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Dedicated in memory of Shira Novoseller z"l

Va'etchanan  |  16 Av 5775  |  August 1th, 2015  |  Issue 611

   Rabbi Yair Spitz

Menahel Yeshivat "Or Chaim" in Toronto

Vampires, Superman and Modern Day Paganism

“You shall not have other Gods before me”

Spiderman, Dracula, Superman, Wonder Woman, Thor, Avengers, Avengers 2, Transformers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America and X-men are only a few of the many movies and programs that have – or will shortly - come across our “cultural” dashboard. There have been and will be many, many more of their type
All of them depict characters who are stronger, faster and smarter than us. They come from above, below and beyond. They battle among themselves for dominance over us mortals and our mortal world and we are powerless before them, at their complete mercy.
They are immortal, or close to it.

Think of how much time and resources we spend on them. Books, magazines, movies, reviews, shows, merchandise, costumes and debates (Remember the “Stand By Me” debate? “Who would win in a fight – Mighty Mouse, or, Superman?” with the answer – “Of course Superman! Mighty Mouse is a cartoon! he isn’t even real”!)

Is this really so different from the ancient polytheistic world?
Do we not “serve” these fictitious super-humans with our money, time and creativity? Do we not go visit them in their theaters-temples or at our home screen-alters? Do we not shower the priests who bring us their words- writers, actors and producers – with adoration, prestige and even gold statues? Are we not rewarded for our service with entertainment, inspiration and even hope?

One could argue – with some degree of truth – that Torah’s issue with polytheism was as much a moral one as a theological one. Are the stories of these modern man-made, false gods, not filled with violence, sexual impropriety and immorality? Does this not – on some level – legitimize these behaviors for us mortals – and our children – as well?

I can’t help but think that Western Civilization has not come as far as it thinks in abolishing idol worship and may have just substituted one form for another, more subtle, one.
Judaism’s call to attribute divinity, “other-worldliness” and – as a consequence – the origin of morality, to Hashem alone is as necessary as it ever was.

Pay close attention to what you – and your children – are watching and being influenced by.  

Joint Hachshara day for the Religious Zionist Shlichim
This past Monday, July 27th, we were proud to participate in a joint convention of all the outgoing Religious Zionist shlichim of Torah MiTzion, World Bnei Akiva, Lavi Bat-Ami (bnot sherut) and Teacher emissaries of the WZO.
The convention took place in the Bar Ilan University, and the shlichim heard opening remarks and words of encouragement from Naftali Bennet, Minister of Education, Rabbi Doron Perez, Executive Director of the World Mizrachi Movement, Rabbi Yechiel Wasserman, Head of the Unit of Religious Services in the Diaspora, Gael Grunewald, Vice Chairman of the KKL and Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, Rector of Bar Ilan University.
Rabbi Yonah Goodman gave a fascinating lecture in which he analyzed the unique position of Religious Zionism in the context of shlichut. From Rabbi Doron Perez the shlichim heard a shiur on a spiritual view of the BDS movement.
The Shlichim then split into groups based on their geographic proximity on shlichut, and had a practical workshop on preparing successful community events.
In addition, the shlichim enjoyed a comic, satirical play – "On Boycotts and Anti-Semitism", by Noam Yaakovson (Latma) and Gadi Weisbrett (Kalabat Shabbat).
We are sure that this joint event will be a start of a meaningful shlichut for the 280 outgoing Religious Zionist shlichim going out to Jewish communities worldwide.
Munich- End of the year party                    Melbourne - Tish'a 
     Be'Av Activity 
Farewell party honoring our
shlichim in Cape Town 

     Arik Speaker 

'Lilmod' Coordinator and Head of  European Desk in Torah MiTzion

The sculpture that appeared in the previous issue commemorates the historic meeting between Binyamin Herzl and the former German Kaiser, Wilhelm II.
The statue is located where the meeting itself took place which is near Mikve Israel, close to the city of Jaffa.
The meeting took place during the Kaiser's visit of the Land of Israel in 1898, a visit of great historic importance. 
The Kaiser had various political and religious  interests for the visit, which continued further to Constantinople and Beirut.
The visit sparked an extraordinary interest and excitement among all the different populations in the country, including spiritual leaders from all communities.
The visit also left many architectural traces which exist to this day - the most famous one being the opening of Jaffa Gate so that the Kaiser could enter the Old City without having to get off his horse.
Herzl, who was at the same time visiting the Holy Land, understood the importance of meeting with the Kaiser if he wanted to get the approval of Ottoman Empire for the creation of a Jewish state.
Herzl didn't get a place among the Jewish representatives who met with the Kaiser in Jerusalem because of the opposition of the anti-Zionists, so he understood that he had to create his own opportunity, which he did.
Indeed such a short meeting was held in which Herzl tried to persuade the Kaiser to take advantage of his inflluence over the Sultan to promote the idea of ​​a Jewish state. However, a problem arose, that the photographer missed the moment and in the picture he took  one could not see Herzl clearly.
Herzl was very much aware that this picture would play an important role to show that there is progress in the Zionist movement, so it was decided to create a photo-montage, which cut separate images of Herzl and the Kaiser and pasted them together. In the new picture the Kaiser wasn't even sitting on his famous white horse but rather on the brown horse of one of his ministers.
On May 2, 2012, the 152nd birthday of Herzl, a statue created by sculptor Motti Mizrachi was inaugurated in Mikve Israel, commemorating Herzl's meeting with the German Kaiser.


Yasher Koach to 

Shelly Markowitz
for providing the
correct answer

                                                                  Where was this photo taken?

Please send answers to -

The answer, further information
about this location as well as the
  name of the  first person to recognize this site will be published in next week‘s edition.



Torah MiTzion was established in 1995 with the goal of strengthening Jewish communities around the globe and infusing them with the love for Torah,
the Jewish People and the State of Israel. 

Over the past nineteen years Torah MiTzion's shlichim have inspired
and enriched their host communities through a wide range of
high impact formal and informal

educational programs. 

In cooperation with :