32,a), tzeddekah (Baba Batra 9,a), Tzizit (Shavuot 29,a), Tfillin (Minchaot 43,b), Shabbat (Yerushalmi Ndarim 83 halacha 9), Gimlut Hasidim (Yerushalmi Peah 81 halacha 1), and the mitzvah of Talmud Torah in many places.
However the mitzvah of settling the land has a uniqueness that allows one to transgress shvut on Shabbat even if this involves transgressing some of the Rabbinical enactments (this is explained in Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim 206,11). This does not occur in the rest of the mitzvot where we are allowed only to do shvut dshvut, i.e. a lesser transgression. This idea has been repeated by many of the Achronim that in order to clarify the greatness of the mitzvah of Eretz Yisrael.
Written by the rabbi

6 – Settling the Land: Planting Trees and Economic Development
We have already learned that the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel does not involve only conquering it, but also requires the settling and developing of every part of it. The Ramban stresses this point that “We should not leave the Land under foreign rule or desolate, as it says: you should inherit the land and settle it.”
Planting fruit trees in the Israel fulfills one aspect of this mitzvah, which obligates Am Yisrael to cultivate every part of the Land and not to leave it desolate. There is no mitzvah to plant fruit trees outside of Israel and usually one only does so for the purpose of providing a livelihood. Those living in Eretz Yisrael, however, have the mitzvah of planting fruit trees regardless of their profession.The wise sages expanded on this concept (Vyikra Rabba 25,3), “It is said that one should go after Hashem. Is it possible for flesh and blood to go after Hashem? It is also said that one should cleave to Hashem. Is it possible for flesh and blood to cleave to Hashem? Rather one should go in his ways, and cleave to his character traits. And just as Hashem, at the beginning of creation, first planted and tended to the Garden of Eden, so too should Am Yisrael upon entering the Land, as it is written: ‘You should come to the Land and plant.'” We learn from this that one that plants a tree in Eretz Yisrael is cleaving to Hashem’s character trait.
There are two advantages to planting trees, one being a future investment. Sometimes people invest their efforts in transient matters, but the Torah guides us to invest our efforts in planting trees in order to root ourselves in the Land through permanent means. The second advantage is that with the abundance of trees the Land bears fruit that has intrinsic holiness and when Am Yisrael eats these fruits many other mitzvot are performed, such as trumah, maasorot and orlah.The Chatam Sofer writes (in his commentary on mesecht sukkah 36) that working the Land of Israel in order to harvest its holy fruit fulfills the mitzvah of settling the Land and the mitzvah commanding Am Yisrael to harvest the grains of the Land. Boaz, who was considered a great man of his generation, did not deem it bitul Torah to spend night working and harvesting the Land. Just as one who is busy learning Torah still needs to stop in order to perform the mitzvah of laying Tfillin, one should stop his Torah learning for the sake of harvesting the crops. The Chatam Sofer adds another important comment on this subject: It is possible that all the work and skills that enable us to settle the Land are in themselves mitzvot. According to this idea, one that assists in the economic development of Israel may be considered a partner in the mitzvah of settling the Land. Eretz Yisrael is holy in both its physical and spiritual attributes and those who assist in its development are partners in its holy building.

7 – The Individual’s Role in the Mitzvah

We have explained the first part of the mitzvah which obligates the Jewish nation to establish rule over the Land of Israel. The second part requires each individual Jew to dwell in the Land. It is a mitzvah for every Jew to live in Israel when the Land is under foreign rule and even when it is under Jewish rule. The Rambam wrote (hilchot Malachim 5,12) “A person should live in Eretz Yisrael forever. He should live in Israel whether it is in a city where the majority of its inhabitants are not Jewish or where the majority of its citizens are Jewish. He should not live outside of Israel, for one who leaves Eretz Yisrael for the galut is as if he is worshipping idols.” 1

The Sefrei (Dvarim see 53) recounts the story of a few rabbis who lived in the time period after the destruction of the second Temple and wished to leave Eretz Yisrael. At the time, the Romans were cruelly and viciously ruling the Land and because of the famine and great troubles many people were leaving Israel. The Sefrei narrates the story of Rabbi Yehuda ben Battera, Rabbi Mateya ben Cheresh, Rabbi Chananya ben Achi, Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Natan when they left Israel. Upon arriving at the border town of Paltiya they suddenly remembered Eretz Yisrael. They raised their eyes and began to cry and tear their clothes in mourning while reciting the verse that states: “You should inherit the Land and dwell within it and keep it.” They agreed that the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisrael is equal to all other mitzvot and they returned to Israel.

Throughout the generations when Israel was not in Jewish hands Am Yisrael was unable to fulfill the first part of the mitzvah of the nation conquering and ruling the Land. However, any Jew that lived in Eretz Yisrael during these times did, to a certain extent, fulfill this part of the mitzvah of settling the Land. His presence in provided a continuous connection between the Jews who lived outside of Israel and their Land, and also provided a base for future growth of Jewish settlement and eventual control over the Land. If these are one’s goals while living in Israel then, just as the Vilna Gaon’s students who made aliyah with great sacrifices, one becomes a partner not just in settling the Land on an individual basis, but also in conquering it and acquiring control over it.

8 – Praises for the Land
The Rambam wrote a unique halacha (Melachim 5,10): “Great Rabbis would kiss the ground of Eretz Yisrael, and kiss its stones as well as roll in its dust as it states: because your slaves wanted its stones and begged for its dust.” At first glance one would ask how could the Rambam write about such actions and deeds in a book devoted to halacha? Which halacha that we learn from our rabbis would involve kissing the earth and hugging the stones of the Land of Israel? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to write about these actions in books of ethics rather than halacha? Indeed this is a great halacha to learn: It is not enough to live in Eretz Yisrael, one should also love the good and holy Land.

At the end of Ketubot (112,a) it is written that when Rabbi Chanina was traveling in Eretz Yisrael and would see a obstructions in his path he would remove it. Rashi explains that he would do this in the different areas of the city because of his great love for Eretz Yisrael, as he didn’t want anyone to think or speak badly about the roads or the places where the obstructions were located.
It is also told that in order to prevent complaints about Israel, Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Assi would be extremely cautious as to where they sat their students. In the cool morning hours they would sit them in the sun and in the warm afternoon hours they would sit them in the shade. Their students were comfortable and, therefore, did not think badly about the Land or its climate.
It is also Am Yisrael’s responsibility not only to love the Land, but also to praise it, to enjoy its scenery, to decorate it with flowers and trees, to keep it clean, to fix its highways, and to build comfortable and nice looking homes. As a result, the mitzvah of settling the land will be performed, as more Jews will desire to live in Israel and less will leave it for other countries.
The spies sinned when they spoke badly about Eretz Yisrael, claiming that it is (Bamidbar 13,32) “A land that eats its residents,” thereby causing the Jews who were in the desert to despise it. They also sinned by declaring that Am Yisrael did not have enough strength to conquer the Land, thus weakening the hearts of the rest of the nation.

The greatness of Eretz Yisrael is evident in the mere fact that it is a sin to speak lashon harah (speaking badly about another) about the Land. The prohibition of speaking lashon harah is basically limited to people for the prevention of causing them hardships, troubles or bad feelings. There is no concept of speaking lashon harah about physical objects such as rocks. However, lashon harah isconsidered a sin in regards to the Land of Israel, for it causes a delay in the revelation of Hashem in this world. Hashem only reveals himself by way of the holy Land of Israel. It follows that the punishment for speaking badly about Israel is unusually stringent, to the extent that even a generation that received the Torah at Mount Sinai could not escape the punishment to die in the desert and not enter the Land which they had slandered.
The generations following that of the spies are obligated to rectify the spies’ sins, to praise Eretz Yisrael and to thank Hashem for giving us the Land as a precious gift. This especially applies to our generation in which millions of Jews have merited to settle the Land and raise their families in Israel-something even previous generations of righteous people did not merit. Therefore it is doubly important to continuously repeat the words of Yehoshua and Calev (Bmidbar 14,7) “The Land is exceedingly good” and the words of Calev (Bmidbar 13,30) “Let us go up at once; for we are well able to overcome it.”

9 – Honoring One’s Parents and Dwelling in the Land
What is the law pertaining to a situation when a child wishes to make aliyah (to live in Israel) but his parent’s are against him doing so? Does the child have to abide by his parents wishes in an effort to perform the mitzvah of honoring ones father and mother, or does the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel over ride that? First, it is necessary to clarify that there is no mitzvah of honoring one’s parents if it does goes against another mitzvah that is derived from the Torah or even one that is derived from the wise rabbis. It is forbidden to transgress a mitzvah from the Torah even if parents tell their child to do so. The child also has the mitzvah of honoring Hashem and fulfilling His Torah (Shulchan Aruch yoreh daya 240,14).

It is clear, therefore, that one is permitted to settle in the Land of Israel even if it is against one’s parents’ wishes, especially because the mitzvah of settling Eretz Yisrael is considered by the wise sages to be equal to all the mitzvot. (Mahram from Rotenberg, HaMabit, see Petchai Tshuva). This rule also applies to one who wants to live in a settlement town in Judah, Samaria or Gaza for the purpose of strengthening Jewish control over the Land. Although his parents may be worried and demand that he leaves the settlement, he is not required to do so because he is fulfilling the Torah mitzvah of settling the Land.

10 – A Disagreement Between a Couple
When a couple disagrees on where to live it is not acceptable to force one to leave his or her present place of residence because uprooting one who wishes to remain in a familiar place causes hardship. Therefore, the decision rests with the one who wants to stay put. However, if the couple live in a place where the majority of the residents are not Jewish then one has the right to force the other to move to a place where there are more Jews. This ruling is applicable to couples who either in Israel or in another country. If, however, one wants to move to Israel and the other refuses, the law favors the one who wishes to settle the Land. Regardless of whether it is a woman or the man who wishes to move to Israel, the one who wants to remain in a different country must concede. And even if the situation were such that the couple live in a city outside of Israel that has a large Jewish population and the city where they would be moving to in Israel has a small Jewish population, they should still move to Israel regardless of the number of Jews that dwell in the particular area in which they will be settling.

If, G-d forbid, the situation is irreparable where no compromise can be reached and the couple decide to divorce, the husband -if he is the one who refuses to live in Israel- needs to give up the ketubah to his wife. If the wife refuses to settle in the Land of Israel, she subsequently forfeits her ketubah (Shulchan Aruch orech chaim 75,4).
———————————
1. In my humble opinion it seems that one who lives within the borders that were established by those that left Egypt is fulfilling the mitzvah of dwelling in the Land even if there is no Jewish rule at the time. Am Yisrael sanctified those places by settling in them and was obligated to fulfill all mitzvot that are connected to the Land during the time of the first Temple. However, one that lives in Syria or Iraq, even though he resides within the borders of the Promised Land, does not fulfill the mitzvah of dwelling in the Land. If, however, his intention of living in those countries is based on assisting the establishment of Jewish sovereignty over those places, then he is fulfilling the mitzvah. This is not the place to prolong our discussion and it needs to be further examined.

Land of Israel

Cyprus belongs to Israel and was called The Island of Dan. The borders of Israel stretch from the Nile River to the Euphrates. Eastern Egypt, Sinai, Jordan, part of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, part of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and part of Turkey are within the Biblical Borders of Israel; They are “Occupied Territory”. Rabbi M.M. Schneerson of Lubavitch (Chabad) on the borders of Israel.

The Land of Israel

 Brit-Am
Replies to Queries

rose

  Questions
and Answers 

Questions on the Land of Israel
See also our Separate Article
Brit-Am Replies to Queries:
Returning to the Land of Israel

Contents:
1. What is the Brit-Am position on Ephraimites Coming to dwell in the Land of Israel at Present?
2. Is the Island of Cyprus Part of the Promised Land of Israel?
3. What Are the Boundaries of the Promised Land According to the Bible?
4. Will the Land of Israel Encompass North America?

1. What is the Brit-Am position on Ephraimites Coming to dwell in the Land of Israel at Present?

Answer:
At present Judah is preparing the Land as a Forerunner for the other Tribes.
Eventually the other Tribes will return and receive an inheritance alongside Judah.
If an Ephraimite in the present time comes to Israel it should be either as a guest of Judah or as somebody who identifies with Judah.
This is a sensitive and complicated issue and we have written quite a lot about it and answered numerous questions concerned with it.
See:
“Brit-Am Now”-277
#5. Nachmanides: The Connection Between Law and Land

Returning to the Land of Israel

2. Question: Is the Island of Cyprus Part of the Promised Land of Israel?

Shalom Yair,
Thank you for the work that you are doing towards the reunification of the two houses. We have been living in Cyprus for the last year and was surprised that you included the Island of Cyprus with the Land of Promise.
Could you please explain your reference point as we have never heard this before.
Thank you.
Frank and Shirlianne Whigham.

Answer: Cyprus is Part of the Promised Land of Israel.
Concerning the borders including Cyprus this is admittedly an extreme minority opinion but one that is probably correct. The opinion says that the western border was the western estuary of the Nile Delta in the South (opposite Alexandria, as noted by the late Rabbi M.M. Schneerson of Lubavitch) and a line northward into southeast Turkey and encompassing all the Mediterranean Ocean and islands (including Cyprus within that area.
Cyprus was mentioned frequently in our book, “Lost Israelite Identity. The Hebrew Ancestry of Celtic Races”, (1996).

WHY WE CONSIDER CYPRUS PART OF ISRAEL

a. Cyprus appears to be within the borders of the Promised Land according  to the opinion we consider correct. The Promised Land included all the area up to the Euphrates River and all along its length reaching far into the north. It also included at the least the region of Cilicia (southeast Turkey), and most probably the Isle of Cyprus. At all events all these regions and more were taken by the Israelites for considerable periods of time even though they did not succeed in permanently holding them. In the Messianic era (cf. Ezekiel ch.48) and in the times leading up to it all of these areas and more will be re-gained by

b. The Population of Cyprus suffered the same fate as the Canaanites at the time of the Israelite conquest as did a lot of neighboring areas including Anatolia and Greece. Beginning from around 1200 b.c.e. the well developed warlike states of Mycenean Greece, the powerful empire of Hittite Anatolia, the strong city states in southern Canaan, every important city in northern Syria and Cyprus were all completely destroyed. The population of Greece is conventionally considered to have declined (though the figures given here have since been contested) by 75% and the cultural unity of the Mycenean Age came to an end. Crete suffered a similar fate. There was a population decline of 75% also in northern Mesopotamia and 25% in the south. It is conceivable that the cities of Canaan (that were also once again destroyed) met their end due to a resurge of Israelite conquest. There are grounds to believe that what happened elsewhere in some of the other areas was also due to Hebrew initiative or due to Canaanites fleeing from the Israelites or at least somehow influenced by either one of these factors. Assyria was attacked by semi-Nomadic “Aramaean” tribes who may likewise have actually been Hebrews.

c. Egyptians inscriptions report that the Zekaru and Peleset  were defeated in Cyprus. The Zekaru were part of the so-called Sea-Peoples who at least in part were Israelites. We identify the Zekaru as belonging to the Tribe of Issacar. If this identification is correct we have an Israelite Tribe in Cyprus from early times.

d. Cyprus (i.e. “Caphtor” Isle of the Philistines?) in Assyrian inscriptions was later to be called “Yadnana” meaning “ISLE OF THE DANANU”, i.e. Isle of the Tribe of Dan. e.    The Egyptians counted the Dananu-Danites amongst the Peoples of the Sea. They connected the Dananu primarily with the areas north of the Orontes River1 on the north Syrian coast, with Cilicia, and with CYPRUS, and according to Ed.Meier also with Crete.

f. From the 800s b.c.e. a type of pottery called “Samarian” left its remnants all over Cyprus. Samarian pottery is the same as that known from Samaria capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. Cyprus at that  time has been described as “very largely a Phoenician island”. This means that it used a similar cultural base to that of most of the northern Israelite Tribes. More Phoenician inscriptions have been so far discovered on Cyprus than in Phoenicia itself. Phoenicia encompassed Lebanon and  the coastal part of Syria. The northern Israelites of Samaria spoke a dialect of Hebrew considered closer to that of the Phoenicians than to that of  the Judaeans of the southern kingdom. In many respects the culture of much of northern Israel was “Phoenician”. Alternately, much of what is termed “Phoenician” may actually be “Israelite”.

g. Buildings in the Cypriot capital of Kition and in the city of Enkomi are of a standard and type equaled only by that of the palace of Omri (882-871 b.c.e.) in  Israelite Samaria.

h. The physical type of a Cypriot ruler depicted in an Egyptian illustration is described similarly to that pertinent to Israelites of the period, as,
“light red beard, light coloured eye (blue or pink) skin” as “Traits characteristic of a certain type of Syro-Palestinian which one finds [illustrated] in many Theban [Egyptian] tombs”.
JEAN VERCOUTTER, “L’Egypte et le Monde Egeen Prehellenique (18em et 19em Dynasties)”, Le Caire,  1956. p.219

i.The influence of Israelites is evident in archaeological finds concerning Ancient Cypriot life style and values.

Cyprus had been known as Yadnana meaning “Isle of the Dananu” from the Israelite Tribe of Dan. An area corresponding in the descriptions to Scandinavia had also been called “Keftiu”, or “Kaptara” both meaning Cyprus. Since the Danites were connected with Cyprus of the Mediterranean they may (on that point alone) also have been on Cyprus of the Atlantic Ocean meaning in Scandinavia. Dan was exiled and  some Danites may have departed earlier than the others as explained elsewhere. Scandinavian culture at that time reveals the probable presence of a group hailing from the same Middle Eastern areas which the Danites had frequented shortly beforehand. It may be surmised that the Danites (or rather a portion of them) from the Mediterranean had migrated to Scandinavia.
Cyprus appears to be the area referred to in the Bible as the “Island of Caphtor” (Jeremah 47:7 Amos 9:7) homebase of the Philistines which we believe Israelites conquered. “Caphtor” has been interprted to mean “Top of the Pillar”. Scandinavia tradition in one version traced their ancestral gods to the Isle of “Asgard” which according to Jugen Spanuth (“Atlantis of the Noirth”, 1980, p.94) as “Island of Caphtor”.

Irish legends spoke of the Tribe of Dana (Tuatha De Danaan) who were renowned metallurgists, and scientifically adept. They arrived from the “northern isles” after some disaster, the only “northern isles” as far as Ireland is concerned are those of Scandinavia. The Tribe of Dana, said the Irish sources had originally come from the region of Mount Lebanon, it had sojourned in Greece, been enslaved, fought with the “Phillistines”, and then fled north after which it had come to Ireland.

Welsh legends also spoke of the Children of Don who paralleled the Tribe of Dana.

Irish legends in effect identify the Children of Dana with the Israelite Tribe of Dan according to the above conclusions.

In effect, they say that from Scandinavia the Danites had progressed to the British Isles. The Irish accounts exactly fit what archaeological research has revealed. The Irish records were transmitted orally for generations then written down centuries before archaeology confirmed them.

The Dana of Irish (and Welsh) Mythology belonged to the Israelite Tribe of Dan. Indications exist that the Assyrians or their auxiliaries conquered Scandinavia in about 1200 BCE and the Danites may have reached Scandinavia after that date. Scandinavian Bronze Age Civilisation ended in about 500 BCE about which time the Dana from Scandinavia came to Ireland and to parts of Britain.

Cyprus is identified with Caphtor. It was one of the places the Philistines came out of.

[Genesis 10:14] AND PATHRUSIM, AND CASLUHIM, (OUT OF WHOM CAME PHILISTIM,) AND CAPHTORIM.

Cyprus remained a base of the Philistines and the struggle against them entailed capturing the island. After that the Danites had taken it over. One version of Scandinavian legend says that their ancestors came from an island named Asgard. Another version says that they came from the  Plain of Ida and the Don River area in Scythia (Southern Russia). Both versions are correct and apply to different migrating bodies. The term Asgard however when applied to their ancestral home evidently should apply most strictly to the island.

Jurgen Spanuth, Atlantis of the North (p.211), identifies Cyrpus with Asgard:
“The name ‘I Kaphtor’ [Hebrew for Isle of Caphtor] is a literal translation of ‘holmr Asgard’; both mean island of the heavenly pillar, or literally, island of the top of the pillar, island of the heaven-bearing beam.”

See also:
Question on Cyprus being part of Israel

See also the Map of the Promised Land according to Bar-Deroma

Some Facts About Cyprus

Cyprus was occupied by Britain in 1878 during the administration of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.
British occupation continued until 1960. Cyprus facilitated protection of  the  sea route to India and Australia via the Suez Canal and was also important in the administration of “Palestine”.

Cyprus has a “Mediterranean” type climate, warm summers, rain in winter, moderate termperatures.
Natural resources include:
copper pyrites, asbestos, gypsum, timber, salt, marble, clay earth pigment.
In the past Cypus was important for its timber and forests still cover about 15% of the surface..
There is also an agricultural potential and a tourist industry.
At present water problems exist due to sparse rainfall, inroads of the Sea, and pollution of natural aquifers.
Control of the country is divided between the Greek (ca 80%) and Turkish (ca 20%) speaking populations who are in a state of subdued hostility towards each other. The population numbers more than 1200,000 people.

Cyprus produces citrus fruits, barley, potatoes, fishing, sheep, pigs, wine, clothing, and banking services.

3. Question: What Are the Boundaries of the Promised Land According to the Bible?
Answer: The Land of Israel stretches from the western confluences of the Nile Delta, encompasses all Sinai, part of Northern Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, parts of Iraq, southeast Turkey, the island of Cyprus, and reaches along the Euphrates River and beyond.
The Biblical Borders of the Land of Israel



4. Will the Land of Israel Encompass North America?
Re
All the Israelites Will Come Back!
by Alexander Zephyr
http://www.britam.org/Complete.html

There are sources that the future borders of the Land of Israel will reach into Western Europe and encompass the British Isles (Eretz Chemda, 20, quotes Levush Mordecai in the name of the Chatam Sofer).
This opinion is based on the understanding of the Great Sea.

Numbers 34:6 As for the western border, you shall have the Great Sea for a border; this shall be your western border. 

The Great Sea is usually understood to mean the Mediterranean to the west of Israel.
There is what appears to be a minority opinion that it means the Atlantic Ocean but even this is not certain.
Rabbi Yehudah (Gittin 8a) says “the Great Sea for a border” means the Yam HaOkeanus which refers to the Atlantic Ocean.
What was Rabbi Yehudah referring to?
There are differences of opinion.
One view say he meant the area of the Mediterranean encompassed by a line from Alexandria northwards to Turkey and encompassing island in the Sea in between such as Cyprus. This accords with some other opinions.
See:

#3. Question: What Are the Boundaries of the Promised Land According to the Bible?

http://www.britam.org/Questions/QuesLand.html#Boundaries
and above Map.
Another opinion says it means all the Mediterranean area up to the Atlantic.
Still other opinions (Chatam Sofer) suggest that it means lands of Western Europe and reaching up to the Atlantic.
Or it includes lands of Western Europe as well as Britain (an additional understanding of the Chatam Sofer).
Our understanding is that Britain  would be considered as in the Great Sea (Atlantic Ocean) and if it includes Britain
it would of necessity expand to encompass North America as well!
[Or for some reason even though it should stop at the Great Sea it may include Britain but not reach further?].

There are different ways of approaching differences of opinion such as the above.
One method is take it or leave it: One opinion is right, the others wrong.
Another approach is that they are all right but accord to different time tables.

What exactly all this means is not clear.
It is also not necessarily authoritative.
Matters concerning the Times of the Messiah are of necessity speculative.

The bottom line is the BIBLE.
Our understanding to stress as much as possible a Literal understanding of Scripture including Prophecy.
See:
#2. When and When Not is Scripture to be Taken Literally?
http://britam.org/Questions/QuesLiteral.html#When
#3. Saadia Gaon: The Literal Meaning of Scripture Must be Accepted
http://britam.org/Questions/QuesLiteral.html#Saadia
According to this,
What was prophesied as destined to take place in the Land of Israel will do so.

What do we therefore do with the Rabbinical statements concerning the future borders of Israel?
We may suggest an answer but it is built on a series of “ifs”!
If these sources are correct and mean literally what they say?
If the future land of Israel is to encompass parts of Western Europe, the British Isles, and North America?
If only a portion of the Ten Tribes return and the prophecies are fulfilled through them?
It may be that after that the sanctity of the Land of Israel will be expanded to include all Lands in which the Ten Tribes are to be found?

Anyway for the moment we all have to do what we can as well as we can.
God bless you
Yair.



See “Brit-Am Now“-3
#6. Scriptural boundaries for Israel

Brit-Am Now“-402
#3. The NORTHERN BORDERS of Biblical Israel

Brit-Am Now“-25
#5. From “Lost Israelite Identity”: ARABIA

Brit-Am Now“-742
#2. The Temple at Baal Bek: King Solomon or Only the Romans?
(a) Baal Bek in Lebanon
(b) Photos
(c) No-nonsense posting about Baal-Bek
Not so gigantic! built entirely by Romans!
(d) Painting of Baal Bek by David Roberts
(e) Built by Solomon?
(f) Immanuel Velikovsky 1895-1979)
Baal Bak is Ancient Dan? (An Interesting and valuable article)

Brit-Am Now“-744
#1. Is Israel sitting on an enormous oil reserve?
#2. Maps and Symbols
#3. Israeli Stamps:
Tribal Symbols
Brit-Am Now“-756
#5. The Biblical and Future Borders of the Land of Israel
Brit-Am Now“-799
#4. Land of Our Forefathers and Future: A Map
Brit-Am Now“-822
#2. Did Ancient Israel Reach to the Euphrates?
Brit-Am Now“-830
#3. The Cyprus Reference Again
Brit-Am Now“-832
#3. Photos from Lebanon



‘It is impossible to rightly govern the world without
God or the Bible.’
George Washington

Brit-Am is the “still small voice” that contains the truth.
[1-Kings 19:12] AND AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE A FIRE; BUT THE LORD WAS NOT IN THE FIRE: AND AFTER THE FIRE A STILL SMALL VOICE.

And His Land Will Atone for His People

Parashat Ha’azinu

 

The closing words of Ha’azinu’s song, “Vekhiper admato amo,” “And His land will atone for His people,” teach us that the land of Israel can achieve atonement for the people of Israel. This is why Chazal emphasize the importance of burial in Eretz Israel. Connecting the word “admato” mentioned in our verse with “mizbe’ah adama,” “earthen altar,” the Talmud goes as far as to say that burial in the land of Israel is equivalent to burial under the altar, the site of atonement. Due to its inherent holiness as God’s land, all of Eretz Israel is equated to the place of the altar.
The first to insist on burial in the Land of Israel was our forefather, Jacob. Jacob wished to be buried in Eretz Israel, not only for the personal spiritual benefit that he would derive, but also for a much more profound reason. The Meshekh Hokhmah argues that Jacob wished to prevent the assimilation of his offspring into Egyptian life and culture. Jacob impressed the centrality of Eretz Israel upon the national psyche of his descendants. Many Jews throughout the generations, who were unable to come to Israel during their lifetimes, echoed Jacob’s sentiments and instructed that they be buried there. They too wanted to impress upon their own families and communities that they are but temporary dwellers in a foreign land.

In Midrash Mishlei, Rabbi Levi’s version of the derashah regarding “vekhiper admato amo” reads in a slightly different manner. He says that anyone who lives in Eretz Israel, even for a single hour, and dies there, is destined to inherit the world to come. According to Rabbi Levi, burial alone does not do the trick; living in the land is essential. The Talmud relates Rabbi Elazar’s reaction to the death of Ulla, his student, outside of Eretz Israel: “You, Ulla, should die in an unclean land!” Hearing that Ulla’s coffin had arrived, Rabbi Elazar declared: “Receiving a man in his lifetime is not the same as receiving him after his death.”
Jacob was unable to return to live in Israel, but his descendants living in our present, unique times, are welcome to return. May we all merit to live long lives in the Land of Israel.

Bedpan Conversion to Judaism

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Renee is a very caring lady who spends a lot of her spare time visiting and helping sick members of her Shul. Her car is also well known in the community because it’s decorated all over with lots of Hebrew decals and bumper stickers showing the Jewish charities she helps.
One day, as she is driving to one of the care homes she regularly visits, her car runs out of petrol and splutters to a stop. “Oy veh,” she says to herself, “and just when I’m late.”
Fortunately, she notices a petrol station only a few hundred yards away, so she walks to the station to get help. “Hi,” Renee says to the man behind the till, “I’ve run out of petrol and I’m hoping you can lend me your petrol can. I’ll pay you for the petrol I use and I’ll return your can as quickly as possible.”
The attendant replies, “I’m sorry, lady, but I’ve lent out my one and only can, not more than 5 minutes ago. I’m expecting it back in about half an hour, so if you want, you can wait here for it.”
But as she’s behind schedule, Renee goes back to her car to find something that she could use to fill with petrol. Then, what mazel, she notices the bedpan she always keeps handy in case of patient need. So she takes the bedpan to the petrol station, fills it and carries it back to her car.
Two Christian men are passing by and watch her pour in the petrol. One turns to the other and says, “If that car starts, I’m converting to Judaism!”

When Netanyahu grows up

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Op-ed: What kind of prime minister does Netanyahu want to be remembered as in Israel’s history?

 

If there is a compliment Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahudeserves it’s exercising caution in using force. Not being trigger-happy. That’s a valuable trait, in my eyes at least. In his first term, he got into trouble for a moment when he opened the Western Wall Tunnel. In his second term, he launched a limited and short-term operation in Gaza called Pillar of Defense. But in general, he has shown a lot of restraint in situations in which other prime ministers would have already opened fire.

This caution is seen by his rivals as cowardice. I prefer to see it as discretion and serious consideration. Senior army and defense establishment officials, who have worked and work with Netanyahu, say that even when approving operations and sudden attacks, close activities and activities far beyond the border, he thinks deeply and is fussy, weighing the options before giving the green light. More than once or twice, to the regret of the defense establishment heads who had already prepared the system and stormed the action, he rejected operations.

Peacemaker Sharon
End of the last chance 
Op-ed: Ariel Sharon was the last right-wing statesman capable of bringing peace to Israel
Full op-ed

The big question is what he wants to do when he grows up. As what kind of prime minister does he want to be remembered in the books of Israel‘s history. History has a habit of dividing leaders into three types: Pioneers, those who reverse trends, and those who fail the outcome criteria – what they received from their predecessors and what they left their successors.

David Ben-Gurion was a pioneer. Menachem Begin reversed a trend through a peace treaty with Egypt, one of the results of which was Israel’s return to the international border, while Egyptian President Sadat inserted the Gaza Strip as a bonus. Begin is also responsible for the following declaration: The Palestinians, their legitimate rights and their justified claims. Although in sub-letter he had the pleasure of referring to the Palestinians as the Arabs of the Land of Israel. Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peresreversed a trend with the Oslo AccordsAriel Sharon with the disengagement. It’s reasonable to assume that had Sharon stuck to his health rather than falling asleep and becoming silent, he would have extended the disengagement to significant parts of the West Bank.

Two prime ministers who got the country in a good state and left behind ruins were Golda Meir and Ehud Barak. Golda with the Yom Kippur War. Barak with the hasty escape from Lebanon and the Second Intifada. Golda felt ashamed and went home. For years, her associates are arguing argumentations of punishment. Barak looked after his own interests, his houses and his daughters. He still acts like he is entitled to change.

Of all prime ministers of the past, Netanyahu can be likened to Yitzhak Shamir. They both gained a lot of years in this position. Shamir served for three terms and Netanyahu is in his third term. They are both described as people with modest goals who only sought to play for time. And yet, it should be mentioned that Shamir practiced restraint during the first Gulf War and avoided an Israeli operation in Iraq so as not to harm the alliance between the United States, the West and Arab states. He was responsible for, or at least participated in, two major prisoner exchange deals. One of them was the infamous Jibril Agreement, whose code name was “new frame of mind.” Shamir also went, namely led by the American administration, to a diplomatic conference, the Madrid Conference, which he was forced to attend under protest. He realized then what Netanyahu likely realizes now: There are moments when you can’t say “no.” If you there say “no,” the results will be much worse than the results of saying “yes.”

These days, Netanyahu is facing an Israeli-Palestinian memorandum of understanding brokered by John Kerry. Out of the joint paper is expected to burst forth a willingness to remove settlements, an agreement to security presence in the Jordan Valley as opposed to sovereignty, and signs distinguishing between Jerusalem and east Jerusalem. It’s too early to know what the final document will look like.

Netanyahu saw himself, in his mind’s eye, striking in Iran and removing the nuclear threat. That will likely not happen. But also a peace agreement will add him into history. There is even a certain resemblance between the missions: The likelihood of both of them is quite slim. In Iran, the main thing was the message rather than the pointless execution. With the Palestinians the main thing is ending or reducing the occupation, lifting the threat of a bi-national state and returning to the family of nations. Not necessarily peace.

Israel’s ex-PM Ariel Sharon dies

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Ariel Sharon (November 2005)

Ariel Sharon’s life was intimately entwined with the life of the country he loved from the moment of its birth.

He fought in its war of independence in 1948 and from that point until he slipped into a coma in 2006 it seemed there was hardly a moment of national drama in which he did not play a role.

He was always a controversial figure in Israeli politics – certainly not universally loved – but in mourning his passing, Israelis are marking the loss of one of the few public figures left whose career stretched back to the earliest days of their state.

Ariel Sharon’s roots were in the world of Zionist pioneering zeal – he was born between the two world wars in Palestine when it was under British control – to a Jewish couple who had fled to the Holy Land from Belarus.

Ariel Sharon in Sinai (October 1967)Sharon was admired among Israelis for his military exploits

His reputation as an uncompromising and unapologetic defender of his country’s interests dates back to his military career.

He was still a teenager when he fought in the war of 1948 and in his autobiography, fittingly called Warrior, he described intense fighting against soldiers from the Jordanian Arab Legion for control of a crucial police fort on the road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

He and his men lay in fields ignited by gunfire in the burning heat with water and ammunition running low.

He remained a soldier for many years afterwards, fighting with distinction in Israel’s battles with its Arab enemies in the wars of 1967 and 1973.

He helped set up Unit 101 – a commando detachment whose job was to conduct reprisal operations across the border in Arab territories to retaliate for attacks against Israel.

Such was his reputation as a military commander that some accounts of his army career say he was nicknamed the Lion of God after a particularly daring tactical parachute operation against Egypt in 1967 in the Sinai desert.

Shadow of Lebanon

But already there was a dark undertone. Allegations emerged that Egyptian prisoners had been shot and there were questions at home about whether the operation had been a military necessity.

Fifteen years later, it was another dark episode that brought Ariel Sharon international attention.

Continue reading the main story

Political Career

  • 1973: Elected Knesset member for Likud
  • 1975-77: Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s special security adviser
  • 1977-81: Minister of Agriculture
  • 1981-83: Minister of Defence
  • 1984-90: Minister of Trade and Industry
  • 1990-92: Minister of Construction and Housing
  • 1996-98: Minister of National Infrastructure
  • 1998-99: Foreign Minister
  • 2001-2006: Prime Minister
  • 2005: Left Likud to found Kadima

He was minister of defence when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. The strategic goal was to bring stability to the country’s northern border by crushing Yasser Arafat’s PLO, which was then holed up in southern Lebanon and Beirut.

But the war was deeply controversial at home as well as in the wider world.

And there was worse too.

Fighters from a Christian militia group which was co-operating closely with the Israelis carried out extensive massacres in Palestinian refugee camps in Sabra and Shatilla.

It is likely the names of those camps will be associated with Mr Sharon’s own name as long as the history of that conflict is remembered.

Eventually an Israeli inquiry held that Ariel Sharon was “indirectly responsible” for the killing.

The war cost many lives – Israeli as well as Palestinian and Lebanese – and it casts a long shadow over his historical legacy.

Second intifada

Within Israel Mr Sharon was not finished though.

Long a supporter of the settlers who moved on to the lands Israel captured in the war of 1967 in defiance of international opinion, he saw himself as a natural leader of the Israeli right.

In a volatile place, he could be a provocative figure.

Paul Adams looks back on the life and legacy of Ariel Sharon

In the year 2000, flanked by hundreds of Israeli riot police, he staged a visit to the area of the Old City in Jerusalem which contains sites sacred both to Jews and Muslims – the Temple Mount or Harem al-Sharif.

Even though the area is in the part of East Jerusalem captured by Israel in the war of 1967, Jewish rights to pray there are limited – and it is a microcosm of the tensions that fuel the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

Intense rioting followed his visit there and many people trace the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada to that moment.

Ariel Sharon was characteristically unrepentant.

Bold moves

He became prime minister in 2001, promising to bring peace and security to his country but it was a turbulent period in Israeli politics and he eventually left the governing Likud party to found his own Kadima movement while still in office.

Ariel Sharon in Nitzanim, north of Gaza (May 2005)Sharon pulled Israeli troops and settlers out of Gaza in 2005, a move which divided his supporters

Peace remained elusive then as it is elusive now.

It was on his watch as prime minister that construction of a barrier began with the intention of preventing suicide attacks on Israel from the Palestinian territories.

His supporters would argue that it worked. Its detractors would say it entrenched an already deep sense of separateness.

He did not shy away from bold political moves though. The man who had supported Israeli settlers ordered their removal from Gaza when he decided to withdraw from the Palestinian enclave beside the Mediterranean in 2005.

It was precisely his reputation as a hardliner that allowed him to sell to his supporters a decision with which many felt instinctively uncomfortable.

Not long afterwards, he slipped into the coma from which he was never to emerge and we will never know how he would have followed up that decision or where it might have led.

Ariel Sharon died hated by Israel’s enemies but there are plenty of Israelis who would argue that the depth of that hatred was a measure of the success with which he always defended the country he served.

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