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PARASHAT VAYESHEV

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From the World of Rabbi Avraham Kook

“Precisely in a time of danger, a time in which ill winds blow in the world, a time of rabid hatred for Israel and its holy seed… precisely then Israel will turn to their house and their table, to the treasures of their spiritual culture, to their pure, pristine spirit, their Torah of truth, specially earmarked for them, and to their mitzvoth… and to rebuilding their home on their holy soil with the fortitude of holy zeal” (Ner Chanukah, Ma’amarei HaRe’iyah)


Rabbi Dov BegonRosh Yeshiva of Machon Meir

Message for Today:

“A Spark Goes Forth Out of Joseph and Consumes Them All”


The Talmud clarifies a question of property damages: “If a camel loaded with flax walks in the public thoroughfare and passes a store, and the flax, momentarily brushing inside the store catches fire on the storekeeper’s lit candle inside the store and the city catches fire, the camel’s owner is culpable.” If, however, the storekeeper put his lit candle outside and the flax caught fire, the storekeeper is culpable. Rabbi Yehuda says that if the candle is a Chanuka candle, however, the storekeeper is exempt (Shabbat 21b).
Rashi explains, “The storekeeper is exempt from paying damages caused by the Chanuka candle, since he placed the candle outside to publicize the Chanuka miracle. In this case the camel’s owner has to be careful to avoid the storekeeper’s candle.”

The Talmud’s bringing an example from a camel laden with flax is no accident.
At the start of Parashat Vayeshev Rashi likewise draws on a parable involving a flax dealer, this time in relation to the princes of Esau and the kings who descended from him, who seem so much bigger and stronger than Jacob. Yet Rashi compares them to “a flax merchant whose camels are loaded with flax. A blacksmith sees them and wonders, ‘How will the flax merchant be able to store all that flax’? Yet a wag standing on the side remarks wryly, ‘What is the problem? One spark from your bellows will burn it all up.'”

By the same token, Jacob saw all of Esau’s princes mentioned in the parashah and he wondered, “Who will be able to conquer them all?” The Torah later writes, however, “These are the generations of Jacob: Joseph…” (Genesis 37:2). As it says, “The House of Jacob shall be fire; and the House of Joseph flame, and the House of Esau shall be straw” (Ovadiah 1:18). A spark shall go forth from Joseph and shall consume them all” (Rashi on Genesis 37:1).

In our day, the parable of the camel heavily laden with flax may be applied to the Arabs, numbering in the hundreds of millions, and to all those Christian nations and anyone else who have aligned themselves together with the goal of weakening and diminishing the State of Israel. As it says, “Why are the nations in an uproar? Why do the peoples mutter in vain? The kings of the earth join ranks; the rulers take counsel together against the L-rd and against His anointed” (Psalm 2:1-2).

Israel are like a little candle which continues to burn despite evil winds and despite our enemy’s threats and unrelenting attempts to extinguish it. At the end of the day, that little mitzvah candle of Chanuka, which has persevered throughout all sorts of complex and difficult situations, shall be the source of a spark that will consume all our enemies. As Rashi states, “A spark shall go forth from Joseph that shall consume them all.”

How shall this work? Our sages and prophets down through the generations instructed us that when the Jewish People rise to rebirth in Eretz Yisrael, their rebirth shall occur in two phases, one physical and the other spiritual. First will come the ingathering of the exiles and political independence, economic and military strength. We see this with our own eyes already in our own generation, as we have fought fiercely and resoundingly defeated our enemies. Just so, in the future as well we shall defeat them too.

And out of the physical phase will appear the spiritual and moral phase of the Jewish People, which will entirely be trained on banishing and nullifying the filth and the evil spirit which have taken hold of the religion and culture of the nations. Those little Chanuka candles that we have been lighting now for thousands of years, which publicize the miracles and wonders that G-d performed for us and for our ancestors in those days at this time of year, will become a great light that will illuminate the entire world. And through this may we all together merit the new light that will shine over Zion!
With blessings for a joyous Chanuka,
Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.



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Rabbi Shlomo AvinerChief Rabbi of Beit El

Don’t Murder Pollard!

Jonathan Pollard wrote, “The Americans sentenced me to life in prison. Israel commuted it a death sentence.”
How so? By intentionally ignoring him for twenty-two years, and worse. Not only has the Israeli Government shown a lack of interest in his being freed, but an interest in his not being freed. There may be some high-placed people in this country who are interested in his remaining in prison.

In any event, the facts are known: For 22 years, nothing has been done to free him (except for one attempt in 1998 as part of the Wye Accords. Despite the promises of the American President, 750 murderers have been freed by Israel, and Jonathan Pollard remains in a dungeon).

Perhaps for any one individual failure an excuse can be found, but not for such a long, wicked chain of them. And if you do not believe me, here are the facts: First of all, who is Pollard?

Working as an information analyst in the United States, he became aware of an enormous amount of information regarding the plans of enemy countries that could endanger Israel, involving development of missiles armed with atomic, biological or chemical weapons, as well as the planning of terrors attacks on Israeli civilian sites. According to an agreement signed between Israel and America, America was supposed to transfer this information to Israel, yet America betrayed us due to the pro-Arab views of high-placed officials in the American Government. Pollard pointed this out to his employers, but when he received no response, he transferred vital information to Israel over a year-and-a-half.

He was told that if anything bad happened to him, he could find refuge in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, and indeed, he turned to there when he was exposed, yet he was thrown out into the hands of the security forces of the United States. This constituted the Israeli Government’s first refusal to take responsibility for someone who had endangered himself for Israel’s sake.

The Israeli Government hired a lawyer for him who through intentional errors caused him to receive a life sentence instead of the 2-4 years common in similar instances.
That same lawyer never submitted an appeals form, which prevented Pollard from ever again appealing.

The plea bargain reached between Israel and the United States was breached, to Pollard’s detriment, and he received a life sentence without trial.

The Israeli Government handed over to America the documents that Jonathan had transferred to Israel, with his fingerprints on them, providing proof leading to his conviction. Without these documents, they would have been compelled to free him.

Israel hired a top-echelon lawyer, former legal advisor to an American president, in order to represent Pollard’s Israeli handler. That same jurist visited Israel and explained that if the Israeli Government told the truth about Pollard, that he had been working on their behalf, he would be freed or would receive a minimal sentence. That jurist was then fired, and another lawyer was hired, who lied at Pollard’s trial, denying any connection between Israel and Pollard, and claiming that he had operated on his own accord.

Moreover, until this very day, Israel denies any connection to Pollard and has never formally announced that he was an Israeli agent.

For seven years, Pollard was thrown into a solitary confinement cell in a prison for the criminally insane, cut off from the world. Israel never protested even once.
Afterwards he was thrown into the most violent prison in the entire United States. Once again, there was no protest.
The Israeli Government appointed a secret agent of the Mossad to make sure that Pollard would rot in prison, as that agent revealed to the press when his term of service ended.

Israel sent a Mossad agent with an official demand to Pollard to commit suicide in prison so that the problem could be solved once and for all.

A false public commission for Pollard received three million dollars from the Israeli Government to make sure that he never left prison.
By contrast, no lawyer who wanted to work for Pollard’s freedom every received a penny from the Israeli Government.

In 1995, Pollard hired a lawyer who went to the Israeli Supreme Court, winning Pollard Israeli citizenship. Yet nothing has resulted from this change. Nothing has been done since. It was all just lip service.

In 1998, Pollard once again turned to Supreme Court suing Israel to recognize him as an official Israeli agent, and he won. Yet this too has reaped no results, because the change in his status was not reported by Israel to the United States. Likewise, he was never included in Israel’s list of Israeli agents in American prisons. Thus, this change in his status resulted in nothing, and was only a media trick.

Even today, that same top-class lawyer who was supposed to represent Pollard’s handler claims that if Israel would admit that Pollard was an agent working on their behalf, he would be freed.

In 2003, when Pollard’s repeat hearing took place in the American courts, no representative of Israel was present. Moreover, an Israeli consular representative in America slandered Pollard on American television the night before the hearing. The message to the Americans was thus loud and clear.

In 2003, 112 members of the Israeli Knesset signed a petition-request that Pollard be freed. Until today, the Israeli Government has not passed it on to the American president.

In 2006, the heads of Israel’s political parties held a meeting about submitting an official request to the President of the United States. Nothing resulted.
All of Pollard’s petitions to the Israel State Controller to investigate why his matter has never been dealt with by Israel have gone unanswered, and each controller has rejected him one after the next.

In the Fall of 2005, the State Controller finally received all the documents and promised to deal with the matter. A year later he announced that it is not within his authority. It took him a year for that to occur to him!

Now the head of the State Audit Committee is initiating a committee vote on whether to instruct the State Controller to examine the Government’s conduct in the Pollard case. Let us hope that a majority can be mustered in the committee and that they will stand strong against government pressure.

Those interested in further information can look at www.freepollard.net.
In conclusion: For twenty-two years the Israeli Government has done nothing for a man who risked his life for their sake. Israel has never formally announced its recognition of Pollard as an Israeli agent, neither has any official request ever been submitted for his release. Indeed, high-level American officials are puzzled by that.

In the meantime. Jonathan is very ill. All the horrific tortures he has undergone have brought about numerous illnesses: the destruction of his immune system; high blood pressure; diabetes; rheumatism; glaucoma; gall stones; growths in his sinuses; sinusitis with bleeding; dizziness and terrible headaches.

Here in Israel the Government is giving us the run-around, sometimes claiming that they are “working for him quietly”. It’s so quiet, in fact, that for the past twenty-two years, indeed, nothing has moved. The facts lead to the awful conclusion that our government has no plan but for Jonathan to die in prison, and then, the ultimate, final “quiet” will be obtained. What’s happening here is either a case of Chelm or of Sodom. Unfortunately, it is apparently the second.

We are puzzled. After all, the Israeli people want his release, including 112 Knesset members, surely an unbelievable record for the Knesset. We want his release, but the government doesn’t act!

Where is our conscience? Where is the gratitude to a man who saved Israel? Where is the Jewish heart regarding a man whose life hangs by a thread? Where is the humanity regarding a man who behaved so humanely? Shall we commit murder and then inherit the victim? Shall we allow a living person to be buried alive?

I quote no Talmudic source here, and not one Biblical verse. There is no need. I am talking about our acting like human beings.


Translation: R. Blumberg


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