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Unread 03-02-2003, 01:11 PM   #26
Jude
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part 3 - 5762

Eleven years ago this week (Parshas Mishpatim, 5752), a well known conference took place in New York City at the United Nations between the leaders of the major nations of the world - President Bush, Yeltsin, and leaders of other major military powers. In this meeting a joint resolution and declaration was made to begin reduction of armaments and use the resources and technology to further the improvement of economic conditions in the world, to increase food production and to benefit mankind in general.

The Rebbe Melech Ha'Moshiach spoke about this event at length the next day at the Shabbos farbrengen. He explained that this declaration of intent by the world leaders to reduce their military operations and increase food production in the world, was the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, thousands of years earlier, that in the Era of Moshiach the nations of the world will beat their swords into plowshares.

He emphasized that this was the direct effect of Melech HaMoshiach on the nations of the world. For several decades the Rebbe had been spreading Chassidus and Yiddishkeit in general throughout the entire world, and especially the spreading of the concepts of goodness, justice and fairness as embodied in the 7 Noahide Commandments among the nations of the world. This effort reached its climax with the collapse of the atheistic government in Russia and its replacement with a government committed to justice, fairness and peace based on the belief in G-d.

As a follow-up to this, the meeting at the United Nations took place between the new leader of Russia, the president of the United States, and several other heads of state where the “Swords Into Plowshares” declaration was made.

Another aspect of the Geula has begun to unfold before our eyes. Melech HaMoshiach brought the nations of the world to the point where they made a resolution and a declaration regarding world peace. This was followed by Melech HaMoshiach’s own announcement that the declaration by these heads of state was in fact the beginning of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s Swords Into Plowshares prophecy.

In the eleven years since this declaration, “Swords Into Plowshares” has become a global phenomenon. There is even an international organization called the “Bonn International Center for Conversion” (BICC) is an independent non-profit organization that documents the process of the conversion of military resources to peaceful uses. One of their reports, written by Prof. Yitzchok Shichor of the Hebrew University, documents the transformation of China’s military technology – especially nuclear technology – to peaceful uses.

In two earlier articles we reviewed the intense development of China’s nuclear technology from the 1950’s to the 1980’s, emphasizing its collaboration with Russia, the subsequent break between China and Russia, and in general its ever increasing perception of being threatened. As Chairman Mao Zedung put it, “If we are not to be bullied in the present-day world, we cannot do without the bomb.”

With the Swords Into Plowshares declaration in 1992, China’s threat perception was greatly reduced and a genuine Swords Into Plowshares process began in China. Russia was no longer the threat that it formerly was and China found that it no longer needed the vast nuclear weapons machine that it had developed nor the vast army that it had organized.

Reduced threat perception is an aspect of a Swords Into Plowshares (SIP) transformation that Melech HaMoshiach emphasizes in the sicha based on the commentary of the Radak who says, “There will be no war between one nation and another because [Moshiach] will bring peace among them. Thus they will not need instruments of war and they will beat them to make from them instruments for working the ground.” We might say that the highest form of Swords Into Plowshares occurs when the peaceful conditions will bring about a change of attitude on the part of the countries of the world. They will not feel threatened by each other. They will feel secure so they will not need instruments of war.

Nuclear SIP Transformations

One example of the transformation of nuclear technology was the Modern Physics Research Institute, founded in 1950, which played a key role in China’s nuclear weapons program. It has been renamed China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE). It has 50 research offices, an overseas engineering projects office and various research and testing centers.

Its services include: application of nuclear energy and radiation, development of energy saving products, environmental science including environmental protection, biological engineering etc.

It produces high polymer materials, new medicines food additives, fine chemicals, isotope instruments and meters, electronic components and devices, heavy water research reactors, cyclotrons, sterile generators, etc.

Another Chinese institution which emerged from the SIP nuclear transformation was the China Institute for Radiation Protection (CIRP) which has eleven research offices dedicated to labor hygiene and occupational disease, radiation medicine, radioactive waste disposal, radioactive organisms, nuclear safety, application of nuclear techniques, etc.

Its services include providing comprehensive environment evaluation, technologies for harnessing radioactivity and industrial waste, biochemical preparations, bio-engineering and tissue culture techniques, immuno-diagnosis medical kits, techniques for radiation sterilization and processing etc.

It produces continuous environment monitors, aerosol sampling machines, rock stratum stress gauges for earthquake and landslide forecasts, radon education meters, nucleon scales and various medicines and medical kits.

Nor shall they learn any more war

While China, as well as other countries that have undergone extensive SIP transformations, still maintains a strong military in general and a nuclear weapons capability in particular, this is no contradiction to the continuing Swords Into Plowshares process. In fact, I am occasionally asked to explain how we can say that the prophecy of Swords Into Plowshares is being fulfilled if there are still wars in the world. The answer to this, I believe, can be found in the prophecy itself.

If we read the prophecy carefully, we notice something surprising. First it says that the nations will beat their swords into plowshares – because, as the Radak explains, they won’t need them any more after Melech HaMoshiach begins to have his effect on the nations of the world. Then it says, “nation shall not raise a sword against nation.” It would seem that the order should be reversed. First it should say that, as a result of the effect of Melech HaMoshiach, nations will not raise swords against each other, then, since they won’t be fighting each other they won’t need their weapons any more so they will beat them into plowshares.

From the fact that beating the swords into plowshares is stated first, we see that this process will begin even before all wars cease. Then, as a further development, “nation shall not raise a sword against nation” i.e. there will be nor more war. And finally, “nor shall they learn any more war.” They will not even maintain a readiness for war. There will be no “war games”, no military training, and not even any computer simulations of conflicts or nuclear explosions etc.

As we have been pointing out, the Swords Into Plowshares transformations is in fact an ongoing process globally and it is happening at a rate that is almost impossible to keep track of. Immediately, with Hashem’s help, we will see its completion.

Last edited by Jude; 03-06-2003 at 12:57 PM.
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Unread 03-02-2003, 01:13 PM   #27
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Professor Yirmiahu Branover is a Chabad Chassid. He was born in Russia, has deep connections to the Jews there, and although he moved to Israel many years ago to establish a large research center in Ber Sheva, he was given many special and highly secretive missions by the Lubavitcher Rebbe regarding Russian Jewery.

Around 1989 the Rebbe began saying publicly that the Iron Curtain was about to fall and myriads of Jews would flood into the free world.

Needless to say, at the time it just seemed like very wishful thinking and attracted very little attention. But when the Rebbe told Professor Bronover to secure land and begin a housing project in Jerusalem for the new influx of immigrants, eyebrows began to be raised.

Professor Branover did as the Rebbe requested but it seemed VERY unlikely that anything would come of it. Especially when the shocking news arrived that Mikael Gorbatchov was chosen to be the next Primer of the USSR.

Gorbatchov had a reputation for being a very ruthless politician with few pro-Jewish sentiments. There were even editorials in Russia that predicted he would be another Stalin. The Jews trembled.

But the Rebbe thought differently. He told Branover to call all his acquaintances in Russia and tell them that they would soon be leaving. But when he did so, they all replied in the same way. "Impossible!"

One man even wept and said. "Last night they took my wife in for questioning and she hasn't returned yet. At this moment a KGB (secret service) car is parked in front of my apartment building. Things are worse than ever. Are you sure that is what the Rebbe said?"

But suddenly it happened. Unexpectedly Gorbatchov dramatically dissolved the Soviet Union, gave autonomy to all its member countries, opened the gates of Russia and allowed free exit to anyone that wanted out. In the course of a few weeks one of the most powerful and evil forces in history suddenly dissolved. Exactly as the Rebbe had prophesized.

But the story isn't over.

When Gorbatchov later visited Israel, Professor Branover was chosen as his guide for part of the stay. Inevitably they discussed how he had changed world history, and Branover had to mention the Lubavitcher Rebbe's predictions almost a year earlier.

Gorbachov was stunned. He thought for a while and said. "If what you say is true, then your Rebbe is completely outside the realm of nature. Even if he somehow succeeded in infiltrating the Kremlin he could not have known such things a year ago. In fact I myself did not even know! When I took office I had a completely different plan, but circumstances just forced me to change."
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Unread 03-05-2003, 02:21 PM   #28
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interesting, especially about the lion and the calf (amazing picture)
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Unread 03-05-2003, 03:56 PM   #29
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Forgive my cynicism, but America has more nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons than any other country. If the UN told Bush to get rid of them, he would laugh.
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Unread 03-05-2003, 04:19 PM   #30
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have you heard the U.S. threatening any country lately that hasn't made menacing threats (and worse) of their own?
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Unread 03-06-2003, 02:03 PM   #31
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America recently threatened the UN to establish the International Criminal Court, which will be used to prosecute war criminals, in a way that would exclude any member of the American military from prosecution. They ended up getting it, albeit on a renewable basis, as opposed to the permanent exemption they were hoping for.

If you want examples of what America has done in the past, look at the central and southern americas. Overthrowing the government of Chile to put Pinochet, of all people, into power, simply because the elected president was a socialist. He subsequently murdered thousands of his own people. Look at what happened in Panama with Noriega, who was a former Bush family chum and on the CIA payroll.

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Unread 03-07-2003, 11:52 AM   #32
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I'm not following your line of reasoning. Nobody claimed that America is pure and holy, just as nobody said the Soviet Union was (obviously). What is being demonstrated in this thread is an incredible and unprecedented shift in the world's attitude towards numerous subjects, including that of war and conquest.
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Unread 03-08-2003, 09:06 PM   #33
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Also, this type of stuff now has to be kept secret, because if the public would know (that is, if the media made a big deal about it) there would be an outrage. In days bygone, it was perfectly normal and acceptable if the ruling power killed hundreds and thousands of innocent people, particularly of other countries, and even its own citizens. Torture was acceptable. Cruel and unusual punishments where not only allowed, but were enjoyed public spectacles. The equivalent of football was watching people kill animals and humans.

Now people just want peace and economic harmony, so that they can live peacefully and prosperously.
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Unread 03-09-2003, 12:36 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally posted by chassidus
this type of stuff [cruel repression] now has to be kept secret
Indeed! It was not too long ago that bloody, cruel dictators would brag about how bloody and cruel they were. Today, the bloody and cruel dictators pretend to have popular representation in "parliaments", and they allow themselves to cave in to "popular" sentiment. It's transparent hokum, but it's telling that they feel the need to put on the show.
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Unread 03-09-2003, 12:37 PM   #35
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TWO FACES OF ESAU
The Split of the West
By Simon Jacobson

Much talk going on these days about the trans-Atlantic split between the United States and Europe exposed over impending war with Saddam Hussein. The immediate disagreement is over Iraq and over the general approach to terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. But, as experts have already pointed out, the divisions in the West go much deeper.

Many reasons are being given to explain the underlying differences between Europe and the United States – from the historical to the political, from the balances of power to the differing views on G-d and religion.

During the cold war the West was united against their common enemy called Communism. With the fall of the former Soviet Union over ten years ago, the same ties no longer bind the West and their deeper rifts are now beginning to surface.

Robert Kagan, in an article published last summer in Policy Review, and now expanded in a new book, Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order (Knopf, 2003), attributes the great divide to two primary factors. One is that America’s enormous power allows it the confidence to take on any global challenge, presently, Iraq. Europe on the other hand does not wield such power, so they inevitably take on a more conciliatory and compromising stance. Second, due to Europe’s unique experience in World War II, Europe rejected balance-of-power politics and instead embraced reconciliation and multilateral cooperation as the principal means to maintain peace following the world’s most devastating conflict. With time Europe came to see this approach as its new mission. America’s power and its willingness to use it “constitute a threat to Europe’s new sense of mission.”

Some have applauded Kagan’s thesis, while others have criticized it as a form of caricature (“Americans are from Mars, Europeans from Venus”) and overgeneralization.

Other theories about the rupture of the West have been posited as well. In the last issue of Newsweek, ******opher Dickey presents the religious angle. Europeans simply cannot comprehend the religion of America. Religious faith in America is increasingly tied to individuality and freedom of choice, while in Europe the exact opposite is true: Religion has always been state imposed. Dickey writes – citing various European scholars and writers: “To most Americans it seems natural enough that President Bush…would incorporate religious references into his speeches. His Manichean descriptions of good versus evil, with us or against us, are rooted in his reading of the Bible and strike many in the U.S.A. as strong, righteous and decisive. But all this sounds to Europeans very much like the kind of theology – or ideology – that led then to slaughter each other for centuries.”

I would like to submit a few thoughts on the cultural divide between the USA and Europe by addressing some of the roots of their conflict, not just their symptoms.

To do so we must first go back to a wedding that took place 3615 years ago.

In Genesis 28:9 the Bible tells us that “Esau went to Ishmael and married Machlath daughter of Abraham’s son Ishmael.” Esau’s intention in marrying Ishmael’s daughter was not that simple. The Midrash explains, that Esau’s plan was to ensnare Ishmael in a plot: “You – Esau said to Ishmael – kill your brother Isaac. I will kill my brother Jacob. Then we will become one nation and remain sole heirs to Abraham and inherit the entire land! Ishmael refused: ‘Am I then like Cain who killed his brother?! No, I will not do as you suggest.’” Esau’s intention was to then kill Ishmael, and he would remain the sole heir. When Esau sees that Ishmael declines from joining him in the plot against Isaac and Jacob, he refuses to go to the ‘chupah’ and abandons his bride and his own wedding! Only to return 23 years later (after Ishmael’s death) to go through with the marriage. [1]

This strange wedding – among all the other aspects of the tense relationship between Ishmael, Isaac, Esau and Jacob – plants the seeds of the interactions and battles that their children would encounter through the ages. Just imagine the psychological implications of Esau’s encounter with Ishmael on his wedding day!

The entire history of confrontation between the Arab-Muslim, Western/******ian and Jewish worlds can be understood by tracing back to the roots of their conflict in Biblical times, the battles between Ishmael (father of the Arab/Muslim world), Esau (father of the ******ian/Western world) and Jacob (father of the Jews) – as I discussed at length in my articles last year, following September 11th (see www.meaningfullife.com).

By no means was the conflict isolated to Isaac and Ishmael or Jacob and Esau. As Esau’s infamous wedding attests, Esau and Ishmael had their own share of differences, besides their commonalities. Both their mutuality and their conflicts would affect their future progeny and the wars they would wage against each other. [2]

Esau was clearly a cunning warrior. But as terrible as Esau was, he also had another side. Being the son of Isaac, Esau in his soul had powerful strengths. On a root level Esau was directly bound to the tzaddik Isaac, and by this virtue he maintained a profound spiritual integrity.

Esau in other words had two faces, two sides. His material side was an aggressive warrior, ready to kill and destroy. His other face was connected to sanctity. [3]

Now, let’s turn the clock forward. Isaac and Jacob’s children go on to receive the Torah at Sinai, the blueprint how G-d wants us all to live. The process that begins with Abraham comes to fruition seven generation later at Sinai, and then consummated and implemented in the Temple, which is erected in this week’s Torah portion.

1300 years later, in the 1st century of the Common Era, Esau’s descendants (Rome) would begin to return to Abraham’s original teachings, as documented in the Bible. Six centuries later, so would Ishmael’s children with the birth of Islam in the year 622 c.e.

Yet this was just a start, barely. The conflicts between these nations – children of Ishmael, Esau and Jacob – was just to begin. History is witness to the massacres carried out in the name of religion. No one will ever know how much blood was spilled in the European rivers all in the name of faith. Yes, originating in Rome, all of Europe became the source of so much destruction, spreading to the Middle East, and of course Israel.

Centuries upon centuries passed. Despite all the persecution and darkness, the Torah values of Abraham endured, flourished – ultimately refining the world. Finally, after all these years, Esau/Edom was beginning to be tamed. With the American Revolution – with the support of France, mind you – a new stage in history began. Esau finally began to embrace the true values of freedom and justice. After years of despotism and monarchial control, the fundamental equality of all human beings was being recognized. Esau established a country built on the Divine right of each human being to be free – as declared at Sinai a little more than three millennia earlier!

But the other part of Esau’s personality was not gone. People don’t change that quickly. Esau’s second face reared its head from time to time, or perhaps more often than that. European Esau was to still to perpetrate its greatest assault against the children of Jacob – with the genocide in the 20th century, using all the tools of modern technology.

Yet Esau is as complex as he is enduring. His two faces keep emerging.

Perhaps the time has come to finally tame all of Esau. This is possibly the root cause and deeper meaning behind the deep rift in The West – the split between Europe and the United States. After years of celebrating their alliance, Esau’s both faces are emerging, instigated by Esau’s confrontation with… Ishmael!

Perhaps the West today – children of Esau – is suffering from the anguish Esau felt on his wedding day so many years ago. The effects of Esau’s confrontation with Ishmael – whether to align himself with Ishmael or not – still linger on today.

The two faces of Esau surface yet again. On one hand Esau wanted to betray Ishmael. On the other hand he did offer to join forces with him, but it was Ishmael who refused the offer. Then again, Esau ultimately did marry Ishmael’s daughter. What offspring were born of this union? What forces were unleashed by this marriage?

Sooner or later everyone has their day of reckoning. Esau has to now account for the fact that he “went to Ishmael” – for his alliance or battle with Ishmael. Which one will it be?

The divergence of the United States and Europe is an unprecedented opportunity for both sides of the ocean to do a sincere soul searching in understanding their true roles in history, and finally make peace between both sides of Esau and with his brother Jacob, his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham.

Balancing power, justice and peace has been a struggle that has plagued nations throughout history. How do we reconcile between a higher moral standard while leaving room for diverse approaches. The struggle has also included the battle between religion and science, between faith and individuality – between G-d and the universe.

The West has split into two camps – the two faces of Esau. Two views on politics, power, justice and even G-d and religion.

Europe is still holding on to one face of Esau – the one that is still struggling with G-d and justice. Europe, perhaps as a result of their long bloodstained history, is still afraid of addressing these issues head on. Instead they opt for ignoring G-d or just making Him irrelevant to daily secular life. After seeing how religion can be a destructive force, when abused and controlled by the corrupt, this side of Esau is terrified of addressing good and evil and is afraid of confronting Ishmael for its iniquities after Esau has wreaked so much havoc and shed so much blood in the name of ******ianity.

The second face of Esau – emerging in the New World, on the other side of the ocean in a new hemisphere – this side is not afraid, and on the contrary carries with pride proudly carries the banner of G-d together with freedom and liberty. [America, unlike Europe, had to fight a war for its freedom religion and _expression. Europe fought a war for its life, but has yet to fight for its own true beliefs]. Indeed it is because “in G-d we trust” that we have the guarantee that “all men [read: people; hey this face of Esau is also still in need of some market corrections…] are created equal.” It is precisely this faith in G-d that gives us the right to defend freedom and not allow any tyrants – religious or not – and any religious fanaticism to dictate the terms and kill whomever they consider to be ‘infidels.’

Is it possible that in America Esau has finally evolved and matured to the point that G-d and right and wrong can be integrated into life without compromising our diversity and personal liberties? Is it possible that this above all things is America’s true calling?

How interesting it is that after all these thousands of years Esau and Ishmael resume their negotiations that began on their marriage day 3615 years ago. And that it is Ishmael who is forcing Esau today to confront himself and his attitude to G-d, justice and truth?

And in turn, Esau is impelling Ishmael to confront his beliefs as well.

Esau and Ishmael are both compelled to ask the question: What would our father Abraham say to us today? Is our father Abraham proud of our behavior? What would he want us to do, how would he want us to behave?

Interesting as well is the fact that this week we read

And how appropriate is it that we read this week about the erection of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary in the wilderness, which was the precursor for the Holy Temple in Jerusalem?

Following the exodus from Egypt and the revelation at Sinai, the children of Jacob build the Mishkan, from the cedars planted by Jacob years ago.

We don’t really know where the children of Esau and Ishmael were at the time. What we do know is that years later, Rome – the children of Esau (Edom) – destroyed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. And we know the immortal and powerful words of the Midrash: Had the nations of the world known how much they benefit and are blessed by the Holy Temple they would have surrounded it with legions of armies to protect it from any harm. [4]

The Temple in Jerusalem was a window between heaven and earth. It infused us with the power to integrate spirit and matter – G-d and the universe. Had the nations known that, they would have appreciated how much they were in need of the Temple – how it could have helped Esau and Ishmael to find their way to G-d.

Yet they didn’t consciously know, so they destroyed the very force that would have been their salvation. But they only destroyed the physical structure, not its spiritual essence. The holiness of the Temple remains on that spot forever. This eternity is manifested in the Western Wall [West yet again, hmmm]. Especially evident when it snows over the Wall (as I can testify).

And this eternal sanctity works its way, perhaps slowly, but persistently throughout history.

The nations may not have known the power of the Temple, but something in them sure does sense the power of Jerusalem. Just witness the battles Ishmael and Esau have fought for control of the center of the universe.

Today there are children of the West that stand firmly behind Israel. In Israel I met an entire group of ******ians who came from Texas and Oklahoma to help the Israeli army and show their support and solidarity for Israel. Yet we need no reminder of Esau’s other face…

The split between Europe and the United States gives us hope that Esau is coming around. Like all rifts, this one has the power to reveal a deeper truth.

Each generation is like a link in the chain of history. Each generation has its role in the unfolding drama of integrating the material universe with its purpose and mission statement. The United States today can play a special role in this work. The foundations of this country are built on absolute principles of faith and trust in G-d. The USA is not just a country of economic opportunity. The success of corporate America and unprecedented prosperity is a result of an unwavering mission statement: All equal, in G-d we trust, diversity and individual, e pluribus Unum – under one G-d.

This country must align itself with its mission – the business of this nation must reconnect to its higher calling. Then and only then does this country earn the right to hold itself out as an example to the world. Simply being a nation of great wealth and enormous military muscle does not by any means give it the moral high ground. Other nations, religions and peoples have much longer traditions and histories than the relatively new world of the United States. But this country can demonstrate something unique to the world. As a country, it can rise above its own national issues and serve as a beacon of light teaching the world the universal principles of all humankind – the principle upon which this nation was founded – how to live in peace with G-d.

Not its firepower, but its selflessness earns this country the right to serve as an example to other nations.

After all the years of American prosperity and resulting complacency, perhaps the United States is on the threshold of a new revolutionary war – the final frontier. And it is indeed a great honor and merit and responsibility and gift to be part of this drama and affect its destiny.

Had the nations of the world known how much they benefit they receive from the Holy Temple in Jerusalem they would have surrounded it with legions of armies to protect it from any harm. What a haunting question: Had they only known?

But do they know today?




[1] Midrash Or Ha’afeilah at the end of our portion (cited in Torat Shleimah note 27). See also Bereishis Rabba 67: 8. Midrash Tehillim 14:2.

[2] See Abarbanel, Mayonei Yeshua (intro to Daniel), 2:3.

[3] See Likkutei Sichos vol. 15 pp. 192.

[4] Bamidbar Rabba 1:3. Tanchuma Bechukosei 2. See Talmud, Sukkah 55b.


source: http://www.Yiddishkeit.org/Default.asp?ItemCode=351
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Unread 03-31-2003, 03:11 PM   #36
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yet another article by S. Jacobson about opening our eyes

http://64.49.228.225/html/themes/the...70-terumah.htm

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Unread 05-04-2003, 01:11 PM   #37
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At First Sight

by Yisrael Rutman

What would it be like to be blind all your life, and then be able to see? A wonderful blessing, no doubt, for which anyone would be grateful.

Medical history provides us with numerous such cases. The classic work on the subject is Marius van Senden's Sight and Space, published in 1932, after surgical procedures for removing cataracts were made available, and some people who had been blind from birth were among its first beneficiaries.

The results were, however, surprising -- and perplexing. Many of the formerly blind, although they could now see normally, could not assimilate at once the new visual data of color, depth, height and distance. They were born-again visual illiterates, having to learn the meaning of what they were seeing. It was like learning a new language, and matching the colors with their names was the least of it. Visual messages that we take for granted were for them like a code that had to be broken. They had, for example, to learn that the "dark marks" on objects were shadings, the natural indicators of depth that we take so much for granted.

There were also some odd misconceptions. One woman was surprised to discover that "men do not look like trees at all."

The experience of seeing faces was particularly revealing. Eye-to-eye for the first time, some did not realize that they were indeed looking at a face. Until its lips moved and a voice issued forth, they simply did not know what it was.

And as one of the formerly blind was to discover, the faces of each of her visitors "was utterly different." The sense of touch, no matter how acute and reliable for identifying others, did not prepare her for the sight of human individuality. Seeing that no two people are alike was a revelation.

...

The Challenge of Seeing

In the medical annals, perhaps the most astonishing result was that not all of the previously blind were happy with their newly acquired faculty. They did not all jump up with hands outstretched, shouting joyfully, "I'm healed!" and throw away their canes forever, like in the old-time religion. On the contrary, many found their first exposure to the often harsh and inscrutable world of sight to be rather traumatizing.

In An Anthropologist On Mars, best-selling neurologist Dr. Oliver Sachs reports of one patient: "He...found some things he loved ugly (including his wife and himself!) and he was frequently upset by the imperfections and blemishes of the physical world."

Van Senden describes how a particularly anguished patient threatened, "If it doesn't change, I'll tear my eyes out!" Indeed, almost every one of the newly sighted suffered a "motivation crisis," and not every one got through it.

For most people blindness is a condition to be dreaded, and we would expect that anyone saved from it would joyfully welcome their release from that darkness.

Yet, amazingly, it was not so. Some even persisted in going about willfully with eyes closed, feeling their way around as if they were still blind, in a self-imposed darkness. It seems that the constant strain of having to interpret the unaccustomed and confusing apparitions that now crowded their field of vision was more than we can imagine.

But there were happy endings, too. One of those who initially resisted sight and kept her eyes closed for two weeks, finally began to examine her newly visible surroundings. She soon yielded to rapturous exclamation, repeating over and over: "Oh God! How beautiful!"

To some degree, many of us go about in a self-imposed obscurity, refusing to open our eyes and see a God-created world, full of unfailing inventiveness and love. Instead, we are "frequently upset by the imperfections and blemishes" that we perceive.

Even the most benign light can be frightening to an eye accustomed to darkness. It takes courage to open one's eyes. We are afraid, lest we be overwhelmed by an unintelligible reality. Lest we find ourselves unable to cope, we keep our eyes closed, even to the good things.

The Psalmist calls out to us, "O taste and see the Lord is good!" Just as we understand that we must open our mouths to enjoy the taste of foods, so the enjoyment of the world in general requires that we open our eyes, that we broaden our perceptions. We may find that we inhabit a world that consists not only of darkness and evil, but also of light and good.
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Unread 05-25-2003, 09:57 AM   #38
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WAR'S NEW FACE

by Daniel Pipes

New York Post
April 16, 2003

"One gets the impression that U.S. military dominance is now so overwhelming," writes David Brooks in The Weekly Standard, "that the rules of conflict are being rewritten."

Indeed they are. In both the Afghanistan war of 2001 and the Iraq one now concluding, traditional features of warfare have been turned upside-down. But it's not just an American phenomenon; the same rewriting also applies in Israel's war against the Palestinians.

Some of the changes include:

Who is the enemy: War used to be aimed against a whole country; during World War II, for example, whole peoples were vilified "Huns," "Japs"). Now, the authorities painstakingly distinguish between the government (the Taliban, Saddam Hussein's regime, Arafat) and the people (Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians). The former is the enemy; the latter, potentially friendly. This leads to such developments - astounding from the standpoint of traditional warfare - as U.S. planes winging to Afghanistan, simultaneously carrying bombs to destroy the regime and food to relieve the populace.


Who will win: The outcome of war used to be the overriding question. Nowadays, when it's West vs. non-West, the vast disparity in economics, technology, materiel, training and organization virtually assures a Western victory. This assumed, attention focuses on very different matters, such as the duration of hostilities and the number of casualties.


Casualties: In the old days each side sought to inflict as many casualties as possible on the enemy; now, Western armies strive to keep down the other sides' losses. In response, non-Western rulers sometimes inflict casualties on their own population. In Iraq, "the defending army attempts to place its own civilians in danger," Mark Bowden notes in the Philadelphia Inquirer, while the invading army "tries to avoid killing and hurting them." Likewise, Arafat's terrorists routinely operate out of residential areas, hoping for civilian casualties.


Plunder: As recently as 1918, victory in war meant beggaring the loser. Then, starting with the Marshall Plan after World War II, the U.S. government established the precedent of paying for the rehabilitation of its former enemies. This quickly became the norm, to the point that there are many complaints the Bush administration has not done enough for the Afghans or the Sharon government for the Palestinians. For example, Chuck Hagel, a Republican senator from Nebraska, is dissatisfied with U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and demands "more effort and more manpower" there. In Iraq, the American taxpayer may be about to spend tens of billions of dollars.


Fighting to help the other side: Traditionally, each side fought explicitly for its own interests. No longer: the coalition name for its war against Saddam Hussein is not "Operation No Nukes" or "Operation Cheap Oil" but "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Old notions of national interest would seem to be weakening.


Rooting for the other side: Nationality once defined loyalties; no longer. Starting with the Boer War of 1899-1902, when the British Empire fought the Afrikaners in South Africa, significant numbers of Westerners oppose the war goals of their own governments. These sentiments contributed significantly to the French loss in Algeria and the U.S. loss in Vietnam. In the war against Saddam Hussein, some Americans and Britons wanted the coalition to lose ("We support our troops when they shoot their officers," read a sign on the streets of San Francisco). Contrarily, plenty of Iraqis wanted the coalition to win "Yes, Yes Bush! Down, Down Saddam!").

In the aggregate, these changes amount to a transformation of warfare. In important ways, Western operations against non-Western states resemble police raids more than warfare. Western governments are the police, local tyrants are the criminals and the subject populations are the victims.

Note the parallels: Like gangland capos, Mullah Omar and Saddam Hussein disappeared (will Arafat be next?). The outcome of these operations is not in doubt. The rights of victims are as important as the safety of police. Not using excessive force is a paramount concern. And the Left goes easy on the criminals.

These shifts imply that Western warfare has changed in basic ways, and is now going into uncharted territory. Fortunately, the two democracies at the cutting edge of this type of fighting, the United States and Israel, have creative and humane militaries that are proving themselves worthy of this challenge.
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Unread 07-01-2003, 10:10 AM   #39
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excerpts from the sicha Acharei-Kedoshim 5751, in Sefer Ha'Sichos 5751, vol. 2, p. 504

"Based on the above, that Geula elevates the inyanei galus themselves (by making a dira ba'tachtonim out of them) so that it's specifically the avoda in galus that brings the Geula, it's understood that the matters of the world themselves and the goyim themselves (even while in galus) (really) help in the avoda of bringing the Geula.

"One can say that standing at the end of galus, close to Geula, the help is even more obvious. As we see in recent generations in particular, and furthermore - lately, and especially in the most recent days:

"In previous generations (most) Jews lived in countries where there were obstacles etc. to avodas Hashem in general. This is unlike recent generations, where (most) Jews live in countries where a Malchus of Chesed rules, starting with this country (where most Jews are) which helps Jew achieve an inner Geula in their avoda, until - they will do the avoda which will bring the Geula, literally, and then the Malchus (of Chesed) will also help Jews return to Eretz Yisrael

"This last year we've seen how this relationship with the Jewish people spread to additional countries, even to that country [referring to the U.S.S.R.], where (until recently) there were limitations regarding the freedom Jews had in their avoda of Torah and mitzvos and also regarding their ability to leave the country - and now the relationship has changed, for they permit Jews to fulfill Torah and mitzvos and allow Jews to leave - (without the previous limitations), on the contrary - they also help Jews travel to Eretz Yisrael, as a preparation for the help the nations will give Jews to leave galus and go to Eretz Yisrael with the true and complete Geula.
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Unread 07-01-2003, 10:29 AM   #40
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cont. from previous post

"In addition to the direct help the goyim give Jews, there are also matters in which we see how the goyim themselves do acts of goodness and kindness, which further reveal how there is a Master to this palace, as a preparation to "v'huyisa l'Hashem ha'melucha" in the true and complete Geula

"not as it once was, that specifically Am Yisrael were the ones who actually fulfilled the plan for a dira ba'tachtonim, while a few of the gentile nations acted cruelly with one another, and mostly looked out for themselvs or conquered other nations etc.

"Among the inyanim gluyim (open things) that we have just very recently, in which we see how the world and the goyim are preparing and helping on the way to Geula - is through tzedaka and chinuch, two fundamental items in the settling of the world:

"It's known and publicized (in all newspapers) about recent events - that this nation (which is founded on tzedaka and chesed, as is known) used its strength to help rescue people far away (far from this country) even though by doing so, no direct benefit was accrued to the citizens of this country:

"This country sent many people and soldiers from its army to help refugees in those countries, along with food, clothing, and medication. Instead of using airplanes to conquer, and instead of using the food and clothing for the citizens here - they used them to rescue unfortunate people, especially little children, from the cold, and the opposite of life.

"In this we see the compassion of the citizens of this country: when they heard and saw how people are suffering - even though these are not their relatives, and they never had a connection with them - the country aroused itself to help them. This is in accordance with the shita of this country in inyanei tzedaka, that they help people the world over, and don't wait for requests for aid.

"It's known that lately the president of this country came out with a proclamation and specific instructions regarding education for the young. This is in accordance with the beginning of his presidency when he announced that he desired to be remembered as the "Education President," because of the work and big changes for the better that he would implement in order to strengthen education in this country.

"The chidush in these recent events (among other things) is simply understood: even though for Jews this is no chidush, since we always did things in accordance with Torah and mitzvos regarding tzedaka and chinuch etc. - this reveals even more how there is a Master to this palace, which is the true foundation of tzedaka and chinuch -

"and all this is - in addition to other things that are happening b'hashgacha pratis every day, whether regarding people at large or each person in his private affairs, and the point is that this reveals even more how the world is helping make a dira ba'tachtonim and bringing the Geula."
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Unread 07-01-2003, 10:34 AM   #41
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Quote:
VOTE FOR TOTAL HUNT BAN

MPs in the House of Commons have voted in favour of an outright ban on fox hunting in England and Wales.

Those in favour numbered 362, compared to 154 hunting supporters.


The majority was a total of 208 people in favour after a passionate five-and-a-half hour debate.

The news came minutes after ministers decided not to persist with demands for a limited ban on hunting with dogs.

It proved another damaging setback for Prime Minister Tony Blair, who did not take part in the debate and did not vote.

The Bill is certain to face stiff opposition from pro-hunt peers in the Lords.

It will have to be re-committed to a standing committee for "tidying up" before the summer recess but anti-hunt MPs are confident that despite the delay the Bill can still be forced through the Upper House using the Parliament Act.

The result was greeted by loud cheers in the Commons gallery but despair among pro-hunt supporters who had demonstrated noisily outside Parliament all day.

Over the weekend, Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett had urged MPs not to "wreck" the Bill by voting for the total ban on fox hunting.

The Prime Minister's spokesman made clear that Mr Blair supported the Bill as it stood, without amendment.
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Unread 07-01-2003, 11:39 AM   #42
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Although it would be simple to say "Well, Nimrod and Eisav hunted, so an end to hunting is a sign of all good things, including Moshiach-tzeiten!" It is not as simple as that, however.


Below is the contribution [former UK Prime Minister] John Major made on December 20th in the fox-hunting debate in the House of Commons.

Quote:
I have never hunted a fox or a deer, nor have I attended a hunt or seen one, except at a distance, yet I oppose the Bill every bit as strongly as any one of the country dwellers who are likely to lose their livelihood should a ban be imposed by Parliament.

...

There are, I hope, points of agreement across the House and I shall suggest some. Foxes are vermin that spread disease. They kill sheep, poultry, free-range piglets and game. All farmers regard foxes as a menace. No doubt the sheep, poultry, piglets and game also have strong feelings about them. Moreover, without a proper method of destruction, the number of foxes would treble annually, which, as far as I know, nobody would welcome, so the fox needs culling, but shooting alone will not do, as the Burns report makes clear.

...

Shooting may seem humane, but it is often ineffective. A fox that is wounded and not killed--that often happens--might linger and suffer for a long time, perhaps even days. Shooting cannot eliminate the need for hunting, as the Burns report makes clear. All violent death is distasteful, unless the fox is to die in comfort, surrounded by its family and mourned by neighbouring chickens. It is inevitable and no one can avoid it.
From http://www.johnmajor.co.uk/comm8.htm
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Unread 07-01-2003, 11:57 AM   #43
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chabad Friend
Although it would be simple to say "Well, Nimrod and Eisav hunted, so an end to hunting is a sign of all good things, including Moshiach-tzeiten!" It is not as simple as that, however.
We can question whether hunting for sport is even assur for bnei noach. We can question whether a ban on hunting will have the results John Major fears. But the point, relative to this thread, is that the idea of killing for sport now so offends a significant percentage of Esav's offspring in Great Britain that they will ban their own long-time tradition.

Many of the misguided liberal policies of the last 50 years are misguided only because they lack the key stablizing element: "reishis chochma yiras hashem". But the motivation to create a welfare state, for example, is a bold sign of exactly what the Rebbe is trying to call our attention to in that sicha.
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Unread 08-31-2003, 06:23 PM   #44
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Shoftim 5751

"This also answers the question that is asked lately about the talk about Geula coming immediately - how can this be conveyed successfully? how will the household react, and what will the world say?

"And the answer is, that if inyanei ha'Geula were a chidush (a novelty), perhaps there would be room for the question; but since Geula is not a chidush, but all the inyanei ha'Geula have begun already, and were already drawn down and accepted in this physical, low world with nothing lower than it, it will be no surprise when the Geula actually comes immediately!"
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Unread 09-21-2003, 01:37 AM   #45
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The Ba'al Shem Tov:

Quote:
The mashal is that of a king who made several mechitzas by optical illusion (achizas einayim) before his palace, that no one should be able to enter there so that he would be concealed there. He made walls, and fire, and rivers--everything by optical illusion--before his son. Whosoever was wise and considered how it could be that their merciful father wouldn't want to show his face to his beloved son could only conclude it was an optical illusion. The father wanted to test him, [to see] if the son would make an effort to come to him. But really, there is no "hestera" (hiding). And as soon as the son exhibited self-sacrifice to go in the river, the optical illusion became hidden and he passed it. And so it was with all the mechitzas, until he arrived at the palace of the king. And then there is the foolish one that was afraid to begin to cross the mechitzas, and there is also one who crosses the water and returns due to the walls and the fire. The nimshal is known:

Whosoever exhibits mesiras nefesh and passes all the mechitzas, and pushes himself until he comes to the king--this one will arrive greater than he was before.

Baal Shem Tov Al Hatorah, parashas Vayelech, p. 597
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Unread 11-03-2003, 02:16 PM   #46
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jude


you say you read the thread
your dismissal of the multitude of points made in that thread that highlight the incredible times we live in, because it doesn't fit your understanding of the Rambam, is disappointing and in contradiction to the Rebbe's teachings
All the 'incredible' things do not make the geula. They may INDICATE it will be coming soon.
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Unread 11-03-2003, 03:29 PM   #47
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that is b'feirush NOT what the Rebbe said, and even if not for the Rebbe saying it, saying so is not logical considering the magnitude and scope of the changes

in addition to the Rebbe saying that certain things are simanim of Geula, the Rebbe says the geula process has begun, and what you are seeing, which is unprecedented in our history, is the unfolding and realization of the prophecies of Geula
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Unread 11-03-2003, 03:37 PM   #48
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Yes, for anyone who knows history as much as he understands how to read the Rebbe's sichos that is obvious.

Sure, the Balfour Declaration, the UN acceptnce of the state of Isarel are minor events in the History of the Jewish people.
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Unread 11-03-2003, 03:38 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jude
that is b'feirush NOT what the Rebbe said, and even if not for the Rebbe saying it, saying so is not logical considering the magnitude and scope of the changes

in addition to the Rebbe saying that certain things are simanim of Geula, the Rebbe says the geula process has begun, and what you are seeing, which is unprecedented in our history, is the unfolding and realization of the prophecies of Geula
1. The geula process started at the destruction of the beis
hamikdash (or at the latest the year 4000)

2. I do nto know what the Rebbe ZT'L MEANT, I know what the Rambam says, and that has not occured.
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Unread 11-03-2003, 03:39 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally posted by rebayzl
Yes, for anyone who knows history as much as he understands how to read the Rebbe's sichos that is obvious.
Sure, the Balfour Declaration, the UN acceptnce of the state of Isarel are minor events in the History of the Jewish people.
Do you believe that Balfour was the aschilta d'geulah? Do you think the Rashab held that way?
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