Machshavot HaRav: Reflections from Rabbi Waxman


“Oslo”: The Impossible Becomes Possible; Now What?


A few weeks ago, Sarrae and I managed to see ”Oslo”, which offers a behind the scenes view of the negotiations that led up to the Oslo Accords of 1993, with the historic signing taking place on the White House lawn. Though the signing took place in Washington, the serious negotiations took place in Norway, with some prodding by Norwegian officials. It is clear from the play that both the Israelis and the Palestinians who crafted these accords behind closed doors were operating, at times, on their own, pushing the envelope towards a peaceful resolution. The difficulties of crafting these concessions on both sides was made evident. In the end, each side granted recognition to the other and the Israelis agreed to withdraw from some territories to allow the PLO to create self-government. (One must remember at this point the PLO leadership was in exile in Tunisia.) And there was a proviso that there would be a permanent settlement of unresolved issues based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and this process would take place within 5 years. That clearly has not come to pass.


Nearly a quarter of a century the way forward later remains difficult. Attempts at resolution by past American presidents, despite significant territorial concessions by the Israelis, failed. And frankly, withdrawal from some areas of Judea and Samaria aka the West Bank is increasingly unlikely: too many Israelis are settled there, particularly in what have become suburban extensions of Jerusalem.


I write this 50 years to the date that the Old City was liberated from the Jordanians. (I must admit that I am shocked that as of the present moment there have been no attacks in or against Israel by the Palestinians, as their response to this anniversary. Kayn Harah.) I can’t imagine erecting new barriers in Jerusalem, a return to the bad old days before June of 67. But the failure to move forward to reach a final accord with the Palestinians that guarantees Israeli security is sapping the soul of Israel. Unfortunately, the argument that there is no one on the other side willing to publicly make the necessary concessions—including telling the Palestinians that they can’t go home again—has much merit and, adds to the dilemma of the situation. Nor does the future offer much hope for resolution, as on the Israeli side key components of the coalition are against a “2 State resolution”, whereas on the Palestinian side the most likely heir apparent to Mr. Abbas is Marwan Barghouti, the mastermind of the 2 Intifadas, and who for the past 15 years has been in Israeli prisons.


One can only hope that despite the apparent obstacles that sooner than later a reprise of the secret talks that lead to the Oslo Accords will yet take place.


Shabbat shalom.


A footnote: Playwrights, even those who fashion plays about historical events, engage in literary license. And indeed the author, J.T. Rogers, admits as much in a note in the playbill. One of the key figures in the play is Uri Savir, who prior to this assignment had served as the director of the Israeli consulate in New York. And so Savir was a known entity both to Sarrae and even more so to our friend Betty Ehrenberg who had been his assistant. The character in the play was not the Uri Savir they had known. And so one wonders whether other key players also have been misrepresented. Nevertheless, it is a thought-provoking drama.






Chadashot MeYisrael: News From Israel


Israel’s Wonder Women: Gal Gadot


This week, in which mark the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, perhaps it is appropriate to highlight the cinematic star of the week is Gal Gadot, who plays the part of Wonder Woman in the newly released movie of the same name.


She was born in 1985 and grew up in Rosh Ha’ayin, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. Her parents changed their name from “Greenstein” to the Hebrew “Gadot,” meaning riverbanks.


At the age of 18, Ms. Gadot became “Miss Israel” and competed in the Miss Universe pageant in 2004.  According to accounts, she was a reluctant participant, even masking her ability to speak English and managing to wear the wrong kind of evening wear. At the age of 20 she began her 2 years of service in the IDF, where she served as a combat instructor. After her stint in the army, she studied law and international relations.


Her first movie role was in the Israeli drama “Bubot” (Dolls), which appeared in 2008. Subsequently, she was invited to audition for the part of the Bond girl in “Quantum of Solace.” Though she auditioned for the role, she did not get the part. However, the audition was not in vain, for it was the same casting director who offered her the breakout role as Gisele in “Fast & Furious.” Given her military background, the director added to her character’s back story by transforming her into an agent of the Mossad. She went on to perform her own stunts in the movie! She reprised this role in two more of the “Fast & Furious” franchise, in “Fast Five” and Fast & Furious 6.” She has appeared in a couple of other movies, as well.


To prepare for her role as Wonder Woman, Gadot received lessons in Kung Fu, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu and swordsmanship. Her first appearance as Wonder Woman was last year in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” The movie was panned, but fortunately her role was deemed the best part of a bad movie.


In 2007, Maxim had a photo shoot of “Women in the Israeli ArmYy” and it was her picture that made the cover of the New York Post. Aside from her acting career, since 2008, she has become an internationally known model, promoting such brands as Jaguar and Gucci fragrances. She has appeared on the cover of a wide variety of magazines, ranging from Entertainment Weekly and Bride Magazine to Fashion and Cosmo.


She was married in 2008 to Yaron Varsano and is the mother of two daughters, the second who was born in March of this year. That means the director of “Wonder Woman” had to “green screen’ some of the scenes where she was clearly pregnant. She will reprise her role as Wonder Woman in the Justice League film scheduled for release in November of this year.






Payrush LaParashah:

A Comment on the Weekly Torah Portion


The portion of B’ha’ah’lo’t’chah (Numbers 8:1-9:14) is read this Saturday, June 10th.


8:1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: (2) Speak to Aaron and say to him, “When you mount the lamps, let the seven lamps give light at the front of the lampstand.” (3) Aaron did so; he mounted the lamps at the front of the lampstand, as the Lord had commanded Moses.


8:2 When you light the lamps, the seven lamps will give light over against the menorah… Maharia Ashkenazi [most likely Rabbi Bezalel Ashkenazi, a 16th century scholar in Jerusalem] states that the side lamps of the menorah represent the different sciences, whereas the middle lamp represents the wisdom of the Torah. This may be a hint to us that if a person studies any of the sciences he should try to have its light shed toward the central lamp, the wisdom of the Torah. If you direct all the lamps, all your study of the sciences, toward the Torah, all the sciences will shed their light properly. ([Rabbi Moshe Chefets,] Melekhet Mahshevet cited in Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Torah Gems, Volume III, translated by Shmuel Himelstein. Rabbi Chefets [also Hefes] was born in Trieste in 1663, but was raised in Vienna. He was a child prodigy: a Hebrew poem he composed when he was 13 was included in an edition of the Venice Bible published in the 17th century. He returned to Italy where he served as a private tutor in rabbinic literature, but also dealt with philosophy, mathematics, and the natural sciences. He is the author of Chanukkat HaBayit [Dedication of the Temple], which appeared in Venice in 1695.It includes tables and illustrations prepared by Rabbi Chefets. His other work is his long commentary on the Torah—it is well over 400 pages of small print--, which appeared in 1710 in Venice. It is the first Hebrew work to include a portrait of the author. The title alludes to his name: Mahsehevet is an abbreviation of “Moshe Chefetz shokhen be'ir Trieste, Moshe Chefetz, who lives in the city of Trieste.” At the bottom of the picture—see below—is a Hebrew inscription that states his name and indicates that it is he who is in the picture and then adds the date, Ayt Ben Meah Shanah, which means “at this moment one hundred years old.” [It was very common not to write out the date directly but to include it in some phrase, where the key letters of the year are printed in larger font.] However, as one can observe from the picture, he was far from being a centenarian. But the gematria, the numerical value, of the word Meah, 100, is 46, his age [Mem=4-; Aleph =1; Hey=5. Total of 46]. Sadly, he died the following year, in 1711.)



Sat, June 24 2017 30 Sivan 5777