On Yom Kippur

One of the Biblical instructions that most of the world ignores is the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur in Hebrew.  (We don’t ignore the instruction condemning murder; why should we ignore the statute regarding atonement?)

29 “This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month [Tishrei 10, 5781; 28 September 2020], you shall humble yourselves, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger [resident alien] who dwells among you. 30 For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. 31 It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall humble your souls. It is a statute forever. 32 And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father’s place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; 33 then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” And he did as the LORD commanded Moses. Leviticus 16:29

Whether we be Jewish or simply desire to follow God’s instructions, humbling ourselves, fasting and atoning on Tishrei 10, Yom Kippur, are part of following His words.

“In ancient times Yom Kippur was celebrated in the form of a massive public ceremony set in the Temple in Jerusalem. The holiest man in Israel, the High Priest, entered the most sacred space, the Holy of Holies, confessed the sins of the nation using God’s holiest name, and secured atonement for all Israel.”  With the destruction of the Temple came no Yom Kippur ritual through which the people could find forgiveness.  But the sages transformed the spirit of the day into a liturgy of prayers by which “ordinary Jews could, as it were, come face to face with the Shechinah, the Divine presence. They needed no one else to apologize for them. The drama that once took place in the Temple could now take place in the human heart.” (tinyurl.com/yyhmzabp)

Abounding commentary has been written over the centuries encouraging personal action enabled by atonement, not limited to Yom Kippur but related to its theme.  Among modern relating writers Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (1948- ), Chief Rabbi Emeritus of the Commonwealth after 22-years, is the creme de la creme.  He put together thoughts on Yom Kippur as a guide to making it personal, at https://tinyurl.com/yyhmzabp.

I excerpt below a few paragraphs from Rabbi’s writing on Yom Kippur that I find heartening.  Please enjoy.  Jerry

“The single most important lesson of Yom Kippur is that it’s never too late to  change, start again, and live differently from the way we’ve done in the past. God forgives every mistake we’ve made as long as we are honest in regretting it and doing our best to put it right. Even if there’s nothing we regret, Yom Kippur makes us think about how to use the coming year in such a way as to bring blessings into the lives of others by way of thanking God for all He has given us.

“To those who fully open themselves to it, Yom Kippur is a life-transforming experience.  It tells us that God, who created the universe in love and forgiveness, reaches out to us in love and forgiveness, asking us to love and forgive others. God never asked us not to make mistakes. [Emphasis mine: JRL] All He asks is that we acknowledge our mistakes, learn from them, grow through them and make amends where we can.  No religion has held such a high view of human possibility.  The God who created us in His image gave us freedom. We are not tainted by original sin, destined to fail, caught in the grip of an evil only Divine grace can defeat.  To the contrary, we have within us the power to choose life. Together we have the power to change the world.

“Blaming others for our failings is as old as humanity, but it is disastrous. It means that we define ourselves as victims. A culture of victimhood wins the compassion of others but at too high a cost. It incubates feelings of resentment, humiliation, grievance and grudge. It leads people to rage against the world instead of taking steps to mend it.  Jews have suffered much, but Yom Kippur prevents us from ever defining ourselves as victims. As we confess our sins, we blame no one and take full responsibility for our actions. Knowing God will forgive us allows us to be completely honest with ourselves.

“Yom Kippur also allows us to grow. We owe a debt to cognitive behavioral therapy for reminding us of a classic element of Jewish faith: that when we change the way we think, we change the way we feel. And when we feel differently, we live differently. [Emphasis mine: JRL] What we believe shapes what we become.

“At the heart of teshuvah [Hebrew: return, often translated as repentance] is the belief that we can change. We are not destined to be forever what we were. In the Torah we see Yehudah [Judah] grow, from an envious brother prepared to sell Yosef [Joseph] as a slave, to a man with the conscience and courage to offer himself as a slave so that his brother Binyamin [Benjamin] can go free.

“We know that some people relish a challenge and take risks, while others, no less gifted, play it safe and ultimately underachieve. Psychologists tell us that the crucial difference lies in whether you think of your ability as fixed or as something developed through effort and experience. Teshuvah is essentially about effort and experience. It assumes we can grow.

“Teshuvah means I can take risks, knowing that I may fail but knowing that failure is not final.  It means that if I get things wrong and make mistakes, God does not lose faith in me even though I may lose faith in myself. God believes in us, even if we do not. [Emphasis mine: JRL] That alone is a life-changing fact if we fully open ourselves to its implications. Teshuvah means that the past is not irredeemable. It means that from every mistake, I grow.  There is no failure I experience that does not make me a deeper human being; no challenge I accept, however much I fall short, that does not develop in me strengths I would not otherwise have had.

“That is the first transformation of Yom Kippur: a renewed relationship with myself.

“The third transformation is a renewed relationship with God. On Yom Kippur, God is close.  … We encounter God in three ways: through creation, revelation and redemption.

“The more we understand of cosmology, the more we realize how improbable the universe is. The universe is too finely tuned for the emergence of stars, planets and life to have come into existence by chance. The more we understand of the sheer improbability of the existence of the universe, the emergence of life from inanimate matter, and the equally mysterious appearance of Homo sapiens, the only life-form capable of asking the question “Why?”, the more the line rings true: “How numerous are Your works, Lord;
You made them all in wisdom” (Psalm 104:24).

“Yom Kippur invites us to become better than we were, in the knowledge that we can be better than we are. That knowledge comes from God. If we are only self-made, we live within the prison of our own limitations. The truly great human beings are those who have opened themselves to the inspiration of something greater than themselves.

Yom Kippur “is a day not just of confession and forgiveness but of a profound liberation. Atonement means that we can begin again. We are not held captive by the past or by our failures. [Emphasis mine: JRL] The Book of Life is open and God invites us – His hand guiding us the way a scribe guides the hand of those who write a letter in a Torah scroll – to write a new chapter in the story of our people, a chapter uniquely our own yet one that we cannot write on our own without being open to something vaster than we will ever fully understand. It is a day on which God invites us to greatness.

[Your comments are welcome.]

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Conclusions Based on Facts, not Mobs

These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates.  And do not contrive evil against one another, and do not love perjury, because all those are things that I hate—declares the LORD.  Zechariah 8:16

Breonna Taylor: Yet another grand jury defies the Fake News narrative

While the Democrats scream “systemic racism,” and their mobs yell “No Justice, No peace!” they meet their worst nightmare: Justice.

Rabbi Dov Fisher


America has a nationwide Fake News syndicate who blow stories out of proportion and shamelessly distort facts to incite civil unrest and racial disharmony. (Emphasis mine: JRL) A Black person dies at the hands of a police officer, whether White or Black, and the media narrative promptly becomes a lamentation over “systemic racism.”

The streets fill with peaceful protesters. Soon, they are shoved aside by agitators, inciters, anarchists, and some paid provocateurs. Fires are set. Businesses are burned down. Homes are destroyed. Lives are ruined. In the background, the chants are heard: “No Justice, No Peace.”

In time a grand jury is convened. The rules of a grand jury are not like those of a regular court room. Only the prosecutor is allowed to put on a case. No defense attorney is allowed in the room. One witness after another is brought in and grilled by the prosecutor in front of the jury. There is no judge to protect the witness from being abused. The witness has nowhere to turn for legal assistance. The prosecutor pummels him or her with tough questions, sometimes insults and nasty remarks. The only brakes that prevent even worse abuse is that the experienced prosecutor knows the limits, that if he or she gets too vicious then the grand jury may shift its sympathies to the battered witness.

So the prosecutor plays the grand jury, using tricks of the trade, ploys and psychological maneuvers that never would be allowed in open court. But, again, there is no judge in the room to rein in the prosecutor. As day after day ensues, the prosecutor becomes increasingly chummy with the members of the grand jury. This is why it is said that any competent prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict even a ham sandwich.

And yet, despite all the media-stirred public frenzy about “systemic racism,” grand juries and fact-finders in open courtrooms continue to come back with verdicts that completely defy the Fake News narratives. The Fake News convinced many that George Zimmerman was a White Supremacist who murdered a sweet clean-cut teen boy, a darling with a hoodie in Florida. NBC news doctored a recording that Zimmerman had phoned into the police, omitting key words to make his innocent and desperate call seem like a racist one.

But in the end, George Zimmerman was not charged with a crime for standing his ground when, as a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, he had acted in good faith and was in peril of getting pummeled to death himself by Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman even turned out to be Hispanic.

The media stirred a frenzy in Ferguson. Poor innocent Michael Brown had raised his arms to the skies, pleading to the bloodthirsty cop facing him: “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” But the murderous policeman shot him to death in cold blood anyway.

Soon enough, after Ferguson was burned down, a grand jury was convened. The conviction was a certainty, easier than a ham sandwich. The only obstacle was that witnesses came in to testify, and facts were presented. It turned out that Michael Brown was not a darling sweety pie but a thug who had held up a convenience store. In his encounter with officer Darren Wilson, Michael Brown did not raise his arms and say “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” Rather, he wrestled the policeman for his gun. The officer understood that, if Brown managed to gain control of that pistol, he would murder the cop. The officer secured his weapon, and Brown was shot to death. The grand jury refused to indict.

Freddie Gray in Baltimore was another. The Fake News propounded the narrative that a murderous gang of Baltimore cops had murdered Gray in a police van. Baltimore burned. Men and women lost their life savings as the storefront businesses into which they had invested everything to support their families went up in smoke. Their hopes, their dreams, their decades of goodwill in the community — all up in smoke.

The policemen were put on trial, tried before a Black judge. With the narrative the Fake News had propagated, and a Black judge staring down from his bench at each of the accused, they all were goners. And yet each and every officer was found not guilty. Every single one.

This has been the repeated result of the Fake News syndicate’s efforts to stir hatred within American society. While the Democrats scream of “systemic racism,” and while their leftist mobs in the streets yell “No Justice, No peace!” they encounter their worst nightmare: Justice.

And now Breonna Taylor. The Fake News had us all stirred and ready for three death sentences to emerge from the fact finding. Three cops, all intent on systemically racially killing Black people at whim. Only the facts got in the way once again.

To be sure, the whole thing was a massive human tragedy. The Louisville police thought they had a beat on drugs to be found, so they got that “no knock warrant.” Three cops were assigned to execute the warrant and carry out the drug bust. They entered — maybe without knocking, although there is at least one witness who testifies that the cops did announce themselves upon entering.

Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, was there, had a legally registered gun, and did what many others in that situation might have done: he fired on the home intruders. Did he know they were cops? Maybe, but very probably not. It is totally believable that any owner of a legal firearm innocently would shoot his gun at intruders. Even if he saw them in uniform, even if they said they were police, they were not expected. People expect the cops to knock first and to show a warrant.

One cannot blame Walker, the boyfriend, for shooting the invaders. One of his bullets actually penetrated an artery in an officer’s thigh. Yet, just as the boyfriend cannot be blamed for what he did, the cops cannot be blamed for shooting back. It was just a horrible, horrible botch-up. So they shot back and ended up killing Breonna Taylor, an innocent bystander in her own home. She was struck by six bullets, including the fatal one that officer Myles Cosgrove discharged. And that was what the grand jury learned, outside the ambit of the Fake News media.

The cops executed their warrant and never found any drugs. The boyfriend shot at men invading the premises without their manifesting clear reason to be breaking in. The cops shot back at a guy shooting at them. Horrible. Tragic. But not at all racial. It was just a horrible, horrible thing.

The grand jury did not indict anyone for Breonna Taylor’s shooting, but the City of Louisville agreed to pay her family $12 million and to adopt new police reforms so that this awful tragedy never recurs. As a sidebar to it all, the grand jury learned that one of the cops, Brett Hankison, apparently may have started firing wildly, even into a nearby apartment, perhaps demonstrating reckless indifference to surrounding human lives. Therefore, the jury indicted him on three counts of “wanton endangerment,” a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted. But the grand jury rejected any claim of murder or lesser-intent homicide arising from Breonna Taylor’s tragic death.

It was not a moment of “systemic racism” — because it never isThere is no systemic racism in America. If there were, the United States would not have had a Black president — an incompetent at that — for eight recent years. America would not now have a Black woman, descending from parents born in Jamaica and India, running on a major party’s ticket for Vice President. Which country in Europe has had Black heads of government, Black U.N. representatives, Black foreign ministers, Black national security advisors as we have — England? France? Italy? Germany? Spain? Russia? Does anyone hold any office or position in China other than people who are ethnically Chinese?

Americans are a good people. When Americans elected Obama in 2008, the country put an end to the stain of slavery and closed that shameful chapter in American history. But Obama reopened it. He and the Democrats brazenly played the “race card” for political benefit and in ruthless pursuit of power. They began a decade of “gaslighting” Americans into thinking that, well, maybe we are systemically racist. In 2016 Hillary Clinton raised the lie to an art form by lumping a litany of “isms” into one basketful of false charges: “They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic – you name it.”

Balderdash. It is a Big Lie. Americans are not any of the above. And now this Breonna Taylor grand jury, primed and ready to indict even a ham sandwich, could find no grounds, once presented with facts, to support the Fake News narrative that attempted to stir racial hatred among us by concocting the lie that this horrible human tragedy was something different from what it was — a horrible human tragedy.

Now they will proceed to search the land and scour the countryside for their next opportunity to incite hatred among the citizenry so that, in the words [Read them: JRL] of CNN’s Don Lemon, “We’re gonna have to blow up the entire system.”

Put away your matches, Don. It’ll have to wait till next time.

Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer is adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools.
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John Wayne Comments on “Today”

In May 1971, Playboy magazine published an interview with John Wayne, where he responded to questions about socialism and welfare recipients among a gaggle of other subjects relative to 2020:

“I know all about that.  In the late Twenties, when I was a sophomore at USC, I was a socialist myself—but not when I left.  The average college kid idealistically wishes everybody could have ice cream and cake for every meal. But as he gets older and gives more thought to his and his fellow man’s responsibilities, he finds that it can’t work out that way—that some people just won’t carry their load.

“I believe in welfare—a welfare work program.  I don’t think a fella should be able to sit on his backside and receive welfare.  I’d like to know why well-educated idiots keep apologizing for lazy and complaining people who think the world owes them a living.  I’d like to know why they make excuses for cowards who spit in the faces of the police and then run behind the judicial sob sisters.  I can’t understand these people who carry placards to save the life of some criminal, yet have no thought for the innocent victim.

See https://tinyurl.com/kl9x6jy for a transcript of the full interview, as appropriate today as it was in 1971, and in 1871 for that matter.

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The Horse and the Hunter

The Horse and the Hunter

Preamble: When I read of university faculty allowing students to establish curricula and rules of conduct, I shudder for our future.  When I read of city mayors ordering police to stand down, and that the precinct be evacuated “to avoid hand-to-hand combat” with rioters who later stormed the building and set it on fire, I marvel at such weakness.  When I read of CEOs who dictate cessation of longstanding tradition because of one complaint, I shake my head. When I learn that a university engineering department eliminates the GRE as a requirement of graduate school because it “is biased against women and minorities,” I weep for my profession.  When I hear looters justify their theft because “people should be allowed to loot stores because they’re already insured,” I stand amazed at the irrationality and immorality that has gripped this nation.  When I observe thugs, officials, and CEOs refusing to take the slightest responsibility for their actions, I wonder where we are headed.  The current pandemic of emasculation is life threatening.

An Aesop Fable

A quarrel had arisen between the Horse and the Stag over grazing rights in a pasture, so the Horse came to a Hunter to ask his help to take revenge on the Stag. The Hunter agreed, but with the caveat: “If you desire me to help you defeat the Stag, you must permit me to place this piece of iron between your jaws, so that I may guide you with these reins.  The Horse agreed.  The Hunter added, “You must allow this saddle to be placed upon your back so that I may keep steady upon you as we run through the forest,” to which the Horse also nodded.

The Horse agreed to the conditions, and the Hunter soon saddled and bridled him.  Then with the aid of the Hunter the Horse soon overcame the Stag, and said to the Hunter: “Now, get off, and remove those things from my mouth and get that thing off my back.

“Not so fast, friend,” said the Hunter.  “I now have you under bit and spur, and prefer to keep you at my command.

The Lesson

This event has played out in our country today.  The Hunter — the anarchists, home grown terrorists, seditionists of today — has bit and spur on The Horse — our government officials and CEOs whose gonads have withered to impotency, though they remain in authority over the heroes who serve, the deplorables who work, the thinkers who lead.  The Hunter fails to appreciate the Horse for having built this country, for being who he is, for how he has carried his load and accomplished much. The Hunter thinks only of himself without rationality.  The question is when and how will the Horse throw the Hunter off his back into the mire?

Jerry R Lambert
31 August 2020
Posted in Culture, Government, Life | 1 Comment

Fear of Speech is Replacing Freedom of Speech

“I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire

By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe

“FREEDOM OF SPEECH,” the famous Norman Rockwell painting that depicts a young man addressing a local gathering, was inspired by a real event. One evening in 1942, Rockwell attended the town meeting in Arlington, Vt., where he lived for many years. On the agenda was the construction of a new school. It was a popular proposal, supported by everyone in attendance — except for one resident, who got up to express his dissenting view. He was evidently a blue-collar worker, whose battered jacket and stained fingernails set him apart from the other men in the audience, all dressed in white shirts and ties. In Rockwell’s scene, the man speaks his mind, unafraid to express a minority opinion and not intimidated by the status of those he’s challenging. He has no reason not to speak plainly: His words are being attended to with respectful attention. His neighbors may disagree with him, but they’re willing to hear what he has to say.

What brings Rockwell’s painting to mind is a new national poll by the Cato Institute. The survey found that self-censorship has become extremely widespread in American society, with 62 percent of adults saying that, given the current political climate, they are afraid to honestly express their views.

“These fears cross partisan lines,” writes Emily Ekins, Cato’s director of polling. “Majorities of Democrats (52 percent), independents (59 percent), and Republicans (77 percent) all agree they have political opinions they are afraid to share.” The survey’s 2,000 respondents sorted themselves ideologically as “very liberal,” “liberal,” “moderate,” “conservative,” or “very conservative.” In every category except “very liberal,” a majority of respondents feel pressured to keep their views to themselves. Roughly one-third of American adults — 32 percent — fear they could be fired or otherwise penalized at work if their political beliefs became known.

Freedom of speech has often been threatened in America, but the suppression of “wrong” opinions in the past has tended to come from the top down. It was the government that arrested editors for criticizing Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy, made it a crime to burn the flag, turned the dogs on civil rights marchers, and jailed communists under the Smith Act. Today, by contrast, dissent is rarely prosecuted. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence, freedom of expression has never been more strongly protected — legally.

But culturally, the freedom to express unpopular views has never been more endangered.

On college campuses, in workplaces, in the media, there are ever-widening no-go zones of viewpoints and arguments that cannot be safely expressed. Voice an opinion that self-anointed social-justice warriors regard as heretical, and the consequences can be career-destroying. The dean of the nursing school at UMass-Lowell lost her job after writing in an email that “everyone’s life matters.” An art curator was accused of being a racist and forced to quit for saying that his museum would “continue to collect white artists.” The director of communications for Boeing apologized and resigned after an employee complained that 33 years ago he was opposed to women serving in combat.

Virtually everyone would agree that some views are indisputably beyond the pale. If there are supporters of slavery or advocates of genocide who feel inhibited from sharing their beliefs, no one much cares. But the range of opinions deemed unsayable by today’s progressive thought police extends well into the mainstream. And in many cases, the most enthusiastic suppressors of debate are students, journalists, artists, intellectuals — those who in former times were the greatest champions of uninhibited speech and the greatest foes of ideological conformity.

It isn’t only on the left that this totalitarian impulse to silence dissent exists. President Trump, always infuriated by criticism, has called for columnists who disparage him to be fired, hecklers at his rallies to be beaten up, and TV stations to lose their licenses if they run ads vilifying his handling of the pandemic — calls routinely amplified on social media by tens of thousands of his followers. When a Babson College professor joked that Iran ought to bomb “sites of beloved American cultural heritage” like the Mall of America and the Kardashian residence, a right-wing website launched a campaign that got him fired.

The new Cato survey found that more than one in five Americans (22 percent) would support firing a business executive who donated money to Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, while 31 percent would be OK with firing someone who gave money to Trump’s re-election campaign. The urge to ostracize or penalize unwelcome views isn’t restricted to just one end of the spectrum.

Americans’ right to free speech is shielded by the Constitution to a degree unmatched anywhere else. But our First Amendment guarantees will prove impotent if the habit of free speech is lost. For generations, Americans were raised to see debate as legitimate, desirable, and essential to democratic health. They quoted Voltaire’s (apocryphal) aphorism: “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.” Editors, publishers, satirists, and civil libertarians took to heart the dictum of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who wrote that “the principle of free thought” is meant to enshrine “not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

But that principle has been turned on its head. The “thought that we hate” is not tolerated but stifled. It is reviled as taboo, forbidden to be uttered. Anyone expressing it may be accused not just of giving offense, but of literally endangering those who disagree. And even if only some people lose their careers or reputations for saying something “wrong,” countless others get the chilling message.

“And so dread settles in,” writes journalist Emily Yoffe. “Challenging books go untaught. Deep conversations are not had. Friendships are not formed. Classmates and colleagues eye each other with suspicion.”

And 62 percent of Americans fear to express what they think.

The speaker in Norman Rockwell’s painting may have had something unpopular to say, but neither he nor his neighbors had any doubt that it was appropriate for him to say it. Now, such doubt is everywhere, and freedom of speech has never been more threatened.

(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe)

Posted in Anti-Semitism, Culture, Government, Life | 2 Comments

Let’s Roll This Sovereignty Train!

Arutz Sheva, Israel National News, 29 January 2020

Jerry R Lambert

Let’s Roll This Train!
לעם ישראל

Once upon a time was a people called out.
Unique this one, let there be no doubt.

The goyim wondered, why the Jew?
It’s plain to see, He anointed you.

Led by a traveler from Ur of the Chaldeans,
No longer a polytheist, not this Aramean.

Sleep, dream, awake.  To you I bestow.
He was here and I did not know.

Look far and wide; this land is your land.
Live here forever.  Your seed will be grand.

From Dan to Beer Sheva, this land I give you,
But you must take it, as I have commanded you.

Cross the river, walk all over the land.
None will defeat you; leave them lie in the sand.

Live here forever.  I give you My word.
Deliver My message, throughout the whole world.

I am the Lord G-d Who brought you out.
No longer slaves; now you have clout.

Take these words as the master key,
To teach the goyim wherever they be.

Al tira!  Al tiri!  Al tiru!
Never fear.  I’ll be with you.

G-d of all gods, King of all kings,
Throughout the world, may His praises ring.

יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי צְבָאוֹת מִי־כָמוֹךָ
חֲסִין יָהּ וֶאֱמוּנָתְךָ סְבִיבוֹתֶיךָ:

O Lord G-d Almighty, who is like You?
You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds You.

Forget Me? In Bavel, in galut shall you roam.
A lacuna.  A Talmud.  Now come back home.

A Shoah, a Shoah.  How can it be?
The world?  ‘Tis plain to see.

I love you, I love you.  The goyim not.
Don’t be surprised if they treat you like snot.

Remember My words, I promised you.
This land is yours, now stay here like glue.

I created ha’aretz; it’s Mine to give.
Sans strings attached, so there you may live.

From Dan to Beer Sheva, this land I give you.
But you must take it, as I have commanded you.

Why do you tremble?  Why hesitate?
My way is straight, so that you may skate.

The future is yours.  Al tira! Al tiru!
Mark My words.  So very true.

Believe them or not; I give you free will.
Fail the test, and you’ll be going downhill.

This land is your land, ‘tis so plain to see,
From the Jordan River clear to the sea.

Take it.  It’s yours.  Pursue the attack.
As I have told you, I have your back.

When I created you, I gave you a brain.
Now use it, please.  Let’s roll this Ribonut train!

לעם ישראל > To the people of Israel
Al tira! Al tiri! Al tiru! > Do not fear! Masculine, feminine and plural. After Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, et al.
Bavel > Babylon
galut > exile
goyim > nations
ha’aretz > land, earth
Ribonut > Sovereignty
Shoah > Holocaust
Hebrew verse is Psalm 89:9

Posted in Culture, Israel, Life, Sovereignty, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More Common Sense from our President

and from Paul Batura

Trump revives Mount Rushmore’s July 4 celebration — and the use of common sense
Paul J. Batura | Fox News

“President Trump’s announcement that the annual Independence Day fireworks show over Mount Rushmore will be reinstated after more than a 10-year hiatus was delivered with something of a wry twist.

“The popular event was canceled in 2009 over “environmental concerns,” including the risk of forest fires.

“In announcing the return of the patriotic pyrotechnics, the president brushed aside any ongoing fear of the holiday show starting a fiery blaze.

“What can burn?” he said bluntly. “It’s stone.”

“Thank you, Mr. President.

“Of course, the nation’s chief executive is well aware there are trees surrounding the famed granite sculpture. But rather than catastrophizing the situation, the president balanced the minuscule risk with the magnificent reward of a crowd-pleasing, picturesque celebration.

“Instead of finding an excuse, he found a solution. [JRL: emphasis mine]

“I think Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt would approve.

“In Colorado, where I live, numerous fireworks displays have been canceled over so-called environmental fears also, including a longtime New Year’s Eve show in the quaint ski town of Breckenridge.

“Haley Littleton, the village spokeswoman, said they decided to cancel the winter show to “provide consistency” with their July 4 cancellation and in order to “not disturb our wildlife.”

“Sometimes I think liberals are just allergic to fun. [JRL: emphasis mine]

“One of Trump’s draws during the 2016 election was his penchant for speaking bluntly. It enabled him, despite his massive wealth, to connect with everyday people. Behind the candor, though, was often common sense – something that’s historically been in short supply in bureaucratic Washington.

“Whether he was talking about hysterics surrounding the environment or the need for the nation to dream again, his populist appeal was framed in shirt-sleeve English. In fact, he ran as a “common-sense conservative.”

“I grew up on the south shore of Long Island, just about 12 miles from Trump’s childhood home. Over the course of the 25 years I lived there, I knew plenty of people who spoke in a similar straight-forward vein.

“Although I don’t appreciate crass language, which Trump has been known to employ, I find it refreshing when people say what they mean – and mean what they say.

“At the March for Life rally, where Trump became the first president to address the enthusiastic throng in person, the 73-year-old reiterated his strong opposition to abortion. Since running for president, he’s been criticized for speaking so bluntly about the horrors of the practice – but the killing of 3,000 innocent babies every single day is horrific to the extreme.

“In Donald Trump’s world – and in the minds of millions of others of us who feel likewise – it’s common sense to give life a chance. And with a million abortions a year and a million couples waiting to adopt, the solution seems quite obvious if still not common practice.

“My math teacher in seventh and eighth grade, Sister Maria Martin, often lamented, “The most uncommon thing is common sense.” Over 35 years later, my wise mentor just turned 90, and yet the problem has only gotten worse.

“It’s common sense that when you disincentivize anything, you’re going to see less of it, whether it’s marriage, large families, work, retirement accounts, charitable giving or entrepreneurial start-ups. You have to inspect what you expect and give people a reason to want to reach beyond their grasp.

“Yet, liberal politicians want to increase taxes on the very people who pay the vast majority of them, all while expanding entitlements, forgiving student loans and championing the lie that “free” equals “freedom.”

“From my perspective, true and ultimate freedom is independence from government and dependence upon the Maker of heaven and earth.

“When Thomas Paine wrote his famous pamphlet, “Common Sense,” on the eve of the American Revolution, he wisely observed that “a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right – and raise[s] at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”

“Sometimes I wonder if that’s why the reaction to conservative, common-sense policies is so loud. So many have grown so accustomed and comfortable to liberal ways that an alternative path looks strange.

“But don’t fret, wrote Paine, “The tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”

“President Trump has promised to try and attend the July 4 extravaganza in South Dakota’s Black Hills. No stranger to stagecraft and a producer of pomp and pageantry, the real-estate magnate knows a good party when he sees it.

“I think he’ll be most pleased to be standing in the shadow of four of our nation’s strongest purveyors of prudent wisdom, especially his fellow straight-talking former New Yorker, who was also known to speak his mind regardless of the consequences.

“There are many qualities which we need in order to gain success,” wrote Teddy Roosevelt, “but the three above all — for the lack of which no brilliancy and no genius can atone—are Courage, Honesty and Common Sense.”

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Where to Our Civilization?

Within the last few days I’ve come across a few modern patriots of both the United States of America and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who warn us “to get up off the mat, and to start consciously and actively fighting the forces of militant secularism that are bent on destroying us and our civilization with them.Wilfred M McClay These three annotated links are to related, recommended reading.

As Eric Cohen puts it, “The founding proposition of the American experiment was that biblical morality [emphasis mine]—our nation’s bedrock Judeo-Christian inheritance—could form and sustain a citizenry suited for modern liberty and self-government.  …  But no longer.  Today, the Judeo-Christian moral system has not so much dribbled away as it has been actively attacked and severely weakened through a deliberate campaign of delegitimization by myriad enemies of religious morality. “Secularists, and their allies among the ‘progressives,’” as [Attorney General William P] Barr put it,

have marshaled all the forces of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.

“…  today, for all the reasons expounded by Barr, the current moral challenge seems particularly difficult and dramatic. Anti-biblical civilization is now on the offensive, with its leaders well-entrenched in the commanding heights of modern culture: the universities, the media, the schools, and now even the corporations. And these progressive prophets, in their secular temples, are armed with some very seductive arguments: that modern science has embarrassed the truth-claims of biblical religion, and that religious morality is oppressive, judgmental, and unnecessarily prohibitive.

“For Western civilization to flourish, Judeo-Christian moral disarmament, or moral surrender, must come to an end. Traditional Jews and Christians must forcefully reassert that the Hebraic way of life—with its vision of sanctified normalcy, governed by the Hebrew Bible’s moral code, and courageously defended—is good and true. They—we—should never be embarrassed by traditional Judaism or Christianity, and should never give up on our sacred moral heritage. [emphasis mine]

U S Attorney General Barr spoke at Notre  Dame 11 October 2019 that, “… How does religion promote the moral discipline and virtue needed to support free government?

“First, it gives us the right rules to live by. The Founding generation were Christians. They believed that the Judeo-Christian moral system corresponds to the true nature of man. Those moral precepts start with the two great commandments – to Love God with your whole heart, soul, and mind; and to Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.

“I will not dwell on all the bitter results of the new secular age. Suffice it to say that the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has brought with it immense suffering, wreckage, and misery. And yet, the forces of secularism, ignoring these tragic results, press on with even greater militancy.

“Among these militant secularists are many so-called “progressives.” But where is the progress?

“We are told we are living in a post-Christian era. But what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the hearts of the individual person? And what is a system of values that can sustain human social life?

The fact is that no secular creed has emerged capable of performing the role of religion. [emphasis mine]

“Scholarship suggests that religion has been integral to the development and thriving of Homo sapiens since we emerged roughly 50,000 years ago. It is just for the past few hundred years we have experimented in living without religion.

“In the past, societies – like the human body – seem to have a self-healing mechanism – a self-correcting mechanism that gets things back on course if things go too far.

“The consequences of moral chaos become too pressing. The opinion of decent people rebels. They coalesce and rally against obvious excess. Periods of moral entrenchment follow periods of excess.

“This is the idea of the pendulum. We have all thought that after a while the “pendulum will swing back.”

“But today we face something different that may mean that we cannot count on the pendulum swinging back.

“First is the force, fervor, and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today. This is not decay; it is organized destruction. Secularists, and their allies among the “progressives,” have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.

“There is another modern phenomenon that suppresses society’s self-corrective mechanisms – that makes it harder for society to restore itself.

“In the past, when societies are threatened by moral chaos, the overall social costs of licentiousness and irresponsible personal conduct becomes so high that society ultimately recoils and reevaluates the path that it is on.

“But today – in the face of all the increasing pathologies – instead of addressing the underlying cause, we have the State in the role of alleviator of bad consequences. We call on the State to mitigate the social costs of personal misconduct and irresponsibility.

“A third phenomenon which makes it difficult for the pendulum to swing back is the way law is being used as a battering ram to break down traditional moral values and to establish moral relativism as a new orthodoxy.


Jerry: I encourage you to read AG Barr’s speech in its entirety, or listen if you can find it.  Notre Dame pulled down the video on their site because of some copyright restrictions.

I also suggest a related book by McClay, “Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story.”

Posted in Culture, Government, Israel, Life | 1 Comment

It was time for an administration to break foreign-policy ‘rules’

“What follows next is unclear, but by killing Iranian arch-terrorist Qassem Soleimani, Trump has broken the wheel of appeasement that enabled Tehran’s ongoing aggression.

By Jonathan S Tobin  jns.org

(January 3, 2020 / JNS) For 20 years, he had sowed terror and confusion throughout the Middle East with impunity. As head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassem Soleimani was the mastermind of the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, as well as the second most powerful person within that oppressive Islamist theocracy. No matter how much mayhem he spread, he believed that he was untouchable. And three American administrations run by both Democrats and Republicans validated that belief, forgoing opportunities to kill the man who had the blood of many Americans and countless Syrians, Lebanese, Israelis and others on his hands.

But following the orchestration of attacks on American forces in Iraq and the staging of an assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Soleimani’s get-out-of-jail free card that he had been given by the international community and successive American presidents expired.

When an American drone killed him along with the leader of Iran’s Iraqi terrorist auxiliaries, what happened was more than a settling of scores. It proclaimed to the world that the old rules by which Iran had been able to do its worst against the United States, Israel and the West—never to face any consequences—were no longer valid.

Much like his moves to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy there, Trump’s authorization of the attack on Soleimani proclaims that he has thrown out the foreign-policy rulebook that had restrained America in the past—rules that wound up shielding bad actors like Soleimani.

There’s no way of knowing how far the Iranian regime will go in order to retaliate for the major blow they have received. American citizens and assets are now at risk. Yet it is also possible that, as was the case with Trump’s pro-Israel policies, predictions of the world blowing up over this will be exaggerated.

What we do know is that this is likely to prove a crucial moment in the history of the modern Middle East. For 40 years since the Islamic Revolution took place in Iran, the regime has been able to go on pursuing its agenda of regional hegemony via terror and subversion with the West acting as if it could not or would not try to do much about it.

Indeed, the guiding principle of the Obama administration’s foreign policy was an effort to appease and accommodate the Iranians, no matter what they did. While President Barack Obama said he hoped that the nuclear deal he negotiated with Tehran in 2015 would enable the regime to “get right with the world.” But the ayatollahs didn’t want that opportunity. What it wanted was the West’s seal of approval for their nuclear program and access to foreign markets to sell the oil that would finance their pet terrorists like the IRGC. It bluffed Obama into conceding point after point in the negotiations to where the pact actually guaranteed that Iran would eventually get a nuclear weapon, while at the same time enriching and empowering the regime. And after that, it doubled down on its adventurism laying waste to Syria while consolidating control in Lebanon and attempting to do the same in Iraq.

The premise of much of the criticism of Trump’s decision on Soleimani rests on a false assumption. Those who lament the president’s trashing of conventional wisdom act as if he has upset a tradition that safeguarded American interests and lives. But it did nothing of the kind.

What happened in Syria as Iran and its ally, President Bashar Assad, lay waste to that country was the direct consequence of American appeasement. The same is true of Iran’s ability to essentially take over Lebanon through its Hezbollah henchmen. And in recent weeks, Tehran’s efforts to do the same in Iraq involved direct attacks on Americans, culminating in the assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad ringing up troubling memories of both the 2012 Benghazi debacle and the seizure of American hostages during the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979.

The argument against Trump’s foreign policy is that his actions are ill-considered, disregarding the advice of both experts and allies, and endangering the peace of the region and the world. Obama administration alumni, in particular, are saying that Trump is squandering chances for peace that the nuclear pact created.

No matter; the opposite is true. Killing Soleimani won’t start a war; Iran has been waging a hot war against America and its allies for years. Like Trump’s much-needed action in pulling out of a dangerous nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions on Iran—and even adding some new ones—the Soleimani operation makes it clear to Iran’s leaders, perhaps for the first time, that the costs of their provocations are now going to be borne by them, and not only their foes or the helpless population that groans under their despotic rule.

Playing by the rules—rules that served the interests of a rogue regime—is what endangered American lives and interests by making Iran stronger and feeling less constrained about employing its brutal and bloody tactics.

It is to be hoped that Iran’s remaining leaders are chastened, as well as angered by what has happened to their indispensable man of terror. Perhaps they will comprehend that the tables are turned, and it’s now time for them to start backing down, lest they find themselves embroiled in a conflict in which they will have far more to lose than the United States.

Whether or not happens, it’s also time for the chattering classes to stop pretending that Trump is the problem. It was high time that someone had the nerve to break the wheel that perpetuated Iran’s power and violence. Whatever happens next, a world in which the world’s leading state sponsor of terror is afraid of the United States can’t be much worse than one in which the ayatollahs have nothing but contempt for the Washington’s resolve to defend American interests.

Posted in Culture, Government, Islam, Israel | Leave a comment

The Secrets of Jewish Genius

It’s about thinking different.

By Bret Stephens The New York Times

An eminent Lithuanian rabbi is annoyed that his yeshiva students devote their lunch breaks to playing soccer instead of discussing Torah. The students, intent on convincing their rav of the game’s beauty, invite him to watch a professional match. At halftime, they ask what he thinks.

“I have solved your problem,” the rabbi says.


“Give one ball to each side, and they will have nothing to fight over.”

I have this (apocryphal) anecdote from Norman Lebrecht’s new book, “Genius & Anxiety,” an erudite and delightful study of the intellectual achievements and nerve-wracked lives of Jewish thinkers, artists, and entrepreneurs between 1847 and 1947. Sarah Bernhardt and Franz Kafka; Albert Einstein and Rosalind Franklin; Benjamin Disraeli and (sigh) Karl Marx — how is it that a people who never amounted even to one-third of 1 percent of the world’s population contributed so seminally to so many of its most pathbreaking ideas and innovations?

The common answer is that Jews are, or tend to be, smart. But the “Jews are smart” explanation obscures more than it illuminates. Aside from perennial nature-or-nurture questions, there is the more difficult question of why that intelligence was so often matched by such bracing originality and high-minded purpose. One can apply a prodigious intellect in the service of prosaic things — formulating a war plan, for instance, or constructing a ship. One can also apply brilliance in the service of a mistake or a crime, like managing a planned economy or robbing a bank.

But as the story of the Lithuanian rabbi suggests, Jewish genius operates differently. It is prone to question the premise and rethink the concept; to ask why (or why not?) as often as how; to see the absurd in the mundane and the sublime in the absurd. Where Jews’ advantage more often lies is in thinking different.

Where do these habits of mind come from?

There is a religious tradition that, unlike some others, asks the believer not only to observe and obey but also to discuss and disagree. There is the never-quite-comfortable status of Jews in places where they are the minority — intimately familiar with the customs of the country while maintaining a critical distance from them. There is a moral belief, “incarnate in the Jewish people” according to Einstein, that “the life of the individual only has value [insofar] as it aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful.”

And there is the understanding, born of repeated exile, that everything that seems solid and valuable is ultimately perishable, while everything that is intangible — knowledge most of all — is potentially everlasting.

“We had been well off, but that was all we got out,” the late financier Felix Rohatyn recalled of his narrow escape, with a few hidden gold coins, from the Nazis as a child in World War II. “Ever since, I’ve had the feeling that the only permanent wealth is what you carry around in your head.” If the greatest Jewish minds seem to have no walls, it may be because, for Jews, the walls have so often come tumbling down.

These explanations for Jewish brilliance aren’t necessarily definitive. Nor are they exclusive to the Jews.

At its best, the American university can still be a place of relentless intellectual challenge rather than ideological conformity and social groupthink. At its best, the United States can still be the country that respects, and sometimes rewards, all manner of heresies that outrage polite society and contradict established belief. At its best, the West can honor the principle of racial, religious and ethnic pluralism not as a grudging accommodation to strangers but as an affirmation of its own diverse identity. In that sense, what makes Jews special is that they aren’t. They are representational.

The West, however, is not at its best. It’s no surprise that Jew hatred has made a comeback, albeit under new guises. Anti-Zionism has taken the place of anti-Semitism as a political program directed against Jews. Globalists have taken the place of rootless cosmopolitans as the shadowy agents of economic iniquity. Jews have been murdered by white nationalists and black “Hebrews.” Hate crimes against Orthodox Jews have become an almost daily fact of life in New York City.

Jews of the late 19th century would have been familiar with the hatreds. Jews of the early 21st century should recognize where they could lead. What’s not secret about Jewish genius is that it’s a terribly fragile flower.

[Jerry: I disagree “that it’s a terribly fragile flower.”  Look at the centuries it has withstood, the persecutions it has endured, the dispersion in which it has triumphed, the droughts it has suffered, the heights it has reached, the accomplishments it has provided, … ]

[Jerry: Now, how can I improve my walk on this earth by thinking differently?]

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