My annual Passover post, updated to reflect 2015’s scary realities

PassoverI first published a Passover post in March 2010, when Iran was in the news because of the Green Revolution. (By the way, Obama’s peculiar inaction then — that is, his unwillingness to side with the ordinary people against the Mullah’s tyranny — takes on a whole new meaning in light of the events of the past few weeks, doesn’t it?) I’m republishing that post here, although I’ve modified it substantially, especially at the end, to reflect today’s events:

***

An antisemitic Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as the celebration of freedom (the world’s first and for a long time only successful slave revolt), and of justice and morality (the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the genocide of the Egyptian people.  What troubles him so much is the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague, culminating in the death of the first born.  God, clearly, is a psycho killer who toys with Pharaoh the way a cat does with a mouse.

Some people have tried to explain away this part of the story by saying that it is simply dramatic license, meant to increase the tension and danger of the Jew’s escape from Egypt.  After all, if it had been easy, it wouldn’t have been much of a story.  You know, Moses asks, “Hey, Pharaoh, can we go?” and Pharaoh answers “Sure.”  That’s not a narrative with much punch or heroism, and God’s involvement is minimal or, at least, lacking in divine punch.  It’s much more exciting to have an escalating series of plagues, with the audience on tenterhooks as to whether those pesky Jewish slaves will actually be able to make a break for it.

This reasoning is silly.  There’s a much more profound purpose behind the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, despite an increase in the burdens placed upon his people.  A blood filled Nile River may, at first, have seemed appalling, but the red receded and life went on.  Pharaoh still held together his government.  The same held true for each subsequent plague, whether lice or boils or wild animals or frogs, or whatever:  As long as Pharaoh could maintain his power base, he was okay with the incremental decimation visited upon those he ruled.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might worry about a populace starving and frightened, but that was irrelevant as long as that same populace continued to fear and worship him.  The people’s suffering, ultimately, was irrelevant to his goals.  It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh’s power base was destroyed because his citizens were destroyed and death stalked his own palace — that Pharaoh was convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed much in 3,000 years.  Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII.  For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over.  Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear or insanity, would not gainsay him.  Rather than surrendering, Hitler and other Nazi leaders, secure in their protected homes and bunkers, were perfectly willing to see German overrun and its citizens killed.  Only when the death toll became too high, and it was apparent that nothing could be salvaged from the ashes, did the war on the continent finally end.

The same held true for the Japanese.  Truman did not decide to drop the bomb just for the hell of it.  Even the possibility that it would impress the Soviets was an insufficient reason for doing so'; Truman was, after all, a moral man.  What swayed Truman was the fact that his advisers told him (credibly as it turned out) that the Japanese Bushido culture would not allow Japan to surrender even when surrender had become the only reasonable option.  Instead, the military warned Truman that, although the Americans would inevitably win the war, if Truman didn’t take drastic action, victory would take another year, and cost up to 100,000 American lives and at least that many Japanese lives (including Japanese civilians).

Truman therefore had two choices:  another year of war, with the lost of 100,000 Americans and many more than 100,000 Japanese; or an immediate stop to the war, with no more American casualties and at least 100,000 Japanese casualties.  Put that way, the choice was a no-brainer.  The outcome would be the same for the Japanese, but Truman would save the lives of more than 100,000 Americans, British, Australians and Dutch.  (One of those Dutch, incidentally, was my Mom, who was on the verge of starving to death in a Japanese concentration camp.)  The Japanese high command was Pharaoh.  No amount of smaller plagues could stop the command from its chosen path.  Only a large plague would swiftly lead to the inevitable conclusion.

But what about the innocent lives lost as a result of Pharaoh’s, the Nazi’s, and the Japanese high command’s intransigence?  As the Japanese tale shows only too well, the innocents were always going to die, with the only question being whether they would die quickly or slowly.  The same holds true for the Germans, whom the Nazis had long ago designated as cannon fodder to support their intensely evil regime.  That’s the problem with an evil regime.  If you’re unlucky enough to live under that regime, whether or not you support it, you’re going to be cannon fodder.  Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned — as long as they can retain their power.

Iran is no different.  Although the people bleed and cry under the brutish regime, no plague, including rioting in the streets, has come along that is bad enough to break the back of that tyranny.  The people continue to die by inches, and the regime threatens everyone within bombing distance.

This year, for the first time, we have to recognize that the reign of tyrants exists not just abroad, but at home too.  For  more than 200 years, we’ve felt comfortably insulted from tyranny because of our Bill of Rights.  That exquisite document doesn’t spell out the few limited rights citizens have if they’re lucky enough to have a merciful government.  Instead, it establishes that, barring those necessary powers that a government needs in order to provide a safe, stable haven in which life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can thrive, citizens have a broad range of inherent rights that are inviolate.  Our constitutional government doesn’t give them, and it cannot take them away; they’re ours.

But what happens when we have a leader who refuses to recognize the Constitution?  A leader who complains that the Bill of Rights limits him?  A leader who ignores Supreme Court opinions curtailing his power grabs?  A leader who refuses to execute those laws that Congress passes, but instead drafts and executes  his own laws?  A leader who spies on his people, while amassing a growing number of secrets around himself and his cronies?  A leader who relentlessly uses Leftist shibboleths to undermine our constitutional military?  A leader who single-handedly, without  help even from his own political party, hurls America into an alliance with an apocalyptic, tyrannical theocracy that is dedicated to annihilating the world’s only Jewish nature and driving America to her knees?  A leader who has a compliant media that takes upon itself the job of destroying his enemies and promoting his aggregation of power?

What happens then?  The answer is that you cease to have a constitutional system predicted upon individual liberty arising from natural rights.  And slowly at first, but with increasing speed, like a snowball gathering mass as it rolls downhill, you suddenly find that you’re the one laboring on the pyramids under the overseers’ lash, while Pharaoh Obama and his cronies, having insulated themselves from the wrath of the people, take your sweat and your blood as their natural due.  And believe me, a few red-running rivers or locust-clogged fields are not going to stop the Obamites, even on that unlucky day when Iran’s hordes flow through America’s already open borders.

But it needn’t be all doom and gloom.  Denial is powerlessness.  Recognizing danger and reacting to it is strength.  Don’t be cowed.  Know your principles, state them with clarity if need be (and my real-me Facebook friends know that I do that with increasing frequency even here in Marin), and never give up hope because, without hope, we are nothing but base animals, lacking the divine spark that makes us human.

With that, I’d like to wish all of you a Happy Passover.  Whether Jewish or not, I hope that the Pesach celebration serves as an occasion for all of us to remember that, though the price may sometimes be painfully high, our ultimate goal as just and moral human beings must be freedom. So please join with me in saying, as all Jews do at this time of year, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

Just Because Music: The Maccabeats’ “Dayenu”

Dayenu is a traditional Passover song that’s more than 1,000 years old.  It’s one of those songs that, like The Old Lady Who Swallowed The Fly, keeps having longer and longer verses. In the case of Dayenu, the ever-lengthening verses add up God’s Passover miracles. After every verse comes the chorus: “Dayenu” — “it [that miracle or those miracles]” would have been enough. If you don’t know Hebrew, though, the song can get really bogged down. Alternatively, you can hand the task of singing it over to the Maccabeats:

[VIDEO] Why are Jews still voting for Democrats?

Kippah for ObamaProbably the question asked of me most frequently, both on my blog and by conservatives here in the Bay Area, is “Why do Jews keep voting for Democrats, when Democrats are increasingly hostile to Jews and Israel?” There are two answers. The first is the one grounded in history, the one that saw naive Jews thinking that the uniting workers of the world would stand side-by-side with Jews against the slights and pogroms and poverty. For far too many Jews, voting Left (and, in America, that means Democrat) is simply an unthinking historic tradition.

The second answer is that Jews in America have supplanted the Torah with the Democrat Party platform.  It’s this second answer that Ben Shapiro expands upon in this excellent video:

[Read more...]

The Bookworm Beat 1/19/15 — abbreviated version and Open Thread

Woman writingAt a lawyer level, this has been a somewhat frustrating day, with me struggling to fit my facts (always true and honest ones) to the law (which sometimes refuses to cooperate), capped by a power outage that lost me an hour of time. Add to that the usual cries for attention from family, and I’m feeling a little . . . ummm, stressed. Still, I have stuff I want to share with you, so let me whip through it:

Chilling look into the near future at what the next school attack might look like

Mike McDaniel, who blogs at Stately McDaniel Manor, has looked at past school shootings, both at home and abroad, and come up with a possible scenario for the next assault on an American school. I don’t doubt that he’s accurately predicting a possible American future unless we take steps now to head it off.

[Read more...]

A video and a cartoon that succinctly describe jihad’s twin attacks on Free Speech and on Jews

[The video may take a few seconds to load.]

Jews killed over freedom of existence

And as an added bonus, a quotation from Richard Fernandez:

The two suspects cornered in a building are sending a message with their unyielding violence that the political establishment has failed to understand. Multiculturalism is dead. Not because the Europeans have rejected it, but because the Muslims have. A friend of mine asked “is this all our mighty civilization has come to? Candles, flowers and hashtags?”

“For some,” I answered, “that would be bingo, bingo and bingo.”

Apropos the video, I found it through a young Marine friend of mine — not Jewish — who now subscribes to all sorts of Israel lists as he tries to rally his friends to the cause of liberty. Two years ago, he wouldn’t have cared. Now he does. That’s one more person the side of angels.

Some of America’s ugliest antisemitism comes from young Hollywood Jews (language warning)

James Franco Comedy Central RoastI recently found myself watching 2013’s “Comedy Central Roast of James Franco.” It was a deeply disturbing experience.

The last time I watched a roast was sometime in the 1970s. My father loved those old Dean Martin celebrity roasts.  They were intended to be PG, which meant that the insults were pretty gentle and none were obscene. The celebrities were ribbed about such things as peculiar mannerisms, spending habits, silly clothes, and G-Rated womanizing.

Racism or crude sexual uniform were never part of these roasts.  Instead, the roasts relied on the same ecumenical comedy that characterized most of television from I Love Lucy through to the Archie Bunker sea-change in the early 1970s: the humor was intended to apply in some way to all Americans. Even ethnic humor — Jewish or African-American or Asian — was homogenized and made into universal truisms about human nature.

The James Franco roast was something altogether different. For one thing, it was incredibly obscene (which is pretty much to be expected of anything shown on premium cable channels). Practically every other word seemed to be an expletive related to scatology or sex. As for the sexual references, in the first 30 minutes (after which I felt so slimed I checked out), all were directed at Franco’s allegedly homosexual habits. (Film clips show Franco enthusiastically french-kissing men; Wikipedia indicates that his private life is heterosexual.) You can see examples here, here, here, and here.

To the extent that these comments about homosexuality were all meant to insult Franco, it surprised me a lot that the roast wasn’t roundly castigated as homophobic. It was after all the adult version of that middle school insult “You’re gay!” That statement, of course, is deemed “bullying” and “homophobic” and apt to get the youthful transgressor who hurled such an insult instantly incarcerated in the Dan Savage Re-education Academy.

Admittedly, this kind of crude sexual joking is a staple in films (leaving one to wonder why Leftists are always “shocked! shocked!” when it shows up in schools).  What isn’t a film staple, however, is the oozing, rank antisemitism the roasters displayed. It’s important to understand the context for these jokes: most of the people on the stage, and most (although not all) of the people making these antisemitic jokes, are Jewish. Franco himself is Jewish, but so are Sarah Silverman, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Andy Samberg, and Nick Kroll, among others.

Of course, Jews have always been famous for aiming jokes at themselves. Just as Yiddish is a language awash in unique words describing the human condition, so too are Jewish jokes heavy on describing the various types you’ll find in closely confined communities, whether in the shtetl or the ghetto.

A few things characterize the classic Jewish jokes. First, as originally told, they were by Jews, about Jews, and for Jews. Second, they have a gentle quality. They recognize the humanity of their subjects, even if the subject is the over-selling matchmaker, the con artist, or the loser. Third — and this flows directly from the humanity in the jokes — is that many of them have an underlying admiration for the man who can make money despite crippling prejudice; the matchmaker who never loses faith in the importance of the covenant between man and woman; the con man who lives on his wits, rather than being a crude, strong-arm crook; and the nebbish, who is, in so many ways, every man.

To illustrate my point, here are just a few jokes from that marvelous compendium, Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish:

The pedestrian said to the schnorrer (“an impudent indigent,” among other meanings): “Give you a nickel? Why? Why don’t you go to work? You’ve got the arms and legs of a horse!”

“Ha!” cried the schnorrer. “For one lousy nickel, am I supposed to cut off my limbs?”

***

A nebech (or nebbish, the everyman who makes his own misery) pulled into a parking place on a busy street in Tel Aviv. Along came a policeman.

“Is it all right to park here?” asked the nebech.

“No,” said the cop.

No? But look at all those other parked cars! How come?”

“They didn’t ask.”

***

And the nebech’s partner in crime, the shlemiel; or, as the saying goes, “A shlemiel is always knocking things off a table; the nebech always picks them up.”

A shlemiel came to his rabbi, distraught. “Rabbi, you’ve got to advise me. Every year my wife brings forth a baby. I have nine children already, and barely enough money to feed them — Rabbi, what can I do?”

The sage thought not a moment. “Do nothing.”

***

The shadchen (matchmaker) was impressing the young man with the boundless virtues of a female, and ended: “And to look at, she’s a regular picture.”

The young man could not wait for his blind date.

But when he accosted the shadchen the next day, his voice was frosty: “Her eyes are crossed, her nose is crooked, and when she smiles one side of her mouth goes down….”

“Just a minute,” interrupted the shadchen. “Is it my fault you don’t like Picasso?”

Those Jewish jokes — told by Jews and about Jews — are not vicious. They speak to universal archetypes, and they do so with fondness, even love. Contrast them with just a few of the jokes told at the James Franco roast, one that saw Hollywood Jews perform for all of America. I’ve copied these jokes verbatim from sites celebrating how “funny” they are, so my apologies for their awful language and crude antisemitism:

King of Hollywood: [about The Guilt Trip] Listen, if I wanted to watch two ugly Jews weaving through traffic, I’d watch Seinfeld’s web series.

***

Nick Kroll: Many of you might not know that Seth has a writing and directing partner named Evan Goldberg. What does this other guy look like that you’re the face of the operation? I assume he’s like a sweaty Orthodox Jew eating a pastrami sandwich, and he said [scrunching up his face and using a thick Yiddish accent] “I did nine dick jokes on page four, and I was thinking that the guys are friends, and then they’re not friends, and at the end of the movie, they’re friends again.”

***

Sarah Silverman: I can’t tell if this is the dais or the line to suck Judd Apatow’s balls. This dais is so Jewey. What is this, the Comedy Central audit of James Franco?

***

Sarah Silverman: Jonah is such a Jewy dick, you have to watch his movies through a hole in a sheet.

***

Nick Kroll: “James Franco is truly our generation’s James Dean. So handsome that you forget he’s only been in two good movies. Dean, of course, died at the tender age of 24 sparing himself the embarrassment of writing self-indulgent short stories and getting roasted by a bunch of jealous Jew monsters.

***

Nick Kroll: “Seth Rogen is so Jewish.”
Crowd: “How Jewish is he?”
Nick Kroll: “Seth Rogen is so f***ing Jewish… Anyway, it’s great to be here.”

These awful “jokes” are just the ones that internet publications deemed amongst the funniest things the assembled “comedians” said. There were more, and they were all in the same vein, saying horrible things about Jews. None of them gently laugh at the human condition. None offer insight into human foibles or human decency. All play into the most vile stereotypes about Jews: Jews are ugly, Jews sweat and stink, Jews are obsessed with sex, Jews are eaten by jealousy, and Jews are simply “f***ing.”

These jokes are a primer in self-loathing.  They perfectly reflect the Stockholm Syndrome that has overtaken America’s Progressives Jews.  These young Jews — who are amongst the most recognizable people in America, and have become power brokers in Hollywood — have internalized all of the worst stereotypes about Jews.  They believe this of themselves.

Moreover, as is often the case with people who perceive themselves as defective, they’re trying desperately to be the first to insult themselves, relieving the “normal” person with nothing left to say.  (Sarah Silverman’s stories of her horrific childhood bear out this theory about beating yourself first, before someone else does it.)

This technique is useful insofar as it means that you — the “defective” one — don’t have to hear someone else say something loathsome about you.  It fails utterly, however, when it comes to defusing or destroying the prejudice and hatred.  Those are still out there, hanging in the air, only you’ve become your own executioner.  The hater, by leading you to internalize the hate and then voice your self-hatred, has made you complicit in your own destruction.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I felt slimed listening to the grotesque, obscene, scatological, salacious and antisemitic effluvia that flowed from these young “entertainers.”  I was also deeply, deeply saddened.  This is where 50 years of the Leftists’ grand march through American culture has left us.  Jews once thought they were special.  They were God’s chosen people and the people of the Book, bringing justice and morality to the world.  They may have been in the ghetto, but they were not of the ghetto.

Today, America’s most fortunate young Jews lack this cultural confidence.  They find themselves disgusting.  They ‘re not just of the ghetto.  They are the miserable filth lying in the ghetto’s gutters. To cleanse themselves of that stain, they commit ritual seppuku on TV and movie screens across America and across the world.

(NOTE:  I know that some of these Jews, such as Sarah Silverman and Seth Rogen, support Israel, and for that I am grateful.  Having said that, you don’t support the pro-Israel cause by constantly demeaning and stereotyping the Jewish people.)

 

Comparing and contrasting immigration and assimilation in the Middle East

Let me preface this by saying that I have a super-smart, really well-informed cousin.  He’s the one who used to be a prison chaplain and, based upon that experience, came up with a profound insight that I use over and over (most recently regarding the terrible beheading murder in Oklahoma):

It is not a contradiction to be a Muslim and a murderer, even a mass murderer. That is one reason why criminals “convert” to Islam in prison. They don’t convert at all; they similarly [sic] remain the angry judgmental vicious beings they always have been. They simply add “religious” diatribes to their personal invective. Islam does not inspire a crisis of conscience, just inspirations to outrage.

My cousin was brilliant all over again this morning, when I posted on my Facebook page an image showing that, while everyone focuses on the small number of Palestinians who refused to assimilate into Israel, the world ignores the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were ethnically cleansed from Arab and Muslim nations from 1948 onward:

The real displaced people of the Middle East

Here’s my cousin’s incredibly erudite, off-the-cuff comment about immigration and assimilation in the Middle East:

The main difference between Israel and the Arabs is a question of humanity toward refugees. Israel was in dire poverty in the era of Mizrachi (i.e., Sephardic immigration from 1948-57). No UN relief money was given to Israel to assimilate 900,000 Mizrachi refugees, who arrived with no money, and no possessions, but with plenty of medical problems (especially eye infections).

The existing Ashkenazi leadership in Israel was horrified by the Mizrachi refugees’ medical problems, lack of language skills( a specially bad problem with Yemenite refugees), and domestic violence. Impoverished Israel first settled the Mizrachi refugees in tent camps, then in hastily constructed settlements on the frontiers.

Within three generations, the results of assimilation are overwhelmingly obvious. Israeli is a homogeneous country, bound by a single Israeli culture and is one of the most educationally and economically successfully nations in the world.

The exact reverse happened with the Palestinians. They have been afforded UNRWA refugee status for 66 years. This contrasts with the UN’s behavior to all other refugees after WWII, who were only given refugee status for 5 years. The Arabs’ recurrent wars against Israel are partially facilitated by UNRWA, especially insofar as it provides safe houses for terrorists and their weapons and produces “educational” curriculum that features genocidal, virulent hatred of Jews.

The Palestinian refugees, rather than making their way to a new, safe land, retreated 10 to 20 miles at most from the homes they abandoned. This contrasts with the thousands of miles that the Mizrachi Jews had to traverse to find safety.

The Arabs have waged an anti-Israel propaganda war based upon the continued existence of these UNRWA supported Palestinian “refugees.” Because of their peculiar status, one that encourages them to think of themselves as perpetual victims and displaced people, the Palestinians have been their own worst enemy. A good example is the fact that Kuwait expelled 400,000 Palestinians after Yassir Arafat openly supported Saddam Hussein’s war on Kuwait. (An act that provides that another good example of Arab/Muslim support for ethnic cleansing!)

Please say Shema for Israel at 7 P.M. Israel Time

Israeli soldier prayingThere is a project afoot for Jews all over the world to say the Shema for Israel at 7:00 p.m. Israel Time.  (That would be Noon on the East Coast and 9 a.m. here in California.)  The idea is that this most powerful prayer, if said by Jews all over world at the same time, will have an effect:

Sh’ma Yis’ra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad. Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. In an undertone:

Barukh sheim k’vod malkhuto l’olam va’ed. Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.

V’ahav’ta eit Adonai Elohekha b’khol l’vav’kha uv’khol naf’sh’kha uv’khol m’odekha. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

V’hayu had’varim ha’eileh asher anokhi m’tzav’kha hayom al l’vavekha. And these words that I command you today shall be in your heart.

V’shinan’tam l’vanekha v’dibar’ta bam And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them

b’shiv’t’kha b’veitekha uv’lekh’t’kha vaderekh uv’shakh’b’kha uv’kumekha when you sit at home, and when you walk along the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.

Uk’shar’tam l’ot al yadekha v’hayu l’totafot bein einekha. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes.

Ukh’tav’tam al m’zuzot beitekha uvish’arekha. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

V’hayah im shamo’a tish’m’u el mitz’votai And it shall come to pass if you surely listen to the commandments

asher anokhi m’tzaveh et’khem hayom that I command you today

l’ahavah et Adonai Eloheikhem ul’av’do b’khol l’vav’khem uv’khol naf’sh’khem to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul,

V’natati m’tar ar’tz’khem b’ito yoreh umal’kosh v’asaf’ta d’ganekha v’tirosh’kha v’yitz’harekha. That I will give rain to your land, the early and the late rains, that you may gather in your grain, your wine and your oil.

V’natati eisev b’sad’kha liv’hem’tekha v’akhal’ta v’sava’ta. And I will give grass in your fields for your cattle and you will eat and you will be satisfied.

Hisham’ru lakhem pen yif’teh l’vav’khem v’sar’tem va’avad’tem Elohim acheirim v’hish’tachavitem lahem Beware, lest your heart be deceived and you turn and serve other gods and worship them.

V’charah af Adonai bakhem v’atzar et hashamayim v’lo yih’yeh matar v’ha’adamah lo titein et y’vulah And anger of the Lord will blaze against you, and he will close the heavens and there will not be rain, and the earth will not give you its fullness,

va’avad’tem m’heirah mei’al ha’aretz hatovah asher Adonai notein lakhem. and you will perish quickly from the good land that the Lord gives you.

V’sam’tem et d’varai eileh al l’vav’khem v’al naf’sh’khemuk’shar’tem otam l’ot al yed’khem v’hayu l’totafot bein eineikhem. So you shall put these, my words, on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them for signs on your hands, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes.

V’limad’tem otam et b’neikhem l’dabeir bam And you shall teach them to your children, and you shall speak of them

b’shiv’t’kha b’veitekha uv’lekh’t’kha vaderekh uv’shakh’b’kha uv’kumekha when you sit at home, and when you walk along the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.

Ukh’tav’tam al m’zuzot beitekha uvish’arekha. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

L’ma’an yirbu y’maychem vi-y’may v’naychem al ha-adamahasher nishba Adonai la-avotaychem latayt lahem ki-y’may ha-shamayim al ha-aretz. In order to prolong your days and the days of your children on the land that the Lord promised your fathers that he would give them, as long as the days that the heavens are over the earth.

Vayo’mer Adonai el mosheh lei’mor And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying…

Dabeir el b’nei Yis’ra’eil v’amar’ta aleihem Speak to the children of Israel and say to them

v’asu lahem tzitzit al kan’fei vig’deihem l’dorotam v’nat’nu al tzitzit hakanaf p’til t’kheilet they should make themselves tzitzit (fringes) on the corners of their clothing throughout their generations, and give the tzitzit of each corner a thread of blue.

V’hayah lakhem l’tzitzit ur’item oto uz’khar’tem et kol mitz’vot Adonai va’asitem otam v’lo taturu acharei l’vav’khem v’acharei eineikhem asher atem zonim achareihem And they shall be tzitzit for you, and when you look at them you will remember all of the Lord’s commandments and do them and not follow after your heart and after your eyes which lead you astray.

L’ma’an tiz’k’ru va’asitem et kol mitz’votai viyitem k’doshim lei’loheikhem In order to remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God.

Ani Adonai Eloheikhem 
asher hotzei’ti et’khem mei’eretz Mitz’rayim lih’yot lakhhem leilohim
Ani Adonai Eloheikhem
I am the Lord, your God
who lead you from the land of Egypt to be a God to you.
I am the Lord, your God.

(If my short notice means you missed the deadline, please say the shema anyway, at any time. It can’t hurt.)

Israeli folk dances and Chinese culture

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERABack in the early/mid 1970s, I, like every good American Jew, did Israeli folk dancing.  Our family was very serious about it, so much so that we’d usually attend the annual get-t0gethers in San Luis Obispo at which the top Israeli choreographers would introduce their new dances for the year.

At one of the annual events, a choreographer introduced a new dance called “Li Lach.”  I loved it because it was a bright, energetic dance that periodically broke out into a polka.  I am a big fan of polkas and waltzes and, back in the day, could do them pretty darn well.  Li Lach was also fun because the chorus was the word “why” repeated over and over again, which meant that the dancers would swing joyously around the dance floor, polkaing and hollering out “why, why, why!” at the top of their lungs.

Fast forward forty-odd years:  I’ve made a playlist on Spotify that has hundreds of my favorite songs (many of which I share here on “just because music” posts).  These songs span decades, genres, and countries.  After I added Bashana Haba’ah to my playlist, it occurred to me to search out Li Lach.  I couldn’t find it on Spotify, so I turned to YouTube.

Sure enough, there on YouTube was the song Li Lach.  Unfortunately, it’s not a straight out recording but is, instead, the background music part for a video showing amateur Israeli folk dancers in a big gym.  (If anyone can find a straight recording, I’d sure appreciate that.)  For some reason, too, the recording is speeded up, so it makes the whole thing sound like an Alvin and the Chipmunks version of the song.

Despite its failings, I found the video fascinating for two reasons.  First, the choreography hasn’t changed in forty years.  And second, it’s a Chinese group doing the dancing.  That made me laugh until, with perfect timing, I read in PJ Media that the Chinese are fascinated (in a good way) by Jews and Judaism . . . so maybe it’s not so funny after all:

Over the past couple of decades the Chinese have become more interested in the Jews.  Of late the Chinese regime has been bringing Jewish scholars and theologians to the People’s Republic to discuss Torah, Talmud, Mishnah and even some of the more mystical tracts.

Read Michael Ledeen’s whole post to see his intriguing theory about this new love affair.

The need for loud, swift action in response to John Kerry’s libelous statements about Israel

Yom Hashoah 2Today is Yom Hashoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day — a day on which Jews and all civilized people around the globe commemorate the 6 million who died at the hands of virulent antisemites. Israel takes this day very seriously.

For those unclear on the whole Israel concept (Obama, Kerry, and State Department, I’m speaking to you), Israel is the only liberal democracy within the Middle East. It’s the only nation in that region that allows all people to worship freely, that accords full rights to women, and that protects all minorities, including sexual and racial minorities, from discrimination, even while extending to them the full panoply of available civil rights. When its neighbors kicked out around 1,000,000 Jews in the years after 1948 in order to make their nations judenrein, Israel took in every single one of those refugees (distinguishing itself from the surrounding Arab nations who refused to take in the tens of thousands of Arabs who fled Israel after the UN recognized its statehood).

Showing what a crude bastard he is (which is separate from his being a stupid, malevolent, narcissistic gold digger), John Kerry chose Yom Hashoah as the day on which to announce that Israel is on the verge of becoming an apartheid state. This is is the same John Kerry, of course, who has been repeatedly stating that it’s all Israel’s fault that his misbegotten peace talks failed, never mind the fact that Palestinians demanded concessions before negotiations began, refused to give up anything, refused to negotiate, continued to celebrate mass murderers, and recently allied themselves with a terrorist group.

This is also the same John Kerry who appears incapable of realizing that the only reason that the Palestinian territories, Gaza, and the surrounding Arab nations aren’t apartheid nations is because they skipped the whole “discriminating against minorities” part.  Instead, they simply slaughtered or expelled their Jews and are now working towards the same end with their Christians.

John Kerry has gone from being merely a pathetic buffoon to becoming a grave national embarrassment, at least from the viewpoint of ordinary Americans who value freedom and recognize Israel as a light unto nations, especially situated as it is in the heart of the globe’s darkness.  Sadly, the only thing keeping Kerry in office is the fact that the Democrat Party power structure, from the President on down, wholeheartedly (and with increasing openness) agrees with Kerry’s sentiments.

Although Obama et al are becoming less coy about their old-fashioned, virulent antisemitism, they are not entirely immune to public pressure, provided that enough of the public puts pressure on them.  We are the public and it’s time for us to raise our voices.  The Emergency Committee for Israel has issued a good statement to that point:

On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry raised the specter of Israel as an “apartheid state.” Even Barack Obama condemned the use of this term when running for president in 2008.

Yet this was no gaffe. Secretary Kerry’s musings on the Jewish state’s dire future have become a regular feature of his public remarks. His latest prediction follows other statements in recent months that have in effect threatened Israel — never the Palestinians — with a list of disasters should his diplomatic efforts fail: violence, isolation, delegitimization, boycotts — and now “apartheid.”

It is no longer enough for the White House to clean up after the messes John Kerry has made. It is time for John Kerry to step down as Secretary of State, or for President Obama to fire him. And it would go a long way toward repairing the damage Kerry has done if his predecessor as Secretary of State, who is the likely Democratic Party nominee for president, explained why this kind of rhetoric had no place in her State Department and why it will have no place in her presidential campaign.

If you would like to see John Kerry forcibly retired, call (202) 647-4000.

UPDATE:  This seems like an appropriate place for Dennis Prager’s video about the Middle East conflict: