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					                                                     No news from Israel by Leon Gork

Leon’s no newsletter no. 1 .................................................................................................................................. 3
     Visitors to Jerusalem.
Leon’s no newsletter no 2 ................................................................................................................................... 3
     Depeche Mod Visit coincides with the 9th of Av
Leon’s no newsletter no 3 ................................................................................................................................... 4
     Success or failure in life.
Leon’s no newsletter no 5 ................................................................................................................................... 4
     Celebrating festivals punctually
     Market News
Leon’s no newsletter no 6 ................................................................................................................................... 5
     Religion and Art
Leon’s no newsletter no 7 ................................................................................................................................... 6
     Manon Lescaut – The search for love and wealth
     Eating Vegetarian
     Yad Vashem – remembering that we’re human
Leon’s no newsletter no 8 ................................................................................................................................... 8
     The Wall
     The power of the state
     Security in the Churches
Leon’s no newsletter no 9 ................................................................................................................................. 10
     Giving complements instead of criticism
Leon’s no newsletter no 10 ............................................................................................................................... 10
     Enlightenment versus Encouragement
     Enlightenment, wholeness, harmony and peace
Leon’s no newsletter no 11 ............................................................................................................................... 12
     Israel is a change in the direction of Jewish History
     The Arabs are part of Israel
     Conflict as an aspect of competition
     The real problem is not poverty but the existence of a poverty level in society
Leon’s no newsletter no 12 ............................................................................................................................... 13
     Celebrating Purim.
     Disguising ourselves.
Leon’s no newsletter no 13 ............................................................................................................................... 14
     Delusions in the media.
     The Israel Museum. Idealism in art.
Leon’s no newsletter no 14 ............................................................................................................................... 16
     Using a negative state to achieve positive thinking
Leon’s no newsletter no 15 ............................................................................................................................... 17
     People want security more than anything else
Leon’s no newsletter no 16 ............................................................................................................................... 18
     Fighting corruption
Leon’s no newsletter no 17 ............................................................................................................................... 19
     Adopting Spiritual beliefs that offer Material rewards
Leon’s no newsletter no 18 ............................................................................................................................... 20
     Enemies without reason
     Love without reason instead of enmity without reason
Leon’s no newsletter no 19 ............................................................................................................................... 21
     Jerusalem: The meeting place of dreams.
     The end of a dream fulfilled
     Jews who don’t want to wake up from the dream
Leon's no News Letter no 20 ............................................................................................................................ 22
     Dancing a little and dying a little
     Independence Day Celebrations
Leon's no News Letter no 21 ............................................................................................................................ 23
     The Jews are a sedentary nation
     The enemies of the Jews were nomads
     The sojourn in the wilderness

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                                                    No news from Israel by Leon Gork

Leon's no News Letter no 22 ............................................................................................................................ 24
     Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
     Action without fluster and bluster
Leon's no News Letter no 23 ............................................................................................................................ 26
     Music rouses the nation
Leon's no News Letter no 24 ............................................................................................................................ 26
     Without Bread there’s no Torah
     The temple and Jewish independence
     The prohibition of re-establishing the Jewish Nation
Leon's no News Letter no 25 ............................................................................................................................ 27
     My brother Bernard’s Visit
     The Western Wall Tunnel
     Why the temple was destroyed
Leon's no News Letter no 26 ............................................................................................................................ 28
     The holiness of human physical love
Leon's no News Letter no 27 ............................................................................................................................ 29
     Hamas feeds Palestinian envy of the Jews
Leon’s no newsletter no 41 ............................................................................................................................... 30
     Judaism and Universal Humanism
Leon’s no newsletter no 42 ............................................................................................................................... 31
     Fasting to purify the spirit
Leon’s no newsletter no 44 ............................................................................................................................... 31
     Learning from the river.
Leon’s no newsletter no 57 ............................................................................................................................... 32
     A visit to Shderot.
Leon's No News Bulletin 116 ............................................................................................................................. 33
     Getting things done.
     Idleness gets me thinking
     Using eco friendly detergents
     Acceding to Hamas’ demands threatens world peace
Leon's No News Bulletin 117 ............................................................................................................................. 35
     The Golem of Prague
Leon's No News Bulletin 118 ............................................................................................................................. 36
     The grape harvest and education
     Tamar learns to swim
Leon's No News Bulletin 119 ............................................................................................................................. 37
     “Happy new year” (Shana Tova)
Leon's No News Bulletin 120 ............................................................................................................................. 39
     My Folding Bike
     The 6 Annual Women’s film festival at Rehovot
Leon's No News Bulletin 121 ............................................................................................................................. 40
     Perfection is the search
Leon's No News Bulletin 122 ............................................................................................................................. 41
     The Jewish Pioneering Spirit
Leon's No News Bulletin 123 ............................................................................................................................. 42
     Day to day life in Modern Israel
Leon's No News Bulletin 124 ............................................................................................................................. 43
     Riding up Hospital Hill
     Domination by holiness
Leon's No News Bulletin 125 ............................................................................................................................. 44
     Conformists and Non Conformists
Leon's No News Bulletin 126 ............................................................................................................................. 45
     Jesus wasn’t the savior or the king of the Jews
Leon's No News Bulletin 127 ............................................................................................................................. 47
     The Scroll of Fire
Leon's No News Bulletin 128 ............................................................................................................................. 48
     Remembering the bad times in the Good
Leon’s No Newsletter 129 ................................................................................................................................. 50
     Naming the Child

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                                                     No news from Israel by Leon Gork

     Encouraging the desire to learn
     Tel Aviv
Leon’s No Newsletter 130 .................................................................................................................................. 52
     Religious buildings
Leon’s No Newsletter 131 ................................................................................................................................. 54
     Monotheism and Polytheism at Caesarea

Leon’s no newsletter no. 1
Sat 11th Feb 06

Visitors to Jerusalem.

Being strongly bound to the three monotheistic religions Jerusalem is the centre of attention for a very great
proportion of people in the world

Now with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama visiting Jerusalem next week Buddhists can also feel attached.

Every visitor to Jerusalem is just as important and welcome as the Dalai Lama. As a tour guide I give them all
VIP treatment.

On Wednesday I guided a VIP from the USA, a devout Lutheran Christian around the holy highlights, the
Wailing Wall, Via Dolorosa, Mt. Zion etc and finally to a great Arab Humus restaurant, only holy because it
serves good Humus in the heart of the Old City, around which the life of the Old City throbs.

Nearby is station no. 8 where Jesus met the weeping women of Jerusalem and prophesied the city’s coming
destruction, modern women bargain with Arab vendors for colorful scarves, lights twinkle and the delicious
smell of freshly ground coffee makes the walkers along the Via De La Rosa waver in anguish between coffee
and the cross.

The doughty visitors weren’t put off by the freezing cold. In fact the promise of snow just made it more fun to
be in Jerusalem at this time.

Then yesterday a group of girl seminary students, mostly visitors, on a program to clean up the city and at the
same time learn the history of its colorful variety of neighborhoods, asked me to take them for a walk in
Katamon, the neighborhood of luxury Arab houses abandoned by their owners in the 1948 war of

Cleaning up the city is definitely a great way to show love for it.

Today's Shabbat, nothing new about that, but Shabbat is always a great day. Although I'm not observant I'm
happy to see my kids and their families who aren't working today. This is the way it is with most people in
Israel and so we wish each other Shabbat Shalom, and that's what I wish you.

Leon’s no newsletter no 2
Sun 12th Feb 06

Depeche Mod Visit coincides with the 9th of Av

Depeche Mode will be giving a one time performance on the evening after the festival of Tisha B'Av, the
festival celebrating the destruction of the 1st and the 2nd Temples.

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                                         No news from Israel by Leon Gork

Judaism considers the end of this festival to be the time when redemption will begin. Who knows perhaps the
Messiah will come marching in to the tunes of Depeche Mod.

Tu B'Shvat, the New Year for trees, the festival we celebrate tonight, is considered to be the exact opposite of
the 9th of Av. Namely, on the 9th of Av we fast and mourn, on Tu B’shvat we make parties and celebrate,
eating dried fruit and nuts and singing songs about the Almond tree, the first fruit tree to bloom.

All over Israel, the beautiful little red Kalanit is in bloom and the fields are covered in red, like a red Persian
carpet, and of course the delicate, little pink and white Cyclamen clutching sturdily to the rocks make their shy

Tomorrow, Monday I'll have my usual Old City walking tour and Tuesday I'll be going to the North to check
out some new attractions for tourists. I'm going to a place called the Dalton valley. I expect to see Kalaniot and
to try out the wine of a little wine press stuck away in some little known nook of the valley. I'll also be trying
out a new Biblical farm near Nazareth. They promised me I could milk the goats. I'll let you know how it goes.

Leon’s no newsletter no 3
Tues 14th Feb 06

Success or failure in life.

Success or failure in life isn't the result of something we've done but the result of events and situations
completely out of our control.

For example the increase in tourism is almost certainly due to the airlines offering a special package deal to

I hope the airlines are going to carry on that work and give more bargain flight deals to travel to Israel.

It's not only that I like to have many people on my tours; I'm happy even if one person turns up and gets a
private tour for $30. I'm happy for the opportunity people get to visit this wonderful country.

It's not only a beautiful, historic and dynamic country; it's also a good country. In the moral sense Israel is a
good country. That's one of the reasons why I like to live here.

Leon’s no newsletter no 5
Wed 22nd Feb 06

Celebrating festivals punctually
Judaism reminds us that we’re part of the universe and part of the Nation.

Although it’s Winter yesterday we basked in the sun on a boat on the Sea of Galillee in about 25 centigrade.

Returning to Jerusalem we past Sartaba, a high mountain fortress in the Jordan Valley where, in the days of the
temple the rabbis used to light a bonfire to indicate the beginning of a new month.

Knowing when the new month begins makes it possible to know the exact moment when a festival is to begin.

The Jewish insistence on celebrating festivals punctually at a specific moment always fascinated me.

For example the Sabbath begins at a specific moment. If you begin it one moment earlier or one moment later
you have contravened the law.

Judaism through the observance of laws imbibes man with a consciousness that he is part of two forms of
unity: The unity of the universe and the unity of the Nation.

By beginning at an exact moment man is united with all other Jews beginning the Sabbath rest at that moment
and he is united with God who began his rest at that moment.

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We can rest any day but by resting on a particular day we are declaring that we are one with the nation and one
with the universe.

Market News

After visiting the Mahaneh Yehudah Market I can tell you that tomatoes are only 2 shekels a kilo, oranges 3,
but cheese is still very expensive. That's the way it is in all the world, expecially Italian Parmezan cheese. So
I'm pleased to inform you that there is a very good goat cheese which costs only 90 shekels a kilo and it's
delicious especially with some olives and dry, red, wine.

Leon’s no newsletter no 6
Wed 1st Mar 06

Religion and Art

One of the postcard sellers at the Mosque of Omar whispered in my ear that from the 1st of March we'll be able
to enter the sacred shrine again. It's been closed for about 6 years now, since Ariel Sharon entered it in October

This was good news. It might be a sign of improved relations between Jews and Arabs. Once again we'll be
able to admire the architectural beauty of this ancient holy place, one of the best examples of the cultural
heritage of Islam.

Arousing religious fervor through architecture and other forms of art is as old as history itself. Just think of the
tower of Babel (Gen.10:4), the Parthenon in Athens etc.

Judaism, unlike Islam and most other religions, prohibits this. Remember that God destroyed the Tower of
Babel and don't forget the second commandment. (Lev 26:1, Ex 20:4, Deut 4:16, 23, 25 and more)

Synagogues aren't grand and artistically beautiful so that we'll be inspired to worship God. Worshiping God is a
simple matter of humility and doesn't require a structure. Remember the prayer of the Psalmist: "I call unto you
from the depths O Lord."

This brings us to the question whether the Jewish dream, very common today, of rebuilding the ancient Temple
is in tune with Judaism.

Wouldn't a simple synagogue standing on the Temple Mount, next to the Moslem Mosque, be more in tune
with Judaism than a grandeous Temple taking the place of the Mosque?

I found proof that such a plan exists in an agreement, signed in 1969, between the Moslems and Jews that a
synagogue may be built on the Temple Mount.

I'm sure that this would satisfy many Jews and would go a long way to cooling off the friction between the
Jews and the Moslems over who is the rightful heir to the holy mountain.

Other religions have a great variety of objects of material culture. Art, music, poetry, literature, sculpture and
architecture are all used to inspire religious sentiment.

Visiting the holy places of the different religions in the Old City one becomes very much aware of this. Take,
for example, the Wailing Wall, on the one hand, and the St. Anne Church, on the other.

The St. Anne Church was built in Crusader times in such an architecturally skillful way that hymns sung there
reverberate over and over again, the sound bouncing from one cavernous part of the church to another. The
music ascends to heaven and takes our souls with it.

The soul is also uplifted at the Wailing Wall, but not by the sounds of the music or the magnificence of the
architecture. The architecture is simple and pragmatic and there is no beautiful music.

The gabble of sounds that strike your ears at the Wailing Wall won't inspire you if you don't have an inner
awareness that those sounds are actually the divine words of the Book of Psalms and that the place where you

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are standing is the heart of the Jewish Nation. Where it was born and where it faced its tragic destruction and
dispersal to evey country in the world.

In art galleries throughout the world we see beautiful artistic creations all created to inspire religious fervor.
Everywhere there are religious buildings and religious music.

Many religious Jews stay away from art and culture as a precaution against being religiously aroused by the art
instead of by the introspective understanding of the word of God.

Religion and culture go together for everybody except the religious Jews.

In the Opera the other night I saw one or two religious Jews in the audience. You could tell because they wore
the Kipa. These are known as modern Jews who follow in the footsteps of Moses Mendelson and combine a
love of the arts with religious observance.

Unfortunately they are very much in the minority of religious Jews but they are following in the spirit of the
great Rabbis of Mishna, the Jewish law book compiled after the destruction of the Temple.

One of the best examples of the love of art of these great rabbis is the ancient town of Tsipori in the Galilee.
Here the synagogues are decorated with beautiful, colorful mosaics depicting signs of the zodiac and the
binding of Isaac.

This is in contrast to the strict enforcing of the 2nd commandment in the 2nd Temple period when the Jews
were fighting against Roman domination.

At Massada you can clearly see how the Sicarim deliberately destroyed beautiful Herodian mosaics. For
example in the Western Palace, you can see a feeding trough for animals built on top of a mosaic floor.

The Jews are clearly divided in their interpretation of the Biblical prohibition of making graven images. One
group sides with the rabbis of Tsipori and favours the arts and culture while the other group follows the way of
the Sicarim, struggling against art and culture as a contravention of the 2nd commandment.

In Judaism there is a clear separation between material culture and religion. Art and culture may not be used to
induce religious fervor. Religious fervor must come from study and inner examination of our soul and our
deeds, not from a beautiful piece of music or a beautiful statue or painting or architectural beauty.

On the other hand Judaism requires man to make his world beautiful just as God made His world beautiful but
he must be very distinctly aware that the beauty he creates is not to be worshipped or used to promote worship
even if it is God to be worshipped.

Leon’s no newsletter no 7
Thu 2nd Mar 06

Manon Lescaut – The search for love and wealth

As I told you yesterday I finally got round to the opera, Manon Lescaut by Puccini.

Everybody looks for money and love. We're ready to do almost anything for these. Unfortunately they don't
often go together. One is often forced to make a choice; either material wealth without love or love without
material wealth.

Manon, however, like many people tries to change this formula. She’s caught stealing jewels from her rich
patron and running off with them to her poor lover and is deported to America.

Her lover follows her there where they live a happy but poor life for a while until the above scenario is
repeated; she’s tempted by the wealth of another ardent lover, is rescued by her poor lover to, finally die in his
arms while trying to escape capture by the law.

Puccini sees America as a land of opportunity but it’s wrong to think as Manon obviously does that there, in the
new world the old formulae of life, like separate material wealth and love can be made to go together.

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The great attraction of pioneering countries, like Israel and America in the 19 th century for people of the old
world countries like Russia, France, Germany etc. is the opportunity to start life anew. a second chance to
many people who have failed in one way or another in the old country to make a success in the new one.

Mostly they failed because of old prejudices like suppression of one social class by another making it
impossible for people of the lower social class or people who’d been convicted of petty crimes which wouldn’t
even be considered a crime in the new world to raise their standard of living.

This is why the new world countries were considered lands of opportunity.

Israel (Palestine as it was known) in the 19th century) was also a land of opportunity even though it lacked
natural resources, present in most new world countries, like oil, gold, silver or any other precious material, in
fact it consisted mostly of desert, malaria infested swamps and sand dunes.

One can’t say that pioneers came here motivated by “get rich quick” ideas.

Israel under regressive Turkish sovereignty couldn’t be envisioned as a land of material opportunity.

Israel promised spiritual opportunity. One could say that while in other new world countries the pioneer went to
find material wealth here he came to find love, the love of the Land of our ancestors.

While pioneers in America were building up personal fortunes here pioneers were rebuilding a nation. The Jew
in Israel also wanted to build his own personal fortune but the way to this objective lead through the nation.

Building his nation was an integral part of building himself up. He came here motivated by ideals to rebuild the
land which was once cultivated and now, after 2000 years of neglect by enemies who had conquered it was a

They were motivated by the desire to create a real Jewish Life, free to develop in its own way unhampered by
old world prejudice and persecution.

The Jewish pioneer came here to accomplish the dream of the Jewish prophets of a Jewish nation that would
make a contribution to the improvement of the world.

Today, 60 years after the establishment of the State of Israel and about 100 years since the founding of the
Jewish pioneering movement, Zionism Israel has virtually achieved the dream of the early pioneers.

The pioneers who came here out of love of the land expected to find only love. Now it seems they have found
material wealth and love is in danger because, as we see in the story of Manon the two don’t go together.

We’ve eradicated malaria and but are threatened by the dangerous “get rich quick bug” a phenomenon of
pioneers all over the world.

I can't agree with people who say that it's not worth spending so much money on an Opera ticket.

Eating Vegetarian

Yesterday I had lunch with my friend Shaul in the local good vegetarian restaurant called the Village Green.
This was quite a splurge for us who usually eat at a small humus place in the market called Rahmu.

At Rahmu we get a plate of humus and pita and pickles for IS20 at the Village green I paid IS32 for just one
plate of salad. I don't know why vegetarian restaurants have to be for the upper classes. Is it that only upper
class folk are vegetarian and the masses still love their meat? It should be the other way around.

Being vegetarian isn't only healthy it's also very economical. Double the quantity of tomatoes, carrots, cabbage,
cucumbers etc in the salad for IS32 could be purchased in the market for about IS5.

The poor aren't vegetarians and don't live healthy lives because these go together with education and poverty
goes together with lack of education.

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We have compulsory education to the age of 16 in Israel, but this won't help a man who doesn't want to get an

I'd like to know how many vegetarians are criminals. I think very few.

Yad Vashem – remembering that we’re human

One of the places which is a must for visitors to Jerusalem is Yad Vashem. Officialy this institute is described
as the memorial to the 6 million Jews murdered by the Germans in the holocaust. Actually it's a gigantic
collection of exhibits illustrating atrocities committed by Germany against the human race.

The Jews are members of the human race so one should speak about atrocities against the human race not
atrocities against Jews.

At the same time it’s important to remember that Germans are also members of the human race.

This doesn’t mean, sad to say, that the holocaust was a matter of one member of the human race murdering
another member of the human race.

Contrary to popular opinion I don’t believe that a member of the human race is capable of murdering another
member of the human race.

I believe that the murderer is a member of the human race and kills only something he doesn’t consider a
member of the human race like an animal that he kills for food. He wouldn’t kill another human for food.

One of the two, either the murderer or the murdered person is not a member of the human race.

The Germans, members of the human race, simply convinced themselves that the Jews were not member of the
human race and then set about killing them.

The Germans committed these atrocities against the Jews because they made the mistake of not considering the
Jews as representatives of the human race.

One could say that the holocaust was a matter of mistaken identity as are most murders probably

Most of the times we are aware that people around us are human beings and we treat them with respect and
courtesy. Unfortunately when someone annoys us, for a moment we tend to forget, that they, like ourselves, are
also human and for a moment, hopefully, we put ourselves in the dangerous position of humans confronted by
non humans, which then allows us to commit murder.

For me the atrocities exhibited at Yad Vashem remind us what terrible acts we humans are capable of
performing if we forget that someone else is also human.

No matter how irritating the circumstances, our fellow man are also a member of the human race and deserves
to be treated with courtesy and respect.

This simple lesson, never forget that other people are also members of the human race, seems to me to be the
most important one we learn from the holocaust.

Leon’s no newsletter no 8
Sat 4th Mar 06

The Wall

A tourist seeking books and videos etc. about Israel was a good sign that Israel has not only once again become
a popular destination but is also seen by tourists as a beautiful country with beautiful customs and music that
they want to show their friends back home.

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Naturally I was very happy about this. Unfortunately my reverie about the beauties of Israel was badly
shattered when I went to the store to fetch these illustrations of Israel's beauty that the tourists had ordered. This
happened because the store happens to be located right next to the wall.

You all know, of course, that we have a wall in Jerusalem. Many tourists have asked me to show it to them.
Well, quite frankly, like most of you I had only seen pictures of it until I went to that shop.

I suppose this store is taking advantage of its proximity to the wall to get a cheap rent. I'm sure there can't be
another reason for living here, in the shadow of this monstrous wall.

Before the wall was built you'd get a view of the grandeur of the mountains and valleys leading to the Dead Sea
and Bethlehem. Now you only see a wall. The beautiful scenery is totally shut out from view, obliterated.

It's really unpleasant because it makes you feel that you are in a prison or that the people on the other side are
in prison.

The village where the wall stands, El Lazaria, the village of Lazarus, was notorious as a place where Israeli cars
were stoned and from where several suicide bombers originated.

The power of the state

The wall carry's a message, loud and clear "don't mess with the state". If terrorists think they have power it's
nothing compared to the power in the hands of the state.

The state has the power to employ some ugly instruments, even a wall that obliterates nature in its effort to
prevent the ugliness of terrorism.

Every state in the world is a powerful instrument. The state of Israel is no exception. Criminals are ugly and
prisons are even uglier.

The state is capable of much greater power than the individual who seeks to overthrow it. Individual terrorists
coming from El Lazaria had the power to perform ugly acts of force that killed people but didn't have the power
to obliterate nature. Even if they succeeded in causing deep suffering for their victims the rest of us could
continue to enjoy the scenery.

The state, on the other hand, in its efforts to prevent terrorism creates permanent ugliness. Something which not
only the people getting punished suffer but which all of us must suffer.

I compare this to the absurd necessity to stand for about 2 hours at airports for a security check or to stand in a
long line waiting for a security check at the bus station, or having to pass through a metal detector every time I
go to the Wailing Wall and uncountable other nuisances which have become necessities throughout the world
because of a handful of terrorists.

Security in the Churches

I was always very happy that churches, which I visit often with tourists, were one of the few places, until now,
where there was no security check because they'd never been targeted by terrorist.

Since last night's attack on the church of the annunciation in Nazareth, however, this is going to change. It
wasn't much. Only some fire crackers and some gas balloons which didn't explode. Unfortunately some Arabs
used this as an excuse to incite the masses to demonstrate against Israel, who they accused of being anti

The Israeli police did a great job of, not only dispersing the mob without killing or badly injuring anybody, but
also rescuing the perpetrators from the hands of the mob who were so churned up that they wanted to lynch

Now we'll have security checks at all holy places.

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In view of the circumstances this is necessary, but in my opinion, these metal detectors are very ugly things and
really spoil the beauty and the feeling of holiness at these wonderful sites.

Leon’s no newsletter no 9
Sun 5th Mar 06

Giving complements instead of criticism

Yesterday, Shabbat, the crowds were out again filling the restaurants and the picnic spots around Jerusalem.

One of the most popular places is the friendly, Arab village of Abu Ghosh, in the Judean hills, on the way to
Tel Aviv. If you've been hiking or riding through the hills this is a great place to stop for lunch or coffee.
With such a sunny day, yesterday the lush green hills were speckled with hikers.

I was among the "lunchers" not the hikers, with Ettie and Avishai and our friends, Carmela and Shimon. Our
waiter was rushed off his feet and took a while to get round to serving our table.

Instead of criticizing him I revealed to him that we were fully aware that we were very lucky to have him fall to
our table and we understood that the service problems weren’t his fault.

We were obviously the appreciative sort of diners he was waiting for. People at other tables waited patiently
while he served us, the people who appreciated his wonderful qualities.

We left him a good tip, but what really got him on our side was our expression of admiration of his wonderful

You might as well do this in any similar situation. If it doesn't get you attention and better service at least you'll
endure the wait with greater calmness.

Irritation and anger lurk, like scary monsters behind dark corners. These feelings wait for us wherever we meet
other people. You won't find them while living alone in a cave, for example.

These feelings are dangerous monsters and the prospect of meeting them is greatest with those closest to us,
children, parents, brothers, sisters and at places where we depend on service from others, the filling station,
post office, bank, plumber, doctor et.

These feelings jump out of us, suddenly and unexpectedly, in the form of criticism. Before we know it the
words have sprung out of our mouths. Instead of getting calmer, as some psychologists think, through "letting
off steam" we actually ignite a fire under a pot of water, which is our mind, and it boils over. This is not only
bad for us, it also does nothing to make the other person better. We just get more irritable and angry.

Complementing people, might not help either but, at least it will cool our anger and will help us.

Complementing someone makes us feel calmer and sets our minds free to think more clearly about how to best
handle the situation confronting us.

Leon’s no newsletter no 10
Tue 7th Mar 06

Enlightenment versus Encouragement

It's good to know that sometimes someone likes something I've said. I think, however, that things which I think
are right must be said even if no one likes them.

In fact I think we must not only accept those who tell us they don't like the things we say we must love them.

The reason why I say this is, while those who like what we say encourage us those who don't like what we say
help us get enlightenment. .

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I confess that since I was a young child I thirsted for encouragement. It made me feel good and loved and
especially it made me feel that I was like everybody else. Unfortunately I hardly ever felt this way. Mostly,
people didn't like what I said and this made me sad. I didn't feel part of the crowd.

I was so badly disappointed that I stopped saying things even though I thought they were right.
Only very recently, in the last 4 years, have I realized that people who criticized me were actually helping me
to get enlightenment.

Now I realize that in all those years of suffering I was in fact very fortunate to be at the receiving end of

My battles against criticism and my disappointments were the rocks and potholes of the hard but the good and
right road, because it leads to enlightenment.

All my life I've been angry at having to walk this tough path. I'm not angry anymore because I realize that it's
leading me towards enlightenment. Now I walk it in happiness because each criticism brings me closer to

Enlightenment, wholeness, harmony and peace

The Dalai Lama and other Buddhists speak a lot about the importance of enlightenment. Enlightenment lies at
the base of his philosophy of peace. This is the idea that the whole universe is one organism ("The Wisdom of
Forgiveness" by the Dalai Lama in conjunction with Victor Chann.)

Divisions between nations, such as walls and borders seem to contradict this philosophy because, instead of
making the parts one whole, they break up the whole into distinct parts.

This is not the case. Through separating the parts divisions play an important role in preventing conflict and
creating a temporary situation of harmony.

Separated from each other by walls, borders, customs etc each part can work on achieving enlightenment
without interference and conflict from other parts. Ultimately the parts will come together, when each has
achieved enlightenment.

The parts of an organism, living together as one organism, is a primordial situation. The Bible calls this
situation Paradise.

The Dalai Lama, Judaism, Christianity and Islam teach that peace can only be achieved by a return to this
idealistic situation.

Each religion suggests different methods for achieving this. A basic requirement, however, agreed upon by all
religions is that the part needs enlightenment. This is what makes it aware that it belongs to one unified whole.

Simple organisms, like plants or parts of the human body don't need awareness. They automatically strive for
wholeness. A complicated organism like the human being needs awareness to consciously strive towards unity.

Harmony and enlightenment can't be forced. It's a situation which must be achieved willingly by enlightened
parts that are aware that being unified as one organism is the true natural state of man.

Throughout history religious leaders have been trying to force unity. The result has been disastrous.

Only individuals and nations who have enlightenment, like His Holiness The Dalai Lama, feel part of a greater
whole and join together willingly. Unfortunately such individuals are almost non existent in the world of today.

Until people start seeking enlightened we must have divisions separating nations. Some of these divisions are
physical things like walls most of them are in the form of different languages, customs and religions.

Remember the Tower of Babel.

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God prevented man from being one because in their unenlightened state they would have ended up killing each
other and destroying the world that He had created.

Leon’s no newsletter no 11
Sun 12th Mar 06

Israel is a change in the direction of Jewish History

Israel is made up of people coming from various religious and cultural groups. To know Israel today it's not
enough to know something of their history, one needs to know especially, how they are coping in the modern
Jewish state.

For the Jews living here and in the rest of the world, the state was a dramatic about face from a downward
plummeting fall into the dark oblivion of the holocaust, to a phoenix like ascent to the heights of hope and a
future of being one of the most admired nations in the world.

The Arabs are part of Israel

In an effort to learn a bit about how the Arab Israelis were doing I attended a series of lectures the other
afternoon, at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. All the speakers were brilliant and happened to be Arabs.

There was a lecturer on social medicine from the Hebrew university, a sociology professor from Bar Ilan
university, the head of a government advisory committee on Arab/Jewish integration from Nazareth and several
others who were all of a very high intellectual level. Most of the discussions centered around a book entitled
"The Arab Society in Israel" by Dr.Aziz Heidar.

These people weren't ranting and raving against a foreign country casting blame for discrimination and
injustice in some other country, as their brethren do in neighboring countries like Syria and Iran. They were
speaking out, quietly and with well based arguments, against these things in their own country, Israel.

They could do this here because Israel encourages everyone, Arabs and Jews, to speak out against
discrimination and injustice.

Israel makes progress because it produces experts and listens to their criticism. Our neighbors remain backward
because they don't do this.

Their leaders and intellectuals are only permitted to speak out against America, Israel and other free,
democratic countries. They would be punished if they publicly spoke against discrimination and injustice in
their own countries.

Conflict as an aspect of competition

There are many people in Israel who see this co-existence and the consequent outspokenness of Arabs as
problematical. This is because very often it results in conflict, even physical violence.

Conflict, however, is only the negative side of Arab/Jewish co-existence. There's also a positive side, this is

An Arab Israeli's success is in part due to his need to compete against Jewish success. The combination of Jews
and Arabs living together in Israel has a positive, stimulating effect on both Jews and Arabs.

The character of the modern state of Israel is formed by Arabs and Jews living together, and the success or
failure achieved by anyone here is the product of that combined living.

The clash between Jewish and Arab nationalism, no matter how severe, does not change the fact that the two
are here to stay, on the one hand Jewish and Arab nationalism, on the other the combined living of the two

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There isn't only clash and conflict, there is also fierce competition in every sphere; science, law, medicine, art,
agriculture and commerce.

It's great that Arabs and Jews are proud of their nationality. National pride goads people to achieve greater
heights in every sphere.

The real problem is not poverty but the existence of a poverty level in society

Unfortunately this positive competition is played out only at the highest socio-economic level of Arab and
Jewish society in Israel.

At the lower levels only the clash part of living together is played out. The only competition here is to see who
can be more violent.

The rabbis of the Talmud understood the danger to society of the existence of these low socio economic levels.
For them the real problem is not poverty but the existence of a poverty level in society.

This is a level like a step in a ladder where one can go up or down. The solution must cause them to go up and
prevent them from going down, not just give them something to eat or to wear.

After being in a low socio-economic level for a generation or two people drop out of society and instead of
being part of it become its enemies and their only desire in life is to destroy the community that put them there.

Society will not tolerate a situation where people at a lower level of society will always remain there. This is a
danger to its own existence.

If we continue to neglect this situation the community will eventually disappear.

Since the time of the Temple the Jewish solution to poverty was not simply to give charity but to show people
how to raise themselves to higher levels. The objective was to try and eradicate these low levels altogether or at
least to give strong motivation for upward mobility.

The need for the continuation of the community is at stake. If the community disappears then the world begins
to totter.

That is why the solution to the problem, "Gmillut Hesed" (The distribution of loving-kindness) was regarded as
one of the pillars on which the universe rests.

With "Gmillut Hesed" any needy member of the community could get a loan without interest. It saved many
Jews from hunger, but most of all it showed Jews that they weren't destined to be in a low socio economic level

It showed how they could rise up the ladder and gave them the confidence to try to rise up.

In this way people remained part of the community and not its enemies. It kept the Jews together as a
community and played an important role in the survival of the Jewish nation in the face of constant threats to its

Instead of leaving the Arabs to figure out their own form of "Gmillut Hesed" our government could easily set
up "Gmilut Hesed" for them and help them get on their feet and step up the ladder to be part of Israeli society
and not its enemies.

Leon’s no newsletter no 12
Wed 15th Mar 06

Celebrating Purim.

Yesterday Jews throughout the world celebrated Purim. Jerusalem and other walled in cities, resemble the
Persian city of Shushan, where the actual event occurred more than 2500 years ago, and so celebrate the
festival on the exact day when those who wanted to annihilate the Jewish people were punished.

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Since the beginning of creation man has been divided into nomadic, desert people, on the one hand and
sedentary city dwellers on the other.

The Jewish people exemplify the sedentary city dweller, Haman, the savage, desert people, who are trying to
destroy them.

Purim is the celebration of the victory of the city over the desert, which is trying to destroy it. Walls define a
city very clearly as a city. This is why walled in cities have a special celebration of their own.

Making distinctions is very characteristic of Judaism; kosher - unkosher, holy - profane, city - desert, sage -
savage etc.

Purim breaks down these distinctions; sages dress up like savages, savages dress up like sages, city dwellers
dress up like shepherds, even men dress up like women and vice versa.

Walking down the main street of Jerusalem's religious neighborhood, Geula, today, it was impossible to know
whether the drunken man with the red nose was a pious rabbi or whether the scholarly looking sage was really
a clown.

Disguising ourselves.

With all the barriers broken down I realized, once again, how much outward appearances stimulate our
reactions to people.

The real character of people, not outward appearances should stimulate our reactions. Outward appearances
block the real character.

Outward appearances are like barriers by which we cage ourselves in. The more elaborate the barriers the more
we are caged in until we are like canaries in golden cages that don't sing.
This was a favorite saying of my late teacher, Prof. Leo Motzkin.

We work hard to accumulate outward trappings, like wealth and power because we think they bring happiness.
Yet no matter how hard we work to attain them, happiness eludes us. This is because all the things we think
bring us happiness are actually obstacles to happiness.

Unhampered by these barriers our true characters are revealed in behaviour that not only stimulates others but
also absorbs stimuli from others.

This way we open ourselves to give happiness to others and to receive it from them. This is why true happiness
can only be achieved by breaking down barriers that block out our true nature, not by building them up.

One way to achieve this is by adopting a belief, propagated by His Holiness The Dalai Lama, that all humans
are precious because they are the best means of attaining our highest goals.

People stimulate my feelings by their smiles, their complements, their enthusiasm and even through their

I owe it to myself to keep myself open to receiving stimuli from these wonderful creatures called people and in
turn to stimulate them. I can only do this by not making every day Purim and not putting a mask on my
character or a barrier to my feelings.

Leon’s no newsletter no 13
Sat 18th Mar 06

Delusions in the media.

There are many things going on in Israel. The variety is quite staggering, no one can keep up with all these
things. There's a jazz concert tonight in Givatayim, a symphony concert at the Jerusalem theatre, Johannes
Passion will be performed on Monday at the Jerusalem theater.

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These cultural events are great but what percentage of the population actually participate in them?

I don't think it's above 10%. The rest of the population watches TV. The thing that keeps them gripped and
glued there are reality shows, soap operas and the news, if something dramatic or tragic is being shot on the
spot, live as they say.

Judging by the popular culture one can conclude something about the way people live in Israel, and I suspect
elsewhere. They are dreaming of becoming the famous people they see in soap operas, fearing the pain they see
in the news dramas, grateful that the terrible thing they're looking at isn't happening to them.

Instead of getting happiness from refining their taste, doing good for themselves and others, they are getting it
from fantasies of beauty and riches, on the one hand, and relief at not being in the terrible situation of suffering
they see in the news or in some melodramatic movie.

The people who appear in the media seem to be happy because they are wealthy, talented and so successful.

They seem to lead exciting lives. While the people we don't see on the media seem to be unsuccessful and

The reality is that most people don't ever appear in the news or aren't famous for their beauty or don't jet around
the world to exotic places or don't live in luxurious mansions.

Most people are quite happy being quietly beautiful in their own way, working hard and doing a lot of
unpublicized good for themselves and their families. Nobody knows about these people.

The media does such a good job of highlighting the importance of showing our beauty and our wealth that there
are many people in modern society who are jealous of anyone who appears in real life to have the things they
see in the media.

The efficiency of the modern media makes it easy with to be misguided. Sadly these misguided people, instead
of taking notice of the goodness and beauty in their unpublicized lives see only the glory in being famous.

The thing that brings about the most happiness in these people is when someone who is successful falls from
glory. They rejoice when the rich get poor, the beautiful become ugly and the healthy get ill.

Sometimes they don't wait for bad things to happen to successful people, they fantasize about the downfall of
some successful person.

This trend lies at the base of many ills in our society. It goes by many names such as class conflict, anti-
Semitism, racism, vandalism, rebellion of youth and even politics.

Unfortunately there have been leaders of nations who have exploited this negative social characteristic. They've
risen to power by promising the downfall of the rich and vengeance to enemies. The result of people being
elected on this basis has been disastrous for their country and the world as a whole.

The ranting and raving of politicians in Israel in the present political campaign is an example of this
phenomenon. It appears that the leader of each party is trying to gain votes by promising the downfall of his
opponents rather than presenting his own wisdom and ability to lead.

I intend voting for a political leader who tells me what he's going to do about encouraging people to find
happiness in getting an education and working hard to achieve success, not in dreams of sudden wealth and
fantasies of vengeance.

The Israel Museum. Idealism in art.

After planning a visit to the Israel Museum for a long time I finally got round to it on Wednesday, Purim. I met
crowds of kids and their parents, dressed in fancy dress. There was a long line at the ticket office but only
people over the age of 17 paid. The museum has a policy of free entrance for under 17 on Thursdays. I suppose
this applied to Purim also.

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My main interest was to see the Boris Schatz exhibit. He was the founder of the Bezalel Art School in 1913 and
of the Bezalel Museum of Art, which later became the Israel Museum.

This exhibit reminded me of the great idealism of the early pioneers of Israel. They saw themselves as the
rebirth of the Biblical Jew. They desperately wanted to shed their diaspora characteristics which they had
accumulated over the last 2000 years. I believe that we are still in that process. The problem is, however that
we don't really know the Biblical Jew.

Boris Schatz tried to portray him for us and for this reason Bible was the main emphasis of his work and the
work of his school.

I remember seeing many of the works from there when I was a child in South Africa. I remember that someone
had brought a cuckoo clock decorated with scenes of Biblical places, as a souvenir from a visit to the Holy
Land in the 1950's. As a child I received a silver pen with engravings of Biblical places made by Bezalel art
school students.

One of the exhibits I liked most was in fact not a painting but a conversation recalled in 1965, by Nahum
Gutman, the artist.

"I saw before me Prof. Schatz's hand indicating, in its sweeping gesture, the valley and the hill, lying at our
feet. His finger roamed along the wide valley contours and he spoke: 'you see, Bezalel Museum will spread out
over this entire valley and hill. A high stone wall, like the wall of Jerusalem's old city, shall enfold all the
buildings. These shall be tall, arched, and luminous. In this way we'll create two points of balance, on the one,
hand old Jerusalem, shut within its walls on the other its counterweight, similarly enclosed within a stone wall,
lustrous, sky high, with many arches and vaults, the renewed Jerusalem, containing within it our artistic
treasures, which we have collected and brought here from our long years of exile, expressing what we have
suffered and what we ask of the future.'

I blink my eyes and there in front of me are the same valley and hill. Now sporting the buildings of the Israel

Leon’s no newsletter no 14
Sun 27th Mar 06

Using a negative state to achieve positive thinking

Negative situations surround us everywhere. Take this last week in Israel, as an example:

Over 1 million chickens and other birds have been put to death to prevent the spread of the deadly bird flu, 3
terrorists were caught on their way to carry out a suicide attack somewhere in Israel, Naomi Blumental MP was
sent to prison for 6 months for bribery and corruption. On Wednesday we had a Hamsin (Hot desert wind)
which made people irritable, yesterday a young fellow was electrocuted when he was climbing an electric
pylon to take down a poster of an opposing political party etc.

If, instead of bemoaning the tragedy and ill fortune of these catastrophes we confront them we avert them and
reduce their real danger to us and others.

But few people confront and avert their disastrous effect.

Unfortunately most people don't do this. Instead they hide away from a negative situation by taking alcohol or
drugs and so deny themselves the opportunity of confronting and averting them, which is so vital to our
preventing them from causing harm.

I deliberately talk about negative events so that I can "examining my mind” in the situation when it’s
confronted with negative thoughts.

Negative thoughts are valuable. I can't and don’t want to change the negative state into a positive one but, by
examining my mind in the midst of a negative state, the negative state acquires a positive function in
stimulating my mind.

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By using the negative state in this way I'll use my mind to think of performing actions that will help me to
survive in the face of it and be happy in spite of it, even because I’ve faced it.

Examining the mind in the midst of the negative state is so essential it’s even good to be faced with a negative

This is only true if I examine my mind when the negative state arises. A negative state is bad if I don't examine
my mind. By not examining my mind in the midst of the negative state it (my mind) will also become negative
and I'll do actions that will bring disaster on myself and others, instead of bringing success.

It seems, in fact that humans have a need to discover negative states. Perhaps this is why newspapers are such
successful ventures. I suggest that the search for negative states even lies at the base of curiosity which leads to
discovery and invention. Curiosity is like tempting encounter with a negative state.

All situations are the outcome of ordinary events that are perfectly natural in a world where humans interact
with each other and with nature. Wherever the various forces of nature interact with each other both negative
and positive situations are bound to happen.

Facing and averting negative situations is definitely no easy matter, but the benefits in self understanding and
better relationships are so great that it's well worth the effort.

Handling negative states by confronting and averting them is a mental exercise that makes us grow and become
strong both mentally and physically.

I agree with Shantideva, the Buddhist philosopher of the 8th century, that somehow we need to separate our
feelings from the event that gives rise to them. This will help us "examine our mind in our actions when a
negative situation arises."

Many people fall into the trap, as I have done throughout my life of examining the situation and the feelings
instead of examining the mind.

Leon’s no newsletter no 15
Sat 1st April 06

People want security more than anything else

The resuts of the elections are now final. The citizens of Israel have decided that the 120 seats in the Knesset
will be occupied, until the next elections, by 12 political parties. As I've said before we are made of different
sorts of people.

Ariel Sharon's Kadima party, headed by Ehud Olmert, in Sharon's absence got the most votes (29 seats), but by
no means the majority. The second highest number of votes went to Labour (20), headed by Amir Peretz.

The prime minister will be the person who manages to form a coalition of parties that will give him a majority
in making decisions critical to the future of Israel.

This is why people should vote for the party who they think will adopt the best policy for the country as a
whole and not just for a small section of it.
In fact most people voted for the party which they thought would adopt policies that would be best for them
personally and not for the country as a whole.

This is why the majority of the votes didn't go to the two main parties but to small sectarian parties. These
range from a party representing the pensioners to parties calling for more funding for religious groups, parties
who stood for the Arabs of the Galillee, parties who stood for the Jewish settlers in predominantly Arab areas
and so on.

This means, basically, that government decisions, such as a peace agreement with the Palestinians, will get
support from the sectarian parties only if they receive money for their sectarian projects.

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The success of Sharon's government was that he had a majority without the small parties.

Now, with Sharon out of the picture and the majority split umpteen ways, we are back to wheeling and dealing
which is going to impoverish the country, as it has always done, since the establishment of the State of Israel.

The government is going to have to pay ridiculous amounts of money, which it doesn't have, to all kinds of
small interest groups if its going to make any progress on the national and international level.

History shows, however, that if Olmert is going to make his mark on Israel's history he'll have to strengthen
Israel nationally and internationally and not worry about satisfying the demands of the sectarian parties.

This was why Sharon was popular even though his government reduced social benefit payments more than any
previous Israeli government.

This is a pattern throughout history. David ben Gurion is famous as the State founder, despite the terrible
poverty and the absorbing of millions of poor Jews, that faced in Israel in his time.

Saul united the people and forced them to go to war, David established Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,
Solomon built the Temple and expanded the country to the borders of Syria, Suleiman the Magnificent built
the walls of Jerusalem and so on.

People vote for their personal benefits but what they really want, deep down in their hearts is a government that
will give them national security and pride among the nations.

One of the greatest examples of the truth of this statement is Mohammed's success in building the Islamic
religion through demanding of his followers denial of physical pleasures in this world in return for these same
pleasures in Paradise.

Leon’s no newsletter no 16
Mon 10th April 06

Fighting corruption
Manny Mazuz, descended from a long line of Rabbis in the city of Djerba, Tunisia made Aliyah (immigrated),
lives in Netivot, is the government legal advisor, and has become a champion fighter against corruption in high

He’s even taken on Rabbi Yona Metzger, chief rabbi of Israel for accepting a 50% discount on his
accommodation at the David Citadel Hotel, one of the most luxurious in Jerusalem.

Now religious Jews organizations accuse Mazuz of being anti-religion.

This isn’t true. It’s just a try at forcing Mazuz to let Metzger off the hook.

In a country like Israel, where religion is highly respected and is even the criterion for citizenship, there’s a
danger that it can take control over the daily life of Jews in Israel, Mazus is making an important point: It’s not
the Chief Rabbi who sets the standard for what is legal but the ministry of Justice and the courts.

Descended from a line of rabbis in Djerba, Tunisia and living in Netivot Mazus has had plenty opportunities to
see the detrimental effects which religious control can have on a society.

Both Djerba and Netivot are towns which are famous for miracle making rabbis who seek control over the
activities of the town by promising the population all kinds of physical rewards in return for their support and
financial gifts.

This why visitors to Netivot are surprised and amazed to find a thriving town with 11 high schools, a thriving
adult education center, many well run kindergartens and much more.

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Mazuz and people like him aren’t against religion but by preventing religious fanaticism in the town where it
threatens to be strongest Mazuz has shown himself a great champion against the sort of corruption which can
stem from religion if it’s not kept in check.

Leon’s no newsletter no 17
Sun 16th April 06

Adopting Spiritual beliefs that offer Material rewards
Today the pouring rain and freezing cold after Friday's scorching heat reminded me once again in what a
constantly, rapidly changing world we live.

With a little effort we can figure out why the weather changes but humans are much more complicated,
especially when it comes to understanding why people change or don't change their belief.

For many years Christians and Moslems have sought to make Jews change their belief. Judging by the small
number of Jews in the world compared to the number of Moslems and Christians one can only conclude that
they have been immensely successful.

Jewish scholars, like Judah Halevi, Ramban and the great Maimonides all suffered from attempts to convert

Attempts to convert Maimonides to Islam forced to flee his beloved Andalusia and he ended up in Cairo, which
was a more enlightened Moslem town, where he became head of the Jewish community and resident physician
of the Moslem governor of Cairo in the days of the Caliph Salah e Din.

One would have thought that an enlightened man like Salah e Din’s governor, in daily contact with such a great
scholar as Maimonides who wrote treatises on medicine especially for him and the great caliph, would have
learned the beauty and sense of Judaism and would have been influenced to change his belief from Islam to

On the contrary, he's famous for spreading Islam with the sword, by conquering the Crusaders and returning the
Dome of the Rock to Moslem rule.

At the same time he also made all Christian property in Jerusalem the possession of the Moslem religious
council, the Waqf.

The main street of Arab Jerusalem is named after him, in acknowledgement of these great contributions to

This has become one of the busiest streets in Jerusalem.

If these great scholars were right about Judaism being superior, more ancient and truthful than other religions
then we can only conclude that these aren’t reasons which motivate people to adopt Judaism because if they
were the reasons for choosing Judaism we would have more adherents than Christianity or Islam.

I had a tour group from England staying there and I even found quite an elegant coffee shop,
where I bought some Italian chocolates.

The street is packed with an amazing mixture of people, from ultra conservative Moslem women, sexy girls in
jeans, men in kaffiyas and lots of tourists.

Some Moslem leaders have expressed concern that the modern Western ways will attract the young people
away from Islam. But one of the surprises is that, in spite of all the modernity and enlightenment there is no
change in religious beliefs.

This can be seen very clearly among the students at the Hebrew University, where you find Moslem girls
wearing a rala, studying all kinds of subjects from Medicine to Jewish Philosophy.

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It's clear people don’t change their belief because they’re convinced that another belief is more true and
beautiful than their own.

Considering that religion is a spiritual matter it’s amazing that the reason for holding onto a certain belief or
adopting a new belief, mostly has got nothing to do with the spiritual appeal of the belief and is in fact a totally
material matter.

Judging by most examples of conversion it’s clear that a person will change his belief if the change will bring
him more wealth or status.

The lower number of Jews compared to Moslems or Christians is because, usually Judaism couldn’t offer the
convert any material benefit like increased wealth or status

The fact that some people maintained their Judaism despite enduring the opposite of material benefit it offered,
in fact being a Jew usually offered only suffering and poverty and hardship.

The reason for Judaism’s inability to offer material rewards is of course because Judaism wasn’t the state
religion anywhere in the world.

No state existed where being Jewish was one of the requirements of citizenship.

With the establishment of the state of Israel this situation changed dramatically; today, for the first time since
the days of the Macabees being a Jew is a requirement of being a citizen of the State.
Leon’s no newsletter no 18
Tues 25th Apr 06

Enemies without reason
Today, the day of the Holocaust memorial and the day after a murderous terror attack in Sinai much is written
and spoken, as always, about the danger of blind hatred and senseless violence.

The people who carry out these acts are enemies of the Jews, but mostly neither they nor their victims know the
real reason why they hate the Jews.

The mere fact of being Jewish isn't a valid reason for someone to be your enemy.

Can a person be an enemy without reason?

It seems we must accept that there is such a phenomenon although it’s rare.

One who has such an enemy is clearly in the minority and may even be regarded as the “select few” like the
Jew whose whole nation has enemies without reason.

Throughout history the Jews have had enemies without reason; Nazis, Crusaders, various Moslem groups and
countless others.

The Jews, the victims, don’t know the reason for the enmity neither do the enemies know the reason why
they’re the enemies of the Jews.

Sure enemies have always found justification for their enmity but that is just a pretext. An enemy without
reason will always find a pretext.

Unlike the attack of an enemy with a reason like a thief who once he’s gotten what he wants is no longer an
enemy of his victim, an enemy without reason never gets what he wants because, unlike the thief he doesn’t
know what he wants. He wants enmity for the sake of enmity. The result is never ending enmity.

Both the acts of the enemy and the victim’s violent retaliation are never ending because neither have direction
or a clear objective. Violent retaliation to enmity without reason can only be the release of the victim’s anger,
which is no direction at all. The result is a series of never ending enormous disasters and the enmity never ends.

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The result is everlasting blind hatred. It’s called blind hatred because nobody can find the reason and hence
nobody can find the solution.

Violent retaliation can only be effective if it has direction.

Love without reason instead of enmity without reason
An enemy without reason is very disturbing because the whole idea is absurd and illogical.

This means the solution must lie in the absurd, illogical and irrational sphere. This is why I come to the absurd
conclusion that the response to enmity without reason must be the exact opposite; namely love that doesn’t
have a reason because the enmity that engendered it was without reason.

If there wasn’t a reason for the enmity there must have been a reason for love.

This may sound impossible but it makes good sense; when a victim attacked by an enemy without reason
responds with love without reason he supplies a reason for the end of enmity, love.

Only a solution like this, that doesn’t make sense and has no reason, can be effective. Enmity without reason is
unacceptable but love without reason is acceptable.

So if one is hated without reason the response could be love without reason.

Love is the most effective weapon in the Jewish national arsenal. It’s written on the door post of every room in
a Jewish home “love the Lord your God with all you heart, with all your soul and with all your might.” A Jew
is made aware of the importance of love every time he enters or leaves the room of a Jewish house.

Rabbi Akiva urged us to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

It’s not easy to love. If it was there wouldn’t be a command to love on the doorposts of our houses.

In a situation of hatred without reason we need love without reason

Leon’s no newsletter no 19
Fri 28th Apr 06

Jerusalem: The meeting place of dreams.
Once again I walked along the ancient walls and through the narrow Jaffa Gate. Each time it's different, no
matter how many times I do this.

Stones don't change, at least not visibly, so what makes this walk different each time I do it?
30 years ago, before I came to live in Jerusalem, I never dreamt that I would be a daily walker of Jerusalem's
ancient walls and holy places.

Nevertheless from the time that I was very young, perhaps 7 years old I had a vivid dream of living somewhere
close to God.

I think that every child has this kind of dream and growing up is the process of pursuing it.

Finding happiness and beauty is its fulfillment and finding the opposite is its demolishment.
The real, adult world is the scene of this daily human struggle.

A dream is only a framework and pattern which no one knows how life will complete.
I, for example, didn't know that the stones, I see today in Jerusalem's walls were in my dream when I was a
little kid. Only now I know this.

According to the Midrash, God dreamt of a holy world with a centre and a nation who would gather to worship
Him there.

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The Jews dreamt of being that nation and they made Jerusalem the center that God dreamt of. So it came to be
regarded as a holy city.

The Children of Israel dreamt their dream, marching through the desert on their way to fulfill it.

The dreams of both the Israelites and God coincided in Jerusalem and were realized in the building of the

Every time a Jew went up to Jerusalem his dream and God's dream became more complete, just as every time I
walk along the walls of the Old City my dream becomes more complete.

The end of a dream fulfilled
The tragedy of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple is that it brought an end to a dream fulfilled.

In Babylon the dream once again returned to being a dream. It's as if the nation that had been awake in Israel
had again fallen asleep.

But the Jews had proved that the dream of being close to God could be fulfilled and when they went into exile
again with the destruction of the 2nd Temple they had the courage to carry on dreaming.

The prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and others, which seemed very far fetched to the Jews of their
times were adopted as inevitable truths during the last 2000 years of exile.

Their words were regarded as so imported that reading them became the essence of Jewish prayer.

They achieved the same importance in the synagogue as the sacrifices in the Temple. Our leaders, the sages of
blessed memory, instituted laws to compel Jews to gather in synagogues throughout the world, 3 times per day,
at least, (Sabbaths and festivals 5 times) in groups of 10 men (at least) for the purpose of prayer which, in fact
consists of the words of the prophets.

The world sees the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 as the awakening of the Jewish nation out of its
dream into reality.

Jews who don’t want to wake up from the dream
Most Jews are ecstatically happy and rejoice at the awakening from our dream. But there are others e.g. the
Satmar Hassidim who prefer to stay in the dream and so don't accept the existence of the state of Israel.

The state of Israel has many enemies who have tried in the last 58 years of our existence to destroy us and send
us back into the dream mode.

There is no guarantee that they won't succeed, but the past experience of the fulfillment of the dream, twice in
the last 3000 years will make the next destruction more difficult and if it does succeed the dream will become
stronger and more vivid, the next time we fall into a sleep (hopefully it won't happen) our courage in fulfilling
it will grow stronger.

Leon's no News Letter no 20
Wed 3rd May 06

Dancing a little and dying a little
People danced for joy in the streets of every town and village throughout Israel and in Jewish communities
throughout the world when Israel became a state on the 15th May 1948. But since then 23000 people have died,
either as soldiers on the battle front or victims of terror attacks.

The reason why we celebrate and so keep these events real in our minds today is to be aware that they can
happen again in the future. Celebrating encourages us to march forward and achieve success while at the same
time to be prepared for the ultimate sacrifice..

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We know that we can overcome our enemies because we've done so in the past and we know that we are mortal
because we remember the dead.

To remember the great joy and dancing of those days, we dance and rejoice a little today and to remember the
dead we die a little today.

Independence Day Celebrations
Today in Israel people are rejoicing in many different ways and every year we have the same discussion about
the correct way to celebrate the event of our independence.

Some say we should have a strict formula similar to the way we celebrate Passover, for example or the way we
celebrate New Year. In fact the rabbinate of Israel directs us to gather in synagogues to recite the Psalms of
praise to the Lord (Hallel).

The state has also instituted a Bible Quiz and a Bible champion is crowned. The president of Israel presents the
Israel Prize to men and women who have made outstanding contributions to our society. The Army opens its
bases for public visits and the Air force and Navy have demonstrations of their skill in warfare.
The National Parks Authority allows the public free entrance to all the parks.

But the most popular celebration is having a family meal usually consisting of a barbecue at home or in a park.

The sale of meat goes up more than 50% on Yom Ha-atzma-ut. (independence day)
I of course, being vegetarian, oppose this because I don't want my celebration to be the cause of the death of
any living creature.

While my family rejoices in a festive meal I'll be guiding tourists in the Old City of Jerusalem.

I am happy to do this because I believe that somebody must work today, just as bus and taxi drivers, park
attendants, the police and the army.

Yom Ha-atzma-ut in this sense is different from most of our national festivals where work is forbidden by
Jewish law, like Sabbath, New Year etc.

Whatever way we have of celebrating I'm in favor of doing something because I believe that nothing separates
a person from his nation more than forgetting its historical events and nothing does more to make our nation
strong than remembering our past.

Leon's no News Letter no 21
Thu 4th May 06

The Jews are a sedentary nation
One of the greatest paradoxes of history is the story of the wandering Jew, famous in Europe of Medieval

Being a wandering nation is anathema to the Jews because, contrary to popular belief, the Bible points to the
Jews as the most shining example of a sedentary nation.

An example of this is God's promise to the Nation of Israel that He will bring them to a land flowing with milk
and honey, where they will be able to grow the seven species. (Deut 8)

Only a sedentary nation could regard a land where you have to wait several years before you can enjoy the
fruit, as a promise.

A wandering nomad wouldn't have regarded this as a promise but a curse. For him sheep and other animals that
can be slaughtered and eaten immediately would be a promise.

In order to cultivate the land it's preferable for the farmer to own the land. In fact according some legal systems
cultivation of the land is part of gaining ownership.

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In the opinion of Biblical commentators God refused Cain's offering because he didn't cultivate the agricultural
products he offered but gathered what was growing naturally, in contrast to Abel who had tended and diligently
reared the sheep he brought as an offering.

Being sedentary is inconsistent with living in the land of some other nation who can, at any given time expel
one and so bring an end, to this sedentary situation. If one is to be a sedentary inhabitant its necessary for one to
have control over the land of sedentary habitation otherwise the nation is expelled and turned into a group of
wanderers continually searching for a permanent sedentary habitation.

Sedentary and permanent are similes as their opposite, nomadic and temporary are similes.

A sedentary situation can only exist if it is permanent. For example nomads living in one area temporarily,
before moving on to greener pastures cannot be called sedentary inhabitants.

The enemies of the Jews were nomads
The Jewish nation never moved from its permanent homeland of its own free will. They moved because they
were conquered and forced, by their conquerors to move.

The Jews weren't nomads or wanderers, their conquerors were. They worked diligently cultivating their crops
and their conquerors stepped in and reaped the fruits of their labor.

It's clear that if the Jews were going to succeed at being sedentary inhabitants in their own land they would
have to assume the task of defending themselves so they had kings, learnt how to fight and, most of all to cry
out for justice where their enemies would acknowledge the right of a nation to live in its own land.

This cry is heard throughout the prophets throughout all the many generations when the Jews were an
independent nation, in their own land, surrounded by enemies who did not know justice which recognized each
nation's right to his own land.

A sedentary situation can only be achieved in a land where one has the right and duty to defend it.

The sojourn in the wilderness
From the beginning of their history the Jews were constantly searching for their own land. Father Abraham
starts the search and finds the land.

Moses doesn't have to search. Thanks to the great achievement of Father Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in
cultivating the land, he knows exactly where he's going, what he's going to do there and he's aware of the
justice of his claim.

In addition he's so successful in passing this determination on to the Children of Israel that he doesn't even have
to enter the land. They enter on their own.

The Jews have always been determined to find a permanent place of habitation. Presumably Abraham could
have had Babylon as his own land, namely he could have rebelled and taken over the country. Instead he leaves
Babylon and goes elsewhere to find his own land.

The same happens much later in history when the Jews ask Pharoah to let them go to establish their own land.
He even tries to force them to stay in Egypt but the Jews are determined to leave to find their own land.

Scholars who consider the sojourn of the Israelites through the desert as evidence that they are a nomadic
nation are mistaken. The sojourn in the desert was only a passing phase of transition from one country of
sedentary habitation, Egypt, to another country of permanent habitation, Canaan.

The Jews go to their own land and they maintain a permanent habitation there. They don't take over someone
else's land or live as nomads plundering and enjoying the fruits of someone else's labor.

Leon's no News Letter no 22
Tues 9th May 06

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Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Our new government got on its way on Sunday, with a brand new prime minister and 25 new cabinet ministers.

Very few people in Israel know any of these people personally but since they represent the 4 political parties
who received the majority of the votes (Kadimah, Labor, Shas and the pensioners), one could say that most of
the nation voted for them.

The closest any of us will ever get to know these ministers is through dealings with their ministries and the
publicity they receive in the media.

Now with this scant bit of knowledge Israelis are being asked and are asking themselves what they think of the
new government.

When asked this question after Sharon's election, Begin, Rabin or even Shimon Peres and certainly Ben
Gurion, in spite of their meager personal knowledge of these people, everybody had an opinion.

Opinions ranged from great enthusiasm to great disappointment. One person said there would be war, another
said there would be peace, someone else said now the economy is going to flourish and someone else said it's
all going down the drain. Opinions, opinions, opinions and more opinions.

Today, all of a sudden, as it were, nobody has an opinion. This is certainly the quietest entrance into the arena
of public affairs any government has ever made.

The only opinion expressed was by someone in Perez's Labor Party that Olmert's government won't last more
than two years. And this is more of a hope than an opinion that the government will soon fall, there will be new
elections and Peretz will soon have another opportunity to try and bring victory for Labor.

Action without fluster and bluster
I had a very good opinion about Sharon and now I have a very good opinion of Olmert.

My opinion of Sharon that he was a brave, pragmatic leader with a vision was based on reading and observing
his leadership over a period of about thirty years.

My opinion of Olmert is based on only one meeting in his office as mayor of Jerusalem, when I took a group of
students there, about 5 years ago during the height of the intifada, after an Israeli had been injured in an Arab
Olmert explained the difference between a serious wound, a mild to serious injury and a light injury.

These are terms used by the media to describe the gravity of a person's injury. They leave us with a feeling of
relief that the person is still alive and will recover from his injury.

Instead of putting us at ease with a false impression that everything would be okay with the injured person and
the situation in general, he painted a clear picture of the suffering of even the most mildly injured person and
the seriousness of the situation.

Then I understood that Olmert isn't one who lives in illusions but sees the situation exactly as it really is. He
isn't a hero, like Sharon and he's not out to have a government of heroes.

Olmert demonstrated how consistently he applies this approach, of clarity and directness, by beginning the first
cabinet meeting with one terse rule, namely ministers are to keep discussions brief, to the point and to stick to
matters concerning only their offices.

In its first week in office Olmert's government is showing itself to be like him, namely very quiet but highly
Circumspection and theories of what the government is talking about and what it's going or not going to do, has
been replaced in the media by reports of real events.

Only after one week the newspapers are full of events such as an agreement by settlers to willingly dismantle
illegal settlements, removal by the police of settlers from an Arab house in Hebron, an Israeli air strike at a
Hamas base for training their soldiers in rocket launching, the permission for more Palestinians to enter Israel

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to find work, presentation of a law to regulate the citizenship of foreign worker's children born in Israel and

A German tourist reminded me, yesterday of a wise saying which is very applicable in Israel today:
In silence lies strength.

Perhaps it's only a hope, but I really think that we're on a new road of normalcy, less fluster and buster and
more quiet, clear and strong action

Leon's no News Letter no 23
Sat 13th May 06

Music rouses the nation
On Wednesday morning I had a call, as I expected, from someone who wanted to join my twice weekly walk in
the Old City.

I happily took my sign and caught the bus down town.

As I made my way through Ben Yehudah meet my clients, two young ladies who have family in
Jerusalem and come here about twice a year, I was held up by a young girl and a bearded man playing Irish and
Scottish melodies, she on a violin and he accompanying her on a guitar.

I was so moved by their music that I felt I had some Irish blood in me and made a mental note to find a CD of
Irish music.

Hearing this music got me thinking how music inspires national pride. Irish music inspires Irish national pride
and there’s Jewish music that inspires Jewish national pride.

I reminded myself of some of the marching tunes one finds in the Book of Psalms like Psalm 114 verse 1
 “and when the Children of Israel go marching out of Egypt…”

The Jews must have felt tremendous national pride when David played songs like this on his harp or when the
great orchestra of Levites the played marching music for the nation to march round the holy of holies of the
temple on the national pilgrim festival of Tabernacles.

On our tour I showed the ladies the beautifully decorated Yohanan ben Zakkai Synagogue with its magnificent
painting of the Temple rising to heaven.

The synagogue took the place of the temple but playing instrumental music was forbidden because the rabbis
after the terrible catastrophe of the rebellion and the consequent destruction of the temple and almost the
destruction of the nation wanted to prevent inspiring national pride and national revival which would lead to
more rebellion and more disaster for the Jews.

National pride was also kindled with the lighting of the 7 branched candelabra, and offering sacrifices, the
priests in their regalia, the blowing of the ram's horn from the temple towers and walls and other temple
customs. So all these customs were forbidden.

The rabbis prohibited the playing of musical instruments and the other temple customs in the synagogue to
prevent the national spirit from surging up again and causing another rebellion with similar disastrous

Leon's no News Letter no 24
Sat 20th May 06

Without Bread there’s no Torah
Passover and Shavuot celebrate two events when the Jewish People received two important gifts; wheat and
barley on Passover and Torah on Shavuot.

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The saying "without flour there is no Torah and without Torah there is no wheat", clearly expresses how these
two gifts, the one material and the other spiritual are bound together.

Torah gives physical existence spiritual content and makes the physically hard work involved in producing
wheat worthwhile. Likewise without our physical existence we couldn’t study Torah.

More than any other institution the temple, being on the one hand the repository of Torah and on the other the
place of animal, grain and fruit sacrifices emphasized this bond.

The temple and Jewish independence
The end of sacrifices as a result of the Roman destruction of the temple in 70 C.E. which boded the end of
Torah was caused by the loss of Jewish Independence.

This was so intolerable to the Jews that they rebelled again in 135 C.E., the Bar Cochba rebellion, to achieve
independence so that they could rebuild the temple.

The only reason why the Jews wanted to achieve national independence was to rebuild the temple. This is why
Bar Cochba coins had the inscription “for the Temple” and not inscriptions like “for our independence”. Jews
never wanted independence without the temple.

The failure of this rebellion brought greater devastation on the Jews than the catastrophe of the year 70 and
further dashed the hopes of independence and the rebuilding of the temple.

The prohibition of re-establishing the Jewish Nation
The Bar Kochba rebellion failed to reinstate Jewish independence and worse still the Roman retaliation brought
such terrible slaughter that the Jewish People teetered on the brink of total annihilation.

This is why the Rabbis totally l prohibited any further attempts to reinstate the nation and they introduced the
synagogue as the alternative to the temple.

From now on they made it clear that the Jews would only continue to remember the temple by the study of
Torah and prayer in the synagogue.

Ceremonies to arouse national pride which used to be practiced in temple like blowing the ram's horn, playing
orchestral music in the synagogue and the kindling of the 7 branched candelabra were forbidden in the

Only religious ceremonies were allowed such as prayer with a congregation (minyan) of 10 men gathering
together at least 3 times per day, equivalent to the three daily sacrifices in the temple and the study of Torah.

Leon's no News Letter no 25
Wed 7th Jun 06

My brother Bernard’s Visit
You might know that my family is somewhat scattered over the face of this great earth of ours. My one brother, Raymond
and his family, lives in Toronto Canada and my other brother Bernard and his family is in Sydney Australia.

To my great joy Bernard came to visit me the other day and to spend time with his nephews, my sons.

Needless to say we all had a good time with lots of partying, chatting about old times and above all touring together through
Israel, mostly Jerusalem.

If I asked Bernard what was the highlight of his tour, besides the pleasure he had from visiting the family, I think he'd say it
was the train journey he made to Hedera to visit some of his wife's family. Bernard was excited about everything he saw
and did in Israel but he couldn't stop raving about the excellence of that train service; it was quiet, comfortable, punctual,
cheap and very fast. He was also very impressed with the wonderful bus service throughout the country and in the cities.

He even considered the transport system here to be better than the one in Sydney.

If you asked me, what was the highlight of Bernard's visit, besides the obvious pleasure it gave my sons to

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spend time with their uncle, I would say it was his visit to the Western Wall tunnel.

The Western Wall Tunnel
This archaeological excavation is under the houses of the Arab neighborhood of the Old City and makes it
possible for the visitor to walk along a part of the Western Wall that had been hidden for nearly 2000 years.

A small part of the Western Wall, known as the Wailing Wall, has always been visible, since the time of the
destruction. Jews have been going to pray there from time immemorial. But this tunnel, dug laboriously for 20
years from 1967 to 1987, provides one with a clear glimpse of the magnificence of the Temple that once was.

Stones buried deep underground kept their newness and look as if the temple was built only yesterday. The
narrowness of the tunnel and the strong reinforcing prevent the Arab neighborhood above from being damaged.
Above the tunnel the Arab population continues their lives undisturbed. In fact the exit of the tunnel is in that
neighborhood and we walk back to the Western Wall that way.

Why the temple was destroyed
One of the conclusions that I came to, on seeing the massive stones of the Temple is that the structure was
indeed impregnable as we are told by Josephus in his history of the Jews. Besides being a place of worship it
was also a place of refuge in times of war.

We have several examples in Jewish history when it was used for this purpose. No army had ever succeeded in
penetrating The Temple by force. The only way that the attackers entered the Temple was by agreement made
with the defenders.

This makes it quite surprising that the 10th Roman Legion, in the year 70 chose to attack the Temple rather
than to negotiate an agreement of surrender.

Also, judging from the account in the Talmud, the high priest was in the middle of making the afternoon
sacrifice when the Romans broke through and took him by surprise, it appears that the Jews never expected the
Roman army to try to conquer the Temple by force but to make an agreement.

The Talmud gives us a clue to the reason why the Romans chose to attack, conquer and finally destroy the
Temple instead of reaching a surrender agreement. According to the Talmud the Temple was destroyed by God
as a punishment for unfounded hatred between one Jew and another.

In my opinion, the worst form of unfounded hatred is treason, which is an act against the nation. It's unfounded
because it's not a specific hatred of one person who's done something specific to harm the hater. It's the result
of a general feeling of hatred of an entire nation and it harms the entire nation.

Only information, provided by a traitor could have shown the Romans how to penetrate the Temple. And only
encouragement from a traitor, in the form of incitement could have urged the Romans to carry out the terrible
act of destroying the Temple.

After our visit to the Western Wall tunnel I am convinced that the destruction of the 2nd Temple by the 10th
Roman Legion was indeed, as said by the Talmud, the act born from the worst kind of hatred, hatred without
reason, namely treason.

Leon's no News Letter no 26
Wed 21st June 2006

The holiness of human physical love
The Song of Songs, one of the most famous love songs between two human beings, was the subject of a day
long discussion at a seminar I attended at Bar Ilan University.

I became very agitated listening to important Biblical Scholars questioning why the name of God isn’t
mentioned in the book and therefore the place of the Song of Songs in the Holy Scriptures.
To me, a simple layman, this question shouldn’t even be asked because the purpose of the book is clearly holy,
namely; it is to show that physical love takes place between human beings and not between gods or between

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gods and human beings as we find in the love myths of ancient civilizations like the Babylonians, Egyptians,
Greeks and others.

In fact the name of God appearing in the context of a physical love relationship would be unholy even obscene

From an ancient Ugaritic love poem read by one of the scholars lauding the love relationship between a woman
and a god, it was clear that the sexual act was part of religious ritual of the Canaanite tribes amongst whom the
Israelites lived.

Women were forced to perform sexual acts with specially selected men like priests and kings who were
considered Gods to produce a race of Gods.

This is anathema to Judaism and the Song of Songs makes no bones about this.

It’s clear from the absence of such accounts and the contrasting emphasis on the holiness of the Song of Songs,
where God isn’t even mentioned that the Bible strongly opposes physical love between God and a woman.

Judaism removed this practice by deliberately introducing one of the most beautiful love songs in the world
where God has no place.

The absence of God from a human love poem is exactly the reason why The Song of Songs was considered a
holy book and thus included in the cannon of Jewish Holy Scriptures.

There is no example in the Bible of an impregnated woman claiming that the man who impregnated her was
God in disguise or God Himself or the Holy Spirit associated with God.

So it’s quite annoying to find Biblical scholars overlooking this important point and spending a whole day
discussing the Song of Songs as an allegory of the marriage between God and the People of Israel.

The love that the Bible tells us to have for God hasn’t got anything to do with marriage and a physical

Loving God can only be in a spiritual sense. In fact one scholar has correctly stated that each time the word
love appears in relation to God it refers to the mind not to an emotional feeling of the heart.

The purpose of the Song of Songs is in fact exactly the opposite of this.

A beautiful love, according to the Song of Songs, is one between a man and a woman, not between God and a

Leon's no News Letter no 27
Mon 26th June 2006

“Envy is that passion which views with malignant dislike the superiority of those who are really entitled to all
the superiority they possess.”
(Kant, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, p. 244)

Hamas feeds Palestinian envy of the Jews
Every time the Hamas, or some other militant group has, even a little victory we are treated to mass
demonstrations in the streets of Gaza in support of these militaristic actions.

As far as I’m concerned the only reason for rejoicing when someone, even an enemy, suffers is envy.
Palestinian joy knew no bounds this week when Hamas kidnapped an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.

This has once again put them on top of the Palestinian popularity poll.

They rejoice at the capture of an Israeli soldier because they envy the good life an Israeli soldier enjoys, both in
the army and in civilian life.

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By kidnapping him Hamas have destroyed that good life for Gilad. This is the reason for their happiness and so
they’ve fed the most negative sentiment of the Palestinians, envy.

In the words of Aristotle: “Envy is pain at the good fortune of others”.
(Aristotle, Rhetoric, Bk II, Chapter 10)

The converse is just as true; Envy brings pleasure at the misfortune of others.

Hamas has achieved popularity among the Palestinians by causing suffering to Jews, the object of their envy.
That’s why Palestinians rejoice today.

There’s no end to the list of the things they envy the Jews, prosperity, kindness, creativity, science, the fertile
desert, the army, music, art, high-tec industry, agriculture etc. etc.

There are two ways of looking at our fellow man, something we all do naturally; a positive way that motivates
us to strive for the good life and a negative way that motivates us to destroy someone else’s good life and in the
process ruins any chance of developing a good life for the one who envies.

Admiration is the positive side of envy. It motivates the human being to grow and create.

Envy motivates the individual to destroy and to get pleasure from destruction.

Palestinian acts of war against Israel aren’t motivated by admiration and the desire to achieve what Israel has
achieved but by the negative desire to feed their envy and to destroy the things Israel has and they don’t have.

Time and again the Palestinian people have demonstrated their envy of the Jews.

Envy prevents them from being the kind of peace loving people they’re trying to show the world they are.

Acts of war and murder aren’t the work of a few extremists. The majority support them because it feeds their

There’s no rejoicing in Israel at Palestinian’s suffering whenever our army retaliates against suicide bombers or
kidnappers or the Kasam rockets shot at Israeli towns.

There is no hatred for our enemy. We certainly don’t envy him.

Nobody in Israel rejoices at suffering. Our happiness comes from seeing others happy. Their happiness comes
from seeing others unhappy.

Envy isn't a new phenomenon. Dante, in Florence of the 13th century experienced its shocking results and gave
fair warning of its outcome to all who care to read his “Inferno”. Unfortunately only a few Palestinians have
taken the trouble to heed his words even though the mass of Palestinian population live in the grip of envy.

"She mates with every beast and will mate with more
Before the greyhound comes to hunt her down
He will not feed on land or lust but honor

Love and wisdom will make straight his way

He will hunt her through every nation of sick pride
Till she is driven back forever to hell
Wence envy first released her on the world"
Suggested reading:
Definition of envy:
Articles devoted to envy:
The sin of John Gresham:

Leon’s no newsletter no 41
Friday, October 20, 2006

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Judaism and Universal Humanism

Moses Hess in his famous book "Rome and Jerusalem" expressed the idea that, although Judaism was the
religion of a particular nation, the Jews, for other nations it is the way to a humanitarian approach to the

In other words they don’t have to be Jewish to practice the humanitarian ideals expressed in Judaism.

         “I believe that not only does the national essence of Judaism not exclude civilization and
         humanitarianism, but that the latter really follow from it, as necessarily as the result follows from the
         cause. If, in spite of this, I emphasize the national side of Judaism, which is the root, rather than the
         humanitarian aspect, which is the bloom and flower, it is because in our time people are prone to
         decorate themselves with the flowers of culture rather than cultivate them again in the soil on which
         they grew. It is out of Judaism that our humanitarian view of life sprang.” Moses Hess Rome and Jerusalem.

The Humanitarianism of Judaism isn't the exclusive domain of the Jewish People, just as it wasn't the exclusive
domain of the family of Abraham.

The Bible is filled with examples of the Humanitarianism of non Jews.

The thing that makes Humanitarianism appear to be the exclusive domain of Judaism is the principle of anti
coercion; Judaism’s refusal to coerce others to adopt its beliefs.

Of course Judaism wants all nations and people to be humanists but coercion negates humanism. Coercing
people to adopt its beliefs it would not be humanist. Anti-coercion is an integral part of Judaism’s universal
humanitarian mission.
Christianity and Islam didn't understand this, and so set out to convince the world (sometimes by force) of the
need for a universal humanitarianism.

The result has been disastrous for the world and has lead to never ending war.

Humanism is based on the principle that man is a free thinking, freedom loving creature and therefore cannot
be coerced to join its ranks.

Humanitarianism can only be practiced by a person who makes a free will decision to follow humanitarian
principles, like those set out in the Torah.

Judaism may remain the religion of the few but Humanism will be practiced all over the world.

Leon’s no newsletter no 42
Monday, October 30, 2006

Fasting to purify the spirit

Last week, during Ramadan, I was discussing the Moslem fast/feast festival, over a humus lunch, with 3
visitors who I had the pleasure of guiding around Jerusalem

My tourists noticed that the city was still gaily decorated in honor of the feast. Naturally we spoke about the
different attitudes of fasting in the three religions..

One aspect of fasting is common to the three religions, namely: purification of the spirit from worldly matters;
in Judaism it's the fast of the Day of Atonement, in Islam it's the daytime fast of Ramadan and in Christianity
the individual takes upon himself voluntary fasts, as he feels necessary.

Judaism, however, in addition to the spiritual cleansing idea of fasting also has a national, historical idea,
namely, fasts to remember tragic events in the history of the nation, like the fast of Tisha B"Av or the fast of
the 17th of Tamuz etc.

Leon’s no newsletter no 44

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Monday December 4th 2006

Learning from the river.

The great writer of the beginning of the 20th Century, Herman Hesse, in his book, "Siddhartha" gives a
beautiful description of a river as an allegory of life:

"You have already learned from the river that it is good to strive downwards. To sink, to seek the depths. The
rich and distinguished Siddhartha will become a rower; Siddhartha the learned Brahmin will become a
ferryman. You have also learned this from the river."

Usually we enjoy the brilliance of the surface and don't delve into the depths. But really, when one thinks about
it you realize that the real currents that move the things on the surface are in the depths.

As you know I spend a lot of time exploring Israel, especially Jerusalem. Naturally this happens more
frequently when the current flows slowly, namely, for me, when there are few tourists around.

Going to the opera or a symphony concert pushes me into the depths. Yet it's always the mundane that reveals
surprises about ourselves.

At the insurance company office I just expected some simple information; instead I found myself in a heated
discussion with the clerk and discovered a hidden violent current flowing in the base of my nature.

There's no doubt that I had fallen low. The old saying "pride comes before a fall" comes to mind. I'll change
this to age comes before a fall.

I, the wise old man, was humbled by a young insurance clerk who sent me packing to get the information I
required from my agent.

She wasn't going to reveal to me the information I needed. She was protecting my agent

I could either boil over at her attitude or I could submerge. At first I boiled then I submerged and cooled off.
My sweet smile appeared, I swallowed my pride and the ruffled waters became smooth again.

Now I knew that the only way to carry out my further chores was to walk humbly like the strong but unseen
currents in the depths of the river.

It's really possible to keep one's calm in the midst of panic and turmoil but it requires humility and patience.
These things don't come easily unless we spend lots of time meditating on the river. This also isn't easy in a
country like Israel where one can't really find a calm, smooth flowing river.

"The river has taught me to listen; you will learn from it, too. The river knows everything; one can learn
everything from it."

Leon’s no newsletter no 57
Friday September 28th 2007

A visit to Shderot.

In my search for no news last Monday I visited the town of Sderot, the town where rockets fall every day. (no
rockets fell on the day I was there)

Sipping my coffee, on a balcony, closed in by brown tinted windows to keep out the bright desert sun, I could
see people walking to catch the 353 Metropolitan bus to Tel Aviv, the same bus I had alighted, moments
earlier, in one of the suburbs. I had walked about 500 meters from there to the coffee shop.

Walking by myself, in the middle of the day, through the empty streets, I realized that the people in Gaza firing
the rockets must be familiar with this town or must remember days, not so long ago, when their parents took
them to visit the Jewish town, only 2 kms from Gaza.

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Sderot is well known for its big industrial area and it must have been an ideal place to work Gaza Arabs and
Israeli Jews must have met here, made friends and exchanged ideas.

In my mind's eye I saw Sderot crowded with Gaza Arabs, walking in the streets, buying in the shops, sipping
coffee and generally helping to make it a thriving town.

The Arabs must have given Sderot a lot of color; kefiahs, camels, water pipes, Arab music and most of all the
Arabic language must have been heard all around.

Now all you see is a sleepy town with a few Israelis in the shops and sipping coffee

The Gaza Arabs can't visit Sderot, as they used to because the Israeli government has placed a border between
them and Sderot. Undoubtedly Sderot's economy suffers without the Arabs but the Arabs have lost their source
of livelihood, which depended on their ability to enter the town to find work in the factories and businesses.

They have obviously replaced their work with employment by extremist factions in Gaza fighting against
Israel. Now they're trying to destroy the place which has denied them the opportunity to earn a livelihood.

Drinking coffee in Sderot is a very stimulating pastime. I can recommend it to anyone who has the time.

Leon's No News Bulletin 116
Saturday, August 15, 2009

Getting things done.
Ettie’s been saying that we should paint the house for about 10 years now. She’s always saying what’s got to be
done. The trouble is that we all know what’s got to be done but we keep putting it off.

Eventually about a month ago, Declan, who according to Shaul, on Robby’s recommendation, had painted his
apartment with great artistic skill and neatness, came to our house after we called him

The words of Shaul’s recommendation that sunk in were “neatness”, “care” and “covering floors and

The pact to paint our house was sealed and Declan arrived, paint and all the day after Tisha b’Av, just the right
time to start renewing ourselves in preparation for the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) which will be on Saturday
and Sunday the 19th and 20th of September, which coincides with the Jewish date of the 1 st and 2nd of Tishri.
The New Year will be 5770 since creation according to Judaism.

Declan’s been painting and doing other things like scraping, puffing and panting like a marathon runner,
everyday excepting Shabbat for two weeks. Ettie’s satisfied so it must be good.

Idleness gets me thinking
Each person has something else that gets him thinking. Some people’s minds start working when it starts
raining, others when it’s sunny, and others when they stand at the edge of an abyss. Mine starts working when I
don’t do something I tell myself has to be done or better when I don’t do something that someone tells me to

Idleness can even be valuable if it’s followed by thought. If thought is important for effective living and solving
problems therefore so is idleness.

Idleness, however can only take place if there’s something that somebody thinks somebody else must do.

For example my late mother thought I was idle because there were many things she thought I needed to do like
my homework, watering the flowers, washing myself, putting on a sweater in the cold etc etc. My wife thinks
I’m idle because she has a whole list every day of things she thinks I should be doing.

Once I was angry at my mother and my wife for thinking so negatively about me. Now since becoming aware
of what makes me think I’m grateful for the opportunities they gave me to be idle and hence a thinker.

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My mother taught me that it’s good to be a thinker but she never taught me how to become one. All she could
do was say “Leon, for goodness sake!!! Think before you do something or think before you speak etc but she
never actually taught me how to become a thinker.

I wish I knew how I came to this great discovery of how to become a thinker because I’d like to tell everyone
about it.

I would suggest everyone try a bit of idleness. Next time someone says you must do something don’t do it. Try
it. What harm can come of it??

If what I’ve said is true then the rebelliousness of children isn’t a bad thing. Its what makes them thinkers.

Tamar, my granddaughter is impressively idle whenever it comes to doing anything I tell her she should do.

Using eco friendly detergents
Yesterday I had a long chat with my brother Bernard about eco friendliness in recycling water and in using
electric motors for bicycles and cars.

The conversation took a while and he made a very good suggestion that I sign up with Skype, a cheap phone

He told me that in Australia they even have laws about recycling water and collecting rainwater. The
government there even subsidizes the installation of water collecting tanks.

I’d like to share the results of my experiments in using refuse water in my garden. Most of the plants irrigated
with soapy water from the washing machine are reacting badly so I’ve stopped doing this for the meantime
until I can get some eco friendly detergent for the washing machine. I believe there is a product on the market
that washes the clothes without harmful chemicals. It’s called Ecofriend. So when I get hold of some of that I’ll
go back to using water from the washing machine.

On the other hand soapy water from the dishwashing detergent seems to be quite acceptable to the plants.
Apparently dishwashing detergents, unlike clothes washing detergents, don’t have chemicals that are harmful to

I conclude from this experiment that governments need to take stronger action against detergent companies
using harmful chemicals and simultaneously pass laws to reuse certain types of refuse water in gardens.

Acceding to Hamas’ demands threatens world peace
Recently there’s been a spate of optimism about talks between Israel and Hamas on the release of Gilad Shalit.

The only issue in these negotiations is really how far Israel is ready to accede to Hamas’ demands in return for

Being our enemy and the enemies of Civilization Terrorist organizations are constantly in search of new
recruits to their ranks. Israel holds about 5000 potential ones in prison. As long as they are in prison Israel and
indeed all the world are a little bit safer from terrorism.

Releasing any of these trained and battle tested Palestinian terrorists (who they call soldiers) is like throwing a
bone to a ravenous dog. It’s seen as a weakness and like hungry dogs smelling blood the terrorist organizations
become more ravenous.

Swelling the terrorist ranks, especially with those in Israeli prisons is only going to bring the next military
confrontation with the Palestinians closer.

Declarations by experts like Shaul Mofaz (ex chief of staff) that the release of one terrorist more or less isn’t
going to make a difference to our security, can only be considered as warmongering, something for which
Mofaz is well known.

The next battle with the Palestinians will begin soon after more terrorists are released from Israeli prisons.

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Leon's No News Bulletin 117
Monday, August 24, 2009

The Golem of Prague
The film “The Golem of Prague”, produced in Germany in 1920, was presented as part of a 3 day seminar I
attended at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, on the writings and times of the Maharal of Prague, the great
16th century Jewish scholar.

I knew about the biased, untrue image that anti Semites have of Jews but this movie made that image more
ghastly and real.

The story is simple and diabolical. It presents an image of Jews as a vermin like community of pests who use
magical powers, usually kept in secret like the poison of a spider or snake, to destroy the merciful, tolerant non
Jewish community whose kind king has decided, justifiably, to expel the Jews from their nest.

This film sharpened the clarity of the line separating black from white; the film presents the non Jews as the
forces of light and the Jews as the forces of darkness.

A bottomless, dark chasm divides me, a Jew living blissfully, in the clear, beautiful light shed by the view of
Jews as kind people who strive to make the world a better place for everybody, and anti Semites living in the
darkness of the view of the Jews as vermin and a danger to the peaceful functioning of the world.

The film inverts good and evil, making it impossible to decide which is which; according to it the anti Semites
are living in the world of goodness and light and the Jews are living in the world of darkness.

It turns my view of what is right and what is wrong upside down and shows that the 2000 year old war
described in one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, between the sons of light and the sons of darkness is still in full

This was proved once again in the false report of Jewish monstrosity in the Swedish newspaper last week.

Fomenting anti Semitism is only part of the film’s “success”. Its real “achievement” is that it’s convinced many
scholars that Golem is the product of the Maharal’s scholarly wisdom and scientific knowledge.

To this day most people who’ve heard about the Maharal know him only for his “fame” as the rabbi whose
knowledge of God enabled him to bring an inanimate, clay figure to life.

For the record; the Maharal never wrote anything about magic or bringing inanimate objects to life. He did
write more than 500 books, interpretations of the Bible, Jewish law, explanations of the Midrash (Jewish
Legends) books on Jewish education and others.

This must be emphasized because the association between the Maharal has been so strongly forged by this
absurd, anti Semitic film that most people have only heard of the Maharal through the film and are sure that he
must have written something about magic and putting life into an inanimate, clay figure.

The most studied book of the Maharal is probably his explanation of the Ethics of the fathers.
One can find a copy of this and the Maharal’s interpretation “The way of life” on the website

The conclusion of the movie is that wisdom and scientific knowledge causes evil such as creating a monster
that will destroy the good, peaceful citizens of the world.

Dissuading the masses from acquiring knowledge by threatening them with the dire consequences of acquiring
wisdom and seeking scientific progress as the film does in its treatment of the Maharal, is an old tactic used by
tyrants and some religious leaders who want to control the minds of their followers so that they can use them as
instruments to increase their power.

The real Golem is the mass of ignorant people whose refusal to acquire wisdom allows them to be manipulated
by unscrupulous leaders in their pursuit of unholy objectives.

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Leon's No News Bulletin 118
Saturday, September 05, 2009

The grape harvest and education
Significantly the grape harvest coincides with the end of the school’s summer vacation.

During the last week of summer vacation I took Tamar, now more than 5 years old, grape harvesting in a
vineyard near Mazkeret Batya, a pioneering settlement on the way to Tel Aviv.

After being protected by mommy Sigalit and daddy Boaz for more than 5 years, Tamar will be going to
compulsory pre-school where she’ll get into shape for Primary School next year.

The kids on vacation are like the grapes hanging, happily in bunches on the vines. The kids in school are like
harvested grapes crammed into a pressing vat to get squeezed and made into wine.

The first story the Bible tells after the flood, which was supposed to purify the human race and make it more
moral, is about Noah’s sons getting drunk and having sexual relations with their father.

It seems that this is the Bible’s way of telling us that harvesting grapes and making wine shouldn’t be done by
uneducated people who don’t have any idea that it can lead to immoral behavior.

For the first time in the history of the world intoxication and sexual relations with one’s father are declared

This kind of behavior must have been very common if the Bible is trying to eradicate it.

There’s nothing new in somebody getting drunk or having sexual relations with one’s father, but associating
the two and declaring them immoral is revolutionary

According to Judaism the function of education is to eradicate these and other forms of immoral behavior.

The Greeks may have been the first to educate children for material success but the Jews were the first to
educate children for morality.

Jewish children were sent to school because someone, perhaps God saw education as the only solution to
avoiding immorality and that intoxication can lead to it.

In a few words the Bible vividly describes what immorality is and that drunkenness leads to it.

I’m sure that for thousands of years, until this revolutionary declaration a sexual union with one’s father was
considered “okay” and drunkenness was considered natural and beneficial to good living. Probably the word
“moral” never even existed.

Noah’s sons committed an immoral act on their father because of their drunkenness. Their uneducated
condition left them unable to distinguish a moral act from an immoral one and worse still being uneducated
made them incapable of seeing the possible consequences of intoxication and resulted in a lack of any desire to
control their drinking habits.

Only through education people can learn to control their intake of alcohol. The more educated a person is the
more capable he is of controlling his wine intake.

An animal will drink until he drops. An educated man might stop himself being aware that he’ll drop if he
doesn’t stop. To be an educated man means to know one’s limits.

Without education man doesn’t know his limits.

An uneducated man can only avoid intoxication by a complete prohibition of alcohol.

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For example by totally prohibiting the consumption of alcohol Islam is declaring its acceptance that it’s
impossible to educate human beings sufficiently to control himself.

It takes an educated man to appreciate when he’s had enough to know enough to control his intake and stop
himself when he feels the need and to start again when he feels the inclination.

An educated man is truly free because he’s in control of his life.

He lives a life full of choices; he can choose between a myriad of grades of behavior between a lot and a little,
high and low, beautiful and ugly, loud and soft, love and hate etc. etc. That is what is meant by saying a
controlled life is a free and full life.

An uneducated man has only one choice; high or low, hot or cold, happy or sad etc. He doesn’t have grades on
the scales of his life.

Being uneducated he’s not free but must be either obedient or disobedient to a power higher than himself, like
God or a person he considers above him in wisdom or power.

Tamar learns to swim
I decided to teach Tamar swimming as soon as she was born. Sigalit had other ideas but Tamar loved water
from the moment she was born. When she was about a year she got a pair of galoshes to go splashing in the
rain puddles.

Tamar finally, smilingly, confidently climbed down the stairs into the pool at Tal Shachar, where we stopped
on our way to pick grapes at Mazkeret Batya, for the first time without inflated floats on her arms, with
Mommy Sigalit tremulous but brave, looking on.

Look grandpa I can jump, I can dunk my head in the water, all the basic actions that make a little girl a
beginning swimmer.

Leon's No News Bulletin 119
Sunday, September 13, 2009
                                          “Happy new year” (Shana Tova)

On Rosh Hashana God began creating the world and since then every year on this day He judges it and we tell
each other to be happy.

It’s all very well judging phenomena that were created to operate according to the principles of justice like the
sun and the moon but can He judge man who doesn’t seem to operate according to justice but according to

Is it sure that a man will be happy in the same way that it’s sure the sun will shine today because it shone

Justice is something that is sure but there’s no guarantee of happiness.

For example when a couple make love, childbirth is the just result but happiness isn’t the same; it’s not the just
result of childbirth (much as we would like it to be) it is the result of a lifelong search that begins with

Happiness isn’t an automatic result therefore one cannot say that it operates according to the principles of

Perhaps the couple didn’t even want the child to be born so it’s even unjust that a person gets brought into this
world by two people who didn’t even want to bring him here; all they wanted was some fun.

Regarding justice in the human situation the Bible says “Clouds and thick darkness surround him,
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.” Psalms 97:2

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The conclusion of this is therefore for parents and children to give up the search for justice and to start
searching for happiness instead.

Everybody seems to agree that happiness is a state of being or a situation which we must search for if we are to
find it.

 “When you seek me you will find (me) because you have searched for me with all your heart”. Jeremiah 29:12 (1)
(I apply this to happiness.)

To search or not to search is up to each person.

Searching is difficult because, like the Bible says about God; it’s everywhere and is hidden.

“If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. Psalm 139:8
“You are a God who hides himself” Isaiah 45:15
“You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Exodus 33:20

Yet the Bible encourages us to search for Him and we can apply this encouragement to happiness also:

“When you seek me you will find (me) because you have searched for me with all your heart”. Jeremiah 29:12 (1)

The ease of finding pleasure and pain and their transitory nature are what makes our search for them a never
ending physical and mental activity.

Unlike the experiences themselves, which are easy to find, the happiness hidden in those experiences is
difficult to find but it’s free, permanent and, amazingly keeps getting better the more one searches.

The extent and durability of happiness is just as infinite as the number of places where pleasure or pain is

Happiness can be anywhere because it’s everywhere; the number of places where it can be found is infinite so
the search is infinite.

The beauty about happiness is that the more one searches the happier one becomes and there’s no limit to how
happy a person can be.

It can be in heaven or in hell, in pleasure or in pain, in richness or poverty, in health or sickness, in beauty or
ugliness, in wisdom or stupidity etc. etc.

It’s natural to search for pleasure but as everyone has found out when pleasure ends we have pain.

Happiness is simply, like God, everywhere and like God it hides itself in veils of pleasure and pain.

This is what makes many of these relationships disappointing and leads people to continue searching for more
pleasurable experiences in the hope of finding happiness.

When they’re disappointed they go on to another experience and then another, being unaware that happiness
isn’t automatic, not even in a pleasant love relationship,

Happiness is a permanent state which doesn’t disappear when a pleasant experience ends.

In a state of happiness one pleasure leads to another.

Children born of a love relationship where there is happiness are a pleasure but children born of a love
relationship where there is only pleasure become a pain.

There’s no doubt about it children are the price we have to pay for our pleasure in love. In a happy relationship
taking care of children becomes a lifelong pleasure but in a pleasure only relationship children are a lifelong

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When we find happiness even sacrificing ourselves for others is a pleasure.

Justice means children are born from the love relationship and justice demands that we take care of the children
we have brought into this world through the pleasure we’ve had in our search for happiness.

We find happiness in fulfilling our just duty of taking care of children.

A society that doesn’t carry out this just duty can never be happy.

For a happy new year take care of children. Everybody who has ever loved owes it to them.

     1.   This verse is mostly paraphrased as “seek and ye shall find” and it appears in many different translations.

Leon's No News Bulletin 120
Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Folding Bike

After fetching the keys for the Volkswagen Caravel from GUY Tours to take tourists the next day from their
cruise ship The Ocean Equinox, in Haifa harbor for a two day tour of the Galilee and Jerusalem, I decided to
check if Nizan Bicycles in Jaffa Rd. had information about folding bikes.

I’d been thinking about a folding bicycle since my brother Bernard told me he was importing electric bicycle
motors from China that were easily attached to the hub of the front wheel of any bicycle.

I was so amazed that Nizan had folding bikes in stock that, in a daze of foolishness I forked out a IS2800 loan
from my credit card company for the bike, carrier and bicycle bag and happily rode off into the sunset,
dreaming as I rode of loading my folding bike into the bus to Tel Aviv without paying the half price ticket
Egged charges for taking a bike on the bus.

I fondly remember my first journey; it wasn’t only the delicious feeling of relief at forking out only 9 1/2
shekels (pensioners price) for my bus fare and not hearing the dreaded words “and what about the bike”, I was
also about the only man in a cinema with an all women audience to attend a Women’s Film festival in Rehovot,
which had opened there on the same day I bought my bicycle, the 7 th Sept 09.

As an owner of a folding bike I enjoy many pleasures such as the gasps of admiring fellow bus travelers as I
fold and unfold my bike in the blink of an eye into a small package and calmly wheel it in to cinemas and
shopping malls where usually bikes are forbidden.

The 6th Annual Women’s film festival at Rehovot
I struck gold at the women’s film festival; this festival gave women a chance to show their “stuff”. I went there
because I knew I’d see some good movies that hadn’t reached the regular circuit just because they were made
by women.

The presentation of a women’s film festival is a criticism that our society still uses gender as a measure of the
quality of an artistic creation and many really good creations aren’t presented because someone has prevented
their presentation because it was produced by a woman.

The three films I saw confirmed my conviction that women share the same issues as men; identity and
acceptance and approval by society.

The first movie “Living with myself”, a Dutch movie for educating girls who feel different from their
companions because of certain tendencies like being artistic or coming from a broken home or coming from a
different environment than the other girls in the school or having all these problems together to adjust and
accept themselves.

The second movie I saw “You will know” brings us into a dilemma between honesty and career:

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The teacher accuses a student of cheating in a test when in fact she was only being a good student who used a
trick of mirror writing, which the teacher had taught of finding a solution to a problem.

An examining board is set up to prove that either the pupil was cheating or the teaching had made a false

If the student doesn’t falsely admit to cheating the teacher will lose her job. Eventually the student confesses
even though she and the audience are sure she didn’t cheat.

The third movie, a German movie “The teacher” also entitled the trees for the forest is about a very insecure
young woman who can’t adapt to the reality which clashes with her idealistic ideas about the world and human
relationships; her friend lies to her, her pupils don’t even notice her and her colleagues try to exploit her.

In her disappointment she chooses to leave this world rather than adapt to it.

In the last scene she drives in her car on a road through a forest, looks out the window at the trees with
nostalgia then calmly leaves the driver’s seat while the car is still moving into the forest.

She sits in the passenger seat leaving the car driverless. The car calmly continues into the forest while she looks
at the trees. She’s become a spectator instead of being a participant.
During the few hours before the first movie I had a delicious salad lunch in the restaurant adjoining the Chen
cinema, where the festival films were to be screened and rode my bicycle on a journey of exploration around
the town.

Rehovot is a pioneering town which began on a little hill which at first I didn’t notice because now it’s covered
by a street with two rows of big, old Sycamore trees in the center with a bicycle path running between them.

This hill, known as Duran was originally inhabited by Beduins until it was purchased by Elijah Eisenberg in
1889 from Rock, a Catholic citizen of Jaffa

The only part of Rehovot I’d been to until this day was the main street Herzl Street, where I’ve often driven
taking tourists to the Weizman Institute of Science and the Ayalon Institute (Clandestine ammunitions factory
of the War of Independence days).

Now riding happily down this short but beautiful avenue, perfect for cycling I came back to the city hall,
shopping mall, central bus station area.

By this time I was well stuffed, sweaty and tired so I lay down on a park bench but didn’t sleep, I just rested
then carried on riding until I came to another beautiful street, Chen Street, named after C.N. (Chaim Nahman)
Bialik our national poet of Israel’s pioneering period, with aisles of sycamore trees down the centre in addition
to statues of characters from fairy tails where kids and their parents were playing. What an idyllic scene, one
could think that this was a perfect world of peace and happiness.

Leon's No News Bulletin 121
Saturday, September 26, 2009

Perfection is the search
The purpose of Yom Kippur is to keep us searching for an ever more perfect world.

Until the Day of Atonement came along with its opening chords of Kol Nidrei I thought my life was perfect.

All of a sudden the words of this song try to strike me with fear and awe that God doesn’t exactly see things the
way I do and in fact might think that there are some flaws in my perfect world and I’m in trouble if I don’t fix
these things up.

I prostrate myself, shaking and shivering all over with fear, begging God for mercy and promising I’ll fix
things up the way He wants them.

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Somehow belief in God always manages to reveal a flaw in my life which I never knew existed. No matter how
hard I try to achieve it I never manage to find perfection. Every Yom Kippur always manages to alert me to
some new error that needs correcting and atoning for.

I’m dreaming of a Yom Kippur when I’ll be perfect like Bing Crosby’s dreaming of a white Christmas.

When I’m perfect I won’t have to fast and I won’t be full of fear.

But really, when you think about it who wants to be free of anxiety and fear of punishment from God? Who
wants to be able to say “now I’ve reached perfection and I don’t have to fast anymore”?

Not me. To be really honest I must say that actually I’m enjoying this wallowing in guilt, which I wouldn’t feel
if I didn’t know that there was a god about whom Yom Kippur comes to inform me.

I’ll leave the explanation why this is so to the Freudian psycho-analysts, but why are we constantly in search of
perfection? Why can’t we ever seem to reach the situation of being perfect?

From the description of Yom Kippur above it’s clear that perfection is the search not the situation. It’s the
constant search for greater perfection, for flaws to regret and atone for and to remove.

It’s a constant search. The moment a person finds one perfection another pops up.

Perfection is not a stationary situation that one arrives at; it’s being in a state of constant search. The search is
infinite because the world is infinite.

This is a great comfort to the humans who become attached to the world they live in and suffer great sadness
when they have to leave it or when a loved one leaves it.

The comfort is that the world continues to become ever more perfect and will continually do so forever.

Yom Kippur shows us the way to the Garden of Eden. It’s the world we leave behind after we die. Perhaps we
enjoy it as spirits. Perhaps we enjoy it as a reincarnated body. Whatever the case our lives are a once in a
lifetime opportunity to make it more perfect.

Leon's No News Bulletin 122
Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Jewish Pioneering Spirit
One of the first things that strikes a tourist as he makes his way, usually in a luxury bus, to his first exciting
visit in Israel is the excellent road system and the high quality of the roads.

This probably is something one would take for granted in one of the countries regarded as modern like the USA
or Europe but is surprising to a visitor whose imagination has been stuffed by childhood Sunday school
teachers with camels, desert sands dotted with angels dressed in white “galabiyas” and leather thong sandals
talking to God.

In the relatively brief time since Jews started pioneering the land again building roads has been a spectacular
way for Jewish pioneers to demonstrate their ideal of rejuvenating the ancient Jewish Homeland.

Road building gangs were a common sight in the early years of modern Jewish settlement of Israel.

They were made up of painfully realistic (therefore very brave) young Jewish boys and girls who had foregone
the pursuit of the delusion of gold lying free for the taking in the streets of the USA and South Africa to sing
songs of the dreamland they were creating by sweating as they swung pick axes to break rocks for new roads.

They had a dream and they weren’t sitting with arms folded waiting for a rich sugar daddy to do the work to
realize the dream because rich sugar daddies don’t swing pick axes to build roads. If you want to build a road
build it yourself.

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The beautiful, double lane coastal road I travelled on from Haifa in the dead of night, after dropping my tourists
off at the Celebrity Equinox, the biggest ship to dock on Haifa harbor, with 2500 passengers and 2000 crew on
board, was built in the 1950’s by such group of Jewish pioneers and I and the road and the harbor are the
realization of the dream of the pioneers on the road gang.

If a modern road building company turns a good profit employing workers from every country in the world
except Israel it doesn’t mean that the Jewish pioneering spirit is dead. On the contrary; previously it thrived at
the bottom of the ladder of development now it’s alive and well at the top end of the ladder.

All levels of society are joined to each other, like mountain climbers struggling to reach the peak; the one at the
top was originally at the bottom, then as he moved up the rungs of the ladder he pulled the climbers under him
up the ladder as well.

Jewish idealism established the State of Israel to reach for the top of an ideal society. The Arabs can choose (as
many have) to tie themselves to the Jewish “climbers” and so reach the top also or they can try to topple the
Jews from the top and end up in some ridiculous, interminable battle.

Once “pioneerism” has started there’s no turning back. This is what makes the battle interminable. Pioneers
never stop, they just climb higher and everybody who lives here is tied to them. We can cut the cord but the fall
is long and retying the cord isn’t easy.

Leon's No News Bulletin 123
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day to day life in Modern Israel
The recent spate of cruise ships has made me a frequentor of our ports, Haifa and Ashdod but the rush to get
my cruise tourists to the highlight tourist sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Galilee prevents me from
tarrying enough to see much of these ordinary, humdrum cities.

You are certainly aware by now that this no newsletter as opposed to a newsletter tries to call attention to the
humdrum and ordinary aspects of Israeli society.

It’s the humdrum and ordinary chores of life that concern the majority of the people living in any country and
Israel is no different.

For example hardly a single Israeli has been to the crossing point into Bethlehem or any other crossing point
yet this is an ordinary, regular activity for every tourist visiting the sites in the Palestinian Territories.

Hardly any Israeli has been to the Temple Mount which hit the headlines on our festival of Succot because of
some Arab disturbances.

Israelis are simply much too busy battling to make a living, going to restaurants, worrying about children of
poor families that are starving, going to the theatre, buying the latest computer, getting married or divorced etc.
etc. to worry about the Arabs.

This doesn’t mean that Israel is becoming negligent about the dangers that the Arabs are threatening us with; on
the contrary it means that our defenses against those dangers have improved and are improving all the time.

Most of all it means that Israelis have lost patience with the Arabs and aren’t interested in fighting extended,
unnecessary wars. Now they want danger to be dealt with quickly and effectively. Israelis don’t have time for
military heroism; hand to hand, face to face war is a thing of the past. We want our kids to live and create not to
go to war. We consider our well being not the well being of our enemies.

Visiting Ashdod and Haifa has brought some interesting new discoveries of ordinary delights which I’m
forever pursuing; for example the bakery at the Delek filling station where I stop for coffee before I pick up my
tourists from the ship.

They make a tasty pastry called burekas; some filled with mushrooms, others with pizza, others with bean
sprouts, spinach, potato, different kinds of cheese etc. etc.

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I stopped for coffee at a place called George’s pizza in the downtown area of Haifa, in a little side street near
the harbor. He makes Arabic pita bread covered with different kinds of cheeses. I had the Labane pizza. Wow
you’ve got to come with me to Haifa just for that. I wash it down with a cup of real Arabic coffee.

Across the road from George’s (Independence Way), in a harbor warehouse area, in the second row behind
Independence Way I found Haifa’s best cigar shop. I don’t consider myself a serious cigar smoker but I enjoy a
puff now and again especially sitting at George’s having a little puff before the day’s touring.

Leon's No News Bulletin 124
Monday, November 02, 2009

Riding up Hospital Hill
Every morning little Gork (me) and big Gork (my brother Raymond) rode our bikes up Hospital Hill (the
steepest hill in Krugersdorp).

I still enjoy the smell of dew of the morning mist on the soft grass which I remember exhilarating me as I
pedaled my way out of the valley where we lived to our school at the top of the hill on my turquoise colored

Now I realize that our house on the corner of Percy Stewart Str. and Main Reef Road stood almost at the lowest
point in the valley in which our town of Krugersdorp lay.

I feel cheated that all those years I lived in a valley; nobody told me it was a valley. I loved living in a valley
but nobody told me I was living in one. How was I to know I was living exactly where I wanted to live, in a

Only now remembering the steep ride to school on the one side and the steep climb to the Eastern Extension
Railway station on the other, I realize I was living in a valley.

Nobody spoke about the mysterious meanderings of the little brook that flowed through the park at the bottom
of the valley just near our house, across Main Reef Rd.

Domination by holiness
Our Geography teacher was only interested in drumming into our heads the names of agricultural products
exported from a South American country which might as well have been fictitious it was so unfamiliar to us.

Everybody seemed to have played down the importance of our town at a time when I thirsted to be living in a
town of momentous import standing in a great valley on the banks of a brook which fed the great Crocodile
River or some other important life giving stream absolutely vital to the existence of the world.

Our valley and our little stream just didn’t meet the requirement, obviously set down in some hidden place in
the world, for a natural place to be declared by mankind to be a place of great renown written about in the great
histories of places in the world like the Bible’s Jordan River, Huckleberry Finn’s Mississipi River, John
Steinbeck’s Salinas Valley, the Bible’s Valley of Death.

I sat there by my little stream, dreaming that God would transport me to a really important river or a really
great valley.

So here I am living in Jerusalem near Mt. Moriah where the temple once stood, looking down into the Jordan
Valley where God stopped the water so that the tribes of Israel could cross over the Jordan River to enter the
promised land.

I’ve made up for being deprived in my childhood of living near one of the wondrous places of the world.

Now I’m completely surrounded by places where wonders occurred, remember I live on Mt. Scopus which is
part of the Mt. of Olives, and I don’t have to tell you what miraculous things happened there. Places don’t come
more important or holy than this.

Now that I’m here, however, my regular visits to these places have brought me to the realization that nations
have created false importance for them so that they can claim domination over the territory where they stand.

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The Jews were the first to insist on a correspondence between their holiness as a nation and the holiness of the
Land. They claimed that being God’s holy nation they were entitled to God’s holy Land.

After nearly 2000 years of struggle the surrounding nations finally got the point; to win control of the land they
had to be God’s chosen nation.

Christianity has dominated the country on and off for 2000 years and Islam also on and off for about 1300

During this time they have managed to find a holy place in Israel for every event in the New Testament and in
the Koran.

Judaism, however has never claimed that some places are more holy than others; all places in the world are of
equal holiness even the temple mount (this requires some quite detailed explanation not in the scope of this

Since the destruction of the 2nd temple Jews consider themselves and others to be unholy and prohibit
themselves and others from treading on the place where the holy of holies once stood but they don’t prohibit
non Jews from entering any Jewish place of worship.

The Moslems, obviously to bolster their claim of the right to dominate Israel have made themselves a holy
people distinct from others.

This is why they prohibit non Moslems entrance to their Mosques even to the plaza of the Mosque on the
temple mount at certain times.

The suggestion is of course that if the Jews want to dominate Israel they should become Moslem.

Leon's No News Bulletin 125
Monday, November 09, 2009

Conformists and Non Conformists
As long as parents tell kids what to do they’re okay and secretly happy doing it while openly moaning and
groaning that they’re not having any fun.

Then when there’s no school and no homework or housework like on Saturdays or during school holidays we
complained of being bored and having nothing to do.

My life was divided between “lolling around”(my late mother’s expression) with my friends in my bedroom
amusing ourselves with raising and rejecting suggestions of what to do, complaining that life is boring and
sitting in a classroom dreaming of the beach or fantasizing how I was going to defend myself against the
punches of some kid who’d warned me on my way to school that I should just wait until after school when he
was going to “make mincemeat” out of me because I had sworn at him even though I wasn’t aware of ever
having done such a thing, in fact I didn’t even know of his existence until that moment and now I was facing
the frightening prospect of “getting donnered” (beaten up).

Today I realize that if it wasn’t for these scary characters I wouldn’t have had much communication with the
outside world. They were part of the outside world, which presented me with awesome challenges.

I was blissfully happy being by myself; I was never bored when I was by myself, my mind was always full of
interesting thoughts like my place in the universe, my relationship to inanimate objects from cricket balls to
tennis balls and genius kids in my class that always got “a” s while I couldn’t even get a “d”.

I took an objective view of the world around me; no thing held out greater importance in my life than any other

Naturally I had a clearly defined list of people, parents, brothers, cousins and pets, in that order, who I felt I
couldn’t really live without so every evening, in my bed, my hands together palm to palm pointing upwards to

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God I enumerated my list to Him and hoped He would take care of them so that I wouldn’t have to worry about
that anymore.

I didn’t have time for worries; they took up too much thinking space in my brain and I was very doubtful about
its capacity, which was defined by the number of historical facts or scientific formulae you remembered.

My mind focused on everything, even the spiritual composition of air. The constant harping of the teachers on
the physical composition of things bothered me. In those days I thought that I was retarded because I couldn’t
remember the formulae. Today I realize that it’s because I didn’t consider them important for me.

My only real worry in life was meeting those “donnering” or “blikseming” (beating up) characters.

Thinking back I realize I could have asked God to “donner” them but for some strange reason I never
considered asking God to do that. I never even asked my big brother to do it. I never doubted even for a
moment that I had to take care of those threats by myself.

The movie Ettie and I saw yesterday reminded of this. It’s called “Searching for Eric” and the theme is not to
try to handle problems alone; friends are there to help in times of trouble. Eric wards off danger with the help
of loyal friends.

The film reveals that friendships are formed with like minded people who share their thoughts, pleasures and
sufferings with each other; they all follow people and soccer teams who become their idol, they drink together
and in the movie they dress in the same postman’s uniform of the same job they all do.

This is so important that Eric gets quite hysterical when red paint accidently splashes on his uniform.

I say that Eric had lots of friends because he conforms to the requirements of group membership; they love him
and when he’s down they help him get back on his feet because he conformed to the requirements.

Eventually they all don masks that make them look identical to Eric’s idol, a famous soccer player. This is the
ultimate conformity; Eric and his friends conform so much they literally become the idol.

Anybody who doesn’t don the mask of conformity cannot be a member of that clan; they won’t be his friend.

The group that is threatening Eric are also conformist but they conform to a different, a criminal ideal (theft and
murder) while Eric’s friends conform to a socially acceptable ideal (marriage and family life).

The movie is a masterpiece in showing us the sociological phenomenon of the group conformity.

Ken Loach, the director of “Searching for Eric” could only create such a picture by looking at the phenomenon
from the outside; someone on the inside of a group could never create such an objective picture. He must be a
non conformist.

Non conformists like Ken Loach are often the brunt of criticism because they don’t belong to any group, but
this movie demonstrates their importance in identifying and so observing and analyzing behavior patterns
which we wouldn’t otherwise see.

Society needs people who look at it critically and so help it proceed in a positive direction.

They are the knights who stand alone in shining armor, who reflect the good and evil in the conforming groups.

Being a conformist is so important to our survival that we are blind to our behavior. Watching a movie like
“Searching for Eric” gives us a moment of self reflection which is just as important to our survival as
conforming to the group.

Leon's No News Bulletin 126
November 14, 2009

Jesus wasn’t the savior or the king of the Jews

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The Romans rulers were known for their cruelty to their human subjects but they were never cruel to their gods
who they admired, revered and even loved.

One of the worst crimes a person could commit in the Roman world was to curse his god; this was considered
treason. Naturally nothing was worse than someone who killed or tortured his god.

The Roman war against the Jews was not, as many people think, because the Jews worshipped a different god
to them. On the contrary, the Romans respected the gods of all the nations they conquered and even built
temples for them, e.g. the temple in Jerusalem.

The Romans abhorred a nation that killed its gods. They weren’t shocked when Jews went to pray at the temple
they had built for them, on the contrary that’s what they wanted; it made them feel that the Jews were loyal to

They were amazed and disgusted and ultimately downright annoyed and insulted at the Jewish opposition to
their temple; remember that the priests were appointed by the emperor and the general population rejected

Going to the temple a Jew demonstrated acceptance of Roman rule. Jews who didn’t go to the temple must
have been punished in some way which isn’t recorded.

Jews encouraging other Jews not to go to the temple must have been pursued and put to death in some cruel

By the way take a look at how many times Jesus tells Jews that he’ll destroy the temple that he’s the temple and
they don’t have to go there and look what happened to him.

The Jewish rejection of the temple is well documented in the scrolls found at the Dead Sea. Remember those
scrolls were hidden. Now we know why.

They, like Jesus, encouraged the rejection of the temple in Jerusalem.

The Romans tried to suppress this encouragement this is why those Jewish leaders flee to Qumran, one of the
most inaccessible and inhospitable places at that time and they hid the scrolls so that we, 2000 years later
would find them and learn about this rejectionist Jewish movement which was so cruelly suppressed that to this
day we worship at the Western Wall in acceptance of the Roman domination over Judea.

All these years I believed the Rabbinic explanation that Jews mustn’t ascend the temple mount because we
aren’t holy and that is a holy place.

Now I know that this is a subterfuge of our wise rabbis of blessed memory who lived under Roman rule in the
Galillee after the destruction of the temple, to avoid persecution for speaking against going to the temple.

Now I believe Josephus’ accusation that the Jews caused the destruction of the temple and that Titus really
didn’t want to destroy the temple but the Jews forced him by hiding there.

Now I believe that the Jewish zealots didn’t care about the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem which they
saw as Roman and that the Jews that continued to live under Roman rule in the Galillee saved Judaism from
extinction by creating the Mishna which taught Jews how to remain Jews while living under Roman rule.

Now I believe that the Romans used the crucifixion of Jesus to foster hatred for the Jews as god killers,
demons, blood thirsty monsters, money grabbers, thieves and traitors.

The Christian Scriptures were not originally intended to promote such heinous ideas but Constantine the great
officially accepted Christianity because it served the Roman purpose of making the Jews a hated nation.

Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of Christ is a true cinematic representation of the events described in the
Christian Scriptures.

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Unfortunately by portraying scenes of Jesus’ suffering and betrayal by his own people, the Jews, he,
unwittingly, like many Christian before him falls into the trap set by the Romans of convincing anyone who
accepts the Christian Scriptures that the Jews are a monstrously hateful nation.

This was the ultimate Roman weapon which is used, deliberately by some and inadvertently by others, to this
day against the Jews who fought so fiercely against them.

The Romans put statements like “they kill the prophets” in the mouth of Jesus who they present as king of the

What can be more hateful than a person who betrays his king who has come to save him; sells him for a
handful of coins, hands him over to the Roman rulers to be crucified, shout that their own king should be
crucified etc. etc?

No one can doubt that Jesus was crucified but he wasn’t the god or the king of the Jews and he didn’t come to
save them.

That is a Roman lie which must be stamped out if we are to stamp out anti-Semitism.

Leon's No News Bulletin 127
Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Scroll of Fire
We were a jolly bunch of tourists and tour guide in the silver KIA which left jetty 21 at the Ashdod Harbor,
where the elegant cruise ship, Princess of the sea had brought the tourists to visit Jerusalem.

Instead of taking the main road we drove up the steep, narrow, winding, forest covered, Kesalon Valley, road
between Moshav Eshtaol and Moshav Kesalon to the Scroll of Fire in the heart of the Bnei Brit Memorial

The sight of pine tree covered, precipitous slopes elicited exclamations of amazement that Israel was such a
mountainous, verdant country. Not only did it not look like a desert; there was plenty of water and the trees of
many varieties such as Pine, Oak, Pistachio and others were lush and green, almost as if you were in a rain

They never knew that Israel is such a hilly, well watered country. Yet in Deuteronomy 8:7 it clearly says: “For
the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, springing
forth in valleys and hills.”

Although Israel’s climate is sub tropic, Mediterranean, 60% lies in desert areas, like the Negev, the Judean and
the Sinai deserts so rainfall is a sparse 300 ml average, but the limestone which covers the whole country
provides ideal natural storage places for it.

Jerusalem, like many other cities, gets its water from wells in the surrounding hills like those where I was
driving my tourists to the Scroll of fire.

The final stretch of road leading there has pine trees on either side, making it like a dark tunnel with a spot of
light at the end. Riding down here gives one the feeling of inevitability. It’s like going down the path of Jewish
history; no matter how dark it is you know that there’s light at the end and this is the light of Torah which like a
beacon has always illuminated even the darkest moments of Jewish history.

The Scroll of Fire is a 20 ft high bonze Torah scroll, which like all Torah Scrolls has a right scroll and a left
scroll. The right scroll has been read and depicts the tragedies of the past; the Holocaust and the destruction of
the first and second temples. The left scroll depicts the epochs of glory in the future; the ingathering of the
exiles, the return of the Menorah to the temple and the joyous entrance of the Messiah the son of David to

By looking back at the light and shade of Jewish history we can be hopeful that whatever tragedies the future
may bring they will surely be followed by joyous events.

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My life these days is divided three ways; work, study and playing with the grandchildren. Now and again I go
to a movie; with Ettie, when there’s something she wants to see and sometimes on my own; Ettie doesn’t like
watching movies which are purported to be violent, like Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie “The Inglorious

Tarantino demonstrates brilliantly how a single scene of persecution of innocent people at the beginning of the
movie can blunt one’s reaction to scenes of terrible cruelty carried out against the perpetrators of the
persecution in the first scene.

It’s a kind of brainwashing to bring ordinary decent people to carry out terrible cruelty simply by convincing
them that the victims have done such bad things that they deserve the cruelty meted out to them by decent

Tarantino is performing an important service to society by pointing out the dangerous influence movies can
have in forming our opinions of others and our actions towards them based on that information.

The moral of the story is that decent, normally non violent people can be persuaded by mass propaganda tricks
to do acts of terrible violence.

Leni Riefenstahl, the director of Nazi Germany’s most effective propaganda films was part of the Nazi mass
propaganda mechanism to persuade Germans that Nazism was the salvation of the world while the Jews were
its curse.

By turning Germans against Jews she was responsible for the death of many thousands of people but the war
crimes tribunal didn’t consider it possible to gain a conviction and she was released and lived to the ripe old
age of 101.

Leon's No News Bulletin 128
Thursday, December 17, 2009

Remembering the bad times in the Good
When I’m out and about guiding tourists I’m in high gear. I had a few free days and it was like they were never
going to end and I nearly went into low gear when suddenly a day’s work appeared and I was back in my old
haunts in the Old City.

During the short low gear moment I started looking for ways to fill my anticipated free time.

I found a great event, Nabucco at the foot of Massada on the 3 rd and 4th June 2010.

It’ll be a weekend of opera and song, Nabucco and Jesse Norman at the foot of Massada and a symphony
concert on the top.

I can’t imagine a more exciting entertainment experience. I’m full of admiration for the people who think up
this kind of experience, the performers, the atmosphere, the historic drama that took place here, the clear night
sky of the Judean Desert, everything.

The website for anyone interested is

In low gear time I managed to attend a lecture by the author of a new book on the historiography of Jewish
History entitled “Facing the Volcano” by David Engel, discussing how the Holocaust influences the writing of
Jewish History.

Try as they might historians can’t describe history without looking back from the place they are right now.

Every historian today is looking back from the present into the past. The present for Engel compared to the
present for a 19th century Jewish historian like Graetz or Dubnow is where there has been a holocaust,
establishment of an independent Jewish State, return of the Jews from the exile etc.

The present is the conclusion of the past. The pogroms of the end of the 19 th century are the dismal conclusion
of Jewish History until then. The establishment of Israel is the happy conclusion of Jewish History until now.

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Everything that will happen in the future will color the way a historian sees the past.

Everything is history and history has meaning because we live in a world created by events of the past.

The Psalm “There by the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion” could only have been
written in a time after the Jews had returned to Zion relishing their independence in their homeland after the

The Psalmist couldn’t have described that event at the moment it happened; he could say that the action of
sitting and weeping in Babylon and remembering Zion gave the Jews the moral strength needed to return to
Zion. So he is encouraging the Jews to remember their past at a time when it doesn’t seem necessary; a nation
living independently in its own land, comfortable and probably self satisfied with a bright, hopeful future.

The function of remembering the difficult past in the good times is most of all preparation for bad times that
will surely come again. It’s the opposite of the attitude “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”.

According to Engel most historians see the holocaust as a natural catastrophe, which happens by itself without
being caused by the people who suffer from it.

The Jews didn’t cause the Germans to try to wipe them out and they won’t be the cause of another catastrophe
in the future. In fact nobody or no nation can be accused of causing genocide to be perpetrated against it.

There’s nothing the Jews or any nation which has suffered genocide, can do to prevent the catastrophe but they
can strengthen themselves and take measures to protect themselves should such a catastrophe occur again.

One of the ways of doing this is by remembering the past.

This was well illustrated in a film I saw on Tuesday at the 10 th International Jewish Film Festival taking place
in Jerusalem, “Against the Current” about one man’s struggle (Hillel Kook alias Peter Bersgson) to organize
rescue operations in America to save the Jews of Europe in the face of apathy of the official Jewish Community
leadership and the Roosevelt administration.

Several scenes showed how Jews celebrated Hanukka in Auschwitz, how they blew the shofar there on the
New Year and how they made matzah in the crematoria.

By remembering these events of the Holocaust in the good times we strengthen ourselves to overcome future
catastrophes which we can only hope won’t happen. It’s not enough to hope and pray we also need to
remember past catastrophes and how we overcame them.

While searching for cultural activities for my tourists at Christmas time I discovered that the cultural scene in
Israel this month has been taken over by modern dance performances.

I was looking for some traditional Israeli folkdances which recall the pioneering days of Israel, but in vain.

The dances shows I found are very different from those of a few years ago.

Today’s dances give visual expression to feelings of here and now, the relationship between people and objects
and they tell stories through human movement combined with colors and the use of effects. Nothing is designed
to be inspiring the way the good old traditional folkdances are.

Folkdances set an ideal for us to follow a happy situation to achieve. These modern dances don’t look back at
the difficult days of the past as the Psalmist looked back, they only represent the present, expressing the way
we do things now.

They represent the present as if this is the way it’s going to be from now on while folkdances represent the past
and the feeling of idealism that the pioneers had of creating a bright future.

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Tamar loves to dance. She dragged me to her room to dance the latest children’s festival songs, known as
festigal, meaning a wave of festivity. This is well named because the music engulfs one like a wave; when
you’re in it that’s all you see, nothing beyond, no memory, only action now.

This is what makes modern dance so pleasurable to kids. Old grandpa has to join in and dance to Tamar’s tune.

Nevertheless I brought her a film of the Bolshoi Ballet to try now and again to give her a dance experience that
takes her a little out and beyond the modern dance to an idealistic dream of the future.

Leon’s No Newsletter 129
Tuesday 5th Jan 2010

Naming the Child
Sigalit, my daughter in law, Boaz' wife, Tamar's mommy gave birth to a bouncing boy on Thursday 17th Dec
and I am a proud grandfather for the 4th time.

During her pregnancy she explained to Tamar that the baby growing inside her is like a peanut, in Hebrew
"Boten", so Tamar called him Boten.

A child needs a name even before we know how he's going to turn out.

So at his "bris" on Friday "Boten" acquired a name, Eitan Lazar, which expresses the hopes we all have of him.

In primitive societies they believed that the name of the child determines his personality; if you give him a
name with a good meaning the child will be good. If you give him a name of something beautiful then he'll be
beautiful etc.

This, of course is a mystic idea unacceptable to people who look at the world in a rational way.
Rationally one can't say that the name creates character traits. To a rational person that sounds like mumbo

Rational thinking prefers to turn this the other way around; character traits give meaning to names. In other
words character traits are named according to the name of the person who has that trait.

For example Eitan must have originally been the name of a person who was consistently strong and firm so the
word "Eitan" came to means a river that flows throughout the year as opposed to a perennial stream.

It doesn't make sense to think that a mother who gave her child the name "Boo" hoped he'd be a scary type or
that Jezebel's hoped she'd be a cruel person, but when they grew up "Boo" turned out scary and "Jezebel"
turned out cruel. So "Boo" came to be a word for scaring people and "Jezebel" came to be used for "Dung

To this day whenever we see a dung heap we say "careful don't step in the Jezebel."

The Canaanites named their favorite god "Zebub" but the Jews obviously didn't like him, for reasons unknown
to us, so they used "Zebub" for fly. For example "Beelzebub" in Shakespeare's Macbeth originates in the
Hebrew "Baal Zebub" meaning lord of the flies.

Nabal was the name of a harsh, selfish person so his name came to be used for that meaning and so on.
Noah must have been an easy going guy so his name is the Hebrew word for easy going.

Jaffa must have been very beautiful so her name is used for beauty.

We're very excited for young Eitan; We hope he'll be strong and consistent like his name which means a strong
flowing river.

Giving a child a strong name like Eitan, however isn't enough for the child to develop characteristics that will
match his name.

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Parents need to do much more than just giving a name. They need to encourage the child to develop the
characteristics they hope for. Without encouragement the child has a difficult task to attain his parents hopes.

Fortunately their task is made easier by the fact that every child is born with the desire to learn.
One may argue that each child is born with a different level of intelligence, beauty, strength etc. but I don't
think anyone can argue that every child has a basic desire to learn. It's like a limb, it's part of him.

All parents need to do is to encourage this desire. If they encourage it the child will achieve whatever level of
intelligence, strength, beauty or any other innate quality he's born with. If they don't encourage the desire to
learn then any potential which the child has won't be realized to the full.

I'm not advocating pushing a child to achieve goals beyond his potential. A child born with a low level of
intelligence will only suffer if the parents try to turn him a child with high intelligence. No one can exceed his
basic potential.

Attempting to do that brings problems as is well illustrated in a popular new movie with Robert de Niro
"Everybody's fine".

The main character, the father, Frank Goode (de Niro), had great kids and he loved them very much. Some of
them were born with very high intelligence but one was born a simple sweet, not very intelligent, guy. The
father pushes them all and of course the end is tragic for the simple kid.

We can't give our kids something they aren't born with but we can help them achieve everything they're born
with by simply encouraging the basic quality that every child is born with, namely the desire to learn.

One of the most beautiful examples of the desire to learn, in my opinion, is the gripping reaction babies
demonstrate immediately after birth; the little fist is closed tightly and when you carefully pry it open it
immediately shuts closed, gripping your finger.

Soon he opens his hand by himself and feels around for something to grip. Later this desire to grip makes him
move forward in his never ending search for things to grip.

Encouraging the desire to learn
Encouraging the desire to learn is the easiest and greatest gift parents can give a child. When I speak of a gifted
child this is what I mean, not a child who has a special talent.

Kyle, my 7 year old tourist, had coffee with me in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff str. while his parents and sister, who
had just celebrated her Bat mitzvah did some shopping before flying home to the US.
Watching Kyle's antics, playing with a dog who kept barking at us, jumping down 7 steps and over two poles, I
realized that he's not demonstrating a special talent. He's just demonstrating his desire to learn which his
parents encouraged.

Kyle and his family came with me to Tel Aviv after I'd dipped them in the treasure box of Jewish history which
is Jerusalem.

This sidewalk café threatened to empty the bag full of gold and silver we'd collected in Jerusalem.

Tel Aviv
Unlike the world changing ideas which the prophets of the Bible preached in Jerusalem hardly anybody knows
about the idealism of the founders of Tel Aviv.

Their Ideal was twofold; to rejuvenate the land that had been neglected for nearly 2000 years and the nation
who had been scattered from their ancient homeland by cruel enemies.

Tel Aviv, more than any other settlement which the idealistic pioneers established, embodies both of these
ideas, expressed in the name, Tel Aviv, Hill of Spring, taken from Ezekiel 3:15.

The founders envisioned a city which would be a "Hebrew urban centre in a healthy environment, planned
according to the rules of aesthetics and modern hygiene"1.

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So it was only natural that the founders built Tel Aviv according to a plan by Sir Patrick Geddes, a famous
Scottish Urbanist influenced by the Garden City Movement.1

This is what makes walking in Tel Aviv so pleasant. Dizengoff Str has beautiful, leafy ficus trees on either side
where students sit in sidewalk cafes typing intently on their mini, mobile computers as they sip coffee and
nibble pastries, salads and cakes and their dogs lie curled up sleeping peacefully next to them or bark nervously
at little boys like Kyle who wake and frighten them.

In Rothschild Boulevard cyclists and strollers moving leisurely along the path separating the tarmac strips of
road on either side like a tropical island in the middle of the ocean, hardly notice the passing, noisy cars.

Here too the founding fathers, being full of garden city hope, planted ficus trees, now giants gaily waving at the
heavens in their height and casting primordial darkness in the midst of the most fiery city day so that even the
drivers wait patiently in the centre of town traffic because the young people cavorting and strolling on the
island paradise next to them., unknowingly entertain them

1.     Tel Aviv is the only known city whose core is entirely built according to Geddes' plan

Leon’s No Newsletter 130
Fri 15th Jan 2010

Religious buildings
Flying is a great way to get a bird's eye view of Israel but few of us ever get the opportunity to do the low
flying needed for such a view, so we climb the mountains, like Mt. of Olives, Mt. Carmel, Mt. Tabor etc. as
most tourists do.

Like Moses, before he died on Mt. Nebo we look out and see the entire promised land, known to us today as
the State of Israel.

Looking at the minarets of mosques and church steeples spread out below us we begin to wonder if this is truly
the Jewish State we dreamt about.

These structures are much more prominent than synagogues, just as they always were in the Diaspora where
Jews lived before there was a Jewish State, as a minority amongst a non Jewish majority, but this is changing.
For the meantime in the modern state of Israel, where the Jews are more than 80% of the population, church
steeples and minarets are just as prominent as they were in any country dominated by Moslems or Christians.
For the meantime, Jewish domination of Israel isn't noticeable from the skyline.

For the meantime Jewish dominance of Israel isn't expressed in the daily, almost hourly cries of the Muezzin
from the minarets and clanging of the bells from church steeples

For the meantime Jews tolerate this noise, louder here than in any country dominated by those religions; some
see it as a colorful part of the Israeli scene, others see it as a demonstration of how unhappy they are being a
minority in a Jewish dominated country.

Their loudness only demonstrates how badly they would like to be dominant.

For nearly 2000 years Judaism has been the smallest of the world's three monotheistic religions. Still today in
every country in the world it's the smallest excepting in Israel.

Historically, Judaism doesn't reveal its prominence; in a world that hated them being inconspicuous had its

Jews in the Diaspora tried to be unnoticed; they hid synagogues either by locating them in ordinary homes,
undistinguishable as synagogues or they were designed to look like churches or mosques.

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I've heard that in some Moslem countries synagogues even had a special holy ark (aron Kodesh) for the Koran,
Jewish prayers in Moslem countries were recited to melodies used for reciting verses of the Koran.

The obscurity of Jewish religious buildings and the prominence of Christian and Moslem ones isn't, by any
means a religious requirement, but rather a national one.

There is no Christian or Moslem religious requirement to build churches and mosques in an extravagant style,
making them prominent, neither is there any Jewish religious requirement to build synagogues in a way to
make them unnoticeable.

It's clear that churches, mosques and synagogues are prominent or inconspicuous because the state dictates it to
be so.

When we lived as minorities in other countries, especially in countries where the state encouraged anti-
Semitism, it was a good idea to be inconspicuous. But now that we have our own state we're building
synagogues as conspicuous as churches and mosques in the Diaspora.

Even in states with secular administrations and the majority of the population secular, religious buildings are
monumental and deliberately conspicuous.

In fact states take pride in the beauty of buildings of the religion it favors. They even become symbols of the
state's power.

Until now the state of Israel has been somewhat exceptional in that it has taken pride in the building of non
Jewish, Christian and Moslem religious buildings.

The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, for example, lay in ruins since Crusader times 800 years ago until
the state, in 1960, allowed the Catholic Church to rebuild it in. It is one of the most impressive buildings in

Israel, purported to be the largest church in the Middle East.

That's not saying much because as most people know, as long as Islam dominated the Middle East in the 7th
cen, when it conquered Israel from the earlier Byzantine Christians, churches weren't built.

Likewise in the Crusader times (12th and 13th cen) mosques weren't built. Today magnificent mosques are

Until now the State of Israel, unlike other states, hasn't tried to bolster its image as a powerful State,
emphasizing the dominance of Judaism by building monumental, prominent Jewish religious buildings.

This has been the situation until now and we might have begun to think that after all the Jews were different,
perhaps more tolerant and spiritual than other religions.

Now it’s clear from one panoramic overview of Israel that we are truly a nation like all other nations.
The golden Dome of the Rock and the grey dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre have now been joined
by the dome of the rebuilt Hurva Shul in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.

Now there's a golden dome, a grey dome and a white dome.

It's becoming clear that we are indeed a nation like any other nation.
It took a while but now the Jewish State has entered the competition to demonstrate power and nationhood with
monumental buildings.

Most amazing in this new trend is that the state's objective to demonstrate its dominance with monumental
religious buildings is spear headed by the Belz Hasidim, a group of Jews who don't accept that a Jewish State
should exist.

Their new synagogue, magnificently build to represent the ancient temple is the pride and joy of loyal
nationalist, mostly secular Jews who oppose their extreme religious way of life.

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Leon’s No Newsletter 131
Jerusalem 18th Jan 2010

Monotheism and Polytheism at Caesarea
The other day a group of tourists from Melbourne and SA, commissioned my services to show them the
Galilee. We had made a program for two days. On the first day I would take them to Caesarea, Rosh Hanikra
and Safed and on the 2nd day to the Golan Heights and the hot springs of Hamat Gader.

Of course I'm familiar with all these places but, honestly, I only decided what exactly we'd talk about at each
place when I met the tourists and when they met the various sites.

I have great confidence in the ability of the historic sites of Israel to speak for themselves. My task is to give
them voice, but the tone and exact content is fixed by the type of audience. In this case 5 children between the
ages of 8 and 14.

Children love surprises and mysteries; we don't have any lack of those here.
Right at the beginning, headless and armless statues confronted them, at the very entrance of the Roman
Theater of Caesarea.

Everyone was speechless excepting me. I helped the statues speak. That got the kids speaking.
I told them about the fanatically monotheistic, Umayad Moslems from South Arabia, who conquered the Land
of Israel in the 7th century but feared statues. So they cut off their heads and arms to make sure the statues
wouldn't curse them or take up a sword against them.

Today scholars say that it was a battle of cultures; Moslem, monotheistic culture from the barren desert of
South Arabia against Roman Polytheistic culture of temples, statues and ornate architecture.
Statues represented the earlier Roman Polytheism. But actually the Moslems were also Polytheists before
Mohammad introduced them to Allah, the one God.

One would have thought that by now 1300 after Mohammad Moslems would be free of Polytheism, but
apparently that isn't the case.

Even now Islam is still totally absorbed with the task of ridding themselves of Polytheism.

They're so busy with this that to this day that they make it the main pretext for war against an enemy.
They call this war "Jihad". The Moslem terrorist still screams "Allah Akbar"(Allah is great) as he slaughters
anyone he brands his enemy.

They even have a "Jihad" against the Jews, even though the Jews were Monotheists long before the Moslems.
Judaism doesn't approve of Polytheism but also doesn't feel threatened by it. The few statues you find in Israel
aren't considered objects of worship, in fact we appreciate them as works of art.

The main function of the theater in Roman times was to demonstrate, in plays and poetic recitals, the power of
the gods. This is why there were so many theatres and statues of the various Roman gods at the entrance of the

The Roman administration was very tolerant of the Jewish religion. For them the gods, including the Jewish
God, were very powerful and protected the empire and its leaders. One tried not to antagonize any god. In fact
the Romans and all ancient polytheistic nations did everything they could to honor as many gods as possible in
the hope that the gods would protect them. It was like hedging your bet.

It would have been unthinkable for polytheists, like the Romans, to damage statues of the gods, whether they
were their gods or the gods of an enemy.

Even the ancient Babylonians, like king Nebuchadnezzar, also a polytheist, who, after destroying the temple in
Jerusalem and taking the Jewish People into exile in Babylon regretted his action, considering that the powerful
Jewish God would punish him and his empire.

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In fact the Persians, also polytheists, considered that the Jewish God had helped them conquer the Babylonian
empire, sending them to punish Nebuchadnezzar for destroying God's temple in Jerusalem. That's why Cyrus,
the Persian king sent Nehemia back to Judea to rebuild the temple.
The Romans were not angry at the Jews for worshiping God, on the contrary, all they wanted was that the Jews
pray to their God to keep the emperor in good health and give him victory over his enemies.

To this day we have a prayer in the synagogue service for the well – being of the emperor or the president etc.
The Romans didn't even mind that the Jews didn't join the rest of the citizens in the celebrations honoring the
gods in the theatre.

Although the Jewish king Agrippa, being king, went to the Roman Theater, Jews didn't generally go there
because it meant acknowledging polytheism. This wasn't a hard and fast rule and Jews certainly didn't deface
statues of the gods.

The great harbor that king Herod built there, turned Caesarea (in about 10 BCE) into one of the richest cities in
the Roman world. Hundreds of ships were anchored there while they were being loaded with all kinds of
products in great demand all over the world, like olive oil, wine, flour, dried figs, dates, various nuts etc.
Two theatres, a hippodrome, temples and bathhouses were packed with sailors, ship owners, agents etc.
entertaining themselves. But most of these were non Jewish Polytheists who mocked the Jewish idea of
Monotheism and mocked the Jews for resting on the Sabbath, not going to the theater or enjoying the pleasures
of the bathhouse.

Tension between the Jews of Caesarea and the Non Jews grew daily as the city grew and more non Jews came
to live in Caesarea.

A favorite joke among the Non Jews was to sacrifice a pig in front of the synagogue on the Sabbath.

The real thing that angered the Jews, however was actually the economic takeover of Jewish agricultural land
by Non Jews with the help of the corrupt Roman governors.

The religious and economic tensions kept rising as the Non Jewish population increased.

Things reached a peak after the Jewish king Agrippa was murdered in the theatre 44 CE.

The Aussie kids of today sat on the same seats as the last Jewish king, Agrippa, had sat just before he was

This aggravated the already tense situation between the Monotheistic Jews and Polytheistic Romans living in

Eventually the great Roman, Jewish War broke out in 67 CE in Caesarea.

The Romans considered that their victory proved that their gods were stronger than God and of course
celebrated their victory with offerings to their gods in the theater with plays, pageants, mockery of Jewish
captives etc.

It seemed to the Romans that Polytheism was the right religion, even some Jews were probably starting to have
doubts about the might of the one God.

In the year 231 CE a terrible earthquake occurred which made the Polytheists revise their thinking; it caused
the sea bed where Caesarea's harbor rested to drop about 1 meter. This caused the destruction of a large part of
Caesarea including the harbor.

This moved the Romans to think about worshipping the Jewish God. As a matter of fact many Polytheistic
Romans converted to Judaism at this time.

The Jews saw this as a sign that God had changed His mind about them and that He had decided to allow them
to rebuild Jerusalem. That's when they started saying "Next year in Jerusalem."

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The Romans, however weren't quite ready to take on the strenuous duty of observing all the strict laws of
Judaism (circumcision, Shabbat, Kosher etc).

They started looking for an easier form of Monotheism, one that wouldn't be much different from Polytheism
but Monotheism nevertheless.

Naturally they found this in Christianity where Paul had told them that believing in Jesus was true Monotheism
and was actually the truest form of Judaism because it was purified of the unnecessary, burdensome customs
like circumcision, Shabbat, kosher and all that.

Finally in 325 CE Christianity became the preferred religion of the Romans. They changed their temples and
theaters from places of honoring the gods into churches, places where Jesus was worshiped as the son of the
one God.

Jews found themselves in the awkward position of being imposters of Judaism. Christians believed that a true
Jew is one who believes in Jesus.

This is the beginning of anti-Semitism. Nothing is worse than an imposter and being considered imposters
brought terrible persecutions on them.

It became impossible for Jews to counter Christian claims that they were the true Jews and that Jews were
imposters of true Judaism or that the New Testament had replaced the Old Testament as the word of God,
because, Christians said that Jews had sinned and been rejected by God. They cited the destruction of Jerusalem
and the temple and the exile of the Jews as proof of this.

The more Jews stuck firmly to their religion and the more they rejected Jesus the more they aroused Christian
anger against them.

The attractions which Christianity gave to the Jews who converted to Christianity also didn't help matters.
A Jew who converts to Christianity is more highly regarded than a Christian who is born a Christian because a
Christian is only a Jew in the spirit but can never qualify to be a Jew in the flesh.

Only a person born Jewish, who converts to Christianity can qualify to be both, a Jew in the flesh and a Jew in
the spirit. This is why many Jews who have converted to Christianity have reached high rank in the Christian
churches. For example many Popes were Jews who had converted to Christianity.

Leon’s No Newsletter 132
Jerusalem Wed 20th Jan 2010

Cycle for Hope
As you know I'm crazy about my country, Israel.

I'm so excited about this country that I grab every opportunity available to encourage people to visit and see it
for themselves and the good things we do here.

I'm especially on the lookout for opportunities for visitors to meet the wonderful people who live here and to
hear at first hand their experiences; how they got here, their difficulties and how they've overcome them and
most of all what they're doing to help others.

I came across an organization called Cycle for Hope which offers you an amazing opportunity to fulfill this
goal and I'd like to tell you about it.

Read their brochure which I've placed, in plain print version for your convenience below.
or download the full colour brochure by clicking here to download now (it takes a few minutes)

When I saw this I immediately thought of you, the wonderful people who have visited Israel or plan to visit
and who would like to help Israel and get an in depth view of this wonderful country.

I'm sure that cyclists and others will jump at the opportunity to do this great ride.

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It's amazing what they offer, bicycles, accommodation, food, transport and most of all fun !! riding and seeing
parts of Israel, like the stunningly beautiful Negev Desert, which few tourists see on a standard tour of Israel.

Just look at the route. It's simply amazing. Don't miss this.

If you have friends overseas; this is a great opportunity for them to get a really in depth view of Israel;

They will meet high class Israelis (the ones who cycle and love nature) Soldiers who have been injured in the
wars and are helped by cycle for hope, people in Shederot (the town battered by rockets from Gaza), Ethiopean
immigrants making their first steps in Israel under difficult conditions.

This is an opportunity of a lifetime to enjoy a great bicycle ride and help all these wonderful people.

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