Thursday, August 28, 2014

Euphonic Friday: Coming Home Edition

Rather than commenting on the current ceasefire and its political, military, social, historical, or other ramifications, I instead refer you to my Ceasefire Pie post (which referred to the ceasefire at the end of Amud Anan).

Meanwhile, as I wrote in my most recent counteracting the meraglim post, now is the time for all of our dear brothers and sisters in the Diaspora to join us here in Israel and thus help us hasten the Geulah (the Redemption).

And on a related note, the Maccabeats released a new song this week:

!שבת שלום ומבורך

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Birkat HaGomel at the Kotel

After spending over a month in heavy combat down South and before heading home for a well-deserved break, the IDF’s 51st Golani infantry battalion (which includes many hesder yeshiva students/soldiers and officers) went straight to the Kotel to recite the Birkat HaGomel thanksgiving blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹקינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם הַגּוֹמֵל לְחַיָּבִים טוֹבוֹת שֶׁגְּמָלַנִי כָּל טוֹב.

Blessed are You, Hashem our God, King of the Universe, Who bestows kindness upon the unworthy, for He has bestowed every goodness upon me.

אָמֵן. מִי שֶׁגְּמַלְּךָ‏ כָּל טוֹב הוּא יִגְמָלְךָ כָּל טוֹב סֶּלָה.

Amen. May He who has bestowed every goodness upon you continue to bestow every goodness upon you forever.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hu Yevarech Et Chayalei Tzahal

Well, here we go again.

The war seems to be back on, and as a result, many IDF soldiers and officers - many of whom had been granted short conditional leaves only yesterday - are now being ordered back to their respective bases.

Which means that all across the country - including here in TRLEOOB*!  – many families are now coming to terms with the fact that their beloved sons won’t be home for Shabbat after all.

But as I wrote in my achdut post, we still have much to celebrate on this Erev Shabbat Nachamu. For in spite of all the disappointments, the heartbreaks, the traumas, and the tragedies of the past two months, Am Yisrael remains united, and people around the world continue to demonstrate their love and support for the IDF.

For instance, a few days ago, OS (=Our Soldier) received a wonderful surprise from my friend Laura (of Pragmatic Attic fame).

She wrote that her young daughter made this beautiful drawing especially for OS, as an expression of her gratitude and appreciation for him and his friends:


The talented young artist, who graciously gave permission to have her drawing posted here, explained that it’s a picture of two chayalim (soldiers) hugging. “They are hugging,” she added, “because they are happy, and because [I don’t] want them to be sad.

Thank you, Laura, and please thank your sweet daughter!

The IDF’s Chief Cantor and the Pirchei Yisrael Boys Choir of Givat Shmuel sing the “Mi SheBerach Prayer for the Welfare of the IDF Soldiers” to the tune of “El Eretz Tzvi.” (The IDF Cantor and Choir sang this same song at the Shloshim for the three boys Hy”d last week.)

שבת שלום ומבורך ובשורות טובות!

Shabbat shalom, and may the coming week be filled with besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation) for Am Yisrael!


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Monday, August 4, 2014

Counteracting the Meraglim VI

Over the years, in the days leading up to Tisha B’Av, it’s become somewhat of an Our Shiputzim tradition* to discuss a different “antidote to the meraglim (the Spies)” – i.e. yet another wonderful aspect of life in our beautiful Land.

This year, this post practically wrote itself.

Because as our Sages famously taught, the Second Beit HaMikdash was destroyed due to sinat chinam (generally translated as “gratuitous hatred”), and thus, the ultimate antidote to the meraglim is the unprecedented sense of unity that has gripped every sector of Israeli society over the past 7.5 weeks.

We are united in our belief that Tzuk Eitan is a just, necessary, and unavoidable war, and in our knowledge that the IDF is the most moral, ethical, and humane army in the entire world.

We are united in our prayers and support for the brave soldiers and officers of the IDF, who not only risk and sacrifice their own lives to save ours, but who are also – both literally and figuratively - our sons, our daughters, our husbands, our brothers, our sisters, our neighbors, and our dear friends.

We are united in our concern for our beleaguered brothers and sisters in the South, who have spent the last 14 years (!!) living under enemy fire.

We are united in our bewilderment and anger toward those – including many of our self-professed "best friends EVER” – who consistently condemn us for imaginary atrocities while turning a blind eye toward our savage enemies, who cruelly target our civilians while deliberately endangering their own (i.e. a double war crime).

We are united in our outpouring of love for our wounded; in our grief and sorrow over the loss of so many of our best and brightest; and in our condolences to the bereaved families.

And most of all - as I wrote in my previous post - we are united in our awe and gratitude to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and His countless dedicated emissaries for all the goodness that He has bestowed and continues to bestow upon us.

That long list of emissaries includes the three special families: the Yifrachs, the Sha’ars, and the Fraenkels. Their nobility and strength inspired us, and their holy sons HY”D saved us – both physically and spiritually.

In fact, they can be compared to modern-day Esthers and Mordechais. They took a nation that was “מפוזר ומפורד” (“scattered and dispersed” - Esther 3:8) and brought everyone together on the path to salvation. (Esther commands Mordechai, “לך כנוס את כל היהודים” – “Go, assemble all the Jews.” - Esther 4:16)

For instance, a chareidi acquaintance told us that in his [exclusively chareidi] community, people couldn’t stop talking about the three families and their extraordinary emunah (faith). “My neighbors used to think that they had a lock on emunah,” he observed. “But now they all say that they’ve never seen anything even approaching emunah like this!

Interestingly, the prime minister’s wife used the same word in reference to the wounded IDF soldiers and their families. The TV cameras caught Mrs. Netanyahu in the middle of a long day of visiting different hospitals, and she said that she was amazed at the soldiers’ emunah and their desire to return to their units to finish their missions.

Consider also the following:

  • MK and Minister Silvan Shalom reported that when a siren interrupted a trade fair held at Tel Aviv’s port to boost southern Israel’s small businesses, thousands of Israelis spontaneously began singing, “Am Yisrael Chai!” (“The nation of Israel lives!”)
  • On one of the first few days of the ground incursion, a reporter interviewed a mother visiting her wounded son. “I am not religious at all,” she insisted. “But now it’s the period of Bein HaMetzarim [i.e. the Three Weeks], and that means that it’s time for Am Yisrael to come together and to focus on that which unites us.
  • Channel 2 recently ran a segment on women whose husbands are serving in the reserves. When asked how she copes (she hasn’t seen her husband in weeks), a very secular-looking mother of several young children replied that her belief in God gets her through the day. “I speak to Him all the time,” she explained. “I speak to Him like a daughter speaks to her Father.

An Israeli neighbor stopped by the other day. After comparing notes about our respective soldier sons, we started talking about the incredible achdut (unity) that we have been experiencing.

It means that the Geulah (the Redemption) is finally on the way,” she declared. “It’s so close we can almost taste it!

And so, I turn to you, our beloved family and friends in the Diaspora.

Please join us here in Israel, and come experience this achdut for yourself. Am Yisrael needs you here in Eretz Yisrael, and you need to become part of העם היושב בציון (the Nation that dwells in Tzion).

May we indeed be soon privileged to experience the Geulah, and may our eyes behold Hashem’s return to Tzion with mercy, speedily and in our days. Amen.

יה”ר שיבנה בית המקדש במהרה בימינו, אמן.

Have an easy and meaningful fast.


* Previous “antidote to the meraglim” posts include:

  1. The annual Yemei Iyun B’Tanach in Gush Etzion

  2. Shabbat in an Israeli maternity ward

  3. A front row seat on our nation’s history

  4. A country that revolves around the Jewish calendar

  5. Rubbing shoulders with the country's movers and shakers

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tzuk Eitan

Shavua tov v’shaket.

As Day 12 of Mivtza Tzuk Eitan (literally, “Operation Stalwart Cliff” – i.e. “Operation Protective Edge,” which is, in essence, an extension of Mivtza Shuvu Achim – Operation Brother’s Keeper – and also a desperately-needed response to the staggering 14 years (!!) that our dear brothers and sisters in the South have been under incessant attack) draws to a close, Israel mourns the loss of Dror Chanin HY”D, a civilian volunteer who was delivering food and care packages to IDF soldiers when he was killed in a Palestinian mortar attack along the Gaza border; Sergeant Eitan Barak Z”L, who was killed in combat during the first night of the ground invasion; and Sergeant Adar Barsano HY”D and Major Amotz Greenberg HY”D, who were killed by Hamas terrorists who had infiltrated Israel on Shabbat morning.

UPDATE (Sunday, July 20) – We also mourn the loss of Staff Sergeant Benaya Ruval HY”D, who was killed by a terrorist emerging from a tunnel in Gaza; and Second Lieutenant Bar Rahav HY”D, who was killed by an anti-tank missile in Gaza.

May all their memories be blessed, and may their families be comforted among the other mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.

Meanwhile, thank you to the wonderful Our Shiputzim readers from around the world who’ve been asking how we’re doing here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog).

Mostly, like the rest of the country, our thoughts and prayers are with the IDF – the brave fathers, husbands, brothers, sisters, daughters, and sons (including, of course, OS - a veteran of last year’s Amud Anan), who are working around the clock to protect Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael. May Hashem watch over and protect them, and may they all return home safe and sound.

The thing is that since that terrible day when Eyal Yifrach HY”D, Gil-Ad Sha’ar HY”D, and Naftali Fraenkel HY”D were brutally abducted and murdered in cold blood by our enemies, events have been moving at a dizzying speed.

Indeed, it seems as if every hour brings new developments, and there’s been no time to digest or understand any of them - let alone to write a coherent blog post about them.

With your permission, however, I would like to focus on two things:

1) First, the incredible revealed miracles and wonders that Am Yisrael has been privileged to witness.

For in spite of the devastating tragedy and trauma of recent weeks, words cannot begin to express our awe, amazement, and gratitude to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and His countless dedicated emissaries – including the IDF, the brilliant engineers who conceived and developed the Iron Dome, and many others – for all the goodness that He has bestowed and continues to bestow upon us.

2) Second, I don’t know if anyone has been listening, but many rabbis and community leaders have been [correctly, IMHO] exhorting Diaspora Jewry that NOW is actually the best time to make aliyah. As they explain, at this critical juncture, there is no better way to support Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael according to Torat Yisrael.

To the rabbis’ wise words, I would add that making aliyah TODAY also serves another important purpose.

Moving to our beautiful Land gives one a front row seat on Jewish history and allows one to play a major role in shaping Am Yisrael’s future.


May the coming week be filled with besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation) for Am Yisrael.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Guest Post: The Horror of It All

Israel is in a state of shock today.

Shiputzim family friend Tzippi Sha-ked expressed what we’ve all been thinking and feeling, and she graciously allowed me to repost her essay (which originally appeared here) on this blog:


The Horror of It All…

by Tzippi Sha-ked

We are absolutely horrified that some young Jews could do something so heinous. The nation condemns their sick behavior.

This, however, remains an aberration, not a norm. Vigilante justice is extremely rare in Israel. The last time something like this happened was in 1994, when the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein took the law into his own hands.

Like all societies, we have our extremists, but we never let them control the majority. Unfortunately, the Muslim extremists control the silent majority which we hope want peace.

A brutal murder (of Muhammed) such as this, is so rare that when something like this happens we go into shock. As a nation, we gathered after the murders of the three boys - Eyal, Naftali, and Gil-Ad HY”D - and prayed and comforted one another. We did not take to the streets rioting.

Then the shock of all shocks. The unthinkable happened; and it was from our side. I can only say that the nation of Israel is not handing out candies in celebration; we are not raising three fingers in a sick victory signal. We have not incited our children in our textbooks to hate Muslims and to take the law into their own hands. Rather, we are horrified and are acting quickly to arrest and prosecute these mad young people and quell the violence.

In contradistinction to the actions of the Palestinian Authority, Israel will not name a street, a square, or a village after the perpetrators. The mothers will not be celebrating in their children’s honor. The families will not be awarded terrorist stipends, and the perpetrators will be tried accordingly under the democratic process.

There will be intense months of soul searching as we try to process this act. This has been the most horrific month here in Israel, and I fear that we are heading into a very trying period.

Today a couple of Muslims from Hevron visited the Fraenkel family. If we could guarantee our safety, many Jews would go and comfort this Muslim family in turn.

May peace reign over Yerushalayim in our time.


Amen, and thank you, Tzippi.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Oy, Meh Hayah Lanu!

Almost exactly 76 years ago, on June 29, 1938, Shlomo Ben-Yosef HY"D of Rosh Pina was hung by the British.

He was the first of the Olei HaGardom (also known as the Harugei HaMalchut) – the twelve Jewish men whom the British sentenced to death in the pre-State era.

In response, two days later, on Rosh Chodesh Tamuz 5698, Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlap zt"l, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav, wrote a letter of chizuk to his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson.

This afternoon, Rav Gidon Binyamin shlit”a, the Rav of Nof Ayalon, read an excerpt from that letter at the funeral of Naftali Fraenkel HY"D.

(An English translation follows below.)

א' דראש חודש תמוז תרח"צ

בני יקירי, ורעיתך היקרה, והילד היקר - ד' עמכם.

אמנם המחשבות סוערות מאוד מעליית לגרדום אחד מבני ישראל על לא דבר. לא הועילו כל ההפצרות, לא הועילו כל ההתחננות. גם כל חלונות השמים נסגרו. כל התפילות, השוועות, הזעקות, והתחינות לא בקעו את העננים.

אשרי לאיש הזה שעל ידו נתעוררו כל כך הרבה הרהורי תשובה. אשרי לו שעל ידו נתאחדו לנקודה אחת כל ישראל. אך אוי מה היה לנו, מדוע שתם תפילתנו, אבל ביטחוננו בו יתברך שמו כי ינקום נקמת דם עמו לעינינו, ובמהרה נראה בבנין ציון וירושלים, ובבנין בית מקדשנו וכו'.

אביכם המעתיר בעדכם ומברך אתכם,
יעקב משה

Rosh Chodesh Tamuz 5698

My dear son, your dear wife, and the dear child,

May Hashem be with you.

Indeed our thoughts are in great turmoil after one of Bnei Yisrael was sent to the gallows for no reason. All the entreaties were to no avail. All the supplications were to no avail. Even all the windows of Heaven were closed. All the prayers, the outcries, the shouts, and the pleadings did not pierce the clouds.

Fortunate is this man, who because of him, so many were roused to contemplate repentance. Fortunate is he, who because of him, all of Israel was united as one. But woe, what has befallen us! Why were our prayers unrequited? But our trust is in Him, blessed is His Name, that He will avenge His nation’s blood before our eyes, and we will speedily witness the rebuilding of Tzion and Yerushalayim and the rebuilding of our Beit HaMikdash, etc.

Your father who bestows abundance upon you and blesses you,
Yaakov Moshe

May we continue to relish the beautiful achdut (unity) of the past two and a half weeks; may the three bereaved families be consoled among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim; and may the memories of Eyal HY”D, Gil-Ad HY”D, and Naftali HY”D be blessed.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet

ברוך דיין האמת.

Blessed is the True Judge.

ה’ יקום דמם ויהי זכרם ברוך.

May Hashem avenge their blood, and may their memories be blessed.