Yom Kippur Guide for the Perplexed, 2014 Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger

1. Yom Kippur commemorates God’s forgiveness for the sin of the Golden Calf and God’s covenant with the Jewish people.

2. Yom Kippur is a day of forgiveness only for sins committed against God. It is customary to dedicate the eve of Yom Kippur to apologies for sins committed against fellow human beings. However, an apology or compensation are not sufficient if they do not elicit an expressed forgiveness by the injured person. One is commanded to be community-sensitive and invite everyone, including transgressors, to participate in Yom Kippur services. Thus, Yom Kippur underlines unity, as synagogues become a platform for the righteous and the sinner.

3. Yom Kippur’s focus on seeking forgiveness highlights humility, fallibility, faith, soul-searching, compassion, thoughtfulness, being considerate, accepting responsibility and magnanimity. Speaking ill of other people (“evil tongue,” Le’shon Ha’Ra, in Hebrew) may not be forgiven.

4. Yom Kippur is a happy Jewish Holiday, replacing vindictiveness and rage with peace-of-mind and peaceful co-existence between God and human beings and, primarily, between human beings.

5. Yom Kippur is observed on the tenth day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, whose astrological sign is Libra (♎). Libra symbolizes the key themes of Yom Kippur: scales, justice, balance, truth, symmetry, sensitivity and optimism. Libra is ruled by the planet Venus (Noga, נגה, in Hebrew), which reflects divine light and love of the other person. (Noga is the name of my oldest granddaughter). The numerical value of the Hebrew letters of נגה is 58 (נ-50, ג-3, ה-5), just like the numerical value of אזן, which is the Hebrew word for “ear,” as well as, the Hebrew root of “listening,” “balance” and “scale.”

6. Yom Kippur is observed on the tenth day of Tishrei – an Acadian word for forgiveness and Genesis. Ten has special significance in Judaism: God’s abbreviation is the tenth Hebrew letter (Yod – י); there are ten attributes of God – Divine perfection – which were highlighted during the Creation; the Ten Commandments; the Ten Plagues; there are ten reasons for blowing the Shofar; The Prayer of Veedooi – וידוי (confession/reaffirmation in Hebrew), is recited ten times during Yom Kippur one is commanded to extend a 10% gift to God (tithe); Ten Martyrs (Jewish leaders) were tortured/murdered by the Roman Empire; there were ten generations between Adam and Noah and between Noah and Abraham; a ten worshipper quorum (Minyan in Hebrew) is required for a collective Jewish prayer; etc.

7. The Hebrew word Kippur, כיפור (atonement/repentance), is a derivative of the Biblical word Kaporet כפורת,, the cover of the Holy Ark at the Sanctuary, and Kopher, כופר, the cover of Noah’s Ark and the Holy Altar at the Temple. Yom Kippur resembles a spiritual cover (dome), which separates between the holy and the mundane, between spiritualism and materialism. The Kippah, כיפה (skullcap, Yarmulka’), which covers one’s head during prayers, reflects a spiritual dome.

8. The Hebrew spelling of “fast” (צם/צום) – abstinence from food – reflects the substance of Yom Kippur. The Hebrew word for “fast” is the root of the Hebrew word for “reduction” and “shrinking” (צמצום) of one’s wrong-doing. It is also the root of the Hebrew words for “slave” (צמית) and “eternity” (צמיתות) – eternal enslavement to God, but not to human beings. “Fast” is also the root of עצמי (being oneself),עצום (awesome), עצמה (power),עצמאות (independence), which are gained through the process of fasting, soul-searching, spiritual-enhancement and faith in God.

9. A Memorial Candle, in remembrance of one’s parents, is lit during Yom Kippur. This reaffirms the “Honor Thy Father and Mother Commandment,” providing another opportunity to ask forgiveness of one’s parent(s), as well as, asking forgiveness on their behalf.

10. The Scroll of Jonah is read on Yom Kippur. It demonstrates that repentance and forgiveness is universal. Among its lessons: commanding one to assume responsibility; getting involved socially/politically; sounding the alarm when wrong-doing is committed anywhere in the world; displaying compassion for all peoples and adhering to faith and optimism in defiance of all odds.


Every year at this time, the Israeli public is treated to tips on how to get through Yom Kippur with minimal suffering. Pointers include the best methods for avoiding feeling faint from hunger and thirst, and the most effective ways to cope with caffeine withdrawal.

In addition, as soon as Rosh Hashanah ends, it is customary during the period leading up to the holiest of the Days of Awe for passers-by to wish one another an “easy fast.”

This social convention is puzzling. After all, the whole purpose of fasting is to put one’s body in a particular state of physical discomfort, in order to create the optimal conditions for undertaking a tough spiritual task. Atoning for sins against God and man is a serious endeavor, especially since doing it with genuine intent is supposed to seal one’s fate in the Book of Life.

Theoretically, then, the process of abstinence is not meant to be easy; it is geared toward maximizing the effect of prayer and confession. In practice, however, it often becomes like the proverbial forest that can’t be seen for the trees.

Indeed, no sooner does Yom Kippur end than people who spent days apologizing to their friends and family members for any wrongdoing they may have committed — and hours upon hours in synagogue beating their breasts before God — promptly return to their old habits without so much as a blink of an eye. Just try maneuvering the traffic following what in Israel is a full day of empty roads: It is business as usual among disgruntled drivers and inconsiderate pedestrians. The following morning, no vestige of atonement or forgiveness is visible. And everybody is too busy hammering away at the Sukkot they are building even to remember why they had starved themselves the day before.

Jews aren’t the only people who miss the big picture while focusing on the more controllable minutiae, however. Indeed, it is a general human tendency that has the benefit of providing a manageable universe, like a chess match played by someone who knows the function of each piece, without grasping the grand strategy or anticipating the moves of his opponent.

This is the key to understanding how and why the worst elements of history repeat themselves so seamlessly, especially when the enemies of civilized society have their eye on a long-term end game and a hefty supply of pawns at their disposal.

Take the events of the past two weeks in New York and Washington as a classic example.


Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party — a Book Review By Ethel C. Fenig
In March of 2013, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) criticized his colleagues Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), calling them wacko birds for their outspokenness and refusal to participate in the get-along, go-along style of working in the Senate. McCain, once proudly known as a maverick for his outspokenness and sometimes refusal to participate in the get-along, go-along Senate style, was particularly upset with Paul’s “nearly 13-hour filibuster that pressured President Barack Obama’s administration to clarify its position on the use of domestic drones.”

Paul later retorted, “The GOP of old has grown stale and moss covered.”

Although McCain later apologized for his public criticism — intra party disagreements are usually resolved quietly with little, if any, publicity — this exchange revealed the split between the old “stale and moss covered” Republicans who often seemingly differ from their Democratic colleagues in nuance rather than as true opposition and their more conservative, younger members, the wacko birds.

But just who are these wacko birds? Where did they come from? What do they believe in? Will they be able to influence the Republican Party? This country? What about their success? Failures? Joel B. Pollak explains in his important new e book Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party.

A wacko bird himself, Pollak first gained notoriety as a Harvard Law student persistently questioning then Rep Barney Frank (D-MA), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, about Frank’s responsibility for the global economic meltdown. A little over 10 years later, in 2010, Pollak, formerly a very liberal Democrat, challenged extremely liberal 10-year incumbent Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), for a Congressional seat in a midnight deep blue district. (Full disclosure: I worked on and contributed to his campaign and even served as a genuine Republican election judge to combat any election irregularities.) Although Schakowsky won easily, Pollak managed to reduce her victory percentage. He is now Senior Editor at Large and in-house counsel for Breitbart News. So he writes from experience, as an actual participant in the political process, as well as a political analyst.

One by one, Pollak examines the more prominent wacko birds, the Tea (Taxed Enough Already) Party candidates and legislators, such as Michele Bachmann, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Sarah Palin, and even Christine O’Donnell, the failed Delaware senatorial candidate “witch”, candidly analyzing their successes and failures and their impact on the party and the country.

Israel Can’t Entrust Security to International Peacekeepers By Morton Klein and Daniel Mandel

In recent days, a small fixture of Middle East ceasefire monitoring disintegrated, with scarcely anyone noticing. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the multinational force that had monitored the Israeli/Syrian ceasefire lines since 1974, disappeared as though it had never existed. Yet, in the view of Secretary of State John Kerry, an Israeli/Palestinian peace settlement should include entrusting Israel’s security in the strategically vital Jordan Valley to international peacekeepers.

UNDOF’s fate discloses why Kerry’s idea is foolhardy. Two weeks ago, the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front seized the strategic Quneitra border crossing from UNDOF, sending a contingent of Filipino peacekeepers scrambling for safety to Israeli lines. The Nusra Front also took 45 Fijian peacekeepers hostage, who were subsequently released. This was the fourth abduction of peacekeepers since March 2013, leading several countries to withdraw their troops from UNDOF.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, “Armed groups have made advances in the area of UNDOF positions, posing a direct threat to the safety and security of the U.N. peacekeepers along the ‘Bravo’ (Syrian) line and in Camp Faouar.” Mr. Dujarric added that all UNDOF forces have been withdrawn to the Israel side of the ceasefire lines.

In short, peacekeepers are fair-weather friends. It is nice to have them when the going is good. When the going gets tough, however, they get going — elsewhere, or do nothing. Meanwhile, Israel is left holding the bag.

To take one example, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been around since 1978. It was created to monitor Israel’s withdrawal from its Litani Operation in southern Lebanon, following the PLO’s coastal road terror attack on an Israeli bus in which 37 Israelis were murdered. That’s how the UN tends to operate. As in the tradition of the oft-heard schoolyard complaint, it all began when Israel struck back. The original terrorist assaults on Israel don’t produce the apparatus of peacekeeping; Israeli responses do.

The President of Inequality : Policies Promoting Equality Over Growth Have Damaged Both.

In the latest grim tiding of the public mood, merely 42% think the American dream that “if you work hard, you’ll get ahead” remains true, down from 53% in 2012 and 50% in 2010. According to the Public Religion Research Institute poll last week, the steepest declines in belief in the last two years were among people under age 30 (down 16 percentage points), women (14 points) and Democrats (17).

In other words, the most disillusioned belong to the coalition that elected President Obama. But before giving up on upward mobility, they ought to blame the policies he has enacted. Mr. Obama has been the best President for slow growth and inequality in modern history, as new economic surveys show.

Start with the Census Bureau’s annual poverty and income survey, which came out this month. Real U.S. median household income—or the wages earned in the middle of the wage distribution—was $51,939, a 0.3% increase over 2012. But the 2013 figure is still 3.9% lower than the median income when the recession ended in 2009, and 7.9% lower than the median in 2007.

One trick some liberals use to obscure the uniquely bad performance of the Obama years is to go back to the height of the dot-com bubble in 1999 when real income peaked at $56,895 and compare it to 2013. But this conveniently ignores that real median household income rebounded smartly in the middle of the last decade. That rebound occurred after the Bush tax cuts on capital income and marginal income-tax rates became law in 2003.

Global Warming ≥ ISIS = The Truth: Edward Cline

The liberals and environmentalists say It’s anthropological man-caused global warming that fuels ISIS. It has nothing to do with Islam. Right?

Inspired by a column by Sultan Knish about how Global Warming is blamed by our liberal intellectual elite for the rise of ISIS, or the Islamic State, “Covering Up Islamic Terrorism for Fun and Profit,” I decided to expand on his satirical remarks.

Of course, Global Warming has caused ISIS to rise like cookie dough on steroids! I say that not meaning to impugn the character of ISIS, it has every right to rise if it wants to. But, it’s a simple explanation not beyond the ken of your average liberal or Code Pinky or transsexual or Democrat. The rise of ISIS is directly analogous to the rise of ocean levels from melting polar icecaps from Global Warming. If a blackboard was handy, I could show you the parallels with some deft strokes of my chalk.

Much of the Mideast is subjected to intense heat and aridity and just downright miserable environmental and living conditions, worse conditions than in historic memory. So naturally all those ISIS fighters, in order to acclimatize themselves to the unbearable, exhausting conditions, swathe their heads in masks of various kinds, swear off barbers, grow itchy, unkempt, long beards, live and fight in sweltering conditions, wear uncomfortable garb, sweat like pigs — excuse me, like very thirsty camels — enjoy the heat of battle, just love their weapons growing hotter in their hands as they fire thousands of rounds at fleeing civilians and Iraqi soldiers, and digging mass graves, dripping gallons of salty bodily fluids while marching along dusty roads when no trucks or SUVs or Humvees are available to take them to the next village to overrun, rutting like rabbits on screaming female captives, posing in Calvin Klein male burqas (made in China, as are all their keffiyahs) to behead Shi’ite captives or Western journalists or Christians or some other infidels or unbelievers, burning down churches, posing in odiferous bunches under the hot, merciless sun for group photographs to send home to friends and family in Europe….

I mean, it’s all hard work, don’t you know, and Global Warming doesn’t make it any easier. There’s even a verse in the Koran, dictated by the angel Gabriel (Mohammad nicknamed it – gender unknown – “Gabby”) into Mohammad’s ear in Allah’s own words, forbidding Muslims from causing Global Warming, and to kill polluters and greenhouse gas aficionados wherever they might be found and sending them to hellfire. To wit:

Quran (9:20) – “Those who believe, and have left their homes and striven with their wealth and their lives in Allah’s way are of much greater worth in Allah’s sight. These are they who are triumphant.”


Amsterdam Jewish schools get military police protection

Several Jewish schools in Amsterdam’s Buitenveldert district are being guarded by military police officers and have been for the past month, the Parool said on Thursday.

Four police officers in full uniform are on duty at the entrance of the orthodox Cheider school, while Maimonides and Rosj Pina have similar protection, the paper says. The street also has a mobile police post which has fitted with cameras.

The protection is at the instigation of the mayor, council officials and justice ministry, the paper says.

‘We do not want to sow panic and there have not been any concrete threats,’ one officer told the paper. ‘The guards are a consequence of developments in society. They are part of the policy of discouragement.


Common sense and love of country dictate that air travel to the United States from the West African Ebola hot-zone nations of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone be suspended until the highly contagious, highly lethal Ebola outbreak is over. That’s obvious. Thousands of travel visas issued by the U.S. to nationals in these same countries should be canceled. That’s obvious, too.

But President Obama isn’t taking such obvious measures to safeguard the American people. On the contrary, the administration is doing nothing to prevent Ebola from entering this country, even after the first case erupted on American soil in a Liberian tourist named Thomas Eric Duncan. Last month, Duncan, knowingly exposed to Ebola himself, traveled to Dallas from Monrovia, Liberia, with layovers in Brussels and Washington, D.C. Now, he is in an isolation ward in a Dallas hospital as health officials scramble to monitor 100 people Duncan came into contact with for signs of the killer virus.

The White House response? The Daily Caller’s headline says it all: “White House: We Won’t Stop People from the Ebola-Stricken Countries from Coming to the U.S.”

What explains this presidential cop-out? So far, the left side of the media seems to be taking heart from the unlikelihood that any – or, rather, very many – Americans will become infected with Ebola. They dutifully repeat the official mantra of multinational organizations such as the United Nations, the African Union and the World Health Organization that isolating Ebola-ravaged nations would only make the epidemic worse.

I understand that suspending commercial flights to the region makes it harder for U.N. officials to jet about, and yes, I’m sure it does take a chunk out of African tourism, but such concerns seem a tad secondary at this moment of crisis. Also, as National Review’s Jim Gerachty has pointed out, the U.S. and others weren’t so coy when it came to enforcing a de facto travel ban to Israel during the summer’s Gaza war. Meanwhile, isn’t it possible to halt commercial travel to these stricken countries without also prohibiting all humanitarian aid?

That sounds like a more sensible approach – worth trying, at least, to prevent the disease from spreading to unaffected nations. But I don’t think protecting unaffected nations is the guiding goal of the globalist organizations opposing measures to isolate the ravaged areas – and that includes the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden stated on Twitter: “the impulse to isolate countries may make #Ebola epidemic worse. Must use tried & true public health means to stop it.”

Sydney M. Williams “What Students Should be Taught”

The “skills gap” has been blamed for both the persistent high unemployment and the sluggish economic growth we have experienced. Our schools, which have received the bulk of the blame, are only in part culpable. Responsibility must be shared with government immigration policies that have admitted insufficient high-skilled immigrants, and with employers who, for expediency’s sake, have bypassed the training process. But, perhaps even more important has been the decline in cultural lessons and values. We live so much in the present, while focusing on the future, that we have too often ignored the great literature of the past, with their tales of human behavior under myriad conditions and the moral lessons that were integral to the stories.

A consequence of our concern regarding the preparedness of our youth has been a renewed effort to ensure that high school and college students are well versed in STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math). Since a major purpose of a high school and college education is to get a job, such courses make sense. The practical application of theory is how we build better computers, hospitals, automobiles, bridges, insurance companies and fighter jets.

Our young people face a far more complex world than simply finding and honing a skill for today’s needs. The skills that today seem adequate may not fit needs ten or twenty years hence. Ray Kurzweil, in The Singularity is Near, argued that humans will transcend the limitations of our biology – that the distinction between man and machine will blur more than they have. He writes about this disruptive transformation: “The nonbiological intelligence created in that year (2045) will be one billion times more powerful than all human intelligence today (2005).”

While Mr. Kurzweil’s predictions stretch even the most futuristic imagination, there is no question that the amount of knowledge is growing exponentially. In 1982, with the publication of Critical Path, Buckminster Fuller wrote of the “Knowledge Doubling Curve.” He noted that until about 1900, knowledge doubled roughly every 100 years. Then growth, which had been linear, became exponential. Today, knowledge is doubling every one to two years. There are some who believe we are on track to a doubling every twelve hours. Whatever the real speed, the amount of information available to our children and grandchildren is far vaster than what we had to learn. That fact alone explains, in part, why we are so often surprised by the lack of familiarity the young have with literature, history and geography that we took for granted. It complicates the education process. With so much material available, what should be taught?

Our young do need the skills embedded in STEM courses, or should at least be exposed to them. For no matter our curiosity or the desire to learn, without jobs we cannot survive. Like it or not, we will increasingly become specialized in relatively narrow fields.

How to play the ISIS card Obama Hasn’t Learned the Game: Jed Babbin

The Islamic State, Islamic quasi-state that has conquered parts of Iraq and Syria, has threatened America with terrorist attacks and drawn us back into an Iraq war. It has done a lot more than that.

For each of the major players in the Middle East, The Islamic State, or ISIS, has presented them with a wild card they can play to better their hand. For Iran, Russia, Syria and Turkey, the Islamic State has — so far — been the means of leveraging other nations in pursuit of larger goals. In Iraq, though no longer a major player, the Islamic State has maneuvered so successfully as to become an existential threat.

The only nation that hasn’t managed to take advantage of the Islamic State’s conquests has been the United States. Though President Obama has managed to form a coalition of sorts to assist in airstrikes, ground troops are obviously necessary to retake the ground the Islamic State has conquered, and no coalition member has offered any. The airstrikes haven’t prevented further ISIS advances near the Syrian-Turkish border and probably in other areas. Iraq is left to its attempt to re-recruit deserters who had previously fled the terrorist organization’s advance.

Less obvious, but of equal or greater importance, is Mr. Obama’s failure to use the leverage provided by the Islamic State-created mess to better America’s position in the Middle East as many other nations have done to improve theirs.

Turkey is probably the most pragmatic user of the Islamic State and — from the U.S. standpoint — the least trustworthy. Before the Islamic State openly took over about one-third of Iraq, Turkey had provided a mostly open border for terrorist fighters to pass through into Syria and Iraq. Turks have been opposing the Kurds for decades and seeking to overthrow Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria for almost as long. By allowing ISIS forces into both Iraq and Syria, Turkey’s interests were furthered. Now, as the Islamic State threatens Turkey as well, the Turks have reportedly reversed course to assist U.S. and European governments lessen the flow of terrorist recruits into the region.

Iran has probably made the best use of the leverage it has gained in the crisis. Iran’s principal national goal is to achieve nuclear weapons with which they can seek domination throughout the Middle East and beyond. After failing to draw Iran into lower level talks about the Iraq crisis, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the Obama administration was open to talks with Iran. His statement came hard on the heels of an angry and sarcastic statement by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rejecting the idea.