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Friday, March 4, 2011

Iran to build permanent naval base in Syria

Just two days after two Iranian warships reached the Syrian port of Latakia via the Suez Canal, Friday, Feb. 25, an Iranian-Syrian naval cooperation accord was signed providing for Iran to build its first Mediterranean naval base at the Syrian port, DEBKAfile's military and Iranian sources reveal.

The base will include a large Iranian Revolutionary Guards weapons depot stocked with hardware chosen by the IRGC subject to prior notification to Damascus. Latakia harbor will be deepened, widened and provided with new "coastal installations" to accommodate the large warships and submarines destined to use these facilities.

Iran has much to celebrate, DEBKAfile's military sources report. It has acquired its first military foothold on a Mediterranean shore and its first permanent military presence on Syrian soil. Tehran will be setting in place the logistical infrastructure for accommodating incoming Iranian troops to fight in a potential Middle East war.

According to our sources, the "cadets" the Kharg cruiser, one of the two Iranian warships allowed to transit the Suez Canal, was said to be carrying were in fact the first construction crews for building the new port facilities.

Two more events were carefully synchronized to take place in the same week.


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We Want the Temple Now!

There are a few other problems preventing us from building the Temple right now. In this blog, we will mention some of them, without entering into the thorough halachic explanation that they involve.   In general, matters relating to the Beit HaMikdash are on such a transcendental level that they are very often above our rational understanding, in a category all by themselves, not to be compared to the performance of regular mitzvot. In fact, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook wrote  that one small trespass on the holiness of our eternal Beit HaMikdash negates the merit of the establishment of millions of settlements in the Land of Israel (Igrot HaRiyah 2:285).  

My perspective follows the opinions, as I understand them, of Rabbi Kook, his son, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, and former Chief Rabbis of Israel, Rabbi Avraham Shapira, and Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, all of blessed memory.
A blueprint isn't enough.

As we noted in the previous blog, the Redemption of Am Yisrael is a developing historical process which comes gradually to completion, with the passing of time. The Talmud states: “The Nation of Israel was commanded with three commandments upon entering the Land: to appoint a king; to wipe out the seed of Amalek; and to build the Beit HaMikdash” (Sanhedrin 20B). These mitzvot are to be carried out according to the order stated. First, the Kingdom of Israel must be solidified, then Amalek must be destroyed, and then it is possible to build the Beit HaMikdash. The Rambam rules that this order was not only the way the Temple was built in the days of Joshua, King David, and King Solomon, but also true for us today (Rambam, Laws of Kings and Their Wars, 1:1-2).

Today, we have been blessed with establishing Jewish sovereignty over a portion of Eretz Yisrael, and there is an aspect of Jewish kingship (Malchut) in this, but we are still in a stage of development, in which both the physical and spiritual aspects of the nation need to be strengthened. Jerusalem is being rebuilt, the ingathering of the exiles continues, more and more Torah institutions are opening to meet the ever-growing thirst for the word of G-d, and the arrival of Mashiach, the pinnacle of Malchut, is coming closer every minute. Soon, the majority of Jews in Israel will be religious, and when the Knesset has a religious majority, the laws of the State will undergo a drastic change for the better, bringing us ever closer to our long-awaited goal of establishing a Torah State over all the Land of Israel, may it come to pass soon. If Hashem decides to speed up the process and send the Mashiach before the Knesset calls for the election of a king, well and good, but the fact remains that, at present, we still have a ways to go before our true Jewish kingdom develops to completion. Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook emphasized that our task today was to strengthen the Torah foundations throughout the nation, and that would lead the way to the Temple’s rebuilding.

As far as Amalek goes, today we don’t know exactly who the nation of Amalek is, and so we can’t do away with him, even if we wanted to. While Israel has no shortage of enemies, not every one of them is necessarily from the seed of Amalek. It seems obvious that the spirit of Amalek surfaced in Hitler’s Germany, but we can’t be sure that all of today’s Germans are Amalekites. And we can’t slaughter all Arab peoples, no matter how much they hate us, under the supposition that they are Amalek’s offspring. So this uncertainty presents another problem on our way to rebuilding the Temple.

According to the Prophet's instruction.

In addition to these two hindering factors, the Beit HaMikdash can only be built upon a prophet’s instruction (Ramban on Deut. 12:5, according to the Sifre. See also, Mishpat Kohen 174). King David learned the details of the Temple’s construction from the prophet, Samuel, yet he didn’t set about to build it until the prophet, Gad, instructed him to begin (Samuel 2, 24:18-19). And he finally was thwarted in realizing his dream, once again by the prophet, who told him to stop gathering materials, for it was his son who was destined to oversee its construction (Kings 1, 8:19). Also, regarding the building of the Second Temple, the initiative was taken by Ezra, who was a prophet, recognized as Malachi by the Talmud (Megillah 15A). The Talmud teaches that three prophets returned with the Jews from Babylon, each with explicit instructions regarding the rebuilding of the Temple (Zevachim 62A). When the Persians ordered that work on the Temple immediately be stopped, the prophet Haggai ordered the building to continue (Haggai, 1:2). Everything was on the instructions of the prophets of Israel, not according to well-meaning activists, however fervent they might have been in their zeal for the Beit HaMikdash.           

Of course, Hashem can bring things about however He sees fit: with a king in Israel or without one; with a prophet or without one. But as long as He lets things unfold in a seemingly natural developmental process, we have to go by the principles which our Sages established.
Furthermore, the “Sefer HaChinuch” states that the building of the Beit HaMikdash applies in a time when the majority of Jews are in Israel, for this is a mitzvah which is incumbent on the entire Jewish community, and not only a group of inspired individuals (Sefer HaChinuch 95).
The question can rightly be asked – if all this is true, how was the Second Temple built, since there were neither a majority of the world’s Jews in Israel at the time, nor a sovereign Jewish kingdom?

One answer is that upon a prophet’s instruction, as occurred with Ezra and Haggai during the time of the Second Temple, the Almighty is free to bring things about as He pleases. Nonetheless, our Sages teach that because the majority of Jews did not return to Israel from the fleshpots of the Babylonian exile, and because the Jewish kingdom wasn’t established at the time, the foundations of the Temple were weak from the start, and its destruction was just a matter of time.

Our Sages teach us that it was fitting that Hashem perform miracles for the Jews returning with Ezra, but that “sin prevented it” (Berachot 4A). What sin? The Maharasha explains, “Because all of the Jews didn’t return” (Yoma 9B). Because they didn’t all return like a “wall,” standing strong and fortified together to establish the Kingdom of Israel (Rashi, Ketubot 111A), the foundation was bound to rot and the Temple be destroyed. By the time the Hashmonaim dynasty established the kingship generations later, the seeds of destruction had already been planted through the Temple’s building in national division and weakness.
According to Resh Lakish, the Shechinah did not rest on the Second Temple in its full splendor because the majority of the nation remained behind in Bavel (Yoma 9b). When Rabbah Bar Bar Hannah came from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael, he saw Resh Lakish swimming in the Jordan River. Resh Lakish said to him: “I don’t return your greeting, for you Jews (who remained in Bavel) destroyed the Beit HaMikdash."

The “Kuzari” also attributes the Shechinah’s absence from the Second Temple to the sorrowful fact that the majority of Jews of the time preferred to remain in exile: “This is the sin which kept the Divine promise regarding the Second Temple from being fulfilled. Divine Providence was ready to restore everything as it had been at first, if they had all willingly consented to ascend. But only a part was ready to do so, while the majority and the community leaders remained in Babylon, preferring dependence and slavery, unwilling to leave their villas and business affairs” (Kuzari 2:24).

Without the unity of the nation that could have established Jewish sovereignty from the start, the Second Beit HaMikdash lacked the basis necessary for its continuance.  

Who will be the lucky heifer?
Finally, for the service in the Temple to begin, we need the Parah Adumah - the ashes of the “Red Heifer” to purify us so that we can ascend the Temple Mount proper with our sacrifices, at least up to the “Cheil,” and so the Kohanim can enter the holiest precincts of the Temple “Azarah” courtyard and Hechal. The “Cheil,” which surrounded the entire perimeter of the Beit Hamikdash, was either an open space ten amot wide or a wall ten amot high (Aruch Hashulchan Ha’atid, Beit Hamikdash 11:5; Rabbi Shlomo Goren, Sefer Har HaBayit, chap. 24).While several potential red cows have recently been sighted, none of them met all the requirements for the job. 

Cloning presents a new hope, but we’re still waiting for the first holy “Dolly.” In the meantime, while several esteemed Rabbis allow Jews to ascend the Temple Mount in areas remote from the site of the Temple proper, no one gives permission for anyone to come close to actual Temple Azarah courtyard and Hechal, where the Kodesh and Kodesh HaKodeshim were located. And since, without a prophet, we can’t know exactly where these boundaries lie, the official policy of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel still forbids Jews to go up to the Temple Mount at all, lest they mistakenly wander into a prohibited area and get themselves fried with the severe punishment of karet, being cut off before one’s allotted time (Bamidbar, 19:13, 20; Makkot 14B; Rambam, Beit HaMikdash 3:12-13; and Sefer HaMitzvot, negative commandment77, positive commandment 31).

Israel National News

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Earthquakes in Arkansas May Be Man-Made, Experts Warn

The sudden swarm of earthquakes in Arkansas -- including the largest quake to hit the state in 35 years -- is very possibly an after effect of natural-gas drilling, experts warn.
At issue is a practice called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," in which water is injected into the ground at high pressure to fracture rock and release natural gas trapped within it.

Geologists don't believe the fracking itself is a problem. But Steve Horton, an earthquake specialist at the University of Memphis and hydrologic technician with the U.S. Geological Survey, is worried by a correlation between the Arkansas earthquake swarm and a side effect of the drilling: the disposal of wastewater in injection wells.
"Ninety percent of these earthquakes that have happened since 2009 have been within 6 kilometers of these salt water disposal wells," he told FoxNews.com. The timing is too coincidental to ignore, Horton said.

Salt water is a common by-product of the fracking process, and the simplest solution is to inject the toxic wastewater back into the ground. But that can lubricate the surrounding rock, experts warn, possibly leading to quakes

Fox News

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Robert Fisk: Panic on borders as chaos engulfs Libya

Up to 20,000 migrant workers try to push their way through the Tunisian border crossing at Ras Jedir yesterday
The Libyans watched from an open window of the immigration post, leaning out to see the 20,000 fleeing Egyptian, Bangladeshi, Chinese and Iranian workers heaped up against the border wall. 
They seemed quite unconcerned, shirt-sleeves rolled up, moving to a window closer to this crowd. Already up to 75,000 have struggled into Tunisia, but yesterday the crossing system collapsed as thousands of men, almost all Arabs desperate to escape Muammar Gaddafi's state, fought with local Tunisians who – under the eyes of the army – attacked them with stakes and iron bars.
Many of the soldiers hurled plastic water bottles and biscuits into the masses of refugees who began to jump the border wall in their desperation, heaving family members and baggage through breaks in the cement. Clich├ęs run out when faced with such chaos and unnecessary suffering. 
"Insupportable" was the word that came to mind yesterday. Most of these 20,000 had gone without food, water or sleep for four days. How is it possible that people should suffer so greatly at a mere border post?

The Independent


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Arkansas lates earthquake 4.7

The situation is getting downright crazy in Arkansas where hundreds of earthquakes have swarmed and rattled parts of the state.
The latest earthquake, a magnitude 4.7, at a very shallow depth of 3.8 km, would be making main-stream news if it had occurred in San Francisco or Los Angeles.
The region in Arkansas that has been affected by an ongoing earthquake swarm is between the towns of Greenbrier and Guy.
Most all of the earthquakes have been fairly minor, ranging from magnitude 3 or less, however the swarming activity has been ongoing for months, and has many alarmed partly because of the fact that the region is within the New Madrid fault zone, a region which caused the biggest earthquake in recorded history within North America.
The latest earthquake, a magnitude 4.7 will perhaps capture the attention of more outlets. There is definitely something going on here, and bears more investigation.
A previous MSB post, Arkansas Earthquake Swarms, New Madrid or Natural Gas, touches upon the possibility of the New Madrid fault zone as an underlying cause versus natural gas well drilling in the area.
When earthquakes rise to the magnitude of 4+, it will get your attention. This author knows, and has experienced several in that category or greater.
Given the fact that this earthquake, and perhaps more to come, are so shallow, will result in more ground shaking than deeper earthquakes. At this point in time, it would seem prudent for residents of the area to take action as typical Californian’s and look around your house for loose objects that may become airborne or topple over in a magnitude 5+ quake. Secure them or move them.
Move heavy objects, especially glass objects or wall hangings away from your bed. There are many more countless quake preventative measures to take around the home. The point is, this Arkansas situation is not slowing. Something is happening there…

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Yemeni president says US and Israel behind unrest

Photo: Reuters

Speaking to students and academics at Saana University, Saleh says 'there is an operations room in Tel Aviv with the aim of destabilizing the Arab world'

Yemen's embattled US-backed president accused Washington on Tuesday of instigating protests against his regime, as hundreds of thousands marched in cities across Yemen in the largest rallies yet seeking the longtime ruler's ouster.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh's allegations, unprecedented in their harshness, signaled a growing rift with the United States that could hurt a joint campaign against the al-Qaeda terror network in Yemen.

Saleh's comments Tuesday, including charges that the US Embassy in the capital of Sanaa is giving instructions to the protesters, appeared to be part of an attempt to silence the calls for his resignation. Saleh has come under mounting pressure to step down since anti-government protests erupted a month ago.

Opposition parties joined for the first time Tuesday, and organizers said they brought hundreds of thousands into the streets in cities across Yemen for the largest turnout yet.

In Sanaa, tens of thousands rallied near the university, chanting "the people want the downfall of the regime."

Sheikh Abdul-Majid al-Zindani, considered by the US be linked to the al-Qaeda terror network, led noon prayers and warned the government not to use force against demonstrators. "We hail the peaceful revolution of the youths and their legitimate demands and rights," he said.

Yaseen Said Nouman, leader of the Socialist Party, which ruled south Yemen before merging with the north in 1990, also joined the rally. The Socialist party is the biggest opposition party in the south.


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