The 1972 Olympics was to be a new Olympics symbolizing a new Germany with a new feeling of universal brotherhood. Then Arab terrorists seized 11 Israeli athletes, sparking memories of the Holocaust in the land that perpetrated it. Zman interviews Israeli Olympic delegate Shmuel Lalkin who was only a few feet away in the neighboring apartment at the time of the attack. He provides a fascinating yet harrowing and chilling insider’s account of this terrifying event.
“We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt….” Slavery in modern times has been strongly denounced and much effort has been made to uproot it. Despite that, there are — shockingly — more slaves today than perhaps ever in world history! Zman takes a look at modern slavery and how we can use it as an opportunity to appreciate the words of the Haggadah telling us how fortunate we are that we are not enslaved.
King Tut – Not One To Say “Tut Tut” To
The discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamun, a relatively minor pharaoh, with its fabulous treasures virtually intact, took the world by storm. Everyone could now see for the first time the unbelievable wealth that surrounded the monarchs of the ancient world’s most famous and imposing empire. Read about the discovery of the tomb and learn about its significance in the annals of history and in the eyes of the Torah.
Airliners Gone AWOL
The news this past month was full of the story of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that disappeared on March 8. More than two dozen countries searched from land, air, space and sea for any visible sign of the plane. Two weeks of intense searching produced nothing. The plane simply disappeared. But this was not the first time in history that such an event caught the world’s attention. Read the stories of other airplanes that mysteriously vanished.
Apollo 13: Disaster In Space!
The entire world was transfixed. Many said it was the first time they prayed. It all began when the Apollo rocket heading toward the moon experienced a major malfunction. On the ground, specialists worked feverishly to develop a plan to return the astronauts to Earth. It was a race against time. Oxygen, heat and electricity on the craft were fast running out. A series of risky maneuvers were initiated in the slim hope of returning them alive. Would they succeed in time?
Kids Who Made The News
It isn’t every day that children are featured in the news, but when a child does make headlines the circumstances are bound to be extraordinary, if not completely bizarre. Here is an array of curious reports about children that have captured the interest of the media and the public all over the world.
Raised By Wild Animals
Although there are many myths, legends and fictional stories depicting children reared by wild animals — such as dogs, wolves, apes and bears — modern day cases suggests that at least some of those legends may have been based on true accounts. As surreal as this may seem, there have been documented instances even today where children have been adopted and raised by animals.
Humble First Jobs… Of Some Not-So-Humble People
The only truly predictable thing about life is its unpredictability. Nowhere is this more evident, arguably, than in the lives of the most famous (and infamous) world leaders who had the most humble beginnings. Be it the billionaire who once waiting on tables… to the dictator who began as a peasant… to the current President of the United States who used to scooped ice cream, history (past and present) proves time and again that anything can and does happen.
NASI – Anatomy Of A Crisis
It has been called the shidduch crisis. In order to shed light on the nature of it and its possible causes, Zman interviewed Rabbi Moshe Pogrow, the director of NASI, the North American Shidduch Initiative. To provide a more complete picture, we also interviewed several shadchanim who have been involved in NASI shidduchim, including Mrs. Libby Lieberman, and mother of “older singles” who would potentially benefit from the program.
The New Seminary
Seventeen years ago, Rebbetzin Sora Bulka, along with Rabbi Yeshaya Levy, envisioned an educational institution that would achieve two different but related goals. The first was to provide young women with the proper values, skills and knowledge to become professionally involved in quality Jewish education. The second was to allow women to obtain degrees from respected universities while remaining in an environment committed to tzniyus and yiras shamayim. Thus was born The New Seminary.
The Munich Massacre
Munich, Germany – the birthplace of Naziism. The year is 1972, more than 27 years after the end of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust. This was to be a new Olympics, symbolizing a new Germany with a new feeling of universal brotherhood and peace for all mankind. Then Arab terrorists infiltrated seized 11 Israeli athletes, sparking memories of the Holocaust in the land that perpetrated it. The world literally watched the horrific events unfold and wondered: Would negotiators and commandos be able to save the Jewish athletes in time?
Hi Tech Veggies
Vegetables and greens are an important part of Pesach tradition, and take a prominent role at the Seder. In this month’s special food section, Zman explores the wild world of insect infestation, and how to have your broccoli and eat it too!
Swept Out To Sea
The devastating tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011 left more than 15,000 people dead. Those who barely escaped spoke of the miracles that saved them. This is arguably the most amazing survival story of all — the harrowing account of one man who was swept out to sea by the monstrous waves and spent days stranded on the roof of his home, floating miles away from land. Yet, he somehow lived to tell about it.
You Have a Twin!
Scientific research has established that identical twins are not only similar in outward appearance but also in their habits, talents, IQs and personalities. The most amazing aspects of these similarities become apparent in the case of twins separated at birth. Even though they never met and were raised under completely different circumstances, they still share astonishing similarities. Sometimes, the similarities defy explanation — for instance, separated twins who give their children the same names…. The scientific and paranormal converge in this fascinating topic.
No chain, cell, safe or chest could keep him under lock. Thousands and thousands of spectators around the world thronged to his fantastic performances, watching openmouthed as he freed himself from every sort of confinement and restraint. Houdini did not possess any superhuman skills. He was simply a master at pulling off tricks that others could not fathom. Learn more about this extraordinary Jewish magician who became a legend in his own time.
Gold & Greed
When they heard there were “rivers of gold,” they came from far and wide. A pristine frozen wilderness was transformed. More than 100,000 prospectors – appropriately called “stampeders” — swarmed the Alaskan and Canadian hinterlands. Chaotic shanty towns of muddy streets sprang up to accommodate the ever-renewing supply of gullible outsiders hoping to strike it rich. It was the perfect setup for one of the cleverest and shadiest swindlers – a man so slippery that he was known as “Soapy.” Would they ever catch him?
He Fought The System For The Sake Of Shabbos… And Won!
Those living in America for more than 40 years undoubtedly recall the infamous “blue laws” that forbade opening one’s business on Sundays. For most Americans this law was merely an inconvenience, but for Shabbos-observant Jews it posed an impossible choice: work on Shabbos or face severe financial consequences. Zman is proud to present an in-depth discussion of this significant piece of American history. The story is accompanied by an exclusive interview with Chaim Reich of Boro Park, the man who led the fight to enable Shabbos observance in America.
Kashrus vs. United States
Government officials and federal prosecutors conspired with the unions to bring down a large kosher slaughterhouse. The owners were arrested and charged with violating laws that had never before been enforced. A biased judge cooperated with the prosecutors by convicting the Orthodox Jewish owners and delivering a harsh verdict. Sound familiar? This story actually took place nearly 80 years ago, long before the case of Sholom Rubashkin. Read how the US government tried to destroy kashrus in America, but with Hashem’s help the accused emerged victorious.
Rabbi Marvin Hier recalls Simon Wiesenthal telling him about a transformative moment in his life. It was 1946. He was spending Friday night with a group of fellow Holocaust survivors who could not understand why he decided to become a Nazi hunter.
“Enough with the past,” they argued. “Focus on the future.”
Then, as Wiesenthal looked into the glow of the Shabbos neiros, Rabbi Hier relates, he suddenly saw “the neshamos of the six million listening to their conversation.”
“My dear friends,” Wiesenthal said, “there will come a time when we’ll go up to shamayim and the six million will come to each of us and ask, ‘What have you done?’ You, my dear friend, will tell them that you went into construction to build homes. And you will say you went into the jewelry business. And you became a manufacturer of clothes. But I will have the privilege of saying to them, ‘I have never forgotten you.’”
Of course, survivors who quietly went about rebuilding their lives and raising families loyal to Torah are the greatest heroes. They never forgot their families and friends, or the six million, as they rebuilt Klal Yisrael in the most concrete fashion.
Nevertheless, Simon Wiesenthal was unique in the way he honored the memory of the six million, as an article this month details. Moreover, his life’s work inspired the creation of a center named after him, as conveyed in our cover story.
I feel particularly close to this topic now, as I write this introduction 30,000 feet above ground, returning from a week in Poland where, with a group of mechanchim and mechanchos from Torah Umesorah, we visited the concentration camps, ghettos and mass graves — the tombstone of a vibrant Jewish world that is no more. The most moving part of the trip took place just outside the town of Tarnow, at the site of a mass grave containing the bodies of 800 Jewish children, hy’d.
On July 4, 1976, as dazzling multi-colored fireworks burst high in the sky across the United States, Americans celebrated the 200th anniversary of their country’s freedom. Little did anyone in the land of the free and home of the brave — or anywhere else for that matter — realize that about 7,000 miles away a group of Jews were secretly celebrating their newly-won freedom. For shortly after the stroke of midnight, on that fateful morning 36 years ago, 102 Jewish hostages were being rushed into C-130 Hercules military planes by Israeli commandos who had just pulled off arguably the most stunning rescue mission in history.
It’s all in this month’s cover story. The tension. The drama. The shock. The outrage. The ecstasy. And the agony (four hostages and one commando were killed).
Occupy Wall Street Now And Then
Reading this month’s cover story, one cannot help but hear echoes of it in today’s news, specifically the Occupy Wall Street protests that have been taking place since September.
Seventy-five years ago a group of British Fascists organized a march through the Jewish quarter of London’s East End, shouting slogans like “No More Jewish Corruption!” They made claims such as, “You have bad houses because the Jews have the good houses. You have bad jobs because the Jews have the good jobs.”
Baruch Hashem – with an emphasis on Hashem – the British people literally stood up to them, and the rest is history. But how scary it is that even those we counted as our allies were so close to siding with the likes of Hitler.
Of course, although anti-Semitic slurs have been documented, today’s Occupy Wall Street is nothing like London 1936. Nevertheless, that it even exists at all illustrates how fragile our sense of security is, reminding us how thin the barrier is between the Dr. Jekyll and the Mr. Hyde of the Gentile world.
This serves as a paradigm of the prophetic vision for the end of time, Milchemes Gog Umagog, the “War of Gog and Magog,” the ultimate conflict between good and evil. Before Mashiach succeeds, the armies of Gog and Magog will join forces and war against Klal Yisrael. It will be a terrifying time, but Gog and his collaborators will be vanquished, and the long foretold era of peace among nations will be ushered in.
The identification of Gog and Magogis complex, however as Rabbi Moshe Eisemann explains in his brilliant analysis (Yechezkal, Chapter 38; Artscroll) Gog is an individual from the arch-enemy of the Jews, Amalek (from Noach’s son, Shem), who will rise to power amidst the people/culture of Magog(from Noach’s son, Yefes) and incite them against the Jews.
Yefes, which means “beauty,” is the forerunner of Greece, the foundation of Western civilization. Beautyis morally neutral. It can inspire to good or intoxicate to destruction. Yefes can place his gifts at Amalek’s feet as readily as he can subordinate them in the service of holiness.
As Rabbi Eisemann explains, “throughout history, we find Yefes fluctuating between the poles of true spirituality and the grossest sensuality. The same Yefes who allowed himself to be turned to holiness by his brother Shem was able, centuries later, to allow a Haman to control his empire, and attempt to wipe out Shem’s descendants. When Gog will seek supporters in his final war against holiness and Godliness, he will turn to the pliable Yefes.”
Milchemes Gog Umagogrepresents a tug-of-war that has replayed itself throughout history. When good people prevail the forces of Yefes become vehicles for light. When they slacken the dark side takes them over.
Despite Amalek/Gog’s apparent power, he only exercises it according to Hashem’s will and in accordance with the spiritual stature of the Jewish people. An external event – political, military or otherwise – reflects our internal state. The cover story this month illustrates that poignantly. May we take it to heart and focus on internals before externals.
Even though Sholom Rubashkin’s 27-year sentence is ludicrous and unprecedented for the crimes he was charged with, it was not death by hanging given to Leo Frank. Even though many believe anti-Semitism influenced (and influences) the Rubashkin case, the proceedings were not conducted as a mob shouted, “Hang the Jew!”
Nevertheless, one is struck by this similarity between the cases: Each was a grave miscarriage of justice where the justice system itself was/is blind to its own shortcomings. (At least in the Leo Frank case, the State of Georgia eventually admitted its blindness, albeit 70 years later.)
I, like so many others, find it incredible that the judge whose judgment was being questioned in the recent appeal was a backup and had influence on the court that reviewed the appeal!
This was the same judge, Linda Reade, who was discovered to have had several secret meetings with law enforcement long before the arrests at Agriprocessors (for more details see Zman Sivan 5770/June 2010)! It was Judge Reade whom ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) memoranda indicated had taken an organizational role in the immigration raid; attended weekly meetings; personally requested a meeting with personnel from the many branches of law enforcement who would participate in the raid; and requested updates and final game plans.
How can a person work with law enforcement, which worked with the prosecution, and then serve a judge in that case?!?
Yet, Reade denied having performed any functions that fall within the executive branch (i.e. law enforcement) which may have reflected an irreconcilable stain on her impartiality.
I don’t claim to know American law. Maybe according to the US justice system this is perfectly legal. But, that’s the difference between a man-made law and a Divine one.
The Torah tells us: “Don’t take a bribe, for bribery blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous” (Devarim 16:19). The emphasis is on “the wise” and “the righteous.” Even they can be blinded by impartiality.
The Gemara offers several cases of Jewish judges who disqualified themselves for even the minutest influences. When Shmuel was walking on a bridge and a man lent him a hand, Shmuel disqualified himself from judging his case.
When Rebbi Yishmael b’Rebbi Yossi encountered a sharecropper who did him the tiny favor of bringing him his fruit a day earlier than usual he disqualified himself from judging his case. Indeed, as Rabbi Yishmael listened to the case (as an observer) he found himself conjuring up arguments in favor of the sharecropper.
“I didn’t take a bribe,” Rebbi Yishmael declared, “and had I taken the fruit, it would have been mine – yet I was biased!”
This issue of Zman comes out during the Yemei HaDin, “Days Judgment.” If we make an extra effort to painfully examine where we are being moreh heter on ourselves, maybe in that merit a measure of objectivity will descend upon those with power over Sholom Rubashkin’s life and help them come to their senses long before they did in the case of Leo Frank.
Interview With General Israel Shafir
Brigadier General (in Reserve) Israel“Relik” Shafir was one of the eight pilots selected to fly the mission to bomb the Osirak nuclear reactor on June 7, 1981. He and his wingman, Ilan Ramon — the first Israeli astronaut, who died tragically in the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster on February 1, 2003 — were the last two of the eight pilots to drop their bombs and the only ones to actually see the reactor blow up.
Shafir spent 31 years as a pilot and commander in the Israeli Air Force, including stints as commander of the Hatzor Air Base Pilot’s School as well as the Tel Nof Air Base. After retiring in 2002 he entered the business world and is currently the CEO of Israel Energy Initiatives, a company developing technology to extract oil from oil shale. In addition to this, he also serves as a spokesman for the Israel Air Force (IAF).
After much effort, Zman was able to arrange a meeting with General Shafir, who is today putting his military and business experience to work in search of solutions to freeIsrael of its energy dependencies.
We met General Shafir in his office, in a large and elegant building in Yerushalayim’s business district, where his company, Israel Energy Initiatives, occupies an entire floor. We were very privileged that he granted us some valuable time from his full schedule for this exclusive interview.