Sunday, July 26, 2015

Relating to Tisha B'Av - A Rejoinder

In the previous post, "Relating To Tisha B'Av," I observed that it is difficult to relate to the loss of the Beis HaMikdash and the massacres of so long ago, and that many people instead connect to the mood of the day via contemplating the Holocaust. This earned me a stinging rebuke from my sister, who called me and told me not to take the easy way out by making Tisha B'Av into Yom HaShoah. I suggested that she write a guest post about how she relates to Tisha B'Av, and here it is.

The Meaning of Tisha B'Av

Dinah Paritzky

When I was growing up , Tisha B'av really only had one meaning – do not. There was a series of "lo ta'ases" from the 3 weeks through the 9 days culminating in Tisha B'av: do not get your haircut, do not go out to a film, do not listen to music, do not eat meat, and then of course the big one – do not eat or drink. Tisha B'av was spent thinking about fasting, trying not to think about fasting, thinking about eating after the fast, trying not to think about eating after the fast etc etc.

This all changed for me when I was 17. I went to Bnei Akiva summer camp as a madricha. In the days leading up to Tisha B'Av we told the 100 or so kids that we were having a competition between the different groups as to who could build the most beautiful model of ancient Jerusalem. For hours and hours the kids worked together cutting, gluing, building and painting until each of the five groups had produced the most fantastic 3-D models of Jerusalem: houses and streets, buildings and trees, horses and carts and of course the Bet Hamikdash.

On Erev Tisha Bav the kids were told that the judging of the best model was finally going to take place. All the models were taken out into the courtyard – and they were truly beautiful. The kids waited with excitement to hear who had won the competition – who had made the best model of Jerusalem. But instead of announcing the prizewinner, we set fire to the models and burned them.

The look of horror on their faces, the tears – they have stayed with me till this day. Was it a cruel trick? Possibly. But for the first time ever I had a feeling of what Tisha Bav is actually about. And that feeling has stayed with me.

When you go to visit someone sitting shiva, you must talk about the deceased, even if it is easier to distract them by talking about something else. The only way to make the enormity of the Holocaust understandable is by reading about it, by going to Yad Vashem, by focusing on individual stories. And the only way to understand Tisha B'av is by trying to relive that time, the time when we had Jerusalem in its completeness, when he had Har Habayit, when we had the Bet Hamikdash and when we were truly "or lagoyim".

Looking onto Har HaBayit from the spot on Har HaZeitim
where the para adumah was killed.
For many years I read the book "The Voices of Massadah" by David Kossof every Tisha B'av. It tells the story of Churban Yerushalayim as seen through the eyes of a young woman who survived Masadah (we know that two women and some children were not killed). That book made the experience real to me. This year I went to a 3 week "Matan" course with the amazing Tzipporah Piltz who made the Bet Hamikdash come alive to us. Last Thursday I stood on Har Hazeitim at the very spot where the Parah Adumah was killed and looked out over the ruins of Har Habayit, at the mosques built on our holiest ground.

On Tisha B'Av we can try and make the loss real by understanding what it meant then but also what it means to us today. I listen to Eicha and the Kinnot in Hebrew but I read them in English – because they give a powerful sense of what that loss is.

What does Tishah B'av mean to me? It means the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of our sovereignty, it means the galut, it means the Crusades, the pogroms, the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust. It means terrorism, it means nuclear Iran. It means hatred for Israel and for Jews all over the world. It means over 6 million Jews who do not recognize that the Geulah has begun and who therefore chose not to live in Israel. It means loss.

66 comments:

  1. A really moving article on how to experience Tisha beAv. Especially your experience at the BA camp. And the bit at the end is of course a reason we will be in the same situation again next year on Tisha bAv

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  2. Powerful. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. "...when we were truly 'or lagoyim'"? With our sin'at hinam? Today, we should be introspecting about what we still are doing wrong collectively.

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    1. There were certainly times during both the first and second Bayit eras when Jews were pretty universally admired.

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  4. Wow! I figuratively almost fell off my chair when I read this. The person who thought up the Benei Akiva project where the models of Jerusalem were burnt was a genius. Was it cruel? Well, is it cruel to take young Jews to Yad V'Shem and show them horrible photographs and be told horrible stories? Is it more cruel than taking them to Auschwitz and pointing out how ONE MILLION PEOPLE were murdered at that location? One thing that made am impression on me was when Gush Katif was destroyed and the population forcibly expelled, sometimes violently, a Rav said "now we have a real-life example of HURBAN for our generation". Unfortunately he was right and I think of it now every 9 B'Av.

    Regarding the claim that we have a difficult time imagining and relating to the Beit HaMikdash and the Korbanot, well, that is true, but it doesn't mean they aren't important and we can't learn about them and really come to an understanding of what it is that we are missing. A good example is the statement of HAZAL which says that since the destruction of the Beit HaMIkdash "all we have are the dalet amot of halacha".Some people then go to extreme lengths to say "Halacha is the be all and end all of Jewish spirituality" forgetting that the statement itself points out that there is indeed a higher level of spirituality that we should aspire to restoring.

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  5. Very well said.

    Last week I was at a shiur which went through exactly *one* kinnah word by word. The meaning packed into it was amazing, and the person teaching pointed out how not only were they able to use the words of Eicha (first churban) to describe the second churban, but the words of the kinnah fit very well with more recent tragedies. And that's one of about fifty! Imagine the meaning in each one.

    I remember reading that story in an Artscroll book- maybe a Maggid book?- and they certainly didn't mention it was a BA camp. Either two camps had the same idea, or (very possibly) it was "kashered."

    Just a slight correction: There is one mosque on the Temple Mount, the somewhat unimpressive (and having been rebuilt numerous times, not so ancient) Al Aqsa at the southern end, which is halakhically not even the Har HaBayit. The Dome of the Rock, which sits where the Kodesh HaKodashim was, is not a mosque- indeed, it is said to have been built as a memorial to the Mikdash.

    Of course, today Muslims like the claim the whole Mount is "Al-Aqsa," but there's no need to encourage them.

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  6. What was done to the Beit Hamikdash models in that Bnei Akiva camp was an awful thing to do to children. I can hear doing something like that with teenagers or adults, but doing that with children is absolutely horrible.

    In terms of the rest of the essay, today we have sovereignty over almost all of Jerusalem and over most of Israel. During the times of the Beit Hamikdash there were many wars with outside enemies and we still experience that today. There were many domestic power struggles where kings, leaders and their entire families were murdered in power struggles for the throne. It is all well documented both in the sifrei Neviim and in documented Jewish history on the 2nd Temple period. If anything, it seems to me that we have it just as good today as we did then. The biggest difference is that we don't have a large building where animals are sacrificed and the blood splattered in a holy ritual by a select few who receive the honors to do so based not on merit or on popular vote, but rather on a patrilineal birth order. Our leaders in those days were autocrats, and for most of Bayit Sheini the Kehuna Gedola was bought and sold or obtained by murder.

    For 2,000 years we did not have sovereignty or autonomy over any part of Israel. We lived in lands we couldn't call our own. We would hope and pray for autonomy and sovereignty in Israel, but it was only a hope and dream for 2,000 years. All that changed in 1948. Most of Israel became ours and we, Jews, have ruled it ever since. Then in 1967 we obtained sovereignty and autonomy over almost of Jerusalem. That God hasn't sent a magical 3rd Beit Hamikdash descending from the sky, makes one wonder if that is all it was cut out to be. It is well known that life for Jews in pre WWII Eastern Europe was poverty stricken and full of hardship. Yet the generation which actually experienced the Holocaust talked about their homes in Europe as though they were Gan Eiden. I would imagine that it was similar for Jews who were exiled from Israel 2,000 years ago, and that it was built up in our collective memory as some sort of perfect life. A simple reading of history shows it wasn't. What we have today in Israel is just as good as we ever had it. And quite frankly, I could do without the animal slaughter, blood splattering, autocracy, and leaders killing each other for positions of power.

    I think that the romanticizing of life during the times of the Beit Hamikdash - either the first or second Temples - is just that - a romantic fantasy borne of loss. At this time in Jewish history, with Jewish ownership and autonomy of the land of Israel, the Holocaust seems to me to be a much better example of what Tisha B'Av symbolizes in terms of collective Jewish mourning. Almost all that was lost during the times of the Beit Hamikdash has been regained. It may not be 100% the same, but I don't think we need to be naïve enough to believe it ever will be.

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    1. -Maybe the Temple hasn't come down from Heaven because, as per most halakhic authorities, we're supposed to build it ourselves? You don't get to set criteria under which you automatically "win."

      -You do realize that there is still a hereditary priesthood that maintains certain privileges, duties, and limitations? Are you opposed to that too, to be consistent? If so, you're a wonderful democrat. But that's not Judaism.

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    2. Nachum -

      "-Maybe the Temple hasn't come down from Heaven because, as per most halakhic authorities, we're supposed to build it ourselves? You don't get to set criteria under which you automatically "win." "

      This speaks to the difference between a Rationalist approach to Judaism and a Mystical approach to Judaism. Haredim believe that a 3rd Temple will only be coming from the sky, in flames, special delivery from God. There is no current Haredi belief in any other way of a 3rd Temple being legitimate.

      "-You do realize that there is still a hereditary priesthood that maintains certain privileges, duties, and limitations? Are you opposed to that too, to be consistent? If so, you're a wonderful democrat. But that's not Judaism."

      This post was about relating to Tisha B'Av, and that is what I was commenting on. That hereditary power structures based on bloodline were in place 2,000 years ago, does not necessarily mean that they need to be in place in our current religious structure. In terms of consistency, if you take a rationalist approach to some parts of your understanding of Torah, why not take a rationalist approach to others? The "Sons of Aaron" who are to be the functioning priesthood, can be an elected group which follows in the ways of "The Sons of Aaron." Ditto for the Leviim. There are many Leviim who cannot carry a tune or play an instrument. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want a cacophony playing music or singing simply because they were born into the "right" family. If you are going to argue about "reforming" Torah, note that much has been reformed along the way. To think that Torah practice should be exactly the same as it was over 2,000 years ago in every way is not only unrealistic, but it isn't consistent with reality.

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  7. I am upset at the hard-nosed ideological thrust of this post. What R' Natan posted is the reality for many or most of us. Ideally, the commemoration of the destruction of the temples and exile of Jews from their land should be more evocative. However, a greater focus on the holocaust is very appropriate on this day and doesn't detract from the mourning which is, after all, a more general commemoration than the temple destruction. The sanguine attitude towards the surprise burning of the J'lem models carefully built by campers points to an attitude where ideology trumps empathy. It's one thing for immature counselors to come up with this scheme, it's quite another for the poster to be sanguine about it ("Was it a cruel trick? Possibly...") or to give it a 'yasher koach' as at least one commentor did. It's one thing if you destroy your own work and efforts in order to make a point. It's quite another if you destroy someone else's creation for that purpose - particularly, the efforts of children.

    Y. Aharon

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    1. What upsets me about as well about burning the children's work is that there doesn't appear to be any lesson beyond something cherished can be capriciously taken away from you. The batei mikdashot were not taken away for no reason or out of simple cruelty. They were destroyed for well documented ideological reasons: murder, adultery, idolatry in the case of the first and baseless hatred in the case of the second. What were the children's sins here?

      As a child the only lesson I would have learned is that adults are cruel and unfeeling. I would hope none took the lessons away that Hashem is as well.

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    2. "Hard-nosed ideological thrust" - which bit?
      My attitude was not in the slightest sanguine (which according to most dictionary definitions means cheerful or optimistic, although one source references it as "at ease") , in fact quite the opposite.
      And for those of you who are wondering where the educational value was in the burning - well I thought it was obvious (I guess not) that it was in the context of demonstrating how the loss of the Bet Hamikdash should feel to us, and yes we did teach about sinat chinam as well. By the way, I have spoken to several people who went through that exact experience as kids (turns out it was a popular BA camp peulah) and not one of them was traumatised. In fact they all appreciated the lesson.

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  8. The person who thought up the Benei Akiva project where the models of Jerusalem were burnt was a genius. Was it cruel? Well, is it cruel to take young Jews to Yad V'Shem and show them horrible photographs and be told horrible stories? Is it more cruel than taking them to Auschwitz and pointing out how ONE MILLION PEOPLE were murdered at that location?

    Yes, it was probably cruel (although I don't judge a 17 year-old on this). And yes, it would cruel to bring young Jews into a theater to watch a movie and then just surprise them with horrible photographs of the holocaust. I suggest that when people are taken on a trip to Yad Vashem that they are probably told in advance, and if they can't handle something, they can bypass that or leave.

    You find the method interesting, and at least one counselor who knew what was going on found it to be a motivation. If it was me whose project was destroyed, I might have thought: "wow those people are nuts besides being liars and thieves: I don't believe a word of what they say. Maybe religion really does make you into an out-of-control fanatic."

    Note also that the impact was obtained for you and the counselor via what was effectively a thought experiment. Perhaps then a thought experiment would have sufficed.

    I remember reading that story in an Artscroll book- maybe a Maggid book?- and they certainly didn't mention it was a BA camp. Either two camps had the same idea, or (very possibly) it was "kashered."

    Unless this is a friend-of-a-friend urban legend, in which case I withdraw my objections because it was just a though-experiment all along...

    One thing that made am impression on me was when Gush Katif was destroyed and the population forcibly expelled, sometimes violently, a Rav said "now we have a real-life example of HURBAN for our generation".

    I guess now that you can understand how the Haredim can use holocaust imagery in their political campaigns. Apparently it just depends on whose ox is gored.

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    1. I don't get what you are saying. Destroying entire communities, expelling people from their homes and eradicating a lot of people's life's work without any democratic backing and ignoring the security ramifications is simply a matter of perception or your political views?

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    2. I agree with David Ohsie there. The correct analogy to the B'nei Akiva activity is not the
      "cruelty" of bringing a group of kids to Auschwitz or Yad Vashem, but rather that of doing so after repeatedly telling them that they're being brought to a beach or an amusement park.

      Unleashing surprise destruction on the products of an earnest and heartfelt labour of love also seems quite contrary to the core message of Tisha Be'Av, because it implies that the destruction of that day also was random, unexpected, unleashed by surprise. This is hardly supportable given both the religious record (such as the many words of rebuke in the sifrei Nevi'im) or the Second Temple-era history described by outside texts.

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    3. I don't get what you are saying. Destroying entire communities, expelling people from their homes and eradicating a lot of people's life's work without any democratic backing and ignoring the security ramifications is simply a matter of perception or your political views?

      First off, I now realize that while you used the word Churban right after discussing the holocaust, you might not have been intending that comparison. I apologize for implying so that if that was not your intention.

      Getting to the case at hand, it is hard to face the facts, but the Gush Katif evacuation was performed by legitimate and democratically elected government and the disengagement as a whole supported by a majority of the Israeli population according to polls at that time.

      As far as security is concerned, even if you felt that continued military occupation of Gaza was a good idea, having settlements in the middle of what is essentially enemy territory is not good for security.

      Moreover, if you really feel that way, you have Yamit as well. But Yamit is harder to sell because hardly anyone today opposes the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty.

      That said, I don't have any doubt however, that the settlers both Gush Katif and Yamit felt betrayed, that they were inadequately compensated or that they have suffered great harm as a result. They might have felt as if they suffered a Churban and I can't argue with their feelings.

      I agree with David Ohsie there. The correct analogy to the B'nei Akiva activity is not the
      "cruelty" of bringing a group of kids to Auschwitz or Yad Vashem, but rather that of doing so after repeatedly telling them that they're being brought to a beach or an amusement park.


      Upon further thought, this story is almost certainly an urban legend. It does work very well as thought experiment and you could get some good mileage talking about it at a camp and relating that that is what was done "some years ago". When used that way, the story is safe and effective.

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    4. Regarding Gush Katif and the Churban, here is something from Rav Aviner (via http://www.ravaviner.com/)

      Q: Is it permissible to see a film about the expulsion from Gush Katif on Tisha Be-Av?

      A: It is forbidden to read books that arouse all sorts of inclinations. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 307:16. And this is all the more so for movies. Therefore, these films which usually arouse hatred towards the army, government, etc., are forbidden all year round, and all the more so on Tisha Be-Av.

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  9. I vote for more posts by your sister.

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  10. "What does Tishah B'av mean to me?.....It means over 6 million Jews who do not recognize that the Geulah has begun and who therefore chose not to live in Israel."

    Is it a new principle of Judaism to believe be'emunah shelaimah that the Geulah has begun? Is it impossible that, G-d forbid, Israel will be destroyed, and the Jews killed/ exiled again? If this happened, would you throw away your Judaism?

    The Talmud explains that there are legitimate reasons to live outside of Eretz Yisrael; do you deny this?

    Curious: do a lot of you who live in Eretz Yisrael believe that we who live outside of Eretz Yisrael are the cause of the continuing Tisha B 'Avs? I've had a sneaking suspicion that I would never fit in living in the same communities with you all for this and other reasons. Please be honest, I'd like to confirm or un-confirm this suspicion.

    Andy

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    1. Andy-
      All the arguments you are alluding to were made in Warsaw before 1 September 1939. Just like you, people came up with all the reasoned arguments why it was better to stay in Poland, even though at the time, the old, great Jewish centers of Poland, Hungary, Romania and Lithuania were boxed in by two monstrous, aggressive, antisemitic tyrannies...Stalin's USSR and Nazi Germany. Anybody with eyes could see that these Jewish Torah centers were doomed. Even if the Holocaust had not happened but World War II had played out the way it actually did, these Torah centers would have been liquidated by the conquering Soviet forces.

      Today, the threat is different, more diffuse, even more "inviting" in a sense, but we see anti-Torah values spreading like wildfire throughout the supposedly "liberal" West and these will have consequences for the religious Jewish communities in those countries.
      Here in Israel, there is a struggle for the future nature of the Jewish state, but here it is Jews arguing with other Jews, not simply having hostile US Supreme Court decisions dumped on us and which will then spawn even more efforts to eradicate Jewish values from the public sphere (e.g. attempts to ban kosher shechitah and brit milah which keep popping up, even if there is no danger in the next few days of them being implemented).
      The flow of history can be discerned by anyone with eyes today, just as it was 80 years ago.
      We are building up the Jewish state today and religious Jews outside the country have the challenge put before them about whether to come and participate, or to wait in the dead-end world of the Galut outside Eretz Israel.
      Sure, there are no guarantees about the future. Even in Sefer Devarim we see the Jews preparing to enter Eretz Israel yet Moshe Rabbenu warned them of future disasters, yet this didn't mean they should turn back and return to Egypt. We all, as individuals must do what we must do in the here and now.

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    2. I did NOT say that living oustide Israel causes Tisha Bav - I said the opposite, that Tisha Bav is the reason Jews live outside Israel. Very different interpretation.

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    3. "All the arguments you are alluding to were made in Warsaw before 1 September 1939. Just like you, people came up with all the reasoned arguments why it was better to stay in Poland, even though at the time, the old, great Jewish centers of Poland, Hungary, Romania and Lithuania were boxed in by two monstrous, aggressive, antisemitic tyrannies...Stalin's USSR and Nazi Germany. Anybody with eyes could see that these Jewish Torah centers were doomed. Even if the Holocaust had not happened but World War II had played out the way it actually did, these Torah centers would have been liquidated by the conquering Soviet forces."

      Just about the same as being boxed in by Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, ISIS, Hamas, hundreds of millions in the Moslem world, etc. Yet I'm guessing you are staying in Israel, correct?

      "Anybody with eyes could see that these Torah centers were doomed". Who, among people alive during the 1920 and 1930s, are you referring to? Please specify.

      As far as I know, no one, secular, religious, of any stripe, accurately predicted the destruction, except Jabotinsky. (Given his delusion of Jews forming an alliance of sorts with the Nazis, I think he just made a lucky guess in this case.) And it wasn't at all clear at the time that Palestine was safer.

      It's easy to castigate them from the comfortable position of hindsight. But chances are, had we been there, we would have said the same thing as they did.

      Andy

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    4. I see, in your eyes Eretz Israel is just another piece of land that we can live or not, as we see fit. Poland, Israel, New York.....no real difference more than a pragmatic choice. Sorry, but living in OUR COUNTRY and defending ourselves in not just like being in Poland in 1939. You are aware that our ancestors prayed for centuries for the ability to come back. The Balfour Declaration allowed the process to begin, but then too many Jews said they didn't want to have anything to do with it.
      Yes, we do have to make sacrifices for security. We have to defend ourselves, and not be in a situation like it was in Poland where we were dependent on a virulently antisemitic surrounding society to protect us. In fact, our Muslim enemies are destroying themselves. It is important one's eye on the big picture.

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    5. I never said "Eretz Yisroel is just another piece of land...". My point was, if you take a cold hard look at both the physical and spiritual situation in Israel (which is what you castigated the Jews of Europe for NOT doing before the Holocaust), it does not look good for long term survival: seems like it's only a matter of time until extremists get atom bombs.

      Sorry, but the only thing we are assured of living in "OUR COUNTRY and defending ourselves", as desirable as these two things are, is that, if G-d forbid a nuclear holocaust comes, some of the Jews this time will die with uniforms on.

      You still haven't named a significant number of people who saw the Holocaust coming in the 1920s and 1930s, who had "eyes to see", as you put it. So I'll assume that you concede the point that it is wrong to castigate people who chose to stay in Europe because they didn't have the benefit of hindsight like we do.



      Andy

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    6. Your demand that I give you the names of people who saw that the Jewish community of Europe were doomed is quite odd.It should be obvious to anyone. Hundreds of thousands of Jews left Europe for EY before 1939.. These we both "legal" and "illegal" olim (also called "Aliyah Bet"...there were tens of thousand of them and it was a dangerous, unpleasant business). You want a particular name....I'll give you one. Leah Rabin's father, whom I suspect was not religious, came home on January 30, 1933, the day Hitler came to power and said "WE ARE GETTING OUT OF HERE" and they came to EY.
      The Revisionist party, representing the most militant Zionist movement in Poland and other places in Eastern Europe was growing by leaps and bounds. Betar and Benei Akiva Zionist youth movements also grew rapidly. The Polish government had a quiet agreement with Beitar to try to get large numbers of Polish Jews to Eretz Israel, Menachem Begin was involved as I recall. Where did all push for these things come from.
      For heaven's sake. Herzl already saw the writing on the wall when he saw mobs in "liberal" Paris screaming "death to the Jews" during the Dreyfus Affair.
      What more proof do you want?

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    7. Regarding the nuclear threat...did you ever see the movie "Fail Safe"? It was about the possibilitly of a nuclear bomb being dropped on New York during the 1960's when there was great nervousness about that. On a smaller scale there was 9/11. Who is 100% safe today?

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    8. Did the people you mentioned predict a HOLOCAUST?

      Or did they predict severe discrimination, pogroms, etc.? Because if it was the latter, then those who stayed had a reasonable answer: Palestine was not necessarily safer; it also had discrimination (by the British) and terrible pogroms. It was also surrounded by tens of millions of Arabs who hated Jews. Not only was there no real conventional army to defend them; the British, who were in power, generally sided with the Arabs, and prevented Jewish self-defense.

      I mentioned that Jabotinsky, head of the Revisionists, DID predict a Holocaust. But he also thought the Jews could make an alliance of sorts with the Nazis. So it's difficult to say that his prediction qualifies him as someone who had "eyes to see". Maybe it was just a lucky guess, or was a convenient way to get people to follow his ideology, which included moving to Palestine.

      I hope the Leftist Zionists you mentioned did NOT predict a Holocaust. Because if they did, then their deliberate blocking of the "wrong" type of Jew, i.e. "Chareidi", from emigrating to Israel during the 1920s becomes a whole lot more sinister--they were basically condemning these Jews to death.

      So please tell me: who predicted a HOLOCAUST, i.e. the systematic murder of millions? I'm no expert; if you show me, I'll concede your point.

      Andy

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    9. Y. Ben-David---

      No one is safe. But if Iran gets the capability, who receives their first bomb--Israel, or America?

      Based on what we know about their beliefs, I think it will be Israel.

      Andy

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    10. Your insistence that I provide the name of someone who predicted the industrialized mass murder of the Holocaust is simply a ploy on your part to avoid the truth of what I am saying. Maybe nobody predicted the industrialized mass murder of 6 million (BTW Jabotinsky didn't predict that either, unlike what you keep claiming). They may have thought that "ONLY" 1 MILLION would be killed. What's the difference, really? Working millions to death in slave labor camps had already happened in Stalin's USSR. After all, 100,000-200,000 Jews were murdered in the pogroms that accompanied the Russian Civil War, and that was largely a disorganized effort.

      Regarding Eretz Israel "not being safe"...by the late 1930's the Arab uprising had been suppressed and in fact, largely had burned itself out by becoming an intra-Arab civil war, similar to what we are seeing happening to our old adversaries in Syria and Iraq. British Palestine was bordered by "friendly" British and French territories up until the unexpected collapse of France in June 1940.

      You keep denying there is anything special about Eretz Israel for Am Israel. In effect you keep saying (although you deny it) that Jews living in Eretz Israel AND DEFENDING OURSELVES is simply to be weighed on a "pragmatic" level. You keep missing the forest for the trees. Millions of Jews felt this in their bones prior to the outbreak of World War 2 and wanted to come and build up the land. Many, but still too few did and they were ready for the big trial that came in 1948 when the British threw in the towel. No doubt there were plenty like you who kept telling those who participated in the struggle that "forget it, you don't stand a chance for the following reasons....", yet thoroughly secular people who are not one the supposedly "high spiritual level" we datiim are on believed it could be done and THEY DID IT. Now you are still sitting on the sidelines throwing rocks at us. Look, if you don't want to come and participate, I just ask you to sit on the sidelines in New York or London or whereever and keep your own counsel and let us do our thing..

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    11. Three COMPLETELY false straw men (i.e. slander) in one comment. This must be the record.

      1) "You keep denying there is anything special about Eretz Israel for Am Israel."

      Never said or implied that, not even once.

      2) "No doubt there were plenty like you who kept telling those who participated in the struggle that "forget it, you don't stand a chance for the following reasons....", "

      Never said or implied to anyone that people in Israel don't stand a chance, not even once. I hope and pray that G-d prevents a holocaust this time of Jews in Israel, as well as of Jews in Europe, America, etc. But looking at it in a cold, rational, cause-and-effect way, it is a very difficult situation, as was the situation in Europe in the 1930s, as was the case when Haman assumed power to perpetrate a holocaust.

      3) "Now you are still sitting on the sidelines throwing rocks at us."

      Never threw a rock, real or rhetorical, at anyone. Just tried to prevent YOU from throwing rocks at Jews whose ashes are buried in Poland, some of whom are my grandmother's relatives.

      "Look, if you don't want to come and participate, I just ask you to sit on the sidelines in New York or London or wherever and keep your own counsel and let us do our thing."

      I kind of suspected that there are some of you with this attitude about people who live outside of Israel. Thanks for confirming it for me.

      True, I don't want to live anywhere near someone who slanders a fellow Jew this way: me, in your comment above; but MUCH, MUCH worse, the Jews who died in Europe.

      I much prefer my own neighbors, who also live outside of Israel, and would NEVER engage in slander. They are wonderful people, tzadikim, I think. It's people like these who will bring the next Bais HaMikdash; not those who engage in slander, even if they live in Israel.

      Since you want those of us who live outside of Israel "keep our own counsel, and let you do your own thing", I should assume you also want us to stop sending money to Israel, stop supporting the tourism industry with our visits, and stop contacting our representatives and speaking up for Israel in the media, right?

      Yeah, sure!

      Andy

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    12. Believe me, Andy, we can manage fine without your tourist visits, your donations and your writing your Congressman or MP in our behalf. What we DO need is YOU here in person. We will greet you with open arms.

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    13. "Regarding Eretz Israel "not being safe"...by the late 1930's the Arab uprising had been suppressed and in fact, largely had burned itself out by becoming an intra-Arab civil war, similar to what we are seeing happening to our old adversaries in Syria and Iraq."

      Looks like Wikipedia has an article that says the exact opposite: "1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine".

      Even if the British bore the brunt of this uprising, I don't think you can blame a Jew in Europe for not being able to predict which place would be safer, Palestine, or Europe. It's simply false to say that this was an easy choice, except in hindsight.

      Even during WWII, the Germans were close to invading Palestine, and the Mufti of Jerusalem was doing his best to get the gas chambers ready for the Jews of Palestine. Why didn't they invade? Only G-d knows. We don't.


      Andy

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    14. "What we DO need is YOU here in person. We will greet you with open arms."

      And what we need MUCH more than me being there, is my kids being inspired to observe Torah and Mitsvos.

      I have respectful but serious disagreements with both Chareidi and Daati Leumi ideology, and can't "fake" being either one. I therefore have no community in Israel in which to bring up my kids. Unfortunately, the only place where I can fit in---shuls, schools, friends, neighbors, etc.--- is in an ideology-less community in chutz la'arets.

      This gives me my best chance of inspiring my kids to stay with Torah observance, i.e. feeling like they are part of a Torah community that at least doesn't clash with their parents' deeply held beliefs.

      And keeping my kids inspired to stay with Torah observance is far and away more important to me than living in Israel. If you disagree with this, well..... that just means you are a fervent Daati LeUmi, and nicely summarizes one reason why I disagree with Dati LeUmi priorities.

      But thanks for the invitation! :-)

      Andy

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    15. You said:
      --------------------------------------------------------
      And keeping my kids inspired to stay with Torah observance is far and away more important to me than living in Israel
      ---------------------------------------------------------

      The two are inextricably linked. And this is not just a "dati leumi" position...many Haredim will agree. I am sure you are familiar with the RAMBAM's view that one should always live in Eretz Israel, and that it is preferable to live in Eretz Israel among ovdei avodah zara than it is to live among "frum yidden" in the Galut, and the statement (Rashi's) that someone who lives outside of Eretz Israel is like he has no belief in G-d. YES, I know these are not 'psak halacha', but they are food for thought, aren't they? Religious Jews of all flavors and persuasions are on a higher level than Jews of the Galut, not just in an abstract way but in practical, down-to-earth Torah knowledge.

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    16. We differ over that word, "inextricably".

      To me the norm must be job training and working at a job.

      To me the Israeli Government as such is a pragmatic necessity, but has no kedusha or religious significance whatsoever (though the fact that many Jews live in Israel today does have religious significance; and I acknowledge that the former made the latter possible).

      If I tried to raise kids in either a Chareidi or Daati LeUmi setting with these views, it would be a disaster---respected teachers telling them one thing, and parents telling them the exact opposite, on core jugular issues.

      I'm no expert, but I bet I could find quotes from Chazal and Rishonim that say similar weighty things about many other mitsvos---Limud Torah, Tefillah, Tzitzis, etc. Shouldn't our Torah observance be a balance between all of these value statements, and not just a complete focus on one set of these statements?

      I refuse to focus only/ mainly on the statements living about the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisroel---which is why I can't fit in with mainstream Dati LeUmi communities. And I refuse to focus only/ mainly on the statements about the mitzvah of Torah study--which is why I can't fit in with mainstream Chareidi communities.

      Andy

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  11. Another point.

    If you came to Israel with nothing, got NO financial help at all from parents, in-laws, etc., did not come to Israel as a wealthy person, and struggled to navigate the culture, find a job, support your family, etc., I will accept your mussar.

    But if you did get financial help, or you were wealthy when you came, I think you need to thank G-d for this, realize that not everyone gets handed these things, and therefore not dare to judge those who don't have it as easy as you do.

    Andy

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    1. if that comment was to me - then I should point out that I made aliyah as a single person age 24 with no financial help from anyone at all and was most definitely not wealthy. I came with virtually nothing and worked hard to support myself and did not receive any handout ever.
      So yes you can accept my mussar

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    2. I accept your mussar.

      But as someone who has respectful but serious disagreements with both Chareidi and Daati Leumi ideology, and is not a Sephardi, I have no community in Israel in which to bring up my kids. Unfortunately, the only place where I can fit in---shuls, schools, friends, neighbors, etc.--- is in an ideology-less community in chutz la'arets.

      This gives me my best chance of inspiring my kids to stay with Torah observance, i.e. feeling like they are part of a Torah community that at least doesn't clash with their parents' deeply held beliefs.

      And keeping my kids inspired to stay with Torah observance is far and away more important to me than living in Israel. But thanks, a little guilt-inducing mussar is always good for the soul. :-)

      Andy

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  12. With the utmost respect to you, I also agree with your sister.

    SoCal Mother

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  13. Dinah, 'sanguine' can have various meanings including 'bloody' - as in 'sang real' ('royal blood', in the Da Vinci code book). The meaning that I intended was 'rose colored' in that you saw the benefit of the reaction that you felt, but didn't concern yourself overly with the possible psychic and religious damage done to innocent campers. Your citation of a lack of harm to a few campers whom you later queried is meaningless. You stated that there were some 100 campers. Questioning a few who remained in the RZ fold indicates nothing about the others. You are also 'sanguine' about the history of the temples. That history, with the possible exception of the largely unrecorded 2 century period under Achaemenid Persian rule (Cyrus - Darius III), was largely negative with respect both to adherence to torah law and the impression that foreigners may have gotten. Nor is merely having the 'complete' J'lem under full Jewish authority the ultimate goal. That goal, which I assume is also the goal of your RZ circle, is for the return of the Divine Presence in a city worthy of it. The latter goal, is of course, most difficult, but progress in that endeavor will help bring about the long anticipated future. That future doesn't appear to be in our horizon from a realistic standpoint, however. The current messianism and would-be hareidism in the RZ world that makes the news, to my mind, detracts from that goal.

    Parenthetically, careful study of the Mishkan and batei mikdash, together with envisaging a future temple is not confined to messianic inclined RZ. I have also been engaged in such independent study, but have no sympathy for the Temple Institute people who imagine that they can build a temple on their own. Even if they could, it would have no more value or intrinsic longevity than Herod's temple on which it is modeled.

    Y. Aharon

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  14. I recommend taking a look at this heartfelt question on Mi Yodeya and the collection of answers people have offered:

    "How do I get myself to yearn for moshiach if I'm comfortable in the diaspora?"

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  15. "The look of horror on their faces, the tears – they have stayed with me till this day. Was it a cruel trick? Possibly."

    "Possibly"? Sorry to have to disagree with you so strongly, but DEFINITELY, without even the slightest shadow of a doubt, it was very cruel and very inappropriate. Even to read such a story is terribly shocking. Please never again even contemplate doing such horrendous things!

    In no way is that the message of Tisha B'Av, on the contrary, we must increase in LOVE and KINDNESS, not in performing acts of cruelty and causing innocent children such inexcusable pain and suffering. Shame and woe to those who think they are teaching Torah in such ways, the opposite of the ways of Hashem and His Holy Torah, which "all its ways are ways of pleasantness."

    May we all be consoled from all our sorrows and disappointments, both on a personal and communal level, and especially for all the sorrows connected with the destruction...

    --- Here it seems appropriate to point out that in a way this entire year hints to Tisha B'Av, the Ninth of Av, since the numerical year in the Hebrew calendar, 5775, is written as ה' (אלפים) תשע"ה, and clearly 775, תשע"ה, spells out the Hebrew word "Tisha," meaning of "nine," or "ninth," and "B'Av," "in the month of Av,", בא"ב, is in gematria "five," thus all together the year 5775 as a whole clearly hints to “Tisha B'Av.”

    Since this year the day of Tisha B'Av came out on Shabbos - a day of Kindness and Mercy, and a day of Teshuva out of joy - and certainly Am Yisroel has done and will continue doing a tremendous amount of Teshuva, therefore we have all the more reason to hope and pray that the Dinnim (severity and judgments) have by now been sufficiently sweetened, and Hashem will from here on be Kind to us and have Mercy on us, and we will merit to see that this so far very inauspicious day, and so far very inauspicious year, will finally be changed over and transformed, as foretold by our prophets and sages o.b.m., into a great holiday and joyous celebration, בב"א.

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    1. oh relax. Turns out that this was a popular peulah in BA camps in Ireland and England (and possible the States) for many many years. I have spoken to dozens of people who went through it and were fine. I dare you to find one person who was traumatized or left religion because of it. Kids are a lot more resilient than you think. You are totally over-reacting.

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    2. Dina, if I'm "totally over-reacting," then I apologize, but think again about what you yourself wrote, "The look of horror on their faces, the tears – they have stayed with me till this day." That sounds pretty serious even without capitalizing any words, and it certainly does not seem right to simply "relax" about inflicting such things on children, even if we know that they are "resilient" and will sooner or later “get over it.”

      No one said that on its own this could be expected to cause a child to “leave religion,” but nevertheless, aside from the initial undeserved pain that this caused, exposure to such mean-spirited treatment is undoubtedly also damaging in the long run, and from the way you described it, it does seem at least very close to genuinely deserving of being called “traumatizing.”

      As you can see from some of the other comments, I’m not the only one who feels outraged, and even a bit “traumatized,” just from reading about this malicious prank, purporting to be a sophisticated, well thought out, innovative educational method. Do you really think that there is any place for this type treatment in “teach the child according to his way” (Prov. 22:6)?

      No offense, but in my humble opinion, in addition to being very cruel, this also seems to be completely irrational. It seems you are trying to rationalize the irrational, possibly because as part of your camp experience you had to participate in doing this, and somehow you feel you must excuse it and support it in a way similar to the way victims are sometimes brainwashed to excuse and support their captors.

      Sorry for being so blunt about this. I’d also like to read more of your posts in the future.

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  16. Dinah, the burning of the kids creations is an abuse but not in the same class as sexual abuse that would traumatize the victim for life. That's the primary difference rather than the presumed religious motivation. In time, the initial anger and resentment against the burning of the campers' work would die down, and may not have left a lasting mark - except in memory. The issue is not how much damage was done, but on the ethics and appropriateness of the action. Destroying someone's efforts is both theft and a sign of cruelty. It is the behavior of a bully rather than that of a religious madrich. The fact that such activities occurred in various Bnei Akiva camps doesn't speak well of the movement, nor does your defense of such action. Sorry for being blunt, but you have to realize the effect of your words.

    Y. Aharon

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    1. I agree, and I think that the activity misses the point of Tisha Be'Av as well.

      If the B'nei Akiva leaders' goal was only to teach the campers about random, horrifying loss in a very visceral way, then the random, horrifying destruction of the campers' carefully built models seems like a great idea.

      If the goal instead was to teach the campers about why Tisha Be'Av happened, based on the reasons given by Chazal for the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, then this activity seems useless. IMO.

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    2. The fact that such activities occurred in various Bnei Akiva camps doesn't speak well of the movement

      Y. Aharon: as I pointed out above, I seriously doubt that such activities "occurred in various Bnei Akiva camps" let alone one. This has all the marks of an urban legend. If you need more evidence, read this story. And here. Also <a href="http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/192335/summer-camps-tisha-bav<a> this article </a>. I any case, we should not accept that a whole movement thinks that this is a good idea without more evidence. Use your hard-earned scientific skepticism on this one...

      This is not to doubt the earnestness of the poster in posting the story, which, as I mentioned, is interesting as a gedanken experiment.

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    3. David, when the poster said that she participated as a madricha in such a burning, I have no reason to disbelieve her. Nor do I have any reason to disbelieve her later comment that such burning was done in other Bnei Akiva camps ("a popular BA peulah"). That others have seized upon the story and embellished such tales is also not surprising given the tendency for embellishment in frum circles. I'll reserve 'scientific skepticism' for the embellishments.

      Y. Aharon

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    4. Nor do I have any reason to disbelieve her later comment that such burning was done in other Bnei Akiva camps ("a popular BA peulah"). That others have seized upon the story and embellished such tales is also not surprising given the tendency for embellishment in frum circles. I'll reserve 'scientific skepticism' for the embellishments.

      The reasons to disbelieve are pretty simple, I think:

      1) You aren't suppose to accept negative testimony about others based on the report of a single person who wasn't a witness. Even though the poster intended the report to be positive, since you view it as negative, you should not accept it.

      2) The fact that many people here have a very negative view of this story indicates that many parents would also. The notion that this is something that ever happened more than a single time beggars belief.

      3) There is not just a tendency towards embellishment in frum circles. There is a tendency towards embellishment in storytelling across humankind. More generally, we know that eyewitness testimony is highly unreliable and memories are altered over time. Elizabeth Loftus has easily accessible books on this. Here is google books excerpt from one that is worth looking at. (Click on the little window when you get there to get more of the text). Take your scientific approach from chemistry and apply it to psychology and you will get closer to the truth.

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    5. David - do you actually know people who went to Bnei Akiva? Because since posting this I have had dozens (yes dozens) of people tell me that they did this activity in Bnei Akiva in England, in Ireland and in the States. Not only are none of them traumatized, they are all shocked at the negative reactions and thought it was a great peulah. It does not "beggar belief" in the world I live in - perhaps we live in very different worlds?

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    6. David (and EtheP) - do you actually know people who went to Bnei Akiva? Because since I posted this I have had dozens (yes dozens) of people tell me that they did this exact same thing in England, in Ireland and in the States, and not only were they not traumatized they thought it was a great peulah. It does not "beggar belief" in my world - perhaps we live in very different worlds?

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    7. Dinah, I guess it's one of those "you had to be there" kind of things, because from here, it sounds atrocious. I think that in general, the very concept that we should feel like we have destroyed the BH is misunderstood, and overplayed.

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    8. Hi Dinah, I don't have much doubt that this story was told all over Bnei Akiva because it is an effective story and it appears to have moved well beyond Bnei Akiva. But I do have some doubt that it was actually executed often (or even at all), at least with the surprise burning that you describe. (There is a version of the story out there where the burning was known in advance to the campers and understood to be symbolic).

      Since you mentioned that many people experienced it from all over the world, would you mind saying what year you went to camp? Since it is a well known story, that must have been the first and only year that it could have been done as a surprise in any kind of widespread fashion.

      BTW, I didn't imply that anyone would be traumatized. That is something that you mentioned as happening in the story, and you doubted the propriety of your actions based on that trauma. Anyone who reported no very negative reactions must have witnessed a variant of what you described (either a dramatic retelling of the story or some symbolic burning variant).

      Anyhow, as I mentioned, I did like the post because I understood the story to be a story and it is effective. If I thought that the camps really went out of their way to be cruel, then I personally wouldn't approve.

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  17. This is the most ridiculous post you have ever had on this site, to my knowledge.
    First off, that is a horrible thing to do to children. I pity the children of a parent who thinks that such a lesson is appropriate.
    Secondly, as a rationalist you were %100 right that with sovereignty over Israel and religious freedom for Jews, there is not much to miss in not having animal flesh roasting in a Temple. Sure, having a central "Main" Synagogue with some spectacle of Avodah including beautiful songs would be moving, but not much different than the great synagogue is today. The Judaism centered around the Temple no longer exists. Our Rabbinic Judaism has replaced it and while we still have the "longing" for a Temple in our prayers, it is not our only goal.
    Finally, the point of Tisha B'av in our time is to remember how much suffering our people endured in the past to get us where we are today, not to be unnapreciative of the great gifts we are experiencing in our time. To say the words of Nachem without editing them, and to cry for the present is truly blasphemous. Jerusalem is not "desolate and uninhabited". It's not perfect today, but it is certainly not worthy of mourning.

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    1. I have worked in Jerusalem and enjoyed its night life for the last 25 years so I certainly do not think it is "desolate and uninhabited "!
      However I do think that on ONE day of the year we can mourn the fact that if a Jew says Shema on Har Habayit today he/she will be arrested (and I am not interested in animal sacrifice at all)

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  18. I'm a little surprised at the strong reactions to the burning of the models. Many adults have a hard time relating to the losses mourned on Tisha b'av and this method seems like a brilliant way to make it real, memorable, and personal for those kids for years to come. Calling it traumatic is in my opinion an exaggeration, and I'm not sure I agree it's theft either, most kids don't hold on to their homework projects anyhow.

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  19. I have also been engaged in such independent study, but have no sympathy for the Temple Institute people who imagine that they can build a temple on their own. Even if they could, it would have no more value or intrinsic longevity than Herod's temple on which it is modeled.

    Maybe not, but if the Rambam is right and not much will change other than the political and economic situation, then what exactly is going to be different about the "real" temple? Maybe we don't have it because we haven't bothered to try to build it? (Personally, I'm against any real effort to try to build it now because it is not feasible without starting a holy war, but from a purely legal standpoint, maybe they are right...)

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    1. David, the Rambam doesn't state that the Messianic Age will duplicate earlier times (except for political independence), only that natural occurrences will continue. There is nothing about duplicating Herod's temple. Why should that be a model? It wasn't built under instruction from a prophet. Personally, I find his temple building to be a very tall box with a 40 amot tall superfluous upper story. I object also to the Temple Institute's design of temple furniture and furnishings. In any case, constructing a new temple will require the assistance and instruction of a certified prophet in order to insure that it will have divine approval (besides the practical issue of not precipitating a war with the Muslim world).

      Y. Aharon

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    2. OK, I can't argue your aesthetic preferences.

      In any case, constructing a new temple will require the assistance and instruction of a certified prophet in order to insure that it will have divine approval

      Is that certain? I'm not certain about that. Herod's temple was not built with the assistance of a prophet, but it was a valid temple. Maybe we are supposed to do that first and then we merit further assistance. Or maybe we need to get started and then assistance will be provided.

      (besides the practical issue of not precipitating a war with the Muslim world).

      Agree 100% on the need to avoid that.

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    3. David, there is little point, it seems to me, in making a difficult and fateful decision to build a temple if it is not divinely mandated. One can perhaps make such an argument about an altar, but not about a temple building. The purpose of such a building, after all, is the 'housing' of the divine Presence. If that is not assured, why bother? The fact that king Herod built a grandiose temple without such benefit is not a sufficient counter-argument. He was an absolute monarch with respect to Jews in Judea, and his wishes would not be opposed if they were not sacrilegious in nature.

      My understanding is also based on the biblical verse at the outset of the instructions for a Mishkan, "As per all that I command you, (regarding) the form of the mishkan and the form of all its furnishings, and so shall you do (in the future)". The last phrase, "in the future" is Rashi's understanding which fits better with the evident sense than the Ramban's "so shall you do" being placed there just for emphasis, since it is preceded by 'and'. The Ramban argues that there were many changes from the Mishkan in Solomon's temple such as dimensions, a large stone altar, 2 giant keruvim in the inner sanctum, and 10 tables and menorot in the Heichal part of the temple building. This temple had divine approval, notwithstanding such changes. Harav Moshe Sofer (Chatam Sofer) answers this objection, however, by stating that the implication of the above verse is not to require a duplication of the Mishkan and its contents, but to follow the divine instruction as given to a prophet. That is why we need a prophet - in addition to the 'logical' argument first advanced.

      Y. Aharon

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    4. How about bringing the Korban Pesach which doesn't need a Temple? (again setting aside the consequent holy war that obviously makes this a bad idea).

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    5. David, offering the Pesach sacrifice in what was once the temple courtyard is a matter subject to halachic debate by leading authorities in 19th and 20th centuries. Some problems that I see are 1. Identifying who is certifiable as a kohen to pour the blood of the slaughtered animal, and where to pour it (there not being a well defined place corresponding to the base of the temple altar); 2. Since the Pesach sacrifice must be eaten, what do we do about the Gid Hanashe? There is serious debate on this point between the Rambam and Raavad. The former holds that the command to spit-roast the sacrifice whole supercedes the ancient custom or halacha to remove the sciatic nerve and all its branches of an animal prior to the roasting, while the latter holds that it is still in force and that its presence makes the entire sacrifice forbidden. These halachic objections pale in comparison to the turmoil and bloodshed that can be expected if such sacrifice were attempted under current conditions - as you pointed out.

      Y. Aharon

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  20. David, I am not a dayan and am therefore not under judicial restrictions on what I can accept. Nor is something seemingly foolish rather than evil that is in the public record subject, I believe, to the rules about accepting 'loshon ha'ra'. As to the likelihood of other such incidents in Bnei Akiva camps, perhaps they were in the same year, or parents had not been sufficiently vocal in their objections to have mattered to the heads of these camps. As to embellishment in frum circles, I placed them in a different category for a reason. While embellishment of stories is a normal practice since we have a tendency to fill in gaps in our knowledge with our mental constructs, deliberate embellishment is different. Someone who tends to do this will earn the reputation of being an unreliable witness (a more crass expression comes to mind). In frum circles, it appears that there is a mitzvah to embellish stories of religious figures and activities in order to allegedly further the religious program.

    Y. Aharon

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    1. Nor is something seemingly foolish rather than evil that is in the public record subject, I believe, to the rules about accepting 'loshon ha'ra'.

      I don't know the exact halachot, but I think that if something is negative and not sufficiently substantiated, the fact that it is public is not going to help. But I really wasn't coming from the standpoint of halacha, but honesty. We are all wired to find things that make us better than the other guy. We should therefore be careful about accepting such charges.

      I think that those who deliberately lie to support their version of Judaism are a small percentage, and the same percentage could be found in pretty much every ideological movement. Most of it is the turning off of the brain and accepting that which fits your pre-conceived notions, which again, pretty much describes everyone. So I agree that hagiographies are not believable, but I'm not sure that this can be generalized to a whole group. But, as you've seen, I'm skeptical in general of arguments along the lines of: those guys worse, us guys better. That is my bias.

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