An officer and a gentleman – and a historian

My cousin’s son Noam Corb is something of a legend in our family. This young man, only 21 years old, and a combat officer in the IDF, has become a not-so-amateur historian and researcher of the Shoah.

Noam Corb with his grandmother (Yediot video screenshot)

He got the “bug” when he started working on his “roots” project in school. He had discovered a mysterious box of letters at his grandmother’s house – and it all took off from there. Noam learned German in order to be able to read documents in the original, and has recently published two books: one about his mother’s side of the family, Family Bonfil, and one about his father’s side (which is also my side of the family) – Family Strauss.

I must add here that Noam’s work hugely assisted our family, particularly my brother David, in his own research on the Strauss family (he was only about 17 at the time!) and together with David and our cousin (Noam’s aunt) Nechama, enabled us to organize a wonderful memorial evening and family reunion on the 70th Yahrzeit of my mother’s (and his grandmother’s) three brothers who were murdered as children in Sobibor.

Here is an article about him in Yediot Aharonot, The Officer who became a Historian, which I have taken the liberty to translate:

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Second Lieutenant Noam Corb, who serves as an officer in the Etzion Brigade, has already published two books about the Holocaust at his young age, after extensive research in Israel and abroad. It all began with the preparation of his roots project in fifth grade, when Noam came to his grandparents’ home and found a mysterious wooden box filled with letters in Yiddish and German from World War II. His great curiosity led him to learn German in order to better understand the contents of the documents and letters he had found and to delve deeper into the family history, in which many of his family members on both his mother’s and father’s side were killed during the Shoah.

At the end of 12th grade, he began writing a book about the family story: “After the war, my mother did not know what Noam knows following his the work on the book,” said his grandmother, Hava Bonfil, a Holocaust survivor. “Unfortunately she did not get to read the book and know more about our family members. She did not know that they had been sent to a concentration camp and where they had been exterminated. All the years she searched and tried to find out,” said Hava in sorrow. According to her, her mother wanted to destroy the box from which Noam derived most of the information for his first book in order to get rid of the bad memories from the Second World War.

For six years Noam worked on the book together with his aunt Ruchama, an archeologist.  “It’s not a natural thing,” Noam says with a smile. “I do not know many children who deal with the Holocaust, One could say that I am very obsessed with this, the Holocaust occupies a lot of space in my life.”

In one of his furloughs from the army 10 months ago, Noam used his vacation to travel to London to meet with a Holocaust survivor in order to obtain more information*. “I go to places that may be less interesting to other people, but this is me, the holocaust is the most extreme event in the history of humanity, it’s important to tell future generations so that the memories will not be erased,” Noam said.

 “I’m very proud of him,” said his grandmother Hava. “All I knew was that they had perished in the Holocaust, and beyond that I knew nothing. Suddenly the whole puzzle was completed and I discovered whole worlds that were simply erased from history until Noam came and began to investigate.”

Following the publication of Noam’s books, Noam comes to lecture students. Following his lectures, many students choose to start researching the Holocaust and the family roots as well. The books he wrote are in the Yad Vashem library in Jerusalem: the first book is “Because They Were and Are No More,” which tells the amazing story of the Steinhardt family, and the second book, “As the Bird Flies” which tells the story of the Strauss family from his father’s side.

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The journey to London, mentioned here that Noam undertook  was to interview an elderly member of my own family who had survived the Shoah with her siblings while hidden in a convent in Belgium. 

There is a video at the Yediot site which I can’t embed but you can watch it at the link. However yesterday, Yom Hashoah, Noam was interviewed on the Israeli TV Channel 1 news program Erev Chadash.  (If you can’t see the video below, click on this link to watch via Facebook). He is sitting with his grandmother Hava Bonfil. Here is his interview (Hebrew only):

 

Noam, we are so proud of you – for your thorough and painstaking research, for your courage in persisting despite your young age and busy career in the army, and for your devotion to your family and to the Jewish People.

May Noam continue to become the great historian that it’s clear he will become, and may he (and we) enjoy more success in the future.

Posted in Family, History | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Yom Hashoah 5777 – 2017: the denial of history

Yom Hashoah

Yom Hashoah began at sundown this evening with the annual ceremony at Yad Vashem.  where President Reuven Rivlin reminded the world that:

“The gas chambers were not built ‘as a crime against humanity’, they were built for the purpose of annihilating the Jewish People, and specifically that nation. There has been no previous historical event like this: extermination divorced from any [political] conflict, divorced from territorial issues, or from a struggle for dominance. It was a terrorizing process that gathered Jews from around the world, from different continents, Jews who did not know each other’s language, both the believers and non-believers, assimilated and orthodox Jews, With one goal: to exterminate them and their seed from the face of the earth,” he said.

“The Shoah did not happen in the ancient world, nor did it happen so long ago. It happened in the heart of Europe of enlightenment. In the heart of the Germany of Kant – the father of modern ethics. In the heart of the France of the declaration of the rights of man, the rights of the citizen. It was there, yes, there, that the greatest of horrors was planned, and was aimed at us, the members of the Jewish People.”

This year’s torch-lighters reflected the theme “Restoring Their Identities: The Fate of the Individual During the Holocaust”. The six torch-lighters, representing the six million murdered in the Shoah, were Moshe Ha-Elion, Moshe Jakubowitz, Jeannine Sebbane-Bouhanna, Moshe Porat, Max Privler and Elka Abramovitz.

 

You can read their incredible, inspiring life stories at the link.

Despite the years and decades that have passed, there always seem to be new details revealed about the Shoah.

Israel Hayom reports that according to newly revealed records, the Allies knew of the Holocaust as early as 1942:

The apathetic response of the world to the horrors of the Holocaust has been researched and covered extensively, but newly uncovered documents reveal just how deep the apathy ran.

The documents, which have come to light for the first time in 70 years after being archived in the United Nations, reveal that the Allies were aware of the atrocities perpetrated against the Jews of Europe much earlier in the war than previously thought — but did nothing to stop them.

Based on the newly available U.N. documents, researcher Dan Plesch of the University of London wrote the book “Human Rights After Hitler.” Britain’s Independent newspaper interviewed Plesch, who said that prior to the discovery of the new material, the prevailing belief had been that the Allies found out about the slaughter of Jews in 1944, when they learned about the Nazi concentration camps.

One of the documents proving the Allies knew about the Holocaust but did nothing to stop it

But Plesch explains that the Allies knew about the Holocaust some two and a half years earlier. They had received reports both from the camps themselves and from the resistance movements in Nazi-occupied areas.

According to the Independent interview, by December 1942, the U.S., Britain, and the Soviet Union knew that at least 2 million Jews had been murdered by the Nazi regime and that 5 million more were in mortal danger.

Moreover, at that stage, the three countries were already working on compiling a base of evidence to charge Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler with war crimes, but they still took no steps to intervene.

The Independent reports that in March 1943, Viscount Cranborne, a British peer and minister in Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s war cabinet, said that Jews should not be considered a “special case.” Cranborne said the British Empire was already full of refugees and could not offer safety to any more.

Plesch told the Independent that anti-Semites in the U.S. State Department rejected efforts by then-U.S. envoy to the United Nations War Crimes Commission Herbert Pell to help the Jews of Europe. Pell later said that some members of the State Department were concerned about what would happen to U.S.-German trade relations if the U.S. pressed ahead with war crimes charges against Nazi leaders. This public claim by Pell prompted the State Department to bring the Nazi leadership to trial at the Nuremberg proceedings.

“Among the reason given by the U.S. and British policymakers for curtailing prosecutions of Nazis was the understanding that at least some of them would be needed to rebuild Germany and confront communism, which at the time was seen as a greater danger,” Plesch writes in “Human Rights After Hitler.”

These reports belie the self-righteous claims of the Allies that they liberated the Jews from the death camps. Yes, they technically liberated them, but if they had only acted earlier – when they received the initial information – how many hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved!  The injustice shrieks to the heavens!

Another newly discovered, or re-discovered, document is the telegram sent by Hitler’s deputy Heinrich Himmler to the Nazi’s ally, the Mufti of Jerusalem offering help against the “Jewish intruders”:

A telegram from Heinrich Himmler to the grand mufti of Jerusalem has been found in the archives of Israel’s National Library.

A telegram from senior Nazi Heinrich Himmler to the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, probably dating to 1943, found in the archives of the National Library, March 29, 2017.

Believed to have been sent in 1943, it contains a promise by Hitler’s deputy to Haj Amin al-Husseini that the German Reich will stand behind the Arabs of Palestine and support their struggle against “Jewish intruders.”

Published on the library website on Wednesday, the telegraph notes that the struggle against world Jewry has been a principle of the German National Socialists from the start, and that the regime has always followed “with particular sympathy,” the struggle of “freedom-loving Arabs,” especially those in Palestine battling the Jews.

“The joint recognition of the enemy and the struggle together against it are what build the solid basis between the National Socialists of Greater Germany and freedom-loving Muslims of the world,” Himmler wrote.

The Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, meets with Hitler in Berlin in 1941

The telegram concludes with the SS chief sending the mufti his warm greetings on the “unhappy” anniversary of the Balfour Declaration and best wishes for the continuation of the struggle.

One would think that with the plethora of documentary evidence about the Shoah that Holocaust denial would become a thing of the past. But the battle for memory and history is still ongoing says Robert Rozett:

Although Europe, fortunately, has not known full-fledged war since the end of the twentieth century, it is the main scene of a battle going on today. It is a battle for memory and about the history of the Holocaust and events of the Second World War. This battle is playing out on several fronts, but with at least one clear common denominator: history is frequently being manipulated and whitewashed for political reasons.

The most recent newsworthy skirmish took place in France, where Marine Le Pen declared that “France was not responsible for the Vel d’Hiv.” This is perhaps the most infamous raid on French Jewry. Early in the morning on July 16, 1942 some 4,500 French policemen started to arrest foreign Jews living in Paris. More than 11,000 were arrested that day, and confined to the Velodrome d’Hiver, known as the Vel’ d’Hiv, a winter cycling stadium in Paris. They were held in atrocious conditions. Within a few days, the number of Jewish incarcerated had grown to 13,000, including about 4,000 children. From the Vélodrome d’Hiver the Jews were sent east to Nazi extermination camps by way of French transit camps. Le Pen presents what has come to be known as “alternative facts,” in other words a totally ungrounded version of events that seeks to whitewash the role of the French in this deportation and subsequent murder of Jews, so as to place all of the onus on the Germans.

Concomitantly, there is a trend to present Poles as a nation of victims and rescuers. Of course Poland suffered greatly under the yoke of the Nazis, but Polish suffering did not translate into solidarity with Jews. The arithmetic gymnastics that are employed to extrapolate from the 6,706 Polish Righteous among the Nations and conclude that at least a million Poles were involved in rescue, are just that, gymnastics. It is true that more Righteous among the Nations have been recognized in Poland than any other country, but that is because Poland had by far the largest Jewish community under Nazi domination, and it is not because Poland was a nation of rescuers.

Reading Barbara Engelking’s recently published monograph “Such a Beautiful Sunny Day, Jews Seeking Refuge in the Polish Countryside 1942-1945” (Yad Vashem 2017) alongside Jan Grabowski’s seminal study “Hunt for the Jews, Betrayal and Murder in German-occupied Poland” (Indiana University 2013) demonstrates unequivocally that many ordinary Poles were deeply complicit in the persecution and murder of their Jewish neighbors, and that those who rescued Jews, first and foremost feared denunciation by fellow Poles, usually their neighbors and even family members.

Reading about such Holocaust denial and Holocaust “minimization” is a terribly depressing thing, made all the worse if you delve into the depths of social media.

To help counteract this, former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks has produced a timely video on the mutation of antisemitism which is a very important lesson for all of us – not just for Jews but for all civilized people.

 

As I have done in the past, I draw your attention to my Family History pages where I have recorded the history of my family during the Shoah, especially the murder of my mother’s three brothers, David, Elchanan and Uri Strauss HY’D, in Sobibor.

יהי זכרם ברוך

Never forget. May the memory of the 6 million be for a blessing. ה’ יקום דמם. יהי זכרם ברוך.

Posted in Antisemitism, Family, History, Israel news | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Good News Friday

After all the mad runaround of the past couple of weeks, with Pesach preparations, then Pesach itself, and then the arrival of the new baby, it’s a bit strange to return to normal Good News Friday postings. 🙂

This week’s focus will be on Israel’s diplomatic front since there is a fair bit of good news from that direction for a change.

First we have the incomparable US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, who strongly objected to the monthly (!) condemnation of Israel while the rest of the Middle East is burning – literally – at the hands of Assad and Iran:

From UN Watch’s Facebook post:

Nikki Haley does it again: for the first time in years, the U.S. envoy redirected the U.N.’s monthly Israel-bashing session to focus on the Middle East’s true threats to peace: Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, and mass murder by Syria and Hezbollah.

 

You can read the entire transcript on UN Watch’s website.

In similar words – but much more unusually –  an Arab journalist chided the Arabs for always blaming Israel for their woes instead of laying the blame where it belonged (via Stand With Israel’s Facebook post):

WATCH: This needs to be shared. An Arab journalist commands the Arab world to take the finger off of Israel and point towards Hezbollah for evil in the world.

“When you compare the two, Israel is an angel and Hezbollah is Satan”

VIA: Memri

 

Maajid Nawaz, a British Muslim journalist at LBC, also comes to the defence of Israel and expresses his outrage at the double standards used when condemning Israel while ignoring the much worse outrages elsewhere. This is even more remarkable when you consider that he used to say Israel had no right to exist. He admits now that was wrong and this is why:

 

Let these stirring words in defence of Israel give us strength as Israel heads into Yom Hashoah on Sunday night. It is true that antisemitism is on the rise again around the world but when we see such strong words of support, we realize that the words “Never Again” have something behind them.

As if to prove that point, the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation in partnership with the 12Tribe Films Foundation have run an Inspired by Israel video project, which was hosted on IsraelVideoNetwork.com

You can see all the videos, including the winners, at the link, but here was my favourite:

Enjoy!

And now I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

Posted in Israel news, Mideast news, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The NYT legitimizes a Palestinian murderer

Now that the Pesach festival is over, normal programming can now resume. The general violence and terrorist activity endemic to the region continued over the holiday, both in Israel and the wider Middle East: from Butcher Assad’s chemical bombing of his own people, President Trump’s bombing of Syrian targets (in which he apparently gave advance warning to the Russians), a Palestinian terrorist stabbed a British exchange student to death on the Jerusalem Light Rail – we send our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Hannah Bladdon who was so viciously murdered – and a massive horrific bombing attacks on two Coptic churches in Egypt in which dozens were killed.

What could be more appropriate therefore for the New York Times than to give the Palestinian mass-murderer Marwan Barghouti a platform (where else?) to spout his evil philosophy.

Palestinian mass murderer Marwan Barghouti – the man that some in the West would like to see as the next Palestinian President

Aussie Dave at Israellycool was spot on with his remark that the NYT “wiped the blood off the hands of a terrorist”:

Describing him as a “Palestinian leader and parliamentarian” – without any reference to his murderous legacy – at the bottom of the piece.

Sure, they later added in this editor’s note:

Editors’ Note: April 17, 2017

This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy

But only after they were hammered by many prominent people and organizations – or at least those who have a problem with providing a platform for a terrorist without disclosing he is a terrorist.

Just as a reminder, here is more on this “Palestinian leader and parliamentarian”:

Marwan Barghouti is currently serving 5 life sentences for orchestrating three shooting attacks that killed 5 people: one attack in Jerusalem (June 12, 2001) in which Greek monk Tsibouktsakis Germanus was murdered by terrorist Ismail Radaida and another unidentified terrorist, another attack at a gas station in Givat Zeev near Jerusalem (Jan. 15, 2002) in which Yoela Hen, 45, was murdered by terrorists led by Mohammed Matla, and one shooting and stabbing attack at the Sea Food Market restaurant in Tel Aviv (March 5, 2002) in which Eli Dahan, 53, Yosef Habi, 52, and Police Officer Sergeant-Major Salim Barakat, 33, were murdered by terrorist Ibrahim Hasouna. When arrested by Israel in 2002, Barghouti headed the Tanzim (Fatah terror faction). After he was convicted and imprisoned, he was re-elected member of the Palestinian Authority parliament.

It is obvious that the danger in providing such a forum for an evil mass murderer such as Barghouti is that it legitimizes and normalizes this behaviour. After all, if his words appear in such an illustrious organ then they must be OK, right?

Aussie Dave quotes what Barghouti wrote in a self-serving attempt to gain sympathy, and probably to maneuver himself into position for a leadership attempt:

Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike.

Some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners have decided to take part in this hunger strike, which begins today, the day we observe here as Prisoners’ Day. Hunger striking is the most peaceful form of resistance available. It inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells.

Let’s talk about the terrible abuses suffered by those poor innocent murderers and terrorists in Israeli prisons.  First, here is a 25 minute Israeli TV channel 2 item on the situation “suffered” (we should all be so lucky) by Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails – which you can watch directly on Israellycool too.

Having watched it, here is Kay Wilson in a blistering attack on Barghouti and his miserable article:

See for yourselves the “hunger strike” because of the “appalling conditions” that Palestinian prisoners are protesting, via the likes of The New York Times – a paper that sees it fit to publish an article by the leader of the hunger-strike, a mass murderer named Marwan Barghouti – defined shamelessly by the newspaper as a “parliamentarian.”

Click on the link at the bottom of this post to see the conditions Israel awards those who murdered, or tried to, murder her innocents.

3’15 – TV with 10 channels in their cell

4’40 – Monthly pocket money from the Palestinian Authority. In addition to an average monthly murder stipend of about 4,000 Shekels that goes to their families.

4’50 – Table Tennis. (Yes, you read that correctly).

5’54 – Private storeroom of food always on hand.

6’30 – Prison official says that they eat this food when on “hunger strike,” and that hunger-strike only means refusing the 3 daily prison meals.

9’15 – Free dental clinic (no such thing for Israelis).

9’20 – Immediate appointments in hospitals should the need arise. (Something that many Israelis can only dream of).

9’50 – Community Islamic prayers.

10’50 – Visits with families and lawyers.

13’01 – Murderers gathering in their cell to tuck into humus and snacks that are always available should the need to hunger strike arise.

15’15 – Library. Terrorists get a free education and study for degrees in jail.

15’45 – Games, BackGammon etc…

15’27 – More food stash, should the need to go on hunger strike arise.

19’17 – One of the most notorious terrorists refuses to be interviewed because “he doesn’t want to be seen as shaved, looked-after and respectable in appearance.” These are his exact words. They have to keep up the public image of Israel supposedly treating them badly.

21’40 – Smaller cell with TV, audio headset, coca-cola, kettle, 2 nice pillows… & despite it all, the terrorist promises that the violence must continue.

By publishing an article by Marwan Barghouti, who lies about the conditions, The New York Times are giving a platform to a murderer, perpetuating lies and hate, and in doing so aiding and abetting more inevitable bloodshed.

See for yourselves.

That paper disgusts me. Shame on them.

Kay also posts some screenshots from the TV program of the “terrible abuses” if you don’t want to watch the entire film. It would take a heart of stone not to cry (/sarcasm):

 

Really, the TV program should have been entitled “How to get fat while on a hunger strike”.

And in case you haven’t heard enough about this revolting specimen whom the West are always encouraging Israel to recognize as a leader of the Palestinians, here is journalist Tom Gross on Marwan Barghouti’s crimes:

Although Barghouti was convicted on just three counts — of the murder of three Israeli civilians (and wounding of 31 others) in an attack on a Tel Aviv seafood restaurant, of the murder of one Israeli civilian in a terrorist attack on a gas station, and of the murder of a Greek orthodox monk (who was shot dead after being mistaken for an orthodox Jew) — he was (as I know from my time reporting on Barghouti’s terrorism while I was a Middle East correspondent for the London Sunday Telegraph and the New York Daily News) also responsible for orchestrating the murder of dozens of other civilians, in a series of acts from which he has expressed no remorse. Not that you would know this from the New York Times’ coverage.

Among his other terrorism, Barghouti also ordered the January 17, 2002 shooting attack of a bat mitzvah celebration at a banquet hall in Hadera, in which six Israelis were killed and 26 injured, including many children. And the shooting spree the following week on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, in which two Israelis were killed, and 37 wounded.

Meanwhile, in its headline today, The Times of London describes convicted terrorist Barghouti as an “activist” while downplaying his terrorist activities.

On his website Tom Gross goes into more detail:

In an article for the Times of Israel, Israeli center-left opposition leader Yair Lapid said of the New York Times:

“The attempt by the New York Times ‘to be balanced’ amuses Barghouti. He understands that this sacred attempt at balance creates equal standing between murderer and murdered, terrorist and victim, lie and truth…

“The reality is that a convicted terrorist is inventing stories about those who imprison him, as prisoners do all over the world, including in the United States.

“Instead of saying to him – as a responsible newspaper should – that if he doesn’t have a shred of evidence to support his stories then they can’t be published, the New York Times published them in its opinion pages and didn’t even bother to explain to its readers that the author is a convicted murderer of the worst kind.”

The Israeli press watchdog Mida also publishes a detailed bio of Marwan Barghouti while Honest Reporting also writes about the New York Times disgrace.

The Israeli prison service has now moved Barghouti to another jail and put him in solitary confinement in response to his incitement to hunger strike.

Watch out for the next NYT article decrying Israel’s mistreatment of the poor innocent murderer.

But in my opinion, if those terrorists really want to go on hunger strike, I say let them!  Make sure their not-so hidden stashes of food are confiscated and their benefits removed immediately. I hope they starve themselves to death.

Posted in Incitement, Israel news, Media and journalism, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Good News Friday – new baby edition

This was going to be a Pesach-themed Good News Friday posting in honour of Shabbat Chol Hamo’ed which will start tonight. But as has happened several times in our family, the good news was interrupted by even better news!

This time it was our elder daughter who gave birth yesterday afternoon to a bouncing baby boy – a heavyweight at 3.8 kg. 🍼👶

Thank G-d the birth went easily and mother and baby are doing very well. The grandparents are more tired!

Since Pesach began we have been on call in case she went into labour. We were at our daughter’s for Seder night, which we got through safely (if noisily! 😀 ). We then babysat all 6 (!) of the other children on Wednesday while their mum was in hospital, and again yesterday, taking them to visit their cousins, and back to our place. All in all a fun time was had by all (except our daughter who may be happy but I doubt it was much fun…) even if a bit tiring for us old (sort of) grandparents. 🙂

Here is the new “prince” in all his glory. He looks like a rather large version of his 6 year old brother who was a tiddler at his birth.

Interestingly it was noted that the baby is the 7th son of a 7th son. (Well, to be precise, he is the 7th child of a 7th child but still…). And he was born in the 7th month (Nissan) of the Hebrew year 777 (5777). I’m not sure of the significance (though Iron Maiden might enlighten us :-D) beyond 777 being the brand of an Israeli brandy!

Then again, since this is Pesach, we cannot drink a lechaim to the baby with whiskey, so maybe in his honour we should toast him with some 777! 🍾

Lechaim! 🍷

Heartiest mazal tov to Hadassah and Ido, to the baby’s siblings, grandparents (ourselves included), the great-grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, the entire family and all of Am Yisrael.

May we continue to celebrate smachot and celebrate them in rebuilt Jerusalem.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Same’ach to all!

Posted in Family, Judaism | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Chag Kasher Vesame’ach – Happy Pesach!

Chag Pesach Kasher ve’Same’ach!

Despite my promise in my previous post, I have decided to give all the bad news a miss for the moment. This blog is going on semi-vacation over the next week during the Pesach (Passover) festival until after the chag (it finishes on the night of  17th April). If you would like to learn more about Pesach, have a look at Aish’s website or Chabad.

We’re heading out to our daughter and son-in-law (and their many children ☺) for the Seder together with our younger son. And with our daughter at the very end of her 9th month it might turn out to be a lot more exciting than your regular Seder. It’s definitely not going to be a quiet Seder night no matter what happens though!  We hope to go on day trips to Jerusalem and other sites around Israel during the intermediate Chol Hamo’ed days but of course it all depends if we are called upon for urgent babysitting duties.  We were planning to spend the intermediate Shabbat (Shabbat Chol Hamo’ed) with our son and his family but as you can imagine, all plans are up in the air at the moment. I will keep you all posted!

I would like to wish all my readers, along with all of Klal Yisrael, a chag kasher vesame’ach – a happy and Kosher Passover. May we all merit to celebrate in rebuilt Jerusalem “speedily in our days” as we say in the Seder.

As I have done in previous years, with the latest news being no better than in past years, I want to bring you some food for thought and some fun Pesach related videos for your enjoyment.

Rav Daniel Glanz wrote a very interesting post about the significance of the Hebrew letter Mem – מ – in the Pesach Seder and story:

The ‘מ’agnificent Story of Pesach

Every Year we sit together at the Seder on Pesach and recall and relive the story of the Exodus. Perhaps the most well known part of the Seder is in the section of מגיד called the מה נשתנה. In the מה נשתנה we ask four questions that make the Seder unique. If we were to summarize each question with one word as used in the Hagaddah, the words would be:
מצה
מרור
מטבילין
מסובין

Is it a coincidence that there is a focus on the letter מ?

Well, let’s look a little deeper into the story of the Exodus……

The Name Of The Place Where The Jews Were Enslaved: מצרים
The Ten Plagues That Hashem Sent: מכות
The Man That Was Sent To Redeem The Jewish People: משה
The Leader of the Women: מרים
On The Way Out Of Egypt The Jews Baked: מצה
After The Jewish People Crossed The Yam Suf They Entered Into The: מדבר
Hashem Sent Food From Heaven Called: מן
The First Place The Jews Arrived After Crossing The Yam Suf: מרה
The Sin That Caused The Entire Generation To Lose The Right To Enter Into The Land Of Israel: מרגלים
The Jewish People Donate Money And Build The: משכן
Hashem Counts The Jewish People Via The: מחצית השקל
Moshe Goes Up On Har Sinai To Receive The Torah for 40 days And 40 nights. 40 Is Gematria (Numerical Value): מ
The Jewish People Are Punished and Must Remain In The Desert for 40 Years. 40 is Gematria (Numerical Value): מ

Simply put, this can not be a coincidence.

The question then must be asked, what is the significance of the letter מ and what is its connection to Pesach?

The letter מ when used as a Prefix means ‘from’. Whenever we want to delve deeper into something we make use of the letter מ. The letter מ sheds light into the essence of the matter or in Hebrew, the מקור (source). When we lose focus on our life mission and live a life which is inconsistent with who we truly are, the מ is meant to remind us and draw is back to our essence.

This is why….

The person that is responsible to keep the Jewish people in check and true to themselves is called the: מלך
The person that is going to bring us back to our essence and ultimate glory is: משיח
When the world drifted too far off the path, Hashem had to reset it with the מבול which was when the world was flooded with מים which increased on the land for for 40 (מ) days.
The first commandment that a Jewish male encounters is a sign that must be made to remind him to stay true to his values and his dedication to G-D called: מילה
When a person becomes impure and needs to return to his or her true self and become pure once again they go to the מקוה which is a natural body of מים that has a minimum volume requirement of 40 (סאה (מ.
When a non-Jew wants to convert they need to potentially do three things: Do a Bris מילה. Go to the מקוה. Accept all of the מצות.
When we want to refer to Hashem as the source of all sources we refer to Him as: מלך מלכי המלכים.
Moshe, who was destined to help redeem the Jewish people was called by the name Moshe because ממין המים משיתיהו (Meaning: From water he was drawn).

Now we can understand the connection of the letter מ to Pesach.

There’s much more. Go and read at the link.

On a lighter note, here’s a very funny reversal of roles, as Egyptians try out Pesach food 😀

 

I’m not sure what Pharaoh would have had to say about any of that!

And for the Hebrew speakers, here are the staff and personnel of Channel 10 news, getting their newsroom ready for Pesach:

 

Chag Kasher ve’Sameach everyone!

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