God never intended for the Jewish people to be so caught up in Esav’s wars.

Last week, we read the final parsha, Vayechi, in Sefer Bereishit, where Yaakov Avinu calls his sons to him for a final blessing. When he gets to Shimon and Levi, he castigates them for adopting the ‘stolen craft’ of his brother Esav.

Rashi explains there:

Klei Hamas – ‘stolen tools’. This craft of murder is in their possession by theft. It is from the blessing of Esav. Yaakov admonished them, “It is his [Esav’s] craft, and you robbed him of it.”

The full verse from the Torah reads:

“Shimon and Levi are brothers, klei hamas are their weapons. Into their design may my soul not enter! With their congregation do not unite, O my honor! For in their rage they killed a man, and in their wish they hamstrung an ox. Accursed is their rage for it is mighty, and their wrath for it is harsh. I will divide them in Yaakov, and I will disperse them in Israel.”

Clearly, Yaakov Avinu is very unhappy about his sons – forbears of the Jewish people – acting like his brother Esav, and killing people left, right and centre whenever they got angry and ‘felt justified’ in doing so.

This is not the Jewish way. The voice is the voice of Yaakov – it’s the voice of prayer, the voice of emuna, the voice of knowing that God is really running the world.

====

Following the awful Chanuka attack in the shul in Monsey a couple of weeks ago, I was personally horrified when I saw pictures of orthodox Jews walking around toting what looked like machine guns.

Killing people is not our craft, it’s the craft of Esav. Of course, we’re meant to defend ourselves with all means possible, and to make every effort to save our life (although why moving to Israel doesn’t seem to make it on to that list is a bit of a mystery to me, I have to admit…)

But there is a world of difference between discreetly arranging security for shuls, schools and Jewish neighborhoods and strutting around for the media like Moshele the Terminator. Esav is way, way better at killing people and murdering people than we are. It’s a very dangerous game to get involved.

There are somewhere between 20-25 million people in the US with white supremacist tendencies. They are Esav mamash. A lot of them have machine guns. A lot of them are just waiting for ‘Moishele the Terminator’ to cross the line and actually kill someone, even in self-defense, so they can use that as a pretext to come after Jews all over the place.

Of course, what I’m writing here also has implications for the State of Israel, and for the whole idea that the IDF and the military is what is protecting the Jews here. This is an idea that has profound, far-reaching implications, and I certainly can’t cover off all the angles in one post.

But I will say that every time I hear apparently orthodox Jews advocating for ‘carpet bombing’ Gaza, and other extremely violent acts, I shudder. Is this really how Jews are meant to act and behave? Isn’t ‘carpet bombing Gaza’ a perfect example of klei hamas? Isn’t that just what the terrorists and the neo-Nazis would love to do to us, too?

Anything that puts Jews even tangentially into the same moral space as terrorists and Nazis has to be bad, doesn’t it?

====

These are big questions, they need to be dealt with and discussed carefully by our qualified Sages and rabbis, and let’s be clear that in the State of Israel, that’s simply not happening. Our country is run by people who have adopted the ‘stolen craft’ of Esav as their main religion, and we are all paying the price for it.

Which brings me to the next point I want to make, about how the idea that killing and murdering people is somehow the best solution to every problem gained so much traction in the first place.

Let me share something that I received via email yesterday, from a Jew in America:

“I enjoy your writings (on rivkalevy.com) but I must admit, they either entertain me or stress me.  I know you used to be “secular media” and I think you still think like the secular media, like saying Trump “illegally” killed Soleimeni.  Wow,  That’s a stretch. I really can’t believe that you think that.  The man was a terrorist that not only killed thousands of american soldiers, but terrorized his own people.

“He has killed thousands and thousands of people.  The Iranians feared and hated him.  Plus, he was about to attack more Americans.  I know you are not too fond of America, but I know many soldiers (my Dad was a career soldier) and we have jewish soldiers at [army base] that become members of our Chabad.  I care about our soldiers and thank our President for caring  and protecting them, unlike our previous President.  I feel he should be hung as a traitor. I can’t stand the man.

“We are in a war and I thank GD that He mercifully delivered us from the traitor BO and may He destroy all evil among us (leftists) and brought us a strong man like Trump, may Hashem protect him.  Yes,Trump is Esav.  Yes, the west is Esav.  Yes America is Esav, but I was born and raised here and believe me, not all Americans are the enemy.  You want an enemy.  Try Ishmael.

“It seems your hatred of Trump and America has blinded you to reality.”

====

My inbox is never a dull place!

So, let’s take my correspondent’s points one by one, to see if we can ascertain where the truth really lies, and what ‘reality’ actually consists of.

  1. It’s a stretch to say that Trump ‘illegally’ killed Soleimani.

“Extra-judicial killing” is a phrase that’s used by armies, militias and government sponsored ‘death squads’ around the world.

Here’s how Section 3a of the United States Torture Victim Protection Act defines extrajudicial killing:

“[A] deliberate killing not authorized by a previous judgment pronounced by a regular constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. Such term, however, does not include any such killing that, under international law, is lawfully carried out under the authority of a foreign nation.

Was Soleimani brought to a ‘regular constituted court’ and given a trial that afforded him ‘all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples’? Nope.

“Extra-judicial killing” is a spin-doctor way of describing a murder where no legal due process was followed, or to say the same thing in blunter terms, an illegal murder. When Al Capone was mowing people down on the streets of Chicago that was also ‘extra-judicial killing’.

As we can see, ‘extra-judicial killing’ is an extremely murky area, and also very prone to being used and abused by individuals and agencies who don’t want to have to justify their actions or have too much public scrutiny and moral accountability.

When it comes to Soleimani’s murder, the excuse the US used to get around its own regulations as stated above, in their Torture Victim Protection Act, is that Soleimani’s killing was not an assassination, but an act of “National Self Defense”.

This is the same legal justification that Israel uses for many of its targeted killings, and the difference is that when it comes to Israel, I mostly believe it.

====

Amongst the many, many problems with ‘extra judicial murders’ tho, is that the people who are carrying them out argue that any given target’s normal legal rights as a civilian – or even as a human being! – should be totally trampled and ignored if that person is deemed to be a threat to national security.

But who is defining what that actually means?

What’s the legal basis for deciding these things? Where is the public scrutiny to ensure that immoral people with a lust for power and taste for murdering anyone who gets in their way doesn’t abuse this idea, to simply get anyone who opposes what they want murdered and out of the picture?

Also, from the viewpoint of halacha, this is not at all a simple matter. One of the 7 Noahide laws is that the non-Jewish nations should create courts of law and follow a judicial process. By definition extra-judicial killings take place outside of any legal framework.

And when non-Jewish nations don’t follow one of the 7 Noahide laws, they are subject to the death penalty. (It’s a post for another time, but if you go through each of the 7 Noahide laws and see how places like the USA are doing, as a nation, let’s just say it doesn’t stack up in their favor.)

So, is it a stretch to say that Soleimani’s killing is ‘illegal’?

I’ll let you make up your own mind.

====

  1. “[Soleimani] was a terrorist that not only killed thousands of american soldiers, but terrorized his own people.”

My view is that all senior military men are basically psychopaths, whichever country they happen to live in. Anyone who likes killing people for a living is not a ‘nice’ person, let’s be very clear on that.

But to claim that he’s killed “thousands of American soldiers” – it’s just not credible.

Wikipedia says this for the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq since 2003, which is when the US invaded Iraq:

“As of June 29, 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Defense casualty website, there were 4,424 total deaths (including both killed in action and non-hostile) and 31,952 wounded in action (WIA) as a result of the Iraq War.”

But the US wasn’t fighting Iran then, these soldiers were killed as a result of the US deciding to invade a sovereign nation. Where’s the proof that Soleimani is connected to even one of these deaths in Iraq?

Let’s take a look at Afghanistan now, where again the US decided to invade back in 2001 after 9/11.

“As of July 7, 2018, there have been 2,372 U.S. military deaths in the War in Afghanistan. 1,856 of these deaths have been the result of hostile action. 20,320 American service members have also been wounded in action during the war. In addition, there were 1,720 U.S. civilian contractor fatalities.”

Again, what does this have to do with Soleimani?

Last stop, for now, is Syria.

How many US soldiers had been killed there, by the time Trump said he’d withdraw US troops in April 2018?

Just 2.

And this is the arena where there is the most credible argument to be made that Soleimani and Iran could be behind these deaths.

====

Now, let’s flip things on their head, and let’s ask an uncomfortable question:

How many non-Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of the US deciding to launch its ‘war on terror’?

The answer comes from researchers at Brown’s University, who released their findings from the ‘Costs of War Project’ in November 2018:

“Brown’s researchers estimate that at least 480,000 people have been directly killed by violence over the course of these conflicts, more than 244,000 of them civilians. In addition to those killed by direct acts violence, the number of indirect deaths — those resulting from disease, displacement, and the loss of critical infrastructure — is believed to be several times higher, running into the millions.”

While we’re on this subject, back in 2011 Wikileaks released footage of 2 American Apache helicopters mowing down a large group of people standing in the street in the Iraq, which included many civilians and 2 Reuters journalists.

You should watch this brief clip of what happened, even though it’s from the Al-Jazeera news network, because as I keep trying to tell you, there is no such thing as a 0-100% argument. There is some truth on all sides of the discussion, and doing the birur means that we make our best effort to tease it out.

====

Releasing this clip was probably the trigger for the NSA to target Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently being kept in solitary confinement (!) in Belmarsh Prison in the UK, while the USA tries to ‘extradite’ him to the US on trumped-up charges of hacking computers. Really? It all just boils down to the US trying to keep its grip on the world.

Assange is not an American citizen, he’s an Australian. And publishing footage of American helicopter pilots callously killing Iraqi civilians is the best type of journalism, and the best ‘balance’ against military abuses of power.

But the NSA and President Trump don’t think so. Trump happily signed the extradition order for Julian Assange, the journalist you see here saying ‘war corrupts the people who engage in it’ – and that’s what first clued me in that Trump is not the ‘almost Moshiach’ so many people still believe him to be.

Let’s be clear, this is not about partisan politics.

When he was President, Obama arranged the prosecution of 8 journalists and whistle-blowers under the same Espionage Act they are trying to use to prosecute Assange, including Chelsea Manning, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake, and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

And Trump is simply continuing the trend.

Back in May 2019, his administration decided to prosecute Daniel Everett Hale, a former intelligence analyst for the Air Force who shared worrying information about America’s use of drones and assassinations in its war on terror with journalist Jeremy Scahill.

Scahill later turned that information into a book and a documentary called ‘Dirty Wars’.

====

====

Here’s a synopsis:

“Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill traces the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command. He exposes covert operations to capture and kill people, but those agents do not exist on paper.”

And they are still continuing to operate under Trump. So much for draining the swamp.

====

3) “We are in a war and I thank GD that He mercifully delivered us from the traitor BO and may He destroy all evil among us (leftists) and brought us a strong man like Trump, may Hashem protect him.  Yes,Trump is Esav.  Yes, the west is Esav.  Yes America is Esav, but I was born and raised here and believe me, not all Americans are the enemy.  You want an enemy.  Try Ishmael.”

Yes, we certainly are in a war. Not just one, many. And behind the scenes, you will find the NSA and the CIA and the American military pulling the strings of nearly all of them.

Esav excels at klei Hamas.

It’s no coincidence that these words also translate to the ‘tools of Hamas’, i.e. the terror organization on Israel’s front door step.

Let’s put all the pretense aside and deal with facts for a moment.

The US has been unrivalled in starting and pursuing wars all across the planet, for the better part of 80 years. It doesn’t matter who is in the Whitehouse, it’s the CIA and the NSA and the military, and all the powerful vested interests in the US and the UK and elsewhere who are really calling the shots in the world.

And as I’ve written about elsewhere, those vested interests excel in destabilizing third world countries, installing ‘puppet’ rulers who owe their power to American / Western support, and then asset-stripping those countries of all their natural resources and wealth.

America has been doing this for decades, all over the planet, and murdering people in their hundreds of thousands – including civilians – is a big part of how they operate.

Maybe it’s deliberate, maybe it’s just collateral damage, I don’t know. But either way, America has so much innocent blood on its hands.

I don’t blame my American correspondent for believing that the American military is not ‘the enemy’. But at this stage, there are hundreds of millions of people in the world who have seen their lives, families and countries blown apart by the US military / CIA / NSA.

And all on the flimsiest of excuses.

Human life is valuable, even when a person lives in Iraq or Afghanistan. And not all Muslims are terrorists. America wants wars, because America is good at wars, and wars are good for America’s economy.

But these wars have proven to be so very bad for everyone else.

====

4) “It seems your hatred of Trump and America has blinded you to reality.”

Sigh.

Sometimes I wonder, what’s going to happen when Israel finally shrugs off America’s bridle, and stops being America’s pawn in the Middle East.

The IDF is a ‘stolen craft’, and the Jewish people are built for prayer and peace, not war and murder. It’s just a matter of time before our true Jewish nature starts to reassert itself nationally, when we stop believing Esav’s opinion that killing people is the answer to our problems, and when more and more of us start to turn to God for a real solution to our problems.

You know that when Moshiach is finally revealed, that’s going to happen, don’t you? And then what? Will Moshiach also be portrayed as a ‘mad Jewish mullah’ with a beard, another threat to America’s ‘national security’ that will be extra-judicially targeted for extermination, God forbid?

And then what?

What side will my correspondent – and all the many orthodox Jews like her, who believe all the spin and PR and lies about America being the ‘good Esav’ – find themselves on, then?

That is the question.

====

Photo by Diego González on Unsplash

====

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15 replies
  1. Inna Khovov
    Inna Khovov says:

    Bravo Rivka, you nailed it as always!
    I listened to many lectures before and after the recent USA elections, and even for a short time tried to believe that we are seeing here the victory of good over evil. However, from the beginning, there was this question that did not go together with the theory of good Eisav doing tshuva. This particular scenario has to account for about 5 or 6 mln Jews who live currently in USA. The biggest Jewish body outside of Israel. As the galut is the galut and can never become second Jerusalem – the Jews will have to leave USA. They will never do so, willingly and alive , with the scenario of older brother Eisav serving the younger one. Moreover, the spiritual and physical state of Jews in USA also reminds of pre-world war II.
    I speak to people and yes, what you described about USA is absolutely correct, the Jews are trying to learn how to fight, getting or trying to get weapons, learning self defense. Everything is discussed but one the most obvious option – Aliya, Israel. This is out of the question. This is not the reaction of European Jews in the last 30 years, where we witnessed aliya for former Soviet Union and later France an other European countries.
    This does not appear to be the intention of American Jews en mass.
    I do not believe that this finds grace in the eyes of Hashem.
    Something has to happen in the USA to move the situation. This place can not be different than other place in the 2000 year history of the last galut.
    just wanted to share my thoughts, but I am amazed and humbled by scope and breadth of information presented by you, Rivka, yet again. Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Yosef from the Galil
    Yosef from the Galil says:

    I am so grateful to Hashem that I and my family escaped the evil empire when we did. I grew up a flag carrying patriot, to the right of Rush, Sean, Mike, and Glenn. When it finally hit me that I am a Jew first, regardless of what and where I was living, the whole world looked different.
    To point, the same holds true here in Hashem’s land, with its American-controlled anti-Torah government. That’s why we make aliyah to the eretz, not the medina. It’s past the time for everyone to finally wake up and come home. You’re on borrowed time, Jews of America.

    Reply
  3. Yosef from the Galil
    Yosef from the Galil says:

    “Yes,Trump is Esav. Yes, the west is Esav. Yes America is Esav, but I was born and raised here and believe me, not all Americans are the enemy.”

    Let’s rephrase for 1936: Yes,Hitler is Esav. Yes, Europe is Esav. Yes Germany is Esav, but I was born and raised here and believe me, not all Germans are the enemy.

    Reply
  4. alizah
    alizah says:

    bs”d
    A rebbetzin from Canada explained to me that people in America don’t consider
    aliya an option because of an ‘edict’ from the Lubavitcher Rebbe z”l that his followers
    should stay in place until Moshiach comes.

    Reply
    • Rivka Levy
      Rivka Levy says:

      I think that’s part of the ‘3 oaths’ discussion I wrote about here:

      https://rivkalevy.com/deconstructing-aliyah/

      Although Lubavitch may also have their own particular ‘spin’ on that discussion, the basic halachahs boil down to this:

      > If you want to come to Israel as part of a very large group of people moving here ‘all at once’, there is a Torah view that this is prohibited, as long as we haven’t yet reached ‘The End’.
      > If we’ve reached ‘The End’, the three oaths don’t apply anymore anyway.
      > There’s lots of things that suggest we are now in the stage of ‘the end of days’ – not least, all the pronouncements by the nations’ leading rabbis that we’ve reached ‘the End’.

      Reply
      • alizah
        alizah says:

        bs”d
        About the 3 oaths, used to follow the Lubavitcher Rebbe z”l during first marriage and no one spoke about that argument. People asked why the Rebbe didn’t move to Israel, and he said the captain is the last to leave the ship. Was concerned about leaving people behind. So here, the message to his followers was–they were all there to bring people close to Torah, mitzvot, chassidut and so don’t leave people behind–until Moshiach comes.

        Reply
        • Inquirer
          Inquirer says:

          Aliza, i agree. I mean, practically speaking, how can the Jews of Crown Heights afford the cost of moving to E”Y if their houses are probably de-valued due to all the anti-semitic incidents there?

          I can’t either swing it (financially and physically) without help, even though i’m not in Crown Heights.

          So unless a major miracle, such as eagle’s wings and affordable-desirable Israeli housing suddenly materializes, what are we supposed to do? Even the Torah says that when making a change, people should seek to better their situation, not worsen it. That’s the practical/logical way.

          Reply
  5. True Tzadikkim
    True Tzadikkim says:

    Bs”d
    Please see my post about PELEG.
    There was twice a small earthquake in place i was day before. It happen just straight after my heavy conversation with a CHILONI LIVING IN GALUT. One of his family members is named NIM ROD, the other PELEG.
    In the night i got this dream, being eyewitness of all these people..around PELEG. DOR HA PALGA. O boy, i got it!
    And now i ask, beg you, all my wise brothers and sisters spread it.
    Its serieus.
    Please read.
    In my dream, i was there, not one of them but eye witness.
    To see all that and the similarity with now…i have a big headeck, help!
    https://truetzadikkim.blogspot.com/2020/01/17-rebelion-against-gd-himself-caused.html?m=1

    Reply
  6. Inquirer
    Inquirer says:

    Rivka, firstly, its very difficult for chronically ill people such as myself to move to E”Y, especially because there’s no affordable housing in area’s compatible with my physical and other needs. Even back in the 1990s it was beyond my means. I tried very hard at that time, you better believe, and i didn’t have support from anyone. So it kills me when we’re all lumped together.

    As for what you said about Assange & Hale, that’s interesting… note that along with them, Trump was also a turncoat to the Kurds, has neglected the Pollards, as well as failed to reform American unscientific unhealthcare (such as the FDA criminally defining adult stem-cells as a patentable drug! And treatment of an MS patient was criminally halted cold-turkey, despite her MS being helped via stemcell therapy!)

    On the other hand, Trump pardoned Rubashkin.

    As well, Rabbi Mendel Kessin opines that Trump is the “tov she-b’edom”.

    But then (contradictory to R’Kessin):
    Oct.2019, Daniel (the autistic) communicates that if anyone thinks the Israeli gov’t OR Trump OR democrats will help them, think again, because they’re ALL our foes.

    And then (contradictory to autistic Daniel plus Rav Nosson Wachtfogel’s haskama of autistics):
    Nov.2019 at an America First gathering, both Rabbi Y.Y.Jacobson and Rav Yisroel Reisman introduce President Trump and give their public approbation of him. (Viewable on YouTube)

    Can someone PLEASE HELP reconcile all this?
    It’s a MAJOR mish-mash!

    Reply
    • Rivka Levy
      Rivka Levy says:

      “[A] bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts the words of the righteous” (Deuteronomy 16:19)

      Where a person actually lives is the biggest ‘bribe’ I can think of, as to why they can’t see what’s obvious, and start distorting ‘the words of the righteous’.

      Personally, the first thing I double-check about a person before I evaluate their stance on things like what’s going to happen in the world around geula and Moshiach, and on issues connected to making aliya is ‘where do they live?’

      Because the Torah tells us clearly: “A bribe blinds the eyes of the wise.”

      Reply
  7. alizah
    alizah says:

    bs”d

    Dear Inquirer and others who feel it’s too hard to find affordable housing in Eretz Yisrael,

    Please consider Yeroham, our hometown in the Negev. Years ago Rav Shach zal sent his
    student Rav Krause shlita to build a Torah community here and now BH we have a wonderful
    haredi community here. We have cheders and kollels and shiurim, and nothing to distract us.
    Housing is nice and affordable, even cheap. The weather is pleasant and healthy; we have parks
    and a lake and a swimming pool (sometimes heated) with separate hours for men and women.
    Everyone gets along. We have a large Breslev shul and other Torah communities.

    We had a big siyum ha shas a short while ago; bli neder will make the video available soon.

    Have heard from a haredi rebbetzin who would like to move her whole community here from Canada, so bli neder will check if we can get group discounts to buy apartments in the many new housing projects here.

    can contact us at eliseteitelbaum@gmail.com

    Reply
    • True Tzadikkim
      True Tzadikkim says:

      Bs”d
      Sound wonderfull Aliza!
      B.H. soon all ERETZ YISRAEL will be like that. YERUHAM, a great opportunity for anyone that serieusly consider their own personal ALIYAH spiritualy and in deed.
      May the inhabittants of Yeruham be blessed with the SHIVAT MINIM for each family, having their own SHEMEN ZAIYT AND DELI ZEITIM!, DVASH TAMARIM, RIMONIM, GEFEN TO COOK WITH AND FOR SHADOW, ANAVIM, YAYIN WITH SOD (similar to OR HA GANUZ) AND TEENIM PURE AND WITHOUT BUGS TO MAKE CAKE WITH AND PURE CHITA OF MALCHUT TO BAKE CHALLOT SIMILAR TO LEHEM HA PANIM AFTER DAYS WITH SOUP WITH SEORA!
      Beside that plenty of Shoshanim, Jasmin and ETZ HADAR to resemble GAN EDEN while serving HA KADOSH BARUH HU WITH ALL HEART IN UNITY.
      Good to hear and know that Geula is in full flowering in ERETZ YISRAEL. The G’D OF YISRAEL, who is like HIM? May our souls prize HIM FOREVER AND EVER.

      Reply

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