Rabbi Mordechai Becher, originally from Australia, is a Senior Lecturer for the Gateways Organization. He was a Senior Lecturer at Ohr Somayach, Neve Yerushalayim and Darchei Binah in Jerusalem for 15 years, was a chaplain in the Israel Defence Forces and taught in a number of Rabbinic training programs. Rabbi Becher is the co-author of After the Return, and has answered thousands of questions on the Ask-the-Rabbi website. His latest book, Gateway to Judaism, was recently published by Shaar Press. Rabbi Becher received his ordination from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. He has lectured for the UJA, Jewish Federations, the Zionist Organization of America, Hillel and is on the speakers bureau of the Israeli Consulate in New York. He has taught in Canada, the United States, England, Israel, South Africa, Australia and Russia. He resides with his wife and 6 children in Passaic, NJ.
I'm a bit confused about the term "Palestine." Today everyone uses it to refer to Arabs, but my grandfather played in Palestine Symphony Orchestra which changed its name to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra when the Jewish state came into being in 1948.
So what's the scoop on "Palestine"?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
In the year 70 CE the Romans burned down the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, murdering and exiling the Jews of Jerusalem. Following an unsuccessful revolt against Rome in 135 CE, the Roman emperor Hadrian decided to excise all things Jewish from the promised land. Jerusalem was renamed "Aelia Capitolina" and the penalty for any Jew daring to venture into the city was death. In addition, an idol to the pagan god Jupiter was erected in the remains of the Temple.
Further, Hadrian asked his historians who were the worst enemies of the Jews. The scribes said, "The ancient Philistines who vanished half a millennium prior." It was thus declared that Land of Israel would from then on be called "Philistia" to dishonor the Jews and obliterate their history. Hence the name "Palestine."
For the next 2,000 years, Israel remained at the forefront of Jewish consciousness. Jews always maintained a presence in Israel, and prayed to return en masse.
The rhetoric about a massive Arab presence being overrun by "invading Jews" is dispelled by Mark Twain, who visited the area in 1867 and wrote in his book, "The Innocents Abroad":
"We traversed some miles of desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given wholly to weeds – a silent mournful expanse... We never saw a human being on the whole route... hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country."
The vast majority of Arabs came to Israel after the early Zionists pioneers began to rebuild the land, thereby creating modern infrastructure and economic opportunities, which attracted Arabs from both surrounding territories and far-away Arab lands.
At the time, Jewish residents of Palestine were considered "Palestinians," whereby the Arabs were officially referred to as Arabs. The "Jerusalem Post" newspaper was called the "Palestine Post," and the Jewish Agency-issued postage stamps read "Palestine." As far as the Arabs were concerned no political entity called Palestine existed.
But that is all past history. The Arabs, in their decades-long war against Israel's very existence, have succeeded in convincing the world of a Palestinian Arab identity deserving of their own state. So that's the reality today, and we are trying to deal with it in a way that satisfies both world opinion and the security requirements of the citizens of Israel.
History of Palestine:
Today in Jewish History
In 1924, the Israeli town of Bnei Brak ("Sons of Lightning") was founded just east of Tel Aviv. Bnei Brak is known as a center of Talmudic scholarship, and was home to the famed 20th century sages, the Chazon Ish and Rabbi Elazar M. Shach of the Ponevitch Yeshiva. Bnei Brak is mentioned in the Bible (Joshua 19:45), and is famous in the Passover Haggadah as the site of the all-night Seder of Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues.
Today in Growing Each Day
They were drunk although not with wine, they staggered although they drank no ale (Isaiah 29:9).
In the field of alcoholism treatment, there is a concept of a "dry drunk." This term describes those who have stopped drinking alcohol, but whose behavior remains essentially unchanged from their drinking days.
Just as a "dry drunk" phenomenon occurs with someone who has stopped drinking, it can occur in someone who never drank excessively. In the above verse, the Prophet describes such behavior occurring in the absence of alcohol intoxication.
Active alcoholics are generally oblivious to their self-centered behavior. Seeking to satisfy their own needs regardless of how this may affect others, they are likely to project blame for everything that goes wrong onto anyone and everyone - except themselves. They refuse to make any changes in the way they live; instead, they demand that others accommodate.
We often observe this same behavior in people who do not use intoxicants. In a way, alcoholics are more fortunate, for eventually the toxic effects of alcohol will force upon them the realization of their destructive behavior. People who do not drink and who are thus not likely to have any toxic disasters which precipitate a crisis must therefore exercise even greater scrutiny, lest they unknowingly indulge in behavior that is destructive to themselves and others.
Today I shall...
find myself a competent, trusted friend to help me see if I might not be denying self-destructive behavior.
With stories and insights,
Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...