HaRav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, zt”zl

I had never been introduced to the teachings of “The RAV” …..Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook zt”zl until we made aliyah. Through Divine Providence, he and his teachings came into our lives and forever changed the way we view Eretz HaKodesh and our beloved Jewish nation. Please enjoy this extraordinary biography of the Rav, so you too may catch a glimpse of one of the greatest Rav’s of the 20th century.

 

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The Glorious State of Israel: State of Mind: State of Being

The Glorious State of Israel: State of Mind: State of Being

ChaimWeizmann“A state is not handed to a nation on a silver platter.”
Dr. Chaim Weizmann, first president of the State of Israel.

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

From the darkness appeared a young girl and a young boy, and slowly they stepped to face their nation.

Their fatigue had no limit; they had known no rest, and drenched in the dew of a Hebrew youth,

Silently they approached, and stood quite still,

And nobody could tell, if they were living or had been shot to death.


Then the nation spoke, choked by tears and by wonder and asked;

Who are you? And the two quietly answered her:

We are the silver platter on which you were given the State of the Jews!


So they spoke, veiled in shadow, and at her feet they fell,

And the rest will be told in the Saga of Israel.

Excerpt from “The Silver Platter” by Israeli Poet, Natan Alterman

 

Israelisborn

Uzi Narkiss wrote in the book, “Lionhearts, Heroes of Israel,” that when Natan Alterman published this poem on Dec. 19, 1947, he had no idea how costly the “Silver Platter” would be. In fact, on November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted on the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab independent state. Immediately afterwards Jamal Al-Husseini declared, in the name of the supreme Arab committee, that “what was written in ink will be erased by blood in Palestine.”

The first drops of blood were spilled the following day, when Arabs ambushed a Jewish bus, killing and wounding the passengers. In the long, bitter war that claimed so many victims, fought by so few people with such limited resources, the small Jewish community in Israel was offered a choice: a historic opportunity, coupled with the terrible danger to its very survival: to become an independent nation, or to be annihilated. They chose the former. The outcome of the war proved beyond a shadow of a doubt the courage of the Jewish fighting men and women through their daring, self-sacrifice and enormous integrity. They turned out to be the country’s most valuable weapon.

Again and again, on all fronts, Alterman’s young boys and girls proved by risking their lives, by rushing into battle courageously against an enemy with superior power and equipment, that they could win the war and bring about the renewal of Jewish sovereignty after 2000 years and especially after the Holocaust of Europe’s Jews.

The War of Independence ended in the spring of 1949. However, the Arab agenda to spill the blood of the Jew has never changed. And even today, our Jewish youth, along with every Jew that resides in the land, has become the silver platter upon which we are given the state of the Jews–the Land of Israel. Our lives are still the offering served on the silver platter, as our enemies perpetrate their evil crimes against our beloved nation.

However, living amongst our treasured people, we feel the power, might and resilience of our most valuable weapon and it makes us strong. Only here in the Land of Israel, do we comprehend the truth, that we are fulfilling a mission chosen for us by our destiny—by our Divine Calling. We are so confident in the direction our lives are taking, that we are willing to sacrifice, in order to strengthen and forge a stronger link in the chain of Jewish nationhood and history. By returning home, we have reclaimed our Divine inner spark, dormant for so long, as we choose to lead our new lives out of faith in G-d and His ideal for His nation. We have immersed ourselves in the current of Jewish history and are being transformed in the process.

julyaliyahAnd thus we become the POLISHED SILVER PLATTER, strengthened by 67 years of hard work and restoration. We have become the new team of Jewish immigrants who work alongside their native-born brethren to restore the glorious State of Israel and the Jewish nation to its true glory through our state of mind and our state of being and our state of readiness to protect and serve. What could be more real, rewarding, more sacred or more Jewish? Nothing that I can think of!

With Blessings of love and light, Ariella Bracha

Yom Yerushalayim: the Six Day War

6-daywar

Yom Yerushalayim: the Six Day War

G-d’s Miraculous Intervention on a Scale of Epic Magnitude

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

On Saturday night May 16th, the 28th of the Hebrew month of Iyar, we begin the commemoration of the mind blowing, national holiday called Yom Yerushalayim or Jerusalem Day. This day, etched in the heart and soul of Jews around the globe is considered to be a day filled with God’s divine, miraculous intervention on a scale of epic magnitude. It is the day in which we celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem.

sixdaywarliberationFor the first time in over 2000 years, the holy city of Jerusalem came under the sovereign authority of God’s chosen people, following the capture of the Old City by our Israeli forces.  This happened on June 7th, 1967 in the year 5727 of the Hebrew calendar during what was called the Six Day War due to the length of time the battle lasted. The fact is that the war had been won in the first two hours of the morning, when our Air Force destroyed the Arab air forces in six countries of the Middle East: Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq.

Three weeks prior to the outbreak of the war no one in the world could have imagined that the Jewish nation would soon return to the Temple Mount, to the Old City and to its devastated but sacred sites. In the six days of the war, we liberated the ancient cities of our Holy Bible. Within hours of the opening of the war radio Kol Yisrael (voice of Israel) announced the names of the cities which had been liberated by the gallant, holy soldiers of Tzahal: Beit Lechem, Yericho, Shechem, and then Hevron, the city of our forefathers. The war started on a Monday and by Shabbat the sixth and last day of the war, the children of Israel stood on the Golan Heights in the North, at the Suez Canal in the South, and in the holy city of Jerusalem in the center of the land. The state of Israel was now three times larger on the Shabbat than it had been on the previous Monday morning.

Below is from commentary on the Six-Day War found in the Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim Krengel Family World Mizrachi prayer book.

In 1967 Gen. Nasser of Egypt evicted the United Nations forces from the Suez Canal, which served then as the border between Israel and Egypt. He launched his infamous threat to ‘hurl the Jews into the sea.’ In retrospect this threat seems cartoonish, but when it was announced it was extremely intimidating and frightening. The 19 intervening years between 1948 in 1967 were not robust years of growth and expansion, but stark years of economic austerity and diplomatic isolation. Forced to wage continuing battles against our Arab neighbors we were almost constantly in a state of war.

During the period preceding the war women and children were dispatched to safe havens in Europe and the United States to place them out of harm’s way. For weeks on end children attending school simply recited Psalms for a few hours and then returned home. Test projects and curriculum seemed pointless. Much of the political and military planning was couched in terms of absorbing significant and inevitable casualties but hopefully, under optimal conditions, being able to conserve a remnant of the state of Israel. As the well-known gallows humor went, the last person to leave the country was instructed to shut off the lights in the Ben-Gurion airport.

Suddenly the miraculous occurred: people exited basements after the first night of battle to hear that the Egyptian Air Force had been eliminated. Most homes or buildings did not even have bomb shelters, rendering the inhabitants exposed to the predicted Egyptian strafing. For weeks Israel had begged King Hussein of Jordan to stay out of the war; we had no grievance with him as we battled the Egyptians to the south and the Syrians to the north. Astonishingly he was duped into joining the war by a false telegram sent by Gen. Nasser. As the latter’s tank divisions were being surrounded in the Sinai desert he conveyed a message to the monarch of Jordan that Egyptian divisions were marching on Ashdod and he was invited to join and take his share in the ultimate spoils of victory.

Beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, within days we were strolling the streets of Jerusalem, as we had returned to the biblical home land of Israel the land in which our forefathers crafted Jewish history. The return to these lands was completely unexpected, and planned for and a secondary consequence of Jordan’s entry into the war.

This salvation from the dastardly designs of our enemies was a wondrous manifestation of God’s divine intervention rendering these events Messianic in scope. Events of this magnitude aren’t purposeless—they augur future redemption! Witnessing miracles on this scale reassures us that we will behold and benefit from the future providence of HaKadosh Barukh Hu.

6-daywarkotela

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohein Kook, in his book Mo’Adei Ha Re’Iyah states, “Our ancient oath was and is for the sake of Jerusalem: If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill.” (Psalms 137:5.) Twice each year, a voice accompanies us in the majesty of this hope: “the holy eve of the Passover holiday, and at the conclusion of the holiest day of the Jewish year: Yom Kippur. This is the voice of the nation’s soul, as it calls out from the depths of its yearnings and anticipated longing: Next year in Jerusalem!” According to HaRav Kook, Jerusalem symbolizes our lofty vision for holiness and spiritual greatness. The herald of Jerusalem, speaks for our return to holiness, so that we may fulfill our national destiny as a kingdom of priests and holy nations (Exodus 19:6).  Our prayers are directed towards Jerusalem, which our forefather Yaakov recognized as the “gateway to Heaven.” Over the millennia, Jews have faced the holy city of Jerusalem for all their prayers. Directing our prayers towards Jerusalem, whose name means the city of peace reminds us that our aspirations should be that Jerusalem become the focal point from which God’s prophetic message emanates to the world, as it says, “for the Torah shall come forth from Zion, and God’s word from Jerusalem”(Isaiah 2;3). HaRav Kook teaches that the name Jerusalem indicates the city’s function as a spiritual center for the entire world, influencing the nations of the world. “Jerusalem is the means by which Israel’s spirit of holiness penetrates and uplifts the inner life of distant peoples.” Its significance to the Jewish nation is both physical and spiritual and cannot be underestimated.

Jerusalem is the heart of the state of Israel… a nation that for 2 ½ thousand years faithfully kept the oath sworn by the exiles on the banks of the rivers of Babylon not to forget Jerusalem. David Ben-Gurion, in a speech in the Knesset in 1950 stated, “This nation will never accept the separation of Jerusalem.” Even when Jerusalem had lain desolate and unpopulated, Jews have always recognized it as the spiritual epicenter of Jewish history and knew that it would one day regain its previous lofty status. In fact, Jewish hearts and imaginations always remained loyal to our “Great City” and believed in its inevitable revival.

Jerusalem Day is a public holiday in Israel and thus many Jewish businesses may be closed or offer limited services so they can participate in the special events of the day. The day is marked with a wide range of events including the recitation in the synagogues of the prayer of praise and thanksgiving called Hallel. There are also street parades, barbecues, singing and dancing and lectures on the topic of Jewish history. There are state ceremonies but most importantly are the memorial services to commemorate those heroic men and women who died in the Six-Day War, so that we might build up our nation in our ancient G-d-given homeland.

As we reach Yom Yerushalayim, may we once again spend time in praise and thankfulness for G-ds divine and miraculous intervention every day of our lives. May we reflect upon the miracles he wrought on the 28th of Iyar, 1967 and also this summer in Protective Edge and throughout our long and valiant history. May we be mindful of all that He does for His nation in His beloved Holy Land. May we strive mightily to merit Moshiach and the Third Beit HaMikdash, speedily and in our days. May He send healing to all those in need during this month of healing. May we pray with all of our might for the safety of our nation and our Homeland as so many modern day forces attempt to bring about our downfall. May G-ds mercy be ever present with us. Amen.

With Blessings of love and light, Ariella Bracha

 

Yom HaShoah, Pesach and Aliyah, in the Words of Rabbi Nachman Kahana

I want to share these powerful words of Torah and reflection on Yom HaShoah, Pesach and the immediate need for aliyah from HaRav Nachman Kahana. They were written yesterday, but still a very timely and important message.

 

BS”D  Parashat Tazria-Metzora 5775

A: Yom HaShoah Ve’hagvura

Tomorrow on the 27th of Nisan, we will commemorate collectively and on the national level the 20th century Shoah in Europe. New investigations have proven that the number 6 million is inaccurate, with the true figure closer to 7.5 million Jews who were murdered or died in the Shoah.

The people of my generation born in the 1920s and 30s bear witness not to one Shoah but to two, both emanating from the two faces of Aisav – the brother of Ya’akov and also his enemy – as appears from Ya’akov’s prayer to HaShem prior to meeting Aisav (Beraishiet 32,11):

 הצילני נא מיד אחי מיד עשו כי ירא אנכי אתו פן יבוא והכני אם על בנים:

Save me from the hand of my brother from the hand of Aisav

Aisav the deadly archer (27,3):

ועתה שא נא כליך תליך וקשתך וצא השדה וצודה לי צידה ציד:

Now, take your implements—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt wild game for me

And the kiss of death of Aisav the “brother” (33,4):

 וירץ עשו לקראתו ויחבקהו ויפל על צוארו וישקהו ויבכו:

But Aisav ran to meet Ya’akov and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him.

Aisav the hunter exerted his maximum efforts in filling his lust for his brother Ya’akov’s blood in the thousands of death camps spread over the length and breadth of Europe. And when Ya’akov was defeated, the Jewish people scarred and maimed counted our losses, with the confidence that HaShem would never permit another Shoah to befall His people. But we were wrong.

The Shoah of Aisav the archer lasted for 6 years and ceased with the allied victory in Europe. However, the Shoah of the smiling Aisav continues to this day, gaining momentum in the land of Aisav the brother. It is the Shoah of assimilation through intermarriage by many and the rejection of the Torah and our status as HaShem’s chosen people by others.

The Second World War ended with the Jewish population of the United States numbering approximately 6 million Jews. Today, after 70 years, the number has dwindled to under 5 million with a 70% intermarriage rate. According to the normal rate of population increase, the Jews of the USA should be now in the 30 millions. So the Shoah of America, the smiling Aisav, has severed from our nation many more than the Shoah of Hitler.

The way to survival from both Shoahs is similar – to escape the goyim and return to Eretz Yisrael. Those who did so in the 1930s lived; the others perished. Today, those who do so will live to see their Jewish children and grandchildren. Those who remain in the galut will find it difficult to have a child who can say Kaddish over them.

 

B:   Chag haPessach has passed. But despite any and all pre-holiday planning, every Jewish home will invariably have to contend with a handsome supply of residual matzot and wine, at least until Shevuot. This is obviously pre-planned from Heaven to teach us that the lessons of matzot and wine do not end with putting the Pessach dishes away.

The major lesson that emanates from the matza and wine began at the early dawn of civilization with the episode of Migdal Bavel – the Tower of Babel – in the book of Beraishiet (11,4-8):

(ד) ויאמרו הבה נבנה לנו עיר ומגדל וראשו בשמים ונעשה לנו שם פן נפוץ על פני כל הארץ:

(ה) וירד ה’ לראת את העיר ואת המגדל אשר בנו בני האדם:

(ו) ויאמר ה’ הן עם אחד ושפה אחת לכלם וזה החלם לעשות ועתה לא יבצר מהם כל אשר יזמו לעשות:

(ז) הבה נרדה ונבלה שם שפתם אשר לא ישמעו איש שפת רעהו:

(ח) ויפץ ה’ אתם משם על פני כל הארץ ויחדלו לבנת העיר:

4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; so we will not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.

6 The Lord said, “They are one people speaking the same language which has initiated this, so nothing they plan will be beyond their ability to perform.

7 Come, let us descend and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

8 And the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.

 

The ubiquitous automobile can explain what happened there.

A car has an accelerator and brakes by which the driver controls the speed of the car’s advance.

A society united in thought will also be united in deed and will advance very rapidly in the realization of its goals. On the other hand, dissention within society serves as the “brake” to reduce its advance in accordance with the intensity of the dissention.

The people of Babel, who comprised all of humanity at the time, had established a goal to reach heaven and make war on the Creator. This was the accelerator of society, driving it forcefully forward. HaShem decided to suppress and restrain their “ambitious” goal but with less catastrophic means than the flood of Noach’s time.

HaShem created the “brake’ which would subdue and diminish their aggressive, forward-moving tendencies and eventually terminate their national goal by creating dissention caused by misunderstanding, “so they will not understand each other”.

 

The two major components of the seder are matza and wine. Wine by its very nature infuses one with robustness and often uncontrolled vigor. Matza is essentially the opposite. It is a “brake” produced by holding back the dough’s natural instinct to expand.

The seder is teaching us a great theological-historic lesson. HaShem vigorously began the process of Jewish physical and spiritual emancipation from human bondage to become HaShem’s chosen nation. The ten plagues. The dividing of the sea and revelation at Mount Sinai. That is the wine.

However, for reasons known only to the Almighty, He applied the historical “brake” on the process to slow it down to a pace which would take another 4000 years to reach its climax. That is the matza.

We see these two energies at work in our time. Although there were always Jews who came to Eretz Yisael, like the students of the Vilna Gaon and the Chassidic aliya, the rising wave of nationalism in Europe took hold within many of the Jewish people and created the Zionist movement. It was a vigorous idea.

Enthusiasm grew as the idea of a Jewish State began to permeate many segments of our nation. Enter the “brake” of pessimism, denial and constraint.

Not yet. Wait for the Mashiach. The Zionist movement is not observant. Only God who dispersed us into galut has the “right” to bring us home, etc.

In 1948, when the Medina was established, the hopes and prayers of 2000 years exploded into song and dance. A holiday was declared and Hallel was recited – it was the hand of God. Enter the forces of negation. No Hallel. No holiday. Just one more event in the family of Man. Stay put in the galut. Nothing of any spiritual consequence has occurred. And many who said Hallel in the first year did not do so in subsequent ones.

Enter the Six Day War. “Temple Mount is in our hands,” declared General Motta Gur to his troops. Our joy could not be contained. For the first time in 2000 years, we became the sovereigns of Jerusalem.

The Kotel, Hallel, Jewish military heroes. Come the forces of constraint. It is forbidden to enter the Temple Mount. Leave the holiest place in the world in gentile hands. Don’t build the city of Emanuel, because it will only anger the goyim. Army service is an affront to HaShem. No prayers for the Medina nor for the welfare of the soldiers. Don’t bother to create a formidable military. HaShem will save us. Just learn Torah.

Those who press forward to annex Shomron and Yehuda, to build in the area of E1 connecting Maale Adumin with Yerushalayim, to throw away an idea of a state for the Arabs, to encourage people to ascend the Temple Mount, to destroy the thousands of Arab homes built illegally and to apply the death sentence to terrorists – these and more are the “wine” of our lives.

The negation of these advancements of Am Yisrael along our trek towards national rejuvenation is the “matza” of this generation.

Each point of view serves a purpose. Unrestrained vigor can be catastrophic and even suicidal; indolent, slothful restraint leads one to a life of desolation, blankness, destitution, exhaustion, hollowness, waste and depletion. They both have meaning when mutually challenging.

Each of these opposing forces in our national-religious life has the backing of Torah scholars. So, there are no tzadikim and resha’im here. On the contrary, this is HaShem’s way of regulating the advance of Am Yisrael vis-a-vis the threatening gentile world.

However, I offer my thanks to HaShem for allowing me to be inclined towards the “wine” of our nation, having escaped the negativity of my teachers and rabbis who barely recognized that something had occurred to Am Yisrael in 1948.

In conclusion: At the seder, the matza invokes one bracha whereas the wine invokes five. The lesson is clear.

Shabbat Shalom

Nachman Kahana

Honoring the Life of Miriam HaNavia on the Waters of the Kinneret

Kinnereth - Sea of Galilee (Panorama)

Honoring the Life of Miriam HaNavia on the Waters of the Kinneret

by Miriam Kushner

Imagine this….just picture this….a very beautiful, radiant, and regal 86 year-old courageous woman bursting with emunah and determination leading the daughters of Israel out of slavery…. across the Red Sea with drums and tambourines singing and dancing in praise of HaShem. “She went out and all the women followed her.” Yes, that’s our Miriam. That is why we are having a gathering of Jewish woman from all over Israel on the anniversary of her passing from this world—to honor the life of Miriam HaNavia. This is the Miriam who kept Am Israel going from the time she was a little girl—for 80 years. This is the midwife who saved thousands of male babies and became the midwife of Israel. This is the little girl who loved her baby brother and watched him for seven days on the banks of the Nile River until Batyia, the daughter of Pharaoh, rescued and adopted him against her father’s orders. Her mother Yocheved nursed him. Miriam’s baby brother Moshe grew up to be Moshe Rabbeinu—the teacher and lawgiver and redeemer of Israel, the universal role model for liberation and freedom for all time. Yes, Miriam prophesied that her mother would give birth to the redeemer of Israel when she was six years old, and she was right.

My Hebrew name is Miriam. I never used to like my name. I thought I would have a bitter life because the meaning of Miriam is “bitter waters.” Miriam was born 86 years before liberation. She was born four years before Aaron and six years before Moshe and she was named for the bitter suffering of the Jews in Egypt when the suffering reached its height at her birth. One day I met an American Indian woman named Janet McCloud and she asked me my Hebrew name. I told her I didn’t like my name and she asked why. I told her it meant “bitter waters” and that I didn’t want a bitter life. She exclaimed, “Bitter waters? My, how blessed you are to have the name ‘Miriam.’ Don’t you know it is the bitter waters that heal, not sweet waters?” So then I learned to love my name and to make the name Miriam beautiful through my love for her.

The bitter olive is associated with Miriam whose name comes from mar (bitter) in Hebrew and yam (water), but Miriam also means “mar ram“—to elevate, to make high—so  the bitter olive was pressed into oil. The bitterness was transcended and elevated into olive oil for the Menorah, the Beit HaMikdash, for anointing our kings, lighting Shabbos candles throughout the generations, illuminating our lamps, and for healing. It is also said that singing annuls bitterness, and we all know how Miriam loved to sing and dance.

pic_217There is a legend that the Well of Miriam is located between Kever Rachel (wife of Rabbi Akiva} and Kever Meir Baal HaNess in Tiberias. It is written that Miriam wanted it there so Am Israel will always be blessed with water. Why did she bring it to the Kinneret?  Because the Kinneret is shaped like a kinor—a violin. nasa_sep09Like a musical instrument, the Kinneret talks to you. How? With her ever-changing gorgeous colors and magnificent patterns. The Well accompanied Am Israel again when they crossed the Jordan River to Eretz Israel 40 years later. On 10 Nissan, a year to the date that Miriam passed away, the greatest incentive for crossing the Jordan was the fact that Am Israel already crossed the Red Sea without the well, and now they were crossing the Jordan with the Well. The Jordan River flows into the Kinneret. The Midrash states that Miriam’s well was created on the second day of Creation. It is said that this is the same well that Abraham used and that in the merit of his kindness to the three angels who asked him for water, he received entitlement to Miriam’s Well and had it preserved until it would accompany Am Israel in the desert. It is written that in the time of the Geula (Redemption) the well will be situated under the Beit HaMikdash and will irrigate all of Eretz Israel. Torah is compared to water and is associated with Chesed (kindness) and purity “Mayim Chayim”—living, pure, free flowing waters of life.

p-g11One of the roles of Miriam was to teach and instruct the women. She was the first leader whose mission was to teach the women. She circulated among the women, and by her presence created a holy atmosphere. She instructed them not so much by words but by character–by her actions. When Miriam took the drums they followed her. She didn’t ask them to follow. She went and they followed. Just think about it. It could have been any of us here today: Devorah or Chava Rachel, Tzionna, Joy, Mirele, Debby, Yehudit, Aviva or Joanie, following her into the river bed with Pharoah’s army chasing us with chariots, walls of tumultuous roaring waters piling up on either side. There we were, singing the oldest of all national anthems, “Sing unto HaShem.” All the centuries of bondage in Egypt were lifted. The sound of thundering gushing waters accompanied by drums and tambourines and the beautiful and holy voices of the redeemed women of Israel. She used her great gift of music to elevate her people, to exult over their escape from their enemies, to give them a newly discovered faith and love of HaShem. Miriam knew that it would be easier for “Am Israel” to go through the Red Sea if they danced and sang songs of redemption.

The life of Miriam is a lesson for us all. At the age of six she was already a role model. She helped the Jewish family to continue—to be fruitful and multiply.  She kept Am Israel going. She never gave up hope. She believed in redemption despite adversity. How did she do this?  Her whole life was about uniting the nation. She protected, sustained and nurtured us, just as she protected her baby brother Moshe, and as she worked with her mother as a midwife. She was also called Puah. Her mother was called Shifra. Miriam whispered words of encouragement, prophecy and love to the mothers and babies. She sang to them, cleaned them, embraced and caressed them, gave them hope. Remember that Pharoah issued a decree that the Hebrew wives and husbands must separate, that all baby boys must be killed. But Miriam sent the women out with mirrors to entice their husbands. Her father was the leader of the Jewish people. He separated from his wife. Miriam told him that what he did was worse than Pharoah’s decree because this would mean that baby girls would not be born, and that he was setting a bad example. She told her father he must remarry because his wife will give birth to the future redeemer of Israel, and so he did. The Hebrew midwives did not obey Pharoah’s decrees. Pharoah asked why and Yocheved answered, “Because Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women. They are like animals in birthing.” And little Miriam interjected, “Woe to him who the Lord will Repay.” Miriam at six years old was already the mother of rebellion. She spoke up to Pharoah and made sure that no children were immured.  Miriam is the only woman in the Torah who is called a Prophetess.

Miriam knew that we have to prepare our tambourines…to prepare our redemption. Before we went out of Egypt the women were preparing their drums and tambourines, and baking matzah. “Lechem” (bread) and “machol” (dance) have the same letters. At the same time her mother and Serach, the granddaughter of Jacob, and her brother Moshe were busy searching for the Kever of Yosef in the Nile. They would never leave Egypt without Yosef. Moshe carried the aron of Yosef on his back from the Nile to the Red Sea. Mashiach comes from Miriam. Her father was Amram who was the leader of the Jewish people in Egypt. He was the grandson of Levi, the son of Jacob. Miriam comes from the House of the Kohanim and Kings. She was married to Caleb. Her son was Hur and her grandson was Bezalel who built the Mishkan. What a dynasty! Rebbetzin Tzirra said that the seuda (feast) of Mashiach will be in honor of Miriam because she is the representative of water and the Leviathan is the great fish that we will be privileged to dine on.

So we feel it is time to go to Tiveria and honor Miriam and her Well of Water on her Hillula, on her Yartzeit.  Miriam passed away when she was 126 years old. That is why we have 126 women on the boat on 10 Nissan, 2487, a year to the day when Am Israel crossed the Jordan. Moshe, Aaron and Miriam all left this world within 12 months of each other, each with a kiss from HaShem.

(Miriam lives in Jerusalem and has been arranging the boat trip held in Tiberias for several years)

THE POWER OF ONE: ORCHESTRA OF EXILES

THE POWER OF ONE: ORCHESTRA OF EXILES

By Ariella Bracha Waldinger

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is one of Israel’s oldest and most influential cultural institutions and is the premier symphony orchestra in Israel.  It is also serves as Israel’s premier cultural ambassador, travelling extensively throughout the world, particularly to countries with little or no Jewish presence such as China and Japan. Its beginnings can be traced to the power of one: one man who considered the creation of a Jewish symphony in the Holy Land to be a most worthy endeavor.

branislawThe Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) was originally known as the Palestine Orchestra and was founded in December, 1936 by renowned Polish born, Jewish violinist and musician Bronislaw Huberman.  Bronislaw, born in 1882, was one of the most celebrated violinists of his time. He was a child prodigy, who at the age of 12 played a Brahms violin solo for Brahms, himself. In the 1920’s and 30’s, he toured Europe and was regularly invited to perform in private for Europe’s royal families. When his father, who was his business manager, suddenly passed away, Bronislaw cancelled all his concerts to pursue an education at the Sorbonne in Paris. He emerged from that experience a different man. He returned to his monumental career but with a heightened sensitivity to the realities of the time, especially the Jewish reality.

Bronislaw was a man of enormous talent but more-so a visionary. At a time when classical musicians were renowned and held in great esteem, he took hold of a different vision—a vision for his people in their ancient homeland. Confronted with the world war, anti-Semitism, and the evils of Germany, Bronislaw shifted his imagination and moral fortitude to create a legacy of music and in particular, a symphony orchestra of renown in the Jewish homeland. He transformed from a career driven man to a politically aware musician and humanist.  “One has to build a fist against anti-Semitism…a first class orchestra will be this fist,” he said. The orchestra represented the fulfillment of his dream “to unite the desire of the country with the desire of Jewish musicians for a country.” Leon Botstein, former president of Bard College said, “Bronislaw stepped out in front with all his stardom and fame to show that the threat of Nazism would not destroy the cultural achievement of the Jewish people.”

branislaweinsteinBronislaw was aided and assisted in the formation of the orchestra by many famous Jews including violinist Jacob Surowicz, conductor William Steinberg, Albert Einstein and others. Their help, contacts and resources played a vital role in the creation of the orchestra but it was the clarity of Bronislaw’s dream that drove him when the road became rough.

In 1929, Bronislaw visited Palestine for the first time and like many Jews throughout our history, seemed to be awakened by some mystical calling. He began to develop his vision of establishing classical music in the Promised Land. In 1933, he declined numerous invitations to perform for the Germans and instead wrote a letter to German, Jewish intellectuals inviting them to REMEMBER THEIR ESSENTIAL VALUES. These letters were the beginning process of recruiting leading Jewish musicians, who were no longer allowed to play in orchestras in their respective countries. He spent countless hours trying to persuade these outstanding musicians to immigrate to Israel. Bronislaw had the foresight to realize that far more than a new job was at stake for these artists. In fact, if it hadn’t been for him, dozens of musicians and their families, nearly 1000 people, would have perished.  The various musicians spoke German, Polish, Hungarian, Russian and some spoke Hebrew. What dedication and determination must have presented itself, as these musicians speaking in different languages, set out to create a harmonious symphony through the language of music? One could state that the high point of Branislaw’s achievements must have been the rescue of some of the world’s greatest musicians from Nazi Germany in order to create one of the world’s greatest orchestras.

The first concert took place on December 26th, 1936 in Tel Aviv at the Levant Fair Hall. The symphony was conducted by the great Maestro, Arturo Toscanini. He had refused to perform in Germany to protest the Nazi take-over. He escaped the rise of Fascism in Italy and graciously left his own orchestra in order to “render paternal care to the newly born.”  “I am doing this for humanity,” he said. Can you imagine the joy as the first Jewish Symphony Orchestra sounded its melodious notes and chords in its national, biblical homeland? Can you imagine what it must have felt like to be a Jew in the Holy Land attending a full blown symphony concert of outstanding Jewish musicians? It was called the Orchestra of exiles. I am sure tears fell and hearts swelled and the world looked on as this miraculous undertaking came to fruition—through the Power of One! What pride must have saturated the souls of all the Jews in the Homeland and throughout the world, especially Bronislaw Huberman, considering what was going on in the world at the time?

In the inspiring book titled “The Mystical Power of Music,” by Rabbi Avraham Aryeh Trugman, he writes in the introduction, “Music more than any other medium, has the unique ability to express and mirror the full range of human emotions, consciousness and experience. Nothing captures the particular essence of a specific culture, religion, era or individual better than music. It allows the soul to soar to heavenly heights, giving wings to man’s most glorious aspirations and dreams.” I believe this was the driving force behind Bronislaw and these overpowering emotions must have been fully present at that first Symphony performance.

leonardbernsteinDuring World War II, the IPO performed for the Allied Forces in a concert in the Western desert before soldiers of the Jewish Brigade. During the siege of Jerusalem in the War of Independence, its members traveled in armored cars, in order to perform. One of the most moving moments in the orchestra’s history was of renowned conductor, Leonard Bernstein, conducting the orchestra in front of 5,000 soldiers on the Negev dunes during the battle for Beersheva.

Initially, the IPO did not have a music director per se but had music advisors. In 1977, they elected their first formal music director: world renowned Zubin Mehta. He became music director for life in 1981. The IPO has hosted some of the world’s greatest conductors including Isaac Stern, Pinchus Zuckerman, Arthur Rubinstein and many more. Their time and talent have enriched the orchestra and enabled it to maintain its high artistic standards. The orchestra gives over 130 home performances each year, with 12 different concert series presented in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa.

The Orchestra has made a number of recordings with both Leonard Bernstein OBM and Igor Stravinsky and also collaborated with Japanese composer Yoko Kanno. Under the esteemed leadership of Zubin Mehta, world class conductor, they continue to absorb new immigrants into their ranks. For an outstanding and exciting account of the creation of this orchestra, watch the 2012 documentary by Josh Aronson, titled, “Orchestra of Exiles.” It depicts the birth of the Palestine Symphony orchestra which in 1948, with the creation of the Jewish State, became known as the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.

I fell in love with the symphony orchestra when a 5th grade student, on a field trip. In spite of being 10 years of age, I had a very strong emotional response to the extraordinarily moving music. The interplay of the varied orchestra components drew me in, causing me to lose myself in the magnificent variety of sounds. I felt transformed as the entire experience stirred my imagination, inspiring me to lofty thoughts and magical musings.  At the time, I did not understand it’s depth but it sparked a love affair with classical orchestral concerts that continues until today. After making Aliyah, my husband and I decided we wanted to experience the IPO in order to savor all things Israeli. As the performance began, we were surprised to see the patrons all rise as the renowned conductor Zubin Mehta walked on stage. He then began to conduct the first symphonic piece which turned out to be: HATIKVA, THE NATIONAL ANTHEM. It was then I realized they were standing, not for the man, but for the national anthem. It was so moving and tears fell from my eyes and the eyes of my husband as we beheld the packed auditorium of Jews, being wondrously entertained by talented and gifted Jewish musicians. It was definitely a joining of soul and spirit and one of the most moving experiences of our time in Israel, our Jewish homeland.

We are all a part of a Jewish symphony orchestra called klal Yisrael. We know there is an overall scheme and pattern to the symphony. We each play our own unique part but we must blend in with the larger essence to allow the purpose of the Jewish nation—G-ds purpose—to become manifest in the world.  There can only be one completely Jewish symphony orchestra and our Torah tells us its location—the Holy Land called Israel.

Bronislaw, the one who brought it all together, had a clarity of purpose and a sense of duty that few of us acquire. Zubin Mehta, musical director of the IPO stated, “The seeds of culture that Bronislaw planted here, that he brought from Central Europe, we are reaping its rewards today.” My fellow Jews, we too must acquire clarity of purpose and a sense of duty and destiny. We must have so much love for our Jewish nation that we leave behind our titles and acquisitions and claim our divinely assigned place in the symphony orchestra called the Jewish Nation: Klal Yisrael. We must use the example of Bronislaw and all those who have come before us, to inspire us, so we too can plant the seeds of our gifts and talents in the ever renewable energy field called Eretz HaKodesh.

With Blessings of Love and Light, Ariella Bracha

“If I Forget Thee, O Yerushalayim”

Today we are celebrating the little known and even less observed, but tremendously important holiday of Yom Yerushalayim, in honor of the reunification in 1967 of our Holy City after our exile from it in 1948. There are a tremendous amount of resources, both articles and videos to help you understand the great miracles that befell us during those days. We invite you to visit our “Yom Yerushalayim” page to tap into the amazing history and stories of our People.

 

from Sara Yoheved Rigler, “Why Celebrate Jerusalem Day?”
http://www.aish.com/jw/j/Why-Celebrate-Jerusalem-Day.html

 

I daily walk on the cobblestone streets where the Prophet proclaimed: “Old men and old women will once again dwell in the streets of Jerusalem … and the squares of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.” [Zechariah 8:4]

And every cell of my soul celebrates the God-given gift of the return of the Jewish People to Jerusalem – and the return of Jerusalem to the Jewish People.

Will you celebrate with me?