Friday, February 18, 2011

The Vatican versus the Fourth Commandment

By Wyatt Ciesielka | Saturday, February 12, 2011
On January 25, Pope Benedict XVI again proclaimed his desire "to ignite a fervent missionary movement in the Catholic Church," stating he wants to advance "the entire Catholic Church into a new missionary age" in 2011 (, January 28, 2011). While this movement will ultimately contribute to fulfilling prophecies such as Isaiah 47:8-9 and Revelation 17:2-5, an aspect of this rejuvenated "fervent missionary movement" already affects billions. This is the growing emphasis on Sunday observance. Read more Read More

Thursday, December 16, 2010

For Your Servant Assumed Responsibility

"For your servant assumed responsibility..."
(Genesis 44:32)
Tevet 3, 5771/December 9, 2010

This year the Chanuka festival of light saw the outbreak of the worst forest fire in the history of the modern state of Israel, which destroyed over five million trees and took over forty lives. As to be expected in the fire's aftermath an atmosphere of blame and recrimination has emerged. Just who was responsible for the conflagration? Teenagers are suspected of carelessly tossing embers from a friendly picnic which quickly ignited the blaze. Firefighters are accused of being entirely too slow in initially reacting to the flames. Israel's firefighting forces have been exposed as being woefully under-equiped and under-trained. Various Israeli government ministries, led by various government ministers, over an extended period of various government coalitions have been cited as being neglectful, incompetent and unconcerned over a problem of fire fighting preparedness which has been well known for many years. Proposals for improvements have been rejected. Necessary decisions have been put on hold. By all accounts, this was a man-made disaster.
Yet, had the hills and valleys of Israel not been bone dry the gathering blaze would no doubt have progressed much more slowly, giving fire fighters a better chance to put out the flames before they swept out of control. A wetter month of November, (in which no precipitation fell), might have even prevented the fire at its source. And the strong winds which blew across the Mount Carmel region last week aided and abetted the rapid spreading of the flames. Was G-d then, an accomplice to this disaster?
This is not the first time in our long history that human frailty and Divine will have conspired to create a dangerous reality, fraught with painful and devastating ramifications. And it's not the first time that the children of Israel have had to face their own failings and take responsibility. This week's Torah reading of Vayigash opens with Yehudah drawing near to Yosef. (Genesis 44:18) Tensions couldn't be higher as Yosef threatens to imprison his brother Binyamin, an act which threatens both the life of their father Yisrael and the very integrity of the brothers themselves. If Binyamin is allowed to be taken, the family will be irreparably shattered. Israel, as a unified entity will cease to exist.
Yehudah, fulfilling his earlier promise to his father, accepts complete responsibility for his brother Binyamin's well-being. His resolve in the matter is unequivocal, forcing Yosef to finally reveal to his brothers his true identity. Yehudah's unassailable resolve not to allow his family another traumatic blow is, of course, also an acknowledgment of all the brothers' complicity in the earlier betrayal of Yosef. The guilt that the brothers have been silently harboring for more than a decade has finally been transformed into a powerful expression of family unity and mutual responsibility.
Yosef, in turn, reveals himself to his brothers, comforts them, and implores them "not be sad, and let it not trouble you that you sold me here, for it was to preserve life that G-d sent me before you." (ibid 45:5) Even as the brothers embrace, two very different perspectives are revealed. Yosef has always looked at "the bigger picture." He has always seen G-d as the guiding force behind both his misfortunes and his triumphs. He has always responded by moving forward with his life, making the best of every situation, seeing opportunity even in adversity. By doing so Yosef was taking responsibility for his life even while acknowledging G-d's will behind every turn in his fortune.
Yehudah has also had to reckon with many difficult situations throughout his life. It was he who saved Yosef's life by proposing to his brothers that they sell, rather than slay Yosef. Later in life he had to face up to his own wrong doing and acknowledge the righteousness of his daughter-in-law Tamar. And now, once again, Yehudah takes a hard look at his own actions and their consequences as he faces off with Yosef.
Yosef has made a life out of responding responsibly to adversity that came his way through no fault of his own, but ultimately only by virtue of Divine decree. Yehudah, however, has constantly had to examine and reexamine his own deeds, draw proper conclusions, and make the necessary corrections to his actions. This has been Yehudah's way of living life responsibly.
There is no doubt that G-d's hand was revealed foremost in the great Carmel Mountain blaze. No doubt it was a wake up call to the entire nation, a call for contrition and repentance; a call to examine our ways and correct them. And no doubt, just as Yosef was always able to recognize, G-d's will, even when excruciatingly painful, is always for the ultimate good of His people.
Having recognized this "Yosef's principle" of the ultimate good of the Divine will, we must, nevertheless, take upon ourselves the "Yehudah principle" of personal accountability, recognizing our errors, correcting them, and moving forward.
The Haftorah (additional scriptural) reading which accompanies parashat Vayigash in the Shabbat service is from the book of Ezekiel, in which the prophet is shown two branches, one standing for Yehudah, and one for Yosef. G-d instructs Ezekiel, saying, "Behold I will take the stick of Yosef, which is in the hand of Ephraim and the tribes of Israel his companions, and I will place them with him with the stick of Yehudah, and I will make them into one stick, and they shall become one in My hand." (Ezekiel 37:19)
Rather than slinging accusations at one another, it is incumbent upon us to take hold of the burnt branches of the once noble forest of Mount Carmel, and place them together as one people. If we can accept G-d's constant presence in our lives, as did Yosef, yet also understand deep within our hearts our own accountability and our own ability to take responsibility and to change our course for the good, as did Yehudah, we shall truly be a great nation, and so merit G-d's promise to Ezekiel:
"And I will form a covenant of peace for them, an everlasting covenant shall be with them; and I will establish them and I will multiply them, and I will place My Sanctuary in their midst forever. And My dwelling place shall be over them, and I will be to them for a G-d, and they shall be to Me as a people. And the nations shall know that I am HaShem, Who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever." (ibid 37:26-28)
Temple TalkTune in to this week's Temple Talk as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven look back upon a week of terrific extremes: The joy of Chanuka against the backdrop of the devastating fire in Israel that claimed so many lives and did such horrendous damage. And in the aftermath, a little rain. And as we learn from the story of Choni Ha'Ma'agel, we never say "we've had enough rain!" so we continue to pray that the Land of Israel begins to receive bountiful rainfall. As we read of Yosef's reunion with his family in Egypt, the month of Tevet begins. What are the lessons of this month, which begins during Chanukah but yet, features a fast day over the First Temple's destruction just a week after the conclusion of Chanukah?
Rabbi Richman in

America, January 2011"Sing to the L-rd a New Song; Sing to the L-rd, All the Earth!" (Psalms 96) Rabbi Richman in America, January 2011: Please view this short video in which Rabbi Richman personally invites you to join him in America this January as he speaks about the world today and the role Israel is destined to play in leading the world "From Exile to Redemption." Click here!
For additional details of the Rabbi's speaking engagements in eight states, please click here.
Shouting to the DarknessShouting to the Darkness - A righteous Gentile's thoughts about Chanukah and the Holy Temple: Every year we are asked, "Why do you celebrate Chanukah?" and/or "Are you Jewish?" I understand people’s curiosity. I even understand that they may think it's a little weird. Heck, I even think it's a little weird that I'm not Jewish and I celebrate Chanukah. But like I tell my kids, sometimes weird is good. It means you're not following the norm. And more often than not these days, it's the norm that's becoming weird. Since the question keeps coming up, I thought I would write a little ditti about why we celebrate Chanukah. Please click here for the entire article.
Zot ChanukaThis week features the new Bat Melech video teaching with Rabbanit Rena Richman, entitled, "Zot Chanuka: The eighth and final day of Chanuka, the day on which we kindle all eight Chanuka lights is a day of great illumination. This illumination includes a great spiritual force that is brought down from above on this day, which floods the world and provides a supernal light that will remain with us throughout the entire year." Click here to view.
Making Miracles HappenThis week also features the new Light to the Nations teaching by Rabbi Chaim Richman, entitled, "Making Miracles Happen: Torah teaches us not to sit back and wait for miracles to happen. Instead we are instructed to actively pursue our own destiny as individuals and as a nation. If our intentions are good and our efforts are wholehearted, G-d will help us accomplish our goals. This is the real miracle of Chanuka. The people of Israel, led by the Kohen Gadol Mattitiyahu and his five sons, rose up and threw off the yoke of the Greek oppressors, liberated the Holy Temple and renewed the Divine service." Click here to view.
Parashat HashavuaWhen Ya'akov and Yosef reunite after seventeen years of separation, Yosef weeps while Ya'akov recites the shema prayer, ("Hear O Israel, HaShem our G-d, HaShem is One"). Was Ya'akov being distant? Cold? On the contrary. By saying the shema at the moment of his reunion with his son, Ya'akov was including his love for G-d with his love for Yosef. For there is no love outside the love of HaShem. HaShem's love encompasses all. Click here to view Rabbi Richman's short teaching on parashat Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27).
Blessings from the holy city of Jerusalem,
  Yitzchak Reuven
  The Temple Institute

Monday, December 06, 2010

Fire in Northern Israel

An out-of-control fire in the north of Israel has people questioning if the country is prepared to deal with an emergency.

Here's the video.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cast Into the Pit

"And they took him and cast him into the pit."
(Genesis 37:24)
Kislev 18, 5771/November 25, 2010

What happens when an individual, a single soul, is torn from his father? When the wrath of his brothers is kindled and his own flesh and blood are set upon him, seeking his death? When he is thrown into a pit, abandoned to fate and the deadly caprice of the scorpions and snakes who slither and scamper over his naked body? When he is brought from the pit and sold to passing Ishmaelite merchants, mercenaries, dealers in human stock, who sell him again, at a neat profit? When he is ordered to be steward of his masters house, and gains mastery of all the possessions found in his master's house, whose master's wife attempts to seduce him, and unsuccessful, accuses him of rape, and he is arrested and convicted and thrown in the pit? Does his souls wither? Do his dreams perish?
The book of Genesis is the book of the patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov. Yet more words are dedicated to the life of Yosef than are dedicated to lives of the three patriarchs, and more details are known about the life of Yosef, his trials and tribulations, than are known about the three patriarchs. For sure, Yosef's life was pivotal to the survival of the nation of Israel. But what is Yosef's life to us today?
G-d spoke to Avraham. He spoke to Yitzchak. He spoke to Ya'akov. Yet G-d never spoke directly to Yosef. At critical junctures in his life Yosef had no one to rely on but himself. He had to be his own guide, choose his own path. G-d didn't tell Yosef to go here or to go there. He didn't tell Yosef that He would protect him from harm. He didn't promise him seed or that his seed would prosper. Yosef was on his own. Completely.
On his own but never alone. Yosef never suffered loneliness for he attached himself always to G-d. He didn't require G-d's consolation or instruction for he acted always with the knowledge that the G-d of his fathers, the Creator of the universe, permeated His creation with His presence. Yosef was rejected by his brothers but he could never be estranged from G-d, for he understood that G-d, unlike man, was always there right by his side. A man's fate may seem cruel, but when seen through the eyes of Yosef, a man's fate ultimately is neither cruel nor capricious, but an expression of G-d's will, of His direct involvement in the life of the individual. G-d didn't appear to Yosef, nor did He talk to Yosef, but every moment of Yosef's life, every unforeseen development, every low point and high point of Yosef's life, was informed by G-d's will. Yosef knew this. This was the message of his own dreams, and this would be the message that he perceived in Pharaoh's dreams. And Yosef conducted himself always with this knowledge. This is why Torah calls Yosef tzaddik - righteous: despite every temptation he maintained his unbroken attachment to G-d.
Of all the patriarchs and sons of Israel who populate the book of Genesis, it is Yosef who most personifies the dilemma of modern man: man's isolation from his fellow man. Yosef, at any time could have fallen through the cracks, never to be heard from again. He could have been just another statistic, lost in the labyrinth of man's cruelty to man. But Yosef prevailed. He took upon himself what is the very heart and soul of Torah teaching: personal responsibility. In this manner it can be said that Yosef fulfilled G-d's expectations of man.
Yosef's soul neither withered, nor did his dreams perish. On the contrary, it was his indomitable sense of self and his fidelity to his dreams that carried him through his darkest moments. Ultimately, Yosef was the master of his own fate. We too can gain mastery over our own lives if we, like Yosef, accept upon ourselves the overriding teaching of Torah: personal responsibility for our own actions and an unbreakable bond to G-d.
Temple TalkTune in to this week's Temple Talk as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven ponder American pressures and promises: Will we be guilty of selling Yosef again? The conflict between the righteous Yosef and his holy brothers is a conflict that still effects us to this very day. Will we ever fix the sin of the sale of Yosef? It's high time for the people of Israel to stop selling themselves short, and to stand up to the task that G-d appointed us for, no matter what is being used to bribe, threaten, cajole, intimate, or browbeat our people into giving up our Land and our legacy.
The Palestinian denial machine has determined, in the name of science, that the Western Wall is not Jewish. Everybody's upset, but they should have been upset long before this...
The Challenge of AdversityThis week features the new Bat Melech video teaching with Rabbanit Rena Richman, entitled, "The Challenge of Adversity: The suffering and adversity that are a part of life and that are so difficult to comprehend, are nevertheless an expression of G-d's love for us. If we can accept our suffering as a challenge, we can grow stronger and closer to G-d." Click here to view.
A Prayer for RainThis week also features the new Light to the Nations teaching by Rabbi Chaim Richman, entitled, "A Prayer for Rain: The rain that falls in the land of Israel represents and reflects our spiritual and physical well-being. G-d does right by Israel if Israel does right by G-d. If the rain is not falling, it is time for repentance and prayer." Click here to view.
Parashat HashavuaHave you ever felt utterly and completely alone? Yosef must have. He was separated from his loving father and his brothers wanted to kill him. Ultimately he was thrown in a pit filled with scorpions and snakes and then sold to some passing Ishmaelites, who in turn sold him into slavery. Yet we're never alone, and if our hearts are turned to G-d, we will identify His fingerprint upon our lives Click here to view Rabbi Richman's short teaching on parashat Vayeshev (Genesis 37:1-40:23).
Blessings from the holy city of Jerusalem,
  Yitzchak Reuven
  The Temple Institute

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Stones of the Place

" ...and he took of the stones of the place... "
(Genesis 28:11)
Kislev 4, 5771/November 11, 2010

The sun set suddenly and Ya'akov avinu - Jacob our forefather - was compelled to pitch camp and stay the night. So Ya'akov "took of the stones of the place and placed [them] at his head, and he lay down in that place." (ibid) Now a person who has set out on a long journey knows that a good night's sleep is an imperative if he is to continue on his way in peace the following morning. Among other considerations to be made for a good night's sleep, comfort will surely be paramount. And anyone who has ever gone camping knows that the smallest pebble or bramble under one's bedroll will render utterly impossible a restful slumber. Yet Ya'akov, with great purpose, gathered up stones to employ as his pillow. Whatever was he thinking?
Midrash relates that the twelve stones that Ya'akov gathered up at that place were twelve stones that he pulled from the altar that his father Yitzchak had been bound upon one generation earlier. From this we learn that Ya'akov didn't stumble upon this place inadvertently. He knew exactly what this place was, that is, the place where his grandfather Avraham bound his father Yitzchak, the place where Adam first built an altar, the place known by our sages as the place of the world. That is, the place of the future Holy Temple.
Ya'akov deliberately dismantled the altar of Avraham and Yitzchak. Wasn't that disrespectful? Shouldn't he had stood off a bit in the distance, silently taking in the site of the great test of Avraham's faith? He could have meditated, contemplating the profundity of the site. But Ya'akov chose to do something else altogether. He chose, by deconstructing the altar and then reconstructing it as a pillow for his head, or should we say, a pillow for his consciousness, for his entire spiritual being, to opt into his father's and grandfather's experience of a direct and immediate relationship with G-d.
And Ya'akov took this paradigm of the man - G-d relationship not one, but many steps forward. He could hardly relive his father's experience by throwing himself down upon the altar. That was a onetime moment in the history of mankind. Instead, Ya'akov sought to take the intimacy of this moment and make it accessible to all. He removed twelve stones from the altar representing the twelve sons he was yet to have. He wanted to bequeath the Moriah experience of his father and grandfather to his children and to all further generations of man, through his children. This is the meaning of his exclamation upon awakening from his dream: "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of G-d, and this is the gate of heaven." (ibid 28:17) Just as Avraham's tent was open and welcoming to all passers by, "the house of the G-d of Ya'akov" (Isaiah 2:3) would likewise be a true house, accessible to all.
Ya'akov chose to not only honor the holy site where he spent the night, but to bring it to life and make it his, through his own active intervention. Those who today only view the Temple Mount from afar, insisting that we must not approach the Mount, may be paying respect to the place of the Holy Temple, but they are also, intentionally or not, rendering the place and all that it stands for, distant and irrelevant. The positive commandment that we fulfill by visiting the Temple Mount, (in accordance with halacha), is known in Hebrew as mora Mikdash - showing reverence to G-d on the site of the Holy Temple. The word mora - reverence - is derived from the same root as the word Ya'akov avinu uttered, "ma nora," "How awesome is this place!" (Genesis 28:17) Visiting and making our presence felt, as Jews and believers in the G-d of Ya'akov, on the Temple Mount is a direct continuation of Ya'akov's own actions which he took on this spot to lay his rightful claim to the spot and to the covenant between man and G-d that it embodies. We are unable in our generation to pull stones from the altar itself, but by being on the Mount where we are commanded by Torah to be seen by G-d, we can begin to remove the stones that have lodged in our hearts.
Temple TalkTune in to this week's Temple Talk as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven are transfixed by this week's Torah reading of Vayeitzei, and its connection to the Holy Temple - past, present and future, and how Yaakov's prophecy on the Temple Mount, as expressed in the rocks he gathered, is being fulfilled today.
Tractate ZevachimWith great thanks to HaShem, the Temple Institute is proud to announce the historical, landmark publication of the Talmud Tractate Zevachim. This classic work deals intensively with the description and explanation of the Divine service of offerings, as it is performed in the Holy Temple. Now, for the first time in 2000 years, Tractate Zevachim has been published with an in-depth exploration and elucidation of all the commandments and traditions concerning the Temple offerings. Years in preparation, this work includes the "Sha'arei Heichal" ("Gates of the Sanctuary") commentary written by the Beit HaBechirah Kollel of the Temple Institute, whose scholars specialize and excel in the Torah knowledge of the Holy Temple and the Divine service, providing ground-breaking research, new insights, and, literally, hands-on investigation into the practical implementation of the commandments concerning the Temple offerings. To learn more, please click here.
Avraham & Sara, Part IIIThis week features the new Bat Melech video teaching with Rabbanit Rena Richman, entitled, "Avraham & Sara, Part III: United in their search for the One G-d, united against all the odds of a world hostile to the knowledge of the One G-d, and united in their love for one another, the source from which they drew their strength, Avraham & Sara are to be emulated by all who seek out the love and guidance of G-d in their lives." Click here to view.
Suppressing IniquityThis week also features the new Light to the Nations teaching by Rabbi Chaim Richman, entitled, "Suppressing Iniquity: G-d is neither an accountant nor a scorekeeper. He doesn't tally up our good deeds, subtract from them our transgressions, declare the balance and call it a day. G-d gathers up our good deeds, places them before Him, and does not allow our transgressions to diminish His delight with with all the good that we have accomplished." Click here to view.
Parashat Hashavua" ...and he took some of the stones of the place and placed them at his head, and he lay down in that place." (Genesis 28:11) What was "that place," and what was the nature of those stones that Ya'akov gathered together, and which, upon his awakening from his dream of a House of G-d, formed a single stone, which became the very "foundation stone" upon which all creation is established? And how could the "foundation stone" upon which the entire world rests find itself in that place and at that very moment when Ya'akov chose to take his sleep? It was Ya'akov's consecration of the stone with olive oil that made the transformation possible. Click here to view Rabbi Richman's short teaching on parashat Vayeitzei (Genesis 28:10-32:3).
Blessings from the holy city of Jerusalem,
  Yitzchak Reuven
  The Temple Institute

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Two Nations are in Your Womb

"Two nations are in your womb."
(Genesis 25:23)
Cheshvan 27, 5771/November 4, 2010

Even before they emerged from the womb, Ya'akov and his twin brother Esav were battling it out. Midrash tells us that whenever Rivkah, (Rebecca), would pass by a place of idolatry, Esav would strike out violently within her, and every time she passed by a place of Torah, (the tents of Shem and Ever, where Torah was taught), Ya'akov would stir with longing. The written words of Torah itself immediately note the nature of their differing world views: "And the youths grew up, and Esav was a man who understood hunting, a man of the field, whereas Ya'akov was a pure man, dwelling in tents." (Genesis 25:27) "Dwelling in tents," in Hebrew, "yoshev ohalim." The five Hebrew letters which make up the word "ohalim," "tents," are the same five letters which spell the name of G-d. In other words, Ya'akov was "a pure man who dwelled with G-d."
But who was Esav? Esav was a man who understood the chase, the ways of the world, and what it takes to get ahead, to get what you want, to take what you want, when you want it, and by whatever means necessary. Esav was a man of means, he "understood the hunt." The Hebrew word for hunt, tzayd, is related to the word for equipment, tziyud: Esav had the right stuff, all the necessary accoutrements, and then some. He wore a three piece suit, carried a leather briefcase, a laptop, a bluetooth, a gold watch, a silver cane. He was a "man of the field," outstanding in his field, the best at what he did. He was out there, in the limelight, in the news, in the gossip columns, the subject of paparazzis.
Yitzchak, (Isaac), loved Esav because "the hunt was in his mouth." (ibid 25:28) Our sages explain that Esav was a smooth talker, and his words could sway and persuade others. His words could slay hearts. His words could kill. Esav was a man of instant gratification. He returned from the hunt hungry and with a fire in his belly. He wanted food to fill it. He wanted it now and at any cost. He ate, he killed his hunger, he rose up and was off again, out to acquire more. (ibid 25:29-34)
Come to think of it, Esav possessed all of the qualities that modern society seems to lionize. We may not admit to admiring these qualities, but we are taught, and frequently experience first-hand, that this is what it takes to make it in today's world. Do unto others before they do it unto you. It may not be pretty, but it works. And what of Ya'akov? He lived in Esav's shadow.
"And Yitzchak loved Esau," (ibid), not because he admired or approved of Esav's aggressiveness or his possessiveness, or his sense of entitlement, or his crass worldly accomplishments, or his murderously violent nature, but because he, too, felt that this is what it takes to get by in this world. And if Esav lacked humility, if he had no room in his heart for his fellow man, if he had no faith in or need for G-d, well then, Yitzchak thought, Esav could, in time, acquire these traits. No, Yitzchak wasn't naive, but he was the man, who, when still a lad, walked hand-in-hand with his father Avraham to Mount Moriah, where, bound upon the altar, the heavens opened up above him, and the angels' tears dimmed his eyes. Yitzchak was cut from a different cloth.
Rivkah, however, grew up in a household of scoundrels not unlike Esav. She understood where he came from and she understood to where he was bound. Rivkah, we are told, "loved Ya'akov." (ibid)
Contrary to Esav's claim, to his bitter lament, to his heart-tugging cries, Ya'akov stole neither his birthright, nor his blessing. For both the birthright and the blessing always belonged to Ya'akov. He was the man of G-d. When Ya'akov was tired, as we shall see, (ibid 28:11) he lay down his head in a place of G-d. When Ya'akov was hungry, driven from his home, pursued by his murderous brother, he prayed to G-d that He would provide him with sustenance, with clothing and with shelter. And with these words he concluded his prayer: "And if I return in peace to my father's house, and HaShem will be my G-d. Then this stone, which I have placed as a monument, shall be a house of G-d, and everything that You give me, I will surely tithe to You." (ibid 28:22)
We don't need to live like Esav, from hand to mouth, always on the hunt, trusting no one and at odds with our brother. There is another way. The way of our father Ya'akov. If we determine that where we lay down our head will be a place of G-d, that our sustenance, our shelter, and all our worldly accomplishments will be expressions of our faith in G-d, then this world will be one of G-dliness, and not a G-dless hunting ground.

Temple TalkTune in to this week's Temple Talk as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven discuss Yaakov's birthright & blessings, and the Torah's insistence that we all accept personal responsibility for the course of human events.
How do we understand the perplexing struggle between Ya'akov and Esav? What do these forces represent, and how is their struggle ultimately resolved?
Unesco, in a quintessentially Esavian manner, declares that Ma'arat HaMachpela in Hevron as well as Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem are mosques. Why is Rachel crying for her children (Jeremiah 31), and why is Rachel G-d's guarantor that her children will return to their land?

True to the Temple MountAmericans for a Safe Israel (AFSI): True to the Temple Mount: Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI), established in 1970 to advocate for Israeli sovereignty over the historical biblical heartland of Israel, (Judea, Samaria and Gaza), have made it an annual commitment in recent years to include an ascent to the Temple Mount in their itinerary during their stay in Israel. Click here to learn more about AFSI's commitment to the land of Israel and to the Temple Mount, and to view photographs documenting AFSI's visit to the Mount.

Returning with MercyThis week also features the new Light to the Nations teaching by Rabbi Chaim Richman, entitled, "Returning with Mercy: G-d's love for every individual is unreserved and unconditional. We may distance ourselves at times from G-d, through our own selfishness, carelessness and short-sightedness, but G-d is ever ready to accept our return to Him, with "open arms," and an embrace that only grows stronger, in spite of, or perhaps even because of, our own human frailty. Have we the capability within ourselves to likewise be so magnanimous toward others?" Click here to view.

Parashat HashavuaThe work of the patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov was to establish in this world an eternal bond between man and G-d. Toldot chronicles the struggle for supremacy between two radically different approaches toward leadership: the way of Ya'akov, and the way of Esav. Esav excelled in so many ways he seemed a natural for the part. And after all, he was the first-born. There was but one thing missing from Esav's understanding of life: the fear and the acknowledgment of G-d. Forever stymied by his own egotistical take on life, Esav languished, while Ya'akov assumed the mantle of leadership. Click here to view Rabbi Richman's short teaching on parashat Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:9).

Blessings from the holy city of Jerusalem,
  Yitzchak Reuven
  The Temple Institute

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What is Israel waiting for?