Jewish Home LA - 12-3-20

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The Week In News

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

KEEPING QUIET IN SHUL IS A ZECHUS FOR PARNASSAH, SHIDDUCHIM, REFUOS & YESHUOS!


DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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The Week In News

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home


The Week In News

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

DECEMBER 17-20, 2020 ONE COMMUNITY • ONE TORAH

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The Week In News

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

The Jewish Home is distributed bi-weekly to: ANAHEIM AGOURA HILLS BEVERLY HILLS BURBANK CALABASAS CAMARILLO COSTA MESA ENCINO GLENDALE HUNTINGON BEACH IRVINE LONG BEACH LOS ANGELES -BEVERLY HILLS

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Dear Readers, Yidden always knew that no matter what was going on in the world we can always turn inward and find strength and peace of mind in our Siddurim and Seforim. Davening and learning created a sort of oasis in an otherwise turbulent world. Each of us can grow in our concentration while Davening or the intensity of learning and now is the best time to dive in. It will help in our peace of mind, our spiritual state and our moral clarity. From the Greeks to the Communists they knew that a Yid without Torah is like fish without water. The Torah is the well from which we get our strength. We don’t need new wells from which to drink or new causes for which to find fulfilment. We have our eternal and Living Torah which guides us and gives us the meaning needed to go through our everyday lives with purpose and fulfilment. We don’t have actual Greeks to wage war with but the battle isn’t done until the cynics become believers and the scoffers find faith. The completion of which will happen when the exile is finally over and the redemption begins. May it happen in the very near future. Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos, and a freilichen Chanukah,

Shalom

T H E P R E M I E R J E W I S H N E W S PA P E R H I G H L I G H T I N G L A’ S O R T H O D OX C O M M U N I T Y The Jewish Home is an independent bi-weekly newspaper. Opinions expressed by writers are not neces­sarily the opinions of the publisher or editor. The Jewish Home is not responsible for typographical errors, or for the kashrus of any product or business advertised within. The Jewish Home contains words of Torah. Please treat accordingly. FOR HOME DELIVERY, OR TO HAVE THE LATEST ISSUE EMAILED TO YOU FREE OF CHARGE, SEND A MESSAGE TO EDITOR@JEWISHHOMELA.COM


The Week In News

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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TheHappenings Week In News

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

The Clubhouse: Inclusion for the Los Angeles Jewish Community Yehudis Litvak While all families with children were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, families with children with special needs felt the impact the most. Taking care of their children remained just as challenging, but many of these children, who are enrolled in public school, are now home all the time, leaving no breaks for the parents. Two women in our community saw the struggles these families faced, and

they decided to do something about it – not in the future, when the world returns back to normal, but now, under these crazy circumstances. Sori Eisen and Chaya Ullmann founded The Clubhouse, providing respite and other services to families with children with special needs. On Sunday, November 22, The Clubhouse held a well-attended event, hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Shaya Atlas in their backyard, to raise awareness of these families’

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needs and of The Clubhouse’s important work. The keynote speaker, Rabbi Avi Stewart, spoke about his own experience with raising a daughter with special needs. “The challenge of being a parent of a special needs child is tremendous,” he said. While the thought that this child has a lofty neshama may be comforting to some, it doesn’t make it any easier. Some gedolim stood up for children with special needs.

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Rabbi Stewart quoted Rav Schwab as saying, “I don’t know about the kids, but I stand up for their parents.” He also quoted their doctor, who said that a child with special needs is “like having eight kids at one time.” Most people who don’t have children with special needs are not aware of these challenges and cannot relate. What helps these families alleviate pressure and stress? The care and support from the community. Rabbi Stewart expressed appreciation to Mrs. Ullmann and Mrs. Eisen for seeing this need for support and for offering it wholeheartedly, making these families feel that they are not on their own but part of one big family. After the keynote address, the attendees watched a moving video about The Clubhouse and saw the bright smiles of the children with special needs who enjoy everything it has to offer. The Clubhouse is especially set up with play and gymnastics equipment. The children participate in various activities – dancing, exercising, arts and crafts. The Clubhouse currently serves 20 children with special needs and is open four times a week – on Sunday afternoons and on weekday evenings – to give parents the opportunity to take a break and to focus on their other children. In December, The Clubhouse plans to open five times a week. Each child is assigned a dedicated volunteer – a Junior High or high school student especially trained to work with these children. Currently, there are about 50 volunteers, and more are planning to join the ranks. Social workers and ABA therapists are also on site during open hours. Amazingly, this respite service is completely free of charge to the families. In addition to the respite program, The Clubhouse currently offers an inclusive Mommy and Me program, where typical and atypical children can learn to interact with each other. The Clubhouse also offers a Yoga class for mothers of children with special need, where they can connect and provide support for each other. Mrs. Ullmann says that The Clubhouse is hoping to expand its services in the future, as there is a clear need in our community. “Our goal is that the community learns and absorbs the lessons of inclusion,” she says. More information about The Clubhouse is available on their website, https:// thelarchmontclubhouse.org/, or by email at thelarchmontclubhouse@gmail.com.


The Week In News

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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Shas Yiden - a Bracha Amidst a Pandemic - 853,965 blatt TheShas WeekYiden In News

By Rabbi Eliezer Sandler Last week, sixty-three incredible young talmidei chachomim gathered in a hall in Beit Shemesh. Their wives did not attend this year due to the current health situation, which also prevented the 12 Shas Yiden avreichim geonim in London from attending. They were all celebrating their annual Siyum Hashas, having collectively completed 853,965 blatt of Gemara, Rashi and Tosfos! Prior to the festive meal, the avreichim geonim underwent two hours of grilling questions on the entire Shas. The examiners are recognized as leading talmidei chachomim – Maran Hagaon Harav Chaim Weiss, Rav of Beitar Illit and Maran Hagaon Harav Bunim Schreiber, Rosh Yeshiva of ‘Netiv Hadaas’. Both examiners are known as geonim charifim and bekiim in Shas. Without any papers or references on the table before them, they reeled off some 150 questions that included: asking for page citations, facts, logic and for detailed information that basically required knowledge of the Talmud by heart.

Amazing Prowess

The questioners were both amazed at the prowess of each of the avreichim geonim. Questions that were ‘thrown’ at the avreichim geonim received a thunderous response from all, simultaneously. (A video of the farher is available to be viewed on the Shas Yiden website www.shasyiden. com, which has videos of past annual

farhers.) Over the 12 years since Shas Yiden’s inception, its successful growth and the mastery of Shas by the avreichim geonim has captured the attention and imagination of the gedolei Torah all over, and who have been effusive in their praise at how they have made the idea of becoming a Shas Yid achievable and popular. After personally

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

examining the Shas Yiden every year with searching questions, Maran Sar Hatorah, Hagaon Harav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a, exclaimed “Zei kennen Shas” (They know Shas!) and then agreed to become the Nasi of Shas Yiden.

Meeting the Challenge and more

The avreichim geonim effortlessly followed the questioners’ changing from masechta

Note from Sar Hatorah to the 63 Siyumei Hashas

25 Marcheshvan 5781 (Note: The Nasi of Shas Yiden, Harav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a, was unable to attend the Siyum, which he does every year, and penned a note to the Shas Yiden.) In honor of the Siyum Hashas of the kollel avreichim geonim Shas Yiden under the leadership of our friend Hagaon Harav Avrohom Halevi Eisen, shlit”a. It is difficult for me to participate on this Yom Tov of these tens of talmidei chachomim, gedolei Torah; they are all outstanding in Torah. They know the entire Shas on which I have personally tested them and saw that they are knowledgeable in the entire Shas. I send my best wishes that they should acquire knowledge of the entire Torah to learn, to teach, to guard, to do and to fulfill all the words of Thy Torah in love. And may the Gaon, our friend (Rav Eisen) shlit”a, merit to open many more kollelim and to cause Torah to grow and be glorified.

Hagaon Harav Bunim Schreiber conducting the farher, with Hagaon Harav Moshe Samet and Hagaon Harav Avrohom Eisen looking on

Chaim Kanievsky

L-R Hagaon Harav Moshe Samet, Hagaon Harav Chaim Weiss, Hagaon Harav Bunim Schreiber, Hagaon Harav Avrohom Eisen


TheShas WeekYiden In News

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Hagaon Harav Bunim Schreiber conducting the farher

Shas Yid avreich gaon from Beitar Illit making the Hadran, with Hagaon Harav Moshe Samet and Hagaon Harav Avrohom Eisen looking on

Hagaon Harav Avrohom Eisen, Hagaon Harav Shmuel Landau – Dayan of Belz in Beit Shemesh, Hagaon Harav Moshe Samet

Shas Yiden avreichim geonim

Sample Questions from the Siyum Hashas Farher To Watch the Farher click on: w w w.shasyiden.com QUESTIONS: 1. When Tannaim and Amoraim are about to lecture on a particular masechta, they have opening ‘styles’. How many are there for Maseches Megilla and where are they recorded? 2. Which similar sugya is to be found in Brochos, Shabbos, Eiruvin, Pesachim and Succah? 3. What was the name of Abaye’s father? 4. Where are to be found 2 chapters in 2 masechtos of 2 different orders of the Mishna, both in the same place

in its Mishna, and they both begin on the same page number and the same side of the folio, in the same location and row number? 5. Who is the Amora who appears a few times in the Talmud, made a statement which was strongly questioned and he was shamed, and in the end it was known that he was correct? 6. Where in Shas are the sugyos that mitzvos require intent? 7. Where is the law of “Bari veshema” (“Clear and Perhaps”) to be found in Shas?

ANSWERS: 1. Fourteen – Megilla 11a, and according to Hagaos Habach and the Gra – another 2 2. Dmai ha lo chazi lei – is not suited for him, that if he wishes he can render his possesions hefker and he is rendered poor, and the dmai is now suited for him as it says in a Mishna – Brochos 47a 3. Keilil – Rashi, Zevachim 118b 4. Perek Keitzad, Yevamot 16 and Bava Kama 16

5. Rava – Gittin 29b, 77b, Bava Metzia 81b, 97a, Avoda Zara 22a; and also Rav Papa – Bava Metzia 81a 6. Brachos 13a regarding the Reading of Shma; Eiruvin 95b regarding Tefillin; Pesochim 114b regarding matza and maror; Rosh Hashanna 28b regarding shofar 7. Kesubos 12a and 16a; Bava Kama 35b and 118b; Bava Metzia 37b

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TheShas WeekYiden In News to masechta. Questions ranged from how many times does such an expression or ruling appear in a particular tractate to complex reasoning from one tractate to another. Someone unfamiliar with Talmudic study would have been very hard pressed to follow the pace of questioning and the complexity. When Rav Weiss finished his testing of the avreichim geonim, he said that he very

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

much regretted being unable to meet with the Shas Yiden on Shabbos, for dialoging with them would be the highest and most fulfilling oneg (pleasure of) Shabbos. After concluding his searching examination of the Shas Yiden avreichim geonim, Rav Bunim Schreiber commented “I sat with them for a long time and discussed many subjects from all over Shas, and I am a witness that their mastery and incredible

knowledge is unlimited. It was an inspiring and heart-warming sight to see tens of avreichim geonim rising to the house of Hashem to become great scholars in all of Torah.” For more information and to donate to Shas Yiden, please call 718-702-1528 or write to: 1274 49th Street #562, Brooklyn, NY 11219.

Shas Yiden – the ‘Disruptive Technology’ of Torah Learning

The Pozna Rov, Hagaon Harav Avrohom Eisen reciting the Kaddish in memory of his father

“Shas Yiden is the ‘disruptive technology’ of the Torah world today,” exclaimed one of the most ardent monthly supporters of the Shas Yiden kollelim network in Israel and London, UK. Disruptive technology is an innovation that significantly alters the way that consumers, industries, or businesses operate, and sweeps away the systems or ‘habits’ it replaces because it has attributes that are recognizably superior, he explained. “Ever since Shas Yiden came on the Torah scene 12 years ago, its impact has been felt throughout the Torah world. The five kollelim where 75 incredible avreichim geonim and baalei middos (people of noble character) are groomed, have become an integral part of the world Torah landscape. “Every avreich completes the entire Shas five times each year (13,555 blatt), knows it b’al peh and they have regular public farhers. Thus, today such proficiency is not only acclaimed and accepted, but many across the Torah world are trying to emulate their example, boruch Hashem.

All the Shas Yiden dancing in celebrating the Siyum

“Not only are they amazing, but I have never had such fulfilment from any of my charity giving. It hasn’t cost me a dime. Whatever I donate in any particular year, is returned from my investments, and more. For me, it is a ‘disruptive tzedakah’ as well. Thank you, Shas Yiden.” Hagaon Harav Avrohom Eisen handing out gifts and envelopes with a cash gifts for the wives of the avreichim geonim

Hagaon Harav Moshe Samet, Rosh Hakollelim reading out the letter from the Nasi of Shas Yiden, Sar Hatorah, Maran Hagaon Harav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a, with Hagaon Harav Avrohom Eisen looking on


DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

The Week In News

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The Week In News Living with the Times

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Better

Publisher of the Yated Ne’eman

The battle of Yaakov and Eisov that began in the parshiyos of these weeks continues on until this day. The eternal battle takes on different guises, and each generation is faced with a new unprecedented threat. Sometimes the battle is physical, such as in the time of Yaakov, Chanukah and Purim, the Inquisition, the Crusades, the era of pogroms and blood libels, the Holocaust, and the wars and terror attacks of the Arabs against Israel and Jews. Other times, it is a covert war, conducted under the guise of friendship. The goal is always the same: to subvert adherence to Torah and mitzvos and cause the offspring of Yaakov to divert from the correct path. Yaakov referred to both when he called out, “Hatzileini na miyd achi miyad Eisov - Save me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Eisov.” He was asking that Hashem protect him and his family from whichever mode of attack Eisov would present, whether he would arrive with guns blazing or attempt to win them over with a brotherly embrace. Today, as Israel makes peace with some of its former enemies and those who battle its existence have largely been kept at bay, and as the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran rises once again, Eisov largely has changed his battle strategy for now to smother us through the friendly embrace. We have become enamored by his technological advances and allowed ourselves to get sucked up in pursuits that cause us not only to temper our inbred, hereditary, spiritual impulses, but also to become superficial. Rav Yechezkel Levenstein recounted in a mussar shmuess that following the first World War, the Chofetz Chaim remarked that it was “child’s play compared to the war that would follow.” Rav Yechezkel told his talmidim that the Second World War would be considered child’s play compared to the coming third world war. He explained that the wars are essentially the forces of tumah battling kedusha. During the First World War, the tumah began to take a bite out of the kedusha. During the Second World War, the tumah dug in deeper, and now, he said, we are in the third world war and the kochos hatumah seek to spiritually knock off sections of Klal Yisroel. Rav Yechezkel’s warning was delivered many decades before we were facing what we face now. We have to become more sensitive, not less, to Eisov’s enticements and temptations, and work to ensure that we remain true to our core creed. We have to recognize that anything that takes us away from Torah, from properly per-

forming mitzvos, from kedusha, and from proper zehirus from tumah is not for us and is something we should stay away from. We are living through a terrible period of din, with so many people sick and so many dying. Just this past week, we lost Rav Eliyohu Meir Sorotzkin, a young rosh yeshiva whose entire life revolved around Torah, learning Torah, teaching Torah, and living Torah. An heir to Torah royalty, he carried within him the nobility of Torah and the grace it bestowed upon those who dedicate their lives to Torah to the exclusion of all else. The koach hatumah is taking bites out of us. We have to fight back by increasing our devotion to Torah and strengthening our commitment to kedusha. We must act as in a physical battle, when people seek to fortify their forces and do whatever they can to overcome the enemy. Rav Aryeh Schechter, whose first yahrtzeit is this week, told of an incident that happened with his parents and the Chazon Ish in 1948. After Israel declared independence, its Arab neighbors went to war, seeking to destroy the nascent nation in their midst. Rav Schechter’s parents made an appointment to see the Chazon Ish to solicit his advice about a certain matter. When they arrived from their home in Tel Aviv at the appointed time, they were told that the Chazon Ish left a message for them that he wasn’t able to see them, but that they should not return home and wait until he would be ready for them. They went outside and were waiting in the yard of the house. The Chazon Ish’s apartment was close to ground level. They looked up and saw him pacing back and forth in his room. His face looked like it was on fire and his lips were moving with great devotion. This went on for a while and then there was a great explosion. Right after the explosion was heard, the Chazon Ish opened the door to his room and sent for the Schechters, who were quite shaken up. He discussed their issue with them and bid them farewell. They left to the bus station, where they found out the rest of the story. The Egyptian Air Force set out that day to bomb the large Rottenberg electrical plant complex in Tel Aviv. They missed their target and the bombs fell instead on the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station. This took place during afternoon rush hour, when, on a normal day, thousands of people would be at the bus station looking to return home after a day of work. The bus station was comprised of two stories. People would enter on the street

level and then climb steps to the upper unroofed level, where the buses were located. The bomb hit on the upper level, in the spot where the bus to Bnei Brak would wait to fill up and depart from. Despite the fact that on that day there were much fewer people in the bus station than usual, forty people were killed. A terrible tragedy, but not on the scale of what could have been expected. The Schechters witnessed the Chazon Ish engaged in a battle with Eisov. Kedusha battled tumah. The Medrash (Bereishis Rabbah 78:15), quoted and explained by the Ramban (33:15), relates that when Rabi Yannai would have dealings with the Roman overlords, he would learn Parshas Vayishlach before setting out. Chazal had a mesorah that this week’s parsha is the parsha of golus, from which Jews can learn for all time how to conduct themselves in golus. From the subtleties of the exchange between Yaakov and Eisov, the chachomim would formulate the proper angle, hashkafah and negotiating positions to survive under Roman domination. The Ramban writes that Parshas Vayishlach was written so that we may learn from it, because everything that happened to Yaakov and his encounters with Eisov will happen to his descendants. The way Yaakov dealt with Eisov demonstrates for us how to deal with the Eisovs in our day as well, in whichever guise he attacks us. We fight with hishtadlus and tefillah. Eternal battles fought and refought throughout the ages are all foretold in the Torah to those who properly study it. The way we deal with national and personal enemies is by studying what our parents, grandparents and forefathers did in similar situations, recognizing that an age-old battle is being played out and can only be won by following the strategies laid out by our grandfather, Yaakov. One of the more spectacular moments in the extraordinary life of Eliyohu Hanovi was the showdown on Har Hacarmel. Under the influence of the wicked King Achav, the Bnei Yisroel had fallen to a very low level. While still maintaining a belief in Hashem, they worshiped the gods of Canaan. Eliyohu challenged the ovdei avodah zorah to a contest between himself and the 450 prophets of the Baal. Achav accepted the challenge (Melochim I, 18:19). Eliyohu proposed that each side - he and the nevi’ei haBaal - slaughter a bull as a sacrifice. Each would place their offering atop their mizbei’ach, leaving the firewood on the altar unlit. The group to whose mizbei’ach a fire would descend from heaven to consume the korban would

be acknowledged as the correct religion for all to follow. Word quickly spread and multitudes converged on Har Hacarmel to witness the showdown of kedusha vs. tumah. Eliyohu offered the nevi’ei haBa’al to go first, since the overwhelming majority of the people supported them and not Eliyohu. They took one of the bulls, slaughtered it, prepared it for their mizbei’ach, and then proceeded to call upon the Baal all through the morning. They jumped, chanted and danced, cutting themselves until they bled, in the manner of their worship. “Yet there was neither a sound nor any response from heaven” (Melochim I, 18:25-26). Their altar remained unlit. At noon, Eliyohu mocked the priests of the Baal, asking if their god was asleep. They continued their efforts until the time of Mincha, to no avail. There was no response. Then Eliyohu Hanovi invited the people to draw close and he made his preparations. At the moment of Mincha, he slaughtered his korban, placed it upon the mizbei’ach, and recited a prayer “that this people may know that You... are G-d.” Hashem sent a streak of heavenly fire to consume the korban, the wood, the stones, the dust and the water. The posuk recounts that the people saw this and fell on their faces, calling out, “Hashem Hu Ho’Elokim.” Imagine the scene. It was Eliyohu Hanovi’s finest hour, as he stood firmly and courageously facing hundreds of prophets and a powerful king, undaunted. He performed a miracle in full view of the people. No doubt, the prestige enjoyed by Eliyohu was great. The people were in awe of him and his abilities. They were overcome with emotion and lunging for repentance. Yet, their reaction wasn’t to extol the virtues of Eliyohu and exclaim that Eliyohu is a tremendous tzaddik, baal mofeis, and miracle worker for the ages. They didn’t shout out Eliyohu’s praises as you would imagine they would have. Instead, all who had gathered for the showdown reached the same conclusion and proclaimed as one what would become an eternal declaration of faith: “Hashem Hu Ho’Elokim!” Rav Yitzchok Yedidya Frankel, the rov of Tel Aviv and father-in-law of Rav Yisroel Meir Lau, would say that this was the greatest tribute to Eliyohu Hanovi. He knew that the role of a Torah Jew is to act as a conduit to cause people to focus on the Source of miracles and might. This coming week, we will be celebrating the victory of the righteous Chashmonaim over the Eisov of their day. The


The Week In News Living with the Times

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Olam needs me to be a rosh yeshiva, and whether or not I have financial support or talmidim is His decision,” he said. “However, I do know that Hashem needs me to be ehrlich, even without talmidim. That part is not up for negotiation or compromise.” It wasn’t about him. He didn’t need to build a yeshiva. He needed to build himself. It was about Hashem and his Torah. If he was the right shliach, he would succeed, and if he didn’t, then it wasn’t meant to be. But no matter what happened, his principles, honesty, forthrightness and fidelity to a hallowed creed were non-negotiable. We have to remain focused, dedicated shlichim to the One Who sent us here and

not become impressed by the modern-day pragmatists and Misyavnim. We don’t need to be victorious to win. We need to keep our heads held upright, moving forward and ignoring those who mock us for being old-fashioned, misguided and stubborn. Their inducements do not lure us. Their lies do not impress us. There is but one truth and it cannot be compromised. The Chashmonaim had the courage to identify the danger for what it was. They weren’t impressed by the advanced Greek culture or their barometers of success and popularity. They didn’t follow the glitz and glamour, doing what other people did because everyone did it. They had a core of time-worn values

that they stuck to, and that was what enabled them to beat back Eisov. In our day, as well, we must, as our grandfather Yaakov, the Chashmonaim, Rabi Yannai, the Ramban, the Chazon Ish, and Rav Eliyohu Meir Bloch each did in their time, fight Eisov through remembering our mission, our task in life and the powers Hashem has bequeathed to each of us to increase kedusha and decrease tumah in our lives and the lives of those we care about, the community and the world in general. Let us be energized as we learn this week’s parsha to be better and do better so that we can bring about the final defeat of Eisov with the coming of Moshiach.

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Chashmonaim were the conduits for the miracles that led to freeing the Jews from the domination of the Yevonim. But they took care to ensure that the celebration was about Hashem, not about them. Their mesirus nefesh in battle was for the cause of bringing about a proclamation that “Hashem Hu Ho’Elokim,” not that the Chashmonaim are effective warriors and baalei mofeis. Their task was to lead to a condition of lehodos ulehallel leShimcha hagadol. The story of Chanukah wasn’t about the Chashmonaim and their military accomplishments. It was about making the name of Hashem great. The reverberations of that victory echo through the generations. As we light the neiros Chanukah, we recite the brocha, “She’osah nissim la’avoseinu bayomim haheim bazeman hazeh.” The holy seforim explain the reference of the brocha to “bayomim haheim bazeman hazeh” as alluding to the idea that the same force that enabled miracles back then, bayomim haheim, returns every year at this time, allowing for nissim of our own in our time, bazeman hazeh. We can all tap into that power. We can become people of kedusha, focusing on bringing glory to the One Who made us, not keeping it for ourselves. If we do that, we will succeed in our missions and merit miracles. In our generation, people of true commitment are few and the winds seem to be blowing in the wrong direction. Yet ehrliche Yidden remain undaunted. Our mission in this world is to serve Hashem with temimus, each person in his own way. Our job is not to win every battle, but to remain focused on our task, doing what we can to bring about kiddush Shemo Yisborach. We allow the others to ride high, convinced of their own invincibility, while we judge success not by headlines and public accolades, but by a barometer that has nothing to do with the here and now. We are not the focus of life’s missions. It is not about temporal praise and honor to us. It is not about acting in a pragmatic, so-called realistic manner, but rather about bringing permanent honor to Hashem by being mekadeish Shemo Hagadol. The Telzer rosh yeshiva, Rav Elya Meir Bloch, lost his family and yeshiva in the inferno of Europe, but he forged on, determined to plant Telz d’Lita in America. He reestablished the Telzer Yeshiva in Cleveland, then a stronghold of secular Judaism, with not more than a few talmidim. During the early period of the yeshiva, as he was struggling mightily, Rav Elya Meir made a local appeal for funds. Very few people participated and the response was dismal. Someone advised him to soften his message and speak more kindly about those whom he perceived to be enemies of traditional Torah values. If he would do so, the man told him, he would gain more support from the local community and might even be able to convince some families to send their boys to learn in Telz. Rav Elya Meir wouldn’t hear of it. “Nowhere does it say that the Ribbono Shel

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Sarah's The WeekCorner In News

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Take Your Mask Off! #Learning to Find Calm During Uncertain Times Sarah Pachter

What type of mask do you wear? I’m not referring to the disposable, cloth, or personalized kind that we have all adorned during the pandemic. Rather, there is an entirely different pandemic mask many of us have had to sport these days. It is the mask that hides our true emotions, specifically worry. During these uncertain times, anxiety abounds. Will my family members and friends stay healthy? How will I survive financially through this pandemic? When will I be able to consistently work from the office again and resume my previous productivity level? When will school officially start again? Will it stay open? How can I plan my upcoming simcha when so many guidelines keep changing? Will there be another government-imposed shutdown? When will pre COVID-19, normal life resume again? The reality of COVID-19 can compound stress for many whose burden is already quite heavy, making everyday life feel unmanageable.

Our children, family, and community often necessitate that we ‘mask’ that worry, and many of us mask it all too well. I’ll never forget the first time someone told me she suffered from anxiety (this was before COVID-19). I was shocked because externally, this woman had a relaxed demeanor, and appeared calmer than most.

horse is pulling so much weight already, I don’t want to add to its burden. I’ll just hold it myself.” The driver responded, “Don’t you realize that the horse is pulling the whole burden, regardless of whether you carry it yourself? You should at least drop the bag for your own sake!”1

Maybe we don’t have to wear a mask anymore.

Throughout life, we ride in G-d’s wagon. We can put down our baggage, because He is carrying our burden anyway. He loves us more than we realize. When we have pain, He has pain, and when we struggle, He is right there with us for every moment of the challenge. We can let go and let G-d; there is no need for us to hold on to worry, as well.

Perhaps instead we can learn to shed our false faces and start to truly feel confident and secure in our present and future.

We can take this concept a step further by not just letting G-d carry our load; we can also allow Him to carry us by leaning fully into His presence.

How can we eradicate the worries that life circumstances create and COVID-19 exacerbates?

A teacher of mine from seminary taught me this lesson well. She and her husband had been childless for years, and when she was finally expecting a child, she glowed with joy and radiated both inner and outer beauty. The day her son was born, she did not even have the chance to hold him in her arms before he was whisked away for testing. The doctors returned with devastating news: her precious son was born with a rare amino acid deficiency. So rare, in fact, that he was literally one case in a billion. When the baby was five days old, a gathering

Those who are anxious may appear put together and portray a facade of serenity. But peel away the mask, and underneath it they are barely coping.

It is possible to ignore the noise that worry creates and place our trust in something greater instead. A famous story relates that there was once a man traveling along in a wagon pulled by a horse. The driver turned to the passenger and said, “Why don’t you put your heavy bags down? There is plenty of room on the floor of the wagon.” The man replied, “Oh, it’s okay! The

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Living Emunah, Ashear, David, pg.

was made for his speedy recovery. My teacher left the hospital to speak that day in front of 500 people. She was still recovering from a C-section, was feeling very ill herself, and yet selflessly wanted to speak to give others strength. She did not know if by the time she finished speaking her child would still be alive, as each breath he took endangered his life. She walked into the room and described that despite her own emotional and physical pain, she felt G-d lifting her up and carrying her to deliver her profound words. As I listened to her speak, I expected her to grieve, or at the very least, complain. But instead she emphatically cried out, “I want you all to know that I have never felt closer to Hashem in my entire life. He is guiding me and holding me through every step of this trial.” She told us that although she couldn’t hold her baby, she would sing tehillim to him instead. Her child survived his rocky start to life, but my teacher still has many challenges. In a follow up conversation with her years later, she expressed, with a hint of longing in her voice, that her period of challenge was a profound experience for her. She admitted she has still never felt closer to Hashem than she did at that time. She felt him Holding her and caring for her through the entire ordeal. The only thing certain in this highly uncertain time is that we have G-d’s love. When we increase our faith and relinquish our burdens to Him, our anxiety can decrease. When I am dealing with my own challenges, I ask myself, What else do I have but Hashem? With this thought, I strengthen myself to turn to Him. Hand G-d your burden, trust in his love, and drop your bags. Release that mask of worry, and start enjoying life’s wild ride.


DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

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OCTOBER 29, 2015 | The Jewish Home

Will Naftali Bennett Be Israel’s New Leader? BY SHAMMAI SISKIND

Late last week,

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a subtle but strong warning that another round of elections could very well be imminent. The longtime premier delivered this ominous suggestion at a greeting ceremony for a recent flight landing at Ben Gurion airport from the United Arab Emirates. During his address, the premier stated that a deadlock with his reluctant political partners, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and his Blue and White party, could spell the dissolution of the current government. “If we see a different approach from Blue and White, and they start cooperating instead of acting like a government within a government, we can continue working together,” Netanyahu said referring to negotiations on the governmental budget that have been going nowhere for months. “If not, I think everyone would understand that it would unfortunately lead to elections,” he warned, adding, “I would prefer that we unite and deal with bringing peace and vaccines and helping the economy.”

Almost on cue, Blue and White officials shot back, accusing the prime minister of being the source of the stagnation. “It is Netanyahu who is breaking agreements, preventing appointments and not enabling the passing of the budget for two months for political reasons. That is why every poll shows the public blames Netanyahu by a wide margin for the elections that are expected.” The recent exchange between these staunch political rivals is nothing new. Nor are the forewarnings of political upheaval by both sides exaggerated. They are, in fact, the culmination of a months-long trend, one that could trigger some of the biggest political realignments in Israel’s history. Since at least the early summer, observers in Israel have been pointing to signs of yet another return to the ballot box for the Jewish state. In March, the third consecutive election was held after rounds in April and the previous September failed to produce a stable Knesset. What emerged was a political truce of sorts between Netanyahu

and Gantz involving a rotation of the premiership. From the outset, the deal was labeled by many as too fragile to last. But while the eventual collapse of the Likud-Blue and White alliance may have been predictable, few could have foreseen the way events would actually play out.

An Old Song on Higher Volume Staunch opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu has been a staple feature in Israeli politics for several years now. Indeed, many have built (or at least significantly advanced) political careers harnessing the anti-Netanyahu sentiment within the Israeli public. This force trend first appeared in stark visibility in 2015 when a coalition of activists launched the movement known as Pashut Mahlifim, roughly translated as “We’re Just Changing.” The entire raison d’etre of this organization was the removal of Netanyahu from the prime minister’s office. Who would replace him? Almost irrelevant. Pashut Mahlifim, or V15 as it was later branded, was perhaps the first organized manifestation of what has come to be an extremely powerful move-


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has been. But the disruption of 2020 may very well have offset Netanyahu’s winning formula. By late spring, the prime minister was suffering scathing media coverage on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. After gloating about Israel’s initial success in keeping infection rates low, Netanyahu was forced to take an about-face and initiate nationwide lockdowns, becoming the first world leader to do so for a second time. The broad-spectrum backlash against Netanyahu’s perceived fumbling of the pandemic ball and the public outcry on the economic devastation caused by his policies triggered something very new for the Israeli political scene.

Back from the Dead

ment within Israeli politics. It’s not affiliated with a particular party or policy but simply is determined to remove Netanyahu at all costs. While V15 eventually petered out, the anti-Netanyahu bloc did not. In 2016, the campaign, then organized by a loosely knit coalition of activist groups, received new vigor when the Israeli Police began investigating Netanyahu for a series of corruption allegations. At the end of 2019, Netanyahu – by then Israel’s longest serving prime minister – was formally charged for violation of public trust and accepting bribes. What has been fascinating to behold is that, despite the incredible zeal and commitment of the anti-Netanyahu movement (rallies and protest against the prime minister could draw tens of thousands across the country on almost a weekly basis), the Likud party remained almost unscathed by its efforts. In the past five Knesset elections, going back over eleven years, Netanyahu’s Likud has consistently managed to garner at least 30 Knesset seats – a full quarter of the entire Israeli parliament. Even with all the efforts to frame Netanya-

hu as a corrupt and lying elitist, the man never lost a handle on the vast majority of his supporters. Netanyahu accomplished this through his unique ability to project unparalleled competence, espe-

The Yamina leader had established himself as the creative, bold innovator that wanted Israel to “fight” the pandemic as opposed to simply “retreat and hide.”

cially on issues of foreign relations and defense. It is this brand of the adept leader par excellence that has kept the prime minister as stable as he

It is not that Netanyahu lost his classically stable political support. Instead, he created the enemy with the potential to defeat him. Naftali Bennett began his political career working for Netanyahu as his chief of staff. With a career that spanned the most elite of the IDF’s special forces and Israel’s hi-tech scene, it is not surprising that Netanyahu found Bennett impressively capable. Eventually, Bennet took his own position of political leadership when he was voted leader of the Jewish Home party in 2012. For six years, Bennet held a series of important ministerial portfolios, and solidified an image of an energetic pragmatist as well as an unabashed right winger on issues of defense and sovereignty. In 2018, Bennett left Jewish Home to form his own party which went through several seemingly disorganized iterations. Bennett’s instability cost him in the April 2019 election when he failed to pass the vote count threshold. But, luckily for Bennett, a new election was soon called for after a government failed to take shape. Bennett formed a conglomerate party with other national Zionist groups and was able to win seven seats in September. In 2019, Bennett was appointed in a deal with Likud as Defense Minister, becoming the first religious MK to ever hold the position. It was during Bennett’s time at the Defense Ministry that the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Israel. It was from this post that Bennett began to evolve from being merely an idealist doer to a national leader. From the very outset, Bennett was adamant that the Defense Ministry, being most equipped to deal with national emergencies, should maintain full control of the logistics of managing the COVID crisis. For two months, Bennett reportedly labored nonstop, sleeping in his office and rarely returning to Ra’anana home. According to his own words, Bennett continued work on his corona-related missions even on Shabbat. During this time, Bennett’s Defense Ministry achieved several goals, including the setting up of the so-called “corona hotels” to house quarantining citizens and acquiring new technology and devices to support the health system. But beyond mundane logistics, Bennett’s main focus was innovation. He was determined to put together a system by which Israel could battle the pandemic effectively while keeping society func-


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Bennett in the Sayeret Matcal special forces

Bennett during his high-tech days, with his co-founders of Cyota

tioning. He traveled the country speaking with experts from around the country, from roboticists at the Weitzman Center to genetics firms in Haifa. Bennett would later release a book relating his experiences as Defense Minister and his efforts to address the crisis entitled, How to Beat a Pandemic. In his book, Bennett recounts – and news reports from the time confirm – that by April he had put together a detailed plan for fighting the virus and keeping Israel open. This plan was reportedly rejected by both Netanyahu and Health Ministry officials. Only weeks later, Israel experienced its third consecutive election. In May, it became clear that Bennett’s party, now under the name Yamina, would not be part of the Netanyahu-led government. But Bennett’s shift to the opposition did not mean an end to his activities. Bennett continued his rounds across the country, widely reported on in Israeli media. He met with hospital heads, spoke to business leaders, and continued to develop strategies to tackle the pandemic. In July, he established the Citizen’s Corona Cabinet along with other prominent experts and former military officials to explore and promote alternative policies. The Yamina leader had established himself as the creative, bold innovator that wanted Israel to “fight” the pandemic as opposed to simply “retreat and hide.” With economic and social woes raging throughout Israel, this position began to become very, very popular.

man who had lost nearly all his political clout and was unable to pass the electoral threshold 18 months ago is now forecasted to control the second largest party in the country. Blue and White, which received only three seats less than Likud in the March election (33), now can expect a mere nine mandates. True, Blue and White’s loss is due mostly to the decoupling from the Yesh Atid party that took with it several Knesset spots (more on that in a moment). But the projected nine seats are more than thirty percent less than the party’s current fourteen. Beyond the raw numbers, the upheaval over the past six months has created the potential for new alliances the likes of which have pretty much never been seen in Israel. Bennett on his part has made it clear he intends to work from now on in a purely pragmatic fashion, putting ideology on the side in

A man who had lost nearly all his political clout and was unable to pass the electoral threshold 18 months ago is now forecasted to control the second largest party in the country.

The Coming Reshuffle The attractiveness of Bennett’s message began to show in the polls. Yamina’s projected seats began to climb. Bennett’s gains were not at the expense of Netanyahu – his support declined only marginally – but of his main rival Blue and White. The current projections for what another Israeli election would produce are nothing short of astounding. For starters, Bennett’s Yamina has been polling over 20 seats for around the past two months. This fact needs to be put into perspective: a

order to tackle the pandemic and repair the economic fallout. In Bennett’s words, Yamina is willing to form a coalition with any “Zionist party that wants to focus on the problems at hand.” With this statement, Bennett has essentially expressed his willingness to partner with both secular and left of center parties – which would basically mean Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid (19 projected seats) and Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beteynu (8 seats). At least one

of these leaders has also alluded to his willingness to cooperate with Bennett. In a recent interview, Yair Lapid told a reporter that he and Bennett “know how to work together.” Of course, even if these three factions were to join forces, it would still not make up the required 61 seats to form a government. At least two additional parties would have to be brought in. Which might those be? Lapid and Gantz may be too at odds after the acrimonious split. Similarly, it is difficult to imagine Lapid sitting in a government with the Haredi parties of Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ). Despite the difficulties forming a Likud-less government would entail, it is important to not underestimate the attractiveness of Bennett’s message. As one columnist in Israel recently put it, “Bennett doesn’t hate.” It is not that Bennett is a super-charismatic leader who can win all the needed adornment and support. It is his super-practical and non-political approach that may very well convince fellow politicians to give him a try. As UTJ head Yaakov Litzman put it, Bennett has become for many the “alternative to Netanyahu.”

The New Face in Washington In light of a possible revamping of Israel’s political scene, there is one very important question that should at least be considered. This coming January, Joe Biden will likely be entering the White House as the 46th president of the United States. The Biden administration will almost certainly be a major shift from the years of Donald Trump, the president widely believed to be the most pro-Israel U.S. commander-in-chief in history. Biden has already alluded to his intentions to strengthen ties to the Palestinians and re-enter the nuclear deal with Iran which Trump had left. Netanyahu, who led Israel during the eight years of Obama’s presidency, has experience dealing with Biden and many of his people. Bennett, on the other hand, has no diplomatic experience to his name. However, Bennett and his likely future allies have already taken the initiative of reach-


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Visiting Bnei Brak during the pandemic

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Bennett in downtown Jerusalem in August

administration could be simply circumventing the “big” issues. In an interview with the Makor Rishon newspaper, Bennett stated that, as premier, he would establish a two-year moratorium on “sectoral politics” including establishing Israeli law in the West Bank. Furthermore, his shortlist of primary objectives would include “widening the circle of peace and fruitful relations with Arab states” and “renewing dialogue with the American administration.” The combination of steering clear of the

ing out to the Biden team. Bennett was one of the first lawmakers in Israel to congratulate Biden’s victory. Yair Lapid, who has at least some experience with Biden from the Obama years, has also tweeted regards to Biden, calling him, “my friend the president-elect.” Bennett has stated in a recent interview that he was “convinced Biden is committed to ensuring Israel’s security.” If, in fact, Bennett finds himself replacing Netanyahu, his solution for dealing with a less friendly

controversial objectives of the Right while pursuing American-brokered diplomacy in the region could win Bennett positive ties with Washington. Predictions aside, the potential for major political change is without a doubt at-hand in Israel today. The continued viability of the current government will be determined in the coming weeks, if not days. The outcome of the next several months will have substantial impact on Israel, both for its domestic policies and its relations abroad.

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The Week In News

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

Y E S H IVA U N IV E R S IT Y N I N E T Y-S IX TH AN N UA L

Hanukkah Dinner Sunday, December 6, 2020 Program 5 – 6 p.m. EST Address to the Yeshiva University Community by Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman Choose from the following virtual YU Conversations

Jewish Values in Professional Sports

STAN KASTEN

President and CEO, Los Angeles Dodgers

MARC LASRY

Co-owner of NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks

MARK WILF

Owner/President, Minnesota Vikings

Moderator: SHIRA YOSHOR

Employment Law and Business Law Lawyer, Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Risks vs. Rewards of Bringing Cutting-Edge Science and Technology to Market

JOE JACOBSON

ANNE NEUBERGER

Head of Molecular Machines Group, MIT Media Lab

Director, Cybersecurity at NSA

JEREMY WERTHEIMER

CEO, Biological Engineering Ventures

A New Era of Opportunity

AMBASSADOR DANNY DANON

Israel’s Former Ambassador to the U.N.; Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Science, Yeshiva University

H.E. AMBASSADOR HOUDA NONOO Ambassador, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Kingdom of Bahrain

RABBI ARYEH LEBOWITZ

Dean, Sy Syms School of Business, Yeshiva University

Medical Ethics during a Global Pandemic

Moderator: U.S. SENATOR JOSEPH LIEBERMAN Rennert Chair in Public Policy and Public Service, Yeshiva University

DR. TIA POWELL

Director, Montefiore-Einstein Center for Bioethics and of the Einstein-Cardozo Master of Science in Bioethics Program

DR. EDWARD REICHMAN Professor in the Division of Education and Bioethics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Supreme Friendship in a Polarized Age: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia

Halacha during a Global Pandemic

Director, Joseph B. Soloveitchik Semikhah Program, RIETS, Yeshiva University

Moderator: NOAM WASSERMAN

RAV HERSHEL SCHACHTER Rosh Yeshiva, RIETS, Yeshiva University

CHRISTOPHER SCALIA

Director of Academic Programs at the American Enterprise Institute, son of Justice Antonin Scalia

RABBI MEIR SOLOVEICHIK Director, the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, Yeshiva University

REGISTER AT YU.EDU/HANUKKAHDINNER2020 FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT HANUKK AHDINNER@YU.EDU OR 646.592.4513

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DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

The Killing of a Terrorist How Israel Assassinated an Al-Qaeda Leader BY SHAMMAI SISKIND

O

n Friday, August 7, 2020, at around 9:00 p.m., five rapid gunshots were heard in the prosperous Pasdaran district of Tehran. Two victims were later found dead in a white Renault sedan, a middle-aged man and a young woman. Two individuals on a motorcycle were reported fleeing the scene. Iran’s official news media identified the victims as “a Lebanese history professor” by the name of Habib Daoud and his 27-year-old daughter “Maryam.” The Lebanese news channel MTV and social media accounts affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps reported that Mr. Daoud was a member of Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militant organization in Lebanon.

THE COVER UP In addition to the complete lack of credibility Ayatollah-controlled media is known for, the story presented by Iranian sources seemed implausible on its face. The killing was clearly a professional assassination carried out with immense precision. Why would a simple history professor be the target of such a hit job? In mid-October, a Twitter account with the handle “AnbaJassim” – purportedly belonging to a free-

lance journalist in the United Arab Emirates – suggested in a post that the victims of the shooting were, in fact, the infamous Al-Qaeda operations mastermind Abu Muhammad Al-Masri and his daughter Miriam. AnbaJassim claimed he had received this information from jihadi veterans of the Afghan wars and that “their response confirmed to me that those

killed are Abu Muhammad al-Masri” and his 27-year-old daughter. Two weeks later, a Pashto language outlet called Shamshad News, which describes itself as an Afghanistan-based radio and television news outlet, also claimed that al-Masri had been killed in Tehran. The Iranian government was quick to counter these claims.

The Ayatollah with leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh denied that Al-Masri was in Iran at all, let alone that he had been assassinated inside the country. In an official press release, Khatibzadeh advised the American media to resist being “entrapped by the Hollywood-style scenarios fabricated by the U.S. and the Zionist regime’s officials.”


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It would take three months for any substantial confirmation of Al-Masri’s death. In mid-November, U.S. officials began speaking about the incident confirming to several outlets that Al-Masri had been killed. WHO WAS AL-MASRI? Abu Muhammad Al-Masri was born Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah in the Al Gharbiya district of northern Egypt in 1963. Al-Masri became his nom guerre only later in life. When he was younger, he pursued a successful football career that was cut short following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Al-Masri joined the jihadist movement that was beginning to take shape to assist Afghan forces. Ten years later, with the Soviets withdrawn and Al-Masri barred from returning to Egypt, the now seasoned fighter remained in Afghanistan where he eventually joined Osama bin Laden in the group that was later to become the founding nucleus of al-Qaeda. In the early 1990s, he traveled with Bin Laden to Khartoum, Sudan, where he began forming military cells. Over the next several years, Al-Masri undertook campaigns to export militant methods and jihadism around central Asia and North Africa. He was, for instance, instrumental in training the Somalian Mohamed Farrah Aidid and his men, terrorists responsible for the Black Hawk Down attack in Mogadishu in 1993. Al-Masri became renowned for his operational acumen. One of his more famous exploits was the planning of the 1998 attacks on the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es-Salaam, which caused the deaths of more than 200 people and wounded more than 4,000. As he was a founding member of al-Qaeda and one of its more adept officers, many believed Al-Masri would be the natural heir to Osama bin Laden following his death at the hands of American special operators. But it was not to be. IRAN’S PROTECTION Following the September 11th attacks and the global manhunt for al-Qaeda leaders, Al-Masri was one of the few high-ranking members of the organization to evade capture. He did this by fleeing to Iran through the country’s porous border with Afghanistan.

Al-Masri was responsible for the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania

His escape into the hands of the Ayatollahs was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, he was somewhat out of American reach. On the other, he was now under the authority of a bitter enemy. Iran, a Shiite Muslim theocracy, and al-Qaeda, a Sunni Muslim jihadist group, have been at odds for decades. Their forces have even fought each other on the battlefields of Iraq and other places. But Iran found an interest in harboring and protecting Al-Masri. Some have suggested that keeping al-Qaeda officials in Tehran would provide some insurance that the group would not conduct operations inside Iran. American counterterrorism officials believe Iran may have allowed them to stay to run operations against the United States, a common adversary. Indeed, the “enemy-of-my-enemy” principle is one that has been used not infrequently by Iran’s leadership, which has lent support to Sunni organizations in the past. Hamas, for instance, has received financing, material, and almost certainly training by the Islamist regime for over a decade. Whatever its motivation, Tehran seems to have played an active role in protecting the al-Qaeda officer. Some officials have said that Habib Daoud was an alias the Iranians gave Al-Masri and that the history teaching job was a cover story. This theory seems to have support. In October, the former leader of Egypt’s Islamic Jihad, Nabil Naeem, a longtime

friend of Al-Masri, told the Saudi news channel Al Arabiya that Iran was providing Al-Masri with protection and an alternate identity. ISRAEL’S INTEREST Many reports in the media have alleged that the assassination was essentially an American initiative carried out by Israeli agents. The official story: the attack was carried out by Israeli operatives at the behest of the United States. Several outlets have quoted American intelligence officials saying that the U.S. intelligence community was tracking Al-Masri for years. While the U.S. almost certainly contributed information and logistics, it would be a mistake to assume the operation was for American interests only. Israel had plenty of reasons to go after al-Qaeda high-ups. Firstly, Al-Masri was wanted by Israel for the plot he orchestrated to shoot down an Israeli Arkia Airlines plane that departed from Mombasa International Airport with 271 people on board in 2002. The missiles narrowly missed the plane, which was then escorted by Israeli fighter jets to Ben Gurion Airport, where it landed safely. A more pressing concern Jerusalem had with the al-Qaeda founder was his calls for attacks on Israel-connected targets following the Trump administration’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Al-Masri had shown himself capable of executing such attacks. Back in 2002, Al-Masri was behind the bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya in which three Israelis were killed, 13 locals were murdered, and 80 others were wounded. In that same year, al-Qaeda was behind an attack on the El Ghriba synagogue in Tunisia. Credible reports indicate that the group attempted to do the same with synagogues in Turkey and the United States in later years. MOSSAD STRIKES AGAIN Israel has regularly been able to hit targets in Iran over the past 30 years. The frequency of these incidents has increased dramatically over the past ten years as Iranian expansionist policies as well as the country’s nuclear program have become key issues of concern for Israel and the region as a whole. Israel’s capability in this regard did not develop overnight. It is the result of a decades-long policy focusing on the recruitment of Israelis with an Iranian background. In Israel today, there are roughly half a million citizens who either grew up in Iran or grew up in Israel speaking Farsi in their homes. Many of these individuals speak more authentic-sounding Farsi than Hebrew. This rather large pool is closely watched by Mossad and Military Intelligence and are an important source of analysts and agents. These assets have allowed Israeli intelligence to con-

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duct deep-penetration operations in Iran. The topic of Israeli clandestine activity in Iran started to catch the world’s attention in the early 2000s. It was then that claims of Mossad activity in the country began to circulate the international media. Between 2009 and 2012, at least five Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated, reportedly all with Israel’s involvement. Barring a striking resemblance to the Al-Masri killing, many of the jobs involved motorcycle-mounted men targeting their victims while they were seated in their vehicles. Some of the scientists were shot and killed, similar to Al-Masri, while others had specialized explosives magnetically attached to their cars which were then detonated from a distance. Other attempts on figures in Iran’s nuclear program may have been carried out as late as 2015. Three years later, Israel conducted another major operation in Iran. This time, the mission was not an assassination but an intelligence collection. In the heart of Tehran, Israel managed to steal a trove of data related to Iran’s nuclear program. The much-lauded operation was unique in that it was perhaps the only clandestine action in Iran Israel ever admitted to carrying out. The raid resulted in the procurement of some 100,000 documents, images, and videos related to Iranian nuclear plans. This was a fiasco for Iranian counterintelligence. Because of their

operations in Iran – a series of explosions that destroyed several installations in the country this past summer. Many of the locations hit were known nuclear facilities, such as the Natanz advanced centrifuge development and assembly plant. INTELLIGENCE FAILURE There are two very important points to consider when assessing the recent Israeli assassination in Tehran. First is what it says about Iran’s internal security. The fact that Israel was able to pull off this action means the Ayatollahs missed more than a few lone Israeli agents slipping through Iran’s borders. Operations like Al-Masri’s killing take time to plan – perhaps years. All of the procurement and smuggling of resources, reconnaissance, and logistical planning that occurred during that time was not identified by Iranian counterintelligence. Furthermore, there were more operatives involved than actual Israeli agents. Israel without a doubt had the assistance of local opposition militias the likes of the Balochistan Freedom Fighters or the Iranian People’s Mojahedin. The Ayatollahs failed to identify the movement and activity of these groups as well. Zooming out and looking at the string of Israeli operations in Iran over the past decade, it is clear that the Mossad and its allies have been able to identify and capitalize on a slew of weaknesses in the Iranian intelligence apparatus. It has been

THE CORPS’ TRADITIONAL INSISTENCE ON KEEPING JOBS AND POSITIONS “IN THE FAMILY” TO ENSURE SECURITY HAS ONLY WEAKENED ITS EFFICACY access to those documents, Israel and (most likely) U.S. intelligence were able first to identify sensitive locations related to Iran’s nuclear program. This information was used in the next spat of Israeli-backed

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

two years since the heist of the nuclear documents cache in Tehran. No doubt the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have since been scrambling to shore up their security and hone their spy-catching skills.

In 2005, Abu Muhammad al-Masri (left) attended the wedding of Hamza bin Laden (center) to his daughter in Iran

Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu with a trove of documents and information smuggled out of Iran by Israeli agents

One glaring reason that Iranian counterintelligence has still failed to get its act together is the structural issue of nepotism rampant throughout all of IRGC’s units. In an ironic way, the Corps’ traditional insistence on keeping jobs and positions “in the family” to ensure security has only weakened its efficacy by keeping the most competent people out of key organizations. In the wake of the Al-Masri killing, the breakdown of Iran’s counterintelligence has become all too apparent and, as some researchers have pointed out, Iran could be pushed to seek help and guidance from its allies China and Russia in strengthening these capabilities. BIDEN BEWARE The final question to consider is what are the broader geopolitical ramifications of Al-Masri’s assassination a few months ago.

Israel had an interest in leaking the information about Al-Masri’s death at the hand of Israeli agents at this particular juncture in order to send a signal to the West at large and the United States specifically. The likely incoming Biden Administration has stated its intention to reach out to the Iranians and re-enter the JCPOA, the landmark 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration and then dropped by the Trump Administration. The deal brought an end to sanctions against Iran in return for certain commitments from Ayatollahs regarding their nuclear program. Israel needs the United States to remember that the Iranians are still the top state sponsors of terror and will even harbor members of their sworn enemy al-Qaeda to harm the U.S. It is this regime that Washington will have to deal with when re-engaging with Tehran.


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A Mandate to Uphold Our Mesorah

shluchim shluchim


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“Why does the liberal left have a right to define ‘Tzioni’ more than we do?”

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matzliach Yasher koach siyata dishmaya.

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“We need to be the voice for our community.”

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The Week In News

Head of Iranian Nuclear Program Killed

Iran is pointing its finger at Israel after the director of its nuclear program was killed in a daring assassination outside of Tehran on November 27. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who headed Iran’s military nuclear program, was killed while driving in his bulletproof vehicle in his hometown of Absard. Fakhrizadeh was the latest, and most senior, of Iran’s nuclear scientists to be assassinated over the past decade. On Saturday, both Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused Israel of being behind the killing and vowed to avenge the scientist’s death. In his weekly Friday address, Khameni called on Iranian authorities to “follow up on this crime and certainly punish the perpetrators and those responsible.” “This unparalleled scientist gave his dear and valuable life to G-d because of his great and lasting scientific efforts, and the high prize of martyrdom is his divine reward,” he added. In a statement, Rouhani eulogized Fakhrizadeh as “the country’s prominent and distinguished nuclear and defensive scientist.” He promised that Iran would “respond to the assassination of Martyr Fakhrizadeh in a proper time.” The president added that “the Iranian nation is smarter than falling into the trap of the Zionists. They are thinking to create chaos.” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, meanwhile, wrote on Twitter that the killing had “serious indications” of an Israeli operation. “Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice — with serious indications of Israeli role — shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators,” Zarif tweeted. Three senior intelligence officials told the New York Times on Saturday that Israel was behind the scientist’s killing, adding that the U.S. was not informed ahead of time. While refusing to comment on the slaying as part of its longstanding policy of neither confirming nor denying assassinations, Israel placed its embassies overseas on its highest possible security alert. Iranian versions of what happened have changed significantly but it appears that

Fakhrizadeh was mortally wounded when his car was sprayed with bullets in the town of Absard, to the east of Tehran. During the attack, a bomb in a Nissan pickup truck is also reported to have exploded. Initially Iranian accounts said that dozens of assailants opened fire on Fakhrizadeh’s convoy. In a later version of the events, Iranian media said that the scientist was killed via a remote-controlled machine gun. Three of Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards were killed at the spot, while Fakhrizadeh was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Photos of the scene showed Fakhrizadeh’s sedan with bullet holes riddling the side windows. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) released pictures of four men on Monday who are suspected of masterminding the assassination. Following the attack, the Pentagon announced that it was sending the USS Nimitz carrier group to the Persian Gulf in what observers say is a highly irregular move. The Defense Department said only that “it was prudent to have additional defensive capabilities in the region to meet any contingency.” According to Al Jazeera, Western officials and experts believe that Fakhrizadeh played a pivotal role in Iranian work to devise the means to assemble a nuclear warhead behind the facade of a declared civilian uranium enrichment program. Iran denies ever having sought to develop a nuclear weapon. He lived in the shadows under high security and was never made available to UN nuclear investigators. In an April 2018 televised presentation after Israel managed to smuggle out hundreds of documents from Iran about their nuclear program, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named Fakhrizadeh as a leading figure in what he described as secret nuclear weapons work conducted under the guise of a civilian program. “Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh,” Netanyahu said, describing Fakhrizadeh as the head of AMAD, Iran’s initiative to develop a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu said that after AMAD was officially shut down, Fakhrizadeh continued working at an agency within Iran’s Defense Ministry on “special projects.”

Will Germany Indict Assad? Germany is reportedly close to charging Syria’s President Bashar Assad with war crimes for authorizing the military to use chemical weapons against civilians. According to the German daily, the German War Crimes Investigation Unit has fingered Bashar’s brother Maher as the one responsible for using sarin gas against civilians in 2013. Maher is the commander of the Syrian Army’s Fourth Division, which is responsible for Syria’s chemical weapons. The sarin-tipped rockets killed 1,400

civilians, including 400 children, and horrified the international community. Now, German prosecutors say that they have proof that the brutal attack was directly authorized by Bashar himself. The use of such sensitive weapons, say prosecutors, could not have been employed without the president himself giving the order. The president, known as the “Butcher of Damascus,” is thought to have ordered the sarin strike after fearing that his regime was close to collapse. At the time, rebels had overrun much of Syria and were closing in on Damascus. By breaking out his doomsday weapons, Assad hoped to scare rank-and-file Syrians away from the separatists. “From there, an elite group within Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) dubbed Branch 450 would have loaded warheads with chemical agents and the 155th Missile Brigade would have launched the surface-to-surface rockets under direct oversight from Maher,” wrote Germany’s DW news site. The lawsuit against Assad was filed by the Open Society Justice Initiative, Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, and Syrian Archive. The aforementioned groups had decided to try Assad in Germany due to the country’s policy of universal jurisdiction allowing authorities to try people guilty of war crimes committed elsewhere. “By gathering evidence and identify-

ing witnesses able to provide testimony to prosecutors, the complainants aim to advance the eventual arrest and prosecution of Syrian officials responsible for the attacks,” said the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression.

Iran to Stop UN Inspections

Iran’s parliament is advancing a bill that would end UN inspections of its nuclear facilities and require the government to boost its uranium enrichment if European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal do not provide relief from oil and banking sanctions. The vote to debate the bill took place on Tuesday. It would need to pass through several other stages before becoming law. Two-hundred-fifty-one lawmakers in the 290-seat chamber voted in favor, after which many began chanting “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” If European countries don’t ease sanc-

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The Week In News tions within three months, authorities will resume enriching uranium to 20 percent, which is below the threshold needed for nuclear weapons but higher than that required for civilian applications. It would also commission new centrifuges at nuclear facilities at Natanz and the underground Fordo site. The bill would require another parliamentary vote to pass, as well as approval by the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog. The bill was first tabled in parliament in August but gained new momentum after the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, seen by Israel as the “father” of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Fakhrizadeh died Friday after his car and bodyguards were targeted in a bomb and gun attack on a major road outside Tehran, heightening tensions once more between the Islamic Republic and its foes. Iran has blamed Fakhrizadeh’s killing on Israel, which has long taken covert action against Tehran and its proxies in the region. Israel has refused to comment on the assassination, but an unnamed Israeli source told the New York Times that it had been involved. Iran began publicly exceeding uranium enrichment levels set by the nuclear agreement after the U.S. restored sanctions. It currently enriches a growing uranium stockpile up to 4.5% purity.

UAE Visa Suspensions

The UAE suspended travel visas for citizens from 13 countries from November 18 until further notice, including Turkey and eight Arab countries. The order was issued by the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority last Wednesday and applies to Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Lebanon, Kenya, Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey, and Iran. Free Zone Authority representatives refused to comment on the reasoning behind the order, saying simply in a statement that “individual requests from these countries will be dealt with separately.” Both Pakistan and Tunisia confirmed late last week that its citizens have not been receiving an extension on their work permits, while tourist visas were also said to be affected. The new measures sparked fierce criticism across the Arab world, as many of the aforementioned countries’ citizens work in the UAE in order to send money back to

DECEMBER 3, 2020 | The Jewish Home

their families back home. A hashtag condemning the UAE briefly trended number one on Twitter last Friday. The background to the change in visa policy is thought to be connected to Abu Dhabi’s effort to get more Emiratis into the workforce. As part of its Vision 2030 economic plan, the UAE is trying to end its economy’s reliance on foreign migrants to perform unskilled labor. Notably, Abu Dhabi’s move to bar citizens from almost a dozen Arab countries comes in the same week in which it began to allow in Israelis without needing to apply first for a visa. The mutual visa exemption was inked on October 20 between the two countries and came into effect last Tuesday.

terminding the events. Gulen has vehemently denied the charges. Since the coup attempt, the government has been cracking down on Gulen’s followers. Nearly 100,000 have been arrested and 150,000 have been fired from government jobs including the military in the aftermath of the attempted coup. Turkish courts have already held several mass trials over the alleged plot.

Ethiopia Declares Victory Over Rebels

Mass Sentencing in Turkey

Hundreds of people were sentenced to life in prison in Turkey on Thursday in a trial linked to a 2016 coup attempt. A total of 475 defendants were tried in the high-profile case that focused on the events in the Akinci Air Base in Ankara, which the prosecutor argued was the main command center for the coup plot. Most of the defendants received at least one life sentence. Nineteen were sentenced to 79 counts of life in prison without parole after being convicted of charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order, assassinate the president, and murder. Seventy people were acquitted, the state news agency said. “The Turkish judiciary continues to hold the traitors to account,” Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said on Twitter after the court announced the verdicts. More than 250 people were killed in the July 2016 coup attempt, many of them civilians. Tanks rolled onto the streets of Istanbul and Ankara, the country’s two largest cities. Soldiers blocked the famous Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, while bombs struck the parliament building Ankara, the country’s capital. According to the indictment, the orders to bomb government buildings including the parliament and to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were given from Akinci Air Base. Turkey’s current defense minister, then-Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar, was held hostage at the base during the coup attempt. Erdogan has accused Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in the U.S., of mas-

Ethiopia declared victory after the military retook control of the city of Mekelle from separatists in the northern Tigray region. “The federal government is now fully in control of the city of Mekelle,” tweeted Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Saturday. “I am pleased to share that we have completed and ceased the military operations in the Tigray region. “Our focus now will be on rebuilding the region and providing humanitarian assistance while Federal Police apprehend the TPLF clique.” However, the veracity of Abiy’s statement remained unclear as rebels aligned with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) told the press that they had decided to abandon the city earlier as part of a “tactical retreat.” Speaking with the Associated Press, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael said that his forces still controlled large swaths of land surrounding Mekelle. “I’m close to Mekelle in Tigray fighting the invaders,” Gebremichael said. Earlier in the week, the Ethiopian government had given the TPLF until Wednesday to leave Mekelle or face an all-out assault on the city. The two sides have been battling each other since the TPLF refused to recognize Prime Minister Abiy’s authority in early November. The country’s largest ethnic group, the TPLF controls large swaths of the Tigray region and was Ethiopia’s ruling party for 27 years. Abiy responded by sending in the Ethiopian military to seize parts of Tigray that were under TPLF control, setting off weeks of fighting between the army and rebels. Hundreds of civilians have been killed since the fighting began and another

43,000 displaced, with the United Nations predicting that the amount of refugees could soon reach hundreds of thousands.

Mitigating the Migrant Problem

The United Kingdom and France have agreed to a deal that will see the two countries work together to stop migrants from crossing the English Channel. As part of the agreement, the UK and France will increase patrols and introduce new technology to prevent refugees from reaching Britain by crossing the Channel on small boats. The number of French troops patrolling the waterway will double, while police will get new drones to assist them in stopping migrants from casting off from the 93 miles of coastline. The agreement was signed last Friday in a ceremony attended by Home Secretary Priti Patel and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin. The aforementioned ministers said in a joint statement that the deal “reaffirmed their commitment to make this route unviable.” Patel and Darmanin also agreed on establishing a fund to purchase “enhanced package of cutting-edge surveillance technology – including drones, radar equipment, optronic binoculars and fixed cameras.” The UK has been exerting a substantial effort in preventing migrants from making the treacherous journey across the English Channel, with navy interceptions rising to 60% from 41% in 2019. Illegal immigration has become a hot-button issue in British politics, with residents of coastal cities blaming the migrants for rising crime and taxing their welfare system. The UK has been pressing France to do more to stop the flood of migrants as the number of crossings skyrocketed from 1,835 in 2019 to more than 8,000 during the current calendar year. “We know that the French authorities have stopped over 5,000 migrants from crossing into the United Kingdom. We’ve had hundreds of arrests and that’s because of the joint intelligence and communications that we share between both our authorities,” said Patel. “This new package today that I have just signed with my French counterpart, the French interior minister, effectively doubles the number of police on the French beaches, it invests in more technologies and surveillance – more radar technology that support the law enforcement effort – and on top of that we are now sharing in terms of toughening up our border security.”


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Marshmallow © 2015 NO.3 Price: NY/NJ $4.50 Others U.S. $4.70 Canada $5.50 • UK £3.50 • Australia $6.50 • Europe €4.50 • Israel NIS 7.50 ISSN 9772-4106

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Where quality and kosher content meet

Marshmallow

Marshmallow

Due to advanced technology, there is an abundance of reading material available to our children, often coming from unknown sources. It has become imperative to monitor what our children read, creating the need for a review board such as this one.

Marshmallow © 2018 NO.7 Price: NY/NJ $4.50 Others U.S. $4.70 Canada $5.50 • UK £3.50 • Australia $6.50 • Europe €4.50 • Israel NIS 7.50

In Memory of Rebbetzin Leah Auerbach, a”h Under the Leadership of Rabbi Yisrael Gans, shlita Yerushalayim Ir haKodesh 050-412-2756

We hereby certify that a Board representative reviewed the Marshmallow monthly magazine and found it to be appropriate reading for Jewish children. The magazine’s publisher has agreed to present each of the monthly editions of Marshmallow to the Board for review. The public is encouraged to check for the seal of the Board on every edition.

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