SHAVUOT GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED, 2017
Algemeiner, May 30, 2017
1. Liberty. The Shavuot holiday reflects the 3,500 year old trilateral linkage between the Land of Israel (pursued by Abraham), the Torah of Israel (transmitted through Moses) and the People of Israel (united by David) — a unique territorial/national/spiritual platform. Shavuot is a spiritual liberation holiday, following Passover, which is a national liberation holiday (the Exodus), in preparation for the territorial liberation: the return to the Land of Israel.
2. Humility. Shavuot commemorates the receipt of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) and its 613 statutes — an annual reminder of essential values. The Torah was received in the desert, on Mount Sinai, which is not a very tall mountain, highlighting humility — a most critical value of human behavior and leadership. Moses, the exceptional law-giver and leader, was accorded only one compliment: “the humblest of all human beings.” Abraham, King David and Moses are role-models of humility. Their Hebrew acronym (pronounced Adam) means “human-being,” the root of “soil” in Hebrew.
3. Human behavior. It is customary to study — from Passover to Shavuot — the six brief chapters of The Ethics of the Fathers, one of the 63 tractates of the Mishnah (the Oral Torah) — a compilation of common sense principles, ethical and moral teachings that underline inter-personal relationships. For example: “Who is respected? He who respects other persons!” “Who is a wise person? He who learns from all other persons!” “Who is wealthy? He who is satisfied with his own share!” “Who is a hero? He who controls his urge!” “Talk sparsely and walk plenty.” “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” “Don’t be consumed with the flask, but with its content.” “Conditional love is tenuous; unconditional love is eternal.” “Treat every person politely.” “Jealousy, lust and the obsession with fame warp one’s mind.”
4. Jubilee/Constitution. Shavuot is celebrated on the 50th day following Passover, and has seven names (the Pentecost is celebrated on the 7th Sunday after Easter): The holiday of the Jubilee/fiftieth; the holiday of the harvest; the holiday of the giving of the Torah (מתן תורה); Shavuot; the holiday of the offerings; the rally and the assembly. The Hebrew acronym of the seven names is חקת שבעה, which means “The Constitution of the Seven.”
5. The US-Israel covenant. Shavuot sheds light on the Judeo-Christian values that are the foundation of the unique covenant between the Jewish state and the American people. These values shaped the worldview of the Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers, and impacted the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers, the system of checks and balances and the abolitionist movement. The British philosopher John Locke wanted the 613 Laws of Moses to become the legal foundation of the Carolinas. Abraham Lincoln’s famous 1863 quote — “government of the people, by the people, for the people” — paraphrased a statement made by the 14th century British philosopher and translator of the Bible, John Wycliffe: “The Bible is a book of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Furthermore, the Jubilee — the cornerstone of Biblical/Mosaic liberty — inspired the US Founding Fathers. The following Biblical essence is inscribed on the Liberty Bell (Leviticus 25:10), which was installed in 1752, the 50th anniversary of William Penn’s Charter of Privileges: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and unto all the inhabitants thereof.” Moreover, according to ancient Jewish sages, the globe was created through 50 gates of wisdom, and the 50th gate was the gate of jubilee/liberty/deliverance. The USA is, of course, composed of 50 states.
6. Agriculture. Originally, Shavuot was an agricultural holiday, celebrating the first harvest/yield by bringing offerings (bikkurim-ביכורים) to the Temple in Jerusalem. But following the destruction of the Second Temple and the Jewish exile in 70 AD, the focus of the holiday shifted to Torah awareness, in order to sustain the Jewish people’s connection to the Land of Israel, and avoid spiritual and physical oblivion.
7. Seven. Shavuot reflects the centrality of the number seven in Judaism. The Hebrew root of Shavuot (שבועות) is seven (שבע — sheva), which is also the root of “vow” (שבועה — shvoua), “satiation” (שובע — sova) and “week” (שבוע — shavua). Shavuot is celebrated seven weeks following Passover. The Sabbath is the seventh day of the Creation — in a seven-day week. The first Hebrew verse of Genesis consists of seven words. According to Genesis, there are seven beneficiaries of the Sabbath.
According to the Torah, God also created seven universes — the seventh hosts the pure souls, hence “Seventh Heaven.” There were seven monumental Jewish leaders: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aharon, Joseph and David — representing seven human qualities. There are also seven Jewish Prophetesses (Sarah, Miriam, Devorah, Chana, Abigail, Choulda and Esther), seven major Jewish holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Tabernacles, Hanukah, Purim, Passover and Shavuot) and seven species of the Land of Israel (barley, wheat, grape, fig, pomegranate, olive and date/honey).
MEDIA-OCRITY OF THE WEEK: WHY THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY SHOULD BE SHUTTERED — “The raison d’être of the Palestinian Authority today is not to liberate Palestine; it is to keep Palestinians silent and quash dissent while Israel steals land, demolishes Palestinian homes, and builds and expands settlements…To remove this noose that has been choking Palestinians, the authority must be replaced with the sort of community-based decision making that predated the body’s establishment. And we must reform our main political body, the Palestine Liberation Organization, which Mr. Abbas also heads, to make it more representative of the Palestinian people and their political parties, including Hamas. Hamas has long indicated that it wants to be part of the P.L.O., and its revised charter, recently released in Doha, Qatar, affirms this aspiration…To some, this may sound like giving up on the national dream of self-rule. It is not. By dismantling the authority, Palestinians can once again confront Israel’s occupation in a strategic way, as opposed to Mr. Abbas’s merely symbolic bids for statehood. This means supporting the community-based initiatives that organize nonviolent mass protests and press for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, like those that helped to end apartheid in South Africa.” — Diana Buttu, a former adviser to the negotiating team of the PLO. (New York Times, May 26, 2017)
Why Middle East Peace Starts in Saudi Arabia: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, May 25, 2017
The Long Arm of ISIS: Thomas Joscelyn, Weekly Standard, May 23, 2017
Trump and "Arab NATO": Be Careful What You Wish For: Raymond Stock, Fox News, May 28, 2017
For Some, Sex Appeal is Part of Jihad's Lure: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, May 30, 2017
“He did what he did in revenge, and in love for Islam…I think he saw children – Muslim children – dying everywhere, and wanted revenge. He saw the explosives America drops on children in Syria, and he wanted revenge…But still, I never thought my brother would ever do this one day. Looking at how he was with us, we didn’t expect him to do what he did.” — Jamona Abedi, Salman Abedi’s sister. Abedi launched his suicide attack out of ‘a love of Islam’ and in twisted revenge for US airstrikes on Syria, his sister has claimed. Jamona Abedi failed to condemn her brother’s murderous actions but instead claimed to offer an explanation for the atrocity, in which 22 innocent people, many of them children, were killed outside a concert venue in Manchester, UK. (Telegraph, May 26, 2017)
“Allah break the backs of the tyrants and the oppressors and the unjust and those nations of the world that are with them. Allah they have gathered against us and are scheming against us, so scheme against them. Trick them, kill them. … We are waiting for martyrdom in the name of Allah. And by Allah this is our path until we push back evil. We will not stop nor resign.” — Abdu Albasset Egwilla, an extremist imam from Ottawa. Salman Abed, the bomber who attacked a Manchester pop concert, has been linked to Egwilla, whom Canadian intelligence officials had warned was “promoting violent jihad” in Libya. Quoting a senior American official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, The New York Times reported that Salman Abedi “had links to a radical preacher in Libya identified as Abdul Baset Ghwela.” The report appeared to be referring to a Libyan-Canadian the Canadian government calls Abdu Albasset Egwilla. Formerly a cleric at an Ottawa mosque, Egwilla has been accused of inciting violence since returning to Libya. The New York Times report did not elaborate on the nature of the alleged connection between Abedi and Egwilla. Abedi had visited Libya days before he set off a bomb outside an Ariana Grande concert packed with teens. (National Post, May 25, 2017)
“Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home.” — UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn’s statement came as he was criticized by political rivals from the Tories and Liberal Democrats over the content and timing of his speech while the investigation into the attack was ongoing. Corbyn highlighted the link between the UK's involvement in foreign wars and terrorism at home but insisted that "in no way reduces the guilt" of murderers who have targeted people on Britain's streets. (Telegraph, May 26, 2017)
“But what we must not do, immediately or in the long run, is to delude ourselves about the meaning of the attack, the intentions of such terrorists or what we can do to protect ourselves. Too often we do so. We underestimate the depth and source of their hostility. Sometimes we even do so in intellectually partisan terms, suggesting that this or that foreign policy action or politicians’ statement has provoked our enemies. And in doing so, we miss what is hidden in plain sight…it is astounding that militant Muslim hostility toward gays attracts so little notice and condemnation on the left. Islamists may rant about “Zionists” and “Crusaders” but their hatred runs far deeper. It is bizarre for supporters of gay marriage to want to boycott Israel but wink at Hamas and Iran. And when radical maniacs well-known to security services carry out a slaughter like the one in Manchester, progressives do not draw the obvious lesson: It’s not us. It’s them. Islamists don’t hate the West because of Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban.” And you can’t appease them with multiculturalism, transgender sensitivity or atheism. They hate the open society of the West for who we are, not what we do. It’s no accident that they massacre children having fun at a “provocative” pop concert. It’s who they are. Again.” — John Robson. (National Post, May 29, 2017)
“Setbacks in Syria and Iraq have heightened the importance of other theaters for ISIS, and in Southeast Asia, the focus is the Philippines…ISIS supporters around the region have been urged to join the jihad in the Philippines if they can’t get to Syria, and to wage war at home if they can’t travel at all.” — Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, based in Jakarta. An eruption of violence in the southern Philippines and suicide bombings in Indonesia this week highlight the growing threat posed by backers of I.S. in Southeast Asia. While the timing of the Jakarta bombings and the fighting on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao appears to be coincidental, experts on terrorism have been warning for months that I.S. has provided a new basis for cooperation among extremists in the region. Clashes in Marawi, a city of about 200,000 on Mindanao, continued for a fourth day on Friday as government forces, using tanks and attack helicopters, tried to dislodge militants from at least two Islamist groups. (New York Times, May 26, 2017)
“In the last several weeks, the Trump White House has put a variety of Iran’s cronies on notice. Vice President Mike Pence delivered a strong message to North Korea, with whom Iran cooperates on nuclear and ballistic missile technology, warning that the era of “strategic patience” is over. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called out Russia, Iran’s ally in Syria, and said it was either “incompetent” in failing to stop Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons or “complicit.” Most tellingly, Trump ordered a missile strike on the Syrian airfield that Assad, Iran’s Arab ally and conduit to Hezbollah, had used to launch the sarin attack that killed at least 85 people. Unlike the previous American president, the current one seems unworried about upsetting Tehran. If the mullahs decide to opt out of the deal they made on Obama’s watch, so be it. This White House does not see Iran as a potential partner in regional stability, as a counterbalance to Saudi Arabia and Israel, as the Obama team did. Rather, it recognizes Iran is a very big problem, and the nuclear program is only one part of that problem. As Tillerson said last week, “We have to look at Iran in a very comprehensive way in terms of the threat it poses in all areas of the region and the world.”” — Lee Smith. (Weekly Standard, Apr. 21, 2017)
“Where are the faculty? American college students are increasingly resorting to brute force, and sometimes criminal violence, to shut down ideas they don’t like. Yet when such travesties occur, the faculty are, with few exceptions, missing in action, though they have themselves been given the extraordinary privilege of tenure to protect their own liberty of thought and speech. It is time for them to take their heads out of the sand.” — Heather Mac Donald, a scholar from the Manhattan Institute. Mac Donald was subject to mob tactics when she tried to speak at two institutions in California: UCLA and Claremont McKenna. This follows the mob attack at Middlebury College on Charles Murray. (National Review, May 1, 2017)
28 COPTS KILLED IN ATTACK IN EGYPT (Cairo) — 28 Coptic Christians, including ten children, were killed in a shooting attack on a deserted road about 62 miles northwest of the city of Minya, Egypt on Friday and at least 23 others were injured, some critically. I.S. claimed responsibility for the attack. Three vehicles carrying at least ten gunmen flagged down two buses and one truck carrying people on a road to the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor. The terrorists ordered the pilgrims off the buses. The men were ordered to recite the Shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith, and many were shot execution style with one bullet to the head. Egyptian President el-Sissi announced that in response his country launched six airstrikes against terrorist training bases in Libya. (Breaking Israel News, May 28, 2017)
EXPLOSION IN KABUL KILLS 80, WOUNDS HUNDREDS (Kabul) — A massive suicide car bombing rocked a highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul on Wednesday, killing 80 people and wounding as many as 350. The target of the explosion in the Wazir Akbar Khan area was not known. It was one of the worst attacks Kabul had seen since the drawdown of foreign forces from the country at the end of 2014. Press images showed the German Embassy and several other embassies located in the area heavily damaged. Germany, Japan and Pakistan said some of their embassy employees and staff were hurt in the explosion. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast. Both the Taliban and I.S. have staged large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital in the past. (CBC, May 31, 2017)
BOMBINGS KILL NEARLY 40 PEOPLE IN BAGHDAD (Baghdad) — A massive bombing by I.S. outside a popular ice cream parlor in central Baghdad and a rush- hour car bomb in another downtown area killed at least 31 people Tuesday. Later in the day, bombings in and around the Iraqi capital killed seven more people. The attacks come as I.S. are steadily losing territory to U.S.-backed Iraqi forces in the battle for Mosul, the country’s second-largest city. The Sunni extremists are increasingly turning to insurgency-style terror attacks to distract attention from their losses. IS claimed responsibility for the two attacks, saying its suicide bombers targeted gatherings of Shiites. The attacks came just days into the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast during daylight hours. (Washington Post, May 30, 2017)
HAMAS EXECUTES MEMBERS ACCUSED OF KILLING LEADER (Gaza) — Hamas announced that it put to death three men accused of assassinating a senior member of the terror group. Mazen Faqha, a Hamas terror chief, was shot on March 24 outside his Gaza home. Hamas accuses the three suspects of collaborating with Israel and sentenced them to execution. The chief suspect, identified as Ashraf Abu Leila, 38, was sentenced to hang. Hisham al-Aloul, 44, was also sentenced to hang, and Abdallah al-Nashar, faced the firing squad. The death of Faqha, a shadowy senior figure in Hamas’s military wing, shocked Hamas, which has ruled Gaza for the past decade. Faqha had spent years in an Israeli jail for terrorist activities including orchestrating a 2002 suicide bombing in which 9 Israelis were killed, before being released to Gaza as part of the 2011 Shalit prisoner exchange deal. (Times of Israel, May 25, 2017)
BOMBER USED STUDENT LOAN BENEFITS TO FUND TERROR PLOT (Manchester) — The Manchester suicide bomber used taxpayer-funded student loans and benefits to bankroll the terror plot, police believe. Salman Abedi is understood to have received thousands of pounds in state funding in the run up to the atrocity even while he was overseas receiving bomb-making training. Police are investigating Abedi’s finances, including how he paid for frequent trips to Libya where he is thought to have been taught to make bombs. Abedi was given at least £7,000 from the taxpayer-funded Student Loans Company after beginning a business administration degree at Salford University in 2015. It is thought he received a further £7,000 in the 2016 academic year. (Telegraph, May 27, 2017)
I.S. RIGGED EXPLOSIVES TO HOME WHERE CIVILIANS DIED IN US-LED AIRSTRIKE (Mosul) — I.S. lured the U.S.-led forces into conducting an airstrike in March that killed over 100 civilians in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a top American military official said. An investigation into the March bombing found that the terror groups rigged a house with over 1,000 pounds of explosives, put civilians in the basement, and employed two snipers on the roof to bait the U.S.-led coalition to attack. U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Matthew Isler, said that the bomb used by the American jet, a GBU-38 (500-lb bomb), would not have caused the type of damage associated with the destruction of the building. The probe found that the U.S. bomb triggered secondary explosions from devices clandestinely planted in the lower floors of the concrete building, Isler said. (Fox News, May 25, 2017)
UN CHIEF PULLS SUPPORT FOR PALESTINIAN WOMEN’S CENTER NAMED AFTER TERRORIST (London) — The United Nations said that it had withdrawn support for a Palestinian women’s center named for a notorious terrorist, saying the move was “offensive” and glorified terrorism. The center was named after Dalal Mughrabi, who took part in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre. Mughrabi and several other Fatah terrorists landed on a beach near Tel Aviv, hijacked a bus on Israel’s Coastal Road and killed 38 civilians, 13 of them children, and wounded over 70. The UN move came two days after Norway’s foreign minister condemned the PA for naming the center after Mughrabi, demanding the country’s name be removed from the building and that the funds Norway donated for its construction be returned. (Times of Israel, May 28, 2017)
CORBYN VISIT TO GRAVE OF PLO TERRORIST STIRS UPROAR (London) — Jewish community leaders in Great Britain expressed shock and outrage Monday after it was revealed over the weekend that UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn had attended a ceremony honoring a Palestinian terrorist partly responsible for the 1972 Munich killing of Israeli Olympians. Corbyn, who is currently campaigning to become Britain’s next prime minister, reportedly traveled to Tunisia in October 2014 to visit the grave of Atef Bseiso, the former head of intelligence for the Palestine Liberation Organization and direct accomplice involved in the Munich terrorist attack. Jewish leaders called the revelation, reported by the Sunday Times, “beyond the pale,” and demanded Corbyn make his views known about Palestinian acts of violence. (Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2017)
CIJR sadly notes the passing of two wonderful people, both long-time supporters, Rosa (Lucia) Kroo, at 95, and Michael (Micky) Rosenthal, at 100. Lucia and her late husband, Emil, were early Board members, and Mickey was always an enthusiastic backer. Both were faithful friends of Israel and the Jewish People, and will be deeply missed. Our consolation and sympathy to their large and loving families.
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Happy Shavuot!
Why Middle East Peace Starts in Saudi Arabia: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, May 25, 2017—The quixotic American pursuit of Middle East peace is a perennial. It invariably fails, yet every administration feels compelled to give it a try. The Trump administration is no different.
The Long Arm of ISIS: Thomas Joscelyn, Weekly Standard, May 23, 2017 —On Monday evening, a terrorist blew himself up in the foyer of Manchester Arena as the audience was filing out of an Ariana Grande concert. At least 22 people were killed and 59 wounded in the blast. British authorities have identified Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old whose parents are from Libya, as the suspected suicide bomber.
Trump and "Arab NATO": Be Careful What You Wish For: Raymond Stock, Fox News, May 28, 2017 — President Donald Trump reportedly landed in Saudi Arabia last Saturday with dreams of forming an “Arab NATO” to fight the Sunni Islamist terrorists in the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda (AQ) as well as the Shi'ite Islamist state, Iran.
For Some, Sex Appeal is Part of Jihad's Lure: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, May 30, 2017—Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department issued a new travel warning for Americans, cautioning them about travel to Europe this summer. The extent of that warning was remarkable: not just a single country has been deemed dangerous, but an entire continent.