What is True Jewish Leadership?

Leadership has played – and continues to play – an essential role in the life of the Hebrew Nation. While Israel has at times been blessed with great shepherds who have brought our people to incredible heights, poor leadership has too often resulted in disaster for our people. This week’s Torah portion of VAYAKHEL offers a glimpse of improper Jewish leadership, from which we can discern the attributes a true leader should possess.

“The leaders brought the shoham stones and the stones for the settings for the Ephod and the Breastplate; the spice and the oil, for illumination and for the anointment oil and the incense spices.” (SHEMOT 35:27-28)

Rashi cites Rabbi Natan on this verse, noting that the word “leaders” (Nesi’im) is spelled without the two yuds the word would normally include. He explains the defective spelling of their title as an implied rebuke for having not brought their gifts until everything else had been contributed. Assuming that the general contributions would not be enough, the tribal chiefs waited to see what would be lacking so that they themselves could step forward and provide it. Because the national response was so generous, however, there was almost nothing left for the leadership to contribute.

The Talmud states that “G-D cries over three things each day… one of these is a leader who behaves arrogantly towards the public” (Talmud Ḥagigah 5b). Rabeinu Baḥyah teaches on this that “For it is the way of leaders to look down upon the rest of the people… and thus leaders brought the stones that rested on Aharon’s heart, in order to atone for the arrogance of their hearts. These leaders had been lowly slaves in Egypt and were now princes of Israel. Upon receiving their high appointment, they immediately began to look down upon their brothers.”

Because Israel’s tribal chiefs were idle in their participation, the Torah spells their title defectively. Had their exhilaration over the Mishkan been equal to that of the masses, they would have immediately joined in the national spirit of generosity. But influential people often view themselves as superior to their public and are unwilling to compromise their status in society. This contemptuous attitude is precisely what leads people in positions of responsibility to harm the national welfare in favor of advancing personal agendas.

The Maharal of Prague teaches in Netivot Olam that a leader who relates to his public with arrogance can easily begin to rule through coercion and brute force. He can become a tyrannical dictator, persecuting any who stand in the way of his ambitions. Throughout history, this type of leadership has resulted in calamity for the Children of Israel. An attitude of false superiority can often cause a person to neglect what is best for his people in favor of personal success or political gains. Such arrogance can even drive a leader to sacrifice innocent lives in exchange for the fleeting approval of foreign rulers.

The ideal Torah concept of melekh (generally translated into English as “king”) differs greatly from the monarchs who rule over other peoples. A melekh is the concentrated expression of the collective Israeli soul – Knesset Yisrael – that manifests itself in our world through millions of bodies revealed in space and time as individual Jews. The melekh does not actually rule over Israel but rather embodies the mission and aspirations of his nation to the extent that he becomes a microcosm of the entire Jewish people and his personal identity is absorbed into Israel’s collective national identity.

Unlike the tribal chiefs who demonstrated less enthusiasm than their people for the Mishkan, a true leader of Israel leads his nation by displaying even greater passion and fervor in serving HaShem. This is clearly exhibited in the behavior of David.

“David danced with all [his] strength before HaShem; David was girded in a linen tunic. David and the entire House of Israel brought up the Ark of HaShem with loud, joyous sound, and the sound of theshofar.” (SHMUEL II 6:14-15)

David remains the paradigm of the ideal melekh, setting the ultimate standard for all future Jewish leadership.

“His [the melekh’s] heart is the heart of the entire congregation of Israel.” (Hilkhot Melakhim 3:6)

Like the heart, which is one of the smallest organs of a body yet provides for that body’s entire energy and life force, a melekh generates and directs the character and vitality of the entire Hebrew Nation. In this vein, the Midrash states that “The leader of the generation [represents] the entire generation.” (Bamidbar Rabbah19:28)

To assist our leaders in properly fulfilling their roles, the Torah offers statutes to promote an attitude of responsibility, such as the commandment for a melekh to write for himself two copies of the Torah.

“It shall be that when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself two copies of this Torah in a book, from before the Kohanim, the Levi’im. It shall be with him, and he shall read from it all the days of his life, so that he will learn to fear HaShem, his G-D, to observe all the words of this Torah and these decrees, to perform them, so that his heart not become haughty over his brethren and not turn from the commandment right or left, so that he will prolong years over his kingdom, he and his sons amid Israel.” (DEVARIM 17:18-20)

A melekh is commanded to write and read his own Torah in order to prevent his position of leadership from creating within him a feeling of arrogance toward his brothers. By delving into the deeper secrets of Torah, a melekh can gain a higher awareness that although we may each play unique roles in Israel’s national life, we are all in fact parts of a greater whole and no man can truly reign supreme over others. Even learning the Torah on a surface level enables a leader to understand the past failures of his people in order that he personally strive to correct these shortcomings and lead the Jewish people in fulfilling our historic destiny.

Genuine Hebrew leadership is the higher calling to unite and inspire Israel towards reaching our full potential as the nation that manifests HaShem’s Ideal in all spheres of life. This national mission is the essence of what a king must fully absorb into himself so that he may place Israel’s honor and well-being before his own. Such leadership is vital for Israel to succeed in bringing about history’s ultimate goal – that the Divine Ideal be seen, felt and perceived in everything that exists so that all may understand themselves as active participants in the greater story of mankind. It is the deterministic blueprint of human development that all peoples unify behind Jerusalem’s leadership in ushering in a world of total goodness and perfection – a world where each people fully expresses itself as an essential organ of a greater body with Israel serving as the heart.

Jerusalem: The United Capital of Palestine

Sometimes your enemies can teach you something.  In fact, many times they can teach you something.  Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) has now stood up as the ultimate Palestinian patriot.  It’s true, he has aspired to that before, but has always fallen short. Incitement on PA TV just doesn’t cut it when compared to Hamas.  Renaming signs after terrorists cannot compare to actually planning and executing the attacks like Hamas and ISIS does.  So what’s left for Abbas?

Abbas has never retreated from bombastic verbiage.  His latest, is that Jerusalem belongs to “Palestine.”  Now that is not surprise. This time Abbas drew a red line for his own people.

“Anyone who accepts a Palestinian state without Jerusalem as its capital is a traitor,” Abbas said.

How refreshing. I have to say, at least Abbas can be admired for standing up and showing us what it means to be a patriot.  It’s true, our own leaders have said Jerusalem is the united capital of Israel, but we have never heard Bibi Netanyahu call Isaac Herzog a traitor for advocating the division of Jerusalem.

Ideology means something or at least it should.  The problem with our leaders is that the words leaving their mouths seem to be nothing more than noise.  We have to be willing to be as fervent with our belief sets as our enemies or we won’t succeed in preserving our inheritance. This is not to say we should knock the other side out using violence. Our enemies can raise that flag, but we have to believe strong enough in our convictions that we call out our internal opposition for what they are, traitors.

In no way am I referring to positions concerning, health care, infrastructure, taxes, or the economy.  These are agnostic policy choices that should be made based on professionalism.  I am referring to Israel’s future and its connection to its past.  When a politician is determined to trade away our national heritage as if it is a mere policy decision, yes that person is a traitor.  When he or she supports foreign influence that has caused the death and security deterioration of the nation, yes that person is a traitor.

“He that struggles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.” – Edmund Burke

Since the beginning of the Zionist Revolution and the Jewish people’s nascent liberation the political class has been afflicted by a ghetto philosophy, this dhimmitude wrought upon the Jewish nation after years in exile has yet to be shed.  Advancement within the nation has occurred because the Arab population within and without the Land of Israel has forced the political class’s hands.  We see this in 1948, 1967, and beyond. Despite Israel’s overwhelming strength, the government has never forced true sovereignty throughout Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. The Arab leadership are here in many ways in order to refine us and make us reach to the next level.  If not the ghetto we have created would be far too comfortable to crack the complacency of ideological hollowness

Mahmoud Abbas may be a murderer, Holocaust denier, and thief, but he understands the need of the Arab street to cling to its absolutism, because for them there are things far more important than simply peace.

Hanukah – A War for Liberation

For an entire generation, the ancient Judeans waged a struggle for freedom, which, in terms of intensity, has almost no parallel in human history. It was among the first recorded wars of liberation and it laid a model for nearly every revolution that followed. With an unbreakable faith and willingness to sacrifice, a handful of valiant Hebrew fighters forged the eternal covenant that resistance to tyranny is the highest and truest service to HaShem.

In those years, the cultural colonization to which the Seleucid Empire aspired was at its peak. Hellenist values and practices were imposed on the native Hebrews by means of harsh edicts and the swords of foreign soldiers. The victimization of the weak, rampant debauchery and thedesecration of the Temple were pinnacles of the Greek culture bestowed upon Judea. In Jerusalem, the urban upper class yearned to be citizens of Antioch and to transform their ancient city into an “enlightened” Greek Polis. When the uprising began, it arose from the mountain folkwho remained loyal to the Torah and to the heritage of their fathers. They were led by the Hasmoneans – Matityahu and his five courageous sons. The flame of revolt was kindled in Modiin and quickly spread like wildfire through the hills of Judea. After Matityahu’s death, his third son Yehuda took command. He became the Maccabee and his guerrilla army moved in two decisivechannels – resistance to the foreign culture and armed struggle against foreign soldiers. Two wars with one goal of Hebrew independence in Judea.

The Maccabean revolt was not merely a struggle to revoke harsh decrees or secure freedom of worship. Hebrew sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael is the foundation for proper Torah observance (see Mishnah Torah Hilkhot anukah 3:1, the Ramban’s supplement to the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvot 4, Shulan Arukh Even HaEzer 75:6, Pesikta Rabati 34, Magid Mesharim Parshat Vayikraand esed L’Avraham 3:7) and HaShem’s Divine blueprint for mankind demands Jewish independence in the historic Jewish homeland.

The Hasmoneans were determined. After several Judean victories and the liberation of Jerusalem, the Seleucid Syrian-Greeks offered a truce. Freedom of worship would be restored to the natives in exchange for ending their armed struggle for independence. There were some Jewish leaders naïve enough to accept the terms. A misunderstanding of our Torah caused those weak in spirit and tired of war to believe that they had already achieved their objectives. The Hasmonean faction, however, understood their obligation to liberate the Land of Israel from foreign rule. They also knew that without full political independence, there could be no lasting peace or real freedom of worship, as the spirit of Greece could again seek to dominate. Yehuda declared that the revolution must continue until Judea would be free from foreign influence and foreign soldiers. After nearly three decades of ferocious conflict, the Hasmoneans triumphed and theKingdom of Israel was restored (Hilkhot anukah 3:1).

When the Seleucid-Greek Empire began to persecute Israel, the devout heroism of Matityahu and his sons awakened within their people aspirations for self-rule. This desire for freedom – which had not strongly surfaced prior to the oppression – was catalyzed by the persecution and the fierce backlash it provoked. National independence was eventually declared and this declaration itself served as a sacred barrier against the forces of Hellenization as the very desire for self-determination psychologically impedes assimilation into the culture of an occupying power. Yet without Matityahu and his sons – the warrior-priests who imbued the political ideal with spiritual content – the revolution would have lacked sufficient force to keep fighting and withstand the prolonged hardships of war. This is demonstrated through the miracle of the oil. The pure cruse with the seal of the High Priest shone brightly, its light permeating the collective soul of the Hebrew Nation and bestowing upon Israel the strength to fight on.

Perhaps the most important lesson of Ḥanukah is that light is not merely another creation but rather Creation’s ultimate goal. The Maharal of Prague teaches in Ner Mitzvah that the world was created deficient so that mankind could actively participate as partners in its perfection. Human beings are given free will in order that we choose to involve ourselves in bringing the world to its ultimate goal. As the main protagonist in the drama of human history, Israel is tasked with revealing this truth, thereby leading mankind to its predestined ideal state.

Israel’s mission of bringing the world to the awareness of HaShem can only be accomplished through the Jewish people sovereign over Eretz Yisrael with the Torah serving as our national constitution. Only through this specific formula can Israel thin the veils of human perception and reveal the Divine light constantly present in our world, leading mankind to recognize and experience HaShem as the infinite Whole that creates, sustains and permeates all.

While the light of G-D’s Truth is always present, it is often hidden from man’s consciousness by curtains of perception. It is therefore currently possible for a person to acknowledge his own life while simultaneously denying the existence of the Divine Source that not only provides his every moment of being but is also in fact his higher inner Self. It is Israel’s task to remove the curtains of perception and reveal the Divine light – to bring the world to a state of perfection where all humankind achieves ultimate fulfillment and expression through a higher awareness of our relationship to HaShem.

Although G-D’s presence is hidden in day-to-day events, He continues to work through the system that He created in order to return that very system back to the full expression of His Ideal. Through a Divinely guided historical process, all of existence is sanctified and brought to the collective awareness of its inner relationship to its fundamental Source. Not only supernatural miracles but also the entire world with all of its natural laws is being pulled toward Creation’s ultimate goal through the story of Israel’s national rebirth on our native soil. The full restoration of the Hebrew Kingdom in our homeland will dissolve the remaining veils and bring everyone to finally recognize themselves as unique aspects and expressions of a much greater Reality.

Rabbi Moshe Ḥaim Lutzatto teaches in Derekh HaShem that G-D placed forces of evil into our story as an essential ingredient enabling free will and human growth. These dark forces have beentasked with working to prevent Israel from bringing Creation to its goal. Throughout history, this evil has manifested itself as four main human empires, each attempting in its own unique way to impede Israel from reaching our full potential as the nation that will express the Divine Ideal in all spheres of human existence. This is the inner battle between light and darkness raging through the annals of human civilization.

The four empires – Babylon, Persia, Greece and Edom – that have dominated the globe throughout most of world history emerged from the inherently deficient nature of existence and aim to maintain the curtains of perception through preventing Israel from reaching our full national potential. Each of these empires, however, has had it’s own unique method for obstructing the Jewish mission.

Knowing that the Hebrews must be in Eretz Yisrael in order to fulfill our national function in Creation, the Babylonians worked to physically separate us from our land. They forcibly uprooted us from our borders and then graciously provided us with material prosperity on foreign soil. This simple separation from our homeland, although Jews remained Torah observant in the Diaspora, was enough to prevent HaShem’s light from being revealed. The soil of Babylon was simply not conducive to Israel accomplishing our Divine historic mission.

The Persians had a different approach. Haman convinced his king to completely annihilate the Jews. By removing the bearers of HaShem’s light from the world, he believed he could succeed in snuffing out the Divine flame.

The Greeks did not try to remove the Jews from our homeland, nor did they initially attempt a physical destruction. Instead, the spirit of Greece sought to pollute Israel’s culture by reducing G-D’s Torah to the level of a human wisdom on par with other notable wisdoms of the time. The Torah’s Divinity was viewed as a threat to Greek philosophy, which valued human intellect above all else and could not tolerate wisdom beyond mortal comprehension. Unsatisfied with the success of this spiritual assault, the Seleucid Syrian-Greeks then sought to forcibly sever theHebrew Nation from our authentic culture through the brutal enforcement of cruel decrees against adherence to Torah Law.

These three empires each attacked an essential component to Israel fulfilling our national purpose. The fourth antagonist, however, which first emerged as the Roman Empire and has since taken on numerous manifestations, is a combination of all three attempts in a much more destructive and concentrated form.

Throughout the last two thousand years, the Western world (Edom) has tried its hand at all three methods on countless occasions. Three recent examples are the terrible Holocaust in Europe less than a century ago, the British Empire restricting Jewish entry to our homeland and the Soviet Union forcibly separating its Jews from their Torah. The international community’s insistence on not permitting Israel to assert sovereignty over the whole of our country and the resources spent by Western governments on diluting the State of Israel’s authentic Jewish character are just two modern expressions of this evil force, subconsciously aware that its end is at hand. A candle flickers brightest immediately before it is extinguished and today the world is ready to amass itself against Jerusalem. As Israel experiences a national rebirth on our native soil, the forces of darkness are gathering their strength to wage a final war against our light. In the wake of Israel’s triumph, Edom’s depravity will be exposed and mankind’s thinking will be liberated from the cultural tyranny of two thousand years. Concepts of righteousness, morality and truth will be elevated to meanings of newer and higher significance as Israel draws back the curtains of perception and reveals HaShem’s light to all of mankind.

Israel Behind the News [Nov 30, 2015]

Yinon Magal was brought into the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party by Naftali Bennett to put a less religious face on it. The party stalwarts had always been uneasy with Bennett for opening the party calling his move into question as it essentially erases the differences between Likud and Jewish Home.  now they have fodder for the next leadership fight.  It is no secret that Bennett believes his best shot to becoming PM is to merge his party with Likud and fight from within.  This puts a small monkey wrench into that plan.  Yet, despite that the new bill being proposed by Bibi to under the guidance of MK Levin to make it so the largest party automatically gets to form the government would almost guarantee a merger anyway.  This would be out of fear of the Left rising to power over a fractured right wing.


Once again Europe misses the point. Islam = Jihadist ideology.  The Koran espouses destruction of the unbelievers and dhimmitude of the “other people of the book.” Islam would have to essentially stop being Islam in order to be enlightened. It’s true there are sects like the Sufi’s who appear to be peaceful, but even they are easily fired up against the West: http://shoebat.com/2014/06/22/peaceful-muslim-sect-turned-fanatic/
At the end of the day, the World must come to a conclusion that it is really Islam itself that breeds violent hysteria into a way of life.


Just when we thought the “cycle of violence” was settling into a low flame reality, an Arab teen shot dead by security forces reignites tensions to a boiling point. Attacks had begun to be kept to Judea, Samaria, and “East Jerusalem,” but rage has a way of spilling back out into the rest of the country. Remember, that in most cases the security forces shoot Arab teens because they are in fact throwing rocks or Molotov cocktails. This is a prevalent past time in these neighborhoods.

Jihad and the Darkside

Shai and I discuss the current security changes in Judea and Samaria.  At the heart of the security situation is the fact that the government is not ready to fight Jihad at its core and that is with expelling those who are pushing violence.

We also cover the growing clash between Turkey and Russia and its broader context within the global arena and the conflict’s spiritual roots.

Don’t forget to check out this podcast’s sponsor: Root Source

The Jerusalem Light Rail: A Train to Nowhere

When the light rail was completed in Jerusalem, it was hailed as a new future for the city.  The theory led to policy, and the policy created a dogma to go along with it. The train represents, for the Jerusalem city government and really the Israeli government, an untested mantra that is fueled by hope.  The hope is rooted in economics.”If we just make the Arabs’ standard of living better, they will learn to like us. Who would ever risk their jobs?” That was the theory and the Jerusalem light rail exemplified it.

The problem with policy built on theory is that theory never truly represents the world we live in. The Arabs in Jerusalem have never had more access to jobs, commerce, and Western culture and yet their anger has grown. The “knife intifada” has completely flown in the face of the logic of the light rail theory.

Instead of changing course and admitting that the Arab street in Jerusalem and the rest of the country is not interested in financial security and Western culture, Israel for the most part ignored the anger simmering over the last year and now is paying the price.

Traveling on the light rail through the Arab neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina one can see huge houses, nice cars, and clean streets.  These are not the neighborhoods of Silwan and Jabal Mukabar and yet the intifada rages on with the support of residents of Shuafat and Beit Hanina as well.

The mayor of Jerusalem has staked his success on creating a feeling of a unified city for both Jews and Arabs. But what happens if one side doesn’t care for unity? What happens if they just don’t buy into Western culture or a better standard of living?

The answer is what we have now.  Neglected neighborhoods, violent education, and a fearful populace. What is our consolation prize? All we have is a light rail that acts as a showcase to what could be, but nothing more. Now instead of a train moving towards coexistence, it is a train to nowhere.

Despite the challenges the city and country face, they can be met and overcome. The most important thing is to recognize that coexistence can only work if all sides are interested.  This is not the case and the outgrowth of that realization should be a severing of the benefits that the Arab sector has been receiving.

The second action should be a complete return of property confiscated by Arab rioting in the 1920’s and 1930’s to the original Jewish owners or communal boards now representing them. This goes for the Old City as well as areas throughout the Holy Basin.

Lastly, new building projects should be instituted immediately, such as E-1 that will work to connect the suburb of Maale Adumim to the capital.

These three actions will show the Arabs in Jerusalem and throughout the Middle East that we are not going anywhere and they should act accordingly.