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Idolatry: The Jewish Version – Israel News



I turn my eyes to the mountains,” wrote the psalmist (122:1), and then asked: “Where will my help come from?” This line, sung by the Levites on the steps of the temple, contained a gap between pagan thinking and Jewish faith.

Mountains have troubled mankind since the beginning of history. Looking from afar at Mount Olympus, the ancient Greeks considered it the nest of a god. So did the Japanese when they looked at Mount Fuji, and the Chinese in the face of the five mountains that stretched along their east. In a similar vein, biblical Israel’s Aramaic neighbors suspected that “their god is a god of mountains” (1 Kings 20:23).

This is not what was said to Israel. The prophets believed that God is unlimited and thus not limited to any place, no matter how high, foggy, or untouched. However, what the prophets thought was one thing, but where the people were going was another. This is why the Bible repeatedly rebuked the Israelites for “setting posts and posts…on every high hill” (2 Kings 17:10).

Among our ancestors, as well as the surrounding civilizations, there were impressionable people who were tempted by the idolatrous manipulation of feelings through size, color, fire and death.

Now the idolatry that haunted our ancestors is returning to the Promised Land, as evidenced by the pilgrimage to Mount Meron next week.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews celebrating Lag Baomer in Meron on May 18, 2022. (Photo: David Cohen/Flash90)

HOW MUCH will arrive at the Galilee’s highest peak for Lag Baomer this year, remains to be seen. Attendance fell to 130,000 last year, compared to more than half a million who gathered for Israel’s largest annual event before a 2021 stampede in which 45 people, mostly ultra-Orthodox pilgrims, were killed.

The Mount Meron disaster, as it is known, convinced thousands to avoid the pilgrimage and forced the Bennett government to control the ascent of the crowd to the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, an ancient mystic whose commemoration is at the center of the festivities. on the mountain.

The descent on the mountain was so massive that 1,000 buses were deployed, which brought pilgrims not only from the north, south and center of the country, but also those who flew in specially from abroad, just as Muslims travel from afar to touch the Kaaba , and Catholics travel. see dad.

It is difficult to predict what will happen at the mountain next week. The minister overseeing the event, Meir Porush of United Torah Judaism, sounded so smug this week that he took the time to attack Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for another reason (the Likud’s slowness in passing the bill).

One can only hope that what is happening on the mountainside will end as peacefully as Porush seems to suggest. The insurance industry is less confident; so much so that no company was willing to insure an event that brings crowds to a densely forested mountain with poor infrastructure and planning.

And yet, outside of public safety, a religious question looms: what, exactly, is all this psychosis, why does it attract so many people, and how, if anything, justifies the risk associated with it?

The Feast of Mount Meron is not part of the Jewish faith

The embarrassing truth is that Mount Meron is not part of Jewish faith, let alone Jewish law. Invented by the Galilean Kabbalists in the 16th century, this holiday is not mentioned in the Mishnah and the Talmud.

The most iconic luminaries of rabbinic Judaism, from Rashi and Maimonides to the Vilna Gaon, have never observed it. European Jewry was almost unaware of this novelty; and when it became known, the great ultra-Orthodox leader Rabbi Moshe Sofer (1762-1839) banned its celebration.

However, the Kabbalists of Safed revered Shimon Bar-Yochai, a sage buried in the mountain opposite their city, a Roman-era scholar who they believed wrote The Zohar, the seminal work of the Kabbalism. Historians and philologists believe that the voluminous work was written more than 1,000 years after it, but such a reality check often proves ineffective in the face of pagan motivation.

What exactly the date of Lag Baomer has to do with the life of Bar Yochai is not clear – it could be his birthday, the day of his marriage, or the day he was ordained a rabbi – but whatever his biographical affiliation. role, the spring festival has become a celebration at the grave.

Now, surrounded by blazing fires, cacophonous music, and the smell of roasting meat, one can imagine Moses watching this feast and reacting in the same way that he responded when the sight of the pagan feast at the foot of Mount Sinai caused him to break the tablets. Such was and is the clash between his religion of law, rationality and introspection and the pagan worship of sensation.

Moses himself decided to be buried in an unknown place so that his grave would not cause worship. Jews did avoid building mausoleums like those intended to deify many non-Jews, from Lenin and Chiang Kai-shek to Kim Il Sung and Atatürk. The only such structure ever built for a Jewish leader, King Herod, was subsequently so thoroughly destroyed by believing Jews that it took several generations of archaeologists to find its fragments.

Yet people, including Jews, want to worship what they can see, hear, smell and feel. This is why the pagans gave so much to the fire, and why the fire plays such a central role on Mount Meron, where rival rabbis festively light bonfires separately, each for their blind followers.

The same pagan spirit causes so many people to replace the Jewish path to God and His laws with a journey to bricks over the bones of the dead, to bricks on which oil is sprinkled and candles are thrown, seeking in this way the meaning of life. but the spirit of death.

Watching the turmoil, smoke and fire of Monday night on Mount Meron, the inhabitants of Central Israel will remember the psalmist who sought God beyond the mountains, and will ask the question: if the rabbis do not fight idolatry, then who will?

Writer, fellow at the Hartman Institute, bestselling author Mitzad ha-ivelet ha-yehudi (Jewish march of stupidity)Yediot Sepharim, 2019), a revisionist history of the political leadership of the Jewish people.


Ron DeSantis may be plotting to lead another Democratic prosecutor



Last summer, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis remote Hillsborough County Public Prosecutor Andrew Warren, causing controversy and a major lawsuit. While DeSantis claimed he fired Warren for alleged failure to protect public safety, Warren says it was pure politics. “It has become part of the authoritarian play,” Warren recently told NBC News.

Now, another Democratic prosecutor in the state thinks DeSantis is after her.

Monique Worrell, State Attorney for Florida’s 9th Judicial District for Orange and Osceola Counties, said in a scathing April 28 letter that DeSantis “seeks to use his political agenda against me” and that she believes his office is trying to “build and justify baseless case against the prosecutor, with which he simply disagrees politically.”

DeSantis’ office has not publicly stated whether it is seeking to suspend Worrell, but her office has said recent actions by state officials indicate they are working to create a case for a suspension.

Worrell said state law enforcement officials requested data from her first two years in office, suggesting they are trying to cull incidents to build a case for firing.

Oddly enough, some government officials do not ask about specific cases, but, in fact, ask Worrell to file a case against herself. Late last month, State Committee member Debbie Galvin asked Worrell’s office for examples of cases where victims of human trafficking have not been brought to justice. “She didn’t specify what things she needed. It looks like she wanted us to identify cases for her,” Keisha Malfort, a spokeswoman for Worrell’s office, told HuffPost.

Galvin told a Worrell office employee that she had to give the information to DeSantis and had to give it to them by May 1st.

“RS. Galvin’s efforts confirm the fact that there is no policy that would justify my removal from office and the Governor’s team is conducting this witch hunt to set the stage for the removal of another duly elected prosecutor,” Worrell wrote in a letter. April 28. to Galvin “This request echoes similar requests from local law enforcement officials who requested data on my first two years in office. These requests are unprecedented.”

DeSantis’ office also focused on the February 22 Pine Hills shooting that killed three people, including a local journalist and a 9-year-old child. DeSantis’ office concluded that the accused shooter, Keith Moses, a 19-year-old black male, was a threat to the community and that Worrell’s office was negligent in failing to prosecute him for an earlier marijuana-related offense.

State Attorney Monique Worrell is holding a March 9 press conference on the case of Keith Moses, charged with the February 22 murder of three people.

Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel via Getty Images

On March 10, Worrell announced that she would press charges against Moses. Nearly a month later, a grand jury charged Moses with first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty.

When the shooting occurred, DeSantis immediately attacked Worrell.

“I know that the district attorney, the state attorney in Orlando, believes that you are not prosecuting people, and in this way you somehow improve your communities. It doesn’t work,” DeSantis said at a press conference in February.

Ryan Newman, DeSantis’ general counsel, pressed Worrell’s office for a Moses-related connection. The letter outlines Moses’ legal files, citing accusations such as battery, burglary, “repeated cases of resisting an officer” and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon without intent to kill.

DeSantis’ team has focused on one previous arrest that they say was not properly prosecuted. Moses was arrested in November 2021 for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and was still on juvenile probation, General Counsel DeSantis said in a letter.

The sheriff’s office said someone threw the gun out of the car before the arrest, and deputies claim to have seen Moses throw it, but the sheriff’s office did not initially send the gun for inspection.

Worrell said her office did not press charges against Moses in the case because the evidence did not prove a crime had taken place, especially without further evidence about the weapon.

DeSantis and other local officials used the “dog whistle” to undermine her authority as a prosecutor, she said.

“They used it as an opportunity to say that I was responsible and my crime policy was to blame, but that argument had no merit at all,” Worrell told HuffPost.

“It is in line with this narrative that I allow violent criminals to walk the streets. I think it’s pretty obvious that this is the current talking point for Republicans.”

Donna Patalano, a defense attorney and former general counsel for Suffolk County, Massachusetts, said DeSantis used the system to his advantage to advance his political agenda.

“Dah. DeSantis manipulated the process for his own political gain,” Patalano told HuffPost. “The fact that Florida doesn’t respect the electorate in its jurisdiction should be of concern to people who are considering his candidacy for a higher office,” Patalano said.

Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.), a former governor, sent a letter of his own to Worrell’s office in which he said, “In too many cities in America, we’ve seen crime mitigation policies being sold to the public for the lie that lighter punishments. ..does more good than a quick accountability.”

Scott accused the “radical” left for what he called “unsuccessful philosophy”.

While Scott was governor, he removed Aramis Ayalaformer Orlando prosecutor, in 30 murder cases after Ayala announced she would not seek the death penalty in 2017.

Over the past few years, other conservatives have tried to take action to fire other prosecutors considered progressive. In Philadelphia, District Attorney Larry Krasner faced an impeachment attempt by Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, but their Efforts failed.

Recently, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee took an aggressive stand against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg after indicting former President Donald Trump on felony charges of falsifying business records.

“Mr. DeSantis manipulated the process for his own political gain. The fact that Florida doesn’t respect the electorate in his jurisdiction should be of concern to people who are considering his candidacy for a higher office.”

— Donna Patalano, former General Counsel of Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

On Thursday, Worrell’s office released crime statistics for the first quarter of this year.

“Our prosecutors received 90% of convictions in cases of serious crimes and 77% of convictions in general. Prosecutors have returned convictions in all 11 felonies tried in Oseola County, resulting in a 100 percent conviction rate,” Worrell’s office said.

In addition, six murder cases were tried, all of which resulted in convictions. Other major cases included sex crimes, drug trafficking and violent crimes.

But Worrell also has a reform agenda. Last year she introduced a 90-day Civic Quote for Adults pilot program. The program will provide for civil penalties rather than criminal misdemeanor charges for offenses such as drug possession, petty assault, disorderly conduct, retail theft and trespassing.

“We understand the injustice that lies within the legal system of criminal justice. We are challenging law enforcement on these issues,” Worrell told HuffPost.

“It’s just based on rhetoric and fear-mongering because research shows that when you make people fear, the pendulum swings the other way. And they will be able to continue the mass incarceration that has plagued this country for decades, if not centuries.”

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An employee of the Denali National Park died as a result of an avalanche he triggered, officials said.



On Friday, officials said a Denali National Park and Preserve worker died in an avalanche he triggered while skiing in the wilds of Alaska, home to the country’s highest peak.

According to the National Park Service, Eric Walter was found dead on Thursday after rescuers rushed to the area of ​​his last location.

Denali National Park and Preserve Conservator Eric Walter in an undated image.Denali National Park and Preserve / NPS Photo via AP

Park rangers found his car parked off Denali’s main road, the report said. They then noticed traces of Walter’s equipment among the debris from the avalanche.

“Two skis, one vertical, one flat, and an orange bag were found in the debris field in the avalanche zone,” the park service said.

The park rangers brought with them life support equipment used to rescue avalanche survivors, the park said. The park helicopter was overhead.

The park service said he was riding alone on an unnamed slope facing north south of Jenny Creek when he triggered the avalanche.

An eyewitness reported the avalanche to a nearby park nursery and a search and rescue operation was launched, the park said.

Snow depth in nearby Denali State Park was about 3 to 4 feet on Monday, according to Alaska park officials. “Due to recent warm weather, be careful when traveling through avalanche-prone areas,” the State Parks and Outdoors Administration said in a report.

Part of Walter’s job was to guide others in the 6.1 million acre federal park, help keep it connected, and help visitors and workers stay safe, a National Park Service park.

The main attraction of the park is the mountain of the same name with a height of 20,310 feet.

“Eric was a much loved member of the Alaska Regional Communications Center (Denali Dispatch) and was known throughout the Alaska region for providing security radio support and dispatch services for National Park Service operations throughout Alaska,” the park service said in a statement.

Todd Miyazawa contributed.

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Asked about his age, Biden said he knew “more than the vast majority of people.”



In his first interview since announcing he would run for a second term, President Biden attempted to downplay concerns about his age by saying he is the most experienced man to ever run for president.

“I have gained a hell of a lot of wisdom and know more than the vast majority of people,” Mr. Biden told MSNBC host Stephanie Rule in an interview that aired Friday night. “And I am more experienced than anyone who has ever run for office. And I think I’ve proven myself worthy as well as efficient.”

Mr. Biden, who will turn 86 at the end of his second term if he wins, has been trying to reassure voters about his age in recent days, presenting him as an advantage rather than a barrier to running. In an interview, he also said that Vice President Kamala Harris “didn’t get the credit she deserved” and he promoted her past work as California attorney general and senator.

An extensive interview revealed the president is trying to secure re-election amid looming potential crises, including the deployment of US troops to the country’s southern border and a federal government that could potentially default on debt in a few weeks.

Compared to his predecessors, Mr. Biden has held far fewer press conferences and has rarely given interviews to reporters, instead preferring friendly celebrity interviews or social media softball videos. His interview with Ms. Rule, who hosts a network show that is sympathetic to Mr. Biden and democratic causes, aired at 10 p.m. Friday.

In an interview, Mr. Biden said he was not yet ready to invoke the 14th Amendment clause, which would oblige the federal government to keep issuing new debt if the government runs out of cash, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen warned. this week could be as early as June 1st. “I haven’t gotten there yet,” he told Ms. Roulet.

Republicans are demanding massive spending cuts before raising the debt limit. But Mr. Biden has repeatedly said he will not negotiate a debt ceiling, pointing out that it has been raised several times under former President Donald Trump without any problems. In his interview, he reiterated that he was willing to negotiate federal spending – as long as it didn’t involve debt ceiling negotiations.

“This is not your father’s Republican Party,” Mr. Biden said, echoing his claims about extremists within the Republican Party, “this is a different, different group. And I think we should make it clear to the American people that I am ready to negotiate in detail with their budget. How much are you going to spend? How much are you going to tax? Where can we cut?

Mr. Biden is scheduled to meet with Republican and Democratic leaders at the White House next week to discuss the way forward. He will need a negotiating partner in Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who pushed forward a bill last week to raise the debt ceiling while cutting spending and revealing key elements of Mr. Biden’s domestic agenda. The law is considered dead on arrival, but that gave Mr. McCarthy the opportunity to say he did his part.

The President said in an interview that Mr. McCarthy was “an honest man” but that he “sold everything” to his party’s far right wing to become Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“He agreed with things that he may believe, but which are just extreme,” Mr. Biden said.

In an interview, Mr. Biden defended his decision to send 1,500 troops to the border with Mexico, saying they would be there not to “enforce the law” but to “release border agents who should be on the border.”

He also said that his son Hunter, who is under federal investigation into his business dealings, is innocent and that he does not think his son’s legal troubles will hurt his presidency.

“My son did nothing wrong,” Biden said. “I trust him. I believe in him. And it affects my presidency, makes me proud of him.”

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