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Matot 5774

Matot (Numbers 30:2-32:42 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!   With what is going on in Israel, I feel that it is important to share with you the following article written by David Harris, American Jewish Committee Executive Director, entitled "To The Critics of Israel."

Want to be taken seriously by Israel and its friends? Here's your moment to demonstrate your bona fides.

If you really mean what you say about criticizing Israeli policies but not questioning Israel's inherent right to live in peace and security, then raise your voice right now. Not tomorrow, not the day after, but today.

Speak up and say that the scores, if not hundreds, of rockets being fired from Gaza at Israel are an abomination. Say there can be no justification for such acts of terror.

Say that this assault is a brazen violation of fundamental human rights. Say that Israeli women, men, and children have the right to live in peace in their homes, and not be on permanent, 24/7 alert.

Say you empathize with Israelis, as they have no more than 15 seconds to reach a bomb shelter, and to make sure that their young children and elderly relatives also find protection.

Say that Hamas is a terrorist organization, precisely what the United States and European Union declared it to be years ago.

Say you've read the Hamas Charter and understand the group's goal is not to end Israel's settlement policy, but Israel, period. Say you're aware that Hamas uses civilians in Gaza, including children, as human shields.

Say you know that Hamas is linked to Iran, from which it gets funding, weapons, and training.

Say you see a clear moral distinction between the arsonist, Hamas, and the firefighter, Israel.

Say there's a fundamental difference between a despotic regime, Hamas-ruled Gaza, and a democracy, Israel.

Say you know that Hamas trains children to glorify death and "martyrdom," while Israel educates children to affirm life and advance the frontiers of human knowledge.

Say you know that Hamas opposes any Palestinian effort to reach peace with Israel, and will do everything possible to sabotage efforts in that direction.

Say you know that no country, neither America nor the European nations nor anyone else, would tolerate volleys of deadly rockets fired at them with the aim of causing murder and mayhem.

Say you know that Israeli hospitals, in response to more than 12,000 rockets over the past 14 years alone, continue to provide life-saving medical care for residents of the Gaza Strip.

Say you know that Israel not only has a right, but an obligation, to defend itself, which means going after the terrorist infrastructure and its leadership.

Say you hope that the world will understand and support Israel at this precise time, when half the Israeli population lives within range of Hamas weaponry.

Say you know how to prioritize your concerns, and, whatever your other issues with Israel might be, its ability to end the deadly attacks now tops the list.

Say you'll avoid the temptation to invoke mealy-mouthed and misplaced comments about "restraint" and "moral equivalence" and "cycles of violence," as if you were playing both sides off against the middle. Say you know that Israel left Gaza, lock, stock, and barrel, in 2005, giving this strip of land the first chance in its history to govern itself. Say you know that no one before Israel, not Egypt, not the British, not the Ottomans, no one, offered Gaza the opportunity that Israel did to chart its own destiny.

Say you know that, in 2005, Gaza had the chance to choose whether it would seek to emulate Singapore or Somalia, and chose the latter.

Say you know that Hamas took over power in Gaza by ousting the Palestinian Authority, killing many in the process. Say you know that there is no way peace can be advanced for the Palestinians - or the Israelis - if this very same Hamas is allowed to share governance with the Palestinian Authority.

There are moments in life that define us. We don't always get to pick and choose them. They come, often unexpectedly, linger for a time, and then move on.

This is one such moment.

Speak up now - unambiguously, credibly - while literally millions of Israelis live from one alarm to another. Don't worry. There will be other occasions to voice your ongoing concerns about, and criticisms of, Israel.

But if you choose to remain silent or resort to ambiguity, please don't expect to be taken seriously the next time you preface your critique of Israel with those familiar words, "As a friend of Israel..."


Regarding What is Going on in Israel -- please see and share with others: A short animated cartoon that clearly presents Israel's situation:


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Torah Portion of the week

Matos, Numbers 30:2 - 31:42

Matos includes the laws of making and annulling vows, the surprise attack on Midian (the '67 War wasn't the Jewish people's first surprise attack!) in retribution for the devastation the Midianites wreaked upon the Jewish people, the purification after the war of people and vessels, dedicating a portion of the spoils to the communal good (perhaps the first Federation campaign), the request of the tribes of Reuben and Gad for their portion of land to be east of the Jordan river (yes, Trans-Jordan/Jordan is also part of the Biblical land of Israel). Moshe objects to the request because he thinks the tribes will not take part in the conquering of the land of Israel; the tribes clarify that they will be the advance troops in the attack and thus receive permission.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Before the war on the Midianites, Moshe spoke to the people saying:

"Detach from you men for the army, and they shall be against Midian to take the Almighty's vengeance against Midian." (Numbers 31:3)

The commentary Sifri tells us that even though Moshe heard that he would die after this battle, he nevertheless acted with joy and did not procrastinate. What lessons can we learn from this?

Two important traits in doing the will of the Almighty (or any task in life) -- even though we find it difficult -- are to do it with joy and to do it without delay.

The more difficult it is to do, the greater the reward. As it says in Pirke Avot, Ethics of the Fathers (5:23), "According to the effort is the reward." The most precious thing a person has is life itself. Knowing that fulfilling the will of the Almighty will cost one's life is the greatest difficulty possible. Exactly because of this Moshe experienced joy in fulfilling this act and he did it with great speed.

The more difficult it is to do, the greater joy you can experience. Just focus on the joy of accomplishing something meaningful and on your overcoming your inclination to procrastinate!


Candle Lighting Times

July 18
(or go to

Jerusalem 7:10
Guatemala 6:17 - Hong Kong 6:51 - Honolulu 6:57
J'Burg 5:16 - London 8:50 - Los Angeles 7:46
Melbourne 5:03 - Mexico City 7:59 - Miami 7:56
New York 8:06 - Singapore 6:58 - Toronto 8:37

Quote of the Week

We shall defend our island,
whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields
and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender
-  Winston Churchill



In Honor of

Jay & Caroline Schechter

on the marriage of
their daughter

Anshel Hass

Marc Singer & Helena Igra


With Deep Appreciation to

Bob & Zivia Gill


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